Preorder Alert: The Golden City, Book 2 of the Brighton Duology

I’m so excited to let you guys know that THE GOLDEN CITY is now up for pre-order! I swear I don’t say this to toot my own horn, but I truly believe it’s my best book yet; this one is an edge-of-your-seat, fast-paced page-turner and I think you’re going to love it! While Reina sees the King’s side of things inside the city in the first book, the sequel introduces a new side of the kingdom, including rebels and other allies. If you like your dystopia action-packed, this one’s a winner!

Need to read book 1 first? Get THE BLOOD KING and learn all about Brighton’s dark doings to become a glorious kingdom.

The Golden City, the sequel to The Blood King, releases September 4, 2018.

Pre-Order Now for Only $0.99:

Amazon  |  Amazon UK  |  iBooks  |  B&N  |  Kobo

Down with the Blood King.

Reina Torres and Princess Helena just barely managed to escape the city of Brighton, thanks to the rebels. They now find themselves at the heart of the revolution, planning missions and infiltrating Brighton’s network. An enraged King Magnus doesn’t just want Reina and the rebels to pay, but to suffer; if it’s war they want, it’s war they’ll get.

With Helena by her side, Reina wants so much more than survival. But to live, she’ll have to go back inside the Tower, the last place she ever wanted to see again. No matter how far they run or how hard they fight, it seems their paths are destined to intertwine with the golden city … and the Blood King.

Fans of The Darkest Minds, Hunger Games, and Divergent will love this Young Adult dystopian romance.

Preorder the exciting conclusion of the fate of Brighton in THE GOLDEN CITY, Book 2 of the Brighton Duology, NOW!

A Particular Theme in THE BLOOD KING

There’s been something weighing heavy on my mind these last few weeks as I prepare for the release of THE BLOOD KING. And while I’ve struggled with how exactly I want to say things, I think it’s important now more than ever.

I am an LGBTQ ally. 

Full stop. I have a list of reasons that I won’t just shout into the void here. The biggest reason: Many of my closest friends are part of the community, and I support and love them. I know this and they know this, but those who don’t know me should, too, because it’s simply part of me.

It’s important that I say this not to make a stand or get into some political or moral blog battle, but because a huge theme in THE BLOOD KING is about and for LGBTQ. I don’t want readers to be surprised or offended–and quite frankly, don’t want anyone berating the book because of it. It’s still a Young Adult dystopian novel also featuring a King, after all. You can not like a book due to its plot or writing style or the like. But if it’s just because LGBTQ isn’t something you’re into, I think it’s important to be upfront about what you’ll read in this new release and know that it might upset you. I think I need to say it now because while it’s not a surprise to anyone who knows me in person, I tend to be quiet online and don’t invite negativity into my conversations. No one is going to change my mind on this matter, so there’s no use in confrontation.

Reina Torres is a 17-year-old girl who also happens to like other girls. This is part of her, but not her sole defining characteristic. She’s also sarcastic and strong, enthusiastic and hopeful. She enjoys reading and cooking, wants to change the world for the better, and turns out to be braver than she ever thought she could be. When King Magnus attempts to force her to marry his cruel son, it’s obviously not what she wants. Plenty of other things happen along the way, but in short, Reina Torres knows exactly who she is.

When beginning the outlines of THE BLOOD KING, it was important to me that Reina already be very aware of her preferences. I want readers, particularly teens, to know it’s okay to struggle and it’s okay to know, and it’s okay to be exactly as you are. Most of the story is about Reina’s struggle, not with liking other girls, but fighting to be herself in a world where she’s told not to. The kingdom of Brighton is dangerous for those risking their lives for love, and Reina is terrified–but she’s probably going to do it anyway, because in the end, she has to be true to herself.

By the end of Book 1, I want readers to feel hope. Hope for Brighton, hope for our own real world, hope in whatever struggles they face. It sounds so hokey when I put it that way, but that perhaps childlike optimism is why I wrote this duology in the first place. Ultimately, I want all readers to know it’s okay to be exactly who you are. And for those who identify with LGBTQ, know that you have an ally in me.

