Friday, May 26, 2023

Reasons to Love Thornrose Estate

Hello, all! As some of you may be aware, Kendra E. Ardnek just dropped four new Beauty and the Beast retellings: Snow Quest Like Home (which combines B&B with The Snow Queen and a few other stories — plus bonus crossover with another series!), Fairer Than Beauty (a Twist of Adventure in which the main character did not want to be in this story), The Dragon (a Western fairytale I haven't read yet), and Thornrose Estate, which blends Beauty and the Beast with Northanger Abbey and rapidly claimed the spot of Favorite Austen Fairy Tale. Seriously, y'all — I loved this story so much, and I think you will too. And, of course, I'm going to give you all the reasons why.

Reasons to Love Thornrose Estate

  1. Calla is such a relatable heroine. This may be a surprise to those who read Snowfield Palace, but once we see Calla out of Rina's shadow . . . oh, I would so be friends with her! As with her Austen equivalent, she's a bookworm and, dare I say, fangirl who takes refuge in her favorite stories and tends to view life in narrative terms, and it gives me life every time she reflects on the narrative appropriateness of particular occurrences. And I think her struggle — trying to navigate life away from home and family in a world where there always seems to be info she's missing and working to figure out who she is in the face of who others are telling her she should be — is something that will resonate with most of us.
  2. Hansel is an absolute delight of a love interest. Simultaneously the voice of reason in many circumstances and an absolute sweetheart with regard to his loved ones, including Calla, Hansel is the most sensible person in the entire book, and I love him for it. He's his sister's staunch defender, and he reaches out to help and support Calla when others leave her floundering, and he's just generally wonderful. I only wish that we could've seen even more of him than we did, since he and Calla are so lovely together.
  3. The villains are eminently loathable. You know how, with regard to the Harry Potter fandom, fans tend to hate Umbridge so much more than Voldemort because Umbridge is a familiar villain, one of a type they've probably encountered themselves at some point? That's what Kendra does here with the villains in Thornrose. We have the manipulators, the false friends who make it seem like they care for you but are only really using you for their own ends. (Can't say who those are, but if you've read Snowfield, you probably have a good guess about one of them, and if you've read NA, you can guess the other.) And we also have the John/Gaston character in Johnston, a man whose pride makes Calla's strengths into something he has to "forgive" and who's more than happy to ignore her discomfort with his attentions if it means getting what he wants. And, let me tell you, it is so satisfying to see them get their due in the end.
  4. So many mysteries to unravel — and it's very satisfying to get some answers! If you've read Snowfield Palace, you know that Kendra left us all on quite the cliffhanger with many, many unanswered questions. Thornrose Estate finally gives us some answers, but sparingly, and Kendra weaves them in with other mysteries: why can't Calla remember half her life — and why does she keep losing bits and pieces of more recent memory? Why do so many important people seem to have such an interest in her? And what the pumpernickel is going on with the Forest? Calla's memory means she's often just as uncertain as we are, but we know just enough more than she does to put pieces together, and the effect is just so good. It's one of the main reasons I ended up devouring the second half of the book in one night.
  5. Northanger Abbey and Beauty and the Beast are an excellent pairing. Kendra hasn't missed once on her fairy tale and Austen combos! I will say that this is much more Northanger Abbey than it is Beauty and the Beast — while there are plenty of B&B elements, this doesn't really read like a straight retelling of that fairy tale. The story does make up for this somewhat by giving us two in-world versions of B&B that Calla loves and uses as the chief basis for trying to figure out all the strangeness she's stumbled into. That said, even if you look at it as just a Northanger Abbey retelling, Thornrose Estate is excellent.

If you haven't already preordered Thornrose Estate, you can pick it up on Amazon now! So, how excited are you for this retelling? And who's the most relatable protagonist or familiarly-loathable villain you've ever encountered? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 19, 2023

On the Taleweaver's Desk Issue 8: May 2023

Hello, all! It's time for another issue of On the Taleweaver's Desk, my quarterly broad-view update on my writing projects. Not a lot has changed since my last post of this type, but there are some updates. All the same, if the current trend continues, I may consider switching to a thrice-a-year schedule in 2024. We'll see. As always, if you want to know more about any project in this post, you can ask me in comments or take a look at my Works in Progress page. Oh, and don't forget that the Wags, Woofs, and Wonders anthology, which includes my short story "Grim Guardian" is available for preorder in ebook and paperback form. And now, onto the updates!


On the Taleweaver's Desk Issue 8: May 2023

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.

Unnamed Selkie Story (Daughters of Atirse #1)

What is it? The Little Mermaid, but make it selkies, swap the human and mermaid roles, and throw in a princess who genuinely wants to do all the things a princess is supposed to do.

Status: Twenty-two-and-a-bit chapters drafted!

This is coming along a little slower than I intended due to a combination of not having a lot of writing time for most of April and the fact that the story is turning out longer than I initially thought it would be. Still, I'm happy with the quality of what I've been able to put down, and almost twenty-three chapters is nothing to sneeze at! I'm going to guess that I'm about two-thirds of the way done, possibly a little more. I need to have this done in the next month, so hopefully that guess isn't too far off . . . I also need to put together a cover and an actual name, now that I have time to think about that kind of thing. The series, as you may notice, has a name. The book doesn't quite yet. (I have an idea, but I don't know if I like it or not.)

Bastian Dennel, PI #4

What is it? Book 4 in my Bastian Dennel, PI series and my first murder mystery.

Status: Still twenty-five chapters drafted and probably within ten chapters of a complete first draft.

