Shooting Hood in the Wood

Outlaws of Avalon Banner

The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”s Launch Week+ continues!

And after a few minutes knocking my head against the blank, white wall of the page, trying to figure out how I wanted to introduce this post and its gallery of images, I came to an inspired remembrance: That sometimes, that’s what bards are for.

So I’m stepping aside ‘til after the main event. Take it away, Allyn-a-Dale!

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An author with a love of tales –

Particularly those retold

About a certain outlaw

And his band merry and bold –

Herself betook and several books

Into the German wood,

To shoot (with camera, not a bow)

A show of Robin Hood.

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Among the many models,

An especial favorite:

A YA reimagining

By another Robin writ.

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A new addition to her hoard,

Centered around a Will;

A little younger than her taste,

But she enjoyed it still.

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Here, Angus Donald’s grimmer take,

Narrated by myself.

(And purchased, ere the shop passed on,

From a Bristol Ren Faire shelf!)

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Another tale of Scarlet –

Second in a trilogy

That lends a sort of Celtic air

To Hood’s mythology.

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A chance find, and a happy one,

Among used books for sale.

Old ballads – many of Robin Hood;

One even with “Allin a Dale”!

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No such tribute’s complete, says she,

Without a nod to Pyle,

Seen here reposed upon a tree

In harmonizing style.

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And last of all, but far from least,

The author’s own addition:

A brand new ballad joins its tune

To the honored Hood’s tradition.

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Beautifully told, thank you, Allyn! There are a few more book-in-the-woods shots where these came from, which will most likely find themselves on display on the Outlaws of Avalon Tumblr.

On that subject, don’t forget that following the Outlaws Tumblr is but one of several ways you can enter into my ongoing Rafflecopter giveaway! I certainly hope you’ll take advantage by some means or another; there’s cool stuff to win!

And if you haven’t yet, now’s a great time to drop everything and purchase your copy of “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”! (Via Amazon, CreateSpace, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive…Take your pick!) Or, if you’ve already read the book, leave a review! Both are not only ways to earn giveaway points, but to fill an author’s sails with a blessed breeze. ❤

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Ballad Cover, front 02

Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die. Where the Robin Hood walking the streets is truly the noble outlaw himself. Where the knightly and wizardly players of King Arthur’s court are in fact who they profess to be. Where the sense of enchantment in the air is not mere feeling, but the Fey magic of a paradise hidden in plain sight.

Enter Allyn-a-Dale. The grief of his father’s death still fresh and the doom of his own world looming, swirling realities leave the young minstrel marooned in an immortal Sherwood Forest, where he is recruited as a member of Robin Hood’s infamous outlaw band. But Allyn’s new life may reach its end before it’s scarcely begun. Their existence under threat, the Merry Men are called upon to embark on a journey to the dangerous world Outside – ours – on a quest which must be achieved without delay, or eternity in Avalon will not amount to very long at all.

AVAILABLE NOW!

*Bonus*: #HypotheticalFAQs

What if robin hood were a woman?

Marion raises a brow. “She might have mentioned that before our wedding.”

Reading, Review Writing, Rithmatics and a Rook

It’s a double book review day! …because I’ve been sitting on these reviews for a while, and if I don’t put ‘em up on the blog today, when the heck will I?

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Book the First: “The Rithmatist (The Rithmatist #1)” by Brandon Sanderson

Genre: YA Steampunk Fantasy

Blurb: More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.

Bestselling author Brandon Sanderson brings his unique brand of epic storytelling to the teen audience with an engrossing tale of danger and suspense—the first of a series. With his trademark skills in worldbuilding, Sanderson has created a magic system that is so inventive and detailed that readers who appreciate games of strategy and tactics just may want to bring Rithmatics to life in our world.

The Rithmatist

My Thoughts: I picked up this book – my first taste of Sanderson lit – on the recommendation of a friend (holla, Chelsea!), and I gotta say, I really enjoyed it. Who knows how I’d have felt if I’d been left to try to envision Rithmatics on my own (visualization = not my strong suit), but happy days, the book actually included instructional illustrations before every chapter! So instead of feeling glumly out of the loop, I found myself studying the drawings with genuine interest, almost as if I, too, were a student at Armedius Academy.

