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The Legacy of Androva Series


 

“Perhaps that is the best way to say it: printed books are magical.”

— Jen Campbell

One week ago, at the Young Adult Literature Convention in London, there was definitely more than a little magic in the air ✨. A shared love of stories and the characters that bring those stories to life is a powerful thing. Not to mention the piles of stunningly beautiful booksso much choice!—alongside book-related activities and creative merchandising. And finally, the real-life authors who came along to share their writing experiences, meet their readers, and sign hundreds and hundreds of books.

YALC 2022 was the first book event I've ever attended (and hopefully not the last!). I was there on Sunday 10th July with my two daughters, and today's blog post contains my top three takeaways from an amazing day.

1️⃣ Books, books, books
I expected to leave with a few new books, but my TBR list is pretty long already, and there's a limit to how many books a person can carry, right? Well, I wildly underestimated how quickly *a few* would turn into *you're going to need a new bookshelf when you get home* πŸ˜…
But I have no regrets. YALC is basically book heaven, and here are ten reasons why:


  1. Everything is about books, and everyone you meet loves books


  2. It's the biggest and best selection of YA books I've ever seen in one place
  3. People running the publishers' stands were really helpful with recommendations. They knew everything there was to know about the books on their tables
  4. Cover art πŸ’– 


  5. Book confessions at Harper Voyager (we had a lot of fun with these ☺)


  6. Readymade Bookstagram layout at Hodderscape


  7. Lots and lots of competitions (treasure hunts, colouring, raffles...)
  8. Many of the books were signed by the author
  9. Bargain prices (think half price or less)
  10. Free proof copies

2️⃣ Authors are awesome
A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post about Beauty and the Beast retellings and I discovered Brigid Kemmerer. Her books are awesome, and meeting her at YALC was one of the highlights of our day πŸ’™.

All of the authors we met were super friendly and patient. I guess it goes without saying that the chance to talk about your favourite characters with the person who actually created them is kind of amazing, but even so, it exceeded our expectations.

3️⃣ A little planning goes a long way

We arrived early (8.15am when the official opening time was 9.00am), and I think that really helped. Not only did we avoid the queues, but the tickets for author signings were handed out right at the beginning of the event, and some of them disappeared very fast. Also, the timetable of panels and workshops is very full, so if you know which ones you want to attend before you get there, you can schedule the rest of your day around them. Then all you have to do is enjoy the experience ☺. 

If you've found your way to my blog, you may know that I write a bit too, so I thought I'd close this post with a writing update. Averine's story (book four in Beyond Androva) is in progress, and I'm just figuring out the game of Truth or Dare that Kellan refers to in book three. Here's a small preview:

It took all of my concentration to keep my expression neutral. I wasn’t going to make this easy for him.
“I think that’s another point to me,” I said.
“What about my question?”
“I’ll consider it,” I said. “Truth or Dare.”
He stared at me for a moment. “You’re really not going to answer?”
“No.”

Have you ever been to a book event like YALC? And if so, how do you manage your TBR list after discovering so many new books?! Thank you very much for visiting my blog today πŸ’•.



“An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.”

— Stephen King

Once a year, I dedicate a blog post to YA books with amazing opening lines. It's usually timed to coincide with spring because that's the season that gets off to the most dramatic start where I live! The idea is a simple one—ten books that made it onto my TBR list before I was halfway down the first page. And it doesn't matter what the cover looks like or what the description says. It's all about how the story begins.

I hope there's a book or two in my latest list that catches your eye, and thank you very much for visiting my blog today πŸ’•.


“Obligates live by three simple rules:
Never anger the fae.
Never trust the fae.
Never love the fae.
If we can honor these rules, then we have a chance. A chance to serve out the terms of our Obligations. A chance to atone for sins we don't even remember committing.

Entrancedby Sylvia Mercedes


“I was sixteen when I found out; we're all sixteen when we find out. It doesn't seem old enough. It isn't old enough, not for this. And now, at seventeen and on the eve of when it springs to life, I'm still in denial
.”

The Programme, by I S Thorne


“In Ungardia, not even dreams were safe.
In fact, it was the one place humans and fae found themselves equal in their vulnerability. To fall asleep was to risk their minds falling to the mercy of the invading Nightwalkers; to be unaware of their chilling presence.

An Heir Comes to Rise, by C.C. PeΓ±aranda


“The thing I hate most about my father is that he hates me.
And he has good reason to.
It's something we don't talk about.

The Art of Not Breathing, by Sarah Alexander

Cinderella has been dead for two hundred years.
I've been in love with Erin for the better part of three years.
And I am about two minutes away from certain death.

Cinderella Is Dead, by Kalynn Bayron


“A black cat wove around her legs. Remy released a long-suffering sigh. Now the entire tavern would know she was a witch
.
[...]
She did not fear daggers or tavern spiders or the anger of drunken men. She feared being seen. For if any one of these tavern patrons knew she was a red witch, they would all be clambering over each other to cut off her head.”



“I was in all the newspapers when I was fourteen. I wasn't named, but Mum and Dad could never forgive me. I've still got the clippings, though I can't bear to read them
.

Baby Love, by Jacqueline Wilson

“I am at the top of a hill, and although I know I have done something terrible I have no idea what it is.
A minute or an hour ago I knew, but it has vanished from my mind, and I didn't have time to write it down so now it is lost. I know that I need to stay away, but I don't know what I am hiding from.



“This house was made for someone without a soul. So I guess it makes sense that my mother wanted it so badly. I can imagine how her eyes lit up when she walked through the five-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath new construction. I'll bet she thinks this house is the answer to what's wrong with us
.”

The Cheerleaders, by Kara Thomas


“There is a moment when the first spark of a fire appears and it is still possible to ignore the coming blaze.
There is no smoke tainting the air. No damage has been done.
Just a little flash that seems harmless and beautiful.”


Inker and Crown, by Megan O'Russell


“A story only matters, I suspect, to the extent that the people in the story change.”

— Neil Gaiman


Characters are the heart and soul of every story. They bring it to life, allowing the fictional world between the pages to become a part of the reader’s imagination. But more than that, characters evolve. The story is their journey.

 

It got me to thinking about the writing process and the importance of character arcs. Today’s blog post is a few words about my approach with examples from the Beyond Androva series. I should point out that I’m far from an expert, and no two writers will have an identical experience. Characters are endlessly diverse, unpredictable, and stubborn too! It often feels like they have their own ideas about the way they should be written.

 

At the start of each new book, I create a basic three-point plan for the protagonist: ⬇⬇⬇

 













**In this context, plan is not the same thing as a story outline. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m a pantser—someone who “writes by the seat of their pants”—which means I’m not great at planning the story in advance**

 

Likable

I think the protagonist should be someone the reader can root for. They don’t have to be perfect—because perfection isn’t appealing or realistic!—but having a few likable traits is a good starting point. My hope is that readers will care about my protagonist(s) enough to want to find out what happens to them.

 

Matched in Magic (Serena): She’s brave, loyal, and creative.

Engraved in Magic (Art): He’s kind, modest, and determined.

Lost in Magic (Kellan): He’s smart, adventurous, and funny.

 

Relatable

Every protagonist needs a few challenges. Some of the challenges are due to external circumstances while others are more internal. I guess you could call them character flaws, or maybe idiosyncrasies would be a better term! Whatever you call them, they give the reader something to empathise and/or identify with. It’s easier to become emotionally invested in a character that has room to grow, and it helps to define the starting point of their arc.

 

Matched in Magic (Serena): She’s impulsive. She gets frustrated with her brother’s attempts to protect her. She wants to escape her past by making a fresh start.

Engraved in Magic (Art): He’s been told his whole life that he’s less than, and he believes it. He has no autonomy. He’s scared of the future.

Lost in Magic (Kellan): He’s overconfident. He doesn’t trust anyone but himself. He’s determined not to make any friends or to let down his guard when he gets out of the Dimension Cell.

 

Believable

The protagonist’s journey has to be convincing. Someone shy and retiring, for example, is never going to become super confident, no matter how many challenges they successfully overcome. What they can do instead is learn how to take a few risks and trust their instincts. They can surprise themselves.

I also think it’s important the ending makes sense. Each protagonist should get the chance to defeat their opposing villain in a way that gives them closure. It wouldn’t be great to arrive at the end of the story and leave the protagonist stuck halfway through their arc.

(The character info below is deliberately cryptic to avoid spoilers…)

 

Matched in Magic (Serena): The people she meets in Xytovia challenge her to think and behave differently.

Engraved in Magic (Art): He discovers something about his magic that forces him to re-evaluate who he is and what he’s capable of.

Lost in Magic (Kellan): Everything he thought he knew about his past is turned on its head, and he has to reconsider the kind of person he wants to be.

 

If you’ve read any of the Beyond Androva books, you may or may not agree with my character assessments! Right now, I’m working on book four, and I have a brand-new protagonist. Averine’s arc is interesting to figure out because she was partway through her story when her character was introduced in Lost in Magic. That means I’m writing toward a fixed reference point, which is something I haven’t done since Galen’s book.

 

Do you have a favourite character arc as a reader? I would find it hard to choose because I like all kinds, as long as they end well. I’m definitely a fan of happy endings. I hope you enjoyed today’s post, and thank you very much for visiting my blog πŸ’•.


I would not be the villain that thou think'st

 William Shakespeare

Today's blog post is the sequel to an A to Z that I created a couple of years ago for Loki, the legendary God of Mischief and my favourite fictional character. It's just for funor perhaps mischief would be a better word 😏. Loki is complicated, unpredictable, and very smart. It's no wonder so many different authors have given the character a starring role in their stories.  You can find my previous A to Z hereand I hope you enjoy the updated version! Thank you very much for visiting my blog πŸ’•.


is for Absurd. “Please sign to verify this is everything you've ever said.
“What?
“Sign this, too.
“Oh, this is absurd.

is for Bad. “You see, I know something children don't.
“What's that?
“That no one bad is ever truly bad. And no one good is ever truly good.

is for Clever. 
“You're very clever.
“I know.

is for Dagger. “So, you didn't try to stab him?
“Certainly not. Take no offense, my friends, but blades are worthless in the face of a Loki sorcery.

is for Expert. “So let's bring in an expert.
“That's me.

is for Frigga. “You know, when I was young, she'd do these little bits of magic for me. Like turn a flower into a frog, or cast fireworks over the water. It all seemed impossible. But she told me that one day, I'd be able to do it too because... because I could do anything.

is for Get. “Come and get me!

is for Hel. “Is this Hel? Am I dead?

is for 
I live within whatever path I choose.

is for Jet skis. “I think a TVA agent showing up on a jet ski on the Sacred Timeline... that would create a branch for sure.
“It'd be fun though.
“Yeah. It'd be really fun.

is for Kind. “We've grabbed enough temporal aura to know it's our Loki Variant. But which kind of Loki, remains unknown.
“They're the lesser kind, to be clear.

is for Love. “OK, look. You don't trust me. You can trust one thing. I love to be right.

is for Magic. “That was me using magic to dry my clothes. So I don't announce myself with every squeaky footstep like the rest of you.

is for Nightmare. “This is a nightmare.

is for Off the Rainbow Bridge. “I could go down to Asgard before Ragnarok causes its complete destruction, and I could do anything I wanted. I could, let's say, push the Hulk off the Rainbow Bridge.

is for Plead. “Madam, a god doesn't plead.

is for Quip. “I don't have a quip. I've got nothing to say.

is for Robot. “Do a lot of people not know if they're robots?

is for Stab. “I'd never stab anyone in the back. That's such a boring form of betrayal.

is for Throne. “How about this one? My army, my throne.

is for Understand. “Now I understand why Thor found this so annoying.

is for Variants. “Ah, hello. Which one of us are you?

is for Wolf. “We have a saying in Asgard. Where there are wolf's ears, wolf's teeth are near.

is for eXhausting. “Did you watch any of the training videos you were supposed to?
“Well, as many as I could stand. Your TVA propaganda is exhausting.

is for You. “Mock me if you dare.

is for Zzzz.