Tag Archives: The Academy

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Year Three as a Full-Time Author

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This journey keeps taking twists and turns. I find it both scary and exciting.

Three years ago I quit my day job so I could go full-time with my writing.

Last year I barely squeaked into the black. I actually made money after all of my expenses. Granted it was only about $100, but I’ll take it!

I had grand plans for this past year. You know, 2020?

Yeah, things didn’t go exactly to plan.


I released the last two of my Decker Family Romances in the spring. They did okay. Not as well as I would have liked, but okay.


The plan was to write my YA military sci-fi series.

I started the first book four times, wrote a total of 130k words, and had to scrap them all. Twice. Pure frustration drove me to writing something more soft and fluffy.


I wrote these three sweet and clean romantic comedies for the summer. By this point in the year everyone needed a good laugh, so I obliged. These were not on my radar at the beginning of the year, but they have ended up being my most successful series so far!

I also enjoyed writing my first curvy girl romance. I’m a plus-sized woman, and it was fun to write about a bigger girl.


Among all of this romance craziness, I released another Academy story in this anthology. Writing this Snow White retelling was so fun!


Christmas is always a good time to release romances, and this year I jumped on the bandwagon. These four books gave me my best months ever on Amazon in November and December! Her Christmas Middle Blocker (another curvy girl romance) is in a collection with eight other books at the moment, but will likely be out soon.

Other milestones

I hit one million page reads in 2020! After I hit one million, I managed to get almost 350k in a month, so that was amazing!

These are some of the highlights of 2020.

Marketing is getting easier, but there are still days that I take a nap instead.

I’ve learned a lot about fulfilling readers expectations, which has really helped my sales.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this endeavor.

I’m glad 2020 is over.

The hubby and I spent the first two weeks of 2021 in a Covid-induced haze, so I’m starting the year a bit late.

I have big plans, but who knows what will happen?

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Two Years as a Full-Time Author!

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The journey has been different than I imagined.

Two years ago I quit my day job so I could go full-time with my writing. I wasn’t making great money at the time, but my husband is super supportive and brings home the bacon, so to speak, so I found myself in the unique situation of being able to follow my dream while not having to stress about money.

The first year was hard. I didn’t break even with my expenses, and frankly I was a bit disappointing.

Year two has been a roller coaster of writing and emotions and almost breaking even. This is what happened.


I rapidly released eight fairy tale retellings with my Fairy Tale Academy series. While the stories are solid, and people who read them love them, I missed the market a bit, and the series didn’t do as well as I would have liked.


I released five sweet and clean romance books under my pen name, Karly Stratford, and those did really well. I enjoy writing them, but don’t want to go full-time romance. It’s not where my passion lies, although I do love getting emails from fans who say how my book made their day!


I had my very first story come out in Audible. It’s part of a collection of horror stories. I love it SO MUCH! The narrator nailed it, and I now understand a little more about the power of audio books.


I was part of a collaboration of authors who decided to use our talents to raise awareness about child sex trafficking. I’ve made my initial investment in covers and editing back, and from now on all profits go straight to organizations that actively help fight sex trafficking.

I’m not going to lie, this project sort of consumed the middle section of my year. The topic is difficult to write about, and we faced a lot of opposition when trying to get these books published. But we did it! And I’m pretty sure the journey for this project has just begun.


One of my writing groups put together a Fairy Tale and First Dates anthology! We had such a good time doing this, and I loved how excited everyone got when they were able to hold a book of their own in their hands. Totally worth the stress!

Those are some of the highlights for 2019

Some days it’s hard to look past the drudgery and the stupid marketing and the fact that I’d rather make cookies than write and see all the good that I’ve done, the books I’ve produced and the wonderful emails from fans that I’ve gotten.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this endeavor . Cheers to 2019, and I look forward to 2020!

Do any of you have big goals for 2020? I’ve got some, but I’m not sharing yet.

