WINGS OF RENEWAL: The Cover Revealed

“We interrupt what would have been your regularly scheduled Interactive Theatre skit,” says Will Scarlet, “to bring you ‘Wings of Renewal: The Cover Revealed’!”

“Wait, what?” says Allyn-a-Dale.

Will shoves a three-ring script binder into the minstrel’s hands. “Just run with it.”

“O… kay…”

<<<>>>

Allyn/Narrator: The future is vibrant, hopeful, and filled with dragons.

[Gant-o’-the-Lute – eyes bright through reptilian contact lenses, resplendent in full-body make-up set to stun – glides over the stage on kite-like dragon wings with an exultant, musical roar.]

Allyn/Narrator: In WINGS OF RENEWAL, twenty-two authors explore the exciting new subgenre of solarpunk through the lens of these majestic creatures.

[A full-length triple mirror unfolds, with Will Scarlet in the center. His reflections appearing to multiply into forever, he raises a megaphone-like device to his mouth, likewise multiplying his voice into that of a small crowd.]

Will/Authors: We are the ninety-nine! Or, the twenty-two, anyway. Behold, our names and short story titles!

[A sweeping score singing from various speakers, a slideshow of the list projects onto the stage’s back curtain, reading as follows:

Brenda J. Pierson – Lost and Found
C.B. Carr – Summer Project
Cj Lehi – Deep Within the Corners of my Mind
Caitlin Nicoll – Glow
Caroline Bigaiski – The Dragon of Kou
Claudie Arseneault – One Last Sweet
Danny Mitchell – Dragon’s Oath
Diane Dubas – The Witch’s Son
Gemini Pond – Fighting Fire with Fire
J. Lee Elloris – The Last Guardian
Jeanne LG – The Stained Glass Dragon
Kat Lerner – Community Outreach with Reluctant Neighbors (alternatively, How to Avoid Cults)
Kimberly Kay and A. N. Gephart – Solarium
Lyssa Chiavari – Seven Years Among Dragons
M. Pax – Wings of the Guiding Suns
Marianne Drolet – The Shape of the Sun
Maura Lydon – Wanderer’s Dream
Megan Reynolds – Petrichor
Mindi Briar – Refuge
Sam Martin – Morelle and Vina
Stephanie Wagner – In the Hearts of Dragons
Tobias Wade – The Quantum Dragon

The music continuing on, the draconified Lute returns to resume his aerial dance, while Allyn wraps up the narration.]

Allyn/Narrator: Whether they irrigate dry terrain or serve as spaceships, are mythic beasts come to life or biomechanical creations of man, these dragons show us a world where renewable energy overcomes gas and oil, and cooperation replaces competition. If you love fantasy/sci-fi fusion, this is an anthology you do not want to miss! So hop on solar wings and follow us into futures that—for all their witches and dragons—are far more possible than they might seem.

Will: And now… the cover!

[The back curtain rises on the larger than life, full-spread cover art, then zooms in on the cover’s front, complete with text – all as seen below.]

Wings of Renewal, full-spread art

 

Wings of Renewal, front cover

Lute: Magnificent, no? [grins and breathes a jet of fire ]

<<<>>>

 “Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to editor Claudie Arseneault,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the information included in this anthology cover reveal production, and to Agata Jędrychowska for the creation of the cover art itself.”

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

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.

<<<>>>

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 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

Up There with the Best of ‘Em

After I-forget-how-long of knowing this was coming but waiting until I had more details to begin blasting the news from the rooftops, I am all kinds of pleased to announce…

Best of LSQ

(That’s “The Best of Luna Station Quarterly: The First Five Years”, for those who for whatever reason can’t see the “ooh-ah”-worthy cover image.)

Luna Station Press is proud to celebrate the fifth anniversary of our flagship Quarterly with this special anthology. The writers gathered in these pages, from every corner of the globe, are explorers of wonder, magic, and places beyond the stars. They are also explorers of what makes us human, in heart, mind, and spirit. Come explore the best we have to offer, as we look back fondly on the last five years and look ahead at what’s to come. Featuring fifty stories by emerging women writers, with cover art by Hugo award-winner Julie Dillon.

Longtime Ever On Wordians may or may not recall it, but it is Luna Station Quarterly, online speculative fiction magazine for authorial women of all stripes, that bears the distinction of being the first entity ever to accept and publish a Danielle E. Shipley short story – the hundred-word flash fic “Still Broken”, subsequently republished in “The Sky-Child and Other Stories (A Wilderhark Tales Collection)”. Since then, it’s been my honor to contribute a number of posts to the LSQ blog, as well as two more short stories – one of which also appears (in much-expanded form) in “The Sky-Child”, the other of which appears… that’s right… within “The Best of Luna Station Quarterly” anthology.

Anyone remember “Train of Thought”, my short-‘n’-sweet companion piece to “INSPIRED”? Well, editor Jennifer Parsons set me squealing by ranking it among her top fifty LSQ stories to date! Color me chuffed – and that goes for Luc and Annabelle, too.

So, who wants a copy of this big, bad fella? It can be yours via Amazon or direct from LSQ – (the latter comes with a coupon code!) – all proceeds to benefit the ongoing production of Luna Station Quarterly.

Who knows? Maybe with your support, another crazy little writer gal will earn her first publication credit in this online mag. ^_^

Guest-o’-the-Lute (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”

Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “He quite quotably described himself in the fourth of the Wilderhark Tales novellas thus:

I am called Gant-o’-the-Lute, by most. Lute only, by my friends. Jackillen, by my dear beloved. Minstrel extraordinaire, by anyone with any musical taste to speak of. And far less pleasant things by those who’ve had occasion to meet more than their match in myself in this field or that and were inclined to be rather sore sports about it.

“Welcome, Lute!” Will greets the minstrel in blue now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – what are your thoughts regarding the multiple people who have seen you on the cover of your latest book and assumed it’s a girl?”

Off-camera, Allyn buries his face in his hands. Lute’s eyes, meanwhile, flash a bit over-bright, but the fingers softly tickling the strings of the lute in his lap never tense. “It’s bothersome,” he says coolly, “but I suppose they are not wholly to be blamed. I was an uncommonly pretty lad.”

“An aesthetic you’ve yet to outgrow. Now, though I just now called it ‘your book’, the fact is that it contains a number of stories, only three of which feature you. Tell us a bit about those?”

“Certainly. Chief among them is the titular tale, ‘The Sky-Child’. It follows me from my infancy through the daring escapade that would later land me in the middle of the infamous Seventh Spell – all of it excellent, though in my opinion, it’s not ‘til I make the transition from child to minstrel that the story really starts to sing. Somewhat literally.” He smiles. “The narrative is interspersed with original songs.

“The second story of which I’m a part is a companion to ‘The Seventh Spell’, offering perspectives on the adventure not seen during Book Three of The Wilderhark Tales. And the third, the collection’s finale, serves to echo the poem at the book’s opening, as well as matters touched upon in ‘The Sky-Child’. Prepare to shed tears, Scarlet; I happen to know you’re an easy cry.”

The corner of Will’s mouth crooks upward. “I’m an easy lot of things. A slight switching of gears: Of the stories in the book that don’t include you, which is your favorite and why?”

“Hmm,” Lute hums, his inner eye skimming the table of contents. “‘Skie Welduwark ’.”

Will blinks. “Was that English?”

“Welken, actually, as is the story – an account of the genesis of earth and Sky. I’d have given much to be there,” he says wistfully. “How marvelous would it have been to watch the world first awake? Oh, the songs of it I’d sing!”

“And well worth hearing, they would be,” Will concedes. “One last thing I’d like to hear from you, if you please. Tell me, Lute, what is our mutual author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He bats his lashes. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

Lute’s laugh rings ‘round the stage. “Now, that would set you crying. I’m too much for you, Will Scarlet, and I think you know it well. That leaves secrets to tell. What shall I disclose?… Mm, not the most mortifying.” He shakes his head. “She’d not soon forgive me, and I’ve need of her yet. A deep secret, then: As an author, there are truths of her to be found in near every character she writes. But of all those who populate her Wilderhark Tales – and though I would have once been mortified to admit this is so – I believe she is most like me. Not in musical skill, mind you, or in most skills at all; she’s far beneath me there. Yet in spirit, we have much in common. Far too much. Though she’s got it the worse,” he says, his smile as bright and sharp as sunlight, “for I less often bother to play at what you call ‘being nice’.”

“So I’ve had opportunity to observe,” says Will. “Hey, Allyn, how ‘bout a quick word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “was brought to you by Danielle E. Shipley’s The Sky-Child and Other Stories (A Wilderhark Tales Collection)’, Book 6.5 in the series.

Sky-Child Cover, front 02

Born into a world his heart knows as beneath him, an extraordinary boy becomes a man of music, hopeful that someday he’ll find a way higher.

As the first day dawns, a world comes awake, order and disorder striking a dangerous balance.

Under the stars, a princess and tailor trade age-old lore, little dreaming of the future that could trap them in the past.

All of it in, around, and far above the timeless trees of Wilderhark, the forest whose secrets reveal themselves slowly, if ever at all.

Tales of beginnings. Tales of quests for belonging. Most of all, tales of true love.

Once upon a time, you knew something of Wilderhark’s tales. Now for the stories that fall in between.

“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thanks to you as well, Gant-o’-the-Lute. And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

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.

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!

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

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