Monday, 10 August 2020

Real Characters. Epic Journeys. True Love.

My blogs are on Medium. My books are below.


Epic Royalty Fantasy


Available from:

Heir to the Throne, Tied to the Crown, and Keys to the Realm are also available in paperback.

Your local library might be able to order the e-books or paperbacks for you.


Urban Fantasy


Available from:

Book 1 is FREE to download at all retailers.


Available from:


Book 1 is FREE to download at all retailers.


Contemporary Wedding Romance


Available from:

Book 1 is FREE to download at all retailers. Book 2 available to pre-order.


Epic Musical Romance

Available from:

Kindle ~ Apple Books ~ B&N Nook ~ Kobo


**Note: e-book editions of all my books are available for your local library to order for you. Just ask and see what they can do.

Read my blogs on Medium

Sunday, 9 August 2020

New Release—Read An Excerpt!

Curse to the Kingdom, a novelette set in the world of my Heir to the Throne Trilogy, is out now! It’s free to download exclusively at Apple Books, B&N Nook Store, and Kobo!

The cover, blurb, and the first three chapters of this story are below. If you check it out, I hope you enjoy it—it’s the first time I’m posting an excerpt of any of my books here and it might be the first time a lot of you are reading ‘my fiction’ for a change. A little nervous about what you’ll think...


“Some rituals really shouldn’t be practiced anymore, especially if someone could die by the end of it.”

Two extraordinary ceremonies are about to change 18-year-old Cyvishi’s life forever in this novelette set in the epic fantasy world of the Heir to the Throne Trilogy.

Luckily, Cyvishi has a plan, one she will execute if the Kingdom’s customs and traditions force her into a life-or-death situation.

“I will not suffer the same tragic demise of Queens from centuries past.”

Curse to the Kingdom gives fans an extra glimpse of the fantasy world of the Heir to the Throne Trilogy—and is an excellent introduction for readers that have yet to discover this royalty fantasy series. This story can be read as a standalone at any point in the series—no spoilers for the main trilogy!

Read the first three chapters now:

Monday, 3 August 2020

Spoiler-Free Q&A on #PoisonBloodSeries Book 1

You guys know me by now. I like Twilight. It kinda changed my life. I'm excited about Midnight Sun. I thought I was over it and was just going to buy a copy of the new book for my collection. Then, Stephenie started posting snippets of it on her website and... no, I might not be over it, after all. Guess it's never really over, right, Katy Perry? :)

I also get nostalgic. As such, I've reverted back to the 'original' covers I had for this series back in 2012, with a few minor upgrades. Only for the month of August, though, so it's not a permanent change :)

And while we're at it, let's take a little walk down memory lane and see how my most successful series of books came into existence with a Q&A on the series opener, Vampire Revelation. No spoilers. 

Q: What was the main inspiration behind the Poison Blood series?

A: Short answer: Ellie. 

Long answer: I’d wanted to write a vampire romance for a while and I considered the idea of writing a series of short stories about vampires living on the London Underground. These characters wouldn’t necessarily be friends or hang out together, but have their own tale to tell. One of the characters I thought up was Ellie. 

However, I didn’t start writing anything until I woke up one morning with Ellie talking me through her life. This was a few days after I listened to the band Linkin Park for the first time in years so I think it was their songs that triggered the instinct to write Ellie’s story.

Quickly, it became clear that Ellie’s story wasn’t as short and sweet as I’d initially planned. She had a lot more potential than I expected, which was great, though it meant I had to put my Vampires on the Underground collection on the backburner. It’s still on the backburner now. Oops, lol.

Q: Why did you publish a paranormal romance so soon after publishing a contemporary romance novel?

A: It’s usually the characters and how strongly they present themselves to me, how clearly I hear their voices in my head, that determine when and what I write. Even if I plan to write something, like a compilation of short stories about vampires making the underground transport system their home, unless I can see that world, hear the characters speak to me, the narrative doesn’t flow as well. I tend not to commit to a project unless I find myself immersed in the story. And when a character beckons to me, lets me into her mind and the world she lives in, keeps talking to me about her life, I try not to ignore her. That’s my process *shrugs*

But why follow-up a contemporary romance with a vampire book? Well, why not? If we enjoy reading an eclectic mix of books, I see no harm in exploring different genres when we write, provided we apply the same level of dedication, effort, and enthusiasm for each story. As authors, we should do that for every book we write. 

