There’s An Epilogue In This Freaking Book

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When I started writing about Serengard six years ago, I would have laughed if you told me it would lead here: to a four-book series, the last of which is 430 pages long, and the launch of an audiobook.

It started as a dare. At 22, I’d been writing for most of my life, but kept every one of those writings under lock and key. Friends and family would glimpse an abstract chapter here or there, but read a whole draft? Nope.

I blurted out Coldness of Marek during NaNoWriMo 2011 with the intention of finally letting people read something I had written. I wasn’t sure if I’d be posting it on WattPad, a blog, or letting a dog-eared printout circulate at Thanksgiving, but I decided I would be emotionally uninvested in the outcome enough to not care who on the planet got their hands on it.

What could possibly go wrong, if I didn’t care? Well…a local press-for-hire told me it was one of the most well-written manuscripts they’d ever had submitted, and it went to my head a bit. Cool, I can churn out good writing in my sleep? Okie dokie. Self-publish that thing, make it a paperback, I don’t care. Let everyone in the fam have a copy, I don’t care. Good reviews and bad didn’t dent me much, because I’d seen the whole investment as merely a fun jaunt.

But something happened. I was asked about the sequel. There definitely was a sequel just screaming to be written. Hey, I had fun with NaNoWriMo last year, let’s do it again!

Problem: I got invested. Almost as invested as I had been in my lock and key stories. Dammit. Now I owed myself something. Now I owed my readers something. Now I had to let the whole world in on the little secret that, yes, I can write passionately…I just like to hide it. Knights of Rilch wasn’t a story that I could relate to, or that anyone else could likely relate to, but it came from deep in my soul and carried themes dear to me. Loyalty. The friendship between a brother and sister. Tough love. Mentors. Things I couldn’t just shrug a shoulder at.

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Darci Cole, Narrator

Then came the weird and awkward task of revising Coldness of Marek to actually work within a series — a series I cared about, with a debut that I didn’t? Fun fun. The only thing to be done was to pepper in bits of story that I did care about. Deepen the villains. Hint at the many layers of the washed-up, bitter characters. Weave the two books together so they shared a bit of a bond. Saving Coldness was tricky, and it felt like making a patchwork quilt, but this was also the point in the game where I had several amazing critique partners and beta readers giving me invaluable feedback. I also found an awesome editor who helped it flow and make a bit of sense. Its second release in 2013 garnered a positive response that rather shocked me (is still shocking me!), and eventually led to the creation of the audiobook, narrated by the incredible Darci Cole.

The release of Knights of Rilch was one of the most exhilarating events of my writer life. The year it came out, 2014, I had two kids, and two books. I was doing the two things I loved the most: hugging my babies and writing. (I was also knee-deep in the online book world, which was already felt like it was changing too fast for me to keep up.)

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Knights of Rilch Review Copies

The trouble with Knights of Rilch was that it was too long. I had to split it in two, into another book. (That other book became Rise of Orion and took on a life of its own.) I poured so much effort into getting Rise out there the same year so that Knights wouldn’t be left dangling, I burned right out. I’m not sure why I pushed so hard. It wasn’t smart. I didn’t even have the morale to properly promote it.

What floored me, though, was that Rise sold even better than Knights did. (And Knights did well, for the modest expectations of the amateur self-publisher I was.) I mean, I didn’t even email my friends to tell them I had a book coming out. I forgot to inform my local bookstores that Knights had a buddy. (The day I found Rise of Orion chilling on the shelf of Bull Moose anyway made me cry. I mean…they had my author name on auto-order?) I still run into people who say, “Wait, there’s a third one?” Yeah. And…the other trouble was…I had ended the third one on a cliffhanger. There wasn’t enough space in that book, either.

At this point, I realized I’d finally dug in and created a story with characters that had long, slow arcs. I’d put a fast pace on the plot and a slow burn on the timeline. I liked it that way…maybe even loved it that way. Rise of Orion certainly didn’t contain any neat little bows. The story must go on.

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(Aside: who likes neat little bows, though?)

