Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Until That Distant Day--Cover Reveal and Giveaway!

I am very happy to be part of this cover reveal for Jill Stengl, Anne Elisabeth Stengl's award-winning, super-talented mother!

Now, without further ado....




Paris, France
1792

Colette DeMer and her brother Pascoe are two sides of the same coin, dependent upon one another in the tumultuous world of the new Republic. Together they labor with other leaders of the sans-culottes to ensure freedom for all the downtrodden men and women of France.

But then the popular uprisings turn bloody and the rhetoric proves false. Suddenly, Colette finds herself at odds with Pascoe and struggling to unite her fractured family against the lure of violence. Charged with protecting an innocent young woman and desperately afraid of losing one of her beloved brothers, Colette doesn’t know where to turn or whom to trust as the bloodshed creeps ever closer to home.

Until that distant day when peace returns to France, can she find the strength to defend her loved ones . . . even from one another?

Coming April 25, 2014
From Rooglewood Press

BOOK WEBSITE:

www.untilthatdistantday.blogspot.com

____________

EXCERPT FROM THE STORY:

Until That Distant Day

Opening of Chapter 1

I was born believing that the world was unfair and that I was the person to make it right. 

One of my earliest memories is of Papa setting me atop a nail keg in the forge; I could not have been older than two at the time.

“Colette, give Papa a kiss,” he said, tapping his cheek.

“Why?”

“Come and sit on my knee.”

“Why?”

My response to every order was the same, asked with genuine curiosity. I did not understand why his watching friends chuckled. Why should I press my lips to Papa’s sweaty, prickly cheek? Why should I hop down from the keg, where he had just placed me, and run to sit on his knee, a most uncomfortable perch? I felt justified in requesting a reason for each abrupt order, yet he never bothered to give me one.

Mama, when thus questioned, provided an answer in the form of a sharp swat. This I could respect as definitive authority, although the reasoning behind it remained dubious.

My little brother Pascoe was born believing that the world was his to command. As soon as he acquired his first vocabulary word, “No,” he and I joined ranks in defiance of established authority.
Many impediments cluttered the path of destiny in those early years: parents, thirteen other siblings, physical ailments, and educational difficulties. And as we grew into adulthood, more serious matters intervened, even parting us for a time. But I will speak more of that later. For now, let me assure you that, no matter the obstacles thrown in our way, our sibling bond seemed indissoluble; the love between us remained unaffected by any outside relationship.

Pascoe and I were young adults when revolutionaries in Paris threw aside the tyranny of centuries and established a new government based on the Rights of Man. From the seclusion of our little village in Normandy we rejoiced over each battle fought and won; and when our local physician, Doctor Hilliard, who had first mentored then employed Pascoe for several years, was elected as deputy to the National Assembly from our district, a whole new world opened at our feet. 

My story truly begins on a certain day in the spring of 1792, in the little domain I had made for myself in the kitchen at the back of Doctor Hilliard’s Paris house. Perhaps it wasn’t truly my domain, for it did not belong to me. I was merely the doctor’s housekeeper and could lay no real claim. Nevertheless, the kitchen was more mine than anything had ever been, and I loved that small, dark room; especially during the hours when sunlight slanted through the bubbled-glass kitchen windows, making bright, swirling shapes on the whitewashed walls, or each evening when I arranged my latest culinary creation on a platter and left it in the warming oven for the doctor to discover whenever he arrived home. That kitchen was my home. Not the home I had grown up in, but the home I had always craved.

On that particular day, however, it did not feel the safe haven I had always believed it to be. Loud voices drifted down from the upper floor where the doctor and Pascoe were in conference, disturbing my calm. When I closed the connecting door to the dining room, the angry voices drifted in through the open kitchen windows. I couldn’t close the windows; I might smother of heat. Yet I needed to block out the sound, to make it stop.

So I slipped a filet of sole into a greased skillet and let it brown until golden on both sides. The hiss and sizzle did not quite cover the shouting, but it helped. Then I slid the fish onto a waiting plate lined with sautéed vegetables fresh from my kitchen garden; and I topped all with an herbed wine-and-butter sauce. A grind of fresh pepper finished off my creation.

But my hands were still trembling, and I felt as if something inside me might fall to pieces.

