Friday, October 24, 2014

Orphan’s Song Launch Contest and Prize Giveaway–Week 3 Incentive

Incentive #2

Something happened last week. I’m sure of it. I honestly don’t remember what. But whatever it was happened to be of such epic magnitude that I didn’t get around to putting up a Week 2 incentive for the contest.

So we’re skipping Week 2 and moving straight on to Week 3, for the simple reason that time somehow keeps marching on even when things get crazy. Go figure.

I have a fun challenge for y’all this week. (For a full list of prizes and ways to enter the contest, read the original post: Orphan’s Song Launch Contest and Prize Giveaway.)

The paperback copies of Orphan’s Song are finally here! So if you preordered a copy through Kickstarter or Amazon, or logged on the other day and ordered a copy, it should be coming soon, if it hasn’t already arrived!

As soon as my copies arrived, I stuck one on the shelf beside the books belonging to some of my favorite authors and couldn’t resist taking a picture.

photo 1 (2) - edited

So for this challenge, I’m inviting you to take a picture as well! That’s right, it’s the EPIC PHOTO CONTEST. How does it work? Simple.

Take a picture of yourself with your paperback or ebook copy of Orphan’s Song at any point in time between now and the end of the Launch Contest, November 1st, post it on facebook, pinterest, or your blog, and earn 10 entry points.

Easy, right?

But wait, there’s more.

Orphan’s Song is a fantasy adventure … and who doesn’t like epic, adventurous photos! So, as a part of the EPIC PHOTO CONTEST, you can also email a copy of your photo to thesongkeeper@gmail.com to be entered in an additional contest for a $20 Amazon gift card. When you email me the photo, you’re giving me permission to also post it online (on facebook, my blog, twitter, or pinterest) and ask readers to vote on the most epic, adventurous photo to determine the winner.

Note: This portion of the contest will continue until the middle of November, but if you want entry points for the Launch Contest, you’ll need to post your picture before November 1st.

Sound fun?

A photographer I am not, but here’s one I took to get y’all started!

 Epic Photo Contest

Friday, October 17, 2014

Backpage Pass: Ky Huntyr

Backpage Pass - Ky2

“There were three simple rules in the Underground: be invisible, look out for yourself, and no going back. Ever. They all added up to the same thing: Keep up or get left behind.” – Orphan’s Song

Ky editedKy Huntyr—thief, runner, member of the Underground—began as one of those surprise characters that pop out of nowhere and force their way onto the page. I had no more clue beforehand that he was planning on entering the story, than Bilbo had about the party he was hosting for thirteen dwarves and a wizard before the unexpected knock at the door.

But once Ky arrived, I soon realized that he had come to stay and was going to provide an integral part of the story that became Orphan’s Song.

With his aptitude for the sling and his penchant for jumping into trouble to save others, Ky occasionally reminded me of David the shepherd boy from the Bible. Not entirely sure why, but who among us can really explain the random paths our brains take?

Care to know a secret? (In a very early draft, I even included a David and Goliath-esque scene in which Ky’s slingstones felled a much larger and highly dangerous opponent. It made me happy. Sadly, said scene no longer exists…)

Ky is one of my favorite characters—right up there with Birdie and Amos—and I enjoy writing in his point of view because he tends to look at things a tad different from other folks.

Ky edited1

He’s humble. He’s not always convinced that he’s in the right—because let’s face it, that can get downright annoying—and even when he is, he struggles just like the rest of us with going against the flow of popular opinion. But when push comes to shove, he’s not afraid to stand up for what he believes or for those who are in danger.

Despite the hardness of the world he lives in, Ky still cares.

There are a lot of numb characters in fiction today. Characters who are so broken and beaten and bloodstained that they can’t feel anymore, let alone truly care for anyone else. And that’s realistic. When you go through something so challenging, you can begin to feel like every ounce of energy has been consumed and you don’t have anything to give anyone else.

But what I love about Ky is that he’s not afraid to keep caring, fighting, and doing what he thinks is right against all odds.