Blood of Ashlin was gnawing gently at my consciousness for all of 2014, while I was releasing two books and chasing two toddlers and wondering if I’d ever go to the beach again. I drafted it, revised it for a couple of years, and really, really took my time. The amount of frustration that went into it is hard to even quantify. It’s a story that’s a little too complex for me to summarize. (It’s supposed to be a summary in and of itself, actually.) It doesn’t explain everything — I don’t know that there is a way to explain what Serengard is or has become — but there’s a lot more paint on that canvas than I’ve flung at my past canvas’. And there might even be a neat little bow or two. I mean, this series is done, done. There’s an actual epilogue in that freaking book.

That brings me to today. A completed project. A series under my belt. Blood of Ashlin on the shelf next to the other three, where it belongs. Coldness of Marek beginning a new life on Audible and iTunes. I don’t know what this means for my writing career going forward, but I know I loved making this art, and I enjoyed sharing it way more than that lock-and-key-writer in me would have ever imagined.


BloodOfAshlinCoverAfter the death of notorious Seren king Altrun, Izannah Orion ascends the throne in Serengard under less than traditional circumstances. Ten years younger than she should be, and with questionable parentage, she is merely a stand-in for an heir that murdered his siblings and threatened to eclipse the kingdom in dark chaos. Against bad odds, Izannah quells unrest, forges treaties, and engenders trust where it is least expected…even in the thick-skinned, deeply scarred Captain of the Guard. more

Blood of Ashlin (Serengard, Book 4) Paperback/eBook
Amazon | Barnes & Noble |Books-A-MillionKindleKobo | iBooks | Nook


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Coldness of Marek Audiobook

Serengard has been under Orion rule for centuries – centuries of insufferable adherence to laws and traditions that its people no longer believe in. Raised by her scholarly grandfather in the fiery southern city of Neroi, Trzl is dedicated to turning the monarchy into a free society where knowledge is king and no one has to be subject to the whims of an Orion. more

Coldness of Marek (Serengard, Book 1) Audiobook
Amazon | AudibleiTunes

 

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Three Announcements

At last. I have things to tell you, me hearties.

I do realize this blog, my Twitter feed, and newsletter have been silent for…a long time. If you’ve left off following, I blame you not. But if you’re still reading, stay tuned, for there’s much to hear.

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FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT: New shiny thing (already announced on Twitter, but in case you missed it)… Coldness of Marek is going to be an audio book!

Darci Cole has done a masterful job reading it. If you know Darci, you may know that this is her first audiobook performance ever, and PEOPLE, YOU HAVE TO HEAR THIS. She has a silky smooth voice that truly does the story more justice than my clunky words ever did. Watch Instagram and Twitter for some teaser clips in the coming month. It will release February 26, 2018, and will be available for Audible and iTunes.

Now, since I’ve been writing it for three years, I’m sure you’re a bit tired of hearing about the fourth and final book in the Serengard series, Blood of Ashlin, but since the cover reveal is really, truly happening tomorrow (January 31st) on IceyBooks.com, it’s about time I tell you there’s an actual release date!

SECOND ANNOUNCEMENT: On February 26, 2018, the last of the Serengard Series will hit shelves.

(Same day as the audiobook of Coldness of Marek. Cool, right? You really should tune in to the cover reveal tomorrow, too, because we’ll be giving away an audiobook over there.) Blood Of Ashlin will be available at bookstores, and you can totally order it in at your local indie. Also available online at Amazon, B&N, Powell’s, etc, of course.

So basically, the entire five-year chapter of my life known as Serengard will be done. [Unless I miss it too much and have to release a collection of short stories.] OKAY, it will be over, I just had to put a caveat in there in case I have to eat my words in like ten years and write some random dark chronicle of Ric’s wanderings, you know.

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THIRD ANNOUNCEMENT: the Street Team will be officially closing.

I’ll be sending out a batch of Blood of Ashlin Trading Cards as soon as they’re available, and new bookmarks, and then it’s over. I have SO MUCH heartfelt thanks for you all, I don’t even know how to put it into words. I’ll try to, when I send out the last Street Team packages. Until then, do stay tuned. There will be a lot happening in February, including some audiobook giveaways.

Thank you for sticking with me! <3

A mood board, just because.

These days I have to remind myself that, once upon a time, I released two books in one year.

I do not feel like that person right now.

I have been working on Blood of Ashlin for three years now. I know, “years” can mean procrastination, or not many actual hours logged, or too much distraction, and I’ll be the first to admit I’m prone to those pitfalls. The truth is, though, I’m enjoying this process immensely. I love writing this book, maybe too much. I keep adding more and rewriting bits of it and just in general being indecisive about what I want to cut out and what I want to keep. For the first two years of writing it, I would open the document and just kind of stare at the scary complexity of this story thinking, what have I done? But this third year, I am able to simply enjoy.

I do feel a bit guilty, because I know some of you are waiting for the final installment in Serengard. You might want me to actually finish so you can actually read. There’s a thought. Oh man…I want you to read this so badly. I do. I’m just in way over my head right now, in a good way. So, I’ll mood board like nobody’s business.

That’s actually just the first half of the book.

I’m starting to realize I have been this way before. This is actually the Rachel of the Teen Years. I used to write like no one was watching, because no one was. I’m a firm believer in keeping aware of the fact that people will be reading my words (hence the muchos editing), but I also believe we have to be true to each story’s core. I almost wish I could revisit Coldness of Marek and work on it long enough to find this blissful stream of agreement with the story. I know I encountered it while working on Knights of Rilch–I know because I remember wishing I could begin the entire series with that book–but I didn’t revel in it very long. I needed to be done. I honestly was concerned I would over-edit if I didn’t finish up, and probably, with that book, it was true.

All of that said, this has been in my head and in my Scrivener doc for basically a tenth of my life now, and I’m finally not struggling against it any more. I’m moving with it, and it’s glorious.

This is the second half. Completed novel coming this October. Or November. Or December. Soon, guys. Soon.

*All pictures used are referenced on my Pinterest board. Photo credits are there, as well as links to original files if you wish to like and share them yourself.

Serengard: Book Four Title Announcement + Dream Cast

Last week I finished the first draft of the fourth Serengard novel. It was a really hard book to write (what book isn’t, right?), partially because I was exhausted from pushing so hard to launch Rise of Orion, but also because it’s the final novel in the series. There’s so much resolution that absolutely has to take place, and it’s tricky. A finished draft is still a rough and ragged thing, but while this novel definitely has a lot of evolving and wrangling and rewriting in store, I finally feel I’m to the point I can start treating it like a real book.

SO.

I’m pleased to announce that there will be one more Serengard novel, and one more only; Blood of Ashlin will release in Summer 2016, and will be the final book in the series.

I’m now going to be entirely indulgent and post my dream cast for the entire series. A lot of these actors were a toss up between two or three possibilities, and I’m still not entirely decided (what else is new, lol), but here is the best cast I could conjure and it was ridiculously fun.

P.S. Even though it’s going to be a whole year before you can read this book, I intend to make it up to you by holding some epic giveaways this summer. Because you’re awesome.

           Kierstaz  :  Alona Tal    |     Mikel  :  Tahmoh Penikett    |    Trzl  :  Amy Acker

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 Malcom : Colin Ford  |  Colstadt: Manish Dayal   |   Gernan: Daniel Henney  

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   Sark: Sendhil Ramamurthy      |       Aura: Erica Tazel        |       Pier: Khaled El Nabawy

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Izannah: Molly C. Quinn   |   Rendl: Eric Bana  |  Andrei : Steven R. McQueen

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Sunn: Jamie Chung  |  Gavriel : Djimon Hounsou  |  Hodran : Daniel Gillies

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Otreya : Kevin Costner   |   Riyev/Tanya: Gemma Arterton   |   Tierrof : Chadwick Boseman

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Nerri : Kat Graham   |    Ric: Timothy Olyphant  |   Natalya: Mackenzie Aladjem

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