Cover Reveal: Common by Laurie Lucking

So you’ve heard the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Well it might be a don’t, but we all do it. That’s why it’s sad when you see a hardback without the book jacket or why stores rip the covers off books they can’t sell.

Because the cover is important. It’s like the window into a book’s soul. It’s your first impression, your ten second introduction to a new world.

That’s why cover reveals are important. It’s the first time you get to put a face to that story you’ve been hearing so much buzz about.

But before we put a face to it. Let’s get to know it first:

***Common, by Laurie Lucking***

One person knows of the plot against the royal family and cares enough to try to stop it—the servant girl they banished.

Leah spends her days scrubbing floors, polishing silver, and meekly curtsying to nobility. Nothing distinguishes her from the other commoners serving at the palace, except her red hair.

And her secret friendship with Rafe, the Crown Prince of Imperia.

But Leah’s safe, ordinary world begins to splinter. Unexpected feelings for Rafe surface just as his parents announce his betrothal to a foreign princess. Then she unearths a plot to overthrow the royal family. Her life shatters completely when the queen banishes her for treason.

Harbored by a mysterious group of nuns, Leah must secure Rafe’s safety before it’s too late. But her quest reveals a villain far more sinister than an ambitious nobleman with his eye on the throne.

Can a common maidservant summon the courage to fight for her dearest friend?

Author Bio:

Laurie-Lucking-HeadshotAn avid reader since birth (her parents claim she often kept them up late begging to hear just one more story), Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as an attorney to become a stay-at-home mom. She writes young adult fantasy with a strong thread of romance, and her debut novel, Common, releases in 2018 from Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing. Laurie is the secretary of her local ACFW chapter and a co-founder of http://www.landsuncharted.com, a blog for fans of clean young adult speculative fiction. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and two young sons. Find out more about Laurie and her writing by visiting http://www.laurielucking.com.

***

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Here’s the cover for Common by Laurie Lucking. (No Judging please.)

Common_cover

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The Final Paladin Blog Tour: A Dive in Review

Hi everyone, I’m super excited to be hosting a stop on the Blog tour for The Final Paladin by T.J. Akers.

First a little about the book:


Final-Paladin-by-TJ-AkersLife for Peg Bowman is rough in the infamous slums of Five Points, New York, but her brother’s murder changes everything.

Thrust into incredible worlds beyond any story she’s ever heard, Peg meets Sir Godfrey, an eleven-hundred-year-old knight from Charlemagne’s court, trainer of Paladins. He reveals to Peg her family’s ancient obligation to protect the Key of Apollyon, a relic of immense power. She is the last descendant of the Paladins and his only hope for keeping it safe.

When Godfrey confides her brother was murdered because of the Key, Peg rejects her calling and demands revenge, a luxury she can ill afford as otherworldly creatures seek her death to claim the Key’s power for themselves.

Can Godfrey and his faithful retinue—Chim the Hobgoblin, Rebecca the Jewish Maven and healer, and Jack the sometimes human and sometimes seven-foot Black Dog—keep her safe and convince her that her calling is worth pursuing? Or will she succumb to the Key’s lure and wield it for revenge?

The Final Paladin releases November 14th and you can purchase it here.

TJ-Akers-HeadshotAbout the Author:
T.J. Akers desires to be a multimillionaire when he grows up and give his wealth to his favorite causes: churches, schools, and animal shelters. Since the millions have been slow in coming, he’s settled for working as a computer technician for a state university and volunteering at his church and local animal shelter. Whenever possible, he indulges his love of writing stories to entertain people, especially younger readers.
Akers holds a Masters of English from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and can often be found roaming the university’s library, especially the children’s and young adult sections. Librarians have always been his heroes.
He lives with his beloved wife of thirty years, his dog, and two cats. The dog is an excellent writing companion, but the cats have proven to be rather critical. Learn more at www.tjakers.com.

Okay, now that the formalities are out of the way I’m sure would like to know what I thought after reading The Final Paladin.

Dive in Review of The Final Paladin by T.J. Akers:

Wow, that was not what I was expecting.  But not in a bad way.

From reading the back cover, I was expecting Indiana Jones and the last crusade. What I got was Alice in Wonderland directed by Tim Burton. If you’ve seen either of those movies then you have an inkling of what I’m talking about.

 The Book starts out in a dark alley in New York city, then ends up spending a great deal of time in the Ether. The land of the Fairies. A Topsy-turvy place where nothing is as it seems. Though do to certain name dropping I suspect the comparisons to Wonderland were done on purpose. 

 The story is fascinating, the world building intriguing and the characters engaging.

On the world building: I thought the bits set in 1900’s New York were well done. I got the sense of how gritty and dangerous it was for Peg in the slums, with gangs and dirty cops on every corner.

