Friday, November 9, 2018

Types of Tears (A Poem)

Everything's fine, don't worry. This is just something I've had reason to think about this past week, and I decided to share the results with you.

The Types of Tears 

i. 
There are tears of sorrow,
tears that overflow the soul
with longing for what is lost
or what never was.
Bad enough, your own tears,
but worse, a friend's,
whose sadness you cannot wipe away.

ii.
There are tears of pain,
of agony your body cannot bear,
or worse,
of a deeper ache within your soul,
of a heart torn asunder,
of hopes shattered and unmendable,
 of breaks that cannot be set right.

iii. 
There are tears of anger,
of frustration, of helplessness,
when you could take on anything —
but not this.
When the mountain before you is too tall to climb,
when your foe is too big to fight,
when you do not understand
(even though you always understand),
the tears come to burn your heart and mind and face
and leave you numb
so you can push on anyway.

 iv. 
There are tears unwept,
tears held back for another's sake
(because you cannot add more pain to theirs),
tears that should be there
but aren't
and you wonder why.
Are you broken?
Or just different?

v.
There are tears of joy,
of relief, of gladness,
tears unexplained save for
an overflow of the soul.
Your heart is full of gladness,
your spirit, full of hope,
your mouth, full of laughter,
and you are so filled,
it cannot help but spill over.

Friday, November 2, 2018

October 2018 Doings!

So, anyone else think October felt like an abnormally short month? Yeah, me too, especially the last couple weeks. It's just been one thing after another all month. That means I've spent a lot of time feeling stressed . . . but on the upside, it means this should be a fairly interesting Doings! post.

Writing!


  • So, just in case you missed it, I published a book! Blood in the Snow officially released on Kindle on October 26 with the rest of the Magic Mirrors tour. If you didn't get a chance to read the tour posts earlier, I definitely recommend doing that now. There's a complete list of posts over here.
  • Most of my writing-ish time this month went to formatting Blood in the Snow and writing blog tour posts. I finished the eBook formatting around the beginning of the month, but paperback formatting took considerably longer . . . thus why the paperback release is delayed. But I got proof copies on Wednesday, so y'all shouldn't have to wait too much longer!
  • When I wasn't working on Blood in the Snow, I was editing Mechanical Heart. I've decided to expand several elements and change a few others, which means that it's not going as fast as I hoped. But I'm super happy about the changes I've made! (Josiah has a major-character sister now! It's very exciting!) If you want to beta-read it, you can sign up for that here.

Reading!


  • Unsurprisingly, about a third of my reading this month was taken up by Magic Mirrors titles. I read and reviewed both of Kendra E. Ardnek's new releases: Red as Snow and The Seven Drawers. Both were good, but The Seven Drawers was far better. Honestly, it's probably one of my favorite Snow White retellings I've ever read.
  • The only new book I completely read this month: Hank Green's novel An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. It was good, though not quite what I was expecting. Though it's technically sci-fi, it's mostly a contemporary narrative about how fame and the internet affect a person's life (for good and bad). As you'd expect from one of the vlogbrothers, it's a very thoughtful book . . . which isn't to say that it isn't frequently sarcastic, humorous, or exciting, because it is all those things. It also has a certain amount of content that means I can't really recommend it to young readers, but aside from that, I'd say it's worth a read.
  • The rest of my books for the month were all rereads — including the Magic Mirrors books, since I alpha-read both of them a while back. But the two "true" rereads were Scholar's Plot and Weave a Circle Round. Both were read as stress-relief, both did splendidly as stress-relief, and both were just as good the second time around as they were the first. It helps that they're both mysteries of a kind, so this time around, I was able to pick up the clues that I missed on the first read.

Watching!

  • Given that this month included Fall Break, it's kind of surprising how little Alana and I actually watched. However, I finally saw the first Indiana Jones movie, so that kind of makes up for it. I enjoyed it, though I'm not wild about it. (I also ended up getting teased by my roommate's dad for not being terribly interested in the awkward romance scenes, so that . . . probably didn't help.) I do approve of Indy as a character (he seems to maintain an excellent balance of Professional and Awesome Adventure, and he's quite sensible about things overall), and the movie was fun.
  • I also ended up watching (mostly by accident) a fair bit of CSI. And when I say "mostly by accident," I mean that it was on and I happened to be in the same room, and . . . ok, yeah, I got invested. It was interesting, and I'd watch more of it if I was given the opportunity, even though the episodes we watched were on the weirder side. That said, I'm not going to go seek out opportunities to watch it. I enjoy the mystery and the science, but I have a long enough watchlist already.
  • We did manage to watch a little more of Sword Art Online, though not as much as I would've liked. And we ended on a semi-cliffhanger, which I want to resolve at some point . . . but my roommate and I have both been super busy. It's very frustrating. On the upside, I'm enjoying the show more now that I've gotten into the swing of it (and now that the main character is becoming slightly less of an angstball).
  • And I watched quite a bit more Miraculous Ladybug. I've made it to episode 14 of season two, which introduces Luka (Lukas?), and . . . ok, look, I do not approve. I mean, as a character, he's fine, but just the two main characters already have a full-on love square going. Do we really need to make it a love . . . what shape would that even be? I don't know.
  • Also, the fact that Rena Rogue is, so far, not a full-time superhero is a tragedy and I need someone to assure me that it will be remedied sometime in the near future, please.
  • Yeah. I like this show, in case you can't tell.
  • I also watched a stupid amount of Studio C as stress relief around the end of the month . . . not the best decision of my life, but also not the worst. At least it's pretty solid humor.

Life!

  • So, we're going to skim over the first half of the month because nothing terribly exciting happened. (To be more specific: I spent half the week sitting in the 2D classroom, painting swatches and cutting out 5/8" squares from those swatches. And by "half the week" I do mean half the week.) It wasn't unenjoyable, especially the painting part, but it was still exhausting.
  • And then we finally got to Fall Break and I had a chance to relax. I may or may not have relaxed more than I should've, but I also had way more trouble than I expected with what I got done, so . . . I think it's ok? I got enough done, at any rate. And I played, like, five games of Pandemic in a row, which was awesome.
  • And then things got exciting because BOOK RELEASE AHHHHHHH.
  • Anyway. Yeah. The book release happened to be the same week as a very large project in Marketing, which was one of the things that I should've worked on more over break than I actually did. I got it done on time, but it was a much closer thing than I like. The assignment wasn't bad — we were creating social media playbooks for the Communications department, which is sort of like some of what I did at my internship over the summer. It was just a lot of work.
  • But I got it done! And I got through the book release! And it was all very exciting! And then I high-key crashed afterward because I was so tired . . . but not for long, because HALLOWEEN! I absolutely love Halloween, y'all, mostly because it gives me an excuse to create and dress up in cool costumes. For one Halloween event, I pulled out my Mistcloak that I made freshman year. For the other, I was going to go as a ghostwriter (not an actual ghostwriter, but a writing-themed ghost, because it was a PWID party and everyone loves writing-pun-based costumes, right?). But that costume kind of failed at the last minute, mostly because I couldn't really move in it all that well. So, at the prompting of a friend, I threw together a backup . . . and then got complimented on it anyway, arguably more so than I have the past two years. Life is weird, y'all.
  • Anyway, yeah. Wednesday was a good day: I was coming off the emotional high of one successful Halloween event and headed towards another; I didn't have a ton that I needed to do; the weather was warm, if not nice; I'd just discovered an opportunity to do something I've wanted to do for years . . . and, as the cherry on top, that's when my proof copy of Blood in the Snow arrived!
  • So, yeah. This was a busy, stressful month. But it was a good month all the same.

November Plans!

