Stories & Updates

General News and Updates

New Swag Items

I’m so excited author season has kicked off! I have so many fun events I’ll be attending (either as an author or a reader) and I can’t wait to meet some new bookish friends. As we went into the season, my husband and I got to brainstorming about swag and giveaways.

My table at Indie Author Book Expo, Mason City.

Those of you who have been at my table in the past have probably seen the “raffle basket”, where if you purchase a book or sign-up for my newsletter, you get entered for a raffle. We decided to do things a little differently this year for two reasons:

One: What if people don’t like the raffle basket?

Two: Not everyone gets a fun item.

So, we decided to do… A Prize Wheel!

This is a picture of the “old” prize wheel. You’ll have to wait for the next event to see the new one!

My husband decided to handmake a prize wheel for me. It was cute and I loved it…but it only spun the number 5. It was really funny — and we went through A LOT of stress balls! So we broke down and bough a professional one.

But of course, having a prize wheel means having more prize options. So what can you expect at the event?

As you can see, I have had to organize a few things. We have reusable totes and pencil bags (which I made with my cricut), stress balls, door hangs, coasters, bookmarks, and keychains (just to name a few)! We are working on adding a few new things too, but haven’t gotten them finalized yet. Most of the items my husband and I are making by hand, which is a lot of fun (though it can be time intensive).

In addition, we are making items to sell, like runes, tarot cards, and meditation stones. We have really enjoyed doing resin pouring, but don’t have an outlet for items we make, so we decided to sell them!

This last long weekend, we spent doing MASSIVE resin pours to get ahead of the game a little bit. It was my first big pour–which was fun but man did my arm feel like falling off afterwards! We tried out a lot of new molds and techniques. All we need to do now is sand edges and paint things.

Some of the items won’t be as prize wheel items or at my table, as they are too big or we feel they are too niche of an item (Like the little potion bottles), so we decided to reopen our etsy store (it’s open but nothing is listed yet)! The other items will be swag items — such as those fancy new book holders, pens, and cool keychains!

Needless to say, I have been crafting most nights when I get home from work in preparation for my next event (which is in two weeks!). I’ll be sure to post more pictures on my social media of the items once they are finished, so be sure to check them out!

Until next time, happy reading and happy crafting!

Shanna Pikora

Book Review

“Fake to Fate” by Anastasia Austin (Book Review)

Looking for a fun, easy read to get you back into the swing of reading again? Looking for a book filled with laughter, fun, and a happily ever after? “Fake to Fate” by Anastasia Austin is just right for you!

Admittedly, this is the second book in Anastasia’s Fate Series that I have read. The first was…

Oh yes, you read that correct! “Call of Booty”! A book that not only had me laughing (and purchasing) it on sight but also three other members of my family group who were at the event (Romance Rendezvous Book Blast – if you want to meet Anastasia in person!). I fell in love with the little prequel novella that I knew I had to purchase book one, “Fake to Fate”.

While in the same universe, the books were standalone, so you could read them in any order. I found them both unique and lovely reads, perfect after a hard day at work. There is such hilarity, especially in “Fake to Fate”. Who would have guessed a wrong number, plus a funny answering prank, plus an ex-bf would cause such chaos and love.

“Fake to Fate” was genuinely heartwarming and it left me grinning from ear to ear (though a little sad it ended so quickly!). Our leading lady, Stephanie, is an introvert who just wants some food – I can relate. When she calls for takeout, she is met with a rather interesting greeting from Roland, a sweet cinnamon roll character that makes you swoon.

These two work together so wonderfully, even though they are rather different individuals. Through a series of hilarious and sometimes unfortunate events, romance blossoms and leads to a steamy happily ever after.

What I loved about “Fake to Fate” and “Call of Booty” is how easily it was to fall into the story. I felt like I knew the characters before, as I resonated with their personalities or their personal struggles. Anastasia Austin wrote a wonderful story and I can’t wait to read book 2 of the series!

Be sure to check out Anastasia Austin and her other works. You can find her at her website, Facebook, and Instagram.


Get to know Anastasia Austin better from her interview below!

Question 1: “Fake to Fake” and “Call of Booty” are wonderful reads that make you smile and giggle along the way. What inspired you to write this story?

Fake to Fate came from an idea that I had tucked away. Originally, Stephanie worked in a call center and Roland’s number came up. But it was too unrealistic that she would have access to his phone number to call him back, so they met IRL and recognized each other’s voices. Which was cute, but also not super likely after only one short call. So, I changed it to the wrong number and had her call him back when she needed help getting rid of her ex. Call of Booty grew from the scene when she walks in on him gaming and she ends up spending late nights up with him as his good luck charm.

Question 2: Who was your favorite character to write? I know you aren’t supposed to pick your favorite…but let’s be honest…who’s your favorite? 

Of all my characters? Apollo. He’s probably the most like me. Talks a lot without thinking first. In Fake to Fate, Roland was a lot of fun to write. My first time writing in a male POV and I loved it! He’s the reason I wanted to keep writing romance.

Question 3: I loved the chance meeting and then follow up calls between the characters. How did you decide that a accidental typo led to a wonderful romance? Have you ever had a wrong number be hilarious like our main characters?

Whoops! I think I already answered this in your first question. Unfortunately, I’ve never experienced this myself. Not that I can remember. My memory is garbage! 

Question 4: Writing a series isn’t easy, even if all the books stand alone. How do you keep track of all those details, names, and characters?

So… garbage memory and yet I keep terrible notes! 😂 It’s a wonder there’s any consistency in my series! I do my best using Evernote. A notebook for each series and several notes for each book. I’ve tried making series bibles… But I procrastinate too much and get overwhelmed and give up. 😂

Question 5: Do you have any upcoming releases? What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

I just had a release on April 30, 2022! CANDY was my first dark romance. It’s not super dark but certainly darker than my other books. But always a happily ever after! Up next? I’m not sure. I have a lot of things going. Some sequels to stand-alones I’ve already released. Some shifter and omegaverse stories! I think it all depends which characters are the loudest to get their book finished first!  

Be sure to check out “Fake to Fate”, “Call of Booty”, and all of the other wonderful novels by Anastasia Austin!

Happy Reading!

Events

2022 Author Events

I’m so excited to share with all of you that I will be at a few different events this year!

The first events are Indie Author Book Expos! These events are for indie authors to get together and share their love for writing, publishing books, and to share their stories with everyone. What I love about these events are they aren’t geared towards just romance authors, but a variety of genres and book types. If you are looking for a fun event, these ones will surely be ones to keep an eye out for! You can get more information from their Facebook pages.

I’m so happy to also be returning to Romance Rendezvous Book Blast this year! As you all know, this is my favorite event of the year and the organizer is so amazing!

I remember attending years ago when it was a smaller event. I’m so happy to see it grow each year, as there are always amazing authors and raffle prizes! If you’re in the cedar valley area for that event, I can’t recommend it enough! Be sure to stop by and say hi at my table, as I always have fun swag and prizes as my table for this event!

My last event for the 2022 will be Authors on the Riverwalk. You all may recall I was supposed to sell at this event last year, but due to COVID it had to be canceled. So hopefully we can still have it this year!

I’ve never been to this event before, but I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things! I can’t wait to see you all there!

Be sure to go on Facebook and mark if you are going to these events to receive updates! A lot of them do giveaways and raffle baskets, so it’s always a fun time! Not to mention you get to meet all the authors and buy plenty of books to read for the following months.

I can’t wait to see you all then! I have some new things I will be doing at my table — including a prize wheel for special swag, new hookmarks, and other fun items. Be sure to stop by and say hello!

~Shanna Pikora

Book Review

“Stalked by the Kraken” by Lillian Lark (Book Review)

I know what you’re thinking. “Shanna, what kind of books have you been reading?” AMAZING ONES! And no, this isn’t the only monster romance. I know a few of you may see the cover or title of this book and immediately put this book in the category of “not for me-I see those tentacles”. If you do, you’re missing out on one of the best monster romances I have ever read. No, that isn’t hype – it is genuinely one of the best I’ve read… LET ME TELL YOU WHY!

“Stalked by the Kraken” covers a lot of ground in romance-landia. Monster Romance. Fated Mates (Soulmates). Kinks. Shifters. All of these on their own can be a big genre to write for, with a lot of expectation. But Lillian Lark balanced them all beautifully and hit each one with an expert level of storytelling that had me sunken into the book for hours (yes, that was a ship joke…get it…because of the Kraken?).

Lillian tells a beautiful story of a matchmaking witch (Rose) trying to find herself again after an emotionally damaging relationship and an ancient Kraken (Gideon) who has finally found the one he’s been looking for. Each character is wholly unique and give so much to the story and each other.

What I found especially amazing in this book, was how Lillian Lark handled sexual preference, needs, and healing from the past. She didn’t shy away from any conversation or hard moment. There is no line or dialogue wasted in the book. Each one is dedicated to show character growth, healing, and acceptance. It isn’t rushed. The characters take their time to get to know each other, listen to their needs, and set healthy boundaries. It was very refreshing to read.

I was fully enraptured when Gideon listened to Rose’s fears and allowed her space to determine the pace of the relationship. I adored the moment when Rose accepted Gideon for who he was, and what he was. Each moment they took just one small step further into their own desires and needs was wonderfully written and captured my heart. This book has not only romance, but mystery, twists, and some looks at characters later in the series.

This book had so much heart! It’s one that when you finish, you will close the book and wrap your arms around it as if you were the kraken and it was the ship-a new favorite on your shelf.

Read “Stalked by the Kraken” by Lillian Lark. You won’t be disappointed! Be sure to grab your copy today by clicking the link under the image above!

As a special treat, here is a special interview with the amazing author of “Stalked by the Kraken” – Lillian Lark!

Question 1: “Stalked by the Kraken” is a fantastically unique story that captures your heart and ignites the imagination. What inspired you to write this story? 

I was actually procrastinating writing the next harpy book, Pair of Fools, when I started “Stalked by the Kraken”. I was really struggling to get into the mindset of the main character and with the project as a whole so I brainstormed a novella-length project to help me out. It’s mentioned in my first harpy book that the main character of Pair of Fools was banned by a bathhouse rumored to be accepting to all and as a part of developing that character I had to be all… wait, why did she get banned? In the end, the characters of Stalked by the Kraken rejected the idea of the story being novella-length and the book took on a life of its own.

Question 2: Each character in this story was wonderfully unique and had such amazing growth throughout the story. I fell in love with each one, even the background characters, and when we talked about it in my book club, we struggled to pick an all time favorite. So I’m curious…who was your favorite character to write?  

I think Gideon has to be my favorite just with the way he’s totally gone for Rose and how sneaky/not really sneaky he is about it. I especially loved writing scenes in Rose’s POV featuring Gideon’s seductive charms.

Question 3: The Kraken is one of my favorite mythological creatures, but there are so many amazing ones out there. Are there other mythological creatures you are hoping to write in the future? 

Oh definitely! All the books in my Monstrous Matches series will feature creatures of legend. I’m currently gearing up to start a book with basilisks in it and have many requests to someday do a dragon.

Question 4: Every writer had a different process and ritual. What does yours look like? What helps keep you in the writing zone? 

Sometimes it feels like every book I work on has its own ritual of me learning what way works best for that book. Whether it’s having a super strict outline or needing to wake up early in the morning to write. The consistent parts of my ritual are to do a Pinterest board, a Spotify playlist, and to turn my WIFI off.

Question 5: Do you have any upcoming releases? What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future? 

Yes! Thank you for asking. I have a preorder currently up for Found by the Lake Monster, which is a standalone novella that features a lake monster in heat and the human woman who stumbles into his woods.
https://books2read.com/FoundbytheLakeMonster

And I’m thinking the book featuring Emilia from Deceived by the Gargoyles will be out sometime in fall 2022, but I’m not far enough into the writing process to have set a preorder. https://books2read.com/DeceivedbytheGargoyles

Keep up with Lillian Lark’s future books by subscribing to her newsletter!

General News and Updates, Writing

Camp NaNoWriMo (April)

The time has come for Camp NaNoWriMo, where writers around the world spend the month feverishly editing and polishing their stories and works from NaNoWriMo last year…or in my case, continue editing a piece from NaNoWriMo in previous years. I’m excited it has started as I always find my inspiration and motivation for editing grows when I’m working with my fellow writers. It’s nice to have others who are in the same stage as you in their writing so you can talk and chat about stories and challenges you are facing.

This month, I am again working on my story “After the Storm”. I’m trying a new outlining method that includes a finer focus on the purpose of each scene. Admittedly, this story needs A LOT of work, so I’m hoping this will help me be a bit more conscious with my story choices and critical about what scenes make it in to the next draft.

If you are interested in following my progress this month, you can follow me using the button below. Otherwise, be sure to check in on my various social media platforms for regular updates and news on how things are going!

Happy Reading and Editing!

Shanna