Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Updates, Plans, and Things

All right. My Kingdom For a Quest will be publishing in just two and a half weeks. I've received feedback from all of my editors save one, and she's IRL. I only have four chapters left to read through with my Mom, and I should be able to get to them within the next few days.

I've fixed the formatting issues that were in the proof copy, which brought the page count to 137, as apposed to the former 115. It's still a bit shorter than Sew, but since by word count, it's longer, I don't care.

I'm still open to more participants in the Blog Tour. I have at least two stops per day across 13 blogs as it stands right now, but if anyone else would like to have me, I'd appreciate it. I'm especially looking for reviewers.

However, since I recognize that this is the third book of the series, and very dependent on the two previous books, and some of my readers haven't one or both of the first two books, I'm going to open the reviewing options to include Sew and Take. If you have read one or the other and you'd like to do a review during the tour, let me know which day via email (you can see the schedule here to see which days I'd need it.) Or, if you haven't read them, let me know and I'll send you a PDF of Sew, and you can, again, let me know which day you'd like to post the review.

Also, and I believe I've mentioned this before, but I've set up a goodreads group for Bookania, where you guys can gather and discuss the books, characters, whathaveyou. Last night I added two more topics - one for the discussion of My Kingdom for a Quest and one for casting choices if a movie were to ever get made.

However, currently, most of the topics have just me and that's all. Could one or two of you guys please, pretty please, just go through and comment on them? It's a bit embarrassing, as an author, to be the only one talking about my books. I've even given you guys some starter stuff - I'd like to include Q&A's with the various characters here on my blog, and I'd like the questions to be asked there. (Though if you don't have a Goodreads account, I'd accept them here or in an email).

Also, you guys need a name, don't you think? Fans of Ilyon are calling themselves the Resistance. Anne Elizabeth Stengl has her Goldstone Imps. And you can't forget the classic Whovians, the Demigods, and the Tributes.

What do you Bookania fans wish to be called? I'll let you guys discus this in the comments below.

Also, speaking of the tour, I have almost all of the interviews filled out, and though I haven't started any of the guest posts, they're all topics that should be easily written. I'm also planning/hoping to include two "Which character are you?" quizzes during the tour, one for the princesses, and one for princes.

And ...

Onward to Rizkaland stuff.

I've begun my personal edits for the book, and I've sent part 2 to a young man who was in the boy scouts for about as long as he could be so he could make sure I handled my boys correctly. I'm going to send out edits one part at a time, so it's not overwhelming, and I'm hoping to have part 1 ready to hand out by the end of February.

And, on one more note, I read an article/watched a video the other day that has completely changed my view on archery, and I plan to incorporate this new knowledge into my edits.

Check it out here.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Kingdom for a Name

I realized the other day that despite the fact that it's a topic that means a lot to me, and there are some interesting stories, I've never told you the reasoning behind the names of most of my Bookanian characters. So since My Kingdom for a Quest is publishing in less than three weeks (scary thought there!) I thought I'd share today.

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Robin: I've mentioned before that Robin came with her name. Actually ... that's not quite true. It took me a few minutes to settle on the perfect name. You see, at the time of her creation, she was going to be of a lower class and an only child (or at least a singleton birth). I chose Robin for her name because her father was going to try to cover the Fairy Godmother's mistake by trying to raise her as a boy, and thus chose a name that could go either way. That plot point changed, but the name stuck.

Readers of Take know that her middle name's Marcia. That was something that took a bit more deliberation, but I chose it because it means "Swordmaiden" or something similar.

Robert: The obvious choice for the twin of a girl named Robin. Despite this, I originally tried to name him Rednal. Part of this was the fact that I had just read a book with a unicorn named Rednal, and I liked the name, but another factor is the fact that I have a cousin (or two) by that name, as well as another character in book 2 of the Rizkaland's, who is also a multiple (twin brother to Reuben), and had a similar personality to Robin's twin brother.

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However, after a discussion with mom about this, logic won out, so I now have two characters named Robert. His middle name (which I can't call off the top of my head at the moment) doesn't have any meaning. I just wanted something that would go with Marcia.

Rosamond: Another intuitive one, since Rosamond is the name of the Sleeping Beauty in the Grimm's version of the tale. At the time, that was all I was going to use, but as I plotted, I decided I wanted to work in all the variations of of Sleeping Beauty's name. She goes by Briar Rose in some versions, so I decided that her first name would be Briarra to allow for it as a nickname. To acknowledge the ballet and Disney, I gave her Aurora for the last of her names ... but Briarra Rosamond Aurora didn't feel right to me, so I added one more name: Fiona.

I liked Fiona as her third name. It flowed well. It's one of my favorite girl's names (I have three others). In fact, I wrote the entire first draft with it as her third name. But as I started editing, I remembered another, older version of the Sleeping Beauty tale, a rather weird one called "Sun, Moon, and Talia," and I decided to reference it as well, so Rose's third name became Talia. (This also meant changing the name of Robin and Robert's great-aunt. She was originally Fiona as well.)

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Eric: It took me forever to settle on a name for this young man. As Sleeping Beauty's Prince, I knew he needed an awesome one, but (confession time here) I'm not that great with boy's names. One name that stuck out to me, but I didn't care that much for, was Henry, which, had I been plotting the story now, I might have gone ahead and used, since my current history headcannon is that Henry the Second was the prince of the fairy tale.

However, at the time, I hadn't stumbled on that bit of history, and I didn't care for the name at the time. So I brought the problem to my mom who said I should chose a name that was manly, and that sort of thing, and we settled on Araclee, based on the name Hercules.

Fast forward a few weeks and we were talking about the book again, and this time she declared the name stupid and we broke the name into Eric Lee, which I was reluctant to do because I already had a character named Erik in Rizkaland. (And yes, it is awkward to switch between the spellings when I switch between the books.)

