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Rán’s Daughters Q&A

Rán’s Daughters Q&A

Below is the Q&A I had the immense pleasure of taking part in, hosted by Alex from Spells & Spaceships, and in conversation with Joshua Gillingham, the author of the Ten-Trees Saga and creater of the Althingi Universe.

From Alex:

Hi everyone, it is my pleasure today to introduce a Q&A with Kaitlin Felix, who has an awesome new Norse novel to reveal to you very soon!

Check out the Q&A below between Kaitlin and Josh Gillingham (author of The Gatewatch and joint editor of Althingi: The Crescent and the Northern Star). Kaitlin’s short story features in the Althingi anthology, receiving high praise.

Kaitlin has included a mood board below too to show you the sort of vibe you’ll be experiencing when her book is released!


JG: Congratulations, Kaitlin, on your upcoming release! Ran’s Daughters is set to be published through Outland Entertainment in Fall 2023. How exciting! Is this the first book that you’ve written?

KF: Thanks for having me on the blog, Alex and for the Q&A Josh! This is so exciting. Ran’s Daughters is actually my fifth full-length novel, but will be my first published one, so I feel very fortunate to bring it to readers and fans of my shorter works.

JG: Many writers say that actually writing a book is akin to torture. How do you persevere through the hard times and what were some of your favorite moments while writing Ran’s Daughters?

KF: With every new story, it’s a different experience. Ran’s Daughters is no exception. My process has been grueling this time around, not specifically in the writing of it, but because certain events in my life and family affected my creativity and focus for long periods.
I was diagnosed with ADHD last year, and had also just finished drafting an historical fantasy during the height of the pandemic, so I came into this sort of depleted already.

I can’t remember who said this now, but an author shared once that each book is harder than the last, and I’ve certainly found that to be true. Every time you finish a book, your skillset grows. Those skills help you become more aware of shortcomings, and perfectionism emerges more often. Never a good idea to let perfectionism steer the ship! It doesn’t make a good navigator. You also need an adventure, a sense of wonder. Follow your instincts, listen to your perfectionism, but don’t let it take control.

Fortunately, I did have many wonderful moments to temper the not-so-wonderful. This past summer, I took a week-long writing retreat in Scotland, my favourite place in the entire world. I stayed with a lovely couple in their Bed & Breakfast (shoutout to Ronnie and Lesley of the Pitlochry Derrybeg BnB!)
I wrote 10,000 words that week, enjoyed many peaceful walks, ate delicious food and drank many glasses of wine, not to mention whisky! I will be returning for my next retreat, whenever that should happen.

Overall, this book has been a joy to write, and has forced me to grow and adapt, which can only benefit me in the long run. I want to say a special thank you to you, my editor, and my publisher, Outland Entertainment, for their extraordinary patience with me as I needed more time to write this book. I am so grateful for your support in particular, Joshua. It means the world to me.

JG: Ran’s Daughters features an all female crew of a Viking ship led by the gritty, hard-ass captain, Gyda the Grim. What do most people get wrong about the women in the Viking Age and what do you hope to highlight about their experiences through this story?

KF: Gyda and her crew of Daughters are in many ways an idealized image of what women could do in the Viking Age, but they’re also very much as accurate an image as I could portray while remaining true to the excitement of the story.
While I don’t think there is an historical equivalent to a ship’s crew of only women, I did my best to show their lives in the everyday, in the mundane and in their relationships.
Gyda Fiskwif is a trader and owns her knarr, or cargo ship, which she bought with the silver her deceased husband left for her. She is a free agent, but she is also at the mercy of the men around her. This plays out over the course of the story, particularly in the question of the cost of ambition as a woman.

I also chose to portray diversity in gender expression and sexuality. I wanted every character to have the flexibility to show their identity and their surroundings as seen through that identity. Fortunately, there are many scholarly works and articles nowadays that highlight this topic. Even the wide range of Norse history, texts, and mythology can show the range of expression.

In general, women in the Viking Age had many rights that women in other cultures did not enjoy, and vice versa. Viking women could divorce their husbands, influence their surroundings and steer campaigns of bloody vengeance, run households, gain wealth, and so much more. There is even archaeological evidence that some individuals did indeed go a-Viking. Which makes my shieldmaiden-heart so happy. Life could be as exciting as it could be brutal. And many of them achieved so much while also parenting and running households!