As a young child, my favourite genre to read was paranormal/fantasy, and as a teen, I was a huge fan of TV shows such as Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Unfortunately, like so many others I knew, I stopped reading regularly when I was at college and Uni. Upon rediscovering my love for books, I found myself reading contemporary fiction, lit fic, crime, comedy/satire; the only fantasy novels I’d read in recent years were the Twilight and Harry Potter books. These I loved so much that I wanted to write for this genre, particularly about vampires. But I didn’t venture into this area until Ellie came to me.

Q: The vampires in Poison Blood are extremely similar to the Twilight vampires. Was this intentional?

A: Yes. 

There are a range of vampire myths—from those that burn to ashes in sunlight and can be slain by driving a stake through their hearts, to immortals that sleep like the dead during the day and hunt by night—but my favourite is, of course, the one explored in the Twilight Saga. I knew that if I was going to write about vampires, I would conform to most of the rules set out in these books. 

I wasn’t going to set my books in the Twilight world, though. So, I invented my own vampire government (The System), one which has modernised over the years and now operates like an institution the humans would be proud of. A few restrictions needed to be in place, though (such as vampires not being able to enter a house without invitation), so that these indestructible creatures didn’t go around slaughtering an entire council estate in one night. And of course, there had to those that would try to stop these demons from doing what they liked.

The other certainty for me was that the stories would be set in contemporary society, specifically London. Although it’s exciting creating a whole new world, one in the future or in another dimension altogether, what appeals to me more is the idea that the world we live in now could be full of magic and mystery, amazing creatures with supernatural abilities. Though, I enjoyed writing my new epic fantasy trilogy (Heir to the Throne), urban fantasy is my favourite type of fantasy to write. 

Q: Did you plan to end Vampire Revelation on a cliff-hanger?

A: Absolutely. Every novel in a series needs almost all of the plot threads tied-up by the end of it, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with leaving the reader with a question right at the end, one which entices them to read the next book for the answer. 

It’s also a good idea to have an unresolved issue that continues throughout a book series, or if it’s resolved in book 2 or 3, a new plot thread can be introduced to run into the next few installments.

Cliff-hangers like the one at the end of Vampire Revelation work well if many of the main themes explored in the novel come to a conclusion. Such as Ellie finally realising who she is, making sense of the life she had before she turned into a vampire, and discovering why she became the vampire she is. Basically, almost every question raised in the book was answered by the end of it. 

Q: Why did you write Vampire Absolution—it’s pretty much book 1 from another character's POV?

A: Initially, I hadn't planned on writing this book, but I realised that I did want the readers to be aware of a lot of things that Ellie wasn’t aware of. As Revelation is written entirely from her POV (in the first person), the reader only knows what she knows, and I thought it would be good for them to see things from Christian’s perspective. It would also save long paragraphs where he’d have to tell her everything she needs to know (I always find those info dumps boring to read in novels where it’s from one character’s POV).

Thanks for reading :)

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

If I Say No is available for Pre-Order :)

Psst... guess what?

The book that so many of you have been waiting for is up for pre-order! If I Say No, the sequel to If I Say Yes, can be pre-ordered from all the major e-book stores right now.

The expected release date is January 29, 2021. The pre-order price is only 99c/99p to make up for the delay in getting this book out to you and as a way for me to say thank you for rooting for this Duology all these years. Post release price will be $3.99/£3.99. So, definitely take advantage of this low pre-order price :)

If you previously subscribed to my newsletter, then you would have received a longer message about this last night, and I'm glad that some of you are as excited for January 2021 as I am :)

The links are below:





PS. Don't get too attached to these covers, I might be changing them a little...... :)


Shell didn't want an arranged marriage. Until it was arranged with Imran. If only his best friend Seb wasn't trying to sabotage the wedding.

Seb never set out to hurt his best friend. Or lose him over a girl. Little did he know that he might end up losing everything that ever mattered to him.

If I Say No is the concluding part of the Love & Alternatives Duology, a contemporary wedding romance set in London.

Praise for If I Say Yes:
"I loved this story & inhaled all its goodness of love, friendship & culture!"
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
~Apple Books US Review

"Great story. It kept me really Engaged through out the entire novel. Cannot wait for book two to be released!"
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
~Amazon US Review

"Sweet, cute romance with a serious edge to it sometimes."
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
~Apple Books UK Review

"I loved this story! I was up into the early hours wanting to read more to know what happens next. I read it in just a few days because I just couldn't put it down. It was refreshing to have a slightly different take on romance from a Bengali point of view and I was really interested in learning a little bit about the culture and traditions too. The storyline really did keep me on my toes, not knowing what the characters were going to do next, and I loved the fact the main character (Shell) really came out her shell (ha!) as the story progressed too."
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
~Amazon UK Review

"Honestly, I am fumbling for words to convey how I feel after reading this book, and what I really want to say is "Damn it Sebastian open the door!" I really did enjoy this book. I hope the second one comes out soon."
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
~Amazon US Review

Monday, 13 July 2020

This Is Why I Revised My Backlist—Should You Do It Too?

I decided to revise my published works in preparation for the release of my new epic fantasy trilogy, and I believe it was worth doing because:

➡️I’d recently published my best work so far (my new trilogy).

➡️My latest series is doing well.

➡️My new release is bringing in new readers — people that are discovering me only now.

➡️My latest book is boosting sales of my backlist — thus introducing new readers to my older work.

If you ✅ any of the above boxes, it’s worth revising your backlist for the readers that are discovering your books now. Let me set the scene:

The year is 2020. Reader A loved your new urban fantasy series about, say dragon-shifters, and has become a fan of yours. They decide to check out your 2013 UF series about werewolves (wolf-shifters), because why not? It’s in the same genre, the books have snazzy modern covers, and intriguing blurbs—kudos to you for updating your covers to keep up with the times!

But wait. This series opener isn’t as good as the dragon-shifter books. Reader A is disappointed in you, their new favourite author. They’re wondering if you’re only good at writing about dragons. A one-trick pony. They remember reading better werewolf novels that came out last year. Do they really want to read future releases by you? What if your next book is a miss rather than a hit?

Now, us authors know that we improve as we write and edit more books. Readers know that, too—but this is not at the forefront of their minds in this situation. What’s at the forefront of Reader A’s mind is that they’re a little bummed out by this book of yours and the sentiment they’re left with as they DNF this wolf book—or as they struggle to the end—is not as positive as when they’d finished your 2020 release.

This is why improving your backlist will do more good than bad, especially if your latest series is funnelling in new readers for your earlier novels (in that genre).

“Hey,” some people might say at this point, “maybe this author’s debut was just as good as their latest books? Maybe the lower ratings coming through now for the older books are just due to taste? Or other factors, not necessarily quality?”

My response to that is simple: If the author’s 2020 work is the same quality as their 2013 releases—if book number 6, or 7, or 10 is not at least twice as good as their debut—then this author isn’t improving, isn’t learning, isn’t growing. And I don’t think that’s possible. The more we write the better we become.

Do you want new readers to think you’re a hit-and-miss author for them when your 2021 release pops up on their feed? Do you want them to refrain from buying it because of the less than enjoyable experience they had when they bought your werewolf book? No? Good. Updating your backlist to avoid disappointing new readers is worth doing. Schedule in some backlist editing time around the drafting of your current WIP, and if you don’t know where to start, use your negative reviews as a guide for what issues you should tackle first. I outline the process in this article >>Make the most of your negative reviews<<

While you’re at it, compile a list of the positive things readers said about the book you’re improving. Read that list. Pat yourself on the back—you did a good job, there. Well done. People were impressed with something you wrote. Woo hoo! I hope that will put a smile on your face. Then, keep this list around your work area. Refer to it when you’re editing. Are there places where you can amp up those positives? For example, if people liked your protagonist’s interactions with another side character, say their banter with a sibling, friend, or rival—could you add a bit more of that banter in certain chapters? Of course, this optional. You might just have time to improve on the negative feedback, and that’s okay.

If you can, improving your backlist will be beneficial in the long run, and I hope you get a chance to do it.

Thanks for reading. My books, including my complete high fantasy trilogy, are available at:

Apple BooksB&NKoboSmashwords, and Amazon.

Sunday, 5 July 2020

My Experience With #BookBloggers (I Don’t Make This Stuff Up!)

This post isn’t about how important book bloggers are to authors and readers. There are plenty of articles online to that effect as well as really good resources to help you find bloggers to review your self-published books. A quick Google search and voila, you’ll be on your way. This article is about my personal experiences with book bloggers and why I don't submit review requests to them, and as you will see, I couldn’t have made this stuff up if I’d tried. Let’s get to it right away.

My first experience with a book blogger was in July 2012. How did this UK-based blogger come into my orbit? Twitter. It’s always Twitter.

I think I was following an author that this blogger had reviewed on her blog and he’d retweeted her tweet about the review. I RT’d that tweet and followed her on Twitter. She followed back and RT’d one of my tweets. That tweet happened to be about my just-released-on-Smashwords novel, Chasing Pavements (now re-branded as Every Little Piece of You), Soulmates Saga #1. Though I publish directly on all the major e-book stores now, at that time, I used Smashwords to distribute to those retailers. Back then, it used to take a good couple of weeks for new releases to appear on iBooks (branded as Apple Books now).