Pascoe often shouted. Shouting was part of his fiery nature, a normal event. He shouted when he gave speeches at section meetings. He shouted about overcooked meals or inferior wines. He shouted when his lace jabot refused to fall into perfect folds.
But never before had I heard Doctor Hilliard raise his voice in anger.

Doctor Hilliard was never angry. Doctor Hilliard never displayed emotion. At most, he might indicate approval by the glance of a benevolent eye or disapprobation by the merest lift of a brow. Yet there could be no mistaking the two furious voices overhead. I well knew Pascoe’s sharp tenor with its sarcastic edge; but now I also heard the doctor’s resonant voice crackling with fury.

I managed to slide the hot plate into the warmer alongside a crusty loaf of bread and closed the door, using a doubled towel to protect my shaking hands. 

Behind me the connecting door was flung open, and Pascoe burst in as I spun to face him. “Gather your things; we are leaving,” he growled. His eyes blazed in his pale face, and the jut of his jaw allowed for no questions. He clapped his tall hat on his head as he passed through the room.

I donned my bonnet and sabots and picked up my parasol. “What has happened?” I asked just above a whisper.

“I’ll tell you once we are away from this house.” His lips snapped tight. His chest heaved with emotion, and he grasped a portfolio so tightly that his fingers looked white.

I could not recall the last time I had seen my brother in such a rage.

____________




AUTHOR BIO:

Jill Stengl is the author of numerous romance novels including Inspirational Reader's Choice Award- and Carol Award-winning Faithful Traitor, and the bestselling novella, Fresh Highland Heir. She lives with her husband in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, where she enjoys her three cats, teaching a high school English Lit. class, playing keyboard for her church family, and sipping coffee on the deck as she brainstorms for her next novel.




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GIVEAWAY:

Jill is offering an enormous bundle prize of ten print novels and novellas, including her award-winning Faithful Traitor, several novella collections, and her three-book Longtree series. These will all be autographed! (US and Canada only, please.)

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Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Hello!

So this is just a quick note to let you all know that I'm still kicking. I've been scarce around the blog of late, obviously, but it's just as well because the amount of schoolwork this year? It makes first year look like a pile of unicorns and rainbows.

After all, this year I am taking my capstone course--pretty much, the most vital course--for my Honours Major in English Literature. Which is insanity, because most capstone courses for other programs don't come until third or fourth year. Which means I sometimes have up to 200 pages of reading for one class--and I have this class twice a week. And on top of that, I have four other courses, each with their own workload, plus I work three times a week in the early mornings. And for those who know me, they know I'm no morning person, lol.

So suffice to say, I'm very much looking forward to Thanksgiving this week (Canada gets it earlier, yay!)

But all this schoolwork means my writing has dwindled. Two of the projects I hoped to see completed for Anne Elisabeth Stengl's Cinderella contest will not see fruition. Yet, never fear! One has risen to take their place. I will keep quiet about it for now, except to offer a few hints: Esther. Israelite Captivity. Persia. All these offer their influences to the story, now titled: The Story Told For Stars. I hope to tell you more about it as I progress, and hopefully finish.

So that's a bit about what I've been up to. How have you all been, blogger friends?



Monday, 23 September 2013

Cover Reveal: "Goddess Tithe" by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Cover Reveal!




The Vengeful Goddess
Demands Her Tithe
When a stowaway is discovered aboard the merchant ship Kulap Kanya, Munny, a cabin boy on his first voyage, knows what must be done. All stowaways are sacrificed to Risafeth, the evil goddess of the sea. Such is her right, and the Kulap Kanya's only hope to return safely home.
Yet, to the horror of his crew, Captain Sunan vows to protect the stowaway, a foreigner in clown's garb. A curse falls upon the ship and all who sail with her, for Risafeth will stop at nothing to claim her tithe.
Will Munny find the courage to trust his captain and to protect the strange clown who has become his friend?


Illustration!


