How the Moon Turned Blue

You may or may not have noticed, but on the night of July 31st, we had ourselves a blue moon!

“A blue moon,” Ionquin repeated. “The second full moon in the same month?”

“Just so, Highness.”

— “The Sun’s Rival”

Sun's Rival Cover, front

And as I should very much hope my fans will have noticed, the concept of a blue moon played a vital part in Book Five of my Wilderhark Tales novellas. Although, as I observed in that selfsame book’s limited-edition, special prize of a character commentary…

Sadly, not even a Wilderhark blue moon is actually blue. *grumbles about disappointing misnomers*

“Why not?” Ionquin asks. “It’s your story. Your world. You could have made it blue.”

Could have, yes. But how would I justify it? Why should the moon’s light shine blue just because it’s the second full moon in a month? Just for coolness’ sake? That’s not Lumónd’s style. He’s not showy. Nor is he Gant-o’-the-Lute, whom I could totally see as a moon shining blue just because, 1) he could, and 2) blue.

“What about when the moon shines golden or red?” Laraspur asks. “What’s the reasoning behind that?”

Red could be him in a hideous temper over something. As for golden… perhaps he’s particularly pleased.

“So why not have him shine blue when he’s particularly sad?” says Ionquin.

Which just happens to be every time there’s a second full moon in a month?

“Maybe being full twice in a month makes him sad. Maybe he feels fat.”

Laraspur rolls her eyes. “Because goodness knows I shine blue whenever I feel fat. And anyway, the full of the month is when he’s at his most powerful. He’d hardly be at his saddest then.”

“Well then, maybe whenever he decides to don a particularly blue coat. You know the old saying, ‘The clothes make the moon.’”

“That saying is two seconds old and already past its prime.”

“Fine.” Ionquin throws up his hands in surrender. “No literally blue moons, sad but true.”

So glad I’ve got your consent.

All of which raises the question: Why in Wilderhark do they call it a “blue moon”??

In all honesty, until the recent night I went out to see our own world’s blue moon, I never wondered enough to figure it out. (How my brain manages to world-build at all is an utter mystery to me.) But once I did give the matter a few minutes’ concentrated thought – and a little light research led me to this possible reasoning behind our moon’s rare title of “blue” – the answer plunked into my lap like a fallen star.

First, some necessary backstory, as provided in a bit of Wilderhark flash fiction I wrote I-forget-how-long ago (and which almost made it into “The Sky-Child and Other Stories”, but then didn’t, ‘cause reasons). I may one day get around to sharing the full story, but for today’s purpose, all you need is the opening.

Once, not long after the world’s awakening, the Wind of the West asked a boon of the Moon.

“Your Majesty,” she said, with a bow that became a merry somersault ere its end. “The fruit of the steorrow trees in your grove enchant me. Might I have the pleasure of a single seed?”

In mild surprise, the night king of the Sky asked, “And what would a wind do with the seed of a star?”

“Why, plant it, of course,” the wind laughed, “and see what grows!”

The Moon knew the West Wind could mean no harm, for there was not a breath of malice in her essence. And so, as he had steorrow seeds to spare, he granted the gift, to the West Wind’s delight.

She promptly swallowed the diamond-like seed, planting it inside her own self; for so changeable was the form of a wind that it could spawn new life with any living thing. And in hardly any time at all, the West Wind bore her first child: A tree.

The silver sapling grew tall and translucent, like the Moon’s steorrows, and buds appeared all along its spreading branches. But instead of clusters of shining stars, the buds bloomed into flowers as sweet as their mother’s air. And from each blossom sprang a new creature, invisible to all eyes but a wind’s or the Moon’s.

To those few eyes that could see, the creatures were somewhat like in form to a being of Sky, but far smaller – tiny enough to fit in the palm of a hand, and slender as twigs. They flew as a wind flew, eyes shining like starlight, their voices like laughter, or air blowing through chimes.

“What are you, my little ones?” the West Wind asked her litter.

“We are the faer blewn,” they answered, the new name a breath as soft as a summer night breeze.

“And what does that mean?” she asked them.

They looked at one another and answered, “We’re not sure.”

So the wind went to the Moon for his insight on the matter; for, as the keeper of the steorrows and their fruit, he was likely to know better than she.

“They are star sprites,” he told her, upon hearing their name. “Givers of fortune.”

Our fortune?” the wind asked.

“Heavens, no,” said the Moon. “The fate of the Sky was set the day we rose. These sprites are lesser beings, their influence for beings even lesser than they. Their gift, I think,” he said, glancing downward toward the earth, “is for humanity.”

“How lovely!” said the wind, and blew kisses to all the tiny lives new born. “Then fly, little faery whatsits – do your work. And may the world for it better be!”

There. That Welken word: blewn.

I’m uncertain of the exact translation, but the Moon said it’s to do with fortune. And harken back to Book Five, where quoth a certain character, “I have also heard it said … that a night under the light of a blue moon will restore one afflicted with Moon Madness to their rightful senses.

A special moon said to cure Lunacy. I’d call that a fortunate thing, wouldn’t you? Enough so that the night Sky’s king might, in his native tongue, name his rare, healing second fullness in a month a “blewn Lumónd”. And somewhere along the line – the same somewhere in which that world’s humans developed the inaccurate habit of calling the heavens “sky” and the great forest “Wilderhark” – “blewn” came to be misspoken as a word more commonly understood by non-Welken speakers: “blue”.

Voila. One secret of the Moon down, while the rest of him remains the same beautiful enigma he’s ever been. <3

#ISeeYou

#ISeeYou

The Tour that Keeps On Touring, Part 2

Previously, on the Ever On Word blog

Steel and Bone, cover 3.0

The official blog tour for Xchyler Publishing’s “Steel & Bone: Nine Steampunk Adventures” has been over for a few weeks, now. So many tour stops! So much content! So much so, that even I – who had a vested interest in the tour – had difficulty keeping up with it all. Between that and the fact that there’s no guarantee which bits of all the goodies provided by the anthology’s authors will see the light of day, it occurred to me that if I wanted to ensure you guys had the best chance of reading the behind-the-scenes info and extras for my own short story in the collection, Ursula would have to take matters into her own tentacles, so to speak.

(*assumed high-fives from all the Disney’s “Little Mermaid” fans in the house. …and my fellow kraken-lovers, because tentacles*

*double high-fives to anyone whose brain read “Ursula” and for a moment thought “Wilderhark Tales”*)

Keeping the good times a-rolling in this blog space, here’s some more bonus content brought to you by Skycastle, Arcan-Nest, and beyond!*

*Which, as it happens, is totally the name of my “A Mind Prone to Wander”-inspired Pinterest board.

A Day in the Life of Arinwald, Steward of Arcan-Nest

Pre-sunrise – Grooming with the Lord of Wings. (The castle’s master must look appropriately dashing and fierce.)

First hour of sun – Tour the grounds to ensure all is as it should be. (This duty could technically be delegated to the clockwork roc, but it’s good to get out and enjoy the fresh air of the world above the clouds.)

Pre-breakfast – Feed the various birds too domestic to hunt/scavenge for themselves. Gather the eggs of the castle’s laying hens, from chickens to firebirds, and deliver them to the automated kitchen. (Firebird eggs: The cleaner, hotter fuel for your steam-powered engines.)

Breakfast

From post-breakfast to lunch – Clean (and repair, as necessary) the castle’s clockwork staff. Suffer the Lord of Wings’ grumpiness. Wish the lord’s brother were here to deal with him.

Lunch – Perhaps outdoors, if the weather is pleasant.

Naptime – Preferably in the sun.

From post-nap until dinner – Something, somewhere is bound to have broken again, by now; fix it while sniping about the never-ending maintenance a mechanically-run castle requires. Then on to tapestries, draperies, and other laundry. Break up a cockatrice fight. (Belligerent little devils.)

Dinner

From post-dinner to bed – The evening hours are his to do as he wishes. Read by lamplight. Watch the sun set over the cloudy horizon from atop the outer wall. Trade riddles with ravens and sing duets with nightingales. Stew over every pointless death this castle’s ever known. Count down the days until death’s likely to come again. Wish people would stop being numbskulls. Take a long, hot bath.

Bedtime – To dream of soaring among the stars with his heart’s other half. …wherever it may be.

Interview Q’s, Author A’s

Do you have a playlist for your story?

I’m not one to come up with official playlists, though a mental glance at the setting of “A Mind Prone to Wander” may trigger remembered snippets of “Castle on a Cloud” from Les Misérables or Keith Harkin’s cover of Don McLean’s “Castles in the Air”. But if there’s one song I can think of to best represent the overlapping stories of Rowan, Bellamy, and the Lord of Wings, it’s “Taking Over Me” by Evanescence.

Please provide some insight, a secret or two about your story.

The face of the man who hijacked my NaNo...as seen from two angles at once.

A portrait belonging to the “Singer of Skycastle” novel that was[n’t].

I originally intended “A Mind Prone to Wander” to be a novel, but to my utter shock, it simply refused to be written. I must have come at it from four or five different directions over a good two years, my main character giving me hurt and dirty looks all the way. I’ve never had to wrestle through that kind of writer’s block before, and I hope to heaven I never will again! There was never any real question of giving up, though. I’m tenacious to a fault, like that.

How did you come up with the title?

I’d been thinking of this story’s original iteration as “Singer of Skycastle” for so long, it felt weird calling it anything else. But for the purposes of submission to Xchyler’s anthology contest – and, happily, publication beyond – I wanted something a little more artistic. So I wracked my imagination for the phrase that encompassed the most, story-wise. Given that our narrator’s attention was wont to drift into mad tangents (not to mention The Big Secret he learns ere story’s end), “A Mind Prone to Wander” fit the bill nicely.

Anything else you’d like to share with other writers about the process?

Try, try again. And again. And again and again and again. Sometimes it all comes down to a matter of which one is tougher: The story, or you. And the biggest thing that got me through? Letting go of the parts of the story that just weren’t working. From the beginning, my brain kept getting stuck when I got to a certain point in the plot. Maybe it was part of my subconscious trying to tell me something. Maybe no part of me had any clue, and it was just a truth of the story waiting for me to learn it. Either way, now I’ve got a finished short story, and a bunch of ideas cut free to maybe be a part of a different story one day. I call that a win.

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P.S. – Did you see the time Xchyler Pub and I made of vid of me reading an excerpt of “A Mind Prone to Wander”? Click the pic if not, ‘cause that happened!

Steel and Bone, recorded excerpt pic

The Beginning of the End

Story's End Cover Reveal Tease

Once upon a time not so very long gone, I began my self-publishing adventure with a walk beneath the boughs of an enchanted forest. Step followed step, and story followed story – from the mystery of “The Swan Prince” to the legend of “The Stone Kingdom”, through time with “The Seventh Spell” and to the music of “The Song Caster”, under the dueling lights of “The Sun’s Rival” and into the storm of “The Surrogate Sea”, taking a side jaunt with “The Sky-Child and Other Stories” along the way. And now at last, the journey nears its end.

From the inspired hand of Yana Naumova, I present to you…

…the face of the final Wilderhark Tales novella.

(Click to zoom in for a closeup)

(Click to zoom in for a closeup)

For Gant-o’-the-Lute, “ever after” has been less than happy. With the last of Carillon’s charm over him gone, the minstrel-king puts royalty behind him in pursuit of the music he once knew and the lifelong dream he let slip through his fingers. But dark whispers on the wind warn that time is running out – not only for Lute and the apprentice in his shadow, but the whole of earth and Sky.

The Story’s End (Book Seven of The Wilderhark Tales”, coming October 13, 2015; now available to add to your Goodreads “To Read” shelf.

The Outside

Those of you who’ve laid hands on hard copies of the previous Wilderhark Tales may be saying to yourselves, “Is it just me, or is the spine of Book Seven looking pretty fancy?”

To which I say, “It’s not just you.”

My perfectionist eye has grown disgruntled with the comparative plainness of my Wilderhark covers’ typography – particularly on the spines. I want my book babies’ exteriors to flaunt a touch more pop!, and I just may have finally figured out how to achieve it. This means that by the time the last novella launches (barring insurmountable shenanigans), all of the preceding Tales will be gussied up to match it. Sing hey for self-pubbing with print-on-demand, where such tweaks can be made without bringing the world to its knees!

The Inside

I shall be frank with you: This story both pleases me and breaks me every time I read it. It is an emotional, bittersweet, and straight-up painful goodbye to the series that’s become so dear to a number of hearts. I hope you love it and/or curse my name through your tears.

In the meantime… what do you think of the cover? ^^

The Tour that Keeps On Touring

Steel and Bone, cover 3.0

The official blog tour for Xchyler Publishing’s “Steel & Bone: Nine Steampunk Adventures” has been over for a while, now. …Plus this special character edition post over on Andi’s ABCs, featuring Rowan Charles/Rowena Charlotte from my short story therein. So by all means, go read that, if only to get an eyeful of the fabulous coat he/she wore during my tale’s opening pages. (Seriously. Coat envy.)

But back to my original point. So many tour stops! So much content! So much so that even I – who had a vested interest in the tour – had difficulty keeping up with it all. Between that and the fact that there’s no guarantee which bits of all the goodies provided by the anthology’s authors will see the light of day, it occurred to me that if I wanted to ensure you guys had the best chance of reading the behind-the-scenes info and extras for my own short story in the collection, Ursula would have to take matters into her own tentacles, so to speak.

(*assumed high-fives from all the Disney’s “Little Mermaid” fans in the house. …and my fellow kraken-lovers, because tentacles*

*double high-fives to anyone whose brain read “Ursula” and for a moment thought “Wilderhark Tales”*)

And so here for you, my Ever On Wordians, I present two of my favorite bonus features for my steampunk fairytale, “A Mind Prone to Wander”!

Where It All Began…

Once upon a time, I wished for a story. More than that – central to that – I wished for a character.

“What about me and mine?”

A vision blew in before my mind’s eye: A wash of blue sky, and a white sea of clouds. A proud ship sailing over the thick, misted swells. And riding the rigging, a beautiful young man. Though I could not yet see him clearly, his beauty was clear as anything.

When he saw that I saw him, he smiled, and asked me, “How would you like to work together?”

I thought I would like it very much. But who was he?

“Yet to be determined,” he said, and hopped down from the ship’s rigging. Rather than landing on the deck or in the sea of clouds, his booted feet touched down on the floor of my room, his long coat briefly flaring behind him. A long, stylish coat, tall boots, and a ship… Was he a gentleman pirate?

“No, not I,” he said, brushing his hair back from his face with slim, shapely fingers.

Then why sail a clouded sea?

He tipped his head and looked at me with an enigmatic smile. “Why indeed. What reasons can you suppose?”

I gave it thought, allowing my imagination to wander, rejecting nothing yet, simply searching until I found what felt the truest. Explorer. Adventurer. Spy. Why a spy? What had a spy to do with a sea in the sky? And did this young, beautiful stranger have what it took to be an undercover man? He certainly had the face to be an undercover woman…

An involuntary flutter of his long lashes told me I’d hit somewhere near the mark. Was that what he was, then? A woman trying to pass as a man?

“Not at all,” he said. “A man trying to pass as a woman. Trying, and succeeding. It’s a part of my mission, you see.”

His mission as a spy?

“Would you like that? Espionage seems beyond you. You scarcely read such things, and never write them. Have you any true interest in attempting it now?”

I didn’t, I admitted. He, himself, intrigued me, and I wished to know him better. But was his a story I was fit to tell?

He asked me, “What is the story you want to tell? I have told you, I am yet to be determined. My story is the same. We can determine it together, if you wish it.”

I did wish it. I had wished it. Here was the very character I’d called for, before I’d even known his name. Come to think of it, I still didn’t know his name. What was it? Or was that, too, yet to be determined?

Again, that enigmatic smile. “I have a name. But if you think I’m simply going to tell you now, right at the start, you are much mistaken.”

Would he tell me nothing?

His eyes of undetermined color shined. “I will tell you everything, for it is a tale worth telling. My name, however, is not the tale’s beginning.”

Then what was?

“The tale began,” he said, “Once Upon An Ending…”

Character Casting

Character Casting_Bellamy, Emma Stone

Princess Bellamy / Emma Stone

“Beside me, Princess Bellamy doesn’t fidget. Doesn’t shiver. She’s tougher than winter, and nearly as icy.”

In accordance with her royal parents’ oath, Bellamy has been groomed since her earliest youth to become her people’s savior, along with her twin sister. …until aforementioned sister disappears without notice. With the lives of her kingdom’s women on the line, Bellamy fiercely turns her back on what she views as her twin’s betrayal, the better to focus on her destiny ahead. But the monster she’s sworn to kill may be the least of what she’ll have to face.

Character Casting_Arinwald, John Rhys-Davies

Arinwald / John Rhys-Davies

Arinwald looks at me, and though his expression is as pleasantly neutral as I’ve ever seen it, his dark-golden gaze pierces like a knife point. “Because whatever I told you would essentially be a lie. And do you know how tiring it is to be always hiding the truth?”

Sharp of eye and blunt of tongue, the beastly Lord of Wings’ steward appears to have these primary functions: Manage his master’s castle, serve his master’s guests (*cough* hostages *cough*), and keep hidden his master’s secrets. Regarding the execution of all three without the castle’s visitors dying, the score so far is death = thirty-eight, Arinwald = zero.

Character Casting_Rowan, Unknown

Rowan / Unknown

And there was I, an amnesiac orphan. Unclaimed. Unwanted. Unhinged, though no one seemed to notice. And most importantly, a boy pretty enough to pass for a girl.

Search though I might, I have no idea who is in this photograph, or even whether the subject is male or female. For the young man called Rowan Charles, that couldn’t be more perfect. After all, the whole reason the king and queen chose him to replace their missing daughter is the hope that the Lord of Wings won’t notice one half of this year’s sacrificial pair is not, in fact, a woman. That the femme-faced co-assassin is out of his mind with inexplicable visions is, apparently, immaterial.

Coming soon: A day in the life of my favorite AMPtW character, and selected questions from the blog tour packet interview. See you then!

P.S. – Have you seen the “Steel & Bone” book trailer? Click the pic if you haven’t, ‘cause wowza!

Steel and Bone, book trailer pic

Open Journal: “Sky-Child” Release Day

Another Launch Day is upon us. Y’know, the day where the book in question has probably already been available for days or weeks prior to this, in one format or another, but we consolidate as much of the excitement as we can on this one particular date because, whatever, it’s nice to have a single point on the calendar to rally around.

The book of the hour is “The Sky-Child and Other Stories”, subtitled either “(A Wilderhark Tales Collection”) or “(Book Six-and-a-Half of The Wilderhark Tales”), depending on whether you’re looking at the front or back cover.

Sky-Child cover, full spread

For Wilderhark Tales past, I saw your Launch Day and raised you an entire Launch Week – up to eight days of prizes and bonus materials and character interviews and guest posts in the web spaces of gracious fellow bloggers. It’s always quite the shindig. But this time around, I told myself, “No.”

Then I told myself, “Oh, heck, Lute’s gonna kill me…” ‘Cause any reader of “The Song Caster” could tell you how he reacts to feeling cheated.

And he was spitting mad at me for a few minutes, there. But then – unexpectedly – he got it.

He got how utterly exhausting it is to organize a blog tour and create hopefully exciting content and fight with the printer to produce custom bookmarks / postcards / art prints / what have you.

He got how drained I still was coming off of the Launch Week for Book Six, and how “Sky-Child”s launch right on the heels of the “Steel & Bone” anthology release would mean I’d have even less energy to generate another book’s buzz.

He got that I am just this side of completely burnt out, and that if I want to be able to give the Wilderhark Tales finale my best push in October, I need to allow myself a break.

He got that this wasn’t a matter of me acting against him. This is me vs. the weariness that comes of battling to be seen and heard and valued in an oblivious world.

He got that. Because, in a way, that’s his story.

So he forgave me my limitations, and said he would support me in whatever I chose to do or not do in regards to “Sky-Child”s launch.

And everybody in my head just gaped at him, because no one expects that level of understanding and compassion from Gant-o’-the-freaking-Lute.

“Because I never cease to amaze,” says Lute – adding with a pointed sniff, “Just as you people never cease to underestimate me.”

Sky-Child and Me 6

…All that to say, low key, “The Sky-Child” is out now, and I’d be super grateful were everyone to nab a paperback (Amazon or CreateSpace) or e-book (Kindle or Nook) and then, perchance, leave a review. (Because neither minstrels nor authors can take the world by storm very well without some word of mouth.)

And that’s all she wrote on the subject. …Until Friday, when Lute’s got an interview with a certain scarlet talk show host.

The Strange Island of… (STEEL & BONE Blog Tour)

Mere days from its official release on Saturday, the blog tour for Xchyler Publishing’s “Steel & Bone: Nine Steampunk Adventures is already underway!

Steel and Bone, cover and blurb

Behind every story in this collection was the prompt/theme/inspiration, “The Strange Island of…” That, combined with a story I’d been carrying around inside me for years but just couldn’t figure out how to get down on paper, resulted in my first-ever steampunk fairytale, “A Mind Prone to Wander”.

We’ll get to go into more detail about my story on Friday, when one of the main cast sits down for a Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell character interview. (Stay tuned.) But for now, pull out your dapper fob watches, because it’s time for my 5-Second Impressions! …or however many clockwork ticks it takes to read five words – no more, no less – on the other eight stories in the anthology.

Steel and Bone, my review

The Clockwork Seer” by Katherine Cowley =

An inventive, senses-bending vignette.

Sindisiwe” by Scott E. Tarbet =

Cinderella retelling? I’m for that!

Stand and Deliver” by TC Phillips =

Loved the humor. Particularly Mathew’s.

Island Walker” by C. R. Simper =

Engaging characters, and ooh, shipwrecks!

Curio Cay” by Sarah E. Seeley =

Dinosaurs least monstrous island inhabitants!

The Mysterious Island of Chester Morrison” by Kin Law =

Lol, MC is AU me.

Revolutionary” by John M. Olson =

Shady stuff, Captain! Run now!

The Steel Inside” by Gail B. Williams =

Secrets. Suspense. A top story.

How ‘bout that lineup, guys? ^o^

How ‘bout that lineup, guys? ^o^

Steel and Bone, available on Amazon

If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to get in your pre-order of the “Steel & Bone” Kindle e-book today, and/or spring for the paperback on Saturday (Book Bomb day!), that these stories may be yours to read and treasure. And that could be the least of the goodies you get if you enter the tour-wide “Steel & Bone” Rafflecopter giveaway!

Steel and Bone, prizes

We’re talking free e-books (including my soon-to-launch addition to the Wilderhark Tales, “The Sky-Child and Other Stories”!), t-shirts, keychains… swag for days, people. For days. So come one, come all, come win stuff. I hope to see you around on the tour, at the Book Bomb, and/or below in the comments.

Which strange steampunk island of steel and bone are you most excited to explore?

Based Upon the Bard (“Never Be Younger” Blog Tour)

BANNER

But soft! What post through yonder blog doth break? It is a tour! And… and okay, I’m not actually Shakespeare. But this book’s got his influence all over it. Read on!

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Written by nine authors, Never Be Younger is a Young Adult collection of Shakespeare retellings. From Othello to Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet to The Winter’s Tale, each story has been crafted with a new spin.

nbyFrom the halls of a high school to hip night clubs to the depths of space, Never Be Younger gives Shakespeare’s classic plays and sonnets a fresh spin for a new audience. Nine authors pay tribute to the Bard by taking his timeless tales to new heights, entrancing readers all over again. A Shakespeare story by any other name still reads as sweet.

All proceeds from the sales of Never Be Younger go to United Through Reading, a charity dedicated to uniting military families through reading. Check out the bottom of the post for how you can win great prizes to celebrate the release!

Add-to-Goodreads-Button

 

Buy now on Amazon and Kobo for only $0.99US

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My review (having received an ARC, dontcha know):

A fun, varied collection, spinning classic Shakespeare storylines into all new contexts. As is generally the case with anthologies, some of the stories left me wanting, while others had me smiling inside and out. The authors of “Never Be Younger” strike me as a clever, imaginative bunch, with much to offer Shakespeare lovers and young adult/new adult readers alike. Definitely worth the read!

Notes from the trenches (i.e., what I scribbled to myself during the reading of each story so I could keep my impressions straight for the writing of the review above):

Star Cross Lovers (S.M. Johnston, E.L. Wicker) = Moves fast; dramatic (that’s Romeo and Juliet, for you), but a fun sci-fi take on the plot; will they or won’t they [die]?

The Scarf (Christina June) = Readers familiar with “Othello” will see to the heart of the conflict from the start, but will the players up to their necks in high school politics realize the truth before it’s too late? Suspeeeense.

A Day of Errors (Jessica L Pierce) = Okay, I am laughing out loud. XD That was great.

Any Way the Wind Blows (Nicole Zoltack) = Felt less credible to me as the story went on.

To Undreamed Shores (Cortney Pearson) = Meh. Sappy romance; not altogether unpleasant, but still. And the “surprise” felt a bit tacked-on; like, oh, by the way, this.

A Witch’s Life (Adrianne James) = Interesting, but the last act felt hasty/abrupt.

Mark the Music (Olivia Hinebaugh) = Ah, some dude [POV] voice mixing it up. Not that Star Cross Lovers and Day of Errors didn’t give a taste of that, but this is… rougher-edged. Not my comfort zone, but kept me invested.

A Gargoyle’s Prom Nightmare (S.M. Johnston, E.L. Wicker) = Mutant teens hiding out among regular high schoolers? Keep going…! Mm, overall impression at the end, fluffy plot with overwrought prose; didn’t leave me satisfied.

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About the Authors

Rachel Bateman: Editor

rachelRachel Bateman is a writer and editor who spends too much time thinking she can out bake the Cake Boss. (Spoiler: She can’t.) She lives in the middle of Montana, but dreams of the South. Rachel is the owner of Metamorphosis Books, an author services company offering formatting and interior layout for independent authors. When not writing, editing, or reading books, she can be found playing with her husband, young son, and small zoo of pets. You can find Rachel on Twitter, and her website.

S.M. Johnston: Star Crossed Lovers & A Gargoyle’s Prom Nightmare

sharonS.M. Johnston is a writer of weird fiction and soulful contemporaries from sunny Queensland, Australia. Her family includes a husband, two sons and a number of fur babies of the feline and cavy variety. You can find Sharon on Twitter, and her website.

Jessica L Pierce: A Day of Errors

jessicaJessica is a somewhat crazy – yet loving – blond. She lives in Green Bay, WI, hates the cold, and loves her completely awesome camo coat. She is passionate about football, baseball, photography and writing, and won’t go near cooked peas. (Raw peapods are fine.)

She is a student at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, and will graduate in December 2015 with a degree in Communication with emphasis in Journalism. She is a sports photographer and her work can be found at: http://www.studio52photos.com You can also find Jessica on Twitter.

Cortney Pearson: The Undreamed Shores

CORTNEYCortney Pearson is the author of Phobic and Such a Secret Place, a mother, musician, and a lover of pink and sparkles. You can find Cortney on Twitter, and her website.

E.L. Wicker: Star Crossed Lovers & A Gargoyle’s Prom Nightmare

EmE.L. Wicker lives in Hampshire, England with her husband and two children. Fueled by the bossy voices in her head, she writes New Adult fiction with a side of romance. You can find E.L. on Twitter, and her website.

Nicole Zoltack: Any Way the Wind Blows

NICOLENicole Zoltack loves to write in many genres, especially romance, whether fantasy, paranromal, or regency. When she’s not writing about knights, superheroes or zombies, she loves to spend time with her loving husband and three energetic young boys, with another little one on the way. She enjoyes horse riding (pretending they’re unicorns, of course!) and going to the PA Renaissance Faire, dressed in garb. She’ll also read anything she can get her hands on. Her current favorite TV show is The Walking Dead. You can find Nicole on Twitter, and her website.

Olivia Hinebaugh: Mark The Music

oliviaOlivia Hinebaugh spends her free time writing. Obviously. The rest of her time is spent playing and reading with her two young children. She also loves: watching Sia’s music videos, quoting Mean Girls, and folding laundry. She actually really does. You can find Olivia on Twitter, and her website.

Adrianne James: A Witch’s Life

adrianneGrowing up Adrianne James couldn’t get her hands on enough books to satisfy her need for the make believe. If she finished a novel and didn’t have a new one ready and waiting for her, she began to create her own tales of magic and wonder. Now, as an adult, books still make up the majority of her free time, and now her tales get written down to be shared with the world.

During the day, Adrianne uses her camera to capture life’s stories for clients of all ages and at night, after her two children are tucked up in bed; she devotes herself to her written work. Adrianne is living the life she always wanted, surrounded by art and beauty, the written word and a loving family.

As a New Adult Paranormal (and sometimes contemporary) author, Adrianne James writes strong women, powerful magic, and love that lasts a lifetime. You can find Adrianne on Twitter, and her website.

Christina June: The Scarf

christinaChristina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters. Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, eats too many cupcakes, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland. She lives just outside Washington DC with her husband and the world’s most rambunctious four-year-old. You can find Christina on Twitter, and her website.

In honor of “Never Be Younger”s release = a Rafflecopter giveaway