Update: Life, NaNo, and All That

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post here. Yes, I realize that. And yes, I’m sorry.

But not that sorry since — in my absense — I’ve given birth to an incredibly cute and totally lovable baby girl. Our daughter, Lacie, was born on October 12th, and my brain still has not fully realized we’re now a family of five. FIVE. I have three kids, folks.

My eldest is only three and a half. Ani is super smart, so I’ve started homeschooling her, working through a K4 curriculum, but she’s also super stubborn which means we’re still working through potty training as well.

My second is fully Mama’s boy. Joey is rough and tumble and can hold his own pretty well against all odds, so I don’t think being bookended by sisters is going to hamper him any. He’s also showing an interest in potty training, which has made things — let’s say — interesting for me.

And my youngest is only two weeks old. It was my third non-medicated birth, and thankfully the shortest labor I’ve had thus far. Recovery wasn’t as quick as I’d hoped, but Lacie’s been a trooper with sleeping in 3-5 hour stretches during the night. I’m still trying to catch up on sleep — and I’ve had a LOT of coffee. But she’s totally worth it.

Now do you see why I’ve been gone so long? I love my kids, though. And I love being a mom. Wouldn’t change that for the world.

Even when I’m facing yet another NaNo with a newborn.

I know. I know. I’m nuts. I did NaNo two years ago with a newborn, and I told myself then it was a bad idea. I’m telling myself NOW it’s a bad idea. But it’s NaNo, for cat’s sake! How does one NOT NaNo? I don’t know if I’d know what to do with myself if I didn’t use November to write a mad dash of 50K words. (Actually, yes, I do know — I’d probably spend the whole month changing poopy diapers, kissing boo-boos, making chicken nuggets, and watching Tom and Jerry with my kids. P.S. I’ll be doing all of that in addition to NaNo this year.)

But to simplify things for myself, my husband has persuaded me to leave off jumping back into The Twelfth Kingdom. I’ve been working on that Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling for YEARS, not to mention for the last three consecutive NaNos. The manuscript is close to — I think — 280K words, and since I’m in the middle of writing a full-blown war, I don’t think I’m finding the end anytime soon. As much as I want to complete this story, I’ve realized that it’s too complicated to try to work on for this upcoming NaNo. So, I’m breaking my streak.

Instead, I’ll be doing something I’ve never actually done before — working on a secret project. Yes, that’s right. A secret project. Something not as big and complicated as The Twelfth Kingdom, but something I’m still super stoked to work on. And I’ve decided to call it: Operation Muttonchops. There is some logic behind that name, but not much. It’s mainly because “muttonchops” is just so much fun to say.

That being said, I don’t know how much I’ll be posting here on my blog during the month of November. Since Operation Muttonchops is a secret project, I won’t be able to share snippets during the month like I usually do. I will be sharing word count updates on my Instagram and Facebook pages, though, so if you’d like to keep up with me, you can follow along on those sites.

Anyone else out there doing NaNo? Tell me about your WIPs! Have you ever done a secret project?

God bless!

The Silmaril Awards ~ Come Vote for Us!

There. That’s enough. Let’s go.

Nicolas, my inspid brother, that is NOT enough. You need to write a full post after you do a title for one.

But the title has all the information the readers need.

Not really.

Fine. Hello, world! I’m Prince Nicolas!

And I’m the better twin, Princess Nicoline.

Better at being ugly, maybe. Ow!

You deserved that. Anyway, dear readers, some of you may know –

And some of you may NOT know –

That the Silmaril Awards are upon us once again. These Tolkien-inspired awards are given out every year to celebrate everyone’s favorite fantasy characters, whether they be heroes or villains, dragons or henchmen…

Or imps like me.

I cannot disagree with that.

And Nicoline and I have been nominated for Most Mischievous Imp for the second time in these awards! I think we deserve that medal, so you should really go check out THIS LINK and vote for us!

You could say “please,” Nicolas.

Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease.

But if you don’t want to vote for the mischievous and idiotic Prince Nicolas, I understand completely.

Hey!

But since Kiri’s books are all fantasy, all of the characters in Once Upon a Twist Tales are eligible to be nominated for these awards.

Really? I forgot about those other categories. I’m gonna vote for Samson.

Felix’s horse? Why?

Because if anyone is a more mischievous imp than I am, it’s Samson.

I still think you should have been nominated for Strangest Character. Anyway, please, readers, consider voting for us and possibly nominating others from our books. There are only a few days left to nominate and second your favorite characters.

And may the best imp win. All right, that’s enough. Now, let’s go.

Cover Reveal: A Villain’s Ever After

Today I’ve got not one — not two — not even three — but TWELVE cover reveals. Yes, indeed, the cover reveal for an entire series, by twelve fantastic fairytale authors. Guys, I’m really stoked about this one.

This particular series features the fairytale from the villain’s perspective — and whether or not that villain gets the happily ever after. Of course, we’ve got retellings of the classic favorites like Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella, BUT there are also some lesser-known fairytales mixed into the bunch like Bluebeard and Hansel and Gretel. AND THE STEADFAST TIN SOLDIER, which is a huge favorite of mine but has a sad lack of retellings.

Are you ready?

A Villain’s Ever After

~*~

The Beast and the Enchantress (Book #1)

Preorder | Goodreads

Author: Camille Peters

Retelling: Beauty and the Beast

Release Date: August 13th, 2021

Summary: If there’s one thing Astrid, an aspiring enchantress with budding magical powers, has learned throughout her studies, it’s that magic must only be used for good. But when an egocentric prince breaks her sister’s heart, Astrid’s only focus is revenge, and what better way to enact it than with a well-chosen curse?

A simple incantation is all it takes to transform the arrogant prince’s appearance to match the state of his heart. But something goes wrong, causing the spell to affect not only the prince, but its caster as well. As the curse begins to change her appearance to reflect the state of her own vengeful heart, Astrid becomes desperate to break it at all costs, even if it means entering the castle in disguise and interacting with the prince she loathes.

To her surprise, Astrid encounters not a conceited prince, but one very different from the one she cursed. She soon finds her heart softening, but not in the way she expects—she’s losing it to the cursed prince she has vowed to hate. The closer they become, the more desperate Astrid is to free the prince, and herself, from the curse. But in so doing, she may lose the man she loves forever.

