General News and Updates, Novels

Camp NaNoWriMo Is Here!

I’m so excited for the start of Camp NaNoWriMo! Not only as a Co-ML for my region, but also as I have my own goals this month to finish editing my next contemporary romance novel!

For those who don’t know, Camp NaNoWriMo is similar to NaNoWriMo as you set a writing goal to complete in 30 days. The difference is during camp you have more control over what your specific goal is (instead of the 50,000 words). This year, I am hoping to complete another round of edits on my next contemporary romance novel, “After the Storm” (previously titled “Scottish Savior”).

This novel has been in the works for a couple years now, I just never had any time to dedicate to it as I worked on other projects. But this month, it’s all for this novel! If you are interested in following my progress, you can friend me on the NaNoWriMo site (username: spikora). If you are also participating in Camp, let me know so we can cheer each other on!

I hope you all have a fantastic April planned. Until my next update, here is a sneak peek at “After the Storm”!

*Please note this is not a final version of the story and may change with future edits!*

Kira sat in her stiff seat and wrung her hands in her lap. The chatter of her fellow passengers was nothing but a background hum as she glued her eyes to the entrance of the plane. Each new person who walked on sent a spike of anxiety through her—just for a moment—until she realized it was just another stranger and not the person her mind feared it was. Just a stranger who didn’t know who she was…or who he was. Sat in seat 8B, arms wrapped tightly around her purse, her carry on secured in the bin above her head; she realized it was nearly time. Nearly time to take her first breaths of freedom.

A man shuffled forward and collapsed into the seat next to hers, shoving his carry on under the seat rather than dealing with the overhead bin. Kira could only watch as he cursed, trying to force the poor piece of luggage into a spot it wasn’t mean to be.

I feel ya, luggage, she thought to herself.  

Tears threatened to fall as she took a deep breath. The smell of the man’s thick and overpowering cologne consumed her. Surprisingly, it was a welcome distraction to her panicked mind. She focused on the spiced scent. Something woody and warm—a connection to the moment that kept the impending anxiety attack at bay. Deep breaths, she told herself as she shut her eyes and focused on expanding her diaphragm with each inhale. She held the breath for four counts then exhaled, pressing her belly button into her core, just as she did on Monday Pilates. The man next to her bumped her arm, forcing her to concentrate harder on her breath.

She could do this. Taking another deep breath, she felt her self-control settling and—

“Sorry ‘bout tha’.” The man next to her spoke in a thick accent after his elbow jabbed into her side and sent her nearly sprawling against the arm rest. Kira flinched as she shifted back, giving the man a stiff nod. As grateful as she was for the distraction, she wasn’t sure she was ready for idle chat. Kira’s eyes locked on the door of the plane again, watching the flight attendants talk as they moved about.

For some reason, she thought once she boarded, she would be more at ease—that he would be gone then. But she had this fear he would walk on and drag her back to that hell she was fleeing. Kira turned her attention out the window, ignoring her seat mate as he mumbled about his trip.

It was a beautiful day in Detroit. They week of hazy rain final let the clouds part and granted a cool spring day. She used it as her excuse to leave—she wanted to take a walk and enjoy the nice weather. Her husband bought it. She took a quick trip to the gym, where she stashed clothes and essentials and all her paperwork, then she was gone.

Kira looked past her hazy reflection and to the runway beyond, just as a plane rose up into the sky. Her heart raced, in excitement instead of fear. In a few more minutes, that would be her.

“Passengers, please give your attention to the flight attendant at the front of the cabin as we begin our safety procedure review before takeoff.” The flight attendant spoke precisely into the phone as the other attendant walked through the motions of how to fasten the seatbelt, how to adjust the mask, and other things. Kira’s attention drifted after a few moments; eyes fixed out the window as she waited for takeoff.

Her leg started to bounce, her nerves wanting free, as she heard the engines start up. The rumbling had her heart racing. She shifted up in her seat, pushing her purse onto the floor. This was it. She was really doing it.

“Do ya mind,” her neighbor spoke with an irritated snap. “You’ll make me sick with tha’.” Kira followed his point to her leg. She hadn’t even realized.

“I’m sorry.” She pressed herself tight against the side of the plane, trying to distance herself from him as she forced her leg to still. It gave her a chance to watch takeoff. The ground started to move past the plane. It was slow at first, but then it went faster, faster. The sound of the engines roared and the ground began to drift away. Take off.

“I’m free.” Kira whispered to herself, tears fighting to fall as she laid her head against the window. The world below her shrunk as her spirit grew and soared among the clouds. A weight lifted and she took an easy breath. The first she had taken in months.

