It's release day for Fellowship of Fantasy's first ever anthology: Fantastic Creatures! Twenty authors, including yours truly, got together to write short stories about various fantastic creatures from dragons, to mermaids, to goblins. It's a delightful collection with stories for every type of fantasy reader. Are you excited to learn more? Keep reading!
To celebrate our release, some of us have gotten together for a fun scavenger hunt with delightful prizes. The grand prize winner will receive a Kindle Fire along with eBooks from each of the participating authors. The instructions are simple: Visit each blog to learn about a different story and author in the anthology (nope, you won't find mine here), look for a number in the blog and remember that number when you go to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. Links to each of the blogs will follow, so stop by each one! Easy peasy, right?
So, now I have the great honor of introducing Lea Doué to my blog.
Guest Author - Lea Doué
Hello! My name is Lea Doué, and I'm the author of The Firethorn Chronicles, a fantasy series drawn from The Twelve Dancing Princesses and other classic fairy tales. I live with my husband and two boys in Nova Scotia, and I'm so excited to have my story included in the Fellowship of Fantasy Fantastic Creatures anthology.
My story is titled Snapdragon, and it was inspired by The Frog Prince by the Brothers Grimm. It's set in the world of The Firethorn Chronicles, where dragons are as common as any other wildlife and come in all shapes and sizes. Some are fierce, some are friendly, and some are just plain annoying. (You can read more about some of the varieties in the Dragon Dictionary on my website.)
Snapdragon is set hundreds of years before the first book in the series. It gives a peek into the life of the man who later became the soldier-king and started the Dragon Wars, which cleansed the lands of ravaging razor-tail dragons and destructive sorcerers. And here's a little Easter egg for you: In The Midsummer Captives (Firethorn Chronicles 2), one of the characters can be seen reading a book titled The Soldier-King and the Lady of Thorns, which is essentially the story of Snapdragon under a different name.
The Firethorn Crown (Firethorn Chronicles 1) is currently available on Amazon. (An aside from Jessica, if you enjoyed my fairy tale retellings I promise you that you will LOVE Lea's book! It is fabulous!)
The Midsummer Captives (Firethorn Chronicles 2) will release later this month/early December. You can read the first chapter on my website.
Red Orchid: A Firethorn Chronicles Novelette (a prologue to book three, due out in 2017) is available to download for free when you sign up for my newsletter.
And Snapdragon is available in Fantastic Creatures: A Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology. Be sure to check it out, along with all the other fantastic stories!
Just for fun, Lea is hosting a little giveaway! Be sure to enter to win an eBook copy of The Midsummer Captives.
Fantastic Creatures: A Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology
Thanks for joining us, Lea! Now to tell you a little about our anthology and where to get it. The anthology is free to download from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and others. You can also add it to your To-Read list on Goodreads. Curious yet? Here's the blurb to tempt you more:
Here be dragons ... and selkies and griffins and maybe even a mermaid or two.
Twenty fantasy authors band together to bring you a collection of thrilling tales and magical monsters. Do you like to slay dragons? Or befriend them? Do you prefer to meet cephalopods as gigantic kraken or adorable tree octopuses?
Each story focuses around a fantastic creature from folklore or mythology, and they range from light and playful tales for the whole family to darker stories that may make you wish to leave the lights on. These stories carry the Fellowship of Fantasy seal of approval. While our monsters may be horrifying, you won't stumble into graphic sex and constant swearing.
Perfect for the fantasy lover who can't get enough of mythical beasts.
I'm so excited to have Heidi on my blog today and even more fun, she's doing a giveaway! I had the great privilege of reading Cora and the Nurse Dragon as a beta reader. Let me just say, this book is awesome! The characters are fun, the story engaging and fun for the whole family. My kiddos were able to beta with me and they loved it every bit as much as I did! So if you like dragons, fantasy and free books, keep reading! Directions to her giveaway will be posted at the end of the blog.
Welcome, Heidi, to my blog! Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm an obsessive personality. I'm almost always obsessed with something, and while that changes from time to time (I have a couple of ongoing obsessions--Lord of the Rings and my husband, mainly) chances are there is something, a TV show, a book, my own writing, something … that I'm obsessing about at that moment. I also really love cats. I love every kind of cat. I just want to hug them, but I can't hug every cat … that is sad.