The Blood King Special Excerpt

Brighton Duology FB Cover


Chapter One

My grandmother once told me our country used to be a democracy. Years ago, when she was a little girl, a man became president. He loved the power so much he kept it, killed his opponents and dared others to come forward. Those who did lost, and with it, our free will.

The man declared himself a King, vowing to take care of the people who best served him. And he did keep his word–those who were loyal to him stayed in their own places of power, content to take orders from a megalomaniac. There were parties and festivals, food and drink and no expense spared.

The King remained on his throne of gold, the years turning into a decade, then two and three and four. Eventually, the people in his new kingdom grew complacent, adapting to their circumstances. They couldn’t flee because these were their homes, they said, and fighting was out of the question. Families stayed together this way, they said, and they’d surely be rewarded for their loyalty. Many people in the kingdom died waiting.

Eventually people accepted things the way they were, forgot how life used to be. And so the King continued on ruling, content to keep his power over the country. He went to war with other countries who dared threaten us, subduing them thanks to his plans and weapons. Attacks decimated over half of our own country, leaving much of what was once green and fruitful now barren and brown.

He won, thanks to the money he pumped into his military. It was the best in the world, and it only took three years for everyone else in the world to realize it. Over half of the human population, on the entire earth, blown to smithereens. He rebuilt the kingdom on top of our old ruins, promising a glorious new era. Other countries would bow to us and fear his name. He was the King of our country, not the world, but he might as well have been. The smaller battles that broke out across the years never amounted to anything. No one could truly spar with him because they knew he’d bomb their entire civilizations off the map.

It was a folk tale, this story of King Magnus Brighton. Stories our grandparents made up to get through their days, to scare the younger generation into behaving. I knew better, could read the papers and listen to the media. They only had positive things to say about how our King had saved us all, and continued to fight for our prosperity. People had jobs and homes, food on their table, so why would we possibly complain about being able to live our lives?

My own father fought for King Magnus, gave his life to protect his country in the last war. When rebels attacked Brighton a little over a decade ago, my father volunteered, rather than be drafted. I remember the morning he left, the proud look on his face as he kissed my mother and me goodbye. He’d known exactly what he was walking into and still he’d kept a brave face. I hadn’t realized it at five years old, but at seventeen, I knew he’d been willing to die for his country that had given him so much.

As soon as my mother received notice of my father’s death, she packed our things and we went all the way to the other side of what was left of the country. Mama said she couldn’t bear to be so close to the heart of the kingdom, but I knew there was something more. I had no idea what, of course, but I had been too devastated at the loss of my father to question it then and now it just seemed like a waste of time. Things were the way they were, and no amount of questioning or wondering would bring my dad back. I missed him everyday, as much as the day he’d left, but he was never coming back.

My mother was the rule follower, hated it when I bent them by breaking curfew or grumbled about the overbearing soldiers. I couldn’t stand her smothering. The King probably couldn’t even be bothered to reach us way out here, but she didn’t want to take any chances.

I don’t know why she bothered. Everyone out here was too busy working to worry about breaking the rules. It’s not like anyone had any real technology, anyways. We had the newspapers and TV, but no one had those fancy phones city people flaunted in those strange commercials we saw on a staticky TV. The wars had taken technology out in most of the rest of the world, leaving King Magnus once again ahead of the curve in luxury. In our tiny part of the world, most of us felt lucky to have what little we did, and dared not ask for anything more.

The Blood King releases April 10, 2018



Books Read and Recommended in 2017

I don’t typically set reading goals each year, since I have a strange pattern of reading. While writing my own books, I tend to stay in my own worlds. Between books, however, or when I need a break or a push of inspiration/motivation, I’ll end up racing through a dozen or so in a week. But I thought I’d share the books I read in 2017, with a few I highly recommend. Many of them got my brain cranking and in fact, kicked my butt back into gear for The Brighton Duology.

There are a few more on my list that were purchased, but I haven’t read yet. Honestly, I read the majority of these (probably 25) in the last couple of weeks of December. These are in no particular order, and I’ve made notes by a few that I fell head over heels with, particularly the most recent ones read that I can immediately recall the plot and people.

