Midnight’s Curse Blog Tour Wrap Up

Midnight's Curse Blog Tour Mock-Up

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in the blog tour for Midnight’s Curse, the #MidnightsCurse challenge on Instagram, bought the book, reviewed the book, or otherwise spread the word during the release! The excitement for Midnight’s Curse was so great to see, and I’m so glad many of you have been enjoying the book!

My author copies of Midnight’s Curse finally arrived! You can order signed copies directly from me on my Store page.

Congratulations to Abigail Harder on winning the blog tour prize!

I am working on picking the winners for the Instagram challenge. Going on a vacation immediately after releasing a book is wonderful, but the lack of phone and internet service does make it difficult to stay on top of the last few details of a book release.

My vacation was very relaxing, though, and the Pictured Rocks area of Michigan is just as gorgeous as everyone says it is. I’m not going to flood you with photos, but here are a few from the trip.

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Isn’t the water such a stunning blue?

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This waterfall is Spray Falls, one of two major waterfalls that dump over the Pictured Rocks cliffs into Lake Superior. Since we were doing this trip on the cheap, we didn’t pay for a kayak or boat tour, so we hiked a nearly 10 mile round trip to view this waterfall. The first three miles of the hike were done in a steady rain that, while not a downpour, was enough to get us soaked. At least the rain cut down on the number of people hiking, so we had the trail nearly to ourselves for most of the day.

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Beautiful sunset over Lake Superior.

I hope everyone is having a great summer, even if it is winding down. Thanks once again for the great release for Midnight’s Curse!

Midnight’s Curse Blog Tour

Midnight's Curse Blog Tour Mock-Up

Welcome to the blog tour for Midnight’s Curse, book two in the Beyond the Tales series. Beyond the Tales is a series of fairy tale retellings with hints of allegorical elements set in a world based on the Appalachian Mountains.

I am so excited to finally share this book with all of you! It is such a fun version of Cinderella, and I hope you enjoy reading about Alex’s, Daemyn’s, and Rosanna’s next adventure!

Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this blog post nor the invite to the Facebook party for more giveaways!

About the Book

Midnight's Curse_Internet UseThe glass slippers might be her dreams come true…or her worst nightmare. 

High King Alexander rules the Seven Kingdoms of Tallahatchia—a divided nation on the brink of yet another war. When an invitation arrives from the king of Pohatomie, Alex knows it must be a trap, but could it also be his opportunity to unite the kingdoms?

Daemyn Rand has lived a hundred years, served an arrogant prince, fallen in love with a princess, and lost himself somewhere along the way. He has already died for his loyalty. Will standing at the high king’s side cost him his last chance to truly live?

Elara Ashen is a lowly, miserable servant. All she wants is to spend even one night in a fancy dress dancing with the high king. When she is offered a pair of glass slippers, it seems that all her dreams have come true.

But dreams have a price, and gifts can be curses in disguise. What will it cost to stop this curse from tearing Tallahatchia apart yet again?

Fairy tales meet the Appalachian Mountains in this adventurous fantasy retelling of the classic Cinderella story.

Add to GoodreadsBuy on Amazon

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The first book in the series Dagger’s Sleep, a Sleeping Beauty retelling where the prince is cursed to sleep and the princess must wake him, is on sale for $.99 on Kindle! Follow this link to snag this deal while it lasts!

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About the Author

Tricia Mingerink is a twenty-something, book-loving, horse-riding country girl. She lives in Michigan with her family and their pack of pets. When she isn’t writing, she can be found pursuing backwoods adventures across the country.

You can connect with Tricia on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Facebook Party!

Facebook Party Announcement

The Facebook party should be a blast with giveaways of Midnight’s CurseDagger’s Sleep, and over ten other Cinderella retellings by indie authors! Follow this link to join the Facebook party. 

Giveaway!

Blog Tour Giveaway

Enter to win signed copies of Dagger’s Sleep and Midnight’s Curse (it will be the actual copy, not a proof copy as shown) as well as a Currently Reading 4oz candle from Novelly Yours Candles.

Due to shipping, the giveaway is open to the US only. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday – August 5

Tuesday – August 6 – Release Day!

Wednesday – August 7

Thursday – August 8

Friday – August 9

Saturday – August 10

Realm Makers 2019 Recap

I’m horrible at doing this recaps, and this is coming about a week late. I don’t know what it is, but time has been flying at double speed in the past week and a half. I’ll be back to the Dagger’s Sleep Read-Along later this week.

A week and a half ago, I went to the Realm Makers writers conference. It was my third year going, and it is always such an amazingly fun conference to attend.

This year, I arrived a night earlier than usual, so I visited the Gateway Arch with fellow indie authors Jaye L. Knight and Morgan Huneke (my roommates for Realm Makers this year) along with Morgan’s family (who are absolutely amazing. So much fun to hang out with them!).

Then on Thursday evening, the conference started off with a stellar opening keynote by Brent Weeks. He writes dark, general market fantasy, and I have yet to read any of his books. But I have a friend who loves them, so maybe someday I’ll pick them up.

Friday morning I had not one but two readers come up to me to ask for me to sign their books while I was eating breakfast. It was kind of surreal, and so nice to finally meet them in person!

Friday was a packed day of sessions and mentor appointments and finally the costume banquet. I got to meet Jill Williamson!!!!!!!!!!!! *fangirl squeal* Her Blood of Kings trilogy was the first Christian fantasy series that I read apart from The Chronicles of Narnia and showed me that there was a place for books that were both Christian and fantasy. I sat down to write The Blades of Acktar within a few weeks of reading her series.

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Jill Wiliiamson dressed at the White Witch and me as Maddie from Ranger’s Apprentice at the costume banquet Friday night.

