When Stars Die’s New Home!

When Stars Die’s New Home!

It’s no secret that my last publisher, Gnome on Pig Productions, folded after being around for quite some time. I wish I could say I was surprised, but COVID has been doing a number on a lot of people, including the new place I work at and one or two of its branches. Lots of businesses are going under, or having to cutting costs by cutting people. I have heard that even the medical field hasn’t been safe from the damage wrought by COVID.

It’s been both an exciting and admittedly rough time. I have just started physical therapy school amid the pandemic, and this means many of my labs, which are generally in person, are now mostly virtual, and that is challenging as I wrap up my first week. As you can imagine, physical therapy is a very hands-on profession, and it’s just not possible to be a good clinician without putting your hands on someone.

When my publisher let all of us know what was going to happen, I had no idea what I was going to do. I had initially thought of doing self-publishing, but that was before I lost my last job, which paid so much better than this new one does. I would have been able to afford it then. Now I have to squirrel away money purely for PT school.

So I decided to pound the pavement again, but I really only had one publisher in mind because they publish speculative fiction, have bestsellers, have several imprints, and overall have an impressive catalogue of books (with fabulous covers to boot). They’ve been around for eight years and also do accept previously published books. I was pining for them at this point. So I submitted and only had to wait a couple of weeks. And as you can guess at this point, I got the contract!

It is with Crushing Hearts Black Butterfly Publishing (or CHBB Publishing). So I think my Stars Trilogy has finally found its forever home, and I look forward to seeing what Mrs. Sarah Brandon has in store for these books. I feel confident When Stars Die is in good hands and am so, so, so beyond grateful it is being given yet another chance to thrive. For a brief, dark moment, I considered giving up on it because maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. But then I thought about how I started working on the trilogy when I was fourteen, and nine years later, it was first published. How could I let all of that work go to waste? I couldn’t. So at this point, I am grateful and relieved.

And in even more exciting news, because I’m obsessed with beautiful cover art, it has been decided between me and my publisher that my trilogy should have new covers. I still love the current covers and think they are beautiful, but unfortunately Viola Estrella, who created the first two, is no longer doing cover art. This trilogy also truly needs a fresh start, so I thought that would be the best course of action. It’s not that I don’t think someone couldn’t make a third cover and have it line up with the style of the first two. It’s simply more exciting to start anew. That means cover reveals!

There is no release date yet, but once I get it, I will let you all know. For now, I will end with the blurb.

When Amelia finds out her younger brother is a witch, they must flee-or die. The city of Malva is rife with puritanical hatred for witches, who are said to embody the Seven Deadly Sins of mankind. Amelia’s only chance of saving Nathaniel, her brother, is to become a professed nun at Cathedral Reims, but doing so means enduring a series of trials: near-starvation, intense isolation, beatings, and blood-sucking leeches. Escalating these are shadowy beings only Amelia can see. After harming her best friend with fire, a witch’s signature, she worries they are after her because she is a witch like her brother, who reveals he, too, can see them.

Oliver Cromwell, a dashing priest at Cathedral Reims, confirms her fears. He tells Amelia that these beings are Shadowmen: dead, unredeemed witches seeking others like Amelia to join their ranks. When this group of rebel Shadowmen begin planning to destroy those who slaughtered them, Oliver is the only one who can protect Amelia and save Malva. Yet, he may prove more dangerous than the shadows themselves–and his love for Amelia fatal.

My Current Writing Projects

My Current Writing Projects

While When Stars Die is still on sub, I not only finished hardcore revisions of a contemporary novel I started several years ago, but I also finished outlining an entire novel in the paranormal romance genre, a genre I didn’t think I was going to ever visit again. Not only that, but I have made a major change to the third book in The Stars Trilogy. But before I get to that, I want to talk about my contemporary novel a little bit.

It was originally called The Glorious In-Between because the story focused more on the queer-platonic relationship between two asexual characters, but after receiving some feedback that the protagonist didn’t really push the story along, that stuff happened to her but she didn’t make much happen, I had to completely tear the plot apart and redo it. There’s still a queer-platonic relationship in it, but it’s not the main focus. Instead the focus is on something entirely different, and I hope that new focus means my MC is now the one making things happen. That one is currently being critiqued.

