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When Rosalyn Eves was in fifth grade, a teacher spoke the words that have set many an author on their path: "You're pretty good at this writing thing."

But, after getting a "very bad epic fantasy" out of her system when she was a teenager, Eves found that other things took priority: school, then grad school, family, work.

It wasn't till her second child was born that she realized two things: "I always wanted to write a book. And it's not going to happen unless I start writing now."

So she started and didn't stop — thanks in part to the robust writing community she found in Utah. She went to conferences and met scads of local authors who provided advice — how to pitch a book to an agent, how to find a good agent — as well as inspiration.

The possibility that someone in the publishing industry will pluck your book from the "slush pile" of unsolicited manuscripts can seem as remote as winning the lottery. But getting to know successful writers who are also normal people — working day jobs or raising kids or both — "makes it seem doable," she says.

A mother of three and a part-time professor at Southern Utah University, Eves wrote a little bit at a time. She'd honed the slow-but-steady skill when she'd worked on her Penn State Ph.D. dissertation during her first child's brief, infrequent naps.

"You can finish anything, even if you just have a little bit of time," Eves says, "as long as you are consistently putting in time."

Eves first wrote a middle-grade book that "went nowhere." Next, she drew on her love of the Regency era and her time spent on an LDS mission in Hungary to write "Blood Rose Rebellion." The novel combines her two "very favorite things": fantasy and historical fiction.

"I love the historical details, but I like adding the layer of magic," she says. "It makes it more fun."

Eves entered her manuscript in an online contest called Pitch Wars, where aspiring authors vie for the chance to be mentored by a professional writer. Their polished manuscripts then go on to a second round, where literary agents read book summaries and opening paragraphs, then bid to see 50 pages or the whole book.

After scoring a mentor and significantly revising her book, Eves came out of Pitch Wars with requests from 16 or 17 agents. The success gave her the confidence to submit her manuscript to more agents — and she received several offers right away.

Two years later, "Blood Rose Rebellion" is being released Tuesday to much hype, with two sequels planned.

The story centers on Anna, born into an upper-echelon British family, but without magic — the gift that this version of 19th-century society prizes above all else. Money, status, politics and magic are inexorably intertwined, and only the upper crust are permitted to wield magic. Thus Anna has been shunted to the side her whole life, seen by her mother and her elder sister as an embarrassment without marriage prospects.

After a disastrous incident at her sister's coming-out ball, Anna is sent to Hungary to live with relatives in a crumbling estate. This new life has echoes of her old one — gowns, dances, propriety — but comes with a freedom that allows her to meet people like Gábor, a handsome young Romani man, and a group of revolutionaries whose discontent with the social hierarchy is reaching a breaking point.

And as Anna learns more about magic, she discovers her supposed lack of ability might in fact be the opposite — a dormant power that could remake the world.

Anna isn't a kick-flipping, sword-wielding fantasy heroine, but that doesn't mean she's not a strong character, Eves says.

"I wanted to write somebody who could learn to be strong within the frameworks of what was acceptable for a girl in her period," she says. "Anna pushes some of those — she's much more independent than her mother and the other authorities in her life would like her to be — but I still felt that she was a realistic 19th-century girl."

It's important for girls to be able to read about characters who look and act like them, Eves says, and know that "there's not one right way of being strong."

She adds, with a laugh: "It's fun to read about a heroine who can wield a sword just as well as a guy can, but … I wouldn't be able to wield a sword — I would be dead if somebody charged at me with a sword."

Twitter: @racheltachel —

Blood Rose Rebellion

By Rosalyn Eves

Knopf Books for Young Readers (March 28, 2017)

Pages • 416

Price • $17.99

For fans of • Patricia C. Wrede's "Sorcery and Cecelia," Jessica Day George's "Silver in the Blood" and Alison Goodman's "The Dark Days Club"

Magical history tour

P Eves will launch her debut novel "Blood Rose Rebellion" this week, with appearances at several Utah bookstores.

When • Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday

Where • Main Street Books in Cedar City; the Provo Library; and The King's English Bookshop

More information • —

Magical History Tour

Utah author Rosalyn Eves will launch her debut novel "Blood Rose Rebellion" this week, with appearances at several Utah bookstores.

When • Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday

Where • Main Street Books in Cedar City; the Provo Library; and The King's English Bookshop

More information •