Friday, March 28, 2014

Fairies & Fireflies: Bedtime Stories by Becca Price

~ Eating Magic~

I'm reading Fairies & Fireflies by Becca Price. It's her second book of bedtime stories, the first being Dragons and Dreams. Fairies & Firelies is lighter, sweeter fare, but equally delightful. The seven stories share the adventures of the Wide Wild Field's inhabitants—a butterfly-fairy, some magical kittens, fireflies, and even a brownie. Story themes include: getting lost, making friends, finding your way in the world, discovering where you fit in, and letting go.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

From Pussy Willow:

Butterfly-Fairy and Willow would curl up in Butterfly-Fairy's chair, and the baby firefly would perch on top of the chair. Butterfly-Fairy read stories to Willow and the baby firefly in the green firefly light.

From Honey Bees:

Then Butterfly-Fairy heard an angry buzzing sound from all around her. She looked up, and saw that she was completely surrounded by dozens - hundreds - of angry worker bees, all aiming their sharp little swords at her.

From The Littlest Firefly:

In a swamp along the Big River, lived thousands of fireflies. As night fell, and the sky darkened, first one firefly would flash his light "blink" and then another would flash "blink" until the trees were full of bright fireflies winking their lights on and off. All of a sudden, however, all the fireflies would begin to flash their lights all at the same time "BLINK" so that for the moment the trees would be lit up as bright as moonlight, then suddenly go dark again. The night would seem darker when they flashed off, but then seconds later, "BLINK" they would all flash on again, and the tree was lit bright as moonlight again.

From Urisk and the Fairy:

On the fourth night, there was only a small bit of cream in the bowl. By now, Urisk was getting hungry, and rather than doing his tasks, he went into his Family's house and made mischief. Where there were shoe strings, he tangled them. Where there were dishes left in the sink, he tipped them over and even broke a few glasses. He moved people's toothbrushes in the bathroom, and left things on the floor for people to trip over. Urisk was an unhappy brownie.

It's another great collection of fun bedtime stories for children!

Please enjoy Becca's interview, with Italian bloggers, Enrico, Sara, Saretta, and Francesca.

Enrico: Hi Becca! Welcome to our blogs and thank you for accepting our interview. Please, tell us something about you, introduce yourself to our readers.

Hi, Enrico, Sara, Saretta, and Francesca! I’m glad to meet you, and delighted that you enjoy my books so much.

As my biography says, I live in South Eastern Michigan (that’s the state that looks like a mitten when you look at the map of the United States.  I live half-way between two fairish sized towns, Ann Arbor and Brighton, on ten acres of weeds, swamp and trees (we do mow an area around the house as a lawn, but that’s primarily to keep the mosquitoes down). I live with my husband Chris, two children (David, 22 and Tori, 21), and three cats (Mac, Eliot, and Oliver).

I’ve always told stories, so it was natural for me to tell my children stories to get them to go to sleep. I started writing them down so I’d remember them better. They sat on my computer for years, until a cousin of mine started putting together her father’s letters from World War II to self-publish, and gave me the idea to publish my own stories. I wasn’t sure they were any good, but I thought I’d throw them out there just to see. While my sales haven’t been overwhelming, I have been overwhelmed with how much those people who did like them loved them as much as I did.

Enrico: Why did you choose to self publish your work? Are you satisfied with the experience you’ve made? Have you ever considered or tried to submit your things to a publisher?

As I said above, I never really expected to sell any of my stories. I did some research in various book stores and at Amazon, and was pretty sure there just wasn’t a market for fairy stories told in the classical mode but with some modern lessons or themes to them. The biggest question an agent or publisher would ask is “is this marketable?” and I was pretty sure the answer would be no.

Through the years, I thought about traditional publishing, but the thought of the submission process, finding an agent, going through all that was just too daunting for me.  And then the thought would go away, because I’d get busy with work, or one of the kids needed me, or I had health problems, and I’d forget about it for another several years.

So, when I decided to self-publish, I started to do some research. This led me to the Kboards Writer’s Café, a wonderful forum with many helpful people. I began to discover that self-publishing wasn’t necessarily “second best” but had some very valid arguments in its favor. Now, if a traditional publisher were to offer me a contract, I would think long and hard about it.  The only thing that would really tempt me would be the ability to get my work fully illustrated, something I’ve always regretted that I can’t afford.

Enrico: The world of art and children’s literature are often connected. Who are your favorite contemporary illustrators? Is there anyone in particular with whom you’d like to work in the future?

I’m not that familiar with modern children’s artists. I think if I could get a modern artist to fully illustrate my books, I’d ask Todd Hamilton to do it, the man who does my covers. I think that he captures both the playful and the serious elements in my stories.

Since I’m an independent writer, my tendency is to go with independent artists. Through the Writer’s Café, I’ve found an artist (Annette, at Midnight Whimsy) who is going to be doing some spot art for me for my next project (Quests and Fairy Queens).

But of course, since I tend to write rather old-fashioned fairy tales, I think of artists like Kay Nielsen, Arthur Rackham, and Edmumd Dulac as illustrators I’d love to work with.

Saretta: Why you decided to write fairy tales? You created them for your children or you began writing them for other reasons? How complex is the conversion between oral and written?

I’ve always loved fairy tales and mythology. Even as an adult, my reading tends toward science fiction and fantasy – and what is fantasy but grown-up fairy tales?

When my children were very little, they went to a Waldorf Education school for a few years. In kindergarten, there is a strong emphasis on fairy tales. In first grade, the emphasis is on Greek mythology, and in second grade the emphasis is on Roman mythology.

