FANtastic Interview with Kristen Stieffel

Many of you reading this, may have heard me mention a writers conference called Realm Makers. At this conference I have met many author and have had the opportunity to learn from them. One of these authors is Kristen Stieffel and she is getting ready to release her first novel, Alara’s Call:

Alaras-Call-Kindle

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Tales are often told of heroes who fulfill ancient prophecies. Alara’s Call is the tale of a woman who gives new ones.

Alara sees visions of other’s futures, but never her own.

A young clergywoman with a fiery passion for her Telshan faith, she has been assigned to a mission abroad but longs to lead a congregation in her homeland. Her father, the prime minister, jeopardizes her dream and her safety when he coerces her into what he calls a diplomatic mission.

But it’s a ruse.

The trip is meant to end with her marriage to the crown prince of a foreign nation, where members of Alara’s faith are persecuted and women oppressed. All for a trade agreement her father is desperate to enact.

But her mentor intervenes and takes Alara to Dorrel, the suitor she left behind. They believe they are safe, but foreign soldiers are under orders to bring Alara to the king’s palace…by any means necessary.

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To help Kristen celebrate I am participating in a blog tour for Alara’s Call. And to help you understand why you need to read this book, I have invited Kristen over for one of my FANtastic interviews:

C: Naturally, Alara’s Call takes place in a fictional world, but the fictional religion, Telshanism, is very similar to Christianity. They have many theological elements in common and the dramatized worship services are familiar. So my question is, What was the story benefit of creating Telshanism rather than just using Christianity? Was it to avoid Historical comparisons?

 K: Actually, I’m all for historical comparisons!

I definitely modeled Telshanism closely on Christianity, quite deliberately. At one point I even considered writing the story as an alternate history rather than as a secondary world fantasy, but too many things had to change in order to set up all the culture clashes I wanted, to it was easier to just go the fantasy route. Since my story isn’t set in the real world, I thought it would be inappropriate to use a real religion.

C: It is easy to see the similarities between Telshan and Christianity, but with one big exception. What prompted you to make the Trinity female? Was it to help highlight the misogyny of the Makutian culture?

 K: It’s more like the misogyny of the Makutian culture was put there to contrast the equality of the Glynrellan culture.

One of my main goals was to explore what a truly equal society would look like. But here’s the problem: In our own actual Christianity we have a verse that says “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 NRSV). Yet we don’t actually behave as if that were true.

From the second century onward, women were marginalized and excluded from church leadership. One of the main arguments used against female church leadership has been that Jesus and all his disciples were men. Never mind that the first person to share the good news “He is risen” was a woman.

What would need to be in place for women to not be marginalized? Well, what if the deity were female? But an all-female trinity could possibly lead to the marginalization of men, which isn’t what I wanted.

Many people even now like to refer to the Holy Spirit as “she,” because doing so helps us to acknowledge the feminine nature of God — who must have a feminine nature because both male and female are created in God’s image.

So I took that interpretation of the Trinity and flipped it, so that instead of Father, Son, and a Spirit some people address as feminine, I have a feminine creator, a feminine Redeemer, and a masculine Counselor. This allows me to explore ideas in the fantasy realm that I couldn’t do if I had exported literal Christianity to the fantasy storyworld.

C: Alara is a Curate in her religion, basically a priest or a pastor, but she is also a prophet. Do you believe that God still uses Prophets today? Do we just not notice them?

 K: I don’t see anything in Scripture that says any of the spiritual gifts have stopped operating in the church, so yes, I believe there are still those who have the gift of prophecy. In many mainline traditions, we tend to look the other way or write people with this gift off as cranks. I think we do so at our own peril. Scripture says we will know a prophet by whether what they say comes to pass. So we need to pay attention, if only to determine whether the speaker is speaking for the Lord or is being presumptuous.

 You may say to yourself, “How can we recognize a word that the Lord has not spoken?” If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord but the thing does not take place or prove true, it is a word that the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; do not be frightened by it. (Deuteronomy 18:21-22 NRSV)

 Frederick Buechner, in his book Wishful Thinking, says, “Prophet means spokesman, not fortune-teller.” I think this is important to remember, because even in Scripture we often see that the prophets are not only predicting the future, they are also teaching the people of God what they need to hear. Whether they want to hear it or not.

At a meeting of the Central Florida Presbytery, we once had a guest speaker who gave a stirring talk on the church’s role in combating violence in our culture. I was only mildly surprised afterward to hear my pastor refer to the talk as “prophetic.” The speaker hadn’t made any predictions, but he had called the church to action. That’s the kind of thing I think of in our current day when I think of prophets.

