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.

Curious?

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 …


TheWordChangersNewCoverArt

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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

Aslan.

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

Betrayal.

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fantasy February Giveaway #2: Of the Persecuted

Fantasy February

Well, ladies and gents, I’m afraid I went into radio blog silence for the past two weeks without any warning, so I must apologize. BOOK TWO of the Songkeeper Chronicles is currently in the homestretch and gearing up to cross the finish line to my editor’s desk on March 1st, so until then, I have a bit of a single track mind … double track, actually, since I’m also thinking through last minute stuff before Out of Darkness Rising releases in one month!

In any case, expect me back and blogging full steam ahead after March 1st.

For this giveaway, I’m quite excited to be able to introduce y’all to Angie Brashear and her fantasy romance Of the Persecuted. I met Angie at an ACFW conference about a year and a half ago and was thrilled to discover that she was not only a fellow fantasy writer, but warm, friendly, and a fellow Texan to boot!

I’m ashamed to admit that I have not yet had a chance to read Of the Persecuted. It’s on my list, but BOOK TWO … well … enough said

Angie was sweet enough to offer three ebook copies of Of the Persecuted for the lucky winners, so you have triple the chance of winning this one. Enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter below, but first a little bit about the book …


OtP - eBook Cover

About the Book

Laila Pennedy awaits death by hanging. For the Rendow Clan rules the Woodlands Region, aiming to slaughter the Faithful. And she deserves to die. But Lars Landre, the man destined to lead the Faithful out of persecution, has other plans hidden behind his rare and mysterious blue eyes. Rescue.

Following the daring escape, Laila seeks the path of a warrior and vows revenge against the Rendow Clan. She embarks on a dangerous journey with Lars, one in which they endeavor to reach the promised safety of a magical village, to train for battle, and to ultimately assure freedom for those with faith in the Maker.

Clashes of weapons and souls. Brutal loss of lives. Unrequited love. How in all the Woodlands will Laila survive?

Add Of the Persecuted on Goodreads


Author Photo (1)

Meet the Author

When Angie Brashear isn’t working or taking care of her family, she writes. Usually at night after her kids fall asleep. She’s a fan of speculative fiction and an avid runner, both of which perplex her nonfiction-reading, football-loving husband. Saved in her early twenties, Angie is grateful for the Lord’s presence in all aspects of her life. She is originally from Rockland, Maine and currently resides in Cameron, Texas with her husband and three children. Follow her on Facebook (where she connects regularly with her readers), on Twitter, and on her website.


Since I wasn’t able to write up my own review or give y’all a behind-the-scenes look into the story, I figured it would be a good idea to share a little of what other readers have been saying about Of the Persecuted. Enjoy!


I could not put this book down! I read it cover to cover in less than 48 hours. The descriptions used by the author create a vivid image in the reader's mind of the magical setting for this spiritual journey of the characters. Definitely a must read!!! I've already recommended to friends and my online book club put it next in line.


Angie uses words in such a way that you feel like you could be watching a movie instead of merely reading words on a page. The integrity and simple, yet bold faith of her characters challenged me to consider the depth of my faith and my willingness to "fight the good fight". I would highly recommend this book to young and old (I am 57). You will not be disappointed. I'M HUNGRY FOR BOOK 2!!!


Step into a world of magical cities, heroic wars, creatures bound in evil and good, and a community of which you will miss once you close the book. Angie Brashear's writing impressed me from the start and I already itch for what her future writings will bring! Of the Persecuted is a fantastic debut. It's not just a story, it's a journey...and you'll be glad you took it.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks, Angie, for offering three copies of your book! I know the winners are looking forward to reading them.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Fantasy February Giveaway #1: Storm Siren

Fantasy February

February’s giveaway theme is Fantasy with just a touch of Romance! Because who doesn’t enjoy at least the possibility of a happily ever after thrown into the midst of a world filled with battles and peril?

Our first book is Storm Siren by Mary Weber.

Ever since this book came out, I’ve run into it so many times online and stumbled across so many glowing reviews that I just knew I had to read it, but it wasn’t until last week that I actually had a chance to pick it up.

Read on for my thoughts, but first, a bit about the book.


Storm-Siren-Mary-Weber

STORM SIREN

“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth—meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.


Mary Weber

MEET THE AUTHOR

Mary Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives. In her spare time, she feeds unicorns, sings 80’s hairband songs to her three muggle children, and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. They live in California, which is perfect for stalking L.A. bands, Joss Whedon, and the ocean.

Find her on Facebook, Twitter, or her Blog.

{photo courtesy of Sarah Kathleen Photography}

 


Back-page Pass - Storm Siren

MY TWO CENTS WORTH

Once I picked up Storm Siren, I had a hard time setting it back down. Set in a world of magical abilities, horrifying foes, friends and frenemies, (and with just a touch of a steampunkish feel slipping through now and again), Storm Siren is a fascinating, enjoyable, and altogether intriguing YA read.

Not to imply that the story is all fun and games. The story progresses at a rapid pace, pausing only to explain the histories of the nations involved as needed. No fantasy adventure would be complete without a fair share of battles and training and desperate escapes, and Storm Siren is no exception. By the end of the book, the death toll is fairly high, but rather than feeling gratuitous, it only serves to highlight the dangers of the war facing Nym’s people and all that is truly at stake.

Nym makes for a sympathetic main character. Although she has lived as a slave in some form or another for most of her life, she is anything but a victim. And Colin is just too much fun. He’s sweet, a little goofy, and slightly adorable, but that doesn’t stop him from being quite formidable in battle.

(Slight Spoiler Alert: Can I just say that, despite all the readers who’ve been swooning over Eogan, I personally liked Colin so much better! I never really got Nym and Eogan’s “connection,” or saw anything between them other than that she thought he was really, really, really handsome … and we’re supposed to believe that he thinks the same about her … so it’s got to be love, right? Not exactly a firm basis for a relationship, if you ask me.)

As for Adora, well, let’s just say it’s been a long time since I have so thoroughly disliked and despised a character. From the first time I met her, I couldn’t help hoping she would get her comeuppance and that it would be a doozy! Note: partly because of Adora, and partly because of Nym and Eogan, I’d suggest reserving this book for older readers, ages 14+ or so.

I was not overly fond of the hissing speech pattern given to one of the slightly more dubious characters in the story. It seemed like too much of a desperate attempt to make this character seem stereotypically evil, but that’s just my two cents.

Long story short, I did enjoy reading Storm Siren, and I’m sure I will pick up the next book, Siren’s Fury, when it releases!


Note: Due to the vast difficulties and expenses involved in finding a carrier pigeon large enough to make a transatlantic flight with a book bound to its leg, this particular giveaway is open only to the US.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 30, 2015

Out of Darkness Rising Announcement and Giveaway



It is with great excitement that I can finally announce the upcoming release of another book! Mark your calendars, my dears. 


Out of Darkness Rising comes March 15th!

(Houston, we have a date.)

This book has been a long time in the making. I cut my writing teeth on it way back in the day. It began as a short story. The short story became a novella. The novella found a publisher, and now, a good many years later, you will be able to read it in just a month and a half.

To say I’m over the moon would be a slight understatement!


In the meantime, scroll down to feast your eyes on this beautiful cover, watch the book trailer, enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy, and enjoy the rest of the goodies below …


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?


COMING MARCH 15, 2015







THE FUN STUFF:

  • Add the novella on Goodreads to showcase your marvelously good taste.
  • Meet Marya, one of the main characters. (Did I mention I enjoy throwing on a costume now and then?)
  • Enter the giveaway! To celebrate this exciting occasion, I’m offering 3 Advance Reader Copies of Out of Darkness Rising so three lucky winners will have the opportunity to read the book before anyone else. The prizes will be shipped out to the winners as soon as they’re ready.

    Paperbacks are available only to US residents, but I hate leaving all you lovely folks across the pond out, so I'm happy to provide digital prize copies for y'all.


Thanks to these wonderful folks for highlighting Out of Darkness Rising on their blogs today and helping to spread the word! Y’all are positively the best.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Villainy 101: Master-Minding Murder and Mayhem—Weapons of Intelligence

TOP SECRET COMM. #10

FROM: THE SPY

TO: READERS OF THE BLOG

By the time, this reaches you, I’ll probably be dead. Not really … but more than likely. I’m smack dab in the middle of my next assigned. (No, can’t tell you what it is. Top secret, remember?) I’m deep undercover … really deep. And dark, too. Communication is only possible through homing bats—weird, I know.

All I can say is it’s a harrowing world out here.

Almost makes me wish for the relative safety of my time spent spying at the Academy of Ultimate Villainy. You know it’s bad when a fellow gets nostalgic about three months spent studying villainous deeds under villainous professors, rooming with villainous students, and getting flunked for not cheating on villainous exams.

Yeah. Go figure.

Anyway, figured I’d send y’all the next lecture from Professor Hornbuckle’s class. Hope you enjoy and learn lots of villainous little tricks so you can prepare your heroes to fight. That is why you’re reading this, right? Cause if I thought you authors were using these lectures to train your villainous characters, well, I might just up and quit.