It is. When you're not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I'm a casual gamer. I love puzzle games like Myst or the Nancy Drew series … and sometimes MMORPGs like World of Warcraft. I also crochet and I have a cat and two rambunctious daughters, so if I have free time, it's usually short. I wish I could fit in more reading, too. I've been trying to do better about that, but if my daughters' see me reading, they take that as a sign that I can read TO them and we end up reading “Go Dog Go” for the fifth time in an hour
We love Nancy Drew here! You've been given a Time-Turner (Harry Potter). When do you go back to and how many turns does it take?
This sounds suspiciously like it might involve math. Is there math involved? I'm just going to say 42 for the numbers part. That usually works. Honestly, though, I'm not particularly nostalgic and there is no historical event I'd want to go to for fear of causing some sort of paradox and accidentally saving rather than assassinating Hitler. I might go back and tell teenage me that happily ever after is just around the corner, but she managed to stumble through all right with only a vague faith that this was true, so it isn't an urgent message.
Yes, that sneaky math. Tell us a little about Cora and the Nurse Dragon.
In Cora's world, dragons have been “domesticated.” They're bred in factories to be pets, or racers, or used in other human pursuits. Cora's obsessed with them. She wants a pet dragon. She wants to be a dragon jockey, riding a racing dragon, when she grows up. However, her father believes dragons are meant to be free in the wild, not exploited by humans. One day Cora gets a hold of a dragon egg which hatches into something that changes everything for her. That something is a nurse dragon named Cricket.
I loved that about the story! What inspired you to write this story?
Cora kind of came out of no where. I was NOT planning to write it. I'd just finished the second book in my “Elemental Realms” series and was planning to spend November editing rather than writing … then right before NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) started, I got this idea that wouldn't leave my head about a little girl living in a world where kids could get dragon egg packs, and how usually the packs would be worthless, like lottery tickets or crackerjack prizes, but sometimes, very very rarely, there would be something exceptional. And the story just sort of wrote itself from there.
Every author's dream, and sometimes nightmare. What is your favorite dragon book (yes, your own count)?
Gosh … this is so so hard … like The Hobbit is amazing, but really the dragon is only in the very last bit (though he's awesome). And Farmer Giles of Ham is hilarious but it isn't in my top ten for books … and my own book Dragon's Curse (and the rest in the Dragon and the Scholar Series) is a very personal story because I drew very heavily on my own love story between myself and my sarcastic but awesome husband, Matt, to create the characters … I'm going to go ahead and go back to basics: The Reluctant Dragon was one of the first to show dragons in a different light, to show that sometimes knowledge and understanding trumps first impressions and brawn, and that sometimes dragons can be your best friends.
All good choices. If you were to get one of the pet dragons in your book, what type would you want?
Nurse dragons are cool, but they are a lot of responsibility. I'd probably go with a steamer. The strikers and sparkers are cool, but they cause a lot of accidental fires, and steamers are blue. Blue is my favorite color. Steamers shoot out hot water vapor which would also be helpful if I had a cold.
That would be helpful! You're having a giveaway with this release. Care to share any details?
I'm giving away a paperback copy of Cora and the Nurse Dragon. It's open to international entries because I'm excited to get this book into the hands of readers. You can enter by following me on social media accounts where I'm very active and post a lot of dragon pictures.
I love your dragon pictures. Where can readers go to learn more about you and your books? I have a website www.hlburkeauthor.com and am active on Facebook and Twitter.
Because I love and miss Alan Rickman, if you had been able to cast him in one of your books, which role would he have?
Hmm … this depends on whether or not I can pluck him from any decade of my choice. It's not a huge part, but Captain Goodly in Beggar Magic deserves a sensitive but strong portrayal. He's a man with a shattered past who triumphed over adversity and uses his position to help others.
Thank you for joining us today, Heidi. Good luck with your release!
Cora and the Nurse Dragon is a new middle grade fantasy adventure by author H. L. Burke. It follows the adventures of Cora Harrison in a world where Dragons no longer live in nature but are a resource exploited by humans.
Ages 9 and Up.
The book releases January 31st and is available for pre-order at the special price of 99 cents.
Cora's a young girl with two dreams: to be a dragon jockey when she grows up and to own a pet dragon now. She constantly buys "egg packs" at the dragon emporium in hopes that one will hatch into a rare pet-sized dragon, but only gets short-lived mayflies. However, when an unexpected egg does develop into something new, Cora may be over her head.
Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.
An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.
Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.