As for the novel whose outline I finished, it is currently untitled; a title won’t come until I’ve actually started putting the story itself on paper. However, what I can say about it is that it’s a magical girl story (sans transformations), something I’ve always wanted to write since watching Puella Magi Madoka Magika for the first time. I was fascinated with how that show turned the magical girl trope on its head and ultimately turned into something dark and delicious. Being drawn to magical girls myself and the concept of girls/women having incredible powers inaccessible to boys/men, I knew I wanted to transition this concept to novel format. Of course, they won’t be called magical girls. It’ll be a play on words.

Like The Stars Trilogy, it’ll take place in the 19th century. But unlike my trilogy, it’ll take place in our world instead of a made-up one.

I don’t know when I’ll able to start writing this. I’m hoping to hear some good news about When Stars Die soon, so that’ll have to take precedence. And also, I start PT school officially tomorrow. I’m hoping I can fit my writing life into it as well as take care of my mental health.

As for the third book in my trilogy, All Stars Align, it’s been several years in the making. I outlined it once, did have the draft written, started re-writes, but I just wasn’t happy with it. The entire novel was from Amelia’s perspective because a reader of mine recommended I do that; however, I wasn’t feeling it with her perspective–I wasn’t close to it. It seemed wrong because the stakes weren’t high enough for her. Her primary concern has always been her younger brother, Nathaniel, and her story had already been told in When Stars Die. Alice’s story is told in the sequel. It’s time for someone else to have the spotlight.

So I’ll be re-doing the outline and giving that spotlight to Nathaniel because the stakes are highest for him. I won’t reveal any spoilers as to why this is.

But that’s what’s going on, and I ask that you all wish me luck!

What I Use for My Covers on Wattpad

What I Use for My Covers on Wattpad

*This is not a sponsored post*

First off, I’d like to share my Wattpad, something I recently decided to resurrect. I only ever had one story on there for a few years, until yesterday when I decided to put more short stories on there. “I Am the Bell Jar” and “Dead Poet’s Pendulum” were published at one point, but all rights are mine again, so I’m sharing them for free on Wattpad. To me, “Dead Poet’s Pendulum” reads a bit more amateurish, but I was 18 at the time of it being published. Despite that, I only did some proofreading before publishing on Wattpad because I want to preserve my voice as it was at the time.

I think I had “Sister Evelyn” published on a weebly website I used to have, but it’s part of my Stars universe, as well as another story that isn’t included in the covers above simply because that is a cover I purchased from a designer, not one I made myself.

I plan to add more Stars shorts and then may bundle them in an anthology on Wattpad.

Since I am considering myself absolutely broke for the time being, purchasing pre-made covers has not been feasible. There are people offering services on Wattpad, but most charge in some form or another, and, again, I’m not spending more than a dollar in these uncertain times.

So what is a writer to do? Well, I decided to turn to Canva, this brilliant, amazing website I have been using for my blog posts’ cover photos as of late. It is a database of thousands of photographs along with a myriad of elements and what not you can use to customize whatever it is you want to work on.

Doing book covers on here is the easiest thing imaginable. You don’t need any editing or photo shopping skills. All you need to do is go to ‘create a design’ in the upper left hand corner.

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Then you choose the option for a book cover, and it will bring up a template that is the perfect size. While I’m unwilling to spend several dollars on having others create book covers for me, I don’t mind spending just one single dollar for the perfect photograph to use as my book cover. And that’s what I do. I browse for a photograph I think will fit my short story, drag it into the template, purchase it, and start working on the text.

Creating book covers on your own really makes you realize that the text is what makes a cover truly bookish. Now I don’t know what the Pro option is like for Canva, so you can’t create brilliantly fancy text–multi-colored, for example–but there are plenty of options for the type of text you can choose from. If you look at my cover for ‘A Treacherous Flame’ on Wattpad, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I mean fancy text. You just can’t do that on Canva, probably not without upgrading to the Pro option. But like I said, I don’t know.

The other amazing thing about Canva is that it will let you know if your text or image is centered or not, or even if it’s extending beyond the borders. Basically, as you move the text or image around, it’ll bring up a grid that serves as a guide to tell you where it makes sense to place whatever it is you’re working on.

But that’s what I use and it’s what you can use if you’re strapped for cash. You can make some pretty amazing covers for self-publishing on Canva.

Eulogy for My Cat

Eulogy for My Cat

It’s been another long while since I’ve blogged on here. My last post was July 13th, which was a mere week before my cat, Neko, had to be put down. That’s when the drive to tap into my limbic system just fizzled out. The words weren’t there. The feelings were overrun by ways of keeping myself distracted–throwing myself into my job and throwing myself into my schoolwork.

If you’ve never felt the affection of a pet, it’s hard to understand the despair you undergo. I’ve lost loved ones, but considering I didn’t even see them yearly, their passing was nowhere near as devastating as losing my cat. And I can’t know what it’s like to lose a child. I’m not interested in ever having children, but I can tell you the loss of my cat has left a deep crevasse in my heart so unscalable that crampons and miles of rope won’t help.

Some people like to think the love of an animal is shallow. They only enjoy your presence because you feed them. That’s not the case at all.

When I moved out, I didn’t take Neko with me because I didn’t want to force her into an environment she would be unfamiliar with, so I left her with my parents. Yet, even though my mom had always fed her, her affections were tied to me whenever I visited. Her audible purring was enough to let me know that my presence made her happy.

She was never a lap cat, but she always loved to be near me. And I’ve been using the excuse for so long that I don’t have enough time to write the third book in The Stars Trilogy, when, in reality, it’s been hard to write it because she is no longer here. I wrote the first two books with her always at my side. She was a constant fixture in my writing life, and writing, frankly, is not the same without her.

I have started the third book, of course, 500 words a day at a time, but my writing life feels so empty because she is no longer here to purr by my side, to lay on my notes, to beg for pets when I’m just trying to type something. Even when I moved out and left her with my parents I cried for a week because I missed having her near me so badly. I missed waking up and she wasn’t there to greet me. Eventually I accepted her absence, as I knew she was much better off with my parents. But it’s been five months since we had to put her down because she may have had stomach cancer, and accepting that she’s gone is not any easier.

I still cry a few days a week at night when I’m in bed by myself because my husband comes to bed a little later. And I always tell myself that if something ever came along and said it’d grant any wish in exchange for my soul, I would wish to have her back and have her live forever so that even when I pass, she can go on to bring someone else joy, and she can go on to keep experiencing the world in a different way with each person she lives with. Even as I type this it’s hard to keep back the tears.

I’m so bitter that she died too soon. She was twelve, and while some may argue that’s plenty, there are many cats who live a few years longer than that and some into their twenties. In fact, not only did we put my cat down last year, we also had to put down our little dog who got to live to be sixteen. And while I grew up with that little dog and spent more time living with her than without, her death just could not affect me the way my cat’s did.

You can bond with an animal the same way you can bond with a person, and it is so, so incredibly painful when that bond is severed by an untimely death that is so cruel and unfair. I wish I could believe suffering was meaningful, but it’s absolutely meaningless. I don’t know to what extent that she suffered–only that she did.

I can tell you that the day my mom and I put her down was the worst day of my life. And I’ve been run through the gamut of things.

Her death was so painful because she fought the vet every step of the way. She hissed and growled and spat, and I couldn’t even hold her as she fell asleep and they delivered the final injection that put her down for good. I screamed and cried and apologized to her all the while and couldn’t believe the nightmare I was experiencing. I cried the whole day. I cried for weeks after. What kept me together was just being distracted.

This world can be such a cruel joke, giving us the ability to feel so deeply that we’re paralyzed when our minds experience something inconceivable. And her death was and will always be inconceivable because why did I have to lose her so soon? How come I didn’t get to see her death miles away like I did with our little dog who was able to die of old age? We had another dog, too, who got to die of old age. And if my mom reads this, hopefully she won’t mind me admitting that she told me she would have preferred our little dog to go before Neko–and it’s only because she was old and showing signs of old age and Neko arguably was not old and was certainly not showing signs of old age. If she did have stomach cancer, it’s a type of cancer even young cats can fall prey to.

