Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Seventh Born {review and giveaway}


Having seven sons is a honor above no other. Which is why she is a disappointment. The only girl of seven children, she brought shame to her family. 

I'm here today to squeal loudly about one of the most incredible books I've read this year. Read on for more information about the author, the book, and even an excerpt from the book!

{about the book}

In a world where seventh born sons are valued for their strength and power, she is born a daughter.
Zezilia Ilar is the disappointment. Born after six brothers, she was supposed to be the son to restore her family’s prestige. She intends to remedy her shortcomings by being a dutiful daughter, marrying well and producing children, preferably a set of seven sons. But when someone offers her an alternative, she begins to dream of more.
In a society that worships a goddess, he follows the Almighty.
Hadrian Aleron, as a seventh son of a seventh son, stands to take up the second highest position in government, Sept Son. His main qualification for office is his birth. Despite preparing for this role from childhood, he does not desire what is to come. As a follower of the Almighty, he knows he will be the target of many, and his faith might eventually lead to death.

            Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079Z2PPJL
            Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/seventh-born-2
            Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seventh-born-rachel-rossano/1128018000

{about the author} 

Rachel Rossano lives with her husband and three children in the northeastern part of the United States. Homeschooled through high school, she began writing her early teens. She didn’t become serious about pursuing a career as an author until after she had graduated from college and happily married. Then the children came.

Now she spends her days being a wife, mother, teacher, and household manager. Her evenings and free moments are devoted to her other loves, writing and book cover design. Drawing on a lifelong fascination with reading and history, she spends hours creating historical feeling fantasy worlds and populating them with characters who live and breathe on the page.

{follow Rachel}

Newsletter Sign Up – http://eepurl.com/4sbsv


Rachel is giving away an eBook of her book. You can enter here. Your odds of winning increase with every person you refer so spread the word!

{my review}

Oooooooookay so now for the fun stuff.

This was stunning. BUT I ALMOST THREW MY TABLET WHEN I GOT TO THE END. I NEED THE SEQUEL, PLEASE. The ending was fantastic and I'm somewhat cross because I'm not ready to leave the characters yet and there will be a sequel but that doesn't help at the moment.

I loved the characters. I knew them from the first few pages. They're old friends that some part of me seemed to know from a long time ago, though that's logically impossible. Zezilia and I would be great friends, I think, though I'm terrible at climbing trees. Hadrian... oh, he's beautiful. And stressed. I think he needs a dog that requires daily walks. That would help him a lot.

As I was reading, I kept wanting to pull one or another of the characters aside and ask them a question. Or point out something. Or just hold their hand. Cuz life's hard and I get it and so do they.

This is fantasy, my dears. This is perfection. And just LOOK at the cover. And the blurb. And the premise. And everything. 

I promise I don't just love it because I'm the only girl in five boys. 

Characters: they're incredible. I love them to pieces and it was love at first paragraph. They're unapologetically people.

Setting: Ms. Rossano knows words. She knows how to make them do the thing where they line up and make pretty pictures. It's like Dominoes but with less things falling over in the process. I felt as if I lived there. I belonged to the place, because the place was alive and living things belong to living places. 

Pacing: Um. I read it. I just sat and read and read and read and read and read. And I may have cried when I had to stop reading and go make supper. The pacing was engaging and active but not so fast you got lost. 

Theme: Again, Ms. Rossano knows words. She knows what she's doing and what she wants to say, and she says it, and it's as simple and as complicated as that. 

5/5, highly recommend for 14+.

Will be anxiously waiting for the sequel. Will probably have to get a paperback because it's so absolutely delicious and amazing.

