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Author Signing: Jules Anne Ironside

We are thrilled to announce the recent signing of Jules Anne Ironside and her book I Belong to Earth.

Still reeling from her mother’s death, EMILY LYNETTE (better known as Emlynn) faces further upheaval when her father moves the family to a vicarage in Yorkshire. Emlynn has the uncomfortable ability to sense the dead and her new home is at the heart of a tangled web of centuries old jealousy, revenge and obsessive love. When Emlynn’s elder sister, Grace, starts to act strangely after becoming involved with the compelling and cruel Haze, Emlynn finds herself pitched into a headlong race back through the memories of Helen, dead two hundred years, in an attempt to find the cause of the curse and break it before she loses the rest of her family for good. But the deeper Emlynn delves, the more entangled she herself becomes. In a battle against her own emotional scars, she must decide whether or not to save her sister. This is a story about loss and renewal, a family trying to heal, an ancient, twisted love story – determined to play itself out through the living, and one girl’s struggle for survival against it all.


Jules Ironside teaches martial arts and particularly enjoys the recent wave of YA books, especially those with a fantasy or speculative element. This is her first full length novel, expecting to be released in early 2015. You can learn more about Jules by visiting her blog at and following her on twitter  

Ilmarinen by Marilla Mulwane

 Coming July 2014

We at illusio & baqer have been eager to share the cover for Ilmarinen by Marilla Mulwane with you and we finally can! Ilmarinen is a blend of Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction set in a fantasy filled world sure to captivate not only your mind, but your heart.


Altana Burrows has always been special.

She’s smart, talented, and quick to learn. She also has a secret, and whenever she tries to tell anyone about it—her friends, her family, the school psychiatrist—they accuse her of letting her imagination run away with her. They don’t believe her. They don’t understand.
They don’t know about Ilmarinen.

They don’t know about the prophecy, or the role Altana will play in it. But the people of Ilmarinen know, and they will help her: a young hunter with a dangerous secret; a talking horse who loves to play; a little girl with a big axe; a beautiful woman in a red dress. Eventually, they will all play a part in Altana’s story, and the fate of a world will rest in their hands.

That is, if they can figure out how to kill a god.

About the Author:

Marilla Mulwane comes from a small town where she writes, reads, plays video games, and makes crafts. She just wants folks to read her work. Nothing fancy. Of course, if it leads to fame, fortune, and world domination, she won’t complain. You can learn more about her on her facebook page at and be sure to add Ilmarinen on GoodReads

We’d love for you to participate!

illusio & baqer is gearing up to reveal the covers for two amazing books and we’d love to present you with the opportunity to help us spread the word!  


Click HERE to Sign up!

Title: Ilmarinen By: Marilla Mulwane

Cover Reveal Date: June 16th 2014

Genre: Young Adult/ Middle Grade


Description: Altana Burrows has always been special.

She’s smart, talented, and quick to learn. She also has a secret, and whenever she tries to tell anyone about it—her friends, her family, the school psychiatrist—they accuse her of letting her imagination run away with her. They don’t believe her. They don’t understand.

 They don’t know about Ilmarinen.

They don’t know about the prophecy, or the role Altana will play in it. But the people of Ilmarinen know, and they will help her: a young hunter with a dangerous secret; a talking horse who loves to play; a little girl with a big axe; a beautiful woman in a red dress. Eventually, they will all play a part in Altana’s story, and the fate of a world will rest in their hands.

 That is, if they can figure out how to kill a god.

Author’s Bio:

Marilla Mulwane is a small town girl that loves to write, read, craft, and play video games. All the best things to do in a small town! She just wants people to read her work. If it leads to fame, fortune, and world domination, she’ll take it.



Click HERE to Sign Up!

Title: The Null Dimension By: John Burnett

Genre: Young Adult/Middle Grade

Cover Reveal Date: June 18th 2014


Description: Don’t shut your eyes…don’t turn out the lights…you might run into the coolest person you’ve ever met!

Sixth-grader Stetson Oliver has a great life: a loving family, good grades, fantastic hopes and dreams. One night while drifting off to sleep, Stetson thinks he sees movement in the shadows; in the blink of an eye, objects around his room have mysteriously been moved. When he turns his head, Stetson is met by a dark, hooded figure towering above him…

The Boogerman has haunted and tormented numerous children (Stetson included) for many sleepless nights, only to find that he’s getting a bad rap—but he’s just misunderstood, he swears! With Stetson’s help, he wants to reshape his image and right his reputation. As Stetson and the Boogerman embark on a dangerous adventure, the stakes are raised…and Stetson soon learns that making a deal with the Boogerman is like making a deal with the devil—nothing is an even trade.