C: I love this definition of Prophet, and after reading Alara’s Call I can see how you used it to shape her character.

Speaking of characters, the character descriptions are so clear I can easily picture them in my mind. Did you compile a dream cast for Alara’s Call to base the descriptions on? If yes can you share pictures?

 K: Oh, my. I have such vivid pictures in my head, I could never entirely choose actors to play the roles. No one ever had precisely the right look. Except for General Rariden. He has always been Harrison Ford

.Harrison Ford

I’ve lately decided that Jenna Coleman could probably pull off the role of Alara,

Jenna Coleman

and Diego Luna would pass for Dorrel.

Diego Lune

But — and I realize I show my age — my favorite actor to play Dorrel would have been the late, great Roger Rees.

roger-rees-nypl-promo

I have a Pinterest board for Alara’s Call if you want to see more.

https://www.pinterest.com/kristenstieffel/alaras-call/

C: Yes, I love these choices. When you get that big movie deal, push really hard for this casting.

In Alara’s world, they use medieval technology. But I also got a Renaissance almost Regency feel, no doubt inspired by the beautiful cover art. Was there any one historical period that inspired the world of Alara’s Call?

 K: The main inspiration is nineteenth-century Europe, with all the small countries close together and interrelated royal families and court intrigues. The main departure from nineteenth-century technology is that my storyworld doesn’t have black powder, so there are no firearms or explosives. So the armaments are at more of a medieval level. But in all other ways, the world is meant to have more of a Regency/early Victorian feel.

C: If you could take one element from your world building to bring into the real world what would it be?

K: That’s an interesting question, because everything in the storyworld—other than the Telshan trinity—does exist in the real world, or (in the case of some of the manifestations of characters’ specific gifts) is described in Scripture. I guess if I were going to pick one thing from the storyworld that I wish we did as well in the real world, it would be the Glynrellan culture of equality. America has a fairly egalitarian culture, but we still have lots of room for improvement.

 Thank you for coming Kristen and sharing about your novel.

 Kristen-Stieffel-Headshot Kristen Stieffel is a freelance editor and writer who specializes in speculative fiction. Although she edits projects in varied genres for both the general market and the Christian submarket, she is a novelist at heart. Member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and Christian Editor Connection, mentor with Word Weavers International, and on the planning committee for Realm Makers, Kristen stays busy doing what she loves most. She is also the associate editor of Havok, a flash-fiction magazine focused on science fiction and fantasy. Visit http://www.kristenstieffel.com to learn more about this many-faceted author.

Follow Kristen on Social media:

Kristen’s WebsiteHer BlogAmazon Author pageFacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Don’t forget to add Alara’s call to your to read list:

Alara’s Call releases September 19th. Pre-order it here.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour:

M, 11th: Review, Gretchen Engel,  www.scriblerians.com/www.newauthors.wordpress.com

            Interview, Catherine Bonham, You are Here

T, 12th: Visual Post, Jebraun Clifford, www.jebraunclifford.com

W, 13th: Review, Kate Jameson, www.kategjameson.wordpress.com

            Review, Anna Tan, www.blog.annatsp.com

R, 14th: Guest Post, Laura A. Grace, www.unicornquester.com

            Interview, J.M. Hackman, www.jmhackman.com

F, 15th: Story World Feature, Travis Perry, www.travisbigidea.blogspot.com

            Visual Post, Liv Fisher, www.livkfisher.blogspot.com

Sa, 16th: Top 3 Post, Laurie Lucking, www.landsuncharted.com

Su, 17th: Behind the Scenes, Steve Rzasa, www.steverzasa.com

M, 18th: Review, Laurin Boyle, www.laurinboyle.wordpress.com

T, 19th: Behind the Scenes, Kristen Stieffel, www.newauthors.wordpress.com

W, 20th: Guest Post, Gillian Bronte Adams, www.gillianbronteadams.com

R, 21st: Review, Michele Israel Harper, www.micheleisraelharper.com

F, 22nd: Guest Post, Rebecca LuElla Miller, www.rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com

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Lawless cover reveal

Today on the blog I am participating in a cover reveal for a very exciting new novel.

 Lawless By: Janeen Ippolito hit my rader for two very important reasons. It is a steampunk fantasy WITH DRAGONS!!!

Read the awesome blurb below:

 The salvation of humans and dragons lies within a convicted murderer.

 Dragonshifter Kesia Ironfire has one goal—to redeem her past by serving the cruel dragon Pinnacle as a soldier in the dragon-human war.

 Then a rogue mission to spy on a new airship explodes into sickening green smoke. The same mysterious green smoke that was present the night of Kesia’s crime. When her dragon overlords deny any involvement, she and her tactical partner Zephryn Nightstalker try to investigate–and are sentenced to death.

