Blog, Reviews

Review of “The Loathly Princess of Edimor”

Another day in the Tales of Ever After blog tour. Today I will be sharing a little review of “The Loathly Princess of Edimor” by the talented L. Palmer.

L PalmerAbout L. Palmer:

L. Palmer has spent many years traveling fictional worlds and building tales of grand, epic adventures. She is the author of The Pippington Tales, where motorcars bump down old city lanes and fairy godmothers are disguised as high-society gossips. In between exploring fantasy worlds, L. Palmer works in public service and lives in South Texas. She is an award-winning speaker and has lunch with dragons every Tuesday. Learn more about L. Palmer here!

Tales of Ever After LPALMER Graphic

What a charming and humorous tale this turned out to be! It has everything a fairy tale should: a spoiled princess, a handsome and honorable hero, a villain, a witch, and of course…MAGIC! When Princess Selene’s plans to be turned into a swan are thwarted (I can’t tell you how without spoilers), the story takes some amazing twists. I think one of the funniest things in the story is how the princess WANTS to be turned into a swan because she doesn’t want to marry the handsome hero and is disappointed when something else happens. There’s humor, there’s romance, there’s heart…and in the end, the princess learns a valuable lesson about herself, her people, and her heart. This is a great story to end the anthology on.

To see what other blogs have been sharing fun tidbits and whatnots, visit Kendra’s blog.

And don’t forget to enter these amazing Giveaways:
US ONLY
(All books are paperbacks, and possibly signed.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
INTERNATIONAL (All books are ebooks of the winner’s file format of choice) a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, be sure to comment on all the blog posts this week. The person who comments the most times will win a small collection of sneak peeks to some of the authors upcoming works!

Blog

Sarah Ashwood’s Favorite Retellings

Another day in the Tales of Ever After Blog Tour. Today, I have a new friend over to talk to us about her favorite fairy tale retellings. Please welcome Sarah Ashwood!

38289200_2017846911613425_6268765361357717504_n (1)About Sarah:

A genuine Okie from Muskogee, Sarah Ashwood was raised in the wooded hills outside the oldest town in Oklahoma. She’s tossed plenty of stones out of the dirt roads she grew up on, which provided the inspiration for Calden in “The Princess and the Stone-Picker.” Sarah loves mixing fairytale elements with fantasy, as in her Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy and her brand-new series, Beyond the Sunset Lands. In her imagination, she soars effortlessly through magical or historical lands. In real life, she lives (mostly) quietly at home with her husband and three sons. Learn more about Sarah!

These are a few of my favorite fairytale retellings…

By Sarah Ashwood

Fairytales. Most of us are familiar with the classics, especially the classic Disney movies, however far removed from the original fairytale they may be. Personally, while I’m a big fan of original fairytales, I’m also a big fan of fairytale retellings, even the watered down Disney versions. In some cases, I like the Disney spinoffs better. Case in point, Sleeping Beauty. Disney’s version is gorgeous and romantic with a perfect HEA ending, and the princess doesn’t have to sleep for a hundred years. The original story, with its secondary ending of an ogre mother-in-law who ultimately meets her fate in a tub full of vipers and other nasty creepy-crawlies…eh, not so Disney-esque. Can’t blame Disney for stopping before that point.

Anyway, as much I honestly do enjoy the usually darker and more grownup original fairytales, here are a few of my favorites retold by both indie and traditionally published authors:

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier is a retelling of The Six Swans with a Celtic twist. I love the Celtic setting of the novel, as well as the deep relationship between the two main characters Sorcha and Red. (Caveat: this book does contain a few difficult scenes, and I’d definitely stick it with at least a PG-13 rating.) Exciting, suspenseful, sad, and satisfying, Daughter of the Forest is one of those books that stays with you long after you’ve read it.

Coiled by H. L. Burke. The Psyche and Eros tale, remarkably like the fairytale East of the Sun, West of the Moon, has long been a favorite of mine, so when Coiled released last year I was ecstatic. Coiled is a unique spin on both stories, with a gigantic snake and a cursed sister teaming up against a terrible spell.

Beastly by Alex Flinn. Of course Beauty and the Beast has been retold a million different ways, but I still enjoyed this modern day take! I liked the movie too. What can I say? I’m a hopeless fairytale addict, and I never turn down a good Beauty and the Beast retelling.

