Playlist: February 2023

Playlist: February 2023

Playlist: February 2023

From Tangled Roots Come Twisted Wings

This playlist was inspired by From Tangled Roots Come Twisted Wings, book two of my debut series, Not the Same River, which released on all major online retailers at the end of January.

Navigate to the Books or Not the Same River sections in the menu above for more information on the series.

Happy listening!

Gothic Christmas witch with amber eyes and fiery red hair

Touch – Daughter

Oxytocin – Billie Eilish

Demon – Sad Night Dynamite, Moonchild Sanelly

I Must Cry Out Loud – Mother Mother

Stakes – Vancouver Sleep Clinic

Faux – Novo Amor, Ed Tullett

Murky – Saint Mesa

Torches – X Ambassador

Dangerous Game – Klergy, BEGINNERS

Play with Fire – Sam Tinnesz, Yacht Money

You Made Me Human – Richard Wells

Temples of Our Gods – M83, Anthony Gonzalez, Joseph Trapanese

SkyWorld – Thomas Bergersen, Two Steps from Hell

Singularity – Elephant Music

Muddy Waters – LP

Don’t Close Your Eyes – Sam Tinnesz

Despicable – grandson

Made for the Battle – UNSECRET, GAITS

I’m Sending You Away – M83, Anthony Gonzalez, Joseph Trapanese

Outro – M83

Time – Mikky Ekko

Marigolds – Kishi Bashi

Resolutions – Scott Buckley

WIP Snippet #7: A Valentine’s Day Surprise

WIP Snippet #7: A Valentine’s Day Surprise

WIP Snippet #7: A Valentine’s Day Surprise

Of Blood & Oil


In honour of St Valentine, comes this snippet from book three of Not the Same River. This is not so much a work in progress as a done deal. Of Blood & Oil is going through its final copy edits, ready for publication on April 28th this year.

For those of you who celebrate, Happy Valentine’s Day!

character art of Raven Albright. Young man with long black hair and makeup.

WIP Progress

Of Blood & Oil: draft complete, 132,460 words

Series: Not the Same River (#3)

Stage: edited, ready for publication

Publishing date: April 28th 2023

Of Blood & Oil is available to preorder now from a number of online retailers. More will be added soon.

On Valentine’s Day, an unexpected box arrives for Seth—unexpected because there’s no way he’d open it at the kitchen island otherwise. He pulls a dark blue scarf from the package and pinches his face into a pouty frown. “I didn’t order this.”

I check the packaging while he runs his fingers over the silky stitches, but there are no clues on the printed label.

I rub the scarf between my fingers. “So soft. And it matches your eyes.”

“Very funny.” Seth stares at the small card in his other hand, his expression blank. “That’s what the note says.”

I laugh. “Somebody has a secret admirer.”

“Shut up.” He pulls the scarf over his head. “I don’t have anyone.”

“Looks perfect,” I say.

“Yeah, it’s all stitched, so I don’t have to knot it myself, but…”


“Well, obviously someone’s been watching me,” he says. “This is exactly how I wear my scarf.”

“That thing you wear is not a scarf. It’s a bunch of holes sewn together with stubbornness and nostalgia.”

“Two words,” he says, one eyebrow arched high. “Your. Coat.”

“I’m getting rid of it. Tomorrow.”

He’s still rubbing the soft scarf around his neck. “Don’t you think it’s creepy though? They must know I need a replacement, and I reiterate, because they’ve been watching me.”

“Yeah, and they printed the label, so you wouldn’t recognise their handwriting.”

He frowns. “The note’s handwritten.”

“Let me see.”

He hands it over and says, “I don’t recognise the writing.”

It looks vaguely familiar, but all I can see behind my eyes are the many and varied handwritten pages of [SPOILER], and they never settled on a handwriting style in their whole life. It’s also unlikely they sent Seth a valentine scarf from beyond the grave.

He’s rubbing the thing on his cheek now, but he stops to sniff the air. “Are you baking?”

He says baking like it should be criminalised.

“Just a baguette,” I tell him.

“I shouldn’t wear it,” he says, but his eyes are already in love with his new scarf. “I don’t want to encourage… Oh god, what if it’s a woman?”

“You really don’t know who sent it? Like, no clue at all?”

He shakes his head, then gets a faraway look in his eyes like he’s mulling over possibilities.

Archer comes in while I’m assembling my valentine treat to myself. I try not to think of [SPOILER] or the new batch of tea I found stuffed in the pocket of that ridiculous coat. I didn’t even feel them put it there.

