Author Interview, Book Love, Uncategorized, writers life

YA Fantasy Author Interview: S.M. Beiko

As the winter ice begins to thaw, the fury of a demon builds  all because one girl couldn’t stay dead . . . 

Roan Harken considers herself a typical high school student ― dead parents, an infected eyeball, and living in the house of her estranged, currently comatose grandmother (well, maybe not so typical) — but she’s uncovering the depth of the secrets her family left behind. Saved from the grasp of Death itself by a powerful fox spirit named Sil, Roan must harness mysterious ancient power . . . and quickly. A snake-monster called Zabor lies in wait in the bed of the frozen Assiniboine River, hungry for the sacrifice of spirit-blood in exchange for keeping the flood waters at bay. Thrust onto an ancient battlefield, Roan soon realizes that to maintain the balance of the world, she will have to sacrifice more than her life in order to take her place as Scion of the Fox.

American Gods meets Princess Mononoke in this powerful first installment of a trilogy sure to capture readers’ imaginations everywhere.

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Welcome, S.M. We are so happy to have you here! Congratulations on your latest release, CHILDREN OF THE BLOODLANDS 🙂 Let’s dive into some questions.

Loie: I love Roan. I love her personality, her cleverness, and her spunk. Did you have an initial idea about Roan? Did you learn more about her during drafting?

S.M. Beiko: Roan was really interesting to write, especially because her voice comes from first person perspective. Because of this, a lot of my own mannerisms and interests came through—though she’s of course much taller than me, and a bit more athletic 😉

Whenever I create any character though, I try to put myself in their shoes and their situation, and I wanted her to headstrong, the type who rushes in, a bit emotional but also practical, and level-headed enough to be reluctant about the hard choices she had to make. At first, she was a pretty simple Chosen-One hero type, but the more I wrote her, the more it came out organically that nothing was going to be that easy for her, given the circumstances she ends up in. What came out of that were evident character flaws, which I feel are very important to making a protagonist believable! Now that I’ve finished a draft of book 3, Roan has changed quite a lot from an idealistic can’t-do-wrong prototype, and I hope everyone likes where her journey ultimately has led her!

Loie: Wow, that is so interesting! I love how you learned more about her as you wrote. Her voice is so strong and that’s one of my favorite parts. She feels three-dimensional and real. I can’t wait to read the final book 🙂

Where did the story of the Fox come from?

S.M. Beiko: I live in the far west side of Winnipeg now, but I used to live more centrally, near the Assiniboine River and Wellington Crescent. In fact, a lot of Scion was planned during my frequent walks to and from work from River Heights into Wolesley. One night, walking home along the river in late winter, a fox ran in front of me on the sidewalk, threw me some wicked shade, then bounded off into the night. A wild hypothetical popped into my head—what if that fox followed me home and gave me a cool mission? A lot of my stories crop up from random questions I ask myself, and I keep asking them until suddenly a whole novel—or three of them—have formed in my head.

Loie: Yay, Canada! Love it. It’s magical when a question or idea pops into your head and the story unravels from there.

Have you always been drawn to fantasy? Are there any other genres or styles you would like to try?

S.M. Beiko: Fantasy is definitely my bread and butter, and what I was ‘raised’ on. A lot of that influence stems from magical girl animes, or Hayao Miyazaki films, as well as comics and video games like the Final Fantasy series, and films like Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Lord of the Rings, and hundreds of others. I love magic in all its forms, and pushing the limits of what is expected beyond the mundane. I’d like to someday try High Fantasy, where the world-building is much more extensive, or Historical Fantasy, which entails way more research and immersion.

I’m also very keen to start a comic/graphic novel (probably still in the fantasy genre!) that is a little more light-hearted than what I’ve been writing lately. Before I got into writing/book publishing, I was actually studying for a Fine Arts degree. I found the way my program was structured to be a bit stifling/confining, so I switched into Literature. As a result, art has been something I’ve ‘done on the side’ but I’ve let it go far too much. While I’m also a comics editor by trade, I’d like to hunker down and learn another dimension of comics by creating one. We’ll see!