For how could a prince ever love the woman who turned him into a beast?

~*~

The Sultan and the Storyteller (Book #2)

Preorder | Goodreads

Author: Lichelle Slater

Retelling: 1001 Nights

Release Date: August 20th, 2021

Summary: For thirty-nine nights, the sultan of Zunbar has chosen a new wife. For thirty-nine dawns, they are pronounced dead.

When Sultan Zayne summons my best friend to be taken as his newest victim, I can no longer pretend to be blind and volunteer in her stead. My only plan–weave a story each night and hopefully learn why he would kill in the first place.

I never anticipated unravelling the tapestry of lies.

But most of all, I never expected to fall in love with him.

~*~

Bluebeard and the Outlaw (Book #3)

Preorder | Goodreads

Author: Tara Grayce

Retelling: Bluebeard and Robin Hood

Release Date: August 27th, 2021

Summary: Marriage: the ultimate heist.

Robin of the Wood spends her days robbing from the rich to feed the poor. But she and her merry band of brothers never seem to get anywhere. The more she steals, the more the evil Lord Guy “Bluebeard” taxes the villagers.

When Robin discovers that Lord Guy plans to marry yet again, she conceives a plan for a final, big score. As Guy’s wife, she will have access to his wealth. The lord is notorious for killing his wives shortly after he marries them, but Robin has no plans to be dead wife number four.

The only problem is that Lord Guy is devastatingly handsome, brooding, and nothing at all what she expected. If she isn’t careful, she might just find that he steals her heart before she can rob his riches.

~*~

The Stepsister and the Slipper (Book #4)

Preorder | Goodreads

Author: Nina Clare

Retelling: Cinderella

Release Date: September 3rd, 2021

Summary: What if the prince fell in love with the stepsister?

Lady Charlotte needs a rich husband, and fast. Good thing she has plenty of beauty and charm, with no foolish ideas of love to get in the way of her plans. When the chance to catch the wealthiest, most eligible bachelor in the kingdom appears, she will do everything in her power to win such a prize; even if she must break a few hearts along the way. But in the end, it is her own heart that’s troubled. Perhaps true love really does exist, but if so, it’s not with the man she has caught…

~*~

The Goblin and the Dancer (Book #5)

Preorder | Goodreads

Author: Allison Tebo

Retelling: The Steadfast Tin Soldier

Release Date: September 10th, 2021

Summary: Grik the goblin spends his days as a janitor cleaning the Metropolitan Dance Hall, drawn to the Elvish world and tired of the darkness of his underground home. He secretly pines for the ballet company’s lead dancer, Rosanna, but his own ugliness and shyness stands in the way of confessing his love.

When a handsome rival appears on the scene, Grik’s jealousy bubbles over and he commits the unthinkable, plunging the threesome into a river and down into the depths of the earth.

Determined to redeem himself, Grik leads Rosanna and Paul through the place he calls home: but even a goblin can’t be prepared for everything that is found underground. Trapped in the dark, nightmares both within and without rise to the surface, threatening to destroy them all.

A magical and heartfelt retelling of The Steadfast Tin Soldier about finding your worth.

~*~

Hansel and the Gingerbread Queen (Book #6)

Preorder | Goodreads

Author: Lea Doué

Retelling: Hansel and Gretel

Release Date: September 17th, 2021

Summary: No matter how the sugar sparkles, never sample the sweets.

Evony is the daughter of a witch, with all of her reputation but none of her powers. She’s spent her whole life in the heart of the forest, safe from outsiders in a wondrous candy cottage as dangerous as it is beautiful. Kept company by a trio of tiny companions—a loyal gingerbread dragon and two mischievous brownies—Evony’s one desire is to find a place in the human world. But first, she must find a way to undo her mother’s spells and free the poor souls who fell to temptation. Only two obstacles stand in her way. A traveler with distracting molasses-brown eyes, and the one creation the witch left behind with the power to stop her: the gingerbread man.

~*~

The Dark King and the Eternal Dance (Book #7)

Preorder | Goodreads

Author: Alesha Adamson

Retelling: The Twelve Dancing Princesses

Release Date: September 24th, 2021

Summary: An unwanted proposal. An unexpected curse. Will Rayna, and her eleven sisters ever be free of the Dark King and his eternal dance?

Rayna is not usually the boldest of her sisters. However, when her eldest sister, Faelynn, seems ready to abandon her own happily ever after and accept the Dark King’s proposal, Rayna knows she must act and take drastic measures before someone gets hurt. Measures that just might cost her her heart.

Drake’s reputation as the Dark King precedes him—a reputation he doesn’t quite deserve. When the opportunity arises, Drake seizes the chance to barter for Princess Faelynn’s hand. Weaving his magic, he establishes a weekly ball to court his intended. After six months of rejection, something must change. He never anticipated finding Princess Rayna in his castle disrupting his quiet life.

Will he change directions and acknowledge his heart before it is too late? Or will he live up to his reputation as the Dark King, shattering more than one happily ever after?

~*~

Gothel and the Maiden Prince (Book #8)

Preorder | Goodreads

Author: W.R. Gingell

Retelling: Rapunzel

Release Date: October 1st, 2021

Summary: Deep in the forest, far from the light, a sorceress with magic of the blackest kind keeps prisoner the princess she stole away years ago. From time to time, a prince will come to challenge her, but by and large, life is peaceful for Gothel.

And that’s just the way she likes it.

She’s not prepared for the earnest young prince who seems more determined to talk her to death than challenge her to a duel of magic; nor, having tricked him into a battle of questions, is she expecting him to show more interest in her than the tower-bound princess.

And Gothel is certainly not prepared to give up any of her power to keep him around, though she might be prepared to answer just a few more questions…

~*~

The Sorcerer and the Swan Princess (Book #9)

Preorder | Goodreads

Author: Lucy Tempest

Retelling: Swan Lake

Release Date: October 8th, 2021

Summary: A usurped princess. A mercenary sorcerer. A fate neither expected.

As a crown princess, Ava has always anticipated betrayals—but never from her own twin.

The unspeakable treachery comes the night Ava meets her true love, when Lina hires the infamous sorcerer, Dietrich Von Rothbart, to turn Ava into a swan, and takes her place.

