Musings, tips and inspirations from a fantasy writer.
This blog is where I’ll talk about my journey as a writer, a mother, a blogger, a book lover and a person with disability
– And how I combine the three on a day-to-day basis.
My goal is to help people, through my own experience, understand the trials and errors of the publishing world, as well as connect with other writers, bloggers, book lovers, mothers and people with disabilities.
I’m guest posting today at George Rede about my journey to blindness.
Come give it a read:
On July 24th, 2007, my quest to save the last vestiges of my vision began. I left my small apartment in Tallahassee, Florida, with my husband and nine-month-old baby, and drove down to Miami International Airport, because I refused to board a connecting flight to Rio alone. My goal was to undergo glaucoma surgery, which I couldn’t afford in the U.S., but which I could receive in Brazil with my health insurance.
Most people in the U.S. measure normal sight at a distance of twenty feet. A 20/20 vision is the norm, but back then, my ophthalmologist had mine measured at 235/400, according to my medical file (for my left eye). I could see only through the periphery of my left eye, which was my dominant one. With my right, I could see no more than light and shadows. Whenever I moved and needed to see ahead, I’d look sideways (all the way to the right), so that I’d have the periphery of my left eye focused to the front. It made for awkward moments with people who’d think I was focused somewhere else when talking with them.
As a binge reader, I often come across many great books that are, for the most part, overlooked by the majority of readers. It’s disappointing to tell a friend, “Hey, I read so and so book,” only to realize the other person not only never heard of the book, but has no idea who the author is.
So, I wanted to start sharing some books I enjoyed very much, but that I think don’t get enough credit.
For this post, I will be introducing The Guild Codex Universe by Annette Marie.
There are four series in this urban fantasy world and one magic system. I’ve read them all and enjoyed each equally.
First, let me introduce you to the series, where the characters are interwoven:
The Guild Codex: Spellbound
The Guild Codex: Demonized
The Guild Codex: Warped
The Guild Codex: Unveiled
And here’s the first book in each one, as well as a goodreads description and a brief thought:
Starting with Three Mages and a Margarita, this series is complete at eight books, all of which are amazing.
“Mages, psychics, sorcerers, druids, demons—and a human with a feisty attitude, no magic, and one last chance at gainful employment.”
I loved the fact that Tori is one tough kick ass human, no hidden powers, no magic at all, but she stands equally to all the supernaturals and is just as badass – and sometimes more.
This was the first book I read by this author, but not the last.
Starting with Taming Demons for Beginners, this series is complete at four books.
“When shy bookworm Robin found a hellish creature imprisoned in her uncle’s basement, she never intended to make a contract with the rare, deadly demon. And their contract? His protection in exchange for… cookies. There’s no way that could go wrong.”
Between this one and Spellbound, the two series really come alive. I read them in their reading order, which you can find here.
Starting with Warping Minds & Other Misdemeanors
There are three books in this series, though there are more to come, and I can’t wait!
“When psychic conman Kit is arrested, all he wants to do is escape. Instead, he finds himself partnered with by-the-books MagiPol agent Lienna and tasked with bringing down his ex-partner-in-crime. That might make escaping custody a tad more difficult.”
Narrated from the pov of a male character and a convict as well, this is, by far, the one to make you laugh in the middle of the night. You can’t help but root for the underdog – and yes, it’s action packed as well.
Starting with The One and Only Crystal Druid, there are four books published in this series, and like Warped, there are still more to come.
“When ex-convict and incompetent witch Saber encounters the notorious Crystal Druid, she tries to kill him. Then she discovers a mysterious fae on a deadly rampage. Together, they have a chance to stop it—if she can resist stabbing her new ally.”
I’ll admit that after reading about Zach as a secondary character in the other three series, I was so excited to finally read his story, that when I finally picked it up and found it told in the female’s pov, I was disappointed. I wanted Zach as the lead character, and for that, my enjoyment dimmed. That doesn’t mean that this series isn’t awesome, because it is, only that I felt betrayed when I picked up the first book and found the story told in someone else’s pov.
So that’s it. Have you ever read any of the above?
There are other books by this author in other worlds – Steel and stone, and they’re great reads as well – yes, I’ve read them all. But to keep this post short, I’ll stop here, for now. Next week, I’ll come back with a new post and a new author.
Do you know any similar books overlooked by the majority? Let me know in the comments below!
While it’s true that the path of writing is a solitary one, getting published isn’t. In fact, there isn’t an author out there who wouldn’t agree with the fact that publishing a book is the work of a team.
While I’d been absent from the blogosphere for most of this year and the last, I spent all my time (the free ones) up in a tree, enjoying the moonlight.
I mean, in my dreams. In my waking hours (though I might or not have been lucid because I can’t remember how the time passed by), I wrote an upcoming trilogy, which I’ll be posting about in the following weeks.
For today, I wanted to take the time to thank some of the authors who’ve helped and supported me in my latest endeavor.