She’s occasionally in my dreams. Mostly I dream that she appears out of nowhere, as if her death was just a game of hide and seek. In these dreams, I hold her close to me and cry tears of joy that she isn’t truly gone. And then I wake up with a feeling of emptiness knowing that will never come true.

I do have moments where I want another cat. My parents have two cats now named Gracie and Tessa. Gracie’s a cuddle bug, and Tessa’s still new and so is distant from everyone, except when her and Gracie play. So I’m much more familiar with Gracie than I am with Tessa, and even though Gracie melts like putty when you hold her, I realize that my affections for Neko will never be replaced. I visit my parent’s house and yearn for her to appear out of nowhere. She’d probably be angry and jealous that I’m holding another cat, but I think she’d eventually warm up to the idea of living with two other cats and would hopefully become close to them.

I just wish I had more years with her. I thought one day I would be able to take her with me once my husband and I moved somewhere that accepted pets, but now that can never happen.

I’d like to be both more emotionally and financially available before considering adopting a kitty–and I’d want two so that they’re not alone when my husband and I are at work.

There’s no magic way of coping with the death of a pet. Being distracted was the best thing for me. I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to survive at work, but it’s the one thing that kept me going. I know if I didn’t have work to go to, I would have initially spent my time alone at home crying all day. I didn’t even think I’d have the emotional faculties to survive anatomy and physiology, but I’m so driven to achieve my purpose in life that I don’t think there is anything in this world that can stop me.

When there are moments when I can’t stand how horrible it is that she’s no longer here, I try to remind myself that I’ve got a lot of love in me to give to many a deserving cat out there. So I just have to keep chipping away at the obstacles in life in order to provide the best life for my future hypothetical cats. If there’s an expensive surgery that can mean the difference between saving its life or having to put it down, I want to have the means to be able to pay for that.

Before the vet claimed Neko may have had cancer, I thought she just hadn’t started eating yet because the antibiotics hadn’t fully cleared an undiagnosed infection from her system. Or she was just so stressed about being force fed that she couldn’t bring herself to voluntarily eat. I was willing, at that very moment, to dip into my savings and pay for her to have a feeding tube (the most expensive option) if it meant giving her the chance she deserved. I was not going to have her put down just because she wouldn’t eat. It wouldn’t have been fair to her. It would have just been too cruel. But whatever she was going through was far crueler.

It saddens me deeply when I think about how I couldn’t have ever possibly understood to what extent she felt the pain and misery of whatever illness she was infected with. It saddens me whenever I think about how scrawny she was on her very last day, how she had no energy, and how she barely meowed, even when I called her name. She was a normally chatty cat who loved to meow and purr and jump and run, and she wasn’t any of those things on her final day. It saddens me even more to think of what she must have been thinking as the vet held her down and stuck needles in her.

She hated the vet. Always did. She was a tyrant whenever we brought her, and the vet would have to wear gloves and need the help of a vet tech. So it was no surprise she reacted horribly when being put down. But it doesn’t make it sting any less. It just makes everything worse because she must have felt deeply betrayed.

If there’s an afterlife, and if there’s one for animals, I hope she knows how deeply remorseful I am that I couldn’t do anything for her. I hope she knows just how much I loved and still love her. I hope she knows that I wanted to do everything possible to save her, but at the end, there was nothing that could.

Mostly, I just want her to know that she was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. If it hadn’t been for a boy breaking my heart when I was a freshman in high school, my parents likely would not have adopted her. Then I would have missed out on so much by not having her in my life. And who knows what choices I would have made in life had I not had the influence of an affectionate cat? Because I know her love has made me a better person, and I want to keep existing in this world with her love influencing how I live my life.

I am who I am today because she influenced a part of me very deeply, just as there are many positive people in my life who have influenced me and guided all the decisions I’ve ever made.

And I promise to keep living with her positively influencing me.

Manic Monday: Cover Reveal for The Treacherous Flame

Manic Monday: Cover Reveal for The Treacherous Flame

a treacherous flameHere is the cover to my short story, “A Treacherous Flame”! I plan to have it released on November 10th, and it will be free on Amazon.

