Tuesday, April 28, 2015

When Destiny Comes Calling—Installment Twelve

As promised, my dear ladies and gents, the next installment of When Destiny Comes Calling, or as one of you lovely readers so aptly subtitled it “Destiny and Co.” This has been a long time coming, so “many thanks” to all of you for waiting so patiently to find out what happens next.

As always, read the previous installment here and catch up on all the others on the When Destiny Comes Calling page. (Oh and for any of you who might be interested in trying something similar, check out the guest post I wrote for the Realm Makers blog with tips and tricks for running a serial short(ish) story.)

Destiny - 12

Installment Twelve:

“Well, then it seems we are agreed. First question: just what dangerous thing are Wizard Doomsday and myself supposed to do?”

“That, I thought, was obvious.” Destiny took another sip of her tea. “You must assassinate the Lord Chancellor, Baron Von Horben. Tomorrow night.”

For a moment, Alexander thought the world had tilted. He clutched at the table for balance and managed to knock over the entire pot of tea this time, earning a second heartbroken wail from Doomsday—“Mumsie’s doilies!”—and a disapproving “tsk tsk” from Destiny. But he just stood there, gripping the table, fearful that his legs would give way beneath him or that—horrors—he would faint!

Presently, he came to himself and realized that although his knees were knocking together, he had neither fallen nor fainted. Nor had the world turned on end. Apparently the Beaufords of Midsig were not of fainting stock. (Rarely of fighting stock either, though Alexander was determined to change that.)

He drew himself up to his firmest, proudest, most determined posture and opened his mouth to speak. Only to wilt and clamp his mouth shut. The strength seemed to leech from his backbone like Doomsday’s tea into the doilies. Standing face to face with certain death in battle was one thing—generally, one could count upon being armed to the teeth, bedecked in a dashing uniform, and backed by a cannon or two. If one died, there was always the posthumous medal to look forward to, the salute, and the knowledge that one’s name would live on in history.

But standing face to face with the imperialistic Destiny and her flashing eyes, primly upturned nose, and dragonish grin, well, that was a different matter entirely.

“Ma’am.” He cleared his throat, clasped his hands behind his back, and assumed his most formal manner—patterned after his father, of course. “Ma’am. I do believe you have gathered rather the wrong impression.” Diplomatic sounding perhaps, but somewhat too wishy-washy for his taste.

When refusing Destiny, perhaps it was best to do so outright.

“Beaufords are not assassins. I cannot kill anyone.”

He fought the urge to duck behind the table and forced himself to stand steady instead. Any moment now, the dam would break. Destiny would spew forth curses upon him for daring to defy her. Instead of dealing with his great great great grandfather’s curse, future generations would speak in hushed tones of Alexander the Abominable. How he had dared look Destiny in the eye and refuse her to her face.

The notion was terrifying … and a little bit thrilling too.

With measured grace, Destiny added a pinch of sugar and a dash of cream to her tea, gave it another three stirs—clink, clink, clink—and took a dainty sip. All the while, Alexander’s gaze never left her. She seemed remarkably calm. Too calm. It was almost more terrifying that the explosive wrath he had feared.

Perhaps by now he should have begun to expect the unexpected. Just when he thought he had Destiny worked out, she up and changed tactics so suddenly that it left him sprawled on his face.

“Now, now, my dear Alexander.” Her lips quirked into a smile. “You Beaufords may not be very good assassins, I’ll grant you that. But you are assassins nonetheless. You have your great great grandfather to thank for that, remember?”

A high-pitched call sounded out, and a yellow bird the size of Alexander’s fist suddenly shot across the Wizard’s lair, so close its wings brushed Alexander’s hair, and landed in Doomsday’s outstretched hand. It shrilled a series of notes, bobbing up and down on the wizard’s palm with a whirring of gears and creaking of cranks.

It was a gadget of some sort?

Alexander inched nearer for a closer look, but the wizard wrapped both hands around the fidgeting yellow bird.

“Oh dear.” Doomsday turned doleful eyes upward as he stroked the bird’s neck feathers. “It would appear we have a problem. Enemies are upon us. The Plucky Lass has been taken. We are all going to die.”

“Fate!” Destiny shot to her feet, upending the table with a clatter of broken tea ware and crockery. “We must—”

“Dear sister, calm yourself.” Fate emerged from the cobweb-bound section of the wizard’s lair. Little Emperor Caldwell VI sagged in her arms, his beat red face squashed against her shoulder, deep in peaceful baby slumber. “We are quite all right. Though if you’ve finished your little chat, I highly recommend we move on. I managed to close the trap door behind me, but barring a handy locking incantation from the good con-wizards, I daresay it will not hold forever.”

“Fresh out of locking incantations, I’m afraid.” Doomsday shoved the yellow bird into his pocket, then snatched up his black beard from the table and settled it on his chin. He disappeared into the dark corner beneath the trapdoor, and for a moment, all Alexander could hear was a great deal of muttering, thumping, thudding, and hammering. After a good minute, Doomsday reappeared, draped with cobwebs. “When locking incantations fails, a handy triple bolt system does the trick. We should be safe … for the moment.”