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Fairy Tales & First Dates

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It all started with an idea…

How awkward would the first date of fairy tale couples be?

Not the original couples, but in retellings?

My writing group, most of them lovers of fairy tales, snark and awkward moments, decided to explore the question, and this is our answer!


A collection of eight fairy tale first dates!

Read the description. You’re probably going to want a copy.


There’s no getting around it 

First dates are awkward  

Join Robin and Marian as Little John hijacks their night. Watch as a pixie is forced to spend the evening with an insufferable prince and the Muffin Man romances the Gingerbread Girl.
You won’t be able to look away when Ms. White faces off with an alarmingly charming vice principal, while Belle has to navigate the frightening world of online dating.
Then there’s the burly knight in shining armor who rescues the girl a little too well, a blind date that includes seven brothers with a twisted sense of humor and a satyr who’s trying to convince a sea witch that she’s not a monster.
Friday Night Writes brings together a collection of Fairy Tale First Dates like you’ve never imagined them before.

If you love fairy tale retellings, painfully awkward situations, humor, and a dash of magic, this collection is for you! Order your copy today.


If you’ve read my Academy books, then you’ll recognize S’ula and Bric on their first date! Yes, S’ula is cranky about it. Yes, Bric adores her anyway!

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Fractured Sleep Release!

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Fractured Sleep Launches Friday!

Kindle Pre-Order is still just 99 CENTS!

Keep scrolling to read chapter one of my story!

The Fairy Tale Ink is proud to present these four retold stories of the classic, Sleeping Beauty. A story for every reader from best-selling and award-winning authors!

At The Edge of Dreams:by Angela Brimhall

Five years ago, Aurora was forced to live at Thornhurst Manor, the city insane asylum. Every night she dreads sunset when sleep becomes a wicked game of survival. When Aurora is kidnapped and imprisoned in The Briar, a vision reveals the desperate man in the next cell is her only hope in stopping the plague of her nightmares. Will she find a way to rescue this mysterious man before The Dragon’s death countdown reaches zero?

Dragon’s Curse, by Adrienne Monson

When her nana is in a near-fatal car accident, Dawn is forced to reconcile her beliefs about magic. Her long-buried powers could save Nana’s life, but at a high price. Accepting magic means that the man Dawn dreamt about her whole life is real and that she’s the only one who can save him from a cursed sleep. To do that, she’ll have to face the terrifying dragon who put him there.

The Lonely Princess by Jo Schneider

Everything changed in the 500 years Aurora slept. Now teenagers go to the Academy, where humans and fey live side-by-side and everyone pretends to get along. In her attempts to find her place in this new world, she meets Saru—a mysterious boy who delights in irritating her. Their attraction is instant, but his forgotten past might be their undoing.

Restless by Quinn Coleridge

Rory Kingston doesn’t want much. Just a good night’s sleep and a normal life free of magic. Yet Rory’s own royal pedigree keeps getting in the way of achieving these goals, not to mention her preoccupation with a new neighbor. Where the darkly handsome history professor goes, danger and mayhem follow. Has Phillip come to drag Rory back to the magical kingdom she left behind years ago or are his motives even more nefarious?


The Lonely Princess is my Academy story, The Monkey King, from Aurora’s point of view.

Fun fact:

My husband has a niece named Aurora and a niece named Aulorah. I get their names mixed up all the time, much to their chagrin, so I thought it would be funny to use both of their names in this story!

Here’s Chapter 1, just in case you need more incentive to buy the book.

Chapter 1

Sunlight streamed through the windows of the classroom and kissed the side of each student’s face. The warmth of the autumn day, combined with Master Aloon’s droning voice, had sucked every ounce of joy from the subject of ancient stories. Right now there were six students nodding, three passing notes, two drooling, and one snoring softly.

Movement from the middle of the room drew Aurora’s attention. Princess Catherine, one of the note passers, folded a paper and slipped it to the boy ahead of her. As if Catherine could feel Aurora’s stare, the little blonde princess turned and met Aurora’s gaze. She gave Aurora a viper’s smile before she swiveled her head forward. A couple of Catherine’s minions smirked at Aurora’s glare before following their master’s example.

It was bad enough that each time Aurora saw the little princess, she wanted to punch her in the face for what her kingdom had done to Aurora’s. But to sit in class and endure the endless snickering and sideways glances as Catherine’s supporters openly shunned or ridiculed Aurora was about all she could take.

“Learn the minds of those you rule.”

Her father’s words floated through her mind as if he were sitting next to her. He’d said them to her often enough that they came without bidding, and she pressed her lips together.

Catherine had been the ranking member of the court at the Academy, and she’d used the position to get whatever she wanted. Then Aurora had come, outranking the little blonde princess and ruining her perfect life.

Aurora had tried to get to know Catherine, but had given up quickly. To learn that girl’s mind she would have to throw out common decency, and Aurora wasn’t willing to do that.

Master Aloon’s words broke through her brooding. “Tomorrow we will split up into groups of four. Together you will choose a story and make a production of it.”

A production? Aurora, along with most of the boys in the class, groaned. Catherine and her crew looked positively giddy.

Master Aloon continued. “You will have two weeks before you perform your play. The group that has the best production will have the privilege to present at the annual Peach Ball.”

Peach Ball? Hadn’t they just had a ball? Aurora rubbed her face. This place was beginning to drive her crazy. Her people were barely surviving, and she had to attend another stupid ball?

Princess Catherine nudged the boy in front of her, Saru. Aurora could probably predict how the groups would shake out. Catherine and two of her favorite mean-girl friends would take Saru. Krabbs—a goblin prince—would include a satyr and a couple of pixies. The rest of the girls wouldn’t be brave enough to ask the boys before the boys had already made alliances. Unless the boys needed a better grade—then there would be shameless flirting followed by horrible heartbreak at or after the ball.

“Go to the Academy,” her father said. “It will be fun,” he said.

More like torture.

Aurora glanced up at the clock, and relief filled her. She quietly packed her bag, gave master Aloon a little wave, and slipped out of the classroom.

Warm, fresh air filled Aurora’s lungs as she moved outdoors. The rectangular academic buildings stretched out behind her. A cobblestone path led her toward the huge, round fountain in the center of a large square. Water cascaded down from the bowl held up by larger-than-life statues of a human, a dwarf, a merman, and a First Fey. The cool mist settled on her skin, raising goose bumps. The scent of grass and leaves filled the air.

A vast field of green grass stretched from the fountain toward the front gates of the Academy. Beyond sat the dean’s tower and other administrative buildings.

Aurora circled the fountain and made her way to the cafeteria.

Long tables filled the large room. The scents of cooked meat and fresh bread hung in the air, and Aurora’s mouth began to water. She never ate breakfast. It was silly, but she felt like skipping one meal a day honored those in her kingdom who still struggled to get enough food. Her mother would scold her, but Aurora had to do something.

A section of the serving line counter had been swiveled up, and she went through and into a supply room beyond. Benches lined three of the four walls, and evenly-spaced iron hooks hung above.

“Hey,” a cheery voice said.

Aurora jumped and reached for a sword that wasn’t there, then checked the shadows. Sure enough, after a second she found the hint of an outline of a person. A familiar figure stood in the corner, out of the light. “Oh, hey Lora. What are you still doing here?”

Lora, whose actual name was Aulorah, stepped forward. The short, curvy vampire had pulled her dark brown hair up into a bun and wore a blood-smeared apron over her uniform, which consisted of a white, button-down top with a red-and-blue plaid tie and skirt. Pale skin accentuated the dark circles under her eyes. “They asked us to help this morning.”

Aurora nodded. “Anything exciting happen during the night shift?”

“Just vampires and other creatures of the dark.” She pointed to her apron.

“Sounds like your type of people.”

“I guess.”

