Thursday, October 19, 2023

Stolen Songs Release Party: Interview with Enna


Hello, everyone! You thought we were done with the Stolen Songs releases? Well, we have one more book to celebrate: Kendra E. Ardnek's A Little Persuaded, which releases today! This is the final-for-now installment in the Austen Fairy Tale, and it blends The Little Mermaid with Jane Austen's Persuasion. Today, you can meet the main character, Enna, in a short interview — and tomorrow, swing by Light and Shadows to get my thoughts on the book as a whole.

About . . .

A Little Persuaded

Seven years ago, the mermaid Enna loved a human prince, but fate was against them. Now Kelantis is in danger and her journey to save it has brought the prince back into her life.

Find it on: Amazon || Goodreads

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 

Interview with Enna

Welcome to the blog! To start, tell us a little bit about yourself: who you are, what you do, anything that you feel is important for us to know to understand what makes you, you.

Hello, I am Enna, the younger daughter of King Elliot of Kelantis. I ruined my beauty by ... some foolishness when I was younger, and so I spend my time now devoted to the people. Seeing to their needs. Making sure that the city is secure. Going to land if we need to retrieve information from the humans. That sort of thing.

A very noble duty all round. Who would you say has had the biggest influence (for good or ill) on your life thus far? What was the most important thing you learned from them?

Probably Lady Mussle, who is the Guardian of the ocean's magic. I'm her apprentice now, but even before that, she was always like a mother to me, after my own mother's death. Probably the greatest lesson she ever taught me is that even if the people never appreciate my sacrifices, as long as I know I am in obedience to the will of Austere and am serving in their best interests, that is what matters.

An important lesson to learn. Now, at this point, you’ve lived both above and below the waves, with both humans and merrin. What’s something that you think Merrin do well that humans could maybe take lessons from? On the flip side, what’s something that humans do well and Merrin could stand to adopt?

I think that the humans could learn to care less about the passing of time. The difference between the hours of day are ... less noticeable under the sea than they are on land. As for the Merrin, I think they could learn to care less about the physical appearance. My people are vain. 

That seems to be a common trait with mer-folk in many story worlds. What was the hardest part about leaving your home in the sea (even temporarily) to live on land?

The fact that I was doing it in defiance of my father's orders. It was necessary, though I don't know now what we're going to do with the information I gathered, but I know he is unhappy with me. 

I'm sorry; it's always hard to be in conflict with family. To finish up, what is the one thing you hope people most remember about you?

As I said, it doesn't matter how I'm remembered, as long as I know that I made the right choices and the necessary sacrifices. 

That's a very noble attitude . . . one more people could stand to adopt. Thank you for answering my questions! And thanks to all my readers for reading!

Are you excited to read Enna's tale? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 13, 2023

You Should Absolutely Read Wormwood Abbey

Hey'a, all! If you recall from my Fall 2023 Reads post, this season is absolutely bursting with magnificent reads, and one of the upcoming releases I was most excited about was Christine Baehr's cozy gothic debut, Wormwood Abbey. And if you read last week's Doings post, you know that this book did not disappoint . . . but I'm still so excited about it, and it's pretty much the perfect non-spooky October read, so guess what! I'm talking more about it! And giving you five reasons why you should absolutely pick up Wormwood Abbey this fall!

First, though, a quick side note — if you're in the Northern Virginia area, don't forget that I'll be at Cascades Library tomorrow, 11am to 2pm, for Eat Local, Read Local! I'll be selling and signing books alongside 70-ish other local authors, and it'll be a great time. You can find out more by clicking here. I hope I'll see you there!