And that—I think—is what made Ky real and heroic to me.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Backpage Pass—Birdie

Backpage Pass - Birdie2

“Soft as a whisper, the melody crept toward her, banishing the midnight fears and easing the ache of loneliness. It wrapped around her, the comforting embrace of a friend. Dangerous, Amos had said. Unnatural. But dangerous or not, it was all she had. Birdie slipped into the mysterious melody and allowed it to carry her to sleep at last.” – Orphan’s Song

Birdie edited2 When I first started writing Orphan’s Song, I had little more than a name—Birdie—and the barest smidgeon of an idea. I knew Birdie was an orphan, that she lived at an inn, and that she heard a melody that no one else could.

But beyond that I had no more idea where the story was going than the next random citizen on the street.

Out of all the characters populating the by-ways and back-roads of Leira, Birdie probably changed the most over the course of the many drafts and revisions the novel went through before the end.

But there were some things that didn’t change.

From the beginning, I knew who Birdie is—even if it took me a while to figure out how to best portray it. She’s got a heart bigger than Dunfaen Forest, and a sweet spirit matched only by her courage and the ability to keep on keeping on. She is teachable, but not a push over. When she believes something is worth the fight, her backbone grows harder and straighter than a zoar tree—something that frustrates poor Amos to no end.

Birdie is all these things and so much more.

But at the heart of it all, she is a lost little girl just searching for a place to belong.

Birdie edited4

Most of us aren’t orphans doomed to a life of drudgery at the local inn. Most of us know our own history … know our parents … have a name we can call our own.

But at the same time, I feel like most of us can relate to Birdie’s desire to know where she fits in the world. We want to know our place, to feel at home, to know where we belong, and how we can contribute.

This is what made Birdie feel real to me as I wrote her, and I hope it will help make her feel real to you as well.

Birdie with quote

 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Orphan’s Song Launch Contest and Prize Giveaway–Week 1 Incentive

Well folks, it’s been one week already since the start of the Launch Contest for Orphan’s Song, and so far, there’s been an overwhelming response!

So I want to start by extending a big thank you to everyone who’s entered in so far.

If you haven’t entered yet, or you haven’t earned all the entry points you can yet, be sure to check out the original contest post here: Orphan’s Song Launch Contest and Prize Giveaway. You can continue to earn easy entry points for a better chance at having your name drawn as the winner until the contest ends on November 1st!

In the meantime, because it’s been one week, it’s time for the first Contest Incentive!

Week 1 Contest Incentive

This week, we’re going to take Social Media by storm. Here are several super easy ways you can earn extra points! Just be sure to either comment with links or drop me an email at thesongkeeper@gmail.com so I can make sure to add your entries to the tally.

  • Like my facebook page and earn 5 entries! This is a great place to stay in touch with me, stay up to date on upcoming books and writing, and chat about fantasy, books, and characters. Comment and let me know that you liked it.
  • Post on facebook inviting a friend to my facebook page, telling others about Orphan’s Song, or sharing news about the contest! Earn 5 entries for each post. (Don’t forget to send me the link!)
  • Add Orphan’s Song on Goodreads and earn 3 entries. Add me as a friend and get an additional entry for a total of 4 entries. Leave a comment letting me know.
  • Follow me on Twitter and earn 3 entries. Leave a comment letting me know. Tweet about Orphan’s Song or the contest and earn an additional entry!
  • Mention Orphan’s Song in a blog post and earn 5 entries. Send me the link!
  • Review Orphan’s Song somewhere online and earn 10 entries—points increased for this week only! Email me a link to your review.
  • If you have an idea and you’re not sure if it counts or not, leave a comment and I’ll let you know!

    Monday, October 6, 2014

    Plenilune Cover Reveal—Jennifer Freitag

    Being an avid book collector ravenous book devourer, I’m always on the lookout for more books to add to my already overflowing shelves. (I swear the last time I moved I had more boxes of books than anything else.)

    So I’m always beyond excited to hear of the arrival of new books in a genre that fascinates me. And when word reached my ear that Jennifer Freitag, blogger at the Penslayer, was publishing one of her novels, I eagerly jumped at the chance to participate in the cover reveal.

    And isn’t it just gorgeous?

