Books You May or May Not Know Anything About Even After I Post Re: Them

As I hope you’re aware (since this is not the first time or place I’ve announced this), The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book 1)” is currently half-price on Smashwords, as part of the site’s Summer/Winter Sale (July 1 – 31).

Of course, if you weren’t aware, I wouldn’t be surprised. There’s a lot of noise on the internet, and the average solitary voice will only travel so far. Heck, even readers shopping the Smashwords sale for deals might not know I’m a part of it. The selection is E-NOR-MOUS. This I know, because I’ve been browsing the titles myself, eyes open for stories I might take an interest in.

Slow as I am when it comes to my Kindle app library (pages on a screen and I don’t get along as well as me and the printed word ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ), if I waited ‘til I’d actually read these books before talking about them, odds are that none of you would know they exist until well after the sale is over.

So in the name of doing unto others – and on the chance that you might want to nab one of these babies while the discount lasts – here are the faces and teasers of the e-books I’ve download from the sale so far.

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Merlin Slept Here (Wizard’s Inn, Book 1)” by Rob Summers

Store clerks by day, innkeepers for the Magi by night! Twenty-year-olds Bob Himmel and Julie Beckerhof aren’t getting paid anything, but the thrills are there. If the inn isn’t sold out from under them, and if they can keep their guests alive—number seven on the list of innkeepers’ rules—they just might get married and settle into this.

Polish, Dust and Sparkle” by Brian S. Wheeler

The men in the tight suits and narrow ties grow wealthy by cultivating the worth of their towers’ sparkle. Yet their economy depends upon the toil of the polishers, who work to keep so much glass clean. A magic dancer jeopardizes the fragile skyline when her steps summon a thundering herd, turning the polishers into hunters, and threatening to shatter all the foundations made of fragile glass.

Hollo (The Magic of Thedes, Book 1)” by Devon Michael

Shortly after her twelfth birthday Hollo finds herself alone in a world that has never seen a wooden girl who can talk, let alone do magic.

A Certain Number of Hypothetical Scenarios” by Joseph Wright

A Certain Number of Hypothetical Scenarios is a collection of sixty-two flash fiction stories written in a series of Julys between 2010 and 2013. Prepare to expose the inner workings of an illegal pixie dust operation, encounter various not-people personified, witness the assassination of a pet cat, and possibly be eaten by a grue.

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The Society of Imaginary Friends (The Conjurors, Book 1) by Kristin Pham

Valerie Diaz has a power that she can’t contain, and it’s killing her. Bounced between foster homes and the streets, she only has time to concentrate on staying alive. But a visit from the imaginary friend of her childhood opens a world of possibilities, including a new life half a universe away on a planet that is bursting with magic.

Demon Lord (Demon Lord, Book 1)” by T C Southwell

Seven blue wards have imprisoned the Black Lord in the Underworld for aeons. Now he has stolen a human child and made him a mortal god. After eighteen years of torturous training, Bane sets forth to break the wards with aid of a dark army. The Demon Lord will release Arkonen and destroy the Overworld unless an innocent young girl can turn him from his savage path…

Oberon’s Children” by Hal Emerson

An orphan girl named Mol wakes in the middle of the night to music. Enchanted, she follows the sound into the forest of Arden, where she is taken captive by a man known only as the Erlking; a man who rules a kingdom of monsters. Leaving her life as an urchin far behind, Mol becomes part of the Erlking’s Bower for reasons she cannot understand, her only guarantee a future shrouded in mystery.

A Soul for Trouble” by Crista McHugh

When an insane stranger is murdered at the inn where she works, Trouble becomes the next Soulbearer for the disembodied god of chaos, Loku. Yes, it comes with the ability to channel the god’s limitless power, but at the cost of her sanity — literally.

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The Slivers of Avalon: The Abandoned Edge” by Eden Tyler

Visions of another dimension usher a young woman through an adventure of immorality, virtue, and self-discovery.

Betrothal (Queen’s Honor, Tales of Lady Guinevere: #1)” by Mande Matthews

17 year old Lady Guinevere is caught between the responsibility of her crown and the desires of her heart. Without brothers to ascend the throne, marriage to her will assure any man the right to rule. Imbued with Celtic Lore and Druid magic, Queen’s Honor puts a new spin on an age old legend.

