This was a great YA Fantasy! I enjoyed the fast-paced action packed adventure.
Jenna is ambushed with a marriage she didn’t know about and then ambushed again on her way to meet the poor sap. She didn’t want to get married but understands that she’s not the heir and despite her wish to marry for love she is bound to follow what is expected.
When she’s ambushed on her way to meet her betrothed she finds out that the impending war is much worse than expected and now it’s up to her to save her kingdom and now she has the magic to do so. She’s a tough young woman who doesn’t let her circumstances keep her from her duty to her people. I really enjoyed her strength throughout the book.
I found Enzo very adorable and enjoyed watching him and Jenna fall in love. He has such a great supportive family which really lent well to the story also. Sometimes the most important relationships are found in the connection the MC has with the supporting characters. I found that in Shielded and really loved it.
I liked the world setting in Shielded and can’t wait to see more of it. Overall I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys YA Fantasy and can’t wait for the next one!
This is what used to be the second chapter in a previous draft when Enzo had his own POV. So there shouldn’t be any big spoilers, but it’s a peek into Enzo’s character at the beginning of the story. Please note that this hasn’t been copyedited.
I bowed to the girls sashaying in front of me and tried to keep a pleasant expression on my face. They must not have heard the rumor that I was to be shackled to a light-haired Hálendian. Most women who flirted with me were after a conquest or a title anyway. And while I was not going to be anyone’s conquest, the title wasn’t mine to give.
Luc, who had stopped with me when the girls crossed our path in the frost-covered garden, didn’t bother to acknowledge them.
“Easy, old man,” I murmured. Luc didn’t react to the nickname. He wasn’t that much older than me, and he knew it. “They probably haven’t heard—”
“Everyone’s heard, diri.”
Signing the agreement last fall was supposed to have been kept within the confines of the council. I sighed and continued down the winding path of the maze garden. The leaves were edged in white, and the smoke of burning branches choked the air.
“You don’t need to protect me from them, Luc. I know their kind.” I raised my face to the thin sun sputtering under the weight of a long winter. “Benefit number twenty-three of being betrothed: I don’t have to worry about all that flirting drivel.”
Luc stood next to me, searching the garden for a threat that wasn’t there. He raised an eyebrow, calling my bluff. It was a game I played—try to find the positive. It had taken me months to come up with twenty-three.
I pulled a brittle leaf from the hedge and smeared the frost with my thumb. Princess Jennesara had had time to respond to my letter before the pass closed. But nothing had come through after the documents were signed. No invitation to her kingdom or offer to visit Turia. Her silence reigned.
The pass would be opening soon, but I was done waiting for her response.
Luc kicked a rock out of the path. “Her brother is decent, even if he likes attention a little too much.”
Luc rarely gave such high praise. I rolled the irritation from my neck and shoulders, settled into a façade of calm.
Her brother had come here for a month several summers ago in an exchange of learning—we shared our knowledge of healing and agriculture, and he shared their knowledge of fighting and defense. And while he was decent, he was also arrogant. I hoped it wasn’t a family trait.
“Maybe she’s some famed beauty who can’t leave her castle because any man who saw her would propose on the spot.” I tried to keep back my smile as Luc rolled his eyes. The game. Stick to the game and maybe I’d eventually believe our betrothal was a good thing.
“Or maybe she’s a spoiled brat who thinks she’s better than everyone else.”
I winced and started down the path again. Luc usually lost our game. “I guess we’ll find out soon.” I took a deep breath and straightened my shoulders. “It will all work out, Luc. You’ll see.”
Luc snorted. “Are you trying to convince yourself or me?”
I dropped the leaf and shoved my hands in the pockets of my long coat. A sharp wind found its way through the maze and I put my head down to keep its icy claws from my throat.
What has been the most surprising thing about being a debut author?
How supportive other authors are! I had so many people reach out the day I announced my book deal, asking if I had questions or offering support or congratulations. And while debuting in 2020 hasn’t been ideal with the world’s situation, it has been amazing to see everyone in the book community show up and offer support!
What is your writing process like? Do you outline or just let the words flow?
I definitely outline. Because I’ve been an editor for the last twelve years, my internal editor is hard to turn off. That’s great for revisions, but not awesome for drafting. So if I know beforehand what I’m going to write, I can dump words on the page faster, and get to my favorite part—revising—sooner. My best ideas always come after the first or second draft, so my outlines aren’t perfect, but they help give me direction and stay on track.
Each person’s journey to publication is different, can you tell us a bit about your experience?
My journey has been filled with surprises on every side. The first surprise was deciding I wanted to try and be an author. I’d always loved reading and editing, but making my own stories was always too hard. Then, when I was 29, I reached a point where I felt like I had a story to share. But I needed to learn a lot more about how to write, so I found a writing group, went to writing conferences, and revised a lot.
After two years of working on my manuscript, when I’d gotten the story the best I could on my own, I decided I was ready to query. I only queried for about four months before finding an amazing agent who offered representation. I did another big revision with my agent that did wonderful things for the story, and then Shielded was on submission with editors at publishing houses for a year before Delacorte Press bought it in fall of 2018. Then there were about two years filled with edits, designing the cover and interior, planning out the marketing path, etc. But finally, on July 21, 2020, it became a real book!
You live in a place with a good-sized author community, did that intimidate you or did their experiences encourage you?
The first few writing conferences I went to were a little intimidating. There were hundreds of people, all trying to become writers, and there I was, an editor who wanted to see if she could write a book. But I kept going, and took baby steps outside my comfort zone again and again, and now those same big writing conferences feel like a giant party.
I realized the author community wasn’t what intimidated me—it was my own doubt in myself that kept me from really connecting with others. Once I gained confidence in myself, I came to know how welcoming and open other authors were. The author community was a fantastic support on my journey—I feel like I had a really clear idea of what the publishing industry was like before I even started querying, and that helped alleviate a ton of stress that comes during querying and after.
How many books will there be after Shielded?
Shielded will be a duology, with the next book planned for 2021. The title is Untethered, and it’s a companion novel, so it’ll be in the same world, but with two different point-of-view characters, and I’m really excited to share more about it soon!
Was publication day stressful or exciting for you? What did you do to celebrate it?
Pub day was a little of both. It was fun to see people unboxing my book, to see it on shelves in bookstores, and know that anyone could now read my story. It was also stressful—to know that people I know and love will read the book, that there will be people who don’t like it, that there would now be sales numbers attached to my story.
But I did what I could to celebrate throughout the whole day amidst taking care of kids and doing normal things like laundry and swimming lessons—a special breakfast and dinner, my husband gave me Little Women the movie as a pub day gift (yes, a movie on a book launch day, but have you seen it?!), and I got to spend the day interacting with people who are excited to read Shielded! It was a really great experience, and an awesome day.
And the last question, and one I always look forward to, what are you currently reading?
As I write this, I’m working on my next book. It’s a fantasy retelling with loyalty and betrayal; forests of oaks with huge, twisty branches; and a knifer who must choose whether to trust the boy who’s always been her enemy, or her friend, who has started crossing lines she’s not willing to cross. I have a hard time reading other books while I work on my own, but one book I just read was Cast in Firelight by Dana Swift (it will be out in November, and it’s a delightful fantasy romance), and the next book in my TBR is Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Guilliland, and I’m so excited to dig in.