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The one piece of useful advice I received when I was querying my first book to agents was to make sure the story started out with action (check out this article for an example: How to Start Your Novel: What the Movie TRUE LIES Taught Me by Chuck Sambuchino). I’ve heard this advice a lot, especially when dealing with the young adult market, so I took it to heart and deleted the original opening of Welcome to the Darkness. I’m guessing at the statistics, but I’d say 75% of my readers prefer it this way, unfortunately, that means 25% or so think the story starts into the action too quickly. Those people would have prefered a slower opening where we get to know the characters a little bit before everything goes to hell.

Bonus materials for movies and books often include alternate endings… well, I’d like to offer you an alternate beginning! These are the first couple of pages I ended up deleting from Welcome to the Darkness – basically a snapshot of Reed’s normal life before the you-know-what hits the fan. What do you think – should I have left this part in or is it better the way it is?

************ Deleted opening sequence from Welcome to the Darkness Chapter One *************

People always seem to want more in their life: more money, more fame, more adventure. I was no exception, believe me. I was a high school senior and member of the football team (no, not the captain or the quarterback, just a plain old linebacker). I had a small group of friends and I’d dated a couple of girls, but it was nothing very serious or long lasting. I lived with my parents and younger sister on a small farm in the middle of nowhere. My life seemed so freaking normal, of course I yearned for something, anything exciting to happen. Looking back, I realize how good I had it – how great it was to have a home, to have my family, to be alive. To be . . . human.

On a Saturday afternoon in late autumn, I was hanging out at my buddy Jared’s place. There were five of us crammed onto his battered-up old couch. The couch was a disgusting plaid covered with stains and little rips. It was shocking it could support the weight of a single person without collapsing, never mind five teenagers.

Besides being the only one of us who owned a video game console, Jared had the coolest place to hang out at by far. His parents had let him take over an old barn on their property, and he’d fixed it up enough to make it liveable. The couch may have been gross, but it was his couch. Plus, living out in the country, there wasn’t much choice of places to hang out.

Our group of five consisted of Nick, Connor, Julia, Jared, and me. I know, four guys and one girl, but Julia had always been one of the guys. None of us thought of her as anything more than a friend. She was “petite” – she hated it when I said “short” – which made us all feel extra protective of her.

At the moment, she was kicking my butt in Soul Caliber. I sat on the edge of the couch, waving the controller around as if that would somehow help my game playing. I found it annoying that Julia always beat me, and I was determined to get the best of her for once. Suddenly my watch alarm went off, distracting me from the game just long enough for Julia to defeat me . . . again. I jabbed at my watch to shut off the alarm.

“I gotta run,” I said. “Can’t be late for dinner.”

“I’m coming too,” Julia said and she turned and gave me a guilty, sorry-I-kicked-your-butt-yet-again look.

“Hey, Reed,” Jared called. He was too busy setting up the next game to look at me. “You coming back tomorrow?”

“I dunno,” I answered. “I have to finish my homework first.”

No one said anything else as they continued to stare at the small TV screen like a bunch of zombies. Julia and I headed out of the barn to walk home. We walked mostly in silence down the two-lane road past the empty fields toward our respective homes. It was a comfortable silence though. It took about fifteen minutes to get to her place and another fifteen to get to mine. The sun had set by the time I walked in my front door.

My mom called out from the kitchen. “You’re just in time to set the table, honey.”

“Awesome,” I groaned. The smells wafting my way from our small kitchen at the back of the house made my stomach growl.

My sister, Sam, the aspiring fashionista, tromped down from upstairs, barely sparing me a glance. She was way overdressed in a bright blue, sequined top, black velvet leggings, and her curled brown hair was done in a fancy up-do. “When’s dinner, Mom? I’m starving,” she shouted.

“Luckily for you two I cooked enough to feed a small army,” Mom replied, emerging from the kitchen carrying a steaming bowl of beef stew.

I was so anxious to get eating, I even helped set the table and bring out the rest of the dinner without being asked. Dad slipped out of his office to join us at the table.

“So, did you finish your homework, Reed?” Mom asked as I dug eagerly into my dinner. The look she gave me made it obvious she knew full well I hadn’t even started.

“Mmph . . .” I said, my mouth full of food. “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

“I finished my homework,” Sam said. “And you shouldn’t talk with your mouth full, Reed.”

I kicked her under the table and she kicked back.

“Guys,” Dad said. “Sometimes you still act like a couple of six-year-olds, and I have to remind myself you’re fifteen and almost eighteen.”

My sister bit her lip and gave me a guilty look. I returned her look with a mischievous grin.

I’m currently working on book three of my first trilogy and I’ve discovered some interesting things. There are definitely positive aspects to writing a trilogy or a series, but yes, there are also some downsides. I wondered if anyone else had similar observations, but I couldn’t really find any other articles at all about writing trilogies. So, I decided to do this blog post for anyone else out there planning to tackle writing a trilogy, or for people who are interested in learning more about the process behind the scenes.

I’d like to end this article on a positive note, so let’s begin with the bad stuff, shall we?

The Bad Part about Writing a Trilogy

The first book in my Darkness Trilogy has been out for over a year now, and the second book’s release was almost three months ago, so I’ve received a good number of ratings and reviews. Overall, readers seem to enjoy my books, but of course, you can’t please everyone and there has been negative feedback as well. So here’s the biggest problem: there are a couple of things in particular that people didn’t like, but I can’t change those things without losing consistency throughout the series.

For example, I wrote the story from three alternating points of view, which many people liked, but others hated. I got the idea from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series because I loved how she did it. I thought, “If I ever write a book, I’m doing that!” So, I did, not realizing how many people would be turned off by it. But it wouldn’t make any sense to write book three from a completely different point of view, would it? So I’m stuck with it.

Also, people seem to have a huge problem with the “giant” three and a half year age gap between my two main characters. Well, I can’t exactly make them magically the same age in book three now, can I?

So what’s the solution? I think you can avoid some problems by playing it safe, for example, I’ve made the two characters in my next series that become romantically involved the exact same age. However, if you play everything safe, your book will probably end up being unoriginal and boring. I’ve decided to write my next book in a first person, present tense point of view, despite knowing some people don’t like that writing style. It’s what I want to do though, and I accept that I will be criticized for it. Receiving criticism is an unfortunate part of being an author.

The Good Part about Writing a Trilogy

Okay, it’s not all bad, but I feel better having vented a little bit, ahhhh. On to the positives!

I’m not a professional cover artist, but I have done some graphic design, and creating the cover for books two and three in a trilogy has to be easier than for book one. You already have your basic colour scheme and fonts chosen, and in keeping the look consistent, you don’t have to come up with too many new ideas.

Speaking of consistency, you already have your basic cast of characters and you’ve defined the world within your book. It feels good slipping into the universe you’ve created, like snuggling under a familiar blanket. Writing about your tried and true characters feels like visiting old friends.

Here’s a big plus side to writing a trilogy: people like reading trilogies! They enjoy reacquainting themselves with your world and its characters too. It can be tough to keep a series of several books interesting and new, but a trilogy is the perfect length for a balance between familiarity and freshness.

The Coolest Part of All

I know quite a few people who say they’d like to write a book, and they’ve written some stuff, but never finished an entire book. Well, when I finish writing book three of my trilogy, I’ll be able to say, “I wrote a trilogy!” Not everyone will like my trilogy, but I’m okay with that. I’m driven to write, and if you are too, then don’t let anything stop you. Overall, writing a trilogy has been a great experience for me. I only ask one thing: if you read my books and hate the three and a half year age gap between my characters, can you just…not mention it to me? ;)

Darkness Reigns (Darkness Trilogy #2)The second book in my young adult paranormal fantasy trilogy, Darkness Reigns (Darkness Trilogy #2) is now available for purchase! It’s available in paperback and eBook format – check out the links below. Also, enter to win an Amazon gift card and copies of my books!

Paperback at Amazon.com

Kindle eBook at Amazon

Various eBook formats at Smashwords

Barnes & Noble NOOK Book

Kobo books

The Darkness Reigns Blog tour hosted by Xpresso Book Tours will be running from June 16-21, 2014 featuring reviews, excerpts, and giveaways. Check out the tour schedule to read what people are saying about the book and find out how you can enter to win an Amazon gift card and/or copies of books 1 and 2!

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Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)Cinder by Marissa Meyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s been ages since I wrote a book review – in fact, I’ve read 33 more books since I wrote the last one! I suppose I’m just going to have to forget about reviewing them all, ha ha. Anyway, on with the review…

I was very curious about this book because it has so many rave reviews. However, the idea of a fairy tale retelling, where Cinderella is a cyborg, sounded a bit…silly. So I put off reading it for quite a while. Am I ever glad I gave it a try! All those great ratings are justified. I loved Cinder!

This book has so many good things happening: an excellent cast of characters (I think my favorite is Iko, Cinder’s android companion), a unique version of our future world, lots of action, plot twists and surprises, and of course, swoon-worthy romance.

I’d definitely recommend this captivating series for teens and adult fans of young adult fiction!



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It’s been ages since I last posted a regular old blog entry! So here’s a little update on what’s new with me in writing land.

Everything is pretty much set for the June 16 release of Darkness Reigns, book 2 of the Darkness Trilogy. I’ve been dividing my time between writing book 3, Embrace the Darkness, and another YA fantasy novel of a new trilogy.

Book 3 of the Darkness Trilogy is about 5 months behind schedule, which is significant considering it takes me 8 or 9 months to write the first draft of a novel. Here’s my confession: I came really close to giving up on writing, not just on writing book 3, but on writing altogether. I expect the odd bad rating/review, but for some reason there was a rash of them all at once. I decided to stop looking at the ratings, which has definitely helped save my sanity. The worst thing though was all the negative stuff I was hearing from people I know – to my face! They’d lend my book to someone and then tell me later, “They thought it was so-so,” or “They didn’t like this part,” and “They found this part confusing,” etc. It wasn’t constructive and it just made me feel bad. What almost became the final nail in my author coffin was the feedback from one of my beta readers. They pretty much hated everything about book 2 and weren’t sure they could stand to finish reading it. After all the other negative comments, that almost did me in. But two of my other beta readers said they liked book 2 even more than book 1, and initial feedback from the bloggers reviewing my book has been really excellent. So I picked the little pieces of my self-confidence off the floor and started writing again.

This brings me to my “secret project,” which even has its own progress meter at the side of my web page. My husband suggested I try writing something completely different, to get me back in the swing of things. I have tons of ideas floating around in my head, so I wrote the first two chapters of a new fantasy series. The initial reaction to my new stuff has been incredibly positive, so I’ve decided to continue with it. I’ll be dividing my time between the two projects and hopefully maintain my current writing momentum!


The Darkness Reigns (Darkness Trilogy Book Two) blog tour is scheduled to run from June 16 to June 21, 2014. Hosted once again by Xpresso Reads, there will be giveaways, excerpts, and reviews by several awesome book bloggers! You can check out the tour schedule below:

Darkness Reigns Tour Schedule

Darkness Reigns is also available for pre-order from Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords, and will soon be available for pre-order from Kobo. Paperback copies and eBook copies will be available for purchase via Amazon as of June 16, 2014.

Blood Red Road (Dust Lands, #1)Blood Red Road by Moira Young

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

This was a very entertaining book! Set in a bleak, future version of the world, the author did such a good job describing the environment, you can practically taste the dust and feel sand blasting you in the face. The main character, Saba, is one tough cookie. Nothing is going to stop her from traveling across the wasteland to rescue her brother – not even mercenaries, cage fights, or evil overlords.

The bizarre dialect of this book was quite distracting at first, and the weird style without quotes around the dialogue. After a while, you forget about it though, and besides being very unique and actually pretty darn cool, it really adds to the flavour of the story.

I definitely thought there was a Mad Max feel to this book. I would recommend it to fans of dystopian fiction who enjoy a gritty tale full of action and adventure. There’s a touch of romance, but it’s not the focus of the story. The ending absolutely compelled me into reading book 2!



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Obsidian (Lux, #1)Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I had pretty high expectations going into this one because of the huge number of rave reviews. There were some aspects about Obsidian I enjoyed, like the alien-next-door premise and the overall world building. I feel like I missed something though because I don’t get the appeal of Daemon at all.

At the beginning of the story, Daemon is an arrogant jerk, just like it says in the book’s synopsis. By the end of the book, he’s … still an arrogant jerk. I get the appeal of a bad boy, but this guy is so rude and disrespectful to poor Katy, he completely leads her on, sending her such mixed messages it seems almost cruel. Of course, just by being around Katy, he’s also endangering her life due to his alien nature and the horde of enemies out to get him.

I have a feeling I won’t get around to continuing this series, which apparently makes me the odd one out this time.



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Requiem (Delirium, #3)Requiem by Lauren Oliver

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I think Lauren Oliver is an extremely talented writer, and book #1 (Delirium) was pretty much my idea of the perfect novel. *spoilers for book 2 ahead* Oliver did such a good job making me fall in love with the characters, I spent all of book #2 wondering when Alex was going to make his reappearance. By the time he showed up literally on the last page just in time to witness the result of Lena and Julian’s insta-love, I felt really let down. I wondered how on earth that love triangle mess could possibly be resolved.

So onto book #3… while the writing style is still fantastic and the world and the story outside of the love triangle (square?) are so well done, the mess between Lena, Julian, and Alex made it impossible for me to truly enjoy the book. I didn’t have that spine-tingling feeling I normally get at the end of a series, but I don’t know how you can skip book #3 after reading the first two.



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These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a compelling sci-fi/fantasy novel – I thought it was great! I’d love to know how two authors manage to write a book together. These two authors apparently make an excellent team. :)

These Broken Stars is an intriguing adventure, which begins on more of a sci-fi note on a spaceship, and becomes a fantasy journey across an unknown planet. One of the main aspects of the book really reminded me of a particular episode of Star Trek Voyager I saw ages ago (I guess I can’t describe the episode or I’ll give away an important part of the plot). There was also a similar feel to the TV show Lost, where things certainly aren’t as they seem to be at first glance in this jungle-like setting.

I fell in love with Lilac and Tarver and their captivating experiences in this story. I’m sad the next book in the series isn’t focused on them, only because I enjoyed reading about them so much. I’m definitely looking forward to meeting the new cast of characters in book 2 though. I highly recommend this book!



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