But it must be known that women were also subject to the often strict expectations of their society and the men who lead it. This is also true of the men themselves. Everyone had certain roles they were expected to perform, and deviating from them carried social consequences. I hope I have done an adequate job of showing a glimpse of how that could play out in peoples’ lives.

JG: We first learned about Gyda the Grim’s origin story through Wave Runners, your contribution to the in-world anthology Althingi: The Crescent & the Northern Star. I’m sure fans of the anthology will want to know: does Ran’s Daughters serve as a prequel or a follow up to her adventures there? And can we expect to see more from some of the characters we met there?

KF: Ran’s Daughters opens nearly a year after the events of Wave Runners. Please read the short story first! Spoilers to follow:

The plot of the novel follows Gyda and the Daughters as they navigate the consequences of Gyda’s actions in Wave Runners – specifically her killing the youngest son of the powerful Jarl of Dyflin, or Dublin as it is known now.
We meet new characters and travel to new places, but the ripples of Wave Runners are felt throughout the story. And, without giving spoilers, I have a surprise or two up my sleeve for keen-eyed readers.

JG: The cast of your tale is a colourful and cunning assortment of memorable figures, but who in your mind stands out as your favorite to write if you had to pick one?

KF: Oh, I’d definitely have to pick Sigtryggr, the roguish king of Jorvik, and Ruarc, an original character who is Irish and Norse. They both surprised me when they emerged on the page, and I’ve loved exploring their personalities and inner workings. I would love to write more about both of them, though they are very different people.

Sigtryggr, or Sitric, is an historical figure of the early 10th century, and a fascinating individual. There’s not a great amount of material on his youth, but we know that he was likely fairly young when he reigned as king in Northumbria in the 920s. He carried the byname Caech, which means “squinty,” “one-eyed,” or “blind.” I have given him a battle injury to reflect this.
In reality, Sigtryggr reigned as king for only 6 years, and died “at an immature age,” according to the Annals of Ulster. He accomplished much in that time, and certainly carried the legacy of his purported grandfather, Ivarr the Boneless.
Of course, I took many liberties in the creation of his character and deviated from history, as many authors must do sometimes.

JG: Of course, I must ask: what are you reading right now? And what would you recommend to readers who love tales of Viking women ahead of the launch of Ran’s Daughters?

KF: Tell me I’m not the only one who finds it difficult to read during the drafting process! I have a stack of books from author friends I’ve been dying to read and just haven’t had the time to get to. I’m always striving to read something, even if it’s incrementally or one page before crashing into bed.

Actually, I just finished God of Vengeance by Giles Kristian, because his prose always inspires me. He’s a vivid, visceral writer, and I appreciate that very much. The more brutal, the better, and I put a lot of that into my writing as well.
I also have been reading Thilde Kold-Holdt’s books, which just received its third installation, Slaughtered Gods. I am very behind in my progress due to time constraints, but I’m thoroughly enjoying the story.

There are so many books about Viking women I could recommend! There is a huge range of diverse authors within Norse historical fiction, and I consider many of them my peers and friends. Too many to name here, but if I had to name one author who writes wonderful, complex Viking women, I’d have to say Genevieve Gornichec. Also because she’s a friend and we do writing sprints together on occasion!
She released her debut, The Witch’s Heart, in 2021, which is the story of Angrboda, Loki, and their three peculiar children: Fenrir, Jormungandr, and Hel. Genevieve also just announced her upcoming novel, The Weaver and the Witch Queen, which I had the privilege of beta reading. It’s amazing, and you’ll all be blown away.

Next up for me is Shauna Lawless’ The Children of Gods and Fighting Men, Cat Rector’s The Goddess of Nothing At All, and Lyra Wolf’s Truth and Other Lies.

JG: Last, but not least, where can readers find updates about the publication of Ran’s Daughters? And where can they find you?

KF: I post updates on my website,, and there is also a form to sign up for the Wave Runners newsletter!
I can be found on Twitter @KatiFelix and on Instagram @kfelix_writes. I’m far more active on Twitter, but as there’s some uncertainty whether there will even be a Twitter soon, Instagram or my website are the best places to find me.

Prologue for Rán’s Daughters
By Kaitlin Felix

It is well known that when a child on the shore waves to their parent as they stand in the beast-prow of a ship of oak, journeying from the home-fjord to a far land and plunder beyond reckoning, that child goes away from the sight wishing to one day sail the swan-road after them. Often, they do. Still more often, they die in the doing.