  • It's NaNoWriMo. I am insane, and I also need extra writing motivation. GUESS WHAT I'M DOING THIS MONTH.
  • Yeah. That's happening. My plan is to work on Actual Writing Job short stories and Mechanical Heart edits. Like last year, I'm aiming for 25 hours of writing and editing on those two projects instead of 50,000 words. That'll be more effective, less stressful, and will allow me to count the time I spend researching sign language as work time. (If the last seven chapters are any indication, I'm going to spend a lot of time researching sign language. Thankfully, two of my friends know ASL, and they're being super helpful.)
  • I also found a D&D group, after literal years of casual searching, and I'm SO excited. I thought I'd found one earlier in the semester, but it met at the same time as another org event . . . and then I found this one, which meets at a time I'm actually available, so I'm joining up! I've spent the last couple days figuring out potential characters . . . and, in the process, realized that, if you translate my novel characters to D&D classes, most of them are Rangers and Rogues. Or, in at least one case, a Ranger who multiclassed to Rogue. So that's fun.
  • Classes, of course, will proceed as usual, hopefully. We're getting into final project territory in several of them, which is low-key stressful but also kind of exciting. Thankfully, I have a pretty solid idea of what that project will look like in all my classes but one. I'll also spend a lot of time drawing dice and pencils for 2D projects, but I can live with that.
  • Work will also continue. The last two months have been a bit of a lull — and thank goodness, because I definitely didn't need another thing on my plate this last month. I'm looking forward to most of what I have lined up, though! A lot of it is more design-y, which is a nice change of pace from all the writing I'm doing.
  • Also, Ayo (the dance org) has their showcase in November. I intend to go, even if I have to come up with a reason to not be somewhere else. For one thing, it's awesome; for another, I have several friends who are in it. (No, seriously, I've been looking forward to this all semester. I'm not even kidding.)
That's it for my month. What about yours? How was your October? Any fun plans for November? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Magic Mirrors Tour: The Seven Drawers Review



Happy Halloween, y'all! It's the one day of the year when you have an undeniable excuse to cosplay in public! Sadly, it's also the last day of the Magic Mirrors blog tour . . . but we're finishing up with an awesome book: Kendra E. Ardnek's The Seven Drawers. I got to read multiple versions of this story, and I loved all of them, so naturally I had to review the book for the tour. But we'll get to that in a minute — first, a bit about the book and author.

About the Book

Gwen's life has been absolute misery for the last two months. Her father died, she was written out of the will, her stepmother kicked her out of the house, and, in that time, she's not heard a word from her boyfriend of five years. 

And she might be suffering from insanity. A chest of drawers just appeared at the foot of her bed, and as she opens each drawer, she's spirited away to another realm where she finds herself in increasingly bizarr prisons, each the fault of her stepmother.

Can she win back her life - and kingdoms? - from her stepmother? Or will Editha win?


Find it on: Amazon || Goodreads

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairytales and twisting them in new and exciting ways. She’s been or acting them on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years. “Finish your story, Kendra,” is frequently heard at family gatherings. Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children’s tales that glorify God and His Word.

Find her online at: Website || Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter || Amazon  

 

 

My Review

One thing's for sure: no one can ever accuse Kendra E. Ardnek of having unoriginal ideas. Nor can they accuse her of failing to pull off even the craziest of those ideas. Even the ideas that you think could never work, not in a hundred years, somehow do, often magnificently. The Seven Drawers, her second retelling of the story of Snow White, is no exception.

The Seven Drawers was, if I remember correctly, inspired by misspelling "the seven dwarves." From that phrase, Kendra spins a tale of parallel universes, betrayal, intrigue, true love, mystery, danger, and sacrifice. Through it all, she weaves the tale of Snow White, but in a way you've never seen before.

Aside from the uniqueness of the concept, my favorite part of The Seven Drawers is just how many of the elements of the Snow White story (both the original and the Disney version) Kendra manages to include — and how many variations on the basic storyline she comes up with in the process of creating the overall story. The well-known roles and elements of Snow White — a beautiful princess, a wicked stepmother, a handsome prince, a magic mirror, a poisoned apple, a huntsman sent to cut out the princess's heart — all appear, sometimes in multiple ways. In addition, some often-forgotten pieces of the story, like the comb that the stepmother originally uses on Snow White, appear as well, and even small details in the original become significant here. All these pieces are entwined together with the astonishing creativity you'd expect from Kendra's novels.

Plotwise, The Seven Drawers is, again, very well done. Kendra maintains a steady tension throughout the story that'll keep you from setting the book down in a hurry. Her twists are well thought-out and foreshadowed without being instantly obvious. Of course, the frequent shifts between realms help with that, and Kendra gradually reveals the mystery of those realms in a way that's natural and intriguing.

On the character front, we have a fairly small cast. Gwen is an excellent protagonist: smart and determined and doing her best to be strong in the wake of tragedy. Yet Kendra also allows Gwen to be vulnerable and non-dramatically broken in ways that make her quite relatable. Editha, the evil stepmother, is, well, evil. She's not a sympathetic villain, but she's a cunning opponent, which is what the story needs most. And Jeremy, Gwen's boyfriend, is just a wonderful human being. He's not given as much characterization as some characters, but given the short span of the story, there's not much that could be done about that. He and Gwen are adorable together, though. Relationship goals, those two. 

I'm not going to say that The Seven Drawers is now my favorite of Kendra's novels — not with Lady Dragon, Tela Du and The Worth of a King on the table. But I will say that it's only a spot or two below those. And if you're looking to experience the story of Snow White in a way that no other author could give you, The Seven Drawers is exactly what you need.

---------

Are you excited for The Seven Drawers? What do you think sounds most fascinating about this story? Please tell me in the comments! And, as always, don't forget to check out the rest of the day's tour stops and enter the giveaway on the master post.
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Blog Tour Stops: October 31
Knitted By God's Plan: 7 Reasons to Read
Light and Shadows: 5 Reasons to Read
Heather L.L. FitzGerald: Character Spotlight - Jeremy
The Langauge of Writing: Review
Resting Life: Character Spotlight - Gwen
Reveries: Character Spotlight - Editha.
Or find the full list of stops here.

    

Monday, October 29, 2018

Magic Mirrors Tour: Overpowered: The Awesomeness of Biblical Retellings



Hey'a, everyone! It's Day Five of the Magic Mirrors blog tour, and today we have another Bible-inspired retelling of Snow White . . . but instead of being a sci-fi/fantasy/dystopian reimagining of two tales, this one sets Snow White in the context of the Old Testament era. I beta-read this book, and I absolutely loved it for multiple reasons, but especially for this setting. Other than the Books of the Infinite series, I don't think I've encountered another fantasy book that uses an ancient Israel or Israel-inspired setting for its stories. And, y'know, that needs to change . . . and, in usual form, I'm going to share why I think that. But first (you know the drill), a bit about the book and author.

About the Book

After a blood crime sends Taliyah bat Shammai running from her home, she flees into the hill country. Yet the hills are no place for a woman traveling alone. Strange dreams of talking jackals and mysterious mists are the least of her worries—for she knows that the Avenger of Blood will be following close behind her.

Barred from the Refuge by the circumstances of her crime, Taliyah thinks that her best chance of survival may lie with Cypress and his band of mercenaries: giant Cedar, hardened Thorn, boasting Vine and tidy Fig. Unsure whether to stay or go, Taliyah is reassured by the arrival of a young man with a mysterious past and cardamom-colored eyes. Something tells her that he is a man she can trust. Yet when a new king rises at the city of the Dawn, Taliyah and the seven criminals are called to fight a battle they cannot win. Will the outlaws stand fast in the face of certain death? Can Taliyah ever find safety again? Even escaping the battle may not save her… for the Avenger is still coming.

-- Loosely inspired by the tale of Snow White, this Christian fantasy novella is set in a magical version of ancient Israel. 135 pages (33,000 words) plus 65 pages of bonus features including cut scenes, a bonus short story, author interview, and more. For ages 12 and up.




About the Author

Kathryn McConaughy is a Christian fantasy author. She studied at Geneva College (as well as at sundry other institutions of higher education), where she pursued the goal of learning as many ancient languages as possible. She is the author of “Guardian of Our Beauty,” an ancient Near Eastern Sleeping Beauty tale from the anthology Five Magic Spindles. Kathryn lives in an apartment in Maryland and will probably remain there until the building collapses under the weight of her dissertation materials.








Why Biblical Retellings Are Awesome (And We Totally Need More of Them)

1. They're outside the traditional medieval setting. This isn't an advantage unique to Biblical retellings, but it's still pretty great. Eventually, you want a non-European-medieval fairy tale, and Israel-inspired stories fit that bill splendidly.

2. If the story is set in historical Israel in the actual OT era, it's super fun to try to recognize things. This is one aspect that I really love about Overpowered. It's set in the time period of the book of Judges, and seeing how the author wove that into the story was really cool. But the author also knows a ton about the language and culture of the era, and she used more Hebrew terms as opposed to the modern words, so figuring out the exact place and era was a little more challenging and therefore a little more rewarding.

3. They give new perspective on familiar stories . . . in more ways than one. I mean, that's the whole point of a retelling — the whole point of fantasy in general: that it gives you a new perspective and a new look at a story or idea. And setting your novel in the Old Testament or New Testament era can give you a new perspective not just on any fairy tales you happen to retell but also on that particular era . . . at least if you do your research right.

4. You can weave in cultural legends. Outside of the actual religion, Jewish culture has some pretty interesting folklore, at least based on what I've heard. (Overpowered uses a little of that, which is pretty cool.) And if you expand your view a little, so do the other cultures of the Biblical eras. This could be interesting, though challenging, to weave into a real-world setting, or it could provide some inspiration for an awesome fantasy world.

What do you think? Do you want to read more Biblical-era inspired retellings and retellings set in the actual Biblical eras? Please tell me in the comments! And, as always, remember to check out the rest of today's posts and enter the giveaway!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)
Blog Tour Stops: October 29
Knitted By God's Plan: 7 Reasons to Read
Light and Shadows: 5 Reasons to Read
Dreams and Dragons: The Awesomeness of Biblical Retellings
Heather L.L. FitzGerald: Character Spotlight - Fig
The Labyrinth: Character Spotlight - Taliyah
Unicorn Quester: Character Spotlight - Yotham
Selina J. Eckert: Guest Post - Inspiration for Overpowered
Dragonpen Press: Guest Post - What is Overpowered?
 
Or find the full list of stops here.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Magic Mirrors: For Such a Time As This: Why We Need More Cross-Genre Fiction


Hey'a, everyone! Day four of the Magic Mirrors tour brings us For Such a Time as This by Heather L.L. Fitzgerald. This retelling blends Snow White and Esther with fantasy, sci-fi, and dystopian elements, which is a combination I never saw coming but am super excited for. That crossover of genres is one of the things I'm most excited for about For Such a Time as This, especially since I wish I knew of more cross-genre fiction in general. I'm going to tell you why in a minute . . . but first, a little about the book and author.

About the Book

Queen Vashti the Fair is not only the wife of King Xerxes, she is also—secretly—an enchantress. But thanks to Haman’s flirting she now has a new distinction: deposed. While Vashti loses perks like her holographic trousseau, Haman continues to enjoy his position as second in command, much to Vashti’s vexation.

Mordecai was once a soldier in the king’s private guard, but has since carved out a self-sufficient life for himself and niece Esther. Although citizens are required to have an identity chip for governmental transactions, he and Esther live off the grid and out of big-government’s greedy reach.

Or so he thought.

When Mordecai’s old nemesis, Haman, turns up demanding Esther’s participation in the king’s upcoming beauty pageant, Mordecai arranges to have her transported to the Vale of Seven Dragons for protection. But not before Esther’s charm makes her a target on Vashti’s radar, as Vashti seeks to undermine the outcome of Xerxes’ hunt for a new queen.

Esther is caught between loyalty to her uncle and fear for her future—whether in the care of dragons or in the palace of the king. Will she be brave enough to embrace her destiny, wherever that may be?
Find it on: Amazon || Goodreads

About the Author

Award winning author Heather L.L. FitzGerald writes from her home in Texas, while dreaming of being back in the Pacific Northwest, where she grew up. She is drawn to stories that become good friends--friends you want to revisit--the kind you wish to keep close. Those are the type of novels Heather aspires to write, ones worthy of delicious coffee and a lingering relationship.

The Tethered World was a finalist and The Flaming Sword won the 2017 OCW Cascade Award for Speculative Fiction. So far in 2018 The Genesis Tree has become a finalist for a Realm Award, Selah Award, and an OCW Cascade Award.

Heather's a member of ACFW, Manent Writers, and CAN.

Find her online at: Website || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter || Newsletter || Instagram || Amazon

Why We Need More Cross-Genre Fiction

Ok, let's get something straight right up front: I have nothing against normal, unblended genres. However, I think that not exploring cross-genre fiction closes off a whole multiverse of unique stories, worlds, characters, and more.

See, here's the thing about "pure" genre fiction: after a while, people just start telling the same story in very similar ways. That's not to say that you can't write unique stories within straight fantasy; just the opposite. Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive, Kendra E. Ardnek's Rizkaland Legends, and Jaye L. Knight's Ilyon Chronicles all fit solidly into specific fantasy subgenres (epic or high fantasy, portal fantasy, and low fantasy, respectively), but no one would accuse them of being cliche or unoriginal. 

However, cross-genre fiction encourages authors to take a new look at whatever basic story they're trying to tell, just like Heather takes a new twist on the tale of Snow White. Whether you blend genres, you create new elements and angles for your story. Brandon Sanderson's first Mistborn book is a great example of this. At its most basic level, Mistborn is just another Overthrow the Evil Empire storyline, with a bonus Chosen One trope hanging out in the background. However, its combination of fantasy, dystopia, and heist genres provide the foundation for all the twists that make it so epic and memorable.

Combining genres will affect all areas of a story, as authors take basic plots, character types, props, and aesthetics from each genre and combine them in unique ways. However, the first and biggest area that combined genres effect is usually the setting. For Such a Time as This, for example, combines sci-fi technology, dystopian conditions, and fantasy magic to create its setting. And Mistborn takes the dreary landscape and strict hierarchy of dystopia, the magic and some technology of fantasy, and the urban environment of heist stories to make Scadriel. And all the other story elements, particularly character and plot, are built on the foundation of those settings.

And, of course, cross-genre stories can just result in some fun situations. If you have magic and high-tech elements in the same story, how do those interact? Do the scientists get mad when magic-users mess with their experiments? Or, if you have a contemporary fantasy heist story, how does your team of thieves deal with a security force that includes dragons, mind-readers, and future-readers? No matter what genres you combine, the possibilities are endless.

What do you think? Are you a fan of cross-genre fiction? Are you excited for For Such a Time as This? Please tell me in the comments! After that, make sure you check out the rest of today's tour posts and enter the giveaway, if you haven't already.
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Blog Tour Stops: October 29
Knitted By God's Plan: 7 Reasons to Read
Light and Shadows: 5 Reasons to Read
Dreams and Dragons: The Awesomeness of Biblical Retellings
Heather L.L. FitzGerald: Character Spotlight - Fig
The Labyrinth: Character Spotlight - Taliyah
Unicorn Quester: Character Spotlight - Yotham
Selina J. Eckert: Guest Post - Inspiration for Overpowered
Dragonpen Press: Guest Post - What is Overpowered?
 
Or find the full list of stops here.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Magic Mirrors Release: Blood in the Snow — Meet the Characters!



Today's the day, y'all! Blood in the Snow is out, and I honestly couldn't be more excited! (Or stressed. But I'm always stressed on Fridays, at least until 2-ish, so that's ok.) To everyone who was asking about the paperback: I'm incredibly sorry, but between schoolwork and some pretty extreme difficulties with formatting, I need to delay the paperback release. Everything is almost ready, but right now, everything in my life seems to be taking longer than I expect it to. Again, I'm immensely sorry and will let you all know as soon as the book is out.

In the meantime, the Kindle edition is all set, and everyone who preordered it should be recieving it soon! Or, if you don't want to wait for the paperback, you can buy the Kindle edition and have instant gratification. To that end, have some links, which will both let you get to my book and let you follow me on all the sites.

