All of us have dreams. Little dreams, big dreams. Achievable dreams, wild dreams. Every now and then, we are fortunate enough to have a dream come true. This past weekend, my family had a dream come true:
One of the things we fell in love with when we were looking at this house, was the large garage. Prince Charming and I loved that we would be able to finally have our vehicles inside instead of out in the elements. We were excited by the possibilities it presented as a water line was already prepped and ready to be put to use as well as windows which could be installed to allow natural light in to the room. My husband saw an activity room in the extra space where we could entertain friends and family. I saw an art studio where I could create with minimal distractions. We're still talking out those ideas into a good compromise. The one downside to this wonderful garage was the lack of driveway.
We bought the house anyway, reasoning that we could put in a driveway when finances allowed. Each time we thought we might be able to do it, things came up. But this year, we've finally been able to do it. And in part...
...it's because of YOU.
Yep, each of you who have read my books, shared them with friends, left reviews for other readers to see, and supported my writing in any way helped contribute to our ability to get our driveway. It wasn't just from my books, I'm not selling that much yet, but I was able to make up the difference. And that readers, is an amazing feeling.
So thank you, from the very bottom of my heart, for your support of my writing journey. You're helping dreams come true. Big dreams, little dreams, achievable dreams, and wild dreams.
Readers, I've been gone forever! My family spent most of February and the beginning of March sick. Since being a mom is my number one priority, everything else went on hold while I took care of my babies. I'm happy to say they are all healthy again and my house is no longer a disaster.
Despite the challenges I've been incredibly blessed. I've been able to spend a lot of time with my family. We've been able to save up to put a driveway in to our garage and it goes in this weekend! I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am for that. And even with all the craziness, Into the Rainbow released on March 8th. The time off gave me a chance to regroup and prioritize my projects. Even come up with some plans for new ones.
One of the fun things I did during my break was make a coloring page for you. Morvyn is undeniably my favorite character from Into the Rainbow. He's brave, noble, and has a great sense of humor.
I had so much fun just drawing again that I'm seriously considering making a coloring book. But I need some opinions. Would you want it to be focused on one of my books? Would you prefer general fantasy? A mix of characters and scenes from the books? Complex pictures or simple? A mix of both? Tell me in the comments or fill in the short survey below. And then download a copy of Morvyn and show me what you do with it!
It's been a while since I gave you an update. I've gone back to a project I started last year and it's just about ready for you. Let me tell you a little about it! Into the Rainbow is a contemporary fantasy set in our world, but with a Fey twist. Similar to Toil and Trouble (and you may recognize some names and places if you've read that book), but a standalone, separate story.
March 1! I'm still waiting for Amazon to approve the preorder stuff, but as soon as I have a link, I will update this blog so you can jump on the eager bandwagon.
UPDATE: Preorders are live now!
And just to whet your appetite, here's a fun excerpt introducing the Kay sisters:
A waiter came by not long after they were seated. “Wow, not often we have so many lovely ladies at one table. Are you triplets?”
Just as Dierdre and Treasa opened their mouths to say no, Darcie gushed, “Why, yes we are! How could you tell?”
He winked at her, green eyes sparkling. “I have a gift.”
Dierdre snorted and Treasa fought to hide her giggles.
“My name is Brad and I’ll be your server this afternoon. What can I get you to drink?” He wrote down their orders and smiled. “If there’s anything you ladies need, let me know. I’ll be back with these soon.”
He hadn’t gotten far from the table when Treasa couldn’t contain herself anymore. “What are you thinking telling him we’re triplets?”
“Oh come on, haven’t you ever wanted to just string someone along on that and see how long it takes them to figure out the truth?” Darcie asked. “Especially someone as hot as he is?”
“He is never going to admit we’re anything less than triplets, especially since we’re the customers,” Dierdre retorted. She smirked. “I thought I might die when he said, ‘I have a gift.’”
Treasa giggled again. “Right, because the near identical looks didn’t give it away.”
