Author: Melissa Ann Peters
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Page Count: 170
Zara Zyon took a deep breath in and smelt her own blood. If she could smell it, the creatures of all four Realms could too, and they would know what she was not— a human. Her dead grandmother’s voice rang in her ears.
“Never ever bleed above the sea, your blood leaves a trace which will cause a chase.”
The scent of her blue blood would travel as far as one-hundred-and-ten tails in every direction. The soles of her shoes ticked against the floor as her legs shook under the desk. Silas Novic sat next to her and his usual friendly smile was missing. His stare caused a chill to shoot up her spine.
Zara didn’t know how she was going to change her life and keep everyone she loved safe, but she knew in her heart she had to stay and survive.
*I got this book sent to me by the author for review. This in no way affects my final rating.*
Middle Grade or mermaid books aren’t usually my preferred genre, but when the author offered to send me her book for review I leaped at the opportunity because a) who would I be if I denied a FREE book? and b) how will I know if I like it or not if I don’t at least TRY?
And let me say, I am so happy I tried! I absolutely adored this book!
Zara Zyon is a strong protagonist with a kind heart. She’s a great friend and truly cares about the people who surround her.
She’s tired of living in secret on land as a mermaid and just wants to be able to swim in the ocean with her tail spread wide behind her without having to worry about the Infernal Order killing her and everybody she loves.
She may be young, but she’s fierce and has everything I love in a protagonist.
“Sharks are the soldiers of the sea.”
I loved Zara’s relationship with the ocean as well as the creatures that live in the ocean. We get to meet an entire (swarm? school? band?) of Seahorses and they were one of my absolute favorite parts of this book!
I also loved how sharks were depicted in this book as misunderstood creatures – cause they are! We go into their territory. Them being described as soldiers of the sea just shows that they’re protecting their home from outsiders.
There was never a dull moment in this book and although I don’t read much middle grade, this book was a fast and easy read and I would highly recommend it!
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Overall I would recommend this if you’re looking for a fast, quick read that talks about valuing friendship, never giving up, and how important it is to keep the environment safe. The only ‘issue’ I had with it is that I found some of the dialogue too info-dumpy, but besides that I absolutely loved this book and hope there’ll be a sequel in the future!
Purchase This Book:
Melissa’s Guest Post:
I offered to write a guest blog post for Savannah. I asked her what she wanted me to write about and she said since I have published a novel I should write about writing. I asked myself, what could I say that would bring value to her readers and future authors? I thought about the most difficult part of writing and that is the process of writing, so I decided to take this on.
The Process of Writing by Melissa Ann Peters
Step #1 – WRITE
That’s right, you need to write. You don’t need advice about what kind of book you should publish that will become a best seller. You just need to write. Looking down a blank page can be terrifying to a lot of writers but I will give you this instead – that blank page is the canvas of your master piece. I promise you that it will be your master piece, but you must treat it as such. Respect your work with time, dedication, and perseverance. Trust yourself. You can do this if you choose to.
Making time for your master piece needs to be a priority. You must carve out time each day to write. The dream of sitting in solitude on a quiet beach or in cabin while you write your best seller isn’t reality. Life still happens, interruptions are constant, and time will pass you by if you don’t commit to setting time every day to write.
Step #2 – BE YOUR OWN RUTHLESS EDITOR
As a writer, we pine over: verbs, sentences, ideas, adjectives, storyline, plot, the list goes on. We painstakingly believe that one sentence might be a brilliant fragment of literature that we shouldn’t dare cut, because it is just that – brilliant. I will give you this suggestion to ponder as you edit your manuscript. If the sentence, word, phrase, paragraph, or chapter doesn’t move the story forward, cut it. Yes, I said it. You need to cut what does not work, even if it is a stroke of genius. However, when you cut you also need to save. You must keep another file of everything you cut. You may use it in the future or you may just keep it to remind yourself of your super-stardom. Getting back to the topic, you need to rip your manuscript apart, because I promise you someone else will, whether it be an editor, a publisher, or a reviewer. You need to make sure everything you put on that page you believe in. Every word, you believe it. There may be mistakes, and that is perfectly fine, just as long as you believe in what you have created.
Step #3 – KEEP UP THE PACE
A sound piece of advice I received from my favorite instructor, Howard Shrier, is this:
“Don’t stop and play the violin in the middle of a high-speed chase.”
Your novel as momentum and pace, its own force, and it is your job to carry that force forward with gusto. Trust the intelligence of your reader. You don’t need to stop and explain what is going on in every sequence; they will understand. However, if the idea is so big that it needs an explanation, do it at the correct time that doesn’t interfere with the pace you are trying to achieve or when you give the explanation let it have its own excitement. You want your reader to continue to turn the pages, a DNF shouldn’t be the readers result of your novel. Use your own reading experience as example. We’ve all been at an exciting part while reading a novel and everything just stops to have an idea explained. As a good author, you need to find a better spot for it, one that doesn’t mess up the pace you have worked so hard to create.
Step #4 – PERFECTION IS A FLAW
Most authors are looking to create something that is perfect: our grammar, our writing, our genius, which is then displayed brilliantly on paper. One of the great American dreams is to have written a Great American Novel. A great novel, isn’t perfect, there are mistakes. There are mistakes in every story. You will have mistakes in your novel and this is ok. Like I said, as long as you believe in what you put on the paper that is the only thing that matters. When a book is published or even in the working stages and we hand it over to be read, most of the time we are looking for validation that we have written something extraordinary. The first and only person that needs to believe this is you. You don’t need validation from anyone whether it be an instructor, a publisher, or a reviewer. If you believe what you wrote is something special, then it is.
I’m going to share my own experience while going through my Creative Writing Certificate at the University of Toronto. I had submitted the first half my manuscript to an instructor which I had worked one on one with to review my work. To work one on one with an instructor was the second to last step to complete the certification. The last step was then to submit your manuscript for a final review to a panel of instructors who then decide if you graduate.
The instructor I had worked on one with had a very different idea of what my novel should have been about. The instructor wanted me to make changes and tell a story that I had no interest in telling. They asked me to modify the story line but by doing that I would have told a completely different story than what I had imagined I was supposed to tell. The instructor brought forth a lot of ideas that in my opinion had already been expressed in many other novels and I just wasn’t interested in writing about them. I had to keep my story as it was, even though the instructor thought that my story wasn’t good enough. I kept my plot and storyline as I intended it and submitted my manuscript to have the panel review it for my final phase of the certification. I knew that submitting my manuscript the way it was could cause me to fail the program, a program which took me two years to complete, but I did it anyway.
You might think what I did was against every rule you were told and that I should have appeased my instructor’s wishes and made the changes they had asked. The reason I didn’t make those changes was because I believed in my story. I believed in it so much I was willing to fail for it and I still believe in it now.
Every writer has a vision of their own story, you have one of yours. Don’t let anyone tell you that it is wrong or that it needs to be changed. You write what your soul tells you to write and you write it with passion.
Step #5 – SET IT FREE
A blank page maybe terrifying but setting your work free into the world is almost madness. Think about what you have done, you have created an entire world and then packaged it into one beautiful book. You and the ideas you created did this. Writing is an incredible experience and giving it to a stranger to read is extraordinary. The reader now has a direct line of sight into your brain – this is both cool and not so cool. But, to let your work collect dust in a closet, a drawer, or somewhere in the darkness isn’t the point of writing either. You need to set it free and let it be with the light of day. There is absolutely no good to keeping your story quiet, your story needs to be shared with the world. Taking this monstrous leap to publish is the most important choice you will ever make. Do it and love the journey. Why? This will be the first and last time that you will ever experience publishing your debut novel. You need to have fun, grab a paper bag and breathe into if you need to, and publish your novel.
About Melissa Ann Peters
Melissa Ann Peters is the author of the middle grade fantasy, action, and adventure novel, ‘Zara Zyon and a Maelstrom of Secrets’. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto Creative Writing Certificate Program, B-School’s Copy Cure Program, and is currently attending B-School. She is also a freelance editor and copywriter. During the month of August, she will be hosting on her website an ‘#EditMyNovel’ – Workshop. This workshop will be your superstar-self-help-guide to editing your own novel. Follow her on twitter @zarazyonandmap for more details and updates.
Read the first chapter of Zara Zyon and a Maelstrom of Secrets HERE
Thank you so much for writing a guest post for me and for sending me your book, Melissa! I hope some of y’all end up buying and reading this book because it was honestly such a great Middle Grade read!
I’ll also be hosting a giveaway on my BookTube channel where you’ll get the chance to win a paperback copy of the book so keep a look out for that!