About the Author

Debut author John Burnett is an English professor at Wayne County Community College in Detroit, Michigan. He has enjoyed introducing hundreds of students each year to the wonder of great fiction specifically, and the joy of reading in general. A black belt in karate for twenty years (tang soo do), he briefly made a living teaching martial arts before earning his masters degree in English.

John lives in Southfield, Michigan with his wife, two sons, and their beagle, Chance. He aspires to someday be a jazz guitarist, but for now, he’s busy working on his next novel.

Using Dialogue

A common problem many authors make is that they are afraid to use the word “said.” The characters hardly ever “say” something. They shout, whisper, chortle, sneer, interject, retort, etc. Their goal in using these dialogue tags is to make dialogue more lively and dynamic—however, this usually has the opposite effect.


A common piece of advice is to vary your word choice to create richer and more descriptive writing. However, in the case of dialogue, “said” works more like punctuation. The word “said” is so ubiquitous as to be unmemorable: that is its usefulness to the author. The reader’s eye skims over “said,” allowing him or her to focus solely on what the character is saying.


That does not mean you should never have a character shout when they are excited or whisper when they have a secret to share. However, when every single dialogue tag is an alternative to “said,” it can be distracting. It’s as if the characters are hammy actors, gesticulating wildly to get us to pay attention to their lines. Let your dialogue stand on its own.


Substituting supposedly better words for “said” creates the same problem as pulling out the thesaurus “to improve” every piece of description. While the phrase “luminescent viridian orbs” contains a few ten-dollar words, the reader would appreciate simply knowing the hero has bright green eyes.


Telling authors to use different words for “said” does address an actual problem. Dialogue like this isn’t exactly exciting, either:


            “You’re the only one I’ll ever love,” he said.

            “I wish you wouldn’t say things like that,” she said.

            “Why not?” he asked. “It’s true,” he said.

            “This isn’t serious and you know it,” she said.


Keep “said” in your writer’s toolkit, but also vary the dialogue’s structure by adding in actions and descriptions.


One way to do this is to bring in the character’s thoughts. This is a way to demonstrate a character’s inner conflict; there are many things we think that we don’t let ourselves say. Just remember to keep direct thoughts in the head of the viewpoint character. For example:



            “You’re the only one I’ll ever love,” he said. “Being with you is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

            “I wish you wouldn’t say things like that,” she protested.



            “Stop.” She wondered if the other diners could hear them. “I wish you wouldn’t say things like that.”


            “I wish you wouldn’t say things like that.” Why do I have such bad luck with men?


Another way to develop dialogue is to bring in more description. Showing a character’s actions, facial expressions, or body language will bring them alive for the reader. More description can also give us a clearer picture of a scene by having characters interact with the environment. For example:



            “Why not? It’s true,” he retorted.

            “This isn’t serious and you know it,” she argued.




            “Why not? It’s true,” he said. John unconsciously clenched his fist, knuckles whitening. She wondered if he noticed.

            A headache pounded behind her temple; the restaurant‘s music was grating.“This isn’t serious and you know it.”



Although revision can seem daunting at first, with just a few changes you can create more dynamic prose. Dialogue is a key aspect of writing fiction, a way to produce memorable and exciting characters. Don’t let your readers become distracted by awkward phrases or word choice; inste    

Forgetting Allyssa by Stephanie Romans

We are proud to release the cover for our upcoming YA publication, Forgetting Allyssa by debut author Stephanie Romans, coming August 2014

Forgetting Allyssa_cover_3-02 (1)

Amnesia. What better way to start off the senior year of high school?

When seventeen year old Allyssa Bradshaw wakes up from the nap of a lifetime, things aren’t really adding up. Her face feels like it’s gone through the toaster, and she doesn’t recognize the people standing around her—she doesn’t even recognize herself.

Clearly she’s woken up on the wrong side of the hospital gurney.

As she recovers from an attack she doesn’t want to remember, Allyssa is thrown into what feels like someone else’s life. Despite her lack of memories, she heads off to high school determined to start anew. What Allyssa doesn’t expect is the backlash of a life she can’t remember. The more she learns about Old Allyssa the less she wants to have anything to do with her, making this New Allyssa determined to become someone better.

Forgetting Allyssa is a story of love, loss, and identity—who you were does not mean that’s who you are.   Learn more about Forgetting Allyssa and Stephanie Romans by following her on Twitter And don’t forget to add Forgetting Allyssa on Goodreads

An Easter Treat: The Literary Easter Egg

No Easter tradition is better loved than the egg hunt. Every year, children scurry through the house and yard, searching behind bushes and under chairs for eggs filled with goodies. After all, who doesn’t love a competitive adventure that has chocolate waiting at the end?

Grown-ups can find their own version of Easter egg hunts, although the treat at the end is (perhaps unfortunately) not candy. “Easter eggs” is the term used to refer to hidden content or messages. While Easter eggs originated in computer programs, they have since spread to other forms of media—video games, movies, artwork, and, of course, books.