Therefore, it just seemed natural to make up fairy tales for the children as bed time stories.  We’d read a book or two each night, but having them look at the pictures seemed to keep them awake. When I would tell them a story, they would listen with their eyes closed, and naturally drift off to sleep. I think I told them the story of “The Dark” (in Dragons and Dreams) several times before they were able to stay awake to the end of it.  Also, both children were a bit afraid of the dark, so that was my way of reassuring them that there wasn’t anything to be afraid of.

For years, in spite of having a perfectly good bed, my son chose to sleep on the floor (he still does on occasion) – and that was the genesis of “The Grumpy Dragon.”

Oral tales by their nature change, depending on mood, circumstances, the teller, the needs of the listeners. There’s always a trade-off between oral narrative and written narrative. Written tends to freeze the words, and make them less responsive to changes. I started to write down the stories partly because my children have better memories than I do, and would interrupt me sometimes saying “That wasn’t the way you told the story last night!”  While I, as the teller, might want my stories to address something that was going on in my children’s lives at that moment, both my children had a need for consistency of story. If I wanted to make changes, I would have to make up a whole new story.

A Princess for Tea” was my way of getting across to the children that words have meaning, that word choice had consequences.

Saretta: How can fairy tales adapt to changes in the natural (e.g. in some areas the fireflies are disappearing, so some children don’t know what they are) and technological world (the new generations are more “digital“)?

So many fairy and folk tales started out as ways to explain nature, and the changes in nature. And, in spite of mankind’s best efforts, nature is invading our towns and cities, adapting to changing circumstances. Deer are invading suburbs, and where deer are, so follow predators like coyotes. I have some friends who live in the heart of Ann Arbor (not all that big as cities go, but still a good size) who have fireflies in their yard.

There are lots of modern fairy tales (like “The Paper Bag Princess” that give more modern messages. The princess doesn’t have to marry the prince and can rescue herself from the dragon. Some modern stories are told in even more contemporary language and with contemporary settings. Someday maybe I’ll write a story called “The Magic iPad” or “The Magic Cell Phone” - but I like to think there will always be a space for the more old fashioned fairy tales too.

Francesca: Which are the classic fairy tales and elements of traditional folklore that influenced you most? Why?

I grew up in a small suburb, where the nearest library was half an hour away, and the school library wasn’t that good (I read a lot, and went through everything in the school library that interested me very quickly). So, when I wanted to read something, I had my mother’s old books to read, both from her childhood and her college days. I read some of the old ‘Grimm Brothers stories, the ones where at the end the witch was put in a barrel stuffed with nails and rolled down hill as punishment for her wickedness. I had some of the Andrew Lang color fairy tale book too, but those were written at a later date, and were rather Bowdlerized (that’s the process of taking out anything that was considered indecent or not proper for children to hear). I went through quite an Arthurian phase, too, but that only led me to doing research on whether there ever was a real Arthur, and the development of the Arthurian legends (did you know Lancelot was a later interpolation? Not part of the original stories at all.)

My grandmother gave me a collection of Hans Christian Anderson, but I hated them because they were all so sad.

It wasn’t until I started reading Jack Zipes’ history and critique of fairy tales that I recognized the parts of fairy tales that I accepted and the parts that I rejected. I tend to be something of a pacifist and almost militantly non-competitive, and I think my stories reflect that. You don’t have to kill the dragon to conquer him – and if you’re clever, you don’t really have to conquer the dragon at all; there are other and perhaps better ways of solving the problem.

So many fairy tales deal with The One True Hero, the one who will save everything. “Child of Promise” was written, in part, to re-cast a problem, and say that we all have the capacity to be The Hero, and it’s working together that solves the problem, that saves the day. In “Child of Promise” Agnes refuses to allow herself to be named the Savior, or to name any one person that, and by so doing she changed the attitude of an entire village.

Francesca: In the past, stories, legends and fairy tales characterized also a social and cultural context, the expression of the system of beliefs of a community of people. Do you think this statement could still be true nowadays?

Francesca: What messages or values your stories want to convey to your readers?

I’m going to take these two together because I think they’re part of a whole.
The early fairy tales tended to reinforce social norms. Particularly in the later versions of the Grimm Brothers, it was the female part to be submissive, industrious about household work, and weak, and the male part to be strong, adventuresome, and brave. In the earliest forms of Hansel and Gretel, both children were clever and Gretel is the one who ultimately saves the day. In later retellings, Hansel has all the good ideas.

That’s why I think books like “The Paper Bag Princess” by Robert Munsch are so important. It teaches that there are other ways of being. There’s a whole school of feminist fairy tales, and fairy tales for children with disabilities, or who come from broken homes, or have other disadvantages. I haven’t read many, and of the feminist fairytales I have read, I’m not sure how satisfactory they are. I worry that stories that address special needs and circumstances may tend to be preachy.

Most of my stories do have… if not morals, then themes, or something that I’m trying to get across. I hope I never am preachy about it. I’d rather be too subtle and have the message go past someone than have it be so obvious that it’s preachy and moralizing – I think that’s a good way to turn children off.
My messages tend to be common, everyday things,. There are consequences to your actions. If you do something wrong, you have the responsibility to make it right. There are better solutions than violence. Being clever and curious are good things, and should be encouraged. It’s OK to be who you are, and if the people around you don’t like it, you can look until you find a community that will support you and not expect you to change.

I know there are many people who disagree with me on these things (particularly that we should encourage curiosity among our children, and there are better solutions than violence). I like to think that, if more people felt that way, the world would be a better place.

Sara: Your style is clear but not simplistic or sloppy, as can be seen in many Young Adults or children books. How do you manage to adjust your language to your public, which I imagine varies in age?

I pretty much write how I talk. Even when my kids were little, we never talked down to them, but tried to explain things to them in language they could understand.

I’ve been a professional technical writer for years, and during that time I had to learn how to write to different audiences: you’ll write one way if the manual is for experts, and another way if it’s for beginners, and yet another way if it’s for upper management.