“By Bildad the Bold, I do believe those are the first optimistic words I have heard you utter.” Alexander grinned in spite of himself. If the pessimistic wizard had any hope at all, then surely things could not be so bad.

Doomsday shook his head. “You have woefully mistaken me. Our enemies cannot get in … but we cannot get out. My friends, I do believe we are trapped.”

And the funny thing was that the gloomy wizard actually seemed to be cheered by the fact.

And now, ladies and gents, it’s your turn! Alexander, Destiny, Fate, Wizard Doomsday, and little Emperor Caldwell VI have managed to get themselves into quite the pickle. How in all of Cantakorious will they escape?

Brainstorm below. We’ll tally together the best options and put it to a vote later!

Those of you who are members of the Inspiration Board for When Destiny Comes Calling on Pinterest, this week we’ll be looking for images of Fate and Destiny, twin sisters who are both remarkably alike and strangely different. If you would like to join the Inspiration Board, simply friend me on Pinterest and then leave a comment below saying that you would like to join. The more the merrier!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Epic Fantasy Giveaway #2—Resistance

Epic Fantasy

Some of you may have already read this week’s giveaway choice, since I’ve happened across it quite often in the past few months in this corner of the blogosphere that many of us frequent. I myself only discovered the author at the beginning of this year, but once I read her book, I knew I simply had to ask if she would be interested in participating in our year of giveaways.

Thankfully, she was.

So I am terribly excited to be able to present author Jaye L. Knight and her book Resistance, which she has graciously offered as a paperback copy for the winner.

If you have already read the book, I do still encourage you to enter the giveaway. You could always win a copy to give to a friend or to read once your copy has fallen apart from much use. Or tell your friends about the giveaway and encourage them to enter too! You won’t be disappointed in this book. I can guarantee that.

Don’t believe me? Read a little bit about the book and then enter through the Rafflecopter widget below …

(Note: due to the high costs associated with the risk of sea dragon attacks upon trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific shipments, this giveaway is limited to US entries only.)

Resistance cover

About the Book

“Don’t you know? Animals like you have no soul.”

Could God ever love a half-blood all of society looks upon with such fear and disdain? Jace once believed so, but when a tragic loss shatters the only peace he’s ever known, his faith crumbles as the nagging doubts he’s tried to put behind him descend on his grieving heart. With them come the haunting memories of the bloodstained past he longs to forget, but can never escape.

Taken from home at a young age and raised to serve the emperor, Kyrin Altair lives every day under a dangerous pretense of loyalty. After her unique observation skills and perfect memory place her into direct service to the emperor, Kyrin finds herself in further jeopardy as it becomes increasingly difficult to hide her belief in Elôm, the one true God.

Following the emperor’s declaration to enforce the worship of false gods under the penalty of death, many lives are endangered. But there are those willing to risk everything to take a stand and offer aid to the persecuted. With their lives traveling paths they never could have imagined, Jace and Kyrin must fight to overcome their own fears and conflicts with society as they become part of the resistance.

JayeAuthorPhotoMeet the Author

Jaye L. Knight is a homeschool graduated indie author with a passion for writing Christian fantasy and clean new adult fiction. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Etsy.

Half-Blood Sneak Peek image

Jace rose up on his toes and stretched his arm as far as he could but, even being taller than most other six-year-olds at the estate, he still couldn’t quite reach the top roost in the chicken coop. He puffed out a sigh and came down flat-footed again. It would be so much easier and faster if he could just reach it. With resignation, he grabbed the small stool he kept in the corner and moved it in place. He stepped up onto it and came face-to-face with one of his master’s hens. The chicken gave him a wary look, but he’d learned how to handle them. He lightly stroked her feathers, calming her. He then slowly reached underneath her warm body for her eggs and withdrew them before she could peck at his hands.

Once he had checked each hen for eggs, he picked up his full egg basket and left the chicken coop. Cook would be getting impatient by now. He was always in a bad mood in the mornings. Jace set off across the yard toward the kitchen with quick, but careful steps. Broken eggs would really make Cook angry.

A horse whinnied and drew Jace’s attention to the fields, where most of the slaves worked. He wished he were big enough to work in the fields. It would be better than working around Cook or his wife. They were both mean. If only he could work with the master’s horses . . .

Loud, desperate chirping stopped Jace short. His gaze darted to the large willow tree near the master’s house, where cruel laughter followed the chirps. Jace’s stomach tightened up. A baby bird flapped helplessly on the ground, while Nicolas and Teege, the master’s two sons, poked at it with a stick. Jace cast a hesitant look toward the kitchen. Going near the boys would be trouble. It was always better to stay far away from them . . .

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(Note: due to the high costs associated with the risk of sea dragon attacks upon trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific shipments, this giveaway is limited to US entries only.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Epic Fantasy Giveaway #1—The Dark Sea Annals

Epic Fantasy

This month, we’re focusing on epic fantasy! It’s no secret that out of the many fabulous subgenres of speculative fiction, epic fantasy has always been (and probably always will be) my favorite. Even before I could read, my dad read Tolkien’s works aloud to me and my siblings, so it’s little surprise that the Lord of the Rings was the first novel to find its way into my hands.

I have since expanded my collection of epic fantasy stories to such an extent that my bookshelf groans under the weight of so many massive volumes, but one of the first contemporary fantasy novelists I discovered was Wayne Thomas Batson. I hope you have had a chance to read some of his books. If not, I highly recommend them, especially the Door Within Trilogy and Isle of Swords series, not to mention the one selected for today’s giveaway!

I am terribly excited that Wayne has offered the winner’s choice of one of the books in the Dark Sea Annals—Sword in the Stars or The Errant King. I devoured these books when they first came out several years ago and hope to be able to read the next installment when it releases.

Enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter below! (Note: due to the high cost involved in determining the airspeed velocity of both African and European swallows winging their way across the ocean while laden with epic fantasy novels, this giveaway is limited to US entries only.)

Sword in the Stars cover

About Sword in the Stars

Centuries have passed since the Silence, and the few remaining faithful cling to the ancient prophecies of the First One.  They wait for the Caller and watch the skies for the Sword in the Stars, even as the world they've always  known unravels around  them.

Murderous Gorracks have secretly penetrated the kingdom's borders. Their attacks grow more brazen...more horrific, threatening to touch off a war on a scale  that hasn't been seen in seven ages.

In  the capital city of Anglinore, noble King Aravel ponders  the advice of  this twin brother Morlan:  declare all out war on the Gorrack nation.  While Anglinore's High Shepherd, the wise Sebastian Grenlaff urges caution and listens to troubling voices on the wind.

Queen Mariel, due to deliver a child any day, suspects the unthinkable about her husband's brother Morlan.  She sets off alone to Morlan's castle in Dunharrow, hoping against hope that she can keep old wounds from erupting in war.

Alastair Coldharrow,  tortured by an addiction to the outlawed Witchdrale and haunted by a violent past, wagers his life on the hope that the foretold Halfainin, the Pathwalker, would come.  When at  last, the Sword appears in the Stars, Alastair begins a fruitless search for the Halfainin that leaves him disillusioned, broken, and lost.  Used to caring only for himself, Alastair will enter a maelstrom of conflict as loyalties are tested, dark schemes are hatched, and  the many realms of Myriad brace  themselves for war.

The Errant KingAbout The Errant King

Deep in the caves of the distant Hinderlands, an ancient menace stirs. Townsfolk shudder at violent memories of The Red Queen and even dare to whisper the name Raudrim. At the same time, word comes to Alastair that Cythraul has at last resurfaced, seeking a devastating weapon in the ruins of Grayvalon. Blood-soaked clues lead Alastair into a confrontation from which only one warrior will return alive. Meanwhile in Anglinore, young Lochlan Stormgarden, the new High King of Myriad, leaves the pomp and politics of the throne once too often. While blending in with the people of his kingdom, Loch suddenly realizes that he's put them all at risk. The fate of his new found love Arianna, his best friend Telwyn, his family, and indeed the world of Myriad all depend on the decisions of the errant king.

Snippets from my review of The Errant King.

In the The Errant King, Wayne Thomas Batson spins a masterful tale filled with excitement, adventure, danger, and truly creepy villains with plenty of humor sprinkled on the side.
The Errant King is the second book in the Dark Sea Annals series, an epic story that will span seven books ere it reaches the conclusion. In this second book, Batson takes his writing to a whole new level, interweaving dozens of intricate plot lines, some carrying over from The Sword in the Stars, others reaching on into the next books. Because of the epic plot however, you don't want to read The Errant King without reading Sword in the Stars first.

I felt like I really connected with all of the characters - especially Loch, Telwyn, Ariana, Fred. And of course Alistair and Abbagael. (As a side note, I had heard so many people talking about Fred, I couldn't wait to read the book to find out what it was all about. All I can tell you is that Fred is one of the most creative and imaginative characters I've met thus far. Definitely worth reading if only to find out who Fred is.)

There are plenty of allegorical and Christian themes woven skillfully throughout the entire framework of the book. It's another one of those books that, as I call it, echoes eternity. The largest difficulty I had with the book was when two characters fell in love in less than a week. It seemed somewhat ridiculous, but did not detract too much from the story …

Overall, The Errant King was a tremendous and captivating read. If you're looking for a high action fantasy adventure, than the Errant King belongs on your list!

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Sale Sighted—Out of Darkness Rising

OODR Ebook Promotion

Ahoy there, on deck! Sail Sale sighted!

I come bringing some very good news for all of you dedicated readers out there who’ve been scrimping, saving, and shaking out your pockets in search of loose change …

The Out of Darkness Rising ebook is on sale over the weekend!

You can find it on Amazon or use the code XS52Q on Smashwords for non-Kindle versions.

Also, we’ve been having a blast on the blog tour hopping all over the blogosphere with Out of Darkness Rising related posts, so I wanted to include a list of all the posts that have gone live so far, in case you’ve missed one or two, so you could join in the fun!

Monday: “The Sun Yet Rises” – Morgan L. Busse

Tuesday: “To All Who Are Weary” – Laura Pol at Crafty Booksheeps

Wednesday: “A Love Letter” – Ashlee Willis

Thursday: “Death Reigns” – Nadine Brandes

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Guest Post from Suzannah Rowntree

As most of you know, I am always on the lookout for more books to add to my (admittedly already extensive) collection. I grew up reliving tales of King Arthur and his knights—whenever I wasn’t playing make-believe with Robin Hood and his merry band of outlaws in Sherwood Forest, that is—so I was quite excited to hear about a new Arthurian retelling from Suzannah Rowntree.

