Wintry with a High Chance of a Teaser

Quick word from our sponsor (…so, basically me):

My serial Wilderhark Talette continues, today, with Part 4 of “The Soul Shepherdessnow live on Channillo.com. Subscribers, check it out! Non-subscribers… well, I’m sure you can figure out how to remedy that.

And now onto our regularly scheduled blog post.

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Only 2 weeks and a day (can you believe it?!) until the launch of “The Story’s End (Book Seven of The Wilderhark Tales)”. To mark* the occasion (*you’ll see in half-a-sec what I did, there), have a look at this gorgeous piece of work from my treasured Wilderhark Artist, Yana Naumova!

Aquinore, color final, gallery size

That chill in the air isn’t just October breathing down our necks. It’s Aquinore, Wind of the North, standing proud on one of three new bookmark designs made just for “Story’s End” – which you can bet will feature in a giveaway during the online Launch Party, coming soon to Facebook. (Drop in! Invite your friends! We’ll party like it’s #WilderharkTales7, up in here!)

Just what role will the Sky’s icy wind have to play in the Wilderhark Tales’ final chapter? That, I’m hardly about to tell you. But if we’re talking of chapters, how’s this for a tease: A peek at the lineup of chapter titles for “The Story’s End”!

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~ A Ballad of Life and Death ~

~ Winter and Spring ~

~ Gant Expectations ~

~ Sky on Earth, Earth in Sky ~

~ The Silencing of Song ~

~ A Lost Lullaby ~

~ The Bard and His Boy ~

~ No Kind of Home ~

~ Whispers in the Night ~

~ Tales of Time Gone By ~

~ Old Friends with New Faces ~

~ The Gant Commission ~

~ The Dark Divide ~

~ Spinning a Long-Ago Spell ~

~ Last Light of the Moon ~

~ The Way through the Window ~

~ A Gathering Storm ~

~ Song’s Finale ~

~ Epilogue: …All the Rest of Their Days ~

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Story's End Cover, gallery size

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.

Extreme Makeover: Wilderhark Edition

Quick word from our sponsor (…so, basically me):

My serial Wilderhark Talette continues, today, with Part 3 of “The Soul Shepherdess” now live on Channillo.com. Young Solwen is moving ever closer to her minstrel destiny – and naturally, she’s singing all-new, original songs about it. Subscribers, check it out! Non-subscribers… well, I’m sure you can figure out how to remedy that.

Also, there’s a Wilderhark extravaganza coming, and you (*points to absolutely everyone*) are officially invited. Check it out!

And now onto our regularly scheduled blog post.

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Once upon a time, an author loved the covers of her fairytale novella series very much.

But then she decided that she could love them more.

For you see, this author was something of a perfectionist, her eye ever open to ways things could be made better. In the case of her books’ covers, they were beautiful to behold. …Up close. But from a distance – or, y’know, a thumbnail image – they didn’t read as well. Moreover, the spines were too plain. Too dull. She wanted to fancy them up a bit, so they better held their own among a whole shelf full of titles.

Fortunately for our author, this series of hers was self-published, so making the changes she desired was as simple (and as frustrating/wearying/time-consuming) as making those changes herself. Thus did she roll up her sleeves, send up prayers for strength, patience, and technological cooperation, and buckle down to get ‘er done.

And that author… *solemn nods* …was me.

And since I was at it, I went ahead and swept the pages again (both paper and electronic) for persistent typos and formatting stuff that bugged me, so now the books’ insides and outsides are better than ever! Although Books 1 and 2 still don’t include pronunciation guides, because… *squints at past self* What was your reasoning, exactly?

Past Me: *shrugs*

Ohhh-kay. For, um, mysterious reasons unknown, then. But those who want reassurance that they’re saying “Harrold Babbit” correctly can always pop onto the Wilderhark Tales page on my website.

In any case: Look ye now upon the before-and-afters of the old and NEW ‘N’ IMPROVED, full-spread covers for Wilderhark Tales One through Six!

Swan Prince Cover, E-book
Before…

Swan Prince Cover, full spread update
…and after!

Stone Kingdom Cover, front
Before…

Stone Kingdom Cover, full spread update
…and after!

Seventh Spell Cover, front
Before…

Seventh Spell Cover, full spread update
…and after!

Song Caster Cover, front
Before…

Song Caster Cover, full spread update
…and after!

Sun's Rival Cover, front
Before…

Sun's Rival Cover, full spread udpate
…and after!

Surrogate Sea cover, front
Before…

Surrogate Sea Cover, full spread update
…and after!

Ta-daaaaaa! You collector types who simply must have every version of everything Wilderhark that you can get your hands on, terribly sorry, but it looks like I’ve given you something new at which to throw your money. And for those of you who’ve been dragging your feet about getting your copies of the Wilderhark Tales, now seems like a shiny time to get your collection going, dontcha think? ^^ Just in time for the series’ end, too

Holler in the comments: What do you think of the makeovers??

Wilderhark Cover Updates 01

Wilderhark Cover Updates 02

Wilderhark Cover Updates 03

Behind the Talette: Soul Shepherdess Part 2

It’s the last Monday of the month, meaning my Channillo series has grown by one Wilderhark Talette. ^o^

Although – head’s up, gang – there’s a change of schedule coming up. Next month (hiiii, September – aka the start of Ever On Word’s 5th year, whaaaat?) will feature not one, but two new Talettes, on the 14th and the 28th. And October’s Talette will be coming atcha on the 12th (the day before the official launch of “The Story’s End”!). And after that… hiatus time.

“Wha-a-at??” say the masses.

Yes, the end of my current serially released short story will mark the beginning of a indefinite break for the Wilderhark Talettes.

It seemed a good time, coinciding as it does with the conclusion of the Wilderhark Tales proper, as well as my temporary abandonment of the U.S. for Europe. The winds of change, they are a’blowing (less threateningly than most of the winds of Welken, one can only hope), and I’m good ‘n’ ready to close the book on the Wilderhark world for a while.

But fret ye not! Though I won’t be adding any new Talettes past October, all the old ones will still be available for Channillo subscribers to access. And if Future Me ever gets inspired to throw some more Talettes your way, you can be sure I’ll let you in the know. ^_^

Now, then, on to today’s special treat, tied into the second chapter of “The Soul Shepherdess”.

When we last saw young Solwen – she who will go on to become the first woman minstrel in the Great Land, despite not a little discouragement along the way – she was searching out words and a melody to share the music of the world with her sister. She’s at it again today, and if anything, her new song is even prettier than the first.

Rather than attempt to pick out the accompaniment on my lute, I turned to my trusty music-makin’ computer program (a somewhat old-school version of this) – mostly because I’ll seize any excuse to throw in some cellos. Click the pic below for my humble rendition of Solwen’s ode to a winter morning, “Snowfall” (as shared on my “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page).

Snowfall Still

For the story surrounding this song, make sure you’re subscribed to the Wilderhark Talettes! And do feel free to look around Channillo for other series that may catch your fancy; you’ll want something to keep you busy when the Talettes go on break, aye? ;D

Behind the Talette: The Soul Shepherdess (Part 1)

It’s the last Monday of the month, meaning my Channillo series has grown by one Wilderhark Talette. ^o^

Maybe you couldn’t tell from the opening poem, title tale, and closing chapter of “The Sky-Child and Other Stories”, or the recent post centered around my emerging bond with Rosie, but the minstrel point of view is a favorite of mine. And like “The Sky-Child”, the next four installments of my Wilderhark Talettes will be all about how the Wilderhark world gained a special songster – one you’ve not met before, though the name does make a cameo appearance in Book 6.5

“Gant-o’-the-Lute,” he returned the greeting. “So, that’s you, is it? Wasted no time getting started with an instrument of your own, I see. Who did you find to apprentice you, then? Barden-a-Tor? Balladry Sol?”

– Ioan-o’-the-North in “The Sky-Child”

Balladry Sol. The answer to a question that once did I wonder: Are any Wilderhark minstrels girls?

Not often, it turns out. Hardly any at all. Or at least, such was the case before Lute’s time. But in “The Soul Shepherdess” – Part 1 shared on Channillo today – we meet an exception: An out-of-the-ordinary little girl with a musical destiny.

And as we all know by now, you can’t have a Wilderhark minstrel story without music. Each chapter of “The Soul Shepherdess” will include at least one original song – which are well enough to read about, but better yet to hear. So for today’s “Behind the Talette” treat, I’ve recorded a video of me and my lute performing the very first composition of she who’ll become Ballady Sol. Ladies, gentlemen, and whoever else, I present to you, “Glass-Light Goodnight” (as shared on my “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page).

Glass-Light Goodnight Still

For the touching tale of how this song came to be, make sure you’re subscribed to the Wilderhark Talettes on Channillo, and this story and more shall be yours, all yours!

Behind the Talette: “The Tipsilvren Witch”

It’s the last Monday of the month, meaning my Channillo series has grown by one Wilderhark Talette. ^o^

Subscribers to my Talettes so far may have come to expect another short story featuring my favorite fairytale tailor, Edgwyn Wyle. But not this time! These characters are all new, inspired by a story  you may have heard called “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”.

I broke from the trees nearest the house, running as fast as my small legs could scamper. I’d gained the step when the door banged closed right into my nose, as if slammed from within. As I tumbled backward, the girl’s laugh trilled from behind me.

“Nice try, baby bear,” she teased. “No trespassing today. Be gone, shoo!”

I ran back to the trees and their shadows before she could wave that dreadful broom at me. Frightened I was, but angry, too. You’re a liar, my thoughts growled at her. One of us is a trespasser, and it’s not me!

— The Tipsilvren Witch

Like all Wilderhark spins on a tale, “The Tipsilvren Witch” departs a few paces from the Goldilocks account of our childhoods. Of course, a quick internet search of the story’s history reveals some major differences between even the version we’re familiar with and the original. Some fast ‘n’ furry facts, coming your way!

Arthur Rackham’s visual take on the legendary ursine trio.
Arthur Rackham’s visual take on the legendary ursine trio.

– In the story’s earliest known version, the intruder in the bears’ home was not a blonde girl-child, but – plot twist! – an old woman.

– Yet another early variation (which some theorize may even predate the old woman story) dispenses with human invasion entirely, and features a fox named Scrapefoot instead. (YEAH, foxes!)

– Robert Southey’s “Story of the Three Bears” gained popularity for the old lady narrative in 1837. A dozen years later, one Joseph Cundall – who reportedly said there were more than enough children’s stories with old biddies, thanks very much – retold it with a little girl named Silver Hair. (I guess in the character de-aging process, the hair is the last to revert to its youthful state?)

From Silver Hair to Silverlocks, to Golden Hair to Goldilocks. And now, latest of all, “the golden-haired girl” of the Tipsilvren Witch.

As it happens, I didn’t originally intend to set the story in the world of Wilderhark, when I wrote it a handful years ago. But when I recently realized that, with some very minor tweaks, it would fit in that world just fine, I knew right away which part of the Great Land it belonged in. Every kingdom has its legacy, after all. Denebdeor’s got its swans and stone curses, Carillon’s got its music… and when it comes to bear-related antics, it’s gotta be Tipsilvren.

So, for those of you who are up for a new take on an old classic – which I certainly hope you’ll find to be not too old-school, and not too wildly divergent, but just right ;D – make sure you’re subscribed to the Wilderhark Talettes on Channillo, and this story and more shall be yours, all yours!

Behind the Talette: “Starheart”

It’s the last Monday of the month, meaning my Channillo series has grown by one Wilderhark Talette. ^o^

“One of these days,” says Rosalba, “you shall have to tell me the Stone Kingdom story you heard as a child. I would be most interested to see how it compares with Denebdeor’s history.”

“Uh-oh,” Edgwyn chuckles. “I think you’re giving our author ideas.”

(Heck yeah, she is!)

— from “The Stone Kingdom Character Commentary”

That idea stayed with me, too, prompting me to coax Edgwyn’s favorite childhood tale out of imagination and onto the page. As I settled in to write it, though, I realized it wasn’t a story I wanted to tell. Like Rosalba, I wanted to hear it from Edgwyn! Because as readers of “The Sun’s Rival” (or the first two Wilderhark Talettes, for that matter) can attest, Edgwyn bedtime stories are the bomb-diggity best.

Thus was “Starheart” born. And some folks are in for a special privilege. Because you know Wilderhark Tales book 6.5, “The Sky-Child and Other Stories”? Those other stories include “Starheart” – meaning that Wilderhark Talette subscribers get to enjoy this taste of the collection before everyone who has to wait until the whole book releases in July. So here’s lookin’ at you, hipsters. X)

Edg 'n' Rose figurines, as sculpted by beloved fan-friend Chelsea de la Cruz.
Edg ‘n’ Rose figurines, as sculpted by beloved fan-friend Chelsea de la Cruz.

Let it here be known: This story was a joy to write. It’s been so long since I first found my way through “The Stone Kingdom”; I hadn’t even realized how much I missed hanging out with Edgwyn and Rosalba in their relationship’s earliest days.

I also enjoyed getting to explore a bit more of the princess and tailor’s cultures – both through his presentation of a classic children’s tale of his generation, and her overview of a mythology revered as history among the Great Land’s royals. Regarding the latter (and much to the gratification of my realism-loving writing buddy *winks for Tirzah*), it turns out there’s actually a solid explanation for why, as Gant-o’-the-Lute once bemoaned in “The Song Caster”, their world has yet to experience international war.

So whether you’re in it for the worldbuilding or the distinction of reading a story ahead of the crowd, or you’re just hankering hard for a sweet Edg ‘n’ Rose fix, this is a tale(tte) that I, for one, don’t think you oughtta miss. “Starheart” awaits you on Channillo.com; have you got your subscription? ;D

A Taste of Two Talettes

It’s the last Monday of the month, and of as recently, that means that subscribers of my series on Channillo.com get a brand new Wilderhark Talette!

I didn’t get a chance to make a proper big deal about it last time, swamped as I was with the Launch Week of my latest Wilderhark Tale novella, “The Surrogate Sea”. But now that things have calmed down for me as much as they ever will, let me give you a bit more insight as to exactly why you should absolutely buy a subscription to the Wilderhark Talettes.

A sketch of dear Edgwyn as I imagine he looked in his early youth.
A sketch of dear Edgwyn as I imagine he looked in his early youth.

Last month’s series debut was “Horse Friend”, a short story mined from the childhood of everyone’s favorite fairytale tailor, Edgwyn Wyle. Ever wonder just how Edgwyn came to be so particularly fond of horses (as evidenced by his charming relationship with Wilhelmina in “The Stone Kingdom”)? Well, this story shows you just that – along with a little life lesson, because such is the nature of fairytales. ;D Have a sneaky-peeky snippet!

“Buy a horse?” my father said. “But we have no need for another horse. We cannot afford to keep another horse.”

“We need not keep him long,” I coaxed. “The Summer’s End Faire is not far off; we can sell him again there. I will take care of him in the meantime – such good care of him that we’ll make an enormous profit at the Faire! Please, Papa, I’ll do anything, just let me get the horse away from that awful man!”

In the end, my father agreed, and supplied a fair price for his neighbor’s horse. But when I went to make my purchase, Mister Lowam demanded an amount far higher.

“I shall have need of that much, at least!” he said of the sum. “For it is the beginning of the harvest season, and I must have funds enough to hire another horse to bring in my crops, since you would divest me of the one I have now.”

Funds to hire another horse? Another horse for him to abuse as he had Carlyle? I would not hear of it! But could I ask a farmer to abandon his fields at harvest time? Nonsense. Nor could I volunteer the use of one of my family’s horses or the time of my father or brothers-in-law, for they would be kept busy enough tending our own land.

There remained, therefore, only one thing left for me to offer.

What thing? What offer? What’s little Edgwyn got up his sleeve? Well, I’m not about to tell you here and now. Go read the rest to find out!

As for this month’s new Talette, “Heart Pure”, it was a joy to write, as I recall. I further recall my minstrel being annoyed because I was working on this – yet another Edgwyn story – when he thought I should have been writing the first draft of the origin story of Gant-o’-the-Lute. But happy endings all around, because “Heart Pure” got written, and Lute’s story will get its due time in the sun when my next book comes out; stay tuned. (And feel welcome to sign up for the book’s cover reveal, while you’re at it!)

“Heart Pure” takes place in the space between “The Stone Kingdom” and “The Seventh Spell”, and is based upon— well, why don’t you read this tidbit of the Talette and see if you can guess which famous fairytale inspired it.

“I daresay a fabric as wonderful as you’ve described would tempt a disheartening number of thieves,” I surmised.

“Far fewer than you’d guess, actually,” said Arnall, with a more lopsided sort of smile. “For you see, Your Highness, no one who sees the fabric would ever think of stealing it; and any that would steal it, could never see the fabric. As I myself was most amazed to discover, the fabric is so inexpressibly divine that only those of purest heart are granted the gift of perceiving it.”

Really,” I breathed, giving the thought a moment to settle inside of me. Such a fabric was almost beyond my imagination. “Oh, what I wouldn’t give to see it… But then,” I said ruefully, and with only half-a-laugh, “perhaps I couldn’t.”

The vendor shrugged. “Well, in all honesty, very few are able to, Your Highness. But that is partly my purpose in coming here.” He regarded me with thoughtful eyes. “For from all I have heard said of the tailor-prince called Edgwyn Wyle, this fabric was made for hearts such as his.”

Wilderhark Talettes

And that, readers o’ mine, is all you’ll get out of me in this blog post. For the whole of the story – and many more to come! – be sure you’re subscribed to the Wilderhark Talettes, one series of many awaiting you on Channillo.com!

The Author, the Prince, and the Wind

FTF Button 2015

Once upon a time, an author looked up to discover that, high goodness, it was that time of year already: The annual, magical Fairy Tale Fortnight was once again come to its host blogs, The Book Rat and A Backwards Story.

Book Rat's Glass Slipper
Speaking of glass slippers… Image via (and the original watercolor created by / up for grabs courtesy of) Misty from The Book Rat.

Enamored with fairytales as she was, the author simply had to get in on the event. And as aforesaid event happened to fall right around the time she released the latest in her series of fairytale mash-up novellas, it was clear as a glass slipper what the author should do: Offer a pair of fun author/character chat vignettes and a giveaway tied-in to her new book!

And that author… *solemn nods* … was me.

And that book is, of course, “The Surrogate Sea (Book Six of The Wilderhark Tales)”.

Surrogate Sea cover, front

With a little cooperation from my South Wind and the Crown Prince of Denebdeor, I put together a couple of “Inspired”-style interview posts for the entertainment of the fairytale-loving community. You’ll find them here and here, along with a giveaway offering one lucky winner a set of signed bookmarks + a limited-edition “Surrogate Sea Word-Sketch Book” + a paperback copy of “The Surrogate Sea”! You’ve got ‘til the 22nd to enter. Enjoy, and good luck!

And for those of you in a fairytale mood, I hope you’ll check out/subscribe to the new series I’ve begun on Channillo.com, The Wilderhark Talettes! The first of my monthly short stories is up now (all new, and all about a young Edgwyn Wyle, squee!), with the next story comin’ atcha two weeks from today. ^_^

More Wilderhark Launch News!

It’s the last day of Launch Week for “The Surrogate Sea (Book Six of The Wilderhark Tales)”. (Have you bought your copy(ies) yet? All retail links conveniently grouped here.) That means one more day of fun new guest posts going live on my virtual book tour’s blog stops. (Full tour schedule to be found here.) It’s also the last day to enter my giveaway (details likewise found here), so rack up those raffle points while you can!

Surrogate Sea Launch Week Tour Pics, Novella

Now, hold onto your hats, ‘cause I’ve got an announcement for you. (Are you hat-holding? Don’t blame me if the winds blow them off. Those of you who’ve already devoured your copies of “The Surrogate Sea” know quite well what winds are like.)

I’ve mentioned here and there that the next, second-to-last book in the Wilderhark Tales series will be not a full novella, but a collection of shorter stories. Now I’m excited to tell you that there’s another source of Wilderhark short stories coming your way.

Launching today, it’s Channillo, a brand new digital publishing platform for series of short stories, essays, articles, book chapters, journals, poetry… and what shall hereby be known as The Wilderhark Talettes!

Think of Channillo like a magazine, except you get to pick and choose which regular features you want included in your subscription. Quoting Channillo:

[We are] a place for avid readers to enjoy high quality and original work on an ad-free platform … Membership plans start at just $2.59/month. Channillo pays each writer (or chosen charity) based on the number of members subscribed to their series. By subscribing to Channillo series you are directly supporting your favorite writers!

Wilderhark Talettes

So here’s the deal, y’all: Subscribe to my Wildehark Talettes series today, and it will not only get you a new short story based in the Wilderhark world once a month (how awesome is that?!), it’ll also earn you another 10 raffle points in the “Surrogate Sea” Launch Week Giveaway! **Just let me know with a declaration of “Subscribed!” in the comments below.** Feel free, of course, to browse Channillo to see what other series on offer strike your fancy. And fellow writer-types, if you’d like to start up a Channillo series of your own, you can apply just like I did, and if they approve your proposal, you’re in!

/End announcement. Thanks to everyone who’s so far made Launch Week for “The Surrogate Sea” such a grand one! And if/once you’ve had the chance to read the book, I’d super-duper-so-very-much appreciate it if you’d leave a review on the retail sites. ❤ in advance for taking the time.