Status Update on My First Novel

Summer of 2021, I made the decision to start writing my first novel. When I started on that journey all I had was my love of the written word. I’ve had no formal writing training. I want to create something that makes others feel the same way I do when I read something fantastic, and it changes my life.

Here we are now, Summer of 2022, and I have learned so much about the intricacies of writing. There is far more involved than I ever thought possible, and I have such profound respect and admiration for all authors.

I have had the opportunity to join a community of writers via The Write Practice and while I still have so much to learn and many skills that need honing, I am well on my way.

And now, my update…

I have officially completed the first draft of my first novel!! I feel so incredibly accomplished and proud!

I still have several steps between a finished first draft and a published book, but I have finally reached the top of this first mountain and the view from here looks great!

My next step is going to be a break from the keyboard, and a headlong dive into some books I have been meaning to read.

Once my brain has a well-deserved break, I will start my initial self-editing with a read-through from start to finish followed by the nit-picking and painstaking process that is editing 😜

When the initial editing is done, I hope to be left with a solid second draft and I will be looking for Beta readers to read the manuscript, answer some questions and provide invaluable feedback! My guess is that will be sometime in early 2023!

Stay tuned if you are interested in being a Beta reader when the time comes and thank you again, from the bottom of my heart, for taking this journey with me ❤

✨March 2023 Writing Update✨

Before Christmas of 2022, I finished writing my first novel. I had self-edited it to the point that I felt comfortable distributing some advanced reader copies to get some feedback. That way, I could do one more round of self-edits from the feedback before I sent it to my professional editor. Somewhere around two dozen people offered to help and about a quarter of those people have read and given feedback so far. I am so grateful to all the volunteers and I will likely still get more feedback as more people get a chance to finish reading, so this first shout-out is to all of you who offered to help. I can’t put into words how much I appreciate you.

On the reading/reviewing front, I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing several books whose authors reached out asking me to review their books. I love being able fellow authors get their books noticed. Reviews are invaluable to us authors. In this digital world of algorithms and AI-assisted targeted marketing, reviews help more than you know. If you read something, even just a star rating helps the author in the long term and only takes one click of a button. Thanks in advance to all the all-star author supporters out there who leave reviews. You are amazing!

I haven’t been as engaged in writing competitions as I would like to be, alas, there are only so many hours in the day and I haven’t figured out how to juggle it all, yet. The biggest reason for my lack of competitive drive lately is I AM WRITING BOOK 2.
At the beginning of March, I set a goal to write a minimum of 500 words per day on my current work-in-progress (forevermore known as WIP). I had been struggling for the first two months of 2023 with low creativity and a general disdain for the current state of our world. Something had to be done.

So, this second shout-out is to me, because I have now written at least (but actually more than) 500 words per day in March, and book two currently stands a little over 11,000 words!!! I am so excited to have the creative juices flowing again.

Writing is a journey of hills and valleys. Thank you for joining me on this crazy ride!


Book Review: Equanimity by John Elliott-White


I was recently sent a copy of this book by the author and asked to give a review. I have read multiple books in the self-help/self-improvement genre and the premise of this book, to combine what we know of neuropsychology and the wisdom of the Ancients was very intriguing to me. I love philosophy. I love thinking deeply about things for no other reason than to challenge my own mind. I also love the brain and how it works, and how little we yet know about it.

Whether you are like me, or even if you find philosophy a bit heady, this book is an excellent read. Elliott-White does a great job taking modern psychology and ancient philosophy and breaking it down into simple-to-understand nuggets that will enhance your life.

Many books in this genre are good at telling you the same song and dance about self-help or giving a great pep talk that makes the reader excited, but only for as long as they are reading it. Others tell you what to do, but not how to do it.

This is where I believe this book really excels. Elliott-White uses a conversational tone, and relatable experiences to explain why the principles work but he goes a step further and breaks down exactly how you can put them into practice with very little effort starting off.

Personally, I have always wanted to learn meditation, but I could never really figure out what should be going on in my head.  Practitioners would say, ‘notice a thought and let it go’, which only left me confused. The author of this book addresses that and so much more. I am excited to implement elements of this book into my own life. If I was going to recommend a quick read to someone looking for solutions for a happier, more peaceful existence in this tumultuous world, I would absolutely recommend this book.