Kept across the mountains in Dietrich’s castle lake, Ava’s repeated attempts to escape, to return to her prince and life, keep failing. But in the last time Dietrich recaptures her, she gets close enough to glimpse the terrible truth of what she left behind—starting with that of her prince.

Yet, it’s Dietrich’s true motivations and the unique bond that forms between them that shock her the most.

Will she reject their burgeoning feelings and trust to undo his efforts and reclaim her kingdom? Will he risk the consequences of freeing her from his curse? Will their love survive the demands of duty, and the toll of resentment and threats? Or will it fade away with the moonlight at sunrise?

~*~

The Baker and the Wolf (Book #10)

Preorder | Goodreads

Author: J.M. Stengl

Retelling: Little Red Riding Hood

Release Date: October 15th, 2021

Summary: A mysterious stranger, an enchantress grandmother, and an overprotective mother. Can Cerise trust any of them?

Cerise DuBois might as well be invisible. Not even her scarlet cloak attracts male interest, and her mother begins to despair of snaring a husband for a boring middle daughter with no magic ability. If not for her baking talents, Cerise would be a hopeless burden on the family.

Or so she believes until a dark man with eyes like gold appears in the family bakery to deliver an invitation from a grandmother she has never met . . . and real trouble begins. What if everything Cerise believes about herself and her family is false?

Unlike other men, the stranger gives Cerise his undivided attention, yet he has a habit of vanishing when she needs him most—for example, when a huge black dog (surely it can’t be a wolf) follows her through the city park.

Worst of all, he claims that if she follows the magical path to her enchantress grandmother’s cottage, her entire world will change. Should Cerise trust this fascinating foreign mage, or will he eat her alive?

~*~

The Prince and the Sea Witch (Book #11)

Preorder | Goodreads

Author: A.G. Marshall

Retelling: The Little Mermaid

Release Date: October 22nd, 2021

Summary: All mermaids long for the magic of a human soul. Only Briony isn’t willing to drown sailors to get it.

She makes potions instead, earning a reputation as a witch and becoming a social outcast. When a little mermaid asks for a potion that can reunite her with the human she loves, Briony reluctantly agrees. But there is more to the mermaid’s plan than a quest for love. The more Briony interacts with the human prince the mermaid wants to claim, the more she suspects that he never loved the little mermaid at all.

Discover a retelling that turns the classic fairytale inside out and upside down. Where mermaids lure men to their deaths with siren songs and the sea witch will be the hero if she survives the final battle.

~*~

Carabosse and the Spindle Spell (Book #12)

Preorder | Goodreads

Author: Sylvia Mercedes

Retelling: Sleeping Beauty

Release Date: October 29th, 2021

Summary: Shy but magically talented, Princess Carabosse only wants to help her people as they face the looming threat of the Warlock King and his daughter, Aurora. Aurora was gifted from infancy with fairy blessings that make her the most lethal magic-user the world has seen in centuries . . . and she wants Cara’s kingdom.

The only hope for fighting off this deadly threat is the loyalty of the twelve Dragon Lords. They have sworn allegiance to the Briar Crown. But when the crown falls into Aurora’s clutches, who will the dragons serve?

Armed only with a humble spindle and a gift for spinning magic, Cara alone stands against the Warlock and his daughter. Will she find unexpected help from the twelfth Dragon Lord, handsome shape-shifter Torald? Or will the vows he swore to the Briar Crown force him to turn against Cara and serve the beautiful Aurora?

~*~

And there you have it, folks. Twelve brand new fairytale retellings heading your way. I’ve read stories from a bunch of these authors, and can’t wait to read these new tales. I’m also excited about about finding some new authors to love in this bunch, as — surprisingly — there are a lot of writers here that I’ve never read.

Hope you’re adding all these books to your TBR list! Which one are you most excited to read?

Book Review: Enchantment (The Kingdom Chronicles)

Title: Enchantment

Series: The Kingdom Chronicles (Book #5)

Author: Camille Peters

Release: 2020

Synopsis: When Maren runs away from the threat of a forced marriage, the last place she expects to end up is the Malvagarian Palace, home to the enchanted gardens, a cursed prince, and a magical rose that traps her there. Crown Prince Briar isn’t pleased to be stuck with a troublesome guest, especially one as mischievous and curious as Maren. She, on the other hand, is determined to escape, but instead finds herself inconveniently falling in love with him. Despite her lack of beauty, feelings steadily blossom between her and the prince.

Their budding romance is soon threatened when sinister magic begins to eclipse the enchanted gardens, a darkness which quickly spreads not only to the kingdom, but to the king himself. In order to stop it, Briar and Maren will both be forced to make a heart-wrenching sacrifice, only to realize that the gardens’ requirements may prove too high a price.

Inspired by Beauty and the Beast.

Review: This was a fresh take on the tale as old as time! I’ve not read anything by Camille Peters before, but I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. After you’ve read so many Beauty and the Beast retellings, they all come to feel the same — but this one was just a little bit different and unique. I really love when an author can take a super-familiar tale and make it her own.

Maren is a fun heroine, and right off the bat, we’re introduced her to feisty and tomboyish ways. Faced with the prospect of an arranged marriage to an older and abusive man, she takes matters into her own hands and runs away from her controlling father. En route to freedom and a new life, she stumbles upon a castle with the most exquisite gardens. Always curious, Maren decides to take a rest from running and explore the gardens a bit. After all, the magical vine gate let her in — so how bad can things turn out?

Very bad, in fact.

This Beauty takes a rose for herself and thus becomes a prisoner.

The Beast character, Prince Briar, felt very much like the Beast in the original fairytale. I’m becoming annoyed with how many retellings interpret “beast” as ill-tempered/anger-issues/what-have-you. The Beast (in most of the original versions) is actually a very kind creature, and it was so nice to have a retelling portray that side of him. Granted, Briar has his own share of magical difficulties in connection to the garden, and his descent into becoming the more typical, beastly behaved, and ill-tempered character is understandable.

