Monday, September 2, 2019

Reblog: The Silmaril Awards

This Year's Awards: The fourth annual Silmaril Awards are live. Below you’ll find the links to all of the pages where you can go to nominate your favorite fantasy characters. All you have to do is leave a comment with the name of your character and what book he or she is from.

AboutThe Silmaril Awards are all about celebrating fantasy fiction. But whereas most awards go to authors or books, these awards go to the characters themselves! Sound like fun? Read on.

This year's Silmaril Awards have begun! I'm stoked to finally be present in the blogosphere in time to participate in this event! So just giving the event a bump (and also putting the links someplace I hopefully won't lose track of :P), and encouraging you to nominate and second your favorite fantasy characters!
So far I've only seconded other's nominations. I'm going to nominate some lovelies as soon as I can take a few hours and comb through my books to make sure I'm remembering and spelling characters' names correctly. :P

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Reblog- Story Embers: Three Ways to Avoid Stagnating Your Skills as a Storyteller

Three Ways to Avoid Stagnating Your Skills as a StorytellerMany of us, myself included, struggle to break away from the types of stories we gravitate toward. We assume that we need more training before we can tackle a different genre or point of view. But expanding is one of our responsibilities as writers, and it’s a precursor to growth!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Golden Braids Blog Tour: Rebekah's Refuge

A friendly retail PSA: not all retail workers are out to annoy you and withhold your food. We want you to take our food, that's why it's there; for you to buy, consume, and (hopefully) enjoy. There are the occasional few workers who don't like people (why did they choose a retail job? No clue). Don't worry, they'll be gone within a week (usually. Unless they work at Walmart--no idea why the stereotype is so accurate, but it is--or somehow sequester themselves in a management position, in which case we'll look the other way if you happen to key their car or something). Just something to keep in mind when you shop.

Today, we have a character spotlight, from the book Rebekah's Refuge! First, a bit about the book:

Click to purchase!
Book Blurb:

Never allow a stranger to buy you anything. Never reveal what you truly are. Above all, never, ever allow your hair to be cut.

In a plague-ravaged world, people will stop at nothing to find a cure. Rebekah is a young norn who on the run for her life. Charles, a man desperate to heal his ailing wife, wants the life-giving magic contained in Rebekah's hair.

When Rebekah’s path crosses with Martha’s, a mother who has lost her daughter to the same man, secrets will be revealed. Buried fears will be resurrected, and the conflict between norns and humans may cause devastating havoc. Will Rebekah and Martha find a way to help both human and nornkind, or will Rebekah’s pursuer capture her? Will the plague be eradicated, or is a more sinister plan at work?

Things are not how they appear in this story of finding a place to belong. Rebekah’s Refuge is a tale of sacrifice, love and courage. You will meet many individuals, human and norn alike, who bear scars, scars that cannot be seen. A tenuous thread binds their destinies together, but threads, like hair, can easily be cut. Only those who listen can find the courage to fight. Rebekah’s Refuge is a tale of desperation and hope, a story of turmoil and healing.


Meet Martha:

Martha Brunswick is a stout, soft-spoken woman with a careworn face and a kind heart.  She loves to bake and spend time outdoors.  She lives in Plumvale, a rather commonplace town.  Her husband was a banker, so Martha’s house is large.  Martha’s time is spent volunteering with charities and other tasks of a helpful nature.  The activities provide Martha with something to keep her occupied and serve as an escape from her inward turmoil.

Martha is not a stranger to tragedy.  She lost her husband to a plague outbreak.  She has also lost someone very dear to her, a fourteen-year-old daughter who vanished without a trace.  Martha knows the name of Laura’s captor, but no trace of her daughter has ever been found.  As months pass, Martha’s desperate hope continues, but her loneliness grows ever stronger.

When Martha meets a blind norn on a train, she is immediately drawn to her.  She resembles Laura in so many ways.  When an accident occurs and the norn reveals that she has no where to go that is safe, Martha offers to help her.  Rebekah and Martha need each other, but will they be able to work together, or will the division between norns and humans destroy all?

About the Author:

Meredith Leigh Burton is a voracious devourer of fairy tales. She is a motivational speaker, teacher and writer. She attended the Tennessee School for the Blind and Middle Tennessee State University, where she received a degree in English and theater. Meredith hopes to convey through her writing that people with differences can contribute much to the world. "Snow White" has always been her favorite fairy tale. Meredith has written another fairy tale based on "Snow White" entitled Hart Spring, which can be found in her anthology, Blind Beauty and Other Tales of Redemption. She resides in Lynchburg, Tennessee.
Find her online at: Goodreads || Amazon

Today's Tour Stops:

Knitted By God's Plan - Five Reasons to Read
Light and Shadows - Five Reasons to Read

The Language of Writing

Dreams and Dragons - Meredith

Character Spotlights
Reality Reflected - Rebekah
The Labyrinth - Martha
Dragonpen Press - Frederick

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Golden Braids Blog Tour: Mechanical Heart

Book Blurb:

Can you save someone who doesn’t know if she’s alive?
Breen lives locked away, separated from the world by the walls of her clock tower and the machine of gems, gears, and magic that replaces her heart. That is, until an unexpected visitor appears in her tower, offering a dangerous gift: freedom. His promises awaken hope for a life unbound by the tower walls — but she knows that if he learns about her heart, it’s only a matter of time before he turns on her.
Josiah is powerless. Though he’s the crown prince of the mighty Chanian empire, he feels stifled by his inability to protect his people from the schemes of corrupt nobles. When he discovers a girl trapped in a locked clock tower, he thinks he’s finally found a problem he can solve . . . but more than just walls keep her captive.
From the royal palace to the streets of Rivenford to the tops of clock towers, secrets hide around every corner in this steampunk retelling of Rapunzel. Breen and Josiah hold the keys to each other's struggles — if they can break down the barriers that divide them.


Book Review:

I'm always conflicted when I finish a good book, and sit down to write a review. Do I start with the characters? The setting? The twists?
Characters will do for now, because they were my favorite part of it. Luis, in particular; he's a wonderfully pointed, sarcastic side character. Grace should receive mention as well, as she's a sweet character--with backbone (that isn't to say she "kicks butt" or anything like that, but she's firm, clever, and knows how to deal with people)!

Click to purchase!
Josiah, brother to Grace, is a knight in shining armor. Or rather, he wants to be. He's frustrated with his inability to make wide, sweeping changes that benefit the masses, and is stuck with sloughing through political mazes. Which he does remarkably, I must say.
Breen is a captive, but she's far from helpless. She figures things out on her own, and isn't ready to accept help/spill her story right away. When it comes to fiction, I typically ignore this flaw in characters (accepting help a tad too hastily), as it tends to be a staple in fiction, and I understand that most authors want their story to move along. A common problem with having a character come off as reluctant is the fear of dragging the story and making readers lose interest. With this story, the reluctance gave everything a bit of flavor! It forced other characters to react, heightened the suspense, and made the friendships all the richer for having stuck through the trials.
Speaking of trials, there are:
Determined antagonists (kind of obvious to the reader, not so to the characters, as the readers get to see the antagonists behind their facades).
Never a dull moment to be had.

Miscellany things I loved: The accuracy of the sign language (it's written in the style of regular speech, but the visible interactions--emphasis on facial expressions, etc--are spot-on). Breen's reluctance for help. It was just the right amount of stubborn. Also, the banter between Luis and Josiah; the friendly needling, sarcasm, advice. And you can see the cover, right?

All in all, this is a wonderful book to read. Oh, might I add: the steampunk element isn't terribly heavy--mostly aesthetic, with fantasy elements--so there isn't anything to get confused by if you don't often read steampunk.

Mini Interview:

1. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Eh, it honestly didn't change much. The main difference is that I can't really say "I'll finish it when I finish it and I'll edit it when I edit it" anymore. Instead, I'm on a timeline where I have this long to write the book and this long to edit it. Oh, and my editing process is a lot more intense now. 

2. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Both! In the long term, I want most of my books to connect in a multiverse along the lines of Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere or Kendra E. Ardnek's Rizkaverse, even though the individual books (or, eventually, series) will be able to stand on their own. So, practically speaking, you can read and enjoy Mechanical Heart whether or not you've read Blood in the Snow, but they're still connected in a certain sense. 

3. What did you edit out of this book?
Haha, not much. Mechanical Heart is a weird book in that I added more than I subtracted during rewrites and edits. One thing that I did lose, though, was Breen and Josiah's original method of communication. In the very first draft of Mechanical Heart, Josiah didn't know sign language, so he and Breen had to get a little creative. They used a few different methods depending on the situation, but my favorite was that they'd tap Morse code on each other's shoulder or hand and "talk" to each other that way. It was pretty cute . . . but once Grace showed up, having them talk in sign made much more sense.

About the Author:

Sarah Pennington has been writing stories since before she actually knew how to write, and she has no intention of stopping anytime soon. She is perpetually in the middle of writing at least one or two novels, most of which are in the fantasy and fairy tale retelling genres. Sarah's first published work, Blood in the Snow, received a perfect score and Special Unicorn status in Rooglewood Press's Five Poisoned Apples contest. When she isn't writing, she enjoys knitting, photography, and trying to conquer her massive to-be-read list. Find her online at: Website || Blog || Second Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Amazon

Today's Blog Stops:

Knitted By God's Plan - Five Reasons to Read
Light and Shadows - Five Reasons to Read
Dreams and Dragons - Writing Deaf Characters

Reality Reflected + Mini Interview!
The Page Dreamer
The Language of Writing
The Labyrinth + Mini Interview!
The World of a Write

To be a Shennachie - Sarah

Guest Posts
Dragonpen Press - Why Nomances

Monday, August 5, 2019

Golden Braids Blog Tour: Hair We Go Again

Kendra's been crazy busy, but she still somehow managed to get the tour package out relatively on time. So today, we have here a book spotlight, and a mini interview with the author!
I was also signed up for a review. However, that would be difficult to do, seeing as I have neither read the book, nor received a copy. I'll give a review of the first book (Sew, It's a Quest) instead, seeing as I read it just last week (I think? Time's been extremely relative for me lately) and everything's still pretty fresh in my mind. :P

Since Sew, It's a Quest isn't the topic of this tour, I'm going to go ahead and write it up on a separate post. For now, glory in the finished product that is Hair We Go Again.

Update: I have received my ARC copy, and will try to read and review it tomorrow (hopefully work doesn't ask me to do overtime). Also, I put up my review for Sew, It's a Quest on Goodreads.

Another update (8/18/19): Got the book done and the review written on the 12th, posted on Goodreads, and forgot to update this. Whoops. So the below is updated to be the book review, and not the book spotlight. Enjoy!

Book Blurb:

Still reeling from recent trauma, Robin and Eric struggle to find stability in the midst of increasing tension both at home and with others. When friends ask their help to rediscover their castle, lost during their hundred-year sleep Robin and Eric agree to help. But this castle holds secrets of its own – including what may be the fate of Eric’s long-lost brother – launching them on another quest. Meanwhile, Maryanne's busy on a much more important mission of her own: find a jackalope. Yet no one’s ideas seem to coincide with hers, and family disagreements muddy everything. Can healing ever be found when people refuse to communicate? (less)

Book Review:

Hair We Go Again (The Bookania Quests #5)Hair We Go Again by Kendra E. Ardnek
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a fun adventure with the crew.

The plot itself was cut-and-dry, as most fairy tales are, but it wasn't...well, dry. The characters had sufficient motivation, reacted realistically, and oh my word were they fun to watch/read/follow along, whatever term you prefer.