Book Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman


The Graveyard Book is a deliciously dark tale about a little boy who grows up in a graveyard. Raised and accepted by the spooky residents, Bod, short for Nobody, is only truly safe within the confines of the graveyard on the hill, where the normal rules for the living hardly apply.
This book made me ugly cry. Now, you may be wondering how a spooky book about a boy in a graveyard can accomplish such a feat, but it would be a great disservice to just tell you. You must read this book.
For me, I think the part that hit closest to home was the little boy in the story and how he comes to terms with growing up. As a mom of four boys, thinking about them leaving the utter magic of childhood and then facing the realities of growing up always feels bittersweet.
The Graveyard Book is bittersweet. Not only will you be entertained by Gaiman’s storytelling, but you will also be charmed by the characters, intrigued by elements of the story that probably could be written as their own book entirely.
For example, how did the Jacks of All Trades come to be, and who exactly are they? This, and the other questions that pop up, add depth and layers to the story which allow the reader to let go and fully embrace their own imagination.
I really loved this book and I highly recommend you read it.

My One-Year Author-versary!

Today is my one-year anniversary of being an officially published author. It may have only been a small book of poetry but it was the first step on my author journey and I haven’t looked back. As you know if you’ve been following along, you know I have spent the past year entering lots of writing competitions and have finished the manuscript for my first-ever novel. It is currently at the stage where I am comfortable having some advanced readers take a peek and give me their thoughts.
I have secured an editor for the next steps after the advanced readers have done their thing, and I can’t wait to work with Raya (my editor) and get the novel reading for publishing.
I have also been busy starting book two and finished my first draft of the first chapter today!
I can’t wait to see what this next year brings! Thank you if you have followed this blog or opted to receive updates. Thank you if you just like to stop by once in a while. It means the world to me.

Book Review: Bloodsucking Fiends, You Suck & Bite Me by Christopher Moore

⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“I will slap the gloom off of you, rat shagger,” Jody said with a smile that was just a few degrees below being warm. -pg.280 You Suck, Christopher Moore

Over the past several days I read Christopher Moore’s A Love Story Trilogy. These are not the first books I have read by Moore and they certainly won’t be the last. I decided to read all three before doing a review and to review them as a series instead of individually because it felt right in this circumstance.
Christopher Moore is known for his comedic wit and wildly creative and somewhat over-the-top stories that are full of outlandish antics and lavish obscenities. I love his writing. It isn’t always a faced paced read but never-the-less, his characters are hilariously relatable and loveable and you can’t help but laugh out loud at the absurdity.
In the first installment, Bloodsucking Fiends, we are introduced to the Countess aka Jody Stroud, badass fledgling vampire in search of a minion to carry out daytime errands when she crosses paths with newly-arrived-in-town, aspiring writer, C. Thomas Flood. The book explores how she was made into a vampire, her blossoming vampiress abilities and the relationship between her and her new boy toy/minion, and their quest to survive Jody’s spooky 800-year-old vampire sire who seems to want them dead.
What I love about Moore’s writing is you never know what is going to happen. His stories are deliciously unpredictable. With each subsequent book, You Suck and Bite Me, Jody and C. Thomas Flood, with the help of their ragtag group of allies, confronts this new world of blood-drinking, vampire cats and rats, a blue hooker, and ancient vampires with high-tech yachts, the love story unfolds beautifully.
It is worth noting, as well, that some of my favorite characters in these books aren’t even the “main characters.” Moore has meticulously developed his supporting characters and in my humble opinion, none of the books would be quite the same or as good without them. Especially the Emperor and his men. I guess you will have to read the books to find out why! It is worth it!

Book Review: Crank by Ellen Hopkins


I would never have walked into a bookstore and bought this book. It wouldn’t matter how well-reviewed or marketed it was. The sole reason I wouldn’t have bought it would be that it isn’t in the genre that I am typically drawn to.
If you are like me, and never really venture outside your reading comfort zone, please let me tell you what a HUGE mistake that is.
On the recommendation of my sister, I read Crank by Ellen Hopkins. Though a work of fiction, this book is based on her own family’s experience with Crystal Meth, among other things, and gives a raw, unfiltered glimpse into the mind of someone with addiction and how it affects them and those around them.
In my own novel, the main character battled addiction and will be required to face those demons again down the road, so I read this book to better understand what someone in that situation would feel like, think like, and act like. I want my character’s experiences to be as close to authentic as possible.
I didn’t include addiction in my story to glorify it. As ever, it is my hope that maybe someone will read my book who may be struggling with something, find the characters relatable and by witnessing the character’s journey, find their own path a little clearer or easier to tread.
I may not be an addict (mercifully) but this book educated me in a way I hadn’t expected. It opened my eyes to how anyone in the right set of circumstances can lose their way. I have more empathy after reading it than I did before I picked the book up. I have a deeper understanding of “the monster” and I hope I will be able to accurately and respectfully portray addiction in my own writing when the situation arises.
This book is written in a poetic style and is therefore a quick read, so do yourself a favor and read it. It’s totally worth it.

In Libris Libertas,


Night Raid by ATL Doyle

As you know, I love to enter various writing competitions and challenges. I recently participated in NYC Midnight’s 250 micro flash fiction challenge. I love NYC Midnight’s challenges because they have specific criteria and are timed which, to me, ups the stakes, and I work great under pressure.
While I didn’t place high enough to move on to the next round of this challenge, I did receive an honorable mention and some excellent feedback from the judges. That is almost as valuable if not more valuable than a prize because it helps me develop my writing skills.
My criteria for this challenge were…
Genre: Historical Fiction
Action: Camouflaging
Word: Direct
I decided to write about the first-ever night trench raid that occurred in WWI. On February 28th, 1915, 100 men from Canada’s Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry snuck across the area called No Man’s Land between the trenches, near Ypres, Belgium, and destroyed 30 yards of enemy trenches. It was the first trench raid of WWI. Five men were killed. Eleven were wounded. Here is my short story to honor their bravery.

Night Raid

February nights were dark as pitch in the trenches. The icy cold dampness rooted to our bones. An enduring stalemate with the enemy had all but decimated morale. The few of us who dared to hope scribbled our letters home in the sparse light of hidden tallow candles in small tin cans. Direct attacks during business hours had failed miserably. A new and reckless plan emerged.
The smell of burnt corks was the incense for our focused meditation as we smeared their small, charred bodies on our hands and faces to camouflage us in the darkness. Painting our faces like great warriors we’d only heard tales of and hoped to honor with our small courage.
Like mice, we crept out of the trenches, our home away from home — for some of us, our grave. Across that barren waste of No Man’s Land we flew, cloaked in darkness as if death itself gave us its blessing. One hundred men from the great white north swooped into enemy trenches like wraiths, to deal a devasting blow.
Thirty yards of enemy trenches fell under our lionhearted wrath but not without the highest of costs. Five brave souls lost, and eleven wounded would be the price we paid.
The enemy’s shock and disarray would not last long as we hurried back across No Man’s Land like shadows retreating from the dawn’s first light. Cold and bloody, back to the ditch we call home, realizing too late we’d changed the rules of war.

I hope you enjoyed it. Until next time…

Final Reading Count for 2022!

Every year I set a goal on January 1st to read whatever number of books I can reasonably foresee being able to read given all the many hats I wear and the responsibilities I bear. I am excited to say I exceeded my goal of 30 books for 2022. I read a total of 43 books! I have listed them below. Some I have reviewed on this blog!

  1. Endymion of The State of Entropy by Kurt R, Ward
  2. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
  3. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
  4. How to Write Dazzling Dialogue by James Scott Bell
  5. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  6. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
  7. Wild Magic by Danu Forest
  8. King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
  9. The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies by Robert Kirk
  10. Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
  11. The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove by Christopher Moore
  12. The Way of the Stoic by Thomas Swain
  13. Japenese History by History Brought Alive
  14. Mastering Character Arcs by Lewis Jorstad
  15. The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas
  16. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  17. Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
  18. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
  19. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
  20. A Fantasy Writer’s Handbook by Richie Billing
  21. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
  22. The Corpus Hermeticum by GRS Mead
  23. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
  24. Method Acting for Writers by Lisa Hall Wilson
  25. History of India by History Brought Alive
  26. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
  27. Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
  28. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  29. Norse Paganism for Beginners by History Brought Alive
  30. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
  31. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  32. A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
  33. On the Shortness of Life by Seneca
  34. A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas
  35. Plot Basics by Paul Tomlinson
  36. Shadows and Twilight by Jamie A. Waters
  37. The Night and Its Moon by Piper CJ
  38. The Children of Danu by L.M. Riviere
  39. The Treasure of the Tuatha De Danann by Morgan Daimler
  40. The Winter King by C.L. Wilson
  41. The Book of Spells for Beginners by Sofia Visconti
  42. The History of England by History Brought Alive
  43. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

Reading is like breathing for me. I need it to survive and some years are better than others. 2022 was quite a year for me. My husband spent nearly half of it serving abroad with the military leaving me to solo parent our four boys. I accomplished more this year than I could have hoped given my circumstances, including finishing the novel I’ve been writing, and bringing it to the point where I am ready for advanced readers to tell me what they think!
If you have any suggestions or reading recommendations for 2023, I’d be happy to hear them!
Oh! A shout-out to Leigh Bardugo and Sarah J. Maas for making up most of my list this year!
Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2023!

Season’s Greetings

For many, tonight marks Christmas Eve, and this time of year is abundant with celebrations from all different cultures and religions! My hope is that whatever you celebrate, you are filled with joy!
My gift to you this evening is my most recent short story

“Free Ice Cream on Wednesdays”

‘Twas the dog days of summer, not a cloud in the sky.
People’s ACs were breaking, many wells had run dry.
Neighbor turned against neighbor; they lost all control.
Escaping the heat was the number one goal.

That’s when Blinky McDoodles and Goober MacGee
Made a plan that was brilliant — superb as could be.
They would start selling ice cream, but not by the cone.
They would sell it in buckets, they just needed a loan.

So proud as two peacocks, they marched to the bank,
And gave their proposal to a teller named Frank.
Frank was delighted and endorsed them in full.
His dad was the manager, so he had extra pull.

With the money secured, and the sun beating down
They needed a way to spread word through the town.
So, they called up Old Ned, sign maker supreme,
And the sign he designed was the sign of their dreams.

It was big as a billboard with colors so bright
No one could miss it, not even at night.
Now they just needed ice cream, a giant supply,
And lucky for them, good Old Ned knew a guy.

Once they had all the ice cream, and bought all the pails,
They opened for business and were ready for sales.
But they couldn’t predict what would happen next,
No one came to buy ice cream, and that left them perplexed.

It was hotter than a jalapeno sitting in Hell,
Surely their ice cream should be easy to sell.
They refused to give up, they would see this plan through.
After all, they’d just started, and the business was new.

The next day was better, but their sales were quite low,
And they had so much ice cream, it just had to go.
They decided to eat some, as much as they could.
After all, it was ice cream, and ice cream is good.

Blinky took the first bite, he just shoveled it in.
Goober waited and watched and then started to grin
Because Blinky’s poor face was distorted with pain
From the icy dessert that had frozen his brain.

Goober hooted with laughter at poor Blinky’s plight.
His brain freeze reaction had made Goober’s night.
“Let’s try a promotion,” Goober said with a smirk,
“Free Ice Cream Wednesdays, who knows, it might work.”

So, they sent out some flyers, with a headline that read:
“Have you ever been so hot, you wished you were dead?
If so, come for ice cream this Wednesday, it’s free!
You will leave satisfied, that is our guarantee!”

On Wednesday morning when they opened the shop
People lined up for ice cream, and they didn’t stop.
The promo went smoothly, the day flew by fast,
And the patrons left satisfied, cooled off at last.

Free ice cream Wednesday had been a success
And it helped to alleviate people’s distress.
It didn’t just cool them, it put them at ease,
Even with a few cases of dreaded brain freeze.

“Well, Goober,” said Blinky, “That was quite an idea.”
“I don’t know,” replied Goober, “It gave me diarrhea.
As I scooped out the ice cream, I kept stuffing my face,
And I’m lactose intolerant — I’m such a disgrace!”

“How can I sell ice cream? I feel like a fraud.”
Then to Goober’s surprise, Blinky started to nod.
“Goober, my friend, I just had a thought,
Why don’t we add lactose-free to the lot?”

From that day forward, the men had agreed
They would cater to every digestible need,
Be it lactose intolerance or gluten-free,
Satisfaction for all would be their decree.

So it was that a brain freeze inspired a dream,
A super delicious, heat-conquering scheme
Now every Wednesday, the ice cream is free
Thanks to Blinky McDoodles and Goober MacGee

Best wishes to all for a spectacular New Year!


A Dream of Distant Shores by Alicia Doyle

In October I participated in another of NYC Midnight’s writing competitions. The challenge was to write a rhyming short story, of no longer than 650 words. My genre was historical fiction. I had to include the feeling “inspired” and the word “trust”.

I am excited to share my rhyming short story, “A Dream of Distant Shores” that placed 2nd in the first round for my group! I will be participating in the second round this weekend!

Without further ado, I proudly present:

A Dream of Distant Shores

I’ll tell you a tale of our history, Child,

A journey of hope, of adventure inspired.

How trusting the Gods to show us the way

Led to this place we call home today.

The land became weary as our settlement grew,

And my father was restless, like somehow, he knew

Our time in our village must come to an end.

As the harvests grew smaller, he spoke to a friend,

“There’s a land that I’ve dreamed of, upon distant shores,

When I sleep, I have dreams of waves carved by our oars,

I see lands green with plenty where our farmsteads would thrive.

Our families could build and not fight to survive.”

“Do the Gods send me visions?”  His voice was a plea,

“Or does Loki the trickster attempt to deceive?”

“Seek the Seer for wisdom,” his friend said with a sigh

“Let the bones give your answer, trust the Gods’ own reply.”

Later that evening, once all had been fed,

The days chores were done, and we readied for bed,

Father sat by the fire,  we all gathered close,

Unprepared for the words our father then spoke,

“When the Gods took your mother, my heart broke and bled,

I had thought they’d abandoned our family,” He said,

 “But of late I have visions, of lands far away,

where a fresh start and future for all of us lay.”

His words were inspired,  his hopefulness clear.

We trusted our Father, the Gods, and the Seer.

We agreed we would follow, wherever he went.

With his love and affection, to bed we were sent.

Days grew shorter, we planned, and we prepped,

Our neighbours asked questions, no secrets were kept.

Father told of his visions, inspired by the Gods.

Many thought he was crazy; others welcomed the odds.

Others whose struggles became harder to bear,

with fewer and fewer resources to spare,

Led by my father,  petitioned our chief,

“Jarl, people are starving, we need some relief.”

So, the Jarl asked the seer for her godly advice,

“A ritual blot; give the Gods sacrifice.”

Offerings were gathered, the rite well prepared,

We slaughtered the livestock that couldn’t be spared.

The Gods did not answer, not as we had hoped,

Still Father’s visions helped us to cope,

Winter was cruel, many didn’t survive

Father’s inspiring words are what kept us alive,

The fjord started melting, the snow disappeared.

So, my father sought counsel again from the Seer.

“I want to sail westward, to take to the sea,

Do I have Njord’s blessing? Tell me, what do you see?

The seer gave her answer, the bones’ message was clear,

“The Gods, they are with you, it’s their voices you hear.

Your visions speak truly, your future awaits.

Distant lands hold your destiny, don’t hesitate.”

Nine families, nine longships, prepared to depart,

Risking all for a future, a promised new start.

With my father and siblings, we started to row,

‘Til a warm breeze took over by starting to blow,

Toward sunsets and by twinkling stars we did sail,

Sea spray in our face, and strong wind at our tail,

Home far behind us, horizon ahead,

We clung onto hope and ignored any dread

For days on the ocean, we voyaged along

Passing time telling stories and singing old songs

At long last, when finally, land reappeared

All nine longships rejoiced, both with joy and with tears.

You see child, we trusted and followed our dreams

Inspired by the Gods, to this land lush and green.

So, if ever they whisper, open your heart,

Trust yourself, be inspired, never fear a fresh start.

Thanks for reading!

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