            So, what exactly is a literary Easter egg? Some common examples are inside jokes, secret codes, and subtle references. Any sort of unexpected, veiled surprise could be considered an Easter egg.

Many great stories throughout years have been dotted with Easter eggs, although you might not have noticed them if you didn’t realize you were on the hunt. Here are a few examples.

  1. Through the Looking Glass: Lewis Carroll’s famed work features an acrostic poem that spells out “Alice Pleasance Liddell,” the name of the real girl who inspired the fictional Alice.
  2. A Series of Unfortunate Events: This children’s series by Daniel Handler, pen name Lemony Snicket, is full of twists and intrigue, creating the perfect atmosphere for hidden Easter eggs. For example, in A Hostile Hospital, a list of names features anagrams of both Daniel Handler and Brett Helquist, the book’s illustrator. Another anagram is made from the pen name Lemony Snicket for the name of one of the characters, Monty Kensicle.
  3. Star Wars: In some of the Star Wars books, Han Solo mentions that he uses the name Jenos Idanian as an alias. This is an anagram of Indiana Jones, who is played by Harrison Ford—the same actor who plays Han Solo in the Star Wars movies.
  4. Sarah Dessen’s novels: Popular YA author Sarah Dessen is known for setting her stories in recurring locations, and many of her characters run into each other across their books. Just to name a couple of examples, the protagonists of The Truth About Forever make a cameo appearance in Just Listen, and a character from This Lullaby is seen briefly in Lock and Key.
  5. The Great Gatsby: This literary classic opens with a poetic epigraph that begins, “Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her…” and is attributed to Thomas Parke D’Invilliers. While, generally, readers expect epigraphs to be quotes from other published authors, only true Fitzgerald fans would know that Thomas Parke D’Invilliers is actually a fictional character in Fitzgerald’s third novel, This Side of Paradise!
  6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: When J.K. Rowling received a letter from a young fan named Natalie who had a terminal illness, Rowling wrote the girl a letter detailing the rest of Harry Potter’s storyline. Unfortunately, Natalie died before receiving the letter. Rowling named a minor character in her honor; Natalie is a young student who is sorted into Gryffindor at the beginning of the book.

These are only a few examples of the various forms that Easter eggs may take in writing. Hopefully they provide inspiration for the kind of “treats” you can hide in your writing.

Easter eggs are beloved by readers because of the sense of fun and discovery they deliver. Entertain and challenge yourself by weaving hidden surprises through your writing as you create a literary Easter egg hunt of your own.

Happy hunting, and happy Easter!

illusio & baqer will be closed from Friday, April 17 through Monday, April 20. While our offices are closed, we may not respond to inquiries, but please follow us on Twitter and Facebook to receive any news or updates.


New Author Signing: Misha Herwin

Illusio & baqer is thrilled to announce the signing of Misha Herwin and her YA fantasy novel, Clear Gold, coming Jan 2015. This is the first of a trilogy.

In a world where water is more precious than gold Mouse’s ambition is to be a guard on the water wagons. She wins her place but another girl is chosen instead of her. Totally humiliated Mouse teams up with the mysterious Lanyon. A stranger in town, he intrigues and annoys her, treating her with contempt yet persuading her to help him steal water from the mystical crystal spring. 

Their plan fails and they have to flee the town. After an attack by water bandits, they head for Sulis where Lanyon plans to sell the healing water, to the count for his sick daughter, Rosamund. 

Sulis, however, is under attack from invading forces and the count refuses to meet with them. In a desperate attempt to get their gold they kidnap Rosamund. 

To Mouse’s horror, from the first moment he sees her, Lanyon has eyes only for Rosamund. Hurt and furious she can’t wait to be rid of her, so she helps the other girl  escape. 

The wood is swarming with enemy soldiers. Lanyon is missing and much as she wants to go her own way, Mouse finds she must go in search of him.  

Sulis has been razed to the ground. The count’s villa destroyed and Rosamund is hiding in an underground passage. Lanyon has been taken prisoner. To rescue him the girls steal an airship. As Rosamund struggles to get it airborne, the navigator Krishan bursts into the cabin. As Mouse hold her knife to his throat he confesses that he too wants to be free of the invaders and agrees to help them fly the ship across the sea to Afric.  

Misha Herwin lives in a house with a dragon in the garden and a very demanding cat. She has a husband and grown up children and has been writing stories and plays for as long as she can remember. Her Dragonfire trilogy for 8-12 year olds is out on Kindle and she has published short stories in anthologies for adults too. She loves fantasy and creating alternative worlds, which are closely related to the one we live in. When she’s not writing, she runs creative writing groups in schools and libraries and working with local museums on drama projects. She is also busy setting up a local literary festival. 

Keep an eye out for more information on this exciting new series.


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