Two weeks ago when I was first furloughed from my day job due to COVID, I was super bummed. :(
But, after I applied for unemployment (which took several days and the search for a landline), I finally relaxed and decided to use my time wisely.
That's when I started the Rough Draft Writing Blitz! I vowed to finish the rough draft for book 3 in 30 days.
To date, I've written through Chapter 17 in The Nexis Conspiracy.
Then something unexpected happened.
I signed up for a self publishing course and had my first call with my writing coach. And he gave me some unexpected new direction for my series.
First, he told me to stop writing the rough draft of book 3. Whaaaa?
Then he said that I needed to fix 5 key things in book 1, The Nexis Secret, if I want to target the new genre of Academy Fiction. Which I do.
So ... after much internal debate, screaming into pillows, and pulling out my hair, I figured out a new direction for the Nexis series.
Here are the 5 key things my writing coach told me to fix:
If I do revamp the series, that means you insiders will have the chance to be on the launch team! If you're already on my Nexis Street Team, I'll just transfer you to the launch team.
If you want to join the Montrose Paranormal Academy Launch team, click the link to submit your email.
What do you think? Comment below to let me know your thoughts on all of these changes.
I start rearranging scenes tomorrow!!!
I'm really getting into Academy books lately and I found a new series that is definitely worth a read. Recently, I stumbled onto Firstborn Academy by Isla Frost. This series is definitely worth a read.
There's 3 things I absolutely LOVE about this series. But first, how about a little background?
Firstborn Academy is set in a dystopian world where the first born child of every family is sent to the Walkers as a tribute, of sorts, to provide food and protection for the entire family.
World Walkers, that is. Wooo, sounds intriguing, right?
The Walkers have fun but scary magical abilities that turn living things into mythical monsters.
And the plot thickens ...
The only difference between this and Hunger Games is that there is no choice involved. The first born child, of any gender, MUST go through the portal as the sacrificial lamb. Their sacrifice provides food and protections for their whole family.
That's the agreement with the Walkers. Thanks, guys.
There is an unexpected magical twist, where the firstborns learn about magic. Which makes it more of a Harry Potter meets Hunger Games kind of story.
Without further ado, here are my three favorite things about Firstborn Academy.
1. The Main Character is Sacrificial
Lena knew her fate as a child. She grew up knowing she only had 18 years with her family. That definitely wreaks havoc on the family dynamics, but what a great twist!
2. The World Building is Unique
For you academy fiction fans, the academy theme is the main world the main character lives in. But it's a magical academy.
As you read each book, this dystopian but magical world gets more and more interesting. Layer upon layer of nuance is added as the author reveals the world slowly.
There are post-war ruins, magical creatures, and mythical beings on this dystopian earth.
But I won't spoil it for you!
3. There are Great Examples of Overcoming Prejudice.
The beings in charge are the Walkers. Humans don't know much about them, except that they're gorgeous. But mean.
Walkers are more powerful than humans, so they naturally look down on them. No surprise, there's a lot of prejudice between both sides.
Firstborn Academy does a good job of showing the prejudice, and finds small ways to overcome it. At least for the main character.
It's not a treatise on overcoming stereotypes and prejudice. But it's a start.
The only disappointing bit in this series is that there's no predominant love story.
Don't worry, it's there in the background. But this book is more about survival and saving the planet. Cool themes, too.
Overall, Firstborn Academy is a great read for YA Academy readers who also like dystopian and magical themes. There are enough unique elements and twists to keep avid YA readers entertained for the entire series.
Luckily, this series is free on Kindle Unlimited.
What YA books are you reading?
Leave a comment below to tell me all about it.
Maybe I'll review it next month. I always need new books to read.
Do you love magical academies...
and discovering strange powers you never knew you had?
Then you'll love the Darkblood Academy series by G.K. DeRosa.
What a great series!
I stumbled upon this series while doing research into the burgeoning YA Academy genre. (Yes! It's really a thing!)
The Darkblood Academy series is a great example of the new academy fiction phenomenon.
G.K. DeRosa weaves an exciting tale of magical adventure, PG-13 romance, and coming of age lessons into a powerful story that keeps you fully engaged.
I didn't want to put these books down!
They're so much fun!
And there's definitely a good amount of character and story depth, too.
I could really relate to the main character.
Luna starts out as a normalish teen struggling to get out of the New York foster system after some family drama.
Then she's thrust into a new world of supernaturals due to a long lost father. She's told she may or may not have magical powers.
But I won't spoil the rest for you.
The Darkblood Academy series is the ultimate escape to a fun new world.
