March Ishness 2020!

It’s somehow April so it’s time for a recap of March! (Don’t worry, it’s fun stuff. XD) The latest in my writing, reading, watching, listening, and blogging life!

WRITING

After being stuck and not writing anything for longer than I’d care to think about, I finally wrote a couple thousand words of Operation Foxtail in March — which felt really good, since I hadn’t touched it since NaNo! So that makes me happy, even if it wasn’t a lot. Hoping to continue that momentum with Camp NaNo this month!

READING

I read so much in March! :O I haven’t been reading this much in awhile so I’m kind of surprised. XD

Check out yesterday’s Book Ishness post on my book blog for quick thoughts on the books I read last month!

WATCHING

  • I finished my re-watch of the first season of Castle, and finished the episodes of Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye that I have, though unfortunately it’s not a full season. Those were fun!
  • I re-watched Howl’s Moving Castle for March Magics and had a blast!
  • And I got Mortal Engines for my birthday, so I watched that last month . . . twice . . . XD I saw it in theaters last year and loved it and I’m really happy that I own it now! It’s just . . . really fun and I’m not sure why I love it but for some reason I do! It’s just fun. 🙂
  • Not pictured, I also watched a smidge of NCIS.

LISTENING

  • I AT LAST finished listening to If Wishes Were Curses by Janeen Ippolito and had a really enjoyable time with that. ^_^ NA Urban Fantasy isn’t something I’ve really read but it’s interesting! And quite fun. 😀 I just started listening to the sequel so I’m looking forward to that.
  • I listened to Skillet’s latest album, Victorious, quite a lot this last month. I love their music and hadn’t really listened to this one yet so it’s been great.
  • I also re-listened to Brittany Jean’s fun album Wander with Me (I wrote a review for it once!), and her new single, On the Edge of Wave and World — which is actually a poem in Jenelle Leanne Schmidt’s amazing book Minstrel’s Song! So that makes me happy. 😀 Brittany Jean has a new album releasing this week! Check her out. ^_^

  • And I listened to the very tip of the iceberg that is Andrew Peterson’s music. I just never really listened to his stuff, but after reading Adorning the Dark I wanted to try, so I listened to a small handful and need to do more of that because so far I think I really like his music. (I don’t have internet in my room currently, so it’s just . . . more difficult for me to get around to remembering to listen to music when I’m online. So I’m going to have to make a conscious effort to listen to more. XD)
  • Random story: I sometimes hear “Is He Worthy?” on the radio (I think Chris Tomlin sings it?) and didn’t really think much about it, but my mind was blown when I realized that Andrew Peterson wrote it?? Like. How cool is that! I always liked it and didn’t realize it was written by the author of the Wingfeather books, and I love Andrew Peterson’s version of it. ❤

LIFE

Not much went on in March other than the obvious — and I’m kind of tired of hearing about . . . you know . . . so I’m not really talking about it. XD

Life hasn’t been too different for me, since I’m usually mostly home anyway, but I did miss getting to see some friends, and I don’t really have extra time like many people seem to right now, so that’s . . . interesting.

In fun news, I had a birthday (yay cake and books!), celebrated Saint Patrick’s Day at home by wearing lots of Celtic jewelry, and started a new Instagram theme that I’m excited about! (Blue flowerssss!)

Here, have some pics.

I’m rather fond of this photo I snagged on a backroad after some rain which made Texas look like Ireland around Saint Patrick’s Day. ^_^

Let them eat cake! Birthday cake!

Posting about this delightful book and celebrating with a cupcake at my favorite cupcake shop which happened to have lifesaving Wi-Fi when mine was out and I needed to post a review. XD

Saint Patrick’s Day!

New theme (love my new blue “flers”!) and finishing Diana Wynne Jones month!

BLOGGING

Here are my March posts on my two blogs!

General posts:

March Magics posts:

Reviews posted in March:

 

APRIL PLANS

Other than miscellaneous work-from-home projects (which, let’s be honest, I already do, so it’s not like much has changed for me) like editing, the main thing that’s up right now is CAMP NANO!

We’re already nearly half done this Camp month, and I’ve had some ups and downs on it, but I’m happy that I’m writing at all, because I’ve had a bit of a writer’s block problem and it’s also hard for me to write when I’m distracted, busy, or stressed. So any writing is progress!

My goal is 10K words and I’m working on Operation Foxtail! ^_^

So that was my March. Thanks for reading! I hope you’re all hanging in there and reading good books. ❤ And good luck to anyone who’s doing Camp (buddy me!) — you can do it!

January 2020 Ishness!

It’s only been FOREVER since I posted one of these, but I want to get back into the habit of writing Ishnesses, so here’s a recap of January!

Today I’ve got an update on my writing/reading/watching/listening, as well as some photos I took, and other thoughts. So let’s get to it!

(I plan to have a 2019 recap post soon too, but I got this one done first. XD)

WRITING

I took a writing hiatus in January, and it was so refreshing! After writing 50,000 words in November for NaNoWriMo, and another 7K (finishing my WIP novella!) in the midst of Christmas craziness in December (which is when I usually take a writing break), I was ready to recharge.

I did start a new writing journal, though—a gorgeous Christmas present that I’m in love with! It’s my 11th in a series of yearly writing journals I start every New Year.

I also popped out of writing hiatus to write the second installment of my Urban Fantasy serial Girls, Spies, and Other Things the Faeries Stole, which I posted last week!

(Images via Unsplash)

That was the first writing I did this year (decade??), and it felt marvelous to dive into after a three-week break following finishing Double Lives at Kedran’s Wood in the final days of December. Also, I wrote it on my “Writing Day” (January 20th), on which I’ve written at least something every year since 2010. (Bonus: that’s also my character Tare’s birthday.)

I’m not sure what my writing goals are this year, but after taking a month off to refill my creative tank, I’m looking forward to dipping back into writing again now that it’s February. 🙂

READING

I read fifteen books in January! (I use the term “book” loosely. XD)

Seven novels (ish?), four short stories (one on audio), two anthologies, and two nonfiction works about writing.

Some of these I beta-read or copyedited (I edited 400,000 words in January, so . . . that took up some time. XD), and there were a couple of review books, and the rest I just slipped in for fun.

I’ll post a complete list on my book blog with brief thoughts on each, later, hopefully. 🙂

Highlights were Winter Spell by Claire M. Banschbach and The New Emperor’s Concerto by Hazel B. West! Both are releasing this month (I can’t wait to see their covers!) and y’all need them in your life!

(The physical books I read in January.)

WATCHING

My watching this month has been rather assorted. A couple of random action movies, re-watching the first Thor movie (I forgot how much fun that one is!), finishing the first season of Trollhunters, finishing the sixth season of NCIS, a couple of random fantasy movies (Dragonheart and Earthsea, both . . . strange but with good parts), and Arthur Christmas—which was hilarious and so much fun. XD

LISTENING

I’m still obsessed with Burn the Ships by For King and Country. *grinning*

I planned to get back into audiobooks this year, and I did! Albeit in a small way. I listened to a short story, Elapse by Sarah Holman, and quite enjoyed this Kingdom Adventure tale, which made me excited to read the next book in the Tales of Taelis series.

BLOGGING

(Most of these were on my book blog.)

Cover reveals

Other posts

LIFE / PHOTOS

I got a nasty flu a week into January and spent most of the month sick and trying to stay on top of work and commitments. But it was a good month, regardless. 🙂

I went to a writer event and got to see authors and talk with friends new and old, which was fun.

Those are the main things not represented by pictures. XD So here are some photos from this last month!

It’s the little things. Drinking lots of tea from this new mug I got. Setting up my new journals for the year. Getting back into using calligraphy pens, to spice up my journals.

Nature pics from rain and sunshine! My cat and a good book helping me beat the flu. Sparklers on New Year’s Eve and watching the decade turn at midnight. Going to a horse farm event where I got to see an old friend and watch talented people train and ride gorgeous horses.

I got to trek through some rainy woods and while I was looking at a HUGE tree my brother snapped this picture of me. (Sometimes I forget my hair is that long because I don’t see it!)