“That just gives away that we’re related. Because after all, we’re not really triplets,” Darcie whispered as Brad approached their table with a drink tray.
“That’s a Sprite for you, Dr. Pepper for you, and a lemonade for you. Are we celebrating anything special today?”
“Just spring break,” Dierdre replied.
“And St. Patrick’s Day,” Treasa added.
“It’s my birthday today,” Darcie said with a grin.
“Ah, but you’re triplets, right?” An impish twinkle caught his eye. “So that means we have three birthday girls.”
“You’re right. They’re just too shy to admit it,” Darcie replied, batting her eyelashes. “We’re nineteen now!”
“All right, well let me be the first to wish you a very happy and lucky birthday.” Brad smiled. “Do you know what you want to order or should I give you a couple more minutes?”
“I think we’re going to need a couple minutes,” Dierdre said, trying to unclench her teeth.
As Brad sauntered away, Treasa and Dierdre rounded on Darcie. “We agreed not to say anything about our birthday.”
“I didn’t say anything about your birthday. I said it was my birthday.”
“After leading him to believe we’re triplets,” Dierdre hissed.
“Girls, come on. There’s nothing we can do about it at this point,” Treasa sighed, “so we might as well enjoy the extra attention. Maybe it won’t be too bad.”
“Unlike the Mexican restaurant Dad took us to with the mariachi band and sombreros?”
Treasa shuddered. “Yeah, I hope not. Let’s look at the menu and decide what we’re going to eat before he gets back.”
Dierdre turned her attention to her menu, but not before pinching Darcie’s arm hard enough to make her sister yelp.
“I warned you.”
The meal continued without Brad making a big deal about their birthday. The food really was as amazing as Aunt Bitsy had told them. Tender meat slathered in tangy barbecue sauce and home-style fries to die for. The buttery rolls seemed to melt in their mouths and Dierdre couldn’t remember the last time she’d had a better house salad. She had almost thought they’d made it without a fuss as she sat back from her plate. Then the unmistakable sound of banging pots drew near as Brad called out, “Ladies and gentlemen we have not one but three birthdays to celebrate today. Join us in singing our special song and give these girls a birthday they’ll never forget.”
“I swear I’m going to kill you, Darcie,” Dierdre growled as a restaurant full of off-key voices joined the staff in singing. Her ears burned and she saw Treasa covering her face, though it didn’t hide the rosy blush taking over her skin. Darcie lapped up the attention, even leading the music with a wide smile.
When the song finished, Darcie clapped her hands in delight. Dierdre and Treasa attempted pleased smiles, but they looked more like grimaces. Brad set three large slices of brownie with gooey caramel sauce and a large scoop of vanilla ice cream. “Anything else, ladies?”
Darcie handed him her camera. “Can you take a picture of us please? We promised Mom we’d have birthday pictures for her.”
Darcie threw her arms around her two sisters and pulled them close. In spite of their annoyance, they couldn’t help smiling at Darcie’s enthusiasm.
Brad snapped several pictures and asked, “Any of you have a phone you want pictures taken with?”
“Come on girls, give ’em up,” Darcie said, handing him her cell phone.
Dierdre and Treasa followed suit and within a few moments, Brad returned their phones. Dierdre admired the new picture and set it as her wallpaper.
“You ladies enjoy your birthday,” Brad said with a bright smile. “Just take the check up front to the register to pay.”
“Thanks, Brad!” Darcie said, taking the slip of paper from him. As he left, the girls began enjoying their dessert. “This is the best birthday brownie I’ve ever had.”
“Too bad it’s not your birthday,” Treasa teased.
Darcie shrugged. “Minor detail.”
“Let’s finish our dessert and see if the rain has let up enough to do something outside. Maybe we can go to Worlds of Fun today,” Dierdre suggested.
As they walked out of the restaurant they were disappointed to see the rain pouring down. “Well,” Treasa said, “it was a good thought. To Cabela’s?”
