The End of an Era

Warning: a lengthy post, gif usage, many sappy feelings lie ahead

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The Final Advent has at long last been published. The reality of that still hasn’t quite seeped in for me. Why, you ask?

Turn back the clock to 2005, eleven years ago. For me that meant fourth grade in Mr. Leeland Looper’s class, Girl Scouts, and a crazy amount of playing make-believe.

Mr. Looper always gave us at least thirty minutes each week so we could write whatever came to us. (He was big on childhood literacy. Woohoo!) In those thirty minutes, something came over me and I wrote an eleven page story, the basis of what would become No Angels today. My parents encouraged my writing, and so then I expanded it to thirty pages. Then I wrote a second one, clocking in at 50 pages. You get the idea.

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Actual photo of me after finishing a draft.

Over the course of the next few years, I dreamed up plot ideas and character concepts and so on to flesh out my writings, and in eight grade I completed what would become today’s No Angels. In my sophomore year of high school, I completed Collapsed Cathedrals, and in my freshman year at university, The Final Advent. While all of the aforementioned have undergone a massive amount of editing and reconstruction, still the effort stands and boils down to one truth: working on the No Angels trilogy had been a constant in my life for eleven years, by my side from childhood to adulthood.

Now the last book has been published. I will never again work on No Angels.

It’s immensely satisfying to have seen this project through to the end, yet it’s also bittersweet. Finally I can release this story and continue down my journey’s road, but I would be lying if I said I won’t miss it. These characters have become my friends over the years. My own life story has been threaded into the pages. And now it’s time to move on. The phrase “thanks for the memories” has never been more apparent to me than it is now.

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Yet more actual footage of me.

I want to thank everyone who’s helped me reach this point, who’s helped me achieve my still-startling reality of completing and publishing a complete trilogy by age 20. Never in my wildest dreams could I have done it without the following:

JD Hinze – My dad, the person who introduced me to storytelling and fantasy in the first place. He read over eight (horrific) versions of my first book, but with each of his edits I learned and my skills grew. Without his belief in me and his fostering my abilities and telling me to go and just do it, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

John Nagle – I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Nagle about eight years ago, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. He was the first person to introduce me to the idea of independent publishing, and has offered his assistance and feedback in many of my efforts to this day. Without his suggestion and encouragement, never would I have taken the plunge into indie publishing.

Elizabeth Wheatley – Elisabeth Wheatley and I met at the Texas Book Festival a few years back, exchanged contact info, and have been writing buddies from then on out. We’ve beta-read one another’s novels, talked about story ideas, and supported one another since. She’s cheered me on and given me incredibly valuable insight for years, plus gave me the confidence and motivation to continue on my journey.

Intisar Khanani – Much like Elisabeth Wheatley, Intisar has beta-read stories of mine and given me great insights into the craft of writing. (Once she even mailed me a signed copy of her novel Sunbolt, which I LOVED.) Without these writing friends, it would have been near impossible to see this trilogy through to the end.

Matthew Bogard – I met Matthew nearly over a year and a half ago, and from day one I knew he was endowed with a sharp wit. I’ll admit to you (we’re close, right?) that we’ve also been dating for just as long. (Anecdote: I wiped the floor with him during a sparring match and he immediately asked me out to dinner.) One of my beta readers was too busy to go over The Final Advent, so Matthew volunteered in their stead. I was hesitant at first (it took him MONTHS to convince me to let him near it), but he ended up being fantastic.  Not only that, but he’s been an incredible source of support throughout my endeavors.

You – Yes, you, reading this right now, long-time reader or complete newbie who just stumbled across this post. Without the support of those in the background (especially my lovely commenters and like-rs!) I’d feel and be fruitless in my efforts, without support save those I’ve mentioned above. Knowing that my blog followers and readers are here makes everything worth it. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

For me the publication of The Final Advent marks the end of an era. And so, here’s to the next one, where ever it may take us!

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Find The Final Advent on Amazon.

TFA-Cover-Reveal Death overshadows everyone at some point, but for Liz Patrona that time comes far too soon. Word comes that Wily, her ruthless enemy, survived being thrown into the Black River and crossed into Geminus to usurp the kingdom’s throne. Now his sights rest firmly on her world. Knowing Liz is the only threat in his path, he curses her to die in one year’s time—unless she can kill him before the clock runs out. In the months she has left, she must travel into Geminus, forge precarious alliances with those who’ve survived Wily’s reign, and battle for her very survival. Yet what lies in Geminus may be more than she bargained for. In these foreign lands looms a sinister secret about her own past. Something that has been guiding her from her first breaths to her final steps.

In the long-awaited conclusion to the No Angels trilogy, Liz is pushed one last time to discover the bounds of how far she’s willing to go to protect those she loves—even if it means losing herself along the way.

THE FINAL ADVENT Release!

After years of drafting, editing, rewriting, and (of course) more editing, THE FINAL ADVENT has officially been published! Go pick up your copy today of the final installment in the NO ANGELS trilogy, where action, adventure, and intrigue abound. (Only available in eBook format for the time being. It should be available in paperback soon!)

Also, for those of you on Goodreads, add it to your list here!

Getting to this point has been such an incredibly long, toiling, and rewarding journey. Without the support of all those I know and love, never in my wildest dreams would this have been possible. Each and every one of you–yes, YOU reading this right now–have been invaluable to me, whether you’re aware of it or not. I’ll cut the sentiments short for now (that’s for a whole different post), but be warned: they’re coming for you!

Thank you so much for following me on my adventures thus far. With the No Angels trilogy wrapped up, it’s time that we take the next steps out into an even bigger, if mysterious, world.

Until next time!

Author Interview: Elisabeth Wheatley

5139754Elisabeth and I have known one another for a few years now. We met at the 2011 Texas Book Festival, exchanged info, and have been reading each other’s books since! And on the book front, Wheatley is a machine. She’s written over 400,000 words this past year alone. She’s published five books in less than four years, – but what’s more is that they’re amazing. Anyone can throw down words on paper, but to make them quality? That’s a whole different ball game, and one she routinely conquers.

So, let’s take a look at the mind behind the work!

First off, here’s a look at her official bio: “Elisabeth Wheatley began what would be her first novel at eleven and hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not daydreaming of elves, vampires, and/or hot guys in armor, she can be found wasting time on the internet, fangirling over her latest obsession, and pretending to be a functional citizen.”

So, what got you into writing?

Well, at first it was the desire to create my own world. Then I started really getting into it and realizing how happy it made me, and now I can’t seem to quit.

How long have you been writing?

Oh, I would say about twelve years if you count all those “books” seven year old me scribbled on copy paper.

What process do you use to write? Do you use an outline, or just sort of wing it?

In truth, I have a “living” outline in my head that grows and changes as I explore the story. I once tried writing outlines, but I never stuck to the plan and eventually gave up.

Regarding the above process (or lack of), why do you prefer that method?

Like I said, I write largely for the joy of it. That’s why I prefer not to stress myself with an outline. I usually have an idea of where the story will go and how it will end, but I do enjoy letting the characters surprise me.

What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?

I love drafting—that’s when I’m first discovering all the characters and their plans and roles in the particular story. I loathe editing with the fiery intensity of a thousand bursting supernovas—it’s a slow form of torment; going back and tightening up the story, the dialogue, proofreading, making sure there are no plot holes, on and on and on.

What is the most difficult thing, (whether conveying a certain emotion, writing love scenes, specific settings, etc.), for you to adequately transfer from your mind to paper?

When it comes to romantic scenes, I usually spend about an hour on a single page, trying to make it sound right. Most the time, I feel weird writing that sort of thing, worried it sounds corny or stupid. I suppose it’s that I’m not comfortable with them yet.

What is the process of editing generally like for you? (In terms of ease, the number of rewrites, beta editors used, etc.)

Editing for me is like shoveling mud with a spoon. I stress out a lot because there’s all the pressure to get the story right and I rely heavily on a few beta readers to tell me when I need to change something. Depending on the manuscript, I may go through 30+ “drafts”. It just depends.

Are there some different genres you see yourself pursuing in the future?

I think I would like to explore more paranormal romance and maybe sci-fi. I have a few story ideas in those genres and I think they would be fun.

What genres do you never see yourself writing in?

Well, certainly never erotica. Aside from that, I think I’ll always have an attachment to the paranormal. It’s hard to picture myself writing anything that didn’t have some degree of fantasy in it, I simply lack an affinity for the “real” world.

What keeps you motivated to write?

Pathological ambition, that’s the best answer I have. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t not write and still be happy with myself. My family can tell you all about it.

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And there you have it! A glimpse into the mind of an imaginative powerhouse. For an even further look, check out her books, and sign up for her mailing list for news and exclusive content!

Book Review: Sora’s Quest (Cat’s Eye Chronicles #1)

16084685Title: Sora’s Quest (Cat’s Eye Chronicles #1)

Author: T. F. Shreffler

Publisher: The Runaway Pen

Release Date: November 20, 2013

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Summary: “A noblewoman, an assassin, and a soul-stealing necklace…. Sora planned on running away from her wedding, but she never expected to be kidnapped! Dumped into a world of magical races, arcane jewelry and forgotten lore, she finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous assassin, haunted by an even darker past. She yearns for freedom, but he won’t let her go—not when her Cat’s Eye necklace is the only thing that can save his life. But the necklace itself presents a problem. It is an ancient device from the long forgotten War of the Races, and its magic has the ability to steal souls. Can Sora learn to wield its power—or will the power wield her?” – Goodreads

I have a weird relationship with this book. My affection for it is split along a very clear divide. There’s the first 80% of the book, which I’ll review in one chunk, and then the remaining 20%, which I will also review in its own separate chunk.

So, let’s take a look at the first 80%.

For the first 80% of the book I really wasn’t feeling it. It read more like a middle grade book to me. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with middle grade, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting. I didn’t feel a huge connection with the characters, nor was I super interested in their dynamic with one another. (I did however like all the bits with Dorian though. He’s such a darling.) The writing was just okay at this point. It wasn’t anything spectacular, and to be honest a little cheesy in parts. The pacing had a major lull in the middle, as is sort of common in fantasy novels. Also common is the fantasy formula for generating plot which is “don’t know what to do next with your characters? Have them get attacked by a crazy monster!”. This gets very old vey fast when used in abundance, as it is here.

Now, the remaining 20%.

You may be wondering, then why the high rating? You see, I have no idea what happened in the last bit of the book, but the writing suddenly took on a new, astonishing quality. The pace was perfection. The character dynamics showed multiple layers, tantalizing and rich. The characters were infused with an indescribable vitality. I have to be honest, if I’d only read the first 80% I wouldn’t have been interested in reading the next book. The last 20% changed everything, and I’m very excited to read book number two!

In conclusion, I would recommend this book. While I initially didn’t care for it, the ending part was just too compelling, too awesome to ignore. It has the promise of an exciting world to explore, authentic characters, and a plot that draws you in.  If you’re a fan of fantasy far and wide, this is most definitely the book for you!

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Oh, and by the way . . . Sora’s Quest is permanently FREE on Amazon!

Freebie Friday: NO ANGELS, newly revised!

As many of you know, the newly revised edition of my novel No Angels is back on the market!

Woohoo! Books!

Woohoo! Books!

But as a special treat to further celebrate its re-release, No Angels will be free all of today and tomorrow! (January 30th – January 31st)

Have you not yet read my book? Well, now that it’s free you have nothing to lose! Check out my summary of it below and follow the link to get it (again, FOR FREE!) on Amazon!

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Click here to find No Angels on Amazon! 

12949450“Liz Patrona never expected to lose her normal life completely. She never expected that people’s memories of her would vanish, or that all records of her existence would disappear. She never expected to be stolen away to a city beneath the desert. And she definitely never expected to be told she was the God-chosen barrier between the common man and paranormal threats.

Liz is a teenager perfectly happy with her mediocrity, that is, before she’s taken by a peculiar group of people and forced into a role she never imagined, – and definitely doesn’t want. Distinguishing illusion from reality, realizing her abilities as a pyrokinetic, and keeping other-worldly objects from the hands of normal folk are only some of the things that await her. Prepared for this by her new mentor, a rude, possibly sadistic, but oddly attracting man, Liz braces herself for what is to come. But many an unknown thing lurks here, and what she doesn’t know may just kill her.”

Click here to find No Angels on Amazon!

Writers: Love Your Own Books

Congratulations! You’ve published your book! You promote it, give away free copies, network, etc. And then you wait.

If you’re lucky, a couple reviews come in. Maybe more, maybe none, depending on if you’re self-published, with a small press, with one of the Big Five, or something in between. Some of those review will say that they liked your work. Others will slam it into the ground.

And you know what? It hurts. You’ve likely spent years creating, molding, and breathing life into this single piece of yours only to have some people despise it or flat out ignore its existence.

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Sadness abound.

Despite that, you must remember this: love your own books. Don’t you recall all the time and effort and affection you poured into them? How happy writing them made you? (Okay, maybe the editing portion didn’t fill your soul with glee, but some part of the writing process did.) When’s the last time you spent so much time on something? While it’s difficult not to linger over the feelings of “person y & z didn’t like it” or “I guess it wasn’t as good as I hoped it was”, you can’t do that to yourself. It doesn’t help you in any way whatsoever*.

In a similar vein, you also should never feel bad about or look down on what you do. Don’t let people make you feel like you should quit writing or take your work less seriously. Heck, to this day, despite having multiple published novels, my parents still see my writing time as trivial and unimportant. It’s always been seen as something I shouldn’t prioritize, (which of course made me want to prioritize it even more. Reverse psychology, perhaps? Ah, the parental masterminds at work.)

You have to remember the joy your books give you, because at the end of the day that’s the only person who matters. Would you rather slave over a book for months, if not years, you hated working on from beginning to end, but yet one that received success? Or, would you rather have a book you enjoyed molding in your hands and bringing into the world, but one that didn’t experience much acclaim?

I know where my answer lies. As writers, we’re naturally critics of our own work. We have to be for the editing and revision process alone. And yet, valuing and enjoying our work when all is said and done should never be forgotten. Though it’s difficult to teach oneself these things, it’s a pursuit we should never abandon.

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* However, if you’re book receives many a negative review all pin-pointing the same thing, you may want to take another look and consider how you can make it better. This does not mean though you should ever hate your book. Read my post Biting the Bullet for my experience with this.

Book Review: The Moon Queen – Another Book of Rhyme

20819540Title: The Moon Queen – Another Book of Rhyme

Authors: Bex Pavia, Jackie Pavia, Boo Shaw

Publisher: Self-published

Release Date: February 15, 2014

Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary: “From the author of The Soul Bearer – and other poems comes a second collection of rhyming verse. This book offers twenty pieces of poetry that take a walk on the dark side as well as the light; from the fantasy-tale to the slightly humorous – by way of the emotional. Be taken away to an imaginary world in ‘The Tower’, and chuckle at a common human failing in ‘Thick Skin’. Includes four excellent poems by the author’s daughter and mother.” – Goodreads

As The Moon Queen is a brief collection of poems, I’ll keep my review of it brief as well.

First off, if you want to read it but worry you won’t have the time or are too busy, fear not! I read this all in one short sitting and didn’t feel rushed at all. The Moon Queen hits the perfect sweet spot in it’s length.

However, due to it’s short nature, one can see overarching patterns in it. Most of the pieces in The Moon Queen are very similar to one another, all with a dark, gloomy, and foreboding atmosphere. I don’t mind the themes, but I would’ve liked a little more variation. But don’t misunderstand; variation was in fact present, – from Thick Skin to Mistletoe to Snowman -, but it fell the slightest bit short in the amount I felt was needed.

The writing was enjoyable, with differing melodies and lush imagery. The descriptions draw you in without you even realizing it, the writing style painting a clear picture without drawing too much attention to itself. Another plus of this book was that it had multiple authors, which means that the reader has the pleasure of experiencing the distinct voices of each.

I feel this collection was put together quickly, with attention to detail falling a bit by the wayside. The melody in certain lines didn’t add up where I didn’t see a use for dissonance and the language could’ve been shaped up some more. None of the aforementioned was very present, but it still caught my attention where it did.

Overall, The Moon Queen earns a solid 4 out of 5.