New release, and Tangent Online recommended reading for 2017!

It’s release daaaay! What a way to start the new year off right, yeah? My new novella, Thorn and Thimble, is a dark fairy tale set in the cold of the Russian taiga. So if that’s your kind of thing, maybe think about giving it a read? The cover’s pretty snazzy, too, if I say so myself:

Thorn and Thimble final

Raised on her father’s terrifyingly spellbinding fairy tales, Robin Weatherwax knows evil is a force of nature…

Even so, on a quest for a relationship with her mother—a botany professor—Robin puts aside her fear of nature to travel in the Russian taiga. The only remaining obstacles are the grad students taking up her mother’s attention.

But as the research team forays into the woods, a chilling voice whispers to Robin of a curse and a thirst for her blood. Robin will have to face the evil that calls to her or risk losing her chance at everything she’s ever longed for.

Sounds exciting, right? You can grab it at these places for only $2.99:

Amazon, Kobo, Books2Read

Something that makes me go ‘squeeee’ is the fact that my short story “Killing Spree”, published all the way back in January 2017 in Fiction River: Tavern Tales, has been included on Tangent Online’s 2017 Recommended Reading List! They rank stories with either no stars or with one, two, or three stars. “Killing Spree” has made the cut with one shiny star to its name, which I think main character Spriegan would be just fine with. As for me, I’m absolutely giddy! (I’ll note my dad doesn’t have one on this list, so I’ll get to rib him on that for a little while)

While I certainly haven’t read even close to everything on this list, I’ve read some of them, and can say that I find myself in good company. If you’re looking for something to read, you wouldn’t be amiss to start your search here!

I’ve been doing a lot of reading the last month as I prepare for a fantasy writing class coming up in April, so I’ll leave you with a recommendation of my own. If you’ve never read The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, you might consider giving it a read! I found it charming and light-hearted, and yet edge-of-my-seat tense for the second half.

Also, if you’ve never seen the version of Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart, you should definitely check it out. Creepy, unnerving, and yet doing its own thing, I really enjoyed the way the cinematic version walked the line between cinema and stage theater. Plus, of course, Patrick Stewart is fantastic. Give it a watch, you won’t be disappointed.

Happy New Year, everyone!


A Year of Full-Time Writing or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Daily Structure

Well, I’d been dreading it for a while, but I finally bit the bullet and… rearranged my books and stories page.

Not such a colossal undertaking, I suppose, but one I kept putting off nonetheless. It’s a little more intuitive now, I think. Still divided by novel vs. short fiction, but with my recent releases closer to the top for easier discovery, and a whole new section just for highlighting the newest, shiniest thing I’ve put out. (Pssst, I’ve just put out a story today, and you should totally check it out!)

It might not be the fanciest of such pages on the net, but I think it’ll work for the time being. Should be easier for me to keep up-to-date, too. So I can check that off the Neverending List of Dreaded Chores and skip along to the next task.


The Husband and I made some changes to our lives last year, including moving to a new house in a neighborhood that suits our lifestyle and values much better, lessens his commute by at least half (thus giving him back a huge chunk of time that he used to spend dodging idiot drivers and white-knuckling through Michigan infrastructure), and allows me to work from home. These changes have made such a huge impact on our happiness and quality of life, it can sometimes make the time before the move seem like a dream out of someone else’s life.

So, my first year working as a (essentially) full-time writer wrapped up about a week ago. It’s taken me pretty much all of that time to really figure out how that was going to work for me. I’ve kind of ended up focusing on a lot of short fiction this year, doing various stories for a variety of bundles and other markets, and using those smaller projects to hammer out the kinks in my daily, weekly, and monthly work schedules.

Writing while holding down a day job is tough, frustrating, sometimes even impossible. Sometimes you have to make some annoying choices about how to use what free time you have. Get some progress done on the WIP, or spend some quality time with The Husband?

But somehow, bits and pieces of time are found, and the work gets done. Maybe not as fast as you’d like, but it gets done. The idea of quitting your day job, of finally being “full-time” and having the ability to get tons of projects done, is a billboard that reads “If Only I Had More Tiiiiiiime,” and it glows way off in the distance on the dusky interstate of life, indicating an exit that may not even lie along your current route. Or an even better metaphor.

A funny thing happens once you suddenly have all that tiiiiiiime, though. Because all that tiiiiiiime does not come with the built-in structure for how to use it the way a day job does, and, for someone like me, lacking structure leads to floundering, flailing, and ultimately, surfing the internet all day before finally getting maybe a hundred words written.

If it weren’t for all the other wonderful things I mentioned about our new life, I’d have slid head-first into depression within a handful of months.


