Personal

Spooky Book Giveaway!

We are a week away from Halloween and I wanted to share a Spooky Book Giveaway to celebrate!

I totally meant to do this earlier this month, but, well, life. Regardless, spooky season is all year long, right?

Here’s what I’m giving away:

-A signed hardcover copy of Monsters, Movies, & Mayhem. This one will be signed and personalized for you by me. My short story, “Hyde Park,” is included in this anthology.

-A signed paperback copy of Cursed Collectibles. Also signed and personalized by me! My short story, “The Garden Party,” is included in this one.

To enter here on the blog, all you have to do is:

  1. Subscribe by email or follow Isle of Books
  2. Leave a comment with your favorite Halloween tradition.

I’ll be picking a winner on Tuesday October 27th!

Personal, Writing

Writing Update: Starting Something New and Winter’s Cry Reprint Available

It’s been a minute since I’ve done a writing update. Not because I’ve had nothing to report, but because I’ve been basking in the magic of starting something new.

Last fall, I had an idea for a short story that I started, but didn’t finish until spring of this year. I loved the seed of that little idea so much, but it was a tough one to get going, to turn it into all I felt it could bee. I finally had a spark of another idea to help me this spring and finished my little short story. I loved it immensely and was tremendously proud of it. I remember thinking, “This is the best thing I’ve ever written.”

I took it out to a couple of my beta readers. The three of them have been reading early drafts for me for years. And they loved it too – enough to set me in the direction of taking my little short story, a germ of an idea that took half a year to incubate enough to get it to roughly 6,000 words, and encouraged me to do more.

In the midst of a hellish year where the truth is stranger than anything fiction could devise, that little short story got a revamp and is now the entry point to a new novel.

Fast-forward a few months and I’m now coming up on 45,000 words into the draft of a book I never intended to write. And I still love it with all my heart. It’s lovely and odd in all the right ways. Dark, but also punctuated with moments of hope and beauty. A tribute to both a world that no longer exists and one that never existed at all. It’s the book that only 2020 could write, but also just a step past where I was headed all along.

There’s something very strange about creating inside a year that’s haunted by darkness. Anyone who’s started something new this year, made a positive life change, gotten engaged, married, had a baby, bought a house, I think understands the friction that exists when you set your personal happiness alongside a year that continues to staunchly declare itself itself the worst year of our lives. Many creators have stopped creating entirely, unable to make art or create beauty out of the ether.

It’s also why those of us who HAVE found a way to create, to carve happiness in small fits and starts, who are experiencing some of the most profound joys of the human experience even against a backdrop of darkness, find these moments taste a little bit sweeter, as if to compensate for the bitter taste of life that is the year 2020.

I’m so excited to finish this draft, to get all the pieces down so I can really shape it into something I think is special. Even if it’s special to no one else, but me in the end, I think there will be something unmatched about a creation that sprung unbidden out of the wasteland and that for its creator, presents an ever-refilling well of ecstasy, light, and hope.

This is getting a bit longer than intended and I do have some other things I wanted to drop into this update since it’s been a while so let’s shift gears!

-I’m still continuing to query Shadow of the Magician. Doing that during a year like 2020 is about as soul-crushing and wearying as you’d expect. Nothing much to report here.

-In happier news, an older short story of mine, “Winter’s Cry” was reprinted in The Magazine of History and Fiction this spring. You can read it here.

-My recent short story, “Hyde Park,” received a mention in this awesome review on The Nerd Blitz for the Monsters, Movies, & Mayhem anthology. You can check it out here.

-I wrote a new short story this fall and am continuing to shop around a short story from earlier this year that I received a nice, personalized, and very encouraging rejection for from a publication I really admire. Fingers crossed it finds a home somewhere soon!

-And in non-writing news, we officially have a date and venue for our wedding!

Fiction, Personal, Publications, Writing

Monsters, Movies, & Mayhem Included in the Chills and Wonder StoryBundle!

Looking for something good to read this weekend? Monsters, Movies, & Mayhem has been included in a new StoryBundle curated by New York Times bestselling author, Kevin J. Anderson! The “Chills & Wonder Bundle” includes 13 dark fantasy, urban fantasy, and thriller titles available in ebook format from authors like Jonathan Maberry, Lucienne Diver, Amity Greene, Kevin J. Anderson, and others. It also includes a copy of The Wolf Leader by Alexandre Dumas! All 13 books are available for as little as $15 and a portion of the proceeds go to support the Challenger Learning Centers. The bundle is only available for a limited time so click here to buy!

Anthology, Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Personal, Publications, Sci-Fi, Short Stories, Writing

Monsters, Movies, & Mayhem Out Today!

Monsters, Movies, & Mayhem is officially available today! This anthology features 23 new stories celebrating monsters and the movies. I’m honored to have my story, “Hyde Park” included in the stellar lineup. Edited by Kevin J. Anderson and published by WordFire Press, this is an awesome anthology you won’t want to miss. Available in paperback and ebook.

Click here to buy it now!

Lights! Camera! Monsters?

Sometimes you go to the movies. And sometimes, the movies—and their monsters—come to you. At any moment, without notice, monsters once relegated to the screen become a reality. Aliens and demons, dragons and ghosts, werewolves, vampires, zombies, and seemingly ordinary people who are just plain evil.

Join award-winning authors Jonathan Maberry, Fran Wilde, David Gerrold, Rick Wilber and others for 23 all-new tales of haunted theaters, video gods, formidable demons, alien pizza, and delirious actors. Each story takes you to the silver screen with monstrous results. 

Funny or grim, unsettling or cozy… You’ll laugh! You’ll sigh! You’ll scream!

Grab popcorn—and good running shoes—and enjoy the show.

Featuring stories from: Jonathan Maberry, Rick Wilber, Brendan Mallory, Ryan F. Healey, Hailey Piper, Julie Frost,  Karina Fabian, Charles Maclay, Jesse Sprague, Kevin Pettway, Luciano Marano, Linda Adams, Cindy Hung, David Boop, Phyllis Irene Radford, Andrew Hearn, B.D. Prince, David Gerrold, Ben Monroe, Shannon Fox, Steve Rasnic Tem, Fran Wilde, and Sam Knight

Anthology, Horror, Personal, Publications, Writing

Writing Update: A Starred Review for Monsters, Movies, & Mayhem!

The current pandemic has me working a lot and reading a lot (expect more reviews as soon as I have time to get them up!), but I’m popping in briefly to share that the upcoming anthology I have a story in, Monsters, Movies, & Mayhem, received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly!

Click here to read the review on the Publisher’s Weekly site

Note: The cover inside the review is wrong, the actual gorgeous cover of the anthology is below.

I’m really excited to be part of this project alongside some fantastic authors and looking forward to sharing more details about how you can purchase a copy as we get closer to the summer release!

Personal, Publications, Writing

Writing Updates: Winter’s Cry to Be Reprinted in May and Some Personal News

In the midst of all this Coronavirus craziness, I haven’t had time to update my blog at all – and definitely not with the bright spot of news I recently received!

My short story, “Winter’s Cry,” is being republished by The Magazine of History and Fiction in May! It was previously published by The Copperfield Review in 2012.

“Winter’s Cry” is a short story set in the mountains of Colorado in the winter of 1890. Short on cash to fund his upcoming wedding, a young man accepts a position as a ranch hand. But as an unusually harsh winter descends, his friendship with the owner’s young daughter is put to the test when wolves close in on the ranch.

In other writing news, I’ve finished two new short stories since the beginning of the year. I have one more I’m working on then I’ll start writing my next book. Looking forward to starting a new big project!

And in personal news, I have an announcement…I got engaged in February!

My fiancee surprised me at home after we went downtown to celebrate a late Valentine’s Day! We are planning on a wedding in 2021.

 

Anthology, Personal, Publications, Writing

Cover Reveal: Monsters, Movies, & Mayhem Anthology

Before Christmas I shared that the story I’d submitted to the Monsters, Movies, & Mayhem Anthology had been accepted! Today I’m excited to share the cover of the anthology which will be released this summer!

The anthology was developed for the Publishing MA at Western Colorado University and is being published by WordFire Press. Edited by Kevin J. Anderson, it includes new stories from Jonathan Maberry, Fran Wilde, Rick Wilber, David Gerrold, Steve Rasnic Tem, and others…including me! The anthology is expected to be out in July 2020. I am looking forward to the release and am delighted that my short story, “Hyde Park,” will be included!

Personal

Today I Am Thirty

3-0.

Three decades.

Today, I am thirty.

I don’t think I greeted twenty with nearly as much reverence as I do turning thirty today. I’m sure at twenty I was just impatient to get to twenty-one and then to twenty-two so I could graduate college and start my life.