You Should Absolutely Read Wormwood Abbey

  1. It's gothic! With dragons! Honestly, for some of y'all, that's probably all you needed to hear. Or, quite possibly, dragons was all you needed to hear. But if you think spending time in an ancient, crumbling abbey (and an equally ancient, but less crumbling manor) that hides scaled secrets sounds like your cup of tea, well, you're in luck. This isn't a spooky read, but it's full of ruins and mysteries, of secrets long kept by oath and family tradition, of midnight ventures through dark hallways, of strange inheritances, of hidden dangers and the meeting of the supernatural with the natural. And, of course, full of strange creatures that just might be the dragons of legend . . .
  2. Edith is such a lovely lead. I simply adore her, and that's a fact. Outwardly, she's a proper clergy's daughter — but at the same time, she's secretly a writer of sensational mysteries. Given that I am also a writer of (hopefully) sensational mysteries, I feel a proper kinship with her, and I wish she were real so we could be friends. Besides that, though, she's reasonably sensible and good-hearted, but not without a proper appreciation for drama and adventure. And while she does occasionally slip up or procrastinate on telling people things, there was never a point where I was genuinely frustrated with her.
  3. The family elements are so wonderful. Edith has an excellent relationship with her immediate family — she loves and gets along with her parents and much-younger brother, and they support her in turn. I particularly loved the fact that Edith's parents are still an important part of her life, even though she's at the age where a lot of authors would have her be aching to be free of them. Her relationships with this part of her family grounds the book, providing steady footing as we and Edith explore the secrets of her extended family. I also enjoyed seeing the tentative friendship growing between Edith and Gwendolyn, her oldest cousin. Gwendolyn, we find, has borne the weight of her world for quite some time, so she's slow to trust, but it's lovely to see her and Edith eventually come to support each other.
  4. The writing style is delightful. It's first-person narration with lovely little asides here and there — much like the style of Rowntree's Miss Sharp and Miss Dark books, it feels period-appropriate, yet still modern. And Edith is an excellent narrator — it's like hearing a story told by a new friend. (Or maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part . . .) Plus, she's both a writer (as already mentioned) and a reader, which means we get her occasionally doing things like referencing Austen and Bronte or considering how her lead character would handle particular situations. It's such fun!
  5. It's just a lovely comfort read. The stakes are high enough to keep you from easily setting the book down, but not so high that reading this will stress you out. There's loveliness amid the mysteries and ruins and friendship and familial love despite the long-kept secrets. It's like the literary equivalent of enjoying a cup of hot tea-with-cream-and-sugar and several slices of pumpkin bread (or insert your hot-beverage-and-fall-treat combo of choice). And, truly, I couldn't recommend it more.

Does Wormwood Abbey have you intrigued? What about it sounds most interesting to you? What's a little-known dragon book or fall comfort read you love? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 6, 2023

September 2023 Doings!

Well, September is over — nearly a week over at this point, but of course my usual Doings! day was also the day of the Wisest Counselor Awards Ceremony, so we had to delay things a little. It's certainly been a very busy month, between book releases, Silmaril Awards, work, and general life stuff. So, we should have plenty to cover in this post . . .

But first, a quick announcement! If you're in the Northern Virginia area, you should come out to Eat Local Read Local on October 14 at Cascades Library! From 11am to 2pm, seventy local authors — myself included! — will be selling and signing books. There will also be food trucks, live music, and some kids' activities. So, if you want to pick up a paperback of your favorite of my books, or if you want my signature on something you own, please stop by! You can find out more by clicking here.

And now, on with the Doings!


  • Obviously, the main writing event of the month was the release of Song of the Selkies! The weeks leading up to this were hectic as I rushed to finish edits before release day. When I say that I was re-uploading files until the very last minute, I'm not joking! But the release itself was amazing, and I am super grateful to my beta readers (for all their input) and my ARC readers (who all had lovely things to say about the book and who also helped catch a few typos that I otherwise would have missed). If you haven't picked up your copy yet, make sure you do that; it's currently available in both ebook and paperback on Amazon.
  • On the topic of Song of the Selkies, did you catch the character art I shared on Facebook and Instagram leading up to the release? I've shared it above for anyone who missed it — isn't it so good? I commissioned it from the lovely UrbanHart, who did an amazing job bringing the characters to life. If you're looking for a character artist, I highly recommend her!
  • Outside of Song of the Selkies, September was also Silmaril Awards month! I hosted the Wisest Counselor award this year, which was fun. It was a nice change of pace from the Friends last year. If you haven't yet, make sure you check out this year's awards ceremonies (not just mine) — I honestly think some of them are the best we've had yet!
  • In addition to all this, I did a little bit of work on Bastian Dennel, PI #4 — by which I mean that I finished Chapter 28 in September and wrote most of Chapter 29 this past week. It's been slow going as I try to adjust from Ceana's voice to Bastian's, Kona's, and Dayo's — and from medieval language to 1920s slang! I'm getting back into the swing of it, though, and hopefully I'll be done soon anyway.
  • I did not do any D&D writing this month, but my D&D group did meet a couple times, and we're having fun. We spent a whole session dealing with some weird dreams and discovering that one character has fey heritage that even she didn't know about. That was honestly delightful.


