Book Blogger Novel of the Year Award Feedback – The Gatekeeper of Pericael

This is my second time entering the BBNYA and honestly first off, I’d just like to recommend it to all small press and indie authors. With an entrance fee of €20, it’s relatively affordable compared to most contests, and they do a wonderful job of getting their entrants exposure even if you’re not a finalist. Also, if you don’t make it to the finals, you can still get the judges’ feedback on your excerpt. (2k words for the first round and 10k words for the second)

Odriel’s Heirs was a fifth place finalist in the 2021 BBNYA, so it got in on blog tours and reviews, but since The Gatekeeper of Pericael was only a semifinalist in 2022 BBNYA, they sent me feedback on my first 10k words. And I really love it because I think it showcases how differently people can feel about the same book. So I wanted to share it because I think it really emphasizes the need for more than one beta reader or critique partner, and I also think it helps give perspective when you get rough reviews, because yeah, your books not for everyone. But some people will love it, and that’s still amazingly cool.

What our panelists thought

(To be clear, each judge wrote one bullet in each section):
Writing Style

  • Good, enjoyable. Gets stronger/better as it goes on.
  • Nice use of description. The language used for some of the descriptive passages is beautiful and really evokes the feelings of the magical jungle.
  • A little shaky at the start with a bit of extra ‘explaining’ thrown in, but settled down later in the extract
  • So good. I was sucked into this story right away, and even though a lot of information was introduced, it was done so well that I constantly understood everything that was happening without any confusion, brilliant!
  • Easy to read, very descriptive, easy to get drawn into.


  • Definitely feels unique and intriguing
  • Feels a little old for mid-grade in some parts but too young for teens in others
  • I wasn’t sure at the start but was gripped by the end of the extract
  • Quite interesting
  • I really enjoyed this and felt so engrossed in the story throughout.  It’s very original and so interesting! I’m desperate to find out what happens next, especially as the excerpt finished in the middle of a dramatic scene
  • Loving the story so far. I’m curious about the worldbuilding and the magic system. The story feels original so far. Would read on


  • Porter as a MC is a bit flat right now, but I’m invested
  • Anyone knows when summoning ANYTHING, you don’t insult them. Porter should have known better. This annoyed me.  Ames is fun though
  • I really liked Porter
  • Excellent characters
  • Good characters and they are all different.  Especially enjoy the different characters reacting to each other

Emotional Response

  • I don’t really feel that invested in the story. Perhaps I’ve picked up Porter’s distaste for the magical land. If the MC doesn’t care, it’s hard for the reader.
  • I cared about what was happening with Porter and Ames
  • Characters made for you to easily emotionally respond too
  • I just loved this so much.  It felt exciting, compelling and interesting too.


  • Good balance of various elements, intriguing storyline, feels like a refreshing portal fantasy.
  • I’d like to give it a higher rating, but we have been given a whole lot of worldbuilding very quickly with not a lot of motivation or emotion.
  • An interesting book that has great characters
  • A good solid book.
  • So good!!  Would rate higher if I could. It’s so brilliant, I enjoyed it so much 🙂

Thanks so much to the BBNYA for this amazing feedback, and I can’t wait to hear what the judges think of Idriel’s Children this year!

Upper Middle Grade is so hard to market, so I’m so incredibly grateful for any feedback. Thanks again, BBNYA

2022 Writing Sum-up!

So this is the time of the year where I try to reflect on how the last twelve months of my writing life went. Was it… productive? Fun? Fulfilling? Disappointing? What did I learn? What did I do well? What could I improve for next year?