The Spy, signing off.


Master-Minding Murder and Mayhem: A Villain’s Arsenal Part Two

Master-Minding Murder and Mayhem2

Spy’s Note: Nineteen minutes and thirty seconds after class was supposed to begin, Professor Hornbuckle crashes through the door. A couple of students were already gathering up their things and preparing to leave. Before they can sit down again, guards appear and drag them away.

Professor Hornbuckle doesn’t even wait for their pleas for mercy to die down before he begins.

The pop quiz will be at the end of class. We are continuing our discussion on the vast array of weapons in a sage villain’s arsenal and focusing on three main classes of weapon: force, intelligence, and subterfuge.

Last week, we focused on weapons of force. Today we shall discuss, weapons of intelligence.

Weapons of Intelligence

A villain should not rely on force or strength alone to achieve his or her dastardly schemes. The second class of weapons in our deadly arsenal are of a somewhat more refined and intellectual sort … but no less dirty than the others.

To quote a rather modest and troubled young villain, “… in this splendid world of ours, information is currency.” (Top marks to the student who can recall to which villain that quote is attributed!)

Though he, sadly, was not a graduate of our nefarious institution, that in no way lessens the truth of his words.

Indeed, he who holds the knowledge holds the power. There are many ways in which to gather, utilize, and disseminate information. We shall touch upon only a few.

Spies and Informants

Whether they be computer hackers, eavesdropping enchantments, or minions in disguise, spies and informants are a villain’s prime means of gathering information. Any spy ring should be multi-layered and vast, like a spider’s web. (Cliché, I know. Bear with me.)

But while spies and informants are invaluable, they can also prove your greatest weakness. Rest assured that any man who is willing to sell you information is undoubtedly also willing to sell it to your enemies for an equal price.

Spies and informants must thus be doubly expendable. Loose ends do not a strong spider web make.

Blackmail

Aside from using your knowledge of his affairs to foil your enemy again and again, blackmail is one of the most useful aspects of intellectual warfare. An army of minions and evil henchmen—excellent. A spy ring—top marks. A vast web of unconnected sleeper agents who appear to be ordinary people going about their ordinary lives, with no ties or connections to the criminal world, just waiting for the word to spring into action—brilliant!

And that can be achieved through blackmail.

Dig up the right bit of dirt on the right sort of people and the world will fall at your feet.

Frame Job

Most of the time we villains like to lay claim to our evil deeds—watching our rep and building cred and what not. But on occasion, there can be nothing more delightful than laying the blame for our reprehensible crimes on our enemies and watching their worlds crash and burn.

All it takes is a little tidbit whispered here, a wad of cash inserted there, with a dash of forged evidence on the top, and voila, a masterpiece.

Controlling information enables you to disseminate what you want to who you want in whatever form you want. Which brings us rather handily to our final point …

Control

In the end, information is all about control. Selectively spreading or withholding information or seeding misinformation will enable you to govern the actions of not only your minions but ordinary citizens and those desperate heroes as well.

For example, should your civilians comes under the notion that you are a tyrant, simply spread a little panic with rumor of upcoming threats, and they’ll buckle down beneath your tyrannical rule to keep the safety it provides.

And that is just one tiny glimpse of the innumerable options that control of information provides you.

Always remember, a good villain should always have another secret … and the victor writes history.

Ah, that would be the bell. It appears we are out of time. Turn over the quizzes on your desks. I hope you brought a lot of pencils—you have a lot of writing to do and only ten minutes to make your next classes—and I don’t need to remind you that you don’t want to be late.

In our next lecture, we shall move on to weapons of subterfuge. For your homework assignment, you must read pages 17-37 in Unearthing Skeletons—A Blackguard’s Guide to Blackmailing, pages 78-113 in Spy Rings for Dummies, and chapters 7, 11, and 21 in The 10 Step Plan for Achieving World Domination. I expect a twelve page, single-spaced essay detailing the various instances in which the different aspects of intellectual warfare might be most effective by tomorrow morning.

Seven minutes until your next class. I suggest you get to work on that quiz…


Whew, glad I’m not in Professor Hornbuckle’s class! Do you have any tips for the aspiring villain on how to go about choosing or using intellectual warfare? If so, share in the comments!

Did you enjoy the post? Share with a friend, leave a comment, or pin it on Pinterest! Need more villainous humor to start off your day?

Enjoy other posts from the Academy of Ultimate Villainy

Friday, January 23, 2015

When Destiny Comes Calling—Installment Ten

It is with great pleasure, that I announce the first Installment of When Destiny Comes Calling of 2015 and the tenth since our little serial “short-ish” story began.

If you feel a little refresher course is in order, or you haven’t heard of a “serial short-ish story” or you have no clue who Destiny is and why she came calling, I suggest you travel here before proceeding to read the rest of the post.

It’s been a terribly long time since I’ve sat down to discuss military strategies from the days of Corporal Sackinajaw Pickering with Alexander or bandied snobbish looks with Destiny or traded witty words with Fate, so I was terribly excited when I realized it was high time the next installment appeared.

I hope you enjoy it, my dear friends, as much as I did.

And don’t forget to leave a comment with your vote for the beginning of the next installment!


When Destiny Comes Calling - 10

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?”

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.”

“The end is coming!” Doomsday’s voice filled the entire room. The smoke billowed and grew until the wizard could no longer be seen. Then came a blinding flash, a bang, something remarkably like the creak of a lever, and the room erupted in screams in terror.

With a sweep of his arm, Alexander shoved Fate behind him and grasped for the hilt of his sword. But the maddening woman seized his arm and kept him from drawing.

“Unhand me, ma’am! I am trying to protect you.” He tried in vain to shake her off, but her grip only tightened.

“Settle down. There’s no need to panic.” With her free hand, she patted the back of his head, as one would a child. Or a dog. “Gracious me, you are a bit of a rabbit, aren’t you?”

“I say!” He bit back his indignation at what seemed a very unfair assessment, given the fact that he had just tried to shield her with his own body. Gradually, his vision cleared, and through the dissipating smoke, he saw that the room was empty—the audience must have run off—and Destiny stood alone on the stage.

His mouth dropped open, and his hand fell from his sword hilt. “By General Harkenbreaker’s unbreakable lance, the man really is a wizard!”

Destiny fixed him with a disapproving stare. “Foolish tricks that fool only fools. Care to take a closer look?” She stamped her foot on a knot in the stage floor, and there was another flash of smoke, a bang, and a creak, and suddenly she was gone too.

Only this time, a square opening remained in the floor.

By then, Alexander had deciphered her comment enough to realize that she had insulted him. Again. And he was pained to admit that he deserved it.

Of course it was a trapdoor. Con-artists and charlatans, that’s all these wizards ever were, if his father, Baron Midsig, were to be believed. He felt remarkably foolish … and it wasn’t a feeling he much enjoyed.

“Go ahead.” Fate nodded toward the stage. “She’s waiting for you … and she doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”

Moving in a bit of a daze—honestly, had he been doing anything else since this whole senseless adventure began?—Alexander marched up on stage and lowered himself into through the opening. He landed hard, knees jammed up into his chest.

Gasping for breath, he picked himself up and found that he was in the oddest sort of underground wizard’s lair one could imagine. One corner possessed all of the usual things one might expect—bulbous cauldrons, dusty books, spider webs—honestly, why the spider webs?—and a collection of staffs of various sizes, shapes, and woods. It looked dark and deliciously dangerous.

Alexander started at the thought. Since when had he been the sort to court danger? Other than his oft imagined but far off hopes for a future in the military. But had he mentioned those were distant dreams?

Very distant?

The rest of the room, however, could only be described as remarkably comfortable … and homey. A cushiony couch, complete with a hoard of pillows and thick throw blankets sat invitingly before a fireplace. Destiny sat at a kitchen table clad in red checkered cloth with a vase overflowing with blue flowers in the middle. In fact, everywhere he looked, Alexander saw vases of flowers and potted plants and little gardening spades.

“Have a seat, won’t you?” Destiny flicked a graceful hand at the chair beside her.

Alexander stumbled over and plopped into the seat. Only then did he see Wizard Doomsday…

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 man was standing, peaked hat in hand, narrow face clean shaven, enormous beard and wad of tangled black hair clenched in one hand. He looked so completely different, that Alexander almost didn’t recognize him, but there was no mistaking the glum look on his voice or the doleful voice that filled the underground room.

“Have you come to end Wizard Doomsday?”

He looked so terribly sad that Alexander couldn’t help feeling sorry for him. But Destiny simply steepled her fingers and smiled sweetly over the top of her perfectly kept nails. It was the sort of smile a spider might give a fly.

“Yes, I have.”


Option 2:

The wizard stood with his hands clasped in front of him, brows knotted, and an expression of terrible woe upon his face. “I see, madam, that Wizard Doomsday has met his match at last. By what dark magic have you uncovered my secrets?”