“What the hell are you doing to that baguette?” Archer demands.

“Getting it ready for a romantic night out,” I say.

He leans over my shoulder. “What are you making?”

I nudge him away. “Hash brown baguette.”

“You want fries with that?”

“Shut up, funny boy.”

“No, really. I’m not sure there’s enough carbs in it.”

I laugh. “Just find me some hot sauce.”

“Not even sriracha can save that abomination,” he says, slamming the red bottle onto the worktop. “Where did that come from?”

I turn around to figure out what Archer is talking about, but he’s looking at Seth.

“There’s no label,” Seth says. “Must be handmade.”

“Seth has an admirer,” I say, then sink my teeth into my abomination baguette.

“Probably the postman,” Archer says.

We both turn to stare at him. “What?”

“Yeah, the postman is totally into you.”

WIP Update: January 2023

WIP Update: January 2023

WIP Update: January 2023

Thirteen at the Leash


Today, I finished writing my first book of 2023. Weighing in at 37.6k words, Thirteen at the Leash is the longest of the Tales from the Noctuary series. It’s also the last in the series, so that’s two complete series that I’ve written now. It’s about a resurrected murderous cult of witch shifters, whose only target is vampires. Let’s just say they’ve gone a little off the rails since they came back to life.

Below is a first draft snippet from chapter 1.

Click on the picture below to see my Pinterest board for this project.

character art of Raven Albright. Young man with long black hair and makeup.

WIP Progress

Thirteen at the Leash: draft complete, 37, 692 words

Series: Tales from the Noctuary (#4)

Stage: drafted

Projected publishing date: Summer 2024

Gabriel sighed as he laid the telephone receiver in its cradle. “Why must these people hound me so?”

Jelly, his capable assistant, looked up, a subtle smile on his face. “What is it now?”

“The Thirteen Club.” Gabriel closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, massaging away the pressures of the job. “Protestors on the doorstep. Almost a hundred this time.”

“Well, I have an answer as to why they hound you so,” said Jelly. “I shall quote you as a reminder.” Jelly put on an authoritative voice that Gabriel thought was rather overdone. “Any trouble, and I want to hear about it. The first sign of trouble, do you hear me?

“I do not sound like that,” Gabriel protested.

“On every day of the week that ends in a Y,” said Jelly.

Gabriel wasn’t sure why he let the man get away with such cheek when they were in private, but he couldn’t find it within himself to make him stop. “Get your coat on, then.”

The Best Investment I Ever Made in Myself

The Best Investment I Ever Made in Myself

The Best Investment I Ever Made in Myself

Settle in because it’s essay time.

This is a post for writers, especially for those of you who’ve been struggling to get your publishing shoes on. It’s about the one course to rule them all: Publish & Thrive.

I’ve been writing for many years. I finished writing my first book long before the self-publishing boom, but I put all thoughts of being a published author on hold while I raised my family. Then, in 2014, I heard about NaNoWriMo (forever late to the party), and started writing a book that had been in my head for almost thirty years. It was supposed to be a standalone, but we all know how that goes. One book became two, then four, then five, then six.

Then came the endless rounds of editing, the relentless grip of impostor syndrome, and the exhausting spiral of self sabotage.

Self publishing had become a big thing by the time I finished writing that series in 2017, but I couldn’t publish yet because what if it wasn’t good enough? What if I just tweaked those books for another few years? That would make them good enough, right?

I mean, no.

Adding extra glitter to a cake doesn’t make it more edible. My books weren’t necessarily getting better; they were just getting a teeny bit prettier, but not to everyone.

The weight of those people’s opinions had me making minor fixes for years, until I realised that I’d just been slathering my books with frosting only to scrape it off again.

Don’t ask me why I went with a baking analogy here. Not that I don’t love cake (who doesn’t love cake?), but I’m not any kind of baker. I should probably have just gone with too many cooks spoiling the broth, because that’s what was happening to the books I’d poured my heart into.

That’s just the writing part of the story. I haven’t even got to the publishing part yet.

I assumed I would just put my books into Kindle Unlimited because that seemed easy, but I had made a lot of writer friends on Twitter by then, and the hassle they had with Amazon put me off publishing altogether.

I started using their experiences as an excuse to never put myself out there. I was so scared of trying and failing, but I was getting older, and my health wasn’t what it used to be. And I started thinking about regrets. What if all my good health years were behind me? What if I never published a book? Would I resent myself forever? Just how many regrets did I want looming over me for the rest of my life?