Benjamin Fairchild, interrogator at Usiburn Tower, is in charge of extracting confessions from witches–and then killing them. His methods are brutal. From crushing thumbs to cutting out tongues, Benjamin is not afraid to use the most extreme methods to get what he wants.

On a crusade to eliminate every last witch he can, Benjamin is currently tasked with a young girl named Emily. She proves to be a most difficult case. Trying to convince Benjamin of her innocence is impossible when he is certain that witches are the biggest embodiment of sin. However, Emily will force Benjamin to discover a secret about himself that threatens to undo everything he has been taught.

If you need a reminder, I’ve included a button to my newsletter below. Click on it, subscribe, and you’ll receive it on the day of release.

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The Stars Are Infinite Cover Reveal!

The Stars Are Infinite Cover Reveal!

Here is the what I think is the gorgeous cover of The Stars Are Infinite! 

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It is the sequel  to When Stars Die.  There will be a third book that I plan to call All Stars Align, which will be the final one in The Stars Trilogy. Here is the blurb for this novel:

Alice Sheraton is slated to be executed as a witch; however, her father spares her. He sends her to Finight Hill, a safe house for witches. Here a Shadowman begins to pursue her, and from this Shadowman she learns she has been bound with a terrible fate since birth: either be a martyr to free witches from their misery, or choose to live knowing her existence will bring on more chaos. 

This novel has a  December release , and you will know more information later, especially when you sign up for the newsletter.

Now here is an interview with Alice Sheraton so that way you get to know a little bit about her before you begin to read this sequel. There are no spoilers. However, make sure you read the first book before buying this one, or else you will get confused:

Hello, Alice. It must be strange being in an interview for you, especially because you’ve spent much of your life never having any attention drawn to you. 

Alice: It’s true. Much of my life has been spent preparing me to find a suitable husband. I did go to a finishing school before coming to Finight, so I do have a great deal of education. At the same time, when I was in the other school, I was taught to never draw any attention to myself. So I am nervous about this. What will my mother think? I used to love painting, until my mother took that away from me. I am well-read, and I had my own collection of books in my room. I loved being with Sara, who liked to get into all sorts of trouble I never agreed with, but did so anyway. These things are memorable, but if my mother ever found out about them, she would beat me with a wooden board.

What are your parents like?

Alice: My father has been nothing but supportive, and I’d like to think that if I had said something about wanting to own my own life, he would have been supportive. My mother, on the other hand, is an alcoholic, which is why I was born as a witch. The Seven Deadly Sins give birth to witches, and I suppose my mother’s continual sin is gluttony.

How has being a witch impacted your life?

Alice: Dreadful. I don’t even want to think or talk about what led up to my discovery. I was imprisoned in a small, dirty room in Governor Branch’s home. He is a horrid, perverted man married to my best friend Sara, who is around my age: I am fifteen. I was slated to be executed, but my father saved me by paying  a handsome sum of gold to Governor Branch. He couldn’t refuse the money, so he and Father decided to send me off to a safe house called Finight Hill. It looks like any other finishing school, and it is in a secluded area.

What were your reactions to Finight Hill? 

Alice: I was paranoid at first. It’s lovely on the exterior, but it’s rather bland on the inside. My other finishing school was richly furnished, with original paintings, marble sculptures, fresh flowers. It was, I suppose, like the inside of a rich man’s home. Finight had no such decorations. So I was scared. I thought I was sent there to be executed, that my father truly had no idea where he was sending me. Governor Branch wanted me dead, but when I met Pastor Brandon and a boy named Nathaniel, their presence and kindness swept away any paranoia I had.

Tell us about Pastor Brandon and Nathaniel.

Alice: Pastor Brandon is nice but strange. He falls into these fits where he cries out, “Curse is everyone who hangs on a tree!” This is a sentence commonly used right before witch executions. He also coughs up some substance from time to time. I don’t know what it is, but it’s black. Even so, he has made me feel welcomed.