Yeaaaaaaah, I haven't really touched this since my last Taleweaver's Desk update. It still counts as On my Desktop, though, given its priority level. I look forward to getting back to it once I get my selkie story to beta readers. I am toying with the idea of switching story order to make this Book 5 and put my original Book 5 in the Book 4 slot, but . . . we'll see what I decide. I do think that the current Book 5/maybe Book 4 would be a lot shorter than this one, so switching wouldn't increase the book delay by too much. In any case, if I manage a 2023 BDPI release, it will be late 2023.

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: Basically done with the Middle Earth adventure; working on writing the next adventure.

The Middle Earth adventure is 95% written — I have my plan for the battle at the Gates of Mordor (which we'll start next session), and I have my transition to the next adventure (which was already written when I started this). I just need to figure out what the nice arc-conclusion bit will be, but I'm holding off on that until I know how long the party wants to stay in Middle Earth — are they sticking around until Aragorn's coronation, or will they leave after the celebration on the Fields of Cormallen? In the meantime, I've started working on the next adventure, about which I'm very excited. It'll be short, fun, and hopefully a nice conclusion to the fey-and-worldhopping stuff we've been doing — though there may be more worldhopping in the future via a different method.

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).

There are no significant changes to any of these projects since my last update, but I'll leave the list here for anyone who hasn't seen it before!

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 rewrites. I probably won't get back to it until late 2023 or 2024 at this point due to all the Bastian Dennel, PI books I have planned.

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.

There are no significant changes to any of these projects since my last update, but I'll leave the list here for anyone who hasn't seen it before!

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.

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. May get bumped further up the priority list depending on certain other factors, but probably not for a while yet.

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. Of everything in this section, this is the most likely book to move up to Stacked on the Side or On the Desktop, as I occasionally have wild thoughts of editing it and shopping it 'round to traditional publishers. However, that actually happening in the next couple years is improbable, due to selkies and Bastian Dennel taking priority.

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. There's a particular character who's getting a whole new arc, and I'm really excited to write it . . . when I 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.

Additional Bastian Dennel, PI novels

What is it? Exactly what the heading said.

Status: Book 5 (Jack and the Beanstalk) may get switched to being Book 4, depending on what happens and whether I can figure out certain plotting problems. Book 6 (Little Mermaid + a surprise non-fairytale) is still locked in for that position, and I continue to add to my plans regarding it. Here's hoping that all this ideating will pay off into a quick writing process . . . Anyway I have at least four or five other ideas with varying levels of detail to come after Book 6; still not sure of the order, though. I'm still enjoying this world and these characters, and I hope not to leave anytime soon.

Daughters of Atirse stories

What is it? At least three other stories in the same series as my selkie Little Mermaid story, all technically standalones.

Status: Yes, I haven't even finished the first book and I'm already plotting sequels. Well, not sequels exactly, but connected books — two will be prequels (retelling the stories of "The Goose Girl" and Tam Lin) and one will be a sequel (I haven't fully settled on a fairy tale, but it may be something in the Beauty and the Beast family). Of these, the Goose Girl retelling is top priority, as I hope to write it for the 2024 Arista Challenge release.

Novellas from the world of Blood in the Snow

What are they? Currently, three 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), 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.

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, but it's an idea with a really good soundtrack. Still not going to be tackled until after Blood in the Earth.

What projects are on your desk right now, and how are they going for you? Do you ever plan whole series before you finish drafting the first book? Tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!


Friday, May 12, 2023

Wags, Woofs, and Wonders Cover Reveal & Other Exciting News

 Hello all! No Friday 5s today, sorry — travel, family stuff, and needing to prioritize other projects have left me without enough time to put something together. However, I do have some exciting news from this week that I wanted to make sure y'all heard.

First, of course, is the cover reveal for Wags, Woofs, and Wonders, the upcoming anthology from Fellowship of Fantasy and Uncommon Universes Press. If you follow me on other social media, you saw this earlier this week, but for everyone else, BEHOLD!


Every dog has its day.

Is there anything as faithful or loyal as a dog? Always ready to lend a paw, cuddle up next to you, or chase away foes (because their noses know!).

This feel-good collection features eight magical stories of whimsical, true-hearted, and rascally hounds. From a blind dog with surprising gifts to a watery pup with a winsome secret to a fiery hound, ready to test his new dog-sitter to his limits. Danger may lurk, but don’t worry! Every story is guaranteed a heartwarming, happy ending.

This sixth anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy and Uncommon Universes Press showcases incredible authors dedicated to telling doggone good fantasy fiction that will make you laugh, sigh, and cuddle your own furry friend.

Releasing July 6, 2023

Preorder the ebook on Amazon | Preorder the paperback | Add on Goodreads

This anthology includes my short story, "Grim Guardian," a slightly spooky Southern mystery that I had a lot of fun writing and I think y'all will really enjoy reading. Also, can we all just take a minute to appreciate that cover? That is a very magical Good Boy right there, and some absolutely lovely colors as well.

Again, if you follow me on social media, you're probably already aware of this, but Through a Shattered Glass, my remix of The Snow Queen and the Alice books, was selected as a finalist in the Novella category of the Realm Awards! I'm both thrilled and honored that Through a Shattered Glass made the list, especially considering how many other amazing books and authors I know were in the running. The winners in each category will be announced at the Awards Banquet during the Realm Makers conference, and I look forward to being there and finding out who won, whether or not that list includes my book. (Also, just saying . . . if you haven't yet read Through a Shattered Glass, now is an excellent time to do so.)

Order TaSG on Amazon || Add to your Goodreads shelf || View the full finalists list

So, yes! Between all this and my sister's graduation, this has been a very exciting week. (Also stressful, for other reasons, but that's beside the point.) Thanks for stopping by, and don't forget to vote for the Realm Makers Readers' Choice Award — while my books aren't in the running, a lot of other excellent books are.

Have a lovely day!