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The Legacy of Androva Series

To help me get back into the zone of writing about Jax, Shannon, Darius, and Penny, I decided to create a collage of pictures for each character. My aim was to capture a little bit about who they are and what's important to them.

  • Magic is a major part of how he sees himself and the rest of the world(s)
  • His Sygnus is a seven-pointed star
  • He's a bit of a rebel
  • He lives in a house much more suited to his father's taste and personality than his own
  • His trip down the winding staircase to the Mabre House portal room when he visited our world in daylight was the beginning of the Legacy of Androva series
  • His magical connection with Shannon will be threatened in book seven

  • Becoming a magician gave her confidence she never thought herself capable of
  • She is the most powerful underage magician for several generations
  • The living magic in the woodland next to her house saved her life
  • She only had to take Portal Remedies for the first five times she travelled through a portal. She adjusted very fast
  • She is a bookworm through and through
  • Purple is her favourite colour

  • His friends are everything to him
  • His Sygnus is an arch with jagged lines through the centre of it
  • He is the voice of reason in his friendship with Jax, though he was unable to talk Jax out of that first fateful trip to our world
  • He is usually careful to follow the Code--the rules imposed by the Androvan Council
  • He invented the spells that enabled mobile phones to be used on Androva
  • His father works as a custodian in the Repository of Records

  • Her force field is not the strongest, but she is the most creative underage magician of the four
  • She is famous for her Illusion Spells, including a very life-like horse she once created with a combination of water and magical energy
  • She hated school until she started attending the Seminary of Magic
  • It took her ages before she was brave enough to open a portal on her own
  • She loves dragons
  • She has a love/hate relationship with her curly hair
These were so much fun to make 😊
If you are a writer, have you ever made a collage of images to illustrate one of your characters? Did it help you with your writing? Thank you very much for reading today's post!

From today and for the next five days, up to and including Sunday 12th November, the Legacy of Androva series will be at a special price on Amazon! Breaking Magic will be FREE and the rest of the books will be priced at $0.99/£0.99 on Amazon US and UK.

You can find Breaking Magic here:

Amazon UK Breaking Magic

Amazon US Breaking Magic

And the series here:

Amazon UK The Legacy of Androva

Amazon US The Legacy of Androva

As I begin to make some progress with the seventh (and final) book in the Legacy of Androva series, I got to thinking about how I could improve my writing process. There are still times when I hit a mental block in terms of how to take the story forward, even though I know my characters and the worlds they inhabit very well. And next year I'll be starting something brand new, so I won't even have that familiarity to fall back on. Now seems like a good time to come up with a strategy.

I already know that I can't outline, so plotting my way out of writer's block is not an option. The stories I invent whenever I try to figure things out in advance are--how can I put this?--not the best. And sometimes, not knowing what's coming next is a good motivator for me. I keep writing because I want to know what happens.

So, after due consideration, here is my Top Ten of ways to beat the block. (As always, I feel I should make it clear these are based on my own experiences and I am not an expert!).

  1. 💻 Keep writing. For me, this is number one. I'm not suggesting you should force yourself to remain sitting at the laptop when the words won't come, but maintaining some kind of discipline is important. As long as you keep trying, the breakthrough will happen eventually. If you stop writing for too long, it can be difficult to get your head back into the story.
  2. 📚 Read. For fun, for research, for exposure to other writing styles both in your genre and outside of it, or just to take a break from the keyboard. There are a ton of reasons why reading is always a great idea.
  3. ⏰ Accept that there will be moments when you doubt the story, the characters, and even your ability to write at all. The half-way point of the book is almost guaranteed to be a low point! It can't be helped, and it's horrible, but it's not a reason to stop writing.
  4. 🏃 Physical activity: working out, or playing a sport, or even just going for a walk. Doing something physically tiring, particularly outside in the fresh air, seems to help my brain to calm down as well.
  5. 🤔 Don't think about it too much, and try not to force it. Ideas often drift into my head when I least expect them. During the long commute to work while listening to music is one of the times I am most likely to think of something helpful - I don't know why!
  6. 👉 Go forwards in the story. If you don't know what to write next, try jumping to a later point in the plot and writing from there. Sometimes it's easier to bridge the gap when you know exactly what the other side looks like. If you have more than one work-in-progress, swapping between them can also work.
  7. 📵 No distractions while writing. Procrastination and writer's block definitely inspire each other! That means no internet, no phone, no social media. Just you and Word, or whatever application you use for your writing.
    (*whispers* I've never managed to do this. I am a brilliant procrastinator 😳)
  8. 🏛 Research. This can be a way to take a break from writing while remaining immersed in your story. I loved the time I spent researching Ancient Rome for the sixth book in the series. I even visited the town of Bath in South West England (unfortunately my budget didn't stretch to Pompeii!) and it was great fun imagining my characters while I was standing in a real Roman setting.
  9. 👥  Don't be afraid to use your network. The writing and blogging community can be really helpful and supportive in terms of getting you past a block and writing again.
  10. 📝 Make a note of your ideas, no matter where you are or when they come to you. You could use a notebook or just type them into your phone. It's important because in my experience, there's no guarantee you'll remember them later (but that might just be me!).
 I think I have to accept that, for me, writer's block in some shape or form is inevitable. All I can do is make my way past it as best I can and as quickly as I can. The most important thing is to keep writing.
If you are a writer, how do you cope with writer's block? Do you have any tried and tested strategies that always help you? Thank you for reading today's post!

