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.

DSC00631.JPG

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

dsc00615.jpg

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

Dagger's Sleep Readalong Week 1.jpg

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).

 

 

Dagger’s Sleep Read-Along: Week One

Dreamy green color forest

Welcome to week 1 of the read-along for Dagger’s Sleep!

I meant for this post to go live yesterday, but after a busy weekend and an even busier Monday, it didn’t happen.

Also, stay tuned at the bottom of this post both for the sign up for the blog tour for Midnight’s Curse and this week’s giveaway for the read-along.

About the Read-Along

Here on the blog and in the readers group on Facebook (you can join the group here) we are going to be doing a read-along for Dagger’s Sleep. This is where we all read the book a few chapters a week, then discuss and have fun behind-the-scenes peeks at the chapters, and stuff like that. Kind of like an online book club.

If you haven’t read Dagger’s Sleep yet, there will be spoilers. So you might want to avoid my blog for the next little while or join the read-along yourself and read the book.

Each week, I’m going to be hosting a giveaway starting on Monday or Tuesday (depending when the blog post goes live) with the winner announced Friday with that week’s wrap up post. I’m hoping to post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but since I’m an inconsistent blogger, we’ll see how well this goes, lol.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Introduction to Dagger’s Sleep

Dagger's Sleep_Internet Use

About the Book

A prince cursed to sleep.
A princess destined to wake him.
A kingdom determined to stop them.

High Prince Alexander has been cursed to a sleep like unto death, a curse that will end the line of the high kings and send the Seven Kingdoms of Tallahatchia into chaos. With his manservant to carry his luggage and his own superior intelligence to aid him, Alex sets off to find one of the Fae and end his curse one way or another.

A hundred years later, Princess Rosanna learns she is the princess destined by the Highest King to wake the legendary sleeping prince. With the help of the mysterious Daemyn Rand, can she find the courage to finish the quest as Tallahatchia wavers on the edge of war?

One curse connects them. A hundred years separate them. From the rushing rivers of Tallahatchia’s mountains to the hall of the Highest King himself, their quests will demand greater sacrifice than either of them could imagine.

For readers of adventure, fairy tales, and stirring allegories comes this fresh imagining of the classic Sleeping Beauty tale, the first book in a new YA fantasy series from Tricia Mingerink.

Purchase on Amazon: Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover

Dagger’s Sleep is the first in my new series Beyond the Tales, which is a series of fairy tale retellings set in a world based on the Appalachian Mountain area of the United States. This series is Christian fantasy and features allegorical elements that make it just as clearly Christian and inspiring as The Blades of Acktar, just in a different and unique way.

It is actually a (major) rewrite of a book I wrote back when I was in fifth or sixth grade. That book was called The Quest for the Sleeping Prince and besides the prince being called Alexander, him pricking himself on his dagger (though under much different circumstances), and having to be woken by water poured on him instead of a kiss (in that version, it was a bucket of water flung on him), there really isn’t much resemblance.

That early, early version was a rather quirky fairy tale romp that brought in just about every fairy tale, legend, and nursery rhyme character I could think of, including but not limited to Thumbelina, the frog prince, Robin Hood, the woman living in a shoe, Little Red Riding Hood, the Three Little Pigs, and Peter Pumpkin eater’s wife living in a pumpkin. It was a terrible mess of a plot and all those side characters sound cool, but I was an eleven-year-old with no concept of character development. Talk about a lot of random cardboard characters cluttering up the story.

In that version, the princess’s name was Cassandra and, shocker, she ended up with the Prince Alexander, who went by the nickname Sandy. Yes, I had Cassie and Sandy. What can I say. I was 11.

Probably most interesting is that the early versions of Isi, Zeke, and Daemyn were all there. Cassandra had a maid with a quirky sense of humor that goes along with her on her quest, and this maid fell in love with the Robin Hood character, who has a little bit of Zeke’s personality (though with more arrogance).

Daemyn’s original character is a bit more tricky. In the early version, I had a character named Ellis who was a twelve-year-old boy when the prince fell asleep. This boy ends up living to be a hundred and twelve (he ages in this version, so he was actually a rickety old man) and leads Cassie to the prince. In a later revision, I added that he was a page boy given the task of carrying Prince Alexander’s dagger out of the castle and kingdom before the hundred years’ of sleep. At the end of the hundred years’ sleep, 11 year old me didn’t know what to do with Ellis. It was too sad to have him die so I ended up having him just live to be really, really, really old. No romance for him. No getting stuck not aging. He still ended up the king’s adviser.

This version wasn’t based on the Appalachian Mountains. It wasn’t Christian fantasy. Actually, it didn’t have any Christian themes. There wasn’t even a clear bad guy except the nebulous difficulties of travel.

I always loved the heart of that story, and since my brand is writing Christian fantasy, I transformed the book by adding in allegorical elements on top of all the changes I made to characters, plot, and setting. It hardly resembles the same book now.


Giveaway!

Waking Beauty by [Morin, Sarah E.]

This week, I am giving away a Kindle copy of Waking Beauty by Sarah E. Morin. This book was published by Enclave Publishing, and it is also a Sleeping Beauty retelling with allegorical elements, like Dagger’s Sleep, though the allegorical part is much more subtle. It is a very lyrical, lovely retelling and the book that showed me how beautifully fairy tales could mix with allegorical elements.

To enter, comment on this post and/or tomorrow’s post either here or in the Facebook group. If you comment on both posts, your comments count as 2 entries. The winner will be announced on Friday. This giveaway is available internationally wherever Amazon Kindle is available (barring Amazon giving me any trouble).


Midnight’s Curse Blog Tour and Launch

It’s that time again! We are a little over a month away from the release for Midnight’s Curse! I can’t believe it is coming so quickly!

I’m going to be hosting a blog tour from August 5-10. If you would like to participate, please sign up using the form below.

If you don’t have a blog but would like to help launch Midnight’s Curse, there will be plenty of opportunities to review the book or post on social media, including an Instagram bookstagram challenge. If you would like to review Midnight’s Curse or participate by posting on social media, you can also sign up using the form below.

Thanks in advance for helping with this launch! Launching a book can be a daunting task, and your help is greatly appreciated!

Dagger’s Sleep Read-Along

Announcing the Dagger’s Sleep Read-Along!

Dreamy green color forest

To get ready for the release of Midnight’s Curse, I’m going to be hosting a read-along for Dagger’s Sleep, book 1 in the series, here on my blog and in my readers Facebook group (you can join by following this link then asking the join the group along the sidebar) where we will read the book together and then discuss those chapters.

I’ll post some behind the scenes stuff on my blog and hopefully some giveaways while you’ll have the chance to ask me your burning questions about the book!

I’m a little late putting this together, so the amount of chapters per week might look daunting. But it comes out to reading roughly 1 chapter a night for the next 36 days.

I’ve been planning out some of the blog posts, and it should be a lot of fun!

The read-a-long officially starts next week, but feel free to start reading now if you need the extra time to finish the book. 

What behind-the-scenes things would you like to see? Trivia? My writing process? The Bible passages that inspired certain scenes?

Sign up for Cover Reveal, News, & More

This is going to be a rather eclectic blog post. It has been far too long since I’ve posted, and things have begun to pile up.

In April, I pushed really hard to finish the first draft of Midnight’s Curse, the sequel to Dagger’s Sleep. I’m happy to say I finished it! Even if it took writing 55k words in 32 days. Social media and posting on here took a back seat to writing all the words.

CampNaNoWriMo Stats

Since I finished the first draft and have been lining up all the stuff to release the book, it is time to do a cover reveal and announce a release date. Yay!

 Fill out the form below to join the cover reveal for Midnight’s Curse!

Why help with the cover reveal?

  • It helps an author launch a book on the right foot.
  • You get to see both the shiny new cover and the release date before anyone else.
  • You get this author’s sincere gratitude for being an awesome person. If I could give you all maple sugar cookies, I would.

The cover reveal is going to take place on May 17. That’s less than 2 weeks away. I know I’m cutting the time short, but life was too crazy for me to arrange this before now.

You don’t need to have a blog to participate. Any social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc). will work.

On that weekend, the preorder for Midnight’s Curse will go live on Amazon, and the Kindle version of Dagger’s Sleep is going to be on sale for $.99. So there will be a lot to celebrate!

Here’s the form for the Cover Reveal

I’m so excited to reveal this cover to all of you! Savannah Jezowski of Dragonpress Designs did this cover, and it’s amazing. She’s the same person who designed the new cover for Dagger’s Sleep, and as amazing as that cover is, I think the one for Midnight’s Curse is even more stunning.

RealmAward_2inchSpeaking of Dagger’s Sleep, it was announced a couple of weeks ago that Dagger’s Sleep is a finalist for a Realm Award for the Fantasy category. It is such an honor to see Dagger’s Sleep alongside all the other amazing finalists. You can see a full list of the finalists here.

 


Friend Features

Several books by author friends and acquaintances have released in the past couple of weeks, and I wanted to highlight a few here.

Flight of the RavenFlight of the Raven by Morgan Busse released on April 30. It is book 2 in her Ravenwood Saga and continues the story of Selene and Damien. It is Christian fantasy published by Bethany House.

I’m not going to say tons about it now since I’ll be posting about it (well, fangirling about it) as part of the blog tour at the end of May. But you can find my review here on Goodreads and here is the link to the book on Amazon.

I’ve enjoyed all of this author’s books and I can’t wait for book 3 in this series to release!

The Lady and the Wish by J.M. Stengl released on April 25. It is book 4 in the Faraway The Lady and the WishCastle series and is a retelling of the King Thrushbeard fairy tale. All of the Faraway Castle books are adorable fairy tale retellings, and I can’t wait for the next book in this series! If you have read Dagger’s Sleep or enjoy books like K.M. Shea’s Timeless Fairy Tale series, then you will want to pick up the Faraway Castle series.

Besides, isn’t that cover simply gorgeous?

Here is the link to find the book on Amazon and here is the link to my review on Goodreads.

RomanovFinally, today is the release day for Romanov by Nadine Brandes. It is a historical fantasy/retelling of Anastasia, and I’ve been dying to get my hands on it from the moment I knew she was writing this book. I haven’t started reading it yet, but I’m sure it is going to be as amazing as all her other books!

Here’s the link for the book on Amazon.

 

Congratulations to all of these authors on their recent releases!

Do you know of any other new releases that you would like to tell everyone about? Feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for the cover reveal and release date announcement for Midnight’s Curse. I’m really excited to share this book with you!

Introducing Fairy Tale Central

When I heard that several online friends were starting a website to highlight fairy tales and fairy tale retellings, I was super excited to feature their website’s launch on my blog.

Dagger's Sleep_Internet UseI LOVE fairy tale retellings. I grew up on Gail Carson Levine’s fairy tale retellings and have since discovered a whole wealth of traditionally published and indie published authors who write fairy tale retellings, including KM Shea and Melanie Cellier, who are among my favorites (both are indie authors who write funny, clean fairy tales).

Last year, I released my own fairy tale retelling Dagger’s Sleep, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty with a few hints of allegorical elements. I’m working on writing Midnight’s Curse, the sequel to Dagger’s Sleep and a Cinderella retelling.

So without further ado, here is Fairy Tale Central!


Once Upon a Time two girls had a dream. A dream of a fairy tale site, an internet library, if you will, for all the fairy tale lovers of the land to gather and converse. To learn, to read, to fangirl/boy, to bask in the goodness that is fairy tales.

As this dream blossomed, the two girls recruited a third. Because, after all, all good fairy tales come in themes of three.

With the third member in place, the girls got to work. The dream began to take shape, until it was no longer just a dream. But something real.

Introducing…

 

FAIRY TALE CENTRAL

This newly launched site run by Arielle Bailey, Faith White, and Christine Smith, is your source for all things fairy tales.

Every month a single fairy tale will be featured, and posts will include:

  • Reviews for retellings/shows/movies/etc.
  • Essay, origin, and discussion posts on the featured fairy tale
  • Interviews with fairy tale retelling authors
  • Galleries featuring fairy tale artists and artisans
  • And a whole lot more!

The FTC’s goal is to unlock the magic that is fairy tales and build a community of fellow fairy tale enthusiasts. Arielle, Faith, and Christine are thrilled to share this new fairy tale centric space and connect with all you epic fairy tale fans!

You can CLICK HERE to find the site and join the Fairy Ring! (Don’t worry, you won’t be enchanted or cursed.) And, if you want to connect even more, you can find the FTC on:

(If you’re inclined to share about the FTC in those places too, you may or may not be blessed by a fairy godmother. *smile, smile*)

Do tell a friend, or a dragon, or the fairy living in the hollow tree behind your house. All humans and mythological creatures alike are welcome!


Doesn’t it sound like a cool site? I know I’m excited to follow their posts!

In case you didn’t hear yet, last week the finalists for the Realm Award were announced, and Dagger’s Sleep is a finalist in the Fantasy category!

Realm Award Finalists!

I am really honored that Dagger’s Sleep made it this far, especially considering how many amazing fantasy books were released by Christian authors last year.

The winners of the Realm Awards will be announced at the Realm Makers Conference this year, and I’m going! Realm Makers is always an amazing experience, and I’m excited to be going again this year!


Are you excited for the launch of Fairy Tale Central? Do you read fairy tale retellings?

Ilyon & Acktar Character Chat #4

Chat#4

You can find the previous chats here: Chat #1, Chat #2, Chat #3.

All of the giveaways at the end of these chats are still open through midnight tonight so make sure you enter if you haven’t already done so!


The Ilyon and Acktar characters gather in the kitchen and parlor of Leith and Renna’s cabin. After three previous character chats, the characters are becoming comfortable with each other.

Renna had baked several trays of maple sugar cookies, and everyone has one or two in their hands as they talk.

Kaden, Brandi, Jamie, and Kayleigh are gathered in the parlor and laughing and chatting loudly. Kyrin sits by the table with Renna and Ranson, and the three of them are talking much more quietly, but even Ranson has relaxed with Kyrin’s gentle manner.

Jaye and I are sitting on the opposite side of the table from Renna and Kyrin. I’m nibbling on my second maple sugar cookie while Jaye has some molasses toffee.

But, as I glance around, I notice Leith, Martyn, and Jace appear to be missing. I’m about to ask Renna where they are, when the door opens and the three of them stroll inside, laughing. Their hair is wet, as if they just rinsed off in the Ondieda River in the canyon nearby. Leith and Jace are grinning, and Martyn seems to be shaking his head at something Jace just said.

“Where have you been?” I ask as Leith snags a maple sugar cookie and slides onto the bench next to Renna.

“Sparring.”

I cross my arms as Jace takes the seat next to Kyrin. “You guys decided to go off and have that practice fight without telling me? The fangirls are going to be so disappointed we missed it.”

“Exactly.” Martyn huffs as he joins Kayleigh.

Leith shakes his head. “It wasn’t a fight to see who would win. We were showing each other different moves and skills with an occasional practice round in between. More like training than an actual fight.”

He says it nonchalantly, but I can tell. Whatever sparring match he and Jace had, it was the best match Leith has had in a while.

I turn to Jaye with a gesture in Jace’s direction. “Sorry if Jace starts showing assassin-y skills in the next book.”

Jaye shrugs. “I’m sure he appreciates picking up some new skills that might help him defend Kyrin should the need arise.” She looks at him. “Don’t you?”

Jace nods. “Of course.”

Now that everyone is here, I finish my last bite of cookie. “All right, everyone! Let’s find seats and get this final chat started.”

Kaden, Brandi, and Jamie find seats on the floor. Ranson squirms out from between Renna and Kyrin to retreat to the corner and find a seat on the floor near Jamie and Brandi.

Kayleigh and Martyn sit next to each other on the hearth.

“Welcome to the last Ilyon and Acktar chat, at least for now. Are you guys relieved or sad?”

Leith shifts and looks away from me. “Relieved.”

“But a little sad.” Brandi leans her chin on her knees. “I’m going to miss all my new Ilyon friends.”

“We’ll miss you too.” Kaden gives her a smile. “You’d make a great dragon rider. And you’d all make great additions to the Resistance.”

Jace and Kyrin agree.

“Jaye and I might have to do this again someday.” I grin at Jaye before turning back to the stack of questions in front of me. “Let’s start with an easy one. Martyn and Kayleigh, do you guys get married in this book?”

“Well, um,” Kayleigh lifts her hand, showing that she and Martyn are holding hands. “Isn’t that one of the spoilers we aren’t supposed to be telling as part of these chats?”

“The book has been out for a couple of days, so I think most people probably know the answer by now, so it is probably fine to spoil it.”

Martyn scowls at me. “Nope. I’m not telling. It is my business when I get married and to whom and all that.”

“All right then.” That was all the answer I would get out of Martyn. I had better ask a few more of the questions for Martyn before he goes fully grumpy on me. “Holly wants to know if you have any objections to fan art of you and Wanderer?”

“Fan art?” Martyn’s expression twists, as if he’s torn between a scowl and a smirk.

Kayleigh pats his shoulder. “I would love to see fan art of Martyn. But I’m rather biased.”

“Of course you are.” I try to suppress my grin. “One more question for you, Martyn. How tall are you?”

“5’10” or 5’11”. Something like that.”

“Taller than Leith, but shorter than Jace.” Looking at Martyn’s grouchy expression, I probably should move on to a question for someone else. “Ranson.”

He jumps and appears like he wants to shrink back into the woodwork.

“Don’t worry. This is a somewhat easy question. if you were stranded in the woods in the middle of the night, without any supplies, in the pouring rain, and you could only have one person with you, who would you choose? Why?”

Ranson looks down at his hands and mumbles.

“Sorry, I know you don’t like to be put in the spotlight, but could you say that loud enough for everyone to hear?”

Ranson sneaks a glance at Martyn and Kayleigh where they are perched on the hearth. “Kayleigh. Because she knows how to make snares and cook and stuff.”

Kayleigh smirks, and Martyn’s expression looks torn between offended and approving. Finally, he shrugs. “No, you’re right. I’d pick Kayleigh too.”

“Just a few more questions, Ranson, then you can relax.” I smile reassuringly. “Olivia wants to know how you met Blane? And how Respen found you and Blane?”

Ranson stares at the floor. “I met Blane on the streets after my Nana Harding died. Respen found the two us on the streets one day and took us both to train as Blades.”

Not the longest answer, but it was all the answer I was probably going to get out of Ranson. Time to move on to someone who wouldn’t mind answering questions. “Kaden, what was your first impression of Jace? Has it changed? Did you win most of the fights you got into at Tarvin Hall?”

Kaden laughs. “Well, I suppose my very first impression of Jace was ‘who’s this guy hanging out with my sister, and why is she spending so much time with him?’ He wasn’t the sort I expected Kyrin to become such close friends with. But once I got to know him, I understood. It helped to know he had such a strong desire to protect her. He’s my brother-in-law now, so my impression of him has obviously changed quite a bit.”

Kyrin gives him a warm smile.

“Now, as for those fights…” Kaden shakes he head. “I actually lost most of them. My opponents usually had backup, so most weren’t even fair.” He smirks. “It never stopped me though.”

“Speaking of fights. Jamie, in your opinion, would Leith or Martyn be scarier to face in a fight?”

“Leith.” Jamie doesn’t hesitate.

When Martyn doesn’t protest, I glance at him. He shrugs. “I fought at Leith’s side when he was a Blade, remember? There were times he scared me.”

“It isn’t something to be proud of.” Leith shakes his head.

“This is a question for all the characters. What would be your go-to passage(s) of Scripture (or King’s Scrolls in Ilyon) for when you are feeling discouraged?”

“Psalm 27 is my favorite.” Renna shrugs. “Though I think everyone already knew that.”

“I like Romans 8. And Psalm 46. And, well, a lot of passages.” Brandi grins. “And most of the book of Daniel, of course.”

“Daniel 3 is a favorite, of course.” Leith traces one of the twisting wood grains on the table. “But I haven’t really picked a favorite yet. It’s still all so new. Large chunks of the Bible I’ve only read once.”

“I like Isaiah 55:8-9,” Kyrin says. “It reminds me that God is in control and has a plan even when we can’t see what it is. I’ve had to rely on that a lot.”

Jace shrugs. “Like Leith, I haven’t had a chance to read the Scrolls as much as I would have liked since we don’t have many copies, but from what I have read, my favorite is probably Psalms 22:24.”

Kaden thinks about it for a moment. “I don’t really have a particular favorite, but I like Psalms 9:9-10. It’s definitely a passage to keep in mind with everything going on in Ilyon.”

“Here’s a random question also for everyone: have you ever eaten raccoon? The reader who asked this question has herself, so she was wondering if any of you had.” I glance over at Jace, Kyrin, and Kaden. “Are there raccoons in Ilyon?”

“There are, but I can’t say I’ve ever eaten one,” Jace says.

Kyrin and Kaden shake their heads.

Kayleigh nods. “I’ve eaten raccoon.”

Martyn’s eyes widen. “Wait. Does that mean I’ve had it?”

“Meat is meat.” Kayleigh huffs. “And raccoons are rather plentiful.”

Martyn starts looking a little green.

Leith glances at Renna. Renna shakes her head. “As lady of Stetterly, most of our meat comes from the town’s cattle herd. So no raccoon. So unless Respen fed you guys raccoon, I don’t think you’ve eaten it.”

“I wouldn’t put it past him. Raccoons were a nuisance in Blathe.” Leith grimaces.

“All right then. Jamie.” I glance over at where him and Ranson are doing their best to be invisible in the corner. “What is the most important thing in the world to you?”

“My Bible is very important to me.” Jamie has his head down, but I don’t miss the quick glance he shoots in Brandi’s direction, the tips of his ears going a tad pink.

I try to hide my grin. “The next question is kind of for me, but I guess, Brandi, you can give your opinion on the answer. Ava wants to know if there will be any romance for Brandi.”

Jamie’s ears turn even redder, and he shrinks farther into his corner.

Brandi’s nose crinkles as she grimaces. “Romance?”

“What, don’t you want romance?” I raise my eyes at her.

“Maybe. Eventually. But I don’t know anyone I like that way.” Brandi shrugs. “All the boys I know are like brothers to me.”

I’d better leave it at that and let the fangirls read into the interview what they want for hints about Brandi and Jamie in books 6 and 7. Instead, I grin. “After the earlier chats, someone mentioned they shipped you and Kaden.”

Kaden snorts.

Brandi rolls her eyes. “Seriously? He’s like a big brother.”

Leith puts on an exaggerated hurt expression. “And here I thought I was your big brother.”

“Your my favorite big brother and always will be.” Brandi leans forward from her seat on the floor so she can pat Leith’s shoulder. “But Kaden has a dragon so I’m adopting him for a brother.”

Kaden grins now. “Happy to be adopted.”

“Since we are talking about adopting brothers…Leith, you seem to have a habit of collecting brothers and family. Why do you think that is?”

Leith shrugs. “I was an only child and my family wasn’t…healthy. I would think most people who grow up in a situation like that would long for a real, good family. Maybe I take it a little far, but no one seems to mind. Most of them also need a family.” Leith glances at Jace. “Do you have a habit of adopting brothers or adopting your own sort of family?”

Kyrin leans into Jace’s shoulder. “He has a habit of adopting animals.”

Jace shrugs. “They’re kind of family. Animals were all I had growing up. But I’m more likely to be the one adopted–first with Rayad, Kalli, and Aldor, and now with the Altairs.”

“Kaden, Holly wants to know if you’d prefer fan art of you in a fist fight or riding Exisis?”

“Uh,” Kaden rubs his chin, “probably riding Exsis. Like I said, I lost most of my fist fights.”

“Also, which is faster? Exsis or Storm?”

“Storm. Female dragons are generally a bit faster since they’re smaller.”

“This question is for Renna, but I think I’ll ask it of both Renna and Kyrin. Who do you consider to be your hero/heroine?”

Renna glances at Kyrin, and they both seem to be looking to the other to answer first. Renna looks back to me. “Aunt Mara. I look back at how much she did for us, and it makes me miss her all the more. And, of course, my mother. She faced down First Blade Vane to buy us time to escape.”

“Definitely my father,” Kyrin said quietly. “He sacrificed everything for his faith.”

I swallow back a lump at my throat thinking about Kyrin’s father. I don’t cry often over books, but I cried then. I clear my throat. “I have a number of questions for both Leith and Martyn. How many knives does a Blade carry, and where? Did all the Blades wear black even when they weren’t on a mission? Are all a Blade’s knives the same size and style?”

Leith grimaces, as if he doesn’t like talking about his past in the Blades. “All of our knives were the same shape and style, though Vane carried a few extra that were better for throwing. Yes, we wore black all the time, except for times when we wore tan to blend in to the prairie on spying missions. I think Respen liked the intimidation of having us dressed in black. A Blade was immediately recognizable, and thus feared.”

“Even if black isn’t the most practical for sneaking around. The dark green and dark grays we tend to wear now as Blade Marshals are better.” Martyn pats the knife belted at his waist. “I have…” he pauses a moment to count in his head. “I’m wearing five knives. Two in my boots, two belted to my waist, and one hidden knife.”

“Hidden knife?” I cock my head at him. “We’ve talked about this. You need to give specific answers.”

Martyn glares back. “I’m not blurting out for the whole world where my hidden knife is. That defeats the point.”

Kayleigh taps his back between his shoulder blades. “It’s here. Though he doesn’t wear it all the time since it itches.”

“Kayleigh.” Martyn growls and swings his glare to her.

She doesn’t appear at all phased by his glare and instead cocks her head and gives him a look.

For a moment, his mouth twitches, like he is fighting to hold his scowl, until finally he sighs and looks away. “Fine. But Leith needs to answer too.”

Leith sighs. “Six. Two in my boots, two at my waist, and two across my chest. But I’m experimenting with hiding a few more knives since all of mine are currently visible.”

“Well, there’s mine.” Renna pats her leg where she has a knife hidden beneath her skirt.

“Yes, there is yours.” Leith gives her a smile that softens his eyes. “No one ever expects you to be armed.”

Leith and Renna and their mushy moments. I turn to Jace. “Jace, this isn’t actually a reader question, but I’m going to ask it because I’m curious. How many weapons do you normally carry?”

“Just two, normally. My sword and a hunting knife. If I think I’ll need it, I also carry a bow.”

“Leith and Jace, what was/is the greatest struggle of your life?”

Leith stares at the table top as he thinks. “A lot of my life has been a struggle, but for much of it I gave in instead of fighting to do what was right. And, now, my hardest struggle are the nights when the past seems too close, and I have to remind myself that I’ve been redeemed from it.”

Renna slips her hand into his and leans closer.

“Wondering if I had a soul was my greatest struggle. After all, it nearly killed me.” Jace shakes his head as if thinking back to his time in Samara and the dungeon. “My greatest struggle now is probably my fear of losing Kyrin. We’ve all lost so much, and it’s always so sudden. It’s difficult to balance knowing that I could lose Kyrin or someone else I love just as suddenly and trusting Elom.”

Kyrin squeezes his hand.

Time for a lighter question. I glance up at Martyn and grin. He huffs out a breath, already shaking his head as if that will stop me from asking. “Martyn, if you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?”

“Stubborn.” Kayleigh says at the same moment Brandi blurts, “Grumpy.”

Martyn shoots both of them an annoyed look, then shrugs. “What they said.”

“All right. Last question. Holly really, really wants Kaden and Martyn to arm wrestle.”

Kaden eyes Martyn. “Something tells me that’s not a good idea.”

Martyn crosses his arms. “Not that I don’t think I’d win, but wasn’t the whole fight with Leetra thing from the first chat bad enough?”

I laugh. “Probably.” I glance over at Jaye. “We actually had Kaden planned for the poll question today, but we didn’t pair him with you. We actually paired him with Kayleigh.”

“Me?” Kayleigh rests a hand on her sword, assessing Kaden.

“You’re both trained in sword fighting, and we figured, since Kaden spars with Kyrin, that he would have less of a problem fighting a girl.” I shrug.

Kaden laughs like he’s a bit nervous. “I wouldn’t turn down a friendly sparring session, but I’m not sure it would be fair.”

Jaye raises a brow at him. “You don’t think Kayleigh has a chance?”

“Oh, no, that’s not what I’m saying.” Kaden pauses and shoots another glance at Martyn. “I just think, if I did win, I might have another opponent to face, so I’d probably throw the fight.”

Martyn smirks and pats his knife while meeting Kaden’s gaze. He doesn’t say anything, but with the way Kaden shifts, Martyn doesn’t have to.

Kayleigh glares first at Martyn, then at Kaden. “Don’t you dare throw the fight. I’ll keep Martyn in line.”

“Will you?” Martyn’s smirk turns a bit gushy.

“Yes.” Kayleigh moves as if to lightly elbow him in the ribs, but he squirms out of elbow reach and avoids it.

I shake my head. Those two.


That’s the last of our character chats! Thanks so much for reading these, everyone! And don’t forget to comment on this post or answer the poll of whether you think Kayleigh or Kaden would win in a fight to be entered to win an Acktar-themed t-shirt.

Giveaway!

AcktarShirtGiveaway

Use the Rafflecopter link below to enter to win an Acktar-themed t-shirt! Giveaway is open to US only.

Here is the Rafflecopter link to enter:a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ilyon & Acktar Character Chat #2

Chat#2

I finish arranging the chairs around one of the large, oak tables in Nalgar Castle’s Great Hall and straighten all the name tags by the seats. Jaye did such a great job hosting all the characters in Ilyon. I want to do just as good a job here in Acktar. Never mind the fact that I’m trying to contain my inner fangirl. Jace is going to be here. In Acktar.

The door to the Great Hall opens, and the Acktar characters file in first. Brandi skips inside, grinning as she locates her name tag by her seat. Leith and Renna enter the room next, holding hands. Leith glances at me, a wary look in his eyes. He’s probably remembering past character chats.

Martyn and Kayleigh come in next, and they are also holding hands. I shake my head. That’s what I get for having so many happy couples. Shad follows them, looking a bit lost without Jolene at his side.

Keevan strolls in last, followed by his brothers-in-law and bodyguards Frank and Patrick.

I point at the bodyguards. “They aren’t necessary for this chat, and I don’t recall inviting them.”

Keevan shrugs. “They wouldn’t listen to me.”

Frank crosses his arms. “We don’t know these other characters you are bringing here, and we aren’t going to leave Keevan unguarded.”

I open my mouth to argue but shake my head. I could remind them that they had to listen to me. I am the author. But…that hasn’t stopped them before. I doubt they’ll listen to me this time either. “Fine. They can stay. Besides, I like Frank and Patrick.”

Patrick grins. “We know. Oh, and Mama said to tell you she has apple pie ready in the kitchen for after this chat. She’s also working on a wheat-free apple dessert for Jaye.”

“I’ll have to thank her for the extra effort.” It’s a good thing King Keevan’s mother-in-law is an excellent cook in her own right with several good cooks working for her. I may need to use the pie as a bribe to get the characters to cooperate.

The doors to the Great Hall open and Jaye L. Knight steps inside, followed by Jace, Kyrin Kaden, Prince Daniel, and Trask. All of the characters are looking around, though Trask and Prince Daniel especially have a glint in their eyes as if accessing the castle’s strengths and weaknesses. Habit, probably.

I run to give Jaye a hug, then I hug Jace. It’s a little awkward, considering he’s fairly tall and I’m so short I don’t even reach his shoulder. He’s probably over a foot taller than me. And the fact that he’s got a longsuffering look on his face that says he’s doing his best to tolerate this hug.

“Kaden!” Brandi runs to give him a hug. I groan. Uh, oh. Brandi really bonded with Talas and Kaden last time. I think she’s claimed two more brothers. And I was worried about Leith’s habit of adopting brothers.

While Jaye catches up with the Acktar characters, I hug Kyrin, Kaden, and Prince Daniel. Prince Daniel eyes me like he’s not sure why he’s getting fangirled over.

By the time I finish, I notice Kyrin, Renna, Leith, and Jace are all chatting in a group. That makes me grin. By the time these chats were over, they’d be good friends.

After I give them all a few more minutes to chat, I call everyone to their seats. The Ilyon characters sit on one side of the table, the Acktar characters the other.

As the host, it’s my job to make introductions and ask the questions. “I believe most of you met at the last character chat over in Ilyon. Shad, Kayleigh, Keevan, this is Jace, Kyrin, Kaden, Trask, and Prince Daniel. Ilyon characters, this is Kayleigh, Martyn’s girlfriend, Shad Alistair, and King Keevan of Acktar.”

Kayleigh smiles at the Ilyon characters while Keevan gives them each a nod. Across the table from Keevan, Prince Daniel of Ilyon eyes Keevan’s bodyguards.

Keevan gestures over his shoulder at Frank and Patrick. “Never hire your brothers-in-law as your bodyguards. They tend to be rather overprotective.”

Daniel darts a glance at Jace.

“Hey, what was that?” Jaye demands.

Daniel looks at her innocently. “What?”

Kaden and Trask smirk and look toward the ceiling.

“That’s exactly the sort of thing that gets the fangirls talking.” Jaye shakes her head. “Sorry, Tricia, go on.”

“All right then. Let’s get started with the questions.” I pull out a paper with a long list of questions. “Let’s start with a question that several readers have been eager to know: Jace and Leith, do you think the two of you would be friends if you lived in the same world?”

Leith glances across the table at Jace, shrugs, then turns to me. “Probably.”

I glare at him. “That’s not much of an answer.”

Leith sighs. “We already kind of answered this on the last chat, but fine. Our pasts are similar, and we could teach each other a few fighting techniques. Yes, we’d probably be friends.”

“Better.” I smile at Jace. “Jace, do you have anything to add?”

“I agree. I think we’d understand each other the way Holden and I do.”

“Good answers. How about another easy one. Janice wants to know how much taller Jace is than Leith.”

Leith glances across the table at Jace. “A lot.”

“Well, you’re five foot nine or so.” I turn to Jaye. “How tall is Jace?”

“Jace is six foot three.”

“There you have it. Jace is six inches taller than Leith.” I grin as I reach the next question. “Leith, Addyson wants to know: how does it feel to know you’ll only ever be second best to the sweetest cinnamon roll ever aka Jace?”

“Fine by me. Fangirls are scary. He can have them.” Leith shakes his head, and Renna squeezes his hand as if he needs reassurance.

Jace looks embarrassed. “I still don’t understand fangirls.”

I laugh. “Well, Jace, Addyson did say to tell you sorry, but you’re well loved.”

He shrugs. “According to Jaye, that’s a good thing.”

“Time for a question for someone else for a change.” I look down the table toward where Brandi sits at the end of the Acktar side. “Brandi, what do you think of Jace? You haven’t had much of a chance to get to know him, and you spent most of the last chat talking with Talas and Kaden, but I know you. You form opinions of people pretty quickly.”

Brandi grins. “Well, he has a gorgeous black horse and a black wolf for a pet. Of course I like him. Now the real question is whether he can tolerate me or if he thinks I’m annoying and talk too much.”

Jace sends her a quick smile. “I think we’d be all right now. I might not have tolerated you well a couple of years ago, but I’ve grown a lot since then.”

“I would’ve won you over eventually. I always do.” Brandi glares at Martyn. “Even if some people are too grumpy to appreciate it.”

Martyn huffs and mutters something under his breath. Kayleigh lightly smacks his arm.

“Well, we’d always be glad to have you at the Altair table.” Kaden grins at Brandi. “I’ll make a dragon rider out of you yet.”

Letting Brandi meet Talas and Kaden at the last chat might not have been such a good thing. I can only imagine how much trouble she would get into with a dragon. “Brandi, I have a couple more questions for you. What do you think are your weaknesses? And who is your best friend?”

“Weakness?” Brandi grins. “I’m reckless.”

Renna shakes her head. Leith huffs. Kaden grins at her like she’s a kindred spirit.

“As for my best friend, that would be Jamie, though he is more of a brother than a friend.” Brandi shrugs. “I am also close to Shad’s sister Abigail, though I don’t get to see her as much as I would like.”

Considering Brandi is friends with everyone, at least she kept her list short.

“Keevan, I have quite a few questions for you.” I shuffle my papers. I almost don’t want to ask him the next questions. “The first two are kind of…tough. I’m sorry. Leah. S. wants to know why were you such a coward hiding at Eagle Heights? You let your cousins take your burden. And Addyson calls you nasty stinking Keevan and says that she gets that Leith tried to murder you and all, and that’s hard to get over, but Leith is amazing so why can’t you just get over it and be friends with him?”

The room gets an awkward, tense silence to it. Keevan’s arms are crossed, his knuckles white as he clenches his fists. But his face is almost too carefully blank. Leith is staring at the table, looking like he wants to bolt from the room. Renna’s gaze is also focused on the table as she grips Leith’s hand. Martyn and Kayleigh are taking the opposite approach and studying the ceiling as if they really don’t want to be asked to respond.

Brandi snorts. “The fangirls tell it like it is, don’t they?”

Keevan shakes his head and waves from Prince Daniel to Jace. When he speaks, his rasp scratches through his voice. “Let this be a lesson to you, Prince Daniel. Don’t ever throw the fan favorite–Jace–in prison or in any other way hurt him. The readers will never forgive you.”

Daniel raises his hands. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”

I sigh. “Keevan, I hate to force you to answer this one, but you’re avoiding it.”

Keevan runs his thumb along the scar tracing down his cheek and neck. “I lost my entire family in a single night. I was nearly killed myself and spent months unable to speak. I was driven from my home and spent over five months essentially imprisoned in a single room in Walden Manor to stay hidden. Those older and wiser than me were telling me going into hiding and leaving Renna and Brandi at Stetterly was the best plan, and at that point, who was I to question their wisdom? If that makes me a coward, then so be it. I’m human. Maybe that isn’t a good excuse, and maybe there was something I could have done. But I wasn’t able to see another option at the time.”

“You didn’t have much of a choice.” Renna raises her head, her back straightening. “We may have been in just as much danger if you’d brought us to Eagle Heights and by that action caused Respen to realize there was a secret hideaway he needed to find. Besides I might never have met Leith if I’d been hiding away in Eagle Heights with you.”

Renna and Leith share one of their looks and smiles.

Kaden shakes his head. “You two are as lovey-dovey during these chats as Jace and Kyrin.”

Keevan turns away from them, still rubbing at his scar. “As for the other question. I’m trying. That’s the best I can do at the moment.”

“Fair enough, I guess.” I flip notecards to the next question. “How about an easier one, then? Keevan, what do you think of Jace?”

“I don’t have an issue with him, if that’s what they’re asking. My problem with Leith is personal. It doesn’t affect how I feel about all former killers and assassins.” Keevan glances at Jace across the table. “He’s a good warrior, and someone I’d be honored to have in my army if he lived in Acktar.”

Jace nods in thanks.

Good answer. At least Keevan wouldn’t dig himself into a deeper hole with the fangirls.

Time to pick on someone else for a little while. “Renna, Leah wants to know how you will deal with Leith being gone all the time?”

Renna smiles at Leith before she faces me. “It will be tough, but God will still be with me. Besides, I survived being left alone at Nalgar Castle with Respen. I think I’ll be able to handle a few weeks when I’m in my own cabin with Brandi, Jamie, Ranson, and Kayleigh for company.”

“In other words, we shouldn’t worry about you.” I look down the table at Martyn, and he glares back. “Martyn. How will you deal with leaving Kayleigh and your brother behind when you go on missions with Leith and Shad?”

“Wait. Let me get this straight. The fangirls want to know how Renna will handle waiting for Leith when he’s gone, yet they think I’m the one who’s going to be helplessly pining after Kayleigh? What about Kayleigh? Shouldn’t she be the one pining away at home?”

Shad hides a chuckle behind his hand.

“You wish.” Kayleigh lightly swats his shoulder. “You know I can’t handle having you underfoot all the time. I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself.”

“I know you are, but…” Martyn crosses his arms. “This question is ridiculous. I’m fine. Kayleigh’s fine. Leith and Renna are obviously fine.”

Kaden smirks.

Time to move on to another question before Martyn starts insulting people. “Keevan, Karis wants to know how do you feel that Addie strengthened your faith early on in your relationship?”

A warm smile sneaks across Keevan’s face. “Addie is sensible. She doesn’t waste time on self-pity, and she kept me from completely wallowing in self-pity those first few months. She and her whole family taught me a lot about what it means to give selflessly, and that strengthened my faith in a lot of ways.”

“Thank you, Keevan.” I glance around at all the characters sitting along the table. “This question is for everyone. Sorry, it is another uncomfortable one. Who do you think has killed the most out of all of you here? Apparently leading people into battle counts.”

The characters start whispering to each other and shifting uncomfortably. It’s not a question any of them really wants to answer. Killing the most people isn’t something any of them want to brag about. Maybe if we had Vane, Davira, and Respen sitting at this table, one of them would’ve gladly stepped forward. They probably would’ve fought over who was the most evil.

But these characters sitting before me? They don’t see kills as something to glory in.

Surprisingly, Jace speaks up first. “None of us from Ilyon have led anyone into battle, but of the four of us, the answer would be me. I can’t speak for anyone from Acktar.”

Keevan lets out a long breath. “Probably me. I have led men into battle, into a battle against fellow countrymen. The lives lost on both sides aren’t something I take lightly.”

Of course he didn’t. Keevan was the type of king who knew the casualty figures from both sides of the battles he fought to regain his throne, and he saw those casualties as more than numbers, but as a weight of individual lives and losses.

Leith shakes his head. “It’s not the same. Not like the way I killed. And in that case, then it’s probably me. And I don’t want to know if I’ve killed more than Jace or not. It doesn’t matter. The answer is still too much for both of us, and we both are deeply thankful that there is redemption for someone like us.”

Jace nods, as if Leith said exactly what he was thinking.

Time to change the subject and lighten the mood. “Keevan, I think it’s time we served the apple pie and other desserts?”

Kaden rubs his hands together and shoots a grin at Brandi.

Keevan gestures, and in a few minutes, servants enter the Great Hall with trays of food and place a plate by everyone’s seat.

After giving everyone a few minutes to dig in, I turn to the Acktar characters. “Shad. I haven’t asked any questions of you yet.”

He swallows a bite of his apple pie and sits straighter. “Yes?” He braces himself as if expecting some difficult question.

“Relax. The fangirls went easy on you. Holly wants to know if you would like to visit Ilyon?”

“Of course. It sounds like a fascinating place.” Shad crosses his arms. “And I didn’t get to visit with some of the others last time.”

“No, you didn’t. Sorry about that. Two more questions: Just how good of an archer are you? And, can Jolene out-shoot you?”

Shad rubs at the back of his neck. “I’m a good archer. Jace, here, could probably out-shoot me. I don’t really know. I’ve never shot as part of a competition before. And can Jolene out-shoot me? Yep.”

I raise my eyebrows at him. “Are you saying that because she actually can out-shoot you or you don’t actually know who is the better shot or you don’t dare say anything else?”

Shad grins. “Yes.”

Trask laughs heartily. “Wise man.”

“Trask, the last question is for you. What were you thinking after you kissed Anne, she pushed you off your horse, and you watched her gallop away?”

“That I couldn’t wait to marry her one day.” He smiles happily. “Now I’m just glad the wait is over.”

“So are all of us fangirls. The wait was excruciating. That’s all for today’s chat. Thanks so much for coming and cooperating.” I smile and nod to all the characters. “As the last part of today’s chat, we have set up a poll for the readers where they can vote whether they think Shad or Trask would win in a fight.”

Shad and Trask glance at each other.

Shad raises his eyebrows, grins, and pats his sword hilt. “That could be interesting, considering we are both noble sons raised to use a sword.”

Trask nods. “Sounds like we should set up a little friendly competition sometime.”

I shake my head. So much friendlier of a reaction than the Leetra and Martyn fight.

Giveaway!

AcktarGiveaway

I’m giving away a signed copy of Decree along with a full set of Acktar character cards with art by H.S.J. Williams. Giveaway is open only to the US due to cost of shipping. 

If you want to vote on the Shad/Trask fight (and enter the giveaway), make sure you vote and enter using the Rafflecopter link below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ilyon & Acktar Blog Tour

Ilyon and Acktar Blog Tour Header

Today launches the Ilyon & Acktar blog tour! Jaye and I are excited to share this tour and these books with you!

Below is the blog tour schedule with links to all the posts. Take special note of the 4 character chats. These are the combined character chats Jaye and I put together based on reader questions for both the Ilyon and Acktar characters. Not only are these chats hilariously fun, but they also have 4 additional giveaways on top of the main tour giveaway (at the end of this post).

The first chat and giveaway start today over on Ilyonchronicles.com!

Tour Schedule

Friday – December 14 – Release Day for Bitter Winter & Lacy!

Saturday – December 15

Monday – December 17

Tuesday – December 18 – Release Day for Decree!

Wednesday – December 19

 Thursday – December 20

Friday – December 21

Saturday – December 22

Jaye L. Knight’s newest novel, Bitter Winter, and companion novella Lacy released today! I am so excited for Jaye and for these books!

The Ilyon Chronicles

Bitter Winter

About Bitter Winter

Already struggling with a harsh winter and the threat of food shortage, a catastrophic event leaves those in the Landale camps reeling. Just when things couldn’t get much worse, camp members fall ill with the same devastating sickness that’s sweeping across the country.

Determined to gain the cure, Jace sets off to Valcré. However, there are only two sources—the queen, or a powerful gang of smugglers who have made the dangerous city their home. When Jace gains audience with the gang leader, he finds the price of the cure is steeper than any of them imagined, forcing him to make an impossible choice—betray his conscience or let those he loves die.

Available now on Amazon!

goodreads
My Review of Bitter Winter
This book is so amazing! As all of Jaye’s books are. This one especially brings the reader through a whole range of emotions. It starts out with plenty of awwww moments, then turns heart-wrenching, then tense and nail-biting. Yet the ending makes all the tension worth it with plenty for fangirls to squeal over! I loved the ending so much, though I’m bracing myself for what is going to happen to my poor, favorite characters in the next book!

Lacy

About Lacy

The last thing Aaron ever envisioned was falling for a prostitute. Everything about it spells trouble. However, he can’t help noticing the way her smile lights up when she sees him and how much brokenness she hides behind it. Neither can he ignore how desperately she needs rescue and protection.

When Lacy shares a life or death secret with him, Aaron is willing to risk everything to help her and to show her Elôm’s love. Yet, such a choice could destroy his reputation and maybe even cost him his freedom.

An Ilyon Chronicles Novella

Available now on Amazon!

goodreads
My Review of Lacy
This book as an unexpected surprise. I’ve always loved Aaron, but this book made me love him all the more. He is such a sweet and strong character, and that really comes through in this book! Although Jace (*cough* my favorite character *cough*) isn’t in this one, I still really enjoyed it.
I would recommend this book for older readers since it does deal with prostitution, but the topic is handled really well, as I would expect from Jaye L. Knight.

Haven’t discovered the world of Ilyon yet? Find out more at the official Ilyon Chronicles website!

About the Author

JayeLKnight Author PhotoJaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Etsy.

 

Giveaway!

PaperbackGiveaway

Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a full signed set of the Ilyon Chronicles and The Blades of Acktar!  (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.) Click on this link to enter.

Don’t forget to stop by each of the character chats for additional giveaways throughout the tour!

New Cover

This is going to be a small break from all the announcements about Decree. Due to various reasons, I decided to get a new cover for Dagger’s Sleep. It was a kind of last minute, partway through November decision, so it wasn’t ready in time for Black Friday, but at least it will be available in time for Christmas.

Savannah Jezowski over at Dragonpress.com did an amazing job with this cover! I already have a matching cover lined up for Midnight’s Curse and they are going to look so lovely together!

The new cover is going to go live on Amazon in the next few days, so if you really liked the old cover, now is your last chance to get it.

I’m going to probably do some more fanfare for this gorgeous cover over on Instagram, so be on the look out for that.

So without further stalling, scroll down to see the new cover!

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Dagger's Sleep_Internet Use

Isn’t it stunning? Yes, it is a departure from what my previous covers look like, but I hope it will be just what this book and this series needs!

What do you think? Do you like the new cover or the old cover better?