Too often a BatB retelling just feels like a knock-off of the Disney film, but this book didn’t feel that way. I’ll admit — I’m one of those authors who enjoys poking fun at and making nods to Disney, but it’s super fresh when an author sticks to the original fairytale and doesn’t bother with Disney at all. Instead of a cursed castle and animate household objects, this book gives us a magical garden, one with several different themed plots, various plant life, and more — all on an ever-changing layout. And, of course, a magical rosebush right in the very heart of the garden. The gardens were basically a character all by themselves, and it was fun to see how they interacted with the two main characters. The topiary garden was a particular favorite, and Hibiscus was just adorable. Bringing the garden to life like that made the theft of the rose feel so much more meaningful.

I think my one main complaint was the coronation/ball scene — in which there were so many cameo appearances from the heroes and heroines of the other books in the series, it was almost overwhelming. Having not read the other books yet, I was fairly confused and completely lost on who everyone was supposed to be. I mean, I understand having fun cameos in books for avid fans. But dumping them all in at once and in one scene was perhaps too much.

Advisory: I want to talk about the romance for a bit, so I’ll go ahead and do it under this category. Yes, this is a BatB retelling; yes, Beauty and the Beast fall in love. You should have expected romance to be a big part of this book. I was very thankful to note that the insta-love of most BatB retellings was nowhere to be found. Maren and Briar slowly fall in love through the course of several events and interactions, and their affection for each other stems from a genuine friendship that’s super adorable and fun to follow along with. The whole beauty-lies-within theme is fairly strong throughout the whole book. Overall, the romance is very clean, with a few kisses and a LOT of hand holding.

With a magical garden obviously comes a lot of magic. It’s clearly in a fantasy, fairytale-esque world, and the magic stems from both the magical garden and the “evil stepmother” — the villain who’s at the heart of most of the royal curses so it seems. [SPOILER] With Briar’s curse and his connection to the garden, it made sense for him to succumb to his beast-like temperament when the garden was succumbing to the poison. However, I didn’t quite understand the connection between cleansing the poison out of the garden and Briar dying as a result; that climax felt a bit forced, and while I definitely felt the emotions of the scene, it also felt a bit senseless and anti-climactic. [END SPOILER]

Some fantasy violence, as a few characters are injured. [SPOILER] Maren’s father “sells” her hand in marriage to an older gentleman who is hinted at being abusive. [END SPOILER]

Conclusion: A solid, fresh take on the all-too-familiar Beauty and the Beast fairytale. I loved seeing nods to the original story, and the characters were fun and realistic. Definitely recommend this to all fairytale and/or BatB enthusiasts.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Curse of the Midnight King Cover Reveal

Hello, friends!

It’s been a while since I last posted, and that’s simply because I’ve been recovering from The Bear of Rosethorn Ring’s release and taking a creative refresher before I jump into my summer of writing book five, A Bit of Gold:. I’ll be posting more about book five throughout the summer, but if you’re dying to know more, here’s what I can tell you: It’s a Rumpelstiltskin retelling, AND Seth Stendahl will be returning as our lead protagonist. Can’t wait!

Anyways, we’re here to day to talk about another fairytale retelling. Not only is this one a Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling (which, if you didn’t know, is basically my FAVE), but it’s a mashup with Cinderella, too! How great is that?? We need more fairytale mashups!

~*~

About the Book:

Can she break the curse in time to save her sisters? She may conquer more than the Midnight King; she may learn to conquer herself.

Three years ago, Faye and her sisters were cursed by the Midnight King. Now, separated and alone, Faye only sees her sisters when she is dragged into the Underworld every full moon at midnight, and forced to dance with Pathos, the Midnight King himself. And Faye knows that their curse is her fault.

When the king of Eura announces a series of balls being held in the honor of his son, Prince Leo, Faye realizes she may now have a chance to help her and her sisters escape the curse. But things aren’t easy. For Pathos is determined to keep Faye in the Underworld with him.

In this retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses and Cinderella, Faye must sacrifice herself to save her sisters, or risk them being trapped in the Underworld forever, suffering from the curse she helped create.

~*~

And here’s the cover, ladies and gentlemen!

Curse of the Midnight King releases on November 9th, but you can already preorder your paperback!

The author is also running a fun preorder campaign that you won’t want to miss out on!

The first fifty people who preorder the paperback and send in their receipts will receive a handful of goodies from the author. These include—art of the main characters Faye and Leo, and of the villain, Pathos; three quote stickers; a bookmark; and a letter from the author.

Paperbacks not your style? If you plan to order an ebook, you can enter, too!

The first fifty people who preorder the ebook, once available, and send in their receipts will receive—three quote stickers, a bookmark, and a letter from the author.

All proofs of purchase can be sent to Yakira Goldsberry via private message on Instagram or Facebook Messenger, or through email at yakiragoldsberryauthor[at]gmail[dot]com.

~*~

About the Author:

Yakira Goldsberry started writing at the age of eight, when she first discovered the power of words. She has since then buried herself in the magical worlds of fiction–and has yet to return. Working as a book reviewer by day and an author by night, Goldsberry lives with her family on the East Coast. Her one mission in life–set the world afire with truth.

Giveaway Winners & Blog Tour Wrap-Up

Happy Friday, readers! And we’re officially at the last day of this blog tour. My stars, this week went by quickly!

I did want to take a moment to thank everyone who was a part of the blog tour, volunteered to be on the advance reader team, shared in the cover reveal, and generally promoted my book in so many ways. There’s only so much I can do by myself as an author (writing the book is the big part), but the promotion of so many friends and fans really means a lot. And it’s by your reviews and words that I’m able to reach readers I may not have reached before.

So, thank you. Thank you. Thank YOU. Your support means the world.

Well, folks, we have a giveaway to wrap up. I promised two lucky winners their choice of an ebook from my series, and now it’s time to reveal the names.

Congratulations, Ribbon Ash and Elizabeth D. Marie!

Please email me as soon as possible at liannetaimenlore(at)gmail(dot)com with the ebook title you’d like to receive! And yes, you can choose any of the four books published in Once Upon a Twist Tales. Click HERE to learn more about the books.

Don’t forget that the blog tour is still going on today — so there are still some fun posts to read before we end this party!

Here’s the full schedule of posts from this week, including today’s.

April 5th

April 6th

April 7th

April 8th

April 9th 

(I will update with direct links once the posts are live.)

