Death In Service: When A Soldier Dies And Their Families Are Left Behind

THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Military service varies heavily between the realms. In the Middle Realm, there is no standing army. This is a rule imposed on the mortals by the Fae; the issue is kept under a very close watch. The soldiers are all mercenaries that are occasionally organized into bands or units. No unit is connected to another. In the Upper Realm, each of the Twelve Houses has their own standing, highly organized military.

At the beginning of Chasing Fae, readers get a front and center view of Leo’s death announcement to his family in the Middle Realm. A group of soldiers arrive at the residence with a scroll and a folded flag and deliver the news. The mother collapses in anguish, and Grace rushes to her aid, holding back her own tears. It is an intense moment at the beginning of the book that throws the reader into the turmoil of the world right away.

When a soldier dies, it is important in both the Upper and Middle Realms that they are treated properly and buried with the utmost respect. Burial is a significant ritual in both locations. In the Middle Realm, a traditional military burial involves a beautiful wooden coffin adorned with simple red roses and a funeral with family and friends gathered around. Occasionally, the head of the unit will give a short eulogy. The coffin is often carved by the family themselves, depicting stories of the soldier’s life. In the Upper Realm, a military burial involves an ornate coffin, purchased by the family and occasionally in conjunction with the army the soldier was a member of (depending on the House). The coffin is then adorned with flowers in the color of their birth House. Fae burials involve an abundance of music and a ancient ritual that is said to guide the soul to a better place. The whole community is usually involved in the funeral.

When the Fae began to call for mortal soldiers to come into their realm and serve within the last few months prior to the beginning of Chasing Fae, there was no established process for sending back those who perished. Each of the Twelve Houses created their own method. Most involved sending the body back with enough funds to cover a sufficient funeral and several medals or accolades given in recognition of their service. Others sent back the body with nothing but a note. Some didn’t even give that. This leads to a lot of confusion and a lot of unnecessary heartache on the part of the mortal families.

All of this history and cultural elements come together to create the conditions for which we find Grace in the first few chapters. Things are already unsteady to begin with, and when Leo’s body doesn’t come back at all, that is a huge red flag to her. She does not want her brother to become one of those numbers that is never properly laid to rest. Hence what unfolds over the rest of the novel…

Mortals and Fae: Cultural and Economic Differences

While I was writing Chasing Fae, I wanted to make sure that the Upper Realm and Middle Realm felt like two completely separate places that operated in their own way and practiced their own traditions. Mortals and Fae, though technically two different branch of the same ancestry, have developed their own very separate cultures and economies over the past several hundred years of being apart. Today, I want to share a few details that did not make a specific appearance in the book, but were part of my worldbuilding experience.

The Upper Realm and the Middle Realm have economies that operate on the same currency: copper, silver, and gold coins. A copper buys a small loaf of bread, a silver is equal to 50 copper, and a gold piece is equal to 100 silver. I made sure the numbers were easily divisible in order to determine the value of certain items for moments where I needed that information to keep things consistent. (But to be fair, I can’t take credit for most of the economics; my boyfriend read my book in its early stages and completely overhauled the Realms economies to make things more realistic).

The currency is pretty much where the similarity stops. The Upper Realm has far more resources and therefore, more product available for sale. Their economy is much more diversified. Conversely, the Middle Realm has a very limited set of resources. In some areas, mortals prosper such as the salt mines and the iron and mechanics trades. In others, mainly crops and livestock, the economy is much more shaky. The Fae have proposed heavily skewed trade deals that were forced upon the mortal race centuries ago. Nothing has been modified since then.

One of the more significant cultural elements in both realms that I created that did not make it into the first book involved family and the progression from a child to an adult. In Fae society, when a child is born, the naming of a child is a very important task. The father and the mother traditionally remain sequestered away from their family with their baby for three days. This is a bonding period and an important time to discuss the baby’s name and potential for future endeavors. At the end of the three days, the family comes out before the community and does an ancient protection ritual invoking the name of the child. Then there is a large community feast to celebrate. There is no such ritual in the Middle Realm; birth is much more straight forward, almost clinical.

Parents in either realm tend to home-school or privately tutor their children. For early childhood, there are very few organized schools. Both educations start around age 7. In the Upper Realm, a Fae’s 7th birthday marks the beginning of their magical education. This is a significant rite of passage. Others include the 15th, 18th, and 24th birthday. The 15th is the eligibility for a higher magical education or an apprenticeship, the 18th marks adulthood, and the 24th marks the transition of noble Lord to noble High Lord for the oldest heir to the throne. In the Middle Realm, significant years are a child’s 14th, 16th, and 18th birthday. The 14th is legal to work full time, the 16th is age of maturity, and the 18th birthday is when you become responsible for your own money, house, and job. If adults choose to stay in their parents’ home, they become legally responsible for partial rent as this is universally calculated by how many adults are living in a house.