And, you all… a LOT happened this year, and my small potatoes writing career took some big steps. So let’s take a look!

first, the numbers

  • Words written: 55,000 (The Ninth Circle) + 77,000 (Time’s Orphan) + 22,000 (Night of Ash) + 60,000 (Inky & Heater IRL) = 214,000 words (3 complete, 1 partial)
  • Words revised: 77,000 (TO) + 22,000 (NoA) + 99,000 (ItC) + 75,000 (TBA) = 273,000 words (4 books)
  • Words published: 22,000 words (1 book)
  • Words queried: 99,000 (ItC) + 75,000 (TBA) = 174,000 words (2 books)
  • 2022 Total Words Worked: 758,000 words

Sales Numbers: 650+ self-published books sold. Another 200ish downloaded for free. (Draft to Digital makes it little harder to distinguish between which books were bought and which were downloaded for free)

And the Goodreads numbers.

  • Odriel’s Heirs: 165 ratings / 4.33 stars
  • Burning Shadows: 17 ratings / 4.94 stars
  • Idriel’s Children: 50 ratings / 4.34 stars
  • Night of Ash: 9 ratings / 5 stars
  • Time’s Orphan: 8 ratings / 4.88 stars
  • The Gatekeeper of Pericael: 84 ratings / 4.34 stars
  • Into the Churn: 4 ratings / 5 stars
  • My Goodreads total: 341 ratings / 4.34 stars

For reference, the 2021 total was 214 copies sold, 136,000 written, and 554,000 words worked. So yeah. Obviously, still small potatoes. But numbers wise, this years kicked the pants off of last year in pretty much every single way, and that wasn’t even the best part!

The best parts

  • I got not one, but TWO publishing deals with Whimsical Publishing, and I absolutely ADORE working with them. It has been the best experience. And not only that, but I actually had another 2 publishing offers from small presses this year. 😱 This was new and exciting territory for me, and I was absolutely thrilled to make the leap from self-pub to small press with a publisher that loves me books as much as I do. 💛
  • Then, my YA paranormal, The Ninth Circle, got picked up for a WriteHive mentorship with EJ Dawson! 🎉 What?! Is this even real life? The first call was so awesome, and I can’t wait to whip the manuscript into shape with them!
  • The Gatekeeper of Pericael was a semi-finalist in the Book Blogger Novel of the Year Awards. I love my upper middle grade fantasy, but it can be so hard to market, so this was an exciting moment!
  • Odriel’s Heirs got over 100 Amazon ratings and finally got BookBub US and International marketing deals! 🎉 I was so stoked to get more exposure for my first book child, and I definitely had a positive experience with these. Fingers crossed I can get more books accepted in the future!
  • I got accepted to be a participating author at both OwlCon 2023 and StoryBound Fest 2023! StoryBound Fest will be my first in-person author convention, and I’m pretty nervous! So that’ll be an exciting new challenge for next year.

What I learned

  • This year, I really nailed down my outlining process with the Save the Cat formula, which really helped me churn out those first drafts. Thanks to Story Genius and an obsession with K-drama, I also had a crucial epiphany on how to develop likable, relatable characters.
  • I love dual-POV and the depth it brings to a story. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back.
  • I grew a lot more comfortable as a critique partner and have collected a few more writing friends who I can reliably swap feedback with.
  • I also was able to consistently read and review books on my book blog here! 62 and counting this year! This has been great way to give back to the writing community, bring more traffic to my little site here, and also sharpen my critiquing skills.
  • I learned how to create decent covers in Canva Pro! This was a super fun tool for my creative process and marketing purposes, but if I ever self-pub in the future, I’m glad I can use this as a viable option to cut costs. (However, if anyone has any recommendations on graphic design online resources, they would be so appreciated! I definitely still have room for improvement. 😅
  • Making playlists for my books and WIPs on Spotify is ridiculously transportive, and I can’t believe I didn’t discover this earlier. I now have a playlist for every single one, and it is an amazing way to get in the writing mindset and pivot quickly between WIPs.
  • Finally, I learned that small presses can be amazing, and honestly I wish I had investigated/considered them a more with first two books I queried.

