Featured

Introduction to Wetherholt

I’ve had an absolute blast writing my first book Wetherholt and its sequel Wondering. They’re both set in 1870s America and center around two sisters as they write letters to each other of all their doings. My inspiration heavily draws on the themes from Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott, with focus on family, love, and society.

To give you more of an idea of what the story is like, I present to you…the synopsis!

When Lissie Dairton heads to New York City to visit her aunt and uncle, her only regret is that her older sister Nett can’t come along. Her remedy is to write witty and insightful letters keeping Nett informed of her adventures in the big city—from dealing with their beastly aunt and refusing advances from a ghastly suitor to attending plays with heiresses and falling in love with a dashing Mr. Elwood.

From afar, Nett replies with her usual practicality as she tries to keep her flightier sister’s feet on the ground. But soon, Nett is swept up in her own adventure as she meets the brother of Lissie’s prospective beau. Levelheaded, caring, and sensible, the elder Elwood brother seems like the answer to all her dreams. But what at first seems like happiness becomes confusion as Nett’s almost-suitor begins acting stiff and distant.

Lissie remains convinced that she and her sister will marry the Elwood brothers, but Nett is uncertain. With family disapproval and the seeming disinterest from the elder brother, how can there possibly be a satisfactory end for everyone?

Now available on Amazon!

Wetherholt Character Sketch: Nett Dairton

And today we learn more about Nett Dairton, the older sister! 🙂 I already did a character sketch on Lissie, so be sure to check that out!

Full name: Antonette Jane Dairton

Age at the start of the book: 23

Birthday: June 6th

About her: Nett is calm and collected. She takes her time in thinking about things, and tries to be reasonable in all that she does. Nett would hate to be the subject of gossip, as she tries to stay out of the spotlight—especially if it was gossip relating to her propriety.

What characteristic of myself is found in her? Nett embodies the side of me that enjoys things to be done just-so and according to what is good and right.

How does she react to the world around her? Nett generally thinks well of people. In fact, she doesn’t like to think badly of people, and often gives them several chances. She doesn’t view herself as a very strong person and tends to try to stay in the background.

Color to describe her: Nett is definitely a blue. She is very calm, considerate, and tries to stay level-headed. Blue is what would be thought of as very normal color, and Nett would be glad to be compared to such a thing. She tries to follow what society deems as “proper”, but underneath, she is secretly rather envious of Lissie’s carefree attitude.

If Nett lived in modern times, what would her job be? Either (1) a music teacher as she would love to teach and is quite gifted at music or (2) a librarian as she loves books and would be thrilled with the idea of getting to introduce them to others.

What is her greatest fear? Not being loved.

What is her greatest dream? Having a normal, happy life.

Have any questions about Nett? Ask away and I’ll be happy to answer them! 🙂

WETHERHOLT LAUNCH DAY!!! 🥳🥳

TODAY IS THE DAY!!! Wetherholt officially releases!!! Ahhhh!!! I’m so excited! It’s been such a journey of writing, editing, prepping for release…it’s still hard to believe that it’s actually out now and all my work on it is done! It’s also available on Kindle Unlimited! 🥳

And while you’re reading it, why not listen to some nice rain sounds or music? 😉

Wetherholt Character Sketch: Lissie Dairton

Today we get to learn a little bit more about Lissie Dairton, the younger of the two sisters in Wetherholt.

Full name: Alice Olivia Dairton

Age at the start of the book: 18

Birthday: November 18th

About her: Lissie is a hopeless romantic, daydreaming about her future husband and feeling quite giddy about it. Although she never does anything improper, she is much more likely to be on the edge of impropriety than her sister Nett.

What characteristic of myself is found in her? Lissie portrays the aspect of me that loves having fun and dreaming about the future.

How does she react to the world around her? Lissie is apt to make judgments about people rather quickly, but is willing to revise them if evidence proves them to be different than she thought. She’s pretty self-confident and views unknown situations as adventures.

Color to describe her: Lissie is a bright, sunny yellow. It takes a lot to get her mad, she’ll stick with you through it all, and she’ll always cheer you up. But she can also be serious and gives good advice when she bothers to think about things. She’s not altogether very observant of things in general, but she loves people-watching—especially if there seems to be a romance going on.

If Lissie lived in modern times, what would her job be? Either (1) a barista, so she could people-watch or (2) a florist, as she’d get to work with bright colors and learn the customers’ stories when they buy flowers.

What is her greatest fear? Being alone.

What is her greatest dream? Living an adventurous life.

Have any other questions about Lissie? Ask them in the comments and I’ll answer them!

Sneak Peak of Wetherholt! Nett’s First Letter

Four days until the official release date!! 🥳 After writing and editing and planning so long, it’s crazy how fast this last month has been!!