On the Fairy world: I could easily get into deep spoiler territory here. Needless to say there are lots of references to not only Lewis Carroll, but to other classic folk tales and other literary works. You’ll either get them or you won’t. If you get them jolly good. If you don’t I think you can still enjoy this book.

 My favorite character is Jack. He can turn into a gigantic black dog at will. (Note: not a werewolf.) He is also charming and witty and impulsive and short tempered. He is also mysterious. Jack’s backstory is only touched on in the book. I want to know more about him.

Surprisingly I liked Peg too. I am always cautious of books where men write Female PoVs. Sometimes they come across as a little off. But Peg was spot on. She is not a male in a dress, nor is she some weak stereo type. Peg is Strong and can hold her own in a world (literally) out to get her.

 What I didn’t like: there was very little I didn’t like but one thing I would change is Archie. His death is the catalyst for the whole story. And we never see him alive. It’s isn’t a spoiler to say this: he’s already dead in the first chapter. We never get to see him, and as a result, I just don’t really care very much that he’s dead. (Well until the end anyway, but still that’s more curiosity than caring.) Drat! I hope that didn’t count as a spoiler.

The ending will leave you wanting more and maybe wondering what did I just read?

*I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

 Be sure to visit the rest of the tour stops:

·    Monday, November 6th, Visual Post, Liv K. Fisher, www.livkfisher.blogspot.com

·    Monday, November 6th, Review of The Final Paladin, Gretchen Engel, www.newauthors.wordpress.com

·      Tuesday, November 7th, Guest Post, Kristen Stieffel, www.newauthors.wordpress.com

·      Wednesday, November 8th, Interview, J.M. Hackman, www.jmhackman.com

·      Wednesday, November 8th, Behind-the-Scenes Feature, Jebraun Clifford, www.jebraunclifford.com

·      Thursday, November 9th, Visual Post, Laura A. Grace, www.unicornquester.com

·      Thursday, November 9th, Review of The Final Paladin, Laurie Lucking, www.landsuncharted.com

·      Friday, November 10th, Behind-the-Scenes Feature, Steve Rzasa, www.steverzasa.com

·     (You are Here) Saturday, November 11th, Review of The Final Paladin, Cathrine Bonham, www.dolphin18cb.wordpress.com

·      Sunday, November 12th, A Sneak Peek of The Final Paladin, Lisa Gefrides, www.lisagodfrees.com

·      Monday, November 13th, Interview, Bruce Weller, www.bruandmir.com

·      Tuesday, November 14th, Release-Day Feature, T.J. Akers, www.tjakers.com

·      Wednesday, November 15th, A Writer’s Best Friend, Jebraun Clifford, www.quillsandinkblotts.wordpress.com

·      Thursday, November 16th, A Celebration of The Final Paladin, Michele Israel Harper, www.micheleisraelharper.com Don’t forget: (Facebook Party Day)

·      Friday, November 17th, Guest Post, Bokerah Brumley, www.superbokerah.com or www.bokerah.com

Meg Mitchell Blog Tour

Meg Mitchell Blog Tour Banner

I am so excited to kick off this new blog tour for a very enchanting book.

Most of you are familiar with my FANtastic interview segments. Do you remember the author who helped me out by being my first interview?

It was Amy Williams! (You can read my first interview here.) Amy is back today using her super secret alter ego of Kimberly McNeil. She has an epic YA novel that is sure to excite fans of sci-fi and fantasy alike.

Meg Mitchell & The Secret of the Journal

 Stories never end. They just get bigger.MegMitchell_Journal

 You only have to turn the page.

 Meg Mitchell lives in a castle, but she’s no wilting princess. Raised in an alien world by adoptive parents, she spends her time fighting Centaurs, training as an Andai warrior, and chilling in her favorite willow tree.

 But when Meg uncovers her birth father’s journal, she discovers a cousin she didn’t know existed. Meg and her little brother and sister travel through an interdimensional rip to San Francisco to search for their cousin, setting off a chain of events no one could have foreseen.

 When her sister is kidnapped, Meg enlists the help of teenage detective Barb Taylor and her genius little brother Jim. Following clues dropped by a mysterious benefactor, they embark on a cross-country adventure to rescue her sister and find Meg’s cousin.

 Family is everything to Meg, but not all is as it seems. In her quest to reunite her family, she may lose more than she ever imagined.

Find it at these fine retailers: AmazonBarnes & NobleCrosshair Press

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

 Excited to know more? I hope so because there is lots more. (Seriously, this will be a long post.)

FANtastic Interview with Amy Williams Kimberly McNeil:

CB) Meg Mitchell is chock full of fun references and characters that feel familiar. Too Familiar. Tell us about your inspiration for the Legend of the Lightkeepers series.

