A Much Arranged Marriage, or, Further Adventures With Tallis and Friends

Cover A much arranged marriageAs I said, I spent a little time reading over the long Christmas weekend, and one of the things I read was A Much Arranged Marriage, the newest book in The Port Naain Intelligencer series by Jim Webster. As usual, poet Tallis Steelyard and friends have become embroiled in a mystery, though this time in a rather less dramatic fashion than in Flotsam or Jetsam. But just because it didn’t start with a bang doesn’t mean it didn’t finish with one:

Benor is asked to help warn off a blackmailer who appears to be threatening a young girl’s chances of marriage. But the deeper he digs, the more dangerous things become.

It all starts with a request for help from Tallis Steelyard’s patron, Mistress Bellin Hanchkillian. She seeks to help the granddaughter of a childhood friend, but nothing about the situation is exactly what it seems. Once Tallis and Benor were on the job, I couldn’t stop reading – I had to know what would happen next. I read the whole book in one sitting, which is both good and bad. It’s great because it’s nice to read something a little shorter every now and then, but it also kind of stinks because I’m always left wanting more. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have to wait long between installments! 🙂

If you haven’t yet read A Much Arranged Marriage, what are you waiting for? It’s a great book, and I highly recommend it.

(c) 2015. All rights reserved.

I’m back!

Howdy! Did you have a nice Christmas? Are you all recovered from the hustle and the bustle? Or could you have used another day in your weekend?

Lord knows I could have. I spent Christmas with a migraine of epic proportions, and the day after wasn’t a whole lot better (though it did involve a Star Wars marathon, and really the only thing better than that is a Star Trek marathon, or possibly a JAG marathon). Thank goodness I was feeling better yesterday; though I still wasn’t back to my usual self, it was a definite improvement over the previous two days.

I had planned to do a bunch of reading over the long weekend, and while I did do some reading, I didn’t do as much as I had planned. I’ll be making up for it this week, though, and I’ll be sharing my thoughts on what I’m reading right here, so stay tuned!

And now, to bed. It’s warm in bed. It’s not warm outside. Winter appears to have struck at last, and now I must go hide. 🙂

Has winter struck where you live yet?

(c) 2015. All rights reserved.

Wowza!

DSC_0167Can you believe it’s the week of Christmas already? I sure can’t!

It’s been a crazy month so far and I suspect it’s only going to get crazier between now and the big day at the end of the week. With everything that’s going on, I’ve decided to take a little blogging break to catch up on my sleep and keep my sanity. Hopefully things here will get back to normal next week.

From my family to yours, merry Christmas!

(c) 2015. All rights reserved.

And now for the review!


Yes, that’s right, it’s review time! Because nothing says weekend like books, glorious books. 🙂

Okay, fine, nothing says it’s the weekend like sleeping in, but that’s not the point.

Books. That’s the point.

And this book is a fantastic one.

Literally. 🙂

The people here are as harsh as the landscape, but they’re not without their warmth, and in a land of perpetual winter, warmth is important. Heck, even in a world not cursed with perpetual winter, warmth is important. The warmth Marishka finds is not exactly conventional, which makes her story all the more intriguing.

How do you survive as an outcast in a place as harsh as Ingary? Beyond that, how do you thrive?

Read this book and find out. Seriously, read it – if I keep talking, there will be spoilers. 🙂

Bleizgeist is wonderfully evocative and beautifully written, the kind of story that sticks with a person. I can’t wait to read it again.

You can find Bleizgeist for sale at Amazon US and UK, and you can even get it in paperback! And with a cover as beautiful as this one, you’ll want it in paperback. 😉

In case you missed the blurb earlier this week, here ’tis again:

Ingary is a harsh land. Cursed by a perpetual winter, the isolated little town has all but forget why they worship the wolf.

Marked by magic she cannot control, Marishka is an outcast. Alone and starving she is plagued by geiste, the unconscious minds of the people of Ingary, roaming the wilderness as they sleep. Attracted to the gramarye in Marishka’s blood, the geiste give her no rest. Losing herself to madness, she is saved when she chances to fall in love. But when her affair is discovered, all hope is taken from her.

Beaten and lovelorn, she resigns herself to death.