Loie: I love magical girl animes as well ❤ Sailor Moon is still my favorite 😀 Wow! A graphic novel/comic would be fantastic.

I read that you work in the Canadian Publishing industry. Can you share a little bit about how it differs from the US? Or can you share about your experience working on the industry. What’s it like? Being on both sides?

S.M. Beiko: The general North American market is quite similar in terms of structure, but I’ve found (with a few exceptions) that fantasy, and all other Speculative Fiction genres (Sci Fi, Horror, Graphic Novels, romance, etc.) have a much livelier market in the USA than they do in Canada. The Canadian market is still quite focused on General Fiction, meaning the themes and characters take place in the modern, real-life world (often referred to as ‘Can Lit’), and as such, spec fic hasn’t thrived. I think a lot of it has to do with major publishing awards like the Giller and the Rogers Fiction Trust Prize being focused on the Can Lit experience, as well as population density; there’s just more people in the USA who are hungry for spec fic!

My experience working in the industry has been great, though. I’ve been working as a book and comic editor, as well as a packaging graphic designer and typesetter, since 2010, and at this point I’ve virtually worked in every part of the field as I’ve journeyed to full-time freelance sustainability. As a writer, my publishing education gives me insight and tempers my expectations for my own work, as well as buoying me forward when it comes to representing myself and knowing what I can ask for. It has definitely made me a much more proactive author when it comes to promoting myself, because I know how much work goes into getting a book to press, let alone making sure its visible on the shelf. The author has to take an active role in assisting the publisher rather than relying on them to do everything.

Loie: Wow. That is so cool that you’ve worked in all parts of publishing. Love it. That would really provide you with valuable insight. Thanks for sharing about the industry. I thought that might be a reason – re: larger population reading more spec fic in the US 🙂

Do you participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)?

S.M. Beiko: Unfortunately I don’t. I always say I’m going to every year, but the reality is that by the time November rolls around, I’m just coming down from either handing in a manuscript or resting after book touring. However, I do try to apply the principles of NaNoWriMo to my every day writing ethic and schedule, and while I won’t be Tweeting or updating constantly about where I am on a project, I do aim to write every day in November, even if it’s not 50,000 words, or the project isn’t complete by month’s end. November 9 is my last travelling book event—a book launch for Children of the Bloodlands in Calgary—and I can’t wait to just be at home, making things, for the rest of the year!

Loie: Thank you so much, S.M.! It was so interesting to hear you talk about the Canadian Publishing industry and also where your inspiration came from ❤ I hope you have a blast on tour!

Also, for my maritime friends, check out this tour that SM and Kristen Ciccarelli will be going on. They made a beautiful banner 🙂

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I hope you enjoyed the interview ❤ Thanks again, S.M.

Are you guys participating in NaNoWriMo this year? What are your goals? I would love to hear below ❤

Loie

Book Love, Cover Reveals, writers life, writing

Cover Reveal: CLOUDED BY ENVY – Candace Robinson

September 25th, 2018

Guys, I am so happy to be part of the cover reveal for Candace’s newest book CLOUDED BY ENVY, releasing in February 2019! Eep, so exciting. You may remember when I wrote a review for her story, Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault.

I cannot wait to read her latest story. Candace is a master storyteller of quirky, unique, and romantic fantasy. I love her style of writing.

Without further ado, here is the Goodreads summary:

Brenik has always been envious of his twin sister, Bray. Growing up as fairy-like creatures, known as bats, everything came easier to Bray. While Brenik spent his time in her shadows, never feeling he was enough. After escaping their world of Laith, and living on Earth for ten years, Brenik attempts to strike a deal with the Stone of Desire to become human. Though true humanity is not an option, he will accept the curse that will alter him to get as close as he can.

Living in a tree trunk for the past year hasn’t been easy for Bray, more so after her brother disappears again. When a human boy and his brother, Wes, find her, a new friendship is struck. Through Wes, Bray learns there can be more to life than waiting within a tree. But worrying over where Brenik has vanished to always remains in the back of her mind.