“To Cabela’s,” Dierdre agreed. “I think there’s a chocolate store near there we can go to as well. It’ll be a little bit of a drive though since those are on the Kansas side.”
“That’s all right, we’ve got time.”
“Loads of it,” Darcie muttered.
For the next few hours the girls enjoyed their time shopping and laughing. They filled their car with boxes of chocolate and outdoor gear before starting to head back to the hotel. “Well, maybe tomorrow there will be sunshine,” Treasa suggested as soft rain pattered against the windshield.
Behind them, a bright ray broke from the clouds. “Ah, blessed sunshine!” Darcie cried, pulling out her camera. “Pull over! That would be a gorgeous shot.”
Dierdre obliged, finding a quiet pull-off from the main road. Darcie hopped out of the car and began snapping pictures of the sunlight. Her sisters followed, enjoying the warmth of the spring sunshine.
Treasa looked at Dierdre with a grin. “You’d think she’d never seen the sun before.”
“If I had a camera I might join her,” Dierdre teased.
Darcie turned toward them and squealed. “Ohmigosh! Have you ever seen a more gorgeous rainbow?”
Turning, the sisters gasped. Brilliant swathes of color brightened the dark clouds. “They say there’s a pot of gold at the end of it,” Treasa said.
“I’d be happy with a day of sunshine,” Dierdre teased.
Darcie rushed past them to grab her tripod. After setting the camera up she ran to her sisters and pulled them in. “Photo-op! It’ll take ten, so make ’em count.” As the shutter snapped, the girls smiled, blew kisses, and posed, enjoying the little bit of sunshine. The light rain steadily grew harder and Darcie scrambled to get her camera back in the safety of the car while Dierdre and Treasa hopped back in their seats. As Dierdre started the car, she realized she would have to drive down the small road they’d pulled off on to find an entrance back onto the main road. “This could be an adventure,” she shouted over the driving rain.
“Don’t you love the Midwest?” Treasa asked. “Sunshine to the back of us and pouring rain to the front.”
“Too bad we’re not going farther into Kansas, right?”
“The sunshine might catch up to us.”
The rainbow in front of them grew closer and more solid as the rain increased. Dierdre frowned. “I’m having a hard time seeing the road through this rain.”
“Maybe you should pull over until it slows down,” Darcie said.
“No, we’re so close to the main road.”
“Right because the visibility will be better there.”
“Shut up, Darcie.”
“Maybe she’s right, Dierdre. I can’t see anything but the rainbow.”
“We’re going to be fine,” Dierdre retorted, though she was beginning to think her sisters might have a point. She squinted to see through the pouring rain and glowing rainbow, but everything was blurred. A shape appeared in front of her.
“Dierdre, look out!” Treasa screamed.
Dierdre swerved the car to the side, narrowly missing whatever was in her way. The rainbow surrounded them as the car lurched to a stop. The seatbelt tightened against her shoulder, but the airbags didn’t deploy. It took a minute for her racing heart to slow enough for her to talk. “Are you two okay? Is everyone okay?”
“Yes,” Treasa squeaked.
“I told you we should have pulled over,” Darcie snapped.
“What was that?” Dierdre asked.
A knock on the window made the girls scream. A red-headed man stood outside their car. Dierdre cautiously lowered the window a couple inches. “What do you want?”
“Well, if you’re done attempting to murder me, I’d like to know exactly what you think you’re doing in the Emerald Glade.”
My sincerest apologies for having this up late! I've had sick children and have been sick myself. Good luck, D J Edwardson, with your new release!
Welcome to the virtual book tour for The Last Motley by Grace Award nominated author DJ Edwardson. To celebrate the book's release the digital version is being offered at the special discounted price of 99 cents, now through February 17th. In addition, you're invited to come along on a virtual treasure hunt visiting some of the places featured in the novel. And to help you along your journey, we're giving away a few prizes, too. So how 'bout them apples? Today's stop is:
Tamber ForestThe Tamber Forest gets its name from the strange sounds the wind makes when it blows through the blaizewoods. Some believe it is haunted for this reason, though others say it is only the gypsies who live in the woods, trying to scare off visitors. Whatever the cause of the strange sounds, the enchanting blaizewood trees found within are one of the wonders of Arinn. Said to grow nowhere else, the bark of these trees takes on the quality of light around them. In the moonlight, they glow like ghostly bones, but in the day the shine like sticks of honey. Sadly, the dangerous reputation of these woods means that few are able to enjoy their singular, otherworldly beauty. We hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the world of Arinn. If this taste has you curious, be sure to check out the full length novel set in this world. This unique tale is not your typical fantasy novel, Yes, you'll find monsters, dungeons, harrowing escapes, magic portals, a humor, an ancient artifact, and much more but above all This is the story about the importance of family, faith, and the courage to do the right thing. Here's the official teaser:
The Last MotleyMotleys. Candy-colored creatures with dark powers to drain the souls of men. That’s what Roderick always thought. Until he met one. Now he’s not so sure. But with seemingly everyone in the province hunting the motley down, he must quickly decide which side he’s on. Is the motley the living nightmare the legends say? Or just a child cursed by magic? Should Roderick save him from an awful fate, or turn him in? Either way, it seems like everyone wants to make sure that this will indeed be the last motley. Be one of the first to read this unique and original fantasy novel, available now for the first time in digital format at the following online locations:
Treasures along the wayAs you follow along on this virtual tour of Arinn, be sure to enter the giveaway to make your journey a little easier. Maybe you'll be one of the ones to find treasure at journey's end. Here's what we're giving away: [caption id="attachment_4056" align="aligncenter" width="900"] A lovely leather journal, an autographed copy of The Last Motley, and a coloring book from the Chronicles of Narnia[/caption] You can use the journal to record your travels, the novel as your guide, and the coloring book to, well...for those rainy days when you're stuck in the inn! PLEASE NOTE: By entering the giveaway you agree to receive occasional email updates about DJ Edwardson's releases, sales and book reviews. He will not share your email for any reason and you can unsubscribe at any time. Entries accepted until February 23rd.
The journey continuesThere are many stops along this virtual tour. Be sure to check them all out.
Ah, readers, it's February and love is in the air. Do you know who writers love most? Okay, yes, they love their families. Cats? Well, if they have them sure, but that's not really what I'm looking for.
No, readers, we love you! Without you, we wouldn't have anyone to write for.
The authors of Fall Into Romance have gotten together to bring you eight of the ten stories in signed, paperback form. And there are some fun goodies besides the books too!
Sounds good right?
It's pretty easy. All you have to do is go down to the Rafflecopter below and follow us on our social media. You can do as many of the entry options as you want. Once you've done that, just wait and see what happens!
Happy New Year, readers! I hope these first few days of 2018 have been filled with fun and laughter and that the rest will be blessed.
I love to make goals for myself and my writing schedule for this year is full to bursting. But one of the other things I like to do is have a one word focus. This year I've chosen the word Create.
You might be thinking I've picked the easiest possible word for a writer to choose. Aren't we creative 24/7 anyway?
Well, yes, that is a fair point. However, this year I want to focus not only on my writing, but on other aspects of myself as a creative. I want to draw, paint, garden, cook, throw clay, and do other creative projects without seeing them as a distraction from my writing. I want to enjoy just creating things that don't have to be marketed or have a price set for them or have deadlines. In short, I want to create just to create.
One of the joys we find in life is enjoying a hobby or talent. Writing is one of my talents that I really enjoy. I love to tell a good story and I love immersing myself in the world and chatting with my characters. But I also love sitting with a pencil and just doodling. I love to paint. I like to take something and make it into something new. This year I want to explore all the different ways we create and hopefully inspire others to create in ways that are meaningful and special to them.
How am I going to do it?
Hopefully as we continue into 2018, we can create some new things together. Take the time this year to explore yourself as a creative. It's not just the visual arts or literature or music that count as creativity. There are simple, every day things we do to create.