Author Tyler Colins, for reading my books and for the proofread – but especially for being a good friend. I treasure all the back and forth emails we share. You’re an amazing person, an amazing writer, and an amazing editor.
Thank you. I did sniff back some tears of despair when you told me “house” should be in upper case, but I gritted my teeth and went back through book 1 and book 2, and capitalized all 500+ “house”. And yes, I went over one by one because not all the “houses” in the story belonged to a house of power. But hey, I survived.
Author E. Denise Billups. Thank you for always being there whenever I despair about the layout format. Your help is the reason my books are well-formatted, and I appreciate you always taking the time to reply to my emails, format my books – which sometimes you do more than once because I keep messing it up – and for always replying to my rants. And most of all, thanks for being my friend for the past five years.
I promise I’m learning the war strategy for layout format, and hopefully, one day, you’ll tell me that I’ve done it right. My fingers are crossed. Hopefully, they won’t get stuck like that.
I’ve been hearing about the merger for Penguin Random House with rival Simon & Schuster for some time now. Who here never played monopoly?
Some people say less competition is better, but what they forget to consider is that without competition, options become limited. If the Big 5 becomes 4, there’s nothing stopping another merger to happen, then another, and another, until there’s one publishing house monopolizing the publishing industry.
When competition is gone, there’s no stopping the provider from setting the rules that benefits them the most, with the prices that benefits them the most.
I’ve read an article today that even established author, Stephen King, stood up against the merger, regardless that his books are published by Simon & Schuster.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter!
Here’s a quote, and the link for the article below that.
“Blockbuster horror writer Stephen King testified on Tuesday as the star witness in the Justice Department’s case against the merger of publishing giant Penguin Random House with rival Simon & Schuster. The author, whose own books are published mostly by Simon & Schuster, said he had watched as consolidation in the industry lowered pay for lesser-known colleagues.”
It’s been months since I’ve last posted here. So much has happened. I’ve started a few times to post, but I never hit the publish button.
The other day, I had the honor to be invited to a fun and entertaining interview by fellow writer and blogger Jonathan Pongratz. He’s the author of Reaper: A Horror Novella, among a few others.
So, without further ado, come take a look!
Through an unknown magic you are teleported to the world of a book you’ve recently read. Where have you ended up?
Jina: Velaris, from A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas. Most make-believe places in books are plagued with war and monsters (at least most books I read), but Velaris is a wonderful place, filled with happy people. So much so that only its citizens know about its existence (to prevent an influx of people and corruption, as well as for protection). To everyone else, Velaris, (or The Court of Night as outsiders know it), believe the place to be in another location, and to be a nightmarish court, fraught with violence.
Jonny: Wow, what a change of scenery from your typical reads! I don’t think I’d know what to do in such a happy setting since I’m used to blood, guts, and scary stuff. Enjoy some deep, calming breaths while it lasts, I suppose.
Woosh! I’ve been transported to D. Wallace Peach’s The Ferryman and the Sea Witch. Oh lordy, I’m terrified of the ocean! As long as I’m in the city of Brid Clarion or Haf Killick I’ll be okay, but put me on a boat and I’ll probably be seasick the entire time. Not to mention the dire fate I’ll suffer from the merrow if I fall overboard. Get me outta here!
Come read the rest – it’s a fun and entertaining post!
As some of you know, I’ve been scrambling to get things ready for an upcoming book release–and it’s been so frustrating!
But let us go back a while. Some of you are aware I’d been trying to get an agent (started querying June 2020). I spent months getting rejected–until I was told by a few that Agents preferred to work closely with authors, and giving my end-of-the-world location, I was a big NO! from the first paragraph in the query: “My name is Jina S. Bazzar, and I’m a Palestinian author.” 👌So I searched and found a nearby agency. Well, there’s a 3 hour flight between us, but at least we’re in the same continent. 😁And yay, the agent offered me a contract after reading the manuscript. Cue the dancing. 🎶
But as days turned into weeks and then a month with not a word from the agent, I decided to send an inquiry, and hey, we were still on. Just some internal details to be finalized. And then more days turned into weeks and, another inquiry, and reassurances and a few months later, I realized I was being strung along.
So I decided it was time to push up my sleeves and do this on my own. Being in a very small dot on a map meant Amazon KDP only offered its bear minimum, so I put in my Brazilian details.
Now able to use its exclusivity program, I went in for the final details – editor, book cover, digital and paperback layout and so on. Despite those having been frustrating, I had friends helping – Tyler Colins (the book’s editor), and E. Denise Billups (who did the layout formats) again, thank you. As for book cover, after a brief stint on fiver, I decided my best bet was a professional designer. But $500 + was some of the cheapest I could find, so I crossed US book covers from the list and moved to Brazilian ones.