When Bray reunites with Brenik, she realizes she must help him break the curse after she discovers the need for blood is beginning to overpower him. The curse not only damages those who get close to Brenik, but it could also destroy whatever is blooming between Bray and Wes.

Are you ready for the cover?!

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Isn’t it stunning? I love it so much ❤

You can learn more about Candace here 🙂 Or follow her on Twitter!

Tell me what you think below :)! I would love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Loie xo

Author Interview, Book Love, canadian authors, writers life

YA Author Interview: Kristen Ciccarelli

 

The Last Namsara Goodreads Summary

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her

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Thank you so much, Kristen, for agreeing to come on the blog today and share about your writing, books, and other creative endeavors.

I loved The Last Namsara SO much! I particularly loved your worldbuilding, mythology, romance, and main character, Asha 🙂 Also, dragons! It’s great to have you here on the blog today. Woohoo to Canadian YA Fantasy authors! Love it.

When I first picked up The Last Namsara and flipped to the back to read your bio, I was so excited to see you were a fellow Canadian. It gave me hope that someday I might also be published.

Okay, let’s get to the interview 🙂

Loie: How did you come up with Firgaard? I love this world so much!

Kristen: This is actually a hard question to answer! My stories always begin with character, and everything in a story (in my opinion) needs to somehow serve that character—either helping her or hindering her on her journey to becoming who she’s meant to be. So I guess you could say that I came up with Firgaard because of Asha. The outlawed stories, the patriarchal monarch, the deadly dragons, the walls within walls … these were all things that came out of who Asha was, the secrets she was keeping, etc. It’s the world she needed.

Loie: When you are building and researching a story, what tips do you have for writers? Do you spend a certain amount of time preparing the story before drafting? Also, could you talk a little bit about rewrites and revisions?

Kristen: I think everyone researches and worldbuilds differently, so I’m not sure how helpful I can be here. One thing I will say is that research and worldbuilding can become procrastination tactics. They’re important, but getting the book written is more important. You can do all the research and worldbuilding in the world and still not have done enough. At some point, you have to start writing. I do some research and worldbuilding at the beginning, some as I write, and then some more in between drafts, going back and fixing things/layering in the new pieces. What’s more important for me is knowing my character. I spend a considerable amount of time figuring out who my character is before I start writing. I need to know who she is at the beginning of the story versus who she is at the end so I can figure out how she’s going to change and grow (which is essentially the plot of the book).

In terms of rewrites and revisions, it really depends on the author, as well as the book. Some things that are important before you sit down to revise a story: take space away from the draft so you can see it with fresher eyes, give it to trusted people who will give constructive feedback, compile that feedback into some kind of revision plan (I like to make a revision list starting from big things like character and plot changes, then end with small things like adding in more sensory details, etc), then go down the list as you revise. When you get to the end, repeat the same steps over again for as many drafts as a story needs, until it’s done.

Loie: What inspired the stories found in TLS and TCQ? I loved your book because of the snippets of legends we received before each chapter. It made the story and the world so much richer and I truly felt immersed.

Kristen: The stories are essentially cleverly disguised cheating. 😉 They’re there to give the reader a whole lot of backstory (on the characters, on the world, on the religion) without the reader realizing they’re reading a lot of backstory. But also, stories are so integral to the book—they’re dangerous and forbidden because they lure dragons and kill their tellers, but also because Asha is a storyteller. So it just seemed right to use them in this way.

Loie: Do you have any projects that you are dreaming to work on in the future after this series? Will you always write YA or will you write MG or Adult? Are there any other genres you are particularly drawn to?

Kristen: I have a few projects I’m working on now, just for fun. One of them is YA fantasy set in a very different world than The Last Namsara and it’s been the thing I work on when I don’t have any other looming deadlines. The other project is an adult fantasy. I’m definitely most drawn to fantasy (and always have been). I can’t really see myself writing in other genres, but never say never, I guess?

Loie: What do you do to get unstuck in a story?