Thus, it should also be known that such aspiring sea-striders must learn.

Cracked hands and sun-baked skin teach the lesson of how salt and heat can dry you like jerky, and kill if left too long without fresh water. Broken backs and snapped oars teach how the god Njörd wrestles with rowers, hoping to drown them, and so muscles must strengthen until arms and necks are as corded as the ropes that lash the sail and the hull of the vessel cuts through waves like a thief’s knife through purse strings.

The most important lesson a child must learn before anything else is that an ocean storm can be worse than battle. Worse than standing in a broken shield-wall with your friends bleeding and dying on either side. Worse even than the splitting, gushing death of mothers when a babe comes too early or too swiftly. Worse still than drowning in a river after falling out of a fishing boat, for though that is a straw-death, the drowned can still claim the simple glory of the desire to feed their families.

But drowning in a storm is not glorious. It is the way to be forgotten. No one will remember the drowned, for there are so many it would take a skald endless nights to recite them all.
There are no sagas of drowned sailors. But what child thinks of that?

Sometimes, a few hardened voyagers return to the home-fjord with tales of adventure, of the letting of blood and of bright, shining silver. And those are the tales that are most dangerous, for children will dream despite the danger, and dreams of that kind do not fade with time.
It had proved thus for Gyda Fiskwif years before, when she had been that child waving to a parent who never came home. So it would prove again for years onward, until the burning of the world at Ragnarök.

Continued in Rán’s Daughters by Kaitlin Felix.
Coming to bookstores everywhere Fall 2023!

Spring 2023 Update + Rán’s Daughters News

Spring 2023 Update + Rán’s Daughters News

Well, friends, it’s been a long while since my last update. It’s good to be back! I have a few things to share. First, a personal update, and then a writing/book update. Stick around or scroll to the end if you’re after news of my upcoming novel Rán’s Daughters!

First, the personal stuff –

In 2022, I took a big step back from my social media accounts. There were many reasons for this, but the biggest one is that my mental and physical health suffered a blow…and then another, and another. Suffice to say, the last 18 months have been pretty difficult for me and for my family.

To keep it brief, l have injuries that are ongoing and leave me with often-debilitating chronic pain in my neck and back. Alongside the challenges of adult ADHD, these injuries have further impacted my ability to work consistently. These are the major reasons why Rán’s Daughters has taken so long to finish. Fortunately, I have a great physiotherapist. I also recently invested in a standing desk, which has been really helpful for my pain.

My lovely husband helping to assemble my desk – he’s the best when it comes to anything Ikea!

It’s not all been grim! In February, we traveled to my family in America. This was the first time we’d been together since Pandemic times, and I was able to see my grandmother, who turned a respectable and venerated 90 years old! She’s precious to me, so every moment was a gift.

Last piece of general news –

Some of you who follow my sporadic twitter musings may remember I announced my family would move to Canterbury in the summer. Unfortunately, issues with UK visas have made it so that we need to remain in Zurich a while longer. While we are disappointed we can’t join our extended family in England this year, we are optimistic that we will get there when the time is right!

Now, on to the good stuff –

Rán’s Daughters is officially in editing!

I completed my draft in November after a lengthy writing process and enjoyed a well-earned break. I am now hard at work fixing it up and making it shine! When it’s ready, I’ll turn it over for copy edits, proofing, and the rest. I’ll have more news to share soon, such as cover art and release date! Sign up to my newsletter here to stay updated!

I also recently did a Q&A with author/editor/game creator extraordinaire – Joshua Gillingham! In our conversation, I talked about my writing process, my kickass heroine Gyda Fiskwif, and all of the wonderful research that went into bringing Rán’s Daughters to life. Alex from Spells and Spaceships hosted us, and as a bonus, I shared my Prologue!

Please go and have a read, it would mean the world to me.

For all you who love a mood board!

Finally, I want to say a huge thank you to all of you who are still with me on this journey. This book has been a labor of love for a very long time. In the midst of loss, injury, pain, and other heartaches, your support has meant everything. I write for all of you, and to give you a story that I hope will stay with you forever.

I also can’t express my gratitude enough to my publisher, Outland Entertainment, my editor Joshua, and to those of you who love the Althingi Universe. It is a privilege to be a part of it.

I want to give a special shoutout to Becky Hill, who just the other day posted a kind review of the story that started it all, Wave Runners, featured in Althingi: The Crescent and the Northern Star.