 Still searching for answers, Kesia and Zephryn flee to the human military capital, where Captain Shance Windkeeper has been furloughed after the destruction of his airship. Eager to discover what–and who–blew up his vessel, he agrees to help Kesia and Zephryn infiltrate High Command. In exchange, Kesia must pretend to be his betrothed so Shance can escape an arranged marriage. If only she knew what ‘betrothed’ and ‘arranged marriage’ meant.

 But human social customs are the least of her worries. Dark secrets surface as Kesia delves deeper–secrets that challenge the facts of her crime and undermine the war itself.

 A steampunk fantasy adventure with a side of quirky romance and snark.

 So when Janeen was looking for help revealing her gorgious cover I raised my hand and shouted, “I volunteer.”

 So without further ado:

LawlessCover

AHH, IT’S SO AMAZING!!

 Now having seen that amazing cover art, naturally you want to read it right now. Good news, it comes out the 29th of September. That’s this month! But until then you can pre-order it from these fine retailers:

Amazon  Apple  Kobo  Barnes & Noble

 Signed copies here: Uncommon universe press.  I highly recommend this option.

 Don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads list!

About the Author:

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Janeen Ippolito is two authors for the price of one! She writes quirky nonfiction world-building and writing resources, plus she’s an author of speculative fiction with monsters, misfits, and mushy stuff. She’s also an experienced author coach, teacher, and the Fearless Leader (president) of Uncommon Universes Press. In her spare time, she enjoys sword-fighting, reading, food, and making brownie batter. A lifelong misfit, she believes different is beautiful and that everyone has the ability to tell their story. Two of her goals are eating fried tarantulas and traveling to Antarctica. This extroverted writer loves getting connected, so find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and at her two websites: janeenippolito.com and writeinsideout.com

 UUP Facebook Page  

Janeen Ippolito Facebook Author Page

Website: http://www.janeenippolito.com

Twitter: @TheQuietPen

Instagram: janeen_ippolito

 LawlessAvailableSept29

White Wolf and the Ash Princess Blog tour.

Hi, guess what? I’m participating in another blog tour. This time it’s for the book: The White Wolf and the Ash Princess by Tammy Lash.

 White Wolf and the Ash Princess

About White Wolf and the Ash Princess

Eighteen year old Izzy’s limited world begins to feel cramped after she completes her self-appointed book dare. After reading two-hundred and fifty books, a thought that had been once tucked away as tightly as the books on her library shelves becomes too irresistible to ignore…”Who am I?”

Memory loss prohibits Izzy from remembering her life before age seven when she was injured in a fire. Fifteen year old Jonathan Gudwyne and his head housekeeper rescued her and took Izzy in as their own, but who did she belong to before Jonathan took her in?

Crippling panic keeps Izzy from wandering beyond the stables but Tubs, the Gudwyne’s thirteen-year old stable boy, encourages Izzy to go beyond the property’s rock wall to a world that promises possible answers. A scorched castle in the woods and its mysterious cellar reveal secrets that push Izzy beyond her discomfort to embark in a journey to the New World with her young friend.

Here, she finds love and a home in the most unexpected of places.

 Purchase Link

– Amazon (available on KindleUnlimited): http://a.co/0XX0PDf

 Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34103987-white-wolf-and-the-ash-princess

I am excited for this book, though I haven’t read it yet, how can you resist a book that involves a book dare?

 Today I invited Tammy over to my blog and gave her the floor to talk about anything she wanted.

 She kindly agreed, and wrote this great post below:

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 How to Write with Anxiety Disorders

 Oooo! I’m having a mini panic attack. I was asked to write two blog posts. Two blog posts—and one of them is to be on whatever I want to write about.

Yikes! That’s double pressure. A) I need to write two blog posts. B) One of them is to be on whatever I want to write about.

My first instinct is to run for my bed covers and snuggle there until the “noise” goes away—but, I have a promise to keep (that’s a story for my other panic-inducing blog post)—and I won’t run and hide because I know I can do this. To help drown out the negative chatter in my head, I’ll just crank up my King Arthur soundtrack a little louder today. Together we’ll talk about what I know best—battling anxiety—and we’ll learn how to use it to our advantage in our writing.

 Accepting the Distracting Tri-head of Anxiety

I had no idea what was happening inside my stomach at age five. It felt like something angry was living there. I finally found out at age thirty that my “angry something” had a name. Three names, in fact. Over the years, the angry something grew and it morphed into the noisy tri-head of OCD, Panic Disorder and Generalized Anxiety.

Living with the trio is like wearing a headset playing the uncomfortably loud “Assassins Breathe” from the King Arthur soundtrack. You try to do your daily tasks but the noise that storms through your ears and into your brain makes it difficult. It confuses you. It makes simple tasks seem scary and it makes the days ahead feel like a maze you’ll never find your way out of.

With Christian counseling, the help of my husband, family and close friends, my tri-head has gotten a little less angry. I can still hear the noise from the headset—but the volume is a little less loud.

This isn’t a post meant to spark a debate on whether Christians should have these types of disorders. I am a Christian and—I have these disorders. The debate never gets off the ground for me. I know what the Bible says about them. The Lord desires us to “be anxious for nothing” and He asks that we “do not fear”. I’ve camped out in the Psalms, begged for relief and prayed the words in different ways hoping I’d finally say the right combination. I listened to pastors who said I was doing something wrong and I let them make me feel like a weak imposter.

 On my last day of therapy, a thought woke me up and it completely changed how I see myself and my anxiety. What if my angry trio was meant to be a part of me? Isn’t God the Master of everything? Time, weather, circumstance—mental health? He could cure me if He chose to, but He hasn’t. I may never be free—BUT is that so bad? I smiled at my therapist when I told him my new discovery. He smiled back and nodded an agreement. The kind of smile that said I passed my years of therapy with an A+. I have come to believe that OCD, Panic Disorder and Generalized Anxiety disorder are no different than the diabetes of your uncle or the high blood pressure of your aunt. These are life’s annoyances that are no different than the wart on your knuckle that won’t go away no matter how much you pick at it. It’s there—possibly forever—and why does that have to be bad? It’s an inconvenience— not the result of sin or a lack of faith.

I have come to believe that the Maker and Creator of all things gave me my trio to serve a purpose. This makes me special and unique. How could a gift like this be bad? So, with this new realization, I poured my experience with my trio into my writing. From it, White Wolf and The Ash Princess was born and this is how I did it…

 OCD Can Be a Good Thing

If you have it too, you’re probably shaking your head. I know, I know—sometimes it can be a complete pain. My OCD is mild for the most part. It’s cute and funny with a sprinkling of irritating. My family and I call my weird OCD hang-ups “ticks”. For example, before I can go to bed, I must first: take a sip of water. Second: smear chapstick on my lips until I reach the “you-can’t-possibly-be-putting-any-more-on-you’re-just-smearing-it-around” phase (hubby quote). Third: one last careful sip of water to keep my lip layers intact. Heaven forbid, I forget to go to the bathroom. Miss this step, and the three steps NEED to be done all over again. My husband finds this funny. He’ll sit at the edge of the bed with an amused smirk to try to catch the number of times the stick passes over my lips. We have yet to see how many times I do it. Apparently, I’m super-fast at it.

OCD in writing can be an amazing thing. It can keep you from moving on from a ho-hum scene. In Letters from the Dragon’s Son (the coming sequel to White Wolf and the Ash Princess), I could NOT leave one of my chapters. I literally read it or thought about it all day for days on end. Each time I thought about it, I looked harder into the scene. Every time I read it, I made the adjustments that my daydreams told me to. When I finally felt ready to let the chapter go, I was stunned at what my OCD tendencies left behind. Jonathan was the “rawest” and most pure in emotion that I had ever seen him in. Shaping and combing it until I felt it was right helped me bring him and his circumstance to a richer level. The extra flourishes were made by my OCD brush and I wouldn’t have reached that color of emotion if it weren’t for my “tick”.

 Panic Disorder Can Be a Good Thing

Out of the three, I despise this one the most. Panic disorder is uncomfortable—it’s scary—and it’s debilitating. This disorder feeds you heaping portions of terror until you are helplessly full. Overstuffed, you can’t catch your breath and your heart pounds so fast you fear it will short-circuit and stop. Our brain tries to convince us we’re dying and our body angrily fights back to keep it from happening. Feeling this type of panic is like getting to see what dying could be like in sample size for free (without actually dying)—like the tiny, clear cups of granola that they pass out at Wal-Mart in the grocery area to see if you really like it or not. Who wants to die? Nothing good can come from a disorder that gives you free test samples of death? Can it?

White Wolf absorbed the heaping helpings for me and it housed most of my anxious energy. It gave me the will to keep going, to share, and to help someone else struggling with panic. Writing helped me focus on something other than terror. Yep. Good things can come from panic disorder. You just have to look and find them.

 Generalized Anxiety Can be a Good Thing

This is the disorder that I’ve had the longest and it’s the one that has the strongest grip. I’m afraid of so many things, it’d take up pages for me to list them all. Some are crazy and insane and if I tell you, you’ll laugh. Ok. Maybe at this point we all need a laugh. Mascots (the cuter the scarier), clowns, policemen, TASERS (My terror is getting caught jay-walking. That’s when I’ll get tased, I just know it!), flying sticks, firemen, people in costume, talking on the phone, flying sticks—did you catch that one?

My anxious spirit seems quieter now that I’m writing about the things that I’m afraid of. I feel like a mean ogre piling it high on my characters, but I promise them a happy ending and that seems to suffice them. The things that had once seemed threatening before in the outside world, seem to lose their power when they’re shoved in a book. I find myself thinking more about storylines, scenes and characters than the looming doctor appointment that I have coming up or the broken garage door. I’m not losing touch with reality, I’m leveling it out. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Isn’t thinking on a book for His glory most, if not all, of those things?

White Wolf and the Ash Princess and Letters from the Dragon’s Son are more than steps towards healing and wellness. They’re a way for me to reach out and help others who feel the same as I do. If that doesn’t make my angry trio a blessing, I don’t know what does. As uncomfortable as they sometimes are, I’m so thankful and blessed to have my disorders.

 A Challenge for Those Struggling with Disorders

How about you? Do you struggle with the same three “thorns of the flesh” as I do? If you do, don’t listen to their voices of limitation. Don’t be afraid of them. Use them to your advantage and put them in your work. Use your strengths and weakness for Him. Lean on Him and trust Him. Don’t give up and let the trio engulf you. Use them while you’re battling them and do it for His glory. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish with His help. You—and your writing—will grow in ways you never dreamed possible.

Tammy Lash             About the Author

Tammy lives in Lower Michigan with her husband and her three children. Izzy’s home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (Munising) is where she and her family enjoy exploring. Tammy enjoys hiking, kayaking, beach wandering, “hunting” for birch bark and hopes to someday find a porcupine quill. White Wolf and the Ash Princess is her first novel. She is published in Keys for Kids and has been in children’s ministry for over twenty years.

Social Media Links: Website // Facebook // Instagram // Pinterest

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I want to thank Tammy for her insightful post and I apologize for any extra anxiety I caused. 🙂

 White Wolf Giveaway Banner

Tammy has generously offered to give away a signed paperback of White Wolf and the Ash Princess, birch bark bookmark, and necklace (three winners). US only. 

Good Luck: Click Here

I almost forgot, check out the rest of the tour here:

 Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 7th

– Launch Day – Unicorn Quester

– Guest Post –dolphin18cb– You are here

 Tuesday, August 8th

Book Review – Ashley Bogner

 Wednesday, August 9th

– Book Review – Indie Book Reviews

 Thursday, August 10th

– Guest Post – Dream. Write. Repeat.

 Friday, August 11th

– Interview – Lands Uncharted

 Saturday, August 12th

– Wrap-Up Post – Unicorn Quester

Cosplay on a budget and on the fly: Part 2

So the costume is coming together. But the deadline is looming ever closer. You aren’t quite sure if you’ll get it done in time. Then of course you have to remember to pack the sucker.

Here are my top costume ideas for heading out in character on the fly.

 I was going to take pictures of each of these, but it’s 90% humidity where I’m at so I don’t feel like having a fashion show right now.

 Idea #1) World’s biggest fan.

 You have that one fandom, the one where it’s not just an obsession, it’s a way of life. You don’t just have the cosplay, you have the quote tee, the character tee, the printed leggings, the socks, the watch, the shoulder bag. Your entire wardrobe basically. Use it. Your devotion is your cosplay. You are — The World’s Biggest Fan!

 But, what if you’re a devote of multiple fandoms?

 Well put on a little bit of everything and call yourself Random Fandom.

 The beauty of this is that even if multiple people use this idea, there will never be two exactly the same.

 Idea #2) Hitchhiking through the galaxy.

 Did the airport loose your luggage? Did you forget, in your packing flurry, to pack you costume? Or did you just plain run out of time?

 Throw on a bath robe/pajamas/anything that looks like you just escaped your planet blowing up. Grab a towel and slap the words DON’T PANIC on the back of the closest available book/book like thing. You are now from Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy. Which character? Does it matter. It’s a big galaxy with many hitchhikers. Make up a name.

 Idea #3) It’s so Modern.

 Just think about all of the modern characters who wear Jeans and T-shirts. The Twilight characters, the Supernatural guys, a Doctor Who Companion all of these are just modern clothing with a few accessories. You could be the Storybrook version of your favorite Once upon a time character.

Twilight is super easy — just throw on a little body glitter.

