Celebrating the Battle of Illaria Release!

Tomorrow is the day! Battle of Illaria will be out in the world!

It’s a pretty great feeling when you launch a new work into the world. Especially when you finish it early and get to bump your release date up by nearly two weeks! Of course, there’s the fear that you missed something, the questioning of yourself as an artist, and all the doubt that goes into letting strangers read and evaluate your work, but let’s face it, it’s mostly a celebration. This book is even more of a celebration than my others in some ways, because it is my favorite (so far). This was the second book I ever wrote…remember how I took that random detour and decided I needed a book in the middle? Yeah, I don’t recommend that, but I wouldn’t change it because I was able to set up a lot of things in book 2 that I wanted to cover in book 3.

Here’s a few random facts about Battle of Illaria:

  1. The first draft was 112,000 words – yikes!
  2. I cut around 30,000 words
  3. It was originally the second book of the Illaria Series and got moved back for Oracle
  4. I wrote the first draft in about six weeks
  5. The first draft was finished during National Novel Writing Month in 2016
  6. It went through six round of editing by me, 2 rounds of editing by my editor, and 2 proof-readers
  7. The cover has been ready since October 2016. (The cover for book 4 is already done)
  8. One of the characters died in the original first draft and when I made cuts during editing, I changed the structure and that character ended up getting to live
  9. This is the first book I’m releasing that doesn’t have the next one already written
  10. All of the Max chapters were written after the second draft – and they were my favorite scenes to write.

And, because you still have one more day to wait and you might not want to wait that long, I’ve included the first chapter of Battle of Illaria below. Please note – the first chapter for this book contains spoilers. If you have not yet read the first two books, you may want to skip this part.

CHAPTER ONE: Max

Max stood on a hilltop at the edge of Greenville, staring at the smoke rising into the sky. The night was filled with screams as people fled from the sorcerers attacking their homes. He could see the black-cloaked figures throwing flames into the night. Buildings burned and crumbled to the ground. A shrieking made him turn his gaze and he watched a woman fall, body engulfed in fire. This wasn’t what he had in mind when he joined forces with the king. He clenched his teeth, forcing himself to stand and watch. He felt the pull of the Darkness, urging him to join in the attack. It was like a warm caress, filling his insides, begging to be released. The Darkness was fueled by destruction and the scene unfolding in front of him was making it hunger for release. The king’s plan had worked to open a bridge to the underworld through Etta. Since her return, the pull to the Darkness had grown and was getting harder to resist. Fighting to keep control of his own thoughts, he pushed it away.

“You shouldn’t fight it so hard,” King Osbert said.

Max glanced at him. “I don’t want anything to control me.”

“It doesn’t control you, it strengthens you.”

Max didn’t answer. He knew that the times he’d let the Darkness in, he’d done things he wouldn’t have done on his own. He also knew the king was still testing him. The wedding couldn’t come soon enough. After Max married the king’s daughter, Nora, nothing was going to stop him from destroying the king and claiming his throne.

“Go help them.” Osbert lifted his chin toward the smoking ruins that used to be the largest city in Illaria. “Teach that sister of yours a lesson. She’ll never rule on her own. She joins us, or we kill everyone she ever cared about.”

Max’s stomach twisted into knots. He hated it when the king threatened the Ravens. Part of him couldn’t let go of the past and his life with them. He’d been their leader for fifteen years and while he tried to tell himself he no longer cared for any member of that group, he couldn’t find it in him to wish them dead. Hesitating for a moment, Max considered what would happen if he disobeyed the king. After all, he did have a dragon under his command. It would be so easy to surprise the king and let his new friend breathe fire down on the castle. But it wasn’t just about getting rid of the king, it was about rising up to claim his throne. His marriage to Nora would make Max the legitimate king once Osbert was dead. It was the best way to ensure a smooth transition and the best way to regain the favor of the Illarian people.

“What are you waiting for?” Osbert narrowed his eyes at Max. “Go.”

Max nodded. He didn’t want to aid in the destruction of Greenville. The Darkness had a way of taking over once he started using his magic lately and he didn’t like the lack of control. But he needed to continue to play the part of loyal servant of the king for a few more weeks. Taking a deep breath, Max walked down the hill into the smoldering city.

Heat rose around him as he walked through the streets, burning buildings on either side of him. The screams had died down, leaving the sound of the crackling flames. Max walked further into the city, where he found the other sorcerers throwing fireballs at the undamaged buildings. The king’s sorcerers were no match for the destruction Max could cause. He knew if he channeled the Darkness, he could take out an entire block in one movement of his arms. Looking behind him, he wondered if the king was still watching. All he could see was smoke, but he could feel the pressure of the Darkness growing inside him. The king was pushing him, encouraging him to let the Darkness in.

It was another test. Max took a deep breath in, and dropped his guard. Dark tendrils of anger and hate wound through him, filling his entire body with a rage he’d never felt before. He closed his eyes, letting it wind its way through him. When he opened his eyes, he no longer cared how many people he killed or how many lives he ruined.

Calling to fire, his palms ignited. He swept his arms upward, launching the flames at an untouched street. A tidal wave of fire swept from him, swallowing the street in orange and gold. The screams only lasted a second before they were silenced forever.

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