Find my book on: Amazon || Goodreads
Follow me!
Author Site || Dreams and Dragons || Light and Shadows || Facebook || Goodreads || Amazon

Anyway. My favorite part of writing books is generally creating the characters, and that's true for Blood in the Snow as well. So, today, I thought I'd introduce you to some of the main cast of the book. As a bonus, I have character art (!!!) by two lovely artists: Melanie Morgan and Shelby Ahlborg. Honestly, I'm as happy about the art as I am about the book. So, let's get going!

From the Kingdom of Seven Rivers

Artist credit: Melanie Morgan
Princess Zhu Baili
Long ago, the prophecy was given: the fairest of all would unite divided lands and bring peace to the people. For years, people looked anxiously and consulted the fabled Dragonglass for the one who would fulfill that prophecy. And then Baili was born. As the firstborn princess of the Kingdom of Seven Rivers, a child of royalty and magic, with a Bloodgift that lets her control wind and water, Baili seemed a fine choice to carry out the prophecy. But though Baili is ready to do what she needs to do, she wonders: is she really the best person for this role?
Artist credit: Melanie Morgan
Empress Zhu Yawen
Once a princess of a small country south of Seven Rivers, Yawen is now empress over all Seven Rivers and its holdings. Both powerful and beautiful, with a potent though mysterious Bloodgift, she was considered a strong candidate for the fulfillment of the prophecy, and she grew up and wed the emperor assuming that she would indeed be the one to carry it out. And then Baili was born. Now she contents herself with running the empire, even as whispers of the people rise against her. 

Artist credit: Melanie Morgan
Dou Lanfen 
The youngest daughter of a very minor noble family, Lanfen has served as an attendant to Princess Baili and other members of the Imperial Family since she was fairly young. This allowed her to grow up in the very center of the riches and intrigue of the Imperial Court. Court life suits her well, perhaps too well . . . but now she's off to another kingdom and another set of intrigues as Baili's chief attendant on the journey to the Kingdom of Three Peaks.

From the Kingdom of Three Peaks

Artist credit: Shelby Ahlborg
 Prince Liu Xiang
As the eldest son and heir of the Emperor of Three Peaks, Xiang is well-known and well-loved throughout his kingdom. However, that's not just because of his position or even his reserved but kind nature. Born with the Bloodgift of healing, Xiang will gladly stop and heal anyone who he finds injured, and he's constantly testing the limits of his gift to figure out just how much he can heal. This desire to help others has endeared him to his people more than any emperor or emperor-heir for several generations.

Artist credit: Shelby Ahlborg
Nakuhara Chouko
 A victim of the Middle Kingdoms' taste for conquest, Chouko was born in the Isles of Rising Fire but now serves the Imperial Family of Three Peaks as a keeper of geese. Life could be worse for her — she has close friends among the other animal keepers, work she honestly enjoys, and food and shelter enough to get by. But she still longs for her childhood home and holds much spite for the empire that tore her from it. Despite her sharp-edged, independent nature, she is much loved by her friend. And she, in turn, is as stubbornly protective of them as she is ready to point out even unpleasant realities.

Artist credit: Shelby Ahlborg
 Ganbaatar
Ganbaatar, or Gan as he's usually called, doesn't speak much about his past except as it becomes necessary. A prisoner of battle between the Riders of the Endless Plains and the Kingdom of Three Peaks, he now tends the horses of the Imperial Family. Or, at least, that's all anyone knows he does . . . but one thing's certain: Gan was never one to let anything stop him from doing what needs to be done. Among the animal keepers and other displaced Plainsfolk, he has become an unofficial leader, and all of them know that if they need help, they can turn to Gan and he'll take care of it, no matter how impossible it seems.

What do you think? Are you excited to meet these characters? Let me know in comments! And don't forget to check out the rest of today's blog posts! Also, the giveaway for paperbacks of five of the Magic Mirrors titles is now available in the tour master post, so make sure you check that out!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Blog Tour Stops: October 26
Knitted By God's Plan: 7 Reasons to Read
Light and Shadows: 5 Reasons to Read
Dreams and Dragons: Mega Spotlight
Heather L.L. FitzGerald: Guest Post - Snow White: A Story of Change
The Labyrinth: Review
Selina J. Eckert: Interview
Reality Reflected: Interview
Dragonpen Press: Interview
Or find the full list of stops here.