Face of “The Song Caster” Unveiled! (Fairy Tale Fortnight)

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As of Sunday, it’s Fairy Tale Fortnight! – an annual two-week, multi-blog extravaganza brought to you by The Book Rat and A Backwards Story.

Fairy tale lover that I am, I simply had to participate this year. You can check out my guest post on living a fairytale life and a flash fiction fairytale retelling o’ mine featured on A Backwards Story (complete with a **giveaway!**).And I couldn’t think of a better way to kick things off here on Ever On Word than with a cover reveal for the next installment of my fairytale spin/retelling/mash-up series of novellas, The Wilderhark Tales. Ready? You wanna see? Yes, yes?

“Skies above, author, get on with it!”

*cough* Yes, Lute. Behold!

Song Caster Cover, front

Is it not marvelous?!

“Naturally, it is,” says Lute, well pleased. “It showcases me. The rear view, anyway. I see how it is: Edgwyn’s face for two covers, my back for one. Your favoritism is far less than subtle, Danielle.”

The cover is just what I asked for, thank you – or, I’d do better to say, thank you to Yana Naumova, Wilderhark artist extraordinaire.

That’s right, everyone: Back by popular demand (both from readers who loved him in “The Seventh Spell”, and from, well, him), it’s Gant-o’-the-Lute in a book all his own! (Which is totally available to add to your “want to read” shelf on GoodReads, by the way.)

The dull doom of impending marriage at his back and a reticent royal at his side, remarkable minstrel Gant-o’-the-Lute is off in search of adventure, and you can be sure he finds it – complete with much music, magicked maidens, and a dangerous power so great, Lute might for once find himself outmatched.

The Song Caster

Book Four of The Wilderhark Tales

Who’s ready to read more? ^^

No, seriously. Who’s ready to read more? I’m looking for advance readers! If you’re willing to read and review “The Song Caster” ahead of its scheduled release on June 24th, drop me a line via my contact page and I’ll send you a PDF of the tale in all its practically completed glory!

“You’ll not regret it,” Luc informs you. “Rumor from amongst the earliest of early reviewers has it this Wilderhark Tale is the best of the lot. Purely a matter of opinion, of course, but as it’s an opinion I second wholeheartedly, might as well call it ‘matter of fact’ as not.”

That’s the spirit. Also in the spirit of Fairy Tale Fortnight and all things Gant-o’-the-Lute, stay tuned during the next two weeks as I share excerpts from a never-before-released (and not entirely finished, yet) story chronicling the life of our minstrel in blue prior to his introduction in Wilderhark Tale #3.

“An inspired treat!” says Lute, delighted.

No – a “Song Caster” treat. “Inspired”s that other book I wrote.

“Hilarious.”

Reviewers have called it witty, yeah.

“Stop.”

*sigh* Yes, Lute.

Soooooo… What’s everybody think of the “Song Caster” cover?!

Scarlet’s Fairytale Spin, Act 8

W.A.I.T. Button, 78 percent

“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Bloom’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a moving set, hedge walls of various heights and lengths slipping across the stage as if upon a conveyor belt. Walking among, around, before, and behind the hedges as they go past are Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow and Will Scarlet as The Woodsman.]

Will/Woodsman [to the audience ]: During last week’s installment of our serial fairytale skit—

Allyn/Jack [to the Woodsman ]: Your series of bombshell revelations turned everything I thought I knew about my life on its head.

Will/Woodsman: Ye-eah. Sorry about that. But we can’t allow any of that to let us lose focus. We still have a Beast to vanquish, and a mutual loved one to save.

Allyn/Jack: Wendy Darling. Your wife. And my mother.

Will/Woodsman [nodding ]: The Beast slipped through our fingers, a couple scenes back, but, while initially frustrating, that’s actually to our advantage. We’ll never get a better chance than now to search his garden for Wendy!

Allyn/Jack: If only he didn’t have to surround every little piece of his property with hedge mazes. How in the world did you and Mother ever get in to steal from the Beast in the first place?

