The Phoenix Series: Blue Ruin (Chapter Eight: Kyle Hawthorne)

Day eight! 

Today, I’ll post a snippet from Chapter Eight: Kyle Hawthorne. Here, Maura Leroux speaks with Jessica Bennett, the principal of the academy she has been sent to hide in, about Adrian Wilhelm, the Vampire that has been hunting Maura for centuries.

***

“Adrian Wilhelm,” Jessica said.

A man – tall with short black hair – stood in a gray pin-striped suit on a street corner in the photo. His black leather shoes, pressed suit, and gold Rolex watch screamed of his wealth. But his all too perfect posture, straight nose, chiseled cheeks, and slicked, flawless hair screamed something else.

Forty years did little to soften the blow of seeing his face. The same face that sneered at her from across the yard, her mother’s blood painting his smile. The same face that cursed her into a life of running. The face that determined whether she’d live to see his downfall, or die looking into the eyes of the monster that had stolen everything from her.

Adrian Wilhelm, the Vampire the Mystics feared, the God that put money in crooked agents’ pockets was her past, present, and future. He’s my end.

***

Blue Ruin is the first novel in The Phoenix Series. The Phoenix Series is a dark fantasy with gothic, noire, paranormal, and supernatural elements.

“A hunter and the hunted, Maura Leroux is one of the last of her kind with a dark past that has haunted her. With black magical beings having been hunted for centuries, she’s come to learn a thing or two about survival. But Adrian Wilhelm, a notorious Vampire, threatens to destroy Maura’s newfound life as a detective in the magical world of Mystics. Adrian intends to use Maura as a means of resurrecting the fallen world of black magical beings, Abysm. Maura has made it her mission to stop Adrian while covering her tracks from those that have been seeking her out for centuries.”

Blue Ruin is now available. The Phoenix Series: Blue Ruin.

  

Weekend Writing Warriors – The Phoenix: Blue Ruin (Chapter Seven: Lay of the Land) 

I’ve joined this writing group: Weekend Writing Warriors . It is the weekly hop for everyone who loves to write! Every Sunday, share an 8 to 10 sentence snippet of your writing.

This snippet will count as my Weekend Writing Warrior submission. Here, we have Chapter Seven: The Lay of the Land. Maura has scoped out her temporary home, Mystic Academy. While analyzing her room, she catches her reflection in the mirror, only she doesn’t see herself. 

Side note: The Void is the evil that has possessed her soul.

***

What do you see? The Void’s silk voice penetrated the silence.

A girl – bob-cut black hair with brown eyes – blocked Maura’s view of what actually existed. Her curves flowed to create an hourglass figure. Round hips filled out her skinny jeans while a slender torso stretched into envious cleavage. Her porcelain skin turned flawless with the simplest of charms, making it a perfect canvas. She admired the column of her neck the most when graced with elegant necklaces. But her true reflection rested beneath her perfections.

As much as she wanted to believe this was her, The Void never allowed that comfort.

What do you see? The Void repeated, its voice a haunting whisper.

“What I’m not,” Maura said, tossing a thick quilt over the mirror.

***

Blue Ruin is the first novel in The Phoenix Series. The Phoenix Series is a dark fantasy with gothic, noire, paranormal, and supernatural elements.

“A hunter and the hunted, Maura Leroux is one of the last of her kind with a dark past that has haunted her. With black magical beings having been hunted for centuries, she’s come to learn a thing or two about survival. But Adrian Wilhelm, a notorious Vampire, threatens to destroy Maura’s newfound life as a detective in the magical world of Mystics. Adrian intends to use Maura as a means of resurrecting the fallen world of black magical beings, Abysm. Maura has made it her mission to stop Adrian while covering her tracks from those that have been seeking her out for centuries.”

Blue Ruin is now available for pre-order as an e-book. Pre-order The Phoenix Series: Blue Ruin — set to release on February 29, 2016.
  

The Phoenix Series: Blue Ruin (Chapter Six: Death Sentence)

Day six!

This snippet is from Chapter Six: Death Sentence. Maura Leroux is in the care of a private protection agency, Aegis, to help protect her from Adrian (antagonist). They’ve placed her in an academy for teenagers, where Maura doesn’t fit in. Maxine Robins, Maura’s Aegis agent, meets with Jessica Bennett, the principal of Mystic Academy, after initially meeting with Maura. After discovering that Maura is a Vessel, a dark magical being, Max realizes The Keep, the government for all magical beings, could execute her for mingling with an Abysmal, a dark magical being. With this knowledge, Max passes Maura along to Jessica, expecting and hoping for Maura to run when given the chance.

***

“Is there anything else I should be concerned about?” Jessica flipped the chart closed. “PTSD, violent outbursts, previous problems?”
She’s a Vessel. A killer. Our death sentence. “No.” Max shook her head. “She shouldn’t give you any problems.” She’ll be gone before she becomes yours.

***

Blue Ruin is the first novel in The Phoenix Series. The Phoenix Series is a dark fantasy with gothic, noire, paranormal, and supernatural elements.

“A hunter and the hunted, Maura Leroux is one of the last of her kind with a dark past that has haunted her. With black magical beings having been hunted for centuries, she’s come to learn a thing or two about survival. But Adrian Wilhelm, a notorious Vampire, threatens to destroy Maura’s newfound life as a detective in the magical world of Mystics. Adrian intends to use Maura as a means of resurrecting the fallen world of black magical beings, Abysm. Maura has made it her mission to stop Adrian while covering her tracks from those that have been seeking her out for centuries.”

Blue Ruin is now available. The Phoenix Series: Blue Ruin.

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The Phoenix Series: Blue Ruin (Chapter Five: Vera Hart)

Day five!

This snippet is from Chapter Five: Vera Hart. After being enrolled in Aegis, a private protection agency, Maura has signed a binding contract with Maxine Robins, her Aegis agent, that requires Maura to play by Max’s rules. One of those rules? No Illusion spells — a spell that steals the identity of another, subsequently killing the person whose identity was stolen. Maura needs an Illusion, not a flimsy disguise if she wants to stay hidden from Adrian (antagonist). 

***

Maura wiped the blood from the corner of her mouth with her thumb. The copper taste lingered on her lips. A taste she’d never gotten used to. Three hundred years of killing hadn’t callused her as she’d have liked.

Numbed, she slouched against the wall, the dead girl at her feet.

I needed the Illusion.

The girl’s features melted away until she was faceless.

I can’t let Adrian find me.

Maura’s skin tightened with the young woman’s appearance. The start of pretending to be someone else once again numbed her to her blackened core.

***

Blue Ruin is the first novel in The Phoenix Series. The Phoenix Series is a dark fantasy with gothic, noire, paranormal, and supernatural elements.

“A hunter and the hunted, Maura Leroux is one of the last of her kind with a dark past that has haunted her. With black magical beings having been hunted for centuries, she’s come to learn a thing or two about survival. But Adrian Wilhelm, a notorious Vampire, threatens to destroy Maura’s newfound life as a detective in the magical world of Mystics. Adrian intends to use Maura as a means of resurrecting the fallen world of black magical beings, Abysm. Maura has made it her mission to stop Adrian while covering her tracks from those that have been seeking her out for centuries.”

Blue Ruin is now available for pre-order as an e-book. Pre-order The Phoenix Series: Blue Ruin — set to release on February 29, 2016.

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Time: How Do You Balance Writing and Real Life?

Time. There never seems to be enough of it. Yet, everything competes for it. Life. Work. Writing. Your stomach. Your bladder. Your family and friends. Your sanity. With all of these things and much more, it’s almost a miracle how far and thin we can stretch twenty-four hours. 

I seem to never have time. And when I have time, I don’t want to do anything with it. I’m a full-time student in my last semester of my bachelor program. There’s half of my life gone right there. I’m also a full-time Registered Nurse. There goes the other half of my life. Bye-bye time. And that’s just my day job. Lecture. Assignments. Exams. Studying (or procrastinating studying). Patients. Collabrating with doctors. Being kicked by little children. Having the bubonic plague coughed into my mouth twenty times a day. It’s all in a day’s work. So by the time I come home, I’m nearly comatose. And when the weekend — ahhh the glorious weekend I’m not working — comes around, I want to be a vegetable on my couch who binges on Netflix. 

Then, I hear her. Sophia Madison. She starts out softly, you should write. I ignore her for a few hours. You should write, she begins again more forcefully. I flop over to the other side of the couch, as if I can outrun her. YOU NEED TO WRITE. 

Okay. Okay. Goddamnit. 

As writers, we are compelled to write. It’s an addiction. If you don’t fulfill that innate desire, scratch that itch, you can go a little crazy. Like a soda bottle about to burst, you need that release. But, what happens when you simply don’t have the time? 

That’s when your priorities fall in line. It’s crazy to think how many things can take a backseat to writing. Food, who needs food? Sleep, sleep is for the weak! Clothes, brushing my hair, showering — I’m not going anywhere. Homework? Homework was meant to be done the morning of, and studying? That’s where multitasking comes in. Shove food in my face while reading out my material for me as I put on my shoes and walk out the door. 

Writing has upheaved the peace. Scrambled my life. Put my procrastination to the test and taken priority over everything else. I’ve tried to follow a set schedule: work. eat. write…school. study. write. But life doesn’t come with a set schedule, and neither does writing. 

So, I manage my time chaotically because planning to fit writing into my schedule has never proven worthy. Like the wind, it comes on a whim, dishevels everything in its path, and demands to take priority over everything else. Sometimes you put it in line. And sometimes, you forget to do the basic human neccesseties because they don’t seem quite as important as getting what’s in your head out. 

How do you balance your time?

When Do You Know: Sending Your Baby into the World

I touched on this a little bit in my Self-publishing: It’s Harder than I Thought blog post. However, I thought I would expand on this topic a little more. 

It’s the most popular question amongst aspiring self-publishers that I see on writing sites and in writing communities. When do you know your novel is ready? Is it like love, do you just feel it? Do you simply know? Is it even a feeling? Or is it a fact, a completion of a set check-list?

It’s a bit of everything. The best way I can describe it…ever have to use the bathroom really badly, but there’s no restroom in sight? Your bladder is about to burst, you want to cry. You panic, you don’t know what to do. You’re desperate. Then you see it. That gleaming silver sign. Restroom. Today, you’re lucky. There’s no line. You rush. You throw open the door, hobble to the first stall, pull down your pants…and ahhhhh. Relief. 

Okay, so maybe it isnt exactly like peeing after you thought your bladder was going to explode. But it’s pretty similar. The panic. Frustration. Desperation. Hope. The rushing. And then relief. It’s a whole surge of emotions in a small span of time, so intense and so overwhelming that you think you may die if you have to endure another second of it. But, then it ends. 

The weeks before publishing are the hardest. It’s when you get down and dirty. By this point, you’ve been working on your novel for months — years in my case. Writing and rewriting the same scene over again and again and again…Your characters bug you. You wish they’d just die if they weren’t going play fair with you and do what they were written to do. You’ve come to the end of your rope, and if one more person finds a fatal flaw in your story, you can easily imagine yourself transforming into a human torando and destroying everything in your path. 

So, how do you know you aren’t going to brutally kill all of your characters, throw your story into the fire, or become a human tornado? How do you really know you’re done?

Let’s start from the beginning. The very beginning. Before your story is even a full thought in your head. Realize: this is going to take a long time. “A long time” differs from writer to writer. Some think six months is long. Some think a year is long. Regardless, it is going to take a long time before your book is ready. For those who can crank out a book in a month, I salute you and want your brain. I can pay you with my writer’s tears. 

For me, I began Blue Ruin in May 2014. Only now have I been able to publish it, almost two years later. I don’t consider that bad or incredibly long. But between May 2014 and February 2016, I’d set to release my novel two different times. By spring of 2015, I’d anticipated publishing my novel by June. Beta-readers cycled through and found mountains of things I could change and expand upon. 