From Anne Elisabeth:


There are eight full-page illustrations in Goddess Tithe, featuring various characters and events from the story. This is the first one to be found in the book. I decided to share it with all of you since it depicts my young hero, the cabin boy, Munny, under the watchful eye of his mentor, the old sailor Tu Pich. Munny is on his first voyage, and he is determined to learn all there is to know about a life at sea as fast as possible. Thus we see him utterly intent upon the knot he is learning to tie. Tu Pich is old enough to know that no sailor will ever learn all there is to know about the sea. Thus he looks on, grave and caring, and perhaps a little sad. He might be looking upon his own younger self, many years ago, fumbling through the hundreds of difficult knots his fingers must learn to tie with unconscious ease.
I enjoyed creating all the illustrations for Goddess Tithe, but this one was my favorite. I love the contrasts of light and dark, the contrasts of young and old . . . youthful intensity versus the perspective of age.
Here is an excerpt from the middle of the story. In this scene, Munny has been ordered to Captain Sunan’s cabin to clear away his breakfast . . . an unexpected task, for a lowly cabin boy would not ordinarily dare enter his captain’s private quarters! He hopes to slip in an out quietly without attracting the captain’s notice. But his hopes are dashed when Sunan addresses him, asking how their strange, foreign stowaway is faring:

__________

“And what do you make of him yourself?”
Munny dared glance his captain’s way and was relieved when his eyes met only a stern and rigid back. “I’m not sure, Captain,” he said. “I think he’s afraid. But not of . . .”
“Not of the goddess?” the Captain finished for him. And with these words he turned upon Munny, his eyes so full of secrets it was nearly overwhelming. Munny froze, his fingers just touching but not daring to take up a small teapot of fragile work.
The Captain looked at him, studying his small frame up and down. “No,” he said, “I believe you are right. Leonard the Clown does not fear Risafeth. I believe he is unaware of his near peril at her will, suffering as he does under a peril nearer still.”
Munny made neither answer nor any move.
“We will bring him safely to Lunthea Maly, won’t we, Munny?” the Captain said. But he did not speak as though he expected an answer, so again Munny offered none. “We will bring him safely to Lunthea Maly and there let him choose his own dark future.”
“I hope—” Munny began.
But he was interrupted by a sudden commotion on deck. First a rising murmur of voices, then many shouts, inarticulate in cacophony. But a pounding at the cabin door accompanied Sur Agung’s voice bellowing, “Captain, you’d best come see this!”
The Captain’s eyes widened a moment and still did not break gaze with Munny’s. “We’ll keep him safe,” he repeated. Then he turned and was gone, leaving the door open.
Munny put down the pot he held and scurried after. The deck was alive with hands, even those who were off watch, crawling up from the hatches and crowding the rails on the port side. They parted way for the Captain to pass through, but when Munny tried to follow, they closed in again, blocking him as solidly as a brick wall.
“Look! Look!” Munny heard voices crying.
“It’s a sign!”
“She’s warning us!”
“It’s a sign, I tell you!”
Fearing he knew not what, Munny ran for the center mast and climbed partway up, using the handholds and footholds with unconscious confidence. Soon he was high enough to see over the heads of the gathered crew, out into the blue waters of the ocean. And he saw them.
They were water birds. Big white albatrosses, smaller seagulls, heavy cormorants, even deep-throated pelicans and sleek, black-faced terns. These and many more, hundreds of them, none of which should be seen this far out to sea.
They were all dead. Floating in a great mass.
Munny clung to the mast, pressing his cheek against its wood. The shouts of the frightened sailors below faded away, drowned out by the desolation of that sight. Death, reeking death, a sad flotilla upon the waves.
“I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Munny looked down to where Leonard clung to the mast just beneath him, staring wide-eyed out at the waves. “How could this have happened? Were they sick? Caught in a sudden gale? Are they tangled in fishing nets?”
There was no fear in his voice. Not like in the voices of the sailors. He did not understand. He did not realize. It wasn’t his fault, Munny told himself.
But it was.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Liebster Award Nominations



Grace at Fictionally nominated me for the Liebster Award. Thanks, Grace!

There are a few rules to be followed upon accepting this award and they include:
- Link back the blogger that tagged you.
- Nominate ten others and answer the questions of the one who tagged you.
- Ask ten questions for the bloggers you nominate.
- Let your nominees know of their awards and tag backs.

Now, onto the questions!

1. If you could visit any book/movie world, what would it be?

Probably Narnia. It means so many things for me, and will most likely remain my favourite book series for all time. As a child, it brought me joy, and as a young adult, it reminds me to keep holding onto hope and trust and faith, even if the world scorns you for it.

2. Favorite genre(historical, contemporary, fantasy...) ?

Fantasy. Right now I prefer my fantasy with less of the fantastical--more political intrigue, with just a dash of mystery and romance. I find historical-based fantasy really interesting, as it usually explores how large events affect tiny people. But maybe that's just because that's the sort of book I'm writing right now. :P

3. Do like to buy books or borrow them from the library?

I admit I am far too inclined to buy books. I'm teaching myself to borrow from the library more often in order to save money.

4. If you could travel back in time, where would you go?

I would go back to when dinosaurs and mammoths and all those wonderful, extinct creatures walked the earth. As a Creationist, I believe they co-existed with mankind and I honestly would have loved to see that--and have a pet dino. :D

5. When it comes to snack food, do your prefer salty or sweet?

Sweet. Anything with chocolate, caramel.... sweet-and-sour candies are also a favourite.

6. Where is one place you would like to visit?

The British Isles, which I actually hope to see happen within the next two years, thanks to an opportunity my university gives its students for travelling abroad.

7. Book store or online shopping for books?

Both. I like the cheapness of online shopping, but nothing beats going into the bookstore and sniffing books. They smell divine.

8. Do covers influence you to read/not read, some books?

Definitely. If there's some questionable content on the cover, I will most likely fight the urge to burn it to a crisp. But if a cover feels too cheap--even if the book within may be lovely--I assume the author didn't want to put as much effort into making it presentable, so why should I bother with the effort of reading it? Very harsh, I know, and I'm attempting to become less snobbish.

9.  Which do you prefer, series or stand alone books?

It depends. I like to buy stand-alones because then I'm not forced to buy more when I reach a cliff-hanger ending. But some series are written to be a bunch of stand-alones, which I appreciate. And if a series is so well written.... well, good art speaks for itself.

10. If you had to get rid of one of your favorite book from your book shelf, which one would it be?

GET RID OF IT? NEVERRR!!! Lol, if I had to SHARE one book from my book shelf--other than the Bible, of course--I think I would want to share C.S. Lewis' Til We Have Faces. It's one of those books that you have to re-read and think about. It breaks your heart and forces you to confront your own character faults. It also has a lot to say about truth, even in the guise of a myth's retelling. I could go on and on about it, but I won't. I don't want to spoil it for you.


I NOMINATE:

Rissi @ Dreaming Under the Same Moon

Kara @ Flowers of Quiet Happiness

Anne Elisabeth @ Tales of Goldstone Wood

Amber @ Seasons of Humility

Jennette @ J. L. Mbewe

Rebekah @ Backing Books

Hannah @ The Writer's Window

Ysa @ Pages of Me

Clara @ The Darling Diaries

Grace @ Fictionally

MY QUESTIONS:

1. What is your favourite part about writing (or reading)?
2. Who is the person you consider your role model?
3. What is your favourite part about blogging?
4. How would you describe your personal style?
5. What is something you've learned recently that you wish you'd known before?
6. What book has had the most impact on you as a person (excluding the obvious  choice, of course)?
7. Favourite hobby?
8. Favourite thing to drink?
9. Do you have any pets--and if so, can you share a picture?
10. Lastly, if you're able, please share a snippet of your current work-in-progress. If you're not comfortable, or not a writer, please share something you love about books. It can be anything at all.

Monday, 2 September 2013

My Vanishing Act

Hey everyone,

I've been fairly absent from the blog lately, and will probably be so for a while. A new school year has begun, which means that I am now surrounded by friends, books, and lots of schoolwork. This is my second year of university. I'm in a dorm with wonderful girls and we're going to have a blast!

What this means, however, is that I will be neglecting this blog for a while. I will miss you all, but hopefully I can post once or twice a week, or every two weeks at least. I just need time to settle and get into a groove, as well as finish a whole bunch of writing projects I now have to make time for.

So until next time, God bless!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Author Quest

Hannah at The Writer's Window tagged me in this fun meme. I'm answering the questions using Ice Roses, a retelling of "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Anderson.

1. There you are in the middle of writing one of your favorite stories. Suddenly, a portal materializes in front of you, and a note is tossed through. You read it and discover that it is a plea of aid from one of your favorite characters--you know, the comic relief one. You leap through the portal (Danger? Who cares about danger?) and meet your character! Your reaction? (Explain who this character is first.)

Hmmm, I don't know if there is really a comic relief character in this story--due to certain events, most of my characters are rather serious. But the one that is least serious is Riddick, the crown prince of the Autumn Kingdom. I would be really excited to meet him--he and I are a lot alike: we could talk about books, our shared love of crisp autumn walks, and how people react to the scars on our faces. I could help him get over his inclination towards being naive and show him how the real world really works, without breaking his sensitive heart.