 KM) One word: Fanfiction. I was writing fanfiction before it was a thing. I had my No. 2 pencil and my wide-ruled notebook paper, and I’d sit at the never-used fireplace at my house in Houston and scribble better stories than the ones I saw on television.

 Best example? Probably my two favorite television shows as a young child were My Little Pony (the original) and Star Trek: The Next Generation. I loved My Little Pony so much that I saved up my allowance money to buy the toys at Toys ‘R Us, but even at seven or eight years old, I thought their writers needed help. I always wondered what would happen if the Ponies were in charge of spaceships rather than holding scavenger hunts and putting on festivals. So, in kindergarten and first grade, that’s what I wrote about.

 Fast forward to the early 90s, when I was nine or so, a new range of cartoon shows hit the television. I discovered Star Wars and amazing adventures like Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? and the totally awesome (horribly dubbed) anime Ronin Warriors. I loved those new stories, but I didn’t want to let go of the stories I’d been telling myself since I was six. So I just expanded my mental universe.

 Then, one day, I told my childhood best friend about my stories. I was eleven years old by this time, and my universe had really become a cohesive world I could describe. My friend was desperate to read the stories, so that’s when I wrote the first version of Meg Mitchell & The Secret of the Journal.

 By the time I hit high school, I had amassed quite a following of friends and family who loved the world I’d built. I kept writing because they kept asking for more. At the end of high school, I had completed somewhere around 30 novels in the series. Somewhere along the way in all those 30 books, I had left all traces of the original source material behind. The stories themselves bore little resemblance to the old cartoon shows.

 So I guess you can blame the Lightkeepers series on the boring writers for My Little Pony back in the 1980s, specifically whoever wrote the pilot episode. Seriously, that pilot was epic. If you haven’t watched it, you should, and then you should read Meg Mitchell & The Secret of the Journal, and you’ll laugh.

 CB) That was an epic answer. A thirty book series based on all my favorite 90’s cartoons. I am so there.

 When I meet an author, most of them tend towards humility. You are the only author that openly fangirled with me about your own books. Do you ever find yourself reading your own books for fun?

 KM) You know, I spent most of my life refusing to talk about my stories. There I was, 16 years old with more than 20 completed novels, and I was too scared to say anything about them. I wasn’t afraid of rejection; I was more scared to be thought of as boastful.

 But the more people read my stories and loved them, the more I wanted to talk about them. Because I loved them too! I mean, I’d spent every free moment I had since I was six years old living in this crazy universe in my mind. My characters are real to me, friends who’ve been with me for 25+ years, and their stories have taught me about myself, about God’s grace, and about life.

 One thing I’ve learned about storytelling is that it’s a gift, and for me, it’s a gift God gave me. And I can ignore it or refuse to talk about it, but how does that bring glory to Him? If He’s given me the gift to tell stories, then He’s also given me a story to tell. And I want as many people as possible to know about it, because maybe something I’ve written will encourage them or help them know God better. That’s the definition of success for me.

 And, heck, yeah. I read my stories for fun. Part of the joy of my writing process is that I’m not 100% in control of what my characters say or do. Sometimes—No, most times, they surprise me. They make me laugh, and I enjoy spending time with them and sharing their adventures.

 And if you’re not a writer, that sounds completely psycho. I know.

  CB) Right, but then we write (usually) because we love to read.

 The antagonist, Phoenix, starts off as one of those not too threatening villains that would never hurt a child and is just bad because it’s more fun. But by the end her true colors show and I believe that she is really evil. Was it important to you that readers see her as the bad guy, and not as someone they should root for?

 KM) Oh, Phoenix. I love Phoenix, but then I’ve always had a soft spot for the baddies. Phoenix Munroe is so very important. I wanted to present Phoenix as honestly as possible, because I truly believe that “bad guys” always have a motivation that matters to them. Sometimes they’re willing to do horrible things to accomplish their goals, but in their own minds, they’re justified. It’s important for readers to be able to judge Phoenix and her heart for themselves.

  CB) When I interviewed you about New Name you had quite the dream cast lined up. Who would you cast in a movie version of Meg Mitchell?

 KM) I have about 200 folders of images on my computer with reference images for the Lightkeepers cast. (It doesn’t help that the size of my cast makes Game of Thrones look like a short story.) Some characters are really easy to pick an actor or actress for. Others make it really difficult.

 I actually just did another interview on this blog tour that asked for a dream cast, so I’ll pick a few different characters than what I told her. Except for Meg. Meg’s the main character in the book, after all.

AylaKell-MegMitchell 

The best actress I’ve seen yet for Meg is a gal named Ayla Kell. As with most of the people I’ve picked, I chose her years and years ago, so as she is in 2017, she’s probably too old for Meg. But her photos from several years ago match Meg very closely.

 

ChristianMartyn-JimTaylor

 

 Most recently I stumbled onto a young actor named Christian Martyn who looks similar to Jim Taylor. He’s got the clean-cut, wholesome look, but give him some glasses, and I think he could pull the massive nerdiness off really well. 

 

 NecarZadegan-VelannaIttai

The actress I would pick for Velanna Ittai, Meg’s adoptive mother, is Necar Zadegan. I saw this woman act in two seasons of 24 and nearly came unglued when she walked on the screen, because she is Velanna. Absolutely crazy.

 

 FamkeJanssen-PhoenixMunroe

Finally, because you asked a question about her, Phoenix Munroe was a pretty easy pick. The actress Famke Janssen is perfect for her.

Someday soon I’m going to be doing blog posts on characters from Lightkeepers, so I’ll feature all my reference photos. Those will be fun!

 CB) Epic Cast. It’s too bad kids have to age. Maybe you should get cracking on that movie.

 If given the choice would you rather work as a Peregrine detective or train as an Andai Warrior? Bonus choice: Or would you rather commit crimes with Phoenix?

 KM) Oh, gosh…. That’s a tough question. I would have to say, I would love to train as an Andai Warrior, as long as I didn’t have to train with Meg’s teacher!! He’s brutal! But getting to learn an ancient martial art that uses energy sabers? That would be epic.

 Granted, being a Peregrine agent would be awesome too, but there’s a lot of politics in play there. And I am way too clumsy to keep up with Phoenix. I’d fall off a bridge during a getaway, and she’d leave me behind. That being said, I’d love to have coffee with her.

  CB) Now for the last but most important question: When can I get my hands on book two?

 KM) Fingers crossed, Book Two—Barb Taylor & the Mountain of Fire—should be available next year. I’m hoping for spring 2018! The super exciting news is that I’m releasing a web serial that ties into the Lightkeepers series. It will be available shortly after the first of the year. At least, that’s the plan. But you can watch my website or my publisher’s website for announcements!

acwilliams2015

Amy Williams is a novelist, freelance writer, founding member of Crosshair Press LLC, and professional nerd. You can find most of her work under the name A.C. Williams, but she also writes young adult fantasy (The Legend of the Lightkeepers) under the pen name Kimberly McNeil. Amy is single and lives in her family’s 100-year-old farmhouse on five acres in the middle of the Kansas prairie. She loves cats and drinks far too much coffee.

Follow her on social media:  Website  — Facebook TwitterInstagram — Google Plus

I’ve been featuring a lot of books lately and I figure most of you would like to know what I thought after reading them.

So since Amy was the first of my FANtastic Interviews, I thought I’d use one of her books as the start of a new segment I’m calling: Dive In Reviews. Because I dive in and gush about all the parts I liked while trying very hard not to giveaway spoilers.

Dive in Review of Meg Mitchell and the secret of the Journal:

Meg Mitchell and the Secret of the Journal by: Kimberly McNeal, is the first book in what is sure to be an epic YA fantasy series.

I loved everything about it. It’s a science fiction, fantasy, adventure, mystery, superhero mash up. The writing is tight, the characters are intelligent and witty.

First we have the young heroes: Meg, Danny, and the youngest Jenny. Their sibling relationship is very believable. (As a sibling this is important to me.) These three live in a wonder-filled and dangerous fantasy land (One that we do not see nearly enough of). But they may still have family in our world. Once here they quickly find trouble in the form of a super criminal named Phoenix Munroe.

Pheniox is a failed detective, her last case was trying to track down the run away Mitchell kids. In her new life of crime, she likes to leave clues for two teenage detectives named Barb and Jim. (Where in the world could that have come from.)

Oh and there may also be vigilante samurai, secret assassin training, and mysterious Jedi storytellers. (But you didn’t hear that from me)

This book is non stop action and is chock full of Easter Egg hints to eighties and nineties nostalgia. Kids and adults alike will be entertained as the Mitchell kids cross worlds to prove that Family is everything.

The Legend of the Lightkeepers promises to be an enjoyable series with witty and complex characters. Not just a novel for children but for anyone who remembers getting up at six am on Saturdays just to see stories that your parents promised would rot your mind. They did anything but, right?

If Meg Mitchell was a cartoon, I would be up at six am on a Saturday just to see what happens next.

 

Meg Mitchell FB Banner

Calling all book readers! Join Laura A. Grace and A.C. Williams (pen name Kimberly McNeil) as we chat about her urban fantasy novel MEG MITCHELL & THE SECRET OF THE JOURNAL on November 2nd from 8 PM to 10 PM EST (7 PM CDT and 6 PM PST).

Grab your favorite drink and snack and be prepared for a fun time of chatting with A.C., games, and giveaways.

Special guests Kat Heckenbach and Kara Swanson will also be sharing their books and joining in the fun. 

And here’s the schedule so you don’t miss any posts in this epic tour:

Wednesday, November 1st   

–       Review & Interview – dolphin18cb (You are here)

Thursday, November 2nd  

–       Review & Guest Post – Thorn & Vine

–       Character Interview – Unicorn Quester

Friday, November 3rd  

–       Author Interview – Lands Uncharted

–       Fan-Made Book Trailer – Unicorn Quester

–       Author Interview – Welcome to Arhyalon

Saturday, November 4th  

–       Review – Live Life Reading

–       Review & Author Trivia – Of Pens & Paper

Monday, November 6th  

–       Review – It’s Storytime With Van Daniker!

–       Spotlight – The Hermit Librarian

–       Author Interview – Taneisha’s Book Blog & More

Tuesday, November 7th    

–       Author Interview – Jebraun Clifford ~ dream.write.repeat.

Wednesday, November 8th

–       Review – The Overactive Imagination

Thursday, November 9th

–       Blog Tour Wrap-Up – Unicorn Quester

Friday, November 10th

–       Review – Taneisha’s Book Blog & More

The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove

So you may have noticed that I’ve been posting a lot of book releases on this blog. Well I hope you aren’t sick of them because I have another one for you. This time it’s a comedy/horror anthology.  Perfect for the Halloween season.

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Graves Grove isn’t your ordinary town…

Nestled within the folds of the Canadian Rockies, Graves Grove probably isn’t the picturesque place you’d like to stay for long. Peculiar things happen here. The citizens seem normal superficially–they function well enough. But each one is deeply disturbed, wrapped in secrets and neuroses which drive them to strange behaviors.

And then there are all the missing children. And why is everyone afraid of that sycamore tree?

The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove is an anthology of stories taking place throughout the history of this mysterious town, from its founding to its future. Read them…if you dare.

Here are the Graves Grove Amazon links: KindlePaperback, and even Hardcover.

Proceeds will benefit Reading is Fundamental. A non-profit that helps improve literacy skills and brings a love of reading to kids across America.

And wait until I tell you the best part.

Inside the Whispered Tales of Graves Grove you can find the short stories:

“The Canadian Cottingly” and “Fairy Troubled”

(I’ll give you one guess what those are about.)

Why are these two stories so special? Well, because they were both written by me.

Hooray for being published.

But don’t just read it for my stories. Graves Grove also contains stories from lots of other authors too.

If you are looking for a spooky collection of stories to entertain you and make you laugh, then purchase the Whispered Tales of Graves Grove and support a for a good cause.

 

 

FANtastic interview for Lawless blog tour

Hey remember when I hosted a cover reveal for an amazing, steampunk fantasy novel about Dragonshifters? Oh, you don’t, Click here.

Well anyway, it’s out now!

 

You can buy it from these fine retailers:

Amazon  Apple  Kobo  Barnes & Noble  Signed copies here: Uncommon universe press.  

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.

This blog tour is super special because the author is hosting a scavenger hunt, and I am one of the stops.

ScavengerHunt

I’m actually the last stop. To find the rest of the clues you need to visit the other blog tour stops marked with *.

Sept. 21* – Laura A. Grace – Unicorn Quester – Author Interview 

Sept. 22* – Josh Hardt – Character Interview

Sept. 25 – Annie Douglass Lima – Realm Explorers

Sept. 26* – Anna Tan – Steampunk, Fantasy, and Cultures

Sept. 27* – Fanni Suto – Author Interview

Sept. 28 – Leanna Shields – Character Chat

Sept. 29 – Kessie Carroll – Book Spotlight

Sept. 30* – Bethany Jennings – Character MBTI

Oct. 1 – Melissa Sasina – Book Spotlight

Oct. 2 – Alexander Preston – Book Review

Oct. 3* – Kyle Shultz – Character Interview

Oct. 4* – Cathrine Bonham – FANtastic Interview

Oct. 5 – C. S. Johnson – Book Spotlight

Oct. 6 – Kara Swanson – Character Interview

And now to get the seventh and final clue you must first read this FANtastic interview with author Janeen Ippolito:

C: Hello Janeen and thank you for taking the time for this FANtastic interview.

Let’s start with Steampunk. What does Steampunk mean to you?

J: Oh man, steampunk means possibilities. I was already a history nerd in addition to a science fiction and fantasy nerd, so when I discovered there was this whole subculture of alternate Victorian history with anachronisms? Be still my beating heart! And then when I learned it had expanded to other fun anachronistic time periods with alternate history, it just made my life better.

 C: Do you have anything to say to those who would disqualify your novel from the steampunk genre, simply for having dragons in it?

 J: *shrugs* Nah. Everyone’s entitled to their preferences. Live and let live. And I choose to live with dragons.

 C: Who wouldn’t choose to live with dragons? Especially, superpowered shapeshifting Dragons.

 Your characters have unique Talents. Kesia can shapeshift. Zephryn can cloak, and Shance has windpowers. If you could possess a talent from your story world which one would you pick?

 J: Oh man, I had so much fun with the Talents! Oh dear. Probably wind powers. I’ve always wanted to control wind currents. I blame my favorite comic being X-Men. Go Storm!

 C: If you find yourself suddenly sucked into your own story world, which character would you most want to be your companion and protector while there?

 J: Kesia Ironfire all the way. Sorry Zephryn and Shance. Y’all are great, but Kesia has the most resources and abilities because of SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS.

 C: Yes Kesia would be my choice too, because of all the, [SPOILERS]!

 OK, while we are on Characters, I know you can answer this.

  Dream cast and . . . GO!

 J: Woohoo!

Kesia

 

 Kesia Ironfire – Rachel Bilson. I love the sweet face with that mischief. Kesia is so often underestimated because she looks so *nice*.

 

 

Shance

 

 

Shance Windkeeper – Alex Pettyfer. As soon as I saw his face, I knew he was Shance. Equal parts capable, strong-willed and romantic, with that edge of pretty-boy.

 

Zephryn

 

 

 

Zephryn Nightstalker – young Masood Ali Khan. I found him on Pinterest and immediately knew he belonged in the story. It was one of the few times where a ref came to me at the same time as the actual character.

 

C: Yes to Alex Pettyfer. I can totally see him as Shance.

 Lawless features a pretty unconventional love triangle. What are your feelings on love Triangles in speculative fiction? Are the themes in Lawless meant to reflect a more realistic approach to love?

 J: I’m a huge fan of messy relationships in fiction and that includes romantic relationships. In my mind, nothing makes a character’s day worse like romantic difficulties—and I’m a hopeless romantic at heart, so I can’t leave the feels out of any story! As a student of culture and anthropology, I’m also fascinated with how one approaches love and affection reflects in individual personalities, whether or not they’re even involved with anyone.

 Okay, now you’re getting some flag-waving.

 Love triangles don’t have to be some weird, sappy thing where two guys inexplicably fall for the same girl. In many works of classic literature they are used in ways that create real stress and tension in the plot, and unsatisfied love can lead to great character growth! One of my favorite love triangles is in A Tale of Two Cities—which also takes place during a time of great upheaval and conflict (aka, The French Revolution). The love triangle only adds to the stress and character journeys, rather than being a fantasy pipe dream.

 AND I’m also a pragmatist who constantly observes others. I’ve seen love triangles play out in Real Life. Astonishingly? There is often far less drama. People can be like adults and get over themselves. They can even be friends with the “winners” and go on to have healthy lives, with or without Significant Others. So yes, I wanted to show more of that side of love triangles. And that doesn’t mean it’s easy. What does it look like to have to make your brain stop seeing this person as a potential lover and instead see them as a friend? Pretty awkward sometimes. But all of that is part of character growth, which adds a different kind of fun tension.

 Unless I’m body-snatched, I’ll always have some romance in my fiction, but I’ll always take unique angles that offer new perspectives on tropes, further individual character development, and increase the intensity and friction in the overall plot. Again, more of A Tale of Two Cities instead of Twilight.

 C: Not only are the characters and the plot of Lawless amazing, it also takes place in a pretty unique world. I have to say, I love your story world, and I want to live there.

 From conception to final draft, how long did it take you to refine?

 J: Oh man, I started brainstorming it in around February 2015. It first started with about 10,000 words in what will now be Book 3. Then I kept building the world and thought I’d write this other story to explore it—that story ended up being Book 2. And I already had ideas for Book 4. And when I fully realized what the dragon-human war was, I knew I had to write Lawless as Book 1, and that I needed a final book to round up the series. So then I outlined all five books in one afternoon, and shortly after I started drafting Lawless.

 C: Okay let’s just get this out in the open, Lawless is the first book in the Ironfire Legacy, how long will this series be and, most importantly, how long am I going to have to wait for the next book?

 J: The Ironfire Legacy will be five full-length novels, with at least two novellas. The novella, Priceless (Book 1.5) which follows the journeys of two compelling side characters, should be out in late winter 2018. The next novel, Faithless (Book 2), should be out in late summer 2018!

 C: Wow I can’t believe I have to wait so long, next summer feels like an eternity away. Anyway that you for stopping by and for having such FANtastic answers to my questions.

Janeen

 

 

Janeen Ippolito is two authors for the price of one! She creates writing resources and writes speculative fiction with monsters, misfits, and mushy stuff. She’s also an experienced author coach, editor, teacher, and the Fearless Leader (president) of Uncommon Universes Press. In her spare time, she enjoys sword-fighting, reading, geeky TV, and 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: @TheQuietPen, Facebook, Instagram: janeen_ippolito, and at her two websites: janeenippolito.com and writeinsideout.com

 

 And now for your final clue:

 

You have until the end of the Facebook release party to enter.

And it’s Tonight! October 4th, 9PM til midnight.

So get your thinking caps on and get those answers in. The winner will be announced on Thursday with the rest of the giveaway winners from the party.

Don’t forget to RSVP to the event.

 

Once upon a Princess blog tour and a FANtastic interview.

Once Upon A Princess Blog Tour

Hello dear readers,

Today I am adding even more books to your reading pile, by introducing you to an entire series at once.

The good news: all of the books are available now, so you can binge read it all without waiting for the next one to release.

The better news: The first book, Beauty’s Curse, is a free ebook on all reading platforms. Get it here: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Google Play // iBooks

Don’t forget to add it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28781837-beauty-s-curse

If free is not enough to tempt you, read this blurb:

About Once Upon A Princess Saga

“I have better things to do.” 
“Like what?” Rose asked. “Waste your life on a fool’s journey, under a silly girl’s orders?” 
“I have never considered saving your life to be the same as wasting mine, Rosary.” He came and stood in front of her, the ease of his presence replaced by an unusual heat rather than familiar warmth. Rose had never before been bothered by the six inches he stood taller than her, but all of a sudden the shadow of his strength imposed itself on her. 
The cursed beauty of the moonlight revealed the clarity and sharpness of his eyes as she gazed up at him. “What if you did waste your life though? What if?” 
“If I have wasted my life, I have wasted it on you. Willingly.” 

 For four years, Princess Aurora of Rhone—Rose to her friends—has searched the world for a way to break the curse placed on her by Magdalina, the wicked ruler of the fairies at war with her kingdom. Under the curse, Rose is doomed to die on her eighteenth birthday after pricking her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel. And time is running out.

 On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Rose makes the journey home with her friends—Theo, a priest with a penchant for revenge; Mary, a young and talented fairy; and Ethan and Sophia, siblings with a troubled past–as pressure from her father, King Stefanos, leaves her with two equally unsatisfying options: Abdicate the throne, or get married.

 Enjoy this novella series retelling of the Sleeping Beauty, with new characters, new plot twists, and plenty of action and adventure. Perfect for teen and young adult historical fantasy readers.

 Once Upon A Princess Saga

The series is four books: Beauty’s Curse, Beauty’s quest, Beauty’s Gift, and Beauty’s Kiss.

Want to participate in a treasure hunt?

 At the end of each book in this series is a special collectible clue. Collect all four books, and get all four special prizes, FREE!

***

To help celebrate the completion of her series, I asked C.S. Johnson some FANtastic questions:

Me: The Once Upon a Princess series is called a Historical Fantasy retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Can you define Historical Fantasy for us? What makes this version Historical?

 C.S: I tell people that this fairytale is set in between the historical European historical world with a few imaginary kingdoms thrown in. I have Greece and the Romani nations, and I have plenty of other references to history (Aragon, Gaul, etc.) but Rhone, Rose’s kingdom, is made up, and so are a few of the others. So you still have the socio-economic barriers of the Middle Ages, but you also have a mishmash of magical creatures, different species, and supernatural creatures. There are also issues with religion, politics, and social concerns just like there would be in real life. 

 If I had to put it on a map, I like to think it’s the part of land between Ireland and England the rest of Europe that’s now underwater. I think it’s a great way for all the fairy kingdoms and the pixies to hide their homes.

 Me: Good definition. Beauty’s Curse did have a very historical feel to it. And I like that idea of the faerie realm being underwater.

 How many versions of Sleeping Beauty did you research before deciding on how you wanted to tell your own story? Was there one you feel inspired you more than the others?

 C.S: I feel bad about this one, because I really only researched the Grimm fairy tale and the Disney version, and of course, the slap-dash post-modern nightmare that Disney made with Maleficent a few years ago. I hate things from all of them, to be honest. I especially hated how the princess is more or less at the mercy of other people’s choices from the very beginning. I don’t think any teenager princess would be willing to take that, no matter how charming and graceful and beautiful she is. 

 Me: Never feel bad for watching Disney movies. While we are on the subject of movies . . .

  If your series were made into a movie tomorrow, do you have a dream cast ready to give the director?

 C.S: I don’t really have a dream cast. I’m in love with my imagination, and I tend to live there for my entertainment needs more than I do here. 

 Me: Okay, I will let the director know, you prefer to use unknown actors. ;-D

 Your series features Fairies and magic, but it also has priests and Christians and scripture. How did you reconcile using these two seemingly different forces (God and magic) in the same story?

 C.S: This is a fairly consistent stance I have when it comes to faith. It says in the Bible that man is different from the Stars and Angels, and Jesus was unique in that he made himself like humans rather than the others. Angels have supernatural abilities and jobs, so I don’t see anything wrong with including angels, like Amalia, in my stories. I actually used the premise about the Stars for my fallen star superheroes in The Starlight Chronicles. It says in the Bible that humans are not meant to play with sorcery or consult with witches, and I really take this to mean that we, as humans, are not meant to play with or try to use magic. But for other creatures, especially magic and (so far as I know) imaginary ones?  I would see their magic as an innate trait, as Mary says, and like any ability, it would have limitations and rules placed on them by God and reinforced by their consciences. Of course, they would be fallen creatures, as we are, and they live in a fallen world, as we do, so they would have mostly-good and mostly-bad characters, same as humans do, because we are capable of both. I don’t see the two forces as competing forces, in the end; for me, God would have had to have designed them and granted them that free will and ability.  

 Me: I love that answer. And I have always been fascinated with the idea of stars as beings, more than just superheated balls of burning gas.

 Beauty’s Curse makes reference to at least one other classic fairy tale. If you could live the life of a Fairy Tale Princess, which one would you pick?

 C.S: If I could pick one, it would probably be “Beauty & the Beast.” I love love-hate stories. They’re really so good because they have a better understanding that people are at odds with other people, and when people come together, they become better people. I’m a very strong believer that love makes you a better person, even if it’s painful. Especially if it’s painful.

  Me: The perfect answer. I also adore all things Beauty and the Beast. Which begs a question. . .

 Now that Rose’s story is finished, are you planning on tackling any other fairy tales?

 C.S: I like fairy tales, I really do. I like the simple truth of their stories. I like that good and evil are brought out into more obvious terms, and I like that there is a lot of hope and redemption through courage and honor. But I don’t think I’d like to rewrite any other specific ones. Writing this one started out on a half-dare, from my students in my English class, when I explained how much I didn’t like Sleeping Beauty that much as a story. 

 I will say I’m still going to write them, but I like to borrow different elements from them and try to come up with my own scenarios. For example, Eydis: The Island of the Dragon Bride, is my latest novella, and it borrows things from the Atlantis myth, dragon myths, the traditional ‘damsel-princess-in-distress’ trope, and parts of Icelandic and Bermuda folklore. Ultimately, I like to ask my audience difficult questions—about faith, about life, about reality and how we can really know things—and I find fantasy and fairy tales are very lulling ways to do this without getting people angry (or angrier, in some cases.)

 Me: I love that you want to write original stories. Rose’s story was definitely the most original retelling of sleeping beauty I have ever read. Thank you for taking the time to share with my readers about your series.

 ***

CS Johnson             About the Author

C. S. Johnson is the author of several young adult novels, including sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles series, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me.

 Website // Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Google Plus 

 

 

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 25th

Book Spotlight – The Twirling Book Princess

 Tuesday, September 26th

– Book Spotlight – Michaela Mills

 Wednesday, September 27th

– FANtastic Interview –You are here

 Thursday, September 28th

– Book Review – Amanda’s Books and More

 Friday, September 29th

– Author Interview – Aconite Cafe

 Saturday, September 30th

– Book Review – Rachel Poli – I read. I write. I create.

Author Interview – Official Blog of Shannon A. Hiner

 Monday, October 2nd

– Author Interview – Liv K. Fisher

– Review – Mom with a Reading Problem

 Tuesday, October 3rd

– Review – Zernia Blossom’s Books

 Wednesday, October 4th

Book Review – A Book A Day

– Review – Zernia Blossom’s Books

– Author Interview – So Few Books

 Thursday, October 5th

Book Review – True YA Book Blogger

 Friday, October 6th

– Author Interview – Lands Uncharted

Book Spotlight – Rachel Lopez

Once Upon A Princess FB Party Banner – FACEBOOK PARTY – 8:30PM EST

 Saturday, October 7th

– Book Review – Rachel Poli – I read. I write. I create.

– Book Review – Official Blog of Shannon A. Hiner

 Monday, October 9th

– Wrap-Up Post – Unicorn Quester

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

****

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.

****

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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