Will/Woodsman [flashing a grin ]: You come from a short line of geniuses, that’s how.

[The last of the moving hedges behind them, Will and Allyn emerge into an open space dominated by a tower with a massive pumpkin shell at its top.]

Will/Woodsman: There! That’s where he’s keeping her! [raises voice louder ] Wendy! Darling!

Marion/Wendy[‘s voice from within the pumpkin shell ]: Peter? After all these years, can it be you?

Will/Woodsman: The one and only! Oh, but not only. Our son’s here, too!

Marion/Wendy: Peter, dear idiot, you had one job. I say to keep Jack well away from the Beast, and what do you do? Leave him in a basket on our enemy’s doorstep, all swaddled up in a pink paisley blanket!

Allyn/Jack: He’s not dressed me up in pink paisley yet, thank goodness. And I am no more a mere foundling child, Mother. I’m quite ready to shoulder my destiny as the chosen Santa Claus, and if that means defeating the Antichristmas Beast, than so shall I do – after we’ve rescued you.

Marion/Wendy: That is bold and beautiful of you, honey, but it’s not as simple as all that.

Allyn/Jack: Why? What’s the difficulty? The pumpkin’s not enchanted, is it?

Marion/Wendy: No…

Will/Woodsman: Ah, but it will be! [reaches into his vest and pulls out a polished stick ]

Allyn/Jack: Good gracious, Woodsman, how long have you had a magic wand??

Will/Woodsman: Since I swiped it off the Beast’s nightstand, that’s when. I’m getting you down from there, Wendy, and then we’re all leaving here in style. [waves the wand in the air ] Bibbidi-bobbidi-boom!

[A shower of glitter falling from above, the pumpkin’s top unfolds into helicopter blades. The newly souped-up pumpkin (not to be confused with pumpkin soup) lifts from atop the tower and comes down to land beside Will and Allyn.]

Will/Woodsman: At long last, I shall hold my darling Wendy in my arms again. And you, Jack, shall properly meet your mother. In we come, my love!

[With another wave of the wand, a piece of the pumpkin shell opens into a door, revealing… no sign of a woman anywhere. Nothing but a flower pot holding a purple rose. Will and Allyn gasp.]

Marion/Wendy: I tried to warn you. The pumpkin’s not enchanted. [the rose’s purple bloom bobs ] But I am.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Susan Francino,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘a purple rose’ and ‘pink paisley’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! Until next week, friends! Will and Allyn out!”

Blog Tour’s End, Next Chapter’s Beginning

Got a double order of business, for ya! About a month back, Michelle Proulx tagged me in a blog hop, so I’m pleased to be finally getting around to participating in that. And afterward, we’ve got the final stops on the “Inspired” blog tour to summarize. Let’s get hoppin’!

Part One: The Writing Process Blog Hop

1) What are you working on?

It’s April – a.k.a, Camp NaNoWrimo, a.k.a. one of those glorious months where I tell the affairs of “real life” to take a number while I put writing first. This time around, I’m working on a follow-up to “Inspired”. Same amazing characters, startling new situation. Beyond that… *zips lips*

2) How does your work differ from others in the genre?

Since “Inspired” apparently qualifies as literary fiction, I expect that means its sequel will, too. A quick online search for a genre definition still leaves me a bit confused as to what literary fiction even is, but I’m getting the sense that it has to do with language style, a character-driven story, perhaps pays little heed to convention, and, I dunno, makes some sort of philosophical commentary on the human condition? Mmm…okay. I don’t generally tend to think of my work as all that serious, but if we can have all that and throw in some lighthearted laughs, then sure, what the hey, call my novel baby literary!

3) Why do you write what you write?

Because they’re the stories in me that demand to be told. Because it feels right when my head is in those worlds. Because it’s fun, and it’s fulfilling, and I want to be a friend to the characters therein. And if I don’t get these things down on paper, who will?

