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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?

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

The Secret of the Codex Release Update

Happy Friday! Who's ready for the weekend? (ME! ME!)My weekend (as with most weekends lately) will be filled with prep for this book release. It's so exciting! But it's also a LOT.*****

So here's an update.

*****Here are some of the things I've worked on so far: 

THE ROAD SO FAR

 

1. Revealed the book cover (to my email list and then to the world!)

ICYMI, here it is again, officially on my blog this time! The Secret of the Codex Final CoverIsn't it AWESOME?? My designer (@erinnnoneill) is amazing!! And it totally just screams "Mayan Archaeological Thriller," right? Good. That's what I was going for. :) 

2. Submitted my book to TWO printers and am in the approval process

So here's the short version of self-publishing: you have to find someone who will print your book (if you want a physical copy, which nearly every author does—I mean, the dream is to hold your book in your hands!). There are 2 major places to do this: Createspace (Amazon's company) and Ingramspark. Createspace is easy to use, and it's of course AMAZON, so it's good to do. And free! Ingramspark is a little more complicated, but its distribution options are much more robust. Ingramspark also makes it possible for bookstores to order your book (and even stock it if they choose!) as well as making preorders possible. (My book will be available to Barnes and Noble, y'all!)Which brings me to my next point...preorders will be up soon! Ahhh! The release date is getting so close! More info to follow, so keep your ears open!Oh—and guess what? I've ordered my proofs! This basically means that in a *hopefully* short time, I will actually be holding my book in my hands! AHHHHHHH!!!!! Check out my feed on Instagram (my handle is @melissafreyauthor) to keep up-to-date—I doubt I'll be able to contain my excitement when I finally receive them! 

3. Wrote a BUNCH of "copy" for my book and related things ("copy" is short for "sales copy", the industry term for anything that helps sell the book—at least I hope it does!)

Basically, when you self-publish, you write literally EVERYTHING yourself. That synopsis that goes on the back cover? I wrote that. The acknowledgements? Wrote those, too. Copyright page? (The page you probably have never noticed but me, as a book nerd, have at least looked at in nearly every book I've read. It's the page with lots of technical information about the book, including the date, disclaimers, info about the book, etc.) Yup, I wrote that too. Fortunately I had a template to follow, but that was me too. The author bio? You know, that part at the end of the book that talks about the author in third person? Wrote that too. In the third person. It was a little weird.(And I'll be writing more stuff, too! See below for a list of the things coming very very soon!) 

4. Working on getting the book on Kindle

This one's proving a little difficult, as the formatting's not quite right. Andrew's a formatting SUPERSTAR (I mean, LITERALLY a lifesaver) so I'm sure he'll offer his services to make it as awesome as the printed version. (Because he made the printed version look AWESOME.) Once we get that worked out, the preorders for the ebook will go live! :D 

5. Worked on my author platform

Yeah, this isn't as exciting, I know, but I'm really having an amazing time connecting with the writing community on Instagram. Ever feel like social media is negative and critical? Not the writing community, at least on Instagram. Everyone's positive, supportive, and kind.Want to follow along? Check out some of my favorite hashtags and learn about some amazing indie authors!#julylitwrit#campinstawrimo#booknerdigans#writerscommunity#bookstagram#bibliophile#amwritingThese are just a few! I use several more in my posts, so feel free to branch out and even join in the conversation! (Just use the hashtags when you post.)But, since I've been actively trying to build my author platform (since about mid-April), I've nearly DOUBLED my number of followers. I don't do it to feel popular—but more followers mean more people can find out about my book. God gave me this story; it's my job to get it out to the people who need to hear about it. And how will they hear about it if I'm not telling them? Want to know what's coming next? Here's what I've got coming VERY SOON!!! 

COMING SOON

 

1. Preorders!

I'm hoping to have the ebook preorder listing up in the next few weeks (maybe even sooner!) and the print book listing not long after! 

2. Guest posts!

I've been accepted by two blogs for guest posts (blogs with a pretty big following—I'm super excited!) and have two other blogs that have shown interest! I can't wait! 

3. Kickstarter!

I'm hoping to get a Kickstarter up for my book in the next week or so! Since I'm funding this whole book project myself, I realized I could do so much more with a little help. So I hope to have all sorts of fun bookish extras as well as offering copies of my book, so stay tuned! 

4. More blog posts!

I'll continue to blog about the release here, including excerpts from the book, updates on the second book (I have over 80,000 words so far!), more character profiles, insights into the publishing and writing process, and anything else I can think of! I want you all to be among the first to know about everything The Secret of the Codex, since many of you have been following me since the beginning. You know, back when I wrote about random things and was trying to find my voice. 

5. THE LAUNCH!!

AUGUST 28, 2018. Mark your calendars, people.HAHAHAHAHAI'm hoping to do an online launch party that day, but I haven't worked out the details yet. When I do, you'll be among the first to know! 

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

 There are a few things that you, as the friend of an indie author, could do to help out, if you choose. You are by no means required to, but in case you've been wondering what you can do to help, I wanted to give you an easy list of things to pick from!

1. Preorder the book

OR

2. Support the book on Kickstarter

(Details coming soon!)

3. Once you read the book, consider leaving a review on Amazon!

It's one of the BEST ways to help an indie author (you know, like me) get her name out there.

4. Share on social media

If you like a post, I'd appreciate it if you'd share it with your friends! But if you don't love each and every post, that's okay, too. I'm not sure I love each and every post...haha

5. Talk about it

People in your community might like to hear about a new novel coming out. I mean, don't bring it up awkwardly or anything, but if they start asking you about books, that's your in!

6. Once the book releases, request it at your favorite bookstore, or even the library!

I doubt I'll get there soon, but the more people request my book, the more the bookstores start to consider stocking it!

7. Give me your feedback

This is probably the most important one! Likes and comments on social media posts, comments on blogs, even emails to me help me better connect with you and give you more of what you'd like to see are perfect. You can always reply to an email when you get it (like the one you heard about this blog post from) or message me directly on Instagram or Facebook too! Whether you've been following my blog since I started it way back in 2015 or are new to the party, I am SO GLAD you're here. This writing and publishing journey may seem like a solitary sport, but I couldn't do it without every single one of you.Thank you for following, and let me know what you're most excited about in the comments! Love you all!Melissa