The little details were the most fun to brainstorm during the whole world-building process. Even if they never make it into the books, I feel like knowing they exist helps me to guide the story along. Maybe I’ll slip some more ideas like this into the later books, and maybe I won’t. But I hope to keep offering these tidbits to you as I continue my journey of being an author.

Fae Lore Within Chasing Fae: Delving Into How The Fae Interact With The Middle Realm

THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS.

One of the more important backstory elements in Chasing Fae is how the Upper Realm of the Fae and the Middle Realm of the mortals interact with one another. There is a lot of history of conflict between the two races that has led them to the tumultuous and uneasy state that exist as the book begins. I touch on this history briefly throughout the book, particularly towards the beginning when the reader is introduced to Lisden for the first time. Today, I want to share a little more of that story in depth with you.

The world was born of demons who formed the framework of the Lower Realm. Demons were the most powerful of the races, but their magic was uncontrollable. As time went on, a small faction of the demon race developed more control and more finesse over their powers. Those people would be the first Fae. After thousands of years, the Fae grew tired of the persecution and endless death that followed them wherever they went. A Fae elder, Master Annacht, designed a spell that would shatter the Lower Realm into two. Using his lifeforce, he managed to generate enough power to form what is now the Upper Realm and the Lower Realm.

In the formative years of the Upper Realm, however, a group of the next generation of Fae were born without magic. Originally it was believed that this affliction was some sort of curse enacted by the demon race as a punishment for fleeing the Lower Realm. At first, the problem was mostly ignored as there were so few Fae children with missing magic. But as those children became of age, they began mixing with Fae society. Suddenly, there was a whole race of half-Fae running around, and that was something that the general population just could not abide. A group of powerful mages intent on preserving magic gathered their powers and split off a smaller portion of the Upper Realm. The Fae without magic, now referred to as mortals, were sent to this Middle Realm to form their own society. The half-Fae were banished to the Lower Realm in hopes that they would die out.

It didn’t take long for the Fae to realize that the pieces of their realm that they had given to the mortals contained important resources that they had not considered in their haste to get rid of them, such as the salt mines and extremely fertile farmland. The noble family in power at the time set the precedent for hundreds of years to come by sending Fae officials to monitor the budding mortal society. Eventually, those observing officials would integrate directly into the mortal government as liaisons and diplomats to the Upper Realm. In the modern era, a handful of mortals were handpicked and paid off to report directly to the Fae on any budding legislation or economic developments. This would allow the Upper Realm to form trade deals with the Middle Realm that were heavily skewed for their benefit.

All of this history brings us to this moment. The Middle Realm has been ravaged and drained dry by the Fae. The people are hovering on the end of poverty, struggling to make a living and in some cases, to stay alive. The Fae have suppressed the people for so long that many have given up on seeing brighter days.

And that, my friends, is where Chasing Fae begins….

Grief in Fiction

THIS ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.

Grief is one of the most complex emotions a person can feel and possibly one of the most difficult to explain in words. Yet, I find that I gravitate towards young adult books that tackle this idea in different ways. Most significantly, I enjoy books that tackle the grief that comes after the loss of loved ones as well as the grief that comes with parents’ divorce. I have experienced both kinds of grief in my life, and I believe both have affected me significantly over the last few years.

My parents divorced in 2016 although the process was in the works mid-2015. This brought about a lot of changes and a lot of emotions that I had to deal with as I entered high school. It was a tumultuous time, and there were definitely feelings of loneliness as well as this strange overwhelming sense of responsibility that I felt the need to take on. During that time, I lost both of my great-grandparents. Pop died in 2016, and Grandma died almost exactly a year later in 2017.

I consider myself to have been very lucky to have had my great-grandparents in my life for as long as I did, through nearly my whole childhood. Both of them always enjoyed my stories and my writing; they believed that I would have the chance to be published someday. Because of school and AP exams, I was unable to attend both funerals. It was a long time before I was able to grieve properly, and there is still a ways to go. I hope to visit their graves sometime soon after the pandemic ends.

Chasing Fae tackles many of the feelings that came from my own experience of grief. I came up with the idea for this story during one of the lowest points of my life. The divorce was getting to me, bullying at school had increased, and the friend that I had considered like a brother to me abandoned me without so much as a word. I didn’t want to be angry or upset anymore, so I took that pain and pushed myself to create something beautiful from it.