MUSINGS

I absolutely love this quote from Winter Spell (by Claire M. Banschbach)—a book that I copyedited this last month. I loved this so much I had to write it out in calligraphy and prop it on my nightstand as a reminder. It’s been so inspiring. ^_^

Other musings and things I’m learning include that I’m afraid of change (I’m Baggins-ish and don’t always have that Tookish adventurous spirit!), but that even when things are scary it’s still probably going to be okay and I need to stop worrying so much.

Breathe. I’ve been thinking a lot about this word. I don’t really choose a word for the year like some people do, but if I did, I might pick this one. Breathing is literally the number one thing that keeps us alive, physically, and this might be a hint about needing to metaphorically breathe—to rest and take time between things. I spend a lot of time feeling stressed or behind or trying to conquer the never-ending to-do list. But slowing down and taking time out for resting and recharging is so important. I’m trying to remember to stop and breathe in this way. Last week I took a whole day with the internet turned off and my to-do list cleared, and I rested up—I read some short books, napped, watched a movie, sat in the sun for a few minutes, and just breathed and de-stressed, and it was fabulous. Just a reminder (mostly to myself!) that we are not machines and we can’t keep going every minute, nor should we.

FEBRUARY PLANS

I’m hoping to make some writing goals and get back to that, as well as catch up on review books, keep up with editing jobs, and finish up some other life projects. We’ll see how the month goes . . .

It’s February Fantasy Month, hosted (for the fifth time!) by the fabulous Jenelle Schmidt! So be sure to check that out for giveaways and fantasy awesomeness! Not sure if I’ll have a chance to do much for that, but I hear there’s a tag, and an Instagram challenge, and I might post some reviews . . . We’ll see!

Also . . . we get a leap day. How cool is that? 😀


That’s all I have for you today. I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my January! If you read this far, you deserve a cupcake. *offers virtual cupcakes*

What have you been up to so far this year, and what are your February plans?

Thanks for reading!

June Ishness 2019!

June 2019

Oh, hey, look who’s getting an Ishness post up only a week late instead of waiting for several months! *gasp*

I kind of consider June and July one really long Junely “J” month, but anyway, June was pretty cool and I’m here to recap it!

WRITING: Plots + Wordwars!

I’ve been brainstorming The Skythief and the Secret Tower and KW2.5/Mixup at Kedran’s Wood (which I introduced last week HERE) and making a little progress on those, which is exciting!

I managed to write just short of 6K words of KW2.5 in June, largely thanks to wordwarring with my awesome wordwar buddy, Claire Banschbach (who has a book coming out this month, Oath of the Outcast, one of my favorite recent reads, and it’s Celtic-esque and features outlaws and brothers and my favorite smol floof of anger management issues and is basically AWESOME, so go check it out!)!

Er . . . that was a slight sidetrack. But a necessary one. 😉 Because you need Rhys the Mountain Baron in your life.

Anyway.

I’m nearly 10K into my Kedran’s Wood novella and having a blast writing it! 😀

Otherwise, I’ve been keeping up with blogging (aside from last week because Independence Day *cough*) and trying to prep for Realm Makers, both of which I can count as writing-related, right? 😉

READING: Delicious Fantasy!

It was another good reading month! I don’t know why but seeing these books together makes me happy. 😀

I’ll post brief thoughts about all of them in a Book Ishness post on my other blog later this week, but highlights:

  • The Wolf Prince – Claire M. Banschbach — Brothers + faeries + Rangers + snark + wolves = SO MUCH LOVE FOR THIS EPIC STORY!
  • Curse and Consequence – Savannah Jezowski — Regency Fantasy + hilarity + adorable dragons + faery curses + piglets + true love = YOU NEED IT IN YOUR LIFE. (One of my faves so far this year; I read it twice!) Review coming to the book blog tomorrow!
  • Deadwood – Kyle Robert Shultz — Fantasy Western + Todd Crane + Julio the dragon + creepy Pinocchio twist + I edited it = yay, more Afterverse! (It just released and you need this in your life too, and, no, I’m not biased. ;))
  • Conrad’s Fate – Diana Wynne Jones — Chrestomanci re-reads are always awesome! ❤ Where my Chrestomanci fans at?

WATCHING: Holmes + NCIS + Bolt!

  • I haven’t seen many new things lately, though I re-watched a few old favorites like Prince of Persia and Batman Begins. 😀
  • I did see a couple of new-to-me Sherlock Holmes episodes (starring Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone, respectively) which was fun. I’m always up for some Holmes of any type!
  • I watched Bolt, which was SO ADORABLE! ❤ The dog and the cat and the hamster. XD I loved it! ^_^
  • Also still occasionally working my way through the early seasons of NCIS — just started season 5 and things have been Going Down. O_O (I watch it for the characters and they’re just so much fun. :D)

LISTENING: Cress!

I finally got back to listening to Cress and I’m about 3/4 done now and I’m having SUCH a blast! It’s been keeping me to a semi-regular exercise routine (unless I’m too busy or sick or something). It’s so motivational since I get to find out what happens next while I’m exercising, and I’ve also been bribing myself with a daily chapter of a Chrestomanci book if I get it done. XD

Anyway, Cress and her friends are doooomed but I’m having a blast and I love all of them so much! Especially Thorne because he’s hilarious, and Jacin because he’s verrry intriguing, and Cinder because Cinder, and Wolf because sad puppy, and… well… you get the picture. I LOVE THEM ALLLL. The humor and snark is my favorite, and the retelling aspect is fun too. 😀

BLOGGING: Success! + Blogging Hacks

Since my plan was to actually blog consistently again this month, and I actually DID, I wanted to share this little success with you guys. 😀 And share my blogging calendar hack.

I write blog post ideas on sticky notes (color coded for the different blogs: yellow for this one, pink for my book blog, blue for guest posts etc.) and that way if I need to move them around, I can do that without having to scribble stuff out. And since it’s a physical calendar that I keep around, I’m more likely to look at it than at a digital calendar. I can also see at a glance how often I’m posting on my different blogs.

Anyway, it works for me and I LOVE it, and it usually looks like this (minus being crossed out) at the beginning of a month but is usually too ambitious to manage. XD But I did in June!

Reviews

Regular Posts

Guest Post

INSTAGRAM: Daily Posts + Almost One Year!

I had a personal challenge to post on Instagram every day in June, and I succeeded! You can check out my bookish photos here if you like. It was loads of fun. *grins*

Later this week will mark the one-year anniversary of when I first started Instagramming! So that’s exciting. ^_^

LIFE: Editing + Rain + Colds

Nothing particularly striking to report in the life category — just, well, Life, you know. 😉

I’ve been:

  • scheming about costumes and in other ways prepping for Realm Makers
  • editing
  • enjoying the rain (which is somehow keeping the three-digit Texas summer weather at bay temporarily)
  • seeing friends
  • and wrestling off a random and very-unwelcome summer cold. 😛

JULY PLANS: Realm Makers! (+ No Camp NaNo)

I’m not doing Camp NaNo WHICH MAKES ME SAD. But I figure I can’t wrangle that on top of Realm Makers so I won’t try. XD

So that’s going to be the biggest thing for me this month: final preparations for Realm Makers, a roadtrip, and attending the Realm Makers speculative fiction writers conference in St. Louis! I’M VERY EXCITED.

This is my second year going, and since it will be farther afield next year I probably won’t go that time, so I was determined to make it this year again if possible, and I’m so thankful it’s working out!

If you’ll be there, leave a comment and let me know! I’m SO excited to see so many friends, meet new people and authors, find some new books, learn more about writing, and make connections. ❤

(And no, I’m not ready at all, so excuse me while I panic and disappear for a week to frantically get ready for this. XD)

If you’re going to Realm Makers: check out Christine Smith’s fabulous post about getting the most out of this conference!

If you’re NOT going to Realm Makers but wish you were: check out Christine’s amazing post about that.

(Am I redirecting you to her posts instead of saying them myself? Yes. Yes I am. She does an incredible job of saying all of those things far better than I could, and you need those posts in your life.)

