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April Recap | A Finished Draft, an Excerpt, and Guidebook News!

Happy end of April, friends and familiars! Last year it took me about a year to accept that April was over, so let’s see how things go this time *ahem*

Thanks to having worked from home for the first two weeks of April, I got a huge amount of work done. Behold:

 From Idea to Self-Published

It’s almost time for me to share this little guide with you! I’ve applied all my beta suggestions and just need to finish a bit of light formatting now, and then it’ll be available. That’s 50 pages of FREE self-publishing help and tips and loving support!

I’m aiming for next week Thursday, just so I don’t send you too many newsletters at once. Spamming your inboxes is the last thing I want to do!

If you’re interested, please be advised that this guide is a newsletter exclusive freebie. If you want in, you can sign up here:

CookieBreak Newsletter

I’ll talk a little more about it once it’s out to give you some more details. Right now, just know it’s coming!

Darkened Light

I applied all the developmental changes and my CPs’ feedback, and my editor is now doing the line edit. It’s almost time for betas, guys! :O

NOBODY PANIC*

I can’t believe how close this is getting. When I’m deep in Edit I or Edit II, the end always seems so far away! But it’s almost time now, friends. Deep breaths**.

* *panics*
** *panics*

Blood Wisp

Good news, friends and familiars! The first draft is DONE!

I’m excited to outline Blood Song and Blood Vow (Books 2 & 3), but right now I’m focussing on Relics. I’ll have 11 weeks over the summer, I’ll do it then.

I’ve got a blurb, but I’ll wait for the cover reveal at the latest 😉

Relics of Ar’Zac

More good news, friends! I’ve started the first read-through of Blood of the Dragon, and–blissful as the first days are–it’s not terrible. By next week Friday I’ll hate it I’m sure, but right now we’re in a good place.

Once the first read-through is done, I’ll begin my first developmental round and will add any chapters at the same time. After that it’s off to my editor for the first pro developmental round.

My main concern is that it’s too short. If any of you are good at lengthening drafts, it’s totally not too early to volunteer to be a CP ^-^

I’ve also come back to the prequel novella since I’m done with Blood Wisp for now. Again, I don’t hate what I’m reading :O Then again, I’ve only written one chapter so far so it wouldn’t be a great sign if I hated it already 😛

Excerpt

To celebrate Darkened Light going back to my editor, here’s one of my favourite parts <3 The best bit comes after this, but I can’t share it because of spoilers . Ugh.

His mother had once told him she believed in second chances—her voice was sounding more and more like her, too—but what about third chances? Could he start over again? The boy he’d been was long buried, but he wanted to dig another grave for the warrior the Elders had tried to turn him into. What they had done to him hadn’t been right. He felt sick thinking it, but his heart was racing and he knew that he was right.

There was more to the world than pain and scars. There were starry nights spend outside, and sorcerer’s lights dancing in the sky. There was the scent of his mother’s apple pie, and the salty air on his skin by the beach. There was Naavah Ora’s magic which could light fires and warm their shivering bodies. There was Doran’s arm around his waist to help him walk.


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Review: Raven’s Cry by Dana Fraedrich (ARC)

Book Review: Raven's Cry by Dana Fraedrich (ARC)

“A dark retelling of Swan Lake ~ Calandra is happiest when she’s surrounded by quiet, joined only by a book and a cup of tea, never around people and their insufferable need to make small talk. When Nicodemus, a magus with immense power, joins the royal court of Invarnis, Calandra’s life will change forever. As a terrible curse pursues her through the centuries, Calandra will have to overcome captivity, war, and loss.

In this standalone installment, set in Dana Fraedrich’s Broken Gears universe, readers will join Calandra in her battle for freedom, hope, and healing.”

Book Review: Raven's Cry by Dana Fraedrich (ARC)

What I thought:

You guys know I love a map in a fantasy novel, right? Well, Raven’s Cry has THREE. T H R E E

The MC Calandra is socially awkward and bad with conflict; she’s me, basically. I loved the relationship she had with Thomas, even if he was a bit of a stereotype, and I loved the relationships she build later on. Calandra is very much a character who’s defined by the people around her, more so than most other characters I’ve read, and it made her development interesting to follow.

(In case you haven’t guessed, I’m struggling to review this without spoilers so things will be vague.)

Everything has degrees, and deep evils seem lighter if you are broken enough.

I admit, I struggled through the first third a little. The story was taking a while to move on, and since we got most of it through the eyes of a raven there was a lot more telling than showing as well as a few info dumps. After that first third, however, things picked up and Fraedrich’s intriguing world-building shone through.

Calandra’s character development was strong, too. She prefers her own company at the beginning, and clings to the few friendships she can make by the end. It was interesting to see her journey

This was my first steampunk novel, and it wasn’t what I expected. It had either magic or technology, but the two didn’t live together for long. There were a few magical leftovers in the second half, but by then technology was dead (no spoilers!).

What he did was far worse than anything I could have imagined. And I, dressed in my glossy black feathers and suffused in a haze of misery, was forced, as I always was, to play audience to his machinations.