This was such a wonderful thing to see! Thank you so much!

Until next time, may the wind fill your sails and the sea bear you to kind shores.


A last word, if I may – If you would like to support me as I pay off the cost of my standing desk, please check out my ko-fi, where I will be posting something exciting as a reward soon!

A Very Valhalla Q&A

A Very Valhalla Q&A

While #Norsevember rages on, I’m back today with a Q&A from Raphael Bonato, co-owner and Jarl of the Valhalla Bar in Basel, Switzerland. I had the great pleasure of visiting a the bar few weeks ago – Review can be found here.

With Valhalla’s unique concept and striking execution, I had to know more about the man himself.

Raphael Bonato is the closest thing to a modern-day Viking. Known to his friends and patrons as a true son of Odin, he runs the bar with style and a great deal of fierce passion. Raphael was very gracious and answered every question I had, so without further ado, let’s dig in!

So, please tell me about yourself. Who are you, and what made you decide to open a bar that is Viking themed?

My name is Raphael Bonato and I live in Basel.

Before Valhalla I was a manager in a Rock/Metal Bar. Working in this bar brought me up with the idea to mix a place for people who are into Viking, Metal, Rock, and Medieval music. It just felt that there’s no other place like this. I started the project together with friends to realise it. Valhalla is open now for a bit more than one year.

It just felt that there’s no other place like this. I started the project together with friends to realise it.

Were you interested in Vikings and history before?

Yes. I am really interested in Norse mythology and also of the way the Vikings lived.

Tell me about the bar itself. What is the best thing about running Valhalla? Is there a lot of enthusiasm from patrons about the theme?

The best thing in my opinion is that we are a big family and everyone is accepted. We have a lot of people who are into the medieval scene, and there are also a lot of regulars who are here every week. They support us a lot.

Translation: “Welcome to Valhalla’s walls, where neither fear nor discord lurk. Be our friends and enter to be equal among equals. Drink our drink. Linger the night. Receive the old gods’ power.”

The best thing in my opinion is that we are a big family and everyone is accepted.

Do you get curious people who come in from the street to ask what it’s about? What about the locals? Do they think this place is interesting?

Because we are a bit away from the city centre, not really. Mostly people know the place or hear about it from friends. We don’t get a lot of tourists, mostly because of the situation with Corona the last year.

When are the busiest times for you?

The busiest time is the winter.

I see that you have a lot of quiz nights. I would have loved to come to the Lord of the Rings quiz! I’m really good at that kind of trivia. Do you have many of these events during the year? Are they very popular?

Yes, we do this every month. The last one was about Harry Potter. There were so many people that a few teams needed to sit outside!

What other sort of events do you host? Do you have many artists or creative people who are involved with the bar?

We have medieval nights often. Everyone can come in their Viking/ Medieval dress. Soon we will also have live concerts, comedy nights, burlesque shows, Dungeon & Dragons, Metalnight, etc. There is a lot in planning now. Before it was not easy to host an event because of the Corona Rules.

What is your favourite part of running Valhalla?

The medieval nights are always really cool to see all the people in their Viking clothes walking around with axes and horns. Also the comic strip night which mixed Comedy and Burlesque together. That is a relly big highlight from this year. The next one is on December 17th.

How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect you and the bar? What was the most challenging thing, and what was the easiest thing? Did anything good come out of it?

Nothing good came out of the pandemic. It was and still is challenging. We couldn’t organize normal events. It was hard to bring the people in with all the rules. Even now with the certification requirement, it is challenging to host people without the certificate.

What are your big ambitions? Do you see the bar expanding?

We want to bring up Valhalla Basel to become the one place to be in the city. The idea is to open other bars with the same concept throughout Switzerland.

We want to bring up Valhalla Basel to become the one place to be in the city. The idea is to open other bars with the same concept throughout Switzerland.

Finally, if you could serve a drink to any of the Norse gods or famous Viking heroes, who would you choose?

My favourite god is Baldur, because he is one of the most peaceful gods in the whole Nordic Mythology.

From our world, it would be the Berserker of Stamford Bridge who fought alone against the whole English army with just an axe in his hand. He gave the Viking army under Harald Hardrada enough time to reform and build a shieldwall against the English.

Valhalla Bar Basel can be found on Instagram and Facebook. Events are  posted weekly.

*all photos of Raphael taken with permission from his personal social media

Audio Drama – Out Now

Audio Drama – Out Now

After six months of hard work and research, the audio adaptation of my Norse-inspired folktale The Seeing Trees has landed!