I also won’t be blogging or online as much in the next week or two, so . . . just so you know!

St. Louis Book Festival at Realm Makers

Also, if you’re in the St. Louis area on July 20th, you should make sure to swing by the Book Festival that’s open to the public and taking place at the Realm Makers conference! You can check out all the details here but tons of authors will be there signing books, including Terry Brooks, C.J. Redwine, Morgan Busse, and Bryan Davis!

And there we are! How was your June? Read or watched anything good lately? Are you doing Camp NaNo? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a splendid July! ^_^

Free Writing Book: Not Write Now

Just a quick heads-up to share about a delightful (and hilarious) reverse psychology book on writing, which is free this weekend through June 16! (And there’s another free book at the end of the post; just hang on.)

Not Write Now: A How-Not-To Guide for Writing Fiction

This book is BRILLIANT and HILARIOUS and all writers should read it. XD

Reverse psychology writing advice, laced throughout with humor (I mean, naturally, given the subject and the author), and totally inspiring in a completely surprising way. I’ve no idea how it worked so well, but it’s genius and so enjoyable!

(My favorite is the chapter about how the author tried to “defeat” Nick and Cordelia by writing their story. It did not . . . go well. XD)

Lots of good advice, disguised as non-advice, and just sheer fun. I don’t read nonfiction often, but I loved everything about this one. 😀

(Disclaimer: I did edit this, but I loved it so much that reading it three times was fun and delightful, and I can’t say that about much nonfiction. XD)

Another free ebook

Also, the fourth Beaumont and Beasley book (which is an anthology, which I also edited) is likewise free through the 16th, so check it out!

It was just re-released with a few short stories added to it, and if you’re totally confused, you can check out this post about what’s what. XD But it’s a delightful collection!

Since I’m the Editor of the Afterverse, I thought I should let you know about this opportunity. 😉

Okay, this concludes my sale update. I’ll be back on Monday with a new post!

Flight of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse: Blog Tour/Review! #FOTRT #BHPFiction


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

I’m thrilled to be joining in the blog tour for one of my most highly anticipated books of the year, Flight of the Raven!

I’m sharing my review today, and there’s also a giveaway for Mark of the Raven and Flight of the Raven, so be sure to enter that at the end of the post.

(Missed my review of book one, Mark of the Raven? You can read that here.)


  • Title: Flight of the Raven
  • Author: Morgan L. Busse
  • Series: The Ravenwood Saga, #2
  • Date read: May 20, 2019
  • Rating: 5 stars!
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: Adult
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 394 (paperback)
  • Fave character: Damien!
  • Source: Bethany House Publishers

My Review

A breathtaking continuation of the Ravenwood Saga, Flight of the Raven completely swept me away!

I loved the first book (Mark of the Raven) and have been on pins and needles waiting for the sequel to release. Flight of the Raven was one of my top-anticipated releases of the year and I was worried it might not live up to the first book, but it surpassed my expectations and I’m happy to say that I absolutely loved this book!

Author Morgan L. Busse has outdone herself in this delightful sequel, with a unique love story, fascinating dream powers, a vivid world, and characters who stole my heart.

Even as Selene finds her new place in the world and struggles to learn more about her dreamwalking gift, tensions are mounting with the oncoming threat of war while the autumn turns to winter, and Damien must sort out plans with the few allied Houses as well as the feelings of his heart. A few mind-blowing revelations and twists were introduced, and I’m so excited to see where these plot elements go!

The new major setting, Northwind Castle, completely captured me. I want to go visit this castle on the cliffs by the sea! The rest of the world is neat too (and GORGEOUS), especially seeing more of it as we do in this one, and I love the feel of it and of the different Houses with their unique gifts, including Damien’s power over water. I also loved the wintry, Christmas-type fantasy holiday. It made me happy. ^_^

I especially found the dreamwalking to be fascinating! I LOVE dream-related things in stories, and I loved the parts in this book which built on the first one—I don’t want to spoil anything, but THINGS are happening and it’s SO intriguing.