Warning:  Do not use Body glitter in 90% humidity. 

 Idea #4) Guys clothing is so much easier.

 Why gender swap, when you can just go as a boy?

I am comfortable enough in my femininity that I can wear men’s clothing and pretend to be a man for a couple hours without having a crisis of identity.

 Lets face it ladies, cos-playing men is so much easier than women.

How about the Beast instead of Belle? That peasant top and black Capri, would be a great post transformation prince costume.

But if you are a guy, gender swapping is still totally an option. It would be easy for you to grab a Blue shirt and a white vest to play Bel. Bel, short for Bellemy maybe? Grab a book, place a rose in that button hole and done. Though if you want to wear the dress, I’m not judging.

Yes I am still waiting for a guy willing to play Bel to my beast. Or I can be Belle, i’m really not picky. Now taking applications for next year.

 So there you have it. My best ideas for super fast, super easy cosplay.

 Who have you always wanted to be?

Cosplaying on a budget and on the fly: Part 1.

The 2017 RealmMakers conference in Reno is at the end of this month. Some people dress up for the annual costume banquet. If you are like me you probably don’t have a lot of money to spend on extravagant costumes. Yet at the same time you really want to be clever and original.

Are you running out of time to get your costume together? Did you spend all of your money on that Plane ticket to Reno? What if I told you, you can still have an amazing costume without breaking the bank?

Are you interested?

 Good, I have three rules for you:

 1) Cosplay does not have to be screen worthy, just recognizable.

 moms sd card 051

Is the piping on the sleeves correct? No, it’s just yellow felt. Is the the badge accurate? No, I literally printed the first image from google onto card stock and taped a safety pin on the back. Blue shirt, black slacks, black men’s under shirt showing through the top.

Can anyone look at this costume and not think Star Trek? No and that is what what makes this a costume win.

 2) Regular clothes can be a costume.

 Using ready made clothing saves time on sewing. Using clothes from your closet or goodwill saves money. Altered clothing will hold up better than most costumes. Clothing is machine washable, and after your event it can go back into your closet for instant reuse as anything. Instead of taking up space between fan events.

 SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Black slacks, recycled graduation robe as a wizarding cloak, and a novelty shirt that I found at Walmart. But you could use a white button up shit and a grey cardigan. Add any house colored tie for extra realism.

 Rule 3 the last and greatest rule: Cosplay is meant to be fun.

In spite of  rule one’s best intentions some people will not get it. That’s okay. We do it for it the people who will get it. 

If your costume is stressing you out, then maybe you need to step back and rethink your design. Can it be simplified? Can you get away with something more abstract?

Maybe you are trying to cosplay a fandom you have no passion for because friends wanted to group cosplay.

Or maybe you were told that you could never cosplay that character you love because you are the wrong Gender, Body Type, Hair Color or Race.

Do not let anyone keep you from that fandom you love. You can be anything you love.

Refer to rule one and do the thing!

FANtastic interview with Illusionary Author, Desiree Williams.

Illusionary Blog Tour Banner

Today’s post is an extra special one, because today I am participating in a blog tour for Desiree Williams’s new book Illusionary.

 First about the book:

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 Dorothy got sucked into a tornado.

 Alice fell down a hole.

 Wendy flew to Neverland.

 Kamryn? She tripped down the stairs.

 Now, Kamryn Kensington finds herself in a strange new world. Within minutes of her arrival, she dodges an archer’s arrow and avoids getting sliced up by a cosplay reject holding a dagger to her throat. And that’s before the storyteller’s breath brings stories to life.

 Home is the mission—to return to her family and pursue her life’s dream of art and travel. Yet the longer she’s in the Land of Ur, the harder it is not to feel for the people she meets. Even her artistic side can’t help but breathe in the beautiful wonder and magic of this new world. So when the Oracle hands her a different quest, she takes it on the condition he sends her home afterward.

 No one thought to warn her of a jealous queen and her dragon minions. Or that, by helping her, the cute storyteller would go crazy. Or that her heart would rip in two when she left. Those would’ve been great facts to know ahead of time.

 Considering that nothing in Ur is what it seems, the mission proves to be more than she ever imagined. But more than her own future will be in jeopardy if Kamryn doesn’t succeed.

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 I have already read and fallen in love with Illusionary. Even before Illusionary though, I was already a fan of Desiree Williams because of an amazing book she wrote called Sun and Moon. So that’s why, to celebrate this new book release, I got in touch with Desiree for a FANtastic interview. (Because I’m a fan, get it?)

 A great big thank you to Desiree Williams for visiting the Blog and answering all my geeky questions.

****

C: One of the things I loved about both Sun and Moon, and Illusionary, was the stand alone nature of the novels, was it a conscious choice to keep the story contained to one book, or was that just the natural ending place?

D: For both books, I pre-determined that they would be standalone stories. While I (along with other readers) love series, for these two stories I wanted them to have a standing ground all to themselves. However, for Sun and Moon, I do have plans for Zara and Jaedon to have a cameo appearance in a future novel—not an extension of their story, just a fun appearance.

C: I can’t wait for that. I loved the world building in Sun and Moon and can see many more interesting stories set there. I have one more question that applies to both Sun and Moon and Illusionary.

As an adult reader, I love that your protagonists are of an adult age, meanwhile the novels still have that YA feel. Is this a major consideration for you when writing romance, especially considering the main plot device used in Sun and Moon, that they actually be old enough to get married?

D: In a way, yes. I love the thought that there is an individual out there created to journey with us in life. That God designs our paths to connect with the love of our hearts and souls—our other half. And I would like the characters to be old enough to explore this depth of love.

C: Illusionary would make a great movie. Did you create a dream cast for Illusionary?

D: Ah, I so agree with this! Illusionary would be epic as a movie! My heart soars at the thought. But no, I don’t have a dream cast in mind of who would play Kam and Reese. Although, ideally, it’d be nice for them to be new faces, actors who hadn’t been sucked into the world of Hollywood darkness.

C: I love the idea of the actors being unknowns. Illusionary would an epic story to launch a career with.

Illusionary has multiple references to classic children’s books, what was your favorite book to read as a child?

D: Uh … confession time. I actually had a rather rough childhood and was deprived of books (outside of school) until my teenage years. The earliest books I remember being in love with were the Immortals Series by Tamora Pierce. Once I got my first library card, my world exploded with possibilities after that. =)

C: I too love Tamora Pierce books. Her world building is amazing. While we are talking about other authors, I must know: Is there a Baum county NC? If not why did you choose this name?

D: LOL. No there isn’t a Baum County NC. This name, along with Carroll Memorial Hospital and Barrie’s Children Hospital, where inspired by the writers of the classic stories. Those, along with other nuggets, are woven through Illusionary.

(If you visit Desiree’s facebook page you will find three behind the scenes videos with easter eggs for Illusionary.)

C: Speaking of nuggets I want to know something about the magical red gem. Reese says it was a gift from his Grandmother. He references other jewels as well. Is there anything special about the rest of the set?

D: Technically, no, there isn’t. The red tear had been a gift but the Oracle tweaked it for Kam’s purpose. Which helped in getting Reese to open his eyes and see things differently. The other jewels were just pretty trinkets that had belonged to his grandmother and passed down to Reese.

C: Pity, I really thought I was onto something there.

If you had a choice of visiting a fictional world, which would you choose?

D: I can’t pick one. I’ve tried before, and I still can’t choose where I’d want to go. Can’t I just go to them all? I mean, as a reader, I’ve visited so many amazing places and characters in my mind. Instead, I’ll say I want story dust. That way I can bring the all fictional worlds to me. 😉

C: Okay but since Ur is the only place to get story dust . . . If you could visit Ur, without falling down the stairs to get there, what would you do there for a day?

D: Oooh! So many possibilities. Hmmm … First, I’d need to eat some moon-jacks and pork spears with the Treasures Ones, and avoid getting caught in Tock’s mouth. Then I’d swing by Wonder Winds to get some fashion advice from Paloma. After that, I’d probably bask in the beauty of Native Hollow or play soccer with a few of the Indocan children. And I’d end the day with having a cup of tea with the Oracle. Oh my … can I just go do that now?

C: Not yet I have a couple more questions for you.

*Possible spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned*

Without spoiling the end for people who haven’t read it yet, can you talk about the Oracle? Was it important to you for readers to understand who he represents? Do you feel the story would have been less complete without him?

D: *headdesk* Oh, how to answer this question without spoilers! I think it is important for readers to understand or at least pick up on who the Oracle represents in the story. Because I believe it would give them a deeper impact of the ending and the reasons/ importance of why Kam was pulled from the real world and dumped into the Land of Ur. There technically isn’t a villain in the story, not in a true sense. The conflict resolution is all based on something far deeper. And yes, it does involve the Oracle and the desire to see Reese prosper beyond the chains that bind him.

C: Here’s the sad truth. I cried, so hard, during that moment when Kam and Reese say goodbye. What’s your most memorable “all the feels” moment?

D: How can I pick just ONE “all the feels” moment?!?! Illusionary was a roller-coaster for me. From grinning like a goober at all the mushy scenes to crying myself in the cave when they had to say goodbye. However the specific moment I have in mind is a spoiler, and I can’t go into too much detail. But I will give hints so that those who have read Illusionary can pick it up. My favorite “all the feels” moment is toward the end where Kam walks into her living room looking all sloppy and is on the verge of having her heart fly from her chest.

C: Oh yes that moment was the best. I would have been angry if it had ended any other way.

Thank you to Desiree Williams for answering my questions and thank you reader for stopping by today. I hope you enjoy getting to know Illusionary and its author as much as I have.

D: Thanks so much for having me on today! *big hugs* I loved all your questions and am so grateful I got to visit. Blessings!

Desiree Williams

About the Author

Desiree Williams is a dreamer by day and chocoholic by night. She lives in the beautiful state of Kentucky with her husband and daughter, where she juggles life as a wannabe supermom. Desiree is a lover of food and avoider of dirty dishes. She delights in making people laugh and strives to bring hope and love with her wherever she goes.

You can find out more about Desiree and her books at www.desireewilliamsbooks.com

You can also visit her on the following social media sites:

Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads / Newsletter

Illusionary

Illusionary can be purchased from these fine retailers:

Amazon: http://a.co/hj1bDtH

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/illusionary-desiree-williams/1125821432?ean=2940154019337

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/illusionary

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/illusionary/id1207467393?mt=11

Don’t forget to add Illusionary to your to-read list on Goodreads:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34363709-illusionary

 Illusionary Blog Tour Giveaway

  Giveaway Here

Desiree has graciously offered to give away the following prizes: a “Make everyday an adventure” pillow, “Don’t Grow Up! It’s a Trap!” metal sign, book cozy, signed paperback of Illusionary, notebook with pens, sketch book with colored pencils, and a “Eat Cake for Breakfast” travel cup.

The winner of the grand prize giveaway will be selected on Monday, Jun 12th at approx. 9 AM (EST). The winner will be announced on Desiree’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Feel free to visit the rest of the tour at the following stops:

Blog Tour Schedule

June 5th Launch Day – HOPE through the Pages

              Spotlight – Rachel Lopez

              Book Review – Jebraun Clifford – Dream. Write. Repeat.

              Interview – Jilligan’s Island

 June 6th Book Review – Indie Book Reviews

              Spotlight – Christian Book News

              Interview – Bookworm Mama

 June 7th Book Review – Zernia Blossom’s Books

              Book Review – Prismatic Prospects

              Interview – dolphin18cb [You are here!]

 June 8th Book Review – Lands Uncharted

              Book Review – Seasons of Humility

              Interview – Liv K. Fisher

 June 9th Book Review – She Hearts Fiction

              Book Review – Chrissi Reads

              Spotlight – Dreams of Faerytales

              Guest Post – Jannette Fuller

 June 10th Wrap-Up Post – HOPE through the Pages

 

Navigating the skies of Steam Punk

Last November I announced my NaNoWriMo novel. I may have mentioned that it was a steampunk story world. Some of you are probably wondering what that means. (Apparently there are many ways to define steampunk.)

cover photo.JPG

I used to think you can just type Airship and instantly turn any story into a steampunk one. No each steampunk story is unique. Some even have intricate magic systems.

Though it isn’t really steam punk without at least one airship, and Goggles. Goggles are a must. My personal philosophy is the three Gs of steampunk: Gears, Goggles and Grit. Yes Grit, because burning coal tends to make everything dirty.

As a fiction genre steampunk comes across as the mutant offspring of: Historical fiction, Science fiction and Fantasy.

Some advocate for the strict adherence to historical technology. (Do not have your Victorian dandy fire a ray gun.) One author said that steampunk must be an alternate version of our history. ( That means no made up worlds.) Another camp seems to see steampunk as only dealing with Steam power. (Makes sense, but very limiting.) The last camp is an anything goes super-genre mash-up that only requires a pair of goggles and a jolly good time to tell a story. That’s my camp.

 

This visual aesthetic, made up of vintage Victorian designs with industrial embellishments. (Keys, coins, gears, and gauges, to name a few.) Is what I love about steampunk.

This aesthetic is part of what I want to capture in my world building.

As soon as I realized that the rules didn’t matter a new world of ideas opened up to me. I saw a world with gears sown on in place of buttons and where teenagers wore goggles on their heads. I knew that airships were the only way to travel and that keys could be used to accent a hat. The entire story world formed in my head because I figured out the only way this aesthetic could evolve naturally from a culture starting from a Victorian baseline.

See it had to feel authentic to the world otherwise I was just riffing off the current trend.

How would you incorporate such a design choice?

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