If you want to share your creative endeavors with me, send me an email or tag me on social media. You can also use the hashtag #CreateWednesday.
Here's to a joyous and creative 2018!
Yes, I just had a baby, and yes, I've just released a novel. Does that make me Super Woman? Okay, not gonna lie, it kind of does. ;)
In all seriousness, I know there are several of my author friends who have been astounded by the fact that despite having just had a baby, I got right back into my writing game and have a new release for Christmas. Many have said they couldn't possibly have done it. But could they? I suppose it's all a matter of personality and how easy-going your baby is.
I've been very blessed with Sam. He's easy to please and allows me to set him down for good chunks of time which means I can still find time to focus on my writing, and do things like maintain housework. And one of the things that I really wanted to do this year was have at least four new releases. Since I'd released the illustrated version of "Talori and the Shark" (which isn't quite new since it was in Fantastic Creatures), "Leticia's Song" in Hall of Heroes, Katie's Chance for Romance in the Fall Into Romance set, and Toil and Trouble, I needed just one more to make the goal. So it was important to me, if for no other reason than to prove I could do it, to put out one more book.
The funny thing about Of Snow and Mistletoe is I started it with every intention of it being a fantasy.
I know, you beta readers are going, "Wait, really?"
Yes, really. When I first got the idea in the form of that lovely title, I imagined a winter fairy story. Action, adventure, magic, and a little touch of romance because, well, mistletoe. I started writing and I realized it wasn't working. So I scrapped what I had and started a free-write session.
(If you're a writer, free-writes are lifesavers. Seriously, free-write as often as you can!)
Lumi and Crispin were still there, but in a totally new way. Rather than saving the fairy world, they were going to the mortal world to be matchmakers. And they weren't even going to get a regular matchmaking assignment. No, they were going to go to Christmas Pine, Michigan and help a married couple rekindle their romance. The more I wrote, the faster the story came and the more I loved my characters. Side characters came in who will have stories told in coming years. For now, enjoy Merry and Alex's story and learn with them to always put your loved ones first.
Merry pulled the large prelit tree out of its box with a smile. She knew Alex hated getting it set up, but it was better than the days of walking around and around the tree with strings of lights. Really, it didn’t take too horribly long to get the tree into its stand. Fluffing the tree took longer and Alex always grumbled that a real tree didn’t need to be fluffed. While Merry knew he was right, she also knew neither of them had the time or patience to take care of a real tree. She didn’t think she could stand the amount of sweeping it would take to clean up as dried needles fell. So a fake tree worked just fine for her. Hanging pine-scented ornaments on the tree did a fairly good job of creating the illusion of a real tree. She tucked them in where they wouldn’t be as easily visible. Once the tree was fluffed and ready, she looked over at Alex who was hanging wreaths in the windows. “Want to help put the ornaments on?” she asked.
“Be right there.”
She opened the box of ornaments. Their first Christmas ornament stood out to her immediately. Merry smiled as she put it on the tree. Had it really been four years? In some ways, nothing had changed. A frown creased her brows as she realized some things had. They no longer seemed as close as they had once been. The frown disappeared as Alex’s arms wrapped around her. “Aren’t you supposed to be putting ornaments on the tree?” she asked.
“I am,” he replied, nuzzling her neck. “There’s a bare spot right there, see?” He hung an ornament on the branch.
Merry giggled as warmth spread through her. “Ah, yes, wouldn’t want a bare spot. Good thing you saw that,” she added, turning toward her husband.
“We might have missed it all together,” Alex said, leaving a lingering kiss on Merry’s mouth.
She couldn’t think when he kissed her like that. Their home phone rang. “Ugh, mood killer.”
“We don’t have to answer,” Alex whispered, his lips teasing her ear.
The caller ID read aloud, “Debra East-el”
Alex snorted. “I wish we could program pronunciation. Then Eastle would sound like ‘easel’ like it should.”
