Fireworks: Celebrating your personal journey

I’m terribly excited because <drum roll> the third book in my middle-grade fantasy adventure series, Hero’s Sword, is coming out by the end of July. Due to many issues out of my control, this one has been a long time coming.

Here’s the blurb:

Lyla has long believed that Roger and Lady Starla belong together even though Roger insists that Starla is above his station. When handsome and noble Perry Goodhaven shows up and wins the lady’s affection, it seems at quick glance a more fitting match.

Soon after Perry’s arrival, Roger and other servants close to Lady Starla notice a change. She sleeps a lot more than usual, is lethargic when she is awake, and defers important decision-making to Perry.

With Roger incarcerated over false accusations of treason, it is up to Jaycee, aka Lyla Stormbringer, to clear Roger’s name and uncover the truth about the man positioning himself to rule Mallory with an iron fist.

The Hero’s Sword series is a story of personal growth, namely the growth of the main character, Jaycee Hiller, from eighth grade nobody to, well, somebody. Who she’ll be is still kind of up in the air, although I’ve got ideas. The main vehicle of this growth is her adventures in her video game world. And not just by playing the game, but by being in the game, transported there by a magic controller. What Jaycee learns while in the game has real-world effects, as she learns to trust herself and her judgment (with a little help from her virtual mentor, Roger).

In this third book, Jaycee has to take a big step. She’s had Roger by her side in the first two adventures. But with Roger arrested, she’s on her own. Her success, or failure, might mean his life. She learns to put her insecurities aside and step out on her own – something she needs to do in real life to claim her identity and “space” at school.

Needless to say, there are setbacks. This can’t be too easy. And it can’t be too fast. No kid goes from nobody to somebody in the space of a week. But there are small victories. Each book ends with a lesson learned and something to celebrate.

I liken these “little victories” to the joy of playing with sparklers. They are pretty and happy, but the show of a sparkler only lasts for a few minutes. The light is often not bright enough for anyone except you to see. But they make you happy. And from that one sparkler, you can light another. Maybe you can even light the fuse for a bigger firework (warning: do not try this at home – use a match if backyard fireworks are your thing; I’m speaking metaphorically here).

Jaycee’s still in the sparkler stage of her journey. She’s having fun, but sometimes a few sparks stray and burn her hands. She’s still learning how to handle her victories and use those lessons. It’s going to mean changes, and some of the people around her won’t be happy. But she’ll get there. I have faith in her.

And when she does, oh boy, it’s going to be one heck of a fireworks display.


Author: Liz Milliron

Liz Milliron has been making up stories, and creating her own endings for other people's stories, for as long as she can remember. She survived growing up through reading, cutting her mystery teeth on Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark and, of course, Nancy Drew. As an adult, she finds escape from the world of software documentation through creating her own fictional murder and mayhem. She lives near Pittsburgh with her husband and two teenage children, and fantasizes about owning a dog again - one of these days.

7 thoughts on “Fireworks: Celebrating your personal journey”

  1. Mary, I love how you liken character growth to holding a sparkler. I’m going to keep that in mind when I’m writing!

    Your books do sound great, and are just the message that needs to be out there. Yay!


  2. Thanks, all. The whole story arc draws a lot on how I felt at 13 – and what I see my daughter going through. I hope it eventually resonates with a lot of kids in that middle-grade age group.


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