  • This was an excellent month on the reading front — I read so many good books, I hardly know where to start!
  • A good chunk of what I read were ARCs. I've already reviewed Second Chance Superhero, When on Land, and My Fair Mermaid, so I won't repeat myself on any of those. 
  • My favorite two ARCs were Black and Deep Desires and Wormwood Abbey, both of which are absolutely delicious gothic tales. I talked about Black and Deep Desires a little in my Fall 2023 Reads post; as I said then, even if I don't usually go in for vampire stories, I am delighted that I made an exception for this one. It's full of eeriness and mystery meshed with found family and an excellent romance, and I just love it so much. Then we have Wormwood Abbey, which is a much lighter cozy gothic — with dragons! And a mystery writer heroine! And a solid family that genuinely loves and cares for one another at its core! I need the rest of the series immediately, please and thank you very much.
  • Continuing down the ARC train, Steal the Morrow was another good one. I loved Jenelle's take on Oliver Twist — it's far shorter and less depressing than the original, and her Olifur is an lovable blend of principled, clever, and determined. And Twisted Grimms, an anthology of fairy tale retellings that I read on and off between other books, was generally good. There were a couple stories in it that I didn't much care for, but there were also some excellent takes on very obscure fairy tales that I really enjoyed.
  • Outside of ARCs, the highlight of my reading month was Dark & Stormy, the much-anticipated third book in Suzannah Rowntree's Miss Dark's Apparitions series. This one was just as good — perhaps even better — than I expected, and it had me internally screaming (in the best way) at multiple points. Our crew — Vasily in particular — definitely go through the wringer here, but there are also some absolutely lovely moments.
  • I'll just give a quick run-through of my other reads. Spellbreaker and Spellmaker were roughly what I expected from Holmberg novels, which is to say that they were quick, enjoyable reads with a clever magic system and some nice romance, but I'm not sure if they have the depth to hold up on the reread. Ruth and the Ghost was a short horror story by W.R. Gingell; it's weird, but I liked it well enough. Salt Fat Acid Heat, I actually mostly read back in August. I don't think I would ever make any of the recipes in it, but it did help me understand some cooking principles a lot better than I did before reading it. A Wrinkle in Time was a reread inspired by the presence of the Mrs. W's in the Silmaril Awards, so that was enjoyable. And I read another installment of Fullmetal Alchemist on October 3, as that's a significant day in the fandom — plus, I still had a book hangover from Dark & Stormy, and I figured the best way to get over it would be to read something where my expectations are almost completely different, so I wouldn't have to worry about the comparison game.
  • Oh! Almost forgot — while it's not pictured above, I did read 75% of Gillian Bronte Adams's Of Fire and Ash, trying my best to participate in the readalong Gillian was holding. In general, I enjoyed it, and I see why it won a Realm Award. I don't think it's going to be a new favorite, but that could just be because I was too stressed to properly enjoy it for parts of my reading time.