{tour schedule}

April 9
Bookish Orchestrations – Introductory post
Just A Glimpse – Guest Post

April 10
Rachel John Writes – Book Review
Annie Louise Twitchell – Book Review
Letters from Annie Douglass Lima – Character Spotlight       

April 11
God's Peculiar Treasure Rae – Character Spotlight     

April 12
Rebekah Lyn Books – Book Spotlight
Frances Hoelsema – Book Spotlight
Hunting for Truth – Book Review and Guest Post

April 13
Reading On The Edge – Book Spotlight          
Ember's Reviews – Book Review
With a Joyful Noise – Character Spotlight

April 14
Bookish Orchestrations – Giveaway winner


A humid haze filled the air, smothering my ability to breathe. Stale air filled my senses as I focused on the temperature outside the windows. Sunlight, bright and hot, flooded the world, painting the grass brown and wilting the plants. Only the trees, tall and strong, seemed unaffected by its blistering gaze.
A tentative trace of plum, cool and sweet, touched my tongue. It beckoned me to linger on the taste, much pleasanter than the oven beyond the windows.  I pushed the thought away and continued to admire the trees as they stood motionless in the nonexistent wind.
“Well done,” Errol commented from his place behind his desk. Considering the topic of study, he had allowed a temporary lifting of the no talking ban. “You can release the image now.” He closed the book as I slowly withdrew my focus from the heat. “You have now mastered the ability to block Thought-leading with Image-fixation. Well done.” He scribbled something in his notebook before setting it aside.
“Now let us try shutting out completely. This will be your first line of defense. Image-fixation, Mental-blocks, and Safety-zones are all tools for when they have gotten through your defenses, which are Walling, Sealing, and Shuttering.”
“And these are all defensive forms against interrogation?” I asked to make sure I was clear of what to use when.
“Correct.” Errol readjusted himself in his seat. “Walling is a defensive measure that Talents in precarious positions use at all times. Within their thoughts, they build a wall around certain topics. For example, a Talent who is undercover among other Talents must wall off all topics, facts, and ideas that are not in keeping with his persona. By doing so, he protects them from detection by a mind brush, random thought exchange, or sending.”
“So the Sept Son must use this.”
“Constantly,” Errol agreed. “Now choose a thought that you do not want me to access.”
Choosing the image of Selwyn watching Candra hammer a nail, I carefully built a mental stone wall around it.
“Ready?” Errol asked.
I nodded. Instantly, plum filled my taste buds. I watched with interest as he skimmed my thoughts, nudging gently at some, while completely avoiding others. Then suddenly he was at the wall.

I highly recommend getting your hands on this book, my dears. Thanks so much for hanging out! 

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

White Wolf and the Ash Princess {review}


Eighteen year old Izzy's limited world begins to feel cramped after she completes her self-appointed book dare. After reading two-hundred and fifty books, a thought that had been once tucked away as tightly as the books on her library shelves becomes too irresistible to ignore...Who am I? Memory loss prohibits Izzy from remembering her life before age seven when she was suffered a terrible trauma that left her with intense physical scars. Jonathan Gudwyne and his head housekeeper rescued Izzy and took her in as their own, but who did she belong to before they took her in? Crippling panic keeps Izzy from wandering beyond the stables but Tubs, the Gudwyne's young stable boy, encourages Izzy to go beyond the property's rock wall into a world that promises possible answers but also great danger. A scorched castle in the woods and its mysterious cellar filled with secrets sets Izzy on a path to the New World, where she will not only have to face her own terror but face the people responsible for her scars. It is here, in the untamed wilds of the seventeenth century that she finds love and a home in the most of unexpected of places.


It took me a couple weeks to read White Wolf. Partly because of the POV it was told in - I'm used to first person, but first person present tense was a new storytelling experience for me and I had a hard time getting my brain to reorient and read it that way.

Mostly it took a while because it hurt.

I could relate to Izzy in the first half of the book. Some people have commented that it seemed slow in the first half. I didn't find that to be a problem, and thus didn't observe it until I saw it pointed out in some other reviews, because for me, that's what I lived with years. Time doesn't work the way it typically does when you're so scared you can't leave your room. So yes, it was a little slow, but it wasn't out of place for the reader I am. It helped me relate to Izzy more because I could just feel the Something looming in a few more pages and that's one of the things that frightened Izzy, that captiol 'S' Something. That was one of the things that frightened me.