What I still need to work on

  • Oh boy. So much. I’ve been making some strides in the last few months, but the balance of writing and social media engagement still eludes me, although I feel like I’ve grown more comfortable being my ridiculous, goofy self in reels and selfies. And I actually have a TikTok now – who would’ve thought that?!
  • Advertisements. I tried again this year, buutttt still failing big on this one. If anyone wants to point me toward some learning resources, I would LOVE that.
  • Querying agents. I had several full requests this year, but per percentage of queries I send out, my numbers are nothing to write home about. As I’ll probably end up querying two WIPs next year, I definitely want to focus on sharpening my query materials to boost my request stats next year.
  • Minimizing publishing expenses. Although writing is definitely more of a passion project for me than a business (thank goodness for the day job!), I definitely want to start streamlining my expenses so I can write long-term without permanently denting my wallet. Moving to small press helped immensely this year, and while I hope to publish more with small presses in the future, if I ever selfpub again, I’ll be streamlining my process to cut costs.
  • A brand? Right now I’ve been kind of all over the place: YA Epic Fantasy, MG Fantasy, YA Sci-fi, YA Paranormal, YA fairytale retelling, YA romance… I know one day, if I decide to really get serious, I’ll probably need to pick a lane of some nature, but right now I’m just having fun, so I’ll save that conundrum for future me.


So what can I go after? As always, I try to keep my goals measurable and attainable.

  • Get Time’s Orphan out into the world on February 8th, and officially complete my first series. 🎉
  • Launch Into the Churn on April 4th… and cross my fingers that it does well enough to write the sequel. 🤞 (p.s. If you read it and want more, don’t forget to rate, review, & spread the word on social media!)
  • Revise my YA Paranormal with my mentor and toss it into the query trenches
  • Revise my YA Romance and storm the query trenches with that one too!
  • Attend Storybound Fest and live to tell about it. (Did I mention I was nervous?!) 😅
  • And of course, write the next book. I have three outlines waiting for me, but I’m not sure which will win out here, so it’ll be exciting to see what I’m working on next.

So yeah, it’s been an incredibly fantastic writing year for me, and I’m so grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had and the people that have supported and encouraged me along the way. 💛 Here’s to more growth and adventures in 2023. As always, thanks so much for reading!

So thrilled with how much I’ve grown this year as a writer and so proud of these two books. I can’t wait to see them out into the world!

A Writing Update

Things are happening!

We pause the usual book reviews, for a writing update! It seems like there’s a lot going on lately, so here’s the quick scoop on my upcoming releases and works-in-progress (WIPs)!

The Biggest News:


I’m so thrilled to announce first young adult science fiction is coming to Whimsical Publishing in Summer (ish) 2023! If you’re interested in updates, definitely keep an eye on my Instagram and Twitter for more developments!

Writing Contest News:

In the NYC Microfiction Challenge, I made it to the final round! 🥳 Winners will be announced in September, and I’ll be sure to post my final entry and feedback here!

I submitted Odriel’s Heirs in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off! This contest is still in the early stages, but I’m excited to see the review of Odriel’s Heirs from Booknest.

I submitted The Gatekeeper of Pericael in the Book Blogger Novel of the Year Contest, and it made it into the semifinals! 🥳 Finalists are announced in September, but the competition is crazy steep this year, so my fingers are crossed tight!

What’s going on with Codename: CNDRLA?

I know this WIP is a favorite of many of my Betas and CPs, and it probably seems like it’s been in the query trenches forever! And yes, reader, it does feel that way sometimes! But, seriously it’s a good thing! I still have a handful of full requests I’m waiting to hear back on from agents and publishers. The process just takes a really long time! I’m hoping I’ll have an update by the end of the year, but we’ll just have to wait and see. 😊

When’s the last book of the Odriel’s Heirs series coming out?

Time’s Orphan (Odriel’s Heirs #3) is with my Critique Partners for revision this month, and I’m hoping to release ARCs this Fall for a February release. If that seems too far away, you can check out Night of Ash (Odriel’s Heirs #2.5) in the meantime! Night of Ash is the follow-on sequel novella to Idriel’s Children, and ARCs are available now before the 27 Sep release. If you’d like one, just give a shout.

