A Chat Over Tea with Author, Playwright, and Editor Briana Morgan

Welcome, friends and bookworms, to the first ever interview of this blog!

*throws dark confetti*

*makes tea for everyone* 

As an indie author, there’s nothing I love more than helping other indie authors be seen and spread the word about their books.

Starting today, every month I will have a chat with another self-published author about all things books! You could call it an interview (I mean, I just did), but really this’ll be an informal talk over tea.

My first ever guest is extra special, because it’s Briana Morgan! Not only is Briana a super talented author, but she’s also been my editor ever since Rise of the Sparrows, and she has been a friend just as long. I’m thrilled to be chatting to her about all things books, operas, and witches today!

S: Please, Bri, help yourself to tea and tell me what you’re reading at the moment. I always find the first read of the year to be super important, but the first read of the decade? I want to make sure I kick it off well! What have you chosen and why?

B: I’ve chosen to reread The Great Gatsby since a) it’s my favorite book, and b) I thought it would be perfect for kicking off the 2020s! Although at this point, I can say I feel like I’ve memorized parts of it!

S: That sounds like a lot of re-reads! How often have you read The Great Gatsby? (I’ll just hang my head in shame here, because I haven’t read it once o.o)

B: God only knows at this point. I still can’t believe you haven’t read it since we’ve become friends!

S: You’ll have to hassle me this year 😉 What do you enjoy about it–or about any book–that you keep coming back to it?

B: I love how real (read: flawed) the characters are in it, as well as the lyrical prose. Fitzgerald was the first writer to move me with just his description, which is something I aspire to do as an author myself.

S: I love a flawed character <3 And you’ve already answered my next question! I was going to ask what a book needs to have for you to enjoy it and how that influences your own writing, but you’ve clearly read my mind 😉 Got anything to add?

B: Other things I look for in a good book: compelling stakes/conflict, diversity, and well-written dialogue that leaps off the page!

S: Do you try to fit those into your own books? If it doesn’t spoil anything, can you tell us how you’ve incorporated those things into your own writing?

B: I do, as much as I can! My writing process has definitely changed (and gotten better) over time, so I can’t speak as much to the past, but now it is something I strive for. In my upcoming novel Livingston Girls, for example, I’ve tightened my dialogue, presented diverse and realistic characters, and tried to evoke setting in an interesting way. I hope all that comes across well for the reader.

S: Yes, let’s talk about Livingston Girls! I’m SO intrigued from what I’ve seen on Instagram. It’s about a girl who starts her education in an all-girls school full of witches, right? And she’s not thrilled at first?

B: That’s mostly correct! Rose gets involved in a student-teacher scandal at her old schools and her parents ship her off to an all-girls boarding school, stuffy Livingston Academy. There, she meets a secret coven of witches that need her help to protect the school and put a stop to the asshole witch-hunter in town. All the while, she battles her own sexuality and growing feelings for her roommate, who is… complicated, to say the least.

S: Well, that just sounds all kinds of awesome <3 What I love about your books is that they’re all different, from plays to urban fantasy to… well, still urban fantasy, but also different. *pours more tea* This one sounds like it’ll be a new favourite! Who was your ideal reader for this book? Who did you write it for?

B: I think I mostly wrote it for my teenage self. It’s the kind of book I would have loved as a teenager, especially because of how witchy it is. I also wrote it for queer kids struggling with their identity or feeling like they don’t have a place in the world, as well as for anyone, regardless of age, who worries that they can’t find love because they’re far from perfect.

S: This is why I love you <3 I think my teenage self would have loved this. What did you enjoy the most about writing Livingston Girls?

B: Oh, gods, that’s a tough one! I had so much fun writing this book! I think my favorite part was the dialogue, as well as how it shapes the characters’ relationships with each other. That, and creating the magic system, of course!

S: Now, I was going to ask you to share a brief teaser, but I believe you’ve shared the first three chapters on your blog! How about the opening paragraph (or paragraphs, if it’s really short) and a link to the rest on your blog?

B: You got it! Here’s the opening:

“The reek of mothballs and disinfectant almost knocks me over. Wood paneling lines the walls. It’s not a big dorm. Just enough space between the twin beds to prevent awkward touching in the night, twin dressers and desks that have seen better days, and a gray-brown carpet. Beside the door, sitting on a patch of linoleum, is a sink with a tiny mirror. Still, the room looks clean, and the big window lets in more light than I expected.

I slide the strap of my guitar case off my shoulder, set the guitar on the bed, and walk to the window. Livingston Academy is sprawling. I doubt I’ll ever find my way around–even my residence hall is massive. Though there’s still a day before classes start, the lawn outside my dorm, Meyer Hall, ripples with activity. A few girls sit on the stone steps leading to the front doors. Others lean against the wrought-iron fencing or the building’s brick exterior, make small talk by the rose bushes, and stretch out on the browning grass.

A pang of yearning knifes my chest. I turn away.

I don’t have friends. All I have are my parents—barely. And once they go home, I won’t have anyone. “

If that intrigues you, you can read the rest of chapter one (and chapters two and three) on my blog!

S: I love it SO MUCH. 

Now that you’ve put the finishing touches on it and Livingston Girls is live for pre-order, what’s next for you?

B: I’m doing a combination of editing my full-length play Unboxed and outlining the Livingston Girls sequel(!) Livingston Coven!

S: And, of course, there’s the opera… We need to talk about your opera, Bri. When does Touch hit the stage? How excited are you??

B: I am so beyond excited and humbled! I can’t believe I’ve written something that resonates so deeply with another creator that it’s being adapted into an opera. Plans for now are that it will be out sometime in 2021, but of course that’s out of my control. Still, I am so pleased with this team, and I cannot wait to see how everything turns out.

S: I’m just so excited for and proud of you! It’ll be in London, right? That’s HUGE.

B: It will be! I’m flying out for the opening.

S: I’ll have to see if I can meet you for it 😉 But let’s get serious for a moment. You’re doing so well and you inspire me with your work ethic, but everyone struggles with something, and I think it’s important that we don’t forget that no one’s life is perfect, no matter what shiny online profiles make us believe. So, what’s your biggest struggle as an indie author, playwright, and editor?

B: My biggest struggle is not feeling overwhelmed and getting distracted. I’ve had anxiety for years, and I suspect I also have undiagnosed ADD/ADHD. Those two make it tough for me to concentrate sometimes. When I feel overwhelmed, I can’t get as much done as I’d like to, and I tend to beat myself up for that. It’s tough.

S: I get that. I had a day like that just yesterday where I was exhausted from not getting enough sleep the weekend before and the bad weather was doing a number on me. I just couldn’t focus and didn’t get the work done that I’d wanted to. I felt so guilty, especially because I don’t work just for myself but for other authors.

I think we both need to remember that it’s okay to have bad days. Everyone has them. That’s what makes self-care so important!

B: That’s right! I’m trying to be kinder to myself in 2020.

S: Same. Last year was busy for both of us, but we don’t have to push ourselves this hard, Bri. No one does. Burning out isn’t fun, and we don’t need that shit.

I don’t know about you, but when I really need a break, I love to curl up with a good book, a tea or hot chocolate, and wrap up in my blanket. My familiar tends to fall asleep on me too. What’s your perfect reading situation?

B: I love curling up on the couch or in bed with my cat and a hot drink too! Even better if the weather is nice enough to open the windows.

S: Ooh, or better yet, when it’s nice enough to read outside! <3

To wrap up, where can we find you and what do you share there?

Briana Morgan – Author, Playwright, and Editor

B: I have a website where I blog and where you can find my books, an editing website, Twitter where I post about writing and books, and Instagram where I share information about writing, books, and a behind-the-scenes look at my everyday life. 🙂

S: And I can say from personal experience that your Instagram is very honest and incredibly encouraging and inspiring! Plus the pictures of your cat are adorable and make my day ^-^

Thank you so much for stopping by and chatting with me! It’s been lovely having you here.


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THE BOX SET HAS A TRAILER <3 <3 <3

Exciting news, Sparrows!

My box set has a BOOK TRAILER! <3 <3 <3

Thank you so much to PlatformHouse Publishing for creating another beauty <3

Here you go:

Haven’t pre-ordered yet? Get all four books for the price of one – special pre-order price! (;


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January AND 2020 goals! | a box set, an ending duology, and ALL THE DRAFTS

Happy New Year, friends and bookworms! *waves*

I hope you’ve all had a great start to the year <3 I always find the in-between time a little awkward since I can’t really settle into a routine. I enjoyed my time off, but I’m also ready to get back to things without interruptions now.

Until the 21st, when my parents arrive to visit for one week for my 30th birthday and my SO has the week off after that. I am best at taking time off when other people make me ^-^

To keep things simple, let’s look at this month’s goals first:

JANUARY

Relics of Ar’Zac

I’ll have a box set out, friends.

It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but it’s getting there.

I need to check over everything on KDP and enter a few last bits, but it’s there otherwise and the pre-orders are coming in.

I should also hear about the trailer sometime soon, so there’s something to look forward to! 😉

Have you pre-ordered yet? It’s 4for1 until its release date, so get it while it’s cheap!

Brightened Shadows

I’ve copied the first draft into a clean document and am eager to dive into edits. I’ll read through everything first and take notes to get an idea of where I might be able to add chapters, cut stuff, or move things around a little.

Once that’s done, I’ll dive into the first developmental edit and will also add and cut the things I noted down.

It’s a big round and the second isn’t much lighter, so I’m as excited to start as I am keen to put it behind me and send it to critique partners. This should be sometime around March/April.

Blood Wisp

I couldn’t decide which series to continue first–Blood Wisp or Dreamer–so I asked on Instagram and my reader group on Facebook, and you chose Blood Song!

So, at some point this month, I’ll start writing Book 2. I’ll need to read over Book 1 again to re-familiarise myself with the characters and the world, so I’ll probably wait with that until I’ve read over Brightened Shadows. Don’t want to get confused between drafts.

I’ll be off for two weeks at the end of the month for my birthday, so I don’t have much time to do all this in o.o

2020

Darkened Light

I’m aiming to publish Brightened Shadows in October, though I haven’t set a date yet and won’t until I have a better idea of how much time I need. The month should be set though!

I’m also working on a companion book of sorts, which will be a mailing list exclusive download and take you into the mythology and legends of this duology’s world. There’ll be stories from Hjeva, Vaska, and all over, and I’m hoping you’ll find it as exciting as I do ^-^

Blood Wisp

I’ll make a start on Blood Song‘s first draft this month. I’m hoping to finish it by the end of February, and I’ll dive into Blood Vow as soon as that’s done and proofing.

Once all three books are ready, I’ll start editing Blood Wisp. Since I merged all three original novellas into one full-length book last year, I imagine the edits will be rather extensive.

This is my reminder to stock up on tea *ahem*

There’s also a chance of a mailing list exclusive short story, which will likely also act as a prequel of sorts 😉

Dreamer

Once all three books of the Blood Wisp trilogy are written, proofing, or otherwise being improved and once Brightened Shadows is mostly with other people, I’ll come back to the Dreamer trilogy.

It needs a name, for one!

I’ll be pretty busy with the aforementioned WIPs, so I won’t put any extra pressure on myself with this trilogy. I’ll do what I can this year, but since I currently have them down for 2022 releases, I don’t need to hurry too much. The other WIPs are priorities.

And again, there’s a chance of a mailing list exclusive short story.

I believe that’s enough for one year! What are your goals for this year? Which one of the above releases are you most excited about?


Want in on all those upcoming mailing list exclusives? Sign up to BOOKISH WITH SARINA for updates on my books, excerpts, early cover reveals, and other exclusive freebies such as the short stories All that I Can Be and Bubak.

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December & 2019 Recap | The end of an exhausting but good year

What a packed year this has been, friends and bookworms! I possibly got more done this year than in any other, and I felt the end-of-year exhaustion this month when a few things didn’t go to plan (private things I won’t bore you with), Word crashed and lost my afternoon’s work despite autosave being on (what did we learn? don’t trust autosave. it’s a lie.), and I trapped a nerve badly in my shoulder/neck when I stretched one morning last week, which forced me to slow down a tiny bit earlier than anticipated.

BUT all that was nothing Christmas couldn’t fix, and I’m back at my desk today and as motivated as ever 🙂

Today’s recap will look at what I’ve achieved this month, but it’ll also look back at my goals at the start of the year.

Relics of Ar’Zac

You ready? This’ll be tiring to read. Make a tea now–don’t say I didn’t warn you.

This year, I…

*ahem*

… re-edited and re-published Rise of the Sparrows.

… finished and published Blood of the Dragon.

… finished and published Shadow in Ar’Sanciond.

set up the box set for pre-order.

had a book trailer made for Rise of the Sparrows and booked the trailer for the box set.

Lists sure make everything look easy, don’t they? o.o My main goal this year was to publish the rest of this series plus publish the box set before my 30th birthday next month, so I’m exactly where I wanted to be (despite what the next points might have you believe).

Having said that, publishing three books over three consecutive months is exhausting, and I don’t think I’ll do it again. There’s just no need, you know?

Now the marketing can begin for real! *pushes up sleeves*

Brightened Shadows

I wrote the sequel to Darkened Light and wrapped up the first draft during NaNo. It’s currently proofing, but edits will start next week and I’m aiming for an October 2020 release.

And, of course, Darkened Light also got a book trailer this year!

Blood Wisp

Things didn’t work out as planned at all for this little trilogy. Back in January, my goal was to publish the first novella in October, Novella 2 in November, and Novella 3 in December. Instead, what used to be three novellas is now one novel thanks to critique partner feedback, and I had to re-plot books 2 and 3 from scratch.

So, while I published none of these, they’re in a better place now and I feel much more confident going forward. Sometimes, we have to take a few steps back before we can go ahead, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Publishing the individual novellas would have a been a mistake, and I’ve learned so much about plotting a whole series in one go!

I’ll decide which WIP to work on next this week, and will announce it in my January/2020 post. I’m torn between Blood Song and…

Dreamer

This trilogy came out on top this year! I first wanted to write Book 1 during the July Camp NaNo, but I had so many editing jobs at the time that it didn’t happen, plus I wasn’t happy with the plotting.

I set it aside until next year, but then I struggled to get into Blood Song during NaNoWriMo once I’d finished Brightened Shadows, and since I didn’t want to force it (which would have meant unnecessary painful rewrites later on) and had a good idea of where Dreamer might go, I chose Esta’s story.

And it flowed, friends and bookworms. It flowed.

I now have a finished first draft, which is proofing until I’m ready to write books 2 and 3.

Sarina’s Sparrows

My Facebook Reader Group was born this year!

This was quite a big step for me since I left Twitter shortly before due to having too much social media to catch up on every day, but I have no regrets.

We talk about books, worship cats (and other animals), get early teasers and all other announcements before everyone else, there are exclusive giveaways, and I have a lot of other fun planned for next year, too, so come join us!

I believe that about sums it up! It doesn’t look like much, summarised as it is, but I assure you I was quite tired before my Christmas break XD

How was your December? How was your 2019? Grab some biscuits to go with that tea and tell me about everything you have achieved <3


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RELEASE DAY: Shadow in Ar’Sanciond | The Relics of Ar’Zac PREQUEL NOVELLA

My youngest is out today and my heart is SO FULL.

Rise of the Sparrows had the best promo days last week, and I’m excited to repeat that success this week with my newest baby on virtual shelves <3

My dark epic fantasy prequel novella Shadow in Ar'Sanciond on my mantle.

One ARC has compared this little one–and possibly the entire series–to Brandon Sanderson, which has been the highlight of my year. Check it out:

‘If you are a Brandon Sanderson fan, then Langer is a writer of high fantasy who you should enjoy with layers of world building and indepth backstory.’

From Goodreads review

Get Shadow in Ar’Sanciond here.

Blurb:

In the beginning, everyone died.

Sanciond is the magic capital of the North and home of the sorcerers watching over the country of Ar’Sanciond. With a library covering every subject imaginable, only one line of research is forbidden:

The study of the Mists, cradle of all evil where no light can dwell.

Sorcerer Eldon is granted permission to lead pioneering research into the Mists, but what he finds there—and what he unleashes—threatens the very fabric of Ar’Sanciond.

Sorcerer Vail, Seer Mavis, and Head Sorcerer Felan are the only ones who notice their friend’s changed energy. Only quick covert action can save Sanciond…

… But not all plans are meant to succeed, and not every story has a happy ending.


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Rise of the Sparrows is FREE today and tomorrow!

In anticipation of Shadow in Ar’Sanciond coming out on Monday, Rise of the Sparrows is free right now–but only today and tomorrow!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ‘Brilliant!’
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ‘I absolutely loved this book.’
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ‘This book’s pacing is as wonderful as the world-building, characters and the overall narrative.’

Go on–treat yourself!

Grab it while it’s free!


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December Goals | Release Day 2/3 & Two Potential WIPs

Happy December, friends! <3

This half of the year is my favourite. First, autumn arrives with its beautiful leaves, foggy mornings, and warming flavours. Then comes Halloween, when the veil between worlds is thinnest, and then NaNoWriMo comes right after that!

But then, after so much excitement, comes Christmas–and for me, that holiday lasts all month. Everything just looks so magical with lights everywhere, and there’s an undeniable buzz when I go into town. At home, everything gets a little more comfy. The house smells of cinnamon and vanilla a lot, because I love baking.

It’s also a time for me to slow down and reflect. I look at what I wanted to achieve this year back in January, and what I have achieved. I remind myself not to be hard on myself when one thing or another didn’t go to plan–I know it’s not because I was lazy this year, but because other things outside my control came up or because some things simply took longer than I expected. All that’s fine.

But there’ll be time for that at the end of the month. Right now, I still have a whole month left to get stuff done!

Relics of Ar’Zac

Shadow in Ar’Sanciond will be out in one week, so I’ll be booking a few promotions this week. If you want it on your kindle as soon as it’s out, you can pre-order it before the price goes up!

Soon after that’s live, pre-orders for the box set will follow. It’s pretty much done, so this shouldn’t be too stressful–just a few clicks here and there.

I also have a surprise later this week, so watch this space!

Dreamer

I’m half-way through the first draft, and since it’s only a short book (or I planned it that way, anyway) I should be able to finish the first draft this month.

Once that’s proofing…

Well, I’m torn. I could jump into plotting the sequels and start writing Book 2–I’m here now, after all–or…

Blood Wisp

I haven’t forgotten about this trilogy. I want to read over Blood Wisp again before I write Blood Song, but if I do it halfway through December and then take my Christmas break, will I need to read over it again in January? Should I just wait for the new year and do it then?

Or should I finish the Dreamer series first?

I wanted to stick to writing one series at a time, but things have worked out in a strange way and now I have two first drafts from two very different series, and I’m not sure which one to continue first. The one I’m currently invested in, or the one I started and promised first?

I’m hoping December will bring some clarity.

Beyond the above, there are Christmas catch-ups, boring but necessary tax stuff, and some last-minute presents to buy. I won’t bore you with the details.

What are your plans for December? Do you wind down, too, or is this your busiest month?


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November Recap | … or How to Destroy NaNo Between Release Dates

November has been a super busy month for me (hello, NaNo!), but it’s also been super productive. In fact, I’m doing so well for time for once that I’m scheduling this post one day ahead! :O AND I’ll schedule my December goals right after! :O :O

Must be all the tea I’ve had this month.

Relics of Ar’Zac

I published Blood of the Dragon without a hitch, and now Shadow in Ar’Sanciond is ready for its big day too. It’s currently up for pre-order at only 99p/99c, so go get it while it’s cheap!

I haven’t looked at the box set again, but that file came back ready from my formatter and I’m not doing a paperback for it, so that’s pretty much there too.

NaNoWriMo

Friends, I destroyed NaNo this year.

I hit 50k words in just 15 days (and then I slept for a year) on Day 21–take off the weekends I didn’t write, and that’s 15 days of NaNo dedication!

I reached 40k on Day 20 (a Wednesday) and realised I could technically finish NaNo that week if I wrote 5k on Thursday and Friday. Finishing NaNo a week early and in time for the weekend sounded nice, so I decided to give it my best shot.

I then wrote 10k on the Thursday.

Friends.

I’ve never written this much in one day in my life! NaNo truly brings out the best in me.

I’m beyond chuffed that I unlocked all my rewards this year. My shirt is on its way <3

Despite that, it didn’t quite go to plan. I finished the first draft of Brightened Shadows and that’s now proofing, but I didn’t move on to Blood Song as I had planned to. I tried, but it’s been roughly half a year since I last looked at Blood Wisp. I just wasn’t in the WIP anymore. The characters felt forced when I wrote the first chapter.

I realised that, to write Blood Song, I’ll first need to read over Blood Wisp again and take notes, but there’s no time for that during NaNo, so I decided to put it aside for now rather than force it and be unhappy with everything.

Instead, I started Dreamer, which doesn’t even have a name yet. I did have some notes since I originally planned on starting it during Camp NaNo in July, but that didn’t work out for work reasons and I hadn’t looked at it again since. I figured I’d start it some time next year maybe, so this was the closest to pantsing a novel I’ll ever come XD

I did have a whole notebook full of ideas and character profiles and I knew where the plot needed to go and how it would develop, but to go in without Scrivener index cards was surprisingly jarring.

Because I wanted it to be a novella, I set the target word count to 20k. It’s currently at 25k and I’m only just at the midpoint, so we’ll see how long this will actually be.

BUT the words are flowing and Esta is so easy to write, which is all I really wanted for NaNo.

How was your November? Make a tea and tell me all about it <3


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My NaNoWriMo ‘Prizes’ for Motivation

If you’ve spent any time on this site, you probably know that I love NaNoWriMo. It’s super stressful and I’ve burnt out more times than not and the deadline is glaring at me with shiny red eyes–

And I love every second of it.

I ‘won’ my first ever NaNo three years ago, burned out bad the year after that, and didn’t even try it last year, because I knew I was too busy and I was burning out even without that pressure.

When I did it before–both when I smashed it and the year after, when I failed miserably–I set myself three rewards to keep me motivated, and I’ve done the same again this year.

And the best part? I don’t even need to make it all the way to 50k to get something 😀

Here’s what I’ve set for this year:

15k of NaNo Success

These cards are so beautiful, and as someone who prefers animals to people most days, they were an easy first reward. I’ve been looking for new cards for ages, and these speak/meow/bark to me.

Earned and moved into my basket ^-^

30k of NaNo Success

It’s the entire trilogy, actually! I’ve been meaning to read them for years, and then a friend posted a picture on Instagram while I was considering my rewards, so I saw it as a sign.

Not far off earning this one. 25k there, 5k to go.

50k NaNo Triumph

Despite my obsession with this mega-monster event, I’ve never bought the shirts :O

I can’t find a good picture of this year’s or any of what the winners can claim, but if I make it all the way to the end–and it’s looking good right now! –then I’ll finally buy one of these pretties.

It’s about time, honestly.

Stand by to see pictures.

(unless I fail, in which case… better luck next year? *shrug* but damn, I want this shirt!)

Do you set yourself rewards if you participate in NaNo or for other milestones? Make a tea and tell me what you’re writing for! <3


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RELEASE DAY: Blood of the Dragon | My first trilogy is complete!!

Today is the day, Sparrows! Blood of the Dragon is live on Amazon, and with it, my first trilogy is officially complete!

My heart is so full with emotions today <3 <3 <3

To celebrate, you can get all three books at 50% off all week! *throws dark confetti*

Treat yourself!

Paschros kai zo. Fight strong and live.

And so she took one step at a time.

Without ever looking down.

‘Rachael’s worst nightmare and feared vision has come alive. Imprisoned on Kaethe in the Dark One’s temple, guarded by shadows, she can’t do anything but wait for death.

If only she could force her visions, or contact Cale and her Sparrows… but she’s never been able to control her gift, and her only friends are an ocean away, unaware that Rachael’s been kidnapped.

Even worse nightmares rise from the shadows. The Dark One grows stronger every day, and He’ll destroy the world if Rachael doesn’t find a way out.

To do that, she needs to force her visions, break the Dark One’s barrier on her mind, master her gift, and find a dragon willing to shed its blood for humanity…

But will it cost Rachael her life, her sanity, or both?’

“Dark, gritty and yet purely magical!”

Get Blood of the Dragon


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