Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Fight Song Chapter 3

And we're back, after . . . Oh stars, it's been a month, hasn't it? I'm sorry. I'm possibly a terrible person. Or maybe I'm just a busy one. We're going to go with that and also going to try to post more regularly in future. We'll see how it goes. 

Anyway. Last time, Callie stopped a mugger in his tracks- literally; with her songs, she left him stuck in the floor of a Foundry City subway. This week, Callie gets a bit of downtime and contemplates both her past and her future. As per usual, comments, critiques, suggestions, and questions are welcome in the comments.

Chapter 3: Past and Future

The remains of my adrenaline rush coursed through my veins as I trekked back to my apartment, meandering a bit in case anyone happened to be following. I sipped my coffee as I walked. It had gone lukewarm, and I probably should've tossed it, particularly if I wanted to get to bed early, but I couldn't stand the thought of wasting good Starbucks.

At least the evening had been a productive one. I knew who I was looking for, and would hopefully get more information on him soon. And my encounter with the mugger proved that all my practice had paid off. I could control the effects of the songs, not just as a party trick, but effectively. Next time Welsh and I met, I'd be able to defend myself and, if necessary, his intended victim.

All the same, the encounter left me-- well, not drained like the first few times I ran into this kind of thing, but off-balance. The mugger's insults stuck in my head even when I finally turned down the street to my apartment. "Think you all that just because your mother sold herself to some mad scientist?"I knew it wasn't unheard-of on the streets, a pregnant woman or new mother with no home or money letting a crackpot scientist more interested in what he can do than what's right experiment on her child in return for enough cash to pay rent and buy food for a few months, even a few years. Usually the experiments were unsuccessful. Those that weren't, well, the kids probably would've been better off if they had failed.

I reached my apartment building and started up the steps. Just because that happens to some people doesn’t mean it happens to everyone. The mugger had just been plain wrong about that. Dad was a scientist, yeah, but a legitimate one, working for the government on some kind of space-y thing that had nothing to do with supers. And sure, there had been that one time when I’d been visiting and something weird happened— I’d been too young to understand what— and everyone freaked out, but my powers hadn’t showed up until years later. Dad had nothing to do with it.

Of course, that didn’t mean I didn’t get tired of people assuming he did.

I dug my key out of my pocket and opened my apartment door​. No one greeted me, naturally. Uhjin, my roommate, would be out celebrating until tomorrow morning. I'd learned that well in our two years of friendship: if there was a social event, or an excuse for a social event, Uhjin would be the first there and the last to leave.

I, on the other hand, still wanted to fall into bed early. But I had things to do first, and my coffee had kicked in at full power. So instead I fetched my ancient laptop from my room, scrubbed off the heavy makeup I wore to keep from being easily recognizable, and settled on our worn couch. Opening my email, I skimmed the list of unread messages. Nothing important, so I typed a quick note to Jonathan: Sorry about tonight, but thanks for the info. Can we meet again tomorrow? Same time, same place? By then, I'd be off work at both my music and craft store jobs, since I changed my hours now that class was over. And I should have time to eat and hopefully practice too before I head out.

Next I checked the news. Nothing much there was especially interesting either. I scanned headlines and clicked a few articles: one about refugees from the Middle East, one about Starlight and another superhero, Swordsman, chasing off a not-so-Big Bad who very briefly tried to establish his rule over Foundry City, and one editorial wondering just how many unknown supers are out there, living ordinary lives and trying to keep out of the public eye. The author reached the conclusion that there could be that many, that anyone with powers was guaranteed to take action as either hero or villain eventually. I laughed at that, yet I had to admit: she might not be wrong.

After all, look at what happened tonight. And this was hardly the first time. Freshman year, these kinds of incidents had been rare. I'd spent most of my time on-campus, and though I'd tried to search for​ information on Welsh, I really hadn't known where or how to look. This past semester, on the other hand . . . Well, Uhjin and I had moved to a cheap apartment because it cost less than dorm housing, but as my search started to bear fruit, I spent more and more time out and about. It was easy to stay out late when no one but Uhjin asked where I'd been, and half the time, she was out later than I was. And the longer I stayed out, the more I saw or heard trouble and found myself getting involved. At several points, I found myself actively seeking it out. I felt I could make a difference that way.

But I knew it couldn't last, not like this. I wasn't a real superhero. Not like Starlight or Storm in real life or Black Widow or Wonder Woman in the movies. Eventually, someone would see me and recognize me, and I'd have to go into hiding or something in order to have a halfway normal life. Or else I'd cross the wrong person and have someone hunting me while I hunted Welsh. Or I'd mess up and get myself hurt or killed. There were so many things that could go wrong, and I knew something had to change.

I just didn't know what.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Summer 2017 Reads

Hey'a, everyone! Summer is officially here (even though it feels like it's been here for a while), and with the new season comes a new books! Even though I'm still catching up on the spring releases, I'm pretty excited about some of the novels coming out in the next few months. And, as usual, I'm using today to showcase some of the ones I'm looking forward to the most.

Before I get started on that, though, a quick note: I plan to do Camp NaNoWriMo this July despite the fact that I'm probably going to be running all over the place throughout most of that month. If anyone is interested in being in a cabin with me, please tell me in the comments!

And with that, this summer's releases!

Summer 2017 Reads

1. The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson (June 1)
Ok, this one's technically already out? Which I didn't realize until just now. But June releases count as summer and I am definitely looking forward to this book. It sounds like it might be urban fantasy, which I really want to read more of, but I think it also has a touch of portal fantasy? And I'm generally super curious to find out what it actually is. Also, I don't judge books by their covers, but that cover is gorgeous.

2. Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser (June 6)
So this one is also already out, but in all fairness, I didn't even find the book until recently. It does sound pretty unique, though! Pirates and politics and ship-board fantasy- all things I've read a little bit of (or a lotta bit of), but generally not all together. I look forward to seeing what this holds.

3. Exiles by Jaye L. Knight (July 14)
Prince Daniel! We get to see more of Prince Daniel! I can't wait! Hopefully that'll mean twisty court intrigue as he tries to avoid his sister's attempts to discredit him, but even if it doesn't, I really like Daniel, I was quite disappointed that he didn't show up that much in the last two books, and I can't wait to see more of him here. It sounds like he gets his own subplot, basically, so yay! Of course, I want to see what the rest of my favorite characters are up to as well, especially Jace and the Altair boys. Well, Altair men; Marcus, Liam, and Kaden aren't really boys at this point. And maybe this'll be the time that I buy the book when it actually comes out instead of getting it half a year later . . .
4. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell (July 18)
So this has urban fantasy and historical fantasy and time travel and heistiness and secret societies and if not for the fact that it also sounds like it'll be kind of dark, I'd say it was another of those books that could've been written just for me. Dark or not, it sounds awesome, and we've got magic in modern New York and in early 1900's New York and a heroine who can manipulate time and travel in time and just give me the book now please.
5. The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana (July 18)
 So the reviews for this book on Goodreads are not exactly fabulous. However, the premise is pretty cool. It's got an Indian-ish setting, which is definitely different and something I'd love to see done well, and a magical library, which is always a good thing. Apparently one of the characters, Thala, is also especially cool? We'll just have to wait and see how this goes.

6. Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody (July 25)
Again, this sounds like it'll probably be pretty dark. I mean, anywhere called the "Gomorrah Festival" can't possibly just be sunshine and daisies, you know? But it's also a fantasy murder mystery set in a circus-city and it sounds absolutely fascinating. I am always down for a good fantasy mystery. Let's just hope it doesn't get so edgy that I have to set the book down . . .

 I'm mildly confused by the fact that there are apparently no books coming out in August that I'm looking forward to? I mean, yes, there's enough coming out in the previous three months to keep me busy, but still, usually August has something. Do you know of anything I missed, in August or another month? If so, please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Three Sleeping Beauties Cover Reveal

Hey'a, everyone! So, my hiatus ended up lasting a little longer than anticipated, due to unexpected traveling (among other things). But I'm back now with another cover reveal for not just one but three fairy tale retellings! These retellings by Kendra E. Ardnek, Morgan Huneke, and Rachel Roden focuses on the fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty" and take three very different twists on the story.

First up, we have Kendra's story, Poison Kiss, which is the one I'm most excited for. Not only does it feature a very different look at the classic tale, but it also combines the story with "Puss in Boots," and let me tell you, I absolutely love a good mash-up retelling.

About the Book

Everyone knows that Sleeping Beauty's curse is triggered when she pricks her finger on a spindle and that she is awakened by true love's kiss ... but what happens when the wicked fairy decides to switch things up?

Edmund didn't mean to put Auralea to sleep, but now it's up to him and the famous Puss in Boots to figure out how, exactly, a spinning wheel is supposed to awaken her.

About the Author
Kendra E. Ardnek is a homeschool graduate who picked up a pen at an early age and never put it down. The eldest of four, she makes her home in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her parents, younger siblings, giant herd of giraffes, and honor guard of nutcrackers. 

What do you hope readers will love best about your story? 
The plot. I never write a straightforward story, and this book is no exception. I keep the story twisting all the way through.  

Find Poison Kiss on: Goodreads || Amazon 
Find the author on: Website || Blog || Facebook || Twitter || Instagram || Pinterest

As a note, Kendra previously wrote a "Sleeping Beauty" retelling: the first in the Bookania Chronicles, a humorous and surprisingly twisty series of fairytale mashups. She just finished rewriting that book, entitled Sew, It's a Quest, and the story is currently up for free on Smashwords. Eventually she plans to make it free on Amazon as well, if anyone is interested.

Our second story, Twisted Dreams, is by Morgan Huneke. I haven't read any of Morgan's previous works, though I have a few of them on my Kindle. However, this take on Sleeping Beauty sounds pretty fascinating, featuring alternate worlds and the promise of drama.

About the Book

“I, Calandra, of the Wingans, do bestow upon you, the Princess of Hanover, a gift. You have been given long life. I cannot interfere with that, but when you are sixteen years of age, you will prick your finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into an everlasting sleep.” She stepped closer so that she could be heard only by Liesel and her parents. “Then you will at last see the truth. Be wary. Be wise. Your fate rests upon yourself.”

On her sixteenth birthday, Princess Liesel Rosanna falls victim to a sleeping curse—but wakens in another world, a prisoner of war. As the bait in a trap for her fiancĂ©, the crown prince of Hanover, Liesel longs to escape back to the fairy tale world. The world where she is only wanting a true love’s kiss to set everything to rights.

As situations quickly grow dire, Liesel must choose which story to live, which life is real. The fate of her country rests on her decision.
About the Author
Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia. She has enjoyed creating characters and writing stories since early childhood. Books have always been a big part of her life, never more so than when working at the local library. Her other interests include reading, playing and teaching piano and violin, and politics. She is the author of Across the Stars and The Experiment as well as the Time Captives fantasy trilogy.

What do you hope readers love best about your story?
Probably the characters. No story is really worth reading without great characters, no message really means anything without them. I hope readers will come to love Liesel, Will, and Matthew, that they will find inspiration and characters they can relate to in these three…though considering what I have planned for their futures…  

Find Twisted Dreams on: Goodreads || Amazon
Find the author on: Website || Blog || Facebook || Twitter || Instagram || Pinterest

Our third and final retelling, Rosette Thornbriar, is the debut of Rachel Roden (who happens to be Kendra's mum). I'm not sure if this is fantasy or not, but it is western, and it sounds fantastic either way. 

About the Book

Once upon a time, way out west...

Back when they were young'uns, Fleur Guardstone proposed to Rosette Thornbriar with a cigar band ring. However, not long after, she disappeared back into the forest and hadn't been heard from since. However, when Fleur hears reports of smoke coming from that woods, he's determined to find out if it is, indeed, his dear Rosette. If he can get past all of the briars.
About the Author
Rachel Roden is a natural story teller, capable of weaving the most hilarious of fairy tales. She fell in love with the Lone Ranger in her teens, but ended up with a basketball referee instead. Together, she and the Ref homeschool their four children in the Piney Woods of East Texas, as well as any other odd kid who ends up in their house. She might also be the sole human who still uses math after college.

What do you hope readers will love best about your story?
I really have not thought much about it. I hope readers love my story, of course. But since it is a fairly short story, it is hard to say what they might love best. It is a light-hearted western full of humor but tries to tell the story without the element of magic. I hope they like the "fun" that I put in. 

Find Rosette Thornbriar on: Goodreads || Amazon

Find the author on: Blog || Twitter || Pinterest

All three novels release on August 7th. For more details, keep an eye on Kendra's blog, Knitted by God's Plan.

Which of these stories are you most excited for? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Five Something Somethings Cover Reveal

Hey'a, everyone! No, I'm not back yet, but I'm super excited that, through the magic of scheduled posts, I still get to take part in the cover reveal for the next Five Something Somethings contest!  For those who don't know: this is a contest hosted by Rooglewood Press in which contestants write a novella retelling a particular fairy tale. Five winners get published in an anthology, which is sometimes just good bragging rights but can also help to jumpstart an aspiring author's career. For more information, if you're interested, you can check out the contest page.

Anyway, back to the new cover. I've been looking forward to this moment for literally two years, ever since Anne Elisabeth announced that there would be another contest after the Five Magic Spindles one- and then had to postpone the contest because she was (A)busy with other projects and (B)pregnant. Naturally, I was disappointed . . . but also still excited enough to take a guess at what fairytale it would be and write a steampunk Rapunzel retelling that would fit the contest so I'd potentially have something ready when the time came. And was my prediction right? Well, there's really only one way to tell you . . . time to reveal the cover.

. . . Aaaaaand I guessed wrong. It's not Rapunzel; it's Snow White, which means I'll have to go back to the drawing board and come up with some new ideas. Even so, the cover is absolutely gorgeous, don't you all agree? I think it's my favorite of the Five Something Somethings covers. Like the other covers, it was designed by Julia Popova, who's clearly outdone herself this time! The cover model and photographer is Wynter Clark (who has an awesome name and impressive skills, to get a shot of herself that looks good enough to put on a book cover).

What do you think of the cover? Do you plan to participate in the contest? Please tell me in the comments (even though I won't be able to respond until I come off of hiatus)!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)