The Demon in the Mirror
December 1st, 2019
That's right! My recently released short story, The Demon in the Mirror, just got a make-over, thanks to the phenomenal Ruxandra Tudorica! <3
It was about time this story had a cover fitting for its genre, and I can't fan-girl enough over the cover Ruxandra made!
If you still haven't got your copy of The Demon in the Mirror, you can find it here!
Briony's Review of The Awakening
September 24th, 2019
I don't always share individual reviews of my books (because I'm not organized enough to keep track of them all), but this one seemed too important not to share!
Some of you might be thinking: aren't all reviews important? And the answer is, yes! However, this review is particularly important because of something Briony points out about the story regarding trigger warnings.
I often will incorporate real-life issues in my fantasy writing, and most of the time I just assume that my readers anticipate that and that it's one of the reasons they enjoy my writing. But Briony brought up a good point with The Awakening.
Without going too much into spoilers of her review or the book, Briony warns readers that this story might be triggering today because of the influx of mass school shootings. Read her review here, and determine for yourself if this is the right book for you.
Getting Real About
The Demon in the Mirror
September 5th, 2019
I'll keep this brief because the interview is the cool part: Jason E. Foss hosted me for an interview! You can read the full interview here, including some of his own takeaways!
What's in my Wonderland Blog Hosts Again!
August 6th, 2019
Last month, Blood Awakens participated in a blog tour through Fraser's Funhouse, making a pitstop on the What's in my Wonderland blog run by the fabulous Georgia. Apparently, she loved the book so much that she wanted more!
This week, Georgia posted a spoiler-free review for The Awakening, the short story prequel to Blood Awakens.
In addition, because she is starting to seem like such a supportive fan, I gave her an exclusive interview, where we talked about our favorite characters from The Awakened Quartet, what to expect from the second book Puppets Dream, and my upcoming YA paranormal thriller short story The Demon in the Mirror. Read the full interview here!
Thank you again to Fraser's Funhouse for connecting Georgia and I, and an extra appreciative thank you to Georgia for extending our work together!
The Demon in the Mirror
August 5th, 2019
That's right folks, I'm releasing a new short story!
If you follow me on Instagram, or if you've subscribed to my newsletter, then you've already heard that this past month one of the projects I've been working on is a new paranormal thriller short story called The Demon in the Mirror.
Here's the working synopsis:
The students at the Academy of the Forsaken keep winding up dead. The thing no one can figure out though is how on earth is a human serial killer disposing of demons and angels so easily?
First-year demon, Eureka Belvedere, finds herself stuck in the middle of the otherworldly murders, and if she's going to survive, she needs to learn how to use her powers.
This Kindle short story is a YA paranormal thriller about demons, angels, and what it's like being the new girl at school where students are dropping like flies!
The Demon in the Mirror is perfect for fans of Harry Potter, The Dark Artifices, and The Black Mage.
Blog Tour for Blood Awakens
August 2nd, 2019
Yesterday marked the final day for the blog tour of Blood Awakens, and oh my goodness, I am absolutely GLOWING!
What's a blog tour, you might be asking? A blog tour is when a handful of bloggers agree to review the same book around the same time. Then, for the length of the tour, they each post their review (or excerpt, author interview, etc.) on a date during that time frame.
This was my first blog tour—organized by the friendly, accommodating, and highly professional: Melanie Fraser with Fraser's Funhouse—and I've got to say, it was such a great experience! It was great getting to work with a variety of bloggers and to see their take on my book.
In case you missed all the action, I've linked all of the bloggers' posts below:
Servillas Speaks (first chapter review)
B for Book Review (book info)
The Magic of Worlds (author interview)
The Tired Buyer (book info)
Little Tinkable (author interview)
Zoo Loo Book Diary (author interview)
Like Herding Cats (excerpt)
Thank you again to all those who participated!! I can't wait to work with Melanie and these bloggers again!
Blood Awakens Book Cover Reveal
June 21, 2019
I really can’t believe I’m finally getting to write this update: after working on Blood Awakens for five years, and waiting four months for my appointment with a cover designer, the book cover for Blood Awakens is finally here! And it is B-E-A-UTIFUL! Daqri Combs outdid herself and all of my expectations!
On top of getting to see the cover I’ve been envisioning for half a decade (whoa…), it is also being shared around by a handful of bloggers! I connected with Frasers Fun House to coordinate a cover reveal and a blog tour, and today marked the first day of our work together! I truly can’t express how much my heart has been warmed, seeing all of the bloggers post about my book. When I began writing this book, I had every doubt in my mind that it would ever get published, let alone reach any readers. But with their help, Blood Awakens is already finding homes in people’s e-readers (and hopefully on their physical shelves once Amazon allows me to publish the paperback in two days).