She is the author of a four part fantasy/romance series entitled "The Scholar and the Dragon", featuring the books Dragon's Curse, Dragon's Debt, Dragon's Rival, and Dragon's Bride as well as the YA/Fantasy Beggar Magic. Her current projects are a young adult steampunk fantasy and an epic fantasy trilogy.
Sign up for her monthly newsletter at www.hlburkeauthor.com
Author social media links
There are three things I'm really passionate about:
2) Kids reading what I've written (or just reading in general)
3) Inspiring young people to love literacy.
Seeing kids and teens discover the joy of being lost in a good book or developing stories of their own gives me the best kind of thrill. I love hearing from young people that they loved my stories or that I'm their favorite author. (Seriously, that birthday message tugged on my heartstrings something fierce!)
Prince Charming's Quest is just weeks away from release. As I've been planning and thinking what I could do to really celebrate this milestone with a bang, my sweet, amazing and genius hubby said, "Why not get schools involved?"
Have I told you my husband's a genius yet? He totally is!
We talked it out, going over the details and what would be involved and what the goal is. And this is what we've come up with:
Charming Academy Super School Giveaway
I've stated that I love watching kids read my books. I also love interacting with kids and telling them about writing, reading and the indescribable thrill of chasing one's dreams. This release, instead of just giving away a copy of the book to one person (though I'll get to that giveaway in a minute) I want to give a set of my books to one lucky school library as well as a day of Skype interviews. Sounds good, right? This is how it's going to work.
1) Nominate your school.
On Monday at 8:00am CDT, I will start the nomination post on my Facebook Fanpage. You will need to comment on that post with your school's name and get 5 people to like that comment. At 9:00pm CDT, I will add all the qualifying, nominated schools to a new contest page on this website. Once that page is live, voting will begin.
2) Vote for your school.
All nominated schools will be listed on a contest page at this website. On that page you will be able to vote for your school. Voting will take place from 9:00pm CDT on Monday, Oct. 19 through 9:00pm CDT Friday, Oct. 30. Each person can vote once per day. Votes will be tallied at 9:00pm CDT each evening to determine who is in the lead and how each school is doing. Votes coming after that time will be counted with the next day's votes.
3) Share, share, share!
Give your school the best chance at winning by sharing the daily Facebook post or simply sharing the contest page via Facebook, Twitter or email. Each person can vote once daily and the more you share, the more votes your school will receive! The more voters you have, the better the prizes will be.
Because we really want to get a lot of involvement in this giveaway, we've done a tiered set up for the prizes. The more unique voters we get, the better the prizes will become. Here's what it looks like:
50 voters - A day of Skype interviews with the author and 1(one) signed copy each of Charming Academy and Finding Prince Charming.
150 voters - A day of Skype interviews with the author and 1(one) signed copy each of Charming Academy, Finding Prince Charming, and Prince Charming's Search
300 voters - A day of Skype interviews with the author and 1(one) signed copy each of Charming Academy, Finding Prince Charming, Prince Charming's Search, and Becoming Prince Charming.
600 voters - A day of Skype interviews with the author and 1(one) signed copy each of Charming Academy, Finding Prince Charming, Prince Charming's Search, Becoming Prince Charming, and The Ultimate Prince Charming.
1200 voters - A day of Skype interviews with the author and 1(one) signed copy each of the entire series: Charming Academy, Finding Prince Charming, Prince Charming's Search, Becoming Prince Charming, The Ultimate Prince Charming, and Prince Charming's Quest.
Any school which receives more than 100 votes will win 1(one) Skype interview with the author and will be given the opportunity to purchase signed books for their library at a specially discounted rate.
And don't forget, your school isn't the only winner. Everyone who votes will be entered into the Ultimate Charming Academy Fan Basket giveaway! This will include 1(one) signed copy of Charming Academy, 1(one) signed copy of Prince Charming's Quest, 2(two) original illustrations (one painted in acrylic on 8x10 canvas and one colored pencil drawing on 9x12 paper), 3(three) handmade bookmarks, 1(one) hand-painted figurine of Zephyr, and a baggie of surprise goodies.
Doesn't that sound awesome? Here are some things to consider:
Which schools are eligible? Any school worldwide whether public or private is eligible. We are also accepting homeschool co-ops for entry. Please note that the books are in English and the interview will be conducted in English. Shipping costs may apply to book winners outside the US.
What if I miss the Oct. 19 nomination post? Not a problem! Simply comment on the most current contest post on Facebook with your school nomination and get it liked by five people. Your school will be added to the page during our evening tally. Voting for your school would begin after 9:00pm CDT that night.
Do I have to buy anything? No. There is no purchase necessary to participate in the contest.
How do the Skype interviews work? Schools which win interviews will need to contact me to schedule a date and time for their interview. The grand prize winning school will need to schedule a date and times for their interviews. They can be conducted with the entire school, with specific classes, or specific grade levels at the school's discretion.
I have children in different schools. Can I vote for both of them? Not on the same day. However, since you can vote one time each day, you can vote for a different school on different days. While both schools won't be able to win the grand prize, you can help both schools reach enough votes to win a Skype interview.
Why do you want my email address? We are using email addresses to keep track of unique voters. While two people may have the same name, no two people will have the same email address. Your email will never be shared and we will only contact you if you win the Ultimate Charming Academy Fan Basket or you opt to sign up for our newsletter. After the contest is over, any email which has not been opted to receive the newsletter will be deleted from our files.
When will we find out who the winners are? The winning school and individual winner of the Ultimate Charming Academy Fan Basket will be announced during my Facebook release party on Oct 31.
Any other questions? Please ask them in the comments and I will get to you just as soon as possible. Let's make this a huge success!
I love being an author and I love delving into my stories. I'm not loving so much this wrapping up process. You know when you read the last book in a series and you cry a little to yourself? Yeah, being the author makes those emotions ten times as strong. The last book in my series is done and I won't lie to you. I cried as I typed, "And they lived happily ever after." Oh did I cry! While I know I can always return to Sanalbereth by reading my books or writing short stories (in the works) or potentially writing a spin-off series (sort of kind of really thinking about that one), these stories are finished. Writing "The End" are the hardest two words an author can write. At least, they're the hardest this author has written.
I first published Charming Academy just over four years ago. Now the last book is about to be published and I find myself reflecting back on the experience. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined myself at the point I'm at now. I have a Facebook fanpage with likes from people I don't even know! Well, not personally anyway. I know you through your comments, your likes and shares. I know what a tweet is and a retweet and I get ridiculously excited about both. I've been hosted on blogs by people I've met in person and others I've never had the pleasure of seeing outside of social media. I have a blog and a beautiful website that gets visited by people other than me! Slowly but surely, my sales trickle in. I'm not best-selling by any stretch of the imagination, but I haven't seen a lonely 0 in my sales in a few months, so that's got to be worth something.
This has been a learning experience, that's for sure. So much of what I learn, I wish I'd known before I got started. Like I wish I'd had all the amazing author friends I have now to help me spread the word about my books. I wish I'd gone into it knowing a little bit more about writing for an audience. While I still cherish my 240,000 word beast that was the first edition of Charming Academy, the newer version is so much better and I wish it had been the one I originally released. Especially since it has far fewer typos. I wish I'd known about blogging and sharing and tweeting and all the other things that go into marketing a book. Not gonna lie, I'm still learning and trying to figure that part out.
But I have loved this experience and I love that I've been able to share it with you. So for the remainder of this month leading up to the release of Prince Charming's Quest I am going to have a weekly blog post (and daily tweet/Facebook post) containing some confessions and secrets about the Charming Academy series. So, here goes:
Many of you know that the stories began as bedtime stories I told my youngest brother. Lucian's story was the first I told him and at that time, Lucian's princess was named Myrtle. My brother detested the name, which is part of why I chose it. But as I started writing the story, I realized Myrtle just didn't fit Lucian's spitfire princess. So her name was changed to Moira and the etiquette/tokens and gifts teacher at Fair Damsels Academy was given the name.
When I first started writing Charming Academy, my original plan was for the book to cover the boys' education and Lucian's quest which would weave into the other quests as well. Adrian and Kaelen were going to be the only other boys with stories of their own. Luckily for you (and for me), George and Jacobi were pretty insistent they had stories that needed to be told. That and the school years were taking a lot longer to put together than I had first thought. So I decided to break the story into a series giving each prince his own story and putting the school years in one story. The little boy's reaction in the epilogue of Charming Academy is actually the reaction I got from several readers when the book was first released.