While this can be read independently of Fraedrich’s Broken Gears series, it did feel like a prequel to me because it sets the world up well. I haven’t read Out of the Shadows yet, but based on this I’m excited to draw it from my tbr jar!

Raven’s Cry is out May 1st, but you can already preorder it! Find it here:

Buy it on Amazon | Add it on Goodreads


Have you read any books by Dana Fraedrich, or are you tempted? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

Please note: All reviews contain affiliate links. I do not review books on this blog that I didn’t enjoy or believe in–all reviews are recommendations.

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WWW Wednesday 25th April 2018

This meme is hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. A similar meme, This Week in Books is hosted by Lipsyy Lost and Found.

Why not join in? Just answer the following three questions in a post and then put a link to that post in the comments over at Taking on a World of Words.

WWW Wednesday

Apologies for the lack of an update two weeks ago – I didn’t get much reading done over Easter, so it would have been the same post as the one before!

All links will get you to the book’s Goodreads listing, as always 🙂

***

What I’m currently reading

WWW Wednesday 25th April 2018 | CookieBreak

The Fifth Season

Oh gawd , guys, this is so good. I was in love from the one-page prologue, and had a feeling it would end up on my Forever Shelf by the end of the first page. It’s everything I want in an epic fantasy. I’m almost a third through it now and love it so much <3 Prepare yourselves for a gushing, and probably mostly unintelligible, review.

Blurb:

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS. AGAIN.

Three terrible things happen in a single day.

Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world’s sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes — those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon — are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.

She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

***

What I recently finished reading

WWW Wednesday 25th April 2018 | CookieBreak

Raven’s Cry

My thanks to the author for sending me an ARC <3 It’s out May 1st and my review will follow tomorrow, so I’ll keep it short now. I struggled a little at first, but around 30% it really picked up and Fraedrich has built an intriguing world. I haven’t read Fraedrich’s other books yet, but I think this would go well after the main series as it reads like a prequel.

Blurb:

A dark retelling of Swan Lake ~ Calandra is happiest when she’s surrounded by quiet, joined only by a book and a cup of tea, never around people and their insufferable need to make small talk. When Nicodemus, a magus with immense power, joins the royal court of Invarnis, Calandra’s life will change forever. As a terrible curse pursues her through the centuries, Calandra will have to overcome captivity, war, and loss.

WWW Wednesday 25th April 2018 | CookieBreak

The Gunslinger

I’m behind on my reviews because I didn’t have the time over Easter, but I’m catching up! It’s coming, eventually 🙂

This was my first read by Stephen King besides On Writing since I was a teenager. His last book scared me witless, so I had mixed feelings going in. I really enjoyed this, and will likely re-read it at some point, just because I doubt I got the full story with just one read-through. There’s a lot going on, and I think the earlier chapters will mean more the next time I read this.

I’m really excited for the sequel. King has created a world that kept me guessing and intrigued, and I can’t wait to learn more.

Blurb:

‘The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.’ The iconic opening line of Stephen King’s groundbreaking series, The Dark Tower, introduces one of his most enigmatic and powerful heroes: Roland of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger.

Roland is a haunting figure, a loner, on a spellbinding journey toward the mysterious Dark Tower, in a desolate world which frighteningly echoes our own.

On his quest, Roland begins a friendship with a kid from New York named Jake, encounters an alluring woman and faces an agonising choice between damnation and salvation as he pursues the Man in Black.

WWW Wednesday 25th April 2018 | CookieBreak

Prey

I didn’t get through Prey as quickly as I got through Predator, but that’s only because it was closer to a full-length novel than a novella. I’ve enjoyed all my recent reads, and I’m looking forward to the next book in this series, too <3 Meldon is always a safe bet for me 🙂 It was smuttier than Book 1, the stakes were higher, and the character development was excellent, so really it was my perfect erotic paranormal romance!

Blurb:

PEARLS AROUND HER NECK 

Moira Aurelia has put her faith in a demon. She offered her hand and he took it. Partners. Just like that. Black eyes and sinful smiles, she trusts an incubus to lead her into the abyss if it means she’ll finally find her dad on the other side. Her real dad. The creature who cursed her. 

Or blessed her. Because from the way Severus—snarky, seductive Severus—watches her, touches her, ravishes her, Moira can’t decide if this new body is a curse, or if she’s finally growing into the woman she was always meant to be. 

POLAROIDS AT HER FEET 

Unable to fathom how this woman, this ethereal creature, has so much raw power over his inner demon, Severus tries to keep her at an arm’s length while he helps her hunt down her father—but he can only abstain for so long. 

Moira is the sweetest hell he’s ever tasted, a woman who squares off with his truest self and doesn’t even flinch. When he’s with her, the loneliness disappears, the bitter ache in his heart—mended. How can he resist such a divine temptation? 

Meanwhile, the Farrow’s Hollow demon community is positively aquiver when news of Moira’s heritage leaks—and suddenly Severus isn’t the only demon in town who must have her. 

***

What I think I’ll read next

WWW Wednesday TBR jar | CookieBreak

I’ve only just started The Fifth Season, so my next read is a little way off yet.

I draw all new reads on Instagram in my stories (unless my SO does it)- feel free to follow the next one!

(In case you were wondering:

Yellow – Fantasy

Orange – Fiction

Blue – SciFi)

 

***

Have you read any of these and would like to chat about it? I look forward to hearing from you if you do – just leave a comment below and we can get this book club started!

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All that I Can Be – Chapter 5

Welcome back for another new chapter of All that I Can Be! I hope you’re enjoying it so far <3

All that I Can Be is a continuous series, and I recommend you read the chapters in order. If you’re not caught up, you can do so here:

Chapter 1

Chapter 4

All that I Can Be - Chapter Five

Elena got home wet, disappointed, and irritated with her overly active mind. A late-night summer shower had surprised her halfway home and soaked her. She’d run the rest of the way, but by the time she got back there wasn’t a dry patch left on her.

If he’d really given her magic, she would have willed the rain away or made her clothes remain dry—God knew she’d tried.

But no new power had listened to her. She had imagined the whole thing; she must have done. Her parents always told her that her imagination was like a wild beast. Tonight, she’d visited the lake thinking of the devil, her grandmama’s story echoing in her head. Of course her mind had made it up.

The idea of him and what he could offer her had been altogether too inviting.

Elena shivered as she pulled the clinging fabrics off her skin. She tiptoed to the bathroom to get a towel, scared she’d wake her parents with the slightest sound.

She scoffed at herself. Like the devil himself would dance on a lake with her! She was too old for such tales.

Elena rubbed her hair dry and wrapped herself in another towel. Everyone else was asleep and she couldn’t wait to sink naked into her bedsheets, but she didn’t feel comfortable sneaking around without anything to cover her. If her brother got up to get a glass of water and found her traipsing through the house in her birthday suit, she’d never be able to explain it.

She’d had enough drama for one night.

Elena left her wet pjiamas and jacket hanging over her chair to dry. The last thing she needed now was dreams to feast on her already mad imagination, but she was tired. Today had been long enough.

She dropped the towel on the floor and slid under her blanket, grateful for the dry warmth, and nestled her head into her pillow.

And met something solid.

“Ouch! Damn it, Vasile, stick to your own room!”

Elena rubbed her head, and took the pillow aside to see which toy her brother had hidden in her bed.

But it wasn’t a toy.

It was a book.

A book with an upside-down pentagram on the worn leather cover.

A book she definitely hadn’t seen before.

She sat up straight, and raised her legs so she could hide the tome in her lap. It was heavy, ancient, and forbidden. Elena knew the symbol and what it meant. The normal pointy-side-up pentagram was a symbol of magic, but this one, standing on its head, was the sign of the devil. That it was here, under her pillow, made it difficult to breathe.

She hadn’t imagined anything. He’d really been there, with her, on the lake. This book was his end of the bargain.

Her mind whirled and a thousand butterflies danced in her stomach. She had magic, after all.

Tentatively, she leafed through the book. The pages were yellowed and looked brittle but didn’t crumble at her touch. All instructions were written in a fast hand and accompanied by drawings—herbs, flowers, phials, animal claws and furs.

She had never seen something so intricate.

Her excitement died fast when she read over complicated spells, potions, and rituals she neither had the time nor the ingredients for.

A deer’s antlers.

A hawk’s feathers.

The pure water of melted glacier ice.

A ritual knife.

It was all right there, and yet so impossible for her.

Elena shut the book with a deflated sigh, when her finger caught on a page. She opened it, expecting more of the same–

But this recipe looked simple. A love potion. A bit of simple magic that would make anyone fall in love with her.

She pictured Ralu’s luscious brown hair, her beautiful smile, her soft lips on Elena’s rather than Nicolae’s.

And all she needed was clean water, rose petals, her own desire, and one of Ralu’s hairs.

Tempting. So tempting.

Elena slammed the book shut. It was wrong, she wouldn’t do it. If she couldn’t earn Ralu’s love, she didn’t deserve it.

She’ll never love you, Lena. She likes men, not whiny girls. This is why you came to me.

She ignored the devil’s voice and shoved the book under her bed, buried with forgotten jumpers and layers of dust.

She’d simply have to earn Ralu’s love—her true love—another way, without cheating.

End of Chapter Five


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Review: Predator by Liz Meldon (The Hunt, #1)

Book Review: Predator by Liz Meldon (The Hunt #1)

“BLACK SOUL, SUFFOCATING IN SILENCE

Severus: demon, incubus, escort–leech. After centuries of scorn from his own kind in the underworld, Severus went topside and settled amongst the secret demon community in Farrow’s Hollow. Located near a hell-gate, the city allows him to exist on Earth without sacrificing much of his demon abilities, but as with all incubi, he must take the life essence of humans to maintain his strength.

Working as an escort, he has been able to keep himself satiated, juggling enough clients to ensure that he doesn’t repeat the mistakes of past incubi–the murderers, the gluttons, the true demonic leeches.

