5 Common Mistakes First-Time Authors Make

Author Anthony Avina here. How is everyone today? I’m here to introduce this amazing guest blog post from writer Emmanuel Nataf on the five mistakes authors make on their first time writing books. I hope you guys will enjoy this amazing article and be sure to follow Emmanuel on all of his writing adventures!


Aristotle wrote, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” In other words, there’s literally no way to learn certain things other than by actually doing them — and writing a book is one such thing.

That being said, aspiring authors can definitely prepare themselves for the process of writing a book by learning from others. With that in mind, here are five common mistakes first-time authors make — and how to avoid them!

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1. Not creating an outline

If your preferred method of writing is to let your pen lead the way, then you’re probably a big fan of freewriting — which is a great exercise! But, in general, setting out to write a book without creating at least a loose outline tends to result in an ever-growing pile of unfinished manuscripts.

Just like you would consult a map to help you drive from Point A to Point B in unfamiliar territory, creating an outline before you start writing a book can help you get from “Once upon a time” to “Happily ever after.” Simply check your outline any time you feel you’re starting to lose the plot.

Here are three popular outline methods you can try out:

  • The Beat Sheet — makes note of just the book’s significant beats (important incidents in the story). Check out an example of Toy Story 3 mapped out by just it’s beats here.
  • The Character Driven Outline — maps out a story through character development.
  • The Synopsis — a detailed and holistic story outline that touches on all important story aspects: characters, conflicts, themes, etc.

2. Not getting to know their characters well enough

If you were to go on an extended trip with someone you barely know, chances are that conflicts of personality or unexpected challenges would come up. However, if you were to travel at length with someone you know well, you would already have an idea of how to navigate any potential conflicts, and would likely find your journey a bit smoother.

Writing a novel is like going on a trip with your main character(s). You’re going to be spending long hours with this character, exploring unfamiliar territory together, and basically relying on one another for a meaningful outcome. So before you set out on the journey of writing a book, get to know your protagonists as much as possible.

In-depth character development involves more than simply coming up with a memorable character name. A great way to get to know your protagonist a little better is by simply asking “them” questions. I know that might sound silly, but the more you ask, the more you’ll answer! To get started, check out Arthur Aron’s 36 Questions That Lead to Love or The Proust Questionnaire.

3. Not reading at length in their genre

If you’re writing a science fiction novel, chances are you’ve probably read Frankenstein, The Time Machine, and other sci-fi classics. It’s unlikely that someone who’s never read a single fantasy novel will suddenly decide to write a book involving an intricate magical system.

That being said, there’s a difference between reading for pleasure vs. to understand a genre.

If you’re planning to write genre fiction, pick up some classics as well as some newer publications before you begin. Read them with a discerning eye, looking for tropes that pop up again and again, new elements that the books bring to the table, and trends that have come and gone within the genre. This will help you get a sense of readers’ expectations, how to ensure your book stands out, and whether your story feels timely.

4. Not devoting enough time to developmental editing

While every writer knows the importance of meticulous proofreading, it can be tempting to rush the stage that comes before a proofread: developmental editing, which involves fine-tuning the story. It can be difficult for authors to do this themselves, as they’re often too close to the story and might not recognize things like plot holes or unclear worldbuilding. So it’s a good idea to consider working with a professional editor or beta readers.

If you do decide to do your own developmental editing, here are a few questions to keep in mind as you edit:

  • Language: Are there any words frequently repeated throughout the manuscript? Are there too many instances of passive voice? Are there filler words that can be removed?
  • Characters: Does the development of the character match the development of the narrative? Are there any instances where a character acts inconsistently?
  • Structure: Does the sequence of the scenes feel logical? Is the structure easy for readers to follow? Does the structure of the scenes allow the story to develop in the best way? Are there any scenes that aren’t completely necessary to the story?
  • Plot: Are there any plot holes? Are there any plotlines that are unresolved?