Tears and Laughs and Laughing Tears
Every single one of my books has made me cry at some point. Some of them made me cry a lot. Fair warning, have tissues on hand for Prince Charming's Quest. But they've also made me laugh out loud, which has prompted funny conversations with my husband and/or children. It's hard to describe what it's like when I write, but imagine you're listening to someone tell you a story and you have to write it down word for word as they're talking. Usually it's not too bad, but those emotional scenes make typing really hard. And laughing 'til you snort makes it harder.
So those are the first confessions for the series. Do you have anything you wonder about? Any secrets you'd like to learn? Ask in the comments and I'll see if I can answer you. And don't forget the costume contest (see the blog post Have Costume Will Dress Up)! Which character will you dress up as?
Ah, fall! I love fall, much like the beloved hero of the Charming Academy series, Lucian. I love the colors, the smells and most of all the cooler temperatures. This is the time of year I start harvesting my pumpkins and turning them into pies, breads, muffins and more. Apples turn into butter, cider and applesauce. My house almost always smells like something is baking whether cookies, bread or cake. The air outside becomes crisp and it starts heading toward cocoa season. And there's always football to cheer for.
It's a beautiful time of year. Perhaps because during this time I prepare for the holidays. I start looking to Thanksgiving and Christmas, planning out what I'll do and who will be on my lists.
And of course, there's Halloween.
It was never a big deal in my house growing up. We never went Trick-or-Treating or dressed up. Instead we stayed at home with homemade goodies and watched the old Disney classic, Blackbeard's Ghost. It was fun and I loved it. But you know, I always kind of missed the dressing up. I guess it's the girly-girl in me that loves getting all dressed up. The imaginative side of me loves games of make-believe. So costumes always satisfy both sides of my personality. As much as I enjoyed our family's tradition, I couldn't help thinking that getting all dressed up would have made it even better.
Now I'm grown and yes, I dress up each year for Halloween. Mostly because it's fun to play pretend with my kiddos. I love seeing what they'll do. This year, Halloween will be even more fun as I celebrate the release of the final book in the Charming Academy series: Prince Charming's Quest.
My children are already begging to be part of the fun. My daughter insists on being Moira while my oldest son is set on being Lucian. The baby will be Torch, possibly a frog prince. We'll see. I'll be dressing up as Allegra and, if I can manage it, my Prince Charming will become Adrian.
But why should I have all the fun? With this being the release of the final book in the series, I want you to have lots of fun too! So there will be giveaways and games, but I'm going to tell you about the big one so you can start preparing. We're going to have a Costume Contest!
That's right! You get the chance to dress up as your favorite character, or any character from the series. And you've got lots of options. There are princesses, princes, witches, fairies, mermaids, dragons and, in the coming book, there will even be dwarves. You can be the hero or the villain, a friend or foe. It's all up to you. And it doesn't have to be complicated. The year Charming Academy was released, I decided I wanted to dress up as Phillipa Rosepetal, one of my favorite characters. Much as I would love to have one, I don't own a riding habit. So I modernized her. Jeans, inexpensive fairy wings, riding boots and a fluttery cardigan later Phillipa emerged.
Here are the rules:
1) Choose a character to dress up as. Don't worry if someone else is dressing up as the same person. If we have 15 Moiras it will still be a lot of fun!
2) Assemble your costume. It does not have to be expensive or handmade. And it doesn't have to be true to the time period. Want to bring Lucretia forward to the 21st century? Go for it! But you should try to keep true to the character's personality. Lucretia's not likely to be found wearing anything frumpy and in the books is only seen to wear red or blue.
3) Take a picture of yourself in costume and send it to me in an email before 10pmCST on Oct. 25. On Monday, Oct. 26 I will set up a Facebook album where the voting will take place.
4) After the album is released, vote for your favorite character costume(s) and share it with your whole Facebook world. The costume with the most votes will be the winner. Voting for the contest will go through the week until midnight Oct. 30. The winner will be announced on Oct. 31.
What is the prize?
This is going to be the grand prize of the release party. The winner will receive an ultimate Charming Academy fan basket. I don't want to spoil all of it, but there will be a hand-painted horse figurine, signed books, and other great prizes.
Start planning now and get your costume together. Not sure who to dress up as? Read one of the books and see who jumps out at you. Haven't read any of the books yet? Well, what are you waiting for? Get a copy today and start reading!
Good luck! Comment and let me know who you plan to be. If you want help costume planning, I'm happy to offer tips.
Jessica L. Elliott
Author, artist, mom and super-genius