In his line of work, Severus sees much of the same every night: human women searching for surrender, for a connection, for love. He caters to them, steals from them, not realizing that he’s desperate for all the same things.

BLUE EYES, WATCHING HER WORLD FADE AWAY

Moira Aurelia: grad student, TV-marathoner, bar trivia champion–unable to look in a mirror. Not anymore. Because when she does, she no longer sees herself. The person, the creature, staring back isn’t her. It can’t be.

The physical changes started after her mom died a year ago. Hair, skin, eyes. Nothing is the same as it once was, and no one can tell her why. Doctors refer her to specialists. Specialists shrug their shoulders. And Moira assumes she’s dying from the same mysterious illness that plagued her mom.

But if she’s dying, why is she getting stronger? Her body is changing, but into what? Something… supernatural. Inhuman. Other. Frightening new realities flash across her mind, but she can’t accept them. She must be dying–because the alternative is crazy.

Fearing the end is near, and refusing to accept other possibilities, Moira goes after the one thing she can control: her sex life. Twenty-three and still unable to experience a satisfying climax, she schedules a session with a Rus Tanner, esteemed male escort, and hopes for something to go right for once.

LIGHT AND DARK COLLIDE–DESPERATE TO CONNECT

But the night takes a turn from the moment they meet. Severus, expecting just another dull session with a new client, is thrown by the otherworldly creature seeking his services–this strange, beautiful woman who arouses his long dormant demon side like none other. Moira, meanwhile, finds herself face-to-face with a man who can handle her newfound strength–and wears a dark stare and sinful smile like a second skin.

Two lonely creatures grapple with the undeniable pull between them.

Moira flees. Severus pursues.

Desperate for answers, the demon seeks her out–unaware that he isn’t the only predator to have caught her scent.”

Book Review: Predator by Liz Meldon (The Hunt #1)

What I thought:

My apologies for the lack of reviews lately–I’ve been working from home these past three weeks, and all my efforts went into editing Darkened Light. I’ve scheduled ahead for the next month and a bit, so all’s well again 🙂

From the moment I first saw Meldon mention this on Instagram, I knew I had to read it. It looks and sounds like everything I want in an erotic novella, and it didn’t disappoint.

I loved how Meldon blurred the lines in Predator. The angels are bad guys, the demons are good guys, and poor Moira finds herself in the middle, unsure what’s happening to her. The poor girl thinks she’s dying as her body slowly changes into one she doesn’t recognise, and I was just as curious as Severus to find out what she was turning into.

No magic. No tricks. It was just her–Moira without a last name. College student. Intriguing beauty. A threat to Severus’s carefully cultivated control if he had ever seen one.

My only issue with Predator was the many italics. It’s a personal preference, but I always feel underestimated as the reader when the author has to double-highlight anything. It also dictates a little too much how I read to my liking. A few italics are fine, but six on one small kindle page? It was excessive for me.

Books like Predator are where Meldon shines the brightest. I’ve read a few by her now, and she’s at her best when demons, vampires, and other magical forces are involved. It’s an easy recommendation if you love a bit of smut with a dark plot on the side–she writes both rather well!

Please bear in mind that this is an erotic novella, and therefore not suitable for younger readers.

Buy it on Amazon | Add it on Goodreads

You might also like these books by Liz Meldon:

Book Review: Predator by Liz Meldon (The Hunt #1) | Alternative reading: Finn by Liz Meldon

Book Review: Predator by Liz Meldon (The Hunt #1) | Alternative reading: The Fool by Liz Meldon

 


Have you read Predator, or are you tempted? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

Please note: All reviews contain affiliate links. I do not review books on this blog that I didn’t enjoy or believe in–all reviews are recommendations.

For all other book reviews, please take a look here.

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Self-Publish Your Novel – How to Find an Editor

How to find an editor? It’s a big hurdle for many new indie writers, and was my own greatest worry when I was at that stage with Rise of the Sparrows.

I knew it was the most important thing I needed to do for my book, but where to start? Which edit did I need? Would an editor change my book? How expensive was this going to get?

Editors aren’t scary*. They’re people who want the same thing for your book you do–the best.

There are personal differences, of course, so it’s important you find the right editor for you. How do you do that?

Allow me to show you.

*I’m definitely not just saying that because I am one.

Self-Publish Your Novel - How to Find an Editor | CookieBreak

 

The Right Editor for Your Book

Before we begin the hunt search, let’s define who the ‘right’ editor is. What do you want from this partnership?

Above all else, you should hire an editor who gets you and your book, and who can help you draw the most out of your characters and your world. All editors can do this, of course, but not every editor will connect with your writing.

For many writers, their editor is also their ideal reader. I’m one of those lucky writers. My editor knows what I want from my writing, because we’re on the same wavelength.

You’ll be working closely with your editor, so ask yourself what you want and who you’d rather not work with.

Search Your Social Media

If you’ve been building your author platform for a while, you might already have added an editor or two. In fact, this is how I found mine!

If you have added some, go to their websites and take a look at what they offer. Is it what you’re after? If not, move on. If it is, make a note of their name and maybe send them an email or a message on Twitter.

It doesn’t need to be complicated. Just something like ‘Hi, I’m [your name here] and I’m looking for an editor for my [your genre here] novel. Do you accept new customers?’

Editing a book takes time, so don’t assume the editor of your choice is free right now. You may need to book in advance–but if you want this editor, it’s worth the wait.

Your Choice of Edits

I honestly had no idea what to choose. Turned out, how to find an editor wasn’t as complicated as picking the right type!

Here’s a quick summary:

A developmental edit is the most expensive service you can get, but it’s also the most in-depth. Your editor looks for larger issues and fixes, such as plot holes, paradoxes, and pregnancies that last 12 months.

A line edit makes sure your sentences and paragraphs flow well, make sense, and are generally easy to read. Things like repetitions and unnecessary words are cut here.

The proofread is often the smallest and cheapest edit you can pay for. Your editor fixes spelling mistakes and missing punctuation; therefore, it’s the quickest edit to apply to your WIP.

It’s what most people think of when they hear ‘editor’.

Some editors also offer manuscript evaluations. It’s the cheapest edit you can get, but it’s also not in-depth. Instead, you’ll get a list of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as some other things you might want to consider. For example, if your writing is repetitive, your feedback will say so but it won’t highlight examples in the writing.

It can be perfect if you want professional feedback but don’t feel ready for a full edit just yet, or if you want to know where your writing shines and where it needs improvements.

Also, make sure the editor you want edits the genre you write. Not every editor works with epic fantasy, and many editors aren’t happy to take on erotica.

Moreover, some editors only do proofreads, while others only offer developmental rounds.

Their websites should say which services they specialise in, but ask if you’re not sure.

Pricing

Every edit is priced differently, and as with everything in this industry, every editor charges different fees.

Editors who’ve been in this business for a while tend to charge by the hour. This can get pricey fast (and it’s harder to get an accurate estimate of the fee), but you might find their experience reassuring.

Honestly, editors charge anything from per page to per word to per hour. Ask for a quote before you commit to anything, so there are no nasty surprises later.

Some editors charge for each edit separately. Others include a proofread with the line edit, and a proofread and line edit with the developmental round. Some give returning customers a discount.

Never assume you know what you’ll be charged. Unless you hoard a secret fortune under your basement, I’m guessing you’ll want to know numbers rather than hope for the best.

Speaking of–don’t expect to pay £50/$75 for a full developmental edit of 150,000 words. Edits take time, a lot of work, and thought. An editor who takes pride in their work won’t charge you peanuts for something that’ll take them months to complete.

Get to Know the Editor

If the editor you want is on social media, you can get to know them a little first. Make sure your personalities don’t clash and that you’re a good match. Any edit is teamwork, so it’s important you don’t dislike each other.

While it’s secondary, perhaps, to the editor’s skill, I do think it matters. My editor is funny, friendly, and supportive all the way through. I wouldn’t want to work with someone who’s so serious you can see their blank expression in every note they send you.

An easy way to get to know your editor is by requesting a sample edit. Most editors offer this, but the amount they offer varies. Some offer to edit the whole first chapter for free, some will do the first page, while others will do the first ten pages.

It’ll give you a good idea of whether you’ve found the right editor for you, or whether you need to keep looking.

British English and American English

Many editors are happy to work with either. I write my books in British English, but I’m happy to edit American English. My own editor is American and doesn’t change got to gotten because she knows which is British.

So don’t let an ocean between you and your top choice get in the way! Editors should know the difference, but ask the one you want to be sure.

Signing the Contract

Yes, there’ll likely be a contract. It’s nothing scary–it’s just a confirmation of the services and fees you both agreed on. It’s safety and assurance for both sides.

While it’s not common for people to make you do all the work and then mysteriously disappear without paying a penny, it happens. The contract is just there to make sure they have to pay at the end of it.

This may sound scary, but it shouldn’t be unless you’re planning on cheating your editor once all the work is done.

We do have blacklists, and we talk to each other.

Complications?

Sometimes, shit happens. Your editor knows this and won’t hold it against you. If something’s come up and you can no longer pay the full deposit or final fee, talk to your editor.

Not all editors are equally flexible, but it’s unlikely they’ll get mad because you had unexpected hospital bills, or because your car has broken down and can’t be fixed.

Contrary to popular belief, editors aren’t monsters. If life gets tough, email yours and see if you can’t work something out.

I’m willing to bet they’ll understand your situation.

In two weeks, we’ll look at how different social media sites can help you build your author platform. In the meantime, you might also like:

How to find an editor | Further reading: Your Book Cover

How to find an editor | Further reading: Resources for Writers

Do you have any other questions about hiring an editor or the process itself? Have you had a bad experience and are unsure about trying again? Would you like a recommendation? Make a tea, and chat with me! 🙂


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All that I Can Be – Chapter 4

Welcome back for the new instalment of All that I Can Be! <3 Before we begin, you might prefer to catch up:

Chapter 1

Chapter 3

As this is a continuous story, I recommend you read it in order.

Now, let’s begin!

All that I Can Be - Chapter 4

Elena startled and jumped, and shrieked when her feet touched water. It splashed up her legs and left wet patches on her pajama trousers, clinging to the bare skin underneath as she had once done to her mother’s skirt.

“I didn’t mean to scare you. If I’d known I’d look so frightening I’d have worn something else.”

He didn’t look like the other men in her village. His clothes were more modern, his face shaved with a bit of stubble, and his hair was short and soft-looking, not dishevelled from a hard day’s work or slick with sweat or oil, like the boys her age liked to do.

“No, it’s not that, it’s—” Maybe her still startled mind was playing tricks on her, but his response made no sense. “Who are you?”

His smile was warm and amused. Underneath, there was something else and it made her uncomfortable. Something you only ever saw from the corner of your eye but that disappeared the moment you looked closer.

If she’d known he or anyone else would be here tonight, she’d have stayed in her bed.

“I’m the answer to your problems.”

His rich too-smooth voice made her heart race.

“I don’t understand.”

She couldn’t back away since the lake was behind her, but she could walk around it.

Anything to get away.

Anything to get closer.

“Don’t you?” He tutted. “I think you do. You mortals have this odd habit of thinking nothing will happen if you don’t acknowledge it already is.”

“I don’t follow.”

She didn’t like people who spoke in riddles. What was wrong with being clear?

“You called me, Elena Baciu. You don’t want to be judged. You want people to spare more than a fleeting glance at your paintings.” He grinned. “You want Ralu to kiss you, not that boy.”

Her heart hammered as her mind blurred and her skin chilled.

“How do you—”

“Know that? Oh, look! We’re already completing each other’s sentences.” He laughed, and it rattled her bones and churned her stomach. “I know because you reached out to me with everything that ails you. You want my help, but you’re too scared to ask.”

No. Nonononon—

“Oh, yes.” He laughed louder. It both froze and warmed her. “Don’t believe me?”

She shook her head, worried what might come out if she spoke.

Because, truth be told, she believed him.

“How can I convince you? Some magic, perhaps?”

She gulped and nodded. In the stories, he always possessed terrible magic.

He held out his hand. She took a step away from him, into the water.

“It’s not a binding contract, Elena. All I ask for is a dance.”

Her favourite story flooded her mind, but her hand was already in his, and he led her out onto the lake. The water left magical ripples wherever they stepped, feather-light and soft like her blanket back home. Not a drop of water on her toes.

“May I?”

She couldn’t dance; she’d never learned how. With him in the lead, the steps came easy like she’d always known them.

“You are surprised to see me.”

She swallowed past her fear. “I’m surprised you look so…”

“Normal?” She nodded. “I only chose a form I thought you’d accept. Would you prefer a dance with Ralu?” He whispered right into her head. “Or would you prefer I match the image in your head?”

Anything but that. Elena shook her head.

“Then let’s discuss what I can do for you.”

His movements were as smooth as the impossible surface they swayed on. She’d always been a terrible dancer, stepping on toes and tripping over her own feet. In his hands, her movements were as easy as his.

Elegant.

Flawless.

She was amazed to find he smelled of lavender.

“I can give you confidence. I can give you strength. I can give you the life you cannot give yourself. All I want in return is your signature, a promise, and your soul.”

She couldn’t possibly agree.

“How? How would you do any of that?”

“How would you like me to do it?” He chuckled at a joke she’d missed.

“I want magic.” In the stories, magic fixed everything. It could save her, too.

“Then I shall give you magic.”

“To accomplish the things I can’t do on my own.”

Whatever magic he could possibly give her had its work cut out for it.

He grinned, and she caught a flash of something darker in the shadows of his dimples.

“Indeed.” He let go of her hands, and a feather and contract appeared in his hand. “Sign, if you’d please.”

“What’s the promise you want?”

“Meet me here every full moon. Dance with me, and report to me. I want to see you use the gift I’m giving you.”

She could do that. She’d sneaked out before, her parents would never know.

He handed her the feather and she signed away her soul. She thought it might hurt. But she didn’t feel anything besides a hint of giddy excitement.

“Then I bid you farewell until the next full moon. Don’t be late, Elena Baciu.”

She blinked and was back on dry land, in the same spot where he’d first made her jump. The devil had disappeared.

And as far as Elena could tell, she still had no magic.

End of Chapter Four


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Photo by Olia Gozha on Unsplash

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All that I Can Be – Chapter 3

Welcome to Chapter 3 of All that I Can Be! <3

If you’ve missed the last chapter or are new to the story, you can catch up here:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Otherwise, read on!

All that I Can Be - Chapter 3

A long time ago, there was a girl who was unhappy. So great was her sorrow that one day, she grew desperate and travelled to the lake close to her home. She had heard that, if one’s suffering was great enough, the devil would come and grant one wish in exchange for her soul.

This girl was terribly lonely. Her neighbours didn’t like her—even the one she loved paid her no mind—and she had no skills to speak off. So, even so she was afraid of the devil, she thought him her only chance.

She went to the lake at midnight, and sat by the water.