4) How does your writing process work?

Once I’ve got an idea I want to pursue, I get started on mapping out the story’s arc. I get down what I know, and brainstorm answers to all the questions that crop up along the way. I track what the characters are up to at any given time, and probe their motivations and emotional states. There’s a lot of wondering, “Now what?” as I strive to hook everything up to, y’know, an actual plot. Eventually I’ll have a beginning, an end, and a semi-solid grip on what goes on in between. Nothing to do after that but write out the book, one eye on the plan, the other on the surprises that characters are always pulling out of the blue. In a NaNo month like this, it shouldn’t take more than three-and-a-half weeks before I’ve got a lovely unedited draft on my hands.

Now I’ve got four other author friends to tag. If they’re up for hopping in, I nominate the following:

Tirzah Duncan, author of Cry of the Nightbird;

Emerald Barnes, author of Entertaining Angels;

Kimberly Kay, author of Sleepless Beauty (One More Day);

and Alexander Nader, author of Beasts of Burdin.

Part Two: Meanwhile, on the “Inspired” blog tour…

On Friday, my interview with Laney McMann addressed the important questions, like: Which of my “Inspired” characters would I first reach to save if they all fell off a cliff?

Monday on the blog of fellow One More Day anthology author Erika Beebe, I compiled a list of ten fictional characters in my life who have inspired me.

And my last-but-not-least stop takes place today on the blog of Emi Gayle, where I’ve been author-interviewed!

To catch up on any tour stops you missed, you can check out the full schedule on my website’s homepage. And of course, though the tour may be over, the fantastic book behind it all is still gloriously available for purchase. So if you feel thus inspired, make sure to get your copies!

 

P.S. – Last chance to enter my giveaway for a shot at nabbing the awesome free “Inspired” goodies up for grabs! I’ll be back later with an edit announcing the seven lucky winners. Stay tuned!

Edit: And the giveaway winners are…

Abishan bookmark = Kendra Conine!

Wilbur bookmark = Desnica Kumar!

Uri bookmark = Emerald Barnes!

Yves bookmark = Laurie Goudge!

Annabelle bookmark = Chelsea de la Cruz!

Luc bookmark = Tirzah Duncan!

“Inspired” paperback, signed = Mara Jacobi!

Congratulations, one and all, and thanks to everyone who in any way joined in the celebration of the release of “INSPIRED”!

In Which I Arrive at Fame and the Big Four-Double-Oh

Today’s post, ladies and gentlemen and assorted rogues, is my 400th on the Ever On Word blog! A very special occasion! …for which I had no special event planned. (I mean, I have a giveaway going on that you should totally enter because it’s awesome, but that’s incidental.) So I thought this would be a fine time to tell you about an even more special event that took place a few weeks back: My first ever live, in-home author interview with two young girls named Mira and Caroline.

It’s Not What You Know. It’s Who the People Who Know People You Know…Know.

Gotta love having friends in high places – or in high fashion, in the case of a designer friend o’ the family who was fantastic enough to talk me up to some folks who work at a local bookstore. And those folks, in turn, somehow ended up giving my name to a school with a couple of girls looking for an author to interview.

Once I was done dancing giddily around the house to a little song that went “AAAAAAUGH, bookstore people are recommending me to schools! Children have been conned into thinking I’m famous! Shiny new levels of legitimacy, unlocked!” (sing along if you know this one), I e-mailed the school to express my eager delight at the prospect of accommodating the girls in their pursuit of firsthand authorial info.

Be the Awesomeness You Want to See in the World.

Upon receipt of my number, Mira phoned me on behalf of herself and her colleague to arrange a date and time suitable to come a-calling. (Don’t tell her I said so, but she was so adorable, it turned my voice to sugar. I will never sound nicer than when talking to children innocent by virtue of having yet to be proved guilty of obnoxiousness.)

I was a little nervous about letting the kids and whoever ferried them hither into my house (i.e., my bubble of protection against agonizing social situations). But, Come on, I told myself, think of the Awesome Points it would have added to your childhood if you’d gotten to sit down for a chat with a not-entirely-unfamous author in his/her home! Put that way, I saw no compelling reason to say no.

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and a Little Bit of Fiction Thrown In. (Also, Hair.)

My interviewers, aged 9 and 8, were relentless in their interrogation, frequently throwing out questions so fast, I could scarcely spit out half an answer! But among the questions I was able to address were…

“When did you start writing?” (Since I was younger than you, kiddos.)

“When did you decide to be an author?” (Not ‘til age 16 or so.)

“When you were a kid, what did you want to be?” (All sorts of things. Farmer, librarian, actress…)

“How many books have you written?” (I lost count ages ago.)

“How long did it take you to publish your first book?” (Somewhere around 8 years.)

“What is your favorite book you’ve written?” (Let’s pretend my upcoming “Outlaws of Avalon ” trilogy counts as one and say that.)

“What is your favorite book to read?” (Robin McKinley’s “Outlaws of Sherwood”. Mad love for the outlaws!)

“Do you like having curly hair?” (So long as it’s dry. Can’t do a thing with it, when wet.)

“Do you live here?” (Yeah, seemed easier to meet you in my own home than to kick somebody else out of theirs to use as our interview space for the morning.)

“What was your sister’s name, again?” (Dianne. *we all wave at Dianne, who’s fiddling with some electronic device in the next room*)

The gorgeous headshot that inspired the unforeseen line of questioning.

The gorgeous headshot that inspired the unforeseen line of questioning.

“Why did she shave her head?” (I don’t know. Dianne, why did you shave your head? *Dianne mumbles her hair’s journey over the years – blonde, shaved, Mohawk, the works*)

“When she dyed her hair blonde, did it grow blonde, or grow black?” (*Dianne and I guide the girls toward a greater understanding of hair dye*)

“How tall was her Mohawk?” (*Dianne holds her hand above her head for visual reference*)

“Is she wearing a hat?” (You’re looking right at her, Mira dear. You tell me. *we agree she is wearing a hat*)

“Why is she wearing a hat?” (*Dianne is bewildered past the point of surety*)

Along the way, I also learned much about Caroline’s reading tastes (she particularly enjoys mysteries and Roald Dahl’s “Matilda”), writing goals (among other things, there’s a mystery story of her own in the works), where she keeps what she calls “documentation” on her family (in her backpack pocket next to the forks, of course), and the perils of hiring very tall boys to play Peter Pan (harness issues).

But probably the moment that touched my heart most was when the girls shared their early concern that an author celebrity like myself might have been too important and busy to reply to an e-mail request for an interview with a couple of kids.

No, little dear ones. I am not (and hope I never shall be) too important and busy for the likes of you.

You Know You’ve Arrived When…

You Know You've Arrived When...

…Or actually, maybe you never do. I used to think there was a single line separating here from there, ambition from success, me from the famous author I intend to be. But where is that line? When you’ve written your first book? When an agent or publisher accepts it? When it’s bound between covers and available for sale? When a stranger buys a copy? When two little strangers, curious and precocious, come to your house looking to you for some answers on the recommendation of friends of a friend?

Looking backward and ahead from where I stand, there is no one line. There’s a whole sidewalk of them, marking out a trail of irregular squares, with exciting landmarks and milestones along the way I hadn’t even known to look for.

I have arrived, and am arriving, and shall someday arrive, this 400th blog post just one more line crossed along the way.

Thank You Note from Caroline and Mira

Scarlet’s Fairytale Spin, Act 7

W.A.I.T. Button, 78 percent

“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘The Woodsman’s Secret, Part 2’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on Will Scarlet as The Woodsman and Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow, Child of Destiny, standing exactly where we left them on the Beast’s bedroom set at the end of Act 6 – Will’s ridiculous hula skirt, go-go boots and all. Allyn’s face is a mask of shock in the wake of The Woodsman’s revelation.]

