Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Portal Fantasy Giveaway #2—Realm Walkers

Portal Fantasy Giveaway

I escaped from prison once.

Dug my way out with a stick and my bare hands. Emerged on the other side, sweaty and victorious, and threw my head back to revel in the free air. A second later, I took to the woods at the heels of my big sis so the guards wouldn’t spot us and run us down. But it as only a matter of minutes before we heard the dogs barking on our trail.

And after that, of course it wasn’t long before Mom called us in for dinner, and we tramped up to the house, dirt streaked and grinning from our play. We swiftly bundled the dogs back into our “prison,” their kennel, and then trooped inside for dinner.

A couple of minutes later, we heard the dogs scratching at the door. Turns out that a hole big enough for a seven year old is plenty big enough for a pair of dogs. So we spent the next day filling back in our brilliant escape tunnel, but the damage had already been done. From that moment on, we had a pair of escape artist dogs. We never were able to keep them in that kennel, or any pen, for long after that.

Now I can practically see you scratching your heads and saying “Well that’s a mighty fine story, Gillian, but what does it have to do with this post?” And I’m so glad you asked, because I … did … have a great answer to that question. In fact, the story tied in brilliantly for this post … but I cannot for the life of me remember how.

In any case, it is time for the next giveaway!

For our second giveaway this month, I’m happy to be able to offer the winner’s choice of one of the books from Donita K. Paul’s Realm Walkers series: One Realm Beyond or Two Renegade Realms. If you haven’t read one of Ms. Paul’s fantasy novels before, then I must tell you that they are marvelously whimsical and fairy tale-ish and always have a host of intriguing and unique characters! Enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter below, but first, I’d love to tell you a bit about the book.

[Note: Due to the unusual number of portals reportedly opening over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans  and allegedly responsible for the disappearance of countless book shipments, I’m afraid that paperback copies are limited to US winners only. Ebooks, however, are available for international winners. Good luck!]

One Realm Beyond cover

One Realm Beyond, Book One

Cantor D’Ahma waited his whole life for this day. Born with a gift to jump between worlds, the young realm walker is finally ready to leave his elderly mentor and accept his role as protector and defender of the realms.

But mere hours after he steps through his first portal, Cantor discovers that his job will be more dangerous and difficult than he ever imagined. The realms are plagued with crime and cruelty, and even members of the once-noble Realm Walkers Guild can no longer be trusted. To make matters worse, his first assignment—finding a dragon to assist him on his quest—has led him to Bridger, who is clearly inept and won’t leave him alone.

With the help of his new friends Bixby and Dukmee, Cantor must uncover the secrets of the corrupt guild before they become too powerful to be stopped. But his skills aren’t progressing as fast as he would like, and as he finds himself deeper and deeper in the guild’s layers of deceit, Cantor struggles to determine where his true allegiance lies.

Find One Realm Beyond on Goodreads/Amazon

Donita K. Paul picture

Meet the Author

Donita K. Paul retired early from teaching school, but soon got bored! The result: a determination to start a new career. Now she is an award-winning novelist writing Christian Romance and Fantasy. She says, “I feel blessed to be doing what I like best.”

She mentors all ages, teaching teenagers and weekly adult writing workshops.

“God must have imprinted 'teacher' on me clear down to the bone. I taught in public school, then home schooled my children, and worked in private schools. Now my writing week isn’t very productive unless I include some time with kids.”

Her two grown children make her proud, and her two grandsons make her laugh.

Bio from Donita K. Paul’s website

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Portal Fantasy Giveaway #1—River of Time

Portal Fantasy Giveaway

Lo and behold, it’s time for the next giveaway! The focus for this month is portal fantasy, for those of us who wish our closets were doorways to other worlds or that there was a Narnia at the back of every wardrobe, but must content ourselves with books instead.

So I am exited that Lisa Tawn Bergren has offered you the winner’s choice of one book from the River of Time series! I first discovered this series a couple of years ago and quickly devoured the books as they became available, beguiled by the idea of two sisters whisked off to medieval Italy.

Enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter below, but first, a bit about the books …

Waterfall cover

Waterfall, Book One

Gabriella has never spent a summer in Italy like this one. Remaining means giving up all she’s known and loved … and leaving means forfeiting what she’s come to know—and love itself.

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives with their parents, famed Etruscan scholars, among the romantic hills. In Book One of the River of Time series, Gabi and Lia are stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, boring, and dusty archeological site … until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.

And thus she comes to be rescued by the knight-prince Marcello Forelli, who takes her back to his father’s castle—a castle Gabi has seen in ruins in another life. Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting. But what do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?

Find Waterfall on Amazon/Add it on Goodreads

LTB_author_picAbout the Author

Lisa Tawn Bergren is the best-selling, award-winning author of over 40 books, with more than 2.5 million copies sold. Her most recent works includes a YA series called River of Time (Waterfall, Cascade, Torrent, Bourne & Tributary), God Gave Us Easter, a devotional called Upside-Down Prayers for Parents and the Grand Tour Series (Glamorous Illusions, Grave Consequences, and Glittering Promises). She’s currently at work on a new YA series called Remnants, coming out in 2014.

Lisa’s time is split between managing home base, writing, and working on ducks with her husband, Tim (RMrustic.com). Tim’s a worship leader, graphic designer and duck-sculptor. They have three kids–Olivia (18), Emma (15) and Jack (10).

The Bergrens make their home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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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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