The Elementalists: Book 2

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Destiny. Danger. Destruction. Master magick against the odds in your second year at Penderghast College of Elemental Magicks! More secrets and adventures await in Book 2 of The Elementalists, out tomorrow. Now let's chat with our resident fantasy writers for a preview of what's to come:

(Readers beware, spoilers ahead!) Give us the lowdown on Book 2! What's next for the Penderghast crew?

Maya: Book 1 left us with the mystery of the girl in the locket, and that's only the tip of the iceberg for this year's adventures. Of course, you and your friends will be learning new spells and getting invites to the most exclusive parties... but watch out! There's a big storm headed your way.

Book 1 kicked off with a quiz to determine your elemental Attunement. What magickal new features have you been brewing up for Book 2?

Maya: Let's just say, some of the major choices you made in Book 1 will affect how your story progresses in Book 2, while the choices you make in this book will have even heavier consequences going forward.

Chelsa: There's definitely some new features in Book 2! One of my favorites is that we added spell icons to some of the choices so you know what kind of magic goes with each choice. All that we have in store for you guys wouldn't be possible without our awesome design and QA teams... so shout-out to them for putting up with all our crazy schemes and making the magick happen!

Will we be meeting anyone new at Penderghast? Will they be friends or foes?

Maya: Oh, we'll be meeting plenty of delightful new faces. Many would like to think of themselves as friends, but between you and me, I've got my eye on some of them. Or maybe I'm just eyeing that impeccable fashion sense...

Emi: There are so many new people you're going to meet, including some of your friends' families! Whether or not they end up as your friends or foes, well, that depends on you!

What's been the most fun part of working on Book 2? What are you looking forward to players reading?

Maya: I've loved getting to write a whole bunch of new, non-human characters! We've really expanded the scope of the magickal world in Book 2, and I can't wait for players to encounter these characters that our art team has brought to life so vividly.

Chelsa: The most fun part has been our team dynamic and our openness to new ideas. My favorite story moments from Book 1 (and Book 2) were things that we didn't initially plan for, but later came up with as we delved deeper into outlining and mapping out the world's lore. If you think Book 1 was intense, you haven't seen anything yet!

Emi: Bringing Aster and Atlas to Penderghast as students is something we've had planned from the very beginning, back when we were planning Book 1, and it's so satisfying to see it pan out in Book 2. I love writing Atlas and Aster's different reactions to experiencing school for the first time. We also finally get to meet a mermaid, which I've personally been dying for since we started The Elementalists.

John: It's been a lot of fun exploring your crew's personalities in more detail. There will be drama, laughter, tears, the works! Book 2 will really test the limits of your friendships, but I'm confident you and your friends will come out of it stronger than ever.

Jessica: I can't count the number of times we've seen new character art from our epic art team, or brainstormed a new character, and all of us collectively went "OMG YES" or "I WOULD DIE FOR HER." The new world lore, characters, and story we have planned for you is some next level stuff. Get ready!  

Learning magick is no joke! Who's your ideal Penderghast study buddy?

Maya: Griffin! He's the perfect study buddy, if you ask me. We're both focused, so we'd get all our studying out of the way early, and then we'd chill out while listening to his new Muses and trying to kick each other's butts at virtual Thief.

Emi: Aster! She loves learning so much that I think studying with her would be really fun! Not to mention all the amazing stories she could share with you when you took a break.

John: My ideal Penderghast study buddies are Tim and Atlas, of course. Atlas is one of the most magickally talented members of your group (don't tell Beckett I said that), and I'm sure they wouldn't hesitate to tell me what I was doing wrong. And if I ever got confused or frustrated, I could go to Tim for advice! He's got such wisdom, that gorgue.

Chelsa: Beckett! My smart lil bean. Not sure we'd get much studying done wink wink lol

Jessica: Shreya and Zeph! Shreya's one of the smartest, most talented people at Penderghast, and you know she'd have the best, color-coded study guides. Zeph would bring the jokes and the snacks, and we'd turn the whole thing into a study party!

The stakes are higher than ever in Book 2 of The Elementalists. Got any final words of advice?

Maya: Some choices are hard. Some seem to have no right answer. Trust your gut, and trust your magick. They'll show you the way.

Roger that! Stay attuned to your Choices game for The Elementalists: Book 2! And to those who have read this far: Thank you so much! There's more on the horizon: Travel to Europe in Passport to Romance, and stay on the lookout for sneak peeks of Wishful Thinking and Nightbound! Until next time...

-Shae

A Courtesan of Rome Hiatus

A Courtesan of Rome is going on hiatus as the team gears up for an epic conclusion to your adventures in Ancient Rome! The book will resume in late spring. When we return:

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Use your wiles to gain the trust of Caesar and Cleopatra...

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Learn what has become of your long-lost brother... And work with your parents and Cassius to mastermind the plan to assassinate Julius Caesar!

Will you stay in Rome, or return to Gaul to rebuild your tribe? And who will be at your side when the Republic falls? Find out next time on A Courtesan of Rome!

We'll be posting more sneak peeks and news later on, so keep an eye out. And thank you for bearing with us as we take time to work on the next few chapters. We don't make these book hiatus decisions lightly, and really appreciate your patience and understanding.

Got Choices questions? Check out our previous Inside Choices update posts on frequently asked questions and the latest spring news! If you've got more questions or need game support, message us on Facebook or in-game. Thanks for reading!

Spring News

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Springtime is just around the corner here at Pixelberry, and you know what that means... More Choices chapters and new books coming next season! Here's a sneak preview of what's next:

First off, Open Heart is out! If you haven't kicked off your medical residency at Edenbrook Hospital, what are you waiting for? Give it a try! The Elementalists: Book 1 wrapped up today as well, and Book 2 is on its way, with more magickal adventures and mysteries!

All-new books are headed your way, too. Got a case of wanderlust? Our next Choices book will take you on a globetrotting journey! Stay tuned for more news very, very soon. And that's not all we've got planned for the spring season. Work your way up as a reporter with a knack for reading minds in Wishful Thinking... And encounter the supernatural in the Bloodbound spinoff, Nightbound!

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And what about returning books and sequels? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Across the Void makes its out-of-this-world return in March. Bloodbound: Book 2 launches in late spring with more romance, vampiric mysteries, and sinister new threats... Here’s an early sneak peek:

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And to our The Royal Romance fans: Thanks for all your patience, kind words, and song recs! The series concluded last fall (read our finale post here), and the team is hard at work on a new, follow-up series picking up right after the events of the first series. We hope you're looking forward to reuniting with The Royal Romance cast later this year! (And yes, you will see your corgi again.)

“The best thing about writing for Riley, Hana, Drake, Maxwell, and Liam again is that it feels like coming home and seeing old friends” -Kara (@karawrites on Instagram!)

“The best thing about writing for Riley, Hana, Drake, Maxwell, and Liam again is that it feels like coming home and seeing old friends” -Kara (@karawrites on Instagram!)

For more answers to any burning questions you might have, definitely check out our last newsy post here. And of course, don't hesitate to reach out via Facebook or in-game message. If you want the latest Choices news, be sure to follow along on our social media pages and of course, this Inside Choices blog! Hope to hear from you soon!

-Jessica

High School Story: Class Act, Book 2

School is back in session, and the stage is set! Reconnect with your friends in High School Story: Class Act, Book 2, launching next week! What role will you play this time around? Let's get the inside scoop from the writers:

Book 1 was all about finding your place at Berry High and in theater. Tell us a little bit about what's next for readers in Book 2!

Brianna: In Book 2, election season is hitting Berry High! When some unexpected classmates throw their hats into the ring, you and your friends are forced to decide who to support. The last book was all about forging new relationships with your classmates. This book is really about taking those bonds to the next level, and putting them to the test when tensions run high. You choose your destiny, so you’ll really have to follow your heart and discover what you believe in!

Sounds like a lot is happening at Berry High! What about Book 2 are you most psyched for readers to encounter?

Brianna: I think the ups and downs of the race will be a ton of fun for readers to play through, especially since they’ll have a say in them! Things don’t always go according to plan, and it’ll be a wild ride from start to finish.

Jaylee: We have so many fun dates planned! Arcades, robot battles, hanging out inside an igloo...

Emily: I’m excited for players to navigate a very relatable issue — family vs. friends — and seeing how that affects their main character.

Will we be making any new friends? Or (gasp) enemies? And will we be seeing any familiar faces from the first High School Story series?

Brianna: You’ll be meeting a few new faces! Some will be friends, and others will be foes. And some beloved characters from the original High School Story trilogy will also be playing a role in this year’s presidential race, so stay tuned!

Rachel Z.: The focus this time is on deepening the friendships and relationships you established in book one. But you might run into conflict with a couple people you didn't expect!

What was your favorite part of working on this book? What's been the most challenging?

Brianna: I have a soft spot for writing the sibling dynamic between you and your twin -- their bond is so adorable and funny! As for the most challenging part, this book’s tense standoffs and drama have been hard on me since I love these characters. I just want them to be happy!

Rachel Z.: I also love writing the twins! While your twin spent the last book making some arguably poor choices, you get to see them step up to the self-growth plate in this volume. It's been interesting exploring this.

Jaylee: Your relationship is so new, and it's the first time your character and the love interests have ever experienced big romantic feelings like this, so every time you come together, it's so magical. They're all still in that "Omg, this person likes me back?? They let me kiss them??? What??" stage, and it's so fun to write.

Emily: My favorite part has been finding ways to incorporate some fan favorite characters in with our new gang. The most challenging part was figuring out what the heck a Student Body President actually does!

If you were running for class president, what would your campaign slogan be?

Brianna: Bri for better bathrooms! For some reason my high school’s restrooms were unbelievably disgusting.

Emily: The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword: Vote for Emily, the Writing Irish!

Jaylee: "Everyone who votes for me will get cookies!" But there are no cookies. It's a lie. My inauguration would be a brutal wake-up call to the harsh realities of politics.

Rachel Z.: I was always the weird and highly extra kid (which hasn't changed in adulthood), so my slogan would have been something like, "Vote for Rachel for vampire-themed dances!"

That's something I'd vote for... If you're reading this, high five! You're awesome and one of a kind. Be sure to follow along on our social media pages for more sneak peeks of Open Heart, our upcoming Choices book!

