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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Broken Strings (Wynter Wild Book 9) is OUT NOW in paperback

Broken Strings is book 9 of the Wynter Wild series, and it's OUT NOW in paperback - this link takes you to the Amazon purchase page in your region (ebook also available):

Broken Strings

Given the downfall of one of my (five) favorite characters, this was perhaps the hardest book to write so far. The quote on the image there is from Patricia, who senses something isn't quite right in the Fairn household - but this is a family that keeps things "in the family", so nobody is talking about it.

The book takes place over a few months late in the year and through Christmas - Wynter's third on the outside. Will this finally be a good Christmas for her? She's struggling with a medical issue that develops into a psychosomatic one, threatening her career as well has her academic plans. Xay is waiting in the wings for her, hoping to recreate the closeness they once shared.

And wasn't there a tiny new character introduced in the last book? He has a huge impact on everyone's lives, but can they keep him?

More family secrets come unraveled in this latest instalment of the Wynter Wild saga, and two brothers must reverse roles to face a reckoning.

Also... a puppy that looks like an Ewok!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Where Did My Italics Go? Microsoft Word Tricks

While I use Google Docs for writing (and Google Sheets for notes and research) because it saves every few seconds, all my work ends up in Microsoft Word because that's where I format it for Kindle and paperback editions (the latter as exported PDF files). I've been using Word since the mid-90s and have picked up a few tricks along the way... and also noticed that Word plays the occasional trick on me!

My number one peeve is when Word loses italicized words. More specifically, it can change entire italicized paragraphs into regular font while you're busy formatting your document.

My workaround is laid out below in easy-to-follow steps along with screencaps to make everything clear.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Clickable Book Covers in Your Goodreads Profile

Whether you're an author or a reader, Goodreads is a busy, complicated website. There's so much going on that it can be hard to figure out not only where to find information, but how to change and customize that information as an author.

Wouldn't it be great if readers could click on your books directly from your profile page, without having to scroll down or scan all the other busy sections on the page?

So, how can you add clickable book covers to your author profile on Goodreads?

Read on for step-by-step instructions, along with a downloadable template for the HTML code.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

New Patreon

With over half a million Wattpad reads on my stories, nine books published and one more to go, I have loads of stories and ideas still to share. I've created a Patreon account where you can find the latest news on both the Wynter Wild series and my future projects (some of which will be set in the same "world" with crossover characters).

To "follow" me is free! After clicking the button, you'll end up on a payment page where you have the option of making a monthly pledge, but you can ignore that page. Just following me will put my posts in your Patreon feed, and for now all my posts are open to all readers.

I'll be adding content as fast as I can over the coming weeks while I finish up writing book 10. After that I'll be sharing cover reveals for my relaunch of the series, excerpts from my WIPs, Q&As, behind-the-scenes stuff about my writing process including cut scenes, and lots more. 

> My Patreon

See you there!

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Minor Key (Wynter Wild Book 8) is OUT NOW in paperback

Minor Key
Minor Key is book 8 of the Wynter Wild series, and it's out today in paperback!

If you've been collecting the paperbacks and want a matching set, grab this one quick. In a few months I'll be relaunching the series with new covers.

It's been well over a year since I finished this book, and at least three years since I wrote some of the chapters. Looking back, I have to say it includes some of my favorite scenes to write.

Some of the events were planned from the very start, even if I hadn't written them yet, while others evolved as I was planning the book in detail (after finishing #7 Duet). 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Wynter Wild Family Tree (CHOOSE YOUR SPOILER LEVEL)

In true soap opera fashion, the family tree in the Wynter Wild series gets bigger and more complex as the books progress and secrets are revealed. 

Following on from this post where I described a few family entanglements revealed in the Wynter Wild books (ones I hadn't plotted out from the start), in this post I'll present increasingly spoilerific family trees as a visual aid. To avoid spoilers, you can stop when you get to the latest book you've read...

Note: The series starts in January 2013, two months before Wynter's 15th birthday.

02 Out of Tune

If you've read the first two books, this is how the family tree looks. Wynter is the daughter of Miriam and Malcolm, and has four half-siblings from her mother's first marriage to Harry. Miriam's heritage is unknown. Joy is married to Sean, and left him at the ashram.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Rule212 Playlist


I've made my Rule212 playlist public on Spotify - take a listen below. You can also follow me on Spotify to find other playlists related to the books:

I've resisted being too specific in the books about Rule212's sound, beyond a vague "indie rock" (which could mean anything these days) and a lot of electric guitars, which moves them more into the hard rock category. Or nu-metal, post-grunge... whatever new-fangled label seems applicable. So this list is "representative" of their sound but don't take it too literally.

I'll add more songs when I think of them, as there's definitely not enough riff-based music, and too many ballads...

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Family Entanglements (SPOILERS GALORE)


This post contains serious spoilers for all ten books.

I started the Wynter Wild series with five characters in mind - the three Fairn boys, the two sisters - along with a few adults in their sphere. As their world expanded across ten books, I ended it with 365 named characters (admittedly, that does include the chickens). Somewhere along the way, a few of those characters became entangled in ways I hadn't envisioned when I set out.

A primary example is Xay. I created his character at the same time as I created Wynter's past in the cult - an Aussie boy she secretly befriends who leaves her behind. But making him Harry's son was an idea that came later (although before I started writing in earnest). Other ideas came when some of the books were already complete, and it's no easy task to weave revealed secrets into the plot when you didn't even know those secrets yourself!

As an insight into my writing process, I thought I'd lay out how some of my decisions evolved.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Naming a Ten-Book Series

How do you name ten books in a series?

When I started writing the Wynter Wild books, a stream-of-consciousness half-million words covering several years of her life and written out of order, I knew early on that it would be a long series. So the necessity of naming the books in some sort of coherent manner was an issue I dealt with early on.

I wanted titles that played on a single theme, but I hadn't decided what that theme would be. I jotted down endless ideas using themes from the story - not only music, but also "threads" (a recurring theme relating to broken or frayed threads, and of course braiding of hair and bracelets), lines from classic folk songs, matching words relating to family, and others.

Having decided on music, I brainstormed phrases and then matched them up with the relevant books. The later titles weren't finalized until the earlier ones were already published, since those plots weren't fully developed yet, but I had a list to select from. 

Here's my reasoning for each title - and a trip down memory lane for those readers who have stuck with the series until book 10.

Monday, February 1, 2021

What Do They Really Look Like? Part 3

This is the final (I think!) set of portraits created on the Artbreeder website to illustrate the characters from my books. In Part 1 I showed you the main characters and their immediate family, and in Part 2 the girlfriends and boyfriends of Caleb, Indio, Jesse, Wynter, and Xay.

Here are the four Palermo cousins from Vermont: Alyssa (an art student), Jessica (who claims to look like Jesse), Paige (Jesse's favorite, because of her inquisitive mind), and little Daisy:

Sunday, January 31, 2021

What Do They Really Look Like? Part 2

A few more characters I created using ArtBreeder, an A.I. face generator. Check out Part 1 for the Fairn boys, Wynter, Xay, and more. Again, there are minor spoilers here regarding relationships.

Here are Caleb's girlfriends and dates from the series... and whew, I didn't realize there were so many until I put them all together like this. (I omitted the mystery Canadian girlfriend because we never actually met her.) Bea was the harried single mother with dreams of marriage. Nicole was the colleague from Florida who raised Wynter's hopes, but only had one date with Caleb. Anita was Caleb's high school girlfriend for a few months, became Wynter's down-to-earth counselor, and went with Caleb on the trip to Arizona. Olivia was "sunshine", according to Wynter, but Caleb nipped it in the bud after a few weeks. And Kim... well, there's still hope...

Saturday, January 30, 2021

What Do They Really Look Like?

After a bit of fun making avatars of my characters, I've moved on to Artbreeder. All I can say is... wow! "Real" people that don't exist! 

One use for Artbreeder is to "breed" any two images together (such as a cat and an octopus, which was the first thing my daughter did). So you could upload "parent" faces and create "children" - but in my case I just wanted to visualize my book characters.

Creating faces is not entirely under the user's control - you can't tweak a nose exactly the way you want because you're mostly adding or subtracting "genes" from different parts of the world. But you can easily get photorealistic portraits with a few twists of the dials.

So, here are my results - just my impression of how the characters look, for my own amusement. Most of these characters are related to each other one way or another, so for many I started with the same "base" and fiddled with the age, gender, hair and eye color, etc.

[Mild spoilers ahead for the later books in the Wynter Wild series.]