In the book, Grace has a difficult time dealing with her brother’s death. She feels responsible not only for her mother and her depression, but also for avenging Leo. The entire book spans the emotional journey of Grace coming to terms with what she has lost and how to move forward from it. I really tried to touch on all of the unintended consequences and reactions that grief can cause.

I hope that readers who have experienced any kind of grief in their life will resonate with Grace. I hope that the process of grieving and eventual transformation is present and easily recognizable. Most of all, I hope Chasing Fae offers those individuals like me who had such a hard time figuring out what to do next some peace, some respite for a moment from the chaos they are feeling inside. A good book, especially a good fantasy book, should give the reader a wonderful place to lose themselves in and escape to. I hope Chasing Fae does just that.

Fiction is about the readers

It’s about how they journey through the worlds authors create.

I have always believed that fiction, particularly young adult fiction, is the most powerful form of literature. Having read countless titles over the course of my middle school and high school years, I have learned more about life and myself from fiction than any other singular experience.

The library at school was my second home. As soon as I was old enough that my teachers would let me go by myself, I was one of the library’s most frequent customers. I absolutely hated the two book limit imposed upon me in elementary school. I would go back as often as possible to keep switching out my choices. By the time I got to middle school and eventually into high school, I was taking out five to ten books at a time depending on how many could fit in my backpack.

My book of choice was always fiction, usually fantasy. But that fantasy came in all its guises: epic fantasy, dystopian fantasy, contemporary fantasy, fantasy with a side of romance, etc. I loved being swept away by the worlds that authors were creating right in front of my eyes and by the characters who were running through these worlds. They were a wonderful way to escape from a slow day in class and offer me the entertainment of a brand new adventure every time. I devoured fantasy novels like they were my mom’s mac and cheese. Every new release brought me a renewed sense of joy and wonder that just couldn’t be matched.

Fiction books taught me my most important life lessons. I learned what qualities I wanted most in my friends: loyalty, honesty, the willingness to follow me into battle against dragons. I even made a few fictional friends within the pages of Harry Potter and the Percy Jackson series. I felt validated by the contemporary young adult romances I read with the main characters’ struggles to fit in at their school or in their family. I learned to be more in touch with my own emotions. Of course, I learned the most from my beloved fantasy novels. They taught me that even though I’m not the biggest risk taker in the world, I wanted an adventurous life. I wanted to forge my own path and pick up close friends and even love along the way. Most importantly, I wanted to be the star of my own story.

I think that is what is so amazing about young adult fiction. The readers who love this genre have this amazing ability to see themselves in the world that they’re reading about. Sometimes they are the protagonist, sometimes they are the lovable best friend, and other times they just want to be themselves wandering through the world. Young people who love to read take so much out of literature, often more than the rest of the world. I mean, have any of you ever seen fans argue over which relationships are the best or which Hogwarts House is the best or how the last book in a series should resolve? (I know from experience; I have been an integral part of those discussions.) The best fiction writers know how to draw readers into the storyline and into the world they have created and then let them loose within it.

Over the course of this article series, I plan on diving deep inside my book, Chasing Fae, and the stories within it. You will get an intimate look at the writing process, the characters, the plot, and the universe itself. I hope that as you read my book and these companion articles, you will be drawn into the world as I have been while writing it. Come along for the ride!

Lessons From My Launch

Hey everybody! I hope you all are having a great week so far. Things are getting a little hectic at my house as both my sister and I are gearing up for the start of school on Wednesday. I’m looking forward to my junior year even though I’m spending it at home. I have a great lineup of classes in the history, Latin, and anthropology departments, and I’m writing my capstone this semester. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to keep it all straight!

My debut book launch was last Monday, and it has been an amazing time so far! I had a great week of promotion and sales and all-around fun with my family and friends to celebrate. I am still so surprised that I am now a published author. I can’t believe that Chasing Fae is out in the world and getting so much great reception from readers! Today, I want to share a little bit about what worked for me during this launch and what the results have been so far as we come around to around the two week mark of my launch.

Results From the First Two Weeks

Let’s start off with some stats. In the last two weeks, I have sold 86 Kindle ebooks and 16 paperbacks so far, excluding the number that I sold as part of my presale campaign to fund the publishing process. I am super satisfied with this progress because with the limited marketing that I have done so far, I feel like this was amazing progress. I also made my way to the top 100 list for YA epic fantasy on August 6th at #100. The listing was only up for a day, but it was such an amazing feeling to see my book alongside all of my favorite authors. I took screenshots of the entire list so I could remember that moment forever.

Here’s What Worked For Me

There are a few specific things that worked well for me during launch week that I want to pass on to you.

  • Bargain Booksy and ReadFreely: I saw a sizeable jump in sales mid-week during the days that I picked my newsletter promotions to be. I had both of these on the same day, so I cannot be 100% sure which one I can attribute to it. But ReadFreely also did an amazing job in tweeting out my promotions constantly for about a week or so. I loved seeing them pop up throughout the day.
  • Having lots of great friends on Twitter and Facebook: Getting involved in the Writing Community on Twitter and Facebook and keeping your family and friends informed about your writing process can really help boost your launch when it’s time. I had tons of people retweeting and sharing my links all day, and it led to a great buzz. Lots of my friends went ahead and ordered on launch day, and throughout the week, I got pictures of people receiving their paperbacks or confirmations of Kindle orders. They really made me smile. Writing can be such a lonely process, so it’s important to make connections with other writers to lift each other up.
  • Virtual Blog Tour: I spent several weeks leading up to my launch securing key guest post, interviews, and excerpt feature slots to promote my book. I got a lot of cross traffic to my website and definitely a few sales. As a new author, this was a way to get my name out to a lot of readers at once and offer insights into myself and my book. I honestly loved it. I hope to do more guest posts and interviews going forward.

What I Wish I Would Have Done

There are also a couple things I would have done differently in my launch that I hope to incorporate in my second book launch.

  • Have a Dedicated Launch Team: I needed to send out more advanced review copies and have a few dedicated people who would talk about my book over the first few days. I was so lucky to have people who shared and posted out of the kindness in their hearts and their friendships with me, but I could definitely use a little more organization next time for my own peace of mind.
  • Promoting My Launch Party Earlier: My Facebook launch party on Wednesday, August 5th was a pretty solid success, despite the technical issues. I would have loved to have promoted that across my other social medias more so that I would have had a bit more engagement on my giveaways in particular.

In Conclusion…

All in all, my book launch has been very successful so far. I hope that as I enter the fall semester of my junior year, I will be able to work out a good balance between marketing, writing book 2, and keeping this website flowing with more posts about the craft of fantasy writing. Wish me luck on that, folks.

CHASING FAE IS OUT NOW!

Today is the day, my friends. Chasing Fae is finally live!

In January of 2018, this book was nothing more than an idea and a handful of strange notes on a Notability page. Now, two and a half years later, it is a beautiful, genuine book that can be read by all. And already has its first five star review! There is so much that I want to say, but the words well up in my throat every time I try to type them.

Thank you so much for your time and support throughout this writing journey. When I introduced myself to you in January 2019, I was a girl with a dream and a first draft. You stuck with me through the entire revision process and the start of my querying process to literary agents. You celebrated with me when New Degree Press greenlit my manuscript for publication. Between social media, guest posts, and podcast appearances, you have given me so much encouragement and helped me discover my public voice as an author.

I finally reached my dream. I published my first book as a young college student.

And I am nowhere near done. From here on out, it’s all bright beautiful skies.

I hope you all pick up a copy of Chasing Fae today!

Amazon Paperback

Amazon Kindle *** special offer: $0.99 from now until August 31st ***

Kobo

Marketing A Fantasy Book: My Current Plan

Hey everyone! Finally getting around to doing a full-length post with all of the launch preparation going on. According to social media, what writers most want to hear about at this particular moment is how to market a fantasy book. This is a super pertinent topic right now as I am setting up my early marketing strategy for Chasing Fae. Today, I’m going to walk through my small budget and which sites and resources I am going to be using as of today to promote my book through its first month out and into the future.

Starting Budget: $100

For my 21st birthday a few days ago, my grandparents gave me $100 in two very nice cards. I decided that I could use that money to set up a few small promotion listings and advertisements to get a solid running start with my debut novel. The most important elements for me in my marketing strategy are to utilize as many free promotion sites and services as I can and spend money in key places to maximize sales (and hopefully reviews!) in the future.

Free Promotion Ideas

All Author – This is a great site that allows authors to have a profile and your books in their directories for free. The free plan includes a basic author page with a listing in the Author Directory, up to 4 books, and a tweet scheduler feature. The pro plan is $59 for six months and includes more features like a premium author page, unlimited book adds, a featured book listing, and more. I opted for the free plan here because I had more worthwhile places to spend my money.

Alternative Reads – I submitted my book for a potential Sunday Spotlight Author feature. I’ll see what happens!

Authorsdb – Authors Database is a great free option for promotion. They have over 20k published listing, and setting up a profile and adding your books is super easy. It looks like it has a fun author community; I’m looking forward to taking part in it.

Book Goodies – I opted for a free listing on Book Goodies that will be up for six months. This is a site that I heard was a good option.