Shreiber and Tome: Unlucky Vamps (Shreiber and Tome, Book 1) by Andrew Day

Welcome to Chapter City. Where the undead live alongside humans like everyday people, and where private investigator Lil Shreiber and her partner Michael Tome (ex-warlock) have been enlisted by a vampire prince to help track down a serial killer viciously murdering other vampires. Up against a powerful supernatural creature, and alongside an angry FBI agent who hates them, things soon get bloody.

Cobweb Bride (Cobweb Bride, Book 1)” by Vera Nazarian

Many are called… She alone can save the world and become Death’s bride.

COBWEB BRIDE (Cobweb Bride Trilogy, Book One) is a history-flavored fantasy novel with romantic elements of the Persephone myth, about Death’s ultimatum to the world.

The Sword of Sighs by Greg James

A young adult fantasy about an American girl who travels to a fantasy world and becomes embroiled in its war against a dark evil.

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And there we are. Golden Rule: Applied. Now to carry on and hope that someone, out there, is talking about “Ballad”…

Open Journal: Who Am I?

My spirit’s been having a rough time, lately. Even though it’s been several months since The Trauma at the end of Germany, I still haven’t been able to write like I used to. Short stories, sure. Flash fiction and scraps of poetry. But nothing like a novel.

And it’s awful because so much of my identity – so much of my self-worth – is Danielle = writer. That was my thing. My gift. My magic. So my brain says to me, If you’re not churning out books, then who even are you? And what is the point of you?

Because my brain is not my friend.

Fortunately, Will and Tirzah are.

I was speaking my sadness to them; sighing my wish that I were a cooler character in my life’s story. And thus spake they of me:

Tirzah: Hold on. Someone, write up all the things about her that she would find cool if she heard them about someone else.

Will Scarlet: Well, we’ve covered the hell-ton of written/published works and Europe. Also: Ren Faire.

She can hear dialogue and music cues from childhood movies and radio in her head. Surely that’s a low-grade superpower.

She has a lute. She owns a cool hat bought in Manchester, and epic boots reminiscent of Merry Men.

She makes friends of fountains. She’s in love with the moon.

She’s never too old to sing the songs she likes from kiddie stuff, and geeks out at krakens and balrogs.

She apologizes to books for dropping them, and takes care not to smother her stuffed animals.

She drove the back end of Maui – where even the locals dare not wend!

Me: Okay. You make me sound credible.

Will: Then I’m failing, cuz you’re INcredible.

Tirzah: She’s created great art. She’s adventured far and wide. She’s written, lived, and loved stories.

She’s had an eye for the beauty in every place she’s been, and faced many fears for the sake of beauty and adventure.

She’s come up against Giants and been wounded, but not defeated. She rises up again after every blow.

She’s kind in spite of all, and true of heart in spite of much. She’s always pushing onward, herself and others – sometimes in vain, sometimes too hard, but sometimes to glory. And sometimes to simple survival.

She’s noisily brave. She’s faced trials in and out. She has kingdoms hidden under her hats, of which she has many – figurative and otherwise. She’s always pressing forward and branching out and learning new things.

She’ll do what she must. And what she must is, in her mind, a far higher standard than most would dare raise their eyes to.

Me [through literal tears]: Thanks for liking me, guys.

Will: Pssht. Why wouldn’t I?

And I share all this not so readers can see me, but so that those among them who need to can maybe see what they’ve been overlooking in themselves.

Being cool, being somebody, being Enough – it’s not all about Big Things you can do or have done. It’s not all about achievements or talents.

It’s also about the little ordinary things, and the everyday weird things, and the quirks and the quiet strengths that all add up to the person you are.

I needed to hear that – and probably will need it again, before I’ve healed enough to return to my old word wizardry. Hearing likely won’t always mean believing, but as the West Wind once said, “what is true does not require your belief to be.” So believe it or not, Danielle, here is the truth:

Danielle = writer is inaccurate math.

Danielle > that.

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Recap: It Was Lit

The Struggle™ with feelings of inadequacy aside, Danielle of a Decade Ago would be astonished at Present Me’s “to-done” list. On cast at a Renaissance Faire? Done it. Traveled Europe? Done it. Published books? Done it. Several times. And as of Sunday, I’ve even sold those books at Printers Row Lit Fest!

Here’s how that last item went down:

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Months Before = I’d originally planned to buy table space on my own. But during a different book-selling gig – a library’s local author open house, back in January – my mom got a tip from another author that signing up as part of a group could be the more economical choice. So I joined the Chicago Writers Association and snagged a time slot with their tent. (There are, of course, other membership perks as well, but the Printers Row tent was my main draw.)

Printers Row 04Days/Weeks Before = This phase included designing and printing out signage, constructing table displays, and ordering a heck-ton of books. You can never how well the merchandise will sell, so I went with higher numbers of Books 1s (“The Swan Prince” for The Wilderhark Tales, “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” for The Outlaws of Avalon), second highest with immediate follow-ups (“The Stone Kingdom” / “The Seventh Spell”, “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale”), and less stock with books further along in the Wilderhark series.

Because I wished to be able to accept credit cards (cash only during the last hours of a book event? Not ideal), I reached out to family friend / professional fashionista / all-around phenomenal human being Peach Carr for advice in this area. Because she rocks, she let me borrow her own portable card reader. Aaaaand because Square refused to cooperate with me directly (more on this in a future review post, methinks <_<), Peach and fam (*waves to Molly and Wayne*) hooked me up with a workaround that involved the lending of iPads, protracted battles with the Technology Fiend, and the juggling of funds. In short, they were my patron angels, and will be richly rewarded when I ascend to my dark throne.

Denebdeor Crest

Noble stag horns and swan wings. It’s like the artisans were in my head.

Day Before = Foreknowledge is a chronic worrier’s best friend, so on Saturday, Mom and I hopped the train downtown to scope out the CWA tent, the better to get an idea of how we’d want to set up the next day. Seeing the space helped firm up the list of things we’d want for Sunday (e.g. anything we could think of to keep an enthusiastic Vesparya wind from blowing all my stuff away), while seeing the Poetic Earth tent full of handcrafted leather goods made me want to spend money I shouldn’t. (I restrained myself, but come on, one of the journals looked like the everlovin’ crest of Denebdeor!)

The Day Of = Never to be outsmarted by horrific city traffic, my parents and I left the house plenty early, and reached our destination with time to spare. Setup was a little hectic, due to wind mischief and authorial nerves, but we got it sorted by the time my 2-6pm selling window opened. Although I started out a little shy, Mom’s energy compensated until I’d warmed up a bit. And before long, the sales were trickling in!

The Carr family stopped by about midway through the day to say hi and buy a copy of every book on the table. (Have I mentioned I love them?) And a little later on, my brother-from-another-mother Cean Gamalinda came to provide a bit of walk-around advertising while I manned the table and Mom ‘n’ Dad got sandwiches.

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Peach and Me

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Me and Cean

By the last quarter-hour before 6, the rest of my tent mates had called it a day, and the crowds were close to nonexistent, so we packed it up and went home, weary but satisfied with the day’s blessings. Despite my darkest “what if?” fears, I made back what I spent on the table! (…if not the cost of all the books I brought to sell. But hey, that just means I’ll have the remainder already on hand for whenever the next event comes around.) And outcome aside, I decided I wanted to do this thing, and Danielle and Co. made it happen. So much for inadequacy. ^_^

Best Moments =

For Will: When a young woman named Scarlett bought a copy of “Ballad”.

For the Sun: When a little boy was offered (as an example of all the free designs available) a Lumónd bookmark, but pointed to Raeóryn instead.

For Me: Oh, how to choose?

– When my first book sold, so it was too late to go home with zero sales.

– The first time someone paid with credit card, and after all the trouble beforehand, the sale went off without a hitch.

– The pair of customers with whom I shared high fives over the Bristol Renaissance Faire.

– When one of them came back later like, “Oh, duh, I should have had you sign my book!” Sign it I did; to Emily.

– The little girls who came for bookmarks. Then came again for a Wilderhark Tale. Then came again for another Wilderhark Tale. Then yet again because – oh, yeah! – you buy two Tales, and you get a third free! All of ‘em signed; to Mia and to Averi.

– Averi [looking at “Ballad”]: “Who’s Robin Hood?”

Mia: “What do you mean, who’s—?!?!” *smacks Averi with “The Seventh Spell”*

– Averi [counting her remaining cash for a 10-dollar “Ballad” purchase]: “I only have eight dollars.”

Me: “Y’know what? Take it.”

Because eight dollars is better than zero, and young people who get excited about books deserve good things.

Things Worth Trying at Gigs Like These =

– Freebies, y’all. There are plenty of folks who won’t spend book money, but will take a complementary Wilderhark bookmark and/or sign up to receive an e-ARC of Outlaws 2.5, “Truly Great Words Never Die”. And yeah, there are also people who insist on walking by emptyhanded, but there’s nothing to be done about that. X)

– Don’t feel comfortable shouting, “Hey, you! Buy my books!” at passersby? Try calling out, “Nice dress!” “Those boots rock!” “I love that color on you!” Maybe they’ll stick around your table a little longer, maybe they’ll just keep walking. Either way, compliments cost nothing (see: Freebies), and you may have made them feel good.

– Price to sell. Offering your $7.99 novella for $5 (buy 2, get 1 free!) may offend your sensibilities – (because for goodness’ sake, your art’s got value!) – but think like a customer. Nice, round, low numbers make for more easily justified impulse buys.

– Hydration. Always a good idea, but particularly when it’s 94 degrees and you’re an introvert expending social energy.

– Bring scissors and extra tape. Even if you don’t end up needing them, your fellow authors or a little girl with a balloon’s ribbon trapped on her wrist just might. (True stories both. And heck yes, we were prepared!)

That One Totally Minor Thing I Woke Up Having an Anxiety Attack About the Next Morning Because I Wish I’d Done It Differently = Nope. Not gonna talk about it. Because it wasn’t a big deal. And everything else was. So there.

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Open Journal: Who Died?

I don’t recall when I started thinking so, but it occurred to me that the depression I’m going through right now feels a lot like grieving. It’s not a constant thing – not just all the time down and sad, 24/7. There will be moments – minutes – hours – in which I feel pretty much fine. Then I’ll Remember, and boom. Crash. Back down again.

And if this is grieving – if this blue lethargy and difficulty coping with the smallest disappointments and inability to harness the true might of my Get ‘Er Done superpower and authorial magic is all a form of mourning – it begs the question: Who died?

What was it inside of me that I lost during That Time at the end of Germany?

And can it be someday, somehow, returned to life?

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A number of online friends have quietly reached out to me in concern over the past few weeks. Thanks, guys. You know who you are. And if you were thinking of or meaning to check in/offer support and just couldn’t make yourself get around to it, hey – I see you, too. I know exactly how that can go. Engaging with people – even just typing a few words in a private message box – can take more out of you than you’ve got to spare. That’s the case for me, anyway.

I’ve been spending a lot less time in my social media spaces than in days of yore. As an introvert, I didn’t have a ton of social energy to start with, and there’s even less to go around these days. But I’ve yet to drop out of sight completely – in part because I’d hate for everyone to be like, “Haven’t heard from Danielle in a while. And last I saw, she seemed really down. Aw heck, did she kill herself?!”

Because even if you’re not me, whose default assumption that anyone who disappears for an hour is dead, I can see how my disappearing just now could be construed as alarming.

Don’t worry. Wistfully morbid fantasies aside, and despite the fact that I don’t always feel like staying alive, I’m not about to deliberately take my own life. 1, I haven’t got the guts. 2, it would be wasteful, and I detest waste. 3, my loved ones would be too sad. As someone apparently in mourning, I can’t bear the thought of putting my family and friends through this kind of grief and then some.

sometimes-he-comes-in-the-clouds

The thing about grief, though: Life goes on. Drops of joy slip in amidst the rain, and sometimes he comes in the clouds. The whole may hurt, but parts are maybe worth it, if we make it through.

So I’m still here. And barring accidents, here I shall remain. If anybody wants to send over a nice sympathy casserole, though, I’m sure Will Scarlet would make me eat it.

Open Journal: Nothing is Forever

Over my birthday weekend, I dyed my hair. The color doesn’t like to just stick there. I sleep with a towel over my pillows to protect them from stains. Scratching my head leaves my fingertips blue. It’s kind of a weird tradeoff for looking like a boss.

red-leaf

I’ve been asked whether I’ll go on to dye my hair other colors, in future. I really don’t know. I don’t even know how long I’ll hang onto the blue I’ve got before shaving it back down to black.

It’s a temporary color. It could be gone at any time.

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My day job is technically a temp position.