Lucky for you...
the final book in the series released last month!
Now you can read the entire series. Start to finish!
I definitely recommend the whole 4 book series! You might end up reading it straight through!
What are you reading?
Got any books you want to recommend for my next read? This author is always looking for the next great book!
It's finally here! Announcing the Montrose Academy VIP Readers Club!
I’m trying something new and different to get to know my readers and find out what they want. Are you up for a change of pace? I’m rolling out an all-new Facebook readers group where you can join Montrose Academy!
Want to share your ideas for the next books in the series?
Want the behind-the-scenes scoop on how the secret societies formed or how Montrose Academy started?
Now’s your chance!
Join the Montrose Academy VIP Readers Group to immerse yourself in all things Nexis. Plus you'll get to know the author and get your voice heard.
Here are all the exclusive things you’ll have access to when you join the club:
I’ve been writing and building the world of Nexis and Montrose Academy for four years. But sometimes it’s a lonely task. I’d love to throw open the doors and hear what you really think about the characters, academy, and secret societies I created.
If that sounds like something you’d be down for, click below to check out the Montrose Academy VIP Readers Club.
I can’t want to meet you and invite you into the world of the Nexis Society, the Guardians and the Watchers.
Don't worry, that doesn't mean I won't share lots of goodies from the readers group on my blog, too!
Whether you join the readers group or not, let me know what you think. What would you like to learn more about in the world of Nexis?
A few days ago, I had an amazing coaching session with author Jami Albright. She’s a best-selling Kindle romance author who writes a book a year. Today’s popular indie wisdom proclaims, “Write a book a month, or at least every three months to keep the Amazon algorithm primed.” But what about those of us who can’t write a book a month? Where does that leave us?
I stumbled upon a YouTube video in my indie author’s Facebook group of Jami speaking at the 20 Books to 50k conference. Jami’s talk was so inspiring that I decided to try a coaching session with her. It was amazing! She gave me a TON of personal feedback in our one-hour call. She also told me I needed to make a few changes—some of them big. One that hurts, too.
Right out of the gate Jami asked, “Why aren’t you marketing your books as Academy books?” Sure, my Nexis Angel series takes place at Montrose Academy. Apparently, that’s a whole genre now! Funny story—I’m currently reading several academy books on Kindle Unlimited to educate myself on my competitors, ahem comparable authors. ;) I just hadn’t put two-and-two together that my books were actually “Academy Books.” Three cheers for an outsider’s fresh perspective!
More good news, my brand new covers and my professionally edited books are both up to snuff. But there are some tweaks I need to make to my blurbs, my categories, and my keywords, which she personally helped me upgrade. There are several other minor updates I’ll need to make behind the scenes (I won’t bore you with the details). However, there are two major changes I’ve been advised to make—one good and one bittersweet.
Good news first. How would you feel if I added a Facebook Readers group? It would be exclusively for Nexis Angel series readers and fans to discuss the books. I’d be there to add insight, give extra feedback, and maybe even a sneak peak at some deleted scenes and such. I hope to make that available ASAP. If you’re interested, check my FB author page for all the latest.
Now we come to the bittersweet change I alluded to earlier. I’ve been advised to take my prequel off of Amazon. That means The Nexis Awakening will no longer be available for sale or on Kindle Unlimited. Instead, it will be an exclusive freebie to readers who join my email newsletter list. Jami and I discussed how I might write another free reader magnet to entice readers to join my mailing list, but in the end it’s just easier to use a novella I’ve already written. Especially one that contains spoilers for Book 1 in the series, The Nexis Secret.
So, it is with a heavy heart that I will be removing The Nexis Awakening from Amazon on December 8, 2019. If you haven’t read it yet, you still have time to download a copy here.
To be honest, I love the new cover of The Nexis Awakening so much that I want to write more about Lucy’s brother, James. When I first saw the cover model I said, “Oh, there he is. Nice to meet you, James.” My cover designer found the PERFECT face for James. Now I’m imagining what he’s been up to in Europe since his disappearance. Wouldn’t that make a good story? Needless to say, a version of James and his story may reappear in the near future. So don’t despair too much. ;)
I’m hoping that these changes will help my books reach more readers—and help me serve my current readers better. If you’re reading this, that means YOU. I want to interact with you more. I want to know what you think. Maybe I’ll even let your feedback shape the course of the next two books in the series! Mostly, I just want to know what you like and what you don’t like.
I’m not like some authors who just write for themselves or for the love of writing. I write for the people like you who read my books. Not because you have to, but because you want to.
I want to know why you read—and why you read my books. Are you like me as a teen, looking to escape a troubling home life? Or just escape in general? Or are you the kind of reader who wants to learn something new when you read? Maybe it’s a combination of the two, or another option I hadn’t thought of. Either way, I want to know!
So tell me, why do you love to read? What are your favorite kinds of books?
It's cover reveal week for the Nexis Angel series. I'm rebranding the entire series! I've commissioned some great new covers that I love. I hope you do, too.
A new cover will drop every day leading up to the much-anticipated Crossing Nexis pre-order! That's right, folks. Book 2 in the Nexis Angel series will go on pre-order later this week. (Depending on when Amazon approves it!)
Until then, sit back, relax, and enjoy all 3 new covers! I'll be updating my FB author page and this website daily.
Here's a sneak peak at the new cover for The Nexis Secret.
It's been a long time since you've heard from me or seen any new content from me. I'm back! I'd like to share a little about why I took a forced hiatus from writing. Plus, I've got exciting news about what's coming up in the next few months.
I've been dealing with a family tragedy that forced me to start over. It was something I never asked for and never imagined. I'm sure someday I'll write a book about it. For now, I'm happy to be writing at all!
Speaking of writing, I'm finally ready to release the sequel to my debut novel, The Nexis Secret. Are you ready for Book 2 in the Nexis Angel Series? Crossing Nexis is coming in November!
To prepare for my new release, I'm also relaunching the first two books in the series! The Nexis Secret and The Nexis Awakening are both getting redesigned covers and updated content. Look for a sneak peak of the awesome new covers in your inbox soon!
If you're still reading this, thanks for sticking with me this long! I'm planning to revamp my email newsletter, too. My goal is to send you an email twice a month. Nothing fancy, mostly author updates and brand new content like book reviews, character profiles, and other behind-the scenes Nexis insights.
If that's something you're intetested in, you can sign up here! I want to build a community where we can chat about books and all the things you love! Let's start the conversation now!
What do you want to see in Book 2, Crossing Nexis? Is there a plot point you've always wanted explained or a character whose backstory you want to know more about?
If so, I’d love to hear all about it. Feel free to leave a comment below and tell me what you think!
Exciting news from Las Vegas ... The Nexis Secret was just named a finalist in Young Adult category of the
I Heart Indie contest sponsored by the Las Vegas Romance Writers of America Chapter. Squeee!
It's been a long time since my writing's been up for an award, so you bet I'm stoked about this one. Of course, this is my debut novel so maybe I'm a bit of a overacheiver. Who cares? Time for a happy dance!
Just being a finalist is exciting enough. They announce the winners of the contest on October 15, 2016 at the Las Vegas Valley Book Festival. Can you stand it? Check out the screenshot of my competition.
Confession time. As a debut author, I do suffer from sequelphobia. This week I'm guest posting over at Everyone's Story about my recent (and ongoing) battle with the dreaded Sequelphobia. So come on over to Elaine Stock's blog and read all about it. One lucky commenter will win a digital copy of The Nexis Secret. So head on over for your chance to win.
Welcome to my dining room table, where I just brainstormed chapters 16-23 in my sequel Crossing Nexis. Finally, it feels like my story is complete! Now I just have to write these new scenes. No pressure...
Tomorrow, I'm guest posting on Everyone's Story about my battle with Sequelphobia. (It's a real thing, people!) Brainstorming is one of the ways I learned to deal with it. I've been wrestling with the plot of Crossing Nexis for a long time now. Nothing seemed right. Until now.
I was looking for ways to add more action to this sequel. Now, Lucy and her friends get to go to some cool places in these scenes. An underground chamber. A secret passage hidden in the NYC subway system. A heavily-guarded facility in upstate New York.
Maybe you see all these notecards and think, "That's a lot of work." My hubs asked if I was done playing my game of "Memory." Ha-ha. But a note card is a manageable amount. You can only fit 100 words or so on a notecard. And each notecard represents a scene. I'd argue that the time these notecards save, plus the inspiration they produce, is well worth it.
So there you have it. Just a little peek into one writer's world. Now off to fill in the blanks.
Barbara Hartzler is the debut author of The Nexis Secret—the story a girl with a gift to see the unseen world of angels. And the two secret societies vying for The Seer's allegiance. The Nexis Secret is inspired by Barbara’s college experiences and peppered with anecdotes from her teen missions trip to New York City. She’s always wanted to write, not necessarily about angels, but the idea was too good to pass up. As a former barista and graphic designer, she loves all things sparkly and purple and is always jonesing for a good cup of joe.