What else is next in Choices? Well, you'll encounter the supernatural, travel the world, and much, much more! Whether it's Bloodbound: Book 2, the interstellar return of Across the Void, or something entirely new, we're so excited to share what's in store for the future. Keep a lookout for sneak peeks and announcements!

-Shae

America's Most Eligible: Book 2

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Calling all stars to the set! The premiere of America’s Most Eligible: Book 2 is almost here! Do you have what it takes to win hearts in the new season? Before you step in front of the camera, here's a sneak peek of what's in store:

It's time for the All-Stars edition of America's Most Eligible! What’s new in Book 2?

Cat: This season of America's Most Eligible, everything has changed! Not only are we introducing a ton of great new characters, but we're also raising the stakes higher than ever before. Don't worry, though. With big risks come even bigger rewards!

How did you decide the direction that Book 2 would take? Is there anything in this round that you're extra excited for players to encounter?

Cat: We knew we wanted to mix things up as much as possible, while holding onto the things readers loved about Book 1. Keep an eye out for a brand-new Confessional persona! We've got a lot of really fun Challenges in store, and some new art that is going to take your breath away.

Kelsie: I'm excited for everyone to meet our cast of characters... including the devious antagonists you'll be competing against! You'll also have the opportunity to play into your Confessional persona more often, both on and off-camera.

Bre’Anna: The other All-Stars are a great group of competitors, and you might even find a new fave! Book 2 also dives into who the characters are when they're affected by factors outside of the show. You'll see uber-tough Mack get in touch with her sensitive side, buttoned-up Adam lose his cool, and you'll even get some backstory on a certain producer extraordinaire.

Who out of the new cast of characters is your favorite?

Olivia: Since this is the All-Star season, you'll be meeting people from very different seasons and different walks of life. Without spoiling anything, one of the most veteran contestants is a... truly unique experience, and I love him for it.

Cat: Kiana, hands down. She's cute, fun, and super down-to-earth! I wish I could be friends with her IRL.

Kelsie: I adore everyone in our new cast, but the standout for me has to be my guy, Ronan. The Most Interesting Man in the World has nothing on him.

Bre’Anna: Eden is my girl. She's the cool, older sister type who'll make your parents proud, but still let you borrow stuff from her closet.

If you were on reality TV, would you play to win? Or would you go for winning over people's hearts?

Cat: I'd like to think I'd play to win, but I'm the kind of person who can't choose mean options in a video game without feeling guilty about it later. Though, I guess if I'm competing for half a million dollars... anything's possible!

Kelsie: As all reality TV legends know, this isn't a best friend competition! Therefore... I’d 100% go for the win and that prize money, and nobody would be able to stop me.

Elizabeth: I'd go for winning over people's hearts, at least at first, just to get everyone's guard down. Then, once everyone voted off the obvious villains and took out my competition, I'd let my true drama queen self emerge.

Bre’Anna: If I were on reality TV, I'd be there for a good time, not a long time. Expect some drama, some shade, and a ton of post-season IG sponsorships.

Any words of advice for readers about to enter the cutthroat world of reality TV?

Cat: If you're playing it safe, you're not playing to win.

Olivia: Keep your friends close, and your enemies... actually, no, don't keep those close. Just send 'em to the Jury House.

Bre’Anna: Remember Mackenzie's mantra: "I'm not here to make friends."

Kelsie: Don’t be afraid to get a little outrageous. This is TV, after all!

You heard it here first! Check out America's Most Eligible: Book 2, available now! Don't forget to look out for more sneak peeks of Ride-or-die: A Bad Boy Romance. And later this year, get ready to make life-or-death decisions, encounter the supernatural, travel the world, and much, much more!

-Shae

The Senior Finale

Meet Remi, a newly graduated puppy! Photo courtesy of Sara of The Senior team!

Meet Remi, a newly graduated puppy! Photo courtesy of Sara of The Senior team!

It's graduation day at Hartfeld! Now that the finale chapter of The Senior -- and the whole Freshman series -- has wrapped up, it's time to toss your graduation cap in the air and say your goodbyes. Here to send off the series is The Senior writing team:

It's truly the end of an era. What's your mood right now? How did you feel writing the very last chapter of The Senior, and by extension, the entire Freshman series?

Sara: It's a solid mix of being very tired and very relieved. We brought the series home, and I can only hope we did it justice. I feel like I'm closing this particular chapter of my Choices writing at the perfect moment; it's a good time to let something go when you are almost but not quite ready to say goodbye!

What was the most challenging part of wrapping up the stories of so many beloved characters within this book? What about the most rewarding part?

Sara: I want to shout out our QA testers for this one! They were truly heroes for how much time and effort they put into testing our chapters, especially as the chapters got more and more complex near the end with all our lovely love interests and possible futures! The vacation chapter was truly a champion-tier quest for our intrepid QA team. They often messaged me while testing to say how invested they were, and that meant so much to me. Whether it was people in the Pixelberry team or Choices fans at large, hearing that people cared so deeply about the story made it all worthwhile.

While I'm talking up people, our art team is absolutely incredible! I love everything they've created, including but not limited to the rainbow hairstyle and blue velvet suit. I may have dressed up in that very look on one or two occasions. :P

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What's been your favorite moment out of all of The Senior? (The rest of The Freshman series is fair game, too!)

Sara: Nothing will ever top Hartfeld Horror Story for me. In the words of Caitlin, "Chad, for the love of god, I'm tired of looking at your man body." If this is really confusing to you, go play the Sophomore Halloween special!

Shayn: My favorite moment was our long, dark night of the soul, in which Emily (the main character) has lost one of her most important relationships and is alone in London. It's a bleak moment, but it gave us an opportunity to speak to the struggle of adulthood.

Elizabeth: I loved writing the scene The Senior in which Abbie and Tyler show off their first video game, Dragon Jest, and tell off a bully who thinks it's "not a real game." I've always loved games with brightness and romance in them. Mobile games, romance games, games about fun and relationships -- they're real games, too! And I loved that I got to express all the pride and excitement I've felt in making these games through Tyler, Abbie, and Emily in this scene.

Where do you imagine The Senior main cast will go from here?

Sara: To follow up on the question from earlier, it's both challenging and rewarding to leave some parts of these characters' stories untold. Emily's future is headed in a definite direction at the end of the series, but her final destination remains a mystery. I'd love to create a spin-off about Madison researching volcanoes, or Aaron and his hamster's grand adventures (what if they were detectives?!) or Kaitlyn's musical hijinks... But I know that this story is meant to end, and the rewarding part comes in remembering that each of these characters has an inner life and a wide-open world that every player's imagination can fill in.

Shayn: I see the cast all gathering regularly for get-togethers! After everything they've been through, there's no way they'll become the kind of friends who talk only on occasion. I definitely see Becca flying in for Kaitlyn's birthday bash, and Zig clearing his work schedule to go to Zack's wedding...

Elizabeth: I would say.... wherever the player wants! We all worked hard to give players different options at the end as to where their MC and their love interests end up. However, in some alternate future, I do picture Edgar Lucas as president, using his pizza-box zither to stave off the robot apocalypse and bring about world peace. Obviously!

What advice would you give to students about to graduate high school or college?

Sara: In college, I angsted a lot about not knowing what I wanted or where precisely life would take me. Along the way, I discovered a performance arts group, amazing friendships, a study abroad trip to Northern Ireland... and spent a couple of post-grad years jumping from city to city and barista gig to barista gig before finding a professional home here at Pixelberry. Not knowing what's next can lead to a lot of unexpected wonderfulness! Don't worry about knowing everything that will come right away.

What's next for The Senior team?

Shayn: We're all moving off onto new projects now, but I'm excited for what's next! Thanks to The Senior fans for all your true love for the characters.

Elizabeth: I'm heading off to amp up the drama on America's Most Eligible, Book 2!

Sara: Speaking for myself... Whatever it is that’s next for me, I imagine it's very different from this...

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Time to open this up to The Freshman writers of the past! Do you have any favorite memories from writing The Freshman during the early days? Any favorite story moments?

Max: In Book 1, I was really proud of the scene where you're completely overloaded with your first assignment from Professor Vasquez, and your friends pull an all-nighter to help you out. To me, that's the moment that first crystalized the key strength of this book: the wonderful, supportive friend group that sticks together, helping each other out through college life's various challenges! That's a theme that subsequent writers have carried through the whole series in a beautiful, heartwarming way.

Jennifer: Even though I know it's a crazy plot point, I always enjoyed the moment we decided to have you be James' fake fiance; it's one of my favorite romantic tropes. As for favorite memories... I remember when we were first brainstorming the right name for the college. I wanted something that sounded like 'heartfelt,' and ended up at Hartfeld!

Wendy: Basically anything involving Madison was my favorite to write. She's just so wholesome. I also have a huge soft spot in my heart for Snowed In, the holiday special. I was still fairly new to the team at that point, and figuring out how all your suitemates would react to being caught in a blizzard was a great way to get to know the characters. Plus, the end result was pretty darn fun to play, if I do say so myself.

Saran: Honestly, we’ve all shared so many laughs and good memories over the course of the series that it’s hard to pick a single highlight. I wish we had a blooper reel for all of the goofy typos and outtakes that never made it into the game, because there are some true gems! To this day, I still keep a screenshot of a development bug where Zig’s hair showed up wrong, and it came out as an accidental mullet. But you know what? He still looked great.

Chelsa: I worked on The Freshman series for so long that it's hard to pinpoint an exact favorite moment. The main team I worked with was Saran, Maya, and Sara, and we had (still have) some really good times! Honestly, getting through brainstorms were a struggle, because we were cracking too many jokes to stay on track. My favorite book that we worked on together was the Hartfeld Horror Story. The original version was so gory and crazy, we weren't sure the fans could handle it! My favorite scene I ever worked on was in The Freshman: Book 3 when Kaitlyn and Emily join the D&D club for a session. Writing all the classes and outcomes was a blast. Also, Zig4Life.

Maya: Working with Chelsa, Saran, and Sara was a blast. The entire brainstorm process for The Sophomore and The Sophomore’s Halloween special was wild from start to finish -- and writing the Halloween special is hands-down my favorite memory. It was so much fun getting to satirize the characters we loved so much. I got more than a few stomachaches from laughing so hard.

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Any parting words for The Freshman fans?

Chelsa: I guess all I want to say about this series is that it's the very first thing I worked on when I moved to Choices after Hollywood U. It's really special to me, and so are all of the people I've had a chance to work with on it. I don't think I'll ever forget the good times and hijinks we got up to. I also can never eat rosemary chicken again, thanks Saran.

Jennifer: Thank you so much for playing the series! I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

Wendy: It's been a whole journey. Thanks for sticking with us. And if you're looking for more school-related adventures from Pixelberry, check out High School Story (wink wink).

Maya: The Freshman characters became like friends to me as I was writing them, and I hope they became the same to you. I hope you’ll always look back on your time at Hartfeld with a smile!

Sara: I gave the abbreviated version of my parting words for our lovely readers at the end of the book... But I will add that I'm so grateful that you all love these characters and their stories as much as we at Pixelberry do! Thanks for sticking with us until the happy end. <3 Also, I love Kaitlyn Liao. xoxo

That about says it all. After over two years, this really feels like the end of an era in Choices, and we're so thankful for all of you who read The Freshman series from the very beginning. Choices wouldn't be what it is today without you.

-Jessica



Desire & Decorum: Book 2

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Desire & Decorum: Book 2 is out now in Choices! If you haven't read it yet, definitely do that when you get the chance. But if you're all caught up, you're in the right place! Read on for our behind-the-scenes look at Book 2:

Now that Book 2 has made its debut, let's hear more about it! What's in store for readers?

Rachel: I mean, what’s not in store for Book 2? I can sum up this book in 5 emojis, and believe me, it’s epic. I remember talking to one of our co-workers about D&D 2’s plot just with those five, and getting an “OMG really?!" reaction. There’s something for everyone in Book 2: courting, action, secrets, royalty, and even some steamy ankle flashing. Make sure you're near a fainting couch!

Will there be more of desire or decorum in this particular book?

Meagan: I would say there's a bit more desire in this one ;)

Ali: We've ramped up the desire side of this book for sure, but ultimately it's up to you! There are still loads of opportunities to exercise your decorum.

What are you most looking forward to our readers encountering?

Rachel: There’s one moment that really stands out in my mind. We’ve had the idea for it since Book 1, but with the way Book 2’s twists and turns go, we were finally able to make it a reality. And shoutout to our amazing art team! Readers are in for some seriously brilliant, fantastic, drop-dead gorgeous art this time around.

Ali: I'm looking forward to readers learning more about the main cast. We've got some fun group scenes in this book that I'm really excited for people to play! Did I mention Book 2 has a mystery element to it? I'm honestly looking forward to our readers encountering, well, everything!

Book 1 of Desire & Decorum involved a herculean amount of research. Was Book 2 smoother sailing?

Rachel: Oh, most definitely. Book 1 was establishing this entire setting! That’s not to say that Book 2 hasn’t involved a lot of research (because it has), but the focus has been in different areas. For example, I didn’t need to study up as much on Regency dinner habits this time around, but I did have to research quite a bit on the Queen of England.

Some of the most interesting things I’ve researched for this book were family crests and coats of arms. Every piece of a family crest means something very specific. If you look at our cover, you can see a small piece of the Edgewater Coat of Arms, but every detail, from the color to the chevron to the animals on either side, were put there for a specific reason. I’ll let you all figure out what everything means...

Meagan: We've certainly learned a lot in the process of writing Book 2! As one example, an early version of croquet called pall-mall used to be so popular that there were streets in many cities devoted to it. When it declined in popularity, many of the streets were repurposed into shopping centers and parks. This is where the word "mall" comes from, both for shopping malls and in instances like The National Mall in Washington D.C. -- the more you know!

Who's your all-time favorite Jane Austen heroine?

Meagan: Call me a cliche, but I have to go with Lizzy Bennet.

Ali: Emma is my all-time favorite Jane Austen heroine! I love how much of a spunky meddler she is.

Rachel: I actually really like Jane Bennet from Pride & Prejudice! I can definitely relate to her, and she has a level-headedness that I admire. Plus, Mr. Bingley is sweet and so smitten with Jane almost immediately -- I think they're an adorable pair!

For those reading along, thanks for stopping by! Stay tuned for the big finale of The Senior later this week, and more Choices books to come in 2019. And if you've got questions, comments, or feedback, definitely reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter, or within the Choices app! We're looking forward to hearing from you!

-Shae


Perfect Match Finale

Last winter, we kicked off 2018 with Perfect Match, the first of several all-new books! Now, with 2018 ending, the series is coming to a close. We hope you enjoyed the twists and turns of Perfect Match. To wrap things up, here's a look back on the series with the writing team behind Book 2 (spoilers ahead!)...

First things first. How do you feel, now that Perfect Match is over?

Coco: It feels like the end of an era! We first started brainstorming and working on Perfect Match so long ago. Since then, the team has grown and evolved, and it's been exciting to add new faces to our squad, not unlike the Perfect Match cast in the story! While nostalgic, new beginnings are also exciting. We hope you enjoy the finale and seeing how the characters have grown over the course of their adventures!

Taylor: I’m really sad because I’m going to miss not only the characters, but also working with the entire team on this particular book. But I think we gave the gang the endings they deserved in this finale — now they can finally relax, and be safe, happy, and silly with each other for the rest of their lives. I feel good about where we’re leaving them, even if I'm sad to do so.

Some of the biggest twists in Perfect Match were planned from day one. Others, I imagine, were discovered along the way. Way back when you were first planning where the series would go and how it would end, did you expect Perfect Match to end up where it did?

Coco: We knew Hayden’s twist since long before we started Book 1, but didn’t know until later that our unsuspecting crew from Brooklyn would be saving world leaders! They’ve come a long way. (Be careful what adventures you sign up for when you swipe on dating apps!) We also knew the general path of Eros and the Matches, but had to do more complex world-building when it came down to writing those chapters. It's been an adventure!

What was your favorite part of writing Perfect Match? Favorite scene?

Taylor: My favorite part was seeing reader reactions! Seeing everyone’s thoughts and theories every week was so exciting for me, and it made me feel really connected to the Choices community online. I think my favorite scene to write was Damien’s family scene!

Natasha: As a fellow Indonesian rebel, getting to introduce Miss Alana Kusuma to the Choices-verse means a lot to me. She's the epitome of someone "shattering the glass ceiling," and I'm glad she was warmly received. The hardest scene to write, which turned out to be my favorite, is definitely Hayden's Dolores Park scene. Hopefully, we made up for the heavy conversations with a kiss in the rain!

Jaylee: Getting to write polyamorous relationships was so near and dear to my heart, and every small moment exploring that was fantastic. And I loved getting to see both Alana and Damien grow throughout the series. Alana's final airport scene and Damien's "I love you" moment were incredibly emotional for me to write. They've both come so far! I'm so proud of them!

Real talk. Would you date a robot if they were your perfect match?

Natasha: No doubt, no doubt, no doubt.

Taylor: My Tinder profile specifies "Robots only."

Jaylee: To be honest, I would date a robot even if they weren't my perfect Match...

Got a message for our Perfect Match readers?

Coco: There are a lot of moments in Perfect Match when the characters doubt themselves and their ability to take down the obstacles in their way. It’s been great to see characters like Hayden and Sloane grow in confidence. We can be our worst critics, so I hope you know that whatever’s in your path, you can get through it and come out even stronger. (Especially with the help of a support system and Armadillo Power!)

I’ve also really enjoyed seeing Hayden explore all the facets of their identity more, from their style, to their spirituality, to building a new life... I hope all of us can enjoy the process of exploring the boundaries of who we are and who we could be, and never feel restricted to any label, definition, or preconceived notion! We are always evolving.

Taylor: Identity crises aren’t unique to Matches. If you take anything from Perfect Match, I hope you take the lesson that no matter what you’re going through, you are strong enough to overcome it. You are capable of incredible things, and you are worthy of love and respect. (And if you ever forget, call in Nadia to remind you!)

Jaylee: Thank you so, so much for loving our characters just as much as we do.

Natasha: Thank you for every hilarious comment, thoughtfully-crafted tweet, beautiful fanart, and heartfelt message. You all inspire me every single week.

*Sheds a single tear* So what's next for you after Perfect Match?

Natasha: I can't say quite yet, but I think readers who enjoyed stories like The Royal Romance and The Crown & The Flame will be particularly excited by the type of book I'm hopping onto next.

Jaylee: I'm moving to High School Story: Class Act! Skye, Rory, Ajay, and the twins are all so fun, and I'm looking forward to seeing them grow!

Taylor: It's a secret! But rest assured, it will have a lot of smooching, sweetness, and hilarity!

Coco: What's next for me is also a secret! But here's a hint: it'll be stylish, fun, and every bit as jet-setting!

Innnteresting... I guess we'll find out what the future holds! To everyone who's stuck with Perfect Match from beginning to end, thank you for reading along!

-Jessica

The Heist: Monaco

Case the joint, assemble a crew, and make off with the score of a lifetime... all in The Heist: Monaco! Now before the book launches next week, let's hear from the intrepid crew of writers behind our newest Choices book:

Without sharing the blueprint of the whole book, tell us a little about The Heist: Monaco!

Owen: The Heist: Monaco is our take on a classic heist-style caper! You play as a master thief preparing for one big job, but along the way, you're going to assemble a crew of specialists from a really fun cast of characters. It's slick, fast-paced, and a ton of fun.

What goes into assembling a crew? (And, ahem, can we date anyone in our heist crew?)

Owen:  A lot of planning! You're gonna travel around the world meeting cool, ridiculous, badass criminals, and then decide which of them gets to be on your team.

Iris: Each potential crew member you'll meet has a specific skillset as well as a unique personality, and whoever you choose will be with you for the rest of the book... so don't be surprised if you find yourself agonizing over who to pick! Good news is, you can always play it again with a completely different group of characters. As for the second question... we're all thinking it, so I'll just say it: Being a criminal mastermind is sexy. Safe to say, some members of your heist crew will think so too!

Jen: A lot goes into pulling off the crime of the century. You need someone who's good at distraction, someone with some serious sleight-of-hand skills, and obviously an awesome getaway driver. As the leader of a crew, you'll get to hand-pick people for these roles. And clearly, when things get tense, romance can happen in the heat of the moment...

What was it like brainstorming this book and, of course, planning a whole heist in the process?

Owen: A lot of maps, charts, devious scheming, and brainstorming fun character voices. Also a lot of coffee, but that was mostly me.

Jen: It was kind of intense at first. There's a lot of moving pieces to manage, but I'm proud of what we've come up with!

Iris: The early brainstorms really gave me a new appreciation for how much planning goes into a heist! Many diagrams were scribbled on whiteboards. But my favorite part was thinking about how different crew members will banter with each other in fun, personality-clashing ways.

If you were recruited to pull off a heist, what role do you think you'd play?

Owen: I'd probably be some sort of wisecracking thief who is largely comic relief until one unexpected clutch moment in the end where he pickpockets the pope's car keys or something.

Iris: I think I'd be a hacker. That way, I could keep out of danger and hang out in front of a computer screen from some remote location, probably eating candy bars, guzzling caffeinated drinks, and listening to pop songs that help me get in the 'zone'. Which, come to think of it, doesn't sound too different from my current daily life.

Jen: I'd probably be a grifter-type that distracts the authorities while the real cons slip in. Knowing my luck, I would probably make a huge mistake, but somehow I'd still end up successful. Just not the way I intended.

Any final tips for players about to pull off the ultimate heist?

Owen: TRY AGAIN. Seriously. Play it a second time with a completely different crew, and see the different interactions and conversations you unlock. Or... play it again and do poorly. We've planned MULTIPLE endings, so go see what trouble your characters get into if your plans go awry...

Iris: Every good heist involves some reckless improvisation, so remember to enjoy the journey and take risks along the way! Sure, the heaps of riches you can get are a plus... but honestly it's just so fun getting into trouble with a group of quirky criminals.

Jen: Just try to remain calm under pressure! There's a lot of tense moments in here with some quick decision making. If you keep a cool head, and focus on the job, you'll make off with the score, no problem!

Get ready to scheme and steal your way to the top in The Heist: Monaco, launching next week! What books did you love in 2018? Are you liking the new Choices update? We want to hear from YOU! And thank you for playing!

-Shae

What's New - Choices Update

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This update is our biggest and most ambitious yet! What's new in this update:
- A crisp, clean, new look. We're talking total makeover!
- Improved app navigation!
- Smart recommendation features to help you find new books you'll want to play!

But that's not all... our team has worked hard on a number of behind-the-scenes improvements and bug fixes including:
- Improving and fixing diamond rewards for ads.
- Reducing common crash issues.

Next, you've asked, and we've listened. In this update, we've increased chapter completion rewards! (And shhhh... don't tell anyone, but we're working on additional diamond features for a future update too.)

All that, and we haven't even talked about our new books yet! Coming soon:
- Make a big score in THE HEIST: MONACO
- Elegant romance awaits as DESIRE & DECORUM continues
- Find fame and win hearts in the next season of AMERICA'S MOST ELIGIBLE

Finally, on a personal note, this is the update to Choices that we've all been dreaming, hoping, pushing, and striving for since Choices launched. This update places Choices on a firmer foundation to add more new features that you guys will love. Knowing that you guys are out there playing, loving, and living passionately makes every day (even hard ones) a joy. We can't say it often enough, or shout it loud enough... thank you for playing!

Royal
Level 1 Director

Pixelberry Updates, Answers, and More!

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Hey everyone! As the end of 2018 approaches, we at Pixelberry wanted to take the chance to look back, reflect, and give you the latest update on what's new at Pixelberry. But before we get into that, we just wanted to say a big thank you for playing Choices!  

First off, Choices is undergoing a makeover! Our team is about to release an update in the near future that will improve game experience and navigation in Choices with a fresh, new look. We also plan to address some issues, such as the diamond reward bug and common causes for game crashes.

The last few months have been a little rocky for us here at Pixelberry. Alongside releasing a number of new books, Choices experienced more than a few bugs, and we can't apologize enough for these issues and inconveniences. During this time, we came to truly appreciate how patient and encouraging you all are. The Choices community is one of a kind. Thank you again!

In this blog post, we'd like to go ahead and answer a few commonly asked questions! On social media and via Support messages, the Community team and the Support team do their best to provide you with the latest news, but a Facebook comment or game message isn't the best place to go into detail... So we're going to do that here! And now, let's get down to business:

What's next for The Royal Romance?

We're excited to announce that The Royal Romance writers are hard at work on a new follow-up series! We can't give away too much at this stage in the process, but the new series will start directly after the events of The Royal Romance. The writers are really excited for what they have planned! We'll have more news for you in the upcoming months.

When will Bloodbound: Book 2 come out? Is there a release date?

Right now, Book 2 of Bloodbound is being worked on! We hope to release it in the spring of 2019. We know it's been a while since Book 1 ended, but we promise that it'll be worth the wait. There'll be plenty of bloodcurdling adventures and heartstopping romance! Stay tuned for more early sneak peeks and news. In the meantime, we have another paranormal book planned, one that'll make you howl at the moon...

When will Hero return with a Book 2?

We don't have a release date for Hero: Book 2, but when we do, the Choices community will be the first to know. The writing for Book 2 is in progress, but we're not sure when we'll have the art ready, especially given its unique art style. We want to get Hero 2 right -- unfortunately, that means it may launch in 2020.

When will Most Wanted come off hiatus? Will we get a Most Wanted: Book 2?

As you know, Most Wanted continues to be on hiatus. While we love Sam and Dave, we just haven’t had the right writers available at the right time to start work together on this book yet. When the time is right, we intend to revisit Most Wanted. And of course, we'll let you know ASAP if there's new developments!

When is Across the Void coming back? Why is it on break?

Across the Void is on a mid-book break right now as the team gears up for more interstellar adventures! In the past, books like The Royal Romance and Endless Summer have gone on break to give our team more time to put out the best chapters possible without placing too much pressure on the writing, art, and QA teams. Across the Void should return this spring. When it's ready for take-off again, we'll post online with more news!

Why do you make new books instead of completing sequels?

Going into 2018, our team wanted to try out new stories and expand the Choices library. With this goal in mind, we worked to release stories and genres we've never tried before -- such as paranormal romance, sci-fi, and historical fiction. That's how we ended up with Bloodbound, Perfect Match, and many others! Exploring new stories taught us a lot and helped focus our vision for 2019.

Deciding which books to make often depends on a variety of factors -- like popularity, resources, art budget, what's right for the story, timing, and other elements. At any given time, we often have several books, both new ones and sequels, in development. Different books have different teams, so when a new book comes out, fear not! This doesn't affect the progress of a separate sequel book that’s in development.

What about the sequels to America's Most Eligible, Desire & Decorum, and Red Carpet Diaries?

They're all in the works! Desire & Decorum: Book 2 and America's Most Eligible: Book 2 will be returning this winter. Keep an eye out for sneak peeks, cover reveals, and release dates... And thanks to everyone who voted on who should return for AME Book 2! As for Red Carpet Diaries, we don't have a release date for it yet, but your Hollywood adventures will continue in 2019!

Pro-tip: If you want the latest news, just follow us on social media! Our most up-to-date info is always on social media, guaranteed.

Will we get more free diamonds? When will the diamond rewards bug be fixed?

First and foremost, we apologize if you've encountered issues with the diamonds-for-ads feature. That's something we've been working on fixing, and hope to address in the next game update. We’ve been experimenting with ways to give more diamonds while still making money to support the creation of even more books. Expect to see the first fruits of these tests coming soon!

Why do some books have a female-only player character? Will there be more gender options in the future?

We absolutely hear you on this front. As to why, it depends on the book. For books like Red Carpet Diaries, A Courtesan of Rome, and Desire & Decorum, the player character's gender is a specific and integral part of the story and setting. Other times, it comes down to resource constraints - at times, we decided we’d rather have some books be single gender so that we can devote other resources to telling new stories. In the coming year, we'll be launching a mix of single gender books and books with more gender options. And for those asking: Yes, The Heist: Monaco will have male and female player character options!

Are there going to be new books and genres in 2019?

You know the answer to this one: Yes, absolutely! We're super excited to share all the books we have with you -- new books and sequels alike! Get ready to run from the law, solve medical mysteries, sail the open seas, and much, much more! If you liked our 2018 books, just wait for 2019...

I've got more questions! How do I get them answered?

Good question, hypothetical Choices reader! You can always message our Support Team via the Choices app (Settings > Help > Message). You can also reach out to our Community Team by messaging us on Facebook, or tweeting us on Twitter. It's that simple! Contact us if you need game support, have questions, or just want to say hey. We'd love to hear from you!

And how about a behind-the-scenes look back on 2018?

For our team, this year has been about growing our capacity to tell more stories. With the encouragement of Nexon, we continued to grow the number of writers, artists, designers, engineers, QA, and other teams at Pixelberry. They actually asked us to grow even faster, but we wanted to make sure we don’t grow too quickly, so we can remain a tight-knit studio with a focus on excellent storytelling.

At times, when we found really great writers, we grew a little faster than anticipated. While this stretched us more than expected, it also will make this December our most prolific yet when it comes to number of new chapters released. And thanks to our office coordinators, we've kept that fun Pixelberry spirit alive with launch parties, birthday celebrations, and boba runs.

We also had a blast this year branching out into new genres with stories like Desire and Decorum, Perfect Match, and Bloodbound. Behind the scenes, we’ve revamped our production process to handle many more books being worked on simultaneously than we were able to do last year. (We hit a few bumps in the road along the way, for which we're very sorry.)

One of our biggest challenges this year was finding great engineers to help us release new features for Choices. But we did hire a Director of Engineering who hit the ground running and has recently helped us add more engineering capacity, which will let us add features faster next year.

Overall, we're so grateful to be ending 2018 with a larger, stronger team ready to go full-steam ahead creating new Choices adventures in 2019. But what we're most grateful for are all of you who have supported us with your 5-star reviews, encouraging messages, stunning fanart, patience when we make mistakes, and constructive suggestions for improvements. Every day, people on our team share their favorite comments, tweets, and fanart to our “discuss-buzz” channel. Your passion powers us through brain blocks, problems, and stressful times. Thank you so much for that. We truly feel blessed to have a fan community that shares our love for stories.

-Jessica, Oliver, Kara, Jennifer, and the rest of the Pixelberry team


A Courtesan of Rome

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Fall is almost over, but we've got one more new Choices book for you! A Courtesan of Rome makes its debut on November 14th, and we couldn't be more excited for our second work of historical fiction. This time around, you'll fight for vengeance, seek out love, and navigate the treacherous waters of the political scene in Ancient Rome. Before all that, let's check in with the writers...

Set the stage for us. What's the story of A Courtesan of Rome?

JBH: In ancient Rome, courtesans occupied a really unique place in society -- as the only women allowed in many men-only spaces, they were educated, politically active, and influential in a way that wasn't possible for most women at the time. "A Courtesan of Rome" begins as you make your debut as a courtesan during one of the most dangerous and difficult times in history, the rise of Julius Caesar and the beginning of the fall of the Roman Republic.

A daughter of a former chieftain of Gaul, you were captured by Caesar's forces years ago. Now that you've risen to move as an equal among the senators and elite of Rome, you must seek your vengeance on the men who massacred your tribe, search for your scattered family, and perhaps find unexpected love in a city where everyone is an enemy.

A Courtesan of Rome is a step back in history for Choices. What do you think sets A Courtesan of Rome apart from other Choices books? What kind of story are you trying to tell?

JBH: A Courtesan of Rome is a romantic historical epic. While romance is a huge part of the storyline, it takes place on a backdrop of dramatic historical events, giving you a chance to take part in gladiatorial blood sports, religious mystery cults, brutal battles, and Machiavellian political maneuverings... and even shape history in unexpected ways.

I think what really sets "A Courtesan of Rome" apart is the epic scope. The fall of the Roman Republic is one of the most consequential times in all of European history, and the people involved are household names more than two thousand years later! Giving players a window into what it must have been like living in Rome at that time -- and a chance to shape that history in large and small ways -- is extremely gratifying to me as a historical fiction buff.

Jake: In this book, it's not always cut and dried who your friends and enemies are, and we really let you pull the strings in all this political intrigue if you play your cards right. Also, we get to write gladiator fights, and it's sweet. There's something in this book for everyone!

As with any historical book, lots of research is a must! How did you go about tackling research and brainstorming?

JBH: I've had a long-standing interest in Rome (ever since high school Latin club!), so getting to write this book was a dream come true for me. There were definitely a few different historical fiction epics that were big influences on this story, including Manda Scott's "Boudica" series and Kate Quinn's "Mistresses of Rome" series (both set a little later in the Empire), and Robert Harris's absolutely amazing Cicero trilogy which covers this exact time period from the point of view of Caesar's enemy Cicero.

The more moment-to-moment research was sometimes difficult because there is just so much information to sift through. What we think of as "Rome," lasted for over a thousand years, and included an early kingdom, the Republican period we're set in, and many hundreds of years of Empire after. So, it's not always easy to find exactly the information you want!

This means I should probably put the standard historical novelist disclaimer here: While we tried to stick to the broad outline of the important events that happened at this time, the needs of the story always took precedence. So, if there was ever a question of "this character was really married at this time, but we think he would be a really great love interest..." -- we have consistently chosen what will be the most fun for our players, even if that means occasionally playing fast and loose with some historical facts.

Who are you rooting for in this book? Who's your fave character?

JBH: Haha, as a writer, I'm always rooting for my characters to suffer as much as possible, and for players to walk away from a chapter desperate to know how they can possibly survive! My favorite character to write for this book was definitely Marc Antony, who is a really fun combination of puppet master and rule-breaking anarchist. He and the main character start as enemies, but when sparks fly between them, players will have to decide whether or not they want to risk using that sexual tension to manipulate Antony.

Jake: My favorite character to write is probably Sabina. Her character arc throughout the book was really special to me. I feel really lucky to be able to address some more serious topics with her. I hope our fans connect to her struggles and her character.

The people must know. Will we get to date any historical figures?

Jake: There might be one or two, though they're a lot hotter in A Courtesan of Rome than their statues are.

JBH: I guess I just gave that away in the last question! Yes, both Marc Antony and Cassius Longinus (who eventually masterminds the conspiracy to assassinate Caesar) are love interests in the book.

And lastly, any final words for our players about to play A Courtesan of Rome tomorrow?

Jake: Those who are about to read, we salute you.

Check your Choices game tomorrow for A Courtesan of Rome! Winter's nearly here, and that means more of Choices -- you'll need your skills, your wits, and the right people for the job in our next Choices book! We hope you're loving The Elementalists, It Lives Beneath, High School Story: Class Act, and more. Thanks so much for playing!

-Shae

The Elementalists

Boo! Halloween's almost here, and at Pixelberry, we're celebrating with new spooky and spellbinding stories. On Wednesday, The Elementalists launched with its first chapter. Now that Chapter 2 is out as well, let's chat with The Elementalists writers... But make sure you've played Chapter 2 first!

I know you can't spell out everything that happens in The Elementalists, but can you tell us a little bit about it?

Chelsa: This project has been a dream of mine ever since I started working at Pixelberry two years ago, and it's still hard to believe they actually let me take the reins on this one. I won't spoil anything, but I can tell you that the whole team - writers, art, QA, everyone involved - put many, MANY long hours and their blood, sweat, and tears into this project. So basically, if you don't like it, I'll cry.

Maya: Well, if you've ever dreamed of being sucked through a portal and spit out at a magickal university, your dreams are about to come true! Essentially, you're pulled into a world you don't believe you can be a part of at first, but it doesn't take long for your powers to start revealing themselves. But if you didn't know you could do magick, what other mysteries about you have been hiding just beneath the surface?

The Elementalists is our newest fantasy story. What about this fantastical world are you most excited for players to encounter?

Chelsa: We've got a lot of new features and art in this book that I'm very excited to show off to players! The cool spell graphics and amazing new backgrounds are just the tip of the iceberg. And of course, learning spells...

Maya: Magick! Magick in The Elementalists feels so welcoming to me. The friends you meet are so excited to introduce you to the world, and there's something wonderfully intuitive about the magickal system we've created...

Emi: Honestly, I think I'm most excited for readers to meet the main cast and watch them grow. Every good fantasy has a core group of friends fighting for what they believe in, and I hope players fall in love with ours as much as we have.

How did you tackle worldbuilding for The Elementalists? What was the inspiration for the element attunement system?

Chelsa: This is definitely something I've spent a loooong time thinking about (see question 1). I wanted to create something familiar, with all of the elements that fantasy fans love about a fantasy school book, while also creating something that feels entirely new. This book is a frankenstein of things that I love, things that got the team excited while we were brainstorming, and things that we thought the fans would go crazy over. One of the first things that I decided was that Penderghast would be set in our world, current day, but hidden. The Attuned understand technology, are involved in Attuneless politics, and live alongside the Attuneless -- though of course, they still have to keep magick a secret to maintain the status quo. It's the very best of both worlds!

Maya: We wanted to create something familiar and accessible, but not wholly done before, so we talked a lot about things we've seen in fantasy that we enjoy, as well as things we wished to see. I think this world is so dear to us because it's an amalgam of so many things we cherish, imbued with our own magickal spark.

Jessica: So when I was a wee child attending Chinese school (shoutout to all the Asian American kids who had to go to Saturday school!), I learned that Chinese words all have core components called 'bushou' -- wood, heart, power, etc. During Elementalists brainstorms, we riffed on the premise of having a core something as the base for creating meaning, or in our case, magick. We settled on the classical elements as the foundation, and threw a few of our own into the mix as well. To perform magick, you have to channel the elements, and of course, everyone has an affinity to one or two -- kind of like having a college major, but also general education requirements!

Emi: While building the Attunement quiz, I spent a lot of time delving into the history and uses of elements in different cultures... You should see the number of research docs I made! I wanted the Attunements to feel linked to the classical elements, but to also have their own unique spin. We spent a couple brainstorms figuring out the quiz answers and how they related to their elements. We tried to create a quiz that players could answer honestly, without necessarily guessing which answer is linked to which Attunement.

And of course, what's your attunement?

Chelsa: Air-Att 4 life!! (I am also a libra, so it's very fitting.)

Emi: I'm a Metal-Att! Let me make a detailed and organized plan to tackle any challenge!

Maya: I was expecting to be an Earth-Att, but was pleasantly surprised to find out I'm a Wood-Att instead!

Jessica: Earth, which is weirdly fitting for me. I feel called out.

Do you have a favorite character in The Elementalists? Which character do you relate to the most?

Chelsa: My absolute favorite character to write is... one that I can't talk about yet! But aside from CHARACTER NAME REDACTED, it's definitely Beckett. He's just such a pain, and I love writing people who are difficult to get along with.

Emi: Aster is my girl! I love how excited and eager she is to learn about the world. I just want to give her a big hug. As for character I relate to the most, probably Beckett. I was 100% that over-achiever in school who was always showing off.

Maya: My favorites to write are hands down Zeph and Beckett. They seem so different, but neither are as put together as they'd like you to believe (#relatable). Though there's also something about REDACTED'S personality that speaks to my soul...

Jessica: I can't stick with one fave, so I'll say Shreya and Griffin. Shreya's just a whole lot of fun, and someone I would want to date IRL. And I love seeing Griffin, this chill Sophomore, thrown into the trials and tribulations of all these hapless Freshmen.

Any final tips for readers about to embark on their Penderghast adventure?

Chelsa: You'll have many opportunities to gain new spells throughout the book. My tip is to try to learn them all. You'll never know what a situation will call for...

Emi: Your Attunement will play a role in how you use magick and how you react to the events of the story! I recommend playing to your strengths.

Maya: Watch your back... Danger lurks in the shadows.

Bring on the magick! What's your elemental attunement? Let’s compare notes! And follow along online for sneak peeks of what's next in Choices... a journey back in ancient history!

-Shae


It Lives Beneath

It's October, and you know what that means: Spooks and scares and the launch of It Lives Beneath! Turn off the lights, turn up the sound, and tune into It Lives Beneath for the fright of your life... But before that, let's talk to our resident horror writers!

Now that we've left the woods for Pine Springs, what's happening in It Lives Beneath?

Kathleen: It Lives Beneath is set in the same world as It Lives in the Woods, but with a new town, new cast, and new monsters hiding around every corner. You play as a college student who has no experience with the supernatural... that is, until <SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER> happens. You quickly find yourself thrown in the deep end, as it were, questioning the very nature of your reality. In this book, we really wanted to build on the mythology of the Power that we established in Book 1.

Will we see any old friends from It Lives in the Woods in this book? (And by that, I mean, where's Andy Kang?)

Kathleen: I don't want to give away too much, but I will say that while we've moved on to a new setting, life has continued on in the little town of Westchester. You may see familiar faces here and there, and an old friend may show up to offer help in a time of need. It all depends on where you left things at the end of Book 1!

So, a new story means a new cast, new friends, and new people to date! Who's your favorite date-able character?

Kathleen: Tom, no question. He's a total nerd, but he's also an extremely thoughtful guy and the most loyal friend you'll ever meet. Honestly, I've been waiting for this ever since we first got his art back and said "Oh no... he's hot." (We tried to make him look dorky by adding glasses, but it only made him stronger!)

Brandon: Probably Imogen. I love all of our children equally, but she's really fun to write for. And Imogen's character art is just *chef's kiss*. Major props to our art team!

It Lives in the Woods introduced a particularly harrowing Nerve score system. Will there be more of that in It Lives Beneath? What are you looking forward to players encountering?

Brandon: Nerve scores will be returning, though the system won't be exactly the same as players remember. Without spoiling too much, one of our goals for It Lives Beneath was for Nerve to have more of an effect throughout the whole book, rather than the final fates at the end. (But rest assured, you and all your friends can totally still die.)

Kathleen: What Brandon said. When we rolled out the Nerve score in Book 1, we learned a lot about what worked well and what could use improvement. Hopefully, the tweaks we made will make Nerve even more compelling in Book 2!

I've definitely seen some pretty terrifying stuff from It Lives Beneath. (Thanks for the nightmare fodder, guys.) On a scale of 1-10, how scary would you rate this book?

Nicky: 10/10. We went above and beyond with the scariness for Book 2, and I think we’re gonna knock everybody’s socks off!

Brandon: In Ancient Rome, the numeral XVII was considered a sign of omen, as its letters could be rearranged to spell the word "VIXI" — Latin for "my life is over". So I'd give it a 17.

Kathleen: *High-pitched evil cackling*

Any final tips for readers as they plunge into the terrifying world of It Lives Beneath?

Kathleen: I've been told that this book should not, under any circumstances, be played at night.

Brandon: Practice holding your breath.

Nicky: Get ready to scream!

Eep! Hope you're all ready for the latest terrifying addition to the Choices library! And stay tuned for more news and magickal (yes, magick with a k) sneak peeks from The Elementalists!

-Jessica


High School Story: Class Act

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The show must go on, and it will -- with the return of High School Story! This time around, High School Story is back with a new cast in the new school year, and more drama than ever before. Yes, we're talking theater! Let's chat with the team behind the newest Choices book to get the lowdown on High School Story: Class Act...

High School Story: Class Act is a different take on High School Story. What's new? Fill us in!

Wendy: It’s a new year at Berry High! This time around, you play an incoming freshman with a major love for theatre. As you step into the spotlight, you might just fall in love! But the course of true love never did run smooth, and neither has the path to stardom. You’ll meet a new cast of main characters, including actors, jocks, cheerleaders, and more! Make friends, defend yourself from enemies, and flirt your way to romance. Good luck!

Will we be seeing any familiar faces from previous books? Any friends? Enemies?

Wendy: While this book features a new main character and several new main cast members, you’ll be seeing plenty of returning characters, especially the original High School Story main character. As for enemies... you'll see.

Brianna: The main character of High School Story books 1-3 will be playing a big role in the drama this time! And an old enemy will have a surprising link to someone you know. I’m super excited to see how people react to these connections.

Aside from the drama of theater, how much drama will there be in this book? What about romance?

Wendy: It wouldn’t be High School Story without drama, would it? Watch your back... As for romance, you can choose between Rory, the boy/girl next door, the ambitious perfectionist Ajay, and Skye, the awesome goth girl.

Rachel Z.: The play is your chance to prove yourself to your classmates and reinvent who you are. And you might just develop feelings for others working alongside you on the production!

Who in High School Story: Class Act are you most excited for everyone to meet? Do you have a favorite character to write?

Brianna: I’m the most excited for everyone to meet your twin! Sibling relationships are some of the most entertaining things for me to write, and I hope our players enjoy their silly banter as much as we do!

Emily: I really like Ajay, our director extraordinaire. I relate to how serious he is about his passion (though mine was for the school newspaper), as well as his reservations about romance. He’s also very sassy and quick-witted, which was fun to write. But I have to say, as a former redheaded emo girl — writing Skye was like looking in a mirror.

What's your connection to theater? Do you have any favorite memories from drama class?

Rachel Z.: The theater was my home in high school. I did the whole gamut, from acting to writing and directing. I attended a small all-girls' Dominican school where the nuns had to approve our theatrical productions. My freshman year, we somehow got away with doing The Rocky Horror Show...

Brianna: I love watching plays, but I was never a theatre kid myself — I’ve only done skits in English class, and I was quite bad at them. At the risk of sounding like some kind of stone-cold killer, my favorite acting experience was when I played Othello and murdered my wife Desdemona, who was played by a guy friend of mine.

Emily: I really only did theater when I was a child, but got back into it in college. My Generalized Anxiety Disorder really made theater very scary for me, which was why I didn’t pursue it in high school. I tried to be braver in college and ended up taking a class called “Actors and Acting.” I learned a lot about the craft and got a lot of compliments on my performances, but theater actually played a part in changing my life — I met my now husband in that class!

Wendy: I’ve always been a theatre kid, so it’s no surprise that it eventually crept into my writing. My favorite theatre class memory actually comes from college. There was this one technique that everyone else in the class seemed to be making progress on, but I just couldn’t get it. I ended up in my professor’s office, crying, expecting to be told that acting just wasn’t for me and I should quit now. Instead, he explained to me that there is no magic line between “good” and “bad”. You just have to focus on improving. That way of thinking really changed my life. (And, yes, I did eventually have the breakthrough I was looking for.)

And scene! Thanks so much for reading, everyone. And don't forget to tune in Wednesday for the fright of your life with It Lives Beneath! We've also got some magical sneak peeks from The Elementalists brewing...

-Shae

The Senior

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It's time to head back to Hartfeld in The Senior! We've come a long way from the early days of Choices with The Freshman: Book 1, and it's exciting to reach the culmination of your college years with The Senior. Now let's talk to The Senior team!

What's going down in The Senior? Tell us everything. 3... 2... 1... Go!

Sara: Well, I can hardly tell you everything, but I will say that, since it’s your final year of college as well as the final book in the series, you and your friends will be feeling the crunch! The Senior is all about going out and finding inspiration. In this book, you’ll jump into writing a thesis, getting guidance from your advisor, completing a bucket list of adventures, and taking big steps in your relationships! With the future coming up so quickly, will you live in the moment, look to the past, or plan ahead?

There are quite a few milestones and big moments in The Senior. Want to drop a few hints about that?

Saran: Graduation is coming up for the Hartfeld crew, so that’s a major milestone right there! Accordingly, players will also have to prepare to present their senior thesis, but they’ll need to take opportunities to strengthen their work. And of course, there are some big decisions ahead of you, like choosing a career and deciding what you want from your romantic relationships.

Who will we be seeing in The Senior? Any familiar faces or new friends?

Sara: It wouldn’t be a book in The Freshman series without a few new friends! A few might even be of the fluffy, cuddly variety... You’ll also get to spend a little more time with your mom and dad! As for familiar faces, you’ll certainly get some insights into mentors past and present. For one, you can look forward to some new insights about a certain lovably cantankerous writer!

Senior year is no joke. Who out of the cast would you pick to be your study buddy for your final year of college?

Saran: Definitely Grant’s dog, Burpy. Can you imagine? A book in one hand, and giving that pup a belly rub with the other? No human measures up. I would look forward to studying every day if I got to snuggle with him.

Sara: My impulse is to say Tyler, because STUDY BUDDIES for life, but I also wanna say Kaitlyn. A) I love her. B) She would have the BEST studying playlists. I have a playlist dedicated to and inspired by Kaitlyn, and it rocks. And C) I do my best studying when I can help someone else with the material, so a less extreme version of cramming-with-Kaitlyn would be great for both of us and fun at the same time!

Elizabeth: Edgar Lucas. That dude knows his way around a D&D handbook, a study guide, AND an electronic lute. Plus, he's totally famous from trying to crash America's Most Eligible!

Shayn: I would pick Zack, hands down. I think I’d probably do about average on whatever test we took afterward, but I’d be living my best life.

Got any wisdom for students starting their senior year of college?

Saran: Make the most of your last year as much as you can, but don’t feel bad if you’re not as plugged into everything as you may have been in the past. Senior year can get really busy, and that forces you to prioritize the things and people that you really want to invest your time in. Some stuff is bound to slip from your schedule, and that’s okay!  Also, don’t freak out if you don’t know what you’re gonna do after you graduate, because I had NO CLUE and I turned out okay.

Elizabeth: Don't let the stress take away your ability to enjoy the moment. Take breaks, breathe deep, have fun. Enjoy your last few months before you have to leave college!

Shayn: Focus on that finish line! I had a lot of other things trying to distract me, and it would've been easy to fall behind or even quit. Keep going! Whatever hurdles pop up in your path will be in your past soon enough.

Sara: Rolls a wisdom check... Let’s see... Play D&D. I found an RPG group my senior year and they became some of my closest friends, and helped my creativity and writing. But in all seriousness, my advice is to find something fun and exciting to help combat that serious case of Senioritis. If you open yourself up to new activities, you open yourself up to new friends, new passions, and maybe even new crushes! Who doesn’t fall hard for their DM every now and then? ;)

And finally: no one’s college career is the same. Maybe your senior year is your victory lap. Maybe you changed majors late in the game, or added a major (or a minor or two…), or realized that college wasn’t the right path for you and pursued a different dream. Just because your college experience is different from others, doesn’t mean it’s not just as valid!

Take note, everyone! Check back tomorrow to reunite with Kaitlyn, James, Chris, Becca, and Zig in The Senior. And stay tuned for Big Sky Country (launching 9/21!), and the return of It Lives and High School Story later this fall! Along the way, you might just get the chance to study at the most prestigious magical university around...

-Jessica

Looking Back on The Royal Romance

Behind-the-scenes shenanigans from The Royal Romance team!

Behind-the-scenes shenanigans from The Royal Romance team!

Today marked the final chapter of Veil of Secrets and The Royal Romance: Book 3. While Veil of Secrets is a relatively new book, The Royal Romance is a series that dates back to April 2017 (For a throwback, read about Book 1 here!). Now that Book 3 has wrapped up, let's take a look back on the series with the writing team:

It's been a pretty intense race to the finish line for The Royal Romance: Book 3. How are you feeling? Are you doing okay?

Jennifer: I think we've mostly made it out alive. As the saying goes, you can sleep when you're dead... or when you've completed all the chapters of all three books of your series.

Kara: The Royal Romance has always had a really tight schedule, but Book 3 pushed us to our limits! There were a lot of late nights, a lot of weekends spent writing. We really wanted to get this right (or as right as possible in the time we had!) and give readers an ending they'd like. Our motto for the last 8 weeks has been "Fall across the finish line," because we knew we just had to wrap up chapter 22 and then we could collapse.

Jeffrey: But in our trials and tribulations, we found enlightenment. Now, we spend our days upon a mountain in divine bliss, drinking tea, sampling pastries, and petting corgis.

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(Okay, sure, Jeffrey.) The Royal Romance started out as a lighthearted fairy tale romance. Did you know all along that it would end up here -- a story with political intrigue, enemies-turned-allies, and one very adorable corgi?

Kara: TRR always had darker elements lurking in the background, even from the first book, but the deeper you go into court life, the more dangerous things are. Coming off of writing The Crown & The Flame, I always love when Jennifer and Jeffrey let me put in some darker twists. Players will probably be happy that they didn't let me kill off as many characters as I wanted to. I wanted Bastien to die at the start of Book 3. I wanted Madeleine to die when she got poisoned. Whenever I'm involved, the body count tends to go up...

Jeffrey: "Kara's trail of bodies" was a phrase we used in brainstorms.

Jennifer: Like Kara said, we did always have some darker themes written in between the lines, so it was less a matter of 'will the story end up being about political intrigue and your enemies?' and more like 'when will the story turn?' I will admit, I was delightfully surprised when we decided to take a small scene in the ceremony chapter and refashion it into an all-out battle between your bridal party and the assassins.

Early on, some readers picked up on a few connections between The Royal Romance and The Crown & The Flame. Those connections were front and center in Book 3. When was that planned? Were there any plot details that readers may have missed?

Jennifer: Well, what happened was, back when we were creating Book 1, we wanted an evil redhead to be your antagonist, and Kara said, "Oh, what if we used Zenobia, but the twist is she's a Nevrakis descendant?" Ever since then, we set a precedent that little TC&TF details could populate the TRR world, and I regret nothing. I think Olivia being a Nevrakis descendant is my favorite connection, but other details that pleased me were that Kenna's portrait hangs in the palace dining room and that Lucretia is wearing the very necklace that Val stole in TC&TF.

Kara: I was really sad to leave The Crown & The Flame, so I was delighted that we got to put in some connections. I think most have been caught, except I don't think anyone has mentioned how the little girl in Lythikos is named after Val. My favorite link is Leon’s Ram’s Head Mace and Val's Dead Man's Flail making an appearance.

Olivia: My favorite references are actually some of the smallest ones. I live for every brief, snarky line Olivia throws in about her ancestors - with that Nevrakis history, there's an endless well to draw from.

Jeffrey: I'm going to go with Maxwell’s Coney Island outfit with the necklace of Bubbles, the baby kraken.

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Out of the whole series, what was your favorite moment?

Jennifer: There are so many! But I'd have to say my favorite moment was in Book 1 where you follow Drake out into the snow and he explains why he dislikes the court and how he let his sister down. We'd purposefully written Drake up to that point as being slightly antagonistic, but this was the kind of the moment where I could see the main character falling for Drake. (Though, having said that, I definitely teared up reading both the proposals and the marriage vows.)

Jeffrey: Given my answers in the previous Inside Choices, I’m obligated to say the moment a series of hat jokes paid off in a magnificently gaudy hat. In non-hat-related moments, I really enjoyed showing off everyone’s house outfits during the costume ball in Book 3. Hats off to the art team!  

Meagan: Hmmm… I really can't say that I have a favorite moment. There are way too many! I might have to pick the reveal of our corgi in a tuxedo, because it felt like the culmination of my own behind-the-scenes quest to add adorableness to everything. I'd say probably the most satisfying scenes for me to write were the proposals and Anton's ultimate defeat. As enjoyable as it is to see the culmination of your positive relationships with the people you've grown to know and love, it's also very satisfying to finally see everyone work together to defeat the enemy that has taken so much from them.  

Olivia: I think I have to go with the wedding vows your love interest recites. We really wanted the wedding to show just how far you and your love interest have come together, and that moment in the cathedral captured so much of what we love about each of these characters.

If you had to form a Royal Council, who in The Royal Romance would you pick as your top advisor?

Olivia: Hana! She knows almost as much about the court and kingdom as Liam, and she has the kind of generosity and empathy I'd want my Royal Council to live by.

Meagan: I'd pick the little girl from Lythikos who won her spot as one of their fiercest warriors by doing 'a tactical analysis of the greatest battles in Nevrakis history.' She's going places.

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Do you have anything you'd like to say to The Royal Romance fans?

Jennifer: It was New Year's Eve 2017 when Kara and I were hanging out and talking about how fun it would be to write a story about a girl trying to win the heart of a prince. It was a long path to get here filled with a lot of brainstorms and a lot of late nights riddled with feelings of self-doubt, but I wouldn't have changed a second of it. Thank you for reading our story. It was a privilege to write it for you.

Kara: First, I'm sorry to anyone that we've let down. TRR was an ambitious series that tried to do a lot of things with an already challenging schedule, and we didn't always pull off what we wanted with the flawless execution we envisioned.

Second, I've been working on The Royal Romance for the last year and a half. We've released 3 books. 60 chapters. Writing for Choices -- the weekly deadlines, the pressure, the multiple plotlines to keep straight -- it's intense, but it's also the most amazing writing I've ever done. I fell in love with these characters like they're my real friends -- at midnight, I'd be messaging Jennifer and Jeffrey with ideas. Everyday I feel grateful and excited for the stories I get to tell and the team that I get to tell them with, and that's completely and entirely because of all of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for making The Royal Romance possible!

Jeffrey: Thank you for coming with us on this wild journey that we’ve been on since last year. We’re sorry for the bugs we hit during the wedding. Thank you for bearing with us through the fixes.

Meagan: The Royal Romance was the first project I worked on at Pixelberry, and you have all made it such an incredible experience. The community of fans is truly astonishing and inspiring to me. You are writers, you are artists, you are culture critics, and so much more. Thank you for using your talents to celebrate these characters who are so dear to us. Most of all, thank you for making this past year working on The Royal Romance an amazing, unforgettable experience.

Olivia: The Royal Romance was also my first project here, so it'll always have a special place in my heart. Knowing that this series means as much to our readers as it does to us makes all the late nights, in-depth brainstorms, and hat jokes worth it. Although our plot includes intrigue, drama, and romance, the heart of this story is about an unbreakable group of friends. It's wonderful to see people finding that same kind of friendship through the stories we get to tell, and I hope you'll carry your memories of these characters with you for a long time. I know we all will!

Finally, what's next for The Royal Romance team? And of course, what's next for The Royal Romance series?

Jennifer: Onwards and upwards! I'm turning my attention to a different project for the time being. As for the future of TRR, while we haven't definitively planned anything after Book 3, we do feel there's more story to tell, so it might not quite be curtains for these characters...

Kara: We've promised that you'll see these characters again, and you will! Now that Book 3 is wrapped up, Jennifer, Olivia, and I will be brainstorming and working hard to figure out what form that will take. Whatever comes next, we want to make sure we have an exciting, fun, and new story to tell. But unfortunately, it could be months or even a year or more before we'll be able to release something, so please hang in there, and play all the other amazing stories coming out in Choices in the meantime! If you love and miss TRR, the best thing you can do is keep supporting Choices the way you have been: Leaving 5 star reviews, sharing the game with your friends... and trusting that we're hellbent on making whatever comes next even more awesome!

Olivia: As Kara mentioned, I'll be working with her and Jennifer on whatever the future of these characters may be. We can't share any details yet, but just know that we'll do our very best to make it a worthy new chapter in the Choices universe! In the meantime, I'll also be writing for America's Most Eligible, which serves up a very different kind of drama than what we've seen in Cordonia.

Meagan: I'll continue to work in the realm of courtly romance and intrigue as a writer for Desire and Decorum! I'm going to miss Riley, Liam, Hana, Drake, Maxwell, Bertrand, Olivia, and the rest of the TRR crew, and I can't wait to see what they get up to in the next chapter of their story, whatever that may be.

Jeffrey: I’m moving onto a top secret undisclosed project about [redacted] and lots and lots of [redacted] with a side helping of [redacted].

That's all for The Royal Romance (for now!). When we've got concrete news about the future of this series, we'll let you know. But for now, we hope you'll stay tuned for what's coming this fall: The Senior, Big Sky Country, It Lives 2 (real title still to come...), High School Story, and perhaps a magical adventure...

-Jessica
 

Perfect Match: Book 2

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Perfect Match returns tomorrow with more romance and adventure than ever before! Book 2 takes the story of Perfect Match to the next level as you face down danger, travel the world, and explore what love means to you. But first, let's talk to the writing team! Make sure you're all caught up on Book 1...

Book 1 ended on a major cliffhanger. What's the story with Perfect Match: Book 2? Will all our questions be answered?

Coco: The stakes are definitely higher in Book 2! You'll peek behind the veil of Eros and learn what they have in store... but they'll always have more secrets! We hope to provide another globetrotting adventure, in which you'll also get to deepen your friendships and relationships. Life on the run can take its toll, and it'll be important for you and your companions to carve out moments of normalcy and connection.

This sequel definitely builds on Book 1. What are you personally most excited about in this book? 

Coco: I'm so excited for you to learn more about our more mysterious characters, such as Alana and Cecile. The origin and early days of Eros are also very intriguing! We've got some sequences and flashbacks that are rather dreamlike, and I can't wait for players to encounter these moments.

Taylor: The stakes are higher than ever in Book 2, but honestly, the parts I’m most excited about are the quieter moments -- the ones where we really get to see how everyone is dealing with what’s been happening in their own way. There’s a lot of growth and healing in this book, and those gentler moments are some of my favorites.

Will we meet anyone new in Book 2? See any familiar faces?

Natasha: Yes and yes! We'll be delving deeper into Rowan and Cecile's backstories, and a few familiar faces will come to your rescue. Plus, someone else will be playing a bigger role...

Taylor: There's a bunch of new characters too, which we’re really excited about! Some will be friends, and some will be foes.

Coco: And there may or may not be a very, very cute robot pet companion!

Perfect Match: Book 1 delved into the theme of identity and what it means to be, well, you. Will Book 2 explore these themes more?

Natasha: Definitely. I think someone's identity is made of different facets: your ideology, where you're from, your family, how you express yourself, your interests. We'll touch base with all of these aspects for Damien, Sloane, Hayden… even Nadia!

Jaylee: We delve more into each character's past and where they come from in this book -- how important it is to connect with your own personal history, and how much that informs who you are in the future. Even with Hayden, we get to learn more about the history of the Matches and how they came to be the way they are, and what parts of that history Hayden wants to keep as part of themselves.

What was the brainstorming process like for Book 2? How did you decide what direction to go with this book?

Coco: The brainstorming process for Perfect Match is pretty unique because our writing team is spread all over the globe! Australia, Indonesia, Kansas, and California... We like to joke that we have writers working from the future. Because of the geographical distance, having the time to regroup and brainstorm all together as a team is really special. (We may even use our writer's experience and expertise to visit Indonesia later on in the book!) In terms of direction, we knew that we wanted to lean into the adventure and mystery of Perfect Match, while still keeping the themes of romance and identity at the heart of the book.

Last, but not least, what’s your Perfect Match type?

Taylor: My Perfect Match is the ‘Best Friend’ -- outgoing, sweet, humorous, and impulsive.

Jaylee: Artist! Which is a little ironic, given how the Matches feel about art...

Natasha: Diplomat, which I thought was the most appealing out of all the Matches before taking the quiz. So... yay Eros?

Coco: I got Executive, but I also know how the quiz works, so it's hard to take it objectively! Maybe I cheated to get the result I wanted... But now I think I like the Joker more, so I think you and your Perfect Match type are always evolving!

There you have it! Who's your Perfect Match? What books are you looking forward to playing this fall? Share with us! And stay tuned for The Senior, Big Sky Country, It Lives, High School Story, and much, much more! Thanks for reading! 

-Shae

Across the Void

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As promised, more Choices books are here! The first two chapters of Across the Void launched today in Choices, marking the beginning of our first space opera book! You'll explore the galaxy, save the day, and maybe even find love in this interstellar adventure. For more on Across the Void from the writing team, keep reading:

Greetings! Take me to your leader... and give me the lowdown on Across the Void.

Ariel: In Across the Void, you get to play as the main character, as well as your siblings Eos and Pax. These three siblings are all part of an alien race called the Cyber, the most technologically advanced race in the galaxy, whose genetically designed bodies have been fused with biotechnology. Players will get to captain their own luxury transport ship, defend the galaxy as a keeper of the peace, and act as a spy in the civil war.

The people want to know: Can we date an alien? And is it true that everyone's an alien?

Ariel: Yes. It's all true. :D

Coral: Across the Void is a human-free universe! You can date aliens from all over our galaxy, from royalty with flowers growing through their hair to admirals with stars on their skin. You’ll have to play to date ‘em all!

Across the Void is like nothing we've done before in Choices. What was the worldbuilding for this book like? And what are you excited for readers to encounter?

Ariel: There are over a dozen different alien races readers will encounter in Across the Void! Each has a different look, style, and comprehensive history of their planet and society. The amazing art team working on Across the Void designed every alien, planet, and spaceship with breathtaking detail. They really made everything in our galaxy come to life!

There's a lot going on in Across the Void (in the best possible way!) -- family drama, a galactic war, and so much more. Can you talk a little bit about that? What were some of the challenges and highlights of writing Across the Void?

Ariel: Along with playing your main character and their siblings (who each have their own set of love interests!), you'll get to choose who you side with in the galactic war. As the story continues, players will gain allegiance points for either side when making key decisions.

Coral: I think my favorite part of working on this project was collaborating with the music team to come up with Across the Void’s unique sound. We had a lot of different themes to hit—the war, the sense of discovery, and moments of lighthearted fun. For example, it was difficult to pin down a somber song to fit the range of all our somber scenes. One of the highlights was getting to work in a completely new universe, unlike anywhere we’ve ever visited in Choices before. I got to really exercise my creative muscles to stay true to all the unique rules in this galaxy.

Finally, what's your favorite work of science fiction?

Ariel: Science fiction is my absolute favorite genre! I'm a MASSIVE Star Wars fan with an ever-growing collection of memorabilia from the franchise. Scifi is amazing in any medium, from books like Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro, Putting Up Roots by Charles Sheffield, Lost Stars by Claudia Gray, Rogue Planet by Greg Bear, Being by Kevin Brooks, and Red Handed by Gena Showalter to television shows like Firefly, Kyle XY, Travelers, The Orville, Almost Human, and Stargate SG-1 to movies like Upside Down, Annihilation, District 9, and Sunshine.

Taage: Philip K. Dick really knew how to create evocative dystopian futures where every facet of society was fully realized and placed a different pressure on the protagonist. I grew up watching the movie Bladerunner regularly (a family fave) which was based on one of his stories, so he's an inspiration for sure!

Coral: I know we have a lot of Mass Effect fans out there, and I’m no exception! I grew up watching plenty of sci-fi, but never really connected with it until I played through the trilogy. Shepard’s journey to save humanity--and the galaxy--from destruction really stuck with me, and I loved getting to know all the characters, from the wisecracking pilot, Joker, to the emotionally compromised sniper, Garrus.

To everyone reading along, hope you've embarked on your space adventure! Also, in case you missed it, Perfect Match: Book 2 launches this September! It Lives, High School Story, and The Senior will be returning in the fall as well, along with Big Sky Country. We've come a long way since Choices launched 2 years ago, and we hope you'll stay tuned for what we have planned next!

-Jessica




 

Desire & Decorum

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Step back in time to Regency-era England for our newest Choices book! Desire & Decorum launches this Monday on July 30th. This book is filled with romance, drama, and witty retorts -- everything you love from your favorite Jane Austen book, and then some. For an early behind-the-scenes look at the making of Desire & Decorum, let's talk to the writing team:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a new Choices book must be in want of an introduction! So tell us, what's Desire & Decorum all about?

Rachel: Desire & Decorum (or D&D, as I love to call it — no, not the kind with dragons. Sorry to disappoint!) is a Regency romance set in England in the early 1800s. When you become the heiress to the grand Edgewater Estate, you’ll have to navigate high society to cement your place among the British elite and even have a chance at love along the way!

What are you most excited for readers to encounter in Desire & Decorum?

Rachel: There’s so much to be excited for in this book: the art (Have you seen that cover? Shout out to our AMAZING art team!), the gorgeous music, and the love interests! I cannot wait for readers to be whisked away to this brilliant world, and hope they fall in love with the time period, just as I have.

JBH: We have absolutely gorgeous new artwork for the various estates you visit in the course of the story, along with all the different period dresses! I’m also excited about the ways in which we tried to bring diversity to what usually ends up as a very white and homogeneous genre. We really looked at how the population was changing within England at the time and tried to bring in elements like the black Americans who fought for England in the Revolution and War of 1812, and Britain’s changing relationship with places like the Ottoman Empire. We wanted to make sure that all of our players would feel that they had a way to connect with this story.

"It's court or be courted" in Desire & Decorum! Can you talk a little bit about what that will entail? (No major spoilers, please!)

Rachel: Well, in true Choices fashion, you'll have several love interests to pursue, but be warned that the course of love never did run smooth... or quick. A big thing in Regency romance is matchmaking — there’s a reason Mrs. Bennett was trying to marry off her five daughters! In D&D, we’ll explore some of that matchmaking, along with the complex social scene. Perhaps you’ll find a suitor who suits you, even if your family doesn’t approve.

Ali: Being the daughter of a powerful family means it's all about the London Season. Will you choose to marry someone above your station or give everything up to follow your heart?

This book is our first foray into historical fiction (and certainly not our last!). What were some of the challenges of writing in this time period?

Rachel: There’s so much RESEARCH! No joke, but I currently have six Regency books on my desk. We’re talking reading a ton, scouring the internet for info, and binge watching every Jane Austen movie/show ever, as well as Doctor Thorne and Downton Abbey. A group of us at the office even went Regency dancing to get into the spirit! (Fun fact: Given the nature of the dances and the ratio of men to women present at a particular gathering, same-sex dancing wasn't unheard of.) A lot of research went into this, and we’ve tried to stay as true to the time period as possible. I think it paid off, but that’s something readers can judge for themselves!

JBH: I have to give a shout-out to all the amazing Regency romance writers who maintain so many blogs and websites specifically dedicated to research on the Regency period! They made it so easy for newcomers to learn things like: “What kind of carriage would an earl’s daughter ride in?” or “How did people decide who to dance with at a party?” or even “What operas were playing in London in 1816?” Romance authors are so generous with their time and knowledge. It really made working in this period a pleasure.

Ali: We tried to strike a good balance between historical jargon and language that would be more friendly to our modern-era readers. Matching this voice was a bit of a challenge for me... but also a good excuse to watch nothing but Regency-era tv shows and movies for a few weeks straight!

What's your favorite Jane Austen (or Regency-era) novel?

Rachel: I have a soft spot for Pride & Prejudice myself, as the first Austen novel I ever read. Darcy and Elizabeth are such strong characters with great arcs and a wonderful love story. I love the sass and the sparks that fly between the two of them. And when Darcy declares his love for Elizabeth? I squee every single time. “In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

JBH: I tend to prefer modern writers’ takes on the Regency period. I particularly enjoy Mary Balough and Julia Quinn. As far as Austen movies, I was a big fan of the Gwyneth Paltrow “Emma.” It really captured the subtle humor of the genre. That’s something we definitely tried for in Desire & Decorum -- Austen wrote the original romantic comedies, and we wanted to make sure that players get plenty of laughs with their friends in between the big romantic moments.

Ali: Oooh, I have to go with Pride & Prejudice! I'm a sucker for both the book and the Keira Knightley movie.  

Swoon! All of us at Pixelberry are counting down the days until Desire & Decorum launches. And of course, stay tuned for what's next! We've got It Lives and Perfect Match returning in the fall, along with The Senior and the next High School Story book! We've also got more romance and sci-fi on the way as well. Get ready to make your debut in high society this Monday!

-Jessica