Aurora had never met a vampire until she’d come to the Academy. They slept during the day and had classes at night. The only time they interacted with the other students was after sundown. Most of the other vampires seemed aloof, but Lora wanted nothing more than to fit in.

“Ready for your first day?” Lora asked.

“I hope so.” Aurora set her bag down on the bench and reached for an apron that hung on a hook with her name over it. Before she could stop it, her bag toppled over and the contents spilled onto the floor. Aurora bit back a curse.

“I got it.” Lora bent down and started gathering papers and books. She frowned when she picked up a small glass vial of purple liquid. “What’s this?”

Aurora snatched it away from the vampire. “Nothing.”

Lora raised an eyebrow.

“It’s for indigestion,” Aurora said, knowing her roommate could probably smell the lie.

To her credit, Lora shrugged.

Aurora shoved her stuff, including the strength-enhancing potion, back into her bag. Then she donned a fresh white apron and put a cap over her short, spiked hair.

“You’ll do great.” Lora gave her an encouraging smile.

“Thanks. Have a good rest.”

“Thank you.”

With that, the vampire blurred and turned into smoke.

“I’m still jealous you can do that.”

“It would only take one bite to change that.” Lora’s voice sounded right next to Aurora’s ear.

Aurora only jumped a little before she laughed and headed out to the serving line.

Hanna—a tall, broad woman with round cheeks, a button nose, and a voice that could be heard all the way to the woods—stood in the center of a circle of servers. Aurora hurried over, berating herself for being the last one there.

Hanna gave her a small nod, then went back to what she had been saying. “Keep the portion sizes to one scoop of everything. If they want more, they can come back for seconds.”

A round of bobbing heads accompanied the orders.

Hanna turned her gaze on Aurora. “There have been several complaints about students getting dessert before their other food. Do not let this happen.”

“Okay,” Aurora said.

“No matter who it is.” Hanna’s blue eyes narrowed.

“You got it.” Aurora could say no to anyone.

After a few more instructions, Hanna split them up. She accompanied Aurora to the dessert counter.

Sweets sat six deep in front of Aurora. Cake, brownies, scones, and even some fruit tarts. The smell of sugar and honey filled her nose, and Aurora’s stomach grumbled. She made a mental note to get here early enough tomorrow to eat before she had to serve.

“Keep them as far forward as you can,” Hanna said. She pointed behind them. “There will be a new batch here before you run out.”

“Got it.”

Hanna took Aurora in from head to foot. “You look tall enough that you don’t need a stool.”

Aurora smiled. “I’ll be fine.”

“And you’re certain you want to do this?” Hanna’s voice lowered. “It is below your station.”

“My father taught me that if you want to know someone, serve them.” Aurora recited the words as if they were a school lesson she’d been forced to memorize against her will.

“That’s what you’re here to do? Get to know the others?”

“Something like that.” She’d been having trouble connecting with the students here, and while she didn’t much care that she outranked everyone, they did. So she’d decided to test her father’s words and see if serving the other students would help her see their good qualities.

Hanna snorted. “Very well, I will leave you to it. Holler if you have any trouble.”

“I will, thank you.”

The outside door clanged open, and a wave of sound rolled into the cafeteria. Aurora’s stomach did a little flip, but she ordered herself to remain calm. This was what her father would want her to do. It was her duty. If she could cut through a hedge of briars with a rusted axe, she could do this.

The third years, who got out of class first, piled through the door. One minute the cafeteria stood empty, and the next the food line ran half the length of the room. The din of conversation—complaints, excitement, and flirting—filled the air, along with the relief of a few minutes of freedom.

Aurora’s job was easy. The students surveyed their options, then asked for what they wanted. Aurora delivered. Her first customer studied the line of desserts for a few seconds before he pointed. “Brownie.”

Aurora handed one over. “You got it.”

“Thanks,” he muttered.

The next girl smiled at Aurora. “You’re new.”

“It’s my first day,” Aurora said. She didn’t recognize the girl, so she must be a first year.