Kristen: Usually it requires going back to the place in the story where I wasn’t stuck and deleting everything after that point. But sometimes getting stuck is a sign of stress or exhaustion. So sometimes it means I need to put the laptop away for the night and watch Netflix with my husband. Other times it means going for a walk. Or washing the dishes. Or doing something that requires me to get out of my head. The subconscious mind is a powerful thing that can often figure out your plot problems while you distract yourself with other things.

Loie: Who is your favorite character to write and why 🙂 ?

Kristen: Whichever character I’m writing at the moment. 😉 Seriously, though. I’m most interested in whoever is driving the story I’m currently writing, probably because I have to know them so well. (So with book one, it was Asha. With book two, it was Roa.) However, I think people are interesting in general. People are like icebergs. There’s a tiny little bit of them showing above the surface, but mostly who they are is all hidden underneath. The surface of a person can be extremely deceiving. I want to know what’s under the surface of every character/person, because it’s so often interesting and surprising.

Loie: I love your Instagram and seeing all the other creative things you are up to like baking and pottery and hiking around Newfoundland. How do other creative endeavors inform writers or how do they help?

Kristen: As anyone who spends a lot of time staring at a computer screen will know, it’s helpful to get out of your head and into the real world, to move your body, to have sensory experiences. Writing is stationary and solitary and happens inside your own mind. You can’t stay in that state. You need to move, have social interactions, be present in the world happening around you. For your writing, yes, but more importantly, for your well-being. Baking, making pottery, hiking … these are restorative acts for me. They remind me that writing is not the most important thing. Living is.

Loie: If you could sit down with one author and have a coffee with them, who would it be?

Kristen: Patricia McKillip! She was my favourite author growing up (and still is). She has virtually no internet presence. She doesn’t go on tour. She’s a total mystery, which I love. (In fact, now that I’m writing this, maybe I don’t want to have coffee with her, maybe I should keep her as a mystery…)

Loie: Finally, can you share a little bit about The Caged Queen?

Kristen: The Caged Queen is about a girl who must kill a king in order to save her sister. The protagonist of this book is Roa, who you meet in The Last Namsara when she makes Dax (a boy she has tumultuous history with) a deal: she’ll lend him the army he needs to win a war if he marries her and makes her queen.

While The Caged Queen opens almost immediately after The Last Namsara ends (with Roa as an outlander queen in a kingdom that’s been shaken by war), and while it continues on with the characters from TLN (Asha, Torwin, etc), it also stands alone. So you can read The Caged Queen first if you want, and then read The Last Namsara as a prequel.

Loie: Thank you so much, Kristen for coming here and taking the time to answer some questions. I love your writing and I cannot wait to read The Caged Queen!

Kristen: It was my pleasure! Thanks for your questions, Loie.

I hope you all enjoyed the interview. Keep an eye out on my Twitter account for a book giveaway 😍✨ Have you read The Last Namsara? What is your most anticipated sequel?

Until next time,

Loie xo

Book Reviews

Book Review: Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault

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Published by Parliament House Press

 June 26th, 2018

Book 1 in a Duology

Goodreads 

Some see it… Some don’t…

People in the town of Deer Park, Texas are vanishing. There is a strange museum, known as Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, that appears overnight. Perrie Madeline’s best friend and ex-boyfriend are among the missing. Perrie and her friend August go on a pursuit for them in the mysterious museum. Could the elusive Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault have anything to do with the disappearances?

Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault is the start of a thrilling duology full of magic, danger, and romance.

General Gushing and Characters I Love

Candace created three dimensional characters that I fell in love with from the get go. Our main heroine, Perrie, is a spunky and real teenager. She’s fallen in love and has had her heart broken. She is a great friend to her cousin and bestie, Maisie. I love that she is a musician and plays the cello. (Sidenote, I’ve always wanted to play the cello or harp 😉

Maisie is so fun and cool. If only I had her rocking confidence when I was a teenager ❤ I love how quirky she is. Perrie and Maisie are #friendshipgoals. There is a quote from Perrie that I scribbled down that I wanted to share.

“That’s what I love best about her is the fact she doesn’t care what anybody thinks, and just wants to see everyone happy.”