I’ve never had to define my own daily structure before. Maybe this reveals something about me, about the privileges I had while growing up and then as a young adult. But it is what it is, and suddenly having the freedom to decide exactly how I’m going to use every second of my day turned out to be a lot scarier than it seemed back when it was just a big, glowy “If Only” waaaaay off in the distance.

For a big chunk of this past year, even though I was still turning various projects in, I felt like I wasn’t getting anything done AT ALL.

I tried a lot of systems to manage my time. Some worked once, some worked for a few days or even a couple weeks. Maybe all of them would have worked right off the bat if my personality were more attuned to this sort of thing, but maybe not. I have no way of knowing.

But I think the reason none of them worked is that they were designed around the writing. They were designed to get myself motivated, or to trick myself into writing with various rewards or Pavlovian responses, or even to berate myself for not doing the work, rather than being built around giving myself a daily structure. Because once I focused on structure, it all suddenly clicked.

My writing schedule today isn’t really about writing, it’s about my whole day and where writing fits into it. Because I’m not just a writer, I’m also a wife, a home owner, a cat guardian, a reader, and a gamer, plus I still have a small part-time job that has to fit in somewhere, too, and all of those parts of myself deserve time on my schedule. The structure makes it so I don’t have to decide every day when to do each thing or how to prioritize the parts of them, and thus removes a huge piece of the fear that used to paralyze me in the earlier parts of this past year.

So I’m learning to love my daily structure, as scary as it seems, because it’s my own. At the very least, I’m a lot happier with the way I’ve utilized my writing time since implementing it.

The Fount of Magic Release Day

It’s finally here! The day when I can share the third Songbird River Chronicles book with everyone has arrived. It’s been a long time coming, and launch day is a huge relief.

I am quite proud of this one. I feel like my writing skill level has increased since writing SINGER, and I think it shows here in FOUNT. I’m also giddy over the cover, which I think captures the spirit of the book. Plus, it’s pretty! Don’t you think so?


TFoM Cover eBook copy

Three heroes, three conflicts. The fate of Songbird River City hangs in the balance.

Katherina, the Greatest Fencer in the Realm, faces false charges of murdering Klessia’s Master Magician. Serille, the amateur Magician, struggles for a chance to retaliate against those who attacked the Guild of her heart.

And Singer, beloved leader of Songbird River City, returns to her homeland after defeating a rogue dragon to find her city in smoldering ruins. Her greatest fear has come true: her sword, the energy source for her city, has fallen into the hands of the evil Sorcerers in Chirlinia, and with it, the ability to control her enormous robotic Search-and-Rescue machines.

And as the three friends journey to different corners of the Two Continents, the Sorcerers’ attempts the sow dissonance between them may yet work…


You can pick up your copy over at Amazon or Kobo. Early purchasers will be loved forever, and early reviewers will be cherished like the treasures they are! If you need to catch up on the story so far, check out books 1 and 2 on my Books and Stories page!

And now, back to work on the next novel…

I Was Only Pretending to Procrastinate

I just finished my first real read-through of the first draft of book three of The Songbird River Chronicles, The Fount of Magic.

I finished writing that draft… um… a while ago.

And while I did, in fact, beat myself up over the fact that I was spending all of this in-between time NOT editing it and preparing it for publication, I find now that the distance has actually been extremely helpful.

First off, I had a chance to forget some of the story. Oh, I remembered the big overarching skeleton of the piece, and lots of chunks of the flesh, but some of the details had escaped me. I actually went back and reread books 1 and 2 as well to get back into the story.

Second though, and more importantly, I’ve had time to grow as a writer between finishing the draft and now. I’ve been reading a whole lot for pleasure lately, as well, something I haven’t had time to do since I was in high school, really. I’ve been critical of the books I’m reading, picking out things that I think work really well and things I can see don’t work at all, and I’m analyzing them as best I can. It’s been really fun going through my own work now and using those skills to see how I can make the second draft actually work.

That isn’t to say that the draft is broken, currently. It works, the story is there, and it’s pretty decent. Pretty damn good in lots of places, to be honest. It’s just the bits in between those “pretty damn good” chunks that need some reworking.

And that’s where this whole distance thing is coming into play. Because, when I first finished the draft and immediately turned around and read through the thing again to attempt some clean up, I floundered. I knew it needed something, but I just could not tell what it was. I knew particular chapters flagged, but for the life of me, I had no idea how to make them crackle the way the other chapters did.

So I got frustrated, and I put the draft aside.

And now, many, many months later, when I opened it up and read through chapter one (which needs some not insubstantial work, though is by no means the worst offender) the answer immediately snapped into place in my head. The same thing happened when I got to my other trouble chapters.

Two chapters will need heavy rewriting, and I mean total scrapping, tossing out the window, light those suckers on fire because just GAG me already they sucked. Most of the rest need some light reworking to adjust the information flow, or to adjust for the major changes in those rewrite chapters.

But there are some that I’m just not touching, because as far as I can tell, they are in exactly the form they need to be. Those are the chapters that I was reading along, and suddenly realized I’d forgotten I was editing them. They’d sucked me in, and I’d just been going on a ride with them.

Like I was reading a real book! An entertaining one! With plot and characterization and pacing that worked properly!

And when that happened, I stepped aside, patted myself on the back (because, as writers, we don’t acknowledge our own good work often enough. I say, if your own work carries you away like that, let it! That’s the whole point of writing, after all!), and made myself reread the section more critically.

So, long story short, I no longer feel so guilty about the procrastination. Well, I do, but I feel it worked out for the better this way.

I’ve got the house to myself this Saturday. I’m planning to make some decent headway into this thing, now that I’ve got my edits outlined. Maybe I can even wrap it up before we leave for our Germany vacation in a week?

So long as I don’t start procrastinating again…

Second verse, same as the first

So in my last post, I told you all about my first short story publication in the 2015 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide, and how that was awesome due to a number of factors, including the fact that both me and my dad have stories in it. If you haven’t taken a look at that anthology yet, you really should, especially if you have middle-grade kids who might enjoy reading some science fiction aimed at them.

But today, I have to apologize for what may seem like a repetitive posting.

Two days ago, the Fiction River anthology Pulse Pounders was published. This anthology is really cool, because not only does it mark my second short fiction publication, it also marks the second anthology in which both my father and myself have stories! (Could this be an emerging trend? Is there more Collins take-over to come? Stay tuned, loyal readers!)

Pulse Pounders also features a never-before published original Frank Herbert (Dune) story, so that’s really super cool. Here’s the cover for your enjoyment!

FR Pulse Pounders ebook cover web

Yeah, my dad’s name is on the cover, and that means that half of mine is, too! This is how I know I’ve “made it,” my friends. *self-deprecating laugh*

Another sweet thing about this anthology is that, if you pick up the Kobo special edition, you’ll get some extra stories that aren’t in the print or other e-versions! How cool is that?

This anthology is full of exciting stories, from action to thrillers and lots of stuff in between. My story, “Frostburnt”, is a traditional fantasy, but the stories cover a range of genres. I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t be bored reading this collection, so check it out!


It’s official! One of my short stories, “The Sugimori Sisters and the Interplanetary Concept Clash”, has been published! And what’s way cooler is that my dad has a story in the anthology, too.

The 2015 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide is available now on Amazon in e-format, and will soon also be available in print. It’s full of science fiction stories aimed at middle-grade kids, and especially focuses on inclusion of girls. There are tons of great stories in here, and I’m honored to include my own beside them. Give it a look!


Also, I will be speaking on a few panels at ConFusion 2015 next weekend. I hope to see lots of people there and talk about lots of fun stuff!

An Article About ME!

I recently went to my hometown of Columbus, IN to visit my family and to attend a local festival. We had a lot of fun, both with the family and the festival, but I also took a little time out to be interviewed by a writer for a local publication that focuses on women in the community. The publication is called SHE Magazine, and features articles about how women from the Columbus area are doing their own special things. My special thing, of course, is that I write and have published two novels!

The article came out earlier this week, and I thought I’d shamelessly share it here with all of you. Because I’m awesome, of course, and everyone deserves to know that!

The article about ME starts on page 26. You should check out the rest of the magazine, too, since it’s pretty cool in general.

Obviously, this means that I have achieved “famous” status. The money should be rolling in by the truckload now, right? I’ve “made it,” now, right? RIGHT?

I’m chugging along on a new short story, having achieved 1,000 words on it so far. The finished product should be no more than 6,000, so this is good progress. I’m really enjoying this story, and I’m excited to figure out the best way to tell it. After all, often times the way we first envision telling a story is not the best way to go about it IT ALL. This results in frustration, of course, (especially in longer pieces) but it’s a good kind of frustration, the kind that lets you tear your hair out for a little while, but then sits you down and makes you work to turn something that’s good into something that’s really great (or, at least, better than what it started out as, right?)

And, even though there is frustration, there is satisfaction, too, once you know what needs to be fixed and have an idea of how to go about it. After the hair has been torn and the head bashed against the wall.

Writing is fun! Remember, I’m famous now. You can trust me.


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