Behind the Book: Garden in the Sands by Ellie Mitten

I’m so happy Ellie agreed to let me interview her as I loved her debut book. There’s a link to my five star review at the end. It’s really exciting to find out what went into making such an amazing book.

I loved Garden in the Sands. It’s not like any book I’ve read before. What genre would you say it is?

It’s interesting that you say that, as Garden in the Sands actually started as a MG fantasy story. When it came to self-publishing, however, I read lots about YA being an easier market to get into. Therefore I re-wrote it, adding Lira’s POV element. Overall I’d say it’s a YA fantasy re-telling.

Despite being set in the desert, it’s very reminiscent of The Secret Garden. Did you plan for it to be like a fantasy version of the classic?

Yes! A re-telling was exactly my aim. I adored Mary in The Secret Garden when I was a child, as she was stroppy and imperfect. She influenced Quil a lot!

There are two MC’s can you give a brief intro to each?

Quil is a human girl born into wealth and privilege that only serves to constrict her. Desperate to gain a shred of attention from her parents, she spent her childhood misbehaving. This led to being frequently sent away from home to learn to become a ‘lady’, something she has no interest in doing. The only ray of light in her life is her main, Sasha.

When she finds herself sent away from the palace and charged with entertaining the sickly prince, she finds she’s not the only one in the world with problems.

Lira was born into greatness too, but as a demi-god this involved learning to wield a sword to prove herself. She rose to the challenge, and when the story starts she is a great heroine. She feels trapped, however, the link to her long dead human mother setting her apart from the other gods. She can’t help but watch the misery of life below in Miran. When a chance arises to break the curse that’s punishing the humans for their king’s crimes, Lira risks all the help them.

Quil learns to garden in the book – are you green thumbed?

I certainly try to be, but it’s a process of trial and error!

Lira is a demi god and fights mythical beasts – did you do a lot of research on this for your novel?

I studied Classics at university, so I’ve loved the mythology of Ancient Greece and Rome for a long time. I knew many of their stories already, but some of the beasts needed some extra research!

Who is your favourite God/Goddess from mythology?

Definitely Athena. She’s so strong and not cowed by any of the males in Olympus. She’s who Lira is based upon.

What can we look forward to from you next?

My next book is and MG adventure fantasy set in Cornwall, where I live.

Where can we go to discover more about you and your books?

Instagram (@ellie_mitten) is where I like to connect with other writers and reads 🙂

If you enjoyed this you will like:

Book Review: Garden in the Sands by Ellie Mitten

Behind the Book: Crown of Conspiracy by Kara S. Weaver

Book Review: Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

Book Review: Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

[kofi]

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[kofi]

Book Review: Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne

I love Cassidy. She has a big heart and its no surprise she writes romance. If you don’t follow her on social media you’re missing out.

Cassidy always says the perfect thing when someone needs picking up. She helped with my blurb and novel. I’ve never read romantic suspense before, but for her I wanted to.

If you don’t like spoilers, scroll quickly to my final thoughts.

About the Book

Beginning

Carter is an agent that got injured during the last mission. He’s now renting a cabin by the coast whilst recovering. In addition, he is hear broken over a colleague/lover that died. He has a lot of emotional stuff to process and doesn’t want a relationship. While he rests up, his best mate/colleague, Nate, let’s him stay at his beach holiday home.

Maddison writes articles about women in abusive relationships. It’s a topic very personal to her as she barely escaped her ex, Konrad, alive. Now she lives in fear he may one day find her. Maddie is renting the cabin next door to Nate’s, where Carter is staying.

Middle

Both characters are private people. Carter needs to maintain secrecy about who he is and what he does, and Maddison is constantly checking over her shoulder for her ex or one of his goons.

They enjoy running up and down the beach, and soon start doing this together. Carter is attracted to Maddie but doesn’t want to get involved woth anyone. He tries to manage his sexual urges with a few one night stands, careful to pick girls that won’t get close. The more time he spends with Maddison, the less effective his cold showers become.

Maddison has to visit her employers head office to collect her pay checks. Little does she know, but during this trip she is spotted by a goon. And despite her careful precautions, she’s now being followed back to the beach hut.

Carter’s leg has healed and he’s approved to return to duty. He’s to be an undercover agent to catch a sex and drug trafficking ring. Carter feels bad that he couldn’t say bye to Maddie and asks Nate to check on her.

Nate reports that Maddie has gone, and Carter accepts he is unlikely to ever see her again.

Carter is making progress fooling Konrad, the suspected boss of the ring he is investigating. Carter doesn’t know what to think when Konrad parades his girlfriend around his sleazy club, and Carter recognises her as Maddie.

End

There are lots of misunderstandings between the pair. Carter assumes that Maddie was helping Konrad get girls and after the bust, he wants nothing to do with her.

Fate causes the pair to cross paths again, it’s messy and they’ve a lot of baggage to unpack. But, there isa HEA and a very steamy sex scene .

Final Thoughts

This was a great read. It has some very steamy scenes but brought together with a strong plot. The characters are very complex, with rich back stories that feeds into who they are.

It’s only in recent years I’ve become aware of that domestic trafficking takes place. Cassidy sensitively deals with this topic. She shows how it has shapes Maddie and affected her life. The early chapters made me feel uneasy every time Maddie left the safety of her cabin. Carter also has complex issues to resolve. Their hesitation to get involved in a romantic relationship is very real.

There where times I wanted to knock Carter’s head but I think he was scared of the truth, as he was scared of getting close and losing someone again. I read the las chapters really fast as I loved when he starts to get over his fear and get honest with himself. He needs the truth, and he needs Maddie. Such a satisfying ending.

I’ve not read romantic suspense before. The suspense made me feel on edge and anxious. It was refreshing to try something different. I loved how developed the characters were, and obviously the way the steamy scenes made me feel.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you’ll love:

Behind the Book: Agent: Undone by Cassidy Reyne

Behind the Book: The Sentinels series by Cassidy Reyne

The Making Of The Blurb for Ocean Heart

Book Review: Out Of My League by Sarah Sutton

The Making Of The Blurb for Ocean Heart

I enjoyed creating my blurb. It’s the little short enticing summary that goes on the back cover of a printed book.

Over the years I’ve tweaked it but now I’m self publishing it was important to get feedback from others.

This post is going to share with you my original blurb through to the final version. I hope you find the feedback useful for writing any blurb.

ORIGINAL

Tag line:  

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to “It’s complicated!”

Blurb:

One kiss is all it took to wake Mariah’s weather manipulation powers.

Mariah is crushing on her best friend, rivalling with the swim team star and her guardian Gwyn is meddling in her life using magic.  Mariah is about to discover she’s a mermaid with dangerous powers. 

When your love life’s a mess and your deadly powers are connected to your emotions, it gives a new meaning to “It’s complicated.”

ELEXIS VERSION 

The first offer help was author Elexis Bell. She has published several novels, and various genres.

Okiedoke. If it’s at the end, I might leave mermaid out of the blurb. But that’s just me. Also, I love the play on words with being a mermaid bringing new depth to it’s complicated. I only dropped it from the blurb because it’s already going to be on the front of the book.

Here’s what I came up with. If you don’t like it (or only like parts of it), no worries. 😊

Blurb:

With a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple.

Especially with her guardian, Gwyn, using magic to keep secrets. But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later.

When a single kiss reveals Mariah’s true form, she learns that mixing a messy love life with deadly powers fuelled by emotion might be more than she bargained for.

AMENDED VERSION 1

Blurb:  

With a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple.

Especially with her guardian, Gwyn, using magic to keep secrets. But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later.

Mariah’s about to discover she’s anything but ordinary. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers might be more than she bargained for.

OR

Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers is an imminent disaster waiting to happen.  

OR

Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers is just the start of a brewing storm of trouble.  

Then I received feedback from Marketing Genius Michelle Raab, and Romantic Suspense author Cassidy Reyne, and Editor and Epic Fantasy author Kara S Weaver.

MICHELLE’S SUGGESTIONS

More than she could have imagined … ?

CASSIDY SUGGESTIONS 

…can cause/create/whip up a storm of trouble?

KARA’S SUGGESTIONS 

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to ‘it’s complicated.