Also, I’m in the process of creating paperback versions of Burning Shadows and Night of Ash, so if you’re interested in having the whole series on your shelf, you can! I’m hoping the paperback versions should be ready in time for Night of Ash’s release.

That’s all I’ve got for now, but if you have any questions, please feel free to comment below! As always, thanks for reading!

NYC Midnight Challenge Entry: Unplanned


June 2022 (Round Two)
Genre: Romance
Word: Mine
Action: Hanging Wet Clothes to Dry
Time Constraint: 24 hours
Length: 100 words

Emmy’s newborn mewl rattles my sleep-deprived brain as I hang her soiled, wet pajamas on the shower rod. This was never part of my plan—the fling turned unexpected pregnancy turned—

Emmy falls silent, and I freeze, ears straining. Did she smother? I rush from the bathroom and find Jake stretched on the carpet, humming “Baby Mine” with our tiny daughter curled on his bare chest. He peeks at me with a soft smile before inviting me in with an outstretched arm.

I slide into his warm, solid embrace, and everything else melts away in this perfection I never could’ve planned.

JUDGe’s Feedback

This one placed second in my group and got me to the final round! The feedback is below!


{1943}  Oh my gosh, this was a lovely romance! I loved the unexpected nature of the ending, after you set up our anticipation of a bittersweet outcome from a “fling turned unexpected pregnancy”. The image of Jake on the floor with the baby was delightful. My heart melted at the end, as he invited her to join the embrace with the baby. Wonderful!

{1963}  This piece subtly explores the theme of life’s unpredictability, and whether it ultimately is a positive or negative thing. The unplanned pregnancy, the fear of a spontaneous death — the gloomy atmosphere gives way to the realisation that things worked out well quite by accident; perhaps fate is not so cruel after all?

{2121}  Despite the narrator’s doubts and stress at the beginning of the story, revealing that none of the following events or situation she finds herself in was planned, she realizes by the end that some of the best things in life are entirely unplanned, precisely because they never would’ve happened had they been.  


{1943}  I thought your story was beautifully written. I would think about maybe adding some more sensory details to your narrative. You might also think about how to show the  mother’s panic, rather than telling us with “I freeze, ears straining”. I loved “did she smother?” but maybe this could stand alone, perhaps even using italics? I think there was more scope to create a very dramatic, heart stopping moment here?    

{1963}  The wording of the opening takes a couple of reads to understand that Emmy is the newborn, not that Emmy has a newborn. Additionally the hyphenation seems to artificially reduce the word count. Avoid risky tricks like these! You might be able to cut “Did she smother” to make room for small adjustments, since this doesn’t add anything not already implied by the rest of the story. 

{2121}  Instead of dwelling on how this was unplanned, the narrator could potentially express some conflicted feelings on new motherhood, another level of challenging because it was unplanned. Doing so would make her realization at the end that much more satisfying and coming full circle.

NYC Midnight Challenge Entry: Nothing Good Happens After Midnight

Nothing Good Happens after midnight

April 2022 (Round One)
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Word: Think
Action: Borrowing a Tool
Time Constraint: 24 hours
Length: 100 words

The doorbell rings again as I stumble through my dark apartment. Bleary-eyed, I open the door to find Nate in a dripping windbreaker.

Weird, I didn’t hear the rain.

“Dude, it’s three a.m.” I squeeze my temples, barely able to think after our boozy night. “Weren’t you staying at Mia’s? Did you fight?”

His gaze darkens. “Dylan, we’re friends, right?”

“Yeah.” I stifle a yawn. “You can crash on the—”

“I need to borrow something.”

My skin prickles in the balmy night. “What?”

“A shovel.”

My eyes finally focus, and I realize it’s not rain on his jacket.

It’s blood.

JUDGe’s Feedback

This one placed third in my group and got me to the next round! The feedback is below!


{2195}  The word choice in this is precise, each description carrying weight to further the story. Moving plot onward using conversation can be challenging but it’s done effectively here.

{1936}  This story had me riveted. The first line shows us the urgency of the doorbell as it’s clearly not the first time it’s rung. The dripping windbreaker and the fact that it’s not raining – again, eerie clues that something is not quite right.

{2230}  What a compelling read! I must say, I love this title — very clever, and it offers great foreshadowing as to what kind of events may unfold. I like how descriptive this story is; I could easily envision this playing out in my head while I read it, almost like a scene from a spooky short film. It’s very visual, and that reveal at the end is great: the jacket was wet with blood, and not from the rain.  


{2195}  Suspense thrives on what is left unsaid, and in this case I might prefer to leave out the last two words and leave the reader’s mind to figure out. Instead of using italics for thought, it may do double duty to have Dylan, for example, look up the cloudless sky and also let the reader make that inference.  

{1936}  I honestly don’t think that last line is needed (the age-old “show don’t tell” rule). Possibly consider ending it with the line just before it (“My eyes finally focus, and I realize it’s not rain on his jacket”). Trust the readers to draw their own grisly conclusion.  

{2230}  While I love this clever use of the prompts — particularly, “borrowing a tool” — perhaps there could be a quick line buttoning everything up at the end. Maybe something almost comedic, like: “And, uh, mind if I use your washer, too?” (Referring to his blood-soaked clothes.) Also, any chance there could be some foreshadowing earlier on? I like Dylan’s dialogue; however, instead of asking if there had been a fight last night, perhaps he could experience a brief flashback revealing that there in fact was one. It could all come flooding back to him. This is just some food for thought — excellent work on this story!

NYC Midnight Challenge Entry: A Ghost at the End of the World

A Ghost at the end of the world

December 2021 (Round Two)
Genre: Ghost Story
Word: Agree
Action: Pulling a String
Time Constraint: 24 hours
Length: 250 words

Tara woke slowly in her bedroom, the oppressive air silent and thick on her damp skin. She placed her bare feet on the rough wooden floor and considered the peeling floral wallpaper marked with rows of neat tallies.

Today was the day.

She rose and glided through the creaking farmhouse to the decrepit kitchen where her parents awaited. Her mother bustled between the sink, oven, and refrigerator—not at all bothered that they’d ceased to work years ago. The rocking chair swayed in the corner where her father gazed out the broken bay windows, surveying their overgrown lawn, forlorn without his attentions. In death, they orbited the house as they had in life, like a black and white photograph that refused to fade.

Here, at the end of times, Tara wasn’t sure what to make of them. After all, in an emptied world, perhaps Tara was just another unwitting phantom.

“Today’s the day.” She pulled at a rogue string on her fraying t-shirt, the line of pills waiting on the table. “I can’t do this anymore.”

No reaction. If her parents disagreed with her choice, they didn’t show it.

Tara picked up the first capsule and raised it to her mouth.

The screen door banged open, and Tara nearly leapt out of her skin. She turned to find a wide-eyed stranger standing at her door. Trembling, he fell to his knees. “Are you… a ghost?”

Tara squeezed her hand around the pill, a slow smile curving her lips. “I guess not.”

JUDGe’s Feedback

This one didn’t place, but the feedback is below!


{2104}  You successfully created a setting that was evocative and ghostlike. The line about the end of times combined with the reference to an emptied world gave your story a feeling of loneliness that came across very clearly.

{2086}  This story creates a superb sense of atmosphere, in a setup that is equally original. From the non-functional appliances to the overgrown lawn, and the dark decision that Tara has reached, the narrative exudes presence and mood.

{2035}  I loved the repetition in Tara’s life with the ghosts that surrounded her. The paragraph about her family going through orbits was particularly compelling, drawing us into Tara’s reality.


{2104}  I found myself confused about Tara and her place and role in the house. You wrote some things that suggested that she is also a ghost:

#1 – she glided through the farmhouse,

#2 – the appliances were not working so if she were alive, how would she be able to feed herself,

#3 – you suggest that she might be an “unwilling phantom”.

At the same time, you make suggestions that she is corporeal:

#1 – her skin is damp,

#2 – she is about to take some pills suggesting suicide, however this could be just the repetition of her death,

#3 – the stranger at the door asking if she were a ghost, yet he might be a recent ghost not realizing that he is also dead.

Was this house real or was it a stopping off place for the newly dead? Is Tara’s role to meet them?

These were all questions that went through my head as I read. I think your story would have been made even stronger if the ending were more clear.

{2086}  It might be interesting to consider whether there is some specific reason the stranger shows up at the moment Tara is about to take the line of pills she has set up for herself. This coincidence creates a compelling twist, but with even more context or catalytic purpose, it might land just that much more effectively.

{2035}  To me, it was a little too unclear who the man was that bounded through her front door. I think that trimming back some of the detailed description in the first paragraph would free up six or so words you could utilize in the ending to clarify the man’s sudden appearance.

Ups and downs with your friendly neighborhood small potatoes writer (2021 in review: Part Two)

So, in my last post, I talked about the numbers. But of course, the year is more than just numbers! Now, I want to talk about the highlights! New things I tried. Things I learned. Things I’d do again, and things I won’t. Mostly this review is a reminder for me on how to improve for next year, but hopefully others might find it useful as well.

New things I tried!

  • This weird writing/reading blog I’ve got going on! Since I often reach out to book-bloggers with review requests before I publish, I figured I should also open for review requests and try to give back to the writing community a little bit. This year, I reviewed 78 books! And honestly, thinking critically about what I enjoy and don’t enjoy in stories has been a great help to my own writing. Overall, it’s been fun and it’s a great way to support other writers and also get myself out there. So I think I’ll continue into 2022.
  • The NYC midnight challenge! This year I tried the 250 word, 100 word, and short story NYC midnight challenge. The short story one was a little more of a commitment than I think I wanted, but I made it to the final round of the 100 word challenge 🥳, and I’ve really enjoyed the feedback from all the contests. (You can see my feedback here) Will definitely continue the 100 & 250 word contests in 2022.
  • I also entered Odriel’s Heirs in the Book Blogger’s Novel of the Year Award, and it came in 5th! 🥳 The blog highlights they do as part of this contest are really cool and I would totally enter again in 2022.
  • The Page Turner awards! So, this one was a little bit of a lark. The more MS’s you submit, the cheaper the entry fee for each is, and I was able to submit five! Idriel’s Children and The Gatekeeper of Pericael were both finalists for the book award (full disclosure… there were a *ton* of finalists). And Codename: CNDRLA made the longlist for the writing award! 🥳 No luck for Odriel’s Heirs or The Belethea Race Royale (entered in the writing mentorship award), but I got a cool little finalist badge for Gatekeeper & Idriel’s. Still, it’s pretty light on the perks so I’d probably pass on this contest in the future.
The badge is cute though!