Nathaniel, on the other hand, is beautiful, and I saw that right from the start, though I couldn’t admit it to myself. He’s also troubled. He smokes a lot, he scratches himself, and he’s reckless, but he has made me feel welcomed at Finight, and I accepted his friendship. Master Akilah isn’t too fond of him because of his reckless behavior.

How do you feel about Master Akilah?

Alice: I can’t stand him. Neither can Pastor Brandon nor Nathaniel. He was rude to me my first day there when he introduced me, complaining that I was late, not even welcoming me. He is the one who created the unnecessarily strict rules rules for Finight, where we are watched at all times, as though we are in an asylum. We do have certain activities that we have to do throughout the day, like studying. We can go outside once a week–under strict supervision. Nathaniel is smart enough to evade some of these rules, but it eventually becomes our downfall. After a certain event takes place, the rules become worse. At that point, we can’t even have doors to our rooms.

You hear voices?

Alice: I’m unsure if the voice is real or not. It sounds real. She at first told me Pastor Brandon killed her. Then she told me I should kill him. She said he knew who I was, and I couldn’t make any sense of that. He apparently knows the future. When I fainted and woke up in my room, her final words to me were, “You will be mine.” We all thought it was stress and nerves. I thought I was insane, but I was so certain the voice was real. And it is. It truly is.

Can you tell us who the voice belongs to? 

Alice: Her name is Annarelius, a Shadowman, a dead witch. She wants me because I can set the world free from sin, allowing everyone, even witches, into Paradise.

Tell us about this Shadowman. 

Alice: I would rather not.

Are there any final words?

Alice: My story…it is mine and mine alone, rife with the darkness that is innate in the life of a witch. It was a very hard story to tell. If witches are not freed, at least my account will make them feel less alone, if my account will even be allowed to exist. Witches are insignificant. We are nothing. Those who used to love us betray us and automatically hate us when they find out we are witches. This was the case with my best friend, Sara. The Vulgate, our bible, indoctrinates people into hating us, which is why they can hate so easily. I am not sure if this hatred will ever be erased. I have never known any allies to stop the hatred. I have never known any witches to start a rebellion. But our world is filled with nothing but cruelty. The ugliness of our world surpasses its beauty. Love is the only beauty that exists, but there isn’t enough of it.

Those are some very harrowing words, Alice, but I know you will be the one to make that change. Thank you for letting me interview you. 

Alice: 

I hope you enjoyed Alice’s interview and will pick up the already available When Stars Die and the not-yet-released The Stars Are Infinite when you are able to pre-order it or buy it on its release day. Remember it will have a December release date and will be mentioned in a future newsletter.

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ImageAbout the Author

Amber Skye Forbes is a dancing writer who prefers pointe shoes over street shoes, leotards over skirts, and ballet buns over hairstyles. She loves striped tights and bows and will edit your face with a Sharpie if she doesn’t like your attitude. She lives in Augusta, Georgia where she writes dark fiction that will one day put her in a psychiatric ward…again. But she doesn’t care because her cat is a super hero who will break her out.  

New Focus

New Focus

I know I’ve written before about the various focuses of this blog, but I have finally found my niche in regards to what type of books I want to write about in the future when The Stars Trilogy is done. I’ve already written a book that concentrates on two asexual/aromantic characters, so this is a good opportunity for me to start writing articles for LGBTQA youth. I also plan to write a lot about mental illness, as I do plan to write books in the future with characters who have mental illnesses and how these mental illnesses affect their lives and what they ultimately want in my books. They will likely be asexual characters, as I do feel that the YA market is in dire need of characters who are asexual. Plus, it makes sense because I am asexual, and I will admit I struggle with writing characters who are sexual.

Any author updates I do will be on my Tumblr blog, as I have found a lot of success in developing an audience interested in what I have to say. At the end of some of my posts I write on this blog, I will link to author updates I have posted on my Tumblr.

I will be writing an article a week for now, as the classes I am currently taking are a bit heavier than previous classes I’ve taken since starting an online college. Doing this will give me time to develop the article, as well as time for me to let you know what my next article will be about.

By the end of this week, I hope to have a post on my feelings about Robin Williams’ suicide. It is a topic that can never be written about enough, but I hope it will contribute to the larger discussion about mental illness and the stigma with people who have mental illnesses currently face.

I will also be revamping the appearance of this blog to focus on these two topics I want my blog to be about.

 

Finishing the Sequel to When Stars Die: The Stars Are Infinite

Finishing the Sequel to When Stars Die: The Stars Are Infinite

This is not the real cover art.
This is not the real cover art. Photo provided by Tumblr.

I have finally finished–for now–the sequel to When Stars DieThe Stars Are Infinite. Finishing When Stars Die and having my book published by a press was an awesome reward for hard work, but finishing The Stars Are Infinite is an even greater reward. Do you know how long I have been working on this book? I have been working on it since I was 14, and I haven’t exactly shelved it since that age. There was a time where I shelved it for almost two years, but that was so I could whip When Stars Die into shape, knowing that it needed to be the first book in The Stars Trilogy. But The Stars Are Infinite was so much harder to work on than When Stars Die, simply because you look at the first book and wonder how you can beat it. I know many, many authors, including bestsellers, struggle with trying to make the sequel better than the previous book, and I hope I have managed that–after some hardcore edits of course, which I am expecting for this book, as it is about 20,000 words longer than When Stars Die and was so much harder to write. 

I know Shannon Thompson mentioned that she had a low when finishing Seconds Before Sunrise (though she is still in edits), but I have no such lows for TSAI. I am glad to be done with it, glad to be FULLY done with it. This book was a monstrous 700 page novel when it first began; as I’ve said, I was fourteen and didn’t know at the time what the appropriate word count should be for a first YA novel. It’s still going to be a longer book, as is expected of sequels, but I’m still hoping that at least a few thousand words can be parced from it, as I managed to parce about 3,000 words from WSD through edits.

I am primarily glad to be done with this book because for years I couldn’t peg down the ending. Oh certainly with the first draft I had the ending done, but I never really tore the book apart. I just kept picking at what was there instead of trying to figure out what wasn’t there, which was an entire re-vampling of the overall story. But writing When Stars Die first and having it published by AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. has given me a lot of inspiration for The Stars Are Infinite, especially the few three star reviews the book has thus far. It is especially the three star reviews that have pushed me to make the sequel way better than the first book. Now I know reviews are meant for readers, but as writers, I think we can flourish from the three star ones. 4 and 5 star ones boost the ego, and 2 and 1 star ones often aren’t that helpful in helping one grow as a writer, but 3 star reviews are not inherently bad at all. In fact, several of my 3 star reviews have said they are looking forward to this sequel, and I’m hoping I do not disappoint. After all, my beta reader, Mariah Wilson, was absolutely blown away by the sequel, so hopefully everyone else will be as well.

So what can you expect from this sequel? I know one reviewer wanted to know a lot more about Amelia–AKA Dervla, now–but with the way she changes at the end of WSD, I figured her perspective was not necessary, because if I were to put it in her perspective, the entire book would be her pining after her little brother, and that isn’t a plot at all. Instead, I’ve relegated her to a minor character, but she is still very much present–pining after her little brother, of course, which is a sub-plot of the book.

At the end of WSD, if you pay attention, I do hint at who the next protagonist is going to be. Her name is Alice Sheraton, and you will begin to understand why it’s in her perspective within, about, the first five or six chapters of the book. So here’s a summary of the book (totally not edited or approved):

Alice Sheraton wishes she could free herself from her corset and instead put it on somebody else. But this corset soon becomes haunted and binds her in ways she didn’t think was possible. Eventually she has to go on a dark adventure to remove this corset, which ticks her life away day-by-day. Eventually she comes across a boy named Nathaniel Gareth, who suggests she remove her bloomers to loosen this corset. When this doesn’t work, she is stuck between a rock and a hard place. As her life dwindles by the days, she either has to accept her fate, or find someone to undo the curse. 

JUST KIDDING! This is not the summary at all. In fact, I don’t even know where to begin summarizing The Stars Are Infinite. In the meantime, I’m going to get back to work on When Heaven Was Blue, which I have several great ideas on how to fix it, along with professional edits and my fabulous beta reader’s suggestions. So you’ll just have to wait until later to find out what TSAI is about.