White Wolf hurt because I hadn't seen that side of myself lately. It's been a while since the fear has that bad, but it was that bad for years, and seeing it again showed me how far I've come from where I was. I'm immensely grateful for that perspective. It gives me hope to keep going.

I laughed. I cried. I played Duplos with one hand so I could keep reading with the other (the kid I was babysitting liked the wolf on the cover). I took it up a mountain with me. I threw the book on the couch at one point and went off in tears to wail at Tammy Lash about "how could you possibly do that?" (She sympathized.)

White Wolf is a romance, an adventure, and a journey of healing and self. It's a story of forgiveness even when it feels impossible. The greatest strength in this book isn't the characters (who I loved) or the setting (which I adored). It's in the raw emotion that drips from the pages so strongly you can taste it. I almost wish I could have read it when I was sixteen, but I'm afraid it would have been too much for me at that point. I'm incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to read it now.

5/5 stars

Recommend for 15+

{expand your library}

Tammy's website

Amazon Link


P.S. - I hear rumors there's a sequel. Follow Tammy on Facebook to keep up on that project.

hey love! 
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I hope you have a blessed day!

Friday, March 9, 2018

March Madness {a giveaway}

Drum roll, please...

I'm giving away two paperback copies of my book, The Ocean and I. This giveaway runs until March 31st!

March is such an interesting month. It never seems to make up its mind about what it's doing. We just got knee-deep snow, and I expect by the end of the month, there will be knee-deep puddles. I'm so looking forward to grass and flowers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'll be back later to share about a book I really loved, so I'll see you then!


Friday, February 23, 2018

The Hobbit {my favorite book}

You'd be surprised how many times I get asked what my favorite book is. It's on blog tour signups, it's quizzes in my online groups, it's just random questions. I usually have a hard time picking a favorite, but not with books. There's always one I can give as an answer: 

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien 

The first time I walked into a hole in the ground, I was five. Maybe six. My dad read it aloud to me and my four brothers, and I was hooked for life. 

See, I was a fearful little girl. I wanted to be brave and important and save the world, but I got scared by the shadows in my closet and bright lights and by people talking too loudly around me. 

I learned about being wild from the boys I grew up with. They challenged me to jump off cliffs (literally), to climb trees (I am terrible at it), to run all out and not be scared of tripping and falling (I still have scars on my knees). They encouraged me to take a couple steps and throw myself out, trusting to the water to catch me and cradle me. 

But there were some things they couldn't do. 

They couldn't teach me not to be afraid of the darkness. 

They couldn't teach me about the dragons I would have to face. 

We were only little kids, after all. They didn't know about those things either.

Later - much later - I learned far too much more about fear. I learned about the monsters that lurked, not under my bed or in my closet, but inside my mind. I learned about grief. I learned about being ripped apart. I learned about being wrong. I learned about being hurt. I learned about death.

I learned all that and more, and I almost lost myself in the middle of it.

By that point, The Hobbit movies were being filmed and everyone in my family was buzzing with excitement. I got out my book from the bottom of the stack on my bedside table - even during the time when I didn't read it every six months, it never quite made it to the shelves - and I read it again.

I found myself inside the pages. I was Thorin. brave and loyal and proud. Too proud. I was Smaug, my own monster. I was Smeagol, clutching to things I couldn't keep. Most importantly, I was Bilbo, small and afraid and unimportant.

But I learned something, and the movies helped me see it clearer.

I learned that even the small, seemingly unimportant ones are needed. I learned that sometimes what the world needs is a little more home. Sometimes it needs another pocket handkerchief.

The beauty of The Hobbit is that Bilbo doesn't try to be Thorin or Gandalf or Beorn. Bilbo is simply himself, and that is enough. He becomes, over the course of the story, a better version of himself... but he is still himself. He is a hobbit. He likes his books and his armchair and clean handkerchiefs. Tea is at four.