  • Although I love Burning Shadows and Idriel’s Children. After I finish the Odriel’s Heirs series, I will not be self-publishing any other sequels. I missed the prospect of querying (I know, weird right?!), and even though Idriel’s is a stand-alone, I found the sequel harder to market.
  • On a similar note, I don’t plan to write any more middle grade. Although I love writing for younger readers, getting a self-pubbed book into an actual middle-grader’s hands is super tough! And there aren’t as many book bloggers that are into middle grade. So YA all the way!
  • In 2020 I definitely rushed through the querying process for Gatekeeper. This year, I’ve gotten better at juggling multiple projects and realized just how silly that was. I started querying CNDRLA in November 2020. Currently, CNDRLA has three full requests out, and querytracker is telling me one of them will probably take until June to (let’s be real) get rejected.😂 Last year I probably would’ve been antsy… this year, it’s happily on the backburner as I work on other stuff.
  • I need one or two reliable SFF beta reading services in my life. I love beta read-swapping, but I have a terrible habit of taking on too much and gobbling up a lot of my time. So, I’m currently in the process of finding some affordable go-to’s. When I find them, I’ll let you know, but if you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them!
  • Social Media! Can be a great way to market your books… and it can also be time-consuming and draining. At one point, I got so caught up in doing daily prompts on Twitter and Instagram, it was taking up a lot of my time, and also piling on a lot of needless self-pressure. So this year, I realized I could give myself permission to step back from social media a little bit. Sure, my engagement’s not as good as it was, and I’m sure I’m missing out on marketing opportunities… but honestly I’m much happier when I don’t feel like I have to post, and it gives me extra time to focus on my WIPs!

refining the process!

  • This year, I made some huge strides in figuring out what my writing process is, and how to juggle multiple projects at once.
  • Alphas, CPs, Betas, Editor, Cover Artist, ACX narrator, ARC readers.
  • I now have go-to CPs (shout out to Caleb & Kayleigh!), an editor (MK editing) and a cover artist (100 covers.) I know where to go for ARC readers (Book Sirens), and I also know that audiobooks are totally not profitable for me 😅 (but they’re so amazing that I probably still won’t be able to stop myself.) Also, the Microsoft Word read-aloud function is a proofreading miracle!
  • I’m still searching for go-to Beta services, but with the process nailed down, it takes a lot of guesswork out, so I can focus on other things.

Still working on it

  • Getting a BookBub deal for Odriel’s Heirs. UGH! One of these days!!!
  • Querying! I will probably forever be working on this. But Codename: CNDRLA got the most full requests of all my works so far, so I feel like I might be getting better at it.
  • Marketing! This one is still super tough for me… but I’ve kind of made peace with it. I’m much happier spending less time on social media and more time writing, even if it means less sales. I’m also still trying to figure out which ebook newsletter promo’s work best too, so maybe I’ll try to be more methodical about it in 2022. I do think it works better to do 1 or 2 at a time and stretch them out rather than concentrating them all at once.
  • Also, I took the jump and went wide this year with Draft2Digital! That decision probably deserves its own post. But I think with future books I’ll stick with the Amazon/KDP situation… mostly because it’s easier to give away free books. 😅

wrapping up the year

So, I learned a TON this year! …And I still have a lot to work on… 😅 But there are couple things I’m super pumped about for 2022.

  • Codename: CNDRLA has gotten the most requests of any of my works so far, and I can’t wait to get it out there!
  • The Belethea Race Royale (working title) is my first sci-fi, my first dual POV, and my strongest side of romance yet. I’m so excited to query in 2022! Now… if only I could come up with a better title…🤔
  • 2022 will be the year I finish my first trilogy. And although I’m sure I’ll be a little sad to close the book on Okarria and Odriel’s Heirs, the epic conclusion is going to be so much fun to write!

That’s all I got for this year. As always, if you have any questions, suggestions, or recommendations please feel free to reach out! It’s been a blast, and I’ll see you all in 2022! 🥳

Thanks for reading!

Ups and downs with your friendly neighborhood small potatoes writer (2021 in review: Part One)

Well, it’s that time again! Time to look back on the year and see what worked, what didn’t, and how this whole writing thing is going. The review is important to me to make sure I’m still enjoying the process and see where I can do better.

In most of these self-publishing posts, I often mention how important it is to define what success means to us, measure ourselves in growth, and shooting for obtainable goals. But I also want to be transparent about my experience as a small-time self-pubbed writer.

So in this post, I’ll give a quick snapshot of my numbers, and and then in part two, I’ll talk more about the specific highlights and lessons learned.

The cold hard Numbers

Not much to write home about here. I sold:
15 hardcovers
93 ebooks
73 paperbacks
3,988 pages in KU
20ish* audiobooks
Total: 214ish copies

I’ve given away:
4,545 ebooks
38 paperbacks
179 audiobook promo codes
Total: 4,762 copies (not counting eARCs)

And my Goodreads review counts are currently at:
Odriel’s Heirs: 4.36 stars, 134 ratings / 109 reviews
The Gatekeeper of Pericael: 4.07 stars, 82 ratings / 75 reviews
Burning Shadows: 5 stars, 11 ratings / 8 reviews
Idriel’s Children: 4.29 stars, 42 ratings / 36 reviews
Total: 4.29 stars / 273 ratings / 228 reviews
(Thanks so much to everyone who took time to read and review—this means SO much to me!)

Which brings me to a whopping:
(Thank goodness for a solid day job! 😅)

So, yeah. Like I said—small potatoes writer over here just trying to grow and have a good time. 😂 So I try to keep my expectations low and look on the bright side. I put three more books out in the world this year, got more sales and reviews in 2021 than I did in 2020, I learned a lot, and I had a good time doing it. There’s still obviously a lot to learn, but I’d still call it a good year. 😊

But I also wanted to measure the year in another way…

*This is so hard to measure, because ACX lumps in your redeemed promo codes as ‘sales’ so this is purely a guess based on royalties…which are also counted in a variety of ways. Honestly it could be anywhere from 6-50 copies.

The warmer, fuzzier numbers

So, I’m constantly thinking about how to measure writing growth and goals, but it wasn’t until I was trying to estimate what I could accomplish in 2022, that a very simplistic idea dawned on me.

Successful authors often give some version of the advice that the best way to get better at writing, is to just keep writing. So, of course, the answer should have been obvious. I should measure my growth in words.

There are a lot of you who are probably looking at the screen like: 🙄 well duh, girl.

But I think this is trickier than it seems, because I’m not just talking about the words we write. I can usually write a book in 3 months, but it takes another 9 months (and countless rereads) to revise, edit, and polish…not to mention querying.

So, I think we need to not only count the words we write but also those that we revise, query, and publish (and if you have more steps in your process, then count those too!). Add them all together, and then we can get a feel for what we really accomplished in this writing year.

For comparison. I’m also adding 2020, since I didn’t do this last year. (Also… I’m not adding flash fiction – it’s too hard to keep track of.)

Words written: 10,000(ish) + 10,000(ish) + 78,242 = 98,242 (1 complete, 2 partials)
Words revised: 50,581 + 74,948 = 125,529 (2 books)
Words published: 74,083 (1 book)
Words queried: 50,581 (1 book)
Total: 348,435 words

Words Written: 20,828+94,328+21,013 = 136,016 (2 books, 1 WIP)
Words Revised: 20,828+78,242+94,328 = 193,398 (3 books)
Words Published: 20,828+50,581+78,242 = 149,651 (3 books)
Books Queried: 74,948 (1 book)
Total: 554,013 words

Now, that’s an interesting comparison! I really didn’t know 2021 was more productive than 2020. And while I’m sure there are a lot of reasons behind this, I know it’s in part because I made some important realizations as a writer this year that have really helped me grow and become more purposeful and efficient in my process. (Which I’ll take on in the next post.)

Of course, however the numbers are tallied, our writing year is not just a number. And, we can’t realistically increase that word count every year. Eventually we’re going to cap out. Even looking forward to my goals for next year, I don’t think I’ll get anywhere close to this year.

  • Finish Ninth Circle (50K words left)
  • Write Time’s Orphan (70K words)
  • Revise Time’s Orphan (70K)
  • Publish Codename: CNDRLA (75K)
  • Query The Belethea Race Royale (94K)

Total: 359K

But, that’s a goal I can really wrap my head around, one that’s completely in my control, and one that I’ll enjoy working toward.

My goal is words. My goal is writing. My goal is growth.

And it was a pretty awesome year. 😊

More to come!