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Book Two Announcement: TITLE, UPDATE, and SYNOPSIS

It's time I caught you up on Book Two!

Codex Series Book Two TITLE!

Earlier this year, I finished the first draft of my second book in the Codex series! That's right — The Secret of the Codex has a sequel! Well, it has a second book in the series, which will definitely have a third and possibly a fourth. I'll have to see how the third one plays out...

BUT...

I thought it was time to get you all up to speed on the title of book 2! It's pretty evocative (in my humble opinion) so I just love it. Ready?

Guess what book hit the TOP FIVE BOOKS List for 2018?! 😱

GUYS. AuthorTuber Maverick Moses posted his top five favorite books from 2018—and The Secret of the Codex made the list!!! What?!

(You may remember him from before when he posted a review of The Secret of the Codex and an author interview with yours truly!)

Meet Justin: A Character Profile from The Secret of the Codex

Up next in the character profile series is everyone's favorite extrovert, Justin Stanford! He was really fun to write, though he even got on my nerves a little at times! Just kidding.

Kind of.

Meet Justin Stanford — Summed Up in One Sentence (and Then Some Commentary)

Justin's the kind of guy who can lighten up any mood and tell a joke at the drop of a hat, but also has a sensitive side he rarely lets anyone see and can find his way out of even the most difficult situations. It's a gift.

This guy is awesome.

Ready for a couple of inspo pics?

Justin Stanford Inspo Pic #1 (the pensive one)

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Justin Stanford Inspo Pic #2 (the intense, possibly slightly scary one)

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This guy actually looks pretty close to how I imagined Justin, though the Justin in my head was a little more relaxed. That second pic is a little intense! Hahaha! I suppose if someone messed with Mandy, they'd see this look.

Speaking of which... 

His Relationship with Mandy

Justin and Mandy have been dating for three years (at the start of the book) and he really loves her, though sometimes he struggles to actually show it. He figures she knows it, right? But he learns to open up a little throughout the book. Character arc and all that.

In The Secret of the Codex, Justin is hit with a lot. Like A LOT. But the guy somehow finds a way to keep a positive attitude and finish what he started. All while taking care of Mandy and helping the others on their quest.

While his jovial personality and uncanny ability to find a joke to fit every situation annoy Mandy at times, she loves that he can make her smile. They're a close second for my favorite OTP (One True Pairing) in the book. (You know I have to give the top spot to Kayla and Grady.) These two are adorable.

Since the three chapter preview on the website (sign up here for your copy before the book comes out on August 28th!) doesn't let you meet Justin, I thought I'd drop in a pretty great excerpt featuring him and Mandy. I think it shows his personality off pretty well.

Enjoy!

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Book Excerpt — Justin and Mandy

“Justin, for the thousandth time, will you please tell me where we’re going?” Mandy threw the red dress she’d discarded for the light blue one she was wearing in her suitcase, then crossed her arms and stared directly at Justin and his army-green duffel bag sitting barely packed on the bed. She was getting sick of this stalling. Out with it already.

But Justin was clearly enjoying himself. He grinned as he pulled on a dark red v-neck over his light khakis. “Nope.”

Mandy playfully punched his arm, quickly regretting it. She was still quite sore from the fight in her room yesterday. “Come on, tell me! I can’t be the only one in the dark.” She stuck out her lower lip.

Justin simply grinned too widely in her direction. She threw a pillow at his head. He ducked, deftly avoiding the flying projectile.

“You know that’s not fair.” She began cramming clothes in her bag, throwing her belongings a little too harshly into her suitcase.

Justin shrugged as he grabbed a waded up a pair of khakis and stuffed them in his bag. “Life’s not fair.”

“Ugh! You can be so aggravating sometimes.”

“You know you love me.” Justin strolled around the bed and hugged her from behind. She shrugged him off, choosing instead to stomp toward the bathroom.

Grrr! That man is insufferable sometimes, Mandy thought as she put both hands on the counter and stared at her reflection in the mirror. The bruises were worse today—though not as bad as she supposed they should have been; they appeared to already be healing—so she dabbed some concealer on her cheek and under her eye until she could barely make them out.

Then Mandy sighed. I wish there was a way to make him tell me. Then she had a thought. Worth a try . . . She grinned, started filling her toiletry bag with just about everything on the counter, then called out, “It’s okay, I’ll find out eventually. Kayla will tell me.” She threw her toothpaste into the small bag then froze, waiting for Justin’s response.

He was at the door immediately. “No! Don’t do that. I want to surprise you.”

Mandy turned to look at him, cocking her head to one side. She hadn’t been sure that would work. “Surprise me? That doesn’t sound good. Tell me.”

Justin paused for a brief moment, then walked back into the main room. Mandy grabbed her packed toiletry bag and followed him to the bed, sitting down next to him. She threw the bag into her suitcase then grabbed his hand, staring into his eyes. “Come on. You know I hate surprises.”

Justin sighed. Finally, Mandy thought.

“So you know I’m not from Florida,” he began.

Mandy nodded but stayed quiet.

“I grew up in Montana, near Yellowstone.”

Mandy blinked. “And?”

Justin stared at her pointedly, waiting.

Then, suddenly, she got it. She grinned. “We’re going to Yellowstone!”

Justin smiled at her. “Yes, but . . .”

“But what?”

He hesitated. “Well . . . we’ve been together for a few years now.”

“Yeah . . .”

“And we’re pretty serious, right?”

Mandy raised an eyebrow. “What’s this about, Justin?”

Justin took a deep breath. “You wanna meet my parents?”

Mandy shoved his arm. “You were going to just surprise me with this? You were just going to let me go into that blind?”

“I don’t know. I just . . . I guess I didn’t really want to find out what you thought, in case you didn’t want to.”

She smiled at him, a smile she could tell reached her eyes in spite of the pain in her cheek. “Of course I’ll meet them. But only if you want me to.”

Justin shrugged. “Sure.”

Mandy leaned over and kissed him. “Don’t worry. People love me.”

“Right,” Justin mumbled sarcastically, kissing her cheek lightly before they both turned to finish packing.

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What'd you think? Does Justin sound like someone you'd like to spend a little bit of time with? He certainly keeps things interesting! 

In Other News...

  1. The Kickstarter ends tomorrow!! There's still time for you to pledge and get your autographed copy and maybe some extras, too! Check out the Kickstarter page here! There are some extras on there that may not be available after tomorrow, so be sure to check it out so you don't miss it! bit.ly/secretcodex

  2. Oh, and don't forget — we're only a little over TWO WEEKS away from the book launch on August 28th! It's getting so close! I'm so excited to be able to finally share my story with the world. As you probably know, it took me a full decade to finally realize this dream, and I can't believe I'm only 15 short days away! Ahhh! It's really surreal. And guess what? I'm finally getting listings on some awesome sites! Check out the Amazon page for The Secret of the Codex and the Goodreads page! I'd love for you to add the book to your To Read shelf on Goodreads if you're on there.

  3. My book website is LIVE! Check it out at thesecretofthecodex.com — I think it's pretty cool!

  4. I'd love to hear from you and answer all your questions! I'm thinking about gathering some questions from all of you and doing an "Ask the Author" post later on, so I'd like to hear everything you'd like to know! Email me at melissa@melissafrey.com to ask away.

Anxiety and the Writer

I figured it was time for some real talk. About that thing that no one seems to want to talk about: anxiety.

It's real, it's stressful, and it's overwhelming. Sometimes it feels like it wins the battle. But it doesn't have to win the war.

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The Beginning

When I started on this book journey over a decade ago, I never knew what would come. I just knew I wanted to write a book, and, though I had no clue where to start, I somehow did. It was a long journey, but I finally got to the point where I wanted to release my book.

So on June 1st, 2018 (has it only been two months??), I announced my book release. I was so excited (and still am) and I couldn't wait to see what would happen. Little did I know things would start happening, that very weekend.

I freaked out.Like crying, near panic attack freaking out.

Fear, anxiety, the constant what-did-I-do mantra that swirled through my head sped up my breathing, made my chest tight, consumed my thoughts. My husband, being the amazing man that he is, talked me down, calmed me down. He was, and still is, my rock. I'm convinced I couldn't do this without him.

I wish that was the end of it.

My Journey

Nearly every weekend since (I suspect that this is because I work on book stuff the most on the weekend and that's when I try to tackle the hard stuff), I've had some form of a panic attack. I even had two in one weekend (and even two in one day). They're scary, overwhelming, frustrating, annoying, and make me feel like I'm the only writer in the world who doesn't think they could ever get a book out into the world.

But I'm not, right?

I know I'm not. Despite what my brain tells me in the moment, the highlight reel I see on Instagram isn't the whole story. Because mine isn't. I don't want to show my weekly panic attacks, the too-many-times-to-count crying sessions that leave my eyes puffy and red and my throat dry. I only show the happy things, the things that I'm convinced everyone wants to see. Who wants to be depressed? The world is depressing enough as it is.

So that's why I'm writing this post. To show that we're all human, that what you see on social media is rarely the whole story, and that we all struggle. Sometimes it's depression, sometimes it's anxiety, sometimes it's a host of other things. Mental health is important and is lacking in our incessantly busy, constantly distracted culture.

But There's Hope

And that's the other reason I'm writing this post: you don't have to struggle alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are those of us — the ones that you probably see with a smile on Instagram — who struggle like you do. Who think that they couldn't possibly make their dreams come true. The ones that don't see sometimes how they could manage another smile.

Don't get me wrong: the smiles I put on social media are real. I love my life, and I love my online community. But that's not really the point.

The point is that life is sometimes overwhelming. Sometimes we don't think we can keep working on our dream. Sometimes anxiety seems to win.

But it doesn't have to.

We keep going. We keep trying. We never give up. We look anxiety right in its vicious, angry eyes and tell it that we are stronger, that we are better than what it says we are, and that even though it might seem like it has won the battle, we will win the war.

WE. WILL. WIN. THE. WAR.

<3 Melissa

P.S. If you are struggling with mental health issues and need help, please reach out to someone. You may email me at any time, or connect with me on social media. If you are contemplating suicide, please, PLEASE know that there are people, like me, who care about you. If you need immediate, 24/7, free help, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. I am not a medical professional and this post is not meant to taken as medical advice. I merely wanted to offer a free resource to those who need help, and to reassure them that they are not alone. You are not alone.

Positive Writer Guest Post!

Just wanted to stop by to say I wrote a guest post for Positive Writer—and it was posted today! It was so fun to write, and I'm so honored to be published on their site!The article is all about how to finally finish that project you started but can't seem to complete. Since mine took me TEN YEARS to finish, I figured I was uniquely qualified to write about what I learned. :)Check it out!HOW TO GET PAST EXCUSES AND FINISH YOUR WRITING!How to Get Past Excuses and Finish Your Writing!<3 Melissa