And The Winners of #PonyFest16 Are…

Happy Monday, Aledan Merfolk! I meant to get this post up yesterday, but I spent all weekend cleaning the branches out of my backyard from Hurricane Matthew. I’m sore and exhausted, but at least the big stuff is done.

But you’re not here for an update, are you? You’re here for PONIES! And I have ponies. If you’ve seen the updates for the past two weeks, you know that after a brief tie by Salvage and Lia, Damien pulled ahead and stayed there. Lia gave a good showing, but ultimately, Damien won the popular vote!


Congratulations Damien and Rachel! You’ve won a Mane Six pony of your choice plus a stack of books!

And this year kind of worked out perfectly with the judges panel, because our second-place popular vote, Lia, ended up winning the judges panel!


Congratulations Lia and Sarah! Lia will be made into an actual custom pony by one of our panel judges, and you also get a stack of books!

Rachel and Sarah – I’ll be in touch to get your addresses for the books/ponies!

To everyone who played, I want to give a huge THANK YOU! I can’t express how much this contest brightened my days as I clicked through to look at the ponies time and time again. You’re all very talented writers, and very talented pony designers. I can’t wait to have your books on my bookshelf!

And if you didn’t win, or didn’t know about the contest in time to enter: No worries! I run it every year in September/October (around my birthday, because who doesn’t want all that happiness on their blog for their birthday?!) And if you’re really itching for your own custom pony let me know – I’ll get you in contact with a customizer who can make it for you 🙂

Birthdays and Hurricanes Don’t Mix

Happy Friday, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been an exciting couple of weeks around here, first with birthday excitement, and then with the interruption of Hurricane Matthew. But first, the birthday excitement! It started with a new ‘do:

Purple hair with blonde highlights!

And after Hubs cleaned my car, I was able to put on all my new stickers!


I think the Star Trek one is my favorite, because it’s on the front windshield and I can see it while I’m driving. The rest of the pre-birthday weekend was spent reading and writing and playing WoW…and eating amazing food. Hubs made farrotto (risotto but with farro instead of rice) using the stock from the Littles (remember them? They were delicious) and mushrooms he found while mountain biking (we’ve had them before so we knew they were safe to eat). He also made a blueberry and mint pie!


On my birthday I had pie for breakfast, because that’s how you start off 34 right.

So the birthday started out pretty freaking awesome. Pie for breakfast, pumpkin muffins at coffee break (made by a coworker because I can’t eat processed sugar, so she made them with agave nectar <3), cheese grits and broccolini for lunch. And lunch was when the first grumblings of the hurricane began.

By 3pm, the governor was holding a press conference, talking about evacuating the coast. By 4pm my dayjob was talking about closing (which is UNHEARD OF). By 5pm, gas stations were running out of gas and grocery stores were running out of bottled water. Instead of leaving work early to go out to a fancy birthday dinner, I ended up staying at work late to get things done before the hurricane. I tried to get a cat carrier on the way home in case we needed to evacuate (we have three cats but only two carriers), but they were sold out. I did manage to get gas, and Hubs was able to snag the last crate of bottled water at the grocery store. That night we tried to figure out how to get seven animals and our luggage in one car.

Side note: it’s impossible to get seven animals and our luggage in one car. So we decided to stay.

I will never, EVER, stay during a hurricane that’s stronger than a 1 again.

On Weds I went to work for a couple hours to finish up data and get the instruments ready for the storm. On Weds afternoon, they switched the lanes on the highway so you could only leave Charleston, and the evacuation began. On Thursday and Friday, work was closed, and Hubs and I were scrambling to get the house ready to stay. I cleaned the tub so we could fill it with water just in case the plumbing stopped working. I filled five coolers with water so the animals could drink and we could save the bottled water for ourselves. Hubs cleaned the garage so we could get my car in, and we packed his car in case we needed to get out in the thick of it. We tried to put up the hurricane shutters, but the last folks who lived in our house screwed them into the garage wall and stripped the screws. We were only able to get two shutters up (and thank god we got those up, because we would have lost the living room window otherwise).