Destiny smiled, and once again, Alexander was struck by the terrible coldness of that smile. “If I revealed my secrets with the same carelessness that you do yours, you might have reason to fear the ending of the world you so enjoy proclaiming.”

Alexander was still working out that little puzzle, when she swung lightly across the table and perched on the edge, swords appearing magically in her hands.

“Now”—another smile—“let us begin, who are you working for?”


Option 3:

The wizard 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 one 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.”


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dystopian January Giveaway #2: The Safe Lands

dystopian-january

For the second Dystopian giveaway this month, I’m very excited to be able to offer the winner’s choice of one book from the Safe Lands series by Jill Williamson. Excited because she is one incredible author, not to mention one of my first writing mentors and friends!

The Safe Lands series deals with some tough issues, so it’s not one for younger readers. But I love the story behind the story—imagined during a study on the book of Daniel as what it might look like for modern teenagers to be plucked from their homes and thrown into a Babylonian type society. Fascinating, right? Can you imagine the challenges and temptations they might face? Jill did.

Enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter below! Jill was kind enough to provide a copy of her book for the giveaway and write up a guest post providing a little behind-the-scenes look at the Safe Lands.


CaptivesCaptives (Book One)

In a dystopian future, eighteen-year-old Levi returns from Denver City with his latest scavenged treasures and finds his village of Glenrock decimated, loved ones killed, and many–including his fiancée, Jem–taken captive. Now alone, Levi is determined to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means entering the Safe Lands, a walled city that seems anything but safe.

Omar knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away, but helping the enforcers was necessary. Living off the land and clinging to an outdated religion holds his village back. The Safe Lands has protected people since the plague decimated the world generations ago … and its rulers have promised power and wealth beyond Omar’s dreams.

Meanwhile, their brother Mason has been granted a position inside the Safe Lands, and may be able to use his captivity to save not only the people of his village, but also possibly find a cure for the virus that threatens everyone within the Safe Lands’ walls. Will Mason uncover the truth hidden behind the Safe Lands’ façade before it’s too late?

Find out more about Outcasts (Book Two) and Rebels (Book Three)


Jill Williamson author photoMeet the Author

Jill Williamson is a chocolate-loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms and the award-winning author of several teen novels including By Darkness Hid (fantasy) and Captives (dystopian). She’s a Whovian, a Photoshop addict, and a recovering fashion design assistant, who grew up in Alaska without electricity. She currently lives with her husband and two children in Eastern Oregon, where there are more deer and cows than people. She blogs for teen writers at www.goteenwriters.com. You can also visit her online at www.jillwilliamson.com, where adventure comes to life


Back-Page Pass - The Safe Lands final

Note: This article was originally published elsewhere online and is reproduced here with the author’s permission for your enjoyment!

My Safe Lands series is dystopian, like The Hunger Games or Divergent, so it takes place in the future. Regardless, there are things I see now and then that instantly remind me of my storyworld.

Here are the five things I see most often that transport me to the Safe Lands.

1. Beth Moore

I came up with this story while in my ladies Bible study. We were working through Beth Moore’s study on Daniel. She asked us to think about some teenage boys we knew and how they might cope if they were taken from their homes and forced to live as captives in a modern-day Babylon. I couldn’t stop thinking about that scenario, and that’s where my book Captives came from. It tells the story of three brothers who’ve been taken prisoner in a city that is anything but safe.

And every time I see Beth or one of her books, I think of those brothers!

2. Tattoos

In my dystopian city, there is a technology that allows virtual tattoos. This is done by getting chips injected under the skin that can display simulated artwork—or SimArt—on the outside of the skin. So every time I see tattoos, they remind me of the SimArt in my books.

3. Cigarettes

Everyone in the Safe Lands has a disease, and meds are given through personal vaporizers, also called PVs. These are similar to electronic cigarettes. In the Safe Lands, anything can be vaped: meds, candy, alcohol, drugs. So whenever I see someone smoking, I think of the PVs in the Safe Lands.

4. Doctor’s offices

Since everyone in the Safe Lands has a disease, several of the scenes in my books take place in an exam room. I can’t go to the doctor’s office myself or with my kids without getting an eerie feeling of being in the Safe Lands. Yikes!

5. Reporters

There are two reporters in the Safe Lands who communicate everything to the public. Finley Gray and Luella Flynn also host the Finley and Flynn Morning Show. These two are the people everyone looks to for fashion advice, celebrity gossip, and the truth. I get a little shudder when I see reporters on TV, wondering if what they’re telling me is true or false.

 


Thanks, Jill, for sharing a little bit about your story world and offering this giveaway copy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway