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The Legacy of Androva Series

There is no escaping the fact that writing can be tough. Most writers (including me!) have to make time for it as best they can, usually fitting it in around their day jobs and family time. And let's not forget the importance of reading! I wouldn't be able to write at all if I weren't, first and foremost, an enthusiastic reader.

This quote sums it up pretty well:

However, there are also lots of reasons to be positive about being a writer, which is what today's blog post is all about. I wanted to remind myself, and anyone reading this, that everyone finds it difficult, and persistence pays off. Most importantly, if you want to write, then write! 😊

Before you start, remember:

Here is something to think about while you're writing:

And to wrap things up:

After I finish this post, I'm going back to my current work-in-progress, which is the seventh and final book in the Legacy of Androva series. How are you spending your weekend--reading or writing? If you are a writer, do you have any favourite inspirational quotes? Thank you for visiting my blog today!

Now that the excitement of the New Year is over, I'm back at work, and back into a routine of reading and writing in the evenings and at weekends. I love reading at any time of year, but in January a new book is the perfect way to escape from the colder temperatures and shorter days. Here in the South of England we only get eight hours between sunrise and sunset right now, and that's if the sun dares to show its face at all!

Today's blog post is another ten YA book recommendations, based purely on the awesomeness of their opening lines . Some of these I have read, and some are on my TBR list, but they all have one thing in common: I made the decision to read them before I'd reached the end of the first page.

Kell wore a very peculiar coat.
It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible.
The first thing he did whenever he stepped out of one London and into another was take off the coat and turn it inside out once or twice (or even three times) until he found the side he needed. A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab
Mom doesn’t show up.
I shouldn’t be surprised—she never shows up—but I can’t get rid of the empty, twisted feeling in my stomach. Emery always says that being alone isn’t the same thing as being lonely, but sometimes it feels like they’re exactly the same thing. Starfish, by Akemi Dawn Bowman
It’s a weirdly subtle conversation. I almost don’t notice I’m being blackmailed.
We’re sitting in metal folding chairs backstage, and Martin Addison says, “I read your email.”
“What?” I look up.
“Earlier. In the library. Not on purpose, obviously.”
“You read my email?”
“Well, I used the computer right after you,” he says, “and when I typed in Gmail, it pulled up your account. You probably should have logged out.” Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli
I’ve read many more books than you. It doesn’t matter how many you’ve read. I’ve read more. Believe me. I’ve had the time.
In my white room, against my white walls, on my glistening white bookshelves, book spines provide the only color. The books are all brand-new hardcovers—no germy secondhand softcovers for me. They come to me from Outside, decontaminated and vacuum-sealed in plastic wrap. Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon
I shouldn’t have come to this party. I’m not even sure I belong at this party. That’s not on some bougie s***, either. There are just some places where it’s not enough to be me. Either version of me. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
I’m cursed. I know, I know, you don’t believe me. Well, I didn’t believe it was possible either… until the guy who cursed me came along. So go ahead and think I’m nuts. But one of these days, we might just meet up and then… well, you’d better believe whatever I say to you. Your life will absolutely depend on it. Glimpse, by Steven Whibley
You do not enter a race to lose.
Diana bounced lightly on her toes at the starting line, her calves taut as bowstrings, her mother’s words reverberating in her ears. A noisy crowd had gathered for the wrestling matches and javelin throws that would mark the start of the Nemeseian Games, but the real event was the footrace, and now the stands were buzzing with word that the queen’s daughter had entered the competition. Wonder Woman: Warbringer, by Leigh Bardugo
A sex tape. A pregnancy scare. Two cheating scandals. And that’s just this week’s update. If all you knew of Bayview High was Simon Kelleher’s gossip app, you’d wonder how anyone found time to go to class.
“Old news, Bronwyn,” says a voice over my shoulder. “Wait till you see tomorrow’s post.”
Damn. I hate getting caught reading About That, especially by its creator. I lower my phone and slam my locker shut. “Whose lives are you ruining next, Simon?” One Of Us Is Lying, by Karen M McManus
I’ve never known why Monday gets all the credit for being the worst day of the week. I disagree entirely. Sundays are. There’s just something so quiet and still about Sundays that I’ve really grown to hate. Dare To Fall, by Estelle Maskame
Death-Cast is calling with the warning of a life-time—I’m going to die today. Forget that, “warning” is too strong a word since warnings suggest something can be avoided… They Both Die At The End, by Adam Silvera