So, I looked into wide publishing, learning all I could, so I would never be at the mercy of Amazon’s algorithmic whims. And I learned a few things. I learned lots of things in fact, including that I really wanted the freedom to make my books available to libraries, and to those parts of the world that Amazon doesn’t serve. I pumped my brain full of information, determined not to make the same mistakes others had made. But that doesn’t worry me anymore. Mistakes are inevitable part of any new business starting out.

And that’s what I’ve made myself—a new business. I am an author, publisher, marketer,  formatter, copywriter, web designer, and more. I hesitate to call myself any kind of designer, because my attempts at promo images are stone cold trash, but I’m working on it.

All this is to say that self-publishing is not for the weak. It’s a long hard slog, but as soon as I realised I needed to treat it as a business, I became both more terrified and more determined than ever. But I was still floundering.

I’d found the Heart Breathings YouTube channel by then, and had become obsessed with Sarra Cannon’s kanban board and HB90 planning system. And through that channel, I found the Heart Breathings Writing Community  on Facebook. I was participating in their YouTube sprints, meeting other writers, showing up for them, and for myself.

But I still wasn’t publishing. I was still letting fear rule me.

I’d bought a publishing course for indie authors before, but I’ll be honest, I never finished it. I was a little reluctant to buy another one, but I knew I would get through Sarra’s course because I work best with accountability, and those weekly live Q&A sessions gave me the kick up the bum I needed to get the work done.

I’m not sure I would have been ready for it even a year before, but when I took Publish and Thrive back in August of 2022, I was in the process of setting up a newsletter and giving my scrappy blog a makeover. I was fiddling with things tweaking and gilding.

But the course had a huge impact on my mindset. The “Thrive” part of Publish and Thrive was absolutely what I needed to hear, and by the time the course was over, I’d set up the preorder for Book 1 of my series, which launched the following month.

The confidence I gained from this course was astounding, and I can’t wait to go through it again, knowing just that little bit more about being a published author.

Because that’s the best thing about Publish & Thrive—you get lifetime access, so you can join in over and over again, go through it at your own pace, or go back to lessons when they become more relevant to where you’re at. And you get access to any new content Sarra adds in the future, including her excellent masterclasses.

Sarra has been busy re-recording all the videos for the February 2023 round with new and updated content, and she is currently opening only one round of Publish and Thrive this year, so if you’re thinking about taking it, now’s the time.

I can’t emphasise enough how the live weekly Q&As motivated me and helped me realise I’m not alone in this. Writing can be a lonely business without community, so if you do nothing else with this post, please do yourself the favour of joining the Facebook group.

But if you can relate to my struggles if you’ve been putting off publishing until you’re better prepared, or your book is perfect, or you’re certain you won’t make any mistakes, there will never be a right time to publish. There will always be some reason to wait.

I know this because I’ve been there.

But now I’m here. On the other side.

I’m a published author, with a second book coming out tomorrow, and a third going into preorder. And those books are available everywhere. I have a steadily growing newsletter and even get emails from readers. I’m not quite living the dream yet, but I can feel it coming.

Now, it’s your turn.

I don’t endorse things often, but this course is without doubt the best investment I ever made in myself.

So, when I got the chance to become an affiliate, I jumped at it. It means that at no extra cost to you, should you decide to click on the link below and purchase the course, I’ll receive a commission for sending you in Sarra’s direction.

Trust me when I tell you that she will help you find yours.

Publish & Thrive

Registration closes on February 4th at noon EST (5pm GMT).

Gothic Christmas witch with amber eyes and fiery red hair

Here’s what’s included in the six-week course:

  • Live kick off call on 4th February
  • Weekly live Q&As at the end of each of the six modules (typically 2 hours)
  • Hours of videos for each module, unlocked one week at a time
  • Additional masterclasses
  • Workbooks
  • Past Q&A videos
  • Lifetime access (including new content as it’s added)
  • A private Facebook group for students

Topics covered:

  • Market research and preparing to publish your book
  • Publishing your book, including vendor upload walkthroughs
  • Running your author business
  • Marketing your books
  • Sustainability in self publishing
  • Successful author mindset
  • And more!

For more information, head over to the course page here.

Heart Breathings Links

Looking Forward to 2023

Looking Forward to 2023

Looking Forward to 2023

Now December is here, I’m getting ready for Sarra Cannon’s brilliant planning system, HB90 Bootcamp.

