Category Archives: Blogtours

Storytime Bloghop: Chris Makowski

Usually I only host my own story for the quarterly Storytime Bloghop, but this was soooo good I just had to give it a place. It’s written by Chris Makowski, a fellow student in one of my writing classes. He doesn’t have his own website yet, so I am hosting his story for your pleasure. You’ll find his bio and the links to the other bloghop stories at the end of the post. Enjoy his story:

The Color Of …

Bent, weary, cold; the door pushed open as always, leaving me touching the lock I could never remember unlocking of late. Within, the dimness pushed back by fire – there were no more candles, and our lamp had little oil remaining, it being a miracle it stayed lit at all for as long as it had. The door sighed as I pushed it shut and stamped my boots clean enough to walk on mushroom and russet floors which had been swept clean as always. The window would let in enough light this day, even with …
“It’s nearly May, Father. And the snow is still on the ground.” I gave my wife a weak smile, for I did not know, and did not want to guess … but no, our daughter still sat silent in her chair, bundled in white quilts against the cold, as she had been since the leaves had fallen. The copper teakettle swung over the fire, merrily popping, the black iron pot hung below, warmed always and never allowed to grow cold – the only bit of happiness in our squalid little rooms. My wife would take the last of the roots, the onions and whatever else remained, and coax each morsel to give of itself – she had always been able to bring the full measure from everything she touched. Still, it had fallen from a thick stew to a thin broth, and each day, we looked to our daughter in wonder if this would be …
I turned the hourglass on the hearth. Tea, we would have. Herbal, mint perhaps, but not uncivilized. “Thank you, Mother.” I took the cup. Our daughter never had, never would. She sat there, looking out to the snow and the ice and the forest beyond, sometimes looking at the tightly closed flower sitting forlornly in it’s pot, on the sill by the window. Carefully she would shield it from her coughs when they overcame her.
Each day I looked out at the snow and each day some little thing touched – and ran away.

Tick …
Tick …
Tick …

I could only put on a brave face and ascend again into my attic, where tools, glass, springs, gears, clocks awaited my hands and skill. When dark came, drawing down the grayness, I came down, my fingers aching from opening the shutter and checking barometer, anemometer, hygrometer and thermometer again and again but still no answers. I could give my wife but a vague platitude and a smile I did not feel as I turned the glass again: the warm cup would do wonders for my fingers.

The next day came for worse, shadows growing from the trees as the sky fell from cerulean to cobalt not much past midday. Still, she sat and watched, her eyes never straying from that one tight bulb. My wife nearly called for someone, but no, not yet, just a few more days perhaps. I dared not tell her I had but one repair left, then my work would sit, and we would go hungry.

Tick …
Tick …
Tick …

I sat with my daughter as the sun came up, barely an ember in the sky. Winter barked and scratched at the door, the attic would be far too cold and there was nothing left there.
She took my hand, looked away from her bulb, and looked at the doorway, and smiled. What was there? A hat, a coat – threadbare – a few pegs?
Hanging there as if in answer, my keyring. I had quite forgotten it – four gold keys, from longest to littlest. Could the answer be so simple? Her skin had gone to alabaster; there was simply nothing left to lose. The pot and it’s tiny flower looked up at me, the tiny holes at the base to drain the water upon a simple saucer. Could it be? It would take a fine touch, especially in the cold, a fine touch against the cold and with shaking hand perhaps I could just …
To my attic, in the cold, in the night, in the dark, I said silent prayer and hoped and with only my lightest touch in the cold and the dark reached forth and …

Clickclickclick.
Clickclickclick.
Clickclickclick.
Tick!

I dared not move her as the sun rose – but it rose brighter, brighter than before! A shimmer of light sprang forth and through the frozen window, to sit on the edge of the pot, then a bit nearer, a bit more, a bit –
The light touched the silent bulb, lay there quiet in repose …
And the bulb opened slowly –
Tick-tock …
Tick-tock …
Tick-tock …
Tick!
The petals shifted, unwove, sprang apart, a sniff of perfume filled the air. And she smiled – my daughter smiled! And the ice began to break, and fall, until the window itself stood clear, and the snow upon the ground had begun to sink and slurry and flow under the bright goldenness of a perfect awakening … her skin, her skin, from alabaster it reached to peach, rose in her cheeks, cherries on her lips. She looked up with her perfect blue eyes, and all of her was smiling.

My wife came in, her bonnet set, her smile proud, her back straightening. She cried “Molla, Molla!” My daughter looked and smiled at her name and sat up, took a long breath of that perfect bloom and stood up, the quilts falling away. A bird – or was it two? – sounded outside, the day growing brighter and brighter as we had hoped but not quite dreamed … and I took up my hourglass and remembered … Her dress, celadon now but soon viridescent, flowed about her knees down to her bare feet.

“Father,” she smiled, touched the watch in my vest and took my keys from my hand, and held up the longest. “Please don’t forget again to wind the sun.”

 

Chris was born in the Pacific Northwest and lived briefly in Hawaii before being reared in New England. After traveling up and down and back and forth from coast to coast, he was dragged kicking and screaming in the bonds of matrimony to the State of Texas and has been mostly residing there ever since with his wife, son, two neurotic dogs, and a possessed cat.