Have you read any of these books? If you haven't, would you choose to read them based on the way they begin? I hope you find lots of great reads in 2018 and thank you for stopping by my blog today!

The end of December is fast approaching... and today's post is all about the upside of a new calendar year. At this moment anything is possible and your dreams can be whatever you want them to be. Actually, that's true whatever time of year it is, but there's something about a brand new year that feels like starting again with no baggage and no regrets .

I think it's also important to look back and remember the good things about the year that's ending and to postpone any cynicism related to the not-so-good things until another time--indefinitely if you can. New Year, new beginnings. (I'd love to be able to claim this is what I do, but let's just say it's a work-in-progress!)

Here are the ABCs of my New Year's resolutions:

A is for Authors, old and new
To say that I enjoy reading is a bit of an understatement. A good book can force the real world into the background, at least for a while, and that is sometimes a very good thing. Fortunately, reading plays a vital role in writing, and therefore I have a great excuse to make sure I read a lot. Stephen King describes it perfectly:
"You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you."
Finding a new author, whose writing I love, is like receiving a gift when it's not my birthday. I can't wait to discover some new authors in 2018, though I'm also looking forward to new releases from the authors I already know. In 2017 I think Adam Silvera was the most memorable new (to me) author I tried. In the unlikely event that you haven't already, I'd recommend checking out his books.

B is for Book(s)
I guess this one's obvious--I definitely plan to write at least one more book next year. In 2017 I achieved my goal of writing two books, and it would be great if I could match that in 2018, work/life balance permitting. The extra challenge will be in bringing the Legacy of Androva series to an end. I'm working on the seventh and final book right now, and it's tough to know that I'll be saying goodbye. On the positive side, I have a lot of ideas about what to write next, and it will be fun choosing which one to develop.

C is for Characters
Characters are incredibly important. A story is meaningless unless there is at least one character who takes hold of the reader's hand and brings them along for the ride. Next year I hope to create a few memorable new characters of my own and also to discover some amazing characters created by other authors.

Looking back on 2017, two characters that stayed with me long after I finished their stories (for very different reasons) are Starr, from The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas and Monty, from The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee. I'd recommend taking a look at both books if you haven't already.

Looking ahead to 2018, for the final book in the Legacy of Androva series, most of my characters are already well-established, so I get to do two things. I get to create a new villain, and I also get to force one or more of my characters to discover something different about themselves because of the actions of that villain. I'm still working on it, but she--the villain--is shaping up nicely, with a deadly skillset my characters have never encountered before.
And as for the book after that... I can create some brand new characters and decide everything about them. (Well, that's the theory. What usually happens is that they kind of show up fully formed and resist all attempts to be turned into someone different!).

Finally, I would like to wish everyone reading this the 2018 of their dreams! Are you making any reading or writing-related resolutions? If you are celebrating the New Year, I hope you have a wonderful time, and thank you for stopping by my blog today!

Today's blog post is a new short story, set at the end of Seeking Magic, the third book in the series. That book just happened to finish right around Christmas time, so adding a couple of extra scenes seemed like too good an opportunity to miss 😊

I hope you enjoy it and thank you for visiting my blog today!