  • The month started off wonderfully with a Bible Study retreat at White Sulphur Springs, otherwise known as one of my favorite places on earth. This was a joint retreat between our study here in Virginia and another study in Ohio (the one where many of the original members of our group met, in fact!), so there was a good crowd, and we had the chance to visit with some long-time friends. Plus, my sister attends the Ohio study, and she came down, so I got to see and hang out with her! And that was really nice. While we were there, we went down to the old hotel, which the WSS staff recently renovated, and toured it to see what had changed and what was still the same. We also had square dancing one of the nights, and I actually had a partner so I could participate, and that was a delight! I love square dancing, but usually no one asks me, and I'm too introverted to ask someone myself. This year, one of the other participants was very actively making sure everyone who wanted to dance had someone to dance with, and I just really appreciated that.
  • Once we got back, it was back into the regular routine of work-edit-classwork-blog-and-sleep. Most of my work projects have gone well, aside from one or two hiccups, so that's good. I honestly expected to be a lot more stressed at work than I actually was. Apparently I accidentally front-loaded most of my stress into August, I guess? The one area where we did have some issues was with the livestream — for some reason, our internet decided to buffer badly enough to prevent the stream three weeks in a row. We're still not entirely sure why it suddenly became a problem, but after much investigating, testing, and calling tech help on our part . . . it seemed to mostly resolve itself? Or something? I don't know. We're trying to figure out how to lower the demand on our bandwidth on Sunday mornings so we can make these issues less likely in the future.
  • My grad school class also eased up pretty quickly, though the weeks leading up to Song of the Selkies's release were a bit rough. There were multiple weeks when I was submitting all my classwork in the last days of the week when it was due, having also done most of that work within a day or two of the due dates, but most of the assignments were small enough that having to do that wasn't a huge issue. This past week's assignment was a different story; it's been . . . problematic. I probably should've been working on it during the time I was writing this post . . . but said project has been driving me nuts and I don't want to think about it more than I have to. It's one of those things that should have been boring-but-straightforward, but then research turned out to be an absolute nightmare. Still, next week is the end of the class, and it should actually be easier.
  • I did get to make bagels one weekend, though! Sourdough bagels, to be specific. They were delicious.

October Plans

  • Obviously, October is already a quarter over at this point, but I shall list my plans anyway.
  • I have a couple events this month that I'm really looking forward to! One, of course, is Eat Local Read Local on October 14, which I mentioned at the start of this post. This is my first real author event aside from the book fair at Realm Makers, and I'm a little nervous, but I'm also hopeful that it'll be a good time. In addition, a friend and I are planning to meet up at a local Renaissance Festival, and I am so looking forward to that! It's the same Renn Faire we went to last year, and it was a ton of fun then, and I think it'll be great this year as well. I do still need to figure out what I'm going to wear for that, but I'm sure I'll get it sorted out.
  • My writing goal for the month is to finish BDPI #4 and write at least one short story for a writing challenge I'm participating in. This is the same writing challenge I did last October. I somehow ended up in the same category as I did last year, and I have no idea what I'm going to write, but . . . I'll figure something out.
  • I'm also finishing up one class and starting another for my master's program. I will get a week's break in between, which will be nice. The next class is going to be on grant writing, though, unless I misremember, and I'm not sure how I'm going to feel about that. I don't like asking people for money, and that's basically what grant writing is, as far as I can tell.
  • On the reading front, I've worked my way through most of my ARCs, so I'll be trying to clear up some of my library stacks and checking to see how I'm doing on my reading goals for the year. Some (like all the book recs I solicited) are probably a lost cause at this point, but others (like classic or non-fantasy reads) I might still have a shot at.
  • Work will continue to be busy, though October is probably the calmest of the fall months — our big things are Stewardship and a service event, and I did most of the design work for both of those in August or September. Still, there's always something that needs doing.
  • I'm sure there's something I'm forgetting that I should talk about here, but if I can't remember it . . . eh. Probably wasn't that important.

How was your September? What are you looking forward to in October? Was September a good reading month for you? And will I see you at Eat Local Read Local? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!


Monday, October 2, 2023

Steal the Morrow Release: Interview with Olifur

Hello everyone! I recognize that this isn't the usual day for posts here, but this is a bit of a special occasion. Specifically, it's a release celebration for Steal the Morrow, Jenelle Leanne Schmidt's fantasy retelling of Oliver Twist set in the world of the Turrim Archive! Technically, this book came out last Friday, but I had an awards ceremony to host that day on Light and Shadows, and that plus grad school took up too much brainspace for me to post here, so . . . we're celebrating today instead! I received an ARC of this book, and I really loved it — it's a wonderful story of a boy determined to do the right thing in a world that is often callous and cruel. But I'm not actually here to review the book. Instead, I have an interview with one of the characters, Olifur — and if you hop over to Light and Shadows, you'll find another interview with Jenelle herself.

