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?

A Review Miraculously Free of Bell Puns

Be proud of me. I thought of two such puns without hardly trying. But seriously, folks…

The Book: “The Toll of Another Bell”, edited by McKenna Gardner.

Genre: Fantasy short story anthology.

Blurb: A collection of out-of-this-world short stories that ring true in mortal hearts.

The Toll of Another Bell

“Breath” by Jodi L. Milner: The Guardian of Souls realizes her life is incomplete and sacrifices everything to find what’s missing.

“Awareness” by Timothy Vincent: To achieve the status of Magi, Jyn must pass his father’s ultimate test.

“Phoenix” by Elise Stephens: Orion loses his wife on their wedding day and uses dark magic to seek her in the afterlife.

“Life Under Research Conditions” by Thaxson Patterson II: Can a bioweapon possess a soul and make choices to save humanity?

“The Year of No Foals” by Scott E. Tarbet: A miraculous colt and a mysterious old man bring healing to a family ripped apart by tragedy.

“Naoki No Yokai” by F.M. Longo: Yokai have overrun a local village, and it’s up to Saga Naoki to discover the reason why.

“Jilted River” by Ginger Mann: An Appalachian fairy tale attracts visitors to a state park, but then they start to disappear.

“Tower Gods” by J.R. Potter: A thirteen-year-old boy with an oxygen mask befits the role of hero in Watcher Benson’s eyes.

“Reality As We Know It” by Danielle E. Shipley: Where otherworldly magic fails, is Row’s friendship enough to mend Singer’s grieving heart?

“60 Seconds to Midnight” by TC Phillips: Fleeing an ancient evil, a young woman from amongst the stars finds unlikely refuge on Earth.

My Thoughts: As one would hope of a fantasy-themed collection, “Toll” displays a vast diversity of imagination. But more than only stories to tickle your flights of fancy, these are, on the whole, stories to make you feel. Stories where the pain of what’s lost is but one turn away from the finding of something more.

Some highlights for me as a reader included Jodi L. Milner’s elemental myth “Breath”; the humor winking from F.M. Longo’s tale of spies and samurai, “Naoki no Yokai”; and “Phoenix”, Elise Stephens’ modern retelling of the Orpheus/Eurydice tragedy, the prose holding my heart like a melancholy song. There’s more powerful music to be discovered when a family goes up against a siren in Ginger Mann’s “Jilted River”, and a meticulous balance of fatal magic awaits in Timothy Vincent’s “Awareness”. Readers whose tastes lean in a more Sci-Fi direction may find particular enjoyment in Thaxson Patterson II’s out-of-this-world creations in “Life Under Research Conditions”, or young Kip’s larger-than-life summer adventure in J.R. Potter’s “Tower Gods”.

If I had to choose a favorite story from the collection (excluding the title attached to my own name, of course), I think that honor would go to “The Year of No Foals” by Scott E. Tarbet, a homey, futuristic yarn that reads like it could have happened yesterday or a generation ago. The blend of ordinary and extraordinary is magic and left me smiling. And I strongly advise that all comers stick around for the book’s world-hopping, mind-bending, heart-pounding adventure of a finale, “60 Seconds to Midnight” … though maybe not right before bedtime, lest TC Phillips’ horrific Daimons hunt you down in your dreams.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): Xchyler Publishing delivers another worthy anthology in “The Toll of Another Bell”. Yeah, you should read it! Preorder the Kindle e-book now, and it will deliver to you just as soon as it launches. January 31st, y’all! – same day as the online Release Party. Be there and play for free stuff! Anyone who had a chance to make it out for the Xchyler release party for “Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions”* knows it’ll be a good time. (:

*Speaking of “Legends and Lore”: Read it? Loved it (or didn’t)? Don’t let Amazon’s customers miss out on your thoughts – share them in a review! All its authors will thank you. ^_^