This Cursed Flame Character Interview: Janan

Today we get to talk directly to one of the main characters: our genie, Janan!

Today is day two of This Cursed Flame’s blog tour! So far we had a lovely book spotlight by H. L. Burke and a first look at the opening chapter. Today I want to dive in a little deeper and talk with one of our main characters, Janan. But don’t forget to head back to the masterpost to keep following all the posts as they come out each day. There’s plenty of material to keep you all content in this final week before release!

Now, without any more delay, here’s Janan!

Hello, Janan. Welcome to the blog tour! Why don’t we start by telling our readers just a little bit about you?

Thanks for having me! I don’t normally do these things, but Laurelin insisted it would be fun. Oh, she’s my new human friend. I’m a genie and have been for several years now. What that means is that I used to be human, but a djinn gave me magic and changed me into something kind of between djinn and human. But before that, I grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and lived with my family on their farm. One day I’d love to really be able to stay with them again, to be part of the family again. But I’ve met plenty of people who have kind of become my found family, and it helps.

Sounds like it’s been a rough road! Can you tell us a little bit about your found family?

Sure! I lived in the djinn Realm with two very kind djinn, Irina and Mahtab. They’ve kind of been like surrogate parents and have made sure I was safe and continued my education. I was only eleven when I was changed, so I had plenty of school left to finish. Another djinn, Ghadir, kind of came to my rescue when Ahriman changed me, and she placed me with Irina and Mahtab. And then there’s Safiyya, a ghul type of djinn who is stuck in the form of an ocelot (ghul are shapeshifters). She’s been my best friend in the Realm, and I really feel like of all of them, she understands me and my situation best.

That’s so great! Speaking of your family, they tell my you have a rather unique collection in your Fuego home. Care to tell us about it?

I guess I can. I collect all different kinds of bottles. Glass, crystal, metal. Anything. When I was human, I used to watch I Dream of Jeannie with my father. It became sort of a running joke, a way I could make light of everything that happened to me. Instead of being controlled by a bottle, like in the show or a lot of human mythology, I collect them.

How interesting! It seems like you were able to find some way to cope with everything you went through. I’m sure it really affected you.

Yes. I was young, and I had been kidnapped. Ahriman is a horrible djinn and person. I’ve had panic attacks and such ever since I was changed. I’m still working on it, with plenty of help. Those kinds of things are long journeys.

Definitely! Is there anything else you can share with the readers about your story?

Well, besides the whole kidnapping, becoming a genie thing, I did get to meet Laurelin. It’s so good to talk to other people and see how similar we really are, despite appearances (or magic). If you read the story, you’ll definitely get to see plenty of the djinn Realm and magic. There may even be a few secrets Laurelin discovers along the way!

Exciting! Thank you for sharing your time with us today, and good luck in facing Ahriman!

Um, what?

That’s all the time we have, but make sure you check out your favorite retailers for the pre-order link, and come back every day this week for a new post about This Cursed Flame!

This Cursed Flame is available on Amazon and any other major retailer! Also, if you prefer a paperback, those will be available through Amazon. And be sure to head over to Facebook on Saturday for the Launch Party! (and your chance to win your own hand-painted genie bottle, just like in Janan’s collection!)

The Creation of a Story: This Cursed Flame Edition

Want to know the process This Cursed Flame went through? Keep reading!

Last week, to get us into the spirit for This Cursed Flame‘s release, we discussed some of my favorite genie books (by the way, I definitely missed The Midnight Sea by Kat Ross… so good, but not traditional genies. They’re called daevas, but they share some traits with mythological djinn.).

This week, though, I want to go over the development of This Cursed Flame, from story seed to the version that is up for pre-order on Amazon and all other major retailers now. Buckle in, folks. It’s been a long journey.

As you will likely notice in some of next week’s coming material, this book started as just an idea stemming from an old sitcom. I went through a major phase of loving classic sitcoms when I was in middle school, and honestly, I never grew out of it. Sitcoms were my own personal comic relief during school and at the end of rough days. They were light and fluffy and full of magic or imagination or simply characters and worlds (even the realistic ones) I loved.

One of those sitcoms I especially loved was I Dream of Jeannie, but you will have to come back next week for more on that. 😉 It inspired an idea in me in 2011, the summer after I graduated from undergrad. I loved the scenes where we got to see Jeannie’s world, inside her bottle, things from her perspective.

And I wanted more. I wanted a book from the perspective of a genie.

It started with an idea of a human girl stolen away from her life and transformed into one of the djinn… but as such, she could never be really djinn (or really human), and so she was thrust into a world not her own where she could never belong anywhere again.

That first version had extra characters, too. And boy did it make the book confusing! The first difference between early versions and the final version is that I had a sub-antagonist instead of the main antagonist, Ahriman. It made little sense, but to my baby writer brain (I was only just realizing what it took to finish a story, even though I’d been writing since elementary school) it felt right.

But the story felt complete to me, and I wanted to publish. I entered grad school and realized how much I loved writing and wanted to share it with the world. I initially wanted to publish this version myself, independently, but life changed during grad school in about 2014, and I suddenly couldn’t afford to hire the professionals who would help me.

So I queried it for traditional publishing. I got some interest, but no one wanted it after reading it through and through.

So I took it back to edits, and I removed that sub-antagonist, and I tried a little more querying with the same results through 2017. I shared this version on Wattpad as well, and got a few enthusiastic views, but I still wasn’t happy with it, and I decided to go back to edits again and head toward independent publishing again (in 2018), now that my financial situation had changed.

So I hired a developmental editor, who suggested a mountain of changes. I had another team member, Afya Sura, who I still love, even though I ultimately had to cut her out of the story. And then there was the human… you’ll see when you start reading that Laurelin is the main human character, and her boyfriend is Cody. Well, it became apparent during edits that Cody served no useful purpose in the story… but Laurelin had a pretty good one. And then there’s Safiyya. I bulked up her backstory and her role and it turned out so beautifully!

And, finally in January 2019, this was the story I wanted to tell, the story I needed to share. I had started 8 years ago with a theme of “Dragons can be beaten”, and eventually I realized that my theme was actually “Sometimes we put ourselves in the bottle.” It covers the story and the feelings I had for it when I started, even though I didn’t realize it yet.

And now, on April 27, 2019, it will be available as this final version as an independently published novel. And I couldn’t be happier!!!

It’s been a long journey, and I know you will adore it just as much as I do. I can’t wait for it to be in your hands in just one week!

So don’t hesitate; head over to the link and see just what I’m talking about. Again, it is on Amazon and all other major retailers now and will be sent directly to your e-reader next Saturday!

Be sure to come back tomorrow for the kick-off of the launch week festivities, and until then, let me know about your own story’s journey in the comments below!

This Cursed Flame Cover Reveal!

It’s time… to announce the cover!

Guys. I have the most exciting thing I’ve had to share in a while.

This Cursed Flame has a cover! It is beautiful and amazing and gorgeous, designed by the ever-so-talented Savannah Jezowski (also a super talented author!) over at Dragonpen Designs. You may remember my old cover from Wattpad (or my homepage), which I LOVED, but I can’t use it as my actual cover for numerous reasons. And this new cover! I am absolutely blown away! ❤ *allthehearteyes* (Also many thanks to Author Cheryllynn Dyess for the blurred cover I used in the promo image!)

But first, if I can draw out the suspense a little. How about an updated blurb to better reflect all the changes that came about during editing?

This Cursed Flame

Six years ago, Janan was transformed into a genie by an evil djinn, ripping her away from her home, her life, and her humanity. She has been on the run from him ever since. Worlds away, high school honors student Laurelin just wants to get into the chemistry program of her dreams.

When Laurelin discovers a crystal bottle that sucks her into the djinn realm, the girls find themselves working together to escape Janan’s creator and get Laurelin back home. But war is brewing in the djinn realm—a rebellion led by the same evil djinn they’ve been trying to escape. And he is determined to rule both the djinn and the human realms. As his creation, Janan is the one person standing in his way.

But to stop him, Janan must learn to overcome the fears he instilled in her and embrace her own dark magic while Laurelin must accept that some things are more important than an A+. Now, they will have to trust each other, and themselves, to stop the encroaching evil. Otherwise, both the human and djinn realms will fall to the tide of death and dark magic this war will unleash.

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for… I present to you the cover for This Cursed Flame!

Janan, in all her beautiful fire genie glory!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

This project has been close to my heart since 2011, and I am both thrilled and terrified to finally be sending it out into the world. It has been added to Goodreads, and I will let you all know when the pre-order link is live! Publication is scheduled for April 27, 2019, so mark your calendar!

If you want to see more updates and be the first to know about all the upcoming launch day activities (including the launch day announcement!), be sure to subscribe to the newsletter. You’re always free to unsubscribe later if you like, but you will also get a free short fantasy story from me just for signing up!

Until next time, happy reading, and happy writing! ❤

Waiting Games

There is no feeling like the feeling of completing a draft. It is exhilarating, it is fulfilling, it is accomplishment. It is a milestone that few writers reach. And when you get there, you deserve to celebrate.

The thing is, it doesn’t end there.

After you finish the draft and celebrate, maybe go out and party with some friends (or maybe just stay home, dance, and read a book you’ve been dying to read), you still have a few critical milestones standing between you and the reader. I passed the next one: rewriting and rewriting and rewriting and rewriting…

After having the draft of This Cursed Flame (my fantasy novel set mostly in my own version of a djinn Realm, following one very shy and quiet genie who just might be the key to saving all the Realms) completed for a couple of years and editing and revising in the meantime, I finally worked up the nerve to submit my very first query to a publisher that accepts queries from unagented authors. This was the critical part, since I decided to move forward without an agent for the time being.

I did my research, I met with my writer friend Dara Lyons (who you can learn more about here), I composed my query letter, and I sent it off into cyber space.

That was a few weeks ago. And still not a word.

I don’t expect to have my work picked up right away. But waiting can be torture.

So what about you? Have any of you gone through the direct-to-publisher querying process? How long did you wait before moving on, and how did it go for you?