I set release date far enough (December 21st, 2021) to give myself enough time should unexpected obstacles popup, and hey, there were (and still are) so darn many! 😢
First was the ISBN number for the paperback. Since I planned to include the paperback version on Ingram Sparks as well, I couldn’t accept KDP’s free ISBN. But ISBN from the US would cost me $125, and honestly, I balked. Countless frustrating hours later, I learned that I could buy an ISBN from anywhere in the world, providing I had the necessary documents. So I tried buying it from here first. Well, the page link was broken, ha-ha-ha, and I put that aside. I checked ISBN in Brazil, and wow, it cost $5. So I eagerly filled all the necessary information – which took me about two hours, since the page wasn’t so accessible to screen readers (seriously, that’s getting old fast). And then, when it came time to pay, they refused payment from my bank (which is Brazilian), asking instead for payment through another (also Brazilian) bank (which I don’t have an account in). They did have another option for other banks that didn’t involve credit cards, but I’d need to be there to use it, so, wall, meet my face.😒
I went back to that broken link, discovered that the URL belonged to a branch of a local university, and I googled that university. Nothing so simple as a link saying ISBN here, of course, so I reached out to the library.
Of course, there was no reply. (Did you believe after all the above, that it would be that easy?) 🤷♀️
So, I went back to KDP, telling myself when I figured the ISBN problem, I could trim the book size to a new one, and use that one for Ingram Sparks (each book size has its own ISBN).
So, ISBN appointed through KDP, I got both the digital and paperback forms uploaded, with the digital set on pre-order. Yay. ✌
Time to gather book reviews and set up some ads so I could get eyes on the book.
First, of course, I contacted reviewers I knew. Out of 60 some emails, I got 5 replies.🤔
Mmm, maybe their emails changed. So I went hunting for them on social media and discovered that many of them haven’t posted for months, some even years. Given what’s happening around the globe, I wondered if they were okay, but put them aside as nothing I could do about. So I started reaching out to other reviewers, and while I waited for replies, I decided to tackle some ads.
Since some indie friends I know mentioned Bookbub ads , I headed there first. And discovered their page is mostly inaccessible to the blind. Well, I discovered that long ago when I tried posting reviews and recommending books I read, but I honestly thought their ad page would be accessible. Foolish me. 🤦♀️
Complaint sent to their customer service, I headed to amazon and hey, their page isn’t 100% accessible, though I was able to manage it. But… yes, of course there’s a but: I can’t access their payment billing with paypal, so I’ll need that other payment method the Brazilian ISBN people asked for.
I admit there was plenty of hair-yanking.
So now while family members in Brazil scramble to get my bank account in order, I find myself in limbo, hands tied with nothing to do but reach out to reviewers. The problem? 200 emails and change, and I’ve rarely got back any reply– I wonder if my emails are going to spam?
So there it is, peeps, the condensed version of a few months and a lot of frustration, sprinkled with some achievement.
Any author here have any good suggestions – for book reviewers, places where I can put up some ads? Any readers here interested on a free e-book in exchange of a review when the book releases? 🤞
Ps: On an unrelated note, it only took me two days to get this post up and (hopefully) presentable.
It’s been months since I last posted here, and though I’m still on that hiatus, I wanted to share a piece I guest posted for a friend. It’s a bit different than my usual posts – and there’s more about my personal life there than I’ve actually shared here. So, come take a look!
As I sit here pondering what to write, rain drenching my face, the salt of the ocean stinging my eye, the… Wait, no, no. There’s no rain in the summers here in Palestine. We have, however, blistering hot, very dry conditions. The sky is clear, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming. It’s the perfect time for beach vacations, the gentle lap of soothing waves, the shade of swaying frond leaves, the call of seagulls. Wait, there are no beaches on this side of the wall either. Okay, let’s try again… it’s the perfect time for picnics, sightseeing, fruit picking, doing dishes, house chores, mosquito baiting, and there are no F-16 bombings nearby, no riots, nor any sound of gunfire today. (Sorry, had to drop that last part in. You know, in case you wondered when you saw Palestine mentioned above.)…
I’ve lost a third of my ratings on Goodreads overnight. According to Goodreads customer services, they’re experiencing a bug. It’s got full priority, but they have no idea when it’ll be fixed. Meanwhile, I’ve dropped from 4.41 average rating to a 4.09 – because most ratings that disappeared were 5 and 4 star ratings.
1. Phone NASA. Their phone number is (713) 483-3111. Explain that it’s very important that you get away as soon as possible.
2. If they do not cooperate, phone any friend you may have in the White House–(202) 456-1414–to have a word on your behalf with the guys at NASA.
3. If you don’t have any friends in the White House, phone the Kremlin (ask the overseas operator for 0107-095-295-9051). They don’t have any friends there either (at least, none to speak of), but they do seem to have a little influence, so you may as well try.
4. If that also fails, phone the Pope for guidance. His telephone number is 011-39-6-6982, and I gather his switchboard is infallible.
5. If all these attempts fail, flag down a passing flying saucer and explain that it’s vitally important you get away before your phone bill arrives.
(Taken from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams)