Review: ILLUMINATE by L.L. Hunter

Emma Raine looks like your average eighteen-year-old.

But she holds a secret deep within her.

She is a magical being, a powerful queen of a faraway mythical land who fled her destiny.

No one will ever know.

And she’ll kill you before you ever will.

By day, Emma is a journalism intern in one of Sydney’s top media companies.
By night, she researches ways of keeping magic hidden, of keeping her world separate from the life she lives now.
But something is stirring in the streets of the trendy Australian city.
There are whispers of magic, and Emma must stop it before it takes hold.
Her search leads her to the mysterious forests of New Zealand, the one place she swore she’d never return… and the man who rules it all.

In the enticing first novel of the spin-off of the Dragon Heart Series, can Emma keep her magic hidden from the one man she thought she’d never see again?
Or will his interest in her illuminate everything?

You can’t run from your destiny.

An illuminating tale of magic and immortal love.

Hidden magic Book 2, Illuminate reveals many aspects of what has now become Emma’s life in a mostly normal world. Tormented and alone, Emma keeps herself busy killing magical creatures that dare show themselves to humans – though it is clear early on that her desire to kill the other magical beings stems from her anger towards her own magic and the path it led her on.

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L. L. Hunter has created characters that you connect with immediately, their personalities are portrayed perfectly, and Hunter really shines when writing the dialogue between them.

I love the interaction between Darcy and Emma. Their love/hate relationship is driven by a passion born the moment they laid eyes on one another.

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They are both immortal, and though Emma once trapped him in his house, he feels a longing for her that keeps him near her even hundreds of years later. I am excited to see how their relationship develops over the course of the series.

I can’t wait for Hidden Magic Book 3 – Where will L. L. Hunter send Emma next, and will Darcy be there beside her?

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I give Illuminate four stars. My only wish was that it was a little longer, but I guess with book 3 on it’s way out, I won’t have wait long to discover more of Emma and Darcy’s story.

 

Point of View

Here on AOR this month we’re each looking at different elements that make up a great story. Point of view, or POV as it’s often referred to, is so important.

But first…. WHAT IS IT?

Simply, it’s the perspective from which the story is told.

This isn’t simply which character but rather the style/technique used. There are several common types of POV.

FIRST PERSON:

Here, the main character (usually) tells the story in the form of an ‘I’ narrator.

First person POV is used often in YA writing in particular because it has that sense of immediacy. however, it is important to note that the reader can’t know anything the character doesn’t see/hear/experience.

An example of a recent first person book I read and loved was ‘TRUST’ by Kylie Scott. It opens with a hold up in a convenience store and the POV makes the reader experience that drama along with Edie, the main character.

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THIRD PERSON:

Single – here, the POV is limited to one character but uses ‘he’ or ‘she’ or ‘it’ form. Again the reader is limited by what that character knows. Can choose to be ‘deep’ where we’re right in that character’s head or further away.

Multiple – again ‘he’ or ‘she’ or ‘it’  but can follow multiple characters in the story. It works best to change view points at obvious scene/chapter breaks.

Omniscient – again ‘he’ or ‘she’ or ‘it’  but now the narrator knows everything. Kind of a narrator god.

In the Harry Potter series, which is written in the 3rd person, we see most of the action from Harry’s POV and often experience his emotions strongly however we sometimes see from other characters POV too (eg at the beginning of each book).

 

SECOND PERSON:

This is the ‘you’ for of narration and is the most unusual in fiction.

I actually can’t think of a book I’ve read in 2nd person POV. I’d love to know if you have?

 

I think that different POV work for different stories and the best way to work out what is best for you to read and write is to try them out.

 

🙂

Beck

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I always wanted to write. I’ve worked as a lab assistant, a pizza delivery driver and a high school teacher but I always pursued my first dream of creating stories. Now, I live with my family near Adelaide, halfway between the city and the sea, and am lucky to spend my days (and nights) writing young adult fiction.

The Elements Of A Great Story – PLOT

This month on Aussie Owned we are talking great stories and what the elements are that make it great. Firstly we will be talking PLOT.

Plot is the driving force of your story.

So what is plot? Plot is more than story, it is the large scale events that both move your story forwards and change your character from who they were in the beginning. It is essential that the characters are driving the plot, not the plot moving along on its own or without any connection to the characters key to the story.

After the brief introduction, there will be an inciting incident, a climax, and a resolution.

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The inciting incident should happen as close to the beginning as possible. Too soon, and we won’t care about the character so the inciting incident won’t have impact. Too late, and you run the chance of leaving the reader bored.

A great example of this is Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy. Within the first chapter we learn that the two main characters are mentally linked, one is a princess, and the other is her ‘body guard’. Oh, and they’re on the run. Their close bond draws the reader in and makes you care about them by association. After this brief set up, the inciting incident is when they are found by the people they’ve been running from and are dragged back to the academy.

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The climax is the turning point in the story. It is the moment that the character decides to do something about the incidents facing them. After this point the main character will never be the same.

A great example of this is Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. Bella decides to go after James because he claims to have her mother. She doesn’t tell Edward or the other Cullens of her decision. This confrontation in the story is a well-timed climax. Far enough into the story to have led to it with other driving incidents, but close enough to the end to give the protagonist time to develop the resolution.

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The resolution is simply what happened at the very end. It is where you show how the character you started with those many pages ago, has changed due to the incidents and climax they have experienced.

A great example of this is J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. As a whole the series has a perfect resolution. All three characters are pivotal to the story and each have their own resolutions, but the story ends with them together. Reflecting on how they have grown and changed from the meek, nervous and shy eleven year olds to the badass near-adults of the final pages.

The resolution of the story and not just the change of the character is important too. In Harry Potter, there is a very clear line between good versus evil and this resolution was made clear when Harry chooses to use Expelliarmus instead of one of the Unforgivable Curses.

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For more in depth education on the importance of plot in a story, you can check out this cool PIXAR tutorial – https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/pixar/storytelling

 

Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

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New York Times bestseller

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

 

Is it just me, or does that cover totally sell the book? From the moment I saw this one I knew I had to get it. Until I saw it was multi-POV. I really don’t dig it. Multi-POV is sooooo hard to get right and from the top of my head I only know one author who has done it well.

That said, it wasn’t too bad.

One Of Us Is Lying was a great debut. The writing is strong, the concept is fantastic, and the characters were really relatable. Marketed as The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars is the most spot on comps I’ve heard of in a long time.

Bronwyn, Nate, Addy, and Cooper are the main narrators. I can’t say I like any one of them more than the others, but as the cover clearly states, they’re pretty cliché. The author did try to delve a little deeper into their personalities but with four perspectives we’re never with each character long enough to really care deeply about them.

That said, I seriously enjoyed this book. It was a great read, and I loved the mystery to it.

The only thing that disappointed me was the ending. The climax was great, and written really well, but I picked who ‘did it’ right from the start. That could come down to the enormous amount of YA I read, but I really would have loved to be totally surprised. I’m yet to find a murder mystery that has completely taken the ground out from under me.

I definitely recommend reading.

 

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Heather is rep’d by Carrie Howland of Empire Literary

Is No Advice Ever Good Advice?

Hi everyone. Well, in answer to the above question, I guess it’s up to you to decide…

So, where am I coming from? This month we’ve been talking about what we wish we’d known when we began this writer journey.   I admit this topic befuddled me. 

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Now, I’ve been around a l-o-n-g time. 72 books. Three agents. Multiple editors. European translations.  Traditionally pubbed for almost 25 years and yes, scratch out my eyes if you wish but I sold the first book I subbed.  Does that mean I knew it all? That I know it all? No. Never, Nada. Zilch. I STILL don’t know it all. And I think if I did that some of the magic and mystique of what I do would be lost to me.

But still, I had a post to write, so I pondered and pondered: what do I wish I’d known back then? No matter how hard I thought about it, I couldn’t come up with anything worthy of sharing.

That dropping penny…

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Then the penny dropped. You see, I was having lunch with a group of close writer friends. Some were contracted for their 30th, 40th or even 50th book.  Another was only 7 books in but her first book went to auction and she’s been at the top of her game since. During the long afternoon, I posed the question, hoping for inspiration for this post. And you know what? Every single one of them looked at me with a blank expression.

And that’s when I knew.

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I knew that if I’d known everything back then, I wouldn’t have had the success I’ve enjoyed. And neither would they. The biggest lessons I’ve learned in life are those I’ve learned the hard way through experience. They stick with you. And you don’t forget them. And what’s more, they were personal to me. Specific to me and my journey. Writing is no different.  The most treasured lessons you’ll learn are those you had to fight to overcome.

So I guess that where the ‘no advice’ comes in..

However, my conscience was raging at me, so maybe these aren’t exactly on topic, but these are two things I always tell others who want to become traditionally published.

  • Enjoy your time and as unpub.

Trust me, getting published is a game changer. You now not only have a career, you have a job. You have to turn up. You can’t decide NOT to write for a while. You can’t decide that you’ll take three years to write the next novel because that’s how long it took to write the first.  I’m not pointing any fingers – though privately I am 😉 – but we’ve all seen brilliant first novels that have had raging success and gone on to become leaders in our field with movie franchises to boot – only to find the follow up novels not so enthralling. In fact they can be downright disappointing. Why? Because that first brilliant novel took years to write and the pubs demanded the next in under a year.  That’s reality.  Publishers buy authors. If they buy you, they saw your talent, they liked your story and they bought ‘you’. They’ve invested in you and the best way to secure success for both of you is to continue with more of the same. And quickly.

Published authors see so many, many striving authors not appreciate that time before publication. That period when time was your own, when you wrote whatever took your fancy and you were the only person it mattered to. I’m not saying don’t work hard. I’m just saying don’t forget to enjoy it.

  • Once you’ve submitted a work, don’t fret by the computer second guessing yourself.

If the work is unfinished – finish it. And polish it.

If it is complete – then do what I did in my early days: each time I put the next submission in the mail  (because it was mail in those days!) I went home and began something else.  It saved all that anguishing over whether the editor liked it. It saved my sanity by redirecting my focus.  By the time the answer came, I was so involved in the next project it didn’t hurt as much if it was a negative response.

You’ll not only have a great distraction – you’ll end up with a notable body of work. It’s a win-win.

Final advice

Writing is a crazy game. An affliction. It’s both a blessing and curse. A blessed gift and a curse because it never stops.  If you truly are meant to do this, you’ll  have no choice.  So don’t beat yourself up, just enjoy it.  Your time will come.

 

Multi award winning author Kaz Delaney has published 72 novels for kids, teens & adults kaz-profiles-022

over a 25 year period, many of them  published in several languages. Thirteen are YA novels and every one features a romance. Her latest is The Reluctant Jillaroo, Allen & Unwin, 2016 .  She is repped by JDM Management.

Time After Time

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This month on Aussie Owned and Read, we’re giving out advice to newbie writers and filling you all in on the things we wish we knew starting out.

Everyone before us has given some incredible info, so we’re here to focus on time.

Publishing is a slooooow business and no one is exempt from the wait. There are things you can do to help this process which we will touch on below.

These are our stories:

Heather started writing about seven years ago. She is part way through her fourth full length novel and has a short story published in Words With Heart charity anthology. She signed with Carrie Howland of Empire Literary at the end of 2015. To get to this point, there were countless rewrites of the first two books, various beta readers, and SO much feedback. Also rejections. You need to prepare yourself for the fact people won’t like what you’re writing.

Rebecca began writing  about the same time, often crediting Heather with reigniting a fire she thought was long extinguished. She self published her first novel Enchanting the Fey in November of 2016, and her second, Alpha Nine July this year. The completion of both in large part, is thanks to the support and encouragement of her writers groups, beta readers and bestie Heather. Right now she is frantically writing the sequel to Enchanting the Fey.

All of your favourite authors have been through the wait no matter which path they chose to take. Even those people who seem to be an overnight success have put in the hard yards, and trust me when I say you will be no different.

So what can you do about it? Not a lot, unfortunately. However there are a few points to help speed up the process.

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  1. Make a Plan

Figure out where you want to be in X amount of years and break down the process. And make sure these are things you can control. Saying ‘I want to be on the NYT Bestseller List next year’ is not something you can control. Make it SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound. Something like this:

Heather: Between 1st July and 31st August I will write a minimum of 1,000 words a day to have WIP4 complete as measured by finished novel. – Heather works well with structure, having strict timelines and a solid plan in place. She thrives on knowing exactly where she needs to be and will push herself hardest when she sees her goal in sight.

Rebecca: Between Alpha Nine launch in July and my family holiday in September I will write every day! – Rebecca’s plan is more directed with life events to guide her, and with no expectation of number of words to reach per day, but rather a goal to simply write every day, she doesn’t feel discouraged when she has time to only get down a few lines.

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2. Edit, edit, edit!

The cleaner your manuscript is, the better in the long run. Go over your book again and again and again. No matter if you’re the greatest writer in the world, there are always edits to be done. And if it’s your very first book ever, there will be LOADS of edits. (No, you are not the exception). Leave your work to rest for at least a month. Make loads of writer friends, ask them to beta read. If you can afford it right now, hire an editor, if you can’t… save your dollars and then hire an editor. Editors are worth the cost. They not only find the little spelling errors or misused words, but offer you a wider overview of your work. They find the holes and help you to fill them in. Not every editor is for everybody, so take the time to find one that understands you and your style, it will make the process a lot smoother.

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3. Self Publish 

Traditional publishing is the slowest of slow. You need to be prepared to wait at every stage: querying agents, submitting to editors, waiting on your book to hit shelves. It is literally years between signing a publishing contract, going through edits, and having your book in your hands.

PLEASE KNOW – SELF PUBLISHING IS NOT THE EASY OPTION!

To be clear, the common misconception that ‘self publishing is easy’ is so far from being true it’s laughable.

But it can be a hell of a lot faster, because when you self publish you control the process yourself. It is up to you how long it takes for writing, editing, formatting, cover design etc. But the time you save with the actual publication needs to be put into marketing your book because that thing isn’t going to sell itself. Marketing is one of the hardest aspects.

As a self published author, Rebecca is still learning and will always be learning the different ways she can market her books to get them into the hands of more readers. Facebook and other social media platforms offer a great and often affordable avenue, but if you have the money, you could employ professional marketers to help you push your books.

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Now you know a little more about how we got here, please tell us a bit about where you are in your author journey. What is your author story, and did it take copious amounts of coffee to get you there? It did for the both of us.

 

 

 

Knowledge for Pitch Wars Newbies

Pitch Wars can be a really stressful time for aspiring authors, especially if you trying to navigate your way through the hashtags: #PitchWars #AskMentor and a whole host of others that I can’t keep up with!

Here are some tips to help those of you who are trying to make sense of everything:

  1. Follow Brenda Drake on her blog,  Twitter and Facebook: Pitch Wars is Brenda’s brain-child and she will be releasing information first… including this all important post.
  2. Check out the #PitchWars and #AskMentor hashtag on Twitter, and interact with both mentors and other aspiring mentees.
  3. Have a real talk with yourself to determine if you’re manuscript is ready. Often, writers are impatient (I know I am), and let loose their MS before it’s too ready. ON the other hand, some writers polish their work too much.
  4. Play nice with others. This is a great community, and you could make life-long CPs and friends from the process.
  5. Don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole. Make sure your MS matches the types of novels accepted, and do your research when the mentor wish-list blog hop comes out. Don’t waste your entry on mentors who aren’t in your category or don’t want your genre.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but make sure you’re question hasn’t already been answered in the mentor’s bio/wish-list. In other words, don’t twitter pitch the mentors. It gets awkward.
  7. If you want to sub to more mentors you can through a donation, which is used for administration costs not mentors. Find out more here.

If you have any additional questions you can hit me up on Twitter, or ask questions in the comments.

Stacey Nash and I are comentoring this year, and we look forward to seeing your YA entries.

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Sharon M. Johnston is a YA and NA author from sunny Queensland who occasionally has pink hair. She loves listening to audiobooks, and has a text to voice app so she can listen to Pitch Wars entries.