Dragonflower Cover Reveal/Compare

My retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses is currently with beta readers and I’m hoping publication is not too far away, so I decided to post the two cover designs I’m trying to choose between.

#1 – I think the “vine” option better reflects the story’s actual content, and I do like it, yet…

Created with GIMP

#2 – I also like the “flower” option (I think the flower is beautiful – unfortunately, it looks  nothing like the dragonflower in the story!). On the other hand, I do try to evoke the Garden’s beauty  in the story, so perhaps one could argue that #2 also reflects the story’s content – just in a different way!

Created with GIMP

 

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WIP Update (May)

When I last posted about WIP in January, my immediate goal was to write the third story in my World of Wonders Collection (WOW – and isn’t that cute?). I intended it to be a retelling of Sleeping Beauty…. and I still do, but how things can change in a few months!

Instead of writing WOW #3, I’ve made great progress in my retelling of Twelve Dancing Princesses (which is also intended to be part of a series – although a different series – projected to be six retold tales in all). Right now that draft (about 40,000 words) is “resting,” and then I will reread to (I hope!) tweak/polish for publication. Unfortunately my beta readers are all swamped at the moment so I’ve yet to get feedback, and obviously that is a factor in the publishing schedule! So stay tuned for further developments…. I think anyone who loves retellings of Twelve Dancing Princesses will find this one interesting!

But the project I’ve focused on most recently is From the Annals of the Dragon Slayer, volume 2  (the sequel to Dragon Slave) with the working title Dragon Game.  I started it in 2016 and then put it aside to finish something else, thinking I’d return to it shortly – but instead three years went by!

Several weeks ago I dusted off the draft because some Dragon Slave readers asked about the sequel. Interested readers are a wonderful inspiration!  And as I reread the draft and my notes, I was amazed to find it was much more well-developed than I remembered. Currently it’s 50,000+ words, and I’m pleased with how it’s shaping up! I recently received some beta feedback, however, that I need to think through, and I’m not sure how long that will take, so I haven’t been able to fix a publishing date yet. Will keep you posted….

Long story short: I hope (God willing) to publish something this summer, even though at this point exactly what/when is still up in the air! But did want to let you know there really are stories in the pipeline….

And whatever you are currently working on, I hope you are enjoying it!

Encourage Each Other…

The title of this post comes from the Apostle Paul’s first epistle to the church at Thessalonica: “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing” (5:11, NLT). I’ve just been greatly encouraged by someone I had the privilege of encouraging, so wanted to share with you.

I first became aware of DJ Edwardson’s work because he “liked” my review of Sinclair Ferguson’s very helpful book, John Owen on the Christian Life on Goodreads. This is not something you see every day, so naturally I looked at DJ’s profile and was pleased to discover he writes speculative fiction (which I love and aspire to write myself).  I read a couple of his short stories and appreciated them very much. Then I read his first fantasy novel, The Last Motley, which I loved and recommend. We ended up messaging about writing and books, and long story short: I sent him a link to my portal fantasy/allegory mashup Dragon Slave.

Although I was a complete unknown and don’t have many reviews, DJ took a chance and actually read it. Turns out he loved it and wrote a wonderful review.

I am so encouraged by his interest – especially because his response demonstrates God’s favorable answer to the prayer I prayed throughout the ten years I spent writing the book: that God would grant me the wisdom to represent Him faithfully, and that the result would encourage other believers (in a way similar to how much of C.S. Lewis’s work has encouraged me).

How kind of God to have allowed me to finish and publish a work that actually has encouraged another traveler on the Road to the Kingdom of Light! I don’t deserve the privilege, but I’m very grateful for it.

 

NEW! Review Page

I’ve just published a new page called “Reviews,” which lists the names of some of my favorite indie/small pub house authors, and links to some of the reviews I’ve published about their work on Goodreads.

I don’t intend to try to create an exhaustive list of all reviews I’ve written (as that is available on my Goodreads shelf, if you’re interested) – but thought it would be fun to hit some highlights!

COMING SOON (Lord willing!): Another new page called “FREE,” featuring (you guessed it!) free stories you can download at your leisure! This will be a modest effort at first (as it will take time to write a back catalogue!), and I have a bit more work to do to prepare, but I’m hoping to launch FREE sometime in March (again, Deo Volente!).

 

2019 Work in Progress

The last time I wrote a post like this (one year ago) I ended up developing health issues that prevented me from going forward with anything at all!  So I feel some trepidation about writing another WIP post. (Not sure if this is some latent superstitious quirk or not!)

At any rate, my goal at the moment is to write the third story in my World of Wonders Collection (this one is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty). I’ve outlined most of it and have a pretty good idea of what I want to do with it.

Beyond that – I’d like to be able to finish my retelling of Twelve Dancing Princesses (which I think is nearly done).  It was also intended to be part of a series – although a different series.  But we’ll see what 2019 actually holds as the days, weeks, months unfold… and hopefully the Polar Vortex does not!!!

Wishing you all the best as you launch your own endeavors in 2019 in whatever kind of work you’ve been given to do.

Best Read of 2018: The Last Motley

The Last Motley by D.J. Edwardson, available on Amazon.

Despite the unexpected health issues that forced an unplanned hiatus from going online for part of 2018, I was still able to download a number of books! Among the new (to me) titles I read, a few stood out:  in particular, Jack Lewis Baillot’s wonder-filled retelling of Beauty and the Beast/Christmas novella Finding the Magic, Intisar Khanani’s magical fantasy novel Memories of Ash, Ness Kingsley’s zany comedic fantasy quest Our Intrepid Heroine, and Suzannah Rowntree’s novella-length retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, the darkly fantastic The City Beyond the Glass.

The very best story I read in 2018, however, was The Last Motley by D.J. Edwardson. Here’s why:

1)  It is a well-written, classic fantasy quest set in a well-wrought world.  (Check out its page on Goodreads, where it is receiving stellar reviews! Many describe what a good read The Last Motley is in far more erudite prose than I will ever produce.)  If you love this type of story, The Last Motley is well worth the price of admission. The Epilogue alone is one of the most beautiful passages I’ve read in years.

Moreover, the focus of the quest is a child in peril, which is not a scenario this reader is likely to walk away from without seeking resolution! The inherent tension and sense of threat build from the very first chapter – and just at the point where I started to feel I could use some relief….

2) Nagan appears on the scene. He was totally unexpected, and turns out to be one of the funniest characters I’ve encountered in recent books. Many of his lines are LOL hilarious!  I was not expecting this, nor would I have believed so much humor could be woven so seamlessly into a plot that is overshadowed by so many real dangers.

Nagan himself is not immune to these threats – nor is he merely a comedic prop, for his character follows an arc I found myself caring about very much. The author does a masterful job of making comedy and potential tragedy work together in a single multi-layered tale. It just works on every level, and the book is all the richer and more engaging for it!

3) But what elevates this story above the horde of fantasies being published these days is the author’s choice of protagonist: instead of the standard-issue, know-it-all, angsty/callow youth, the protagonist of The Last Motley is a mature man of faith, a devoted husband, and a loving father. In fact, it is his fatherly instinct that makes him peculiarly suited for this particular quest.

Today’s popular culture all too often gleefully depicts fathers as the butt of a cosmic joke, the epitome of idiocy compared with their all-wise progeny. While it is true that many men never live up to their responsibilities to their offspring (choosing instead to bury themselves alive in their careers, or spend most of their free time vegetating in front of a wide screen as gamers or passive media consumers), the unsung heroes of our day are those men who quietly do their duty by their children, shaping their lives in countless positive ways–including their willingness to confess their faults and take steps to correct them.

For all of these reasons, I encourage you to read The Last Motley, and I hope you’ll let me know what you think of it!

Finally, I just want to thank you, D.J. Edwardson, for singing the virtues of flawed but faithful fatherhood in your beautiful story.  I hope you go on to write many more equally edifying and encouraging works!

 

Wonder Mountain Christmas Published!

Wonder Mountain Christmas (my novella-length retelling of Cinderella, featuring some of the same characters you met in Show of Wonders) is now available on Amazon.  You can also view it (and review!) on Goodreads.
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Book description: Min’s childhood in foster care was marked by loneliness, relieved only by her escape into books about the magical worlds of Narnia and Middle Earth. Now that she’s of age, she’s looking for a home in the mountains she’s dreamed of all her life–only to find that working as a server in a luxury ski resort is not only lonely, but thankless and humiliating.

And then, one snowy Christmas Eve, a stranger skis into the bar where Min is working and offers her a strange invitation that could change her life forever–if she has the courage to accept it.

Join Min in this heart-warming Christmas story as she searches for her true family and the home where she belongs!

Special Offer: Wonder Mountain Christmas is only 99 cents through January 6th on Amazon! Merry Christmas to you, and hope you enjoy it!

 

Show of Wonders Published!

At long last, Show of Wonders (my novella-length retelling of Snow White) is available on Amazon. I’ve also created a page for it on Goodreads.
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Book description:  Bianca loves taking care of animals backstage and out of the spotlight for the traveling circus called Show of Wonders. But then an unexpected event causes her to become a reluctant performer under the big top.

As Bianca’s popularity with audiences grows, she threatens to displace the reigning star of the show, a beautiful high-wire walker – who also happens to be Bianca’s stepmother. When Bianca discovers her stepmother’s jealousy won’t stop short of magic-fueled murder, she must rely on her own wits – and the help of some mysterious strangers – to survive.

Show of Wonders is available in e-book format on Amazon. Novella: 72 pages; 20,400 words.

Looking forward to hearing what you think of it!

Thankful to be a Finalist!

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2018 has been the most challenging year of my life due to a series of unforeseen illnesses that literally knocked me off my feet. And offline as well:  I’ve not been able to update this site since February, and I also had to stop beta reading for other indies and reviewing their work. But the most painful loss has been that I haven’t had the strength to write at all until the past week or so.

Before this trial began, however, I was able to submit a story for the Rooglewood Press Five Poisoned Apples writing contest (a collection of Snow White retellings). Although my story, Show of Wonders, was not one of the five winners that Rooglewood will be publishing as a collection (in December), I am thrilled to report that Show was selected as a finalist entry! (You have to scroll down nearly to the end of the list of Finalists to find Show – possibly because I finalized my entry just short of the contest deadline!) Not only that, but the judge awarded Show 49 out of 50 possible points, and said:

“This story was so original and immersive, it made for a great read!” 

Because of the judge’s positive response, I’ve decided to publish Show myself. I’m currently working on a cover, and if I’m able to get that done (meaning, my physical strength holds up and I can relearn the image editing program I haven’t used in more than a year!) I might even be able to get Show out sometime over the long Thanksgiving weekend.

So although of course I was disappointed that Show won’t be published by Rooglewood, at the same time being selected as a finalist has been the most encouraging experience I’ve ever had as a writer. Not only that, but I realize now that if Show had won I probably wouldn’t have been able to keep up with Rooglewood’s editorial deadlines (given my health problems). So in a very real sense, this has been a “best of both worlds” experience.

And I am truly thankful for it!

Next step: Look for another contest to enter in 2019!