 

 

I loved this story and hope you liked it just as much as I did. Now, there are bound to be many more lovely stories in this hop, so you’d better go and read them:

Nightmare by Erica Damon
Pick Up Lines by Bill Bush
The Scorpius Gate by Sandra Fikes
V is for Vortex by Elizabeth McCleary
Deep Dive by Juneta Key
Bugs by Gina Fabio
Secret by J. Q. Rose
Journal of Anah by J Lenni Dorner
The Vineyard at Mar Mozambique by Karen Lynn
Stealing Space by Barbara Lund
The Day I was Clever by Katharina Gerlach
Never kid a kidder by Angela Wooldridge

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Author Spotlight: Caimh McDonnell

A little while ago I read a sample from a book a reviewer recommended to me. I got sucked in so fast, I barely hear the whoosh. Naturally I signed up for the author’s newsletter, and when I got the opportunity to review his new release, I jumped at the chance. Let me introduce Caimh McDonnell, or the white-haired Irishman as he is called. I’ll tell you more about his new release as soon as he answered some question I asked him. But introductions first:

caimhCaimh McDonnell is an award-winning stand-up comedian, author and writer of televisual treats. Born in Limerick and raised in Dublin, he has taken the hop across the water and now calls Manchester his home.
His writing credits include The Sarah Millican Television Programme, A League of Their Own, Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You. He also works as a children’s TV writer and was BAFTA nominated for the animated series ‘Pet Squad’ which he created. He was also a winner in the BBC’s Northern Laffs sitcom writing competition.
During his time on the British stand-up circuit, Caimh has firmly established himself as the white-haired Irishman whose name nobody can pronounce. He has brought the funny worldwide, doing stand-up tours of the Far East, the Middle East and Near East (Norwich).

Now, tell us some more about you, Caimh.

Why did you become an author? Was it a childhood dream?
I’m sure it was in there somewhere but frankly, I think I wanted to be everything at one time or another when I was a kid. I definitely remember wanting to be an Apache Indian, a priest, the drummer in U2, an international footballer and a comedian. I achieved one of those things (comedian) and I’m still holding out for that call-up to the Ireland football team. I have rather gone off U2 so Larry Mullin can keep that job.
I did always want to tell stories as a kid but any chances of my being a writer were held back by the fact that my handwriting was and still is truly awful. Every time I wrote an essay, nobody could read it. Teachers kept telling my mother that I might not be that bright, she was perpetually standing her ground going ‘no, he’s a smart kid, you just can’t understand what he is trying to say.’
Then after I left school, the world got access to Microsoft Word and all of a sudden, people could at least understand what I was trying to write.

What’s your greatest obstacle in writing?
Time. I have a head over-flowing with ideas and there’s a permanent sense of frustration that I can never get them all out. I think the most surprising thing about being an author is how much time is taken up by things other than writing. The reality is that when you write a book, you are starting your own business, whether you’re traditionally published or doing it yourself.

I’ve been lucky enough through my various jobs writing for TV, to have been a professional writer for over a decade before I wrote my first novel. I think that gives me a very different perspective on writing. If you’re writing for TV nobody cares if you’ve got ‘writer’s block.’ Everyone is on a deadline, so you learn to be disciplined or you don’t get the work. I prefer to think of writing as a craft than an art-form because craft implies you can work hard and get better at it, whereas art-form implies you’re sitting around staring at cloud formations, waiting for your muse to show up.

What makes the world of your novel different from ours?
My novels are set primarily in inner city Dublin but it is a version of it that is tinged with my inevitable nostalgia from living in the UK for the last 15 years. Also, my version has a little more of the Wild West about it. Certainly, Detective Sergeant Bunny McGarry, who is one of my central characters, would probably last about five minutes in the real Irish police force.

What was the most exciting thing happening when you wrote your novel?
I don’t know if exciting is the right word, but certainly the oddest thing involved reality spookily mirroring the world of my imagination. In The Day That Never Comes a group of homeless protesters take over a building owned by the Irish government that had been left vacant for years. That exact scenario played out in real life in Dublin just before Christmas. The real building is called Apollo House and it was about a 4-minute walk from where I’d placed the imaginary one in my head.

Who is your favorite Indie author?
Tough question but I’d go with Sean Platt, David Wright and Johnny Truant a.k.a the boys from the Self-Publishing Podcast. First and foremost, through their various combinations they write really well and they’ve also been phenomenal mentors to me on a personal level. I’m amazed by how much quality work they produce while at the same time giving so much to the Indie community.

Who is your favorite traditionally published author?
So hard to pick just one but if you’re twisting my arm, I guess I’d go with Dennis Lehane right now. I’m amazed more people don’t know his name. Put it this way, have you heard of the films Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River, Shutter Island, The Drop and the recently released Live By Night? Did you know they were all based on books written by one author? That’s Dennis Lehane!

If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?

Chocolate would taste like celery, celery would taste like chocolate.

About the Book

the-day-that-never-comes-coverThe Day That Never Comes
Published 23 January 2017
McFori Ink
340 pages

Remember those people that destroyed the economy and then cruised off on their yachts? Well guess what – someone is killing them.
Dublin is in the middle of a heat wave and tempers are running high. The Celtic Tiger is well and truly dead, activists have taken over the headquarters of a failed bank, the trial of three unscrupulous property developers teeters on the brink of collapse, and in the midst of all this, along comes a mysterious organisation hell-bent on exacting bloody vengeance in the name of the little guy.
Paul Mulchrone doesn’t care about any of this; he has problems of his own. His newly established detective agency is about to be DOA. One of his partners won’t talk to him for very good reasons and the other has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth for no reason at all. Can he hold it together long enough to figure out what Bunny McGarry’s colourful past has to do with his present absence?
When the law and justice no longer mean the same thing, on which side will you stand?
The Day That Never Comes is the second About the Bookbook in Caimh McDonnell’s Dublin trilogy, which melds fast-paced action with a distinctly Irish acerbic wit.

My Review

OK, so I hardly ever do this in public, but this time I’m making an exception. The Day That Never Comes convinced me on all fronts. back in the time I used to love crime stories. However,after a while I found them boring. I mean, there are only very few motives to work with (love-problems, money/greed, power, or a combination thereof) and it’s really hard to write something that twists these elements into something I haven’t read before. But Bunny McGarry’s (whom I fell for in the previous book, A Man With One of Those Faces, currently available for 99ct on Amazon) disappearance caught me off guard.
I loved the way Caimh managed to make the Irish and their capital come alive with very few words. He mostly focuses on his extremely interesting characters. Although I did see one plot twist coming from a mile off, it was still fascinating enough to watch the characters involved struggling through revelation. Also, the rest of the book kept me guessing. I had all the necessary clues, but the resolution of the murderer still took me by surprise which I loved. Really, if you like crime novels, give this a try. It’s well worth it.

If you want to learn more about Caimh or his books, you can visit his website. Also he’ll be on these blogs in the next few days (you’ll have to search for the blog names since I’m extremely pressed for time. I need to hand in another 6000 word short story by tomorrow and I’m only 2000 words in, plus my first ever grandson keeps distracting me 😀 ):
the-day-that-never-comes-blog-tour

to valentine or not to valentine

v-day muse partyI’m not very romantic at all. That might come as a surprise to those who know that I’ve been true to one guy since my 17th year in RealLife(TM). So, maybe I am romantic after all and my definition just doesn’t fit. Hmmm. I need to think about that some time soon.

For now, I decided to participate in a Valentine/Anti-Valentine bloghop to present to you the love of my life (no, not my husband. Didn’t you listen? I’ve only had him since I was 16 and 3/4. It’s my Muse I’m talking about — the one entity that has been with me since I found my consciousness and probably will be with me [I pray daily that I won’t get Alzheimer’s or something similar] until I die).

Here is my Muse and the answers we came up with for the bloghop. Enjoy, and leave comments if you have questions. And if you feel like it, please visit the other participants and read their answers.

1. Who did you bring to the party? Is he/she your Valentine or anti-Valentine?

My Muse – Valentine (most definitely). She’s the best Valentine ever despite being a same gender as me. We’re a pair but not lovers if you understand what I mean. 😀

2. Which one of you is the more romantic person?

Oh, that’s me, says my Muse, and she’s right. My idea of a romantic gift is a new pair of jeans for my husband. I prefer the practical.

3. What gift are you giving to your (anti) Valentine?

Hmmm, that’s a hard one. How about some more writing time?
That’d be fun. I so love to play with your emotions.
Stop messing with them.
Nah… your stories would be boring without, and you owe it all to me, right?
Opps, I think we sound a little …  strange? … crazy!

4. Are you guys wearing red or pink (or black…)? 

green — yes, green is best for both of us. It makes us look less bulky.

5. Did you bring any Valentine’s Day treats? 

Chocolate pips. They’re our favorites (yummy) but a little bitter, so it’s not for everyone.

6. Name a song for our Love Playlist or Anti-Love Playlist (or both)! 

Weißt du denn gar nicht, wie schön du bist – Sarah Connor:

7. Got a great anti/Valentine party game? 

Nope. We’re both not very keen on playing.
Unless it’s in one of our books. We’ve got so much fun with your characters, don’t we?

8. Feeling the love or just feeling nauseous? How will you have fun at the party?

I think we’ll sit in the corner for a while and discuss…
the next scene of that novelette where they swap the queens.
That novelette isn’t due before 2017. We’ve got to publish John & Marge (Hänsel & Gretel), The Challenge (The Cold heart), Bellarosa (Sleeping Beauty), and Flight (The 7 Swans) first.
Coward. It’s just because you don’t like to write about wars, but I’ve (muffled sounds)
Ok, back to the questions…

9. Has your muse been a good Valentine? 

Mostly – stern glance – but it’s always dangerous to let her off the leash, although it’s also very, very stimulating. I think I’ll now need to go and find out about that war. Have a good day… (turns and walks away)
Don’t forget to visit the other participants:
Click here to view this Linky list…

Author Interview: Jamie Marchant, “The Soul Stone”

Will you look at all the dust in this dungeon! How long has it been since the last vict- er, guest author was here? Let me just clear out the worst of it over in this corner, by the sharp things. Gad, if she’s allergic to mites it will be enough just to bring her in here. And by the way, bring her in here.

We are delighted to welcome– yes, that chain around the ankles, fool, have you forgotten your job– Ms. Jamie Marchant, who fell into our clutches during her blog tour for The Soul Stone. I don’t believe we’ve had the pleasure previously, but we’ll soon get everything we need from her. Just let me find my favorite bullwhip- ah there, covered in grime. Let us begin.

Q: So where do you come from, author-person? Your location in the Alleged Real World is of no consequence here; we want to know your roots as an author. When you were young and still contemplating your life of crime, whose temptations swayed you the most in reading? Was it always fantasy for you, or did you come to the genre late in life?

Jamie: As is often the case, my family first led me astray, especially my older sister who told me fairy tales and encouraged me to write ones of my own. In my teen years, I fell under the influence of Piers Anthony and Stephen R. Donaldson. As an adult, Mercedes Lackey and Jim Butcher completed my corruption until I was irredeemably a fantasy fan, but as you see, the seeds of fantasy were planted in me before I was old enough to read for myself. I really didn’t have a chance.

Q: I completely understand, blaming others is typical in these cases. Bailiff, fetch us this sister and we shall have a talk next. Tell us a bit about Korthlundia where your tales are set. Your main characters seem neck-deep in royal intrigues, on their guard every minute. Is the world also at war all the time? Do regular folks suffer from whomever it is opposing the goddess who has picked your heroes to help? I mean, what kind of a world are we dealing with here?

The Soul Stone front coverJamie: Korthlundia had enjoyed over fifty years of unbroken peace because of its geographical isolation and the wise rule of Samantha’s father, King Solar. Both the nobles and common people prospered. The troubles in Korthlundia began when Duke Argblutal murdered the king and attempted to usurp the throne. Samantha was only nineteen years old, but she and Robrek put him in his place, six feet under, at the end of my first book, The Goddess’s Choice. However, the nobles aren’t too keen about a young woman and a common young man taking the throne, and the unrest is starting to affect regular folk as well. This is especially true when, in my second book, the Soul Stone breaks loose from its ancient bonds and begins to kill indiscriminately.

Q: Excellent! Always good to hear that a villain with an unpronounceable name is dead. Removes so much worry. Coming back to your heroes, you make it clear that Crown Princess Samantha and Robrek, the common-class sorceror, are from very different walks of life. They have very separate talents too. And busy! Saving the world makes for a crowded calendar, I suppose, but if these two are destined to marry, do they happen to see anything in each other along the way? Or is this going to be a marriage of fate and not the heart? (That is, assuming they make it long enough!)

Jamie: As the crown princess, Samantha had always believed that she couldn’t marry for love. This becomes especially difficult for her when she meets and falls for a common peasant boy at a horse fair. Although she comes to learn that Robrek is a powerful sorcerer and nowhere near as common as she first believed, she thinks an unbridgeable gap divides them. Only in bard’s tales do peasants marry princesses. At the end of The Goddess’s Choice, she is overjoyed when the Goddess reveals Robrek to be her choice for her consort. Theirs is very much an affair of the heart as well as of fate. However, in The Soul Stone, it appears that Robrek won’t live long enough for them to enjoy their love.

Q: You mention getting all geared up on literature in school, but then putting the writing itself on hold for a long time before taking up the pen to write about places like Korthlundia. I accuse the Alleged Real World of criminal trespass into your free time! Bailiff, take the ARW into custody, we’ll deal with it later. But what does the victim have to say? Did you not know this was what you wanted, or were you always thinking about it.

Jamie: I knew since I was a young child that I wanted to be a writer, but this ARW you speak of seduced me with the idea of making money. It took a few years for me to realize I was the victim of a con. Yes, one has to eat, but professional success can’t compensate for the absence of the creative muse.

Q: How would you describe your success so far, and what have been the keys to further exposure in your opinion? Are you happy with sales, with new outlets, and professional connections you’ve made? Are you mainly a paper book author, or did you lean on e-book sales early on?

Jamie: I’m not sure that any author, especially one published by a small press, is ever happy with sales. Getting sufficient exposure for my work is difficult, but I’ve been making progress with connecting with other authors and bloggers via the internet. While my books are all available in paperback, it is the e-book sales that make up the greatest portion of my books sales, which seems to be typical.

Enough, we are satisfied for now and hereby order your release. You may keep the manacle as a souvenir. Just leave us your information, where we can find your confessions (I mean, writing) and the proper links to seek you out for further punishment in the future.

Author Bio: Jamie Marchant

From early childhood, Jamie has been immersed in books. Her mother, an avid reader, read to her, and her Jamie Marchantolder sister filled her head with fairy tales. Taking into consideration her love for literature and the challenges of supporting herself as a writer, she pursued a Ph.D. in American literature, which she received in 1998. She started teaching writing and literature at Auburn University. But in doing so, she put her true passion on the backburner and neglected her muse. Then one day, in the midst of writing a piece of literary criticism, she realized that what she wanted to be doing was writing fantasy novels. Her muse thus revived, she began the book that was to become The Goddess’s Choice, which was published in April 2012. The second volume in the series, The Soul Stone, was released this June.

She lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband, son, and four cats, which (or so she’s been told) officially makes her a cat lady. She still teaches writing and literature at Auburn University. Her short fiction has been published on Short-Story.Me, and my story was chosen for inclusion in their annual anthology. It has also appeared in the anthologies—Urban Fantasy (KY Story, 2013) and Of Dragon and Magic: Tales of the Lost Worlds (Witty Bard Publishing, 2014)—The World of Myth, A Writer’s Haven, and Bards & Sages.

Links to Jamie’s Books

Black Rose Writing

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Contact Jamie Everywhere

Jamie’s Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter: @RobrekSamantha
Goodreads

 

 

interruption…

The last part of Sue Santore’s wonderful story will have to wait for next Monday, May 4th. The reason is the newest release in the Everville series by Roy Huff.

To promote the release Roy is running several promotions which are already going on or will start in the next few days.

After struggling over the last year through much hardship, Roy Huff recently made some lifestyle changes to improve his health and focus. He gave up alcohol and fast food, lost 25 pounds and finally finished book #4 in the Everville series.

Everville 4: The Fall of Brackenbone

Everville 4: The Fall of Brackenbone

In “Everville: The Fall of Brackenbone“, two very different worlds, Easton Falls University and the magical realm of Everville are in dire need of a hero. Owen Sage embarks on an epic journey of monumental proportions to save these worlds all while fighting to keep the world within himself intact. This quest is not for the faint of heart nor is it for the weak of mind—only the bravest will succeed.
Discovering the well-kept secret of The Fourth Pillar of Truth is only part of the feat. Owen will have to outwit the ever-powerful Governor Jahal and overcome countless other challenges along the way. Amongst all of the dragons, giants and grand chaos, will Owen’s acquired skills and wisdom combined be enough to save these two worlds or will peril be the ultimate fate of all?

Check out the series while you wait eagerly for the last part of Sue Santore’s story A Singular Inheritance.
You can find episode one here and episode two here.

Games of Chance Blog Tour Itinerary

LoHI_JT_GoC_Cover_frontIn case you rode in late, here’s an updated list of the sites visited by the blog tour for Judgement’s Tale Part One: Games of Chance in June 2014. This tour preceded the release of Games of Chance on July 4th. It’s a who’s-who of cool fantasy authors and bloggers who are helping shape the internet and the indie publishing world- I’m privileged to have been a guest on these sites.

As they go live I will update the schedule with specific links: check back here if you missed a day or want to revisit a topic from an earlier post.

Ar Aralte! (Hope Forever)

DATE     HOST           TOPIC

6-14-14             Tracy Falbe, Her Ladyship’s Quest

Chapter One Podcast– the first meeting with Solemn Judgement, in the chronicler’s voice

6-15-14             Karen Woodward

Being a Writer: What Does it Take and Where Will it Take You?– advice to writers? Maybe good for a chuckle!

6-16-14             Lori Fitzgerald, White Raven Writing

Introduction to Prince Gareth of Shilar– one of the main characters of the novel makes his debut appearance.

6-17-14            Katharina Gerlach

Introduction to Solemn Judgement– the title character, known to the Lands as the Man in Grey, on his first day an orphan and alien

6-18-14             Susan Stuckey, Kalieri Tales

Author Interview– the one and only for this tour, not for lack of trying!

6-19-14               Day Off, Resting the Tour-Horse

6-20-14             Daniel Marvello, The Vaetra Files

  Magic and Miracles in the Lands of Hope– a view of one background element of the world setting, for the enthusiast

6-21-14              Sher A. Hart, Written Art

An Interview with Solemn Judgement– or as close as anyone can get to such a thing

 6-22-14             Mathew Reuther

An Interview with (not About) Cedrith Fellareon– the tale’s principal guide to the mind of Solemn Judgement discusses his protege

 6-23-14                Matt Graybosch, A Day Job and a Dream

Technology and Despair– the bad guys don’t show mercy, and they’ve got better stuff!

 6-24-14                Robin Lythgoe, The Series that Snuck Up on Me- because all my stories are going to connect eventually

6-25-14                 Peter Cruikshank, Introduction to Treaman the Woodsmanone of the main protagonists revealed, and already fighting for his life

6-26-14                 Karin Gastreich, How to Write about Combat– you could say I struggled with this one…

6-27-14                 Mysti Parker, World Building on the Sly-a familiar topic for me, am I actually getting subtle in my elder years?

6-28-14                  L. Blankenship, Character Interview with Cedrith Fellareon– a major supporting character, talking about anyone other than himself of course

 

Author Interview with Lori Fitzgerald- The Dragon’s Message Blog Tour

I never try to hide my methods: the horror of my interrogation chamber is so graphic it should probably come with a warning. Yet the victims keep trooping in- thanks this time once again to the offices of my good procurer, the Magic Appreciation Tour, we have ensnared Lori Fitzgerald making the rounds for her latest work, entitled The Dragon’s Message. I have eagerly anticipated her arrival, not just because I have a new branding iron I’ve wanted to try out, but for several other reasons. My spies inform me that Lori is a devotee of Medieval Lit (sooooo close to Medieval History!), has excellent taste in books and television, and even frequents Ren-Faires (one of the only places in the Alleged Real World where I can blend in). No more delay, let’s get cracking… and I do mean that literally

:: whip-cracking sound :: confess, benighted reprobate, and it will go easier for you!

 Q: OK, first of all… a novelette, seriously? I was barely seated, just getting warmed up on this cool tale, and suddenly I’m nearing the end. Is this some new form of torture for your fans? Perhaps I should take notes! Or is there a devious method to this idea of yours. Tell us how you hit upon the notion of publishing something so bite-sized.

The cover art gets you halfway there by itself!

The cover art gets you halfway there by itself!

A: Finding a peaceful block of uninterrupted time during daylight hours in a household with two young children is quite the dropping of the gauntlet. In fact, can you untie me for a second so I can break up the light-saber battle going on in my living room? (Anachronistic, I know, but explain that to a 6 year old and an 8 year old.) Perhaps one day I’ll be able to concentrate on a lengthier work (I do have novel ideas), but right now I feel a great sense of accomplishment with my novelettes. I find snippets of time here and there throughout the day to write, in between errands or while dinner is in the cauldron. This type of “scheduling” I think lends itself better to a shorter form. Never fear, there will be more stories in the world of The Dragon’s Message. I have both a prequel and a sequel in mind. I would love to bundle all three stories together in a longer form, perhaps even a paperback.

Q: I can name one tale there had BETTER be a sequel to! At the risk of spilling all the magic beans, there be dragons here. I want you to rank these creatures in your world, along the following Eat-to-Greet scale: Tolkein’s Smaug = 1, LeGuin’s Sobriest = 4, McCaffrey’s F’lar = 8. Where do the scaly ones of your world rank in their relations to humans? (Ed. Note. The dragons of the Lands of Hope rate about a 2. On a good day.)

A: I would say that my dragons are most like LeGuin’s Kalessin. Although the details of their backstory is for another tale, I can tell you that dragons are scarce and mistrustful of humans generally because they have been hunted for the magic in their blood. Out of necessity for survival and to share their true nature, they have bestowed their knowledge to one human of each generation. One special human. In The Dragon’s Message, this is Lady Rhiannon, and she is the only human who knows their secrets and can decipher the language that is written in the Dragon Tome. Here be dragons (and an excerpt):

 When Rhiannon was small and had just learned to read, her mother brought her into the hall one day when her father was on campaign, and led her to the large table upon which a great map of their lands lay. She instructed Rhiannon to read the words of the landmarks: castle, road, mountain, forest, village. The young girl touched words inscribed over a place where trees met craggy peaks. “What does that say, my love?” her mother prompted.

“Here be dragons,” Rhiannon answered, glancing up at her mother.

Her mother nodded, smiling. She knelt down in front of Rhiannon so they were at the same height. The lady’s hazel eyes sparkled as she whispered, “I have a secret to share. But I can only share it with a little girl with red and gold hair,” she pulled playfully on Rhiannon’s braid,” who knows how to read.” Rhiannon giggled. “Are you a little girl such as this?” Rhiannon nodded eagerly, and her mother laughed. She stood up and gestured at a tapestry on the wall. “Come, child, the dragon guards our treasure.”

Hand in hand they walked to the tapestry of the sleeping dragon. “Your great-great grandmother wove this tapestry when she was an old woman. It took her a long time to complete, with her hands gnarled so, like the twisted oak by the drawbridge.” The dragon was curled up in front of a turret, with stone dolmens in a semi-circle behind it, interspersed with trees and a mountain peak in the background and bright blue sky above. The dragon’s scales were crimson and woven through with glittering gold thread, and its curved horns and talons were gold. As they paused in front of the large tapestry, Rhiannon looked closely at the eyes of the dragon; she thought perhaps she could see a slit of gold, as if the dragon were only pretending to be asleep.

Rhiannon’s mother stood on tiptoe and moved part of the tapestry to the side, revealing a slit in the stone wall. With her free hand she reached in and drew out a large leather-bound tome. She motioned her daughter to come sit with her on one of the benches that lined the walls. “Look and listen well, my daughter,” she said, and ran her fingers along the smooth cover, “this book is our special treasure, and it contains many secrets within its pages. I am going to teach you how to read them.” She opened the book as Rhiannon snuggled closer to her, her mother’s loose red-gold hair falling over the girl’s shoulder and brushing the crinkly parchment pages of the book which she turned until she came to the picture of a girl.

“The first secret is a story…”

 Q: I was very taken by the unfolding liaison between your two main characters. It’s an April-October relationship, quite touching- the girl who long ago gave a knight her scarf as a favor is now grown. We see a lot through Rhiannon’s eyes- what can you tell me about the knight Gwydion and his feelings? And importantly, how old would you say he is now? I wonder that he stayed unmarried in this society, especially as renowned as he’s become.

A: Gwydion is about my age…and no amount of torture gets a lady to reveal her age! In my head I have Gwydion around 15-20 years older than Rhiannon. When he takes the quest to bring Rhiannon to

My acolytes thought her too cute to torture. I must remain resolute until she confesses!

