I’m Donnnnne!

The edits on the romantic fantasy are off to my agent, as well as a blurb for both books, a synopsis, and a “mood board” which I’ve never made before, but here we are.

That means with the exception of a few possible tweaks, my part of this process is done for now, so I can play video games all weekend and not worry about it. In the next few weeks, my agent will review the edits, then start working on a submission package to see if anyone wants to buy it. Fingers crossed!

Since I made this mood board, would you like to see it? How about it along with the tiniest little snippet I shared on social media today for the #FridayKiss prompt?

If the answer is no, too bad, this is my blog and I can do what I want. ;)


A collage of several images reflecting a fantasy setting with spooky castles, pretty dresses, a wolf, a rose, a sexy couple, and a library.

Fun fact: while most of these photos are from a stock site, one of them is mine. 👀

The #FridayKiss prompt was “bed” this week, which is why I finally jumped in with a snippet:

Tiny Friday Snippet

I was supposed to be taking today off, since Mr. M is off, but I have failed rather spectacularly at that, so here’s a tiny, non-spoilery snippet of my new romantic fantasy. If I’m working, at least it should be fun, right? :)

This is still rough draft, subject to change, etc, etc. Happy reading!

The first door I tried was locked tight, so I moved on until I found a door standing open.  I peeked inside, and my breath caught—it was an enormous library, three stories tall and filled with heavy wooden bookcases holding what had to be thousands of books.

I’d heard rumors that the private royal library in Obrik held ten thousand books, but here was a treasure its equal.  I tiptoed into the room, worried that my mere presence would somehow damage the irreplaceable tomes.

But once the awe wore off, I saw that this room, too, suffered from neglect.  Some of the shelves were pristine—and I made note of which shelves the mage preferred—but most were dull with dust.

This, at least, was a problem I could solve, and I didn’t exactly have anything better to do while I waited for the mage’s mood to improve.

I was used to pitching in to help anywhere I could.  Cleaning would be no hardship—assuming I could find supplies.  And if I cleaned the library, then maybe the mage would be more likely to help me in return.

“I need cleaning supplies,” I murmured, unsure if the castle would understand.  “A broom and mop and dusting cloths.”

Light glinted in the corner of my eye, and when I turned toward it, I found a small door, nearly hidden between two towering shelves.  Inside the tiny closet I found a broom, and a mop, and dusting cloths.

I had not felt so much as a twitch of magic.

Totes, Edits, and Gates

I’m sure every single person who is publishing adjacent, whether reader, author, or industry pro, has a sufficient number of tote bags, but did that stop me from ordering custom totes for my Buns & Roses table?

No, no it did not. 😂 Behold!

Two large white totes showing the front and back with a copy of HUNTS THE STARS between them. The front is a stylized fox with a long tail, stars, and Starlight's Shadow text in a circular logo. The back is text that reads "My life is mine, but my heart is YOURS" with most of the text in blue and YOURS in a larger red script font.

Turns out, they’ll let just anyone design and print custom totes, and this is a power I did not need to know existed, because CUSTOM! TOTES!! 😍 If you’d like one of these lovelies, there are still a few tickets left for my table.

I had a chat with my agent this morning about edits for the romantic fantasy. Overall, she loved it, but it needs some tweaks to make it even stronger (as all my drafts do), then we’ll take it out on submission and see if anyone is interested in buying it. Cross your fingers for me!

I’ll be in the editing cave for the foreseeable future, which means my current WIP—which was supposed to be a quick little short story and is instead 13k words and growing—will have to be put on hold for a bit. Or maybe I’ll try to stab it to death this week, but my brain is already in edit mode, so we’ll see what happens.

In fun news, Mr. M and I started playing Baldur’s Gate 3 last week, and then immediately spent all weekend in a gaming haze. We’re some ridiculous number of hours in and just finished the first act. The writing is incredibly good. Coming from Diablo IV, it’s just leagues better. (Sorry, Diablo, I love you, but we both know there was some questionable story telling in the second half.)

I’ve played D&D, and I know sort of top-level kinds of information, but I’m not exactly deep in the lore. So when the first weekend’s stats came out and Githyanki was the least-chosen character race, I decided to choose it for my kind, upstanding druid who loves everyone and just wants to stab bad guys in the face with a sword.

Hoo boy.

Apparently the Githyanki are kind of jerks. And by “kind of” I mean, definitely, absolutely are. But I’m being the change I want to see in the world!

Mr. M is playing a half-elf wizard who is tending toward the darker side of wizardry. He picked up a necromancy book, and I was like “we’re totally destroying that evil thing, right?” and he was like “oh yeah, for sure, let me just put in my pack, nothing to see here.”

I have a feeling that maybe the book wasn’t destroyed. 😂

I recently leveled up enough to turn into an owlbear, so now I can stab people in the face or smash them into itty bitty pieces with my giant claws. Best of both!

Are you playing? If so, tell me your about your character! Just please don’t spoil the story. :)

And finally, UK readers, if you were waiting for the paperback version of Capture the Sun, your wait is over! The book came out last week, so you can order it from your shop of choice. Happy reading!

On Imposter Syndrome

A typewriter on a wooden table with a black background and the word IMPOSTER stamped in red across the image.

I had a nice weekend at ArmadilloCon! I got to meet some authors I knew from social media, which is always lovely. I’m in decompress mode today, but one panel has been lingering with me, and that’s the one about imposter syndrome. It was a forty-five minute panel with six speakers, so I didn’t get to talk at any length about what imposter syndrome looks like for me and how I get around it, but I have a blog.


If you’ve managed to go your whole life with a raft of confidence and no doubts, let me explain imposter syndrome: it’s the unfounded feeling that you’re not good enough, or knowledgeable enough, or smart enough to do something, and if you go ahead and do it anyway, then someone will immediately notice how terrible you are and expose you to the rest of the group as a fraud.

From this point onward, I’m going to be talking about my experience. Yours may be different! It probably is, but hopefully hearing about my experience and how I deal with it will be helpful or at least let you know you’re not alone. :)

For me, imposter syndrome is tied up with rejection sensitivity, gatekeeping, and having an excellent imagination.

I was put on the panel because I was complaining about feeling like an imposter while filling out the panel interest list. Speakers were supposed to go through and indicate which panels they’d like to do and were qualified to discuss.

That second part is what triggered my imposter syndrome, because am I qualified to talk about writing erotic scenes in SF/F? I mean, yeah, I do write those scenes, and readers seem to enjoy them, and I’ve written nine books, but there is probably someone better who could talk about it.

And that’s the problem. I compare myself to this imaginary “someone better” and always come up short, because the person in my imagination is perfect in every way, knowledgeable on every subject, and never, ever has doubts.

It’s the same reason my doctor had to change the pain scale, because when she asked it where ten was the worst pain I’d ever imagined, my pain always was like a four. Yeah, it hurt a lot, but not like being burned alive, eaten by a grizzly, and falling into a chipper shredder, combined. That would be a ten-worthy pain.

Having an active imagination can be both a blessing and a curse. :)

Another aspect is gatekeeping. Fandom has long had a gatekeeping issue—as does tech, let’s be clear—and I generally avoid situations where I’m going to have to “prove” myself: “Oh, you like Star Wars? I bet you can’t even name everyone on the Jedi High Council.”

You’re right, I can’t! I have to write down my own character names so I don’t forget them in the middle of a talk, and I spend hundreds of hours writing them. My goldfish brain flatly refuses to hold onto some types of information, which just feeds directly into my worry that maybe I am a fraud.

So how do I get past it? How do I put that book out there, or speak on that panel, or offer advice on the very thing that’s whispering maybe you’re not good enough?

Practice and perseverance.

I know you were probably hoping for a magical cure, but alas, if I had one, this post would be a whole lot shorter. :)

Unfortunately, overcoming imposter syndrome means doing things that are scary. It means putting yourself out there, for good or ill. Your brain doesn’t want to be scared or anxious, so it’ll tell you that it’s better to stay quiet, to take the easy path, to not take the risk.

Your brain is a damn liar.

So when it starts whispering its lies, try to look at things objectively, as difficult as that can be. If you truly can’t be objective, ask a trusted friend for advice. I know if I asked my BFF if I was qualified to be on a panel about writing better sex scenes in SFF, she would be like, of course, why is this even a question for you?

Writers tend to fall into imposter syndrome pretty easily, very possibly because we’re so good with empathy and imagination and worst-case scenarios. Are you writing a book and worried that it’s awful and you suck and everyone who said they liked it is lying to you? Welcome to being a writer! I’d say most of us struggle with those feelings, even people who are highly successful. Keep going, you’ve got this.

Did your book come out but it wasn’t an instant bestseller and now you’re worried that you’re a fraud? The vast majority of books aren’t bestsellers. It’ll be okay. Keep going and maybe your next book will be. Or your tenth, or twentieth. Or maybe you’ll have a very solid midlist career that will make tons of readers happy without ever writing a bestseller—but only if you keep going.

And imposter syndrome doesn’t go away with “success.” If anything, it can get worse, because the measure of success moves. At first, it’s just finishing the book. Then it’s getting an agent. Then a publishing deal. Then hitting a list, then hitting higher on the list. When the goal posts keep moving, it’s easy to fall into the thinking that you aren’t good enough.

You are good enough.

And don’t worry if you still feel like an imposter. You aren’t alone, and a little bit of imposter syndrome isn’t necessarily a bad thing. At least you won’t have to worry about being a pompous asshole. :)

I had several people come up after my panels this weekend and tell me how much they enjoyed my contributions. If I’d let imposter syndrome keep me at home, then those attendees would’ve missed out on my perspective, and that would’ve been a shame.

So keep going, keep doing those scary things, and it will get easier. Not easy, at least not for me, but easier. I’ll never measure up to that imaginary perfect person in my head, but I don’t have to. Even messy and imperfect and unable to remember the answer to a single gatekeeping question, I still have value to contribute.

Maybe the thing I say or do or write will be the thing that someone desperately needs right at that moment.

And that’s worth taking the risk.

Five Years!

Five years ago today, I was at my first ever author signing. Seems like forever and no time at all, in part thanks to all the time-warping the pandemic did. Look at this little baby author, so excited and so nervous:

Me sitting at a table stacks high with advance copies of POLARIS RISING, wearing a pink shirt, holding a copy of the book, and smiling nervously.

Those of you who are good with numbers (or memory) will realize this was actually more than six months before Polaris came out. My publisher printed up a bunch of ARCs for the RWA conference, and I was in a room with a ton of authors I admired, desperately trying to pretend I was a professional and not a screaming fangirl. 🙈

Then last month, I got to sign my tenth (!!!!) book! Granted, there were a couple of novellas and a novelette in there, but even if we just count the traditionally published novels, it’s my sixth. Not bad for five years. :)

A photo of me at BookPeople holding up a copy of Capture the Sun

My hair certainly looks better, even if it’s a lot more gray now. And I no longer have the deer in the headlights stare (as much, lol). And look at all of those books on the table! 😍

I get to keep doing this job I love because all of you, so thank you so much!

And speaking of author events, if you’d like to see my smiling face in person, I’m going to be at ArmadilloCon here in Austin on August 4 – 6, along with a host of other SF/F peeps. I’ve seen an early panel schedule, and it looks like it’s going to be a fun conference, so come hang out with me!

On the writing front, I’m still waiting to hear back from my agent on the fantasy romance, so I’m poking at a couple of shorter things. I’ve written 7k of a second Books & Broadswords-universe story. It was supposed to wrap up around 9-10k, since I wanted it to be short, but it looks like it may go a bit longer. I’ll probably publish it as a serial once it’s done, but I haven’t really thought that far ahead yet, so plans may change, etc, etc.

Really, I’m just enjoying writing without a deadline or contract. It’s a little scary, too, not going to lie, but I needed the break.

Otherwise, we’re just hanging out inside and avoiding the broiler that is central Texas right now. Yesterday was our tenth day in a row of 105°F (40.5°C) or above. Do not want, please return to sender. Mr. M has started semi-seriously looking at real estate in another state, lol. It’s that bad. 😭

I hope that your weather is more pleasant, wherever you are!