 2. Wow. Things really are a disaster. The story is taking a life of its own. Worst of all, your awesome hero/heroine has fallen in love with the completely wrong character. How do you convince them that your match is really the best person for them?

Well, at the very beginning of the story, Gerda's in love with the wrong person from the outset. When this character is abducted by the villain, she sets out to rescue him. Along the way, she gets some help from a few faeries--one of which is a kind, sensitive, book-loving prince. He's everything she needs--and certain events will show her just how perfect he is for her. ;)

3. Oops. You just got captured by the villain. But you can handle this, right? After all, you created their nefarious mind. What's your plan? Do you exploit his weakness or do you take advantage of your knowledge of his lair to escape?

Well, the Snow Queen would be rather disappointed in capturing me, a pesky, 'powerless' human. So she'd probably put me to work as a slave in her icy palace. Her weakness is her pride and condescension towards humans; she doesn't realize they have a power of their own. So I would use that to trick her into thinking I can't do anything about my situation....and then use her own sense of control against her. Never underestimate a determined writer....

4. Unfortunately, your awesome hero/heroine just go captured too...and they're wounded. Rats. You can't just leave them now can you? And they're feeling pretty discouraged. What would you say to encourage them?

Actually, that's good! Because unbeknownst to the Snow Queen, Gerda has the one weapon that can kill the icy faerie queen: a snow dagger. So I would take the snow dagger from Gerda and use it against the Snow Queen. I would remind Gerda that the Lord of All Lands has given her this mission for a reason, even if it means she can't have her happily-ever-after with the boy she once loved.

5. Great job. You just practically promised your character a happy ending. But can you guarantee it? You're in the story now, and you might never have written your hero into such peril. But wait a second...you are the author! So what if the story isn't going how you thought? Make a new happy ending! Do you single-handedly  rescue your hero or do the other heroes come and save the day?

I pretty much took care of it, I guess. But despite that, though everything's ended 'happily', certain things will never be the same. The characters--especially Gerda--are forced to grow up a lot in this story. Friendships will stay strong but not the same. It's basically the journey from childhood to adulthood, and some people--and ideas--will be left behind in the past. I would definitely describe their ending as "bittersweet."

6. Whohoo! You're free! And things are shaping up. Maybe not the way you had written it, but hey, perhaps you got a new perspective on the story! Now...sniffle, sniffle...you have to say good-bye to your characters. Do you hug them good-bye? Give them something to remember you by? Give an inspirational speech, telling what you love about them and what hopes you have for their future?

I would give Gerda a huge hug. This girl has been through so much, including various versions of the same story! And each time, I put her through such torture and pain. Honestly, I would want to drag her into this world and be her best friend. She definitely deserves a break. I would tell her to take the life that's been given her and, even though things haven't turned out the way she wanted them to, to make the most of it. In earlier drafts I had plans for sequels, but right now I'm thinking these characters will be with me for only one novel. But perhaps a few short stories....? Either way, I will never forget them!

Tag! You're It!

Ysa Rivas
Amber Stokes

And anyone else who wants to join in! :)

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Blog Tour: "Bleeding Heart" by Amber Stokes--Book Review


I am honoured to be part of the blog tour for Amber Stokes' debut novel, Bleeding Heart. Make sure to check out all the stops along the tour to learn more about this amazing young author and her wonderful novel! You can enter for chances to win her book as well. At any time, drop by the Blog Tour HQ to see the blog post schedule. Now, onward....


About the Book



Five bleeding hearts. One profound journey. 

  
Summer 1886

Sally Clay’s livelihood has been snatched away, but in its place arises an opportunity to escape from her sordid past and an unrelenting, unwanted suitor. Boarding a train with a heartsick rancher and an enigmatic miner, she leaves Virginia City behind and heads to Northern California, waiting for the chance to make right what went wrong three long years before.

But the road to revenge is far from smooth. Sally soon learns that the jagged pieces of a broken heart can far too easily wound the hearts of others – and hers isn’t the only heart that’s broken. Tragedy and fear dog her steps as she flees from the redwood forests to the high desert and back again. Will her bleeding heart ever find a way and a place to heal?