“In the forests of Scandinavia a family is besieged by a malicious raven which watches and follows them everywhere they go.  How will they escape from this curse and at what cost?  The Seeing Trees is a dark nordic mystery with elements of violence, peril, horror, language and elements that some listeners may find disturbing.”

Fascinated by Viking mythology and history, I wanted to bring a darker angle to this story. Here is a short interview I did with the podcast, covering the influences and inspiration. You can also hear a fantastic monologue by Charis McRoberts (Follow her here!) My interview starts at 10:30 min.

From the Press Release:

“The Alternative Stories And Fake Realities Podcast has produced an audio drama based on a dark, psychological short story by American writer Kaitlin Felix, “The Seeing Trees”. Working with a team of actors all recording their lines separately from their homes, we’ve pieced together a production that is compelling and immersive and made entirely under lockdown.”

Watch the trailer here:

We had a range of brilliant actors for our cast. Here are a few, and a full list with links to their social media profiles:

Tiffany Clare, Charlie Richards, Lewie Watson, Amy Forrest

Charlie Richards as Trygve 
Lewie Watson as Harleif
Tiffany Clare as Mother
Amy Forrest as Freja
Chris Gregory as Magnus and Townsman
Annika Kordes as Townswoman 1
Karen Cooper as Townswoman 2
Kelli Winkler is the presenter

The Old Norse incantation is performed by Charlie Richards, Tiffany Clare, myself and Chris Gregory, who is the excellent director and podcast runner. He also created the original music and soundscapes.

Below, I have included the Old Norse text of the “Sigrdrifa prayer,” which is located in the Sigrdrífumál section of the Poetic Edda. The translation is by Dr. Jackson Crawford. We used the Reconstructed Medieval Pronunciation, taken from his youtube video here.

Old Norse:

Heil dagr
Heilar dags sýnir
Heil nót ok nipt
Oreiðum augum
Lítið okkr þinig
ok gefið sitjöndum sigr

Heilir æsir,
heilar ásynjur,
heil sjá in fjölnýta fold,
mál ok mannvit
gefið okkr mærum tveim
ok læknishendr, meðan lifum

Modern English:

Hail the day!
Hail the sons of day!
Hail to night and her sister!
Look on the two of us here
with friendly eyes,
and give us victory.

Hail the gods!
Hail the goddesses!
Hail the hospitable earth!
Give the two of us
eloquent speech, and wisdom-
and healing hands, while we live.

Alternative Stories and Fake Realities Podcast is totally free to listen, and you can find them on any podcast provider. You can also follow on various social media platforms. Click the image below to find them. Happy Listening!

I am incredibly grateful to Chris Gregory and to the entire cast for making the Seeing Trees a truly remarkable experience! I’m blown away by this production, and all the hard work that went into it. I am looking forward to working with Alternative Stories and Fake Realities podcast again!

Summer Update

Summer Update

It’s July, and I have so much to share!

First piece of news:

If you haven’t seen on my social pages yet, I recently had the pleasure of doing a Q&A with Joshua Gillingham. (Shout out to you, Joshua!) He’s fascinating, and a great source of mythological knowledge. A bit of a Renaissance man, really. In addition to writing, he’s a musician, game designer, and an educator. His website is chock-full of cool stuff, so head over to check it out. His debut novel, with one of the most KICKASS covers I’ve ever seen, is due to release this Fall. It’s titled The Gatewatch, available from Crowsnest books.

Photo taken with permission from Joshua’s website.

My full interview can be found here. You will learn a bit more about my writing process, the inspiration for my novel Draugr, and get a rare peek at my workspace!

Second piece of news:

Update on my current WIP:

Draugr is finished! It’s been 9 months or so since I began, according to last year’s update. I typed The End about three weeks ago, and after a (very short) period of letting it lie, I am well into my first revision. If all goes well, the first round of editing should be done by the end of this month or next.

I have mentioned this before, but I have found K.M. Weiland to be an excellent resource towards understanding story structure, outlining, and plotting. I am a pantser by nature, but with Weiland’s help, I’ve become much more of a “plantser.” As a result, the revision process feels much less daunting than it did for Wergild. This novel is structured using the Three Act plan, and so my struggle has been to keep everything as tightly-wound as clockwork.

The biggest obstacles I’ve faced so far:

  • My opening chapter was weak, and too short. I just wasn’t satisfied with the introduction to Leif and his “Normal World.” So as much as I hated to dive back into the drafting process (I just want to be done!) I wrote two brand-new opening chapters. We’ll see how beta readers react, but I’m pretty confident they do the job they’re meant to.
  • Currently, I’m working on three new scenes at the end of Act One, which should launch my Act Two much more effectively. If I do this right, the scenes should fit together like puzzle pieces and make the transition into the main body of the story much more smooth.

Third piece of news:

Back in April, I performed a reading of my short story The Gate. Through that performance, I connected with and started attending the AWCZ Writer’s Group here in Zurich. They hold a meeting once a month, and I’ve really enjoyed each one.

With these activities, I have made some fabulous new friends. One is a truly gifted poet and illustrator, named TAK Erzinger. She’s been such a ray of light and inspiration! You can check out her new book of poetry here. Her website can be found here.

My other new friend is Lorraine Curran-Vu, a former teacher and current personal essayist. She’s also my new writing buddy! We try to meet once a week, which has been fantastic for productivity. This past Monday we met on Lake Zurich and wrote for an hour. Who wouldn’t want a view like this?

Fourth piece of news:

Two weeks ago, I met my writing buddy in Geneva for a wonderful workshop on revision, taught by Michele Bailat-Jones. She is a wonderful teacher and I learned so much from those two hours. It was especially relevant with all the revision work in front of me. I was also lucky enough to network with a bunch of professional writers, and I’m really excited to see where some of these connections go. Writing can be so isolating, so I’m excited to finally emerge from my darkened office.

Me and my writing buddy Lorraine Curran-Vu in Geneva

That’s my update for July. As I get further along in my revisions, I’ll be sure to keep you updated! Follow me on Twitter for everyday flimflam and chicanery. 

March 2018 Update

March 2018 Update


You know the quote that says “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.”

It’s a Robert Burns quote, and even though the Scots language can be difficult to piece through, the meaning is clear. We all plan, but sometimes those plans don’t work out. Right now, I feel like my plans got set on fire, stomped on, and then left in a pungent pile of steaming refuse.

In August, I shared a little bit about the process of writing my UF novel and how to push through when the inspiration isn’t there. It’s a lesson I seem to have forgotten. I just had to count on my fingers to see how many months it’s been since I finished my novel, and how many months since I’ve even opened the document. The result was 7. That seems like a while, doesn’t it?

Not all of these 7 months were fruitless. The most important task I needed to accomplish turned out to be both the easiest and most challenging.  The easy part came first. In September, I cast my net for feedback from my beta readers, and received so many incredible responses. From that feedback, I was able to compile a list of editing tasks. But guys…as much as I was all gung-ho back in August, by October I was burnt out. Six years to work on the same project, bleeding the words onto the paper and then concluding that you have to bleed some more?

The feedback I received was fabulous, and constructive, but some of it was hard to swallow, if I’m being honest. We’re always our own worst critics, until we aren’t. When faced with some of my weak spots, I felt just a teensy bit defeated and uninspired. My creativity dried up. I began to doubt my ability, my choice of genre, and even my desire to be a writer. That self-doubt paralyzed me. Every time I opened my master document of my novel, I hated every word. I wanted to burn it, delete it entirely, and start again.

Thankfully, I had a few amazing friends (shout out to Taryn, especially!) remind me that it was ok not to write. I didn’t have to edit my novel right then. I didn’t have to write anything. I didn’t even have to open the document if I didn’t want to. It would still be there. My work would wait for me to be ready. And it was ok to not be ready for as long as it took.

My brain had a little trouble wrapping itself around this concept. I am such a perfectionist, and such a do-er (my sisters would call me an overachiever) that I forget to let myself and my work just be. I convince myself I am not doing enough, or I am not doing well enough. The merry-go-round in my brain just can’t let it rest. I’m either a terrible writer or I’m not giving my best. That kind of self-condemnation is destructive. And paralyzing. 

And since I’m being rather transparent, that thinking pattern extends to my parenting, my housekeeping, and pretty much every sphere of my life. Perfectionism backs me into a corner and beats me over the head with my perceived failures, making me simultaneously hate my writing and myself.

It’s a daily battle to remind myself that I am enough, I am doing enough, and that it is ok to rest.

A lot of writing advice recommends letting a manuscript rest for a while before you pick it up to start editing. So in the spirit of making healthy choices for myself and my writing, I decided to just stop altogether. Self-care takes on many faces these days.

So, with the decision to put writing on the backburner, I turned my attention back toward more important issues within my family.

We spent the entire month of December in England, enjoying Christmas and the New Year with family. January saw us back home, under the weather with strep throat, and then February seemed eternal, with never-ending colds. March has dawned with an invigorated sense of optimism. We’ve begun choosing paint to redecorate our living room, and I’m buzzing with ideas.

We also just finished up a period of sub-zero temperatures here in Zurich. The sun is finally starting to peek out of the oppressive cloud-cover, and Spring feels just around the corner. With that shift in energy, I feel a shift within myself.

Just like the peeking sun, and the fragile snowdrops pushing their blooms through the ice, my creativity seems to feel the thaw. I’ve posted poems recently  – here and here – in an effort to flex those lax muscles. I even won a small award for a poem, which you can read here.

It feels good to work, even if it’s not my big projects. Motivation and inspiration are still a wee bit sleepy, but I’m confident. With this new lesson of extending grace to myself, I hope to have made the first steps in editing by next month.



Until my next update,

Take care, and remember to have grace for yourselves.

Success in Writing and Progress Report – August 2017

Success in Writing and Progress Report – August 2017

Near the end of 2011, I sat down and sketched out my first rough idea for an urban fantasy novel. And as I enthusiastically brainstormed and developed ideas, a bitter voice in my head told me to stop, to give up, to throw the towel in and relinquish the dream of being a writer. “Better to give up than be known as a bad writer,” it told me.

That small voice has been present from that day until the day I wrote the final word in my first novel. Three days ago, at 11 pm, I closed my google document and sat back in my office chair in complete disbelief. I’d done it. I’d finally finished my very first complete novel. And I told that small voice to suck it.

In another post, I will describe the six-year-long path I walked to reach the last page. But in this post, I want to focus on the present.



I began and abandoned dozens of stories over the fifteen years since I began writing. These stories range in genre from historical fiction, to urban fantasy, to romance, and even to fan fiction. After handfuls of chapters, or even just paragraphs, I’d hit a wall and quit, or lose interest and begin another story. I gave up on project after project. And for a very long time, I felt like a failure. I still do, on bad days. The question that runs through my head after every failed short story or work is perhaps a question every writer has after an uncompleted project:

  “How can I call myself a writer if I can’t even finish anything?”

Success can take on many different meanings to a writer. This is especially true if you’re a writer of fiction. For many, the ultimate goal in its simplest form is to finish the project, and then publish it. And if you don’t finish a project, it’s very tempting to call yourself a failure. And even if you do finish something, even if it’s as short as a haiku or as long as an epic fantasy, the inability to publish it can haunt you and create a hell of a lot of self-doubt.

Success for me meant never giving up. Even when depression or circumstances told me that I would never finish, that my novel was too broken, too cliche, too boring, or whatever lies the voice in my head decided to tell me any given day. Success meant that I sat down to write when I didn’t feel like it, and that was a lot of the time.

Success looked like marathon sprints over the course of a few hours, and it looked like one sentence in a month. It also looked like no words at all for months at a time.

I think the true success doesn’t look like the end result, or the achievement of publishing. Through this process of writing and sticking with this novel, through all the structure changes and plot refurbishment, all the character development, all the technology failures and loss of whole chapters, all the rewrites and editing, I learned that the true success is just showing up to the process again and again.

Let the creativity carry you. Let the frustration buoy you instead of lie to you. Sit down again and again and again. Type a word, delete it, come back another day. Just don’t quit.

You don’t have to write every day. You just have to write. That’s real. That’s truth. That’s success.


Next Steps:


Now that my Second Draft is more or less in working order, my next step is to go through a rough edit of the entire thing. I’ve never really figured out my large editing process, so this will be a fun period to get to know that part of myself. I enjoy editing, on a chapter-by-chapter scale, so editing the whole monster should be just that, but bigger, right? Right?!

Once I’ve gone through and made sure everything follows my plot structure the way I want it to, and I’ve managed not to obsess too much over little details, I’ll be searching for an agent. I’d like to see if I can find a professional editor, but that particular detail is kind of scary. And kind of expensive. So I’ll see if I can find an agent, and if by some miracle I do find one, we’ll see if they point me to an editor. This is going to be a long process, and I will share every step with you. I hope you’ll all come with me!