June 2015. 

I didn’t plan for another publishing date at that time. I worked through all of June and in July I became ill for the entire month. There went my productivity. August was spent recovering with little to almost nothing being written. September rolled around and classes began. By September, I’d intended to publish in December. I announced to my beta-readers that they would have to finish up their critiques by the middle of December in order to give me time to finalize the novel. Then, organic chemistry came into the picture. What social life I had went out the window. Spare time was replaced with crying into my textbook as I tried to comprehend the chemical reaction that yielded soap. 

December 2015. 

The end of December was crucial. It was those few weeks prior to publishing. Everything was hectic. However, this is the time I knew I was done. The critiques my beta-readers had given me had shifted from what they’d originally been. Plot holes had been filled. Characters had grown to their full potential. Critiques that had once torn into my story, now nitpicked at word choices I could ignore, ideas that I could use but didn’t have to. My story was sound, and readers assured me it was sound. When enough of my beta-readers reached this consensus, I pulled Blue Ruin from the critiquing site. If I’d kept it up there, additional readers would’ve critiqued it. More readers. More ideas. More edits. More of a chance I would never publish. 

But you say, what if one of those readers would’ve given you vital information?

Every reader will give you something that you can use. Every reader will spark an idea in you. But, at some point, you have to let your story go. And when more readers are saying it’s sound than not — because you will always have those readers who think otherwise — that’s when you cut the umbilical cord. 

Once removed from the site, I hired an editor to give me that last ounce of reassurance and confidence that my work wasn’t a pile of shit, but an actual novel that people could read and hopefully come to love. 

In the end, knowing your book is ready for the world is partially based on facts and partially based on feeling. It takes longer than you thought, with more edits than you’ll care to realize, and a lot more tears than you thought you’d shed. 

In short, after you edit your book, set it aside, hide it in a drawer, bury it in a folder on your laptop. Forget it even exists. If you can come back to it months later, read it, and not want to vomit…you’re done. 

The Phoenix Series: Blue Ruin (Chapter Four: Aegis) 

Day four!

This snippet is from Chapter Four: Aegis. In this chapter, Maura Leroux is recovering from an attack by Adrian Wilhelm (antagonist). The hospital calls a witness protection agency, Aegis, to help reestablish Maura in the world and hide her from Adrian. Maxine Robins, the Aegis agent assigned to Maura’s case, realizes how difficult working with Maura will be and how much harder it’ll be to keep her safe. 

Side note: Beth is the alias Maura uses. Beth is Maura. And, Illusion spells — a person may take on the identity of another through this spell, subsequently killing the person whose identity was stolen. 

***

“Illusion spells are illegal here in Erewhon,” Max said. “We do not support the act of murder to aid in your protection. You’ve stolen time from others. Must you steal their identity as well?”

“If I don’t get another identity, you’re doing this all for nothing,” Maura countered.

“I will send a disguise for you tonight.” Max silenced thoughts of protest with a stone cold glare. “You will wear that until you are in the safe confines of the academy. You have no reason to use an Illusion while residing there. It’s not like you will be leaving.”

***

Blue Ruin is the first novel in The Phoenix Series. The Phoenix Series is a dark fantasy with gothic, noire, paranormal, and supernatural elements.

“A hunter and the hunted, Maura Leroux is one of the last of her kind with a dark past that has haunted her. With black magical beings having been hunted for centuries, she’s come to learn a thing or two about survival. But Adrian Wilhelm, a notorious Vampire, threatens to destroy Maura’s newfound life as a detective in the magical world of Mystics. Adrian intends to use Maura as a means of resurrecting the fallen world of black magical beings, Abysm. Maura has made it her mission to stop Adrian while covering her tracks from those that have been seeking her out for centuries.”

Blue Ruin is now available for pre-order as an e-book. Pre-order The Phoenix Series: Blue Ruin — set to release on February 29, 2016.

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