    Copy of Plenilune Frontal Art

    A BIT ABOUT THE BOOK:

    The fate of Plenilune hangs on the election of the Overlord, for which Rupert de la Mare and his brother are the only contenders, but when Rupert’s unwilling bride-to-be uncovers his plot to murder his brother, the conflict explodes into civil war. To assure the minds of the lord-electors of Plenilune that he has some capacity for humanity, Rupert de la Mare has been asked to woo and win a lady before he can become the Overlord, and he will do it—even if he has to kidnap her. En route to Naples to catch a suitor, Margaret Coventry was not expecting a suitor to catch her.

    A BIT ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    JENNIFER FREITAG lives with her husband in a house they call Clickitting, with their two cats Minnow and Aquila, and their own fox kit due to be born in early December. Jennifer writes in no particular genre because she never learned how, she is make of sparks like Boys of Blur, and if she could grasp the elements, she would bend them like lightning. Until then, she sets words on fire. Living with her must be excruciating.

    ODDS AND ENDS

    Plenilune belongs to the planetary fantasy genre—if you’re not quite sure what that means, the author wrote up a description here: What is Planetary Fantasy? From the snippets I’ve seen posted on the Penslayer blog, I can say that Jennifer Freitag is a master of the written word and an artist with language, and I simply can’t wait to read this book.

    You’ll definitely want to add Plenilune on Goodreads and mark the release date in red on your calendar. In the meantime, stop by the Penslayer and get a taste of the author’s exquisite gift with words. 

    Plenilune comes October 20th!

    Friday, October 3, 2014

    When Destiny Comes Calling—Installment Nine

    The power went out rather suddenly last night, so I penned this installment hunched over my laptop in the dark, with my cat purring in my lap and thunder rumbling outside. Given the circumstances, I renounce all blame for whatever wild, maniacal ramblings ensued.

    That said, a drumroll if you please …

    Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to present to you—only a trifle late—the next installment of When Destiny Comes Calling. (If you’re a newcomer and you’re not entirely sure what’s going on, you can catch up on previous installments and read an explanation of all the how-to’s and what-for’s here!)

    And no, I do not intend to inform you which character or which setting won the vote last time. To discover that, my friends, you must read the next installment.

    I know … cruel, heartless me.

    Destiny 9

    Smoke stung Alexander’s eyes and burned the back of his throat. He coughed—politely—into a woefully mud stained handkerchief and allowed the tavern door of the Plucky Lass by-the-Sea to swing shut behind him. Over Destiny’s shoulder, he caught a glimpse of a dingy, lamp-lit interior crowded with soldiers, sailors, and tradesmen grouped around tables or hunched over steaming pots of ale.

    At the far side of the room, a short, apple-cheeked girl bounced from table to table whisking away empty mugs and replacing them from a tray of full ones that she carried high over her head.

    The Plucky Lass herself, it seemed.

    Destiny waded through the crowd toward the girl—and it seemed almost as if the crowd, tables, and chairs, anything that stood in her way shifted to clear a path. Alexander started to follow, but a word from Fate stopped him. He watched as the girl greeted Destiny with an ear-to-ear grin and a bob—did they know each other—then motioned to an archway behind her.

    Curiosity had nearly gotten the best of him when Destiny turned and beckoned him forward. He strode into the crowd, and instantly had to dodge his way around a pair of massive sailors with fists the sides of his cannonballs, duck beneath the elbow of a soldier, and swing wide around a game of dice that had clearly gotten out of hand.

    He was breathless, the blood roaring in his ears, when at last he stood beside Destiny … and she took off again, headed toward the archway the girl had indicated.

    Fate immediately followed, and Alexander—after much jaw grinding—gave in.

    What in the name of Corporal Sackinajaw Pickering was a high class woman like Destiny doing in a place like this?

    He caught his hand fondling his dueling pistols and sought solace in the protection both they and the three feet of cold steel belted to his side offered. And as the ogre had discovered, Destiny was not helpless when it came to a fight with her magically vanishing blades. But what of Fate?

    Destiny halted just beneath the archway, and Alexander stumbled to a stop to keep from crashing into her. As it was, his boots knocked the backs of her heels and she shot him a glare.

    The room beyond was crowded with bodies and stank of salt and sweat and … sulphur. A low monotonous voice droned on and on, broken now and then by clapping, shouting, whistling, and hissing. Beside him, Fate stood with the baby Emperor tucked beneath her cloak, concealed from prying eyes.

    Alexander leaned forward and whispered in her ear. “Are you armed?”