And then we waited for the storm to start. And let me tell you something: waiting for a hurricane to hit is far worse than anything I’ve ever experienced. I was so mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted on Friday night, that I passed out at 11:30 and slept through the worst part of the storm.

I woke up at 8am on Saturday, which is when I thought the worst of the storm was supposed to hit, got the dogs out to potty, and checked on the chickens. They were snug in their coop, and luckily we had moved their coop to a different area of the backyard, because there was a limb down where they had been. The backyard was a mess. Limbs everywhere. Our ten-foot azalea had been squashed by a huge limb. Another was hanging in the tree, just waiting to come down (it’s still there – we’re waiting on a company to have time to come get it). The dogs and I got back inside and the wind started picking up even as the rain stopped.

The wind. Holy Gods, the wind. Thank goodness the tree in the front yard is so bendy, because there were 70mph gusts. Around 11am or so, a huge limb came down in the backyard and split our dogwood tree in two. That dogwood is the only thing that saved our fence – it kept that giant limb hovering two inches above our fence. All over the neighborhood trees uprooted because the soil was so soft from the rain and the gusts were so hard. We were lucky that we didn’t lose any of the trees in the backyard (we have a lot of trees in the backyard).

The power went out several times, but our neighborhood was lucky to keep it for the most part. The plumbing never went out (thank Aleda). We didn’t have any issues with flooding. The house didn’t suffer any major damage. The chickens even laid an egg during the worst of the storm. Overall, Hubs and I were extremely lucky.

We still have a good bit to clean up in the backyard, but Boudin has been helping with the smaller sticks:

I did manage to stab my toe with a rusty pair of chicken-poo covered garden sheers while cleaning up, which lead to a tetanus shot because I’m terrified of needles and haven’t had one in nineteen years. The toe is fine. Four days after getting the shot, my arm is still swollen, itchy, and painful.

And that, Aledans, was my overly-exciting birthday week. We still haven’t made up that birthday dinner yet, but we’ll do that after the swelling in my arm goes down😉

Last, but not least, tomorrow is the last day to vote in #PonyFest16! Get your vote in before it’s too late.

Trees came down all over Charleston, but these resilient tomatoes stayed on the vine.

Welcome to #PonyFest16!

Happy Tuesday, Aledan Merfolk! If you’re Aledan, today is the Warrior’s Ceremony. If you aren’t Aledan, today is my (and my BFF’s) birthday! Which means it’s time for PonyFest voting to begin😀

Remember, click on all the pictures below – some entries have more than one pony on the page!

In the order that they arrived on the announcement post, I give you the #PonyFest16 contenders:

Gabriel, by Patricia Lynn
Keira, by Rebecca


Salvage, by Alexandra
Running Toward Illumia, by Angel
Illuminator Rising, by Alina
Lia, by Sarah
Yarrow, by Juliana
Dakota, by Jennifer
Damien, by Rachel

There you have it, Aledan Merfolk – nine beautiful entries for #PonyFest16! Now it’s your job to decide which one is your favorite. Remember: the winner of the popular vote gets a Mane Six pony and a pile of books! Choose wisely.

Custom(s) of the Week: R+L=J

Happy Sunday, Aledan Merfolk! Today is the final day to enter #PonyFest16, so I’ve brought you a custom by one of our superstar judges for the contest. And not just one custom, but three! Mana Lai made custom ponies of the popular Game of Thrones fan theory that Lyanna + Rhaegar = Jon Snow, which I won’t spoil for you if you haven’t seen last season😉

Rhaegar Targaryen, Lyanna Stark, and baby Jon Snow, by Mana Lai

Baby Jon Snow’s hair makes me giggle, and I love the details on Lyanna and Rhaegar!

And don’t forget, join #PonyFest16 by midnight tonight to win a custom pony based on YOUR book!

If you have a pony that you would like featured as a Custom of the Week, please email me:

Custom of the Week: TARDIS Pony

Happy Sunday, Aledan Merfolk! We’re in the midst of #PonyFest16, so I wanted to bring you a custom by one of the judges, and when I saw this beautiful TARDIS pony the day after watching the Pandorica episodes of Dr Who, I knew she was the one.

TARDIS Pony, by Jupiternwndrlnd

Isn’t she gorgeous? The details on the tiny TARDIS are amazing! And all the stars❤

And don’t forget, join #PonyFest16 by Oct 2nd to win a custom pony based on YOUR book!

If you have a pony that you would like featured as a Custom of the Week, please email me:

The Amazingness that was #NeboRetreat

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! Last weekend I spent a few days at Lake James in Nebo, NC with my BFF Juliana and several other authors on my first ever writing retreat! It was so much fun, even if I didn’t get as much work done as I had planned. So much fun, in fact, that I’m having a hard time coming back down to the real world where shit needs to get done.

Can you blame me, when this was my view?

The weekend was so much fun. I made a ton of new friends, got to hang out with my BFF (who lives 5 hours away so I rarely get to see her in person), tried paddle-boarding for the first time, went swimming, worked on edits, helped plot a couple books, played some games, read my own writing out-loud to a group for the first time ever, and then got to sit through someone else reading one of my sex scenes out loud. I’ve never blushed so much in my life😉

We also painted our nails because why the heck not?

Before we’d even checked out we’d already reserved the house again for next year, and now I can’t wait to go on my second-ever writing retreat with these fabulous ladies!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, Aledans, and don’t forget to check out #PonyFest16 for a chance to win a My Little Pony based on your book!

Announcing #PonyFest16!

It’s here! PonyFest16! For those of you who’ve been hanging around the blog for a few years, you know what this means: my blog is being taken over by My Little Ponies for the next month. For those of you who haven’t been around, PonyFest is a contest where authors design a My Little Pony based on their book for a chance to win a custom pony based on their design and a bunch of books! All the rules and prizes for the contest are below, but first we have one of the 2014 winning customs by PonyFest customizer Caeti-Leigh:

Kasmira, design by Bethany, custom by Caeti-Leigh

And now for PonyFest16!

 The Rules:

-either draw your own pony or use the pony creator to make a pony based on your novel. Choose colors for the body, mane/tail, and eye color, as well as a symbol. Ponies can be earthers, unicorns or pegasi (ponies with both a horn and wings will be disqualified). No Twice As Fancy symbols (the symbol design can’t cover the whole body).

-all ponies must come from a full-length, original work (no fanfics). Unpublished novels are OK. Feel free to plug your published novel in your post!

-it can be a pony based on a character, setting, or theme from your novel. You can make more than one pony, but they must be voted on as a whole, from the same book, and only ONE of those ponies will be customized.

-write up a short description of your pony(s), and a one sentence tag-line for the book.

-post the pony(s) on your blog (or other social media page) by Sun October 2nd and reply here with the link to that post.

-from October 4th through 15th visit the other blogs and vote for your favorite pony!

winners will be announced on October 16th!

The Vote: There are two votes: one popular, one panel. The Panel vote is made up of pony customizers including Kalavista, LightningSilver-Mana, jupiternwndrlnd, RevRuby, Nichi Tsukinoko, TexasGal, and Saja, among others. The Popular vote will be the same as in years past through a poll on the PonyFest post.

The Prizes: The winner of the panel vote will have their pony made into a real custom pony by one of the panel customizers, plus receive a copy of The Secret of Shadow by customizer Kalavista! The winner will also receive a copy of Ink by Amanda Sun (the first PonyFest winner!), Inspired by Danielle Shipley (2013’s PonyFest winner!), and Storm Chaser by Angela Wallace (2014’s PonyFest Panel winner!).

The winner of the popular vote will receive their choice of Mane Six pony, plus a copy of The Secret of Shadow by Kalavista, Spookygirl by Jill Baguchinsky, Angelfire by Courtney A Moulton, and Kiss of the Fey by Charlotte Cyprus (2014’s PonyFest Popular Vote winner!)

Restrictions: The custom pony will not have clothes or accessories (no sculpty/clay will be used), so make a representation of the character, rather than a carbon-copy right down to their underwear. No Alicorns/Unipegs, Twice-As-Fancy symbols (symbols that cover the entire body) or sitting poses. Open to US/Canada residents only (you can still play, but only US/C residents can win the prize, sorry!).

Good luck everyone!