Book Name and Description:
Return to Royalty (A Gexalatian Tale Series Book One)
Nyx Estrella is a princess from Gexalatia, a world on the other side of a portal. Unfortunately, she has no idea. Sent to Lucky, Texas, when she was a baby to protect her from the evil King Paraximus, her biggest concerns are grades and seeing her friends. She has no idea that she possesses magical abilities and that her reality is about to become really strange.
Jet Lamia is a war prisoner, sent from Gexalatia by the queen, Liana Estrella, to bring Nyx back home to the kingdom of Ymber. The portal only opens on the winter solstice, so Jet finds himself trapped on Earth, trying to blend in. Fortunately, he has help in the form of the queen’s chosen assistant, Seth Alvar. But playing well with others has never been one of Jet’s talents.
It is a race against the clock to tell Nyx her true identity and try to train her, while also keeping her alive. Nyx and Jet struggle to defeat the assassins sent to kill them both, while trying not to kill each other. Can this duo put their differences aside and return to Gexalatia?
Return to Royalty is available for Kindle and in print: Click Here.
What gave you the idea for Return to Royalty?
I began writing my novel Return to Royalty when I was 17 years old. I’ve always loved fantasy and love stories. My grandmother, who I called Mimi, always encouraged me to write. When she died my junior year of high school, I began writing Return to Royalty as a way to deal with my grief. Over the years, I fell in love my characters, and they have evolved as I have grown and experienced more of life. Eventually, they were ready for the world, and that is when I decided to enter RTR into the Draft to Dream contest, which led to it being published.
What got you into writing in this genre?
I’ve always loved fantasy. I love the worlds and places that you can travel to, without ever having to leave your couch! The Sight by David Clement-Davies was the first epic fantasy that I picked up willingly (meaning not for school assignments). I loved it. His world was so immersive, and it was the first book that really tapped into my soul. I cried at the end, but it was beautiful. I also read Firebringer by him, and it was just as good. I would say he is my biggest influence. And I also loved the Unicorns of Balinor series by Mary Stanton.
How long have you been writing?
Oh gosh, ever since I can remember, haha! The earliest story I can remember writing was maybe around age 10 and it was about a puppy named Brownie who was bullied by a Doberman pinscher.
Tell us about your past books and stories?
Well, besides the Brownie story, I have a ton of stuff that I wrote when I was young. In the sixth grade I wrote about a princess who was cursed to become a unicorn. I’ve always loved princesses and horses. I’ve tried writing fiction that didn’t fall into the fantasy genre, but it was just never as fun as magic and dragons and other stuff. Lately, I’ve been trying to write some science fantasy (science fiction with an element of magic in it) with my short story Jewels for Gemma.
What is the writing process like for you? What is your writing day like? What have been the biggest influences on your writing?
Oh man, my writing day is weird. I tend to sleep late into the day, like 11 or so, and then get up and check emails and do social media. It’s usually late in the afternoon when I get to do any writing, and I write best when I’m alone. I tend to stay up until 2 A.M., since I’m a night owl, and after midnight seems to be when I have the most creative energy. Other than that, I just go with the flow. I write what I feel like writing, even if it’s not what I should be writing (read: book two!). My biggest thing is that you can’t expect stuff to come to you if you’re not mining for it. So I also read books, comics, graphic novels, whatever strikes my fancy. Being part of a book club helps because I’m exposed to genres and novels I never would have otherwise picked up.
See previous questions for influences 😊
What is your favorite book (other than your own book, of course) and why? What book disappointed you and why?
Hm…. My favorite book is Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith. She has a wonderful way of intertwining fantasy and political intrigue and romance into a medieval setting. I really love that story! As far as disappointing, I think it would have to be the Harry Potter series. After Order of the Phoenix, I started to feel disconnected and basically dropped the series. Even the movies were meh for me. I don’t know what caused the change, but it’s disappointing on a personal level for me because I loved the books as a kid. I was a first-in-line person, always needing the book. And since they released in July, I always got the newest one for my birthday from my grandmother. I think her passing may have had something to do with my loss of interest, but I’m not sure. I know I just stopped liking it and haven’t had any desire to pick it up again.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I think my writing is more effective. Before I went to college, I was flowery and drawn out and very descriptive. After taking journalism classes and learning how to write shorter, more effective sentences, my writing has changed drastically. I daresay it wouldn’t be recognizable as mine if I compared old stuff to new stuff. I get to the point a lot quicker, without taking two paragraphs and fifteen sentences to do it, and I’m not afraid to just write what I think it should say. I know I used to waffle because I wasn’t sure how to describe what I meant, now I let the reader fill in the blanks. I once read a quote from I believe Mark Twain (could be totally wrong) that you have to assume your reader isn’t an idiot and will know what you’re talking about, and that’s really helped me to lose some of the crazy descriptiveness as well. Let them see what they want to see.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Nice pens, lots of notebooks, and a computer that runs a good word processor. An imagination that doesn’t quit helps, too, as well as caffeine. Lots of caffeine, haha. But on a more serious note, a thick skin. Not everyone will like what you write or how you write it, and that’s okay. Ask questions, learn if there are things you could do better, and keep writing what you enjoy.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
I had the opportunity to host Christian Saunders on my publishing co. blog, and his story is truly inspiring. He worked days in a factory and then came home and worked his tail off to write and get paid for it until he could quit the factory and just do what he loved. That is the best advice, even though he never actually gave it to me. Have a goal and chase it. Use your circumstances to your advantage.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I use a lot of social media and giveaways. I have amassed a pretty good newsletter following, which I thought would be a lot harder than it actually was. I also attend events at local book/comic stores and just put my name out there. I’ve also been in Barnes & Noble to do signings. Being seen and selling books are great, but the hard thing is to remember to be personable. Sometimes I think people are intimidated, but if you smile and greet them and invite them to share your work, they are more open to it.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
Return to Royalty, definitely! It’s taken a lot of years and a lot of tears (literally!), but it’s finally here. And it’s successful, which is all I ever wanted for it. It’s won the Draft to Dream, and it just took a Gold Medal in the Dan Poynter Global Ebook Awards, which is really exciting for me. I can’t wait for book two to be finished.
For those who haven’t read any of your stories, what story/book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
I think I’ll have to go with Return to Royalty again. It’s got all the elements I love: danger, magic, evil villains, monsters, a little romance, and Texas! Lol.
What are you doing next?
Book two! I was picking up some freelance editing, but I’m putting that on hold until book two is written.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Just do it. Don’t be afraid to make life decisions that other people don’t understand. Life is too short to be unhappy. Disclaimer: Please don’t go out and do rash things or things that put you in a bad position or are dangerous!
Paige Burks, budding author of The Heart of the Guardian, is a graduate from Texas A&M University with a degree in Agricultural Communication and Journalism.
Her book, Return to Royalty, won the 2016 Author U Draft to Dream Award in the Young Adult category and has been nominated for USA Best Book Awards and International Book Awards.
When she is not writing fantasy and love stories, she enjoys Mexican food, singing out loud, cuddling with her cats, and taking long naps. Paige Burks lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, four dogs, three cats, three horses, and a single bird named Ricki.