A desperate soiled dove. Three men who come to care for her. One man determined to claim her. 

All on a journey that will show them what true love really involves.


Inspirational Historical Romance


About the Author


Amber Stokes has a Bachelor of Science degree in English and a passion for the written word - from blogging to writing poetry, short stories, and novels. After her brief time at college in Oregon, she is now back home among the redwoods of Northern California, living life one day at a time and pursuing her passion via freelance editing and self-publishing her debut novel, Bleeding Heart.

My Review

Bleeding Heart by Amber Stokes is self-published. There is huge stereotype against self-published works, but I want to go out there and say that Bleeding Heart's writing outshines many traditionally-published books in the world. Amber is a master of her craft, and each beautifully-worded sentence shows how much time and effort she has put into her novel. I loved her careful, vivid descriptions of the wild natural beauty of the setting, and how her characters related to it.

One thing I particularly loved was how she sprinkled allusions to actual historical events and people throughout the book. She didn't explain them, but left it to the readers to research it and discover for themselves. This book was told through the eyes of people who lived in that time; and realistically, what's history to us was life to them. Would they, in their thoughts, replay certain events that they would already know by heart and which would be as day-to-day to them as taking a shower is to us? So I enjoyed Amber's challenge to her readers to go out and explore history for themselves through the dropping of interesting name and hints at certain events.

Another aspect that was well done was the curve away from the usual historical romance novel in the Christian market. Many of those are humorous and lack any thought-provoking events. There are sweet moments in this novel, but it is definitely darker and more for those who realize and understand that life isn't one big cupcake. Christians love and lose and doubt. I can't tell you how many times I've wondered in real life why God would 'allow' a good Christian man to be ripped away from his wife, or a little girl to be murdered. These characters struggle with real-life challenges; and, while not necessarily finding answers, they find some sort of peace. And it is this peace that is integral to a relationship with God--the knowledge that, no matter what insanity happens here on earth, no matter how much injustice is done, "it is well with my soul". Because, as Amber shows in this novel, the one thing evil cannot rip away from you without your letting it is the condition of your soul.

This book ripped my heart to shreds for its characters, and sewed it up again. Certain ones I loved more than others, such as the immigrant Myghal and the quiet cook, Zachary Taylor. (Amber, PLEASE let them have their own stories!!!) At times I felt I knew them, and at others, I realized how little I knew them at all. While in other books this might be a cause to accuse the author of character inconsistency, one of the themes in this story is how little the characters know about EACH OTHER. They make assumptions and turn out surprised when they turn out wrong. As we, the readers, get into the heads of almost all the characters, why wouldn't their assumptions become our own, and therefore, their surprise as well?

However, this novel is very short, clocking in at just over 50,000 words, according to Amber's website. While the story is self-containing, there were times when huge time-skips of several months would go by. This did not allow for a lot of relationship-building in regards to the romance; everything went fairly quickly, at least in terms of reading it. I would have enjoyed more tender moments for me to become accustomed to the relationship that happens by the end of the book. As well, I think adding another couple-thousand words would have given readers the chance to dig even deeper into the heads of the characters and connect with them. I would have liked more time with Myghal and Zachary Taylor and Sally and Seth and Joe and even Rufus, who turned out to be quite the conflicting villain himself. I wanted to know MORE about them, to know all their likes and dislikes, outside of how they felt about love and heartbreak.

As well, in the copy I read, there were a few typos, and a mention of an "Annabelle" that Sally supposedly met and who was important to her, but whom I don't remember. Perhaps someone from an earlier draft?

All that being said, if you're looking for a fresh, original historical novel to sink your mind into, go for Bleeding Heart. If you're looking for a book that will make you think and ponder and cry and stare at your ceiling and think some more, get your hands on Bleeding Heart. And then promptly join me in a rally to get Amber to write more about Myghal and Zachary!




I received a free review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for the opportunity, Amber, and best wishes on many successful novels to come!


Giveaway!!!


“Journey to the West” Giveaway! One U.S. resident (randomly drawn) will receive a signed copy of Bleeding Heart and a collection of items from the story’s settings, handpicked by the author.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Ever Queen

I haven't been using Pinterest for very long, but in the time I've been on it, I've created quite a few boards. One of my favourite things to do while writing is go on and search out pictures that match the characters, locations, and atmosphere of my stories.