The beginning of this year brought us the ten year challenge and everyone’s nostalgic trip back in time. I held onto mine, knowing I’d really want to do it today instead.

Thirty Things I Did Between 2009-2019

-Committed to my writing major at UCSD and became a film studies minor. Best decisions ever! I remember the remaining years of college as the time my creative well was the most fulfilled. Still miss it.
-Made many new wonderful friends.
-Moved into my first apartment with the best roommate.
-Had my heart broken.
-Started IsleofBooks.com as a book review blog and it’s still going today, though the content has evolved over the years.
-Got the second coolest job I’ve ever had helping do archival research for a book.
-Graduated from college.
-Ran an open mic night at UCSD for a year.
-Got my first real job.
-Met and fell in love with my soul mate.
-Moved into my first apartment alone.
-Became a manager for the first time.
-Discovered several professional passions.
-Moved into my first house alone.
-Got my California real estate license.
-Wrote, sold, and published several short stories, poems, and lots of non-fiction pieces to various publications.
-Found first one writing group then another which tremendously helped improve my writing.
-Got an Honorable Mention for a story in a writing contest.
-Had a story come out in a physical book.
-Joined a book club like I always wanted.
-Acquired a dog, two cats, and another horse. These animals really stack up!
-Traveled to two new countries and several new cities as I committed to visiting at least one new place every year.
-Attended many professional conferences both inside and outside San Diego.
-Invested tremendously in my own mental health and personal growth.
-Learned to travel alone.
-Joined a networking group.
-Attended the weddings of many of my childhood best friends and watched them welcome babies (with more on the way!)
-Celebrated five years at a job, the longest I worked anywhere.
-Decided to leave my job and start my own business.
-Started that business and 1.5 years later, we’re still going full steam into 2020! We’ve expanded outside of California and have worked with people in sixteen states and counting.

And tonight I am heading to Belize for a quick vacation with my boyfriend and some friends. Starting my next decade in a new country, checking one more place off the travel bucket list.

And because of course no significant milestone birthday should be without a list of at least a handful of things I’ve learned over the years, here are the five most important lessons I’ve gleaned from three decades of life:

1. Time is Your Most Precious Resource

From the moment we’re born, the clock is running. Time is dwindling down. We can’t pause it, freeze it, rewind it, slow it down, or create more of it. All we can do is make choices on how it’s spent and continuously reallocate it. That’s it.

2. Relationships With People Matter the Most

What does it take to achieve any level of success? If you ask me, it’s learning how to build relationships with others. And not just to serve your own goals. Treat people well, do your best for them even when it inconveniences you, remember them in all life’s little moments, and you’ll never want for a friend or an ally, no matter how dark the night.

3. Self-Awareness is Key

Before you can do anything for anyone, including yourself, you have to know who you are, what makes you tick, what energizes you, and what wears you down. If you pour the time in to understanding yourself, learning to trust your gut, and recognizing the little hints that your life is out of alignment, you will unlock your own personal guide to being your best self for you and for others. But if you don’t do the work of figuring yourself out first, you’ll always be left guessing at what you need to perform at level ten.

4. Self-Care is Not Selfish

Noticeably absent on this list is my list of goals for the next ten years (and beyond!) of my life. Yes, I have them. No, I’m not sharing them here today. All except for one. I’m declaring 2020 the Year of Me because I’ve finally internalized that self-care is not selfish. See point three of knowing what you need to operate as your best self. Then read it again. Slowly. Backwards. Underline. Make notes in the margins. Self-awareness is key and self-care is not selfish.

5. You Only Live Once, So Why Not Do The Most?

I’m known for going above and beyond. For doing too much. For engaging in activities that aren’t the most logical on paper. Things that don’t scale. Taking the harder route to avoid doing the easy thing. Partially that’s how I’m wired and partially it’s because I often don’t see the cleanest route to get somewhere. And while that often leaves me feeling overwhelmed, tired, and used up, it also often leads to the most magical moments of serendipity. Many wonderful relationships, opportunities, and experiences came because I went further down a path than I should have gone, said yes to more things than was healthy for my mental health, and sometimes made poor decisions with my time. I can point to many moments where something I regretted saying yes to in the moment (and did it anyway) led me to a wonderful new client or referral. A decision that made no sense to others (and actually, even to me) put me on a path to meet someone with just the piece of information I needed for an answer I was holding on my heart. Those things I thought I didn’t have time for (and actually didn’t) were usually the gateway to breathtaking moments of peace and serenity.

Yes, I could do with a lot more rest and down time (see point 4, Year of Me), but when I look back over the last ten years in particular I can honestly say, I did A LOT with the time that was given to me. And for that I feel infinitely blessed because time is a gift given unequally and indiscriminately.

Wherever you are today, I challenge you to look at your one precious life and ask yourself if you’re doing the most to live a life filled to the brim with moments that matter, a life without regrets, a life worthy of the light you carry.

Photos: Jarnard Sutton at Nardcast Media

 

 

Personal, Publications, Writing

Writing Updates: “Hyde Park” Short Story Sold, Publication Expected July 2020

In my last writing update, I mentioned I wrote and finished a short story two days before the Halloween deadline for an anthology. Well that story, “Hyde Park,” is now sold!

Apparently there were over four hundred entries for the Monsters, Movies, & Mayhem anthology and just twenty-two made the final cut! I’m honored to have made it all the way to the end with my story and can’t wait to check out all the other pieces in the finished anthology.

Here’s my original pitch for the story:

Doctor Faustus meets The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde in “Hyde Park”, a story about a young writer-director who’s keeping a monstrous secret about his overnight Hollywood success.

Executive edited by Kevin J. Anderson with an editorial team provided by Western Colorado University’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing, Publishing MA students, the anthology will be published by WordFire Press. Expected publication for Monsters, Movies, & Mayhem is July 2020.

 

Personal, Reading Spaces, Writing

Writing Update: Rainbow Bookshelves, Audio Books, and More

I’ve needed to do something about my book shelf situation at home for about two years Problem was, I really liked the bookshelf I had, really liked my living room set up, and didn’t want to just get rid of a perfectly good bookshelf (or perfectly good books). So I kept piling all the new books on the floor near the book shelf, telling myself I’d figure this out once I got a little time. Except that never happened and months became years.

We recently hired someone to come clean our house every three weeks (it’s every bit as worth it as everyone tells you it is) and I realized that I really had to figure out this problem because there’s a whole corner of the house that was super dusty and full of cobwebs that she couldn’t clean because of the precarious book stacks. Not to mention our cats love to sit in the window since the shade broke and they had to jump over the books to get there.

I polled a few friends with all the ideas I’d been kicking around, but it was the Boyfriend who sealed the deal when he suggested we just move the existing book shelf into his room. I loved that idea because it handled my conflicted feelings of getting rid of something that was still great and usable by repurposing it to a different area of the house.

Last weekend, the long-awaited project finally got under way. I forgot to take a true “before” picture, but the books that are on the floor in front of the shelf, are actually the overflow books that have been sitting on the floor forever. So you can kind of imagine how bad this situation had gotten. I had books on those two shelves as well as along the top.

Keep scrolling to see the final product!

Before I started the project, I’d a found a picture of a rainbow book shelf and showed it to my friend, fellow writer, and book worm, Kristin Luna. She suggested I go for it since I was redoing everything anyway. I’ve always loved the look of a rainbow book shelf and wanted to do one “someday.” But I hadn’t thought seriously about doing it this time around. Again, I polled some friends and then asked the Boyfriend if he minded that I created a giant rainbow in our living room. Bless him, he said he didn’t care at all.

I am absolutely in love with how the finished product came out. I want to tweak a few things about the decor, but I love this effect and it makes my heart so happy seeing it every day.

Now on to the writing updates! Cursed Collectibles is now available as an audio book! You can buy it here from Amazon or if you do an Audible trial, it’s actually free! If you want a little preview of the collection, when you join my email list, you get a free download of the recording of my story, “The Garden Party.”

I finished another short story around Halloween for a themed anthology two days before the deadline and sent it in because you miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take. Also YOLO. I heard there were over four hundred submissions to this anthology so I’m not hoping for much as I literally stayed up to midnight writing it, but I’m pretty proud of myself for getting two stories written and submitted to things with actual deadlines this fall.

This month, I haven’t written anything as I’ve been busy with client projects and prepping them for the holiday season/end of the year. I have an outline for one more short story I want to write before I start writing my new book and I’m actually more excited about this short story than the other two I finished. Overall, I’ve been super, super antsy to get back to writing so hopefully I’ll manage to carve out some time in the middle of the holiday madness to get that done.