And here we have Nett’s first letter which is a response to Lissie’s first letter.

To:  Alice Dairton – New York City, New York, United States 
From: Antonette Dairton – Wetherholt, New Jersey, United States

February the Tenth
Dear Lissie,

I find your letter quite amusing, but whatever happened to your penmanship? Certainly, Mama and Papa did not spend so much money on your handwriting so that you may immediately slack off as soon as you begin writing letters. But as you are not writing to me looking for criticisms on your handwriting, I shall say no more.
I was immensely pleased to read your letter and happy that you could observe those people, for I know that is one of your favorite pleasures. I am certain that you behaved most ladylike; I never fear embarrassment from you.
You have often told me how dull our life is in Wetherholt and that things only happen as soon as you go away. I wish I could provide evidence against the truth of that, but I am afraid I can only confirm it.
Just after your carriage disappeared around the corner, Papa told us that a man he “does business with” will be staying with us for a week and that he is arriving tomorrow.  I really think that their “business” will be drinking sherry and smoking cigars, but do not tell Papa that I said that. The man will be staying in our guest room. I am rather alarmed at having a strange man in the house.
Papa was smiling and whistling after the announcement of his guest. I do not know what he hopes the visit will accomplish, but I hope for his sake that it happens.
In other news, Cornelius Snagsby broke his arm while trying to milk our cow. Doctor Wraith set it right and Cornelius is resting in his bedroom in the loft. He insisted he didn’t need our guest room, which is good since Papa’s friend is coming. As I have told you before, I often think that if we had a larger house, we might be able to have more guests.
I would write more, but I must go help Mama. We are in the middle of making bread, and Mrs. O’Neill is preparing a dinner of chicken and vegetables

Antonette 

Be on the lookout for the character sketches of the two sisters!

Have a wonderful day!

Sneak Peak of Wetherholt! Lissie’s First Letter

Hello, hello! Today is an exciting day for two reasons!

Firstly, I can now announce that I will be releasing Wetherholt on Amazon on March 9th!!! That’s just a week and a day! 🥳🥳🥳

Secondly, I’m sharing the first letter you ever see written by Lissie—which also happens to be the very first letter in the book!

To: Antonette Dairton – Wetherholt, New Jersey, United States
From: Alice Dairton – New York City, New York, United States

February the Eighth
Dear Nett,                                                               

I don’t know how I will survive these long two months without you! Aunt Lily says that she wishes you could have come as well, but there “simply was not enough room.” She has about a million guest rooms, and mine is the only one occupied. I do not know what she plans to do with the other rooms. Surely she has no other guests coming! I certainly would not come just to visit her. 
But here I am barely into my letter and already I see you shaking your head at my poor manners. I really am trying, Nett; I simply do not have the same natural talent for politeness that you do. 
The train ride was absolutely horrid. Aunt Lily slept nearly the whole way, and I tried to observe the people around us, but only three people were in our train car: an older gentleman dressed all in green, a young woman with a lace-trimmed umbrella, and the young woman’s very old grandfather. The grandfather nearly fell out of his seat a few times when we pulled into a station, and his granddaughter would loudly exclaim, “Goodness gracious, Grandfather!” That would earn her quite a glare from the man in green, who seemed to be doing some sort of business.
If you were there, you could have helped pass the time, I am certain. As it was, I was on that horrid thing for ever so long with nothing to do. All my books were in my carpet bag, which Aunt Lily had forbidden me to touch, although it was only by my feet.
Perhaps the only good part of the train ride was the stop right before New York City when the train suddenly filled with very interesting people. I will relieve your mind by assuring you that I was very proper; not one person lifted their eyebrow, cleared their throat, or gasped at anything I did. There was one very memorable moment, however, and that was when an extremely nice-looking gentleman who was sitting behind me offered me his newspaper. I took it with great dignity, but I must say I had little notion of what my eyes passed over. For then was my only REAL chance to observe people. Here is what I found:
The gentleman who handed me his newspaper was quite taken with the young lady in the blue dress.
A man with a pipe and quite the stately mustache was also fond of glancing over at the young lady.
The woman in the blue dress was so preoccupied with staring out the window that I doubt she was even aware of the existence of either gentleman.
The wavy-haired boy was too young to really be thought of as handsome, though there was a certain hint of what may come as he gets older.
The older woman constantly spoke to everyone, but nobody seemed to know her.
That, my dear sister, is what I observed on the train. I would tell you more of my journey, but my hand is quite weary and I fear I will fall asleep upon the fresh ink.

Your Loving Sister,
                Lissie

Soon I’ll be posting Nett’s first letter—which is a response to this one. And then we move on to some character sketches! I’m so excited for you all to meet them!

Have a wonderful day!

Brainstorming Your Next Great Idea (Part 3)

Tip #2: Plan it like you eat it.

So. Here you are.

You’ve written your synopsis.

“Now what?” you ask.

Now…well…now you write.

“Woah!” you say. “Hold up! That’s not how writing works! You can’t just start writing to write!”

And my response to you, fellow writer, would be, “Why ever not?”

You see, we’re at tip #2, which if you recall from when you just read it up there, is “Plan it like you eat it.”

And how do you eat?

One bite at a time.

So how do you write?

One word at a time.

And you enjoy each bite. So enjoy each sentence.

Don’t stress over the future words. Don’t stress over the present words. Don’t stress over the past words. (Why would you think about that previous bite of hamburger while you’re enjoying your French fries?)

Editing was invented for a reason. Take advantage of it. The only thing you need to think about right now is getting those words down. And it doesn’t have to be good. Sure, you can polish as you go if you would like, but don’t let everything depend on your words and sentences being perfect as you write them.

Because we all have those sentences we just can’t get right. Think of those as the vegetables on your plate that aren’t your favorite. It might not seem so great now, but they will serve you in due time.

I know you. You’re a writer. You’ll keep polishing those annoying sentences. And polishing them. And polishing them until you eventually get it just the way that you want it.

It’s kind of like Thomas Edison: You didn’t fail. You just discovered 10,000 ways not to write it.

Polish makes perfect, am I right?

The more you polish, the more chances you have at getting it to pierce the reader with what you’re trying to say. The more you experiment with wording, the more you’ll discover who you are as a writer.

Because we want to read you and what you have to say. That’s why we picked up your book. (Congrats on your future publication by the way 🥳)

And while you’re in this stage of messy writing, experiment. Try different subplots. Throw in random characters just for fun. Who knows where these things will lead you?

This past NaNoWriMo, I wrote differently than how I normally do. Normally, I polish as I go, making a pretty good-ish story. But I was so busy last November that I was cramming in my words and not polishing.

Oh boy. My story (still incomplete, though I did make it to 50,000 words!) is…a mess.

But I’m okay with that. Because it’s so messy, I’m cool to rewrite whole parts. Delete stuff I thought of that now doesn’t fit. Add in extra things where it’s needed.

It doesn’t feel like I’m “killing my darlings” as the saying goes, because they aren’t my darlings. It’s more like junk you find under your bed that makes you go, “What is that?”

*tosses hypothetical junk into trash can*

On the other hand, knowing that I wrote junk doesn’t depress me because I know that I can write better than junk. In fact, I’m looking forward to editing, because I think the story idea is really good and I can’t wait to make the words as good as I can.

And sure! Some things you do need to figure out before you start writing. Or at least, sort of figure out. But you can always name your character Bob and then come back with a new name later on. And that special magic thing you don’t have a name for yet? Call it “magic” for now (really creative, I know).

So. Take a seat. (Find somewhere comfy.)

Open your laptop, your notebook, your iPad…whatever. I’m not picky. Make sure you have a water bottle with you. Listen to music if you want. (Rain sounds are brilliant, too.)

Take a breath.

One.

Two.

And….

Begin.

*clickety clackity* <– the sound of you writing your best seller

Brainstorming Your Next Great Idea (Part 2)

Tip #1: Plan it like you bake it.

Anyone who has baked something can tell you: there are certain ingredients you need to include in your dough/batter for certain things to happen. There are ingredients that help it to rise, ingredients that thicken, ingredients that sweeten…I’m not going to start naming them because I’m sure I could name some of them, but I’m a writer, not a baker.

In the same way, there are certain ingredients to a story that help it make it all that you want it to be.

If you’re going to make chocolate chip cookies, what’s the first thing you do?

Look up a recipe. (Unless you’re a genius baker and you just know how to make them off the top of your head. If so, kudos to you.) In the same way, you’ll want to look at a “recipe” for your story. What do you need to include to make it delici-I mean, a good story? Every recipe starts off with a list of ingredients. That’s what we’re doing here. Except instead of writing a recipe, you’re going to write your synopsis.

Gasp!

“Already?” you say. “But I’m not ready! I still haven’t created my fifteen woodland languages and the complex mathematical formula I need for space travel!”

Luckily for you, this doesn’t have to be your final synopsis. This is just your working synopsis. Think of it like your working title. “Cool Woodland Space Story.” You’re not actually going to call your book that (I hope) but that didn’t stop you from naming that doc, now did it?

So….start looking at other “recipes.” Read books, watch movies and TV shows, listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos, play video games…whatever. Immerse yourself in the genre you’ve chosen.

Then—write the synopsis. It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to be long (in fact, it shouldn’t be). It could be one sentence with a dangling participle and a misplaced phrase.

Editing is later, remember? This is just writing.

And as you write the synopsis, think. What do you love about the genre you’ve chosen? What tropes do you love? What tropes should you avoid? What’s an interesting twist you can put with it? In other words, what makes this yours?

We’re not just making chocolate chip cookies anymore. We’re making your chocolate chip cookies.

Instead of flour, what time period is the setting? Past? Present? Future? Does it even take place on Earth?

Instead of sugar, who is the main character? What is the MC’s story? Their desires? Is this story about them achieving something or about them learning that failure is in fact an option sometimes?

Instead of cinnamon (ooh, that’s a different ingredient), what’s the mystery or the unknown or the thing that will keep your readers coming back?

Think back. What part of your story first intrigued you?

Focus on that.

Same as how you don’t make a chocolate chip cookie to taste the baking powder, you don’t want to write a story and focus on the bland parts.

Everybody’s heard of space travel. But who’s heard of woodland gingerbread men traveling through space in a giant tea kettle? (Please don’t write that. And I don’t mean because I’m going to.)

But….this is only the ingredients. Don’t jump ahead and start measuring stuff out. Don’t begin mixing the cookie dough before you even put in the salt (sorry, I’m loving these analogies). Those steps will come later. For now, just focus on the ingredients. Focus on what made you love the story to begin with.

If you write something that intrigues you, it will intrigue someone else, too. That’s the beauty of stories. They connect people together. They provide something that we can bond over.

Kinda like cookies. 🍪

Happy writing!

Brainstorming Your Next Great Idea (Part 1)

We’ve all been there. A sudden flash of inspiration. A story floods our mind. We have characters that seem real, yet unique. Their trials seem realistic, but still interesting. We have this burning idea that we just need to write.

But then. The unthinkable happens.

The story begins dying in us. Little bit by little bit.

What we once thought was so magical seems…boring.

The characters turn flat, we run out of ideas.

And so we move along, until the next bit of magic captures our interest and we go chasing after yet another new story.

So what happened? Why did the story go south?

I honestly don’t know. It’s happened to me several times. I’ll be coming up with an idea inside my head, fleshing it out, and thinking it sounds amazing.

And then.

Bam.

It suddenly seems bland. Not worth continuing on with.

So what’s a writer to do? How do we keep our stories fresh? How do we make sure that we don’t embark on writing a story only to have it die out on us moments later?

There are a few ways I’d like to propose that might help us stay the course in our current writing endeavors. I will be going more in-depth with these in the next writing tips blog posts.

Tip #1: Plan it like you bake it.

Tip #2: Plan it like you eat it.

Tip #3: Plan it like you go out for coffee.

Happy writing!

A Place to Hang the Moon (Cozy Book Reviews)

Best paired with: Hot cocoa and chocolate chip cookies

A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus is a cozy children’s book centered on three orphaned children in London during World War II. After the death of their grandmother, they inherit a large sum of money that they are too young to touch. With no guardians, their grandmother’s solicitor recommends that they look for their future family as they are billeted out into the countryside. However, their inheritance is to be kept a secret so their money won’t be a draw for people to adopt them. As the children travel from billet to billet, they encounter various hardships including bullies and ruined books. Will they ever find their true home?

The three Pearce orphans in A Place to Hang the Moon are fantastic main characters. The eldest, William, is the responsible one, and is practically raising his younger siblings. Edmund—much like Edmund Pevensie whom he was named after—is the one who says things that were probably better left unsaid. And Anna, the youngest, is a sweetheart who just wants to love and be loved. As I read the book, I noticed how the three siblings were always there for each other, showing love and being understanding. Having such a strong bond between the siblings helped to drive the coziness of the book. Sentences describing what the children were thinking and feeling were written excellently and made them seem all the more alive.

By far, though, my favorite character was Nora Müller, the local librarian who’s been somewhat ostracized for being married to a German. Throughout the book, she shows complete love to the Pearce children, although people in the town declare her “unsuitable” to take care of the children. Nevertheless, whenever they come into the library, she helps them the best she can. In one of my favorite parts, Anna finds out she has nits—lice eggs—in her hair, and Mrs. Müller offers to get them out right there in the library.

“Thanks, Mrs. Muller,” William said. “But honestly—we’ll manage.” A part of him hoped she couldn’t see the tears burning his eyes. Another part rather hoped she could.
The librarian’s voice was nearly a whisper. “I’ve no doubt you would. But this seems to me rather unfair to expect a boy of twelve to manage.”

Kate Albus was directly inspired by C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe when the Pevensies were forced to leave their mother in London and go to the countryside during the bombing. I haven’t read very many World War II novels, but maybe I should read more, considering one of my favorite books is Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery.

All in all, A Place to Hang the Moon was a wonderful trip to 1940s England…a trip that I’ll no doubt take again.

A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus
Buy A Place to Hang the Moon