Of course, not just every student is granted the opportunity to study Rithmatics in depth. For all his unflagging fascination and non-magical skill with the art, Joel has missed out on the chance to become a Rithmatist. (Forever?! Time may tell…) This causes him understandable disappointment, and some measure of scornful frustration at the seeming incompetence of fellow student – and lucky-duck Rithmatist – Melody. But there’s a dire mystery afoot, so naturally the pair figures out a way to ally against the threat.

I had a fun time trying to puzzle out the entity behind the kidnappings and/or murders. And spoiling nothing, I will say that the ending left me both with a satisfying “AHA! I knew it!” and an equally satisfying “What?! Oh my GOSH, I can’t believe it! Sanderson, you excellent fiend!”

Also, the world-building was awesome. And I say that as a reader for whom world-building is generally among the least of my interests. Just the fact that the United States had been reimagined as a bunch of islands tickled me no end. Throw in the charts of Rithmatic defenses, and I was straight-up sold.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): Do it, bro.

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Book the Second: “Rook” by Sharon Cameron

Genre: Young Adult [Historical] Dystopia

Blurb: History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

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Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

My Thoughts: Post-apocalyptic dystopia isn’t usually my scene, but this book got away with it clean, thanks to its future setting’s captivating aura of a Europe of centuries gone by.

And oh, the cleverness of the plot! Full of twisty intrigue from the get-go (which I, being neither twisty nor intrigue-y by nature, cannot help but admire), with a latter third careening at a pace that would not let up. On the micro level, I appreciated how the beginnings of each section tended to echo or cunningly follow-up the section before, everything carefully connected and choreographed; it was a treat to see that kind of artistic thought put into the storytelling structure.

Of course, if a story doesn’t have living characters, it’s got nothing.

“Rook” doesn’t got nothing.

*ignores the excess of negatives and questionable grammar* *moves on*

The main villain was scary-smart, so thank goodness the protagonists weren’t lacking in competence. Their schemes were as sharp as their banter, and their relationships dynamic. Also, I freely confess – it didn’t take long at all for René to charm me. I doubt he’d be surprised to hear it.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): Do it or face the Razor.

(Do it or you may not know just what is this Razor to which I refer.)

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Such are my thoughts on the “Rook” and “The Rithmatist”. Have any of your own? Share below!

HOHENSTEIN Blog Tour – Q&A with Didi Lawson

Ever On Word hereby presents my stop on the blog tour for Xchyler Publishing’s new historical romance, HOHENSTEIN by Didi Lawson!

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How super pretty is that cover?! *ogles work of art* But of course the importance of a book’s outside has nothing on its insides. Let’s not overlook what the novel’s about:

Hohenstein_Blurb

As a special treat for you, readers o’ mine – (and, y’know, since I advertised it in this post’s title, and all) – here’s a quick Q&A with author Didi Lawson.

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

I almost tossed the manuscript out when I moved from Tucson to Chandler, AZ, but decided what the heck, I’ll just pack it up and take it with me. One night I woke up with the distinct feeling to work on this Hohenstein manuscript. And I did.

If you had 3 wishes, what would they be?

1. Have enough money to travel anywhere in the world, 2. Have all of my family around me, 3. Live in my dreams.

Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment?

A chalet in the woods on a balcony overlooking the tree tops.

Where do you actually write?

In my kitchen. I have my desk in front of a window that looks out over the pasture (no animals, though).

How long does it normally take you to write a novel?

That depends. I could have a novel done in 6 months, rough draft that is.

What inspires you to write?

Good question. It’s like a power that pushes me to write.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I have been writing ever since I learned how to write, and I always wanted to get published, but most of the time didn’t take myself serious.

What was the hardest part of writing your book, and how did you overcome it?

The hardest part of writing for me is when I have writer’s block, when I don’t know exactly how to go on, to go from point A to point B. The best way to overcome that is to just sit down and write. You may have to delete everything you wrote, but at least you put words on paper and oftentimes, the ideas come.

What is your writing drive? The power that keeps you going when your writing gets difficult?

My sense of duty or sense of responsibility.

How did you come up with the title?

I once worked for a man who had bought the title von Hohenstein. And I named the castle Hohenstein for lack of a better title. I thought that I’d come up with something better eventually, but I didn’t. And I like the title.

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Hohenstein_Available

You can snatch up your copy of HOHENSTEIN today, and/or enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to take your pick of some Xchyler Pub goodies.