My acolytes thought her too cute to torture. I must remain resolute until she confesses!

safety he is simply fulfilling his liege-lord’s orders, although he has a fondness for Rhiannon from when she was a child, as readers will see from a flashback as well. However, on their journey Gwydion quickly realizes that she is not a child anymore and (luckily for him) is also quick to change gears and respect her as a lady. Once he sees her more as a peer he allows himself to fall for her. Sir Gwydion is the champion knight of Rhiannon’s father, basically his general, and so between fulfilling his duties to his lord and also running his father’s estate as the eldest son, he has had a lot on his trencher and thus never got married. And there’s also the dragon’s actual message to consider…you know, destiny and true love and all that written in flame can’t be ignored. It’s a scorching hazard.

Q: Yowch! Quite correct :: sucks fingers :: You’ve already given ample evidence of your guilt in this writing-fantasy matter. But now we come to the most grievous of crimes- you help to spread the word on the internet! Tell us more about your involvement with Once Upon a Fan.

A: I’m so proud to be a Staff Writer for the website Once Upon a Fan, the top-rated fansite for ABC’s show Once Upon a Time. One of the popular features of our site is the Origins articles, where we compare and contrast literary characters with their portrayal on the show. I’ve written Origins articles on Sir Lancelot, the Sword in the Stone, and Robin Hood, among others. I’ve tried to show how the symbolic landscape of the medieval mind comes into play in various aspects of Once Upon a Time as well. You can find the Origins library here. I really owe my publication to the show and the fandom. Once Upon a Time inspired me to create my own worlds again after 20 years (oops, is that an inadvertent clue?) in which I stopped writing to focus on my teaching career and having a family. The website and all the writers, artists, and crafters I met in the extremely creative Oncer fandom encouraged me that my lifelong dream of publishing could become a reality.

Once Upon A Fan Logo 1000px SquareQ: Aha, confederates, we shall have them arrested shortly. Where does all this leave you for your writing schedule? Have one, much? I see evidence of two children in my spies’ reports. Egad. Do you have a sacred space with a locked door? Set times to jot your thoughts? If I could take away any money-trouble with a wave of my wand- no wait, that’s my cat-o’nine-tails, hold on- there, supposing you COULD devote full-time to writing, would much change about your writing life?

A: I would love to have a sacred space, but alas, my laptop and I are wandering minstrels. Sometimes I write at the kitchen counter, sometimes in the attic, on rare occasions in the dungeon where the library and playroom are located. I would prefer to have a set time and schedule to write, maybe a few hours every morning, but that just doesn’t fit with my lifestyle right now. Sometimes the kids wake up sick and the actual storming of the castle has to wait a few days (after all, that’s what sieges are for).

Q: If I had to use the old infiltrate-through-the-garderobe trick, a mother of little kids is the one I’d send. I suppose that will have to suffice, for now. So many instruments, so little time… You may go. But be certain that you leave ample contact information here- your book and web links for reader-interest, should we need to drag you back for further interrogation. Thanks, Lori!

A: Thank you, Will…I think! But it’s never truly torturous to talk to a fellow medievalist.

The Dragon’s Message, a Dragon Tome Novelette, is available on Kindle and Nook for $1.99.

A dragon writes a cryptic message with its ember breath in the evening sky…

Lady Rhiannon watches from the turret wall with an ache in her blood. She’s the only person who can decipher the message as the sole keeper of the Dragon Tome. When an old enemy threatens the castle, her father charges his knight with escorting her to a safe haven—the same knight Rhiannon had a crush on as a girl. But she must now convince him to change his plans, for she has her own sacred charge to fulfill…

So begins a journey to hidden ruins where magic slumbers in the stones and love lies in the heart, waiting to awaken. As Rhiannon and the knight face seemingly insurmountable odds, only the dragon knows if they can fulfill their destiny…

 Here are the magic links:

Amazon: http://www.amzn.to/OCTcq9

Barnes & Noble: bit.ly/1epYuBC

 

My blog http://www.whiteravenwriting.blogspot.com

You can also find me on Twitter @MedievalLit and on Facebook at my author page White Raven Writing.

 

Rafflecopter Link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/YzZiMWJiNDVkMzNkOGZhZDZjMjQzNmEwZTJjZDFlOjE=/

 

Guest Author/Character Interview: Louise Blankenship’s Disciple series Prince Kiefan

We are very fortunate to have a guest post this week from author Louise Blankenship, an interview with one of the protags in her “gritty romance” series. I say “we” are fortunate just as a courtesy- actually, it’s ME who’s the luckiest guy on earth, because this lady is hitting the target right on the little black circle thingy at the center. The Disciple series has already run three books, and the fourth installment just went live at the start of March. I’ve wondered how to get people cranked up if they only discover you in the middle of a series- I’m chipping away at one right now myself- and here’s a great answer. Louise has combined the first three books into an epic-value tri-pack called the Disciple Half-Omnibus (I took Latin in high school, Louise, I see what you did there). So now with a single purchase you can be all caught up. I’m thinking “yes!” (you know, loud and punchy like a cheerleader), but also “yyyeesssssss” (like the evil genius who’s just had another brilliant idea).

So to whet your interest even further here’s a terrific character interview with Prince Kiefan.