And I’m even more excited to have her visiting the blog today to talk about the works that inspired her novel. Ladies and gents, welcome Suzannah!

MediumPHCoverAbout the Book

Blanche Pendragon enjoys her undemanding life as the ward of an eccentric nobleman in 1900 England. It's been years since she wondered what happened to her long lost parents, but then a gift on the night of her eighteenth birthday reveals a heritage more dangerous and awe-inspiring than she ever dreamed of—or wanted. Soon Blanche is flung into a world of wayfaring immortals, daring knights, and deadly combats, with a murderous witch-queen on her trail and the future of a kingdom at stake. As the legendary King Arthur Pendragon and his warriors face enemies without and treachery within, Blanche discovers a secret that could destroy the whole realm of Logres. Even if the kingdom could be saved, is she the one to do it? Or is someone else the Pendragon's Heir?

Find Pendragon’s Heir on Amazon/Ebook/Add Pendragon’s Heir on Goodreads

Profile mediumMeet the Author

When Suzannah Rowntree isn’t travelling the world to help out friends in need, she lives in a big house in rural Australia with her awesome parents and siblings, trying to beat her previous number-of-books-read-in-a-year record. She blogs the results at www.vintagenovels.com and is the author of both fiction and non-fiction.

Pendragon’s Heir is her debut novel.

The Books That Built Pendragon’s Heir

I sometimes think that there is no such thing as a born writer; only enthusiastic readers who see a shortage of the kind of books they like best.

This was certainly true for me. My own novel, Pendragon’s Heir, grew out of a rich reading experience over many years. It bears the impress of many different books in many different ways, and today I’d like to discuss just four of those influences.

King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green

I don’t recall exactly when I first fell in love with the Arthurian legends. I know I must have been very young, because the memory has a dreamlike quality to it. I also know that when it happened I had my Dad’s old copy of Roger Lancelyn Green’s King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table in my hands. I was reading this passage:

Then she said: ‘Sir, follow this path and it will bring you to the Chapel Perilous; and I shall remain here until you return … And if you do not return, then will there be no knight living who can achieve this adventure.’

Down the path went Launcelot, and came before long to a strange lonely chapel in a little clearing. Then he tied his horse to a tree and went into the churchyard on foot. And on the end of the chapel he saw hanging many fair shields turned upside down: and suddenly thirty great knights dressed in black armour stood beneath the shields, taller by a foot and more than any mortal man: and they gnashed their teeth and glared horribly at Sir Launcelot.

Something of that spooky, yet courtly medieval scene has remained with me ever since. So has that battered old paperback; it is lying on my desk as I write this. And though I have gone on to read many more retellings of the Arthur myth, from Tennyson’s Idylls of the King to Rosemary Sutcliff’s Road to Camlann and Stephen Lawhead’s Pendragon Cycle, though I have read and enjoyed a host of medieval documents from the pseudohistory of Geoffrey of Monmouth to the Welsh Mabinogion and Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, Roger Lancelyn Green’s retelling was and remains for me the definitive Arthurian story. If you want to know more about the legends behind Pendragon’s Heir, or if you would like to introduce the best of those legends to young readers—or if you are simply in search of a beautifully-written classic retelling of the Matter of Britain, you cannot do better than this book.

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

If Roger Lancelyn Green prepared me with a love for Arthurian legends, the spark for the story idea which at last became Pendragon’s Heir came from quite a different quarter: Scottish mystery novelist Josephine Tey. In her very unconventional novel The Daughter of Time, Alan Grant, her star detective, suffers an injury in the course of duty and spends his recovery time detecting the solution to the coldest possible case in English history: the disappearance of the young princes from the Tower of London during the reign of Richard III. Up until that point in my life (long before Richard III’s corpse was discovered under an English parking-lot), I only knew about this English king through Shakespeare’s play, having watched with horrified fascination as Laurence Olivier schemed his way across the screen and into Lady Anne’s heart. Tey’s novel, with its impassioned defense of Richard and what seemed to me an airtight rehabilitation of his character, fired me with enthusiasm. I, too, might try to resurrect some much-maligned figure! But who?

At the time, I settled on Guinevere from the Arthurian legends, someone who I felt very passionately should have been properly in love with Arthur all along. Pendragon’s Heir started its long, long life as a way for me to figure out if Guinevere was worth redeeming. But was she? You’ll have to read Pendragon’s Heir to find out!

That Hideous Strength by CS Lewis

In Lewis’s book, as in his friend and fellow-Inkling Roger Lancelyn Green’s retelling of the legends, the Arthurian kingdom of Logres is used as a symbol of the kingdom of heaven in Britain:

“…Something we may call Britain is always haunted by something we may call Logres. …There has been a secret Logres in the very heart of Britain all these years…In every age [the Pendragons] and the little Logres which gathered round them have been the fingers which gave the tiny shove or the almost imperceptible pull, to prod England out of the drunken sleep or to draw her back from the final outrage.”

When I was wrestling through the deeper meaning of the Arthurian legends in an attempt to flesh out the themes in Pendragon’s Heir, it was CS Lewis’s interpretation of Logres which I kept coming back to: Logres a desperate attempt, a forlorn hope, a lost cause which might, in the end, be won after all…

And this, I believe, is what distinguishes Pendragon’s Heir from just about every other popular contemporary retelling of the Arthur legend. I’m not about the adventure and romance (although that’s in there, too). I’m not about the fantastic world or the court intrigue. Pendragon’s Heir is about what, as far as I can tell, the Arthurian legends always have been about: the glory and pain, the close walk with judgement and destruction, that comes with any attempt to draw down Deep Heaven upon the earth.

Le Morte D’Arthur by Thomas Malory

Finally, I couldn’t possibly write a novel based on Arthurian legend without reading the classic English romance, Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur. Curiously enough, I almost hated Malory the first two times I attempted to read the book. I only made it to the end on my third attempt, three years ago, and all the way I had to struggle mightily with all the things in the book that made no sense to me. If Arthur’s knights were meant to be Christians, pure and meek and defenders of those weaker than themselves, why all the murder, seduction, and injustice? Making sense of Malory forced me to come to terms not just with the Arthurian legends but also with significant aspects of medieval life. Eventually, I came to realise that in Malory’s book, Arthur’s grand hope is eventually destroyed not by a freak of fate (as we might expect) but by sin and compromise at the very heart of Logres. With that as my key, the whole epic fell into place—and so did significant elements of the Pendragon’s Heir plot.

Today, I admire Malory for his wonderful, graceful writing style and the epic scope of his remarkable tale. But the part of his book I love the best is his account of the Grail Quest, which provided a great deal of the raw material for my plot. In his essay on Le Morte D’Arthur in Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, CS Lewis describes the Round Table in its failure to properly achieve the Grail as “the peak which failed to reach heaven.” Like Green, Lewis, and Malory before me, I remain fascinated by that vision of a doomed yet glorious attempt to reach heaven.

However fictional they may be, the legends of Arthur will always capture our imagination. And the reason is not that they give us a glimpse of something different—but that they give us a fresh look at something very old, something that is basic to humanity, both our curse and our calling.

Gillian here: Thanks, Suzannah, for a fascinating look behind the scenes!
How about you, folks? Do you have a favorite retelling of Arthurian legend? Share in the comments!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Out of Darkness Rising is going on tour!

OODR Blog Tour Header

Going on Blog Tour, at least. Over the next week (or more, depending on how much fun we’re having!) I’ll be hopping all over the blogosphere visiting the sites of fantasy authors and fans alike to share insights into the setting, characters, and allegorical themes of Out of Darkness Rising.

Today, I’m thrilled to be visiting the site of fellow Enclave author, Morgan L. Busse to talk a little bit about life on the accursed Island where it’s been a thousand years since the villagers have seen the full light of the sun.

Read the full post here: The Sun Yet Rises.

I’ll be stopping by throughout the week to update the list of sites that I’ll be visiting, but the best and quickest way to get updates is to follow my Facebook Page.

Monday: “The Sun Yet Rises” – Morgan L. Busse

Tuesday: “To All Who Are Weary” – Laura Pol at Crafty Booksheeps

Wednesday: “A Love Letter” – Ashlee Willis

Thursday: “Death Reigns” – Nadine Brandes

And the best part? For each blog tour post that you share online, you can earn an extra 3 entries into the giveaway! Only 4 days left!

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OODR Launch Giveaway

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Allegorical Fantasy Giveaway #2: The Word Changers

Allegorical Fantasy

As if there weren’t already enough giveaways going on around here, I am thrilled to present the second selection for our focus on Allegorical Fantasy in the month of March. Picking only two books each month has been beyond difficult, because there are so many fabulous stories I would love to share with you. But this was one of the first ones that popped into my mind as soon as I had settled on the theme for this month … and I hadn’t yet had a chance to read it.


Our giveaway today is for a paperback copy of The Word Changers by Ashlee Willis. I can’t recall exactly when I stumbled across Ashlee’s blog, but somehow she and I got to chatting a few months ago—close to the release of Orphan’s Song—and once I started following her blog, I knew I had to read her book, though it was several months before I had the time to do so.

March had scarce broken upon us when I set The Word Changers down and slid it back into place on my shelf and breathed a mighty contented sigh. This book has a classic quality to it, with all the timelessness and agelessness of the Chronicles of Narnia. Definitely a keeper.

So I’m quite glad that Ashlee Willis has agreed to offer a giveaway copy and provided some fascinating insight into one of her most intriguing characters (in my opinion) in The Word Changers. Enter through the Rafflecopter below, but first read a bit about the book …


The Word Changers

Escaping from the turmoil of her home, fifteen-year-old Posy finds herself at her usual haunt: the library. When she chooses an unfamiliar book from the shelf, she does not devour its words as she usually does…

Its words devour her.

Posy is pulled into the pages of a fairy tale in turmoil. Characters whisper of rebellion against their Plot. And Posy must find a lost princess whose role in the story is crucial, before her own role in the book comes to a horrible end.

With the haughty Prince Kyran as a reluctant companion, Posy ventures past the Borders of the Plot, into the depths of the treacherous Wild Land forest that lie beyond. Secrets are buried there, dangerous and deadly.

Yet the darkest secret of all is the one Posy carries within herself.

Soon it’s clear that finding the lost princess is the least of Posy’s concerns. The Author of the book must be found. His Plot must be put to rights again, his characters reminded of who they were first created to be. Only then will the True Story be written, both for Posy, and for the tale she has now become a part of.

Find The Word Changers on Amazon/Add The Word Changers on Goodreads

Ashlee Willis author photoMeet the Author

Ashlee has a passion for three things: God, family, and books, and is happiest when all three can be enjoyed together.  She divides her time chiefly between homeschooling her young son, reading about fantasy worlds she wishes she could visit, and dreaming up fantasy worlds of her own to write about. She loves taking walks in the woods, drinking tea with friends, and spending time with the ones she loves most.  Ashlee lives in the heart of Missouri with her husband, son, and six cats, where she is busily at work on a brand new YA fantasy series.

Find Ashlee on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, or email her at AshleeW@zoho.com.

Back-Page Pass - Word Changers

An inside look with Ashlee Willis:

How can a mist be a character, you might wonder? I’ll admit, it wasn’t in my original plan when I was outlining The Word Changers. It came about of necessity, and then grew beyond even the bounds that my imagination had for it to begin with.

Posy, my main character, falls into a book and is forced to become one of its characters, acting out the Plot each time a reader opens the pages. The problem is, she’s new to the story and doesn’t know her part. So the Mist is assigned to her. It follows her around, hovering about her shoulders, prompting her with lines, directing her where to go, how to eat, what to wear, even gently scolding her when she errs.

Yet when the Author of the book originally wrote it, he had intended much, much more for the Mist. Even so, when Posy enters the Plot, King Melanthius has reduced the Mist to a mere prompter of lines and direction-giver. It is kept, stoppered and silent in a bottle, until it is wanted, and only freed for very particular needs.

But as Posy’s actions begin to change the story around her, so the Mist changes, too. It grows both inward and outward. And though its voice grows softer and calmer, the reach of that voice grows further, even to the very edges of the Kingdom and beyond. Once the Mist is free, it begins to free others as well, whispering softly to them. It reminds them of whom they were first written to be. It reminds them of the beauty their story once had, and can have again.

The Mist was a character I never intended to write at all. But as it grew, almost of its own accord, within my story, it became one of my best-loved ones.

Thank you, Ashlee, for visiting with us today and offering a giveaway copy!

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Out of Darkness Rising Release, Amazon Blitz, and Launch Giveaway!

If you’re reeling from the vast amount of awesomeness packed into the title of this post, don’t worry! It’s completely understandable. I’ve been reeling since Out of Darkness Rising came out yesterday.

I am just that excited for the chance to share this story with you. This moment has been a grand total of five years in the making. The first four years dragged on like a horse slogging through knee-deep mud, but the past twelve months have been so intense, hectic, and action-packed, that this day was nearly lost in the middle of it.

So I am forcing myself to slow down and step back to enjoy this moment.

As a part of the celebration, there are two things I want to share with you: an Amazon Blitz and a medieval themed Out of Darkness Rising launch giveaway. You can earn extra entries for the latter with the first so this is one instance where you’ll want to read through the terms and conditions (like Bilbo) and not simply skip all the way to the rewards section at the end. It can be tempting, I know. :)

OODR Amazon Blitz

To help promote the release of Out of Darkness Rising, we have scheduled an Amazon Blitz for today, March 16th! Are you planning on adding Out of Darkness Rising to your collection? If so, please join me for the Amazon Blitz by purchasing the book (either ebook or paperback) today. Focusing the purchases during a specific time can help increase the sales ranking which means more people are likely to see the book!

Find Out of Darkness Rising on Amazon.

As a thank you, participating in the Amazon blitz will earn you an extra 10 entries in the super fun medieval themed Launch Giveaway below!

That’s 10 entries you can only earn today.

Enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter below. Help spread the news about Out of Darkness Rising and enter for a chance to be one of three winners who will take home the following awesome prizes.

OODR Launch Giveaway

What’s At Stake?

1) A copper quill pen and ink set and a paperback copy of Out of Darkness Rising

2) A medieval wax and seal set and a paperback copy of Out of Darkness Rising

3) A gorgeous leather journal and a paperback copy of Out of Darkness Rising

How do I win?

There are a couple of different ways you can earn entries into the contest to gain an even better chance of winning one of these awesome prizes. The more entries you earn, the more times your name is entered into the contest. Winners will be announced after April 3rd! Good luck.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

When Destiny Comes Calling - Installment Eleven

Now that BOOK TWO in the Songkeeper Chronicles has been turned in to my editor, and Out of Darkness Rising is coming out in less than a week, I decided to take a wee bit of a break from my serious writing projects and turn my attention to the fun stuff for a little while.

Like When Destiny Comes Calling!

As always, check out the previous installment here, find out more about the serial short(ish) story here, and be sure you read to the end to vote on what happens in the next installment.

When Destiny Comes Calling Installment Eleven

Doomsday bustled over to the table with a tray full of tea things. He set it down with a thump in front of Destiny and the mismatched cups all rattled in their saucers. “Do help yourselves. The cream’s gone sour and the ants have been in the sugar. But what can expect when the world is ending?”

Destiny poured a cup and took a dainty sip. “It isn’t the world that’s in danger of ending, only our fine Empire, now that poor Emperor Caldwell V is dead and his son, as you well know, passed on earlier this year, leaving only the grandson to take the Imperial Seat.”

“A babe to take the Imperial Seat?” Doomsday looked as though he was about to launch into another fit of woe is me cries, but Destiny cut him off.

“Only as Fate would have it, little Emperor Caldwell VI has been kidnapped!”

A cunning gleam appeared in the wizard’s eye. “I see, and you have come to petition my inestimable help in finding and recovering the poor babe.”

“Not quite.” Destiny smiled, and it was the sort of smile a spider might give a fly. “That is well in hand. Your unique talents are required for something rather more … dangerous.”

The way she rolled the word over her tongue, almost as though she savored the taste of it, sent a little shiver down Alexander’s spine. Doomsday clutched the back of a chair and lugged his bulk around and into the seat. His head rolled back and he looked as though he were about to pass out.

“No.” He gasped. “Not that!”

Destiny took another sip, set her cup down, and folded her hands with deliberate grace. “I’m afraid so. The time has come for you to fulfill your oath and for dear Alexander here to fulfill his family’s curse. Between the two of you, we shall ensure that Emperor Caldwell VI survives to take his grandfather’s seat.”

“I see.” Doomsday ran a shaking hand through his thick black bush of a beard and tugged it away from his face, revealing a narrow, clean-shaven jaw and a mouth set in the most doleful expression a man could imagine. Of course the beard would be a fake. Was there anything about the man that was as it appeared?

“Doom is indeed upon us.” Doomsday gazed pensively into the fire and said no more, while Destiny went back to sipping her tea with an expression of the utmost serenity painted across her face.

“Oh hang it all!” Alexander shot to his feet. The handle of his right dueling pistol caught on his chair and tipped it over with a clatter that nearly made him jump. “He might see. You might see. But I certainly don’t. Now, you’ve said I might die, ma’am, to fulfill the family curse, and I expect that provides me with some right to know just what is going on and how I’m supposed to ensure Emperor Caldwell VI’s path to the throne!”

“Come now, Destiny.” Fate’s voice drifted through the open trapdoor. “Just tell him and be done with it. It’s time we were moving on!”

Destiny rolled her eyes and poured a second cup of tea which she offered to Alexander. He snatched it from her hand and slammed it back down on the table, splashing tea across the red-checkered cloth and earning a heart-broken cry from Doomsday.

“Not Mumsie’s beautiful linens!” The con-wizard hastened to mop up the mess, grumbling beneath his breath, and casting baleful glances at Alexander over his shoulder.

But Alexander had eyes only for Destiny. Her eyebrows had arched up almost into her hairline, and the disapproval in her gaze was enough to make Alexander wish (for the five hundredth time) that he was back at home in his father’s study where his greatest concerns had been figuring out the inner workings of his cannon, solving problems like trajectory and range in a strong wind, cleaning gunpowder residue from his mother’s drapes—an accident—and dealing with the constant turnover in servants—definitely not his fault!

“There is no need to make a scene, Alexander Mitus Scott Beauford III.” The way she said it sounded so much like his mother, it made the hair stand up on Alexander’s neck. “I shall tell you what you need to know.”

“I’m afraid that shan’t do.” Alexander adjusted his pistols and his sword, dusted off his clothing in a vain attempt to make himself look presentable, and marched toward the trapdoor. “I think I’ve been more than reasonable given this most irregular situation. Unless you agree to answer my questions as I ask them, this ridiculous adventure we’ve embarked upon will be over.”

He had reached the trapdoor where he could make out Fate peering down at him from above, the baby emperor clutched tight in her arms, and was just trying to figure out how to climb up and out of the con-wizard’s secret lair without a ladder, when Destiny’s voice stopped him from making a complete fool of himself.

One question and then we must move. Our enemies cannot be far behind.”

Alexander executed a neat military turn. “You will answer the rest later? When and where and whatever I ask?”

“Yes.” Destiny forced the word through clenched teeth. “Later.”

“Well, then it seems we are agreed. First question: just what dangerous thing are Wizard Doomsday and myself supposed to do?”

“That, I thought, was obvious.” Destiny took another sip of her tea. “You must assassinate the Lord Chancellor, Baron Von Horben. Tomorrow night.”

What happens next? Choose your favorite option below and vote in the comments! Then stop by next time to see how your vote changed the course of the story.

Option 1: Enemies attack the Plucky Lass, forcing Alexander, Destiny, Wizard Doomsday, Fate, and baby Emperor Caldwell VI on the run to complete the mission.

Option 2: Alexander, Destiny, and Wizard Doomsday return to the surface to discover that Fate and Emperor Caldwell VI have been captured by an unknown assailant.

Option 3: Alexander stands up to Destiny and refuses to take part in any assassination attempts because Baron Von Horben is a close friend of his father, Baron Midsig.

  Can’t get enough of When Destiny Comes Calling? Join the Pinterest Inspiration Board!

This week, we’re looking for pictures of Fate and Wizard Doomsday.

Here’s how it works: In order for me to invite you to the board, we have to follow one another on Pinterest. So if you would like to join the board, leave a comment once you follow me and then I will follow you back and send the invite!

Follow Gillian's Inspiration Board for When Destiny Comes Calling on Pinterest.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Allegorical Fantasy Giveaway #1: Out of Darkness Rising

Allegorical Fantasy

Well, ladies and gents, March is here. BOOK TWO of the Songkeeper Chronicles has been turned in, Out of Darkness Rising is about to release, and I’m about to start the initial writing stages for BOOK THREE.

I’m not entirely sure why March and Allegorical Fantasy seem to go together, though I think perhaps it has something to with how the expression below reminds me of both names and allegorical representations of Jesus.

“In like a lion … out like a lamb.”

The Lion of Judah. The Lamb of God.


Perhaps it’s just me.

In any case, I settled on Allegorical Fantasy for March and decided to start off the month with another giveaway for Out of Darkness Rising, my allegorical fantasy novella that’s releasing in less than two weeks!

So, if you missed out on a chance to win Out of Darkness Rising last time, this could be your lucky day! Enter through the Rafflecopter below. I’m offering a paperback copy for the US and ebook copies for any international winners.

But first, make sure you read through the end to get a sneak peak into the book … Yes, my lovelies, you did read that right!

OODR Front Cover

Darkness reigns unchallenged.

For the villagers on the accursed Island, life has only one meaning - death. Bound to the Island by the curse, the villagers suffer beneath the iron claw of the Serpent, daily breathing the poison of his breath and dying to appease his insatiable appetite.

When Marya’s parents are slain by the serpent for their belief in a legendary king, she becomes an outcast. Struggling to survive and avoid the vengeance of the Tribunal, Marya is torn between legend and the harsh reality of the Island. Yet when a forgotten promise springs to life, she cannot help wondering if the old stories might in fact be true. And if they are, will the promise prove stronger than the curse?

Meet the Author

This is where I would normally introduce you to a new author, but since you’re here on my blog, I assume you already know at least a little bit about me. So instead of my usual bio, I thought it would be fun to share a few things you may not know about me. Warning: expect randomness and much tongue-in-cheek to ensue …

  • Dr. Pepper is the way to my heart. Not seriously. But almost. Hand me an ice cold Dr. Pepper on a hot day (or a cold day for that matter) and we will almost certainly be friends.
  • As a member of a little bitty volunteer fire department in a little bitty rural area, I’ve learned that fire and the 4th of July tend to go together, which in Texas means a lot of sweating in your gear.
  • Summer 2012 125editedI cannot count the number of times I’ve fallen off my horse … on purpose! *grins* Really! My horse and I have a penchant for drama, so in the past, I’ve taken to using him in western skits where I enjoy playing the bad guy who gets shot off and dies dramatically at the end. So much fun!
    (The first time we did the skit, my horse started nudging me while I was lying on the ground – so cute! After that, he figured it out and just gave me an annoyed look whenever I came off. Yes, he has a lot of personality.)
  • I would be perfectly happy living in a tiny cabin in the woods. If I wasn’t a writer, I wouldn’t even care so much about whether it had electricity or not. I once fell in love with a house that had a roof full of … unplanned … skylights. Cutest thing ever. In need of much tender loving care.
  • I think you folks are the coolest people ever!

Back-page Pass OODR 1


The word had a pleasant ring to it. Arientyl could become accustomed to the shape of it on his tongue, the ring of it in his ears, the tint of it covering his clothes and staining the skin of his sword-hand. After centuries of bowing and scraping and smiling through gritted teeth, the freedom that came with finally allowing the mask to fall was pure relief.

Who could have imagined betrayal could be so sweet?

The wet thud of his boots echoed before him down the stone hallway toward the massive hardwood door that led to the King’s chambers. So close now… so close. His hand involuntarily tightened about the grip of his sword. He allowed himself a quickening of breath as he envisioned driving the blade into the King’s heart and feeling the strong form that had ever stood in his way finally crumble, the breath of opposition finally release in vain.

He halted before the door and lifted his hand to the latch. A whisper of movement behind sent him spinning into a defensive position. The figure of a warrior stood in the center of the hallway, surrounded by the bodies of the slain, cloak hem soaking up the blood that was Arientyl’s handiwork.

There was no mistaking that sword stance.

Or the one it belonged to, the King’s own son.

Add on Goodreads // Watch the Book Trailer

This giveaway is super easy to enter! Since I’m trying to spread the word about Out of Darkness Rising before its release, all I ask is that you share the book somewhere online – whether you mention it in a blogpost, link to the giveaway or book trailer on facebook, or tweet about it is up to you.

If you’ve already mentioned Out of Darkness Rising in a blog post, you may count the original post as long as you share the link to your post somewhere online after the start of the contest.

You can do this once a day until the end of the giveaway! Easy way to rack up those entry points and increase your chances of winning. :)

I’m offering a paperback copy for the US and ebook copies for any international winners.

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I’d like to get to know you better too. If you could share one random fact about yourself, what would it be? Share in the comments!