And then the wolf walks through her door, and Marishka recalls the meaning of Bleizgeist—the spirit of the wolf.

And if you were wondering about the author, you can find her at her website as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and at the Bookshine Bandit.

(c) 2015. All rights reserved.

Love in the Dark


Today I’m happy to have one final guest post from Hazel Butler. Enjoy! 🙂

A friend of mine read Bleizgeist shortly after I’d finished writing it. Their response was two-fold. First, they asked me how I managed to write such dark fiction. Then, they asked me if I didn’t think it was a little too dark.

I was able to easily answer the first question.

I write a lot, and most of what I write is dark. I believe the reason for this is largely to do with my world-view, and my life experiences. I have not had an easy time over the years, for various reasons. The world has not been kind to me, and it is often equally cruel to others. Pretending this isn’t the case does nothing to improve the universe, it simply gives people a warped view of what reality should look like. I find it easy to write dark fiction—and in particular dark fantasy—because that is the world in which I have dwelt since I was young. It’s the only world I truly know. One of my favourite authors, C.S. Lewis, once said that, ‘Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage’. I couldn’t agree with this sentiment more, however I am also of the opinion that it does children—and adults—very little good to give them the impression there is no such thing as evil in the world, that good always triumphs, and that doing the right thing never necessitates an alarming degree of personal sacrifice.

Sometimes there are no happy endings.

Sometimes the princess falls under an evil curse and never wakes up.

Sometimes it’s Prince Charming who causes her downfall.

Dark Lords triumph (if you don’t believe me, then how do you explain David Cameron?).

Heroes fail.

Grand adventures may…

Why Write Strong Female Leads? Because You’re Still Asking That Question.


Back again today is author Hazel Butler to talk about strong female characters and what makes hers different. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

One of my favourite writers (and directors), Joss Whedon, famously recounted an incident with a journalist during an Equality Now speech in 2006. It went something like this: the journalist asked, ‘So, why do you write these strong female characters?’, and in the style we have come to love and adore from the man who brought us Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, and The Avengers (amongst other things), Whedon simply responded, ‘Because you’re still asking me that question’.

I’m fairly certain that everyone who has ever written a tale involving strong female characters—in particular a lead character—has been asked some variation of, ‘Why did you make your women so strong?’, and/or, ‘Why did you make your hero a woman?’

caI find it mildly ridiculous, but sadly not surprising, that this still happens. But it was a comment from a friend of mine after she read my first novel, Chasing Azrael, that really got me thinking about this. The friend in question is no chauvinist. She’s no stranger to strong female characters, in fact she’s all for them. What surprised me was her assertion that it was the first time she’d read anything wherein there was a strong female protagonist whose strength depended, not on her physical power or supernatural abilities, but due to her strength of character.

Andee Tilbrook is not a strong character because…

Unleash the Night: Dark Fantasy and Allegory


Today fantasy author Hazel Butler joins me to share her thoughts on Dark Fantasy and allegory.

Dark Fantasy has always been my favourite genre. Whether I’m reading or writing, it is a genre I return to again and again. This is partly due to my love of the dark, the gothic, the macabre, and the vaguely terrifying, but it is mainly due to the characters and meaning that often come with Dark Fantasy.

Mark Lawrence, Anne Rice, Joe Abercrombie, Stephen King, Clive Barker, even Neil Gaiman and Robin Hobb exist in the murky realms of Dark Fantasy.

It’s not a coincidence that almost all my favourite authors are on that list.

This is a genre that allows, far more than most others, for the consideration of characters, themes, and actions, which would otherwise be considered unpalatable in mainstream fiction. The ability this genre has to reveal and explore the darkest aspects of human nature and experience has always been appealing.

When I first put pen to paper to scratch out an outline for Bleizgeist, I had no idea it was going to be a Dark Fantasy tale. In fact, I was intending to write something a little more mainstream, a little more literary, something after the fashion of Rita Mae Brown or Sarah Waters.

What I ended up with was considerably different, but it should not have come as a surprise.

The character I had in mind, right from the very start, was a girl whose inherent nature was for some reason taboo. This made her an outcast, with few friends, no family, and only one means of survival—using the very nature that cursed her to her advantage.

I was looking for…

Bleizgeist!



