The Unmarked Girl has been shortlisted for the 2019 CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature
As a first time author, being shortlisted for the CODE Burt Award is incredibly surreal. Gratitude... so much gratitude...
You can read more about this on the Bocas Lit Festival's post here.
Book Two of The YaraStar Trilogy was due for release in December 2018. Instead, I posted this to my social media on the final day of the year:
"#MixedFeelings: This month was supposed to herald the release of Book Two of The YaraStar Trilogy: The Eld Queen. Then, coming down to the end of December, I had what I can only describe as an epiphany. I was sitting in my living room when a huge part of the story revealed itself to me that I hadn’t felt before. While most of the storyline tends to flow to me from a place I can never describe, these particular “epiphany” moments always feel massively divine. This was never a part of my Book Two synopsis, yet it was a critical connection that I didn’t even know was missing.
But there was a catch: if I followed that leading and allowed myself to go down the rabbit hole, it meant not only delaying the book’s release until January, but also writing a book that was longer than I intended, longer than I had ever written... and I’m talking around 20,000 words more than the first book, with new chapters and an evolved flow. It felt like I had trained all year for a 5K race and just as I was about to cross the finish line, I find out it’s a 10K race instead. Do I stick to the 5K I trained for and revel in my personal achievement, or do I surrender to the 10K and give my everything?
It was a gut-wrenching decision. I am a stickler for deadlines, and I am loyal to my commitments. But I had two conflicting commitments: one to my readers (all of whom I love), and the other to Yara (it’s her story). Eventually, it came down to a single question: why am I writing this trilogy? And the answer was that I had felt guided to share Yara’s story. That became the foundation on which I made the final decision yesterday, to hold off the release, dive into writing, and stay true to the art..."
I went on to promise that I would do commit to doing this all within one month: a complete restructuring to include the new storyline, a fair amount of new writing, having the book reviewed, copyedited, formatted and finally made available on Amazon in January 2019. I am still relishing in what we humans are capable of if we give wings to fire and fuel to passion. The week of The Eld Queen's release heralded another emotional post:
"I am overcome with emotion when I consider what this past month has been like, after surrendering to the call of unexpected inspiration and pausing December’s release. I had intended this trilogy to be a shorter, punchy, but still potent approach to writing fantasy in a world filled with distractions and limited time. I projected books one and two to be around the same length; but, you know, man plans… An additional ~25,000 words later, I believe I’ve done right by my book one readers—but you all can let me know.
The manuscript is complete, the countdown is on, and Amazon and I are going to intimately intertwined over the next few days until your Kindle versions are available (on or before Jan 31st, God’s willing... no offense, Sunstar)..."
The Eld Queen's new storyline is now yours as a result, alongside an incredible vision for The Melded Truth (Book Three). I am excited to have each of you along for this journey, and as I've said before, I am certain that Yara chooses her people. #TribeLove
P.S. If you've read Book Two and you'd like to know what's different from the original synopsis, I am happy to share it privately with you (click on my Contact page and drop me a note).
I'm so excited to share Yara's story with you all finally! You can find it here:
Here's the scoop:
I'm releasing my first novel on June 30th 2018 called The Unmarked Girl. It is the first book of The YaraStar Trilogy, a fantasy series that explores the journey of YaraStar. Yara is an unmarked girl with unknown origins who lives on a planet where one's birthline markings determine those who are of light from those who are of darkness. Yara's search for meaning, purpose and a place to belong is the search within us all in a world filled with grey areas.
I worked on this novel for two years. It took longer than I expected mostly because I was not yet ready to be its vessel. There is a quote by Austin Netzley that resonated with me. He said that your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development. I definitely was not yet at the place I needed to be if I wanted to share Yara's story with the world. I consistently felt self-conscious at the thought of anyone ever reading my work. I also wasn't completely familiar with the book publishing world (Should I try to publish traditionally? Should I self-publish? What does ISBN mean and why is everyone debating if you need one to publish on Kindle?!).
I have never been one to dive into anything that I haven't extensively researched and...conquered. :)
So, I made two decisions:
Success for me in this journey isn't about the book sales (don't get me wrong - those would definitely be GREAT). It isn't even about whether anyone likes the book or not (even if I do hope it resonates with many of you). For me, the success of this has been in finding fearless authenticity within myself. Writing Yara's story has been the most painstaking, the most life-changing, and the most beautiful period of time that I have ever spent on any work in my lifetime. I have finally gotten to live days where every single part of it is fueled by my passion. I don't know where this journey may lead on the outside but I know where it has led me to on the inside. In finding Yara, I found all of me... and for that, I am grateful beyond words.
I'd love to keep you posted on The Unmarked Girl's release. If you'd like that, make sure to subscribe for updates. You can also contact me with any queries or comments that you may have.
Thank you for stopping by!