“I’ll have a scone.”

Aurora handed it over and got another smile.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” This wasn’t so hard.

A centaur asked for cake, and a satyr requested a brownie. Rakar, the student body president and the most popular goblin around, approached. Aurora braced herself, figuring that this was probably the dessert troublemaker. But he had food on his plate and only asked for cake.

Most of the students said hello, and asked politely.

Aurora felt like she was just getting the hang of it when Saru—the boy from her literature class—set his empty tray down on the counter. He didn’t even bother to look at her as he surveyed the tables. “One of each.”

Aurora sighed. She should have known that this was the guy causing the dessert problem. “You have to get your other food first.”

Her words brought his attention back to her. Tall and thin, with wild brown hair and a ridiculous golden circlet that he always wore, Saru stared at her in shock. Then his golden eyes flashed, and he shot her a dazzling smile as he put both hands on the counter. He leaned forward and made what he probably thought was a handsome face. He failed. “You’re new.”

“Flirting is not going to help.” She met his smolder with a shake of her head.

Saru put his fingers on his chest. “I was just trying to be friendly.”

“That’s nice.” She picked up a spatula. “Now go get your other food.”

“Testy,” he said. “What’s your name?”

The students behind Saru began standing on tiptoe to see what the hold-up was. “Move along, lover boy. Other people want their cake.”

He stuck out his bottom lip. “But I want cake.”

Aurora opened her mouth to retort, but stopped when a familiar set of golden locks came up beside Saru.

“You won’t get anywhere with her.” Princess Catherine slipped her hand through the crook of Saru’s elbow and shot Aurora a triumphant expression. “Aurora, dear, whatever are you doing serving lunch?”

Aurora ordered herself to remain calm. “I decided to volunteer.”

Princess Catherine leaned toward Saru. “That’s not what I heard.”

“The two of you need to move so people can get their food,” Aurora said through clenched teeth as she fought back the desire the throw the spatula at Catherine. Aurora could hit her right between the eyes and leave a nice bruise. Not that she would. Probably.

“But I still don’t have cake.” Saru pointed to his empty plate.

Aurora returned her attention to Saru. “And I almost feel bad about that, but not bad enough to break the rules for you. Now get to the back of the line and come through again.”

Catherine whispered to Saru in a voice so loud everyone could hear. “I told you, you won’t get anywhere with this one. She’s a shrew.”

Shrew? Aurora narrowed her eyes. Catherine had never wanted for anything, and her spoiled brat syndrome showed in every action and word. Maybe if she’d spent a winter huddled in ruins, she would get over herself.

Princess Catherine continued her fake smile.

Saru shifted his weight, and Aurora moved her furious gaze to him.

One second he had his mouth open to talk, and the next he blanked out as if someone had simply turned him off.

Princess Catherine didn’t even notice. She tugged on him once. Then twice. “Come on.”

After a few uncomfortable seconds, Saru finally blinked and let Catherine drag him away.

Aurora watched them go.

“Can I have some cake?” the next student asked.

“Whatever.” Aurora slammed the plate down on the counter.

The boy jumped, took the dessert with a shaking hand, and bolted.

A few minutes later Saru was back, this time with food on his plate. He managed an innocent look and held out his tray. “Can I have some cake now?”

Aurora repressed an eye roll. “Sure. What would you like?”

“Do you have banana cake?”

“We never have banana cake.”

“Too bad—that’s my favorite.” He tapped his chin with a finger. “One of each?”

She shook her head and dropped a plate with a piece of chocolate cake onto the counter.

“Is that all?” He once again shot her his most winning smile.

She ignored the winning smile. “One piece. That’s the rule.”

“You have a pretty serious relationship with these rules.”

Aurora stared at him and pointed in the direction of the tables.

“Fine.” Saru grabbed his tray. “But next time, we’re going to have to renegotiate this arrangement.”

“Good luck with that,” Aurora muttered as he walked away.

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