Don’t forget to snag your copy of The Bear of Rosethorn Ring! It’ll be the perfect read for this weekend. *winks*

Did anyone catch the information I hid in a certain guest post and a page on this blog? I’ve released the title and fairytale I’ll be retelling for book five of this series… along with the hero it’s going to feature. *grins* Comment below when you find it!

God bless!

The Bear of Rosethorn Ring: The First Chapter

How is it Thursday already? This week has flown by! I can’t believe this blog tour and party is just about over. The Bear of Rosethorn Ring has already been out for two days.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s still today AND tomorrow to celebrate, and there’s still time to enter my GIVEAWAY for a chance to win one of my books. Additionally, The Rose and the Balloon will be FREE through tomorrow, so if you’ve not yet snagged your ebook yet you have until midnight tomorrow!

After two packed games (the SWRR Fairytale Tag and the SWRR Mad Libs — which I hope you played!), I think it’s time to slow things down a bit and do a little reading. After all, this is a book party, and where would we be if we didn’t have a bit of book to read? Therefore, I’m sharing the first chapter of The Bear of Rosethorn Ring here. If you’ve not read it yet, I do hope this will pique your interest.

Enjoy!

~*~

Chapter One

“Did you hear that?”

Marita tugged her horse to a stop. Nutbrown, as boring and complacent as her name, obeyed.

“Hear what?”

Diamond shifted behind her. “I thought I heard someone yelling.”

Marita pushed up on her heels to get a better view over the horse’s head. Beautiful, green forest stretched out before them, with nothing out of the ordinary that she could see. “I think we’re the only ones out here.”

Diamond sighed. “I’m blind, not deaf, but I think my ears are playing tricks on me.”

Marita reached back to squeeze her sister’s hand and found it up by her face. She must be adjusting the bandage again. Marita was still getting used to the thick, white bandage wrapped around Diamond’s eyes. Not that she’d ever actually seen Diamond before the accident, but she should know what her face looked like since the two girls were identical twins.

“Don’t worry about it,” she said. “Your eyesight will be back soon. Seth said it just may take a while.” 

“He still can’t forgive himself that it was his chemical that burned my eyes.” 

Marita huffed. “It wasn’t his fault our aunt was a witch. She’s the one to blame.”

Diamond’s voice softened. “She wasn’t a witch.” 

“Well, she tried to kill me and lied to you your whole life. What else defines a witch?” 

“Marita, please. I don’t want to talk about it.” 

Marita couldn’t agree more. It still boiled her blood to think of all the hurt Nellea Kwan had caused their family. Of course, our father is as much to blame. If he hadn’t gambled Diamond away, if he hadn’t lied, if he hadn’t gone behind my back… There were too many ifs to think about. “Well, we should…” She stopped. “That was definitely a cry for help.”

“Yes.” Diamond’s fingers fearfully tightened around Marita’s waist. “A man?” 

Marita grinned. “Don’t worry. He might be another traveler like Seth in need of your care.” 

She kicked her heels into Nutbrown’s flanks and urged the placid horse forward. It wasn’t fair to keep teasing Diamond about Seth Stendahl, but her twin definitely had feelings for the Trothen alchemist, and it was too much fun to remind her of them. Marita knew how to read love on a person ever since she’d found it with Felix Barath, who was – in her mind – the perfect nobleman.

The call became clearer the further they traveled. We’re going in the right direction. 

Diamond pressed herself closer to Marita. “Can you see anyone?”

“Not yet. It sounds like the call’s coming from the stream.” 

All too soon, they were coming out of the thick forest, and any concern Marita may have initially felt dissolved into giggles when she saw who’d been crying for help.

A lone gentleman, obviously wealthy by the state of his clothing, was leaning over into the berry bushes by the stream. His thick, white beard was very fine and would have hung to his knees except that it was hopelessly tangled in the thorny bushes. The man was tugging and pulling at the beard, wrenching it this way and that. To Marita’s eye, however, his vehement efforts only made the tangled mess worse. 

“Help me!” he shrieked when he saw the sisters. “Don’t just sit there gawking! I’m stuck!” 

Diamond’s hold on Marita tightened. “What’s wrong?”

“Stay with Nutbrown,” Marita told Diamond. “He’s just an old man who got his beard tangled in the thorns.” She swung herself off the horse’s back and approached the yelling stranger. “How did you get stuck in the first place?”

The man stopped tugging at his beard long enough to glare at her. “Odious girl! What does it matter, except that you must get me free?” He emphasized his words with a few more hard yanks. 

Marita raised an eyebrow at him. Clearly, this gentleman doesn’t have the same noble manners that Felix has. “I must?” 

“Well, you’re here, aren’t you?” the man returned hotly. “You have the gall to laugh at my misery. Your parents should have raised you to respect members of nobility. Especially when they’re older than you and clearly in need of desperate assistance.” 

Marita’s jaw firmed at his attitude, and she deliberately drove her teeth into her tongue to keep from saying anything. She prided herself on not having a quick temper, but she’d never met anyone like this bearded annoyance. 

“Do you need help?” Diamond called behind her. 

“No,” Marita said quickly. “I can do it.” She reached for the beard. How can I get this all off?

“Hurry up, you goose!” the man shrieked. “With all the time you’ve already wasted, I could have had someone else rescue me.” 

She couldn’t hold the retort back. “Would you prefer someone else?” 

“Just get me free! Whatever you have to do, do it now!” 

So, Marita did it now. She snatched off the knife she kept belted to her waist and, grabbing the entangled beard, cut it from the offending bushes. 

The man fell back with the loudest screech yet. “No! No, no, no!” 

Marita thrust her knife back into her belt. “What’s wrong?” 

“You cut my beard, you vile thing! How dare you?” 

“Sir, your beard was not going to be untangled quickly. The only way to free you was to cut it!”

“Do you know how long it took me to grow my beard to this glorious length?” he fumed, his face reddening beneath the white hairs of his beard. “Years! How can I return to my people without everyone laughing at me? Bad luck to you, wretched female! Bad luck to you both!” And with one last fiery glare, he turned and stomped away. 

Marita didn’t notice her mouth was hanging open until he was out of sight. “Well!” The word came out in a gust of unbelief. “Have you ever met someone so miserable in all your life? He didn’t even say thank you.” 