 

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Me and my Roomies: Jaye L. Knight (author of the Ilyon Chronicles) dressed as Darrel from The Walking Dead, me as Maddie from Ranger’s Apprentice (not a hobbit as everyone kept asking), and Morgan Huneke (author of the Time Captives series) dressed as Anna from Frozen.

My roommates and I had a lot of fun with our costumes for the banquet. Jaye even had fake zombie blood drooling down her arm. We still had dried drops of zombie blood on our sink in our hotel room’s bathroom the next day. #onlyatRealmMakers

While Dagger’s Sleep was a finalist for the Realm Award in Fantasy, it didn’t win. That honor went to the stellar Ronie Kendig. It was cool simply having Dagger’s Sleep listed alongside hers.

Even though Dagger’s Sleep didn’t win, I ended up with an official name plate and table at the Book Festival on the last night of Realm Makers, and that was fun pretending I was a big name author for a night, lol. It worked out well that I wasn’t a big name author since they were placed at the rear of the ballroom so that their lines could snake around the edges while I had the very first table right by the ballroom doors so I was easy to find.

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Here I’m signing all the currently released books in The Blades of Acktar series. It’s become quite a stack!

Realm Makers was such a blast and I already miss all the wonderful people I met again or met for the first time. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing an experience the conference is, whether you are published or not-yet published or traditional or indie. It’s one big family reunion.

Oath of the Outcast Blog Tour

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Today I have a slightly delayed spotlight for my friend Claire Banschbach’s latest release Oath of the Outcast, a Scottish-flavored fantasy. I bought a signed copy of the book at Realm Makers last weekend, and I’m so excited to dive into it when I have a moment to read!

Oath-of-the-OutcastAbout the Book

A lost brother.
An unwilling outlaw.
A rising enemy.
An unusual alliance.

Years ago, Rhys MacDuffy was brutally cut off from his clan, stripped of his name and inheritance, and banished to the remote Dragon Keep. Perched high above the Shang Pass in the land of Alsaya, he assumed the mantle of the Mountain Baron, serving out his sentence as the overseer of the worst outlaws and outcasts.

But one day he receives a desperate message from the clan who disowned him: MacDuffy’s Seer—his beloved brother—has been taken by their enemies.

With his band of Mountain Brigands and an unwelcome sidekick, Rhys leaves his mountain stronghold to find and rescue his brother. The tide of war is rising amongst the Clans of Alsaya, fueled by the magic-wielding sect of Druids who seek to unleash a dark force the world has long forgotten.

Can the bond of blood run deeper than banishment?

Book Links: Amazon – Crosshair Press – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads – Newsletter sign up for free prequel short story

About the Author

C.M. Banschbach is a native Texan and would make an excellent Hobbit if she weren’t so tall. She’s a pizza addict, a multi-faceted fangirl, and a firm believer in being authentic—even if it means acting like a dork sometimes! When not writing fantasy stories packed full of adventure and snark, she works as a pediatric physical therapist where she happily embraces the fact that she never actually has to grow up.

She also writesYA/MG fantasy-adventure as Claire M. Banschbach.

You can find her at: Facebook – IG/Twitter @cmbanschbach – Website – Goodreads 

Giveaway!!!!

Crosshair Press is giving away books! Open internationally!

2 ebooks,

1 paperback,

1 combo pack of a bookmark and a map postcard!

Direct link to the giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d11da96b6/?

Tour Schedule:

July 22

Tour opening – C.M. Banschbach http://clairembanschbach.com

July 23 – Release Day!

Interview – Hazel West – http://hazelwest.blogspot.com

8 Things to know about Rhys/The Baron (Using only Dean Winchester gifs) – C.M. Banschbach – http://clairembanschbach.com

July 24

Review/spotlight – Breny – https://betterthanrubies.home.blog/

Meet the characters! – C.M. Banschbach – http://clairembanschbach.com

July 25

Interview/Review – Kyle Shultz – kylerobertshultz.com

Interview – K.A. Cummins – authorkacummins.com

Book 2 Title Reveal! – C.M. Banschbach – http://clairembanschbach.com

July 26

Review/Spotlight – Deborah O’Carrol – https://thepagedreamer.wordpress.com/

Interview – M.H. Elrich – Https://mhelrich.com

Spotlight – Tricia Mingerink – www.triciamingerink.com

July 27

Review/Spotlight – Rachel Ritchey – rachaelritchey.com

Review/Interview – Cheyanne van L. – https://thedancingbardess.wordpress.com

Tour Wrap Up & Conclusion – C.M. Banschbach – http://clairembanschbach.com

 

Dagger’s Sleep Read-Along Week 3: Chapter 22

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Yesterday, we talked a little bit about Alex’s portion of the allegorical chapters of Dagger’s Sleep. Today we have Rosanna’s chapters 20 and 22.

Warning: Major spoilers for Dagger’s Sleep ahead if you haven’t read it yet.


Chapter 20

Okay, this chapter is pretty much me experimenting with killing off a major character. Of course, well, there’s chapter 22, but for this chapter Daemyn ends up (mostly) dead.


Chapter 22

Have you ever spent a lot of time in the woods just listening to the breeze in the trees? When it is still in a forest, you can hear each creak of moving branch, each whisper of a leaf. You can even hear the snow hiss as it hits the ground when it is quiet enough.

From the time I was 14 until last year, my parents owned a hunting cabin deep in the woods of the upper Lower Peninsula of Michigan. It was pretty much Narnia minus the talking animals. I spent hours tromping through that forest, learning how to track and hunt and recognize the different trees.

I actually wrote chapters 19-22 of Dagger’s Sleep out in that forest while deer hunting. The singing trees were inspired by my own love for the deep woods, and it was quite the moment to write that scene surrounded by beeches and maples and oaks.

When I sign copies of Dagger’s Sleep, I usually write Ps. 96:12 below my name. That verse in the KJV is “Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice.” Some Bible versions translate this as “let all the trees sing.” (the NIV, for example).

The Psalms are filled with examples of poetic language describing the Creation as singing or praising God. I just made it a bit more real in this chapter of Dagger’s Sleep. 

And, yes, this chapter ends where Daemyn doesn’t stay dead. To everyone’s great relief, lol.


Do you have a piece of land or a forest or mountain that is special to you? Do you like to go hiking? What did you think about the singing trees in Dagger’s Sleep?

Dagger’s Sleep Read-Along Week 3: Chapters 19 & 21

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As I mentioned in my last post, chapters 20-22 of Dagger’s Sleep are my favorites (though, I probably should include chapter 19 in that as well). There’s just so much here, so I’m going to do a whole post for chapters 19 and 21, then a post for chapters 20 and 22.

Chapter 19

In Chapter 19, Alex and Jadon are led by the breeze along a turquoise stream to a waterfall unlike anything they have ever seen with turquoise water, orange rocks, and green foliage.

This is actually based on a real stream and waterfall in West Virginia. Douglas Falls is off an old railroad easement near Thomas, WV not that far from Blackwater Falls State Park. Blackwater Falls is far more well known Blackwater Falls is a very majestic waterfall in its own right and well worth the trip.

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Blackwater Falls in 2012. Picture by me. 

In asking around, I heard about Douglas Falls. It is down a two-track that seems to lead to the middle of nowhere. The track follows the stream, which is a bright turquoise color due to coke smelting that even years later discolors the water and rocks. Whatever the cause, the colors are straight out of a fairy tale. I knew the moment I saw them I’d use them in a story someday, even if it took a few years.

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Albert Falls on the hike to Douglas Falls. Picture by me. 

Douglas Falls isn’t immediately visible from the trail. We had to work our way down a steep trail down the canyon. When we came around some boulders, there it was.

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Douglas Falls 2012. Picture by me. 

This picture doesn’t do it justice. The water was such a contrast against the bright orange rocks. Just the sort of place you’d imagine a gateway into another realm.

You can swim in the pool below the waterfall. There is no lifeguard on duty, so it is swim at your own risk.

Here are a few websites that talk more about Douglas Falls and how to get to it.

West Virginia Waterfalls

Waterfalls Hiker

In Dagger’s Sleep, chapter 19 is where the book starts to become very allegorical. Alex and Jadon meet the Highest Prince for the first time here.


Chapter 21

In my church circles, we often talk about how when we pray, we are spiritually coming before the throne of God. This comes from passages like Ephesians 2:18 – “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

It’s an image that stuck with me and, being a writer, it made me wonder what if someone actually came to the throne to present a petition. Would it make that person more reverent? Or, being human, would he still remain arrogant even there?

That’s the question I was working with in this chapter. Of course, that meant allegorically writing about coming before the allegorical God-figure in the book. Not an easy scene to go about writing.

I spent a lot of time reading and re-reading Revelation 1 (where a vision of Jesus is described), Revelation 4 (vision of God’s throne), and especially Ezekiel 1 (where a vision of angels and God on His throne is described). You’ll probably recognize a lot of the pictures and descriptions I used since they mirrored the descriptions of those Bible passages.

But what about the WaterVeil? And the Threshold? How do they fit?

This is where things get a little trickier. The WaterVeil in the book is the separation between Heaven and Earth that we can only cross through death. We use the expression “crossing the Jordan” to talk about death and entering Heaven. The WaterVeil is similar.

But then what is the Threshold? A piece of Heaven on this side of death?

As Christians, we do have a bit of Heaven already. We are a part of the spiritual, heavenly kingdom of Christ since we are His. This is the reason we can pray (have access to the Father, as Ephesians calls it). We are citizens of the kingdom of Heaven even now while we are on earth.

Ephesians 2:6-7 states, “And [God] hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

That passage uses the present tense. We are raised to heavenly places even now. I decided to use the word “threshold” to describe this.

I later learned that apparently using the word threshold in connection to the spiritual kingdom of heaven the church has even now on earth is something used before! In his commentary on Ephesians 2:6, R.C.H. Lenski writes (italics mine for emphasis):

In 1:3, 20 the context indicates that the heaven of glory is referred to; here the kingdom of God on earth is evidently the meaning; in 6:12 only the supermundane regions are referred to. The kingdom of the heavens (Matthew’s expression), established here on earth, is heavenly throughout and not of this world (John 18:36). It is the threshold of the kingdom of glory and is located wherever God’s grace has sway.

Citation: Lenski, R. C. H. (1937). The interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians (p. 419). Columbus, O.: Lutheran Book Concern.

As I wrote about in my first post for this read-along, writing allegorically is tricky. There are details in these chapters that are there just for the story or just because they fit with the picture I was crafting with the words.

Are there any other sections of these chapters that you were puzzled about? What did you think of them?

Dagger’s Sleep Read-Along Week 3: Sleeping Beauty Original Tale

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Here we are in week three of the read-along already! As predicted, I am woefully behind on posting like I wanted to. Prepping for Realm Makers and getting Midnight’s Curse ready to release on time have been taking priority.

It is Realm Makers this week! For those of you who don’t know, it is the Christian conference for all things fantasy, sci-fi, weird, and speculative. It is amazing. This is my third year going, and I’m so excited. If I’m not able to reply to your comments in a timely manner, please know I will get to them as soon as I get back.

I’m super excited for this week in the read-along. Chapters 20-22 of Dagger’s Sleep are my favorite in the whole book and among some of my favorite chapters I have ever written. If I manage to get them scheduled before I leave for Realm Makers, I’m hoping to write a blog post or two on them. If I don’t, then I will probably use week 4 to talk about them instead. 🙂

Today, we’re going to chat a little bit about the original Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. Warning, it’s not exactly pretty or for kids. Prepare to have your childhood ruined.

The Original Fairy Tale

The Sleeping Beauty fairy tale is one of the tales I point to when people say that older writing is more moral or clean. Yeah, no. Sorry to break it to you, but just because a book or story is “old,” doesn’t automatically make it morally superior than books written today.

One of the earliest written versions of Sleeping Beauty was a tale composed in the 1300s called the Perceforest, which was a collection of courtly tales with loose connections to Arthurian legends. The Sleeping Beauty story in the book is about a girl named Zellandine who is in love with a man named Troylus. But her father doesn’t like Troylus, so he sends him off to complete tasks to prove his worth.

While Troylus is kept busy, Zellandine falls into an enchanted sleep caused by a splinter of flax stabbing into her finger. When Troylus returns, he finds her asleep and, well, nine months later she has a child…while she is still asleep. Yeah. Not romantic at all. She only wakes up when the baby slobbers on her finger and draws out the flaw that caused her sleep in the first place.

Understandably confused, Zellandine figures out that the baby is hers and by the ring Troylus left her, figures out he must be the father. And they live happily ever after.

Yeah. Kind of icky.

The next major Sleeping Beauty tale recorded is from the 1600s by Giambattista Basile called Sun, Moon, and Talia. This story starts to take the shape of the traditional Sleeping Beauty tale where the girl’s parents are told by a wicked fairy she will prick her finger on an item (in this version, it is still flax).

In this version, the girl and the main guy don’t know each other. Instead, he is just a king who happens to wander by, climbs the tower, and finds the sleeping girl. Which makes it even more creepy when she gives birth nine months later, in this version to twins. While she is still asleep.

Once again, she wakes when one of the babies draws the flax from her finger. At that moment, the wandering king comes back (because being a creepy dude once wasn’t enough for him apparently). When he finds her awake, he takes her home to his castle.

Where his wife is understandably upset that he has shown up with this girl and her twins. Um, yeah, not only was the king creepy, but he was also already married. Double ick.

Not so understandably, the wife decides it is a good idea to have the girl and her twins killed, cooked, and served as supper (the old fairy tales have a LOT of cannibalism. Seriously). The castle cook hides the girl and the twins because, you know, killing, cooking, and eating people is more than a little wrong.

When the king finds out, he has his wife burned, then marries the girl instead. Not exactly a happily ever after. *throws up a little in my mouth*

Thankfully, by the end of the 1600s, Charles Perrault came along and rewrote the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale into the story we call Sleeping Beauty today.

His version introduces the seven fairy godmothers, the gifts, the wicked fairy who curses the princess with death, and the seventh fairy who modifies it with sleep. This is the first version where she pricks herself on a spindle instead of flax. Flax is a plant fiber that is spun, so it isn’t that far of a jump to go from flax to spindle. It still has to do with spinning.

This version is also the first with a hundred years sleep as well as a barrier of briars protecting the sleeping princess and all the castle folk while they slept (poor castle folk. Hopefully they had their families in the castle when the sleep hit).

At the end of the hundred years, a prince wanders by. He remembers the old legend of the sleeping princess and braves the briars because it sounds like a marvelous adventure. He finds her and wakes her with a kiss.

The prince and princess talk for a while, decide they like each other after conversing for a couple of hours, and get married in the castle chapel.

BUT the story doesn’t end there. The prince keeps his marriage a secret and for a while he and his princess are happy with frequent visits, and she gives birth to twins.

Then the prince’s father dies, and he becomes king. He takes the princess and his children out of hiding and brings them to his castle, where it turns out he had good reason for not bringing them home earlier since his mother is part Ogre.

Like in the earlier version with the wife, the mom-in-law Ogre decides that cooking and eating her son’s wife and children sounds like a grand idea. Once again, the cook saves the day, but the Ogre Queen Mother finds out and prepares a huge cauldron of snakes and other nasty critters and prepares to throw everyone into it. The King returns just in time, and the Ogre Mom-in-Law throws herself into the cauldron of snakes and dies.

By the 1800s, the Brothers Grimm include a Sleeping Beauty story that follows nearly the same story line as Perrault, except that they end the story when the prince and princess marry after she has been awakened by a delicate peck on the lips. They include the second half of the story as a separate fairy tale called the Evil Mother-in-Law, arguing that the two halves of the story were most likely two stories originally that got combined somewhere along the way.

From there, we have the scads and scads of retellings from the cartoon Disney version to the more recent Malificent, which brings in some of the darker themes and ideas from earlier Sleeping Beauty versions.

There is even a middle grade Sleeping Beauty retelling Sleeping Beauty, the One Who Took the Really Long Nap by Wendy Mass, that takes on retelling the second half of the story where the prince’s mother has ogre blood. Since it is middle grade, it takes out the creepiness and turns it into a fun story.

There are many, many directions to go with a Sleeping Beauty retelling. Retelling Sleeping Beauty can be hard, since it can appear like the Sleeping Beauty character has very little agency. Many writers from Gail Carson Levine to K.M. Shea and Melanie Cellier have done great jobs giving the Sleeping Beauty character wit and purpose. J.M. Stengl has a version where the Sleeping Beauty character is evil.

For Dagger’s Sleep, I decided to make the Sleeping Beauty character the prince. It was something I’ve heard of being done, though I haven’t personally read any books along those lines yet. It was interesting to explore how a prince would tackle being cursed this way, and he doesn’t take to it very well, lol.

So there you have it. A look at the original Sleeping Beauty tales and why it is a very good thing Charles Perrault decided to retell it as the fairy tale we know and love today.

 

Dagger’s Sleep Read-Along: Week Two or Battle with Poison Ivy

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I meant to write this week’s post over the weekend. I instead spent it itching.

As you probably guessed from the title of this post, I managed to get poison ivy. Actually, I got it two and a half weeks ago and it was more or less manageable on my lower legs. Then over the weekend, I ended up getting a second dose that flared the first batch of poison ivy to epic proportions.

I have seriously underestimated the torture possibilities of poison ivy. Forget the villain sadistically torturing the main character. All the villain really has to do is dump the main character in a patch of poison ivy, then withhold anti-itch cream until the hero breaks. And the hero would break eventually. There’s something about poison ivy itching that makes a person desperate to do just about anything if it will help.

If one of my characters gets poison ivy sometime in the future, you’ll know where I got the idea from.


On to business and the stuff you are probably more interested in than hearing about poison ivy.

Giveaway!

The winner of the giveaway for a Kindle version of Waking Beauty is Zoe B. who commented on one of the posts last week! If you could please contact me, we can work on sending out your ebook!

The next giveaway is going to run from today through next Monday or Tuesday, depending on when I get another post written. Next week is going to be rather crazy with Realm Makers.

Comment on today’s post here or on Facebook and be entered to win a Kindle version of Melanie Cellier’s The Princess Game. This retelling of Sleeping Beauty is book 5 in her Four Kingdoms series. It can be read out of order since each retelling acts as a standalone so don’t be put off by the fact that I’m giving away book 5 in a series, though I guarantee you’ll want to read the whole series!

The Four Kingdoms series is a series of fairy tale retellings that are all clean, fun, and absolutely hilarious. The Princess Game is one of the more inventive versions of Sleeping Beauty that I’ve read. Instead of the princess being physically asleep, she’s cursed to have her mind “sleeping” as it were so that while she has a brilliant mind, she can’t show it to other people without consequences.

Don’t forget to comment here or on Facebook to be entered to win!


Midnight’s Curse Update!

I got my proof book for Midnight’s Curse this week, and it was surreal to hold the book in my hands. In some ways, holding that first proof book is more exciting to me than the actual release date. It is the moment the book becomes a real book, and usually by the time release day rolls around I’m in such a state of exhaustion I don’t have the energy to squeal and celebrate the way I do over the proof book.

Good news is, the book is on track for its release date. Bad news is, I am not going to have copies available at Realm Makers like I was hoping. There just wasn’t time to do a good job at editing, proofing, and order books with time for them to ship before Realm Makers while still having a product I felt comfortable selling.

BUT if you are going to Realm Makers, make sure you find me. I’ll have a printed sneak peek at the first two chapters of Midnight’s Curse that I’ll be giving away for free for those who find me and ask for it. And I’ll take the proof copy along so you can get an early glimpse of what the book is going to look like.

If you want to help launch Midnight’s Curse, please make sure you sign up by following this link. There are still plenty of spots available, so don’t hesitate, even if you don’t think you’ll have time to read the book before the release. Even a simple spotlight helps.


Dagger’s Sleep Read-Along

This week, I’m going to change things around and give my snippets and thoughts on the chapters today, then hopefully do a post about the origins of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale on Friday. Spoiler warning if you haven’t read the book yet or aren’t finished with all of these chapters yet.

Chapter Eight

This chapter is, in some ways, Alex’s first glimpse of the “real” world outside of his sheltered life in the palace. It is his first taste of traveling as a regular person. And he is absolutely annoying while he’s at it. Honestly, annoying Alex was a little too much fun to write, even if he was infuriating. He at least wasn’t a boring character, lol.

Chapter Nine

This chapter is something of a turning point. It is the moment Rosanna’s journey switches from a fun paddle up the river to something dangerous. It was a surprisingly hard chapter to write. I rewrote it several times, combined what was two chapters into one, and rearranged the placement of it in the book.

Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten is Alex’s counterpoint to Rosanna’s chapter nine. It is the moment he first faces danger on his quest. It is also the moment we first catch a glimpse of who he could become if he would be nicer.

Fun side note about the rope bridges in the book: When I was little, my dad helped us build a fort complete with a rope bridge, though our rope bridge was reinforced with chains so that it wouldn’t break. We spent hours running back and forth while swinging our wooden swords, barely hanging on. While writing Dagger’s Sleep, I had the idea to add rope bridges into the trail system of Tallahatchia, something that made it different from the real life Appalachian Trail, Natchez Trace, and Warrior Path the Cheyandoah Trace is based on. But bridges seemed to fit the world, and I loved the way bridges in the book served as a simple of either a connected Tallahatchia or a crumbling one.

Chapter Eleven

This chapter was definitely inspired by the old Disney movie Davy Crockett and the River Pirates. Actually, you’ll probably notice a lot of the book was inspired by both that movie and the first movie in its two part arc, Davy Crockett and the Keelboat Race. Both movies were ones I watched a lot as a kid. Interestingly enough, they are both based on old Davy Crockett legends from the 1800s and weren’t something Walt Disney made up out of thin air.

Old legends blown out of proportion was something I wanted to hint at in Dagger’s Sleep. It is a world where legends become tall tales told around campfires, and someone like Daemyn can become a living legend the way Davy Crockett did in his own lifetime.

Chapter Twelve

I LOVE this chapter. Jadon’s family was so much fun to write, and I love the tension at the end between Jadon and his brother. It starts deepening the character development for both Alex and Jadon.

Also, the whole “mystery” meat thing is a bit of an inside joke. In Deliver, my editor commented how I kept having the characters eating mystery meat without ever saying what it was (oops). So in Dagger’s Sleep, I may have giggled as I purposely wrote in a mystery meat, then made Alex eat it.

Chapter Thirteen

More Rosanna and Daemyn moments! Also, I did a ridiculous amount of research about how birch bark canoes are made for this chapter.

Chapter Fourteen

Can’t you tell I have a lot of fun shoving Alex out of his arrogant comfort zone?

Also, more research. Buffalo used to live in the Appalachian Mountains, which is kind of mind-blowing since they are usually associated with out west. I did research on how they were hunted before horses and firearms.

And, once again, I love Jadon’s family so much! Especially Luke.

Writing their mountain accent was difficult. I’m not a native to Appalachia and even with research, I knew I wasn’t going to be 100% accurate. And writing full dialect can be more difficult to read. I went for a hybrid option, using a sprinkling of dialect words and focusing more on capturing some of the cadence.

What did you guys think of Jadon’s family? And is Alex driving you crazy yet with his annoying arrogance? Do you have any other questions for me on these chapters?

 

 

Dagger’s Sleep Read-Along: Week One: Discussion

How did reading go this week? Did you manage to get through all 7 chapters?

I’m going to say something short about each of the seven chapters we read this week, then open it open for discussion about these chapters in the comments along with announce the giveaway winner.

Chapter One

Awww! Daemyn and Rosanna meet! Eeep! I love the moment when she accidentally pulls him into the water. That moments wasn’t in the first draft of this book, and it adds so much to their first meeting!

Chapter Two

The whole scene with Rosanna waking Berend was something I added in revision. I love it so much, and it sets up their whole dynamic.

It is a tiny little moment, but I love when Daemyn serves Rosanna the tray of cheese. His action here hints at both his background as a servant and his generally humble and serving nature.

And, the bear puns, lol.

Chapter Three

This chapter really sets up both the plot and Rosanna’s courage.

Chapter Four

We get the first chapter with Alex! Yay! He was such a fun character to write, even if he is obnoxiously arrogant at first.

If you have ever watched the BBC show Merlin, Alex has a little resemblance to Arthur in that show, though Arthur is much more skilled with a sword. It was the running joke with that show that Arthur would make a grand announcement about going alone when what he actually meant was that he was going to drag Merlin along with him. I have a nod to that here when Alex says he’s going to go along, then mentions only his next bit of dialogue that Jadon will be with him, as if Jadon is just expected to come along.

Chapter Five

This entire chapter wasn’t in the earlier drafts, but it was too abrupt of a transition to go from Alex saying he was going to leave to having Alex and Jadon several days on the trail already. Castle Eyota, the town of Eyota, and Alex’s family needed more development and so that the thriving town of then could be contrasting with what it is like in Rosanna’s time.

Chapter Six

In the first version, this chapter was nothing more than a short scene at the end of chapter three that had Rosanna giving her parents and brothers a simple goodbye then whisking off downstream. No Berend being injured in the rear end by a Tuckawassee arrow. No cute Rosanna and Daemyn moment. I made this its own chapter to slow down and really give Rosanna a proper parting from her family along with pairing this against Alex’s parting from his family.

Chapter Seven

I was actually really, really surprised when one reviewer for Dagger’s Sleep guessed correctly that Kikataw Falls in the book are based on Cumberland Falls in Kentucky.

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I have been to Cumberland Falls twice now, and the picture above is from my most recent trip there. It is a really impressive waterfall in such a gorgeous setting. If you would like to read a historical fiction that features the falls, Laura Frantz’s A Moonbow Night is really good.

If you do visit Cumberland Falls, don’t miss the hike to Eagle Falls. It is a mile hike up and over a mountain ridge, but it has some of the best distance views of Cumberland Falls, not to mention Eagle Falls itself is a pretty waterfall. If the water is low enough, you can swim in the pool below Eagle Falls (though, as always, swim at your own risk).

Picture of Eagle Falls taken by me

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There you have it! The first 7 chapters! Do any of you have any questions? Comments? Things you’d like to discuss?

Also, I’ve decided to hold off on picking a giveaway winner so that the comments on this post can count as entries. I will announce the giveaway on Monday.

Dagger’s Sleep Read-Along: Allegory

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To start off the discussions for this read-along, I’d like to talk about allegories and stories with allegorical elements. They are a staple of Christian fantasy, and there are a lot of opinions out there on them.

What is an allegory?

 Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines allegory as “the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human existence” or as “a symbolic representation.” A synonym for allegory would be parable or fable, which would be stories with a moral or theme. 

In Christian fantasy when we talk about allegory, we usually mean a story that is a symbolic representation of Christianity. Or, as the parables in the Bible are usually defined, “an earthly story with a Heavenly meaning.” 

The first allegory most of us think of would be Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. This is probably one of the clearest examples of an allegory because the entire book is one big allegory with very few to no elements that are simply story elements not part of the allegory.

Often, Christian storytellers won’t tell a straight allegory, but will opt for writing a story that has some allegorical elements. This means that much of the story is there for the story while some parts of it have a deeper meaning. Another way of thinking about it is that there is the book level story going on, then there is the allegorical story going on buried beneath.

This can be done in varying degrees. Some stories will have a lot of allegorical elements. Others will have less or be very subtle with the allegorical elements.

Series like The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and The Blood of Kings by Jill Williamson have a great many allegorical elements while the Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl is a lot more subtle and twisty with the allegorical parts. Or there are books like Out of Darkness Rising by Gillian Bronte Adams has so few pieces of the story that are just story elements that it could be considered a full allegory. Allegorical stories might even look like The Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight that is a non-magical fantasy that sticks very close to the Christianity of the real world with fantasy names.

Stories with allegorical elements could also be called suppositions. They are basically a giant “what if” question. This is how C.S. Lewis wrote The Chronicles of Narnia. He staunchly resisted the idea that they were allegories and instead called them suppositions. They are his answers to the question, “What if God created a world called Narnia with talking beasts and moving, talking trees? How would Jesus Christ be revealed in this world?”

Thus, stories with allegorical elements hinge on the fact that God is an unchanging God. Even if the how changes so that the setting is now a fantasy world with talking animals or singing trees, God as He is revealed in the Bible does not change.

But, should a Christian write an allegorical story? God, in His good pleasure, made this world the way it is for a reason. Should we even dabble in speculating on how God would be presented in a different world?

It’s a weighty question. A question that should be asked. But, I think, it is a question that should be asked of any Christian fiction, not just speculative fiction. Because any Christian fiction, whether it is historical fiction or Biblical fiction or romance or contemporary, steps into interesting territory. Is the writer playing God by deciding who is saved in the book and who isn’t? What about having God answer prayers in the book? Deciding which prayers are answered? It’s enough to make a Christian terrified of writing any Christian fiction ever.

But stories are important. A large chunk of the Bible is told in stories. True stories, yes. But the fact that stories were included shows that stories are an effective way God communicates with us. He could have inspired the Bible to be written as an exposition of doctrines. Yet, much of the Bible is in story format, and even many of the exposition parts of the Bible are grounded with stories. While exposition connects with the head, stories connect with the heart. That’s the power of stories.

There are fictional stories in the Bible. Nathan the prophet tells David a fictional story about sheep to open David’s eyes about his sin. Jesus spoke in many, many parables, and all of those are fiction.

When writing any Christian fiction, whether historical fiction or speculative fiction, many Christian authors will tell you that they write through prayer. They pray as they write that the words are God’s will. That the words give glory to God, whether that is by having a prayer answered or unanswered in the story world or showing a character’s redemption or ultimate destruction or even by showing horror of sin or the gruesomeness of war. That’s how Christians write stories that are God glorifying. Through an abundance of prayer.

But what about allegories? Should those be attempted? Aren’t those perhaps a little out of the bounds of this world?

As mentioned above, parable is actually listed as a synonym for allegory. It could be said that Jesus spoke in allegories when He told parables.

In a rather interesting parable, Jesus told the story of Lazarus and the rich man where the rich man in Hell can talk to Lazarus in Heaven (Luke 16:19-31). There are many differing doctrines on Hell and Heaven in Christianity, but most would agree that there probably isn’t communication between those in Heaven and those in Hell. So not only did Jesus tell a fictional story, it is a fictional story with elements that don’t happen according to how God is pleased to order this world. 

Not only that, but our God is a fantastical God not confined by the laws of nature He is pleased to work through and control in the world we see around us. The Bible is filled with miracles and wonders the likes of which we don’t see around us today. But just because we don’t see things like a world-wide Flood or people being raised from the dead or wooden staffs turning into snakes or the sun standing still in the sky doesn’t mean they didn’t happen or that God is no longer powerful enough to do wonders like that anymore. He is still a powerful God. A fantastical God who can perform wonders beyond our imagination. Historical fiction can’t capture that in the way that fantasy can.

Besides, the concept of symbolic representation shouldn’t be that foreign to Christians. That is, after all, what most of the Old Testament is. The sacrifices were symbolic representations of Christ. David was a type of Christ. The Old Testament is filled with “types and shadows” that pointed to redemption in Jesus Christ. In other words, while the Old Testament is true stories that really happened, God is so in control of history that all those true stories are also God’s allegories to be examples for us (I Cor. 10:11).

This, then, is what Christian authors are mimicking when writing allegories and stories with allegorical elements. We are using a story-telling and truth-telling pattern God has already established in the Bible. These stories function much like the Old Testament in that they use pictures, types, and symbols to point to God.

But how does this work when using a Christ-figure or God-figure in a story? For example, like Aslan in Narnia? Should this be done? Would that be making an image of God or Christ?

In allegorical stories, there are a number of different ways to use a Christ-figure or God-figure. In The Chronicles of Narnia, the whole Trinity is portrayed with the Emperor across the Sea (God), Aslan (Christ), and Aslan’s breath (the Holy Spirit). Often, allegorical stories will concentrate on just a Christ-figure, like the Thorn King in Waking Beauty by Sarah Morin or the Word in the Follower of the Word series. Sometimes, the stories will feature a human character who is Christ-like and points to an aspect of Christ, like Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings.

The Bible itself uses figures to point to God and Christ. David was a Christ-figure. Moses was a Christ-figure. Many of the characters in the Old Testament pointed to an aspect of Christ in some shape or form. And these were sinful people that were used to point to Christ.

In His parables, Jesus uses figures to point to Himself. There is the parable of the shepherd looking for his lost sheep. There is the woman looking for her lost coin where the woman in the story points to Christ. There is even a parable of the woman pleading before the unjust judge that tells us to be constant in prayer where the figure being used to point to God is an evil judge (Luke 18:1-8). Not a figure many of us would immediately think to use to point to our just and compassionate God, though this story demonstrates how even Jesus in His parables had story elements that were there just for the story and were not necessarily to be taken as part of the allegory.

Even when the Christ-figure or God-figure is very divine-like, such as Aslan, they are in the end a symbolic figure. They won’t capture the whole of God as He has revealed Himself to us (they can’t. They are, after all, just pictures and types). And thus, they are not an image to be worshiped. They point to God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit, but they are not an image of them. When praying, we don’t pray using the name of Aslan or any other Christ-figure from a book. We pray using the name of Jesus Christ.

The exception might be a story like The Ilyon Chronicles that is more Christianity manifested directly in a non-magical fantasy type world (though not strictly kingdom adventure due to the fantasy names for God and the existence of dragons). This series acts more like The Blades of Acktar where God is God rather than a story with allegorical elements.

So, yes. I firmly believe Christian can write and read Christian fantasy stories and allegories. The Bible is filled with stories of all genres, everything from true accounts to fiction to, yes, even speculative fiction and stories containing “fantasy” elements that display God’s power over the Creation.

Allegories many not be for every Christian reader. In my Christian liberty, I have been uplifted by and have no problem reading and writing Christian fantasy. In your Christian liberty, you may feel convicted not to. Personally, I don’t read Biblical fiction because, to me, messing with Bible stories no matter how well-researched doesn’t sit well with me, and I would rather read a fantasy story I know is purely fiction pointing toward truth. Yet, to you, Biblical fiction might be perfectly all right. Thanks to our liberty in Christ, both are correct stances to take.

But I do believe it never hurts to take a step back and evaluate our convictions as to how we exercise our Christian liberty so that we know why we make the choices we do. We may find that as we mature some of our convictions on how we exercise our Christian liberty may change and grow as well.

Writing an Allegorical Story

While many Christian authors would probably agree with my definition and defense of allegories and allegorical stories above (though perhaps with a few quibbles here and there), there are many different ways Christian authors apply it based on their own convictions. After all, even J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis had spirited debates about this topic.

When I set out to write Dagger’s Sleep, I quickly learned that writing an allegorical story is downright terrifying. When writing The Blades of Acktar, I was mostly writing ordinary Christian fiction, just set in a place that doesn’t line up with any country, place, time, culture, or era in our real world. In Christian fantasy circles, this genre is often called kingdom adventure because it is an action-adventure that doesn’t have any elements that aren’t normally found in our world, yet it is set in a made-up country.

But with Dagger’s Sleep, I was taking one step closer to fantasy. Personally, I have no problem with fantasy. I read a lot of fantasy. All of my books before The Blades of Acktar were straight-up fantasy with magic and dragons and all the normal elements of fantasy. But I know many Christian readers are leery of fantasy, and I’m a non-confrontational type person. I don’t like disappointing people.

Not to mention, merging fantasy with Christianity is a tricky business (thus this entire blog post). Things get complicated quickly. Was I effectively pointing to God in the allegorical parts? Were the allegorical parts saying what I thought they were saying and not accidentally making a different point altogether? What if the allegorical parts ended up too cliche? The point of writing an allegorical story, after all, is to be able to do things that you can’t in Christian historical fiction or other similar genres. Were the story parts and the allegorical parts meshing into one story that felt organic instead of forced?

Honestly, if I were a smarter author, I probably would have avoided writing anything even remotely allegorical. They can be stomach-ulcer-inducing worrisome to write. And even harder to market and sell. Even Anne Elisabeth Stengl, acclaimed for her allegorical Tales of Goldstone Wood series, stopped writing them for now because they struggled to be financial viable.

But I don’t regret writing Dagger’s Sleep or the upcoming Midnight’s Curse. I personally love Dagger’s Sleep and, while it is less well-loved than The Blades of Acktar, God has still used it to touch hearts, and I can’t regret that. Here’s a post I wrote back in 2014 before Dare released that gives a short explanation about why I write fantastical fiction. I pray that God continues to use the Beyond the Tales series and that it scrapes up enough sales to make it financial viable to keep writing it.

Dagger’s Sleep is an allegorical story not a straight up allegory. It has plenty of adventure, dangers, and elements to the story that aren’t part of the allegory but are there for the entertaining story.

But due to my personal convictions, I set a few ground “rules” for myself when writing it so that, if questioned, I could at least answer why I wrote it the way I did.

Below are my guidelines I put in place for myself when writing the Beyond the Tales series:

  1. God is God. Therefore, no matter what my story world looks like or how the God-figure is presented, I must not change any of God’s attributes as He has revealed them in the Bible. The world may change, but God will not.
  2. While I did use capital letters for the names given to the God-figure, Christ-figure, and Holy Spirit-figure in the story, I kept the pronouns little case “he” instead of upper case “He” that I used in The Blades of Acktar. The Blades of Acktar was directly talking about the God of the Bible and thus I prefer to use capitals on the pronouns. Dagger’s Sleep is using figures to point to God and thus the pronouns are not given capital letters. No matter how glorious or divine-like the figures, the figures are not God and thus should not be worshiped as God.
  3. I wouldn’t try to answer every question or describe every detail. Sometimes a little mystery to make things feel beyond comprehension goes a long way to make sure I’m not limiting God or reducing God in a what He should not be reduced, even if I am working with a God-figure and allegorical elements that merely point toward God and are not to be taken as God Himself.
  4. I decided to include figures for the entire Trinity instead of concentrating on just one Person of the Trinity to better point to God as fully as I humanly can.
  5. I didn’t use the words magic, witch, wizard, sorcery, necromancy, enchantment, spell, or any words like that. While there are fantastical elements in Dagger’s Sleep, using those magical type words would distract from the overall point since those words can carry connotations I didn’t want to bring into the story.
  6. The fantastical elements used in Dagger’s Sleep would always directly point to the God-figure as the source of true power and thus isn’t all that different from our real world even it it manifests differently.
  7. Since I was writing an allegorical type story, it made the most sense for me to it look more like the Old Testament, since, as I mentioned above, the Old Testament itself is something of an allegorical story. Thus, in the series, the characters are looking forward to the true Cursebreaker’s coming. In this story world, the Christ-figure hasn’t come for redemption yet and thus his appearances in the book are more like when Daniel’s 3 friends walk in the fiery furnace with one whose appearance was as the Son of God (Daniel 3). As this is an Old Testament-like world, it also makes sense for more direct communication between the God-figure and Christ-figure with the characters.
  8. I decided not to give a physical description of the Christ-figure in the book because I don’t want to cross a line into making an image of Christ. I mention things like compassionate eyes, but not the eye color, skin color, hair color, or anything like that.
  9. And, most of all, I would have a Biblical reason I could point to for every element I use. I have specific passages picked out for the more allegorical points of the story. I needed to be Biblically-based for every bit of allegorical element.

These might not be the “guidelines” you’ll see every Christian author use for their stories. They are just mine for this series, especially since I knew many of my current readers are non-magical genre type readers since The Blades of Acktar are non-magical.

Discussion Time

Do you read allegorical type stories and/or Christian fantasy? Why or why not?

If you are a Christian writer, do you write fantasy? Do you have personal guidelines that you follow?


Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for this week (a Kindle copy of Waking Beauty by Sarah Morin), make sure you comment here or on Facebook (more details on yesterday’s post).

Also, don’t forget to sign up for the blog tour for Midnight’s Curse (sign up sheet on yesterday’s post).