About Steal the Morrow


The city may be dangerous, but it holds his only hope…

Abandoned on a remote highway after bandits murder his parents, young Olifur finds safety with Fritjof. The gruff woodsman teaches him and other orphans to live off the land. When Fritjof falls ill, Olifur will risk everything to save his mentor—even travel to far-off Melar seeking a doctor.

However, the city of Melar is more perilous than Olifur imagined, and doctors aren't cheap. His quest leads him first to a hazardous job working on the elevated trains high above the city. But the dangers in the clouds are nothing compared to those on the ground. Olifur soon finds himself ensnared in a web of professional thieves, and he must think fast if he is to survive the day and bring the much-needed aid to Fritjof before it is too late.

Schmidt reweaves Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" into an exciting tale of integrity and perseverance in this gaslamp-fantasy adventure.

Buy the book || Add on Goodreads || Discover the other Classics Retold

Interview with Olifur

Hello, Olifur! Welcome to the blog! To start out, please tell us a little bit about yourself: who you are, your role in the story, anything that you feel is important for us to know so we can understand what makes you, you.

Well, my name is Olifur. I guess I’m the main character? I’m about 10 years old now, but three years ago my parents were murdered by highway bandits when we were on our way to Melar hoping to find a doctor who could help my mother. My father tried to stop them from taking our cart and leythan (a kind of large lizard that we use as mounts and beasts of burden here), and they killed him and my mother and then just left me behind to get eaten by wild animals.

Thankfully, Fritjof found me instead. He took me in and taught me all sorts of useful skills for surviving in the wilderness. What plants are good to eat, how to make and shoot my own bow, how to hunt, how to start a fire and cook over it, things like that. He’s rescued loads of other orphans as well, and we all stay with him in his glen… it’s kind of a school, I guess. We just don’t learn the usual things.

Sounds like you've already had a pretty exciting life, even though you're still young. Who would you say has had the biggest influence (good or bad) on your life thus far? What was the most important thing you learned from them?

I would say that the biggest influence for bad were the men who murdered my parents. They taught me that the world has a lot of cruelty and selfishness in it.

But for good, the person who has influenced my life the most is Fritjof. He doesn’t say much, but he gave me life when the whole world seemed bent on only offering death. He taught me kindness and the importance of integrity. He’s also taught me how to be self-sufficient and how to stand on my own.

Fritjof sounds like an wise and good man. Moving on, as I understand, you’ve lived both in the middle of mostly-nowhere and in the big city. Which do you prefer and why?

I definitely prefer living in the forest. Both places have their own dangers, but the dangers in the city are harder to see coming. In the forest, you always know where you stand. In the city, it always felt like the ground could be pulled out from under me at any moment. It’s harder to know who to trust in the city, since it seems to toss people against each other. In the wilderness, people have to work together to survive against the beasts and the weather.

That's a very good perspective. What’s one thing you think most people don’t know or understand about you?

I’m not as brave as everyone thinks I am. And sometimes I have no idea what I’m supposed to do, even though it often looks like I have all the answers.

Ah, well. You'll be feeling that last one for the rest of your life, trust me! Let's end on a fun question: if you had an afternoon to spend doing whatever you wanted with whomever you wanted to do it with, what would you do, and with whom would you do it?

I’d spend it going on a hunting trip with Fritjof.

That sounds like a very pleasant afternoon. On behalf of myself and my readers, thanks for answering my questions!

I hope you all enjoyed that interview! So, who's ready to meet Olifur? Again, Steal the Morrow is available in ebook and paperback form from various retailers — and if you order a copy before October 29, you can get a character art bookmark and bookplate from the author! Click here for more info on that. Having read the book already, I can definitely recommend it!
Thanks for reading!