It kicks off on the 11th of December with a livestream, and course enrolment is open until early that day. If you’re a writer, or just a busy person who needs to inject some planning into their life, take a look.

I can’t recommend Sarra’s courses highly enough. HB90 is a game changer.

You can find more information here.

*I’m not currently an affiliate, but I may be in the future.

Mugs of hot chocolate in front of a blazing fire

So, once the course starts, I’ll be planning for the first quarter of 2023. Here’s what I already know:

  • Book 2 of Not the Same River, From Tangled Roots Come Twisted Wings, will be released on January 27th (it’s already available for preorder).
  • A historical spinoff novella, featuring my MC’s neighbours, the Merryweather coven, will be released some time in March.
  • I’ll be prepping Book 3 of Not the Same River, Of Blood & Oil, for its release in April.
  • In March, I’ll be doing HB90 again for Q2. This planning stuff is neverending!
  • My writing projects are as yet undecided.

This has not been a writing year for me. Last year, I wrote eleven books. This year, I’ve written one, which I steamed through during NaNoWrimo, and finally finished on December 4th, which would’ve been my grandad’s 100th birthday. If he was immortal. It was a desperate race to the finish line, but it’s done. In the bag.

To be fair to myself, I also wrote a 40k bonus story for members of the Th1rt3en Club, which is what I call my monthly newsletter to make it sound fancy.

It is fancy. Come join us!

So, no. It has not been a writing year for me. At least, not as much as usual. But, I did rebuild my website, which was a huge undertaking given the state it was in. And I did set up my newsletter, which included a tonne of automations, thanks to that 40k bonus story I mentioned up there. I also formatted and published a novella, which is also free and exclusive for members of the Th1rt3en Club. And I published my first book. It’s not like I’m slacking over here.

Self publishing is hard work. You have to be all things. I outsourced my cover design and editing, but I did everything else myself. I’m a fiction writer, a formatter, a proofreader, a website builder, a marketing manager, a copywriter, a publisher, a business owner. It’s a lot, and I hope it’ll turn out to be worth it.

I’m proud of my achievements this year, and can’t wait to see where next year takes me. What I do know is this: by next December, I will be the author of seven published books instead of one, and I’ll be back here to celebrate with you.

However you spend the holiday season, I hope you have a wonderful time with the people who love you.

WIP Snippet #6

WIP Snippet #6

WIP Snippet #6

Puddles in the Pavement


In honour of British Puddings Day, I bring you a snippet about my pudding-scoffing archangel sleuth, Uriel, from Puddles in the Pavement. Here, he’s just hoisted the newspaper and his pudding from the ground to his upstairs window by way of a bucket. This is the first story in which you’ll meet Uriel in the flesh, unless you subscribe to my newsletter and read the bonus story. Uriel will make a detective of you yet. And he’ll stuff you with pudding. Spotted Dick is not what it sounds like.

character art of Raven Albright. Young man with long black hair and makeup.

WIP Progress

Puddles in the Pavement: draft complete, 30,046 words

Series: Tales from the Noctuary (#2)

Stage: edited, ready for publication

Projected publishing date: Summer 2023

“They’ll be lining up from here to Bishopsgate if you keep giving them half a crown for a pudding,” said Bel.

“How do you know it was half a crown?”

“Please! I can tell exactly which coin and exactly how far down the bucket was. I have a knack for these things.”

“Pointless things,” Uriel huffed.

“You’ll be financing her move to Pimlico. Then who will make your puddings?”

“The boy needs new shoes. If he doesn’t have them within the week, you and I are going shopping.”

“You can buy my new boots while you’re at it.”

Uriel threw the newspaper at Bel. “Christ, it’s still warm.”

Bel let out a long sigh. “These rooms are stifling, and the sun’s barely up.”

“Yesterday you complained about the rain.”

“Why must the British weather try to fit in every meteorological phenomenon in a single month? It’s supposed to be spring.”

Uriel did not respond.

“I hate it here,” Bel tried.

Uriel remained silent. There were only so many times he could listen to his brother beg to open the Mayfair house before he gave in. Of all his brothers, Bel was the most persuasive and his favourite, two factors which, when combined, usually had Uriel giving in quickly. Just this once, he was determined to stand his ground.

He settled by the window, his breakfast bowl already waiting on the small mahogany table. He carved himself a portion of the steaming pudding with a giant spoon and doused it in custard.

Bel waited for Uriel’s first moan of delight before giving him the news. “There have been twelve reports of missing persons over the last two days.”