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.

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My 5 Favorite Characters when Writing No Angels

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1 – Liz Patrona

This one should be relatively obvious! She’s strong, endlessly determined, and, no matter what, does what’s right by her, damn the consequences!

2 – Riven Samson

Oh, Riven, I’m so sorry. I put this poor soul through so much suffering, and lets face it, he was pretty mean in the beginning. However, the gradual process of softening him was one of my favorite things to write across the series.

3 – Azriel Patrona

Azriel is sort of loosely based off my dad, so how could I not put him in my favorites list? He’s kind, welcoming, and devoted to being a thoroughly good person who fiercely protects his home.

4 – Vita

Since this post is leading up to the release of The Final Advent, you have no idea who Vita is yet. But! It doesn’t mean I love her any less. She has a deadly sharp wit paired with iron resolve, plus all the patience in the world–making her incredibly deadly when she wants to strike.

5 – Jakeus Vinco

My tragic baby! He had quite the hard life, but still, I know that doesn’t mean he’s exempt from morals or, y’know, basic human decency. Since he had control ripped away so early in life, he’s been fighting for it ever since, though not always with the best of intentions.

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Who’re your favorite characters? Comment below!

Cover & Blurb Reveal: The Final Advent (No Angels #3)

At long last, I’m proud to finally reveal the cover and blurb for The Final Advent! It’s been a long journey in getting here, but well worth it.

The Final Advent is the third and last installment in the No Angels trilogy, one that I’ve been working on for a long time now. In the days leading up to the release date (soft date is January 5th), I’ll be publishing some posts on my journey up to this point, what I’ve learned, and so on.

For the time being, check out The Final Advent‘s cover and blurb below!

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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.

Find the rest of the trilogy below:

No Angels

Collapsed Cathedrals

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Thoughts? Predictions? I hope you’re just as excited for this book’s release as I am. Comment below!

Book Review: Seraphina

Seraphina_book_cover_(US_addition)Title: Seraphina

Author: Rachel Hartman

Release Date: July 10th, 2012

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary: “Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high. Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life. In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina’s tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they’ve turned the final page.” – Goodreads

Excuse me while I scream.

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Seraphina is easily one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long while. The reasons for this are multitudinous. The writing, the world-building, the characters, etc.

First off, the writing. It is gorgeous. It strikes that perfect yet elusive balance between rich and clear, all without being overly flowery. This is probably some of the best writing I’ve ever seen, hands down.

One of the things that sets this fantasy novel apart from others, however, is the world the author built. The cultures and lore are intriguing, and not strictly based on Europe! Yay! Also, Hartman has a distinct way of approaching the topic of dragons. They’re not straightforward monsters to be conquered (well, depending on who you ask), but rather characters to be engaged with, each with a variety of motives and angles. Their culture and what makes them tick is just as engrossing too.

The characters were varied and believable. I could relate well to Seraphina, but aside from her I’d have to say my favorite character is Glisselda. She’s regal, kind, confident, and is armed with a sharp wit. The characters aren’t predictable or transparent, which lends to part of the charm of the book. You’re constantly guessing at people’s true loyalty, and usually I’m very good at guessing who the ultimate Bad Guy is. Not here! I was taken completely by surprise. Which I love.

The rhythm and pace were fine tuned to perfection. Even when things were (technically speaking_ slow moving, it didn’t feel slow moving. It felt more like the literary equivalent of gliding down a lazy river.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the romance. I saw no real reason for it, aside from the fact that (*SPOILER*) Kiggs was the first guy in Seraphina’s age range to really interact with her. (END SPOILER) The romance felt a bit forced; I feel like they make better friends than romantic partners. That being said, I do like that the romance isn’t there for drama’s sake. They decide to be honorable in how they intend to go about it.

All in all, Seraphina is one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read. The characters, plot, pacing, etc . . . all of it is hands-down delightful. Highly recommended!

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!

Book Review: Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3)

20613470Title: Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3)

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s

Date Released: 2014

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary: “Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.
While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?” – Goodreads

I stood in line for nearly 2 hours to purchase this book, and I’m glad to say that it was well worth it!

The characters, most of them new ones, are to die for. Between the new cast in Rifthold, the new world and characters and creatures in Wendelyn, and the covens in the Ferian Gap, there’s a rich selection to choose from, all with backbones and stories and secrets of their own. Speaking of the covens, initially I wasn’t a huge fan of the Manon storyline. I had difficulty understanding its relevance and direction, but it eventually won me over in a big way once the relationship with Abraxos entered. This book has no lack of strong women, that’s for sure.

Celaena is great as always, powerful and regaining her spark that for so long has threatened to go out. I really like her dynamic with Rowan, and her potential dynamic with Aedion once they’re reunited. (BE STILL, MY HEART).

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Once you finally get to the action in this book, it goes hard. It never leaves you wanting, but never annoyingly overwhelms either. I can only think of one fight in the entire 600 pages that was too long for my liking, which, for a book with a lot of fights, is great. This book strikes just the right balance.

The writing is wonderful as always, powerful and clear while still retaining a poetic flow. I do feel though that things in the first couple hundred pages took a bit long to get moving, but once they did, the book stopped for no one. And that’s not even to mention the innumerable well-crafted plot twists! I will say that I quite literally screaming once or twice while reading.

All in all, Heir of Fire earns itself a solid 4.5 out of 5 for rich characters, quality writing and pace, and surprises of intrigue you’ll never see coming. And after all, how much more could you want?

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Find Heir of Fire on here Amazon or Barnes and Noble.