Happy Hallowe'en! 🎃 👻
Today's blog post contains the fifth and final Spooky Quilling prompt. It was Savannah at The Book Prophet who invented this challenge (thank you!!), and it's been so much fun to participate. You can read all about it here 😊

This last piece of writing didn't have to be scary, although you could make it scary if you wanted to. The story had to be about a group of friends and how they ended up spending their evening on Hallowe'en. The chance to invent more characters was (as ever) the best part for me. I went into the Spooky Quilling challenge thinking I would only have time to do a couple of the prompts, but they were so interesting I couldn't help trying them all. I hope you enjoy today's story, and thank you for reading!

“Are you coming to the party, or not?”
“You know I’m not.”
“Please, Zieka. We all miss her. Having this party doesn’t change that. The date only means something if you let it.” Oren gave his friend a look that was a mixture of sympathy and exasperation.
Zieka shook his head. “No.” He tried to push past, but Oren grabbed hold of his sleeve. Zieka huffed a frustrated sigh. “Oren, I can’t.”
“I don’t understand. Tonight of all nights, you shouldn’t be alone.” Oren frowned. “Please. Just for an hour? Come back to my house first and we’ll go together. No one will mind if you don’t dress up.” His frown deepened. “I’m worried about you.”
Zieka shrugged off the hand on his arm and stepped backwards. “Will you drop it?”
“No,” said Oren stubbornly. “Not unless you give me a better reason than just saying you can’t.”
Before he answered, Zieka glanced left and right to check that he wouldn’t be overheard. The parking lot was almost empty. Most students had left school as soon as the bell rang because everyone had Hallowe’en plans and it was far too cold to stand around talking.
“I really can’t,” he said. “I’m expected somewhere else. And it’s important. I can’t miss it. I won’t.” He paused. “Not even for you.”
“Not even for me? What does that mean?” Oren’s eyes widened. Before he could change his mind, he blurted out his question. “Are… are you admitting there’s something going on between us?”
For one long moment, neither of them spoke. Then Zieka turned away. “I don’t have time for this. I’m late.” He started walking.
“Wait,” said Oren, calling after him. “Wait. You can’t leave. You can’t… Zieka! Come back!”
Zieka sped up, hunching his shoulders. Oren watched Zieka cross the road and walk along the sidewalk until he disappeared from view. He got into his car and drove home, wondering how he was going to get through the evening without knowing how Zieka really felt. Part of him was horrified at what he’d said. His cheeks were still hot an hour later. But another part of him was burning with something other than embarrassment. It was curiosity. He’d told himself all semester that he and Zieka would only ever be friends. He’d believed it. But now he didn’t know what to believe.
After Oren had put on his vampire costume, carefully outlining his eyes in a perfect sweep of black liner, he unlocked his phone and scrolled through the photos in the instant messaging group they’d set up for the party. It would be their last and everyone wanted to make sure it would be one to remember. Once they graduated next summer, things would be so different.
Who am I kidding? he thought. Things are already different. When Revin died a year ago, run over by a speeding car on her way home from soccer practice, it had sent shockwaves through the whole school. Everyone knew Revin. She wasn’t just popular, she was good. The kind of person who lit up a room with her smile and make everyone feel like they were important.
She and Zieka had been the perfect couple. He’d been devastated, shuffling along the corridors from class to class like a ghost for months. His grades had plummeted. No one had been able to get through to him. Until one afternoon, Oren had been joking around during an English lesson, when spring was finally breathing life into the trees outside and the classroom windows were open for the first time that year.
Mr. Ditton had set them the task of reading aloud from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and Oren had taken on the part of Benedick with enthusiasm. Steff, the girl reading Beatrice, had struggled to keep a straight face. Oren had spun round after delivering one of his character’s particularly cutting insults, to see that Zieka was laughing.
That had been the turning point. Gradually, Zieka had come back to life, and the days settled into a new version of normal. No one forgot about Revin, but it was easier to remember the happy times now that Zieka wasn’t huddled in the corner like a fragment of his former self. Oren and Zieka’s friendship had grown close over the long summer holiday.
When school began again, Oren could no longer ignore the fact that his optimistic heart was beating faster every time Zieka smiled at him. He did his best to behave the same as always, but there had been a couple of times when he’d caught Zieka looking at him with a puzzled expression. And now, in the space of one, “Not even for you,” he’d gone from ignoring his feelings to being consumed by them.
He was half-way to the party, smiling at the kids still out trick-or-treating, when he got a text from Steff.
Go and get him. If he misses this party, he’ll always regret it.
I can’t. He said he had to be somewhere else.