This is Perrie observing Maisie inviting everyone to dance at their prom, not caring about the different cliques. I loved that so much ❤ This really shows us how kind and caring Maisie is.

Neven and August are intriguing. (Aren’t all the character names awesome ?!?!) Both boys have interesting personalities and vie for Perrie’s attention. There is a twist at the end of the book that I absolutely did NOT SEE coming. Well done, Candace. I have a #bookhangover and I need the sequel ASAP, pretty please 🙂

Favorite Moments

When Perrie goes to the Glass Vault to rescue Maisie. Talk about fearless! She does not only seek to help Maisie but others as well.

A funny moment with Perrie and August: “Please tell me you’ve taken karate or something like that.”

(This is when August and Perrie are facing a fight, haha! I laughed out loud.)

If you love horror, mystery, and fairytales, I highly suggest you pick up this book. It is a brilliant mash up and it did not disappoint. The pacing was outstanding. Every time I came to the end of a chapter I felt propelled forwards, unable to stop reading. (I also took notes, as a writer, haha.)

Writer Thoughts

Like I said before, the pacing was brilliant. I also enjoyed how Candace seamlessly weaved backstory into various chapters. This helped me understand Perrie and her friends a lot better. I saw how much Perrie loves Maisie and cares for her best friend. We also got to see what happened between her and Neven.

Her descriptions were spot on, building a lush and horrifying world at times. Can’t wait for your next book, Candace!

Author Candace Robinson 

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My name is Candace Robinson. I’m just your average hemiplegic migraine sufferer. My days are spent writing, book reviewing and traveling through books for my blog, Literary Dust. I live just outside of Houston, Texas, where it feels like the hottest place on Earth with the crazy weather. No, seriously, one day it’s 30 degrees and the next it’s 70 degrees! I live with my husband and awesome daughter!

Candace has an awesome book blog called Literary Dust! Go check it out 🙂 Isn’t that website name awesome?!

If you want to order this book on Amazon, just click here 🙂

You can also order it on Parliament’s website!

What are you reading at the moment? I would love to hear in the comments below.

Until next time,

Loie xo

Book Reviews

Book Review: Between the Sea and the Stars

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Forthcoming: June 19th, 2018

Parliament House Publishing

Book 1

Goodreads

A Legend, 
A Magical Shell 
A Girl Who Dreamed Of Something More… 

Lena, a Merrow girl, lives in the Skagerrak sea with her father, Carrick and her brother, Javelin who tells her of the legend of the Merrow Queen murdered by her human lover when greed takes over. But what’s worth spilling the queen’s blood? Gifted from Poseidon, himself, a magic shell gives any human the ability to control both land and sea. 

When Javelin is called to join a clan of Merrow soldiers bent on protecting their waters from human invasion, Lena resists Merrow law and ventures to the shore with no choice but to swim to land. 

With newfound legs, Lena is whisked away on a new adventure with new friends and new trouble. Everyone seems to want something from her as intrigue lurks around every corner. 

Trying her best to hide who she is and remain safe from the dangers of the human world, will Lena finally find where she belongs, or will she be swept into a strong and stormy current by lust, greed, and jealousy?

General Gushing

This book is magical. I devoured it in a few days because I couldn’t stop reading 🙂 Chantal is a fantastic storyteller and I felt completely immersed in Lena’s world.

As many of you know, I am revising a seafaring fantasy at the moment. I love EVERYTHING about the sea and I was so excited to get to read this ARC from Parliament House Publishing. Thank you so much, Parliament 🙂 All the lush details of the sea world were beautifully done. I loved the time we spent underwater with Lena and her family ❤

On land, I felt for Lena as she navigated the new experience of living above water. Lena is a character I happily rooted for. She’s sweet and sparky at the same time, unafraid to share her opinion.

I eagerly flipped the pages, wondering what was going to happen next.

Moments I loved

Lena helps an older blind gentleman on land, named Edwin. Together, they share stories and they develop a sweet relationship. Lena is so kind and patient with him. He sends her to retrieve new books for him that are written in Braille. This is where she meets Soren Emil, who is a bookkeeper ❤ Soren is probably my other favorite character, alongside Lena.

