September 15, 2018

(Guest Post) The Struggles of Writing A Sequel by Helen Scheuerer, Author of Heart of Mist !

As readers, we only see the final product of a very long and harrowing process that is the road to publishing. Today, Helen reveals her struggles with writing her sequel to Heart of Mist, Reign of Mist. Maybe us writers can learn from her experiences and the process will become a little easier!  -Ivey

The Challenges of Writing Book #2 in A Series...

For some reason, I always thought writing the second book in a series would be easier than writing the first. It makes sense doesn’t it? You’ve already done the groundwork - the character development, the worldbuilding, the set-up for what’s to come… However, when I started writing Reign of Mist, Book II in my trilogy, The Oremere Chronicles, I was unpleasantly surprised to find this was not the case.

Writing and rewriting Reign of Mist drained the life out of me for a number of reasons. The first being that much of the process felt like a heavy exercise in problem solving. While I had plotted the main points of trilogy and each book, my planning left a fair bit to be desired. For example, while writing Book II, I realised that characters who needed to be together for certain events, were halfway across the realm from each other. I had to work out how to realistically get people back together so particular plot points could occur. There were numerous instances like this, having a realisation dawn on me and feeling utterly overwhelmed by the scope of what I’d set out to do. It was exhausting, especially because I needed a very critical mindframe for this sort of work, when usually the writing stage is a lot more liberating!

I also found it challenging making decisions about what to include in Book II and what to leave for Book III. As you can imagine, it’s vital that each book can standalone to a certain extent - yes, they’re part of a series, but they should still have their own narrative arcs and climaxes. It was difficult to decide which epic events went in what book, and whether or not I’d sprinkled enough “bread crumbs” throughout the previous book for plot points to work. I wanted this book to be mind blowing, but had to keep in mind that there was still one more book to come in the series. My beta readers were incredible in this sense. I turned to them constantly for advice about what was working and what wasn’t. Without them, I’m not sure I would have made it to the end of this novel.

Another challenging aspect of writing this book was dealing with the pressure that came from my debut. Heart of Mist was far more successful than I ever anticipated, and I found that as I wrote the sequel, I felt a different kind of pressure on my shoulders. I felt pressure to outdo the first book and pressure to please the readers who had enjoyed it. I didn’t want to let anyone down. Of course, much of this pressure came from myself. Though I think that’s definitely something a lot of writers do. I kept asking myself, “now that HoM had been a success, what if Reign of Mist isn’t?” All of these factors played on my mind as I wrote, leaving me feeling more stressed than ever.

What I’ve come to realise and accept throughout this process is that no one book is going to be “easier” to write than another, they’re just going to be different. And this is something that I’m going to have to remind myself of as I dive back into writing Book III in The Oremere Chronicles.

Reign of Mist, Book II in The Oremere Chronicles is now available on Amazon.

 Heart of Mist is available in ebook, paperback and audiobook now.

Helen Scheuerer is a YA fantasy author from Sydney, Australia. Heart of Mist is the bestselling first book in her high fantasy trilogy, The Oremere Chronicles. Helen is also the Founding Editor of Writer’s Edit, an online literary magazine and learning platform for emerging writers. It’s now one of the largest writers’ platforms in the world. Helen is now a full-time author living by the beach.

Check out Helen's books! 

And don't forget to follow her social media!

June 13, 2018

Burning Bright (Going Down in Flames #5) By Chris Cannon Review

Author: Chris Cannon
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Date Published: June 4th 2018
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Page Number: 408

Bryn is back for her senior year at the Institute for Excellence, also known as shape-shifting dragon school. She isn’t sure which is scarier, the life-force sucking dragons stalking campus or the fact that she’s officially betrothed to Jaxon, a guy who will never love her. Not that she could ever love him, either… That’s just ridiculous.

Senior year should be fun. Her parents are alive, she’s finally fitting in, and she’s learning how to be a Medic. But what’s with Jaxon giving her strange looks? He runs hot and cold, and he doesn’t even have the excuse of being a hybrid fire-and-ice-breathing dragon like her. One minute they’re having a great time and the next, she wants to blast a fireball at his head. The marriage contract of doom looms over them--unless this match not made in heaven kindles a flame…

I was really looking forward to this book as it is the last book in one of my favorite series. The YA genre severely lacks in fantasy books featuring dragons so I was ecstatic when I came across this series, and I have been following it since book one. However, I couldn't help but feel let down by the ending of this series.

Bryn, the main character, seemed to become complacent with the Directorate controlling her life and seemed to give up in the end. Though she did start to develop feelings for a certain dragon she was betrothed to, it didn't feel real to me. Bryn had the kind of personality where she would fight anything and anyone who was in the wrong or tried to control her, but in this book, she gave up too easily for me. In addition to that, she didn't change the directorate like I expected (and hoped) she would. In the end, she didn't change the system, but she conformed to it. I can't say that I was happy about that. In the beginning, I felt like Bryn was a promise of major change and would give readers a sense of justice in the end, but I never got that. I just felt like there was something missing: Bryn's fire and resolve, a true love story, and most of all, a hard hitting climax that would end the series with a bang.

To me, the climax was lackluster and rushed. Compared to the other books, this climax just fell flat and didn't make my heart race or fear for the main characters' lives. I expected so much more and much more damage to come out of the "last battle", but I was left disappointed.

In the end, I cannot say I was happy with the ending even though Bryn seemed to be happy. I felt let down that such an amazing series so far ending with such an unsatisfying ending. I think that had we spent more time focusing on Bryn's relationship with Jaxon and building up the climactic fight, the book would have been a little bit more satisfying. I also wanted to see the directorate changed drastically and Bryn buck the arranged marriage idea even if she still chose who she was betrothed to in the end. The idea that she just let it go didn't sit well with me.

Nevertheless, I still love the series up to this point and the ending won't change the fact that this series still a favorite! I still highly recommend you read it because it is something unique and special!

June 7, 2018

COVER REVEAL: Unraveling in the Night by Lauryn April (First Look and Exclusive Content)

Today, I get to reveal the cover of the second book in Lauryn April's Cereus Vampire Chronicles series, Unraveling in the Night ! Also, Stay tuned for an exclusive excerpt and a free book!

Following the events of Unearthed After Sunset, Archer returns to Phoenix to discover Caroline has a new threat to face, one that puts both hunters and vampires in danger. Unraveling in the Night is set to be released this fall.
It’s been over a year since Archibald Gregory Erickson died. He’s shed his human life, and gone on a journey of self-discovery, now Archer is back in Phoenix and finds himself quickly falling back into old habits. When danger strikes, putting Caroline in harm’s way Archer decides to stick around town a little longer, especially when it looks like Santo may be planning something. But things aren’t always as they appear. Archer and Caroline work together to uncover the cause behind a mass of vampire disappearances.
Before I unveil the eye-catching cover, I'll give you a little taste of what you are getting in this second book.
Rusty mattress springs squeaked as I rolled onto my side. I lay on the floor in an abandoned building. I’d slept in. I liked getting a full eight hours rest as a human, but as a vampire, it wasn’t uncommon for me to sleep ten or even fourteen hours during the summer months. My body wanted to be awake at night, the rest of the time it seemed fine snoozing.

I headed out into the night. A few hours remained until midnight when Caroline asked me to meet her, so I decided to wander around town. Not much had changed in Phoenix since last year. It was the same eclectic metropolitan, a bustling and yet boring city filled with college students but also retirees and homeless.

I passed people of all kinds as I walked down the street. Through the window of a bar, I saw businessmen out for a drink before their ride back to the suburbs. A group of kids loitered at the street corner listening to loud music, and across the street, an old man carried a bag of groceries up his apartment stairs.

Then I saw something unusual. A block ahead, an old black van sat parked on the side of the road with the side door slid open. It waited right outside the butcher shop, and a moment later a tall man with a long face and black hair stepped outside. Dressed in a long sleeve shirt and jeans, with a complexion that hasn’t seen the sun in years, he had all the tell-tale signs of being new to town.

I slowed my pace to watch. I’d spent a lot of time as a vampire watching people, and I’d learned to notice people who were out of place. At first, I thought he was a vampire, but when he turned his head he lacked the tell-tale glow to his eyes, which also meant he wasn’t a hunter. He was human.

A bell tinkled out into the night, as the butcher shop door opened again. An unappealing meat smell drifted on the breeze. A young man in a white apron pushed a five-gallon, sealed, white bucket out on a rolling cart. He was a scrawny kid, still in his teens.

“Right in here?” The kid asked.

The man nodded. “Yeah, right in the van.”

Whatever was in that bucket must have been heavy. The young man strained to lift it. He set it in the van and the man slammed the door shut.

“Hey mister, what do you do with all this cows blood anyway?” the kid asked.

The man turned to him with a cold glare and said, “I make blood pudding.”

He was going to make blood pudding with five gallons of blood?

A moment later he drove away and I jogged up to where the kid still stood outside. He grabbed the rolling cart and pulled it back toward the door.

“Hey, what’d that guy order?” I asked before he slipped back inside. I wondered if maybe I’d heard the kid wrong. Maybe the five-gallon bucket had been filled with something else and he’d only bought a pint of cows’ blood?

“What?” His eyes were wide. “Oh, um, that guy?” He laughed. “He got five gallons of cow’s blood. Don’t ask me what he does with it, but he was here last week with the same order.”

The kid went back inside the butcher shop and I was left pondering what I’d seen. The man in the van wasn’t a vampire. I was sure of that, and even if he had been, a vampire can’t live on the blood of animals. My maker, Lila, had told me that the first night I’d turned. She’d said the blood of animals would make me sick. Then again, I’d never tested the theory myself.

I shook my thoughts free. For all I knew this had nothing to do with vampires. All sorts of people lived in Phoenix. That guy could be into weird ritual sacrifices or hell, really like the movie Carrie. One weirdo didn’t equal trouble.
Sounds interesting, right? If you like it, be sure to add it to Goodreads!
Unraveling in the Night (Cereus Vampire Chronicles #2)

Now, are you ready to see the cover?




It looks distinctive, right? I love the clouds in the background. Since this is the second book in the series and you night not have read the first, it wouldn't be right to leave you without a little present, right? Lauryn was kind enough to give readers the first book (Unearthed After Sunset, Cereus Vampire Chronicles #1) for FREE, which you can find here! 

Awesome, right? And if you want to know my thoughts on the first book in the series, you can read my review!

What are your thoughts? Do you like the cover? Be sure to get the first book for free!