    “What?”

    “Are … you … armed?” His harsh whisper earned another piercing glare from Destiny.

    Fate’s brow took on the pinched look of disgust that it seemed forever furrowed Destiny’s forehead. “With a razor wit, my dear boy, and it is enough.”

    There was a pop and a flash of light, and a man burst through the crowd with the ends of his hair aflame, face and clothes blackened with soot. Mouth stretched in a wordless cry, he pushed past Destiny and took off through the tavern. Raucous laughter chased him.

    Alexander gulped a breath of air. “That wasn’t our … was it?”

    But before Destiny could reply, a deep voice rang through the crowded room. “Doom! Doom is upon us. The omens speak clear. Peril and woe and the end of the world lurk upon the threshold in fiery waves. Yea, destiny knocketh at the door … and fate follows after!”

    “That,” Fate said, “would be him.”

    Alexander turned to Destiny, but she was gone. Vanished just like her mysterious swords. Then her voice came from the front of the room, and he discovered that if he stood on tip-toe and strained … just … so … he could see her standing on a sort of stage beside a large figure cloaked in midnight blue with a peaked hat so tall and a black beard so thick, one could make out very little else of him.

    One corner of Destiny’s mouth tweaked up into that mysterious, knowing sort of smile that Alexander thought better befitted portraits and statues than living persons, and she spread her arms wide. “You summoned, Doomsday? I am here. What say you, wizard?”

    How does Doomsday respond? Select your favorite option below and vote in the comments, then stop by next time to see how the winning vote changed the course of the story!


    Option 1:

    The wizard stood stock-still for a moment, then flung back his arms and unleashed his stentorian voice. “Wizard Doomsday fears no man, woman, or child. Fear means nothing in the face of the terror that draws nigh. You would all do well to listen and be warned.”

    A ribbon of smoke trailed from his wide sleeves and coiled about him on the ground in the shape of an enormous snake. Gasps of fear and awe rippled through the crowd, but Fate simply snorted—a most unlady-like sound—and clucked her tongue.

    Con-wizard Doomsday he means. There is a difference.”


    Option 2:

    “Destiny …” The wizard’s voice cracked and he raised both hands to his peaked hat and lifted it from his head, revealing a wild, bird’s nest of black hair. His sorrowful tone and manner would have put any funeral-goer to shame. “Then the end is come. Just as I predicted.”

    She nodded, brisk, business like. “Indeed. For once, it would appear, your predictions were correct.”

    “For once?” Doomsday snapped up straighter than a sword and plopped his hat back on his head. “I’ll have you know that I am considered the best wizard in the entire land.” His voice fell again and assumed the mind-numbing cadence of a turtle in mourning. “Wretched, ungrateful world. You know what they say, you’re never truly missed until you’re gone.”

    “Appreciated is the word I think you’re looking for. Of course you’re not missed until you’re gone. It wouldn’t make sense otherwise.”

    Doomsday nodded. “Indeed. Never missed. Never appreciated. Never loved. Until it is too late.”


    Option 3:

    At her voice, the wizard’s head shot up, and Alexander caught a glimpse of his eyes gleaming beneath the shadow of the enormous peaked hat.

    “No!” Doomsday gestured wildly and smoke belched from the wide sleeves of his robe. “No. Get back, foul creature of darkness! You shan’t take me!” He snapped both hands toward the floor, and there came a flash and a pop, then Alexander found himself blinking at Destiny alone on the stage.

    The wizard was gone.


    Wednesday, October 1, 2014

    Orphan’s Song Launch Contest and Prize Giveaway

    Contest Header

    This is it folks, the big day! Today is the launch day for the paperback of Orphan’s Song! This book has been several years—and one crazy summer in the making. So now that it is finally released to the world, it’s time to celebrate!

    For the next four weeks, from October 1st until November 1st, I will be running a BIG Launch Contest and Grand Prize Drawing! Help spread the news about Orphan’s Song and enter for a chance to be one of three winners who will take home the following awesome prizes.

    What’s At Stake?

    Birdie's Prize Bundle Collage - Orphan's Song, Gillian Bronte Adams, Fantasy

    Birdie’s Prize Bundle:
    A blend of the music that inspired the book
    Signed paperback copy of Orphan’s Song
    $10 Amazon gift card
    Stoneware mug and instant cappuccino mix.

    Ky's Prize Bundle Collage - Orphan's Song, Gillian Bronte Adams, Fantasy

    Ky’s Prize Bundle:
    Ky’s sling
    Signed paperback copy of Orphan’s Song
    Stoneware mug and hot chocolate mix.

    Amos' Prize Bundle Collage - Orphan's Song, Gillian Bronte Adams, Fantasy

    Amos’s Prize Bundle:
    Amos’ dirk
    Signed copy of Orphan’s Song
    Stoneware mug and spiced apple cider mix.

    Note: The discerning reader will point out that the dagger is not bronze, does not have a wooden hilt, and is not a dirk, but this dagger was the closest thing I could find to something approximating Amos’ weapon. And I think it’s pretty cool, don’t you?

    *Entrants for Amos’ prize bundle must be 18 years old and must check their state knife laws—this knife is restricted in MA and CA.

    How do I win?

    Because it is all about winning! There are several way 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. It’s like Katniss and Gale and the Reaping … but happier.

    1. Buy a copy of the book! Pre-ordered copies or copies purchased today (Wednesday, October 1st) are worth 15 entries. After that, copies are worth 10 entries. Email me a copy of your receipt at thesongkeeper@gmail.com.

    2. Write a review of the book and post it on amazon, goodreads, your personal blog, etc. Each review posted earns you 7 entries. Email me a link to the review at thesongkeeper@gmail.com.

    3. Buy a friend a copy of the book! Fall has the best reading weather, and with Christmas coming up, a great way to share your love for Orphan’s Song is to buy a friend a copy! Each additional book = 15 entries. Email me a copy of your receipt at thesongkeeper@gmail.com.

    4. Share this contest on Facebook! Don’t forget to tag me (@Gillian Bronte Adams) in your post so I can count your entries! Note: You’ll have to like my facebook page in order to tag me. You can post once a day while the contest lasts. Each post earns 3 entries.

    5. Follow this blog for an easy 5 entries. If you already follow the blog, that counts too. Leave a comment letting me know that you followed.

    6. Tweet about the giveaway! Don’t forget to tag me (@theSongkeeper) in your tweet so I can count your entries. You may tweet once a day for the duration of the contest. Each tweet earns 1 entry.

    7. Pin a contest photo or Orphan’s Song’s cover on Pinterest! Leave a comment with a link to your pin or email me at thesongkeeper@gmail.com. Each pin earns 3 entries.

    Each week, I’ll post a contest incentive with additional ways you can earn entries for a better chance at winning the ultimate prize! (Here’s a helpful hint: you may want to follow this blog or like my facebook page so you won’t miss a post.)

    Winners will be announced Monday, November 3rd!

    Enjoy the story and good luck with the contest!

    Which of the prize bundles would you be most excited about winning? Answer in the comments!

    Wednesday, September 24, 2014

    Take Wing and Fly—Orphan’s Song

    At approximately one o’clock yesterday morning—give or take thirty minutes—the ebook version of Orphan’s Song magically appeared on the Kindles of all the brilliant people who pre-ordered it.

    And in that moment, my book was released to the world.

    I won’t deny a certain level of anxiety—terror, rather—because as an author, so much of my heart goes into each and every word on each and every page. I do not write myself into the characters, but they are born from my heart and the story is wrung from my soul.

    So while I cannot help feeling anxious, I am so thrilled that the story is out there in the world finally being read.

    It’s been a long journey from start to finish—a journey full of myriad ups and downs—and there were so many times when I was ready to throw up my hands and flee back to the Shire and the safety of my little hobbit hole.

    For so long, the land of Leira has been my own secret world, and the characters—Birdie, Amos McElhenny, and Ky—they have been my own secret friends. But now, the world of Leira belongs to you readers as much as to me, and the characters I hope will become as dear to your hearts as they have been to mine.

    I can only liken this moment to watching a fledgling drop from the nest and waiting for it to spread wings and fly.

    Will you watch with me?


    Upcoming Events:

    Launch Day: October 1st—one week from today! (The ebook is available now, but the paperback releases on October 1st, so that’s when the official celebration starts!)

    Make sure you stop by the blog on October 1st for contest news, giveaway information, and an invite to the release party!

    You won’t want to miss it.


    ABOUT THE BOOK:

    Orphan's Song--Front Cover 02 - Copy (416x640)

    Who Will Keep the Song Alive?

    Every generation has a Songkeeper – one chosen to keep the memory of the Song alive. And in every generation, there are those who seek to destroy the chosen one.

    When Birdie's song draws the attention of a dangerous Khelari soldier, she is kidnapped and thrust into a world of ancient secrets and betrayals. Rescued by her old friend, traveling peddler Amos McElhenny, Birdie flees the clutches of her enemies in pursuit of the truth behind the Song’s power.

    Ky is a street–wise thief and a member of the Underground—a group of orphans banded together to survive . . . and to fight the Khelari. Haunted by a tragic raid, Ky joins Birdie and Amos in hopes of a new life beyond the reach of the soldiers. But the enemy is closing in, and when Amos’ shadowed past threatens to undo them all, Birdie is forced to face the destiny that awaits her as the Songkeeper of Leira.

    Find Orphan’s Song on Amazon or Goodreads!


    Friday, September 19, 2014

    When Destiny Comes Calling—Summoning All Pinterest Users!

    Aye, you heard me right. Since When Destiny Comes Calling is on a bi-weekly schedule, the next installment is not due until next Friday. But I thought ’twould be a cruel and unusual punishment to force all of you to simply forget about poor Alexander and Destiny and Fate—and the as of yet undetermined mysterious new character—until then.

    I’m not that heartless.

    So I started a new Pinterest board that’s currently sadly in need of pins, and that is where you, my dear friends, come in.

    On the off Fridays, I intend to issue you a challenge to scour the web for a setting, character photo, or scene you would love to see play out, and post it on the Inspiration Board for When Destiny Comes Calling—giving proper credit and attribution, of course.

    I think it’ll be loads of fun. It’ll help spark my imagination when it comes time to pen the next installment and help me to see what you are picturing. And it’ll help y’all visualize the story and have fun finding and posting pictures—because let’s just face it, one could lose hours of one’s life browsing Pinterest and scarce notice it.

    Ready to get started?

    This week, I’m looking for character pictures of both Destiny and Alexander Mitus Scott Beauford III. Not looking for Fate yet or the baby emperor, so hold onto any fabulous images you find and save them for a later date.

    You may want to refer to previous installments to verify any setting/timeframe/character description details I’ve snuck in there without your noticing…

    How do you post to the board? I’m so glad you asked. The easiest way is if we both follow each other’s Pinterest boards—otherwise it gets way complicated. If you already follow my boards, just leave a comment with a link to your Pinterest account so I can follow you as well. After that, I can invite you to the group board and then you’ll be able to post! If you haven’t yet followed my Pinterest account, make sure you start there otherwise I won’t be able to send you an invite.

    Happy photo hunting!

    Update: I’ve been experiencing slight internet difficulties today, so I apologize if there is a delay before you receive an invite.

    Friday, September 12, 2014

    When Destiny Comes Calling—Installment Eight

    Neither rain nor high tide struck in force to oppose the posting of this next installment… but the internet did go out. If you’re reading this, then it came back on at some point. Hooray! My apologies if it didn’t come on until late in the day.

    First let me say that I absolutely loved all of the responses y’all dreamed up for Alexander, and I want to thank everyone who submitted an option! Unfortunately, I can’t use all of them, for obvious reasons. So the votes have come in and been tallied, and we do have a winner.


    From Krissy Aleman!

    Die in his place.

    Weren’t there plenty of other Beaufords who could do the job: third cousins twice removed, and such? And besides, it wasn’t a guarantee that he would have to die.

    “Oh, this just keeps getting better and better,” he muttered.


    Read on to see how the response she wrote plays into the story. It’s good, folks. Quite good.

    And if you’ve just stumbled across this blog and haven’t the faintest clue what I’m talking about, or if you simply need to catch up on past installments, you can do so here: When Destiny Comes Calling.

    Destiny - 8

    Die in his place.

    Weren’t there plenty of other Beaufords who could do the job: third cousins twice removed, and such? And besides, it wasn’t a guarantee that he would have to die.

    “Oh, this just keeps getting better and better,” he muttered.

    Miss Destiny arched a skeptical eyebrow at him—that woman could communicate textbooks with her eyebrows alone. “I am relieved you think so. I rather expected a different response.”

    No need to ask what she had expected. Her pursed lips and up-tilted nose made it quite clear. Alexander fairly cringed at the disgust in her tone. For someone who routinely dished out ogre-sized doses of sarcasm, she seemed woefully oblivious when on the receiving end.

    Still, he wasn’t one to argue when the mistake was in his favor.

    Though the fact that it was a mistake set him to shuffling his feet. Her words struck a nerve, and he ducked his head to hide his burning cheeks. What hope had he of succeeding in a military career when everyone assumed that he would respond to expected danger with complaints, excuses, and cowardice?

    No, Alexander Mitus Scott Beauford III was a man of honor and dignity, of an ancient and proud (albeit once treasonous) lineage. He was not a trembling wretch who must be coerced into action.

    If heroism was his destiny, and death his fate, then by Gilbert St. Vincent (of the legendary Mounted Chevaliers), he would face it with head held high, shoulders back, and a trusty pistol in both hands.

    “Dearie me.” Fate clucked her tongue at Alexander as she rocked the baby emperor. “What is that expression on your face? One would think you had just eaten sour apples.”

    His shoulders slumped. “I’m looking heroic.”

    Miss Destiny sniffed and tossed her dark head. “Yes, you do that. A little practice won’t go amiss. Meanwhile, it’s time we were on the road. “Our enemies cannot be far behind.”

    “What road?” Alexander swung his pistols to encompass the swamp. “We’re in the middle of nowhere.”

    “It may not be the King’s Highway, but there is a road, and we’ll strike it soon. I merely led us on a little shortcut.”

    “Oh well, in that ca—” Alexander broke off as Miss Destiny took a step closer, her eyes flashing dangerously.

    “And no, this is not the middle of nowhere. Trust me. I’ve been there. It’s much worse.” She spun with the precision of a military turn and glided away, heeled shoes barely sinking into the muck.

    Alexander grunted. “Is she always like that?”

    To his surprise, Fate answered. “No, she’s usually much harder. It’s most troubling.” Hugging the bundled baby Emperor Caldwell VI to her chest, she started after Destiny, calling back over her shoulder, “I think she likes you.”

    The words froze Alexander in place. He fumbled for a reply, while his brain screamed panicked words that thankfully didn’t make it to his lips. Every instinct told him to run away. But he just stood there.

    Helpless as the dead ogre.

    It was merely a jest, he reassured himself. An ill-favored jest. Fate didn’t—couldn’t—honestly intend for him to take is seriously.

    “Do try to keep up!” Destiny’s voice broke through the haze of his thoughts and propelled him into a stumbling walk. “We are on rather a tight schedule, and we do have someone highly important to meet.”

    Meet. Someone.

    Right.

    Alexander bolted after Destiny and Fate, crashing through the swamp underbrush and sinking up to his knees in mud as he tried to catch up. “So, this someone … are they a friend or a foe?”

    “That depends.”

    Destiny sounded completely unconcerned—a fact which by now only made Alexander more nervous.

    Where is Destiny leading them? And who are they going to meet? Vote for your preferred choice of setting and new character.

    Setting Option 1: An abandoned mine shaft

    Setting Option 2: A wharfside tavern

    Setting Option 3: An overgrown hut on the far side of the swamp

    Character Option 1: A third sister, as of yet unnamed. One who is neither very fond of—nor very beloved by—Destiny and Fate. (Taken from a brilliant suggestion from Allison Ruvidich!)

    Character Option 2: A cannibalistic giant king, who lost his family and his eye to Emperor Caldwell V in battle.

    Character Option 3: A down on his luck con-wizard who is prone to making dismal predictions. He can scarce speak a word with predicting the end of the world or some other disaster. His name—wait for it—Doomsday.

    *     *     *     *      *

    Remember, we have moved to a bi-weekly schedule with When Destiny Comes Calling so I can keep up with my other deadlines and get published copies of my books into y’all’s hands soon. But be sure to stop by this next Friday because I have something very fun planned while y’all are waiting on the next installment! Y’all are going to love it.