I must say, though, that Butterfly-Fairy rather surprised me. In a lot of ways, it was like she was telling me her stories, and I was just writing them down. I know a lot of authors feel that way about their characters, and I never quite believed it, but there it was. Butterfly-Fairy is about 6 or 7, clever, but a little bit thoughtless, and that’s how she tells her stories.

Sara: Fairies & Fireflies is the answer to one little reader, who asked “Then what?” Who are your beta-readers? Do you “experiment” your stories only with children, or do you have any adult “consultant”?

I have one family who have been beta readers for me from the beginning. Their father has been very helpful, too, in pointing out places where his children lose interest in the story, or the kinds of questions they ask. Sometimes I’ll ask on the Writer’s Café for other beta readers who have children of the age I’m writing for as well. I have a friend who is a student in early elementary education who has been a big help, too. I’ve also got a small community of adults who are willing to read my stories and help me with plotting difficulties.

Cassie (to whom Fairies and Fireflies was dedicated) has a older brother, Alex, who has significantly influenced a story that will appear in my next collection, “Quests and Fairy Queens” (coming out in June, I hope).

Sara: Do you have any modern fairy tale author to recommend?

To the best of my knowledge, I’m the only one writing this type of rather old-fashioned fairy tale currently. There are some wonderful authors who write fairy tale retellings or modern fairy tales for older children and adults. Patricia Wrede comes to mind, as does Robin McKinley and Peter Beagle.  Neil Gaiman, of course, writes beautifully – I couldn’t write for a week after reading “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” because the writing and the story was so beautiful that all I could think was “I am not worthy!”

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Miss Mabel's School for Girls by Katie Cross

Let's welcome Katie Cross to the blog to celebrate the release of her YA fantasy, Miss Mabel's School for Girls, which releases March 27th, 2014!

For me, writing a book involved a lot of staring at a computer screen, slapping the delete button, pulling my
hair out, and Pinterest.

Oh, yes. You heard right. Pinterest.

The power of Pinterest comes from the images. I always find photos that I want to remember and have access to, so I pin them to a board for later reference. So, I thought to myself, Hey, I'm releasing my first book, Miss Mabel's School for Girls. Why don't I give the readers something to look at in anticipation of the book?

So instead of a boring interview where I talk about how great I am, I'm here today to take you on a visual tour to give you a few ideas of what you can expect to find in this exciting new young adult fantasy novel, Miss Mabel's School for Girls.

Wrought iron fence:
There's a wrought iron fence around the outside of the ancient manor that is Miss Mabel's School for Girls much like this one. It's known for creaking in the wind.

Potions bottles:
Potion bottles hold oh-so-many possibilities. Witches love potions, and the witches in Miss Mabel's School
for Girls are no exception. These particular bottles contain a variety of spices and herbs, all of which you can win during the launch giveaway March 27th-30th!

Peacock feather:
Miss Mabel loves peacock feathers. They represent beauty and vanity: her two favorite virtues.

Green mossy tree:
Miss Mabel's School is located in Letum Wood, a lush, expansive forest that hides many secrets. Some of these secrets catch up with Bianca Monroe, our sixteen-year-old heroine, in the dark of the night.

This is another view of Letum Wood as you'll expect to find it in the summer. It's lush, gorgeous, and a little on the dangerous side.

Old book photo:
A grimoire is a book filled with magical spells, a kind of magical diary passed through generations. This grimoire is available to win during the launch day giveaway! Head over to to find out how you can participate.

Hopefully these photos gave you an idea of the exciting adventure you'll find in Miss Mabel's School for Girls! Now, get your Pinterest on and start spreading the word!

About the Book:

Never underestimate the power of a determined witch.

Letum Wood is a forest of fog and deadfall, home to the quietly famous Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, a place where young witches learn the art of magic.

Sixteen-year-old Bianca Monroe has inherited a deadly curse. Determined to break free before it kills her, she enrolls in the respected school to confront the cunning witch who cast the curse: Miss Mabel.

Bianca finds herself faced with dark magic she didn’t expect, with lessons more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. Will Bianca have the courage to save herself from the curse, or will Miss Mabel’s sinister plan be too powerful?

Miss Mabel’s School for Girls is the first novel in The Network Series, an exciting new fantasy collection. A gripping tale about the struggle to survive, it will take you to a new place and time, one you’ll never want to leave.

About the Author:
My world revolves around my husband (who is a major hottie), my Vizsla's, and the mountains.

I wear hiking boots instead of heels when I need to feel powerful, and on a bad day, I love a weightlifting workout. Actually, I love it on a good day.

I don't eat bread because my thyroid doesn't like it, although there are days I miss it. Especially ciabatta. Sweet potatoes are kind of my thing. Cookies too.

I write because I never stopped.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dragons & Dreams by Becca Price

~ Eating Magic ~

I'm reading Dragons and Dreams by Becca Price. It's a collection of delightful children's bedtime stories and it's making smile. The six fairy tales are full of whimsy and depth. Most often, everyone wins. The two dragon tales, A Princess for Tea and The Grumpy Dragon are delightful. One of my favorite quotes is from Sunflower:

The other faeries were terrified when a great yellow and orange kitten appeared at their door, but the Butterfly-Fairy quickly reassured them that her new pet wouldn't hurt them. That night, all the faeries nestled safe and warm against the soft fur of the Sunflower-kitten, and her purring lulled them to sleep.

Sunflowers... faeries... and cats! OMG! All my favorite things!

There's also a refreshing take on the king's three sons. Each of their journeys to find the most precious thing is meaningful. However, I think the first son's quest to find Wisdom takes a satisfying twist.

And so the first Prince returned to his father's house. He knelt before his father's throne, and placed at his father's feet one flower, still damp with dew. And the king understood the gift, and raised his son up, and rejoiced.

The Dark is, perhaps, the most exquisite of the tales...

"What is the Dark that hides in the woods during the day, and creeps out in the evening, and presses against our windows all night, until morning?"

While The Child of Promise is, perhaps, the wisest one...

The snow seemed to filled with a magical silvery light that reflected from every surface. Crystals of ice shone like diamonds. The air was hushed and still. It seemed to Agnes that every snowflake that fell had within its heart a small star, so that she was surrounded not by drifts of snow but by drifts of starlight.

Looking for something to read to your child before the lights go out? These original fairy tales are clever and engaging. I highly recommend them. 

Watch for Fairies and Fireflies: Bedtime Stories on Friday...

Friday, March 21, 2014

Immortal Souls & Such...

Yesterday, I wrapped up Dreaming of the Sea, my retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid. As I'm preparing to send it out to some beta readers, I'm curious as to what they'll think about it. It was a challenging retelling for me to write. When I first read the original fairy tale, I was surprised that the central theme was the mermaid's quest for an immortal soul. Yes, there was the romance with the prince, but the purpose of that was to gain an immortal soul as in Andersen's tale, mer people have no souls.

Photo credit: Berlin based artist Svenja Schmitt creates highly impressive and vibrant colorful art work using different properties like feathers, beads, emeralds, sea stars, insects, and colored contact lenses.

As I was creating my world and the story of my retelling, I kept getting stumped. I had to go back and read the original tale several times before I could really accept that the core of the story was so deeply religious. Myself, I'm not a member of any organized religion, although I'm certain there is meaning to our lives. I'm also sure that what we don't see in this life, is infinitely more powerful than what we do see, and that there is some superior organizing intelligence in existence. I know, sounds vague, and  I've come to almost hate the term spiritual because it conjures such a vast diaspora of beliefs...

Personally, I like to keep things simple.

When I finally accepted that the winning of an immortal soul was the crux of Andersen's tale, I pondered upon how to "turn that on its head."

What about the losing of an immortal soul?????

Oh, yes, I loved that idea.

So in my retelling of The Little Mermaid, rather than having my main character be a mermaid seeking to gain an immortal soul, one of the central characters in Dreaming of the Sea, Miriam, is a human at risk of losing her immortal soul...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Emerald Isle Trilogy $0.99 Sale + Giveaway

Boxed Set
By Renee Vincent

One man risks his life to save her.
Another risks his heart to love her.
Who will be the victor?
Three of Renee Vincent’s bestselling and critically acclaimed historical Viking romance novels are now available in one spellbinding bundle—yours for only 99¢ (limited time offer)

Full of fast-paced adventure, unforeseen plot twists, and courageous, to-die-for heroes like you’ve never read before, this extraordinary boxed set is sure to satisfy every readers’ craving for the ultimate in historical Viking romance.

Ræliksen, Book 1
Mara, the daughter of an Irish clansman, was raised to believe the men of the North are heathens - murderous pagans without a moral bone in their bodies. Despite warnings of the Northmen's raids, and the growing threat of another incursion, Mara is continually drawn to her favorite place - the River Shannon.

Dægan Ræliksen, a wealthy chieftain from Norway's frozen fjords, secretly discovers Mara at the water's edge. He is charmed by her beauty and sensuous grace. As the days pass, his contentment with simply watching her grows thin. He can no longer deny his unabated desire for the young maiden. His search for a wife has ended.

However, Mara and Dægan come face-to-face in a time when Ireland is in turmoil - when every Irishman is being called up to fight against the Nordic foreigners. In these times of upheaval, how can Dægan make peace with Mara's father and acquire the woman he treasures? Furthermore, can Mara move past her fears and find the noble man within the savage?

Teaser Quote:

“You are correct in saying that desires often come from things we cannot easily gain—mine, being that of your love. By all accounts, I do wish I could steal it. But I am not that sort of man. I will wait. Forever and a day…I will wait.”


"This is my first read by Renee Vincent and she has undoubtedly earned a place on my auto-buy author’s list. This book and author earn my highest recommendations and I feel privileged to have read one of the best.”
~ 5 Stars TOP PICK ~ Night Owl Reviews

"…a fast-paced, action-packed historical romance, which Ms. Vincent brings to life right before your eyes; a story you will remember long after the last page is read."
~ 5 Blue Ribbons! ~ Romance Junkies

Mac Liam, Book 2

A tortured soul…

Breandán Mac Liam, the strapping young hunter from Ireland’s lush forests, is in love with Mara, an ineligible beautiful princess. For seven long years, he has been vividly haunted by her memory, taunted by the throes of his heartache. And not even the thought of her marriage to a Northman can extinguish the fierce, burning desire running rampant through his heart and soul.

An innocent heart…

Mara, the spirited Connacht princess, has no idea she is the object of the Irishman’s longing. She is living out her days on Inis Mór, raising a troubled son and trying to endure the cruel loneliness that afflicts her.

A deadly secret…

Ordered by the king on his deathbed, Breandán must return to Mara and bring her through the perilous lands of Connacht to fulfill her father’s last dying wish. But as their worlds collide, Breandán not only finds himself wrapped in the arms of Mara’s embrace, but thrown into a struggle to defend his honor.

With Mara caught between the family she loves and the father she knows, can Breandán uncover the mystery of her past and still protect her from a secret that threatens them all?

Teaser Quote:

“Mara, you are my next breath. You are the reason I breathe at all.”


"This is one fantastic historical…a must-read for anyone who enjoys historical romance and I cannot wait to read the final book of the trilogy as this story has stayed with me days after I read the last word."
~ 5 Hearts "5 Heart Sweetheart Award" ~ The Romance Studio

“Ms. Vincent surpassed all of my expectations with her impressive writing abilities, while offering more incites and revelations that will keep readers coming back for more. Readers should be warned of the emotional turmoil they will face once again while reading this incredible story. I eagerly anticipate the next story in this trilogy, yet already mourn the finality."
~ 5 Stars TOP PICK ~ Night Owl Reviews

The Fall of Rain, Book 3

Leif Dæganssen, an archeologist from Norway, is determined to trace back his Scandinavian roots as far as the Dark Ages and find proof of their existence on the Emerald Isle. After several years of living off the west coast of Ireland, he finally uncovers an ancient artifact—an intricately decorated chest with pagan carvings—buried beneath the very porch of his coastal cottage. Knowing it only confirms the presence of a glorified Norse-influenced settlement on Inis Mór, he’s determined to establish a link between himself and those who once inhabited the rugged isle.

For as long as she can remember, Lorraine O’Connor has had dreams of a Norse warrior kissing her. And even though she’s never fully understood the reason for her vivid subconscious imagination, she welcomes the meaningless and wanton pleasure of being in a Viking’s protective embrace—until the day she meets that brazen Northman on an impulsive vacation trip to Ireland.

Though blindsided by the relevance of her dreams and the strange familiarity of the man within them, Lorraine can’t help but feel a deep-seated intimacy toward Leif. And the more she gets to know him, the more she’s convinced they’ve shared a life together in a time long forgotten.

Are the clues to their ancestral past hidden within the contents of the chest or buried deep within their hearts?

Teaser Quote:

“What Lorraine has told you is the honest truth. There’s no denying who you are. But until you go in that house and dig up the evidence for yourself, you’ll never know who you used to be. Oh, I know you’ll realize it one day. By then, I fear it’ll be too late. So, don’t be a fool and let the only woman you’ve ever loved slip through your grasp. Three days, Leif.”


"I didn't believe it was possible to take Daegan and Mara's incredible love story to another level, but I am extremely pleased to be wrong. Every word seemed to have a purpose in helping create a beautiful and poetic ending to an unforgettable trilogy. If you've never heard of the name Renee Vincent then you're missing out on quality reading that's worth every second of your undivided attention. It's an escapists dream and I will most certainly be back for more."
~ 5 Stars TOP PICK ~ Night Owl Reviews

"An ingenious ending to an amazing trilogy! This series has become my all-time favorite."
~ 5 Blue Ribbons ~ Romance Junkies

Author Bio:

RENEE VINCENT is a bestselling Contemporary & Historical Romance Author. From the daunting, charismatic Vikings, to the charming, brazen Alpha male heroes of modern day, you’ll be whisked away to a world filled with fast-paced adventure, unforgettable romance, and undying love.

She also writes lighthearted, fancy-free Chick Lit Romance as GRACIE LEE ROSE. For those who love to read fun, wholesome, and endearing romantic stories (with a smidgen of spunk) that your mother, sisters, friends, and daughters can enjoy.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Memory Witch Blog Tour: Eating Magic + Giveaway

Series: The Memory Witch #1
Release Date: December 15th 2013
Publisher: Crescent Moon Press

Book Description:
Ten years ago, Quinn Jacobs’ mother made a bargain with a local witch—steal away Quinn’s memories from the first eight years of her life and in return, Quinn would spend a year in servitude to the witch.

On Quinn’s eighteenth birthday, she’s forced to leave her home and friends behind. For the next year, she’ll live at the Chadwick House, learning everything she needs to know about being a spellcaster. As her powers grow, Quinn begins to unravel the secrets of the past and the reason her mother was so desperate to conceal the horrifying truth.

~ Eating Magic ~

I'm reading The Memory Witch by Heather Topham Wood. It's an interesting story, very different than a lot of paranormal stories I've read. I kind of like how the whole book innocently leads you into the woods, then explodes in the end with the dark revelation. On some level, the revelation is predictable, but on another level, it's not. Because it's really brutal. The first sentence in the prologue: "I don't have a single remembrance before the age of eight," sets the stage for what is to come. However, the interesting thing about the story is the lack of melodrama in the build up. Emotionally frozen, the main character, Quinn, narrates her tale in a matter-of-fact voice that's sometimes breezy and disconnected, and at other times, angry and grim.

Should traumatic memories be eradicated? 

The question lingers.

The Memory Witch does a wonderful job of showing us the potential effects of following such a course. Perhaps, peace of mind paid for with ignorance of Self and life experience isn't such a great deal.

The story ends with Quinn preparing to confront her newly remembered past.

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes:

"We're celebrating Quinn's first cast tonight."
Mason took a seat beside me. "You did? What was the spell?"
"Your aunt decided to practically dismember her left hand and I healed it." I didn't conceal the pride in my voice. Honestly, I was feeling pretty badass about the whole thing.
Mason snorted. "My aunt lives for theatrics."
"You're not kidding." I laughed. "You should see the getup she has me put on to meet with the clients."
"Don't pretend that you're not loving the adoration from the clients. Girls your age love their ego petted," Stella argued.
"I have to see it now," Mason insisted. "Will you try it on for me?"
"No way," I retorted.
"Go put it on. We'll see then if he can resist a witch," Stella urged.
"What does she mean?" Mason inquired.
"It's an enchanted headdress. Apparently. I'm such a troll that your aunt has to use magic to make me pretty enough for the visitors," I griped.

About The Author ~
Heather Topham Wood’s obsession with novels began in childhood while growing up in a shore town in New Jersey. Writing since her teens, she recently returned to penning novels after a successful career as a freelance writer. She’s the author of the paranormal romance Second Sight series and the standalone The Disappearing Girl.

Heather graduated from the College of New Jersey in 2005 and holds a bachelor's degree in English. Her freelance work has appeared in publications such as USA Today,, Outlook by the Bay and Step in Style magazine. She resides in Trenton, New Jersey with her husband and two sons. Besides writing, Heather is a pop culture fanatic and has an obsession with supernatural novels and TV shows.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

This Crumbling Pageant by Patricia Burroughs: Cover Reveal + Giveaway

I'm excited to share the cover for THIS CRUMBLING PAGEANT, which is Volume One in the Fury Triad series by Patricia Burroughs. This is Epic Fantasy with romance and ya crossover appeal. The book is scheduled to release May 6, 2014 in Hardcover, Trade and Digital by Story Spring Publishing, LLC

About the Book ~
Persephone Fury is the Dark daughter, the one they hide.

England, 1811. Few are aware of a hidden magical England, a people not ruled by poor mad George, but the dying King Pellinore of the House of Pendragon.

The Furys are known for their music, their magic, and their historic role as kingmakers. When Fury ambitions demand a political marriage, Persephone is drugged and presented to Society--

Only to be abducted from the man she loves by the man she loathes.

But devious and ruthless, Persephone must defy ancient prophecy, embrace her Dark magic, and seize her own fate.

Be swept away into the first book of a dark fantasy series combining swashbuckling adventure, heart-pounding romance, and plot-twisting suspense.

~ Excerpt ~

[Persephone Fury is the dark daughter, the one they hide from Society. But one night she is abducted and taken away to the most dangerous parts of London. Fierce and clever, she is able to rescue herself, only to collapse before she gets home. Fortunately for her, Sir Robin Fitzwilliam finds her. Even more fortunately for her family’s reputation, he believes her to be the young boy she’s masquerading as.]

Why would a child be out alone in the middle of the night?
Robin slid the slender youth’s body from the expensive saddle and staggered backward, not from the weight, for in truth, the boy weighed little, but from the reek of Shadows.
It was a miracle the gelding hadn’t tossed the stripling to rid himself of the Darkness on its back.
He eased the boy onto the ground.  The boy’s body was limp and his skin was hot and damp with sweat. Robin fumbled with the boy’s heavy jacket and grabbed the lapels to yank it open.
Thin fingers closed around his wrists. With a snarl, the boy heaved himself up and delivered a smart punch to Robin’s jaw, knocking him back on his heels in shock.
“Don’t touch me!” the boy rasped fiercely.
“You’re overheated. Let’s get that coat off—”
Two sharp-knuckled fists smacked into him at the same time, leaving both his cheeks stinging.
“Keep your hands off my coat!” The boy scrambled to his feet and leapt against the horse, attempting to mount.
“Gods damn it,” Robin spat, “you’re drowning in Shadows, boy, we need to—”
A foot caught him in the chest and he staggered back, then hurled himself forward, grabbed the boy by the collar, and yanked.
They both fell tumbling into the dirt. “You’d best pray it’s the Darkness that has driven you mad, boy, because if it’s not, you’ll pay for these bruises with some of your own!” He pinned the boy to the ground with one hand braced on a shoulder and continued, “I’m not going to hurt you. Just calm down and let’s see if we can relieve you.”
The boy relaxed, calming except for his heaving chest as he fought for air.
Robin’s mind raced through his options, coming up blank.
“Cat-mint...” the boy muttered. “Tincture of angelica. Blue chalcedony, jet, bronzite, amber—do you have any on you?”
“No,” Robin said, surprised.
The boy moaned. “Trifolium, then...” The boy’s head fell back into the dirt.
“Trifolium. I don’t know.”
Clover,” the boy ordered, scorn dripping from his voice. “I’m speaking of clover.”
Robin paced along the road looking for a clump of clover, unsure whether to laugh or snarl.
“Do you at least know your Greek sigils?” the boy muttered weakly. “The banishing sigil performed with clover...”
 “I know sigils,” Robin said, amending silently, if I can remember the Greek ones from the schoolroom. If he got the scamp past this spell of poisoning, he was going to thrash him.
“How long has it been since you were cleansed?”
Impertinent little brat. “My soul is not overburdened.”
“You evaded my question, which is answer enough, may the gods deliver me,” the boy retorted with equal venom.
At the moment, Robin just needed to come up with an acceptable prayer. He held his hands over the boy’s body and called, “Away, away, from your feet and from all your limbs... erm... Shadows and every muscular pain!” he finished with a wince.
“Did you just use the prayer to rid me of gout?” the boy asked incredulously.
“I said Shadows,” Robin muttered.
The boy let out a disgusted sigh. “I’m doomed.”

About the Author ~
Award-winning screenwriter and best selling novelist Patricia Burroughs loves dogs, books, movies, and football. A lifelong Anglophile, she treasures her frequent travels in the British Isles researching The Fury Triad, the epic fantasy that has taken over her life and heart. She and her high school sweetheart husband are living happily ever after in their hometown of Dallas, Texas.

The Dragon's Egg by H. B. Bolton: Cover Reveal + Giveaway

My name is Heidi Bolton, but I use my initials for my writing name, H.B. Bolton. I’m the author of the middle-grade fantasy series, Relics of Mysticus. The Dragon’s Egg (Book Three) is in the final stages of development and is almost ready for its May release date. Today I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share my newest book cover with you.

Cover artist, Elisabeth Alba, offered an inside peek of her work’s progression through her photographs and commentary. I’m extremely fortunate to know this Scholastic Book illustrator and have had the privilege to benefit from her talents for all three of my covers. In fact, we’ve already started talking about The Mummy’s Amulet (Book Four).

I met Elisabeth about 14 years ago through one of my drawing classes. From her high school freshman year through senior year, she was one of my students (a favorite one, at that). I taught advanced-placement art, which was before having children of my own and creating worlds with unlikely heroes for my mythical stories.

Thank you, Elisabeth, for helping to bring my characters to life!

Progression of a Book Cover Illustrator by Elisabeth Alba 

This is a progression of The Dragon’s Egg book cover from sketch to final drawing. Truth be told, I haven’t illustrated many multi-figure images before, and then add a ton of stuff happening around them, so I was in for a challenging composition — a fun challenge! You can see how I gradually worked out and tightened the image. In the beginning, I had planned to make the background darker but then realized if the glowing fog was everywhere, then it wouldn’t be so dark. It framed the floating castle better as well.
Once I figured out the drawing, which I did digitally, I worked on a color composition to figure out how I would paint it. This was an important step — especially since watercolor is really hard to fix if you make a mistake.

At this stage, I printed the line drawing onto watercolor paper and got to work. I painted with Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus fine-art liquid watercolors to start. I painted the base color first, which in this case was greenish.

After painting more of the base colors, I decided to do some line work with pen and ink to solidify the shapes.

Once the base colors were done, I sealed the image with matte medium. The Hydrus watercolors can be difficult because they are not like normal watercolor. Once they’re down on paper, you can’t wipe them away, but sealing with matte medium helps them not to smear — which is nice! You can also see how my desk lamp caused some glare over the castle when I took the photo.
On top of the matte medium, I painted with acryla gouache to darken and saturate the colors, and to do any highlights like the edge lighting around the figures. Finally, once the painting was done, I sealed the entire image with Kamar varnish. It brought out the colors even more, because once the acryla gouache dried, it became matte and the colors faded some.

Once I scanned the image, I worked on any digital touch-ups (some things are hard to do in watercolor, like getting colors really dark, and also the colors sometimes don’t scan well). This was how it looked once scanned, before any touch-ups. It was a more faded and less vibrant version of the original painting. I also lost the highlights.

Finally, after all of the digital work was complete, the cover was ready for text.

For the typography, I added a dark-blue gradient around the edges to frame the image and help the text stand out. I’ve used the same font for all three books, but in this one, I replaced the “O” in “Dragon’s” with the actual Dragon’s Egg relic.

Official Blurb

The Dragon’s Egg (Book Three)

Sure, the glass castle floating over Evan’s head makes him uneasy, but that’s the least of his worries. With each step inside the Dungeon of Dreadful Dreams, he must battle against his worst nightmares. One after the other, wispy smoke-filled bull sharks come at him — he must remember they’re only illusions pulled from his imagination by those dreaded shadowlike hands. If only the vengeful dragon circling above was also an illusion and didn’t have his mind set on destroying the one person who can control him: Emrys.

Inside the castle’s glass tower, Emrys sleeps in an eternal slumber, and Evan’s uncertain whether he can save the great wizard. Especially now that Emrys’ former student, the Lady of the Lake, has joined forces with the cunning immortal Alamaz. Together they have already stolen the Dragon’s Egg, but their greed doesn’t end there. The Siren’s Pearl calls to them, and that means only one thing … Atlantis is in trouble.

Join Evan, Claire, and Dunkle — along with a few other unlikely heroes — as they travel across the realm of Medieval Legends, float through the Ancient Isle of Avalon, plunge inside the Dungeon of Dreadful Dreams, and be there when Atlantis rises once again.

You can see more artwork by Elisabeth Alba and keep up with her future creations through her sites:

Elisabeth is a Queens-based illustrator whose work focuses on fairy tales, fantasy, and historical subjects. She earned her MFA in illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Her clients include Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, and Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. Elisabeth wants to thank Heidi for being the best high school art teacher ever, and setting her on the path to becoming an illustrator!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Half Faerie is back from Desert Rose Literary Services

As I mentioned in a prior post, we're in the process of preparing to republish the first book in what will be Daughter of Light,  Half Faerie. I'm so excited to release this book in the way that it was originally written. A significant part of this effort has been to have the entire book re-edited by Ken Wallin  of Desert Rose Literary Services.

I recently got the manuscript back from Ken and am preparing the final revisions. Ken's edits are fantastic. As a writer, sometimes you're so focused on the story that other things slip through the cracks ... things like sentence construction, grammar, punctuation, and the myriad typos that plague a manuscript. A talented editor is critical in finessing the final work.

Ken has also edited all of the stories in my Once Upon a Time Today collection. All I can say is that working with him and his wife, Rose, has been a pleasure, and I highly recommend their services.

Pretty soon, I'll be sharing some excerpts from the new book with my email list and I think you'll see why I'm so excited.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Wolf's Cry by Natalie Crown: Excerpt + Giveaway!

Thanks for stopping by my tour stop for The Wolf's Cry by Natalie Crown. This is a YA Fantasy book that released in January 2014. This is the first book in the The Semei Trilogy.  This tour will run March 10th-21st and consist of reviews, author interviews, guest posts, top tens and a giveaway. 

Book Title: The Wolf's Cry (Book One in the Semei Trilogy)
Author: Natalie Crown
Genre: YA Fantasy
Recommended Age: YA
Length: PDF is 199 pages
She is his weakness.

And she will ruin everything.

Kammy Helseth's idea of adventure never amounted to more than getting a boat across to the mainland and finally escaping to London. That was until she stumbled through the mouth of the forest into a world beneath our own, the world of the Semei.

Her only wish is to find her way home but when Jamie, her best friend, is taken into this new world of shapeshifters and Crystals she has no choice but to stand up to her fear and to remain beneath the surface. Hunted by Bagor, King of Alashdial, and those that are loyal to him, Kammy finds herself in the company of a group of outlaws led by Jad, a Prince with a bitter past and a similarly bitter demeanour.

They overcome age-old prejudice to find a way to work together. But Bagor knows a secret about the Crystals that threatens to change everything. Kammy and Jad must find a way to thwart the king and to save Jamie, but that is just the beginning. For Kammy is in possession of a Key and the fate of countless lives, both human and Semei, may rest in her hands.