I really like his middle name being Lee, however. It's an important name on my Mom's side of the family, and I have cousins, uncles, aunts, even my grandfather have some version of it as at least their middle name.

Also my mom has a blogger friend named Marcia-Leigh, who named her daughter after me. (*cough, cough* actually, she'd been considering the name Kendra, but wasn't sure about it, but then received an email from my mom, which contained my name, and decided it was a sign of God that she should.) I consider the fact that Robin's middle name is Marcia, and Eric's is Lee to be my return of the favor.

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Madeleine: If I remember right, I named Madeleine before I named her brother. I'm not entirely certain what were all of the factors in the decision, but it included the fact that I was a huge fan of Madeline as a kid (I collected the dolls). The decision to make it Madeleine was influenced by the fact that my friend (the one who helped create Rizkaland and whose dad inspired the Eaglewings of the Rowa), would chose to be Queen Madeleine of Fance whenever we did our game where we pretended we were kings and queens of various countries (the current version of this game is League of Royals.) Madeleine isn't French in Bookania, but it's a name I love, and she's a character I love.

Maximilian: I don't remember why I chose his name at all, beyond the fact that it went well with Madeleine.

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Samson and Shira: When I first decided to create a second set of mixed up twins from before the Change, I knew I needed to give them names ... so I chose Samuel and Samantha. I really liked these names, but as I worked with them in plotting (trying to find a gift for Samuel - I knew immediately that she would get strength, but I wasn't so certain for him, for a while I tried to give him Beauty) I decided that they weren't the right names, and I wanted some that reflected their gifts better. So I consulted my baby name dictionary (I own two of them, and have a third at easy access), and decided to change them to Vernon (which means springlike) and Valarie (which meant strength). Except that then I finally settled on song for his gift, and I wasn't loving these names either. So I consulted my dictionary again, and discovered the name Shiri, which had the spin-off Shira, meaning "song," and I fell in love. Consulting the S section of the boy's half, I couldn't find any that meant strength, but there was Samson, which had that connotation, and I was sold.

Vernon: However, I was reluctant to cast the name Vernon to the side, since it's my grandfather's name, and I'm rather fond of it. So I created a younger brother for them and gave it to him, as well as the gift mechanical genius since my Grandfather's a mechanic. Thanks to a scolding from Shira, he's the only character, other than Rosamond, from before the Change who has his full name official.

Kimberly: I had a best friend by this name when I was five. I like the name. What can I say? (Though now that I bring this up, I'm reminded that since Shira's name-change, I don't have a single Samantha anywhere in my writing, and I had a best friend by that name, too. I also have a shirttail cousin by that name.)

Cancaline: I stole her from the fairy tale The Little Good Mouse (Or, the Jolly King's Daughter according to the Great Illustrated Classics, which is where I originally read the story).

Grumedam: I took him from the fair tale ... "Prince Narcissus and Princess Pontella" (If I remember right - her name was actually Lucetta in the version I'm familiar with, and the tale is called "The Evil Enchanter.") The fairy who combats him in his official story was named Melinette, which correlated with my own Melina (who had already been named) and I liked that.

And ... wow ... this post is getting long. I think I'll cut it short here and make a part two! Feel free if there's any character in particular whose naming story you'd like to hear!

Monday, January 26, 2015


Today I'm sharing another movie that my sister and I watched while we were studying Arthur a few years back.

Guinevere doesn't have good ratings on Amazon or IMDb, but somehow, I remember enjoying it. It changes quite a bit from the traditional tale, but the core elements are still there. It can be a bit crude at times (I wouldn't recommend it for anyone under sixteen, even though I think my sister was at the time), and some scenes dragged, and the plot had a few weak points, but for the most part, I really liked the way this story was reimagined into a more historical context.

Set during the era when the catholic church is taking over England and the more savage way of life was disappearing. Some of the people criticized Guinevere for not being feminist enough despite claiming to, but I actually liked how she was handled. She was a strong woman, but she put the needs of her country above her own desires.

I especially liked how the Arthur/Lancelot triangle was handled. Yes, it's a bit part of the movie, but instead of Guinevere not meeting Lance until after she's married, they actually kinda grew up together. Guin was taught by Morgan Le Fay, and he was her ward. In fact, Morgan tried to get the two to marry. Despite the fact that Guin liked Lance, she was hesitant because, as her father's only child, she wanted him to have a say in her marriage, and therefore his heir.

And then she ends up married to Arthur, and the push and pull was quite interesting, because it was grounded in her duty as queen vrs. the inclination of her heart. And I liked that. In the end, I think she actually grew to love Arthur (I'm quite certain he loved her).

I liked the movie, but it could have been done better, could have closed up a few plot holes, and could have done without a lot of the discussion of ... marriage and women related things.

These posts are in promotion of the newest book of the Bookania Quests, My Kingdom for a Quest, coming out February 14th. Click here if your interested in lending me your blog for the blog tour - I still have several open slots, particularly the last few days!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Last Son of Camelot

First of all, I now have a blog tour schedule up on sign-up page!! There are still slots open, I would especially love a review or two more, and there are a few items that may be subject to change, but for now, I really like it. 

Now, onto the feature.

Today I'm sharing a self-published book that I read about three years ago but never got around to reviewing.

I won't call this the best Arthurian retelling I've ever read, but it was certainly one of the most intriguing. The premise was that a boy discovers that he is directly descended from King Arthur, and that his mother was (if I remember right), the Lady of the Lake. He also has some really interesting powers and there are monsters on his trail (a bit Percy Jackson-like)

Oh, and did I mention that Merlin's the villain? Yeah, he and Mordred have teamed up and all that, and are intent on making the lives of Arthur's (other) descendants miserable.

So it's a really good concept, but unfortunately, it didn't completely carry through. Quite a bit of clunky description, overuse of drama, and poorly carried out plot twists. I don't regret reading the story, and I'm looking forward to the sequel if it ever gets written (glares at amazon) but I don't foresee myself rereading it any time soon. 