General News and Updates

My 2021 Reading Challenges

Photo by cottonbro on

This year, I decided to take on a number of reading challenges to help me conquer my ever growing “To Be Read” pile. Not only do I have many books in my house to read, but I also have a massive amount on my wish list as well. To help me with this, as I always like to add a layer of fun to goal setting, I have decided to utilize a couple social media and personal challenges.

If you also have a large “To Be Read” pile, join me in some of these challenges!

Reading Challenge 1: Goodreads (100 Books in a Year)

At the beginning of the year, I kept getting notifications from Goodreads to set a goal for myself on how many books I wanted to read that year. I decided to “go big or go home” and set it at 100! I am proud to say that I’m currently a book ahead of schedule and hope that I can read 100 books in a year — as that would put a nice big chunk in my “To Be Read” pile!

If you’re on Goodreads, you can follow me by clicking below. You would be able to see what books I’m reading (which may give you a sneak peek at what books will pop up in reviews) as well as how I’m progressing through the challenge. Send me a friend request so we can cheer each other on as we work through our own “To Be Read” piles!

Reading Challenge 2: Heaving Bosoms 2021 Reading Embrace

You may recall one of my more recent posts have been about my favorite podcasts (if not you can check it out here). Number one on that list was Heaving Bosoms. I do adore the podcast and am excited to try their annual reading challenge, the Heaving Bosoms Reading Embrace.

The Reading Embrace is to help you read new and exciting romance novels by finding books that fit into VERY UNIQUE categories. These categories come from sayings and topics from the podcast, which make it even more fun to try to find books that fit. Categories Include: Darkness Button, Defcon Most Extreme. England Times America, Furrrrrr, Lady Love, Murder Smolder, Never Seen Snow Before, and so many more!

If you’re a romance reader, join me in the Heaving Bosoms 2021 Reading Embrace and let’s see what amazing stories we find!

Reading Challenge 3: Novel Knight “Beat the Backlist” Challenge

This is a challenge I found on Instagram but am so excited for! What I love most about it are the multiple options for how you can participate. There is the 24-book option or the 52-book option. Again, I’m going big or going home so I’m taking on the 52-book option.

On the site, there are multiple formats you can download to track your progress. Do you want a simple list to write out what you read? Want to turn it into a Bingo game to see who in your friend group can get a bingo first? They have all these options!

Be sure to check it out and join me in this challenge. I think it’s going to be a BLAST!

Reading Challenge 4: Most Pages Read in a Year

With all these books I’ll be reading and challenges I undertake, I will be reading plenty of books. As will my bestie who is also working on tackling her “To Be Read” pile. So…we made a bet!

Who could read the most pages in a year?

Last year, I was the GLORIOUS VICTOR! So naturally I feel extra pressure to beat her again this year. Any book we read, whether it’s an ebook or print book, counts. We count the number of pages read and track them throughout the year. Who ever reads the most pages is the winner!

Perks? The loser has to buy the winner a new book! This year I received “To the Sky Kingdom” by Tang Qi. It was a fantastic book! I am really hoping to win this year as well (I currently have a 2K lead).

Reading Challenge 5: Personal Incentive (4 Books a Month)

This is a personal challenge and prize system my husband and I came up with. I have so many novels I want to read, series to keep up with, and new releases that entice me — it’s hard to keep up! To help me keep up with series and to help keep the “To Be Read” pile from overtaking his office (where our library is situated) we came up with this bargain…

For every 4 books I finish in a month…I can purchase a new one (if I wish).

I know it seems silly, but it has been VERY beneficial for me as it helps me keep up to date on my favorite series, but spaces it out so I’m not buying a ton of books all at once just to sit on my shelf. It also helps push me to keep up with my other challenges too!

I’m loving doing all of these reading challenges! I hope you’ll join in on some of them too! If you’re interested in seeing how I progress in these challenges or what books I’ve been reading, subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Each month, at the end of the newsletter, I will let you know how I am fairing on my reading challenges and give thoughts on the books I read that month.

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Enjoy the challenges!

Shanna Pikora

General News and Updates

Favorite Podcasts

I don’t know about you all, but I adore podcasts! Since I’m working from home, I like to have them on in the background to keep me company while I’m working — it also distracts me from hearing the mischief my cats are getting into. A few friends have asked me lately for podcast suggestions, so I thought a blog post about my favorite podcasts would be fun!

There are so many to choose from, but here are my top 10 favorite podcasts:

Number 1: Heaving Bosoms

Yes, I know I’m supposed to go from 10 to 1, building up the suspense. But I never liked those kinds of posts. I’d rather jump right into the top pick, so that’s what I did here! Heaving Bosoms is by far my FAVORITE podcast! I listen to each and every episode, I’m on their Patreon, and I just adore them. This podcast recaps romance novels in hilarious fashion, covering all sorts of sub-genres and talking about the romance genre as a whole. If you’re a fan of romance, Heaving Bosoms is a MUST LISTEN TO PODCAST!