The Firethorn Crown by Lea Doue is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, another of my favorite fairytales. (Does anyone remember the Little Golden Book edition of that story with the gorgeous illustrations? I must have read it a million times as a kid!) I love Lea’s fun spin on this tale, with a goose, a somewhat creepy underground world and…well, I sorta pitied him, sorcerer-prince. A must read for any fan of the classic story.

Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright is another movie tie-in to the film of the same name. I honestly really enjoyed this book and movie. I thought it was the perfect blend of creepy and unusual, with, at least in the movie, some gorgeous cinematography.

There you have it—a few of my favorite fairytale retellings. I hope you enjoy!

To see what other blogs have been sharing fun tidbits and whatnots, visit Kendra’s blog.

And don’t forget to enter these amazing Giveaways:
US ONLY
(All books are paperbacks, and possibly signed.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
INTERNATIONAL (All books are ebooks of the winner’s file format of choice) a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, be sure to comment on all the blog posts this week. The person who comments the most times will win a small collection of sneak peeks to some of the authors upcoming works!

Blog, Reviews

Book Review for “Wake the Moon”

Here we are again on the Tales of Ever After blog tour. Today, I will be sharing a little review about Annie Louise Twitchell’s “Wake the Moon.”

14095754_1577656472539579_3144586480881309648_nAbout Annie:

Annie Louise Twitchell is a homeschool graduate who is obsessed with dragons and fairy tales. She enjoys reading, writing, poetry, and many forms of art. When she’s not writing, she can often be found reading out loud to her cat, rabbit, and houseplants or wandering barefoot in the area around her Western Maine home. Learn more about Annie!

 

Tales of Ever After Annie Graphic

“Wake the Moon” was a story that surprised me. From the very first moment, the intensity of the story pulled me right in. How could you not be sucked in by such lines as

“The silence bound her there in the forest, behind the endless lines of marching trees, behind the shadows. The silence was her captor.”

And the surprises don’t end there. What began as a thrilling Native American-themed fairy tale retelling about a sleeping maiden turned into a powerful message of forgiveness and redemption. The message of the story is what really spoke to me. I loved the characters, as well. Jesse, Lunessa, Sue…they’re all endearing and realistic, but its the message of forgiveness that truly touched my heart. Such a rich, compelling, and thrilling little story. You’re sure to love it, too!

To see what other exciting posts are scheduled for today, visit Kendra’s blog.

And don’t forget to enter these amazing Giveaways:

US ONLY
(All books are paperbacks, and possibly signed.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

INTERNATIONAL (All books are ebooks of the winner’s file format of choice) a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, be sure to comment on all the blog posts this week. The person who comments the most times will win a small collection of sneak peeks to some of the authors upcoming works!

Blog

H.L. Burke’s Snarky Surprise

This is Day Number Two of the Tales of Ever After Blog Tour, and today I am inviting the amazing H.L. Burke to visit with us and share about an exciting (and snarky) surprise.

PHOTOAbout Heidi and her story “At the Corner of Elm and Main”:

Hello! I’m H. L. Burke, writer of fantasy of many varieties. The majority of my tales are geared toward teen-to-adult readers, but as a mother of two boisterous Superhero Princesses, sometimes I like to write a tale for them. This is one of those. My other works include: YA steampunk with sarcastic computers; fantasy adventures with snarky magicians; romantic fairy tale retellings with cursed princesses and princes who sometimes turn into giant snakes … and of course, many, many dragons. If you’d like to check out my tales of wonder, adventure, and snark, you can find them at my website.

www.hlburkeauthor.com

Of Oven Timers, Adorable Desk Lamps, and Kindly Lampposts

by H. L. Burke

I talk to the timer on my oven.

Seriously, the dang thing is impatient and hecka annoying. I’ll set it for ten minutes and get involved with something and it’ll start beep, beep, beeping at me, and I’m like, “Just a minute!” and it keeps beeping. It NEVER listens even if I just want to plant a few more crops in my game of Stardew Valley or send a friend one more cat picture.

It’s all, “Now, now, now, now, now,” until I run over and take out the pork loin (fifty more seconds isn’t going to hurt the stupid loin, Oven. It’s already dead.).

But yeah, it’s weird how we humans anthropomorphize things. We get emotionally connected to toys as kids, sometimes even blankets which don’t even have faces. We name our cars. We feel sad when inanimate objects break.