Today I am over the moon excited to share a new book release with you. Bleizgeist, by the wonderful Hazel Butler, debuts today and I am beside myself with excitement. Hazel is a great friend, a wonderful author, and a talented artist, and I am so, so happy for her.

 Be sure to check out the Rafflecopter at the end – there’s a giveaway happening that you won’t want to miss!

Bleizgeist
Hazel Butler
Published by: Astrid Press
Publication date: December 15th 2015
Genres: Dark Fantasy, New Adult
Ingary is a harsh land. Cursed by a perpetual winter, the isolated little town has all but forget why they worship the wolf.

Marked by magic she cannot control, Marishka is an outcast. Alone and starving she is plagued by geiste, the unconscious minds of the people of Ingary, roaming the wilderness as they sleep. Attracted to the gramarye in Marishka’s blood, the geiste give her no rest. Losing herself to madness, she is saved when she chances to fall in love. But when her affair is discovered, all hope is taken from her.

Beaten and lovelorn, she resigns herself to death.

And then the wolf walks through her door, and Marishka recalls the meaning of Bleizgeist—the spirit of the wolf.

Goodreads / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Paperback

EXCERPT:

Eventually, I thought, death will come for me.

It was a comforting notion, and…

Christmastime is here…

Happiness and cheer,
Fun for all
That children call
Their favorite time of year…

It’s beginning to look a bit more like Christmas round these parts:

But it’s been warmish and rainy here the last two days. Last night while we were decorating our tree, we had a thunderstorm. That made it feel rather more like Christmas in July.

The kids had their annual 4-H cookie walk yesterday morning and then went Christmas shopping at a local church. We listened to Christmas music all day, decorated last night, and watched Home Alone 2 after the boys went to bed. It was a little bittersweet, though – we always decorate as a family, and this year Seymour wasn’t home to help out. Miss Tadpole took it pretty hard, and I agree – it’s just not the same without him.

Still, I’m feeling pretty cheery after all that Christmasy fun yesterday, and I’m looking forward to working on Christmas cards this afternoon. 🙂

Have you decorated yet? Do you go all out, or do you keep it to a few treasured things? What kind of Christmas traditions do you have in your family?

(c) 2015. All rights reserved.

Bound!

A while back, I had the good fortune to participate in a book launch for fellow Iowa author Stormy Smith. Today she’s back to tell us more about herself and her books.

Hi, Stormy! What can you tell us about yourself?

Stormy-Bio-Pic-200x300I am 33 and live in a suburb of Des Moines with my husband and two cats. I met my husband three months into our freshman year of college and we have been together for fifteen years this year! I work a day job and am currently pursuing my Masters degree from Drake University.

I love hot tea, dark chocolate and all things salty! I have a marketing background, have always read fantasy and wish every day that Iowa was on a coast.

At times like this, I wish it was on a southern coast. 🙂 And the Bound series?  What’s it all about?

The Bound series is all about finding yourself and becoming the person you were meant to be. I intentionally chose to write in the new adult age range because I feel like that 18-22 timeframe is when you experience freedom (both the good and the bad of it) for the first time. I wanted to remind my older readers what that time was like, and give true YA a preview of what was to come. I wanted to provide an outlet that showed them you could still make some wrong choices and come out on the other side if you leaned on your family and friends to help get you through.

The story itself focuses on Amelia Bradbury, a girl who knows she has magic but has always been told she has to control it and keep it in check. She’s given a brief few years to go to college and live her own life before she’s supposed to fulfill her end of a betrothal. During that time she finds her first best friend, a sassy southern girl named Bethany, and her first crush – Aidan. Her magic also starts to grow and become something out of her control. As Amelia learns more about the truth of her power and who she’s meant to be, she has to decide if she’ll follow her heart or fulfill her duty to her people.

What about Bound by Prophecy?

Bound_by_Phrophecy_1400x2100_px_300dpi_F-copy-683x1024Bound by Prophecy is book three in the Bound series. This first trilogy in the series is a complete story arc, but I’ve left doors open to continue to world. In this book you will learn the true origin of the Immortals and see the culmination of my characters’ growth. I put a lot into my secondary characters and they are just as crucial to the storylines as Amelia and Aidan.

Who or what inspired you to write it?

This series was inspired by…