Number 2: Let’s Go To Court

Let’s Go To Court is a VERY close second. Their podcast is a true-crime podcast filled with laughter, jokes, giggles, and more. It is a fun listen, even when they cover heavy cases. I’m also a member of their Patreon, have listened to every episode, and even own a LGTC shirt that I wear on Wednesdays (when the new episode drops). I’m that big of a fan!

Number 3: Wicked Wallflowers Club

This is a fantastic podcast all about romance. The two hosts do interviews with authors, agents, publishers, and all sorts of other individuals all about the romance genre. A friend recommended this to me and it has been such an amazing podcast. It has opened my eyes to new ideas and thoughts about the romance genre, introduced me to so many new podcasts, and helped me find plenty of new reads!

Number 4: Ice Planet Podcast

This is definitely a niche podcast, but I love it so much! This podcast is all about the Ice Planet Barbarian’s Series by Ruby Dixon. Those of you who subscribe to this blog know that I did a book review on the first book of the series a couple months ago and LOVED it! Each episode of this podcast talks about a book in that series. If you are interested in the books or love Ruby Dixon, I really recommend this podcast!

Number 5: Cox ‘n Crendor

Cox n’ Crendor: In the Morning is a podcast hosted by Jesse Cox and Crendor, two YouTubers and Gamers. I found their podcast after following them on YouTube and just love this podcast. They talk about all sorts of random topics and even do bits such as a traffic report, reporting on weather, sports, and my personal favorite — the big news story of the day! If you are looking for something fun and lighthearted, check out this podcast!

Number 6: Wolf 359

Wolf 359 was my first, and still my favorite, audio drama podcast. It tells the story of the crew of the U.S.S. Hephaestus as it circles and studies Wolf 359, a strange star. It is absolutely hilarious, filled with amazing twists and turns, and has an amazing voice cast that will blow your mind. If you are looking for a story to get into, check out Wolf 359!

Number 7: Writing Excuses

There are many podcasts out there that talk about the writing process and how to become a published author, but this one is my all-time-favorite! This podcast has short episodes (15-20 minutes) “Because you’re in a hurry”, as is the tagline of the show. They cover all sorts of topics that cross all types of writing advice and considerations. If you are a writer, I really recommend you check out this podcast!

Number 8: The Bright Sessions

The Bright Sessions is another audio drama podcast. It follows the lives of individuals who are unique and have special powers, what they go through during the meetings with their counselor, and every day life. It is a fantastic series that also has a couple of accompanying books (which I also reviewed on this blog). It has everything from love, conflict, twists, and amazing villains. Be sure to check it out!

Number 9: The Lusty Intellectuals

This is a new podcast I’ve jumped into. It was referenced in a Heaving Bosoms episode (I believe) and that is what drew me to this podcast. I have a feeling once I listen a bit more it will shoot up the list to a higher ranking. This podcast is also one where they recap romance novels and share life stories. I have listened to a couple of episodes and it has already made my top ten–it’s that good!

Number 10: Write-Minded

Write-Minded is a podcast led by leaders of NaNoWriMo and SheWrites. They discuss all sorts of topics about writing, being an author, and books. Nearly every episode also has an interview with other individuals that let you dive deep into the world of writing and becoming and author. This is a great one for any writer out there looking for inspiration!

It was so hard to pick only ten podcasts to list, but these ones are by far my favorites. I never miss a single episode! If you are looking for podcasts, check these out. And please, tell me about your favorite podcasts! I’m always looking for new ones. Comment below with your top recommendations for podcasts!

Until next time, Happy Reading Listening!

~Shanna Pikora

General News and Updates

March Is Finally Here!

I can’t put into words just how excited I am for the start of March! The temperatures are rising, the snow is melting, and Spring is just around the corner. I’m just biting at the bit to start going on my morning walks, getting back into my gardening, and enjoying the sunshine. Ending this winter season definitely has me feeling a bit cooped up, but thankfully I have some projects to keep me focused going into March!

This is NOT the officially logo.

The biggest project I am working on this month is…A PODCAST!

Oh yes, I have teased you endlessly about this podcast and I finally feel like it’s a good time to give you a bit more information. I’m working on an audio drama podcast with a friend. I am the writer and director; she is the editor and producer.

We have been working on this project for months. We hoped to release it by now, but COVID had other plans. This month, I will be putting the final edits on our script! It’s such a different writing style then I’m used to, but it has been so much fun.

I hope I will have more information in the coming months about this new audio drama… C.R.E.A.T.U.R.E. Control!

My other big “project” is to get caught up on my reading. I’ll tell you what, it was a slippery slope teaching me how to use interlibrary loan through the public library. I have so many amazing books to read, but only a couple weeks to read each one. Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem…but I may have checked out too many books… I had to make a “Due Date” list to keep them in order!

Here’s a sneak peek at what I will be reading — in priority order (a couple of these reviewed on this blog!):

  • “Witch’s Wheel of the Year” by Jason Mankey
  • “Seasons of the Witch” by Gail Duff
  • Herodotus “The Histories” — I’m auditing an Ancient Greek History Class for novel research!
  • “Reclaiming the Wild Soul” by Mary Reynolds Thompson (Book Club Book)
  • “Kingdom of Flesh and Fire” by Jennifer Armentrout
  • “Worth the Risk” by Kate Hawthorne
  • “The Ex Talk” by Rachel Lynn Solomon (Book Club Book)
  • “Prose Edda” and “Poetic Edda” — I’m also taking an Ancient Runes Course!
  • “The Kiss Quotient” by Helen Hoang
  • “Enola Holmes: The Case of the Left-Handed Lady” by Nancy Springer
  • “Barbarian Lover” by Ruby Dixon
  • “Tomb Raider” Omnibus, Volume 2

My record number of books read in one moth is 12… this is 13. Wish me luck!

Those are the two biggest challenges I have this month. I will also be continuing my social media presence, doing tarot readings through my business, and waiting for my editor comments on the last few chapters of “A Second Chance”.

I hope I have more exciting news to come soon. Be sure to follow me on my different social media platforms for special content!

Instagram — great for pictures of my day-to-day life, writing process, and writing buddies (my cats).

Twitter — great for updates on blog posts and other oddball content.

Pinterest — check it out to see links to book reviews, additional pins I create, as well as boards and saved pins that are inspiration for my novels.

Tumblr — welcome to my nerd side! I use tumblr for fanfiction, fandoms, and additional posts about writing and tarot.

Facebook — this is for my tarot business, as a few people messaged to ask about it.

I also release a monthly newsletter with unique content! I give a monthly update, blog and social media highlights, reading challenge updates, book recommendations, and sometimes…sneak peeks for my novel!

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Lastly, you can subscribe to this blog. Doing so means you will receive an email each time I post on the blog (about once a week) with updates, writings, giveaways, and more!

Thank you for all of your amazing support! I can’t wait to share my next story with you. Until then, Happy Reading!

~Shanna Pikora

General News and Updates

February – A Time for…EVERYTHING

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I still can’t believe it’s already February! As I dive into the month I have so many projects and to-dos to get started on, I don’t even know where to start. Let’s see…

My biggest project for February (and March) is to edit “A Second Chance”. I’m so excited to be working on this story again. This contemporary romance has been put on the backburners for other projects the last couple months and I’m elated to be able to spend time with my characters again.

I received my manuscript back from RoseLark Publishing, where two amazing editors went through and left so many notes. I was a bit intimidated at first, but I am incredibly grateful to RoseLark. My novel is really coming together thanks to their amazing work! If you’re an author and are looking for a professional editor, give them a look!

The next big project I have is promoting my debut tarot book, “Fae Spreads: 2020”. You may recall seeing my post from last week about its publication! I will be doing a giveaway this coming weekend for those who participated. There is still time to enter if you want to win a free copy! Click here to learn how to enter!

In addition to this exciting time of indie publishing, I was also welcomed as a writer for a local store’s newsletter! I will be doing monthly tarot card reviews and sharing some of my new tarot spreads. If you’re interested in seeing these articles and reviews, you can sign up for the newsletter from Kae Apothecary!

You can also check out Kae Apothecary’s workshops for writing (Magical Writers Night) and tarot (Tarot Talk). You will see me there, especially for the next Tarot Talk, as I am the guest speaker this month talking on how to make your own tarot spreads!

Below is a sneak peek at my introductory article in this month’s edition! As a note, I am writing the articles under my pagan name, Fae Lynn!

My final projects in February are more personal.

I’m auditing a course and taking another one offered privately this season. I’ve always enjoyed learning new things, so I’m really excited to dive into these two topics: Ancient Greek History and Advance Runic Studies. It has allowed me to broaden my mind and reach for new heights in my creativity and understanding of the ancient world. I’ve had such joy, even though the reading lists have taken over my life!

February is also a preparatory period for a few projects I have planned for later in the year: drafting a new novel (or two), working on a podcast, and a few creative projects for friends and family.

As you can see, I have a lot going on this month, but my excitement far outweighs the workload. I’m sure I will have more updates in the future, but for now, we shall leave it here.

I hope you’re staying safe, warm, and healthy! Until next time, happy reading!

~Shanna Pikora

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