This is one of the things in this post that you won’t believe, but I’m honestly not making it up: This blogger clicked through to my website and learned a bit about my book. And wanted to read it. She wanted to read my debut self-published novel. I didn’t ask her, I didn’t submit a request, I hadn’t even thought that she might take an interest in my book. But she did. She tweeted me this:



It’s usually the other way around with book bloggers, isn’t it? Especially for new indies with no platform. You dig and research and fill in review request forms and hope that a couple of bloggers agree to read your book. Book bloggers don’t come to you. You go to them.

But this book blogger came to me. Yes, I’ve recently seen some bloggers asking for book recommendations on Twitter (I’d never seen this prior to 2020, though), but authors still have to pitch their books to the reviewer and the reviewer will scroll through the replies to their tweet and choose which ones to add to their TBR—and which to read straightaway.

I didn’t have an iPhone or any Apple device in 2012 (I refused to part with my tiny Nokia Music Express that I’d had for years), so I had to check the iTunes website with my laptop to see if my book was up on Apple yet. I would check every morning (when I remembered) and that was it. On the day that my book became live on iBooks—over a week after the blogger had tweeted me—I didn’t notice it. I think it wasn’t up in the morning when I’d checked and appeared some time during the day? How do you think I found out that the book was finally on iBooks? A tweet from the blogger.



I couldn’t believe that she’d actually bought my book. With actual money. I think it was priced at £2.99. Wow.

Now, why hadn’t I offered to give her a free ARC when she first got in touch? That’s what I would do today if a blogger—not author; I do not do review swaps with authors—if a book blogger came to me and said they were interested in reviewing one of my paid books on their blog, I’d offer them a free review copy. Back in 2012, I was quite money hungry. Just kidding. The thing is, I thought that by giving her a free copy, it might influence her review. Not that she’d do it on purpose, but I worried that her review would be more favourable if I gave it to her for free. She was already so favourable towards it. It wasn’t right of me to think like that, but that was my reasoning then. Dunno why. *shrug emoji* I don’t think giving free ARCs to bloggers or reviewers is a way to get more favourable reviews—but a week into my publishing journey, that’s what was going through my head. I don’t understand it, either lol.



Good news: she was “hooked” from page 1 and was obviously enjoying it. Yay—but if I can be completely honest, I wasn’t super-surprised. I knew that book had an audience and if I put it in front of that audience, I knew they’d enjoy it. I’d spent two years on it—six months writing it and 18 months revising it—I knew I’d made it the best that it could be (at that time; I’ve revised it a couple times since 2012 and it’s an even better book now because of it). But I felt extremely lucky that the first blogger to read my book actually fell into the target audience for that novel. Which is so important—I’ll talk more about this later.



However, after learning that she was on Chapter 24: PanicI didn’t hear from her for a few days. And I started panicking. Perhaps she didn’t like the middle or end? What if she DNF’d it? I was so anxious those few days. What made it worse was that the next time I heard from her on Twitter was when she tweeted out her review for my book. I was ready for the worst.



Great news: she seemed to have loved it. Rated it a “must read” on her blog. That. That was the experience I wanted readers to get from this book and I was thankful that the first book blogger to read my book got it.



The two of us became Twitter-friends and a few of my followers ended up following her and asked her to review their books. And then, when she found herself planning a visit to London, she’d hoped to see the iconic sculpture from my book—and sent me a photo of it:



Sadly, due to personal circumstances, she took a break from blogging later that year and didn’t return. I hope she wrote the novels she was working on. I hope she’s doing well, whatever she’s up to. She was lovely and I miss her, even though we never met. *sad face emoji + pink heart emoji*

That experience gave me the confidence to actively approach other bloggers for reviews. Like I said, I believed that the novel had a market and I was determined to try and make it more visible to the people that would like it. I curated a list of eight suitable book blogs (researched hundreds, though) and seven of them agreed to add it to their list. Only one of the bloggers actually reviewed my book. The others... when I followed up with them a couple of months later, they said they hadn’t gotten around to it. I didn’t follow-up a second time. Most likely: they all DNF’d it. Best case scenario: it’s still on their TBR, lol. One reader out of seven requests wasn’t horrible for my debut. What did this reviewer think of it?

She was US-based and just as lovely as the British blogger from above. I didn’t know when she started reading it and there were no daily updates and I think that was a good thing. My nerves wouldn’t have been able to take it, lol. But she emailed me as soon as she finished reading it and I was ecstatic to hear that she enjoyed it.



