Thursday, August 31, 2017

[SELF-PROMO POST] First Words: Final Lesson

First Words: Final Lesson by Shakyra Dunn

The Final Lesson #0.5
Genre: Fantasy, Aoung Adult
Release date: July 13th, 2017

A recently-crowned princess with a thirst for magic accidentally destroys her home. A simple youthful rebellion grows into a lifelong friendship. A young woman meets reliable allies. And a young boy is dealt a harsh hand when he sets out to make his own path.
Four tales. Four parties. All intertwined to set the stage for a bigger event. The sense of adventure builds as lessons prepare to be learned.

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Sneak Peek
Wind chimes echoed through the near-desolate shrine, the salty air flowing through the open window, blowing out the jasmine incense on the polished nightstand. Thunderclaps roared from the outside, and she couldn’t help but grin to herself as she shut her eyes. Abrupt weather changes, a drift in the squalls. The calm before a brewing storm; that was always Leilana Erovina’s ideal time to meditate as a prolific start to her drawn-out morning.

Minsura’s grounds granted her peace, and sitting as the first heir of the kingdom ensured her guarantee to a wholesome life. Isolated, magicless, a free reign to the plight of idealism and growth. The hymns of her people reverberated in passion and solitude. It was as though this closed-off world was shielded behind the clouds, never to touch the cruel workings on the ground below their pedestal. She heard little about the world furthest east of their country, a place called Adrylis, but she knew that their society was fueled by magic and the power of the Warlords. 

For generations beyond known time, essence and being was headed by the Warlords of old, who crafted all humankind and blessed them with the ability to conjure spells to breathe life into their own little world. Magic itself was a mysterious gift that few in Minsura were given; one of the chosen ones had been her own brother, Ennis.

The oldest of the two, he should have been the one seated at the foot of the shrine, leading Minsura as the first heir to his growing land, but his recent growth in power knocked him down several pegs. Magic was forbidden. She was grateful for the shift due to the quiet change of pace and the chance to better her country with her own hands as its chosen princess, but she didn’t understand why it had to be in this manner. Ennis didn’t ask to suddenly develop a life-threatening illness, saved only by what essence resonated within him from birth. He never asked to be turned away by those he loved for something that he couldn’t control.

A light rain pattered against the floor, and she decided to end her session for the day, getting up from her mat and closing the window shut. She rested her head on the windowsill, astonished blue eyes gazing up at the smoky clouds hastily filed in. As much as she loved Minsura and what the shrines had to offer, she couldn’t help but wonder what lied beyond the only land she had ever set foot on. 

She couldn’t wait for the rain to settle down for long—she was already late getting back home, and her parents would already have a mound of duties waiting for her. Pressing her tiny hands against the large doors holding her, she pushed them open and watched the rain pour down on the stone building above her. She took a seat on the stairs for a moment, tapping her foot along the ground, her right leg bouncing in an anxious matter. How long was it going to be before the rain slowed up?

Author Bio
Shakyra Dunn can't stray away from the impression that there is always an adventure around every corner! When she isn’t playing the role of the Creator, she is marching through the worlds of her favorite video game characters or taking drives around her city to see the sights. Born in Chicago, Illinois, she currently resides in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, striving to experience more than the little town.

Author Links

Monday, August 7, 2017

[TRUTH SERUM] A Day's Events

I'm going to tell you a little story. August 5th, 2012 holds a lot of significance in my life; it was the day that my mother suddenly passed away. I was eighteen years old, a week and a half away from starting college, and it was the moment that my life changed forever.

My mother was the one that raised me, mostly on her own as a single mother, but she had help from others to push me down the right path. Not to say I was a bad kid, nothing of the sort, actually. She primed my love of literature from a young age, and was an avid reader herself. I don't think that I would have become a writer without her guidance.

But this year, August 5th was a day not of sadness, but of opportunity.

I got the chance to participate in a local author event called "Imagine Other Worlds: IOWA." I don't get to attend many events due to my rather annoying night shift schedule, so this one was a dark horse for me.

I wasn't sure how I would fare, as I'm probably one of the new kids still in the industry despite having been published for a year now, and still rather young and inexperienced. But from the start, I was always prepared to learn more, experiment, and see what I could change about my style. And I wasn't at all disappointed.

The hardest thing about attending any sort of convention, large or local, is trying to make yourself stand out, especially if there are multiple other authors in your genre. And I'm still struggling a lot to pitch my work to others, because telling a story aloud can be a hassle, even if you're experienced. But you learn on the go.

Here's what I took from it:

1. Don't be afraid to start up a conversation, even if it's something completely unrelated to your books. This is something that I took from my fellow YA author Jed Quinn. He stated to me after I asked for some advice on how to attract people to you that you should talk to anyone that passes by your booth, strike up a conversation, even if it's just complimenting them. He joked around saying that someone was wearing a Packers jersey, and he hated that team, but if it leaves a mark, then you're sold in at least one way. Even if they don't buy your book, you leave an imprint on them.

2. You can make allies at your events. I made a great new friend in Cassandra Denhartog, sitting right next to me in the YA area! She's really sweet, and she's got skills beyond the border! I think that chance encounter won me more than just some nice conversation, which is always a good thing.