Allyn/Jack: Peter Pan, Peter Piper, and Peter Pumpkin-eater?? I never even knew you were one – how could you be all three??

Will/Woodsman [stepping out of the boots and skirt ]: Oh, I’m all that and more, Jack. It’s a pretty long story.

Allyn/Jack: Feel free to abridge.

Will/Woodsman [with a sigh of resignation ]: All right. It all began in London.

[The general stage lights dim a few watts, the better to feature the light that goes up against the back wall, casting silhouettes of the iconic Big Ben clock tower and a baby carriage.]

Will/Woodsman: I was young, and I wanted to stay that way. So I ditched my nanny and ran away, with the help of a fairy or two.

[Colored lights join the shadow puppet of an infant flying out of the pram and into the sky.]

Will/Woodsman: For years past counting, I lived in Neverland, aging so slowly that you’d hardly notice it. It was a miracle of timing that she managed to show up just as I hit adolescence.

Allyn/Jack: She?

Will/Woodsman [smiling wistfully ]: Wendy, of course. In the manner of fairytales, it was love at first sight. When she left Neverland, I followed after her. Hung around in her world, growing older at something closer to the speed of time. Her family was willing to look after me for a little while, but it wasn’t long before they starting going about how I was old enough to either get a job or starve. Starving didn’t appeal to me, so I tried the job route, to start.

[The shadows in the back-wall light become a puppet with a set of panpipes. A merry, airy tune blows up from the orchestra pit.]

Will/Woodsman: ‘Twas then I began to be called Peter Piper, for I played for tips on every street corner that didn’t run me off. It earned me just enough to get by, but then…

[The shadows rearrange into silhouettes of a man and a woman beneath a bower of flowers. The he-shadow lifts back the she-shadow’s veil and leans in for a kiss.]

Will/Woodsman: …We were finally married, Wendy and I. Had a nice little honeymoon in Europe – a few days in Italy, a little tour of France’s wine country… – and next thing you know, there’s a baby on the way. Piping didn’t get me anything near enough money for a family of three. I should have gotten another job, straight off, but what can I say? [a sorrowful shrug ] I was the boy who refused to grow up. Rather than do the responsible thing, I turned to thievery. Picked a peck of pickled peppers and a whole patch of pumpkins from a neighbor. And wouldn’t you know who that gardening neighbor was?

Allyn/Jack [with a gasp of comprehension ]: The Beast. You stole from the Beast’s garden, oh, you fool!

Will/Woodsman: Yes, I did, and barely escaped with my life. There were wanted posters up all over the place, calling for my head. I was forced to flee to the forest, leaving behind me every name I’d ever had. …along with my darling Wendy. [a laugh like a sob ]

Peter, Peter, pumpkin-eater; had a wife, and couldn’t keep her.

Beast put her in a pumpkin shell, and there he kept her very well.

Allyn/Jack: The Beast imprisoned Wendy?

Will/Woodsman: Not right away. He didn’t know, at first, that she was the pepper ‘n’ pumpkin thief’s wife. He might have left her alone forever, if only she hadn’t drawn attention to herself by turning thief, too.

Allyn/Jack: Oh, dear. And what did she steal?

Will/Woodsman [with a crooked smile ]: Zucchini, mostly. And one magic bean.

[Allyn stares wide-eyed at Will as the shadows play on, showing a magic beanstalk grown up to the cloudlands … a woman pursued by flying monkeys … a baby sent into the arms of The Woodsman before the monkeys carried the woman off to the pumpkin cell devised by the vengeful Beast. At the end, all lights, on the back wall and above, go out, save for a single spotlight trained on Will and Allyn.]

Allyn/Jack [voice trembling ]: Woodsman… Do you mean to say…?