“Was it a bad cut?” Diamond asked, cocking her head. 

Marita tried not to look at the ragged edge of her sister’s hair. Diamond would know about haircuts, considering until just recently she’d had beautiful hair that hung down to her ankles.

“I barely cut anything off,” she grumbled, stomping back to Nutbrown’s side. “The old oaf was just over-reacting. No one will ever notice that he’s missing a few inches off the end.” She mounted the horse with a huff, trying to put the old man out of her head. “Let’s go home.”

The journey out of the forest seemed longer than the journey into it. When they’d ridden under the trees that morning en route to fetch Diamond’s medical books from her former cavern home, the day had been bright and fresh. Now, Marita just wanted to get back and forget whoever that man was.

Diamond was quiet, as usual, and Marita knew without looking that she was deep in thought. What her twin was thinking, she didn’t know, as she’d yet to learn to fully read Diamond. Plus, we’ve only known each other for less than a week, and it wasn’t her fault we were separated at birth. Maybe one day she’ll open up and talk to me more.

A rather handsome nobleman was waiting for them at the palace gates. Even if Marita hadn’t recognized his face, the lack of shoes gracing his stockinged feet was enough to identify him. A frisky, white stallion stood at his side, eyeing the riding cap on his master’s head mischievously.

Marita leaped off Nutbrown’s back with a grin. “Felix! You’re here!”

Felix returned her hug warmly. “Marita, darling, I missed you so much.”

The white stallion nuzzled her cheek, as if to admonish her for not acknowledging him.

“Yes, yes, Samson. I missed you, too.”

Marita stepped back and saw the grim look on her fiancé’s face. “What’s wrong? We weren’t expecting you back for another few weeks. You know you forgot your shoes again, right?”

Felix avoided a friendly headbutt from Samson. “I came early. And no, I didn’t forget my shoes. The new riding boots Father ordered for me were too tight so I ditched them. Much better this way. But we’ve got a problem.”

Marita frowned. “What problem? Is your mother calling off the wedding?”

“What? No.” Felix shook his head. “Here, Diamond, allow me.” He reached up and carefully helped the girl out of the saddle.

Once her feet were on solid ground, Diamond gave him a small smile. “Thank you.”

Felix turned back to Marita. “Mother’s going crazy with all the planning. She can’t wait to have you join the family. You know how much she’s always wanted a daughter.”

“Then what is it?” Marita folded her arms over her chest.

He looked reluctant to tell her the news. “Your father flew off in one of my aunt’s balloons. He’s been gone for nearly two hours.”

~*~

“We’re wasting time,” Felix argued. “Every minute he gets further away, and it’ll be only harder to find him.”

“Let him go,” Marita said. “I don’t see any point in going after him.”

“But he’s your father!” Felix protested. “If we don’t go after him, who will?”

Even though she couldn’t see her twin, Diamond could hear the huff of exasperation Marita released.

She didn’t understand it. How can she not want to go after him? Why does she have to be so stubborn? The discussion had only lasted a few minutes thus far, but already she felt it was pointless. Her sister’s mind was made up.

Merryweather, Marita’s dog, whimpered, his nails clicking against the stone floor as he approached. He hated whenever things got tense. Diamond had the sudden urge to call him over, as the dog had adopted her almost as quickly as she’d fallen in love with him. Burying her face into his soft fur sounded like a wonderful idea, but she didn’t want him to pull away from Marita. If that’s actually where he is right now. She was still adjusting to placing things in her mind by the sound of them alone.

Silence fell over the room. Diamond shifted in her chair, and her fingers tightened on the wooden arms. She forced herself not to adjust the bandage over her eyes for the fiftieth time that day. I wish I could see. Maybe having her eyesight back would grant her a portion of understanding her sister.  

Felix finally broke the quiet. “I love you, dear, but I believe you’re not thinking clearly.”

“Why?” Marita almost yelped. “You and I both know he’s not worth going after. He left on his own, and, if he wants to come back, let him come back on his own.”

“He’s had a rough past, yes, but I don’t think this is the time to give up on him.” 

“I’m through watching over him,” she replied. “I won’t do it anymore, Felix.”

He sighed. “I didn’t bail him out of trouble that one time just so you could give up on him now, Marita. I thought you forgave him?”

“That was before I knew what he’d done to Diamond.”

“Why now?” Diamond ventured aloud. She couldn’t bear to let the room fall silent once again. “Why would he leave us?” She swallowed a flash of fear. “Is it because of me?”

“Yes,” her sister responded, a touch of anger in her voice, “but not in the way that you think.”

“Marita? Did you speak with him?”

Diamond could hear the agitation in Felix’s voice. Did my sister speak to Father? It was still odd to call Lucas Kadlec that. After all, she’d only heard him called that blasted man for so many years by their aunt; she’d gone all those years thinking she’d never had a father that really loved her. Now, here was the chance to have that father, and he was gone. And in the few days I knew him, I couldn’t even see him. That hurt almost more than anything else.

“Marita?” Felix’s tone was accusatory.

“Yes, I spoke to him,” she finally said. “Does that make you happy?”

“What did you say?”

“He was babbling on about how he ruined our lives, how he didn’t deserve to have daughters like us, how his gambling made him an outcast. How Diamond and I would be happier if we’d never known him.”

Felix prompted her on. “And?”

“I just agreed with him.” Marita sounded guilty. There was a long stretch of uncomfortable silence, and then she hiccupped.

Is she crying? Diamond wanted to hug her sister, but she didn’t dare move from her chair when no one could help her maneuver around the furniture in the room.

Felix didn’t say anything, and Diamond tensed in the silence once again. Should I say something? She wished the two of them would come to a decision. For the last nineteen years of her life, she’d gotten used to Mother – no, Aunt Nellea – making the decisions for her and then telling her what to do. Taking care of Seth was perhaps the first independent decision Diamond had ever made. I just feel stuck waiting for someone to tell me what to do next.

Realization sunk in. I don’t need to have someone else make the decision for me, anymore. After all, she’d killed a bear, hadn’t she? I know what I want to do. What I need to do.

She pushed herself to her feet, keeping a hand on her chair. “I’m going after him.”

“Diamond?” Marita hiccupped again.

“I’m going after him,” she repeated. “Even though he may love his dice and coin more than his flesh and blood, he still deserves another chance.”

“I’ve given him several chances,” her sister muttered.

Diamond shook her head. “But this time it’s me giving him that chance. I’ve never been able to do that before, and I want to at least try.” She took a deep breath. “Family is important. I’m not ready to give up on him.”

Marita hiccupped several more times before she spoke again. “I still don’t think he’s worth going after.”

“But you’ll go with me?” Diamond persisted.

There was another long and agonizing silence. “For you, Diamond, I’ll go. But only for you.”

“And a fat chance of a golden rose if I’ll let you two go without me,” Felix broke in. “I’m sure my mother can survive wedding planning by herself for a bit. Besides, if Diamond kills another bear, I want to be there to see that. Or maybe this time I’ll kill the bear.”

Diamond shivered. “You can do it this time.”

Once had been quite enough.

~*~

What did you think of the first chapter? Intrigued to read more? Well, The Bear of Rosethorn Ring is available as both Kindle ebook AND paperback! YES, the paperback is now here — so don’t waste any more time ordering your copy!

Other fun links to note today:

April 8th Blog Tour Stops

(I will update with direct links once the posts go live.)

God bless!

Snow White and Rose Red Mad Libs

“Ah, look,” you say, “another game.”

And you’re absolutely right. Yesterday, I had fun putting together a little Snow White and Rose Red Fairytale Tag for you all (because who doesn’t LOVE a good tag promoting a little-known fairytale???), and TODAY we’re going to be diving into one of my all-time favorite games: the Mad Lib.

I had originally thought that I would be posting a bunch of dry, informative posts here all week to talk about my newest book, The Bear of Rosethorn Ring. However, I was overwhelmed by the number of sweet bloggers who responded to my pleas for a blog tour, and so many of them asked for a guest post. I feared I wouldn’t have enough topics and posts to cover them all, but many of them had great ideas of their own, and (though it took a while to type everything up) it was a cinch to put together so many guest posts on topics I KNEW people wanted to read about.

And then, since all those amazing bloggers had taken care of all those posts, I decided: “Let’s have fun here at A Synesthete Writer this week. We’re just going to party.” We started the party off with a GIVEAWAY, and now we’re into party game #2.

Rules

  1. Below is a snippet from Snow White and Rose Red with a good number of words taken out. YOUR job is to supply those missing words.
  2. Each missing word is in its own labeled category (Noun, Verb, Adjective, etc.), and you may write in any category-appropriate word you wish. (i.e. Noun = laundry basket; Animal = armadillo; Person = Samuel Jackson; Adverb = eagerly)
  3. Once your list of missing words is filled out, pop those words into the numbered blanks provided in the story.
  4. Paste the whole story in a comment for everyone to enjoy!

The Word List

  1. Noun
  2. Adjective
  3. Verb Ending in -ING
  4. Adjective
  5. Color
  6. Number
  7. Animal
  8. Adjective
  9. Verb
  10. Adjective
  11. Term of Endearment
  12. Noun
  13. Adjective
  14. Adverb
  15. Plural Noun
  16. Adjective
  17. Liquid
  18. Exclamation
  19. Adjective
  20. Adverb
  21. Famous Person
  22. Term of Endearment
  23. Adverb
  24. Emotion
  25. Sharp Object
  26. Plural Noun
  27. Noun
  28. Adjective
  29. Body Part
  30. Common Phrase
Image is not mine; this gorgeousness was painted by Richard Doyle.

The Mad Lib Story

One afternoon, Mother sent Snow White and Rose Red into the forest to fetch some (1. NOUN). There they found a/an (2. ADJECTIVE) tree which lay felled on the ground, and close by the trunk something was (3. VERB ENDING IN -ING) backwards and forwards in the grass, but they could not make out what it was.

When they came nearer, they saw a/an (4. ADJECTIVE) dwarf with an old, withered face. He had a/an (5. COLOR) beard that was nearly (6. NUMBER) yards long. The end of the beard was caught in a crevice of the tree, and the dwarf was jumping about like a/an (7. ANIMAL) tied to a rope, and did not know what to do.

He glared at the girls with his (8. ADJECTIVE) eyes and cried: “Why do you stand there? Can you not come here and (9. VERB) me?”

“What are you up to, (10. ADJECTIVE) man?” asked Rose Red.

“You stupid, prying (11. TERM OF ENDERMENT)!” answered the dwarf. “I was going to split the tree to get a little (12. NOUN) for cooking. We dwarves need but (13. ADJECTIVE) food; however, it gets burned (14. ADVERB) when we use those thick logs. We don’t devour such large portions as you greedy (15. PLURAL NOUN). I had just driven the wedge safely in, and everything was going well; but the cursed wedge was too (16. ADJECTIVE) and suddenly sprang out, and the tree closed so quickly that I could not pull out my beautiful beard; so now it is stuck and I cannot get away, and the silly, (17. LIQUID)-faced things laugh! 18. EXCLAMATION)! how (19. ADJECTIVE) you are!”

The girls tried very hard, but they could not pull the beard out, it was caught too (20. ADVERB).

“I will run and fetch (21. FAMOUS PERSON),” said Rose Red.

“You senseless (22. TERM OF ENDEARMENT)!” snarled the dwarf. “Why should you fetch him/her? You are already two too many for me; can you not think of something (23. ADVERB)?”

“Don’t be (24. EMOTION),” said Snow White. “I will help you.” And she pulled her (25. SHARP OBJECT) out of her pocket, and cut off the end of the beard.

As soon as the dwarf felt himself free, he grabbed a sack filled with (26. PLURAL NOUN) that was lying between the roots of the tree. He lifted it up, grumbling to himself: “Uncouth slobs, to cut off a (27. NOUN) of my (28. ADJECTIVE) beard. Bad luck to you!’ and then he swung the bag upon his (29. BODY PART), and went off without even once looking at the girls or saying, “(30. COMMON PHRASE).”

~*~

How did your adventure go? I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s versions of the story!

Snag your own copy of The Bear of Rosethorn Ring today to read *my* version of Snow White and Rose Red rescuing the dwarf. It wasn’t exactly mad lib style, but I still had a lot of fun writing it!

Don’t forget to check out the other fun posts today!