Interview with a prince

Prince Kiefan is the only surviving son and heir of the king of Wodenberg. Like his father, he has a reputation for discipline and stern expectations — and he’s eager to prove himself now that he’s come of age. I had some questions for Prince Kiefan at the beginning of Disciple, Part I. He’s about to leave on a vital secret mission to find allies for the kingdom.

L: You’re an alpha male in training and this secret mission is your most important command yet. Do you feel ready for this?

Kiefan: I trust the saints’ judgement. Though Father and I disagreed over the cavalry charge that I led some months ago, he cannot deny that it won the battle. The saints have judged me fit to lead and I will not fail in my duty to them or my people.  

L: You didn’t expect the master healer to send his apprentice, though.

Kiefan (frowning): No, I was told he would be with us in this, and then he brought Kate in his stead — but the saints affirmed her, gave her charge of our well-being. One must work with what’s given.  

L: It’s not because she’s a girl, is it?

Kiefan: (he laughs) I squired with Captain Aleksandra. Any who dares doubt her will be put straight on the matter of a woman’s strength and courage. But Kate’s no disciple of the sword. She’s a healer. It’s clear enough this will be no easy journey across the mountains — none have made it and returned, that any know of. The saints ask much of us, as it is.

L: So the problem is more that she’s — bookish?

Kiefan: Kate has never even been in the saddle before today. Surely she’ll learn it, but yes, she’s spent more time among books than —

L: I hear you’re fond of books yourself.

Kiefan: Father’s seen that I’ve studied tactics and —

L: No, I mean those philosophy essays you’ve been sneaking peeks at.

Kiefan (frowns): Father’s kept my days busy enough with serious matters.

L: There’s nothing wrong with a little philosophy, surely?

Kiefan: The king of Wodenberg must be a knight, firstly. He must see to duty. We’re at war.

L: Yes, it’s always duty for you. Including a political marriage someday.

Kiefan (gets up from his seat, impatient): The privileges of the throne have their price. I’ve a mission to lead. (strides away, armor clinking)

L: You’re not concerned about traveling with a cute, philosophy-reading healer?

Kiefan (circles back): Pardon?

L: Well, she is cute.

Kiefan (spreads one hand, confused): Yes, certainly she’s… cute. Philosophy?

L: Oh, yes. She’s been reading those essays too. Her teacher might’ve sent some homework with her on the mission.

Kiefan (doesn’t know what homework is, but he gets the gist): Why should that be troublesome?

L: I’m sure it won’t be, Mr. All Work And No Play.

Kiefan: Which books is Kate bringing?

L (shooing him off): It’s not part of your duty, is it? Go, you’ve got a mission to lead.

Thanks so much Louise- I really like Kiefan, though I can just TELL he’s headed for… eh, he is out of earshot now, right?

Let’s have you back in person- did I just write that?- to talk about the saga, the travails of marketing yourself, and other Herculean Labors. Until then folks, click on these links and get in now on a terrific-looking series right on that cusp of romance and fantasy.

Back cover blurb

War is coming. Kate Carpenter is only a peasant girl, but she’s determined to help defend the kingdom and its bound saints against the invading empire. Her healing magic earned her a coveted apprenticeship with the master healer; now she must prove herself ready to stand in the front lines and save lives.

She’s not ready for the attentions of a ne’er-do-well knight and the kingdom’s only prince, though. This is no time to be distracted by romance — the empire’s monstrous army will tear through anyone standing between them and the kingdom’s magical founts. All disciples must put aside their tangled feelings and stand in the homeland’s defense.

Available at

AmazonNookOther major retailers

DISCIPLE, PART IV arrives on March 10th!

Get a reminder by joining L’s mailing list

Try PART I for only 99 cents!

AmazonNookOther major retailers

Disciple-PartI-cover-2000.jpg

“Swordplay” blog tour

Blog Tour Badge

The release for my blog tour is running rather smoothly. Here is the link to the schedule. Of course, there were a few tiny hickups, but nothing major. For the last few days, there’s still the chance to enter the the giveaway to win a copy of the book. Also, I wrote several mini-stories about the most important characters that will go out to anyone joining out list (plus an exclusive YA Fantasy eBook, so it’s well worth leaving your eMail address — we won’t spam you, promised).

YA Urban Fantasy Murder Mystery

YA Urban Fantasy Murder Mystery

About the Book

CSI with magic but without the gore

Despite her obvious lack of magical talent, nineteen year old Moira Bellamie apprentices with the Gendarmerie Magique, the magic police. She puts all her effort into solving a burglary at the National Museum where antique weapons have been stolen, to keep the hard won job. Falling for her partner Druidus wasn’t part of the plan. When more and more people are murdered with one of the stolen weapons, Moira must tame uncontrollable magic, or the people she cares for will die, her partner first and foremost.

For lovers of Fantasy and Mystery from 14 years up

eBook on Amazon:        German, English
and Smashwords:           German, English
other retailers will follow

Paperback in German or English on Createspace (Beware: postage), or in German or English on Amazon (no postage)

If this sounds like a book you might enjoy, joining out list and receive exclusive mini-stories about the characters. Thank you.

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