5. Not following the golden rule: show, don’t tell

This is one of those “rules of storytelling” you hear so often, it’s hard not to roll your eyes when it comes up. And while there’s nothing that encourages you to break the rules quite like art, there are certain tricks of the trade that are long-standing for a reason. “Show, don’t tell” is one of them.

But what does it actually mean?  Well, showing instead of telling aims to immerse readers in a story by putting us in the character’s shoes. Instead of saying “Joe was shy,” we see Joe off to the side at a group event, nervously playing with his cufflinks, avoiding smalltalk by texting on his phone. As Anton Chekhov put it: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

While the best way to learn anything is by making mistakes — and then learning how to fix them — I hope this post will help you sidestep some of the more common ones so that you can focus on simply telling a great story.

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Emmanuel Nataf is a founder at Reedsy, a marketplace and set of tools that allows authors and publishers to find top editorial, design and marketing talent. Over 4,000 books have been published using Reedsy’s services.

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Author Interview with Mariano Pavanello

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing and your overall profession?

  • I was born in Venice (Italy) and precisely in Murano, the island of the glass-blowers. I had a classical education and studied Latin and Ancient Greek literatures but I specialized in Anthropology and did a lot of fieldwork from 1973 to 2013 in sub-Saharan African countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Somalia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe); in my long experience I was struck by the amount of physical work that women carry out all over the world while reproducing the human society delivering and raising children. I taught 36 years in the Universities and wrote 14 books (of which 4 in English and 1 in French), and more than one hundred papers published in collective books or in international journals (of which 16 in English and 8 in French).
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2) What inspired you to write your book?

  • I was inspired by the need to show that if mankind succeeded in dominating the planet, this is due to women who lent their time to men. The occasional source of inspiration was David Graeber’s book “Debt: the last 5000 years” that ignores the role of women during the previous 50,000 years.

3) What message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

  • I hope readers will appreciate my effort to explain how humans (Homo sapiens) succeeded in history thanks to the work of women, and hope they will grasp that human success was not due simply to the technological progress, but to an intelligent and efficient mode of articulating of the two main labour forces (male hunting and female gathering) during the 99% of their life on earth.  

4) What drew you into this particular subject?

  • In 1993  I was engaged in an analysis of the foraging (hunting-gathering) economies and discovered that the work of the gathering women was everywhere less time-consuming and energetically more productive than the work of the hunting men. My analysis was concerning only the contemporary and marginalized foraging societies. My exercise was aimed at finding out the conditions by which human societies enter into a transition from a purely foraging economy to an economy based on agricultural production (cultivation and breeding). At that time, I published a book in Italian on this subject.

5) You go over in great detail many examples and historical references to make your argument, but in your opinion and for readers looking to delve into your book, what is one of the single biggest pieces of evidence or events in our world’s history to you that women are responsible for many of the advancements of human history?

  • The time women allowed men to enjoy in order to let them spend the necessary time for dealing with the complex tasks of hunting. This is the most ancient and the most surprising form of financement. Therefore, I agree with the statement that “women financed male dominance”.

6) With so much of our society built upon a male dominant perspective, why do you think women have such a hard time earning the respect and recognition for their contributions to society?

  • Failing to acknowledge the role of women, and still trying to keep them in a subordinate status, not to speak about frequent violence against women, is a crime against humanity. Nonetheless, in many countries or regions women are often accomplices with cultural trends that are against their complete equality, which makes it difficult the fight of women even in the most developed countries. 

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors or researchers out there?

  • I hope that the best suggestion is to speak always words of truth in support of humanity.  