Not sure if I should mark this as a spoiler or not? So I'll mark it. (view spoiler)

(view spoiler)

The sibling bickering at the end. It's so. Darned. Accurate. So it's just as frustrating as the real deal. It gets resolved in a most wonderful fashion, to boot.

Maryanne was adorable, determined, and just as rambunctious and stubborn as a real one year old. She also talks like a real one year old, so sometimes I had to rely on other characters' interpretations of her speech to tell what she was saying.

Oh, so who says that romance ends after marriage? I don't think anyone outright says that when it comes to fiction, but it's heavily implied in movies and whatnot (trying to "reignite that spark" or whatever). Not so with this book! Looking back at the length of the story, I wonder at the amount of tenderness and turbulence that was packed into so few pages. (view spoiler)

Definitely a must for fairy tale lovers. You may want to pick up the other books in the series, though; I was kind of thrown off at first because of the mentions of previous events that I didn't know (I've yet to read books 3 and 4), but then I received a summary of each book before that, and it was smooth sailing (well, reading) from there. But I'll be picking up the other books, so...yeah, it's good. To summarize: siblings, magic, drama, relationships (is that implied in drama, or visa-versa?), and problem solving. Pick up your copy today!

View all my reviews


Mini Interview:
    1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

    My closest friends would include Morgan Elizabeth Huneke, Erika Mathews, and Sarah Pennington. They all three, encourage, support, and critique me in turn - these girls are seriously awesome. 
    2. What character surprised you the most in the writing of “Hair We Go Again”?
    I'm not sure there were any who outright SURPRISED me, but it wasn't until after I wrote Honor that Eric became the focus of the book's conflict. 
    3. What conventions/writing workshops have you attended/want to attend?
    I just got back from Realm Maker's the other week. It's the main one that I've always been interested in, and this was my second year. 

About the author:

Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairytales and twisting them in new and exciting ways. She's been acting them on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years. "Finish your story, Kendra," is frequently heard at family gatherings. Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children's tales that glorify God and His Word. Find her online at: Website || Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter || YouTube || Newsletter || Instagram || Amazon

Many thanks to Kendra for organizing the tour! Check out the full list of tour stops here.

Tour stops for today:

Knitted By God's Plan - Five Reasons To Read
Light and Shadows - Five Reasons To Read

Christina and Camera + Mini interview!
The Language of Writing
The Labyrinth + Mini interview!
The World of a Writer

Reality Reflected - Robin
The Rambling Rose - Rapunzel
Dreams and Dragons - Eric+Lukas

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Something Artsy

This isn’t something I normally post about, but I want to show off a couple of painting projects that I did with my family this weekend!
But first, a plug for the site I used:
Looking for a site that has tutorials for easy-to-do paint projects? Check out Step by Step Painting! The paintings are easy to do, either alone or in a group (it's more fun in a group), and have nice designs. Their color schemes are also easy to alter.
Take, for example, the project Owl Silhouette Moon. It has a Halloween vibe, with a ring of red, orange, and yellow around the moon. Since it's summer, we wanted to do something without autumn colors. We changed the color of the ring around the moon to purple, and made the leaves green. Here are a few examples of how they turned out:

Age 12

Age 14

Age 21

The other project we did was Cherry Blossom. The original purple ring around the moon was nice, but we'd just done that with the owl. So, we swapped out the purple for turquoise/light blue. There were more variations made on this one than on the owl one. Examples:

Age 16 (I love the blending,
and the extra starbursts)

Age 17 (the background on
this is black, and
there are koi fish in the moon)

Age 14 (this one has an extra ring of
color on the edge; black)

How's your summer going? Have you done any fun art projects, gone on any trips, read any books that you're dying to recommend?
Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Reblog- Hannah Williams: Of Tolkien, Tragedy, and Truth

Of Tolkien, Tragedy, and Truth: As a young Tolkienite, I devoured "The Silmarillion." I fell in love with the epic elves therein and mourned their tragic fates. For the most part, I'm not a fan of reading tragedy, but nevertheless Tolkien's style and world drew me in, and eventually the great evil was defeated.