3. Showcase yourself. Being yourself is one of the best things you can be at an event. If you appeal to the right person, you can win yourself some new readers. Personally, I can be rather reserved. But I'm also pretty open and blunt, and Jed actually called me tenacious at a point because I managed to convince him to buy my book. At first, hearing that made me a little nervous, but he reassured me that it's a good thing TO be tenacious in the writing industry, because it shows that you're passionate and willing to push past your barriers.

In the end, I sold four copies of my novella, which got me a little hype towards my future project, "The Final Lesson," but the sales weren't what I thought would help to define me.

My purpose was to build myself a little more, to learn more about what I could do to not only improve my sales, but uncover the depths of what potentials are running within me. I want to be able to travel to other states, promote myself at conventions away from my norm, but to do that, I must first be prepared by starting local.

Imagine Other Worlds was my first real jump into what I think could be the start of something greater, and for this moment, I'm thankful to the coordinators Terri and Dana for giving me the chance to let the *semi* new kid join the fun!

Allow me to introduce my latest release! The e-book is only $.99, and it's a great introduction into the upcoming novel! You can purchase it here!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

[TRUTH SERUM] A mini-questionaire!

I decided to play a little game with myself, and I wanted to jot it down in a new blog post since it's been a while! I always like sharing a bit of information about myself.

So here goes!

1.) What is your author name? 
~My author name is actually my own birth-given name, Shakyra Dunn!

2.) What is the first book you ever published? 
~That would be "The One Left Behind: Magic." It is the first in a three-part series. It's a YA fantasy novel that has sci-fi elements due to the theme of time travel, rebirth and growth.

3.) What is your publiversary? (The day you released your first book) 
~June 13th, 2016! It was two days before my 22nd birthday.

4.) What is your favorite book you've written thus far? 
~So far, it has to be "The Final Lesson," the project that I'm currently working on.

5.) What book took you the longest to write? 
~"The One Left Behind: Magic," because I've had to essentially rewrite the entire novel from scratch over the course of three and a half years.

6.) How long did it take you? 
~I kind of just answered that.

7.) What kind of music (If Any) do you listen to while you write? 
~Oh, I listen to a variety, but my range goes from rock to J-pop to instrumentals from video games and anime! As I type this, I'm listening to the Final Fantasy XV soundtrack. 

8.) Who is your favorite character from any of your books? 
~It's a tough call, but I have to divide it between three from my current works. It would be Nova Avery from "The One Left Behind," Solus Brenner from "The Final Lesson," and Leilana Erovina from "The Final Lesson." All three of them have similar mindsets, but they execute all of their methods in such different ways and have inter-conflicting personalities. If I had to choose one above the rest though, it would be Solus.
9.) What are you currently working on? 
~"The Final Lesson!" I've been writing it for nearly a year now (It will be a year in November, but I feel that I'll be finished by then), and I've already released a novella prequel in preparation for it.

10.) Do you have anything you snack on while you write? 
~I tend to go more for drinks than snacks, but if I have a snack, I've recently gotten hooked back on ranch-flavored chips.

11.) What is your favorite quote or line from one of your books? 
~Just one? Ooh, let's see... I'm going to cheat. Instead of a quote, I'll use a minor scene. It's one that I liked organizing.

“Gutless coward!” Rem exclaimed, throwing a rock at the traveling carriage as it sped off. “And you’re two hundred coins short! I hope your wheel comes off! I hope that your family doesn’t accept your funds, and that your carriage gets set on fire!”
Solus slapped the young Prince upside the head, his left hand still resting on his hip. “That is quite enough out of you, Remiel. No need to antagonize the patrons. He was just doing his job.” Rem nearly snarled back at the man.
“No, what he was doing was being a coward just because of a bump.”

12.) Are you a self published or traditional published author?
~Self-published, but I'm going to try and switch up to Hybrid after "The Final Lesson" is done. Or maybe before. I haven't decided yet. 

13.) What is your writing inspiration? 
~I take inspiration mostly from my experiences, but I also take inspiration from video games. I love playing RPG's, and they help me shape my love of character conflict.

14.) What genre do you write? 
~Fantasy! But I also write in the YA genre and plan to try out paranormal with my next non-series book!

15.) Do you have any writing rituals? 
~Rituals? No, not really!

16.) Do you have a specific place you write or time? 
~Neither of the above. I just try to write whenever I can and hope for the best.

17.) Do you have any advice for inspiring writers? 
~Never lose hope. It's easy to stray, especially when you're crafting your first book, or even when you start your second or third. Writer's block exists, and when it hits, it's okay to step back and take a break. Take criticism. Listen to what others have already done. 

18.) What are your writing goals? If any? 
~My goal has always been to inspire others to create. I had a hard time accepting my love of writing as a teenager, but once the bug hit, it stuck. Never be afraid to live your dream.

19.) What authors inspire you and your writing? 
~I could write a book on who inspires me, but I'll say for one, Lemony Snicket is a strong part of the reason why I became a writer.

20.) What will be your next release?
~"The Final Lesson," which I'm aiming to have published around October!

Speaking on my novel work, I mentioned my latest release! Well, here it is for your viewing pleasure! The e-book is only $.99, and it's a great introduction into the upcoming novel! You can purchase it here!