This is the part you won’t believe—I couldn’t believe it, either: she phoned her mum and told her to buy her own copy and there was a sale for that book at the Kindle US Store that afternoon! Wow.



Those were the only bloggers that blogged about my debut. None of my other works have been reviewed by bloggers since then (that I know of—if someone blogged about my book, I think they’d tell me). I had planned to reach out to more blogs in due course, but my personal life got in the way...

By the time I returned to “normal” life, the book had become four years old and I’d realised that though it had a market, it was a niche market. It would require a lot of time and effort to accumulate enough bloggers that were in the target audience to make a difference to my review tally. My other books—which had a larger market—were getting plenty of ratings/reviews from readers across Apple, Nook, and Smashwords, readers that were discovering my books on their own. Approaching bloggers for those projects wasn’t something that I deemed necessary. I wish I could find out who all those readers are and how to thank them :)

Where do I stand on book bloggers now for my newer books? I think all my romance novels have a market but a niche one—when my books find the right readers, those readers love them and keep coming back to me, year-after-year, asking about the next book—therefore it’s the same situation as with my debut. Finding enough bloggers that fall into the target market (that would have the time to review them) would be very time consuming and laborious. I’d rather spend that time writing and taking care of my Toddler.

And it’s important that the bloggers are in the target audience—when potential customers read their review to see if they want to download my book, they want to know what people with similar reading tastes to them think about the book so they can decide if they will like it. It’s not useful for them—or for my book—to know what a fan of crime novels thinks, or the thoughts of someone that doesn’t usually pick up books like mine.

I follow a lot of reviewers on Twitter, not just book bloggers but also indie authors that review books on their websites—they are all lovely people; I like chatting with them—but looking at the books they review week-in-week out, I know their tastes don’t match my books. I would feel uncomfortable making a review request to them because they don’t read what I write. They would either DNF it because it’s not their cup of tea or struggle through it because they’re used to a different type of storytelling. I don’t want people to struggle. That’s why I never hope for—or expect—anyone on my Twitter to download my books. Most of my followers don’t fall into my target audience. It’s all cool.

Recently, someone on Twitter had a poll asking writers if they would rather get a review from someone in their target audience or someone that read outside their genre. I was stunned that the majority wanted an “objective review” from someone that didn’t read books like theirs. I voted otherwise, obviously. I don’t want someone that only reads crime and thrillers to review my romance or fantasy novels—they’re used to a different reading experience/journey/story beats and are unlikely to like what my books offer because its not them I have in mind when I write my books. The consensus amongst the #WritingCommunity was that if your book is a good one, anyone will like it—that it will convert people to your genre. Fair enough (I mean, Twilight got me into YA). But I don’t write to convert readers to my genre—I don’t see that as my job—I write for those already reading it.

Remember: reviews are supposed to help you attract the right readers for your books and for readers to find the right books for them.

Thank you for reading this post. My books, including my new royalty fantasy trilogy, are available at:

From A Single Image To An Entire Trilogy


Who would have thought that 2020, the year of the global pandemic, would be the first year in which I published an entire series? I did it, though, and it’s still sinking in. I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading, commenting, sharing, and retweeting my blogs and tweets this year (some of you have been doing so since 2012!). I really appreciate it. I don't always get to thank you all personally (I just RT you back, don't I?), but that doesn't mean that I’m not thankful. Thank you and good luck with your writing and publishing endeavours *hugs* :)

I almost delayed the launch of the Heir to the Throne series finale until next year, but I didn’t want the people that had pre-ordered Book 3 to wait that long. And I wanted it out of the way so I could truly move on. For some reason, a series doesn't feel complete until I've hit the publish button for the finale, so I'm glad I had enough incentive to release the final book in this high fantasy trilogy (came out Friday, July 3, 2020), and not sit with it for another year.

I still find myself surprised that it was a stock image that got me writing epic fantasy for the first time in my adult life. Of course, there were a number of other factors that helped shape the premise and plot of the Heir to the Throne Trilogy, but what put things into motion for me was the image of the girl on the original cover of Book 1, Heir to the Throne. I saw it on the Pixabay site in March 2018 and downloaded it immediately.



Obviously, the girl wasn’t appropriate for the covers of my contemporary romance novels or my urban fantasy books. “I’ll just have to write a book about her, then,” I’d joked to myself. Almost instantly, my brain came up with various ideas for how to go about it. I couldn’t stop thinking about a story that my mum used to tell me when I was a kid, and I wondered if I could do a retelling of that bedtime tale. Fairy tale retellings are in at the moment, aren't they?

“Once there was a very vain King,” my mum used to say. “And he would always ask his daughters how much they loved him and why. One day, when he asked his daughters this question and they started likening their love for him to sweet things—sugar, honey, syrup, molasses, and so on—one of the Princesses said that she loved him like she loved salt. The King threw a tantrum at that and banished her from the kingdom.

“She was taken in by a family in a faraway land and didn’t see her father until years later, when he visited the people that she lived with. The King didn’t know that the daughter he'd disowned years ago was a part of the household that had invited him for dinner, and the ex-Princess took the opportunity to teach her father a lesson. She cooked an inedible banquet using sugar, honey, syrup, etc. in the place of salt, and the only dish that the King was able to eat and enjoy was the last one brought to the table. It was the only one that used salt for seasoning and nothing sweet.

“He remembered the daughter that had loved him the way she loved salt and understood her point of view. The King told his hosts about the daughter that had obviously loved him just as much as his other children and openly regretted banishing her.” Which was the cue for the chef/Princess to reveal herself. Overjoyed, the King took her back with open arms.

As a child, I thought my mum had made up the story, or her mum had, or her mum’s mum. In my teens and young adult days, I came to the conclusion that it must be a classic bedtime story that Bangladeshi women have been telling their daughters for generations, to drill in the importance of seasoning our food: The amount of salt in a curry can make or break the dish.

Seen as I was contemplating doing a retelling of this bedtime story, I thought I should Google it. If I'm going to tell people that my book is inspired by a classic Bangladeshi folk tale, I thought, I should do a fact check, shouldn’t I? What I found was that this story is typically referred to as “The King and his Daughters”, and various cultures around the world have their own renditions of it. I’m glad I did the research, but it’s not because I can now say that Heir to the Throne is a retelling of The King and his Daughters. Technically, it’s not a retelling, but I have taken inspiration from certain elements from the story I grew up with—a King with quite a few daughters, the favourite Princess wrongly getting punished—and the stock image helped me make a few other decisions.

Within the space of a couple of days, I had a mental outline for the book and started fleshing it out on the MS Word app on my iPhone when I wasn’t running around after The Baby (Toddler now). I can’t remember when I actually stopped outlining and started writing the book (maybe September 2018, or end of August?), but the bulk of the drafting took place in October and November 2018 (my first NaNoWriMo!).

If Heir to the Throne had started off as a retelling of The King and his Daughters, the series would still have ended up as something else entirely. Most of the books I write change and evolve into something much more epic than I expect, and this trilogy was no exception.

I really hope that readers take to Aaryana like they have to Ellie, Mukti, and Shell from my other three series and that they enjoy a trilogy that was inspired by just a single image.

Get the series from your favourite ebook store (Book 1 free at selected retailers for a few more days):
Apple BooksB&NKoboSmashwords, and Amazon.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Release Day Ramblings (again)


Happy Friday! Today, the final book in my latest series came out. The Heir to the Throne trilogy is complete. That’s a trilogy of complete trilogies for me, yay! This is the first time, though, that I’ve published an entire series in the same year (my life keeps getting in the way, doesn't it? This year, Covid 19 tried to interfere). Nothing went to plan in 2020 but at least this series is done. I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading, commenting, sharing, and retweeting my blogs and tweets this year (some of you have been doing so since 2012!). I really appreciate it. I don't always get to thank you all personally (I just RT you back, don't I?), but that doesn't mean that I’m not thankful. Thank you and good luck with your writing and publishing endeavors *hugs* :)

I almost delayed the release of the series finale, Keys to the Realm, until next year due to the global pandemic, but in the end, I didn’t want the people that pre-ordered Book 3, to wait that long. And I wanted it out of the way so I could move on with my other projects. A series doesn't feel done unless it’s out in the world!

So, how’s release day going? Good, thanks. Would have been better if it wasn’t the year of the COVID 19 pandemic, but I’ve consoled myself all year with these words: It wasn’t meant to be.

Thanks to the pre-orders at the Apple Books Store Australia (all but one of those pre-orders being placed before the lockdown period, though; pre-order and post-release price: 4.99), Keys to the Realm charted at no. 1 in the Sci Fi & Fantasy category ⬇️in Australia. 


And no. 66 in the overall Apple Books Australia chart ⬇️. Not bad for someone that writes on her phone while lying in bed (degenerative lumbar spine disease). And only when the Toddler is napping or has gone down for the night.



Apple Books only have 14 category bestseller charts ⬇️(+ the overall chart, of course), with seven of them being fiction categories, and as far as I know, a book can only chart in one category—in the primary category you select during publishing (so my book couldn’t chart in the YA category chart as well as the SFF chart, even though YA was one of the non-primary categories tagged to it). And as far as I know, chart positions are based on the number of sales/downloads; Apple don't use any other method to calculate chart positions. No fancy algorithms and whatnot.


The pre-orders for the finale mean that the Australians that read the first two books liked them; at the very least, Heir to the Throne and Tied to the Crown were 3-star reads for them. Reasonable assumption, right? But look⬇️ no ratings or reviews for Book 1 at the retailer. See, I told you—my readers seem to fall into the group that just don’t rate or review books. I accepted this a long time ago *shrug* 



The thing is though, if I’d known back in 2019—or even in January 2020—that 2020 was going to turn out like this, I wouldn’t have released these three books in February, March, and July respectively. Or even in 2020. This trilogy deserved to be launched under better circumstances. I genuinely believe it has the potential to become more successful than my Poison Blood Series. And if I’m completely honest, I would have given into my husband’s nagging and queried literary agents for these novels.

With every reader DM I get about my books, my hubby nags me to pursue traditional publishing. No matter how many times I explain the whole right of first refusal thing to him. While I was writing this trilogy, though, he was pushier than ever about me trying to get an agent for these books—seen as they weren’t published yet. Confession: I did give in and do some research on agents and I even thought I had one very suitable agent I could query. Out of all my books, I thought I was writing one that might appeal to agents and editors in the UK. “Just let me polish up Book 1,” I kept telling my husband—and myself.

But then, this dream agent suffered bit of a tragic twist in her life and I took that as a sign that perhaps I wasn’t meant to pursue that avenue. And I put the first two books in the series up for pre-order when I was done writing them.

~Print books arrived last night :)

One of the best things about self-publishing is getting to market fast. Capitalising on reader appetite and market trends, but with the people of the world slowing down due to the pandemic and lockdown, getting to market fast in 2020 became irrelevant. That’s why, if I hadn’t released Books 1 and 2 in the first week of February and the first week of March respectively, I think I would have started querying agents with this series during the quarantine period.

Anyway. I didn’t know last year what I know now, so again, I tell myself this: It wasn’t meant to be.

What I’m doing now—rambling on release day, July 3, 2020, this is what was meant to happen all along. And it’s okay. I’m so thankful for what I’ve achieved, and for all the things I have in my life at this time, the what ifs are forgotten almost as soon as I think of them.



I may not even have written this series in the first place if it wasn't for a stock image. A stock image that got me writing high fantasy fiction for the first time in my adult life. Of course, there were a number of other factors that helped shape the premise and plot of the Heir to the Throne Trilogy, but what put things into motion for me was the image of the girl on the original cover of Book 1, Heir to the Throne. I saw it on Pixabay in March 2018⬇️ and downloaded it immediately:



Obviously, the girl wasn’t appropriate for the covers of my contemporary romance novels or my urban fantasy books. “I’ll just have to write a book about her, then,” I’d joked to myself. Almost instantly, my brain came up with various ideas for how to go about it. I couldn’t stop thinking about a story that my mum used to tell me when I was a kid, and I wondered if I could do a retelling of that bedtime tale. Fairy tale retellings are in at the moment, aren't they?

“Once there was a very vain King,” my mum used to say. “And he would always ask his daughters how much they loved him and why. One day, when he asked his daughters this question and they started likening their love for him to sweet things—sugar, honey, syrup, molasses—one of the Princesses said that she loved him like she loved salt. The King threw a tantrum at that and banished her from the kingdom.

“She was taken in by a family in a faraway land and didn’t see her father until years later, when he visited the people that she lived with. The King didn’t know that the daughter he'd disowned years ago was a part of the household that had invited him for dinner, and the ex-Princess took the opportunity to teach her father a lesson. She cooked an inedible banquet using sugar, honey, syrup, etc. in the place of salt, and the only dish that the King was able to eat and enjoy was the last one brought to the table. It was the only one that used salt for seasoning and nothing sweet.

“He remembered the daughter that had loved him the way she loved salt and understood her point of view. The King told his hosts about the daughter that had obviously loved him just as much as his other children and openly regretted banishing her.” Which was the cue for the chef/Princess to reveal herself. Overjoyed, the King took her back with open arms.



As a child, I thought my mum had made up the story, or her mum had, or her mum’s mum. In my teens and young adult days, I convinced myself that it must be a classic bedtime story that Bangladeshi women have been telling their daughters for generations, to drill in the importance of seasoning our food: The amount of salt in a curry can make or break the dish.

Now that I was contemplating doing a retelling of this bedtime story, I thought I should Google it. If I'm going to tell people that my book is inspired by a classic Bangladeshi folk tale, I thought, I should do a fact check, shouldn’t I? What I found was that this story is typically referred to as “The King and his Daughters”, and various cultures around the world have their own renditions of it. I’m glad I did the research, not because I can now say that Heir to the Throne is a retelling of The King and his Daughters. Technically, it’s not a retelling, but I have taken inspiration from certain elements from the story I grew up with—a King with quite a few daughters, the favourite Princess wrongly getting punished—and the stock image helped me make a few other decisions about genre, setting, etc.



Within the space of a couple of days, I had a mental outline for the book and started fleshing it out on the MS Word app on my iPhone when I wasn’t running around after The Baby (Toddler now). I can’t remember when I actually stopped outlining and started writing the book (maybe September 2018, or end of August?), but the bulk of the drafting took place in October and November 2018 (my first NaNoWriMo!).



A message to my fellow Throne of Glass fans: Heir to the Throne can be put into the same bucket as Throne of Glass because both of these series are set in alternate historical fantasy lands and revolve around Kings and Queens and Princes and Princesses—hence the cover of Heir to the Throne was designed to say, “Yes, you’re right, this cover is reminiscent of the Throne of Glass covers, and that’s because this book might provide a similar experience to the Throne of Glass series. So, if you liked those books, you might enjoy this book, too.” My series has a completely different story line, though, different characters, and is not a re-hash of Sarah J Maas’s brilliant work. You'll see that very quickly when you start reading it.


If Heir to the Throne had started off as a retelling of The King and his Daughters, the series would still have ended up as something else entirely. Most of the books I write evolve into something much bigger than I expect, and this trilogy was no exception. Believe me when I say that the series finale, Keys to the Realm, is EPIC, so give this trilogy a try if you’re interested in this genre. Here are five things you can expect from these books:

One) This series revolves around mythical sea creatures. Think Game of Thrones/Throne of Glass with “mermaids” (but with my own spin on the mythology).

Two) I love a good origin story—I like to explain how the magical beings in my stories came to exist—so this trilogy has one, too.

Three) No corsets. These books are set in a completely made up fictional world—they’re not inspired by a particular time or place in history—so why would I include something that I don’t believe in? There’s no mention of corsets in this trilogy because they don’t exist in this world.

Four) There’s forbidden romance, enemies to lovers (hate to love), and friends to lovers, too. But I won’t tell you which couples get what. :)

Five) The lead character’s body shape is not typical for the genre. Usually, the girls are tiny compared to the big, bear-like love interests, or they’re of medium height, have a small waist and “great boobs”. Aaryana—like all her sisters—is very tall, flat-chested, hardly has any curves, and her training has helped her gain a strong, powerful, muscular, athletic body.

I really hope that readers take to Aaryana like they have to Ellie, Mukti, and Shell from my other three series and that they enjoy a trilogy that was inspired by just a single image.

Get the series from: 

Apple BooksB&NKoboSmashwords, and Amazon.

So, what’s next for me? Well, I have another release scheduled for this year—I’m thinking September time, but I’ll actually have to sort out my dashboard with a concrete date! The project needs just a little more polishing, but it should be ready for the first week of September if I stick to that date. A few more surprises in store for 2020, too—keep your eyes peeled.

Also, I am finally, finally, trying to finish the highly anticipated—highly anticipated by the readers that have DM’d me about it over the years, that is, lol—conclusion to my Love & Alternatives Duology. And to ensure that I don’t stray from this project as I have since If I Say Yes came out in 2017, I will be putting it up for pre-order, with a tentative release date of... drum roll please... last week of January 2021! Hopefully, that will give me the urgency to finish this story at last. Now, I actually have to put it up for pre-order... Maybe this weekend...


There are a few more projects I have planned for next year, but I’m not going to divulge too much about them just yet. Things never go to plan in my life—or my writing/publishing journey—and it’s best to just take it one day at a time.

With regards blogging, I hope to continue posting new content every week, as I have been so far this year, but once I run out of ideas for articles... it will probably be on an ad hoc basis :)

Until next time, cheerio xx and here are those links again to my trilogy :) and some cool artwork reflecting the series finale ⬇️.

Get the series from: 

Apple BooksB&NKoboSmashwords, and Amazon.


~Aaryana Vijkanti

~Seth Fresdan

~Aaryana

~Aaryana

~ Aaryana