The Star Gatherers

It’s been almost a year since my last post. Last year, I started an awesome new teaching gig, which took a bit of time. All of that said, the sequel to The Moon Hunters is done! The book will be released on September 1, 2022. The title is The Star Gatherers. Here is the cover!

Here is the synopsis 🙂

Weeks after Leilani and Jenay Lo leave Ani Island in a desperate attempt to find help, Dr. Deanne Ambagu and members of the United States Coast Guard arrive on site—ready to offload crucial supplies. But when Deanne’s landing party loses radio contact with the ships, the rescue mission turns into a hostage situation. Leilani thought evil on the island had been defeated with Marit Simi’s death, but she was wrong. She and Jenay forge an unsteady alliance with Lieutenant Commander Adair Simpson, an officer with a shadow agenda, in order to hopefully free the hostages. Will they succeed, or will Ani Island claim more victims?

Sequels, prequels, and survival tips.

So, good news! My editor and I are in the process of editing the sequel to The Moon Hunters. We’ve been tackling some developmental edits to make sure that the book makes sense. I don’t want to write a sequel simply because it’s possible: I want to write one because Leilani’s story demands it. We are making steady progress on it, and while she has the manuscript, I continue writing the prequel. 

Revisiting The Moon Hunters universe is fun. I also remember all of the details I took out of the book because it dragged down the story. The researcher in me wanted to keep those details in, but my writer self acknowledged they weren’t relevant. I’d done research on how people on a remote island could live without access to much technology or contact with the “modern” world. I learned about bamboo architecture, water purification techniques, crop rotations, herbalism, etc. My main character, Leilani, would not be imparting all of those details to the doctor who rescued her. 

It was for this reason that I decided to use this blog as a place to communicate this information. I read books and articles, and I found informative videos on YouTube. Let’s not forget the wonderful survival techniques I found on Naked and Afraid reruns and other survival shows. 

So, the purpose of this blog post is to inform about water filtration using charcoal. People on Ani Island boiled water to purify it, but I also gave them rain collection devices that led to cisterns. Charcoal filters are a great way to purify rainwater.

Want to find out how? Click the link below 🙂

For extra purification, people can use activated charcoal. How to do that? Add lemon juice, an easy thing to find on a tropical island.


My historical fantasy book is coming out on Feb. 1 :)

Well, I evidently didn’t keep last year’s resolution, which was to post more often on this blog. I did jog metric eff-tons inside my house and around my neighborhood because I didn’t feel safe working out in my gym. I also learned how to make my Ukrainian Pascha (Easter) bread and a host of other things. Perhaps the biggest change of all was job-wise. I resigned from my full-time gig and transitioned into remote teaching. I missed having my own classes, and there was also a pandemic raging in my state. 

To sum up, it’s been an insular year with my husband and dog. Instead of going to the Cyclades with husband, my mother, and mother-in-law, we watched Tiger King with slack-jawed awe and learned to appreciate little things and social gathering via video conferencing. 

As for writing news: my historical fantasy, The Garden of Stone Houses, is coming out on Feb. 1 🙂 I wrote this book before I signed The Moon Hunters with Chandra Press, so Chandra decided to publish it before the sequel to The Moon Hunters. Rest assured, the sequel to TMH is written, but it needs a couple of rounds of editing. 

Here’s the cover of this book. I posted an earlier version of the first chapter on this blog, so if anyone is curious, check it out 🙂 I’m excited for this book release. I promise the sequel to The Moon Hunters is coming, too. I just want it to be the best book possible 🙂

Inspiration in Unlikely Places

So, I submitted the first draft of the sequel to The Moon Hunters on Friday evening, just in time to have a chill Valentine’s evening with my husband. To celebrate, I poured myself a drink and then ordered us some yummy curry. I was tempted to hold onto that draft for a bit longer, but that’s that part of me that wants to tweak little things forever. It’s much better (for me) to submit when I need feedback on the developmental elements. I can tweak the minor stuff later.

The main point of today’s blog post, though, is to talk about unlikely sources of inspiration. About a week ago, my husband and I were watching The Morning Show (the Apple TV show starring Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell) as I was writing. In the episode, news anchors were covering California wildfires. The way that the fire glowed behind the mountains appeared so spooky and menacing that I wanted to incorporate that imagery into my book.

How to do it? Well, in the backstory for The Moonhunters, readers learn that Leilani’s great grandfather hauled everyone from California to escape the plague. California has wildfires, so there’s that obvious connection. Also, the cult Leilani grows up in believes L.A. is infested with monsters. Many legends have a root of truth to them. As such, I turned the fire into a way to create dread and represent a metaphorical monster of sorts when Leilani reflects on various elements of her upbringing in the sequel.

The fire behind the mountain is also an element I’m channeling into the prequel, which is from Samilla’s point of view. Samilla is Leilani’s grandmother.

Anyhow, I didn’t expect to find inspiration in a TV show, but there we go.

The Benefits of Less-Than-Stellar Feedback

Good news about my second book, the historical fantasy currently called The Garden of Stone Houses. Chandra Press wants it, too!