April 7th Blog Tour Stops

(I will update the links to direct posts once things start going live.)

God bless!

Snow White and Rose Red Tag & Release Day!

HAPPY RELEASE DAY! The Bear of Rosethorn Ring is HERE!

I’m still waiting for the paperback version to waddle through Amazon’s complex review system, but I will share the link to the physical book once I get notified of its going live on Amazon.

HOWEVER, if you can’t wait for the paperback, and need to read it NOW, you can click HERE to purchase your Kindle ebook and begin reading in mere seconds. Internet and technology are great like that.

In case you missed it the first time — LINK TO THE BEAR OF ROSETHORN RING ON KINDLE.

And don’t forget — books one and two of the series are currently FREE so you can snag half of the series without paying a cent. But you won’t want to wait on that since Spindle Dreams is only free through midnight TONIGHT. The Rose and the Balloon, however, will be free through Friday.

AND I’m hosting a giveaway for two lucky winners to receive an ebook of their choice. *nods* Yeah, we’re partying hard this week.

Tag Time!

Official Tag Graphic®

Anyway, it’s time to get down to the purpose of this post, and that is a tag. And not just any tag — it’s a SNOW WHITE AND ROSE RED TAG. Because let’s face it — SWRR definitely needs more love. Just *how* many retellings do we have of this fantastic sister story? Not many. If you say “Snow White” in most company, the response you’ll get is, “Oh, with the seven dwarves?”

*facepalm* Yes, we like that Snow White, too, but that’s NOT what we’re talking about. Snow White and Rose Red were the awesome sister-duo before Disney tried to steal that stage with Frozen.

So what do you need to know before we jump into the tag?

Rules

  1. Copy the tag questions and answer them for yourself in your own blog post.
  2. Link back to this post, pleaseandthankyou.
  3. Include the tag graphic somewhere in your post.
  4. Share the link to your answers in a comment on this post so I can read your answers!

If you don’t have a blog, or don’t feel like putting together a whole post for the tag, feel free to copy the questions and answer them below in a comment!

The Questions

  1. What’s your favorite fairytale? If you can’t whittle it down to one, give us a list!
  2. What’s your favorite fairytale retelling? Or retellings, since most of us have more than one?
  3. When were you first introduced to the fairytale Snow White and Rose Red?
  4. If you awoke one day, cursed and lumbering around as a bear, what would be the first thing you’d do? Do you know why you’re cursed?
  5. Snow White and Rose Red kept a pet lamb. What would your ideal fairytale pet be?
  6. If you were to have a color-based name like Snow White or Rose Red, what would your name be — and why?
  7. Snow White and Rose Red’s mother planted two rosebushes in front of their cottage, one with white roses and one with red roses. Would you plant roses in front of your house, or perhaps another plant? Why?
  8. A stranger knocks on your door during a blizzard, begging for shelter. Do you let him in?
  9. Would you rather have your hair (or beard) caught in a tree, in a fishing line, or in an eagle’s talons?
  10. The dwarf offers his treasures to keep himself from being eaten by a bear. What would you offer the bear to discourage him from eating you?

And that’s it; I hope this tag was a lot of fun! I can’t wait to read everyone’s answers!

Don’t forget to grab your Kindle ebook so you can start reading The Bear of Rosethorn Ring today! Will this be the very first SWRR retelling you’ve ever read? Let me know below!

Just one last thing to note before I sign off… other posts today you won’t want to miss!

April 6th Blog Tour Stops

(I will update with direct links once the posts are live.)

God bless!

Welcome & Giveaway!

GUYS. It’s happening! The Bear of Rosethorn Ring comes out TOMORROW.

Are you ready for it? I AM.

Well, today is Monday, April 5th, and we’re officially kicking off the blog tour here with a giveaway. This is actually the VERY FIRST giveaway I’ve ever hosted in conjunction with a book release — and really also the first giveaway I’ve personally hosted to give away one of my books. I’ve sent books to advance readers and participated in giveaways where I offered a copy of a book, but this is the first time hosting.

Pretty weird that it’s taken me four books to get to this point. *shrugs*

Anyway, BEFORE I get into all the details of the giveaway, I want to let you know of all the fun stops we’ll be making on the blog tour today. We’ve got a jam-packed schedule, and I CAN’T WAIT. For simplicity’s sake, I’m only going to be posting today’s stops here in this post. But if you’d like to see the full schedule, I’ll be sharing a full list on this blog/site’s home page, so be sure to check it out there.

April 5th Blog Tour Stops

Like I said, this blog tour is going to be PACKED with interviews, book reviews, and guest posts! You’re not going to want to miss a single post!

See the full schedule HERE.

Free Kindle Books!

As part of the celebration, I’m also running some of the Kindle books for FREE. Be sure to jump on over to Amazon to snag your ebooks if you don’t already have them!

~*~

The Rose and the Balloon: A Beauty and the Beast Story is FREE on Amazon April 5th through the 9th!

SNAG YOUR FREE COPY NOW.

~*~

Spindle Dreams: A Sleeping Beauty Story isn’t available for free quite as long, but it’s still FREE on April 5th and 6th — don’t wait to grab your ebook today!

SNAG YOUR COPY NOW.

~*~

Now, for the giveaway I promised.

Giveaway

I’m offering TWO (2) lucky readers the chance to win their choice of an ebook of one of the Once Upon a Twist Tales. Yes, if you so desire, you could win yourself a copy of the brand-new book that hits Amazon tomorrow. Or catch up on the Rapunzel story you may have missed last year, and have been dying to read. I mean, I naturally assume the winners will want one of those two books, especially since the other two books in the series will be up for FREE this week (see above).

How to enter? It’s easy.

Simply comment below (on this blog post) your answer to the following question:

If you were siblings with Snow White and Rose Red, what would be your color-based fairytale name, and why?

You may make up more than one color-based name, if you wish, but I’m limiting the giveaway to only one entry per person. One fairytale name/comment per entry. Be as creative as you’d like, and maybe add in how the fairytale might read differently with you as the third sibling there.

I will accept all entries until Thursday (April 8th) at noon (12pm EST). I will announce the two winners Friday morning (April 9th) in the blog tour’s closing post.

Get commenting! I’m excited to see everyone’s answers!