These posts are in promotion of the newest book of the Bookania Quests, My Kingdom for a Quest, coming out February 14th. Click here if your interested in lending me your blog for the blog tour - I still have several open slots, particularly the last few days!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Write Boldly

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I have noticed something very sad about the Christian fiction of today, especially the stuff published mainstream.

When I compare it to the works of non-Christians, it just doesn't measure up. For example, I thoroughly enjoy the Percy Jackson books. I love Percy's snappy voice, as someone who has always been fascinated by mythology, the research that Riordan puts into the series is absolutely delightful. About a year ago, though, I ran across a book called Spirit Fighter, by Jerel Law, a Christian fiction about angels and Nephilim with a description that reminded me a bit of Percy Jackson.

And as I read it, that's pretty much what I found. A Christainized version of Percy Jackson (down to the fact that they were going in quest of the boy's mom, who had been kidnapped) but without Percy's snappy voice, and Annabeth had been replaced by the boy's younger sister ... and she just didn't measure up. Perhaps had I read the book in order, I might have connected with the characters better, but I had read Lightning Thief just as haphazardly, and I still ended up more impressed with that series. And while Riordan's books are well researched, I felt like Law was just making things up as he went along. Sure, the Bible doesn't have much to say about the angels, but I'm pretty sure they're not very much like how Law presented them.

Maybe there isn't enough talent in Christian circles anymore, but I don't think that's the case because there are still many authors who I recommend without batting an eye, whose work IS good, Jaye L. Knight, Bryan Davis, Jennifer Freitag, to name a few. However, so many Christian writers, perhaps myself included, are lazy. They think that having a Christian label with automatically get them sales. After all, there is so little literature being published for us, we're happy to read whatever we get.

Uh, wrong answer. To quote Lewis: We don't need more Christian literature, we need more Christians writing good literature.

We, as Christians, are called to excellence. We are to do things, with God's help, to the best of our ability. And that means, that as authors, imitating other authors and presenting characters with no development but just mouthpieces for our well-intended sermons just isn't going to cut it.

We need to write the books that can change the world. We need to write characters with flaws and strengths, who will live the messages we wish to present. They need to fail and fall, but, with God's help, get back up and carry on. You need to write stories that, though they may be gray, reveal sin for what it is in all its ugliness, though still showing how beautiful it can appear.

We need to write stories of hope and forgiveness, stories of pain and loss. We need happy endings, sad endings, and bittersweet. Most of all, we need endings that point to the True Ending, when Jesus will ride triumphant to victory.

We need writers bold enough to step beyond the line of mediocre, and to write new, original stories. We need authors who aren't afraid to step outside of the boxes that limit us. Gone are the days when we are limited by publishers who only care about what will sell. We can write those weird books that don't really seem to fit any genre. This comes with its evils of course, as the lack of filters allows some pretty nasty, even unedited books to get through, giving us a bad name, but that's why we must rise above the mediocre and polish our stories so that they shine far brighter than even the traditionally published. We don't have a big publishing company standing behind us to tell the world that we are good. We must be good.

And ... that's what's been on my mind the last few weeks. Your thoughts?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Magic Tree House

Sorry about this post being so late. The document for My Kingdom for a Quest decided to go read-only last night, and while trying to get it editable again, completely forgot about a post for today.

I've got it editable again ... but now the margins are off, so I'm going to have to fix that. I have a plan of attack for that ... but I'll do it once I'm finished with this post.

Let's proceed.

Today I'm sharing with you a series that was a staple throughout my childhood. Magic Tree House,

You find out that it's Arthurian at the end of the fourth book, when Jack and Annie find out that the mysterious M is none other than Morgan Le Fay ... who for once isn't evil. (This is the main reason that I'm willing to let Madeleine claim to be Morgan for the purposes of My Kingdom for a Quest) However, the Arthurian involvement in the series is next to nil until book 29, when the Merlin missions begin.

I never finished the series, but I think V did, and my brother is currently tearing though the series.

It's a really interesting twist on Merlin and Morgan Le Fay.

These posts are in promotion of the newest book of the Bookania Quests, My Kingdom for a Quest, coming out February 14th. Click here if your interested in lending me your blog for the blog tour - I still have several open slots, particularly the last few days!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Ride in the Forest

And now it's time for Chapter 11!

Don't forget that answering the questions at the end of the post can win you a free paperback copy of My Kingdom for a Quest. Also, I'm holding a Blog Tour from February 14-21, and you can sign up your blog by clicking the appropriate tag at the top of the page.

Also, I have a goodread's group set up for fans of Bookania, and over there, I'm asking for questions for me and my characters to be answered here on my blog. (Though if you aren't on goodreads, you can email them to me, but it's not quite as fun. Honestly, I'm not sure why any book-loving body wouldn't be on goodreads. It's like Facebook, but with books instead of politics.)

 Anyways, the commentary.

This one seems quite typical of a fairy tale. I wonder how this girl will be rewarded ...

Madeleine in the Forest
And now we have finally come to the chapter where Madeleine is, at long last, found! Or, something like that. Robin wakes  up (I wonder how late in the morning) to see herself painted on the wall.

At least, it looks like her. 

Climbing out of bed to investigate, Robin realizes that the painted girl has lighter hair than she does, and blue eyes besides. It's Madeleine, she quickly realizes. Madeleine had painted herself into the mural.

And, then out in the sitting room, she notices that the girl painting the optical illusion is also Madeleine. Intriguing, and this is clearly the reason why Doranna said they looked like Locksleys - she looks a lot like her long-lost aunt.

Books and Pants
Two more things I'd like to note before we move on to the library. First of all: Robin is given pants this morning. I'm not exactly sure how they had them on hand (perhaps they made them for her). I had a reason when I wrote this scene, but it never came out during the scenes where it would have been necessary, and it now conflicts with what I now know of the cast and world.

They're still very old fashioned.

And second: The books. Apparently, this Skewwood forest (if only they knew where to find it!) had been a hot spot for fairies.

In the Library
Robin eventually gets frustrated with the books, and wanders away to the library where she finds a lot of books about math and birds. And then she finds a collection of short stories and decides to try it.

As she sits down to read it, Doranna and Rosamond enter, declare it a good book, and ask her if she's had banana peels (breakfast). I also let Doranna call her Wren. This was supposed to be important later in the book ... but it didn't happen. 

And so she's reading along while she waits for her banana peels to arrive, really enjoying the story, and then she comes to the end. And a thick black line.

Punch Line
I'm proud of this scene. You see, it was the first pun to make its way into the Bookania - even though the bag cat got screen time first. I'd already decided to change the title to Sew, It's a Quest, and with puns on my mind, I'd been folding laundry, and the idea popped into my head. It was so brilliant that I had to run and tell my mother at once.

My sister loved it, and wanted to steal it for one of her books (at the time she was attempting a story about a pair of siblings whose father was an inventor, and he managed to invent a time machine that sent them back to King Arthur ... she never finished it), but I put my foot down and told her it was mine, all mine, and she could go find her own great ideas.

And that, folks, is how puns got into Bookania.

And then they get invited on a ride through the forest.

First of all - Doranna's horse's name. I just love all of the names I gave the horses in this book, but Doranna's horse does hold a place in the mathematical part of my heart. (Just as Snow holds a place in the contrary part) Supplementary. I think you guys may be intrigued to note that the horse that Casperl rides in later chapters is named Complementary ... even though I never got around to stating it in the text.

(And in the next book, you learn that Eric's horse is named Champion, and Madeleine's is Splatter, and later in this book you meet a horse named Cocoa. Is it possible to name a horse in Bookania without it starting with a C or an S? I'm honestly not sure.)

Gills - I mean Gifts
Yes, I make fun of Doranna's speech whenever possible. One of the benefits of being the author and suffering from the same affliction.

Anyways, the conversation turns to gifts and fairies, and we learn some interesting things, such as:

1. The side affect of a gift is weaknesses in other areas.
2. That's why Doranna can't keep her words straight.
3. Rosamond has a terrible sense of direction as a result.
4. The fairy who gave Doranna math-smarts is named Malina.
5. There is a very sad story associated with Malina.
6. Doranna has invited them to a ball.

They Rode along the Path ...
This was a line that was edited out in the rewrite. You see, halfway through this conversation (though I don't remember exactly where), I hit a brick wall and couldn't figure out where I was going ... and so I just wrote that ... and stared at my blinking cursor for about an hour.

I knew where I wanted to go, I just didn't know how to go.

And I was doing NaNo. I had to keep up with my word goal!

So my mother had a brilliant suggestion. She told me to skip forward to where I was inspired. So that's what I did. I skipped over the rest of this chapter, over the whole ball scene (which was important for reasons I'll discus in my next commentary post, but I simply had no clue as to how to write) and to what is now chapter 13. I think I had a vague idea for another chapter in there, but it didn't happen.

This was my first experience with the leave a note and skip forward technique.

I did later come back and finish this chapter during NaNo when I hit a road block later on. However chapter twelve waited until after NaNo was finished to get written.

Madeleine's Signature
Once the whole ball and gift issue is sorted out, Robin steers the conversation back to Madeleine and asks why she pained herself in two of her murals - and learns that she was actually in all three!

It's her signature. An interesting one, to be certain.

Favorite Quotes

“Oh, that brook,” said Doranna, “’Fairly Funny Short Stories’ a favorite among many. I hope that thou dost enjoy it. Hast thou had banana peels yet?”
Robin looked up quizzically at the two girls. “Breakfast,” Rosamond whispered.
“Uh, no, actually,” answered Robin, “I was wondering where it was served.”
“No matter,” said Doranna, and pulled a cord near the door. When a young boy answered, she said, “Banana peels for our fiend, Princess Wren.”

“Thou getteth the lime punch,” the girl exclaimed gleefully. Robin looked up to see that both of the girls were regarding her with quite amused looks on their faces.
“The what?” Robin asked, as soon as she could move her jaw to speak. At least the pain wore off fast.
“The punch line,” said Rosamond. “It showeth thee when thou understandeth what is funny about a story or joke. They can be quite painful if thou getteth it very well, as thou apparently did.”
“You didn’t tell me that the books in here were dangerous!” Robin exclaimed, the pain now completely gone.

“A ball,” said Robin, crinkling her nose, “You mean like the type you dance at?”
“But of course!” said Doranna. “Thou dost not think we mean the type you ring in towers, do ye not?”
Robin rolled her eyes. “You don’t ring balls. You ring bells.”
“Is that not what I just said?” said Doranna, “We’re having a bell.”

Discussion Questions
1. How do you think they managed to have pants for Robin (I'm frankly a bit stumped on this one)?
2. Have you ever had to skip over a section of your writing (I call it Margaret Mitchelling)?
3. What would you name a horse?
4. Any favorite lines?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Dragons in my Writing

Here I am, back with another post. I don't know why, but I've been in a bloggy mood this month.

Anyways, I discovered yesterday that today is National Dragon's Appreciation day, which was began by Donita K. Paul, an author whose work I really need to read. And naturally, I have to take part and do something to appreciate dragons.

I could read about them (would be a good reason to finally finish reading Eregon, which has been sitting on my shelf for two years now), but you guys know me. I've got to take it to the next level. I have to write about them.

As Tolkien once said, a story isn't a story if there aren't dragons in it, so naturally I've included them in pretty much every world I've built, in some form or fashion. I have good dragons, I have evil dragons, and I have dragons that can go either way. I have intelligent dragons who can understand, even speak English, and I have dragons who are as dumb as they get.

Allow me to give you the guided tour.

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First of all, Everyone's favorite Bookania. I think most of you know that it's one of Robin's goals to someday fight a dragon. I'm sorry to disappoint, but unfortunately, to my knowledge, that isn't ever going to happen.

However, that doesn't mean that dragons aren't a huge part of this world. It's fairy tales, remember, and dragons are a huge part of many fairy tales. There will be good dragons and bad dragons, a main character is going to get a pet dragon that she'll ride everywhere. I'm not entirely sure yet if they're intelligent yet. I'm thinking that they are, but only once they've passed about 20 years old, or something like that. I have to work out details.

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I think everyone here is aware that the villainess of the first two books of the Rizkaland Legends is the Amber, also known as the Lady Dragon. (And if you didn't, now you do.)

She isn't naturally a dragon, but she possesses a powerful magic that gives her the ability to assume that form. 

However, in book 3, I'll introduce other dragons, natural dragons ... who are much, much worse than she is. I'll also get into how she was corrupted and given the power to assume a dragon's form.

In Rizkaland (and Lintoalintae, since that's the world where these dragons originated), Dragons are thoroughly intelligent. Those whose natural shape is a dragon can speak English quite perfectly. Amber can't, but since she can also take on a human form, she doesn't really need to.

And they're evil. Sorry, but from where I stand right now, I don't see Rizkaland ever getting any good dragons, unless they're escapees from some world other than Lintooalintae. That could happen, seeing as how Rizkaland is, as Laura puts it, a receiving world, but I currently don't have any appearances planned.

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Dragon's weren't a huge element in The Ankulen, unless you were talking to a certain redhead. However, her dragons are the dragons of my WIP Half-Hidden, so I'm going to just go ahead and talk about them.

These dragons are good. (Finally! Good dragons!) While it's true that they have a fallen version known as the Wyrmen (which don't have wings and often don't have legs), Dragons themselves were not corrupted by their world's fall. However, they still live in a fallen, death-stained world. While they don't die of age or disease, they can be slain, in which case their scales are burned away and they join the Hidden.

They're quite intelligent, but cannot speak the human tongue.

They've been terribly fun to world build. They are thoroughly intelligent, though they're naturally more violent than humans. (Not that they're blood-thirsty. That's the wyrmen) I've got all sorts of their culture figured out, from history, politics, family structure, even mating rituals.

Unfortunately, a lot of the world building that I've put into this world involves plot spoilers, so I'll just leave you with this tidbit - in Hidden form, their fire is for healing. If they get cut, even what should be a mortal wound, their blood will burst into flame, and within moments, they will be healed. I'm not sure what would happen if their limbs got severed, but I think their bones are iron hard and impossible to slice through.

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In Mikada, the sci-fi universe that my sister and I are working on together, we have the Madeoffs, which are dragon-like. They'll be introduced in Rise of the Daisy, which is the book where Mikada's main kingdom is formed.

V. is the one who'd done all of the plotting for them, but she's told me a few things about them.

I don't know if they're intelligent or not, but I do know that they're young are in the form of snakes, and that they don't breath air. I don't know what they breath, but they live in the vacuum of space. They're one of the main villains of the two series. Definitely evil.

I'm not sure how, but there's something about their scales that renders the creatures unreadable by any sort of radar. Because of this, their scales are used by the Mixers to coat their space vessels.

And that's about all I know about them. I know much more about the fairies, since they're what I created. Shall we continue on? Let see, what other worlds do I have that involve dragons ...

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In Dialcia, the world that Jack and I have created for the book we're coauthoring, Dragons are the main villains. (Dear me, evil dragons are quite the majority in my writing ...)

We've never actually worked with them, but we do know that King Ossian is friends with them, and it's believed that they were the ones to convince him to kill King Edson and provide him with the tools.

They're the sworn enemies of the Zovorians, the masked people of the book, and it's because Edson had a Zovordian mother that they wanted him dead.

I have gotten to work with the Zovordians, though. They have an interesting culture. They're human, and devout followers of El Shaddai, and they believe that people should be known for their deeds, not their name and appearance. As a result, they all wear masks, and they all go by a 'Z' name. Zara, Zirro, Zidia. They have true names, which don't start with z's, but they're only known by close friends and family.

Let's get back to dragons, now shall we?

Scanning down through my WIP list, I'm not finding many other books that have dragons as huge elements ... oh, wait! The New Division.

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of their dragons. (Technically, I stole Dialcia's dragon from Half-Hidden's board).

They aren't intelligent, but they the Harshia revere them as their gods, and sacrifice livestock, sometimes even people to them. They themselves aren't the issue, since they're actually quite majestic (if a bit blood-thirsty) creatures. It's just the misplaced worship.

And there we go. Dragons in my writing. I have more worlds, that I know have dragons, but these are the important ones. I can't talk yet about the dragons I've planned for book two of my secret series (now those, and the wizards, have some interesting dynamics. They're intelligent and about half and half on the goodness scale. The villain's a dragon ... but the heroine rides one). Perhaps I'll have discovered more dragons by next year. Who knows? I really need to work on the good dragon quotia. 

Anyways, I'm off to work on book two of the Rizkaland legends, which has Dragon in the title.

Cover Reveal - Draven's Light

Two or three years ago, I was skimming down through free kindle books, and found one that sounded intriguing Heartless by Anne Elizabeth Stengl. I wasn't terribly impressed with the reviews, so I just let it sit on my kindle, because my mom had already bought it, and at the time, I was using her account.

I would have forgotten about it, possibly never read it, but then I stumbled upon the author's website, and reviews from readers I knew and respected. (I cannot tell you, off the top of my head, who they were, though). So, since I had the first book on my kindle ... I decided to give it a chance and I read it.

I can't say that I loved the book, and it certainly wasn't my favorite allegory (that spot is reserved for Narnia and Aslan), but I adored the world building. But - alas - I did not have the money to buy any of the sequels. So I just watched books get released, sighed over the gorgeous covers, and scavenged up any plot spoilers I could find.

(Don't mind me, I'm weird like that. She had a readalong for book two the year before last that was really good for my plot spoiler collection, though. I'd already read book one when it got readalong.)

But a few months ago, I was walking past the new books shelf in my library - and a familiar cover caught my eye. Shadow Hand. Book 6 of the series.

However, it wasn't until a few weeks later that I managed to track down which section of the library it was in, (It proved to be YA) and confirm that yes, it did have books 2 and 3 as well. (I wasn't sure, since I couldn't find them when I checked the online database.)

I was overjoyed, and quickly devoured the next five books of the series, which is where my library ran out. However, I picked up 7 and the novella when they were on sale and they're on my kindle waiting for me. I now fully consider myself a Goldstone Imp.

Anyways, you may be wondering why in Bookania I'm bringing this up. Well, you see, the Anne Elizabeth's releasing a second novella to go with the series, and I'm taking part in the cover reveal. It's gorgeous, and no I'm not just going to hand it over yet. First I'm going to make you look at a picture of the author.

ANNE ELISABETH STENGL makes her home in North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a kindle of kitties, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and practices piano, painting, and pastry baking. She is the author of the critically-acclaimed Tales of Goldstone Wood. Her novel Starflower was awarded the 2013 Clive Staples Award, and her novels Heartless, Veiled Rose, and Dragonwitch have each been honored with a Christy Award.
To learn more about Anne Elisabeth Stengl and her books visit:

And I guess I can now let you guys see the cover.

In the Darkness of the Pit
The Light Shines Brightest

Drums summon the chieftain’s powerful son to slay a man in cold blood and thereby earn his place among the warriors. But instead of glory, he earns the name Draven, “Coward.” When the men of his tribe march off to war, Draven remains behind with the women and his shame. Only fearless but crippled Ita values her brother’s honor.

The warriors return from battle victorious yet trailing a curse in their wake. One by one the strong and the weak of the tribe fall prey to an illness of supernatural power. The secret source of this evil can be found and destroyed by only the bravest heart.

But when the curse attacks the one Draven loves most, can this coward find the courage he needs to face the darkness?

 Pre-order Draven’s Light today! - Coming May 25, 2015

Oh, and there's a Raffelcopter Giveaway.

And ... one thing I've noticed, and I'm not sure if it is intentional or not, but while girls grace the covers of the main series, both of the novellas are male. I'm amused by this.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

King Arthur (2004)

I like two different types of Arthurian retellings - the unexpected ones with great twists, or the ones that are at least historically plausible.

Today, I'm sharing a historically plausible.

Set at the fall of the Roman empire, this story doesn't particularly feel like Arthur, but it has the round table, it has a Merlin (who is a druid), it has a Guinevere, it has the proper array of knights, and most important, it has Arthur himself.

I like how they handled the Lancelot issue. If I remember right, it was there, but pre-marriage to Arthur, and all that. So, overall, a good movie, and though it can be crude and violent, it is pretty historically accurate.

These posts are in promotion of the newest book of the Bookania Quests, My Kingdom for a Quest, coming out February 14th. Click here if your interested in lending me your blog for the blog tour - I still have several open slots, particularly the last few days!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Guest Post - Roses with E. Kaiser Writes

Today, I'm here to share with you a series that I'm very eager to read, Thaw by E. Kaiser Writes. The first two books are already out, and the third should be up on Amazon soon. (I don't remember when, exactly, it's supposed to be out, but the first three books release fast). I wish I weren't broke at the moment, because I really want to read these stories, as they're retellings of several wintery fairy tales, including the Snow Child and the Snow Queen. 

Just look at the lovely cover arts!

And to celebrate this release, the author is here to guest post on Roses, an important element in the first and, I think, second books. 

From Whence Came the Roses
When we went back to Anderson's original Snow Queen tale one element that really jumped out was the repetition of roses within the tale. -- This wasn't just confined to Anderson's Snow Queen, roses show up in many others including the Red Shoes, (not one of my favorite tales!) at the end when the angel shows up in the room with the girl, (now footless) and also pious; and touches the walls and ceiling with a rose, transforming them into a church.--
 So... roses were a major theme in Anderson's mind, and they definitely come out in the Snow Queen. First the childhood friends Gerda and Kai either play together in their rose gardens, or lean over the rose planted window boxes in their second story bedroom windows. 
 Later when Gerda is searching for her friend she comes to a house where the lady wants to keep her, so the lady makes all her roses go underground so Gerda will not see them and remember the friend she's searching for. Gerda's tears wakes one the bushes and the rose comes back topside, and tells her that Kai is not buried, for it would have known if he was in the ground. (Anywhere, I guess... the ground is a lot more communicative than we suspected, apparently.) 

 So, roses had to play a part in our tale as well... and as I wrote they began to unfold into a sort of symbol of our Princess Girthild's enthusiasm and zest for life in spite of life's obvious drawbacks. Early in the story "Girta" plays in the garden alone, trying to walk the stone wall of the rose beds. She slips and falls headfirst into the thorny bushes, but when her Nurse pulls her out and scolds her Girta appears more disappointed in her failure to complete the challenge than the fact that she is scratched and her dress torn.
 So here they could be viewed as symbolizing life, and possibly illustrating one of the chief differences between the royal sisters. Ilise focuses mostly on the painful, sad parts of life and draws away more than she should, hiding from it all.... while Girta disregards any risk, ignores the possibility of downsides, and rushes headlong into life, blithely certain that her force of will alone will make things turn out right. 

 (Both are of course quite wrong, but how they come to deal with that is another, longer, story.)

 Later nurse sets Girta to snipping blossoms as a distraction, and Girta is enchanted with the prospect of going all over the castle giving roses to all the guards. 
 (This childish eagerness to distribute gifts could be seen as more than a simple pastime, perhaps the roses are standing in for the love that Girta wishes to receive, and so she hurriedly hands it out to anyone she can reach?)
 When Girta leans over the castle wall and sees young Kai, she throws him roses too... she doesn't differentiate at all whom she reaches out to. (This could be seen as foreshadowing... unknowingly desperate to be loved, she gives it eagerly without the usual precautions.)

When another boy visits Girta eagerly fetches roses for both Ilise and the visitor, blithely handing Ilise a red rose and the visitor a yellow one. Ilise, conditioned to Girta's excitability, simply accepts the gift, but the boy rejects the yellow rose, citing the thorns. Girta is dismayed, but the repercussions of the boy's act will echo long into adulthood for him. In the end Ilise's temper freezes the rose Girta gave to her, but she slams it in a drawer, hiding it away.

 Later, when she is grown, both she and Ilise are presented with golden roses, their petals gilded with enamel to look like perfect reproductions of  the original. 
 Ilise receives a white one, the color of innocence, purity and sincerity; but unconsciously mirrors the cool frosty world in which she exists. To her the gift means little, it is simply a trinket presented by a visitor.

Girta's is crimson red; the color of fire, exuberance, and of course, passion. This rose begins to take on more and more meaning in her mind as the tale progresses, until the reader could almost think that she sees it as the return on all the roses, and love, she gave away throughout her childhood. They have come back to her, condensed into a rose that will never die, a love preserved, forever. 
 Toward the end of the tale her view on it changes again, but if there is one thing consistent about Girta, it's changeability.

 Later when Girta is hotly pursuing her search, she comes to the Rose House, which we left with exactly that name. It seems logical that a lady so devoted to growing the flowers would happily christen her home in the same vein. When further along in the story we encounter the only inn in the nearby village of Rasnaburg; called "the Rooster and the Rose", it is not hard to imagine that the lady of Rose House also owns the inn. Possibly this fascination with the flower is a familial thing, since the inn and the house have most likely worn their names for several generations.


 When at last Girta hotly discards the crimson enamel rose, it is a gift she will not receive again. In time she will recognize it on the gown of another, and she herself will receive a rose of a different color. It is true that sometimes the things we are so certain will make us happy are the very things we throw away, but then can their loss truly sting if they were not really meant for us? One beautiful thing can be admired by many, but truly belong only with the perfect match.
 And Girta's zest for life is not done yet, not by a long shot. 
She is much more than any color of rose, and her check-mate is yet to come.

E. Kaiser Writes credits her nearly nomadic childhood for the vast reach of her fictional worlds; she has lived (and gotten to known the locals) in the Rocky Mtns, the Smoky Mtns, the plains, the deep forest, the searing Texas summer and frozen Minnesota north. 

She wears many hats: writer and editor of ad copy, web copy, office correspondence & fiction; a cowgirl, animal trainer, seamstress, jeweler, artist and... authoress!

You can connect with her on her blog:
Her website:
On Facebook:
On Twitter:
On Pinterest:
You can find her books on Amazon:

To celebrate the launch of this series, Elizabeth is hosting a Rafflecopter giveaway at her blog:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Murals

And now it's time for Chapter 10!

Don't forget that answering the questions at the end of the post can win you a free paperback copy of My Kingdom for a Quest. Also, I'm holding a Blog Tour from February 14-21, and you can sign up your blog by clicking the appropriate tag at the top of the page.

It's going to be tons of fun, and so far all of my beta readers are telling me that Kingdom is a great book. Lovers of Bookania, you aren't going to want to miss it. Anyways, the commentary.

The Artist
I like this snippet of conversation between Robin and Robert at the beginning of this chapter, since it reminds me of me and my mom. He's mostly ignoring her, but she knows exactly what to say to get his full attention. He's as intrigued as she is by the mystery aunt, and she has a clue about her.

She doesn't pound him for his attention, just states her fact as enticingly as she can, and then starts reading. He starts picking up the books and preparing to move. She didn't have to tell him that she wanted to show him the painting, he knew.

Robert Runs into the Wall.
This chapter is just amazing at displaying the sibling relationship between the two of them. Sure, Robin could have warned Robert about where the wall was, but why deny her brother the same pain she endured?

Yeah, I would do this with my own siblings in a heartbeat. Also, I'm the author, and as all people know, authors enjoy inflicting pain on their characters, so Robin and I were quite in agreement on this.

Robert would run into the wall.

Paintings at Locksley
And while Robert is nursing his sore nose, he remarks that the painting is almost as good as a painting he's seen before. Robin naturally has to ask questions about this painting.

And he confirms that yes, there are paintings under the tapestries at home. But there still aren't any answers about why the murals are behind the tapestries. And ... truth be told, you readers don't get a completely straight answer about this until nearly the end of book 3. Sorry about that.

After perusing the books for some time, they are summoned back to the library, where Rosamond extends an invitation to tea. Apparently, that's what she calls supper - yet another display of her strange speech. Seriously, what is up with it?

And then after tea, they bring up the murals again. Doranna is confused by the fact that they know nothing about them (after all, they're from Locksley, and Madeleine was from Locksley), but Rosamond just shakes her head and reveals that their great-grandfather had known the cause of the Change. That he was the sole survivor.

And then Doranna tells her to change the subject to something happier.

Favorite Lines:

Robert shut his book and began stacking the books up.
“What are you doing?” Robin asked, glancing up, secretly pleased.
“Well,” said Robert. “There’s no time like the present. We can study these books just as well in your room as in here. Besides, it will give those lovebirds some more room.”
 Robin stifled a giggle as she glanced at Doranna and Casperl, who were examining one of her new math books, so close to each other, their heads were almost touching. She was explaining some mathematical concept. He looked quite moonstruck.

“Agreed,” Robin said.

“Oh, the wall over there is a lot closer than it looks,” Robin warned, just as he ran into it, full force.
“You could have warned me just a little sooner,” said Robert, rubbing his bruised nose.
“But that wouldn’t have been as much fun,” said Robin, pulling on her innocent face.

“Oh, lighten up, Briar Rose,” Doranna said. “Thou art hiding from painful memorials thyself.”
“I know,” answered Rosamond. “so let us get off of such a sad subject.”
“Oh, yes,” agreed Doranna, “Before thou dost write another sad pond.”

Discussion Questions:
1. What is it with authors and causing pain to characters?
2. What are/were your guesses about the Change at this point?
3. Any favorite lines?

Monday, January 12, 2015

That Hideous Strength

Yes folks, I'm going for obscure books for Arthurian retellings. Today, I'm sharing the third book of Lewis's Space Trilogy.

I didn't expect to find Authurian Legend when I cracked open this book. After all, there'd been no hint of it in the first two books. But first came a mention of Merlin. And then, apparently, he was returning, and no one knew which side he would be on. And then he did show up, and then Ransom became the pendragon, and Avalon was on Perelandra (or Venus, in English), and it was just so well done.

Look, I know a lot of people of put off by the first two chapters, and to that I'll say this: skip them if you must. I did. The book is amazing.

I probably should say more, but my mother got The Mysterious Benedict Society out of the library for me yesterday, and I proceeded to stay up to 3:00 reading it ... then realized I still hadn't scheduled a post for today. It's a book that I've been meaning to read ... wow.

These posts are in promotion of the newest book of the Bookania Quests, My Kingdom for a Quest, coming out February 14th. Click here if your interested in lending me your blog for the blog tour - I still have several open slots, particularly the last few days!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Beautiful People - Kendra Edition

Greetings fair people of the internet! Cait and Sky have once again issued a Beautiful People tag. This time, we get to interview moi. Me. The author person.

So without further ... uh, Maryanne ... what are you ... Maryanne ...

*Sound of someone (namely me) being shoved out of her office chair*

Guten Tag. Maryanne here. Since usually, when these sort of questions happen, Kendra just answers them for us, I thought I'd return the favor and answer the questions for her. Hush, Kendra, I know you as well as you know your self. How could this possibly go wrong? Don't answer that.

Now just to figure out how this copy-paste thing works.

1. How many years have you been writing? When did you officially consider yourself a ‘writer’?
Oh ... That's a number answer ... hold on a moment while I consult Kendra. Okay, she says she's been making up stories since she understood the concept, writing them down since kindergarten (though what children and gardens have to do with writing, I have very little idea), and she was got serious about it when she was about eleven. She also says she's pretty much always considered herself a writer.

2. How/why did you start writing?
Because she wanted to write about me! Oh, Kendra's giving me a Look again and is reminding me that I'm technically a "new" character, and she was writing long before she created me.

She says she started writing because she wanted to share the stories in her head. She started writing seriously because some friends and her wanted to put on a really long complicated play based on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which is a book she liked to read, and as the oldest and most adamant about the plot, she got to write it.

What’s your favorite part of writing? 
From what I know of Kendra, it seems to be the plotting part, since she always seems to be working on that. She says she also loves rewriting and editing, and I'll believe that, since she does quite a bit of that, too.

What’s your biggest writing struggle?
Getting her to sit down in her chair and concentrate on writing. It is quite difficult.

Do you write best at night or day?
She does a lot of writing at night, but she also writes really well during the day if she wakes up properly. 

What does your writing space look like? (Feel free to show us pictures!)
Alas, but I don't know how to work those picture things.

Kendra's writing areas are a mess. She has four "desks," that she bounces between. Most of the time, she's at her computer desk, but sometimes she'll turn around and work at her notebook desk. Both of them are under her loft bed. On the other side of her room, she has a pillow pile and a folding lap desk in front of one of her bookshelves, and a standing desk, which is actually a cabinet door that folds down to the right height.  Currently, only two of them, the pillow pile and the computer desk, have enough exposed surface so that she can use them.

How long does it typically take you to write a complete draft?
Oh, another number question. Well, sometimes she can finish one in a month or two, other times it takes years and years. She's funny like that. What isn't funny is the fact that she's never finished a draft about me! I'm her favorite character.

How many projects do you work on at once?
A lot, I know that. Hang on ... if it isn't too big of a number, I can probably count it, since there are physical items for me to look at.

Currently, she has eleven documents pulled up on her computer, and five or six notebooks running around her room in various stages of done. They look funny running around. I don't know if any of you have ever seen a notebook with legs but ... Oh, I'd better move on.

Do you prefer writing happy endings, sad ones, or somewhere in between?
She likes happy endings, don't you Kendra? Ooh ... she's glaring at me. I'd better hurry up before she decides to give me an unhappy ending. She's been saying things that have made me worried.

List a few authors who’ve influenced your writing journey.
C. S. Lewis
Andrew Lang
J. R. R. Tolkien
Gail Carson Levine.
Laura Ingalls Wilder.

That's what she just told me when I asked.

Do you let people read your writing? Why or why not?
Yes, but she makes them pay to do so. Although, sometimes she's nice and just gives her writing away. Depends on her mood.

What’s your ultimate writing goal or dream?
To finally write my book, isn't it Kendra? Either that or have people pay her enough money so they can read her books that she can live off of it. She doesn't have a nice castle like I do.

If you didn’t write, what would you want to do?
She would go crazy.

And she's glaring at me.

Okay, she says she'd be knitting and working at McDonalds, whatever that is.

Do you have a book you'd like to write one day but don’t feel you’re ready to attempt it yet? 
Clearly, it's my books, because it still isn't finished. Though the fact that she only just got to the point where I'm introduced in the series may have something to do with it, she's just pointed out. She says that book is Silivock, which I think has something do with stars.

Which story has your heart and won't let go?
I'd like to say that it's my story, because I'm her favorite character and all that, but I think in reality it's Rizkaland. They just won't leave her alone. 

And yes, Kendra, you may have your computer back now.

Sigh, sometimes I wish that I hadn't allowed her to say something on that tag about two years ago. Now she thinks she can just take over my blog whenever she wants.
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