~ EXCERPT: Kammy and Jamie ~
The rain had stopped which was a welcome change. Kammy turned her eyes upwards and thought that the sky even looked a little brighter. It was cold though, colder than it had been for a while. Kammy pulled on her coat and stuck her hands into her pockets.
‘I thought you said you had to get home,’ Kammy said lightly.
Jamie folded his arms. ‘I said I was going to go home, not that I had to.’
‘But your mum…’
‘She has a cold. She’ll be fine to wait a little longer. I’m concerned for you.’
Kammy shook her head. ‘Don’t be.’
‘You’re not meeting my eye.’
Kammy stared at him.
‘Now you’re just being stubborn.’
‘I’m always stubborn.’
‘But you’re clearly keeping something from me, and you never keep things from me.’ Kammy saw the flash of hurt in his eyes and felt a bud of guilt.
She glanced around, looking up and down the narrow street but there was nobody about. It was the middle of the afternoon and most people in the village were at school, on the farms or working in Erinsdale, the only town on the island. Kammy gnawed at the inside of her cheek. ‘It’s not that I don’t want to tell you, it’s just that you’ll think I’m insane.’
‘I already think you’re insane, have done for a while. So hit me with it.’
Kammy shot him a look but his smile in response was half hearted. He was trying his hardest  be flippant but he really was worried. First it had been her Gran, now Jamie. If Kammy did not have such a strong aversion to her own reflection, she would check and see what all the fuss was about. Her eyes drifted over the village, the rooftops that dipped and rose with the rhythm of the earth beneath them. She could see her home on the top of the hill but she saw the trees too and felt a chill despite her coat. The forest had never scared her before but the thought of walking towards it alone made the sick feeling in her stomach that much stronger.
In a small voice, she said, ‘Walk me home?’ She did not tell him that she wanted him there because she was afraid; she knew that she did not need too.
Jamie fell into step beside her.
They walked away from the pub and the flowered vines that crawled along its walls. They walked down the road in silence, past houses of all shapes and sizes, painted in a rainbow of colours. The only sound that they could hear was that of the distant waves, running across the stony beach. They trod through dirty puddles , past the crooked paths that zigzagged up towards the largest houses. One of those houses was Jamie’s and Kammy flinched when she looked at it, imagining that Helen was watching them and hating the company that her son was keeping. The smell of fresh bread filled the air and Kammy kept her gaze averted from the bakery. She did not need to see Esme on top of everything else. She took a deep breath. Her mouth was dry and she had to swallow a few times before she could speak.
‘Last night I went into the forest for a run…’
Jamie’s voice went up a few octaves. ‘In that storm?’
Kammy ignored him. ‘There’s this spot there. Mum used to go there and I…I like it, so…’ Kammy glanced at him. She had never told him about the mouth but if he cared that she had kept it from him, he did not show it. He nodded for her to continue. ‘There’s this burrow. At least, I thought it was a burrow but then it was a tunnel. It was big enough for me to fit inside so I went in,’ Kammy could feel her face burning. It sounded ridiculous.’ I kept walking and walking for…I don’t know how long. I came back out into the forest but it was…warm, the sun was shining.’
Jamie looked up and Kammy knew what he was thinking. He was feeling the heaviness of the air; he was looking at the expectant clouds. Daleswick had not seen sunshine for days.
‘Were you high?’

~ About the Author ~
I grew up in a village called Swilland, in the countryside of Suffolk, England. There wasn't much around, other than farms and fields, but for the most part I loved it, and I still do. I’m a passionate person by nature. I don’t just LIKE things, I LOVE things. Whether it’s a book, a film, or a sports team. Once I decide to enjoy something, I enjoy it to the MAX.

I’m a terrible cook. I prioritise essential social media work over keeping my flat tidy, because I know best. I

Onto my love of reading and, consequently, writing - it was my dad that played a big role in encouraging me to read. He didn't push me towards books necessarily; he simply read a lot himself. Then I would pick up his books and read them after him. I was reading high and epic fantasy from a very young age. I guess that might explain why I have always loved adventure stories with magic and intrigue and princes and princesses in.

I was aware that I wanted to ‘be a writer’ from a very young age. I was convinced I would be the first best seller that hadn't reached double figures in age yet! I wrote about the Danshees, furry creatures that lived through a mirror. I wrote about a Sand Bottle that transported a boy into a world of magic. I wrote about a sick girl finding a music boy that healed her, but transported her back in time. (Wow, I always have loved alternate universes…)

When I was eight I wrote my first novel called The Land of No Return. Despite the title, I am determined to return to it one day. I feel like I owe it to my past self. So, as you can see, I have always been writing. There have been times when I have gone weeks without scratching down a word. Then there are days where I churn out multiple chapters and only my body’s silly desire for sleep and/or food can stop me.

I write because I enjoy it. I write fantasy because I enjoy it. I try my hardest to put something of myself into my writing. I like to think my characters have depth, I like to think that my fantasy worlds reflect upon the real world in some way. You guys will be the judge of that but even if you don't agree I know that I at least try and I can do no more than that.

These days I live in North London and I love it. I work full time and London is a hectic city. Juggling work, writing and a social life is tough but nobody is forcing me to do it so I can't complain. The dream is that writing will be my career one day but it doesn't matter if I never quite make it. I love writing too much to ever pack it in.

I am desperate to get a dog. My mum suspects I miss my cats at home more than I miss her. I am a devout Arsenal/Ferrari/Rafael Nadal fan. I get all mad when confronted with a case of social injustice and then I get all mad when people take the fight for social justice too far. I mostly keep those thoughts to myself and simmer with rage. I watch good TV and bad TV, because I can. What I can’t do is enjoy bad books (subjective opinion of course). I just can’t.