Lena says this to one of her new friends, Jace, in Chapter 17: “But greatness and goodness are two different things.” This is so true. I love how wise Lena is.

The Little Mermaid 

This story definitely nods to The Little Mermaid. I love all the references peppered throughout the prose. It is a unique retelling and I am eager for the sequel. Can’t wait to read more books by Chantal 🙂

Find Out About Other Books by Chantal Gadoury 

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About the Author

Amazon Best Selling Author, Chantal Gadoury, is a 2011 graduate from Susquehanna University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. Since graduation, she has published “The Songs in Our Hearts” with 48Fourteen Publishing, and “Allerleirauh” with Parliament House Press, with future titles to follow. Chantal first started writing stories at the age of seven and continues with that love of writing today. Writing novels for Chantal has become a life-long dream come true! When she’s not writing, she enjoys painting, drinking lots of DD Iced Coffee, and watching Disney classics. Chantal lives in Muncy, Pennsylvania with her Mom, Sister and furry-‘brother’ (aka, puppy) Taran.

Purchase Links

Between the Sea and Stars

Amazon

Goodreads

Allerleirauh

Amazon

Parliament House Press

Thank you again to Parliament House Press for sending me this Advanced Readers Copy.  What are you all reading at the moment? I would love to hear below.

Until next time,

Loie xo

 

Uncategorized

#AMMConnect

March 3rd, 2018 9:53 am

Good morning all!

This blog post is dedicated to my young-adult fantasy, EVREN. I am planning on participating in Author Mentor Match – a fabulous opportunity for an aspiring author to be matched up with a mentor. The mentor and mentee work together to get the manuscript ready for submission to potential agents. *Squees*

It’s an amazing opportunity and I cannot get over the support and encouragement I see in the children’s literature world these past few years. There are heaps of contests and opportunities for aspiring authors.

http://authormentormatch.com/

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Traveling through Killarney, Ireland

Welcome! My name is Loie Dunn and I am an aspiring young adult fantasy author.  I am twenty-six-years old and I live in eastern Canada with my barber and ancient Jack Russell Terrier. Walking on the beach to collect sea glass is one of my favorite activities 🙂

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This photo was taken at the Cliffs of Moher where I was visiting one of my best friend’s, Triona. That trip was one of the best I have ever been on. Ireland is so beautiful – it truly is an emerald jewel. The people are so genuine and friendly. Did I mention they have awesome live music at nearly every pub?

I love to travel 😀 I hope to travel more in the future. Paris, Moscow, Africa, and Germany are on my bucket list. Someday …. 😉

Without further ado…. my work-in-progress: young adult fantasy, EVREN…

AKA a seafaring adventure with magic, romance, and friendship! 

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EVREN follows the dual POV of a young female sea navigator and an elf who has just been promoted as King’s Guard.

We get to follow Evren while she navigates the sea and East, who is learning how to manage his new position while relations become strained with the landwalkers and the sun-fae of Tarkais. East finds it doubly hard when a lovely sun-fae comes to court and asks for his help. Why? Her people are being persecuted.

Evren lives on a poor island, fishing for a living, because she cannot find any navigating jobs. When the handsome and eccentric Captain Sa’av arrives on the island looking for someone to bring him to the sinister Sea Queen’s lair, Evren jumps at the task. Even though Rusalka’s lair is not found with landwalkers eyes, Evren promises Sa’av that she can bring him there.

Evren has a secret: she can navigate the sea without a compass.

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What happens when Evren finds out the real reason they are going to Rusalka’s Lair?

An epidemic is sweeping Tarkais and Captain Sa’av is charged with finding an antidote to the sickness that has infected him and more to follow. Evren cannot walk away from this task, especially not when she has begun to fall for the Captain.

Will Rusalka give them the antidote? Evren is uncertain, especially since the Sea Queen has begun to utter death threats over the wind.

There you have it, friends! Thank you for reading. I hope you like my story 🙂

Now to keep editing until Author Mentor Match.

Loie ❤