Book Reader Magazine – I submitted a book listing and a free interview to Book Reader Magazine, which I am including in my blog tour this coming week.

Discount Bookman – I added a free book listing to this site.

Fantasy Book Place and Fiction Hideaway – These sites are both affiliates of Book Goodies; one is fiction targeted and one is fantasy targeted. I submitted a free book listing to both sites, which will be up for six months.

Fresh Fiction – I submitted a free book listing to this site.

Humanmade.net – I submitted a regular listing to this site, which includes authors from all over the world.

Pretty-Hot.com – I submitted a free book listing to this site.

Paid Promotion Ideas

Awesome Gang ($10) – I submitted a book listing to Awesome Gang because it looks like a great site with quite a few solid affiliations with other sites. I submitted a free author interview to them as well, so I thought this was a good place to add some extra power to my listing. $10 buys a featured listing which gets me a listing on the front page for 2 days, a guaranteed spot in the newsletter, and a blast out to Facebook and Twitter with 70,000 followers combined.

Bargain Booksy ($25)- Bargain Booksy is one of the more well known promotion sites that I have heard of, so I decided to submit a title for a feature. Each genre has a separate price. I listed my book as a young adult title for $25. That gets me a listing in the daily email to thousands of subscribers as well as a feature front and center on their website.

Book Bongo ($19.99)- I liked the different kinds of marketing options offered at Book Bongo. The more I looked into it, the more I wanted to do a slightly higher priced package. I opted for the Book Blast for $19.99. My book will be permanently featured in two genres on the website and on the front page for up to two weeks during my $0.99 promotion period. I will also get a feature in the weekly mailout, a post on Facebook and Twitter, and inclusion in the weekly advertising campaign on Facebook. I thought this was absolutely worth it, and I’m hoping to see some results from it.

Book of the Day ($9.99) – Book of the Day was another promotion site that offered a lot of marketing outreach for a low price. $9.99 bought me my book on the front page for 2 weeks, the sidebar for 7 days, listings in the newsletter, on Facebook, and on Twitter; and addition to the Category pages and AI System.

eBook Booster ($20)- I found this form through Armadillo eBooks that guaranteed listing my ebook on 15 different promotion sites and social media channels. I browsed their database of options (and there were a lot of options), and I liked what I saw. I thought $20 was worth the breadth of the outreach. I’m looking forward to seeing where the listings end up.

Read Free.ly ($10) – This seems like an awesome site with a lot of opportunities for promotion at every level. For authors on a budget, this is a great spot. $10 buys a platinum level promotion package. This includes a long list of perks: promotion on the homepage for up to 7 days, promotion in the newsletter on a specific date chosen by me, promotions on their social media platforms, and an automatic spot on the shortlist for the site’s Editor’s Choice section.

YA Books Central ($3.99)- This is an essential database for any young adult author to take advantage of, and it has longevity. It’s been around since 1998. For $3.99, I entered my book into the database. This not only gives me access to a ton of readers, but it also opens me up to take advantage of the site’s other offerings in the future.

So this is my plan so far! I have a few other ideas for free listings in the works right now, and I may do an update later if people are interested. For now, there are a little less than 24 hours until launch day, and I have more work to do! Happy writing, everyone!!!

Chasing Fae Releasing On August 3rd!

SURPRISE!

I am super pleased to announce that I finally have a release date! Chasing Fae will be available on Amazon, IngramSpark, and Kobo on August 3rd! I am so excited to finally have a launch plan for this book.

Here are some highlights of that plan that you can expect hearing more about as I go forward:

  • August 3rd: Release day!
  • August 3rd: Launch of an in-depth article series about Chasing Fae and all of its lore on Medium. Articles will also be posted on Fluff About Fantasy a few days later.
  • August 3rd: Launch of my virtual blog tour! I have some fantastic guest posts lined up, and I’m hoping to get a few more by the time my book comes out.
  • August 5th: Facebook Launch Event! I am throwing a fantastic online launch party to celebrate Chasing Fae. All throughout the day, there will be opportunities to interact with me live, learn about my process, hear excerpts from my work, play games, and win signed paperback copies of the book! Click here to see the event and mark your interest to get updates!

If you would be interested in getting early access to my book, please subscribe to my email newsletter. I will be sending some super secret updates via email to my subscribers!

We’re so close to publication! Get excited!!!!

The Writing Community Podcast

Hey everybody! Just wanted to take a moment to share that my episode with the Writing Community Podcast is now live! I had a great time chatting with Brian about my book, about writing, and about my potential plans for the fall. Click here to listen to it on the website. You can also find it on multiple platforms: iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher Radio. I hope you enjoy!