When I was querying to find The Moon Hunters (then called The Children of Lehom) a home, I started on a second novel. Beginning a new project is a good thing to do when in the querying trenches. It took my mind off of the rejections that inevitably come with querying. Lo and behold, I had a second novel. I didn’t shop The Garden of Stone Houses around because before I finished editing it, I signed The Moon Hunters with Chandra Press. I put The Garden of Stone Houses on the back burner so I could focus on my first novel’s launch. Anyhow, I’m happy my books will all be in the same home. It feels right to me.

Now, onto today’s blog topic: less than stellar feedback and reviews. Authors are going to encounter less than stellar opinions of their books. It’s inevitable. Look at any book’s reviews on Goodreads, and you’ll find some one-star reviews and two-star reviews. That can be disheartening at first. Then again, this critical feedback can be invaluable because it helps give writers legitimacy and different points of view about their work.

Don’t lose heart, in other words.

For more, read Michael Alvear’s take on the benefits of critical feedback, click here.

I leave you with a picture of a stingray. Don’t be afraid of them even though they seem scary. They’re just like cats of the sea. Well, the ones in Grand Cayman are, anyway 🙂


Resolutions for the New Year

This time of year, people tend to have one last hurrah before committing to another set of resolutions. My resolutions for 2020 don’t quite fit that scenario. 2019 was a great year. The Moon Hunters was published, and I started Marie Kondoing my house because I discovered that I wrote better when I didn’t have tons of clutter to distract me. I also have just under 70k words of the sequel to The Moon Hunters written. I’m happy with that progress.

So, what are my resolutions for 2020? For one thing, I’m going to make sure I keep up the writing momentum. I will finish revising the sequel in the early months of the new year and also want to get the first draft of the prequel written by the end of the summer. These are doable goals. What I do need to work on, however, is keeping up with my blog. This is where I’ve slacked off.

What to do? First, I need to create a reasonable goal, which for me is 2-4 blog posts per month. I don’t want to write fluff, so I need to think creatively about what to post. I aim to think of that as a fun challenge instead of a burden.

Another goal? Keep my house free of clutter.

I wish everyone a very happy New Year. Now, go and enjoy your last hurrahs 🙂destin 1

Two Weeks Post Launch :)

Two weeks after the book’s launch, I know that the final product is so much better than what I submitted to Kindle Scout about a year and a half ago. Books take work, and I was too close to my writing to transform the story the way it needed to be transformed. Thanks, Chandra Press!

An author’s work doesn’t end when the book hits Amazon, though. I’ve been typing away at the sequel, making connections with people on Twitter, and supporting other writers however I can.

I also signed up with Instagram. I never thought I’d do it, but I’m really liking all the artsy posts. It took me a few tries to get something semi-decent. Here’s an example. I took it at my BFF’s full moon party. I like the results.

Well, back to writing now 🙂



Lady Samilla Ani: Character Expose

I won’t drop any spoilers from The Moon Hunters here, but one important supporting character in the book is Lady Samilla Ani, the protagonist’s grandmother. One thing Samilla does is give Leilani some money, coins she secreted away from household funds over the years. Women in the Village of Lehom aren’t usually allowed to keep money for themselves because that would make them too independent. Controlling societies often keep people marginalized by isolating them and restricting their economic means.

This event was inspired by my maternal grandmother. When I was about six, my grandmother told me she’d bought diamond necklaces for me and my younger sister. She also told me she’d skimmed money from her household money and personal shopping allowance to buy them. I didn’t know what to make of it at that young age, but I do remember she told me not to tell my grandfather.

I never told, and after she died, my parents kept those necklaces for us. I still have it. It’s a little necklace, nothing gaudy, but I remember her every time I see it. My grandmother gave me that necklace, and perhaps my story shows some remembrance of her in the character of Samilla. Maybe.


When the Cone of Uncertainty Brings Clarity (or musings on gratitude on the day before my book launch).

I thought I’d be nervous about The Moon Hunters launch, but I’m not. This time of year, anxiety is my brain’s unwelcome bedfellow. It seems that as soon as Sept. 1st rolls around, hurricanes multiply like the bothersome tribbles from Star Trek. I usually stalk the National Hurricane Center website like a creepy fool and hope my city stays out of the ominous-sounding “cone of uncertainty.” When you’re in the cone, that means there’s a chance you’ll get hit by a storm. How I hate that stupid cone. For reference, it looks like this.

dorian cone

What does this have to do with my book launch? Well, I’m grateful for everything that I have in my life and that I’m not in Hurricane Dorian’s cone. People in the Bahamas weren’t so lucky, and whether or not my book’s a smashing success, my family is safe. I still have a house. My community is intact. These are the important things.

With all that I have to be grateful for, I’m not about to impose a new “cone of uncertainty” onto a book release and feel angst over it. I wrote the best story I could, and I have confidence that some people will enjoy The Moon Hunters. Beyond that, what will be will be. I’ll post tomorrow when the book’s up 🙂