It’s possibly Pixar’s fault, but then you have The Brave Little Toaster and The Velveteen Rabbit, so I guess I can’t put all the blame at the feet of that adorable desk lamp.

So when an image crossed my Facebook feed of a lamppost designed to look like it was holding an umbrella over a park bench, my first instinct wasn’t, “Oh, what a clever design.” It was, “What a sweet, good-hearted, faithful lamppost. I want to huggles him.”

It was obviously a he lamppost. Don’t ask me how I knew that.

But I wanted to know more!

What sort of personality would a kindly lamppost have? (beyond, of course, being kindly)

What would a lamppost want the most out of life?

Who would his friends be?

What caused him to realize his destiny, holding an umbrella for some poor, soggy human?

And what would his reward be for this good deed?

I found out, of course, but to discover what I did, you’ll have to read “At the Corner of First and Elm,” my short story in Tales of Ever After.

-H. L. Burke

Thank you, Heidi, that was a hilarious post! I’m sure everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.

Now, be sure to visit Kendra’s blog to find out about the other exciting things going on today during our blog tour.

And don’t forget to enter these amazing Giveaways:

US ONLY
(All books are paperbacks, and possibly signed.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

INTERNATIONAL (All books are ebooks of the winner’s file format of choice) a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, be sure to comment on all the blog posts this week. The person who comments the most times will win a small collection of sneak peeks to some of the authors upcoming works!

Blog

Tales of Ever After Blog Tour

Today I am here to talk a little bit about Fellowship of Fantasy’s newest anthology, Tales of Ever After, and how my writing theme shaped my contribution to the collection. First, about the anthology!

36427032_2003913979653615_2197345443757686784_nAbout Tales of Ever After

Rescue a princess, meet a mermaid, win your reward.

The authors of the Fellowship of Fantasy tackle fairy tales from once upon a time to happily ever after. Explore twists on old tales and brand new magical stories. Meet feisty mermaids, friendly lampposts, and heroes who just might be monsters themselves.

This fourth anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy will lead you on a quest for entertainment and storm the castle of your imagination. So make a wish and enter the deep dark woods to find stories that will make you laugh, shiver, and maybe even fall in love.

Amazon Purchase Link

Books2Read Universal Link

Add Tales of Ever After to your Goodread’s Shelf!

So, what is my writing theme and how did it help shape my short story, “Tears of the Sea”?

I specialize in creating gritty story worlds pierced by the light of God’s love. That’s my theme. It is, ahem, posted right here on my blog header. So that’s no secret or big surprise. But how does my mermaid tale fit into a theme that focuses on dark worlds and a Christian worldview?

Tales of Ever After SAVANNAH Graphic“Tears of the Sea” is not a religious story. You’ll not see God’s name mentioned in it, but it is a moral tale. Fairy tales are, at their heart, instructional. In my story, a determined mermaid with a mangled fin sets out to prove that humans, the Sand walkers, are not what the Mer believe them to be. They don’t seem like monsters to her. She has a choice to make: she can be like all the other merlings and stay in the safety of the deep waters or she can venture to the cove and learn for herself what makes the Sand walkers dangerous. Along the way she will have the opportunity to prove her courage and compassion as well as discover a few things she didn’t know about her own heart.

I wrote this story years ago when I lived in Florida, as a memorial for a lady who tragically passed away at a very young age. Ms. LeRae was a vibrant lady who’d been scarred by her own personal tragedies, and when I first wrote “Tears of the Sea,” I made it a tragedy. The ending was very sad. The ending never felt right to me, and finally one day I realized why. By making the story a tragedy, I was dwelling on only one small part of a person’s life. The part that was sad. The part that was tragic. But these dark moments are not what define us. It’s the things we do, the decisions we make, the memories we leave behind, the impressions we make on those we leave behind. So I turned my little mermaid tale into a little love story about courage and compassion. And finally…the story felt right.

Tales of Ever After Author Graphic

If you’d like to learn more about Tales of Ever After and the other amazing stories in this collection, head on over to Kendra’s blog and she will direct you to the other participating bloggers. I hope you enjoy this diverse and magical collection.

And don’t forget to enter these amazing Giveaways:

US ONLY
(All books are paperbacks, and possibly signed.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

INTERNATIONAL (All books are ebooks of the winner’s file format of choice) a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, be sure to comment on all the blog posts this week. The person who comments the most times will win a small collection of sneak peeks to some of the authors upcoming works!

Blog

Designing the Cover for Heartsong

Cover Design is a favorite hobby of mine. I say “hobby” because I only do it part time: I want to leave myself time for my own writing and family. Design allows me to explore a side of my creativity other than writing, which makes a refreshing change of pace after slogging through edits or messy first drafts.

Recently, I had the pleasure of designing a cover for Annie Douglass Lima. Since she is celebrating the release of her newest book, Heartsong, with a blog tour this week, I thought it would be fun to talk about the process of designing this cover for Annie.

Depositphotos_18903651_originalAnnie already had a beautiful image picked out that almost perfectly fit her story world. As soon as I saw it, I knew I was going to love this cover. She sent me a blurb about the story and a description of her main character, Liz, as well as a few idea about what she would like to see. Then the fun began.

I began searching for a pre-teen model who would fit her character description. This was, suprisingly, the most difficult part of this entire project. Either the girls looked to angsty, too pouty, or too SCARY (yes, I had to wade through scads of zombie photos). The first concept I sent Annie was with a little girl with a beautiful smile. The first fonts I chose ended up being the ones Annie liked best…which doesn’t often happen, so we were thrilled that it came together so quickly!

Heartsong 1And, yes, we loved the initial concept. But, although the coloring was compelling and the model adorable…the details just weren’t right. The moon was the wrong color and the model too young and too happy. She was also wearing a cute sweater, while the character Liz usually wore a sweatshirt. So we moved on to some other ideas.

After doing some research, we found a model with multiple poses that we kind of liked. The problem was, most of her poses were kind of angsty and creepy. We just didn’t get the vibe we wanted from her expressions. But I found a couple that Annie really liked and decided to give it a try.

 

Next comes the time-consuming task of photoshopping. It requires a lot of cropping, blending, merging, balancing colors and lighting…trying to make everything work perfectly.

 

We went through several versions of the moon until we finally came up with something desolate with just a hint of green and still visually appealing and balanced with the overall coverage. We also went through many versions of Liz, changing her size, her pose, the lighting…I even photoshopped a head on her because the pose we liked best had cropped off the top of her hoodie.

The last major adjustment we made to the cover…the color of Liz’s hoodie. In the book, it’s supposed to be a gray/green color that changes hues in the strange alien lighting. And our model is wearing a decidedly royal blue hoodie. So we tweaked the color of the sweatshirt to fit this final detail with the book.

Heartsong Facebook Banner 2

And here we have it! The beautiful, final version of this amazing cover which is both beautiful AND accurate to the story. It was one of the most enjoyable covers I’ve done to date. I hope you enjoyed this little adventure into the realm of cover design.

Buy your copy of Heartsong today!

Interviews

Interview with Annie Douglass Lima

80dc7-annie2bdouglass2blima

I am excited to be continuing my participation in the Heartsong Blog Tour. Today, I will be hosting Annie Douglass Lima here on my blog for an interview. I am excited to learn more about her, about Heartsong, and about her writing process. First, let’s learn a bit about Ms. Lima.

Author Bio:

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published eighteen books (fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrap booking, and international travel.

Now it’s time for some questions. Hello, Annie, and thank you for joining us today. Please tell us, how did you come up with the idea for Heartsong?

I had a dream a few years ago in which I was the only human living on an alien world, with one particular alien in charge of my education and integration into their culture. I played with the idea in my mind for quite a while, adjusting and developing it, until eventually it was substantial enough to be the basis for a plot. And thus Heartsong was born!

What is the single biggest challenge you faced when writing your book?

Heartsong is about a human girl who encounters an alien race that’s never had any contact with humans before. Creating the Somavian culture was a challenge to me, because it was so hard not to take elements of cultures from Earth and just assume they would be universal. Even something as simple as pressing a button on a technological device, for example. Would aliens necessarily come up with the idea of pressing buttons? And how about furniture? Just because Somavians’ bodies are shaped similarly to humans’ doesn’t necessarily mean they would design and use furniture in the same ways. And then there’s communication, transportation, employment, clothing, currency, art, music, government. Everything either had to be totally different than on Earth, or there had to be good reasons why it would have developed similarly on Somavia. And of course it all had to be consistent, with every detail joining together to create a cohesive picture of Somavian culture. It was tricky, but I enjoyed the challenge!