With a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team’s star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple. Throw her guardian, Gwyn, using magic to keep secrets in the mix, ordinary comes close, but all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later and it is then Mariah discovers she’s anything but ordinary. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers is just the start of a brewing storm. Will Mariah be able to contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

AMENDED VERSION

Tag:

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to ‘it’s complicated.

Blurb: 

With a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple.

Especially with her guardian, Gwyn, using magic to keep secrets. But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later.

Mariah’s about to discover she’s anything but ordinary. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble.  Will Mariah be able to contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

KARA FEEDBACK 

There’s a lot of will going on in the last sentence….

Can Mariah contain it, or will she be… that might help some

AMENDED VERSION

Tag:

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to ‘it’s complicated.

Blurb: 

With a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple.

Especially with her guardian, Gwyn, using magic to keep secrets. But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later.

Mariah’s about to discover she’s anything but ordinary. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble.  Can Mariah contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

Then Contemporary Fantasy author J D Groom offered some suggestions…

JODIE’S COMMENT

I like it! I’m not sure about the middle paragraph though 🤔

Something about starting with ‘especially’ doesn’t sit right.

Maybe something like, ‘Added to that her guardian, Gwyn, is using magic to keep secrets…’ etc

AMENDED VERSION

Tag:

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to ‘it’s complicated.

Blurb: 

With a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple.

Added to that, her guardian, Gwyn is using magic to keep secrets. But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later.

Mariah’s about to discover she’s anything but ordinary. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble.  Can Mariah contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

Then, I noticed during the edits I’d lost a speech mark. I was also running every edit past my hubby and his best mate Dale to get their feedback too. It was done & I sent it to my cover designer…

Except, my Cover Designer (Original Book Cover Designs) had feedback for me too. I was not done.

She had a whole formula to share with me and examples of where it had been done well to illustrate what she meant. She really had gone above and beyond what I’d commissioned her for. But, it’s too long for this post & I didn’t seek her permission to share her secrets. But, it meant more editing…


AMENDED VERSION 

Tag:

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to ‘it’s complicated.’

Blurb: 

Mariah is a regular highschool teen, or that’s what she thinks.  With a crush on her best friend, and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple.

Added to that, her guardian is using magic to keep Mariah safe from a probable future of reapers coming for a soul, or merblood being spilt by a vengeful werewolf. But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later.

Mariah’s about to discover she’s anything but ordinary. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble.  Can Mariah contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

A gripping story about a mermaid, first love, and self acceptance. Join Mariah as she awakens!

As it had been edited I sought more feedback. Cassidy, Kara and Richenda were able to give me pointers.

AMENDED VERSION 2 

Tag:

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to ‘it’s complicated.’

Blurb: 

Highschool teen Mariah’s life is anything but simple.  With a crush on her best friend, and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, her powers awaken early.  

Mariah’s guardian meddles in her life with magic attempting to keep her safe from the soul reapers, and a werewolf hunting merblood.  But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later. Mariah is about to discover she’s a mermaid! 

Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble.  Can Mariah contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

An exciting coming of age story about a mermaid and romance that literally sparks.  

FEEDBACK FROM KARA

Blurb: 

Highschool teen Mariah’s life is anything but simple.  Between a crush on her best friend, and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, her powers awaken early.  

Mariah’s guardian meddles in her life with magic attempting to keep her safe from the soul reapers, and a werewolf hunting merblood. (This is an odd sentence. You kinda want a ‘When a…. , she …’ structure to build up tension. Like: When Mariah’s guardian meddles in her life with magic to keep her safe from the soul reapers and a merblood hunting werewolf, she learns there’s more to this world he is not willing to share). But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later (, and she’s about to discovers hers!). Mariah is about to discover she’s a mermaid! 

Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble.  Can Mariah contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

A gripping story about a mermaid, self acceptance, and romance that literally sparks.

Hi Allison,

Sorry, I had a look at your blurb and I thought it could use a bit of tightening to amp up the tension in the text. Sorry if I’m too forward, I just want to help.

Kara also spotted during the edits that an apostrophe had been lost.

FINAL VERSION:  

I thought I was finally done and sent it off to my cover designer again. Then, I spotted that ‘high school’ didn’t have a space. 😂

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Behind the Character: Mariah

Swoon Reads

Why you need a developmental editor!

http://allyaldridge.com/books/ocean-heart/

Book Review: Out of my League by Sarah Sutton

I have been following Sarah for a while on Instagram as I was intrigued to read her debut novel What Are Friends For?

So, when the opportunity to read an ARC for her new novel came up it was the perfect chance to see whether I like her writing. And, I do.

Don’t forget to join my newsletter for my own ARC sign up news!

Blurb: Out of my League

Beginning

The MC, Sophia, has dreams of getting an internship at a local Newspaper. She is famous for her article on plastic straws that activated change.

Her journalism plan involves writing for the school paper but she receives the devastating news that the School’s Board are scrapping the papers funding to buy bleachers for the baseball team.

Sophia is supposed to be finding ‘the right time’ to dump her idiot boyfriend Scott. She decides to save the school paper by writing a final article, on how toxic the Baseball team and undeserving of the funds. She delays dumping Scott to use him to get the information for her expose.

Middle

Sophia attends an end of school party with her best friend Edith. It’s at Walsh’s house, the captain of the baseball team; the baseball team that has taken her beloved newspaper’s funding.

Sophia isn’t a fan of Walsh. Scott has constantly bad mouthed him to her, highlighting his every flaw.

Scott arrives at the party, with another girl.

When he realises he’s been caught cheating, he dumps Sophia in-front of everyone and humiliates her. Walsh jumps to her rescue and claims they are secretly in love and can now be together.

Despite being a heart throb, Sophia is not into Walsh. She runs off and Walsh goes after her. He offers to be her fake boyfriend and help with the article (not knowing the angle Sophia is aiming for).

We follow Sophia infiltrate the baseball team, gathering incriminating evidence for her article. She fends off her ex-Scott’s snide remarks whilst he flaunts his new girlfriend.

In addition, Sophia’s parents are at each others throats, their ups and downs escalates to divorce. And Sophia turns to her fake boyfriend for comfort. They get close, and she discover’s Walsh’s family life isn’t perfect either.

Walsh starts doing sweet things for her, even when nobody is around to witness it. Sophia starts to fall for him and has to keep reminding herself its not real. Edith tries to persuade her to scrap the article but she can’t see any other way to save her dream of becoming a journalist.

Everything gets very messy for Sophia:

  • She fights with her parents that now have decided on counselling, and are having a baby.
  • She runs to Walsh. He confesses he knew Scott was cheating and at the party he planned for her to catch Scott out, to get back at him. Realising she was a pawn in their rivalry from the start breaks her heart. She tells Walsh about the article exposing the team cheating (paying other teams to throw the game) and storms off.
  • She goes to Edith’s house, and they fight. Sophia is heartbroken that Edith knew about Scott too and didn’t tell her, and Edith points out the many ways Sophia has been selfish.

Ending

Sophia has a lot of making up to do. With the support of her parents and BFF, it’s time to get back the boy she loves with a grand gesture… but, when she arrives at the pitch the game is cancelled.

She bumps into her ex, Scott. He tells her Walsh revealed the baseball team’s cheating. Scott’s new girlfriend is sick of the rivalry between the guys and dumps him.

Sophia finds Walsh speaking to a baseball scout. Despite the cheating, he still got picked. They get together. Sophia loves Walsh more than the article and scraps it.

Her parents are happy. Sophia and Walsh are happy. Then Sophia gets a call. Her teacher sent her straw article to the local paper and they love it and offer her an internship.

So many happy vibes 😍.


Final thoughts…

I know nothing about baseball but that didn’t matter. This is a heartwarming sweet love story. I loved the friendship between the girls. All the characters and relationships were well developed, complex and had their own motives.

The fake relationship is believable, there was a good motive from both sides. The chemistry between the two was brilliant and I caught butterflies many times, rooting for them to kiss and realise what they have is real.

“And, just like that, the tingly sensation from my fingers, spread to my stomach.” Excerpt from Out of My League by Sarah Sutton

Sarah is one of the incredible authors you can discover in the World Indie Warriors brochure, containing full details on how to connect with her and buy her books.

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Book Review: The Practice Boyfriend by Christina Benjamin

Book Review: Wiccan Romance – Amelia’s Story by Nicola Hebron

Behind the Book: Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom

World Indie Warriors (website)