The workload’s been a bit sporadic, lately. Some days, there’s plenty to keep everybody occupied for a full shift. Others, things slow down to a crawl. I’m the type that’s big on diligence and reliability, so unless I’m instructed otherwise by my higher-ups, I’m there either way, working with what I’m given with the best attitude I can muster. Makes the prize all the sweeter when I’m sent home with a surprise half-day.

If and when the day comes that there’s just not enough work to go around, I may be one of the folks that get let go. Part of me goes, “Oh, no! But… money!” (Since, y’know, the darling book babies only bring in so much, at this point.) The rest of me isn’t that bothered about it. It’s a fine job for now – close to perfect, in some ways – but I wouldn’t want to get stuck doing it for the rest of my life.

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I used to think I wanted to make books for the rest of my life. (During my heavily depressed episodes, the thoughts went more like, “I want to make books until it kills me,” or, “I look forward to being done making books so I can die.”)

There’s still a list of stories I know for certain I need to publish before calling it quits. Beyond that… I don’t know for sure. I’ve still got words in me. I doubt I could or should ever fully turn my back on playing with them. I only wonder if playing so hard over the last few years has burned out my passion, or if I maybe need a season of pursuing something else. What else? I haven’t a clue.

keep-calm-and-find-a-new-dream

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“So, you’re back from Germany. Where are you going next?”

Again, no clue.

I knew when I went that Germany wasn’t to be my forever home. In part because a “forever home”, however sweetly it’s meant when used it reference to adopted pets and such, is not a thing. There is no forever, in this life. That comes with the next. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

That aside, I want my long-term, settle-down home to be in England. Or Ireland. Or San Francisco. Someplace that calls to my heart in a language I can fluently speak. (So, es tut mir leid, Germany, but that means you’re right out.) As for the exact “where” and “when”, I don’t have any answers.

My future is a big, blurry question mark. My present is just me, pushing through day to day.

It’s not a condition I much enjoy. But on the bright side, I know it’s not forever.

The Forest’s Shadows Revealed


Those of you who’ve read Xchyler Pub’s “Legends and Lore” anthology — (y’know, the paranormal collection featuring my creeper of a story-child, “Two Spoons”) — may recall the work of one Emma Michaels. (Yes? No? Vague remembrances stirring somewhere in your subconscious?) Eh, well, don’t feel bad if none of this is ringing a bell; you know where to find my work, and if you want a taste of Emma’s, you can always start with her new novel coming out this fall.

A little birdie told me— well, no, that would suggest I heard about it on Twitter. Rather, a little, erm, book of faces told me that today is Cover Reveal Day for aforementioned novel. And me being the sorta-kinda-semi-decent-ish anthology sister that I am, of course I signed on to signal boost. With no more ado, then: Behold!

Shadows of the Forest
Emma Michaels
Publication date: November 5th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Everyone is dying to live in the Shadows of the Forest.
They gave me three rules to follow in exchange for my brother’s life:
1. Do not enter the West Wing;
2. Do not go outside after darkness falls; and
3. There is only one exit; The Gates.

This is what happened when I broke them…

Add to Goodreads




Author Bio:

Emma Michaels is the award winning author of the Society of Feathers series with over 15 publications under her belt. With a love for all things story-telling this bibliophile plans to take over the world one cup of coffee at a time. A rule breaker who isn’t afraid to have uncommon opinions she is an avid lover of mathematics and stand out fiction which transcends both its genre and format whether books, games, movies, or otherwise. A good story is a good story. When she isn’t online she is out dancing in the Washington rain or seeking new adventures.

Website / Facebook / Twitter

This cover reveal post was brought to you by the letter X, as in Xpresso Book Tours; and the number 5, as in put your hand up high in the comments if you’ve got thoughts on the look and/or sound of Emma’s latest!

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A Vicious Tribute

The Ink Caster

A cosplay shoot depicting V.E. Schwab’s novel, Vicious. Modeled and photographed by Tirzah Duncan (me!) and Danielle E. Shipley (the bestie!).

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The marker hissed as he drew another line, blotting out several sentences in the middle of the page… He skimmed the words and smiled as he found another section to ink out. By the time the first bell rang, signaling the end of Victor’s art elective, he’d turned his parents’ lectures on how to start the day into:

Be lost. Give up. give In. in the end It would be better to surrender before you begin. be lost And then you will not care if you are ever found.

He’d had to strike through entire paragraphs to make the sentence perfect after he accidentally marked out ever and had to go on until he found another instance of the word. But it was worth it. The pages of black…

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