Will/Woodsman [gently ]: Yes. It’s true, Jack Snow. You are more than the child I was tasked with taking to safety. More than the chosen Santa Clause. [lowers to one knee, arms open in an invitation, almost a plea ] You’re my son, Jack. My precious baby boy.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Susan Francino and Steven Bourelle,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘Italy’ and ‘wine’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! Until next week, friends! Will and Allyn out!”

Pics or It Didn’t Happen

The “Inspired” blog tour marches on! (Or Aprils on, by now.) Why, just look at what went down this past week:

Friday saw me interviewed on the JeanzBookReadNReview blog, talking writing, inspiration, favorite characters, and more!

Monday on the blog of Julie Antonovich Reece, I guest posted on my favorite type of hero. (Spoiler alert: Robin Hood’s name may come up. …I may also have used the term “spoiler” somewhat loosely.)

And Wednesday, I reminisce with The Parasite Guy on “Inspired”s fulfillment of ancient prophecy.

We’ve still got a few tour stops still to come (full schedule available on my website’s homepage), and the fantastic book behind it all is still gloriously available for purchase. So if you feel thus inspired, make sure to get your copies!

And don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win awesome free “Inspired” goodies…of which I now have pics! Check out the charms on these bookmarks, baby (photographed with tons of love in an effort to make up for any lack of skill)!

Inspired Bookmark, Abishan

One lucky winner’s bookmark will come with this sweet kitty – the great jungle god Abishan, portrayed here in housecat form.

Inspired Bookmark, Wilbur

Another’s bookmark will sport the figure of a chess set knight, a fitting representation of the chivalrous Sir Wilbur.

Inspired Bookmark, Uri

Our gal Uri may not be overly endowed with charm, but with this rockin’ little skateboard  attached, this bookmark couldn’t scream “Uri” louder if it had a set of lungs!

Inspired Bookmark, Yves

Finding the right charm for Yves took some doing, but I think those who know him will agree that this little bird in its pretty cage suits the boy quite well indeed.

Inspired Bookmark, Annabelle

I haven’t forgotten Annabelle! What better for a young lady of letters than a charm like a journal in which to scribe her beloved words? ^.^

And for Luc… oh, for our muse Lucianíel, I could scarcely believe my good fortune when I happened upon this little gem. Whichever muse inspired the making of this entirely perfect trinket, thank you! A dozen-dozen times, thank you!

Inspired Bookmark, Luc

Like I said, folks: This is a giveaway you don’t wanna forget to enter!

Psst. Just curious: Which of the bookmark charms are your favorites? ^^

Secret [of the Souls] No Longer

It’s a Cover Reveal Day for fellow J. Taylor Publishing author Terri Rochenski! Remember last fall when Terri stopped by here with a letter to one of her characters from her novel, “Eye of the Soul”? Well, that novel’s sequel in the works. And just look at how pretty its face is!

SecretOfTheSouls-web

Sword! Castle! Water! Sky! Green eyes! Just throw half of my favorite things all together, why don’t you! Of course, it’s only fitting that the cover be so fantastic. The book is a fantasy, after all.

Meanwhile, on the back of the book…

Thrust out of their homes by a human High Priest on a vengeful mission, the Natives of Derlund no longer have a place to call their own. One escaped capture, however, and now she, Hyla, is the only one who can save her people.

For, Hyla, though, saving her nation isn’t her ultimate goal—returning to the Pool of Souls is. Becoming its Guardian and preserving their faith is her heart’s desire. The perils of her current journey, though, could leave her unable to fulfill that dream.

To find her way back to the Pool, Hyla must live among dangerous, powerful humans willing to defend the Natives, and must submit herself—her Talents—to them. While her protection is paramount, plots to end Hyla’s life will push her to her physical and emotional limits.

On the edge of sanity, her courage tested, and convictions nearly broken, Hyla’s final test of loyalty to her faith comes with the death of one she could have loved.

Secret of the Souls (Pool of Souls, #2) – coming October 6, 2014! (And now available to add to your GoodReads shelves.)

Whaddaya think, readers? Anybody loving this cover as much as I am? ^^