“Wouldn’t that be nice?” The phone rang again and Merry grimaced. “I better see what Grandma wants. You know if I don’t answer she’ll assume we’ve been kidnapped or murdered. At the very least maimed.”
He kissed her forehead. “Go ahead. I’ll keep decorating.”
She smiled and then went to grab the phone just before it went to the answering machine. “Hello?”
“Good heavens, Merry, why haven’t you been answering your cell phone? I’ve been calling it for the last half-hour with no response. I was so terribly worried something had happened to you. Good thing I remembered I had your home number or I might have called the police and reported you missing!”
Mentally counting to ten, Merry replied, “After only thirty minutes, Grandma? Really, I’m fine. Alex and I are enjoying a tech-free, home date tonight.”
“Oh dear, did I interrupt your date?”
Yes, and I don’t appreciate it. “It’s all right. What did you need?”
On Monday, October 30th I waited my turn at the doctor's office, hoping to hear that Baby could come at any time. Instead, I was told my body was nowhere near ready to start labor and my baby was breach. A c-section was scheduled for Thursday, unless Baby managed to turn around before then. I went home nervous and admittedly telling my baby the entire thirty-minute drive, "You've got three days to turn around." Once home, I started contacting family to let them know what was happening. My dad asked what they could do to help, Mom reassured me that everything would work out fine, and my mother-in-law asked if she should try to rearrange things to come earlier than the planned visit my in-laws had already set up. I emailed my husband so he could arrange a substitute teacher for his classes.
Wednesday I had my pre-op appointment and i sat nervously waiting. I knew Baby hadn't moved from his position. Not even a little bit. My doctor was running a little behind and my wait was longer than normal. As I sat waiting, Baby started to move. A lot! I got a little hopeful. Maybe we could skip the whole c-section thing after all! Went back with doctor to the ultrasound room. Baby was now sideways, with his back down. "Why don't you come into my office and we'll talk about what this means for you, Mom, because this will change things," My doctor said. Somehow I knew this wasn't changing in my favor, so I grabbed my bag and followed him to his office. He explained that with how Baby was now positioned, he would need to do the more difficult c-section incision. "I've done it before and you can heal fine from it, but it will have more scarring and take more time to heal." Fabulous. I didn't care too much about the scarring part, no one really sees that area of me anyway, but the idea of a longer recovery time made me nervous. I had three other children at home who would need me. "The good news is, since your baby has turned this far, there is a better chance he'll figure out how to move the rest of the way and then we can just wait for the baby to pick a birthday."
Again, I drove home telling Baby to turn around, and again I called family to update them on what Doctor had said. I talked with the babysitter about having to be at the hospital at 5:45 the next morning and offered to let her stay overnight at my house so she wouldn't have to get up at 5 to make sure we had plenty of time to get to the hospital. She accepted the offer and promised my two at home that they would have an awesome sleepover together.
Very early on November 2nd, my husband woke me up and we drove to the hospital. I could tell Baby had shifted around again, I just wasn't quite sure which direction he was. He had moved a few times during the last several hours and there was part of me that wanted to tell my OB, "If he is head-down, just induce me. I don't think I can handle another week or two of this!" We arrived at the hospital, the nurses got me situated, and my doctor arrived. "Has Baby turned?" he asked.
"Yes, but I have no clue where he or she is now." I replied.
Using the ultrasound, they discovered Baby was still sideways, but had moved in such a way that the vertical abdominal cut would not be necessary. "Let's get you into the OR and have this baby before he decides to turn around yet again!" Doctor said.
And so the anesthesiologist came in and explained what he would do and the OR nurse helped him wheel me into the OR. My husband waited in the hall while they got everything they needed to set up. That was probably the most nerve-wracking time in the whole experience. I trusted my doctor, the anesthesiologist had put my mind to ease, and I knew I was being taken care of. But not having my wonderful Prince Charming there just made me nervous, especially when they strapped my arms down. Shortly after that, they brought Jonathan to me and the anesthesiologist said, "Now son, you're going to sit right there and hold your wife's hand."
Within moments my doctor and the med student came into the room and the anesthesiologist said, "Now, you're going to feel some movement, and you're going to feel some pressure. But if you feel any discomfort or pain, who are you going to yell at?"
"Good girl," he said, patting my shoulder. The entire time they worked, he and Jonathan talked to me, keeping me calm and helping me feel more in control than I really was.
Soon Doctor was pulling Baby out and asked, "Want to know what you're having now?"
"You have a boy."
I couldn't hear much after that because our baby boy was born with a healthy set of lungs and he was letting the world know it was cold and too bright and he did not appreciate any of them just then. My pediatrician showed him to me and I knew right then little Samuel Christian had joined our family. I smiled. "Hi, Sam," I said and kissed his little forehead before the pediatrician took him to get cleaned up and the anesthesiologist sedated me so Doctor could take care of my needs. While the birth wasn't what I had planned, I was grateful for a healthy, happy baby boy and for excellent medical care. I learned after I had woken up that our little boy was born at 8:10am at 19 1/2 inches long and a whopping (for Elliott babies anyway) 8 lbs. 7 oz.
So, why the name? My dad is Samuel and hadn't known we were considering his name for a baby. (Yes, Daddy, sometimes I can be sneaky.) When he asked, I couldn't word my answer very well. But now I'll explain. Samuel Christian has always been a name on my list. Ever since I was twelve or thirteen and first decided that someday I was going to be a mommy and would have to have names for all those babies I planned to have. I've always been Daddy's girl. Always. So the idea of having a boy named Samuel after my hero daddy really appealed to me. Christian was a name that hadn't been used in a long time and I loved the way the name sounded. I was even okay with flipping the name around to be Christian Samuel if my spouse preferred.
When Jonathan and I got married and started talking about family, I told him it was important to me that we use family names. I didn't care too much which side of the family they came from, but I wanted our children to have family names. "Give them a legacy to live up to." So Jonathan and I went through our family history and started picking names, I gave him my list from when I was twelve. A couple names that weren't extremely important to me got nixed. But we both liked Samuel Christian. "We could turn it around if you wanted," I told him.
"No, I think Samuel Christian sounds just right with Elliott."
This conversation was had back when we were expecting our daughter. With our oldest, we'd discussed mostly names that I had liked and my sweet Prince Charming hadn't had much input for me. When my husband's grandfather became ill, I said, "If we do have a boy, wouldn't it be wonderful to name him for your grandfather and mine?" And after that, I think part of both of us knew we would be having a boy. The other names fell to the side and we saved the big "name discussion" for later. I still have the list with the names we have picked out. Three have now been crossed off the list because we've used them.
Little Sam, since we don't want to confuse his PaPa too much, is perfect in every way. And it wasn't until my mother told me a funny story of a conversation she and her coworker had that I realized we had Sam Elliott in the family now. Which only makes my little one's name the more perfect since his namesake loves a good western. And I have to admit, I agree with her coworker. "Oh, I hope he has a deep voice when he grows up!"
So, if you know anything about me at all, you know I love, love, love fairy tales. I especially love it when authors get creative with them and twist them around. This is what you should expect from the upcoming release Cinderskella from mother-daughter duo, Amie and Bethanie Borst. Curious? Oh, me too! But first, let's meet these ladies and then we'll take a peek at the cover and learn more about this middle grade fairy tale retelling.
Amie Borst loves glitter, unicorns, and chocolate. But not at the same time. That would be weird. She’s a PAL member of the SCBWI as well as a founding and contributing member of The Mixed-Up Files…of Middle-Grade Authors, a group blog dedicated to middle-grade books. Amie lives in Virginia with her three beautiful daughters, her handsome husband, and two cute dogs named Lily and Maggie. She wishes she could travel the world in a hot pink elevator but for now, her minivan will have to do.
Bethanie Borst is 17 and the author of three books. When she was only 10 years old, she wrote her first book, Cinderskella. She enjoys reading, writing, and STEM. Bethanie is fluent in both sarcasm and humor and is prepared for the zombie apocalypse and/or spontaneous combustion of the world. Because, let’s face it, both of those things are totally realistic.
First of all, huge hats off to you, Bethanie! That's an awesome achievement to have written a book so young.
So, let's talk about that book. Cinderskella is a rerelease with a brand new, shiny cover (which looks amazing, by the way) and new illustrations. It will be available in February 2018. That's a ways to go yet, but look at that cover! Doesn't it just beg you to pick it up? Let's find out what Cinderskella is about:
It’s not just monsters that go bump in the night. Sometimes it’s skeleton-girls, too.
Cindy might appear to be your average twelve year old, but since her mother’s death she has a secret. Every night she faces a horrible, terrible curse; one that turns her into a skeleton. Yup, a boney, white skeleton.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Cindy’s own father is scared of her. Plus she has an evil stepmother who makes her do crazy chores, some of them with a toothbrush. And then there’s the wild dog with intentions of making Cindy into his midnight snack. As if all that wasn’t bad enough, the Spring Fling dance is fast approaching and Ethan, the cutest boy in sixth grade, doesn’t seem to know she exists. Cindy doesn’t think letting Ethan know she’s a cursed skeleton-girl is the best way to introduce herself. Determined to break the curse, Cindy travels to the Underworld where things aren’t quite what they seem, including Mr. Death, the strange and creepy Undertaker.
With a jar of pickled pig’s feet, a wacky fortuneteller, and an cranky skeleton mouse, Cindy is afraid this curse has really gotten under her skin.
This just sounds like a fun read for young and old. If you want to stay in the loop with Cinderskella and her authors, make sure you follow Amie and Bethanie. I know I'll be anxiously waiting to pick this book up!
Amie's website: www.amieborst.com,
Bethanie's website: www.amieandbethanieborst.com
I just love release days! And today, Toil and Trouble is available!
College student Allie Jones has everything going for her. She's got a good job, is working toward her degree, and has a great car. Her life is ordinary and predictable, until one day a stranger enters her gift shop and attempts to kidnap her. Saved by a young man named Dez who claims to be a fairy guardian, Allie finds herself traveling to the Fey Realm where she learns fairies, mermaids, and elves are real and she was never as ordinary as she thought.
Together they work to discover who was behind her attempted kidnapping and what they were really after. The plot they uncover threatens not only the Fey Realm, but the mortal sphere as well. With an elderly witch, a snarky cat, and a glowing bird as their companions, Dez and Allie prepare to take on the greatest challenge either has ever faced.
Just for fun, I thought I'd show you some of the different ideas I had for the cover design. I wanted something fall and also a little ominous. Toil and Trouble has a happy ending, but it's also got some spookiness to it and some definite tension. While the original image here (left) is definitely fall, it was a little too light and cheery. So a few tweaks to saturation and hue gave it the look I wanted.
Then it was time to find a cover model. A wonderful friend of mine has a daughter who, while younger than my main character, looks exactly as I envisioned Allie. After talking with her and with her mom, we planned a photo shoot and had a great time together. Then it was time to decide which of the many great pictures we had was the right one for the cover. And I had a few ideas:
My husband and I looked at the concepts we'd created and tried to pick the best one. The left and right ones were our favorites. While the middle picture looks great as a picture, we were having a hard time getting the color and lighting to match the background we wanted to use. After sending the two we liked to my cover model to see what she preferred, we chose the left concept. And then it was time to really begin polishing. Fonts were changed out and the photos softened and blended. I'm pretty happy with how the final cover turned out. I think it perfectly sets the mood for the story. What do you think?
Toil and Trouble is available for a temporarily low price of 99 cents through the end of the month. After Halloween, the price will be raised. So, get it while it's on sale and enjoy this trip into the Fey Realm!
Jessica L. Elliott
Author, artist, mom and super-genius