“I’ve been thinking,” said Jax, getting up from the sofa and walking to the window. He looked out at the street, where sparkling lights were visible in nearly every house. “This Christmas they have on Terra—it’s a pretty big deal, isn’t it? Much bigger than our Winter Festival.”
He looked over his shoulder at Darius, who smiled. “You just noticed? I think it’s nice. There are no magicians here, but they still believe in magic.”
Jax faced the window again. His green eyes flickered, reflecting the red-and-white Santa Claus on the front lawn of the house next door. “I didn’t just notice. I had to be an elf in that primary school play, thank you very much. I’ll be having nightmares about it for a while yet.”
Darius laughed. “You deserved it. And Terran technology certainly has its uses. I’ll cherish those images forever.”
“That’s what you think.”
“You didn’t.” Darius reached into his pocket. “I knew I shouldn’t have given you my phone to look after during that Combat lesson. Some friend you are.”
“I’m a good friend,” Jax protested. “I got rid of something that would only have caused us to argue in the future.”
“Yeah, well, what about the argument we’re about to have right now? I’ll just ask Shannon to resend them to me, anyway.”
Jax turned back and gave Darius a rather smug smile.
“You did not mess with Shannon’s phone,” said Darius, raising his eyebrows. “She’ll be so mad. And her magic is still way stronger than yours, or did you forget that?”
“She deleted them herself. She asked me what I wanted as a Christmas present, and I told her I wanted those elf photos to disappear.” He shook his head. “Unfortunately, she also said the whole thing was engraved on her memory anyway, and she reserved the right to laugh about it whenever she wanted… but at least no one else can.”
“Well, whatever deal you made with Shannon, I’m still annoyed with you,” said Darius.
Jax crossed the room and sat down again. “So, I wanted to ask for your help with something.”
Darius sighed with exasperation. “Did you not hear what I just said?”
“I’m sorry. What can I say? I was desperate.”
“Fine,” said Darius. “I accept your apology. But you have to be a test subject for my Research Spell next week. Agreed?”
“I don’t know. What exactly is in your Dream Remedy, again?”
“I’m remaking it. I’m thinking elves. Lots of elves. With black hair and green eyes.” He laughed at the look on Jax’s face. “What did you want my help with?” Darius asked, when he’d managed to get his amusement under control.
“It’s about this Christmas thing. Shannon doesn’t want a big present or anything. She says after all the drama recently with the time travel, and Penny becoming a magician, that she’s happy if we just spend the day together, but I think she deserves something amazing. Only, I don’t know exactly what…”
Darius leaned forwards. “Yes! I was thinking the same about Penny. She says being a magician is enough for all the Christmases and birthdays she’ll ever have, but I disagree. I want to make sure she never forgets our first Christmas,” he added, his cheeks going a bit red.
“Right,” said Jax, giving Darius an understanding grin.
“What shall we do, then?” Darius looked at the time on his phone. “They’ll be back from helping Mrs. Blackwood soon, so we’d better talk fast.”
“The problem,” said Jax, “is that we don’t have any Terran money, and we can’t use a spell in front of Shannon’s sister or Penny’s family.” He made a face. “Magic isn’t exactly discreet.”
“Wow. Jax following the rules and not showing off either. It must be love,” joked Darius.
“Shut up,” said Jax. It was his turn to blush. Annoyed, he filled his palms with an Ice Spell and pressed them against his cheeks for a second. As he lowered his hands, he gave them a thoughtful look. “Although… there might be a spell we can use. I’ve just had an idea.”
“Tell me,” said Darius, and Jax explained. 


On Christmas morning, Shannon woke up slowly to the sound of her younger sister’s excited giggling. “He’s been, Shannon, he’s been!” she shouted. “Come downstairs and see what Santa Claus brought you. And you won’t believe what else has happened!”
“In a minute, Tammy,” she called back, stifling a yawn. She turned her head into the pillow, smiling as she remembered the evening before.
Shannon had spent Christmas Eve on Androva with Jax, Darius, and Penny. She, Jax, and Darius had taken turns using Manipulation Spells to create ever more extravagant Christmas-themed food, drink, and decorations, while Penny used her brand-new force field to draw snowflakes in the air. By the time Revus, Jax’s father, returned home, the usually sombre Mabre House kitchen looked more like a Santa’s Grotto in a department store.
Revus’s face had been mixture of horror and disbelief, though he had done his best to muster a polite smile for Shannon’s and Penny’s benefit. He’d immediately turned around and said he had some urgent paperwork to see to in his office, and he’d barely closed the kitchen door behind him when the four friends broke into helpless giggling. By the time Jax and Darius took her and Penny through the portal and back home, it had been quite late.
Jax and Darius were coming to Terra for Christmas dinner, which Shannon’s parents were hosting for both families later that day. Shannon knew Penny would want to arrive early to practice using her force field some more in the privacy of Shannon’s bedroom. Though Penny was excited about joining the Seminary of Magic in the New Year, she was nervous about being able to keep up with the lessons.
Shannon was just about to push back the covers when her phone chimed with a text. “Are you awake?” it said.
Yes. Just.
Look outside,” came the reply.
Shannon got out of bed and walked to the window. When she moved the curtain to one side, she gasped. Snow! There was snow all over her garden. It was perfect, like the white Christmas of her dreams. As she watched, a figure dressed all in black stepped out from under the chestnut tree at the edge of the garden. Jax looked up at her and grinned, before glancing down at his phone and typing quickly. “Happy Christmas, Shannon. x,” said his text.
Shannon pointed to Jax and then the garden with an incredulous look. “You?” she typed.
He nodded and wrote a reply. “Me and Darius. The snow goes all the way to Penny’s house. Thank Androva she doesn’t live far!
I love it. It’s the best present I’ve ever had. xxx
Jax’s grin got bigger. “I’ll be back for those kisses in person later.
Shannon watched him leave, her own smile wide enough to make her cheeks ache. Penny was going to be so happy when she saw the snow. She had a feeling this was going to be the best Christmas ever.

Today's blog post is a light-hearted A to Z for the holiday season with a reading and writing theme and lots of reading recommendations!

A is for Ask
If you think people don’t already know that more books, or the means to buy more books, is all you want for Christmas—make sure you drop plenty of hints. Otherwise, if you unwrap a scarf on Christmas morning, you’ve only got yourself to blame.
B is for Books 📚
Is there a better word in the alphabet that begins with B?
C is for Chocolate 🍫
Or cake, or candy, or chips! Make sure you start the holidays with a plentiful supply of your fuel of choice. I rely on eating dark chocolate at regular intervals when I’m writing or reading (my justification is that I use up a lot of mental energy).
D is for Dragons 🐲
Just because every A to Z should include a dragon somewhere, especially if it’s an A to Z about books and writing. Also, I would love to see Santa’s sleigh being pulled by dragons instead of reindeer one year.
E is for Elf 🎅 (not just for Christmas)
There are a lot of elves at this time of year, particularly Santa Claus himself, who is often described as the Head Elf. However, if you like the fantasy genre, there are amazing elves (good and bad) waiting to be discovered all year round. It’s difficult to pick just one example, but I do love the character of Natalie, the half-elf in the Royal Institute of Magic, by Victor Kloss. Royal Institute of Magic (Amazon US)
F is for Fairy tales 👸
One of my favourite reimagined/retold fairy tale series completed this year. The Land of Stories, by Chris Colfer was brilliant. Land of Stories book 6 (Amazon US)
G is for Gifts 🎁
Everyone I buy a gift for usually ends up with a book. I love having a legitimate excuse to go to a bookshop and spend ages browsing the shelves. OK, I often end up with an additional book for me, but surely that’s just a perfect example of win/win?
H is for Haven 🏖
At this time of year, it’s even more important to have somewhere to write that’s not part of the craziness of everyday life. I struggle to keep my desk free from clutter at the best of times and I’m trying not to let cards/wrapping/decorations take up residence next to my laptop.
I is for Illustrations
There have been some amazing book covers this year. I am definitely the kind of reader who is more likely to try a new book if I like the cover. For example, Emily R. King’s The Hundredth Queen series has incredible covers, don’t you think? Hundredth Queen Series (Amazon US)
J is for Joy 😍
The holiday season is nearly here. Do something that makes you happy, just for the sake of it. Today some of my family and I went to see Thor Ragnarok . It was brilliant!
K is for Kindle 📖
Don’t forget to check out the top 100 free Kindle books in your favourite genre over the holidays. You can read for free on the Kindle App, and there are often some great choices available. Here are three free books I really enjoyed:
The Game, by Terry Schott The Game (Amazon US)
Open Minds, by Susan Kaye Quinn Open Minds (Amazon US)
Gone, by Christine Kersey Gone (Amazon US)
L is for Library 🏫
If you haven’t visited your local library recently, maybe you can find time before it closes for the holiday season. Libraries lend you books to read for free… need I say more?
M is for Music 🎶
Reading, and writing, and music are so closely linked for me. I love making different playlists to write and read to, and I love coming across lyrics that describe what my characters are going through. End of year awards and top ten lists can be a great way to discover new music.
N is for New Year 🎉
And New Year’s resolutions! I try not to make too big a deal out of setting myself targets because I think it’s important to allow things to happen naturally rather than to feel down about something you didn’t achieve. However, that said, my two resolutions are to finish the final book in the Legacy of Androva series and to launch a new series as well.
O is for Older (and Wiser) 🦉
Reading isn’t just for entertainment. Whatever you read in 2017, you’re bound to have learned something new.
P is for Perseverance 🙂
If you’re a writer, the most important thing is to keep writing, year after year. Don’t worry about how much or how often, just don’t give up!
R is for Recommendations 👍
Help other bookworms by letting them know about any great books you’ve read this year. Recommendations are never more helpful than when you have some Christmas cash in your pocket. Here are some 2017 favourites of mine:
The Summoner Series, by Taran Matharu Summoner Series (Amazon US)
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas The Hate U Give (Amazon US)
They Both Die at the End, by Adam Silvera They Both Die at the End (Amazon US)
Magnus Chase, by Rick Riordan (I read book three this year, but the whole series is great) Magnus Chase book 3 (Amazon US)
S is for Snow
Here’s hoping… Although it’s unlikely where I live, I’d love to be able to curl up and read a book, by the window, with the Christmas tree on one side and a snowy landscape on the other.
T is for Tradition 📕
Congratulations to all the new authors whose dreams of being traditionally published have come true in 2017, and good luck to anyone wishing to pursue that route in 2018 😊. There is so much amazing writing talent around these days that us readers are spoilt for choice!
U is for Unique 😝
We all are. And that’s a good thing, which should be celebrated. Hopefully, old-fashioned stereotypes will continue to be challenged in 2018 and diversity in fiction will increase.
V is for VIP 👭
Take a moment to tell the person or people in your life how much you appreciate them. Don’t assume they know already. There are very few people in my life who know that I write, but I definitely couldn’t do it without their support.
W is for Wish 🤞
If you can’t make a wish at Christmas, when can you? If I were to make a wish related to reading and writing, it would be to have time to do more of both.
X is for eXperiment 🔬
A new year can be a good time to try something new, like reading or writing in a new genre, or perhaps trying poetry, or short stories. There are no rules, after all!
Y is for Young Adult Books Becoming Movies 📽
(OK, so that’s a bit of a fudge for the letter Y!). I am looking forward to: Ready Player One, Maze Runner: The Death Cure, and Love, Simon.
Z is for 💤
I have a tendency to get so excited by the fact I don’t have to go to work over Christmas that I stay up really late reading and writing, and end up exhausted by the time work starts again. This year, I’m going to strike more of a balance. At least, I’m going to try…

I hope you enjoyed my A to Z, and if you have any recommendations for books I could read over the holidays, please let me know! And, as always, thank you for reading 😊

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