Can you recommend any books/authors that inspire you?

Yes! Anything by Anne Elisabeth Stengl or KM Weiland is awesome. I also really like Michelle Isenhoff’s books.

What was your writing process for Heartsong like?

I always begin by outlining my plot two or three different ways, including jotting down brief summaries of what will happen in each chapter. The details change as I go along, and I always end up with more chapters than I originally planned, but I really need that structure to get me started and keep me focused as I write. In this case, I did most of the planning and prewriting in October of 2015, in preparation for drafting the novel during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month; November).

Drafting a 120,000-word novel was not an easy task to complete in a month while working as a fulltime teacher! I love my day job and would never want to quit, but I often wish it left me with more time for writing. One of the secrets to my NaNoWriMo success was getting up early most days and putting in an hour or two of writing before school started. Sometimes I set my alarm for as early as 4:30 a.m. Fortunately, I am a morning person, but it was still hard to get up that early! I pulled some late nights, too, and that was even harder for me. On Saturdays and Sundays I often spent all afternoon writing (mornings were for church and errands).

When November and my rough draft were finally behind me, I let the dust settle for a couple of months before I opened the manuscript again. Then I began the gradual process of dealing with the different marginal notes I’d written as I went along, mostly related to information I needed to add or look up. After that came multiple rounds of revising and editing, with breaks here and there to focus on other books that temporarily pushed their way to the forefront. After that, I read the book aloud to my students, whose responses helped me see where I needed to make changes. Then of course there were beta readers to enlist and their feedback to apply, and my professional editor to read through the whole thing and suggest more changes. After that, Heartsong was finally ready to meet the world!

Are there any characters in Heartsong that you DID NOT get along with while writing this story?

Yes, one. That would be Amelia Chang, the Taiwanese governor of a multicultural human colony in a distant part of our galaxy. She was a hard character for me to write, because she represents a certain (not necessarily pleasant!) side of my own personality. She is strict, you might even say harsh, and yet she makes the choices she believes are in the best interests of those for whom she is responsible. The teenage main character doesn’t get along with her at all and is horrified by some of the things Governor Chang does (and I believe readers will be too). And yet I don’t intend for the governor to come across as a monster or even a villain (though some may see her as both). She’s simply a well-meaning leader with a difficult job in a difficult time, doing her best to protect those under her care … whatever it takes.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from this book?

Sing your true heartsong. And don’t be afraid to sing the heartsongs of those you can represent to others who need to hear them. (That will make sense after you read the book!)

What’s your next project?

I’m putting the finishing touches on a fantasy novel called King of Malorn, which I hope to release on August 1st. It will be book 5 in my Annals of Alasia, and revisits the original characters in a new adventure that takes place five years after the other books.

Bonus: You come face to face with a dragon–what do you do?

  1. Panic!
  2. Pray that it’s from Pern and not Middle Earth.
  3. If it hasn’t noticed me yet, back away slowly until I can get to somewhere safe/hidden.
  4. If it has noticed me, try to casually make conversation so it won’t think I’m afraid (which admittedly is not likely to work since I’ve already panicked by this time).
  5. If it doesn’t eat me right away, ask it for a ride.

Heartsong Internet VersionAbout Heartsong: 

A fun fact about this book…I had the extreme honor of being able to design the cover for this amazing novel. Annie made my job easy, because she already had a background image that she had fallen in love with, that almost perfectly fit her story world. We then began the arduous task of finding a young model that would describe Liz, her bookworm heroine. After several attempts, we finally decided on this amazing version of the cover.

Now, about the story!

Two alien worlds.

One teen emissary.

No reality she can trust.

Thirteen-year-old Liz Smith has been ripped away from one foster family after another for years, so the idea of a permanent home is tantalizing. Who cares if that home is a colony sixty-five thousand light-years from Earth? The friends in her trusty e-reader will keep her company just fine on her interstellar relocation.

But when the adventure of a lifetime turns into the disaster of the cosmos, Liz can only retreat so far into the books that have always sheltered her from loneliness and loss. Trapped in half-truths and secrets that leave her questioning reality, can one orphaned bookworm find a way to stop two races from destroying each other … and somehow write a happy ending to her own story?

If you like books about space travel, aliens, or cross-cultural transitions, you’ll love this poignant science fiction adventure. Get your copy of Heartsong now to start the journey today!

Purchase your copy of Heartsong today!