Do you believe that? I don’t. Go and get him.
Oren put his phone into his pocket and bit his lip. Then, pushing aside his doubts, he changed direction and headed for Zieka’s house. He wrapped his arms around his body as he walked. The temperature had dropped even lower as darkness fell and his costume was nowhere near warm enough.
When he turned the corner into the last street but one before his destination, he saw someone walking very fast on the opposite side of the street, head down and hood pulled up. Oren recognized Zieka immediately, and he stepped sideways into the shadows before Zieka looked up and saw him. Where was he going?
After following Zieka for ten minutes, Oren could no longer pretend they weren’t headed for the churchyard. The churchyard where Revin’s tombstone stood, so white and new compared to the older graves. He nearly turned back several times. Although he felt a bit sick at intruding on such a private moment, he also couldn’t bear the thought of Zieka being alone in his grief.
Zieka approached the grave slowly, then fell to his knees. Head bowed, he whispered something, his breath emerging from his mouth as a cloud of mist in the cold air. Oren watched in silence for a few seconds, then turned away. This was awful. He should never have come.
He had started to leave, when he heard a laugh. He was so shocked that he froze to the spot, unable to even look over his shoulder to see where it had come from. Then he heard a voice. Her voice. He tried to hold his breath, but it was impossible. In and out, his chest heaved with emotion, part fear and part hope. He was reminded of all the times he’d wished he could talk to her, one last time. Just to say goodbye.
“I can see you, Oren. Don’t think you can escape now.” Another laugh. Finally, he was able to turn around.
Revin?” he said.
She ducked into a small bow, then lifted her head and gave him a wide grin.
“How…? I mean…. y-you’re… you’re…”
“Dead? Is that what you’re trying to say? Well, I am. Almost.”
She took a few steps forwards, and so did Zieka. Oren glanced down to see they were holding hands, fingers entwined. Of course. His heart thudded with disappointment. Zieka leaned to whisper in her ear, and she nodded.
“I know, don’t worry,” she said. “We’ll tell him now. Will you explain it, or shall I?”
“You,” said Zieka. He looked at Oren with a small smile. “He should hear it from you.”
Oren swallowed in an attempt to get rid of the huge lump in his throat. I just want Zieka to be happy, he told himself. It doesn’t have to be with me.
“This is a one-time gig,” said Revin, her grin fading. “Coming back, I mean. It’s the anniversary of my death and I’m ready to move on.” She turned to Zieka and brushed his cheek with her thumb. Oren realized she was wiping away a tear. Zieka closed his eyes for a second. “We’re both ready,” said Revin. “But I can spend one more night in your world as long as someone will accompany me and bring me back before the sun rises. It’s one of the only benefits of dying on Hallowe’en.”
“I’m sorry I’m not at the party. I just wanted to say goodbye to Revin properly,” said Zieka. He reached out with his free hand towards Oren and then let it fall. “I don’t know if you and I… I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. I just know I’m ready to try. I have to let go of Revin so we can both move on.”
Oren opened his mouth to speak and then closed it again, unable to put his thoughts and feelings into words.
“Oren has lost the power of speech,” said Revin, a teasing note creeping into her voice. “Now I really can die happy.”
She laughed. It was the same joyful and infectious laugh as always, and Zieka and Oren couldn’t help smiling. Suddenly Oren knew what to say. “About this party,” he began. “Why don’t we go? All of us, I mean. If you’ve got until sunrise, there’ll still be plenty of time to say goodbye.”
“I-I can’t,” stammered Revin, shaking her head. “How will we ever explain it?”
“Are there any actual rules to this thing apart from being back before sunrise?” asked Oren.
“Well… no. Not that I’ve been told.”
“It’s Hallowe’en,” said Oren, raising his eyebrows. “If a ghost can’t go to a party on Hallowe’en, when can they?”
“He’s got a point,” said Zieka, grinning.
“That… that would be kind of awesome.” Revin’s face lit up.
“Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go. Besides, not all of us are almost dead like you. I’m freezing.”
Before Oren could start walking, Revin leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “I’m glad it’s you,” she said softly.
The three teenagers left the churchyard together. It was going to be an interesting night.

The sixth book in the Legacy of Androva series is going up for pre-order in the next few days! The Kindle version will be at the special price of $0.99/£0.99 until the date of release.

The cover is again the work of the brilliant Kerry Hynds, who recently updated the rest of the series. It's difficult to choose a favourite cover, but I particularly love this one because of the amazing blue colour 😊

If you have read Seeking Magic, you will know the main character, Galen, already, but there is much more to his story than I was able to reveal in the other books. I got to know him very well because I wrote Surviving Magic from Galen's point of view.

I'd also like to thank everyone who requested an ARC via my newsletter. I hope you enjoy it!

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