But this past week, while scrolling a friend's Pinterest, I was struck with inspiration for a THIRD entry for Anne Elisabeth Stengl's Cinderella contest. I had sworn I would only write two stories for it, but this idea is by far my favourite of all the ideas I've come up with for submissions. It's been like a whirlwind romance so far; it combines so many of my favourite things--evil faeries, Celtic EVERYTHING, dynamic heroines, high stakes, balls and beautiful gowns, and a dash of romance. I'm absolutely in love with and delighted by this story.

So without further ado, here's a sneak peek at:


The Ever Queen


One dark day, Aednat is stolen from her quiet life to serve as a slave in the realm of the Everen, a place full of dark beauty and monsters hidden behind sweet smiles. Her one hope is to escape, and when the new faerie king holds a ball to choose his queen, Aednat seizes on her one chance at freedom--even if that one chance may cost her life.

Meet the Characters

Aednat

Stolen from her family to serve the Everen, Aednat has only one goal: escape. When the old Ever King dies and a ball is held to find a new queen, she concocts a plan to finally gain her freedom. But it is a plan that risks her life--and her heart. By the time all is said and done, Aednat will have to ask herself if she truly wants to leave--and what she's willing to risk to have everything she desires.


Faolan

When his father dies, Faolan is crowned the new Ever King. To fit into this role and protect his people, Faolan must hide his true self behind a mask of cool aloofness. When Aednat unintentionally shows her true self in the midst of his father's funeral, Faolan sees someone other than just a slave: someone who might accept him as he truly is. But as his love for her deepens, so do the consequences. 


Orla

One of the beauties of the Everen court, Orla knows it is her destiny to be the Ever Queen. She is one of Faolan's closest companions, and, she thinks, closest friends. But what is about to come will turn her world upside down, and betrayal will come from the one person she always took for granted--her own sister.


Laisar

Ashamed of the mortal blood that runs in her family, Laisar detests the presence of humans in her beloved realm. But when Aednat approaches her with a plan to free herself and rid Everen of humans forever, Laisar is forced to choose between her own dreams and that of her sister's. The choice she makes will change Everen forever.


Other Characters

Einin

Aednat's younger sister, left behind to mourn her beloved sister's disappearance for seven long years. During that time, she marries the chief of another tribe and has a child of her own, named Aednat. She goes on to become one of Irela's most celebrated women warriors--but she never forgets the sister she bickered with so often and loved so dearly.


Oonagh

A cranky, reclusive Everen faery who also detests the mortal presence in the faery realm, Oonagh is more likely to try to kill Aednat than help her. But when Aednat and Laisar come to her for help with Aednat's plan, she finds herself playing faery godmother--with interesting results.

(All images are from Pinterest--I do not own any of them, nor did I create any of them. I wish I were so talented!)


A Tiny Excerpt

This is first draft only, so forgive any off-kilter stuff. :)

Raising her head, Aednat looked across the stream to the woods beyond. The trees went ever on, moss creeping up their trunks and vines trailing like dead, dangling limbs to brush the forest floor. Beside her, Nessa went still, tilting her head, as though listening to birdsong Aednat could not hear.

No birdsong. Aednat shot to her feet, dropping the water bucket.

Nessa glanced at her, puzzled. "What's the matter?"

"No birds," Aednat whispered. The water had gone still and silent, and even the sunlight was smothered by the mist that now swirled, clinging to Aednat's legs. She skittered backwards, while Nessa shook her head.

"There's nothing to fear," Nessa said. She stepped into the river.

"No," Aednat squeaked.

Nessa cocked a brow at her.

"Nobody crosses the river!" Aednat whispered, her voice hushed in the suffocating quiet. "The Everen live there." How many stories had the elders told of those who passed over--and never returned?

Nessa snorted, placing her hands on her hips and tossing her thick black braid. "Where I come from, such cowardice is frowned upon," she said. "The great lairds of my land would never allow the Everen to dictate their choices." She sniffed. "If they even exist." With that, she waded through the water, her skirts flaring out behind her. She scrambled up the bank, stood, and held out her hands as though to show Aednat all was well.

Heat swept through Aednat, flaring in her fingers and toes, setting the back of her neck on fire. She wanted to sink through the soft earth, swallowed by green.

But more than that, she wanted Nessa to love her, to be proud of her. And what if Nessa was right? What if the Everen were no more than mist and shadows, the reflection of her own nightmares?

Tucking in her chin, she set her foot into the stream. Chill spiked through her toes, jolting along her leg until it touched her spine. She shivered, but kept going.

When she set foot upon the opposite bank, the noise like the thud of a door closing echoed through the wood. She whirled around, squinting into the distance. Nothing but serene green trees, moss growing like soft stubble across their trunks.

Hands snatched her arms, yanking her backwards. Fingers clawed her dress, gripped her legs. She shrieked, thrashing, while voices hissed all around her.

Don't hurt her.

Oh, she's lovely. Look at that hair. Niamh picked a good one this time.

And, all the while, she watched the forest from which she'd come fade away and reappear, this time seeming as distant as the stars. For when she managed to break from her captors and run to the stream, her feet glided over the water as though she were mist. And when she reached the other side, the branches that would once have snagged her curls now slid through them. She was no more than fog to the world she had once known.

She was trapped.

***

Hope you enjoyed this little peek into The Ever Queen! I'm always looking for people to proofread my stories and offer constructive feedback. If you have the time and are interested in this story, just leave me a comment and a way to get into contact with you. I appreciate all the feedback I can get--the more, the merrier! And if you're a writer too, I can proofread one of your stories in return. There's nothing I like better than making new writer friends!



Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Favourite Movies

Clara tagged me in this fun meme about one's favourite movies. So I'm going to pick the ones that aren't as obvious (like Lord of the Rings or Narnia). In no particular order:



1.) Beauty and the Beast

I love this movie so much that when the latest 2-DVD special edition came out, I bought it right away, without waiting for its price to drop. I've seen it so many times. I love this fairy tale--the music, the characters, the hope, the love that truly conquers all. It's a bonus that one of the principal animators--Glen Keane--is a Christian.




2.) Tangled

What can I say? This was a hit when it came out, and continues to be. I can't count how many times I've seen this movie. It was the go-to movie for Friday and Saturday nights in my dorm at university. The music, the humour, Eugene/Flynn--everything about the story rocked. And I just learned today that Zachary Levi, the voice of Flynn, is a Christian. Whoop!




3.) The Princess Bride

Need I say more? I think this movie is the most quotable movie of all time. It takes everything I like about fairy tales and subverts them. This movie is satire at its best--fun, light, and frothy. Something sweet to buoy your spirits when you're down--to make you believe in love while laughing along the way.




4.) Stardust

This movie is so epic. The music gives me chills, and Tristan and Yvaine's love story makes me sigh. While it's definitely NOT for a younger audience and has some things I could do without, it's the story's central theme--that love can conquer the most evil of magic--that makes this movie worth it for me every single time.  *sigh* It takes the magic of fairy tales and combines it with the grit of real life. The journey to love is never easy, and Tristan's journey from annoying little man to a hero willing to die to save his beloved.... *sigh* (I've got to stop doing that!)



5.) Shrek

These movies are what I watch when I want to laugh. While some of the jokes and language in the first two movies made me frown every now and then, this is a series where each movie gets better and becomes even more family-friendly. You watch this snappish, isolated ogre grow from a selfish beast to an ogre in love to a father. Shrek's journey is so complete and relatable--and this series is supposed to 'simply' be subverted fairy tales! There is so much depth and nuance to these characters--LOVE.




6.) Anastasia

I have a Russian/Ukrainian background, and when I was younger I always used to daydream that I was somehow descended from Anastasia--that she truly had survived and I was part of her legacy. I laugh at myself now, but this movie still holds a deep place in my heart. For a cartoon, the romance is so well developed, the music is chilling, and the story full of emotion. Anya is one of my favourite movie heroines ever--tough, sassy, but with a heart of gold and a longing to belong. And it isn't magic that wins the day against the villain--it's her love for her family and a certain someone who has stolen her heart along the way. ;) I have this on DVD and am planning on watching it until it falls apart.




7.) The Sound of Music

"....and whiskers on kittens; brown paper packages tied up with string--these are a few of my favourite things! When the dog bites! When the bee stings! When I'm feeling sad.... I simply remember my favourite things, and then I don't feel.... soooo baaaddd!!!"


I TAG:

Ysa Rivas

Amber Stokes

Grace M.

Hannah W.

And anyone else who reads this and wants to join in, consider yourself TAGGED! :D