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

  • Probably a couple of books are in preparation on my desk: one on my experience as anthropologist, and another one on my birthplace and its history.   
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About the Author

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Mariano Pavanello taught Social Anthropology and Africanistics in the Universities of Pisa and Rome “La Sapienza”, where he was Head of the Department of History, Cultures, and Religions. His extensive experience among the Nzema of Ghana was his main ethnological fieldwork that he concluded with the creation of the “Kwame Nkrumah Museum of the Nzema Culture and History” in the premises of the eighteenth-century Fort Apollonia in Beyin, Ghana. He has published a number of books, including Sistemi umani (1992), Le società acquisitive e i fondamenti razionali dello scambio (1993), Il formicaleone e la rana (2000), Perspectives on African Witchcraft (2017), and La papaye empoisonnée. Essais sur la société Akan des Nzema (2017).

Buy the Book:

https://www.cambridgescholars.com/the-gender-of-debt

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https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mariano_Pavanello

https://uniroma1.academia.edu/MarianoPavanello

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ORCID: 0000-0003-4314-5958  

Interview with Author Bernard Schaffer

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

     I’ve written for as long as I could remember. It probably comes from a deeply embedded love of story. At some point you want the story to keep going, or to have different ideas about a story that you want to explore on your own. From there, you find your own stories to tell. 

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2) What inspired you to write your book series?

     I spent six years as an indie author and publisher. There’s a lot of freedom in that. I explored whatever genre I felt like. Eventually it felt like I’d achieved everything I could as an indie author and I wanted to try my hand at traditional mainstream publishing. 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your books?

     Honestly I don’t write to spread messages or themes. There is no hidden agenda in my work. That being said, any good piece of art can be enjoyed on multiple levels. The casual reader will be entertained by a good story. The ones who want to go deeper will find more to it. I’ve always been a fan of layers and subtext, but that is not for me to point out. They will find it if they look. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

     It’s my wheelhouse. I’m a twenty-year police officer and still a full-time detective. This genre allows me to focus on writing without having to stop and look up certain procedures or terms or do research like I would in others. The background information is baked into my brain. It opens the track up wide. 

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book series, what would you ask them and why?

     I already know what they’d say. They say it in my head. Anything I don’t know is something I’m waiting to find out later. 

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

     Any of the normal sites will do. It’s all in your approach. I keep it casual and post the things I enjoy. I’m not trying to gain new readers via social media. If people read my work and enjoy it enough to seek me out on social media, I’m glad to get to know them. I hope they like hearing about boxing and Star Wars, because that’s pretty much what I talk about on there. 

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

     The basic advice is fairly simple. Real authors finish. I see too many aspiring writers pining over unfinished manuscripts. Too many workshopping first chapters. Too many worried about agents and publishers and everything that isn’t important yet. Finish your book. Set it aside. Rewrite the entire thing. Have it edited by someone who doesn’t mind hurting you. Make it something worthy of standing on the bookshelves next to the people you admire. Until you finish and have a completed book, you haven’t done it. If you haven’t done it, forget everything else and go do it. Once you’ve done it, go do it again. 

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8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

    THE THIEF OF ALL LIGHT paperback arrives this summer. Then, AN UNSETTLED GRAVE, the second Santero and Rein book, comes out July 2019 in hardcover, audio and eBook. BLOOD ANGEL comes out the summer of 2020. What I’m working on now will come out sometime after that. In the traditional world, books are published a year or so after they’ve been written. It gives me plenty of time to plan for the future. 

About the Author

Bernard Schaffer is the author of the Santero and Rein Thriller Series from Kensington Publications. 

Prior to that, he published multiple titles in a variety of genres as an independent author. Schaffer is the father of two children and a full-time police detective in Southeastern PA.

Visit him @BernardSchaffer or www.bernardschaffer.com.

THE THIEF OF ALL LIGHT: A Santero and Rein Thriller 1 (Available Now)AN

UNSETTLED GRAVE: A Santero and Rein Thriller 2 (Summer 2019, Available for Pre-Order)

BLOOD ANGEL: A Santero and Rein Thriller 3 (Summer, 2020)

Social Media Links

Bernard Schaffer’s Facebook Author Page

Bernard Schaffer’s Goodreads Page

Bernard Schaffer’s BookBub Page

Website: www.BernardSchaffer.com

Instagram @BernardSchaffer

Twitter: @BernardSchaffer

Interview with Author Layton Green

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I decided to write my first novel simply to get a handle on some things in my life, and explore them through writing them down in story form. Before that, I had never written anything creative besides a Choose Your Own Adventure in third grade and a few poems. I did not expect to become a novelist. But during the process of writing that first book, I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

This series (Preach Everson) has been greatly inspired by living in the Piedmont area of North Carolina. It’s a fascinating blend of old and new, urban and rural. I think it’s indicative of the modern era in which we live, especially the political and social divisions plaguing America. Add to that, of course, my love of writing mysteries and suspense and brooding, intelligent detectives.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Of the sweet sad rhythms, commonality, travails, and spiritual longing of human existence. Not to be pretentious or anything–ha!

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4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Mystery/suspense is a genre which I love and feel drawn to write. I’m not sure why! It’s a great way to explore human nature, though, as conflict and questions of good and evil are naturally built in.

5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Facebook

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Read every good book you can get your hands on, write as much as possible, and hire the best editor money can buy.

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m working on the second novel in the soon-to-be-released Unknown Nine Trilogy – details coming soon!

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About the Author

Layton is a bestselling author who writes across multiple genres, including mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, and fantasy. He is the author of the popular Dominic Grey series, as well as other works of fiction. His novels have topped numerous lists (including a #2 overall Amazon bestseller) and have been nominated for major awards, including two finalists for an International Thriller Writers award. Layton is also the co-editor of International Thrills, the online magazine of ITW (International Thriller Writers).

In addition to writing, Layton attended law school in New Orleans and was a practicing attorney for the better part of a decade (even though he still resents having cut his hair for that first interview). He has also been an intern for the United Nations, an ESL teacher in Central America, a bartender in London, a seller of cheap knives on the streets of Brixton, a door-to-door phone book deliverer in Florida, and the list goes downhill from there. Currently based in Durham, North Carolina, Layton has traveled to more than sixty countries, lived in a number of them, and has a burning desire to see every country, city, beach, moor, castle, cemetery, twisted street and far flung dot on the map.

www.laytongreen.com

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Interview with Author Julia L.F. Goldstein

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. At what point did you decide to pursue writing about your field of study?

I started my career as a process development engineer in the semiconductor manufacturing industry, designing better ways to connect computer chips to circuit boards. As an engineer, I gravitated toward writing the articles for publication in trade magazines and the reports for projects. I began my writing career with Advanced Packaging Magazine, a publication in which I had published contributed articles. My current business, JLFG Communications, focuses on writing technical marketing content for corporate websites, but I still occasionally write articles for trade and business magazines. It’s nice to keep a toe in journalism and not only write anonymous content.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

My initial inspiration was a desire to shift my client base toward companies involved in sustainable manufacturing and renewable energy. I figured that writing a book on the topic would give me credibility that would help me get a foot in the door. Clients I’ve been working with for years will trust me with projects outside my proven fields of expertise, but potential clients often want to see experience writing for their specific industry.

As I delved into the research, my fascination with the subject matter and interactions with the enthusiastic business professionals I interviewed inspired me to continue. I knew that I needed to get this book out into the world.

3) What do you hope readers will take away from your book above all else?

I want readers to understand that the challenges of reducing waste in manufacturing are complex, but many smart business leaders are developing creative solutions and progress is being made. We shouldn’t be complacent, but neither should we be discouraged. I want readers to commit to at least one action at work or at home that allows them to be part of the solution.

4) What drew you into this particular field of study?

I’ve been fascinated by engineered materials ever since I took an introductory materials science course in college, but I didn’t always consider the environmental impact of all the amazing materials that engineers were inventing. In recent years, I’ve thought more about these issues and the responsibility of manufacturers to their employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate. The more I learned about companies embracing the triple bottom line—profit, people, planet—the more I became convinced that I should write a book focused on the materials aspect of sustainability.

5) What is the number one thing you would recommend for a manufacturing company just starting out in their business?

Fledgling manufacturing companies contemplating the shift from prototypes to volume production face many hurdles. I urge them to consider the environmental footprint of their manufacturing process when evaluating their entire supply chain. If they want to be eco-friendly, that needs to extend to every component or ingredient in their products, every vendor they choose, where they manufacture their products, and how they ship products to customers. Making smart decisions up front can save money in the long run and build trust with customers.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I’ve gotten traction with both Facebook and LinkedIn. I made my book launch an event on Facebook and invited all my local Seattle-area friends. My multiple posts about the book got the attention of many friends in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I lived for 20 years, and many of them are now on my mailing list. When my LinkedIn contacts shared my post about the book launch, it expanded my reach to hundreds of people I’ve never met. In the long run, I believe that LinkedIn will be more helpful in reaching a business audience.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Join a writing group that meets in person, in addition to participating in online groups. Writing is a solitary activity, but just being in the company of other writers can inspire you to achieve your goals. For nonfiction authors, the Nonfiction Authors Association has a wealth of information on its website, including links to its weekly teleseminars, plus chapters in many cities that hold monthly meetings. Whether you’re wondering what type of editing your book will need or trying to decide between submitting a proposal to agents or self-publishing, experienced authors can help point you in the right direction.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

In the short term, I’m focused on marketing Material Value. Simply writing a book that people want to read isn’t enough. It’s an author’s responsibility to let potential readers know that the book exists. I am, however, gathering ideas for my next book. It will also address materials and sustainability but focused on the textile and fashion industries. A surprisingly large number of companies are producing fabrics made from recycled plastic water bottles.

About the Author:

Julia L F Goldstein holds a PhD in materials science and started her career as an engineer before migrating to journalism in 2001. She now writes white papers and other technical marketing content for companies manufacturing a wide variety of products. Julia is active in her local writing community and leads the Seattle chapter of the Nonfiction Authors Association. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing flute and piccolo and participating in triathlons.

Connect with Julia:

 juliagoldsteinauthor.com

twitter.com/jlfgoldstein

linkedin.com/in/juliagoldstein

Amusing Musings: Hilarious one-liners and deep thoughts for the offbeat sense of humor by J.J. Harlan Review

Readers should be prepared for a journey of hilarious proportions as they delve into the book of fantastic one-liners and humorous thoughts in author J.J. Harlan’s novel “Amusing Musings: Hilarious one-liners and deep thoughts for the offbeat sense of humor”.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Readers should be prepared for a journey of hilarious proportions as they delve into the book of fantastic one-liners and humorous thoughts in author J.J. Harlan’s novel “Amusing Musings: Hilarious one-liners and deep thoughts for the offbeat sense of humor”. Here is the synopsis. 

The Synopsis

Warning: This book may be a choking hazard if read while eating or drinking.

If you’re a fan of Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey, then you’re going to love Amusing Musings.

Get ready to enjoy the most hilarious book of the year. This hysterical compilation of profound thoughts and hilarious one liners will make you laugh until you cry. Relish delightfully witty quotes such as these:

“I bet a popular joke in the medieval days was to sneak up behind a knight and stick a “kick me” sign on his armor with a magnet.” 

“I think it would be a good idea if scientists invented a new fruit. It should look like an orange, but, ‘surprise’, it tastes like a watermelon. Also, it screams when you peel it.”

“If cats could talk, I bet that when they cleaned themselves they’d never shut up about how good they taste.”

If you are a fan of non-sequitur comedy in the style of Mitch HedburgSteven Wright, or Saturday Night Live’s Jack Handey, then buy this outrageously entertaining book now!