Selene and Damien are the best! I love them so much. Reading their story, especially getting to see both of their points of view, was just delightful. Both of them are growing and changing and their story makes me happy as they face new obstacles together. These characters really made the book. (The other characters are all vivid as well!)

The romance was precious! Those who have read the first book will know about a certain event which changed the dynamics for this book, and it definitely made things interesting! XD But I thought it was really well done, and it felt different. I loved watching Damien and Selene get to know each other, and especially how they each have something that the other needs and how they reach out to help each other.

There’s awesome action near the beginning and end, but although technically the main central part of the book is a quieter part of the story, it never once ceased to be fascinating. I love how these books are so utterly absorbing even when nothing obviously exciting is happening. In fact, some of my favorite parts were the parts between, being immersed in the characters’ struggles, the delightful world, and the romance and political ins and outs. I loved ALL the parts of this book!

I suppose I had a lot of feels about one incident near the end—I’m not sure how I feel about that—and I still want to see more of the wyvern riders someday, but otherwise I really don’t have anything to complain about. It was so, so good!

Threads of excitement, mystery, dreams and danger, love and loss, romance and beloved characters, faith, suspense, an enthralling setting, and light overcoming darkness are all intricately intertwined in this masterful tale. It hit just the right balance to keep me turning the pages. I didn’t want it to end and never wanted to set it down. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year!

After the way this one ended, with an almost-but-not-quite cliffhanger, I’m SO ready for the final book, Cry of the Raven! (Which my sister and I have playfully retitled Save Ophie. XD) I’ll just be over here on the edge of my seat waiting until it releases, thank you very much. I need it in my life! (Just like you need these books in your life.)

I love this series dearly and I can’t wait to see how Damien and Selene’s story concludes!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher as part of the blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are completely my own.


Flight of the Raven
(The Ravenwood Saga #2)
By Morgan L. Busse
Christian Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 352 Pages
April 30th 2019 by Bethany House Publishers

Selene Ravenwood, once the heir to House Ravenwood, is now an exile. On the run and free of her family’s destiny, Selene hopes to find the real reason her family was given the gift of dreamwalking. But first she must adapt to her new life as wife to Lord Damien Maris, the man she was originally assigned to kill.

While adjusting to her marriage and her home in the north, her power over dreams begins to grow. As the strongest dreamwalker to exist in ages, her expanding power attracts not only nightmares but the attention of the Dark Lady herself.

With a war looming on the horizon and a wicked being after her gift, Selene is faced with a choice: embrace the Dark Lady’s offer, or search out the one who gave her the gift of dreamwalking. One path offers power, the other offers freedom. But time is running out, and soon her choice will be made for her.

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Other Books in the Series

Mark of the Raven
(The Ravenwood Saga #1)
By Morgan L. Busse
Christian Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 352 Pages
November 6th 2018 by Bethany House Publishers

Lady Selene is the heir to the Great House of Ravenwood and the secret family gift of dreamwalking. As a dreamwalker, she can enter a person’s dreams and manipulate their greatest fears or desires. For the last hundred years, the Ravenwood women have used their gift of dreaming for hire to gather information or to assassinate.

As she discovers her family’s dark secret, Selene is torn between upholding her family’s legacy–a legacy that supports her people–or seeking the true reason behind her family’s gift.

Her dilemma comes to a head when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations, but who will also bring about the downfall of her own house.

One path holds glory and power, and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and execution. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen?

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About the Author

Morgan L. Busse is a writer by day and a mother by night. She is the author of the Follower of the Word series and the steampunk series The Soul Chronicles. She is a Christy and INSPY Award finalist and won the Carol Award in 2018 for best in Christian speculative fiction. During her spare time she enjoys playing games, taking long walks, and dreaming about her next novel.

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Tour Schedule


Tour Giveaway

  • 1 winner will receive print copies of Mark of the Raven, Flight of the Raven, and a $20 Amazon gift card
  • 2 winners will receive print copies of Mark of the Raven and Flight of the Raven
  • US only
  • Ends June 7, 2019

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Talk to me, readers! Does this series sound intriguing? And if you’re a fellow fan of these books, have you read Flight of the Raven yet? I must flail with somebody! Thanks for reading!