The Naturals Series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes:
–I LOVE this series, and it’s possibly one of my top 3 YA series of all time (like YA meets Criminal Minds). I’d previously devoured the first 3, so was thrilled when the final book, Bad Blood, released, followed by a short story spinoff, Twelve.

The Darkest Minds Trilogy by Alexandra Bracken:
The Darkest Minds
Never Fade
In the Afterlight
–Unbelievably good writing and characters, dark as hell plot (think X-men kids in concentration camps) and overall can’t stop thinking about it. She’s got a forever fan in me.

Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu:
–Really enjoyed this trilogy, even if I’m still grappling with the way it ended. Lu is a wonderful writer and I enjoyed learning her style. Dystopia, told from dual POV and really captures a war-torn country dealing with poverty, rebels, and more.

Heist Society Trilogy by Ally Carter:
Heist Society
Uncommon Criminals
Perfect Scoundrels
–I LOVED (all caps) this trilogy. Very YA meets thief/heist, and totally sucked me into the world and characters. I want these books to be made into movies because they’d be so much fun.

Conspiracy of Us Trilogy by Maggie Hall:
The Conspiracy of Us
Map of Fates
The Ends of the World
–Absolutely fantastic series that I highly recommend for adventure readers. Sort of YA meets Dan Brown, with plenty of secret societies, romance, great characters and a bit of treasure hunting.

The Testing Trilogy by Joelle Charbonneau:
The Testing
Independent Study (just started)

The Royals Trilogy by Erin Watt:
Paper Princess
Broken Prince
Twisted Palace
–This was a quick read, and is heavy romance; I’d argue about it being YA due to mature content; I can see why it’s popular, and it kept me in it enough to keep going, but wouldn’t recommend for younger readers.

Ravenspire by CJ Redwine:
The Shadow Queen
The Wish Granter
–I adore CJ, and her writing style is phenomenal. These books completely sucked me into a new world and I loved the twists on things we wouldn’t normally expect from the usual fairytales.

The Selection Series by Kiera Cass:
The Selection
The Elite
The One
The Heir
The Crown
–I was really surprised by how fast I read through these due to the major focus on romance, but I also enjoyed the world-building and characters. Plus, Cass is almost local for me, so I’m glad to support a successful author practically in my backyard!

Magnolia Steele Mystery Series by Denise Grover Swank:
Center Stage
Act Two
Call Back
Curtain Call
–Cannot recommend enough for murder mystery readers who also like to laugh out loud at quirky characters and witty dialogue. I adore Denise, and her work never disappoints.

Other books that are either standalones or parts of series I have not finished:

  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  • One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus
  • Origin: A Novel by Dan Brown
  • A Different Blue by Amy Harmon
  • Mister Romance (Masters of Love Book 1) by Leisa Rayven
  • Fairy, Texas by Margo Bond Collins
  • The Opposite of Wild (Clover Park, Book 1) by Kylie Gilmore
  • The Substitute: The Wedding Pact #1 by Denise Grover Swank
  • That Thing You Do (Whispering Bay Romance Book 1) by Maria Geraci
  • Moonstone Beach (Main Street Merchants Book 1) by Linda Seed
  • Love So Hot (The Lawson Brothers Book 1) by Marquita Valentine
  • Forever Mine (The Moreno Brothers) by Elizabeth Reyes

Nonfiction, mostly writing craft books:

  • On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by Stephen King (all writers should read this one)
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson (another good one to set your head straight in getting your ish together for you)
  • The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma by Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman (always good to have on hand while writing)
  • The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi (see above note)
  • Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age by Jeff Goins (a very inspiring take on those who’ve walked the road before us and their struggles, which puts our own in perspective)
  • Why Does the Screenwriter Cross the Road?: And other screenwriting secrets by Joe Gilford
  • Write Naked: A Bestseller’s Secrets to Writing Romance & Navigating the Path to Success by Jennifer Probst and Christina Lauren
  • Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
  • Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels (How to Write Kissing Books Book 1) by Gwen Hayes

Next on the list:

  • Renegades by Marissa Meyer
  • Warcross by Marie Lu
  • And plenty more!!