“Oh evil beast,” she pleaded, “grant me a boon!”

The devil appeared with a wicked grin on his face, for he knew he had won.

“Anything you wish,” he promised, “for but your soul as payment.”

The girl knew it was wrong, but the thought of living one more day as she had was too much to bear, so she accepted.
The devil granted her beauty and wealth and the envy of all who met her.

And when a year later the farmer’s wife killed the girl out of jealousy, the devil was waiting to claim his prize.

Elena stared at the ceiling above her bed, arms folded behind her head. She’d never understood what had driven the girl from her grandmama’s story to such drastic measures. Her grandmama had always said that desperate times inspired desperate measures, but Elena had never believed it.

She kicked the blanket away from her and sighed when fresh air graced her legs. The weather had warmed up a lot since the market that morning. She couldn’t sleep in the heat.

Her grandmama’s tale wasn’t that different to her own life. Ralu didn’t know her. Her painting skills weren’t great enough for anyone to take her seriously.

It was the same day in, day out. Her misery on repeat.

But unlike the girl in the story, Elena had a family who loved her, even if they seemed preoccupied with other things most days. Her parents had a business to run and her brother was young; it was understandable.

Her neighbours didn’t dislike her, either, they just didn’t really notice her.

Her life wasn’t bad enough to call the devil for help, even if such things were possible. She wasn’t desperate, like the girl in her grandmama’s story had been.

Elena smirked. She’d felt sorry for the girl once, pitied her for not seeing another way. Now she knew life wasn’t that simple.

A warm gust sneaked into her pj trousers and made her shiver. She’d never been able to get comfy in this heat; how her parents and brother managed it was beyond her.

Elena sat up and stifled a yawn. She had no delusions about signing anything a horned beast handed her, but a walk would be nice. The lake outside her village wasn’t far.

She grabbed a woolen jacket from her closet and threw it over her shoulder—to cover her pajamas, not because she was cold. The breeze outside was nice.

Her grandmama’s story echoed in her head as she walked. Elena wasn’t religious and didn’t believe in the devil, but all these stories must have come from somewhere. Was it just people’s fears of the afterlife, or something more?

She shivered under her jacket, and entered the path outside her village to the lake. It was a clear night. The light of a million stars and their moon guided her path and comforted her, reflecting off the still lake like diamonds.

It was quiet out here, just as she liked it. Her mother had told her several times not to visit the lake alone, especially at night, but Elena craved the solitude.

No one judged her here.

No one regarded her paintings only to turn away.

Ralu didn’t kiss her boyfriend.

It was just Elena and silence and starlight.

Even the wind had calmed.

A perfect moment, just for her.

Before her, the water rippled. No breeze, no thrown stone, no fallen leaf. She was so mesmerized by the pretty pattern she didn’t hear the grass break behind her.

“You came. I’ve been waiting, Elena Baciu.”

End of Chapter 3


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All writing belongs to the author, Sarina Langer

Photo by Olia Gozha on Unsplash

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April Goals

Happy April, friends and familiars!

I don’t have much time this week–working from home has been and still is amazing–so I’ll get right to it 🙂

Darkened Light

I’ve finished the handwritten edit of Darkened Light, so now I just need to apply all the changes to the draft and send it back to my editor! I just realised I haven’t got a copy on my laptop yet, so that needs to happen, too.

Blood Wisp

I’m making good progress on Blood Wisp–speaking of which, did you catch the title reveal on Twitter and Instagram? 😉

The three books will be called:

Blood Wisp (Blood Wisp #1)

Blood Song (Blood Wisp #2)

Blood Vow (Blood Wisp #3)

There’ll also be one paperback with all three books. Individually, they’ll only be out as eBooks.

Once Blood Wisp is written, I’ll outline the other two books so I’m ready to dive in this summer. I’ve booked all four covers for October 😉

Between those and the other covers (Blood of the Dragon in August and the prequel novella in September) I’ve got a lot of reveals coming up! 😀

The free newsletter exclusive guide Self-Publish Your Debut Novel like a Boss is almost ready for betas and will go out next week. I’m hoping to have it ready for my subscribers by the end of the month ^-^

Relics of Ar’Zac

I’ve neglected the prequel to Relics of Ar’Zac while I’ve adjusted to my temporary routine, but I still want to get as much of that done as I can this month. I want it to rest while I edit Blood of the Dragon for the first two times, and then come back to it while Dragon is with my editor.

I doubt I’ll finish it this month, but all progress is good progress.

Once the Easter break is over and Darkened Light is with my editor, I’ll begin the first read-through of Dragon. It’ll be messy, but I’ve stocked up on tea so I’m ready*.

* *whimpers in a corner*

Seeing how much I’ve been able to get done when I’m working from home full-time has been incredible motivation to get my butt in gear. More people are reaching out to me to book sample edits, which is encouraging. I just need to find a few freelance writing clients now and turn some of those sample edits into contracts, and I’ll be a happy kitten.

Honestly, this break from the day job has been eye-opening.

One last thing before I get back to work–

I’ve created the first aesthetic for the Blood Wisp trilogy this week, so I thought I’d leave you with that 🙂

You can find all originals in my Blood Wisp Pinterest board.

Have a wonderful April, friends!


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How to Self-Publish Your Novel – Your Book Cover

Welcome to a new series, friends and familiars! The last one was so short the ending completely took me by surprise!

This one will be a little longer–and the timing is perfect, since my FREE guide Self-Publish Your Debut Novel like a Boss will be available soon! Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter if you want in on this freebie 😉

(/self-promotion off)

ANYWAY. Let’s dive into self-publishing your book baby!

How to Self-Publish Your Novel - Your Book Cover

What’s the first thing that will attract potential readers and long-term fans? Your book’s cover. So you need to make sure it’s stunning, draws people in with one glance, AND summarises your book accurately.

Note: I’ve tested all three options below, and therefore speak from experience. I mean my recommendation.

These are your options:

Cover Creators

Self-publishing platforms like CreateSpace and KDP have cover creators. They are free and easy to use–

and I recommend you don’t use them.

While it’s great that they’re simple to use and won’t cost you a penny, your book cover will look like it, too. If you want your book to stand out in a positive way, you don’t want it to look like you put the cover together in five minutes before you had your first coffee.

Your book’s cover needs to be so visually attractive that people can’t help but pick it up. A cover that looks simple (and like you didn’t have time) won’t do that.

A cover created with a cover creator will stand out, but not in the way you want. Once you’ve seen a few you can easily tell the difference.

My experience: I wanted to give it a chance, so I tried it. Your options are limited, and none of the results look professional. I tried a few different things but didn’t end up with anything half-decent, so I moved on.

My books–your books–deserve better than ‘it’ll do.’

How to Self-Publish Your Novel - Your Book Cover | Example: Rise of the Sparrows by Sarina Langer

DIY

If you’re skilled with Photoshop or another image editing software, you may want to try designing it yourself! If that’s the route for you, make sure you get lots of feedback before you finalise your cover.

It’s always harder to work on a project you’re as close to as your own book. That’s why editing is so difficult, and it’s why creating your own cover might also be tricky.

Getting feedback from other people–preferably readers who love your genre–ensures you’ve considered every option before calling it done.

Take a look at some of the covers you adore and ask yourself if that’s a standard you can reach by yourself. If you can, go ahead. If you can’t, perhaps you should have someone else do it for you.

You might end up with something you like, but if it doesn’t hit the spot with your focus group of readers and bookworms it won’t do.

My experience: I have an Honours degree in Photography, so I’m not terrible with Photoshop. However, I felt too close to my books to create anything I really loved. The results were okay. But as I said above, ‘okay’ won’t do.

Also, I’m not trained as a cover designer. I know what amazing covers look like, but creating one myself? Completely different story.

I thought I’d be able to create something nice, but it’s not that simple.

Cover designers

There are hundreds thousands of artists who’ve made book cover design their business. Finding the right one for you can take a little while, but is worth your patience and investment.

I suggest you google ‘book cover designer’ and see what comes up. When I was still working on Rise of the Sparrows, I narrowed it down to three designers that way.

I left it for a weekend, and when I came back to it on Monday I was no longer sold on one of my three choices. I emailed my first choice (I loved their examples and testimonials) but they ended up being far more expensive than most cover designers.

I emailed my second choice, and now I’m a loyal customer.

How to Self-Publish Your Novel - Your Book Cover | Example: Darkened Light by Sarina Langer

The key to finding the right cover designer is checking out their covers (their website should have plenty of examples), reading their testimonials, and emailing them.

Ask them what their process is. Ask for a quote, too–it’d be a shame to fall in love with the right designer only to see they’re way out of your price range! Gauge their personality from their responses, and ask yourself whether this is someone you can work with.

Note: Some designers only create paperbacks, while others only do eBook covers. It’s rare, but worth finding out–there should be a section on their website listing their services.

Also, some designers give discounts to returning customers, or to sequels if they created the cover for the first book. Definitely worth finding out!

Costs

A lot of new writers don’t want to spend more money than necessary. But consider this:

A beautiful cover means more sales. It’s key to getting your book noticed; therefore, a fantastic cover is necessary.

I’ve sold quite a few copies because my readers loved the covers, and I’ll sell more as I continue to publish books. The ROI is worth it, friends.

The hard truth is that you won’t earn much from actual book sales; however, a stunning cover will help you sell more. More sales mean more readers mean more reviews mean more exposure mean–you get the idea.

My recommendation

I recommend you find a cover designer you like–someone who gets you and your vision for your books–and stick with them.

You can start by emailing Design for Writers. They’re my cover designers, and I can promise you that Andrew and Rebecca are good at this.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, just look at my covers in this post! I do believe they speak for themselves 😉

In two weeks, we’ll look at how to find the right editor for you and your book. In the meantime, you might also like:

Resources for Writers Why I Write my Books in Scrivener

Do you have any questions about your book cover? Or, if you’ve already published (GO YOU), how did you decide on the right option for you? Make a tea and let’s talk book covers!


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