It’s the perfect funny gift for men or women with an offbeat sense of humor!

The Review

This is the perfect read for anyone who is looking for a book that won’t delve heavily into character or narrative based storytelling. Instead this novel brings a series of humorous situations and offbeat lines that only someone with a rich sense of humor could enjoy. From tales of haunted mansions and its bathrooms to the ancient Egyptians and snack foods, this amazing book brings some truly one of a kind humor into the reader’s life.

As the author themselves point out, the novel really does remind me personally of the old SNL Jack Handey sketches that told the same offbeat humor stories and tales that would always throw people off in the most bizarre yet humorous way.  It’s a great way to lighten up anyone’s mood and take readers away from the seriousness of life, and showcases the unique wit and comedy of the author. 

The Verdict

This is a must read book. Although a short read to be sure, the book delivers a powerful punch to the funny bone as readers are transported into this humorous world of the author’s making. Taking the funniest one-liners and odd tales and compiling them into this wonderful collection is sure to make readers laugh and chuckle as they think upon the strange and amusing stories they just read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of “Amusing Musings” by J.J. Harlan today!

Rating: 9/10

The Mark of Fallen Flame by Brittany Matsen Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman struggling to plant roots in Seattle after a lifetime of moving around discovers a terrifying power within herself, a world of secrets her mother has hidden from her and a deadly war she is forced into in author Brittany Matsen’s novel The Mark of Fallen Flame. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis 

Emma:

A seventeen-year-old girl just trying to find a place in an unsteady world. With her mother moving them around her entire life, no one has been permanent.

When senior year begins, Emma is determined to sink some roots into Seattle and finally start living life. Especially when she discovers she has the power to kill terrifying monsters with a single touch. Suddenly, a whole new world explodes around her.

The new boy in school that is mysteriously in every one of her classes is too beautiful to be human. Her best friend is acting strange, and her mother’s lies may finally be too many to contain. The protectors of the human race–the Giborim–are more than a little eager to use Emma’s power in the war that’s coming. But her allegiance may be forced in order to save everyone she loves.

Levaroth:

Shediem. General of Sheol. Servant and confidant to Asmodeus, Prince of Wrath.

“Spying the wild, auburn beauty with eyes like emeralds for the first time, I don’t know what comes over me. I have to get closer. She smells of sunshine and purity. You may not think that’s something you can smell, but you can. It’s rarely untainted, but with her…She can’t help but care about everyone she meets, and I need to know why. So I watch her, learn about her. But something is changing in me. Shediem do not feel emotions, we taste them. We devour them. Yet my kills are less satisfying and all I can think about is her face. Her disgust. But she can’t be pure if she’s to be mine. And I will have her.”

The Review 

This was a powerful fantasy driven narrative that did a marvelous job of creating a new mythology that readers will instantly be enthralled by. Powerful and creepy creatures blended perfectly with relatable and interesting characters to drive the novel forward at a reasonable pace.

The thing I love about this book besides the unique mythology created by the author was how the book didn’t waste anytime jumping into the action of the plot. From the first 20 pages or so the author takes readers head first into this fantasy and partly horror driven narrative and doesn’t hold any punches, establishing the dangers and the stakes early on. 

The Verdict 

This is a must read fantasy book that readers will instantly fall in love with. Full of engaging characters, a gripping love triangle and a great story, this is one book you don’t want to miss. Be sure to preorder your copy today or grab your copy on May 31st, 2019! 

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

I’m an American by birth but a Kiwi at heart, living in the wondrous New Zealand with my husband. Writing has been a passion since I was very young. In middle school I had articles published in the local newspaper, and the school paper in high school. I attended the Institute of Children’s Literature with the hope of one day creating stories for the world.

When I’m not dreaming up monsters or tortured heroes you can find me hiking somewhere lush and green.

Check out my Patreon page and follow me on Instagram! https://www.patreon.com/bmmatsen

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