Please do take a second to read each of the bloggers’ posts below! They put a lot of time and effort into these. You can also share them on your own social media pages to help us spread awareness—be sure to tag me, and if you use hashtags, some helpful ones to include are #fantasy #apocalypse #BloodAwakens!
Without further ado, here are the cover reveal posts:
Blood Awakens releases next Wednesday, June 26th! Grab your copy from Amazon here today!
First Author Interview
May 8th, 2019
I was approached by Kiri Books for my very first author interview! This was very exciting for me and I hope I did an okay job. It was definitely a great learning experience and I look forward to more in the future!
For those interested in learning more about me and my writing process, you can read the interview here!
The Awakening Releases
April 21st, 2019
That's right folks! I finally published not only my first book but the first in the long-awaited The Awakened series!
The Awakening- An Origin Story:
Mara is not your average foreign exchange student. She is different. Awakened. And in a world where people still don’t understand or accept those with Awakened powers, being out with her identity can be dangerous. So, she has always concealed her power, always protected herself from those who might harm her. But it doesn’t help her today. When Berkeley is attacked by anti-Awakened radicals, Mara finds herself caught up in the chaos and forced to decide whether she will ignore her Awakened identity or embrace it.
The Awakening is a short story teaser/prequel to The Awakened series but could be read as a standalone.
Get your copy from Amazon for $0.99 here (or read it for free on Kindle Unlimited).
I hope you enjoy this sneak peek into the world of The Awakened! Blood Awakens is set to release in the summer of 2019. More details to come!
Book Covers are Coming!
February 1st, 2019
I know what you're thinking: "But Jessaca, didn't you already purchase a book cover for your first book and torment us about 'the big reveal' that still hasn't come?"
Yes, you are correct (sorry!). I purchased a book cover for Blood Awakens last year (also in February, I think) and never got around to revealing it... but I finally know why.
Something about it just didn't feel right! Don't get me wrong, the book cover is beautiful! But the longer I sat with it, the more I wondered if it would be a good cover to start off the series. Whenever I looked at it, I couldn't find any themes that would carry over to the next books—that's a huge problem when you're making a series! You want all your books to be recognizable as belonging together, not some hodge-podge of awesome, yet random, covers.
So I'm taking a different approach.
I purchased all four book covers at once! The first two should be done in June and the second two should be finished in August. BONUS: A fifth cover will be completed in August too, for my new dark historical paranormal book!
This just feels RIGHT! I can't wait to see the finished products and share them with you all!
New Book Announcement
January 1st, 2019
If you follow me on Facebook then you already heard the good news: I'm starting to work on a new book!
Title TBD, but this book is in the dark historical paranormal genre (with a touch of romance), set during the Salem Witch Trials! I am so excited to get started on it, but I'll be completely honest: I foresee this one taking a while to write.
I want to make sure I capture the time period accurately, reflected in the dialogue and setting, as well as through the character's motives and fears.
I'll be doing a bunch of reading to see how others have done it in the past, so if you have any good book recommendations, let me know!
September 15th, 2018
As my family and I prepare for the arrival of a new baby, I have decided to take the next few months off from writing, maintaining my website, and author-related social media. I plan on returning in December. Thanks so much for your understanding and continued support! See you in a few months! <3
Book or Baby?
May 18th, 2018
That's right folks, my partner and I are pregnant! My first, his second, and we couldn't be more excited! <3
Baby McWillis (a combination of both of our last names) will be arriving in late October—just in time for Halloween!
Lore: Ways of the Sanjari
March 5, 2018
Today I thought I’d give another sneak peek into The Awakened world, specifically regarding some of the religions in the series.
I was about three quarters finished writing When Blood Awakens, when it dawned on me that this “world” could be anything I wanted it to be! The people in my story, the future, they could be so drastically different from us, and considering the recent events in the story’s timeline, I believe they would be. Although I wanted them to remain similar in many respects, one way in particular that I believed they would adapt was via religion.
In The Awakened series, every nation in the entire world has undergone the Awakening. Select individuals everywhere, of all walks of life, have developed distinct powers and abilities, without explanation. In addition to this, about twenty years before the Awakening, scientists discovered a new planet inside our own solar system. If something like that wouldn’t cause entire civilizations to question and reconstruct their faiths, I don’t know what would.
During my writing process, I created three new dominant religions. These religions were meant to be a way for readers to experience the story through the lens of the people in the books. They were created for purely creative and entertaining reasons and are not meant to be a bashing of any religions in existence today.
So, without further ado, please enjoy this tale from one of the primary religions in The Awakened series: the Sanjari:
You want to learn the ways of the Sanjari, you say? The answers you seek are already within you. It’s as simple as looking to your most pleasant dreams or your most fearsome nightmares, for the Sanjari are dreamers.
It is said that when one dies, they are to be judged by the God of Paníhava, the name of whom no living person knows.
Those fortunate to gain his approval are granted reincarnation, and are removed of all memories of their past life, barring sense of self. They live and die in new life after new life, facing the God every time before passing on to the next.
Those deemed unworthy are less fortunate indeed. The God with no name traps their souls in the After, an abyss of horrendous suffering, for eternity. It is there that they shall live in darkness and torment, until the end of times, or until the demise of the God of Paníhava.
Proof of this, the Sanjari believe, is in our dreams, the ones that plague us, the ones we awake from feeling rotten from the inside out. It is in our most twisted nightmares that these poor slaves dwell. So, when we dream of a loved one who’s perished, it is because they are at the barrier between life and death, searching for escape from the After and all the anguish they have endured. It won’t be long though before the God finds his lost pet again, and returns them to their cage of nightmares, awaiting the next Sanjari to open the gateway.
So, may dreams illuminate your path so that the After may never feed on your lost soul.
Hiring an Editor
February 26th, 2018
Recently, I decided it was time to hire a professional editor to look at my first novel, When Blood Awakens. I’d been working on this story for over three years and, during that time, had edited it six times through myself, and had a handful of friends look it over as well. Still, it felt like something was still slightly off.
Whether or not I should hire a professional editor was something I struggled with for a variety of reasons. Is it worth the cost? Should I spend money on something I’m not guaranteed to make money from? Will the feedback be helpful? Will it improve my overall writing or just this one book?
In the end, I decided to take the leap. I had hit a brick wall in the writing process and knew I needed outside help. Someone in one of my writing groups had just gone through the same process and recommended I use Reedsy.com to find someone I liked. So that’s what I did and here is what I learned:
Things Are Gonna Get Spendy
Great googly moogly, is it costly! I sent out a few requests for quotes and the first one I got back was over $5,000! I realized though that this is a job, a way that someone is making a living. But, there is some flexibility in price depending on experience, skills, length of novel, etc. Thankfully I shopped around and finally settled on an offer for $1600. Considering my novel was 150,000 words, this was an amazing deal and, for any aspiring writers reading his, don’t be discouraged! Most editors charge by the word and an average novel is 60,000-90,000 words so you can easily find a price that’s half what I spent!
Editors Make Your Work The Best It Can Be
The novel I sent, prior to sending, had reached a place where it was fairly polished, but there were still things that needed work. I was still concerned about certain story arcs or character development pieces, but couldn’t identify them myself. The editor I hired was able to highlight those areas in my book and offer suggestions of how she would improve it. It’s true, I think without her my book was okay, but I think her expertise gave my book that extra bit of professionalism and organization that (I hope) readers will appreciate! For this reason, and this reason alone, I think it was well worth the money spent!
Immediate vs. Delayed Benefit
I read a quote somewhere that said something along the lines of: if you want to be a writer and write for a living then you have to stop treating it like a hobby. Ultimately, it was this statement that led me to the decision I made. I can sit at home and in coffee shops for years and years just writing for fun, but if this is my dream, if I truly want to make this happen, it’s gonna take a little more than time to do it. I chose to see the editor as an investment in my professional development and when I made my official request to her, I was sure to highlight the areas I needed her to focus on so I would get as much out of it as possible.
I got the edits back a couple weeks ago and people in my writing groups have been asking: what do you think? Was it worth it? All-in-all, I’d have to say yes! As much as I didn’t want to spend $1600 on an editor, I think it was probably the best decision I’ve made if I’m actually taking writing seriously. That being said, I’m hoping this isn’t something I need to do with every book! That could get pricey quick!
Thanks for reading, and until next time!
Journal Excerpt from Graciela
February 2nd, 2018
It's strange the way the world ended. It didn't happen like I thought it would. In every movie, book, or speculation about the undoing of our civilized societies, the world always comes to an abrupt end, driven by some cataclysmic event. But this...
Things happened slowly, more gradual than I expected.
I remember, during those early days, it was just a few people with special abilities. Awakened, we started calling them. And it seemed like, for the most part, society could accept it. They didn't understand it, they were hesitant about it, but life continued as it always had.
But then a few more became Awakened. And a few more. Before we knew it, there were hundreds, thousands of them scattered around the world. Once the numbers rose to almost a quarter of the population, those still in the majority started treating it like a pandemic.
I can understand that they were afraid, but fear breeds hate, and hate is what brought the devastation.
Almost a year had passed since the first Awakened before the wars started. From a distance, we watched the powerhouse nations destroy themselves, demolition unlike any the world had ever known. For months. And months. The countries not officially at war faced civil wars of their own. People killing each other for no reason other than a difference and fear.
We only lost electricity a week ago, a little over two years since everything started. I worry about what will become of us next... But there will be time for worry another day. Now, Santiago is stirring and we must find a way to survive another day.
Graciela Canul Ortiz