Lastly, I leave you with the novel’s trailer – which, between the visuals and the music, is just an all-around lovely experience.

“Booker” or “More Book…? Not Sure It Really Matters, Since ‘Book’ Isn’t Much Used as an Adjective”

Four blog posts in as many days? Seriously?? Am I out of my Ever-On-Word-bloggin’ mind?!

Well, yeah. But as regards my packed blogging schedule this week, I can explain myself.

It was gonna just be the Buccaneer Blogfest posts and my “Superhero” post that I was just too excited about to let sit in my queue any longer. But then came a pleasant surprise in the form of an award from fellow Buccaneer Kendra of the Flame Writer blog. And as both the award and this Buccaneer Blogfest week are totally book-related, it seemed meet to me that today be the day I formally accept…

(That’s “The {Booker} Award: For those who refuse to live in the real world”, in case the pic’s not showing up, for whatever Technology Fiend-instigated reason.)

Quoting Kendra on the rules: “To receive this award, the blog must be at least 50% about books (reading or writing is OK). Along with receiving this award, you must also share your top five favorite books. (More than five is OK.) You must give this award to 5-10 other lucky book blogs you adore.”

I mentioned the titles of several favorite books during Monday’s biblio-psych session. Here’s my chance to go into a bit more detail as to why those books are by m’self so much beloved.

Montmorency” (and sequels) by Eleanore Updale – History YA fiction that actually doesn’t have many characters in the young-adult age range. When we first meet Montmorency, he’s just a young man, age unspecified. Old enough to serve a term in prison, evidently, and then go out and steal his way into an independent Victorian London gentleman’s lifestyle, with help from his scruffy alter-ego, Scarper. I love reliving his dual persona, public transformation, and adventures, and re-meeting his varied and interesting friends (including a kind doctor, a jovial spy, and a clever gal plucked from the gutter) and enemies (among them… well, a bunch of really dangerous people). I like these books more than words can satisfactorily convey. Hey, You Should Read Them.

The Story Girl” by L.M. Montgomery – Kids being old-school kids on the picturesque Prince Edward Island (a locale which came to fictional prominence via another Montgomery work, “Anne of Green Gables”). The largely episodic escapades of Beverley (the narrator and, despite what the name may have had you first assume, a boy), his brother and cousins, and of course Sarah Stanley (a.k.a. the titular Story Girl, so called for her mad storytelling skillz) are all innocent hilarity. I loved the sequel, too, but for some reason, I don’t own it. I must remedy that.

The Bonemender” (and sequels) by Holly Bennett – The term “bonemender” equating to “healer”, and referring to main heroine Gabrielle, daughter of monarchs, sister to one of my favorite literary princes (*takes a brief moment to sigh over Tristan*), and friend to a wonderful bunch of elves. (Significantly more than friends to one of them, actually.) Again, most of the characters are adults – which, according to the principles of biblio-psych, suggests that I like books by adults, about adults, that aren’t so much written to adults. (My “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” falls into that category.) So, yeah. A fantasy adventure with characters I adore. Good stuff.

The Frog Princess” by E.D. Baker – The old “Frog Prince” fairytale gets an overhaul. Princess Emeralda of Greater Greensward kisses a frog claiming to be Prince Eadric of Upper Montevista, and… oops, now they’re both frogs. (If this sounds eerily similar to Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” to you, nice call; the movie was loosely inspired by the book.) Magical mayhem ensues for several books to come. (The first three are my favorite, though I only own 1 and 4). I take multiple moments to grin goofily over Eadric. (Yeah, yeah, thieves and princes. Throw in a minstrel and a fox, and you’ve got me fourfold.) And Emma and Eadric are actually young adults, so ha! (Not sure who the laugh’s on, but ha anyway!)

And for my fifth, I select The Outlaws of Sherwood” by Robin McKinley – …Which I totally talked about yesterday, so there you go.

And now for my Booker Award nominees!

Amanda Foody of It’s All in My Head

Amy of Chasing the Crazies

Ariel K. Price

Ash Silverlock of Fabulous Realms

And Leigh Townsend of Butterflies and Dragons (whose name doesn’t start with my beautiful pattern letter “A”, so thank my obsessive-compulsive stars for “And”)

Congratulations, honored recipients! Thanks again, Kendra! Happy reading, booklovers everywhere, and may your lives be even booker than ever they were. (: