Friday, November 26, 2021

Books I'd Give My Characters: Black Friday Sale Edition

Hey'a, everyone! Hope y'all had an excellent Thanksgiving if you celebrated! Of course, it's now Black Friday and the start of the Christmas season — specifically, for purposes of this post, the start of the Christmas gift-shopping and gift-giving season. (Unless, of course, you're the type of person who does all your Christmas shopping way in advance.) Because of that, I thought it would be fun to think about what books I would gift to some of my characters . . . but with a twist: I'm specifically choosing books that are available in the Perry Kirkpatrick Black Friday book sale. This sale runs from Black Friday (today, November 25) through Cyber Monday and includes literal hundreds of clean and Christian indie reads from authors like Kendra E. Ardnek, Jaye L. Knight, H.S.J. Williams, and myself. There's free and $0.99 ebooks, plus some special deals on print and audiobooks. I strongly recommend checking it out; I always end up picking up some good deals for myself . . . and, of course, today, I'm also picking out some books for my own characters. Let's get back to that, shall we?


Books I'd Give My Characters: Black Friday Sale Edition

1. For Princess Grace Chambers (Mechanical Heart): the Elven Alliance books by Tara Grayce. As I've said before, Grace is one of the biggest readers out of any of my characters (at least in my published books) — she enjoys just about anything as long as it's well-written, it has good characters, and she can talk about it when she's done. So, while she'd be happy with pretty much all the books included in the sale, I'm giving her the Elven Alliance series by Tara Grayce. She'd see a lot of herself in Essie, the lead, and would certainly relate to many of the challenges the characters in the novel face. (After all, she's a princess — she's seen equivalents to some of them firsthand.) But, most importantly, Elven Alliance has a very enthusiastic (albeit small) fandom, which Grace would join with utmost pleasure.

2. For Roselle Dennel (Gilded in Ice): Moonscript by H.S.J. WilliamsAs those who've read Gilded may remember, Roselle loves stories of adventure, danger, magic, and mystery — preferably featuring adventurous-but-relatable leads, strange, faraway, and exotic locations, and plenty of character banter and relationships to get invested in. And if there's a little twist of romance or a dark-and-tortured hero (or dashingly dangerous rogue or swashbuckler), all the better. Moonscript does not check every box in that list . . . but it does check most of them. Roselle would happily spend quite some time exploring this world of elves and humans, and she'd absolutely fangirl over Errance (and Coren) as much as the rest of us do.

3. For Kona Dennel, by way of Roselle (Gilded in Ice): The Dark King's Curse by Wyn Estelle Owens. So, hear me out. Kona is not the type of person who really enjoys reading for the sake of reading. But she, like many people, enjoys being read to — and the only thing Roselle likes better than a good book is sharing that good book. So, The Dark King's Curse technically goes to both of them. Why this book? The storyworld has enough similarities to their own world that it would be almost like historical fiction for them — and both of them would enjoy the family elements of the story. Roselle would be all over Laisren and Siobhra (Laisren is the kind of dramatic she loves, and Siobhra is a cat and therefore wonderful), while Kona . . . Kona probably actually likes Fionn best, with Fiachra a close second. Their enjoyment of the story is not hindered by Bastian wandering in and out of the room, adding commentary, and making offhand predictions (though he's secretly enjoying the book as well).

4. For Zhu Baili (Blood in the Snow): The Worth of a King by Kendra E. Ardnek. Baili's a hard character to pick for; like Kona, she's less inclined to read for pleasure or for the sake of reading — her preferred way to experience a story is in the form of a play. But I think she'd like The Worth of a King. She'd probably relate well to Obsidia and Delaney (and, to a lesser extend, Adrian) and Obsidia's plight, and she'd enjoy the romantic elements of the story. I can even see her reading it together with Xiang as they curl up together for a precious bit of alone time or sharing it with her friends. (Gan enjoys the dramatic flair of the Zovordians; Chouko makes snarky comments every few pages but is secretly just as invested in Obsidia and Adrian's problems as Baili is.)

5. For Azuma (Blood in the Snow): Wrought of Silver and Ravens by E.J. Kitchens. Canonically speaking, Azuma is a poetry-lover first and foremost. But he also enjoys novels on occasion, with a preference for the complex or epic tales. So, I'm giving him Wrought of Silver and Ravens, a high fantasy take on "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." He'd probably see himself in Athdar and his situation (and Athdar's relationship with Thea), he'd like Galen as much as I do, and he'd appreciate the twists and turns of the plot quite a lot.

Have you checked out the Black Friday sale yet? Which books in it are you eyeing up, either for yourself or (in this hypothetical scenario) your own characters? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 12, 2021

Thoughts on Curse of the Midnight King

Good morning, everyone! We are almost two weeks into November and NaNoWriMo, and I'm . . . well, behind, even considering that I'm aiming lower than 50K. But it's fine. I still have over two weeks left to fix that. Anyway, today, I'm breaking my hiatus to share about Yakira Goldsberry's Curse of the Midnight King, a dark fairy tale retelling that crosses the Twelve Dancing Princesses with Cinderella. There are preorder goodies and a few days left to claim them, for the record. You know, if you're interested.

 

Thoughts on Curse of the Midnight King

  1. Cinderella and the Twelve Dancing Princesses is a brilliant combination of fairy tales. I've never seen it before that I recall (except maybe in one of the stories that mash together all the fairy tales), and I honestly wish I'd thought of it first! Not that I would've had time to write it . . . Anyway. The two fairy tales fit together wonderfully, especially with a dash of Hades and Persephone vibes for extra flavor. The element of Faye rushing fron the above-ground ball to the below-ground one, desperately trying to keep from dragging one into the other, is just excellent.
  2. Pathos and the underword are very dark. Which, in general, is what I want it to be — the underworld in most Twelve Dancing Princesses retellings should be dark and beautiful and terrible and filled with gilded danger. This one is much more overt in how dangerous and terrible it is (as opposed to the dancing pavilion in, say, Entwined), but that makes sense since we're coming into it long after the glamour and wonder has worn off for our protagonists. Also, the element of transformation each time Faye enters Pathos's realm? Loved it.
  3. Pathos is a highly stabbable villain. He's just the worst, ok? I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be a bit sympathetic to him because he claims to care for Faye? And maybe he does a little? But it's nothing like real love, and I spent most of the book hoping Faye or someone would just stab him. On a related note, though, I do love the note of Faye being dressed in gold every time she comes  to the underworld. Like, I'm pretty sure Pathos controls that. He decides who's dressed in what color. Which means that he subconsciously recognizes that Faye is a danger to him, that she'll be his undoing. Oh storms he's literally flirting with death. I just realized that in writing this post. Dramatic, stabbable idiot. (He's not an idiot. He's actually reasonably clever, more so than I realized. But in this case . . . he kinda is an idiot.)
  4. It's simultaneously a sister-focused story and not. I recognize that sounds weird. Faye's main motivations throughout this story are her sisters and her need to save them and atone for what she feels she's gotten them into. Which is great! But she's also forbidden from speaking to them or really interacting much with them, so both the deeper sisterly relationships and the characterization of her sisters is a bit . . . lacking . . . for my tastes.
  5. I hate to say it, but I really didn't click with Faye. Not in the sense that I didn't care about what happened to her, but I didn't connect with her in the way I wanted to. She spends most of the book in such a dark headspace — for good reason! Given all she goes through, it would've been strange if her thoughts weren't shadowed. And I know there are people who will connect with her, who will see some of their own struggles in her. I'm just not one of those people.

What do you think of Curse of the Midnight King? What's your favorite take on Cinderella or the Twelve Dancing Princesses? Alternately, what's a fairy tale combination that you love and wish you'd thought of first? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 29, 2021

October 2021 Doings!

 Hello, everyone! October is nearly at an end — a couple days left, true, but close enough — and that means it's time for another month's Doings! post. While this wasn't nearly as eventful as August or as breakneck busy as September, there was still plenty going on to tell you about!

Writing!

  • This month's been pretty quiet on the writing front — no surprise there. After September's madness, I needed a month that was a little easier to manage. I did finish up the D&D module I was working on, other than making maps for the final combat, so that's ready to go starting in November! I've had some of the stuff in this next module in mind for absolute ages, and I'm super excited that I finally get to put it in action and see how my friends react.
  • Outside of D&D, I wrote a Halloween-ish short story for a challenge/contest thing on another site. I probably won't post it on here at the moment (just because the challenge was so recent and it was very specific to that site), but I may bring it back for next year's Halloween on my main blogs.
  • And that about covers it! I am in the process of starting Bastian Dennel #3, but I haven't made enough progress to really say anything else about it. As a reminder, if you want an overview of everything going on in the world of my writing, you can check out my On the Taleweaver's Desk post that just went up last week!

Reading!

  • It's also been a rather light reading month, which is a bit unusual — usually less writing means more time for reading. But not so much this month, apparently.
  • The highlights of this month were The Anthropocene Reviewed, Gothel and the Maiden Prince, and The Martian, which is kind of remarkable since only one of those is a fantasy novel. The Anthropocene Reviewed is a book of essays by John Green, modified from the episodes of the podcast of the same name, and it's lovely and poetic and thoughtful in a way I could never be no matter how long or hard I tried. Quite frankly, I think Green is a better nonfiction writer or essayist than he is a fiction writer, which should come as a surprise to no one who knows I watch vlogbrothers regularly but have only managed to finish reading one of Green's fiction works. I know I'm probably in the minority in this regard, but so be it.
  • Moving on! Gothel and the Maiden Prince is the latest from W.R. Gingell, whom we all know I love dearly. Gothel was not by any means my favorite of her works, but I did enjoy the characters and their dynamics and the twist on why Rapunzel and Gothel are in the tower. Plus, it's got that lovely pairing of the dark, intimidating, commonly-assumed-evil, hard-because-life's-hard character with the sunshine sweetheart that's so delightful whether it's romantic or platonic, so how can you argue with that?
  • And The Martian, while containing far stronger language in far greater quantities than I prefer, was just a lot of fun. It's got a great storyline. It's got a lot of actual science, but not so much that it becomes overwhelming — or, I didn't think so. (That said, I like science when I'm not having to name chemical compounds or memorize three hundred and fifty-nine biological terms, so your mileage my vary.) It avoids the trap of having the main character be annoyingly good at/knowledgable in everything, and it has a lot of humor (much of it sarcastic), and it's just fun. It's like Randall Munroe's What If and How To, but with an actual plot and much more focused in terms of what type of science you're dealing with. I'm definitely going to reread it, is what I'm saying.
  • Otherwise, I had a fair number of rereads: The Candlestone in Dragons in Our Midst (still not my favorite in the series, but I like it better than I used to; I'm saving Circles of Seven for Halloween), M is for Magic (better the first time around), Feet of Clay and Jingo (both better than the first time I read them), and, most notably, The Story Girl by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It's notable in that I've been intending to reread it for the longest time and also in that I never actually read the full book; I got out a version that was split into many smaller volumes for . . . some reason. But that's been delightful. I know everyone's all over Montgomery's Anne books, but I always liked The Story Girl better.
  • And, to wrap things up, we have War Bound, the second Elven Alliance book, which I enjoyed well enough in the same way I enjoyed the first book, and The Library of the Dead, which was one of my Halloween-ish reads and was . . . meh. Not a bad book, but I didn't love it, and I don't think I'll continue the series. Not pictured is The Blacktongue Thief, which I technically haven't finished (I had to return it to the library) and have mixed feelings about. I like the POV character and the most prominent secondary character well enough, but . . . I don't enjoy spending time in the storyworld, and it's just a rather dark book. We'll see if I decide to get it back out.
  • The other bit of reading news I have is that I acquired a signed copy of Vespertine (the OwlCrate edition), and it's so pretty. I'm super excited to read it, and I'll get to do that this weekend — Vespertine, Coraline, and Circles of Seven are my Halloween reads for the year, and I'm looking forward to all three.

Watching!

  • Glory hallelujah, I have finally gotten through Episode 74 of Critical Role! For those who missed it, I've been stuck on this episode since August, partially because I haven't had time to watch and partially because I was just . . . not enthused about Reani, the guest character. She rubbed me the wrong way, y'know? But once I powered through the first half of the episode, I warmed up to her a bit. And now I can finally move on with the rest of the campaign . . . well, in between watching Campaign 3! I'm very excited to be able to follow a campaign from the start for the first time, and I'm liking the new party fairly well so far. And, yes, I am trying to watch the episodes live . . . or, I start the episodes live, at any rate. I have yet to watch an entire CR episode in one sitting, and I don't see that changing for Campaign 3.
  • Aside from Critical Role, I watched three movies with my family: Die Hard, Master and Commander, and Casablanca. All three have been on my to-watch list for a bit, though for different reasons. Now that I've seen them, I can say of all three that I didn't love them, but I did like them, and I'd probably watch them again at some point. Die Hard had much, ah, rougher language than I expected, but I appreciated the twists and the scheming and counter-scheming on both sides. Master and Commander was interesting and had good character dynamics, though it was more serious than I expected from the few posts I'd seen about it. (I suppose that the name should've clued me in, but ah well.) And Casablanca is, well, it's a classic for a reason. But Rick and his arc and his interactions with the police prefect fall into some of my favorite tropes, so I did genuinely like the movie.

Life!

  • Most of this month has been occupied by preparations for my church's Trunk or Treat event, which was this past Sunday, October 24. As you probably saw on Facebook or Instagram if you follow me over there, my theme was an International Curiosity Shop — otherwise known as one of those weird little shops that provide quest items to adventurers and sell artefacts from fantastic worlds to interested buyers and then disappear — otherwise known as a way to use the maximum number of props I already own and appeal to a variety of fandoms. I spent several weekends acquiring materials and crafting items, including fixing up my steampunk pistol to make it more interesting, painting dragon eggs, putting together a Death Star pumpkin to hold candy in, and repairing my sword. I did end up working right up to the wire, but it all came together pretty nicely!
  • Of course, I might not have been running quite so close to the line had most of my Columbus Day weekend not been taken up by other activities, namely helping my family cut up an absolutely massive oak tree that fell on our neighbors' property. (They asked us to cut it up and take it away, for the record.) We didn't even finish it in the weekend; my parents had to finish the job over Tuesday and Wednesday while I went back to my actual job. It was not how I planned to spend the weekend, but . . . it's a necessary evil if we want wood for the fireplace.
  • I will also admit that some delays came from the fact that I went to a local Renaissance Faire on the 17th — a decision I absolutely do not regret, even if not going would've given me extra crafting time. While it was much smaller than the Ohio Renaissance Festival that I've gone to before, it was a lot of fun. The highlight was probably watching a demonstration of Viking-era weaponry that gave me a lot of good story research (and made up for a rather disappointing joust immediately before), and I had a lovely time wandering around different stands afterward. Also, I got to taste mead for the first time, and I genuinely enjoyed it! I mean, I thought I would, but most of my previous experiences with tasting alcohol were rather disappointing. And now I have reference for my books as well!
  • Anyway. Even with the tree and the Ren Faire, I did get everything finished in time for Trunk or Treat. The event itself was fun, though I did kind of wear out my throat from talking to people in a mostly-English accent for several hours. I mean, what's the point of dressing up and setting up a whole Interdimensional Curiosity Shop if you're not going to stay in character and wish people well on their quests when they come get candy? Oddly enough, the props that got the most comments from people were the ones that took the least effort, but such is life.
  • What else is there? I had my first Connect Group meeting at the start of October, but it didn't go terribly well — of three people who expressed interest, only one showed up, and one responded to my "don't forget this is happening" email with "Oh, I forgot to tell you that stuff came up and I can't be part of this after all." The person who showed up was nice, and we had some good conversation while playing Carcasonne, but it was definitely not what I hoped it would be.
  • Work's been busy, though certainly not as stressful as September's hacking adventure. I think I should probably just accept that nothing's going to be really calm until after the New Year, what with fundraising campaigns this month and a little bit of next month and the holidays coming up soon. On the upside, our new Kids Ministry director started this month, and she's lovely. And by "lovely" I mean that she's nice and friendly and sends me information ahead of the day it's due. This might seem like a low bar, but since the first deadline of the week is Monday noon and most of the programs staff (the people from whom I need said info) don't have a lot of spare time over the weekend . . . well, it's impressive, and it makes my job much more pleasant.
  • The last item of note for the month is that, as I mentioned in September's Doings, I rejoined the photo club my dad and I used to attend. The first contest I was able to enter was last night, and while I didn't have as much time to take new photos as I hoped I would, I was pretty happy with my entries. And two of them actually placed in their categories, so that was a nice confidence boost for my first actual contest in a long time.

November Plans

  • First and foremost, the recurring question of every November: Am I doing NaNoWriMo? While I originally planned to skip it this year because I'm working and I won't be able to block out the same swathes of time to write, Bastian Dennel #3 got pushed back far enough that I might as well call it a NaNoNovel and myself a NaNoRebel (since I don't anticipate the novel hitting 50K — it'll be closer to the length of The Midnight Show than Gilded in Ice). I do want to get the first draft hammered out pretty quickly — in time to potentially write something else in December — and I'm hoping that the general culture and atmosphere of NaNoWriMo will help with that.
  • That does mean I'm extending my blogging semi-hiatus into next month, which is to say that I'll post as I have time, inclination, or prior commitment. I have one review-type Friday 5s planned for Curse of the Midnight King (since I'm technically on the street team). And if anyone's interested, I'm thinking of writing a post about how I made some of my Trunk or Treat props. But in general, the novel takes precendence over the blog.
  • On the D&D front, the group I run will start back in on our main campaign next weekend, and I'm excited about that. Like I said, I've been planning some of the next adventure for quite some time, plus one of my players and I were working out more about a character's backstory and it turns out that it'll tie in rather nicely with part of what's going to happen.
  • Much like last month, I want to try to do more photography so I'll have more recent photos to work with for club contests. Given the first item in my list of plans, we'll see how that works out.
  • And on top of all that, I'll have my next Connect Group meeting this coming week, and I'm looking at volunteering in some other areas of the church (namely the AV Team) as well. We'll see how both of those go. Hopefully better than the first Connect Group meeting did . . .

How was your October? Any exciting plans for November? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, what are you writing? Would you be interested in hearing about how I made any of my Trunk or Treat props? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 22, 2021

On the Taleweaver's Desk Issue 2: October 2021

Hey'a, all! As you may remember, this summer, I started a new quarterly blog series, On the Taleweaver's Desk, in which I give you an idea of the "big picture" of what's going on in my corner of the writing world. And now it's time for the second installment in that series! Please be aware as you read this that I'm still figuring out what does and doesn't work in terms of information provided, so please let me know if there's anything you think could be better here. Do you want more information? Less? Are you confused by anything? I want to know! Also, if you want more information on any of the projects listed here, you can find that on my Works in Progress page!


On the Taleweaver's Desk Issue 2: October 2021

On the Desktop

These are the projects you might find open on my laptop or desk if you took a peek at it during a normal day. They're currently in progress and at the top of the priority chart.

Bastian Dennel, PI #3

What is it? Exactly what it says on the tin.

Status: Vibrating eagerly in the back of my head and occasionally launching itself against to the walls yelling "Write me!" About to be started.

Technically this should probably go in "Awaiting Delivery," but given that I have a good idea of most of the plot and intend to start writing this as soon as I have time in which to do so, I'm putting it here. I was planning to put my third Bastian Dennel book on hold for a bit so I could focus on Blood in the Earth, but then someone (not naming names, but she knows who she is) gave me an idea that wouldn't let me go. And since an idea like that is what started the series and this one seems like it'll be really fun to write, I can't just ignore it.

D&D Campaign: Defenders of Serys

What is it? Defenders of Serys is the homebrew D&D campaign that I run for my D&D group.

Status: Finishing up the first module of Season 4.

I didn't get as much writing on this done in August/September/October as I intended, unfortunately. On the upside, it took us longer to finish Season 3 than I thought it would, and I almost have the first module done. Plus, one of my players and I ended up discussing backstory stuff because of a feat she took when the group leveled up, and, well, now I have another module/story arc planned for the next season. It's going to be great. I just need to finish writing the one I'm on . . . and I need to do that soon, since we start regular sessions again in a couple weeks.

Stacked on the Side

These are the stories that I'm not actively working on (at least not officially), but I'm keeping close at hand because I plan to get back to them soon (or I just work on them sporadically as the urge takes me).

Blood in the Earth

What is it? Blood in the Earth is the sequel to Blood in the Snow and a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses crossed with the myth of Hades and Persephone.

Status: First draft finished; awaiting revisions. Despite my earlier hopes, I probably will not get back to this story this year.

Once Upon a Dream

What is it? A light steampunk (or gaslamp fantasy?) Sleeping Beauty retelling; the predecessor to The Midnight Show

Status: Edited several times over. Awaiting another round of rewrites/expansion/edits.

Shelved for Now

These are stories that are also on hold, but which I don't have specific plans to work on very soon. They're still within easy reach should I decide to return to them, but they aren't a top priority.

Dust of Silver

What is it? Classic-ish fantasy retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses crossed with Rapunzel, the first book in what has the potential to be a rather long series. Also, a rewrite of a book I wrote years ago that won't let go of me because CHARACTERS.

Status: Several chapters into the rewrite, though those several chapters haven't been touched in a few years. I swear I'll get back to this . . .

Between Two Worlds

What is it? A portal fantasy adventure about what happens when you come home from the adventure, only to discover that the adventure isn't quite as done with you as you thought.

Status: Awaiting another round of edits/rewrites while I write other things and daydream about its sequels.

The Way of the Pen

What is it? Self-aware fantasy adventure about a girl and her author.

Status: The first draft is sitting on my shelf, patiently waiting for its turn back in the spotlight, as it has been for some time.

Berstru Tales series

What is it? A classic epic fantasy series and the longest-running series I've worked on (either in the number of books written or in how long I've worked on it.

Status: Needs to be rewritten from the ground up, but the bones are good. I did come up with more new and exciting ways to make the characters' lives interesting, so . . . there's that?

A Tower of Portals Campaign

What is it? A second D&D campaign inspired by one of my favorite video games.

Status: On hold; worked on as I come up with new ideas and have time.

Awaiting Delivery

These are the stories that are on their way, but haven't quite arrived yet to the point where I can write them: ideas I'm toying with but haven't even started to draft because they're still too nebulous.

Super Secret Mystery Project

What is it? You don't know. It's a mystery.

Status: Idea that technically popped into my head a few weeks ago but is born out of a sort-of idea that I've had for a few years, and due to certain elements it contains, it's been pushed up the list in terms of priority.

Novellas from the world of Blood in the Snow

What are they? Currently, three and a half ideas for spinoffs, most of which are also fairy tale retellings: one Puss in Boots (no, really), one Orpheus and Eurydice (probably crossed with a similar Japanese myth, Izanagi and Izanami), one Snow Queen (that's the half an idea), and one that's not currently a fairy tale retelling but would be about Gan and Azuma before they were animal-keepers at the emperor's palace (inspired the summer I spent watching a lot of Hogan's Heroes.

Status: Won't be written until after I edit Blood in the Earth. And the half-an-idea Snow Queen, which had the best chance of being written before then, has been . . . supplanted. Of the others, I have rough ideas of scenes in two of them, and a general concept for the last.

Unnamed Fantasy Murder Mystery

What is it? Exactly what the headline says. A prominent noble is murdered; his adoptive daughter is poised to inherit his lands and position — but some are saying her hand was behind his death.

Status: Still just an idea. Still not going to be tackled until after Blood in the Earth.

Mechanical Heart Sequel

What is it? Exactly what the title says.

Status: Still half-formed. I do have a specific fairy tale in mind that I'd be retelling, though.

Worldhoppers Inc./Mythology D&D Campaign

What is it? Yet another homebrew D&D campaign. Or two. Technically it's two possible themes for series of connected one-shots and short-term adventures, with a few adventure ideas for each theme and a chance that I'll just try to combine them.

Status: Probably not going to work on this until I have a lot of spare time, need a new campaign for my D&D group, or have reason to prioritize the Welsh myth adventure.

I think that pretty well covers how things currently stand with me and my writing! Was this interesting or helpful? Are there any ways I could make it more interesting or more easy to follow or just better in general? (Saying "write all the stories" doesn't count.) Do you have thoughts on any of the stories? What projects are you currently working on?
Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 1, 2021

September 2021 Doings!

Hello all! Here we are, through September at last — storms, this was a busy month! Between a lot of challenging projects and problems at work, hosting a Silmaril Awards category (check back for my ceremony tomorrow!) finishing final edits and proofs on Gilded, and preparing and participating in the Frosted Roses release tour, well, I certainly haven't had time to be bored. Tired, yes. Bored, no.

Writing!

  • As one would expect, much of my writing time this month was dominated by final formatting and edits on Gilded in Ice, which went well. I would like to express again how great an investment a widescreen monitor is, especially when you're trying to transfer the edits from your final proof to both your Kindle and paperback versions at the same time.
  • The rest of my time was taken up by writing posts for the blog tour: four character spotlights, four guest posts, and five review lists — plus, of course, my regular posts for the month, including the Silmaril Awards. Do make sure you check out all the tour posts, particularly the guest posts; I had fun writing them. (Also, there's character art scattered throughout the guest posts and character spotlights!)
  • The Silmaril Awards went great, though! I hosted our new category, Most Majestic Ruler, and it was quite fun. The results for that go up tomorrow. No spoilers, but I can say that the ceremony post was quite interesting to write. (On a side note, I am incredibly thrilled by how many awards the City Between characters have won or been finalists for. It's high time the series and W.R. Gingell's books in general got some recognition in the Awards!) If you haven't been following the Silmaril Awards ceremonies, make sure you go back and check those out; you can find a complete list on the Awards site.
  • On the D&D front, we finished out the last bits of the arc — the denoument, if you will — and sent the Defenders of Serys onto their next adventure with an old friend back in the group, a new ship, and the prospect of a return home after a long time away. Then we took a break for a few weeks so I could finish up my book and the next module. The book happened; the module didn't. Ah well.

Reading!

  • This month's reading wasn't quite as impressive as August's was . . . but that's not a bad thing. It was, however, much more varied.
  • I finished rereading the Invisible Library series, including The Secret Chapter, which I hadn't gotten to read until now. The Secret Chapter was good, but not my favorite — I love a good heist, but it was a lot of new characters to keep track of. The Lost Plot and The Mortal Word have, on the other hand, been elevanted in my esteem.
  • I did manage to fit in a couple non-fantasy — nonfiction, even! — books this month: James Herriot's All Things Wise and Wonderful (a reread, and as thoroughly delightful as ever) and C.S. Lewis's The Weight of Glory (a collection of essays, some of which I think I've read already, all of which were very good). I intended to fit in a few more still, but life had other plans. (I did start reading The Anthropocene Reviewed, so there's that.)
  • I got in plenty of new-to-me reads as well! Obviously, I read all the Frosted Roses releases, and if you scroll back, you can see my reviews. I also read A Wind From the Wilderness by Suzannah Rowntree, which . . . I didn't love it nearly as much as I wanted to. I liked Ayla and her internal conflict; I liked St. Gilles and seeing all the intricacies of diplomacy and tactics, as well as his own conflict between care for his own and sometimes feeling the need to be hard in order to care for them. But I did not enjoy Lukas or his POV, and I liked it less by the end of the book.
  • On the flip side . . . I finally decided to give Fierce Heart a shot, partially because so many people I know seem to be crazy for the series and partially because someone finally informed me that it's less of a romance-first book than I make it sound. Having read it, I will agree that people have good reason to like it so much. I'm still not all heart-eyes over it, but, as Kendra put it, "it's about a marriage, not a romance, and a marriage of two countries, not just two characters," and therefore I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
  • I finished out the month by starting my long-intended reread of Bryan Davis's Dragons in Our Midst series, which is fun. Dragons in Our Midst, DragonKeeper Chronicles, and Wayne Thomas Batson's books used to be pretty much my life. Coming back to the series now, I rather appreciate that Billy and Bonnie are so much less angsty than the average YA protagonist seems to be.

Watching!

  • . . . I might've watched an episode of Leverage at some point? Book and book tour crunch time, especially combined with Silmaril Awards, does not leave much space for watching stuff.

Life!

  • . . . Hold on. I'm having a moment. To be specific, a "I know I did three million things this month, but I suddenly blinked on what ANY of them are" moment.
  • Ok. Ok. Back on track. Labor Day weekend, we went up to White Sulphur Springs for a retreat with some other people from our Bible Study and another related Bible Study, which was nice. I had high hopes of doing some writing, which didn't happen, but I spent a lot of time reading on the porch. I also got some new recipes (one for rolls, one for bagels) that I'm excited to try when I have a non-busy weekend sometime.
  • I also volunteered with my church's Connect Group Fair, which is basically an event where people can find out about different Connect Groups (Bible studies or small groups) that are open and how to start their own group. Pretty much all I did was stand there and occasionally say "Hello, yes, you can take one of these booklets of information," but that's probably better than having to try to explain something I've never actually attended?
  • On the work front, this month was pretty hectic. We brought back the bulletin, which meant I had to learn a new process and everyone in the office (with the exception of the accountant) had to adjust their routines. We were also finishing up preparations for a pledge campaign, which had a lot of moving parts . . . and on top of all that, our Facebook page ended up getting hacked, which caused considerable panic and stress for almost everyone in the office. Resolving that was quite the, ah, adventure.
  • On a less stressful and more pleasant note, my dad and I went to a local museum's outdoor exhibition of tanks and other military vehicles, so that was very cool. Our main purpose was to take photos, but it was generally interesting even without the photography. A lot of the tanks still worked well enough that they could be driven, and at one point there was a demonstration of how tanks are actually used in combat scenarios (which I made sure to pay attention to for writing research purposes). Plus there were reenactors and other volunteers in period uniforms, and that made for some interesting photo opportunities.
  • Ok, that was much a shorter section than I expected it to be . . . but I guess a lot of my busy-ness has been the same things taking a long time, rather than many new things. Plus I covered a lotof what I did in the Writing section of this post.

October Plans

  • First things first: once my Silmaril Awards ceremony goes up tomorrow, I will be taking a semi-hiatus from blogging for the duration of October. I say semi-hiatus because I still plan to post my On the Taleweaver's Desk writing update in mid-October. And if I manage to be particularly motivated, I may make some updates to various pages on my sites. But I will not be doing weekly posts.
  • What will I be doing? On the writing front, I'll be finishing up my next D&D module (and possibly starting the one after that), participating in a short story challenge, and maybe starting on my next big writing project? I'm torn between a desire to jump into the next thing and a desire to just, y'know, take a break.
  • I'm also hoping to get back into photography in the coming months. I rejoined the photo club I used to attend with the intention of actually entering the monthly contests, which means I need photos I can enter in them. October's theme is circles, and while I have some pictures from a while back that I should be able to use, I need some options.
  • On the social side of things, I'm attempting to start a board games and Bible study group through my church. We're supposed to have our first meeting this coming week, and I am . . . nervous. I really want this to work out, but there's already been several hiccups in my best- and second-best-laid plans.
  • Something I am not nervous about: my church's Trunk or Treat event! I am going to start prepping earlier this year than I did last year, and I'm aiming for something more broadly recognizable, and it's going to be great. That also means I get to do some crafting throughout this month (and some repairs/updates to past crafts), which will be delightful.
  • Work will probably continue to be busy. I get the impression that fall and the Advent/Christmas season generally are. But I'll manage.

How was your September? Any exciting plans for October? Do you do anything for Halloween? How do you feel about the Silmaril Awards winners so far? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 27, 2021

Frosted Roses Release Tour: Interview With Ásbjǫrn

Hello, everyone! It's the fifth day of the Frosted Roses blog tour, which means we're almost to the end. Only two books left — but we've saved one of the best for almost-last, I have to say. Secrets of the Mountain is the latest from Wyn Estelle Owens, and I love it so storming much. Today, I'll be interviewing one of the lead characters, Ásbjǫrn, but first, of course, we need some context . . .

About . . .

Secrets of the Mountain

If there’s one thing Svanhilda has always known, it’s the importance of family. When her little sister Rósfrída was born, Svanhilda promised her mother that she and her sister would stick together. But as the years passed, tragedy after tragedy befell her family, ripping it apart piece by piece, until only Svanhilda remains at home with her ailing mother. And Rósfrída? She has stayed with Svanhilda, as they promised long ago—every time Svanhilda looks at her reflection, she sees her little sister instead, trapped in a prison of mirrors and treasure. Their only hope is that either their seafaring Father or Rósfrída’s strange bear friend might find a way to free her.

Tryggvi lost his mother and father a long, long time ago—so long ago that he barely remembers them. When a boy prince named Asbjǫrn finds him wandering in the woods, he takes Tryggvi home and calls him brother, and his parents welcome Tryggvi as their son. Some years later, Asbjǫrn leaves to study for a year… but he never returns, and is thought dead and gone.
But Tryggvi is convinced his brother still lives--and not without evidence. So, now that he is finally old enough, Tryggvi sets out to find Asbjǫrn, armed with his cat and an amber pendant which enables him to see the truth of things. And he will find out the truth and bring his big brother home. After all, he promised his baby sister he would, and that’s not a promise he’s willing to break.

On the mountain there is a cave, and in the cave there is a mirror, and in that mirror live two friends: a girl and a bear, trapped in secrets, imprisoned by treasures of great worth. But help is coming, and the secret deeds done in darkness will be revealed, and the prisoners will be set free.

Find it on: Amazon || Goodreads

Wyn Estelle Owens

Wyn Estelle Owens is the penname of a young woman who’s still figuring out what this whole ‘adult’ thing is all about. She lives in a big, old house in Maryland by a Hundred Acre Wood (dubbed Neldoreth) with her parents, three occasionally obnoxious brothers, her dog Jackie, and her personal plot bunny, Joker.

She is fond of reading, writing, drawing, speaking in dead or imaginary languages, playing videogames, quoting classic or obscure literature, being randomly dramatic, and generally making things out of yarn. Her dream is to write stories that inspire people to chase after the wonderful world of storytelling.

Her favorite all-time authors are Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Christa Kinde, and above all, J.R.R. Tolkien, who first inspired her to pursuing novel writing when she read the Hobbit at the age of seven.

Find her online at:  Goodreads || Facebook || Amazon

The Frosted Roses

The Frosted Roses are six retellings of the Snow White and Rose Red fairytale, each one fantastical and magical. You don't want to miss any of them! You can learn more about the books and find the full tour schedule on the tour page.

The Frosted Roses are the result of the 2020 Arista Challenge. The Arista Challenge is hosted by Kendra E. Ardnek; it invites fairy tale authors to come together in community as they work on unique retellings of a selected fairy tale.

Interview With Asbjorn

Welcome to the blog, Ásbjǫrn! As usual, to start out, please tell us a little about yourself: who you are, what you do, anything you think we should know.

Hail and well met! I am Ásbjǫrn Ólafsson of the Bjǫrnings, and my father is the king of the Folkbiǫrn. My mother is the Queen, Ljúfvina, and I have two siblings, my brother Tryggvi and a little sister, Dagný. I’ve been away from home for a long time, however, so I just met her for the first time recently.

Aw, it's always hard being away from family. And I've heard that family is very important to you, especially your younger brother, Tryggvi. Can you tell us about him and your relationship with him?

I found Tryggvi in the woods when we were both small. He’d been wandering in the forest for days, eating nuts and berries and roots and such. He had no family, so I took him home and gave him mine instead. I didn’t have any other siblings, so we grew to be very close. As far as my family and I (and our people, for that matter) are concerned, he was born as one of the Bjǫrnings and a Bjǫrning he shall always be.

That's a wonderful perspective to have. What about those outside your family, those you've met since, ah, leaving home? What do you think of them? Anyone you're especially close to?

Well, almost all of my time away was spent on one mountain, which meant I didn’t get to meet very many people. Those I did meet are all amazing in their own ways, however! Little Rósfrída, for instance—though she’s not so little, now—but she stayed brave in a very difficult situation. And Flosi the Bard, who’s traveled a great many places and always has new stories to tell. And Svanhillda… she’s stood as a pillar of strength and kindness, doing her best to be there for each members of her family during a trying time. I find that admirable. I find everything about her admirable, to tell the truth. She was a great friend to me during my time away from home, and I cherish her company greatly.

Those all sound like marvelous people! Now, I'm sure that in a world as magical and marvelous as your own, there are many stories of great heroes and strange adventures. Are there any such legends that you especially enjoy?

My favorite legends? Well, growing up, Tryggvi and I always loved to hear stories about the great princes and kings of the Bjǫrnings; the tale of Prince Býulfr especially!

Recently, however, I made friends with Flosi—an elvish bard who’s traveled far, and he’s told me a great many stories I’d never heard before. Some of my favorites are the legends of the exploits of Flosi’s masters—Funi Austvindr and Refskegg. They’ve gotten tangled up in a great many tales, and all of them are enthralling.

Hmmmm. Those do sound like fascinating characters. I'd love to be able to read some of those tales they've been tangled up in; I'm sure they're as marvelous as your own. Moving on, if you could travel anywhere in the wide world with guaranteed safe return, where would you go?

Hmm… I’d think the first place I’d like to go would be the land across the Sea where the Four Winds dwell. The Austvindr, the East Wind himself lives there, after all, and I hope someday to meet him, and thank him for indirectly providing my brother Tryggvi with his precious heirloom.

Beyond that… I’m not sure. The world is wide, after all, and a part of me wants to explore it all. But the greater part is much happier to be at home, surrounded by my family.

Tryggvi, however—he’s always been a wild one, and I think Flosi’s tales have opened his ears to the wind’s call. But who knows?

The world is indeed wide, but I think you've picked a good place to want to visit. I think that would be an interesting trip myself — though I hardly blame you for wanting to stay home, after all you've been through! What's one thing from your recent adventures that you hope you never forget?

As cliché as it sounds, the friendships I made along the way. My stay away from home wasn’t in what I would consider the most pleasant circumstances, but the kindness of Kiúli and his wife, and of their daughters, made my burden much easier to bear. And, towards the end of my time on that mountain, I met Flosi, who has since become a good friend; I’ve found that even if he rarely stays in one place for very long, he is always there when you need him.

But I think the moment from my adventure that I shall cherish the most, is that moment when I saw Tryggvi again. It was amazing and painful and wonderful, and I never want to forget that as long as I live.

I can imagine. Thank you for your time, Ásbjǫrn, and for answering my questions!

~~~~~

What do you think of Ásbjǫrn? Would you, like him, prefer to be at home with loved ones, or would you rather explore like Tryggvi? Please tell me in the comments! And don't forget to check out the rest of the tour stops and enter the giveaway!
Thanks for reading!

September 26 Tour Stops

Interviews:
Dreams & Dragons -  Asbjorn
Mae Heller - Wyn Estelle Owens

Character Spotlights:
Rachel Rossano - Tryggvi
A Splash of Ink - Svanhilda
Laura A. Grace - Rosfrida

Guest Posts:
Fantastical Notions - Snow White, Rose Red, & Vikings
Ellwyn's Blog - The World of Secrets of the Mountain

Reviews:
The Arista's Directory
Madi's Musings
Novels, Dragons, and Wardrobe Doors
Blooming With Books
The Lost Review of Odd Books + Mini Interview!
Live. Love. Read.
Light and Shadows
Paper, Ink, & Lizard + Mini Interview!

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Frosted Roses Blog Tour: Interview With Elinrose

 RosePetalSnowflakePromo

Hey'a, all! A bit late, but it's day four of the Frosted Roses release, and today we're spotlighting Kendra E. Ardnek's Rose Petals & Snowflakes, an Austen-inspired take on the tale that combines Sense and Sensibility with Snow White and Rose Red. There were a few hiccups with the release, but the ebook is now available for purchase, and the paperback will be up later next week. In any case, I'll be interviewing Elinrose, one of the two main sisters, in a minute, but first, as usual, we have to get the official details on the book, the author, and the Frosted Roses.

About . . .

Rose Petals and Snowflakes

RosySnow6 

The Austen Fairy Tale #1

After their father's death, and thanks to their older half-brother's wanderlust, two sisters find themselves caught in the politics of mysterious forest. Elinrose finds herself in direct conflict with the wood's Mistress, while Snowmari hides a deadly secret that could mean her death if found out. Can their bonds of sisterhood withstand these trying times? Or will they even make it out alive?

Find it on: Amazon || Goodreads || Preorder the Sequel

Kendra E. Ardnek

Kendra E. Ardnek is the self-proclaimed Arista of Fairy Tales. She lives in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her dragon babies and massive herd of mini-giraffes, and she is still waiting for one of of her fifty nutcrackers to come to life and marry her. When not writing, you can usually find her sitting in a random box, and she's frequently known to act before she thinks.

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


The Frosted Roses

The Frosted Roses are six retellings of the Snow White and Rose Red fairytale, each one fantastical and magical. You don't want to miss any of them! You can learn more about the books and find the full tour schedule on the tour page.

The Frosted Roses are the result of the 2020 Arista Challenge. The Arista Challenge is hosted by Kendra E. Ardnek; it invites fairy tale authors to come together in community as they work on unique retellings of a selected fairy tale.

An Interview With Elinrose

Welcome to the blog, Elinrose! As usual, to start out, please tell us a little about yourself: who you are, what you do, anything you think we should know.

Hello, I am the elder princess of the North Country. I do pretty much anything required of my position. And I suppose you should know that there's nothing I won't do for my family and my people.

That's wonderful. Speaking of family, tell us about your sister, Snowmari. What’s your relationship with her like? What’s your favorite thing about her? Your least favorite thing?

Mari and I are close, and we have been since her birth. We don't always get along, but what sisters do? Favorite thing? How can I limit it to one favorite thing? She's bright and beautiful, and she lives life with an abandon that leaves me breathless. I do wish she would be more careful, sometimes, and her penchant for melodrama can be ridiculous, but that's the way she is, and why she has me. 

And I'm sure she's glad to have you. As a princess and as an older sister and aunt, I’m sure you have many duties and responsibilities. Can you tell us what those look like and how you feel about them?

A lot of paperwork, a lot of convincing people to get along, a lot of convincing people that they actually do want to do the thing they don't want to do, a lot of worrying about things so other people don't have to. How I feel about them isn't important - I am the one in position to do them, so do them I shall. 

A very noble attitude. Over the course of the story, you find yourself living in two different places: your home, the North Country, and the Forest. Which do you feel you prefer? Was it difficult for you to adjust from the former to the latter?

North will always be my home, but the Forest certainly has its own charm. Even if it's very loud. The adjustment has been very difficult, I will admit that freely, especially as I worry for my older brother who has been left to settle into the position of king alone. I know he always counted on my support.

I can understand why you'd be worried, but I'm sure he'll manage. If you could have one wish granted, no catches, what would you wish for?

That my sister could live openly as herself, without fear.

That was a quick answer! One last question: how do you hope people, either those in your own world or those who read your story, remember you?

That I took care of the people I cared about.

A very noble thing to hope for. Thank you for answering my questions!

~~~~~ 

What do y'all think of Elinrose? Are you excited to meet her and her family? Please tell me in the comments! And don't forget to check out the rest of the tour stops!
Thanks for reading!

September 25 Tour Stops

Friday, September 24, 2021

Frosted Roses Release Tour: Welcome to Innsjøby + Gilded in Ice RELEASE DAY!

 

Hello, everyone! We took a little break there, but Frosted Rose number three releases today, and guess what it is? My own Gilded in Ice, the sequel to The Midnight Show, is officially out and available for purchase! If you preordered the ebook, that should have arrived on your Kindles today; if you've been holding out for the paperback or if you never got around to preordering, you can buy it now on Amazon (or borrow it on Kindle Unlimited)! Also, if you've been wondering about the tour giveaway, we had a little delay with the Rafflecopter, but it's been posted now on the main tour page.

Anyway. Back to Gilded in Ice. The setting of the Bastian Dennel, PI mysteries, the city of Innsjøby, is one of my favorite locations that I've created. While not as expansive as some of the worlds I've built, it's colorful and full of life and just a lot of fun to spend time in. So, for today's post, I thought I'd let y'all have a tour — And who better to show you around the City of Stars than the fellow who has to know its ins and outs better than almost anyone? Bastian, it’s all yours . . . as soon as we get through the book blurb, anyway.

About . . .


Gilded in Ice

Bastian has two new missing person cases. One is cold. The other is his own sister.

Since his success solving the Midnight Show disappearances, Bastian Dennel is sitting pretty. And with the new high-profile cold case that just got dropped in his lap, he’s pretty sure things will stay that way for a while. But when he finds out his sister has gone missing without a trace, he’s determined to find her and bring whoever’s responsible to justice — even if his only lead is a stray cat with a knack for vanishing unexpectedly.

Kona Dennel’s plans have already been upended, so when the talking cat she’d befriended asked her for help breaking an enchantment, she didn’t see any reason not to say yes. She didn’t expect to be trapped in a frozen mansion or to be drawn into conflict with a mysterious lady of the fair folk. Even the cat is hiding more secrets than she realized. It’ll take a skilled detective to untangle this web . . . but since Bastian isn’t here, Kona will just have to do it herself.

Secrets abound, and the one creature who knows the truth isn’t talking. Can Bastian and Kona outwit a fae who’s been at this for centuries? Or will thawing out the long-frozen truth drop them in over their heads?

A magical mystery reimagining Snow White and Rose Red and East of the Sun, West of the Moon in the jazz-age world of The Midnight Show.

Find it on: Amazon || Goodreads

The Frosted Roses

The Frosted Roses are six retellings of the Snow White and Rose Red fairytale, each one fantastical and magical. You don't want to miss any of them! You can learn more about the books and find the full tour schedule on the tour page.

The Frosted Roses are the result of the 2020 Arista Challenge. The Arista Challenge is hosted by Kendra E. Ardnek; it invites fairy tale authors to come together in community as they work on unique retellings of a selected fairy tale.

Welcome to Innsjøby

You know, most tourists don’t come to my door. They go somewhere more upscale — the theaters, the clubs, the music halls. I don’t know why the author didn’t send you there — Miss Temitrope could’ve shown you around. Or the Alkinsons, if you wanted a local. I hear the younger Alkinson knows how to show people a good time.

What? You’re here to see the whole city? Then I guess I’m your man after all. I wouldn’t say I know Innsjøby better than anyone, but I’ve spent a whole lot of time walking its streets and pointing my flashlight in its dark corners. Comes with the job. What job? I’m a private eye. Bastian Dennel’s my name, if you didn’t know. Some of you look like you recognize it. I guess you must’ve heard about my last case. 

No, I’m not taking questions. I got enough of that from the newshawks. And if you really want to see the whole city, we need to get moving. Hopefully, you all brought good walking shoes; we have a lot of ground to cover.

The Old City

So, right now, we’re the part of town most locals call the Old City, when they’re not calling it something less polite. This is where my office is — though you should know that since you all got dropped off at my door — and where you’ll find plenty of other businesses respectable enough that the upper class want to use them, but not respectable — or profitable — enough to pay rent up on the Lake Side, along with the homes of the people who run those businesses. And there’s a Fateweaver or three living in the area too, though I’m not going to invade their privacy by taking you all to meet them. In my line of work, you need to keep all the friends you can.

Conveniently for me, there’s plenty of public buildings in this part of town too. There’s the city library — that one, the big brick building — 

Don’t interrupt. I know everything around here is brick. But there’s only one big brick building, and I was going to say, the one with the tall windows and the gryphon statue. It’s not even twenty minutes’ walk from my house; if I’m by myself and leg it, I can make it here in ten. Convenient when I’m working a case that requires a lot of research and I don’t leave until they kick me out at midnight.

No, we don’t have time to stop right now. And I’m pretty sure you won’t have time to do much reading — fine. Twenty minutes, since we’ll be spending so much time on the streetcar, and I can’t play tour guide the whole time. You’re as bad as Roselle. Well, go. History’s to your right, towards the front of the building. Books on magic are about halfway back from that. The adventure novels Roselle likes are in the back left corner. Don’t ask me where anything else is; you can figure it out from the signs.

~~~

Right. Everyone satisfied with their reading material? Good. Don’t lose it, and get it back to me before you leave. I’m not paying a fine because someone decided to become an interdimensional book thief. 

Moving on! The courthouse is that way — you can see the dome from here. I’ve spent plenty of time there too, looking over records. It’s one of the older buildings in the city — not the oldest, but close. It’s anyone’s guess how long it takes before having to do repairs after every bad storm — and we get a lot of bad storms — outweighs historical significance and they decide to build a new one. That’s what happened to most of the original buildings in this part of town, or so I’m told. After a while, it’s easier just to tear things down and use the materials to build something new. I’d stop so you could see it, but you all wanted to go to the library instead.

Anyway, the headquarters for the city politiet is a few blocks past the courthouse. Still close enough to be convenient, though I don’t work with the brownshirts often. The cases I get tend to be the ones people don’t want to take to the government officials, especially not when the department leaks worse than the faucets back in the tenement.

Here’s the streetcar stop. Lucky us, looks like the next car is due in about five minutes. Let’s hope there’s seats available; I don’t think anyone wants to stand for half an hour.

The Corner

Right, everyone off. Yes, you too. If you try to say “one more chapter,” I’m not responsible for where in the city you end up. 

Anyway, here we are. Southeast corner. Some people just call it the Corner and everyone knows what they mean. We won’t spend much time here — there’s not much to see. Factories, stores, markets, tenements — not many houses in this part of the city, not when tenement apartments are cheaper to build and to rent out and anyone who owns a shop usually lives above the store. 

It’s not a bad area, don’t get the wrong idea. I grew up here, first above one of those stores and then in a tenement. My family’s still here — what? No. We’re not stopping by my family’s apartment. Why would I — You’re all complete strangers to me. I’m not taking you to meet my family. What kind of sap do you take me for?

Like I was saying, the Corner isn’t all that bad. No more dangerous than anywhere else in the city. Probably actually safer, since not many people have anything worth killing for and no one here is famous. Most of the people are decent. They’re out to earn an honest wage. Or honest-ish. If I had to take a guess, I’d say most of the lower-quality skee in the city is brewed somewhere in the Corner. There’s plenty of people who’ll take a risk in exchange for a little extra green every month, even if it’s from one of the Families. 

So, not the best area. But not the worst. If nothing else, it was home for a while. 

Right. Enough sappiness. Here’s our next streetcar stop; time to move on. Get comfortable. We’re headed to the far side of the city. 

The Lake Side

First things first: don’t ask me why all the city’s fat cats decided to put their mansions on the steepest hills in Innsjøby. I don’t know the answer, and I don’t want to know — whatever the reason is, I doubt it’s a good one, especially since it’s also right in the path of the worst storms off the lake. I also don’t know why this part of the city is called Lake Side when there's more city between it and the lake.

I’ll give them this, though: the view’s great, looking out over the lake like you can from the top of some of these rises. There’s a few places downtown that can match it, but not many — especially not looking out from the top of Sjöutsikt Avenue, where you turn in and the whole city’s spread out under you, and you turn the other way and there’s Lake Onondaga spreading out to the horizon. With a view like that, the mansions don’t seem as grand, do they?

Sure, they’re still pretty upscale, with all that gilding and marble everywhere you look. Some are more tasteful about it than others. Some people know that layering on the glitz is asking for trouble. And then there’s some people who are rich and powerful enough not to care. Just about everyone pretends not to know that at least one leading member each of the Dàguóan and Daoinoic Families who have a house up here. Until someone finds a charge that’ll stick, it’s safer that way.

Anyway — wait. What do you have there? What are you doing — is that a camera? Give that to me. Were you not listening to what I just said? Don’t take photos of houses that might belong to people who can make you disappear without a trace. Not unless you have a good reason. No, art is not a good reason.

Oh, for the love of — come on. We’d better ankle before someone gets the wrong idea. 

Downtown Innsjøby

I’ve heard there was a time when downtown Innsjøby meant the Old City. That’s definitely not true these days. In the Old City, sure, you have the courthouse and a park or two and a few older theaters. But the heart of the city curves around the Lake Side district in a half-moon of lights and music that's almost enough to make me wish I could afford the rent up here. Listen, you can even hear it from here — there’s at least a dozen orchestras in theaters and concert halls warming up for the night, plus a musician or two or at least a record player in every club and eatery. It’s how the city got its nickname.

What, you thought Innsjøby was called the City of Stars for the view? Not in the slightest. Well, maybe at one time. But these days, it’s because most of the anyone-who’s-anyone and anyone who wants to be anyone when it comes to the arts comes here to do their craft. It’s one of the best things about the city, if you ask me, even if I don’t usually have the coin to go to any shows except the free ones in the park. 

Of course, even here, not everything's on the level. You'd be surprised how many places, even some of the most upscale joints, hide star shops, serving the weakest wines mixed with juice upstairs and slinging fairyshine and every other kind of skee underneath it all. People expect those places in the Old City, and they're right to. People expect them in the Corner, but they're few and far between down there — not enough people with mazuma to spend. And, of course, anywhere you get the Families and the fat cats and the fair folk all together, you get trouble.

What? Can we visit one? Look, lady, I don't know who you take me for, but I'm a respectable private investigator. Not the kind of guy who loafs around star shops —

All right, first of all, could you say that a little more quietly? I have a reputation to maintain. Second of all, if this “Red Lily” establishment exists, which I’m not saying it does, it’d be in the Old Town, not downtown. Third, you’re all out-of-towners. Don’t flirt with trouble, especially not trouble I’ll have to clean up. Look, let’s just see if we can find somewhere for dinner and a good show for cheap before you have to catch your train out of here.

Dinner’s been taken care of by the tour, huh? Let’s see what you have — Yeah, I’d say it’s been taken care of. Reservations at the Ologba Pọ and enough mazuma to cover dinner for everyone. You’re lucky; it’s Dayo Temitrope’s night to perform. There’s not many better singers in the city.

Why are you looking at me like that?

You really are as bad as Roselle, aren’t you all?

Don’t even say a word. Let’s get a move on so we can catch D — Miss Temitrope’s first set. You have to admit, with her singing and the Ologba Pọ’s meals, there’s not many better ways to finish out your welcome to Innsjøby.

~~~~~

How did y'all enjoy your tour of Innsjøby? Ready to spend more time there and read Gilded in Ice? Where in Innsjøby — whether it's a location mentioned in the tour or one from The Midnight Show — would you most like to visit? Please tell me in the comments! And don't forget to check out the rest of the tour stops and enter the giveaway!
Thanks for reading!

September 24 Tour Stops

 Character Spotlights:

Rachel Rossano - Bastian
A Splash of Ink - The Cat
 Fantastical Notions - Kona

Guest Posts:
Dreams & Dragons - Welcome to Innsjoby
Laura A. Grace - The Flavors of Innsjoby
Ellwyn's Blog - A Day in the Life of Roselle
Live. Love. Read. - A Day in the Life of the Cat

Reviews:
The Arista's Directory
Novels, Dragons, and Wardrobe Doors
C.O. Bonham
Blooming With Books
The Lost Review of Odd Books + Mini Interview!
Light & Shadows
Paper, Ink, & Lizard

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Frosted Roses Release Tour: Sisters Red and White (Guest Post)

AsLongasWeLivePromo

Hello, everyone! It's DAY TWO of the Frosted Roses blog tour! Today we're celebrating the release of Cortney Manning's As Long As We Live, an epic fae romance featuring two trios of siblings — one of humans, one of fae. Fittingly, Cortney's here on the blog today with a guest post about the sisterly relationships in the original fairy tale — but first, of course, let's hear something about the book and author, shall we?

About . . .

ManningFinal 

As Long As We Live

Ivy Durran, the oldest sister, is a resilient young woman who clings to her sunny resolve even in the darkest situation. When a terrible blizzard strikes the land, she feels responsible for protecting her sisters: adventurous Rose and vivacious Poppy. However, the storm drives an unexpected visitor to their doorstep, one who could bring hope or danger with his arrival.

Meanwhile, Pierre, the newly crowned ruler of Concoria, strives to bring order to his frozen land and tranquility to his troubled brothers. Nevertheless, the deep magic of Concoria is not easy to tame. While Pierre would love nothing more than to escape into a simple life close to Ivy, the human lass he met years before, he instead shoulders his burdens and seeks healing for his kingdom and family.

Dark magic, frigid storms, and deadly predators must be overcome if Ivy and Pierre have any hope of saving their families and their homeland. 

Three human sisters live in a Fae realm where every prince is blessed or cursed by a gift of magic, and royal rivalry threatens the future of the land.

Find it on: Amazon || Goodreads

 

Cortney Manning

Cortney Manning resides in Missouri but has always loved traveling the world. She holds a master’s degree in Victorian Literature from the University of Glasgow and has a not-so-secret love of fantasy as well. Her writing can be found on her website and in the Rooglewood Press anthology, Five Poisoned Apples. In her free time, Cortney enjoys walking, drawing, and afternoon tea.

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

The Frosted Roses

The Frosted Roses are six retellings of the Snow White and Rose Red fairytale, each one fantastical and magical. You don't want to miss any of them! You can learn more about the books and find the full tour schedule on the tour page.

The Frosted Roses are the result of the 2020 Arista Challenge. The Arista Challenge is hosted by Kendra E. Ardnek; it invites fairy tale authors to come together in community as they work on unique retellings of a selected fairy tale.

Sisters Red and White

Thank you so much for welcoming me to your blog for the release of As Long as We Live, my epic Fae fantasy retelling of “Snow-White and Rose-Red”! Today, in celebration of this release, I’ll be discussing the unique value placed on female relationships in the original fairy tale.

In many fairy tales, women just don’t get along. Whether it’s Cinderella and her stepsisters, Snow White and her stepmother, or the Goose Girl and her traitorous maid, fairy tales are filled with examples of women mistreating other women. Of course, there are the occasional examples of loving female relationships, such as the Little Mermaid and her sisters, but all too often, those characters tend to serve as minor characters or even die, such as the mother in many versions of Cinderella

In contrast, “Snow White and Rose Red” is rather unique because it features two loving sisters at center stage supported all along by their wise mother. Snow White and Rose Red are shown to be two very different sisters who make an effort to be involved in each other’s lives. For example, even though Snow White prefers quiet, indoor tasks, she still journeys out with Rose Red on her trips into the woods.

The two sisters are also supported by a mother figure who, refreshingly, does not die in the tale but remains present, offering her daughters guidance and advice. This is a sharp contrast from the original version of the Grimms’ “Snow White” in which the evil antagonist was originally the heroine’s own mother until the Grimm Brothers decided that storyline was too dark for their intended audience. Instead, Snow White and Rose Red are loyal and devoted daughters to a mother who showers them with love and wisdom.

In the end, all that female support results in three happy and successful women living close to the family they love. Snow White marries her bear prince, and her sister, Rose Red, meets and marries that prince’s brother. Together, they live as wealthy royalty, and even their beloved mother joins them in their happy new home. Overall, the storyline is refreshing, proving that, even in fairy tales, women don’t have to take each other down to be successful or happy. Instead, a little sisterly love and support can help more women succeed.

~~~~~

Thanks for sharing, Cortney! I think one of the fun things about fairy tale retellings is getting to build out and add in some of the relationships you don't see in the original stories — but it is nice when the fairy tale already has some of those strong relationships in it.

Are you looking forward to As Long As We Live? What are some of your favorite fairy tales or fairy tale retellings with strong sisterly or mother-daughter relationships? Please tell me in the comments! And make sure you check out the rest of the tour stops!
Thanks for reading!

September 22 Tour Stops

 Interviews:
Mae Heller - Cortney Manning

Character Spotlights:
Rachel Rossano - Ivy
Laura A. Grace - Alain
Paper, Ink, & Lizard - Pierre

Guest Posts:
Dreams & Dragons - Sisters Red and White
Ellwyn's Blog - The Ungrateful Dwarf

Reviews:
The Arista's Directory
Blooming with Books
Live. Love. Read.
Light & Shadows
Fantastical Notions + Mini Interview!

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Frosted Roses Release Tour: Spotlight on Snow Songsmith

 RunawayLyricsPromo

Hey'a, all! As you have probably gathered, it's the first day of the Frosted Roses blog tour! This week, six new retellings of Snow White and Rose Red, all written as part of the 2020 Arista Challenge, release into the world. We'll be celebrating these releases with all the usual elements of a blog tour, including a giveaway, which you can find on the main tour page. The winner will receive paperback versions of four of the Frosted Roses and a necklace made by Erica Bennet, so make sure you get your entries in!

Today's book is Runaway Lyrics by C.O. Bonham, a steampunk adventure featuring twin sisters and magical music. I'll be spotlighting one of the two main characters, Snow Songsmith, but before that,  let's get the details on the book and author.

About . . .

Runaway Lyrics_nightmare gothic font

Runaway Lyrics

What one sister has, she must share with the other . . .

Snow loves music. She has spent her entire life learning, new instruments and memorizing new pieces, only to while away her life in a country manor with only her mother and twin sister as company. If only she could get out on her own and play in front of a real audience.

Rose loves magic. The things she can do with music would amaze her twin sister, but whenever she shows her, Snow quickly forgets as if the event had never happened. If only Rose could get out on her own and work some real magic.

When an airship crashes near their home, Snow’s magical abilities awaken. Together the sisters must learn to use their magic, rescue a pair of cursed princes, and discover their own secrets. Discover the magic of music in this retelling of Snow White and Rose Red.

Find it on: Amazon || Goodreads

C. O. Bonham

C.O. Bonham is the pen name for a commonly misspelled first name. She loves stories of all kinds, but really likes the ones that are weird, and outside the norm. A certified book geek, when she isn’t writing stories of her own, she is busy reading stories by others. A homeschool graduate with a degree in creative writing, her goal is to create stories that make people think, feel, and have fun.

Visit www.cobonham.com to read author interviews, book reviews, and to hear about what she’s working on next.

Sign up for her newsletter to make sure you never miss an update!

The Frosted Roses

The Frosted Roses are six retellings of the Snow White and Rose Red fairytale, each one fantastical and magical. You don't want to miss any of them! You can learn more about the books and find the full tour schedule on the tour page.

The Frosted Roses are the result of the 2020 Arista Challenge. The Arista Challenge is hosted by Kendra E. Ardnek; it invites fairy tale authors to come together in community as they work on unique retellings of a selected fairy tale.

Spotlight on Snow Songsmith

Snow Songsmith could easily be the main character of Runaway Lyrics. She goes through the biggest character growth as she loses faith in herself and then finds it again.

Snow has studied music her whole life. She can sight-read, memorize and has mastered most instruments. So it really bothers her that Mother refuses to let her study at the national music conservatory. What was all that study for, if not to use her gift?

Actually, Snow is pretty gifted at anything she tries to learn. She isn’t an engineer, but she seems to know how things go together. Whenever their mechanical butler, Roburt, breaks down, it’s Snow that knows how to fix him.

Later, Snow learns she has magical abilities. Even stranger, Rose, her twin sister, has these same abilities, and seems to have known about magic the whole time.

Over the course of the book, Snow learns her powers are out of control and dangerous. Rose uses her powers for good and to aid in their quest. Snow’s powers only seem capable of destruction and death.

Can Snow learn how to control the magic and not let it control her?

~~~~~

Snow definitely sounds like an intriguing character, wouldn't you agree? Are you excited to meet her? Which Frosted Rose story are you most looking forward to? Please tell me in the comments! And remember to visit the rest of the tour stops and enter the giveaway!
Thanks for reading!

September 21 Tour Stops

 Interviews:
Fantastical Notions - Rose
Mae Heller - C.O. Bonham
 
Character Spotlights:
Rachel Rossano - Bayare
A Splash of Ink - Rose
Live. Love. Read. - Wickham
Dreams & Dragons - Snow
 
Guest Posts:
Laura A. Grace - Becoming the Musician
Deeply Shallow - How the Dwarf Kept His Beard
Ellwyn's Blog - The Magic of Music