Pieces of Me


This post by H.N. Sieverding about Resembling Your Characters got me thinking about the pieces of me, both the obvious and not so obvious, sprinkled throughout the Reborn series.

There’s the saying to “write what you know” – and in many ways I definitely did that in Reborn. Siobhan and I have several superficial similarities and differences. At one time, we were both blonde. Although, as I was just joking about with Ms. Sieverding, my highlights have grown out during the pandemic, so my natural brown hair is showing now. My hubby likes to tease me about it, but he says he loves my hair/me either way. (Good answer.) Siobhan is short, whereas I’m on the taller side.

Our backgrounds are probably the most similar thing. Like Siobhan, I grew up in a small town in western Pennsylvania (and Shadesburg is my fictional version of Pittsburgh). She also loves science, but I made her a biology major instead of chemistry. We were both in sororities. Luckily, my sorority’s president and adviser were not capricious Greek goddesses (as far as I know). Probably the biggest difference, personality-wise, is that I made Siobhan way more outgoing than I am. She also tends to blurt things out without thinking, whereas I am more cautious about what I want to say (or at least try to be).

That being said, although I was writing what I knew, I wouldn’t say Siobhan is me. She doesn’t make the same decisions I would. At the end of the day, I am trying to explore a character who isn’t you or me. I think sometimes, the author is purposefully doing this so you as the reader can insert yourself in the action or fantasy. (And, not to drag this series or anything, but Ana in Fifty Shades of Gray is sort of like that.) Not that there wouldn’t be aspects you can/can’t relate to with Siobhan or my other characters, but they go through their own changes as the series goes on.

Well, that was already a bit of a tangent. So, what other pieces of me have I inserted into the books? Personality-wise, I am probably more like Carly. I think at one point in the third book she mentions living in her head a lot – as a writer, that is definitely me, haha. I made her a math major because heroines with STEM-related interests are still not something I see a lot of in young adult books. Her obsession with 80s music and movies is also 100% me, lol. As is her close relationship to her grandmother when she was younger.

That’s where the similarities end, I think. It’s difficult for pieces of yourself to not end up in your work, whether it’s intentional or not. And while I think it can be important for authors to put themselves in shoes that are not their own (otherwise, you’re going to write about the same character/story over and over again), we also need to be cognizant of whether you are/aren’t the right person to do a certain storyline justice. Especially when you’re coming from a point-of-view that’s typically the majority or more privileged perspective. That’s another aside that could be an entire post of its own, but I just wanted to qualify that here.

I was also trying to decide if there is a male character in Reborn most like me? Jimmy is the punk rocker among the group, and I do love a lot of the music I have him reference (The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, David Bowie). Like, every book I write always has to have some not-so-subtle Bowie reference, bahaha. I guess Dolos and I have the whole vivid imagination thing in common, although he takes it to a whole new level (and I am not a trickster god, that I am aware of).

So, there you have it! Probably more information than you ever wanted to know about what parts of me ended up in the Reborn series. But I hope you enjoyed it!

Sale: Reborn Series Box Set


The Reborn Series Box Set (containing the first three books and two novellas) is on sale for Kindle! Grab yours here before it goes back to its regular price on Wednesday. Get caught up before the conclusion to the series, Retribution, hits this summer! 😉

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Siobhan Elliot’s World Myths and Legends class was supposed to be an easy way to get elective credit. Instead, she gets an unexpected—and unwanted—blast from the past in the form of the course’s handsome teaching assistant, Jasper Hart. He puts the cliché tall, dark and handsome to shame, but that’s the least of Siobhan’s worries. Because she’s met him before.

And he’s definitely not human.

Back then, their brief encounter left her with a unique but uncontrollable power, forever altering her young adult life. Now, the only person who can tell her the truth about who—and what—she really is doesn’t seem to remember her.

Even so, Jasper’s return opens a whole new world to Siobhan, one straight from the pages of her World Myths and Legends textbook. Her already bizarre life is about to be turned upside down, and nothing—not even her sorority, Gamma Lambda Phi—is left untouched. A world where Greek mythology meets Greek life, legendary lovers reunite, and nothing is what it seems.

And that’s just the beginning. This Reborn Series box set features the first three books in the series (REBORN, RELAPSE, and RECLAIM) and two bonus novellas (REVENGE and RECTIFY).

Great Expectations


[Note: As with most of my blog posts, this one jumps around a bit, so beware of some potential Queen of Nothing spoilers toward the end.]

Since I finished the (fourth? fifth?) draft of Retribution, I’ve been thinking a lot about my self-publishing journey. Things I’m satisfied with, things I might have done differently, and things I’ve learned along the way.

I published the first edition of Reborn back in…2013?! Sometimes, it’s hard to believe this has been an eight-year journey. Back then, I was still a grad student, and had somehow gotten it into my brain that being a self-published author was going to be a great, even lucrative, side hustle. And many things about it have been great (even if that second expectation was a bit of a stretch, lol).

Reflecting on how long it’s been since I published the first novel in this series, I occasionally get frustrated with myself for having taken so long to write the last book. I mean, it’s not so bad, because the last series novella was published in 2019. But still. The series’ conclusion has been a long time coming. I think this era of binge is making us used to wanting/having everything now.

Looking back at my drafts, I started Retribution back in 2017, but didn’t really begin to work on it in earnest until 2020. If I had published it four years ago, it would have, in many ways, likely been a very different book. In the end, I think the wait was probably worth it.

But, I digress. What I’ve actually been thinking about this weekend are expectations – namely, reader expectations. And why I’ve been trying to do some rebranding/recategorizing of the series. Like I said, I’ve learned a lot over the past nearly a decade, lol. One thing I’ve had to learn is that my novels aren’t really paranormal romances.

Does the Reborn series have strong paranormal elements? 100%, yes. Obviously. Does it have romantic themes? Um…sure? Yes? If you like your romance with a very large dose of mutual emotional manipulation and exploitation. Enemies-to-lovers-to-enemies-again-but-maybe-lovers-what-the-hell-are-we-doing.

What I’m really trying to say is, Reborn (and my other books) don’t follow the conventions readers of the romance genre typically expect. And by the way, I’m not dragging the romance genre, at all. I especially love a good Regency romance, and often it’s comforting to pick something up and know exactly what you’re in for (perhaps particularly after The-Year-That-Must-Not-Be-Named). In hindsight, all of this seems pretty obvious to me, but at the time I was publishing Reborn, it just wasn’t. Which made for some pretty confusing reviews from people who were expecting certain things but getting something completely different.

I’m mostly calling them romantic fantasies now, but I’m not even sure that’s a great fit. They are sort of urban fantasies, too (in the way Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series is). Occasionally someone will mention loving the books while not loving with, or agreeing with, some of the characters, and that’s…fine. I didn’t go into this thinking I was writing inherently likeable people, ha. Jasper’s hot in the first book but kind of a jerk (I like to think he’s come a long way since then). In so many young adult-ish books (but not all!), the main female character is the pretty-but-doesn’t-realize-how-pretty type, and maybe not a complete outcast, but not one of the popular kids, either. Siobhan knows she’s pretty, she’s a former cheerleader, and now, in college, she’s in a (purposefully stereotypical, at least in the beginning) sorority. If you like her…great! But if you don’t, I’m also not too surprised.

That all being said, I really did try to give my characters a lot of closure in Retribution. As far as the events go, there is some bitter to go along with the sweet, but the main couples get their HEAs. That was always where Siobhan and Jasper were headed, it was simply going to take them awhile to get there. They needed time to heal (and getting to the point they are at now wouldn’t have made sense without that).

I guess I was also thinking about reader expectations this weekend because I just finished Holly Black’s The Folk of the Air series. Which was AMAZING, by the way. I have been raving about it to anyone who will listen to me, which, in these days of social distancing, is mostly my husband. Anyway, as the trilogy is told from only Jude’s point-of-view, you get a sort of very narrow perspective of things. And from what Ms. Black is showing you, you know Jude isn’t always grasping the full picture, but you’re also kind of relying on her. This is my convoluted way of saying that, even though the author was obviously setting Jude and Cardan up for their HEA, there were moments when I was reading the last book that I was just like IF CARDAN AND JUDE DON’T END UP TOGETHER I AM GOING TO RAGE. Even though I KNEW they had to, right? Right???

So, if you’ve managed to hang on for these past eight years, I hope the wait will end up being worth it! I’m excited to bring the conclusion of Siobhan, Jasper et al.’s journey to you this summer. And, if you’re just discovering the Reborn series, I hope this explains a bit more about what I was going for. If you’re looking for virtuous love interests, insta-happiness, and nice endings tied up in a neat little bow, I think that’s great! But please look elsewhere.

If you’re looking for something a little darker, a little sexier, a little more wicked, I think I’ve got just the thing… 😉

March 2021 Newsletter


I’ve just sent out my March 2021 author newsletter. You can access it here! It includes ten fun facts about the upcoming fourth book in the Reborn series, Retribution, as well as a synopsis!

As always, I’m a bit commitment-phobic when it comes to setting an actual release date. But, I’m very close to finishing this round of edits before I have a few trusted folks read it. I’m aiming for summer, but if I can get it out earlier, I will! Happy Saturday, and as always, happy reading!