Image: Pinterest

I learned more about being from reading or listening to The Hobbit approximately 200 times in the last fifteen years than I ever learned in church or listening to sermons or preachers. I learned more about life, my own and life in general, from this little book than I have from almost anywhere else. I sometimes think this book saved my life. I don't really know, but I do know that it has shaped me in ways I wouldn't have thought possible.

I love C. S. Lewis's quote on stories for children because it sums up my relationship with The Hobbit so well:

Image: Pinterest

So if you ask me what my favorite book is, I might tell you the title of one I just finished... I might protest at having to pick favorites and how difficult the entire concept is... I might rattle off a list that's three miles long... or I might tell you The Hobbit.


Hey friend! I'm so glad you stopped in. Leave a comment below, I'd love to know what book has influenced you the most! If you'd like, you can follow my blog by email, or sign up for my newsletter, or both! I'd love to have you. 

Copyright 2018 by Annie Louise Twitchell

Thursday, February 15, 2018

So Sang The Dawn {review}

um, no review right now, too busy crying, good cry, don't worry, LOVED the book, it's beautiful.

OKAY. deep breath. 

So I'm procrastinating on an article by writing this, but at least I'm writing, right? Yeah, anyway. 

I don't know that I've read a book like this in a while. This one really needs like seven out of five stars. The last time I remember reading a book in such pell-mell haste and reaching the end and just---hanging---was when I read Moonraker's Bride for the first time. Before that, Jane Eyre. In fact, I think I could list to you all the books I've read that yanked me in and ate me up in the process of reading, and when I came out... I'm going to sound like Gandalf when I say "You may never return... and if you do, you will not be the same." So Sang The Dawn is one of those books for me.

The prose is vivid, engaging, and nearly flawless in terms of pacing, plotlines, and flow. The story is sharp, harsh in places, and it hurts in all the right places. This brought me to tears so many times - actual curled-up-on-the-bed SOBBING. I read it in a week which is the fastest I've ever read something of this size. I stayed up late nights reading, which is also unusual for me. 

Aurora was entirely too relatable and I slid into her shoes so easily that it scared me. Raine reminds me of my own best friends and made me miss them dearly. I haven't slid so completely into a story in a while and it took me a good two hours after I finished before I could even quite remember me. 

Okay. Let's see if we can make some order out of my feelings on this book:

IT'S HUGE. I could win awards for the book yoga I pulled off to be able to read this comfortably. Eh, nah, I couldn't. But anyway. Ever since AnnMarie published, I've been debating whether it would be as big as my cat. The answer (as evidenced on her Instagram @elli_and_indie) is that yes, it is pretty much just as big as my cat. TOTALLY WORTH IT TO HAVE THE PAPERBACK. In a lot of ways it needs to be that big. The story is so big that it needs every single one of its 723 pages. 

I loved it. I just totally and absolutely loved it. If I was beta reading, I would point out the three typos I found (and for the record 3 typos over 723 pages is totally insanely good.) That's it. I can't find anything that I feel needs to be changed except that I need the sequel RIGHT NOW PLEASE AND THANK YOU. 

The characters, the setting - I won't give you spoilers, but THE WHOLE FREAKING SETTING IS AMAZING. Reading it in February, in the mountains of Western Maine, I knew exactly what she was talking about and I adored it. 

The story-telling has a beautiful blend of detail and action that is both poetic and made my heart race. 

This is a high fantasy story like few I've read and it has the added delight of a contemporary world and a high fantasy world blending flawlessly. 

It's taken me three days to be able to think enough to be able to write a review and knowing me, it will be like three weeks before I can verbally talk about it. 

I apparently made a record by sending the author her first ever review in GIFs only. 

There is semi-graphic violence and heavy themes, but it's all handled so well, so I recommend for 14+.

I highly recommend getting your copy from AnnMarie's website - you can get it signed, and she does the most amazing wrapping and packaging job. Seriously, that got all the heart eyes from me. 

AnnMarie's Website

Amazon Link


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Copyright 2018 by Annie Louise Twitchell. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

One Year Ago {this calls for celebration}

One year and one week ago I sat in the living room on a cold Saturday morning and read through the entity of KDP's (Kindle Direct Publishing) terms of service. One year and one week ago I talked with my dad and decided on Annie Louise Twitchell as the name I would publish under. One year and one week ago today I opened a KDP account.

One year ago today I uploaded the cover file:

One year ago today I struggled over the acknowledgements, how to express what I felt and what I wanted to say. I'd never felt that something was so important. 

One year ago today I uploaded the finalized manuscript. 

One year from tomorrow, January 28th, my first book was published on Amazon Kindle. 

The Christmas Ladder is a little tiny story; it's about 10 pages long. It's a true story, mostly. It's based on a story from my great-grandmother's childhood. To celebrate my first book baby's birthday, I've listed it for free on Amazon on the 27th, 28th, and 29th. 

It's been a long year. It seems impossible that it's been a whole year already, but at the same time I can't believe it's only been a year. I'm standing on the edge of 21, almost teetering, waited with bated breath. I don't know what I'm waiting for. 

This past year has been full of pain and grief and anger and hurt and depression. It's been full of anxiety and fear. It's been full of hope and love and joy and the kind of laughter that explodes into a million glittering echoes because there's nothing else for it to do. It's been full of growth and change and healing. 

I've moved mountains, I think, at least for myself. 

I'm so thankful for this last year. 


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

It's Okay {my afternoon}

I'm in several young writer's groups now, and I end up on the older end of the age range in most of them. I tend to mildly 'big sister' them, especially during a writing event month. I post reminders and encouragements and offer virtual hugs as needed. It's something I'm pretty good at, and it's useful for some of the members.

This week has been challenging for me, personally. It's been hard and I've felt so worn out and tired. I had a panic attack (full blown panic attack, it was pretty bad) this morning when I realized I hadn't written at all yesterday, and only a couple sentences the day before. I'm not doing any yearly writing challenges this year and I've actually met my January goals about a week ago, so I couldn't figure out why I was panicking about it, but once my buddy got me calmed down and I was okay, I was able to sit down and do some journaling. That satisfied whatever it was that had prompted the panic attack. 

This evening, I was just feeling really discouraged and down. So I squished my anxiety about saying anything and asked in one of my writing groups for some encouraging quotes, memes, whatever. 

The response was pretty overwhelming and I was actually finally able to cry, which I hadn't managed yet. After I had a good cry I felt so much better. I felt refreshed and clear-headed, I could think properly, my body was relaxed and didn't feel like it was falling apart on me. 

It just really reminded me that no one here is an island and that it's totally okay to need help and to ask for help. I often have this whisper in the back of my mind that says you don't need to bother anyone with that and sometimes, I let it decide things for me. But tonight I didn't, and I'm so very thankful that I didn't. 

I feel ready for my day tomorrow and I'm looking forward to the handful of projects I have lined up. 


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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Pick Up The Phone {three reasons why}

This week I had to file my sales tax return for my books.

A simple misunderstanding on the form resulted in a visit to the bank, three phone calls, an email, and talking with my dad for any ideas. The process took about seven hours spread over two days.

This morning I decided to get up my nerve and call the State office to talk to them about it.

The lady I spoke with was very kind and helpful. She didn't make me feel stupid or silly, explained what was going on, and what I could do. She was patient and helpful, and when we were done, told me to have a good day. Having that mess sorted out so quickly and easily - I was on the phone with her for about five minutes - has gone a long way towards making my day better.

I don't know about you, but I have issues with making phone calls. I'm better now about answering phone calls and calling my friends, but having to make a call to someone I don't know stresses me out.

Especially if it's something like this.

I've had my fair share of panicking over the telephone. I still do prefer to text than to talk, but that has more to do with my preference to write than to speak. I'm always afraid that I'll mess up something important by saying the wrong words, or that I'll start crying in the middle of a situation, or any number of self-induced disasters. If I can email instead of talk, I will take that route.

But here's three reasons to pick up the phone and dial:

1 - connection

A voice over the phone is much more intimate than an email. It just is. You can convey more than you can in an email, just because there's tone of voice and so on. A conversation goes much faster on the phone because you communicate in sentences instead of paragraphs.

2 - faster assistance

I sent an email to the State last night and I haven't gotten a response yet. Normally I'd just wait, but since I need to have this filed posthaste, I didn't have that luxury. Making the phone call got me someone to talk to right away. I didn't even get put on hold this time, but when I have before, it's still been faster than an email exchange.

3 - professionalism

Is that a word? I don't know. If it isn't, another phrase that would work is business skills. I answer phones in the morning at the computer shop my family owns. It's made it so much easier for me to make these kinds of phone calls. I've learned to adjust my voice slightly so my words are distinct on the phone, to be concise, polite, and collected. I've learned to deal with irate customers on the phone, and even if they make me want to cry afterwards, I can conclude the conversation with them.

So yeah, I stress about important phone calls, and I make a mental script, and everything. But I've had enough practice that it's starting to not be such a huge deal. Speaking on the phone is a skill, and a very good one to have.

Tips for having a successful phone call:

Make sure your environment isn't making it harder for you. A clean desk, a pad of paper, a pen, and whatever references you need for the phone call will help you feel prepared, because well, you are.

Make sure your pen works. Seriously, this is huge. Before you make the phone call, test your pen and make sure it works.

Have a sip of water first. This will help your mouth not be too dry. If you get put on hold, take another sip. Don't guzzle it down though! Needing a restroom stop isn't going to help your nerves.

Write down the important things you need to talk about, or make a mental script. Some people might find it more helpful to have a list in front of them. I use my mental script as a way to focus myself on the call, so I don't tend to write things down.

Remember that the person on the other end of the phone is a human too. They're probably not that concerned if you stumble over your words a bit, or if you're nervous and uncomfortable. They talk to people on the phone a lot and you're not going to be that memorable.

Be polite. Saying thank you very much at the end of the call will make you feel better, make the person you spoke with feel better, and generally make the whole thing end of a happy note. Guess what? That really helps with the next time.

It is okay to get someone to help you if you really need it. I had my mother call to make the appointment for my wisdom teeth extraction last month, because I was too stressed and upset about the whole thing. I was pretty sure I'd start crying if I got on the phone. She offered to help me call about my taxes today, but I got it taken care on my own. Stretching yourself is good, but you're not trying to break. If you pull a rubber band too far, it snaps. That's not the goal here. If you really can't make the phone call, that's okay.


copyright 2018 by Annie Louise Twitchell
Image from Pixabay

Friday, January 5, 2018

No Dragons, Please! {updated Kindle edition}

No Dragons, Please! wasn't originally intended to be published as a Kindle e-book, due to the illustrations and the formatting difficulties they present. I found Amazon has a program for building children's books for Kindle, so I used that. Basically what it does is lock everything on a page as if it's an actual book page, which messes up with changing the font size, zooming in and out, and other issues. All my checks on my devices showed that it came out okay - not stellar, but it was readable for me, so I called it good.

When I found out today that it wasn't working out for some readers, due to the formatting and how it was locked in, I went back and updated it. It now reads like a normal Kindle book, where you can change the font size as needed. The images aren't 100% centered and I haven't been able to find out why, but they are still in there and not looking too bad, if I do say so myself.

There aren't any changes to the content of the book other than the formatting and one illustration that I moved to flow better in the story, so if you were able to read it just fine on your device before, you don't need to update it. If you had issues, you may want to update the book, and here's a link to How-To Geek that explains how to do that: How-To Geek: How to Get the Latest Version of Your Kindle Books (Including Ours)

I'm so sorry if this caused any inconvenience to my readers! As an apology/thank you, I'm going to be putting No Dragons, Please! for free on Kindle on January 7th and 8th. Here's the Amazon link: No Dragons, Please!

As a side note, the internet at my house is out right now, so I have limited access to social media. I'm running a mobile hotspot on my phone to post this blog update. If you feel inclined to share this post, could you do that? Thanks ever so much.


Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 {my year in review}

It all started one fateful day in December 2016... 

It was the first holiday season since my great-grandmother Louise had passed away, so a number of us were reminiscing on Facebook, and a cousin shared a story that I, and a number of others, had never heard before. That story stuck in my heart and without necessarily thinking about it I found myself painting. Then I wrote the story out. I asked for a couple beta readers to help polish it up, then published it on my blog. On January 27th I hit publish on my first little Kindle e-book.

I wrote a poem for my local library's poetry contest and won first place in the adult category with Something. Reading that one out loud at the presentation night was hard; I wasn't sure if I was going to make it all the way through. It wasn't nerves this time. It was how deeply the poem affected me personally.

I turned right around and started seriously working on my novella, Spinner of Secrets. Spinner of Secrets had been in progress for almost two years. I had an incredible team of beta readers who helped me get it in shape, then I started a process I would repeat three more times before the end of the year: formatting. I expected to hate formatting. I expected to take forever to get it, and to end up with a bit of a 'ehh' job. 

I didn't. I loved it, and my first proof copy came in the end of April. I had a book. I'd made an actual, real, honest to goodness book. Not gonna lie, there was a lot of crying. And a lot of jumping around and yelling in excitement. And I don't really remember a lot else.

I had two poems published in an anthology, "What The Sirens Say" and "Ache". 

I was invited to enter a couple pieces in an anthology to raise mental health awareness, with all proceeds donated to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I wrote two poems for that, and then was able to help out a little with finalizing it. 

Back in January I'd assembled a poetry manuscript for a contest. I didn't win, but I got bored one afternoon, rearranged it a bit, formatted it, and ordered a proof copy. This little book just might be my personal favorite of all my works this year. I finished it off with a handful of my own sketches, and published it on August 16th.

On September 28th I published The Ocean and I. A short collection of poetry, prose, and photos, it's a snapshot of my vacation in Friendship, Maine this summer. It started as just a letter to me, from me, but I was encouraged to publish it, and people seem to have liked it.

With only two weeks left before the deadline, I learned about an attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records record for largest anthology. I am one of over 100 authors who contributed. There are several goals we have to reach before the record is broken, but it's kind of a big deal and I'm excited.

No Dragons, Please! was, like Spinner of Secrets, two years in process. I pulled it from my back files to be re-written and published. Originally written for my youngest brother's 10th birthday, I had it published professionally in time for his 12th.

Other things of note:

In addition to my cat, rabbit, dog, and houseplants, I have a fish. His name is Thaddeus and he is a Halfmoon Double Tail Male Betta fish. He is fabulous. His tank is next to my computer desk and he likes to sit near me while I work.

I successfully pulled off the 2017 New Releases Showcase, a Facebook event featuring myself and eight other authors who'd released books in 2017.

In terms of mental health, this has been the best year in a long time. All of this work, all of this stretching and pushing and testing limits, and it's still been the best year I've had. I've been scared. I've been angry. I've been stubborn and in the wrong and stupid and a brat. But I've been so joyful and excited and eager. I've been so happy I screamed and I've been so overwhelmed that I cried. It's been good. 

And my total word count for 2017... as close as I can figure from my tracking...


At the end of the year, 2017 has been life-changing. Looking back at where I was one year ago today, I can safely say that I never saw this coming. And I can safely say I don't regret it.

All my love - AnnieLou