All About It Series – Week Five

Welcome back to the All About It blog series that introduces readers to my book series!

On today’s agenda is the series with the weirdest name (maybe) ever: The Immortal Grimm Brothers’ Guide to Sociopathic Princesses!

This series is a seven-book series of fairy tale adaptations with big twists! It has mostly great reviews with a few who just didn’t like the premise at all—the magical system, the time and setting, and other things (and that one person who really hated that I omitted everything the Grimm brothers did in their lives other than writing fairy tales)—but that’s okay! Not everyone has to love my books! I’m just glad it has a following of folks who really do love it!

This series is geared toward young adults, but I have many adult readers who like it too! If you like fairy tale adaptations flipped on their heads, you would love this series. I call it my Teen Wolf meets Grimm’s Fairy Tales with a Wicked twist series because it has a little to appeal to everyone—werewolves, magic, a twist that makes your beloved princesses the bad guys, and more!

Here are those commonly asked questions again:

  1. What is the target age group?

Adults and teens who love fairy-tales with a paranormal twist.

2. What are the ages of the characters?

Once again, that’s hard to pin down because some of the characters are reborn, some are immortal, others have magic that keeps them from aging the same as humans—but ultimately, the characters range in age from 18 into adulthood, and includes multiple generations.

3. What is the content rating?

There are no sex scenes or cussing in these books, but there is violence against monsters and some human death. I’d say PG to PG-13.

4. Why did you start this series?

I wanted to add a twist to the fairy tales I loved as a child, but with elements of magic and paranormal creatures people love so much in modern-day fantasy.

5. Should I read the series in order?

Yes, yes, yes! If you don’t, you will be so confused. Each story has its own conclusion, but it sets up the next book in the series. The series has many small hurdles in each book, but a long plot that follows the whole way through.

Here are all the details:

Snow Kissed, Volume One, is the first look into the world of Schwarzwald.

Eighteen-year-old Calla Benson is like any other normal teenage girl. She has a secret crush on her best friend, likes music and movies, works hard to make good grades, and does her best to stay out of trouble. But once in a blue moon, Calla is anything but normal. There’s a predatory animal lurking inside her, just waiting to rampage through the forest once a year.

One fateful night, Calla comes across something she’s never seen before—someone like her. After a tense meeting in the forest, Calla dives headlong into a fantastical land she never knew existed. She learns things are not always what they seem, and she is farther from normal than she ever imagined.

With the help of her best friends, a pair of quirky brothers, and a family she never knew she had, Calla embarks on a mission to save her people from a treacherous queen. With wolves, witches, deathly secrets, and mysterious lands (and a few confusing boys), Calla’s life is flipped upside down. It’s the stuff fairy tales are made of… because being a teenager wasn’t already difficult enough.

Here is a look at the main characters in the first book, Calla and Wil!

Artwork by Ana Karina

To view additional characters from other books in the series, you can visit my website character art page here:

There are currently six books released in the series! You can find descriptions of the books on my website here:

The final book, The Heart of the Darkness, is in the planning and outlining stages. Some scenes are written, and it is coming together nicely. I hope to have this available by the winter of this year! Soon after that, I hope to have a complete illustrated Grimm Guide with everything fans need to know about the series!

All About It Series – Week Four

Welcome back to the All About It blog series that introduces readers to my book series!

Today we jump into my favorite series! The overall series is called Archives of the Ancient Kingdoms, but within it are shorter series. Currently, I am writing The History of Goranin. This trilogy began with Eiagan’s Winter, and its sequel, The Revenant Queen, will release on September 1!

This series is a lot different even from my fantasy series because it is focused on an older audience, and the writing style is drastically different. While young adults might still like the series, I wrote it for adults who like sprawling epic fantasies like Game of Thrones. Side note… I’ve never actually read or watched Game of Thrones. I know, I know… I’m so behind!

This first trilogy in the “franchise” of the Ancient Kingdoms follows Queen Eiagan Allurigard, a feared-dragon rider whose rule is… well… less than ideal. If you are a fan of dragons, magic, and the gray between right and wrong, this series is for you!

As an interesting addition, I will say I wrote the first book, Eiagan’s Winter, based on a dream I had. I had been praying for inspiration for some grand idea that would help me take my writing to the next level. That night, I had a dream so vivid, I immediately got up to write it all down when I woke up. From that, the book was born.

There is a lot of me in Eiagan. By that, I mean, as someone who suffers from anxiety, I often find myself stuck in my own head. I also must remind myself to see the beauty in the world, because so much of anxiety is rooted in fear and darkness. I channeled all of that into Eiagan and found myself more connected to her than any other character I have ever written. I mean… if she were REAL, she would terrify me, but I suppose that was the point of writing the book—to remove those feelings from me and put them elsewhere. In this case, I put it all on Eiagan.

Here are those commonly asked questions again:

  1. What is the target age group?

Adults who enjoy epic fantasy and long-game plot. Young adults might also enjoy the series, but the characters are adults.

2. What are the ages of the characters?

Um… that’s hard to answer. The protagonist was made immortal when she was nineteen, but she’s actually several hundred years old. Others range from mid-twenties and up. Flashback scenes are from birth to adulthood. Short answer—all of the ages?

3. What is the content rating?

There are no sex scenes or cussing in these books, but the violence is graphic—very, very graphic—but not gratuitous. It’s what you would expect in a book that describes war. Probably an R based on violence, but otherwise PG-13.

4. Why did you start this series?

I wanted to bump up my writing game, but I was also stuck in a battle with anxiety that had no end in sight. This was my outlet.

5. Should I read the series in order?

Yes. Each smaller series under the umbrella of Archives of the Ancient Kingdoms should be read in order, or the story will not make any sense. However, once additional sub-series release, those can be read in any order. For example, when I complete The History of Goranin trilogy, I will be working on The History of Nelaravore duology. You could read either series first, but those books within the series should be read in order.

Here are all the details:

Eiagan’s Winter  (available now at Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited, coming soon to audiobook):

The land of Goranin has survived the rule of the dreaded Allurigard bloodline for centuries. Suffering perpetual winter at the hands of a tyrannical, bloodthirsty queen, the people seek out a savior to restore their land to its former glory. They find one in Moriarian of Varrow. Moriarian makes grand promises, and the people of Goranin invite him in as their new leader.​

Eiagan Allurigard, the feared dragon-riding Winter Queen, wants nothing more than peace and quiet. Her people push her to the edge, stage uprisings, and revolt against her absolute authority. When her immortality is stolen and Moriarian attacks, Eiagan barely escapes her castle alive. With a gaping abdominal wound and nowhere to hide, she seeks out an unlikely ally in her quest to reclaim her throne.

​Moriarian’s promise of salvation is too good to be true, and the people are subjugated to a fate worse than death. As Moriarian ravages her land, Eiagan seeks revenge against him and those who betrayed her. Haunted by memories of her past, Eiagan joins forces with a band of rebels, a healer who believes he can save her blackened soul, and a den of dragon-shifters determined to free the land of oppression once and for all.

​Traitors, a wicked sorcerer, and deadly creatures threaten their survival, but the queen is determined to win back her birthright at all costs—even if it means sacrificing everything.

You can click on the image below to order!

Here’s what’s coming!

The Revenant Queen, The History of Goranin II, is in the final stages of editing! It is available for pre-order at Amazon now! To order, you can click on the image below!

New Release!

100 Grand took the world by storm, but the family-made band wasn’t always mega-famous. Once upon a time, they were just a bunch of siblings with nothing more than hope, prayer, and desperation to save the life of one of their friends.

When Caden Grand suggests they enter Band Wars, a national competition for up and coming bands, the family joins together to help him succeed. His best friend needs money for her medical bills, and the payout for taking third prize is just enough to get her by. No one ever expects them to win… but they do, and it rocks their world.

A fictional memoir told by the 100 Grand frontwoman, Olive Grand!

If you love happily ever after (for everyone), strong family bonds, amazing friendships, and the power of hope, then this book is for you!

You can find 100 Grand at Amazon! Here are some quick links for US and UK readers!

Amazon US

Amazon UK

All About It Blog Series, Week Three

Welcome back to the All About It blog series that introduces readers to my book series!

Once again, I’m diving into a newer series. Oddly enough, the whole series is already written! It’s a group of stand-alone books that actually worked well together, so I am tweaking a few character names, settings, and situations and releasing them in a new series!

The Projects of Life series is a group of ten books that should be read in order. Each book has its own conclusion, but the series follows three generations in one family. The series focuses on those big moments in life—falling in love, dealing with frustrating relationships, personal and societal fears, navigating friendships, and much more!

This series also has some quirky, loveable characters, but the themes are a little darker in some of the volumes. Clean and short, this series is also good for binge reading.

Here are those commonly asked questions again:

  1. What is the target age group?

Young adult to younger new adult. The books are clean, free of cussing, and tackle real-life struggles. Some tackle deeper, darker topics like mass shootings, abandonment, and abusive relationships, but they are told in a way that highlights the damage and destruction those issues cause rather than portraying them in a positive way.

2. What are the ages of the characters?

High school to early college age, so roughly 16-25. In the epilogues, most characters are mid-twenties. Since the series follows three generations, you can count on the early generations popping up everywhere, even as adults. I like that because I can show how important parents are in a teenager’s life.

3. What is the content rating?

Most likely PG-13 for the harder hitting situations portrayed in some books.

4. Why did you start this series?

At first, they were a group of stand-alone books, but as I was editing, I saw commonalities among them. I decided they worked better that way, and now I am rewriting parts to better fit a family scenario.

5. Should I read the series in order?

Yes. Each book has its own arc that completes by the end of the book, but since it follows three generations, they should be read in order.

The Love Project, the first book in the series, is already available! The second book is in alpha review and should release in the fall!

Here are all the details:

The Love Project (available now at Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited):

Wesley Baker is a jaded human being. Giving up on love at the ripe old age of seven, she set her sights on much more obtainable goals for her life. She worked hard and eventually found herself exactly where she wanted to be—Professor Saxton’s Introduction to Modern Psychology course, the first step to becoming a world-renowned psychologist. Getting into Brown University was the hardest thing she had ever done, and the most satisfying. And studying psychology was all she ever wanted to do. Only… not like this.

Certainly not alongside Oliver Williams and not discussing the one thing she knows does not exist—love. Why does the semester project have to be a study on such preposterous things? And why, oh why, does she have to be partnered with him? Oliver’s devil may care attitude, his sarcastic humor, and that darn British accent make Wesley wish he’d walk into traffic—until the day he accidentally does.

Left to complete the project on her own, Wesley soon realizes all she’s been missing. Will she get the chance to tell Oliver, or will her heart forever be broken and alone?

Here’s what’s coming!

Where to Find Me!

There seems to be a lot of folks searching for me on social media, and since I will be utilizing it more for updates, promotions, and interaction with readers, I wanted to make sure you had the most accurate information. So, here it is in one place!

To reach any of the pages, just click the hyperlink!

My website MJ Padgett Books

  • Here you will find information about my series and published books
  • Lots of bonus extras and fun stuff
  • If you sign up for my newsletters, you get a free book!

Facebook

  • I post tons of stuff here—everything from promotions, book updates, new release information, quotes, games, and more
  • Here is where I also interact with readers!

Instagram

  • Almost everything I post on Facebook also goes on Instagram since some people prefer it
  • I will most likely follow you back if you follow me here!

Twitter

  • I’m not as active on Twitter, but I hope to change that soon!
  • I’ll post some material from Facebook and Instagram, but also some Twitter exclusive material

Blog (that’s here)

  • I feel like that one is pretty self-explanatory… updates, ramblings, and whatnots.

Youtube

  • Here you will find book trailers
  • Coming soon—book updates, readings, and more!

Bookbub

  • I’m not very active here, but I will add more book reviews and favorites lists as I get more accustomed to using this site

Amazon Author Page

  • If you don’t want to sign up for the blog, you can also read it here!
  • This is a great place to see my entire collection of work, too.

Goodreads

  • My blog also posts here
  • I am a bit more active with reviews here, and you can browse my insane “want to read” pile! I’m always open to recommendations!

Pinterest

  • Here I post inspiration boards, but will soon add more content like book quotes and more!

How I Blindly Co-Wrote a Book… And Made a Great Friend

Writing a book is hard. Co-writing a book has a whole other set of rules. I had no idea how to write with another author when Crystal Crawford and I came up with the idea to write what we affectionately call our weird alien romance. In hindsight, that was probably a blessing. If I had known what I was doing, I don’t think our book would have become the strange, funny, wonderful thing it is.

Crystal and I first met on Wattpad, a writing app where authors can post their work for others to read. I read her book, I Am Not a Stalker, and she read mine, The Yellow Note, then we started messaging privately about our writing. From there, we started beta reading each other’s books, then I joined her hugely supportive beta reader group (who are also dear friends of mine now). After that, the next logical step seemed to be to co-write something.

Grab I Am Not a Stalker here!

Grab The Yellow Note here!

Even to that point, we had never met in person. We had also never spoken on the phone. We did all of our planning via Facebook Messenger and in Google Docs, proving the level of our itnrovertedness. Is that a word? No? I’m making it a word… introvertedness.

introvertedness

Moving on, with some semblance of an outline and a lot of pantsing, we managed to chug out quite a few chapters on our own from our individual character’s points-of-view—Grace and Alexia. Then came the tricky part. We had to seamlessly merge our writing styles and our characters into a meeting scene, then move forward to complete the book together. It was definitely an interesting experience that taught us a lot.

We had loads of fun on Google Docs, taking turns writing bits here and there, live on the Doc at the same time. It took us a while to get into the groove (and a lot of laughs), but soon we were building something amazing.

What started as a little idea we bounced back and forth became The Extraordinary Extraterrestrial Love Lives of Doppelgangers! We didn’t intend to write a 100K+ word soft science fiction novel, but we did! We also entered the book in the Wattys, a writer’s award presented by Wattpad. WE WON for our category! And it was the day we won that Crystal and I finally picked up the phone and had a real conversation.

Find The Extraordinary Extraterrestrial Love Lives of Doppelgangers here!

We had a lot to discuss that day, including what we wanted to do with our book. At first, we left it on Wattpad, but we decided to leave the platform and self-publish our book. Together, we created Considerate Malice, our joint publishing brand, where we will also publish the sequel to TEELLoD and a NEW superhero series that is under construction! That’s all sort of hush, hush for now, but I can say if you liked TEELLoD, then you will love the superhero series!

Now, here we are, years later, and Crystal is one of my best friends. We still haven’t met in person, but we spend a lot of time messaging and discussing our brand via lengthy phone conversations (that almost always take multiple tangents, with many ridiculous ideas for books).

So, the point of my blog post today is this… sometimes jumping into a project with little to no idea what you are doing can be great. I mean, I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re, say, an architect, but for two writers, it turned out to be a great thing that let our creativity thrive!

And that’s sort of the point of writing, isn’t it?

Behind The Scenes

Ready for a sneak peek into my process? Fair warning, there might be spoilers!

An inside look like this doesn’t happen very often, because I am always rotating my work to keep my brain active! But lately, I’ve been in editing overdrive. I had a backlog of books just waiting to see the world, so I decided to send them on their way while I work on some longer-term things.

So, without further ado… here is my messy book writing process!

There is an ongoing debate in my head over which is better—planning or pantsing. For most of my books, I only plan ahead one chapter at a time, but for some, I try to make a detailed outline. My collaborations are always outlined since it is easier to write with another person when there is a plan. I also write outlines for my epic fantasy series, The History of Goranin. If I didn’t, those books would be twice as long as they already are!

Whether I outline or not, I do tend to take copious notes about ideas, worlds, characters, and anything else that pops into my head when I am in the shower—where all my brilliant ideas hit me.

Here’s a look at some notes from Autumn Awakens, the fourth book in The Immortal Grimm Brothers’ Guide to Sociopathic Princesses:

IMG_7149

Don’t worry… that jumble of nonsense in horrific handwriting does actually make sense to me… and it’s one of the more organized pages!

When I do outline, it looks something like this (which… is probably all wrong but it works for me):

(Contains small spoilers for Eiagan’s Winter)

Outline

After some brief planning or notetaking, I just dive right in. I usually write every day, sometimes entire chapters, other times just a few paragraphs. It really depends on the book. Something light-hearted and fun is much easier than a world-building fantasy with adult characters in death-defying situations.

As I write, I have a team of alpha readers that help me figure out what works and what I should scrap. We share via Google Docs, where we can share comments. After that, there are several rounds of rewrites, editing, and cover design.

Here’s a small outtake from The Telegram that will release this summer:

Google doc comments

Sometimes I buy covers, but most often, I design them myself. That was a huge learning curve, but it is also a lot of fun. For that, I use Photoshop. Then it’s out for a beta read before releasing to the world!

Here is a layout of the cover for Mattie Bender is a Cereal Killer that will release June 15:

Cover

That was a brief look into the process, but if anyone is interested in a more detailed breakdown, I might be willing to do a video series as I write the next (and last) Grimm book! Let me know in the comments if that is something you’d like to see!

The Quiet Voices

Far be it from me to tell someone how to react to anything. I am a red-headed firecracker on a path of destruction most days, then I remember in whose image I was made and try to reduce myself back to humbleness. I say that, to say this. I am not here to weigh in on the state of my country right now, because another empty voice shouting into the void does nothing. I will, though, implore anyone reading to understand one thing—not everyone processes grief and expresses themselves the same way.

It’s true. Sometimes it is difficult to understand or accept when someone isn’t as infuriated as you are—or so you believe because they are not raging around destroying everything. But please understand, some people are called upon to do the repair work, some are here to hold hands and offer warm embraces when it’s just too much, some are meant to soothe the souls in the aftermath—not light the world on fire.

Before shaming your friends for not screaming, ask them what they are doing. So, what am I doing? I am raising a daughter who sees all colors as unique and beautiful, created without mistake in the vision of God—even if you disagree with them. I work hard to ensure I support causes that lift people from poverty, and I work in the community to ensure the hungry are fed, the poor have housing, and more.

I do not want to toot my own horn because there is always more work to do. It is never done, and I can never do enough to be worthy enough to say it is. But I am saddened when I hear “you are part of the problem” because I don’t scream, rage, or light things on fire. I am a creator, not a destroyer. Many, like me, hear quiet voices, and it calls us to action. And there are more like me everywhere, so please, let those with soft voices use them because they often reach those who are afraid of the loudness of the world. They reach people who would otherwise hide in their safe, quiet corners and call them to action.

So, obviously, this blog post is a little different. My country is on fire, and it is scary for everyone. But beneath it all, I see hope. I see the quiet exchanges of love, the warm embraces of strangers of all colors, the pure heart of most people—and it is not violence or oppression.

I want to leave this post with a small story of an interaction I had with a man earlier this year. I’m not going to preach or rage, only offer that sliver of hope (I pray).

I was in a bookstore searching for a children’s Bible, which was surprisingly difficult. I passed a man browsing devotionals several times, apologizing profusely for each time I asked him to excuse me (the aisle was small). We stood there searching for at least ten minutes before he spoke up and said, “When did you become a believer?”

My back stiffened as I turned to face him. I was terrified of this man’s question. Anyone who knows me well knows the series of events that took me from someone who “believed in God” to someone who “knows God.” But boy, was it scary to try to tell a stranger.

He knew that, too. There he was, a tall African American man (maybe 18 inches taller than me), large and well built, wearing a black hoodie and jeans—and me, an average-sized, pale as snow, woman on a mission to find something, staring at him with fear. But he was also a wise man. He knew that fear, and he knew it had nothing at all to do with him and everything to do with sharing my story.

His eyes softened, and in them was the most kindness I had ever seen in my life—ever. And I could also see he was afraid, too. I think he was as scared to share his story as I was.

I almost melted right there, and for the first time, I told a complete stranger the story that dragged me through Hell before it deposited me right at the feet of hope. Then he told me his, which, even though I have not stated his name, I will still keep to myself because a confession of faith is something personal and meant to be told by the individual.

There was a moment of uncertainty, that moment when you know you have connected with someone on an indescribable level, but you can’t quite name it. We looked at each other, knowing how close we had both been to devastation, how close one of us was to leaving earth unfulfilled, and how—by chance alone—we found each other in a bookstore searching for the same thing.

It turns out, we weren’t searching for a Bible or a devotional. We were searching for peace, and for another person who could hear our struggle and absorb some of the pain for us.

I offered my hand, he offered his arm. Before I knew it, I was getting one of the best hugs of my life. It was cozy, wrapped up in that hoodie and massive arms!

Then my husband and daughter walked up just after we separated and finished talking. My daughter shyly hugged my leg and waved to him. He waved in return, then shook hands with my husband.

And that was it. We said our goodbyes with what we came for—connection.

During the madness, I urge you to find those who can connect with you where you are. Force never changed anyone for long, so let your quiet protesters do their work. It’s necessary.

What happened to George Floyd was an abomination, and I pray nightly for his family and friends. I pray for the broken hearts and the fearful, that they may find a way to bridge gaps between us all, to end hate, no matter our color because we cannot know another’s pain until we feel it with them.

_The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it._

A Break to Say Thank You

Today in the USA, it is Memorial Day. For most people, it is a day of picnics and fun in the sun, but it is also a day of remembrance and appreciation. It is the day we honor our fallen, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our freedom. Instead of a usual blog today, I wanted to share a little about my first cousin twice removed, Paul Henry Hedrick.

Paul joined the navy when he was young in 1930. Ironically, he served aboard the USS Arizona. There is not much information available (at least that I can find) that details what he did from then, but I can see in census records that he married and had children. In 1936, he reenlisted in the Navy.

As we know, on December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked and many lives were lost. My cousin was among them, meeting his fate aboard the very same ship where he’d originally fulfilled his military duties. Today, I wanted to take a moment to thank him for his service, his dedication, and for his life.

Thank you, Paul.

P. S. If you are or know a descendant of Paul Hedrick, I would love to hear from you!

shutterstock_249572872shutterstock_470070425God's Not Dead (1)

The Hardening of a Hero

Have you ever wondered why the heroes and heroines of fantasy novels tend to lose their sweetness and vulnerability when they become a warrior? What is up with that? Don’t get me wrong, I love a good tale about the pushover who becomes the butt-kicking do-gooder but… do they have to lose all of their endearing character traits?

Nope. I don’t think so. And I’m sure I am not alone. When I sat down to write Eiagan’s Winter, I had one plan I mind—my main character would be the personification of depression, anxiety, and anger—a way for me to grasp those seemingly insurmountable circumstances and overcome them. As I wrote, though, I discovered my main character had a lot more to her than grit and fury.

Beneath everything, there was a spark of humanity. She was feminine and soft, and everything you wouldn’t expect a heroine to be. I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who hasn’t read it, but consistently I receive reviews that start out something like this… “I wasn’t sure I would like this at first because the main character is so unlikeable, but the more I read, the more I saw her layers.”

That’s what I wanted! I was so excited people received Eiagan the way I intended her to be—complex! Let’s face it. We all have our moments when we can’t even stand the sight of ourselves in the mirror. We have days when people are our worst enemy, and we lash out. But we also have days where we are exactly the right soft spot for another person to land.

So, tell me, what books have you read where the main character remained true to themselves, or better, showed more sides of themselves to the world as they fell into their role as the hero or heroine? What characters do you love most because they didn’t harden themselves or turn into an egotistical jerk just to be “strong?” Or maybe the reverse happened. Perhaps the character was hard and softened as they grew into their roles? Send me to all the great books!

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