Happy Book Birthday!!!

IT’S RELEASE DAY!!!

Happy book birthday to This Cursed Flame!

This book is finally out in the world and touching people’s lives! It’s been such a long journey, and I am so so thankful for all the people who have contributed along the way. There is a full list of people who have helped me in the acknowledgements section of my book, but I absolutely want to take a minute to thank my husband, family, friends, and all the professionals who have worked with me since the book’s story seed in 2011.

And thank you, readers, so much for taking this journey with me. I hope this book means as much to you as it has to me! And I promise, now we are back to our regular posting schedule (until the next release!).

Don’t forget to jump over to Facebook for the party tonight from 4-7 pm eastern, and put in your entries for the giveaways! I have hand-painted genie bottles, signed paperbacks, and signed bookmarks, all just waiting for a new home. Giveaways will be open until Monday April 29th, and then I will be choosing winners!

And finally, This Cursed Flame is available on Amazon (search This Cursed Flame if the paperback isn’t yet linked) and any other major retailer!

And now, your final excerpt…

Janan and Safiyya appeared in a shadowed corner of a loud, crowded city. Cars sped by with alarming disregard for pedestrians. People rushed about, some intent on the sidewalk ahead of them, some entirely engrossed in their phones. No one seemed to take notice of their sudden appearance, and, oddly, Janan couldn’t see any of the other djinn pouring through the portal with them.

Had the portal dropped everyone in different sections of the city?

They plunged into the sunlight outside the alley, and finally people jumped back. It wasn’t every day that humans saw an ocelot and a purple-eyed girl covered in blood and dressed in what looked like a costume. For all they knew, she was a struggling actress in a remake of Aladdin in her loose violet dress, embellished with gold embroidery and gemstones.

Janan looked around, trying to find someplace quiet, somewhere away from prying eyes.

“Janan!” Safiyya said, drawing a few puzzled and concerned looks. They ducked back into the alley before she continued. “Do you still have that bottle?”

Janan placed a hand on the wall of the building to steady herself and opened the bag slung across her body, feeling around for the wrapped bottle. It felt whole, somehow unbroken. “Yes, I think so.”

“Good, I have an idea! Put the bottle on the ground.”

Janan pulled it out of her bag and placed the unwrapped crystal on the cement between them. Icy fingers of fear clawed at her heart—fear for her family, fear for herself. She would never be safe. Never.

Safiyya sat next to it, turning serious eyes on Janan. “We have to do the Binding.”

“What?” Janan exclaimed, unable to control her reaction. Too much had happened, and she was past her limit. Her stomach turned at even the thought of using her magic, and she wasn’t sure she was capable of such an extensive spell. And Safiyya certainly couldn’t do it alone. “Isn’t that too extreme?”

“Extreme, yes, but what choice do we have? The others will find us, and this is our best chance to evade Ahriman.”

“But… here?” Janan looked around the trash-filled alley.

Safiyya also glanced around, glaring at a stray cat. The cat glared back at her with dull yellow eyes. “I can add a protection spell. Move the bottle somewhere safe.”

“Yes, please,” Janan said, her voice barely above a whisper.

Safiyya reached a paw over the bottle, and Janan grasped it. They closed their eyes, focusing all their energy, all their magic, on the bottle between them. Then, they concentrated on weaving their own energy into the crystal lattice.

As the attachment grew, their bodies phased out of physical being, becoming a light vapor that swirled in the weak air currents, mixing lavender and green smoke where they had been sitting.

Finally, the attachment complete, they became physical again and opened their eyes.

“We just need to hide long enough for the others to find us,” Safiyya said. “And you can get some rest in here. As soon as we’re inside, the bottle will take us somewhere safe.” Janan gave her a small smile, and they vanished in a swirl of smoke, disappearing into the top of the bottle.

This Cursed Flame: First Chapter!

Hey all! Welcome to the first stop on the This Cursed Flame Blog Tour! I can’t wait for you to see all the bonus content leading up to the release on Saturday, and what better way to start than to share the first chapter with everyone?

But first, here’s the blurb!

Look at this gorgeous cover!!!

Sometimes we put ourselves in the bottle…

Six years ago, Janan was transformed into a genie by an evil djinn, ripping her away from her home, her life, and her humanity. She has been on the run from him ever since. Worlds away, high school honors student Laurelin just wants to get into the chemistry program of her dreams.

When Laurelin discovers a crystal bottle that sucks her into the djinn realm, the girls find themselves working together to escape Janan’s creator and get Laurelin back home. But war is brewing in the djinn realm-a rebellion led by the same evil djinn they’ve been trying to escape. And he is determined to rule both the djinn and the human realms. As his creation, Janan is the one person standing in his way.

But to stop him, Janan must learn to overcome the fears he instilled in her and embrace her own dark magic while Laurelin must accept that some things are more important than an A+. Now, they will have to trust each other, and themselves, to stop the encroaching evil. Otherwise, both the human and djinn realms will fall to the tide of death and dark magic this war will unleash.

You can now pre-order this book on Amazon and any other major retailer! Also, if you prefer a paperback, those will be available through Amazon (insider hint: they’re gorgeous!) Also, be sure to head over to Facebook on Saturday for the Launch Party! (and your chance to win your own hand-painted genie bottle!)

And now, without further ado, the first chapter.

Chapter One: Janan

Fuego, Djinn Realm

Janan couldn’t breathe.

Tiny white dots floated in her vision as her heart pumped blood faster than her brain could use it. They obscured the beige and white masonry of the city, the multicolored throng pushing through the cobbled streets like strutting peacocks. All four types of djinn surrounded her: the ifrits with their fire magic, marids with their water magic, sila with their air magic, and ghul with their shapeshifting and electric magic.

And she stood here, alone in the crowd, unprotected, probably the only genie in the city. A half-breed of magic forever caught between worlds. Her human life still colored her memories, her behavior, but the djinn who had turned her into this had robbed her of her natural life.

And the djinn could tell, could sense her other-ness, as they gave her a wide berth or cast vicious looks in her direction. She thought eventually she would be used to it, but even an errand out to fetch groceries was enough to send her into a panic, even after six years.

She hurried to the side of the road, trying to hide herself from their prying eyes. Her breaths were shallow, and she wheezed as she tried to pull enough oxygen into her lungs. She could almost see his gaze everywhere she turned: the hate in that marid’s face, the same crimson tint in that ifrit’s skin. Like he was everywhere. Would she ever be free of this fear?

She drew her hood lower on her forehead and pulled her cloak tighter around her, trying to hide the raspberry color of her hair, a sure sign of her genie status, and her violet dress with the gold embroidery. She had loved it when her adopted father, Mahtab, brought it home for her birthday, but now it seemed like too much, too flashy, like it drew the attention of too many.

“Janan!” A voice rang out over the roar of a thousand voices.

Janan cringed, her head snapping toward the sound. Several nearby djinn craned their heads, also searching for the source of the voice. Her eyes landed on a small, beige feline with ebony spots. If she didn’t look directly at the animal, she could almost see the form of the woman beneath the spell.

“Safiyya!” Janan, still breathless with fear, pushed her way back through the people still separating them and knelt in front of her friend.

Safiyya of the House Grimalkin studied her face. “Everything okay?”

Janan almost laughed. No, everything was not okay. It hadn’t been for some time. Not since before, when she was still human, when she still belonged.

But he wasn’t here, at least not as far as she could tell. It was only her brain running away faster than reason, again, her terror resurfacing after months of dormancy.

Her terror had almost been gone when he returned only a few months ago, like an angry ghost from her past, wishing to exact some terrible vengeance on her for her very existence. Her Turning had been a mistake. And now it was a hurdle to him, to his plans, to the very future of the Realm.

At least that was what he had said. Right before attacking, driving her from her home to flee to Fuego with her adopted family. She had brought him down upon them, and now she saw him everywhere she turned.

“Yes, of course,” she found herself saying, rising to her feet and refusing to meet Safiyya’s bright emerald gaze.

She couldn’t tell her what was going on. Safiyya had her own problems. She was djinn, one of the shapeshifters, but she’d been stuck as an ocelot for as long as Janan had known her, much like the way Janan was stuck halfway between djinn and human. One day, maybe Safiyya would tell her what had happened, why she was stuck, but for now Janan didn’t see a reason to draw the cat into her imaginary nightmares. It was enough to share this unspoken bond.

Safiyya continued to study her, doubtful eyes traveling across the old scars marring Janan’s pale skin. There were no new injuries for her to see, but her friend’s gaze burned across her skin, and Janan tugged the cloak tighter still. If she kept pulling at it, soon she’d be a diamond from the pressure.

The cat dropped her gaze, returning her attention to the writhing mass of djinn in front of them. “Have you heard from the others yet?”

“No, nothing.” Janan touched the shining gem that hung around her neck, a simple piece of Torrebon technology carried by almost every djinn and genie in the Realm. It not only allowed them access to the human and djinn internets but also provided a simple means of communication with just a small spark of magic.

It was all the magic she could bear to use. She had almost convinced herself that if she didn’t use any genie magic at all, maybe she could be human again. Still seventeen, still awkward and scared, but human, with a family and a life and human problems. As it stood now, she didn’t really fit anywhere, and she felt the weight of it every time she set foot outside.

Safiyya nodded her head at the crowd, and they wove through the scores of temporary stalls lining the sidewalk for the weekly farmers’ market. Vendors on both sides hawked their wares: fabric bolts here, jewelry there, tiny carved statues from the ifrit city of Prinnyn, mechanical toys from the ghul city of Torrebos. The road had been blocked off from automobile traffic for the day, allowing the thousands of pedestrians to browse freely without fearing oncoming cars.

Janan tried to focus on the market and push her fear out of her mind. It was uncontrollable, arising unbidden and unwanted, but sometimes she could stuff it back down and ignore it for a while.

At least until the next memory took her.

Her bag bounced against her thigh as she walked. It held only a few coins and her single purchase of the day: a bright glass bottle to add to her collection. To her, it had become a joke, a way of coping with what she was. A genie collecting bottles. Some form of control over the prison of her existence. And this bottle had felt particularly special, but she couldn’t say why. Perhaps some subconscious ghost of memory. Heavens knew there were enough ghosts flitting around in her skull.

The sun was rising higher in the sky as the morning dragged on, but Janan still shivered with cold. He wasn’t here, she was sure of it—sure that her mind was just playing cruel tricks on her again—yet she couldn’t shake the way every djinn in a cloak, every turned back, every sideways glare made her feel like prey. What if he really was here, somewhere in this mass of bodies?

She glanced sideways at Safiyya. The ocelot was small, but she made a formidable foe. Surely Janan would be safe at her side.

Safiyya stopped walking and looked up at her expectantly.

“I’m sorry,” Janan said, blinking herself back to the present. “What did you say?”

“I just asked if you wanted a drink. I’m getting a bit thirsty.” They were stopped next to a vendor selling cold fruit drinks.

“Oh. Sure.”

Safiyya rubbed her head against a picture of a lemon below the counter. “This one, please.”

Janan pointed to the lemon drink and a grape drink in the displayed pitchers, trading a silver coin for the two glasses. They walked a few steps away before she placed the lemonade on the sidewalk for Safiyya, out of the way of trampling feet, and sat down on the curb. Her own straw halfway to her mouth, she suddenly froze, feeling the pressure of a person standing just behind her.

Her heart began pounding all over again. Sweat shone on her pale skin, and she wheezed for breath, unable to take a sip of the refreshing drink. No longer thirsty, she set the glass down next to Safiyya and turned to face the presence, ready to run or strike if needed.

A man in a cloak stood hunched behind her, eyes bright yellow against his pale blue skin, even shaded as they were under the hood. They seemed to glow with their own light, like a harvest moon on an otherwise black night.

As she saw the man, her heart began to slow its furious pace, and she forced a shaky smile. “Mahtab.”

Her adoptive father stood with his arms full of packages from around the market, grinning a sharp-toothed smile. She crossed her arms and pressed her hands against her body, willing the shaking in her fingers to subside. Her adoptive mother, Irina, reached a hand down to help Janan to her feet.

Irina, Mahtab’s wife of nearly a century, was the opposite of him in every way. Where he was blue-skinned and stood with a permanent bend in his spine, she looked like she was cut from the finest alabaster, her hair fine-spun gold and her posture tall and proud.

Janan allowed herself to be drawn up next to them. “Is it time to go home?”

“Did you find everything on your list?” Irina asked.

Janan blushed with guilt. In truth, she’d forgotten about the list after the vendor with the bottles. She had been so distracted with the bottle that she had missed half of the family’s produce, still on her list.

“I’ll take that as a no,” Mahtab said. He studied her, quiet for a moment. “But perhaps we can drop you at home and finish the errands ourselves.”

Janan closed her eyes. He had seen her fear, had made the decision that she had done enough for the day. She would remain a burden, unable to fulfill her duty to their small family.

She opened her mouth, intending to say no, to say that she could push through and finish their trip, but no words left her mouth, and she nodded in defeat.

“All right, then,” Mahtab said, nodding back. His face was kind, but Janan couldn’t bear to meet his eyes.

They turned in the direction of home, a small apartment on the west side of the city, and began pushing their way through the crowds. She was buoyed by the presence of Mahtab and Irina, feeling her confidence replace her fear with every step they took. Maybe she could make it after all.

She opened her mouth to say so when a small trio of smug-looking djinn leered at her.

“Filthy genie,” one of them spat.

“Don’t worry,” another snarled. “They’ll be gone soon.”

Then Safiyya was at Janan’s side, baring her sharp teeth. “Keep walking,” she growled low in her throat.

The third djinn rolled her eyes before following her friends. Her sighed words were soft, meant only for Janan’s and Safiyya’s ears. “Genie sympathizers. Just as bad as the genies.”

Janan dropped her eyes to the sidewalk and trailed after Mahtab, already several yards ahead of her. Perhaps going home was for the best.

~~~

Want to read more? Check out the masterpost of stops on the blog tour, or go ahead an pre-order your copy today! Again, you can pre-order this book on Amazon and any other major retailer. And don’t forget about the Facebook Launch Party on Saturday!

Blog Tour: This Cursed Flame!

One week to go! Here’s a list of the celebrations! 😀

Today is a very special day (also, happy Easter for those of you celebrating, and happy 1 year anniversary to my other half)!

My debut is less than a week away, and now we get to celebrate its release! Today marks the kickoff of the blog tour for This Cursed Flame. Some very kind bloggers/authors have agreed to help me celebrate with a number of posts that I hope you will all find interesting.

Here’s the schedule:

April 21

S. J. Eckert – Blog Tour Announcement
S. J. Eckert – First Chapter
H. L. Burke – Book Spotlight and Excerpt

April 22

Michaela Bush – Author Interview
S. J. Eckert – Character Interview (Janan)

april 23

S. J. Eckert – Bonus Behind-the-Scenes Material!

april 24

Michaela Bush – Book Spotlight

april 25

Kelly Jane – Character Interview (Safiyya)

april 26

Meg Dendler – Book Spotlight

april 27 (release day!!!)

Savannah Jezowski – Author Interview
Kandi Wyatt – Character Interview (Laurelin)
S. J. Eckert – Happy Book Birthday!
Facebook Launch party!

Be sure to tune in for all the festivities across the interwebs, and then head over to Facebook on April 27th for the launch party! We’ll have plenty of extras, behind-the-scenes, and giveaways for everyone (including hand-painted genie bottles, made by the author herself!).

Can’t wait to see you there!

~~~

Are you excited? I’m so excited! Let me know what you’re most excited about in the comments below!!! Then, head on over to the first stop on the tour!

My Favorite Genie Books

Wait, you mean there are books with GENIES in them??? GIMME ALL THE BOOKS!!!

We are just over two weeks away from the release of This Cursed Flame (and only a week and a weekend away from the start of the blog tour, starting April 21). So for the next two Fridays, I’ll be sharing things related to the book!

Today I want to talk about some of my favorite books and series that deal with djinn and genies. Genies aren’t common creatures for authors to use, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some really great stories out there that have them!

So without further ado, let’s get right into it! Here are some of my favorite books with djinn and genies.

Weather Warden, by Rachel Caine

If you’ve been around a while, you’ve heard me mention this before (maybe back in February?). This series is one of my favorite urban fantasies, and it specifically deals with the relationships between magically gifted humans, the djinn they capture and use, and the tumultuous planet under our feet. I greatly enjoyed the elemental nature of the powers and the complexity of the interactions between each magical thing involved in the story. And having a vengeful planet underfoot, one that seems to be sentient, well, that’s terrifying.

If Wishes Were Curses (Steel City Genie Series), by Janeen Ippolito

This one just came out earlier this year. It’s urban fantasy, takes place in Pittsburgh, AND features a genie… yeah, this was an insta-buy for me. And I didn’t regret it. This book had a fresh flavor of urban fantasy with unique shifters, lesser-known and lesser seen magical creatures, and a genie with wish magic. I loved every second of the read, and I cannot wait for the next book to come out!

The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker

This book was one of those more lighthearted fantastic romps. It felt like I was listening to someone tell me a story, which always warms my reader’s heart, and it stars a genie (jinni) and a golem straight out of Jewish folklore. The story was deep and engaging, and it was such a pleasure to read!

Rebel of the Sands, by Alwyn Hamilton

This one is a young adult book set in a desert country full of legendary magic (that a friend of a friend has seen) and gunslingers. It was such an interesting blend of Wild West and desert culture, and then the idea of the magical creatures layered throughout, including genies, just kind of sealed the deal for me. It was a fun, magical read!

Bottled, by Carol Riggs

This one is about a teen who was changed into a genie a thousand years ago and has been on the run from a power-hungry man who wants to use her magic to become even more powerful. The main character has faced classic genie problems, such as horrible masters and inane wishes, and in this book, she gets a real, kind master who wants to help. This was another fun, unique story that I loved!

This Cursed Flame, by Selina J. Eckert

And, of course, how could I have a favorite genie books post without including my own??? This book, if you haven’t been paying attention to me lately, is all about a girl who was changed into a genie by an evil djinn… and now he finds that her very existence disrupts his plans. And then there’s the science nerd human. The two girls are accidentally thrown together, and it is only with each other that they can save their worlds, and themselves, from the reach of this evil djinn. This book is full of magic, worldbuilding, and strong female relationships. You can pre-order it on Amazon or any other major retailer, and keep an eye on Amazon for the paperback, coming soon!

~~~

Have you read any other books with genies? Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear about some more!

Author Interview: Kandi Wyatt

Not so long ago, we had author Kandi Wyatt over for the cover reveal of her new fantasy adventure, An Unexpected Escapade. Now, we have her back to celebrate that same book’s release with an author interview! (PS, it releases today!!!)

Without further ado, here is my conversation with Kandi! (responses have not been edited)

1. Welcome! We’re so glad to have you back again! Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself and your writing journey? When did you start? When did you decide you wanted to publish?

So glad to be here. I’m a wife, mom of five, teacher, author, artist, and photographer’s assistant. To say I’m busy is an understatement. I’m down to only one child at home, and he’s seventeen. The rest are out on their own.

I’ve enjoyed writing ever since I was in high school, but being a mom, I didn’t have a ton of time to sit down and write. I read when I could and had other hobbies, but in 2006, after reading a young adult book by Timothy Zahn, I followed through with the discussion questions at the back of the book, and created a world of squirrel-like creatures and a little girl who was washed ashore. I wrote it for my kids, with the main character being patterned after my daughter. Another three years went by before I picked up another story.

On a family vacation my daughter jokingly said she’d been misnamed. She’s not a morning person, and her name’s Dawnya. I asked if she should be called Duskya instead. Several miles further down the road, we passed Three Mile Canyon Rd. I envisioned a dragon spewing fire down a box canyon. From that humble beginning flowed Dragon’s Future and the Dragon Courage series. Between December and July, I wrote four and a half of the six books. Then the muse went silent. I had said I’d not force the stories, so turned to drawing characters and scenes.

Fast-forward to 2015, my kids were now much older—one out of the house and three in high school. The middle son won a scholarship to a writer’s conference. I attended with him and my youngest daughter. While there, one of the presenters stated that her publishing company was accepting submissions. I immediately thought of Dragon’s Future. Returning home, I debated and debated acting upon the information. Finally, I hit submit without telling a soul. Three weeks later, I had to let people know and make another decision—should I publish it?

Upon careful consideration and discussion with family and other authors, I decided to publish. A year later, I had four books published and was working on the fifth, when the publishing company went out of business. That was another turning point in my career. I had the option of quitting or continuing as an indie or finding another publishing house. My choice seemed clear to me since I wanted control over my books. So, without any disruption in my publishing schedule, I went indie in June, 2016.

2. Is there anything in particular that often inspires you?

When I first started writing, it was my kids and students, but now more of my newer stories have been inspired by my husband. He’s asked “What if?” and posed ideas for a whole knew world. We also work together in creating photographs that tell a story. I’ve used several of those to write stories.

3. Do you have any favorite topics or themes to write about? What about to read?

I write about what interests me, but also what’s important. Many of my themes come from spiritual truths found in the Bible, even though they may be cloaked with fantasy themes or characters.

I love reading sci-fi and fantasy. Historical fiction, if well done, also is a favorite.

4. This new release sounds like a blast! What gave you the idea to write a unicorn-based story?

The bigger question is why did it take me this long to write a unicorn story. I loved unicorns from middle school and through high school, but then my husband introduced me to dragon stories. So, those are what came out first.

This trilogy is based on real-life. The town of Myrtle Beach, Oregon, isn’t based on Myrtle Beach, Virginia. It’s actually a blend of two town names in my area—Myrtle Point and Gold Beach. Several of my students inspired the main characters. While I was writing book 1, I had in mind book 2, but a student came up to me and said, “Señora, you should write a book about girls, horses, and the ocean.” She didn’t realize I already had in mind a story about girls, horses, and a unicorn with her as inspiration for one of the main characters.

Since book 1 had a dragon, I thought a unicorn would blend in well with horses. I wanted each book of the trilogy to have a different mythological creature. Little did I realize that the idea for book 3 would morph to include many beings from myth.

5. Did you have any favorite or least favorite parts to write?

Actually, yes. Book 2 took over a year to write as I tried to process my grief for the student who asked me to write the story. She lost both parents over the course of one year. In some ways she appeared to handle it better than I did! I didn’t know what I should do with the characters in the book—should I have them go through the same thing she did in real life, or should I change things? In the end, after a year of trying to write, I was able to sit down and keep some of the same things as the real-life person and adapting them to fit the story.

I loved how the character Will came about though. His character grew from book 1 to book 2 based on my own understanding of the student who inspired him. The quiet, steady personality of Will was what I saw in my student. I’m glad he became Ana’s friend and confidante.

6. Any hints about upcoming projects?

I don’t know about you, but this picture definitely makes me curious! Photo Credit: Eric Wyatt

Oh, wow! There are several, and if characters don’t be quiet the stories might not come out in the order they’re supposed to. I’m doing edits for book 3 which is to release in September.

Then the goal was to have an Ancient Egypt Biblical retelling trilogy ready for next January. I’m writing book 2 right now, but another story kind of took over this week. I thought it was a short story, but it’s all ready over 6,000 words.

I also plan to return to the world of Dragon Courage with a trilogy based in the Carr, one of the sections of that realm.

The short story very possibly will be a three story novella either published as three separates or joined into one long book. It looks like it’ll be the first in a new world inspired by my husband’s “what if” question.

7. Finally, is there anything else you’d like to share with us? Or anything you’d like to share with aspiring authors out there?

The best thing I can say for aspiring authors is to stay true to you, keep writing, and gather a team who has the same vision you do. I love working with my team. They make the journey so much better.

Thank you for reading. Tosca Lee, author of The Line Between, said that there are three people who make a book—the author, God, and the reader. This is so true. The reader brings their own experiences into the reading and the story is all the richer for it. I hope you enjoy Myth Coast Adventures. I can’t wait for readers to see the conclusion.

Thanks so much!

An Unexpected Escapade is out now! You can grab your copy here. And be sure to check out Amazon and Goodreads for more books by Kandi!

About the Author

Even as a young girl, Kandi J Wyatt had a knack for words. She loved to read them, even if it was on a shampoo bottle! By high school Kandi had learned to put words together on paper to create stories for those she loved. Nowadays, she writes for her kids, whether that’s her own five or the hundreds of students she’s been lucky to teach. When Kandi’s not spinning words to create stories, she’s using them to teach students about Spanish, life, and leadership.

You can find her at her websiteFacebookGoogleTwitterPinterestGoodreads, and Amazon.

Update:

Kandi notified us of an issue with her pre-orders on 16 April 2019. If you pre-ordered, Amazon mistakenly sent out the ARC version of the manuscript, instead of the final. To fix this, please go to your Content and Devices under your Amazon account and click Update Content. She apologizes for the confusion and mixups, but this is a quick fix to make sure you have the correct, final version!

Witching Hour Blog Tour: Interview with Pursy

Today is an extra special treat. It’s a story by an author I have worked with (the same fantastic lady who designed the cover for This Cursed Flame), and it’s one I had the extra special honor of proofreading (Part 2, that is). And I can tell you right now, it’s soooo good. Also, cats play a starring role. Can it get any better?

Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for the giveaway, and join in on the other blogs for books snippets, interviews, and more fun!

About the Book

Part One: As shadows encroach on the city of Lite, one cat stands between humanity and the hounds of darkness. Romeo takes it upon himself to find a suitor for his human Isabel in order to save the city and sets his sights on the unlikeliest of candidates. Can true love really save the day? Read Part One for FREE on Amazon and Most Digital Stores.

Part Two: When Isabel disappears in the middle of the night, matters take a turn for the worst. Romeo finds himself trekking through the dangerous wildlands to rescue the young queen with a clownish wizard, a sassy she-cat, a pretty healer, and a mysterious solider. However, their only hope may be the very thing Romeo fears most. Can Romeo and his friends save the day before the shadows consume them? Preorder for $.99/Releases March 25! Don’t forget to add the novella to your Goodreads Shelf.

The Witching Hour is a frolicking fantasy adventure with fairy tale themes and clean romance. Perfect for fans of Diana Wynne Jones and Lloyd Alexander.

Rated: PG for thematic elements and mild battle sequences

And now, the main event: Pursy Character Interview!

Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself. You seem like a well-traveled cat with tons of experiences!

Well, as you probably know, my name is Pursy. I’m a magical dark orange cat, and the royal healer Rose is my human. We don’t just take care of the royal family though. Rose would never agree to that. She has a big heart and wants to help everybody. A noble sentiment, but it can sometimes get her into trouble. And, yes, I am quite experienced, thank you for noticing; although, I haven’t traveled much beyond Rose’s flat, the royal college, and the palace. It isn’t safe to explore the world, you know. Too many hounds. The events of our story was the first time I’d really left the city. And I don’t care to repeat the experience any time soon.

Q. You spend a lot of time with your healer human. How did the two of you meet?

Rose found me when I was just a wee kitten hunting for scraps outside the dumpster near the college. She immediately noticed my talents and adopted me to help her with her training. She even took me to school with her.

Q. What was it like being a cat at a human school?

A little awkward, really. Nobody approved of Rose bringing her “pet” to school. I hate to use that word, but that’s what they called me. It’s quite the insult to a magical cat, you know. Anyway, although magical cats aren’t unheard of, the unmagical varieties are much more common. Her professor took a lot of convincing in regards to my superior qualities. Mostly, I just sat in Rose’s lap or sprawled next to the fire eavesdropping. They wouldn’t even allow me to take the tests, so I am not an official graduate of the college, although Rose insists I deserved certification. I don’t care about the papers, myself: I just like being useful, being able to help those who are suffering. Even cats have callings, you see, and healing is mine.

Q. Tell us a little more about your magic and how you help your human with her job.

I have a gift for emotions—specifically, I can share my emotions with others. So if someone is scared, I can calm them. If they’re in pain, I can lull them to sleep. I can even use my gifts on other magical cats. Like Romeo, the hero of our story. He doesn’t think he needs my help, but my Author insists he actually does. And I agree with her. I mean, look at him: he can’t even keep up with the palace mice these days. (That’s his job, you know, royal mouse catcher.)

Q. What are your other interests?

I love napping in the sunshine, when I can find an elusive patch of it. I also love snuggling with Rose. For a human, she has an uncanny ability to understand cats and relate to them. She treats me like an equal, something most humans don’t do. I also rather like helping people and creatures. I think I was always meant to be a healer’s cat. It’s just in my genes.

Q. After all the events outside of Lite, what are your plans now?

I plan to continue to help Rose with her duties as a healer and to spend as much time at the palace as I can. There are, ahem, creatures there I rather enjoy spending time with.

Q. Rumor has it that a certain kitty caught your fancy. Can you say anything about it?

Cough, cough. Well, since you asked, I am rather interested in a certain black kitty who lives in the palace. I won’t mention any names, but he’s rather charming in his egotistical, full-of-himself way. He doesn’t really think he needs anybody, but underneath all his fuss and bluster, he’s really just a kitten inside. He has a tragic past, and (sigh) I can’t resist a tragic kitty no matter how much he blusters. He needs me, even if he doesn’t know it.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Not really, Lady Selina. Your questions have been extremely on point. If you ever happen to be in Lite during your travels (not that I suggest traveling to Lite, though, because of the shadows and the hounds), do look me up. You’ll probably find me at the palace. I have a feeling I’ll be spending a lot of time there in the future. Who knows, I might even have a litter of little black and orange kittens for you to adore. Cats need to be adored, you know. That’s true for all felines, be that magical or no. Make sure you write that down…

Get a copy

In case you missed it above, you can read Part One for FREE on Amazon and Most Digital Stores. Part Two is available for a special preorder price of $0.99 and released on March 25.

You can also add it to your Goodreads Shelf.

About the author

Savannah Jezowski lives in Amish country with her Knight in Shining Armor and a wee warrior princess. She is the founder of Dragonpen Designs and Dragonpen Press, which offers author services such as cover design, developmental edits, and interior formatting. Her debut novella “Wither” is featured in Five Enchanted Roses, an anthology of Beauty and the Beast, and is a prequel to The Neverway Chronicles, a Christian fantasy series filled with tragic heroes and the living dead. She is also the author of When Ravens Fall, a Norse Beauty and the Beast retelling. She is featured in several Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies, including Mythical Doorways, Tales of Ever After, and Paws, Claws, and Magic Tales. When she isn’t writing, Savannah likes to read books, watch BBC miniseries, and play with cover design. She also enjoys having tea with her imaginary friends.

Learn more about Savannah Jezowski

Want to know about sales and new releases? Sign up for Savannah’s newsletter.

Giveaway!

You can enter to win a paperback of the entire story, both Parts One and Two! Simply click the link and follow the instructions. 🙂

Continue the Tour

Make sure to go back to all the previous posts for all the special release info and extras!

March 18 – Realm Explorers  http://anniedouglasslima.blogspot.com

March 19 –Book Spotlight http://cobonham.com

March 20 – Book Review  https://thefoldedworld.wordpress.com 

March 21 – Guest Post https://tammylash.wordpress.com/

March 22 – Character Interview http://jenelleschmidt.com

           Character Interview www.angeleya.com

March 24 – Character Interview  http://corinnejet.wordpress.com

March 25 – RELEASE DAY  https://dragonpenpress.com/

March 26 – Book Spotlight http://annie-louise-twitchell.blogspot.com/

March 27 – Book Spotlight  www.hlburkeauthor.com/blog

March 28 – Book Review  http://megdendler.blogspot.com/

March 29 – Character Interview https://sjeckert.wordpress.com

Happy reading, bookworms! ❤

Blog Tour: Kandi Wyatt’s An Unexpected Escapade (And Cover Reveal!)

Hi friends! I have a another special, not-regularly-scheduled post for you today. Today we are celebrating the cover reveal and upcoming release of Kandi Wyatt’s middle grade fantasy, An Unexpected Escapade! And make sure you read all the way to the bottom for a scavenger hunt clue, the cover, and an excerpt!

Here’s a little bit about it:

Protect friendship, family or a creature that’s not supposed to exist?

Ana and Daisy have been friends since third grade, but a rift in the space-time continuum in their little town may change that. When a unicorn waltzes into the pasture with Daisy’s appaloosas, a poacher, who will stop at nothing to gain the unicorn horn and its healing tears, shows up. Daisy is focused on saving the unicorn while Ana’s parents face sudden life-threatening health issues. When Ana learns about the healing tears, she’s forced to choose between friendship and her family’s health. 

Can the girls find the grace to compromise and save Ana’s parents and the unicorn?

Sounds amazing! And if you’re still not sold on that summary, how about a little taste of what you’ll find inside?

Daisy frowned. Usually, the horses waited for her by the barn. The drought this summer had left little grass in the pasture, and Daisy’d resorted to supplementing the horses’ feed with hay. By the end of the day, the mares were eager for their extra food, so where were they? She squinted into the fading light, catching a glimpse of speckled white rumps down by the woods. With a shrug, she hopped the fence and moved toward them, whistling.

Once she was close enough to see the horses more clearly, she realized that instead of two horses, there were three! Daisy rubbed her eyes and looked again. Sure, enough there was a third mare, but how in the world had it entered the pasture?

“G-ginger? R-root?” Her voice was barely above a whisper.

None of them moved. Daisy knew enough about the creatures to not approach a strange horse lightly. Aside from the dangers it posed in itself, a herd initiating a new member could have physical confrontations as they established the new pecking order—something she would not want to be in the middle of. But she also knew that any trepidation she felt would transfer to the animals, so she took a firm grip on her own fear before she stepped forward.

“Easy, girls. Who do we have here?” In the dim light she recognized Ginger’s distinctive spots and laid her hand on her horse’s rump. She felt the shiver of Ginger’s skin at her touch.

Daisy moved toward Ginger’s head, running her hands firmly along her coat and keeping up a soft litany of soothing words. Feet shifted beside her, and Daisy looked up to see Root, placing her other hand on the mare’s back. That left the stranger in front of her.

At that moment, the moon broke over the mountains to the east, shining brightly on the newcomer. The white coat glowed in the moonlight. Daisy blinked and shook her head, breath catching in her chest, while her hands moved of their own accord up to Ginger’s and Root’s halters. She stared. It had to be a hoax! Out of the horse’s forehead protruded a wondrous horn, equally beautiful and impossible.

Okay, okay, enough suspense. Here’s the beautiful cover for this adventure with heart!

Is this not a thing of beauty???

You can buy this gorgeous book here.

And if you looked closely, you may also have noticed that this is book 2 of the Myth Coast Adventures. Well, it turns out that you can also get book 1 on sale for only $0.99 from March 11-18. If you want to start from the beginning, sales are definitely the best time to do that! You can buy the book here.

Giveaway Scavenger Hunt!

Remember how I said this post is part of a blog tour with a scavenger hunt? Well, here’s the info!

First, here is your clue! (And if you are having trouble figuring out what’s in the picture, let me just tell you how much I love the smell and taste of cranberries in the fall and winter!)

Visit all the blogs participating in the cover reveal to gather all the clues and win a prize, a felted unicorn and unicorn charms!

So beautiful. So magical.

Here are the other participating bloggers:

Make sure you fill out this form to enter!  https://goo.gl/forms/UjLD2iJXyjFywNPA3

About Kandi Wyatt

Even as a young girl, Kandi J Wyatt had a knack for words. She loved to read them, even if it was on a shampoo bottle! By high school Kandi had learned to put words together on paper to create stories for those she loved. Nowadays, she writes for her kids, whether that’s her own five or the hundreds of students she’s been lucky to teach. When Kandi’s not spinning words to create stories, she’s using them to teach students about Spanish, life, and leadership.

You can find her at her website, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Also by Kandi Wyatt

Dragon’s Future: https://www.books2read.com/u/bzpDq9

Dragon’s Heir: https://www.books2read.com/u/47YQE3  

Dragon’s Revenge: https://www.books2read.com/u/b5qvGb  

Dragon’s Cure: https://www.books2read.com/u/47kxJa  

Dragon’s Posterity: https://www.books2read.com/u/4DA8og

Dragon’s Heritage: https://www.books2read.com/u/3neVN6

Journey from Skioria: https://www.books2read.com/u/4AwJee

To Save a Race: https://www.books2read.com/u/49PG5k

The One Who Sees Me:  https://www.books2read.com/u/mdrRlb

My Favorite Magic Systems

So far during Fantasy Month, we discussed favorite fantasy books, fantasy creatures, and genres and subgenres. I even revealed the cover for my upcoming portal fantasy, This Cursed Flame! So what can we possibly talk about today?

More fantasy?

You got it!

Today I want to talk about some of my favorite magic systems. But first, let me define how I view magic systems. To me, they are the foundation of how magic works in a story and the way that magic influences the characters and plot. If done poorly, they can be unbelievable and cliche. But when done well, they can be incredibly exciting and prompt great daydreams!

The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

I mentioned this one in my favorite fantasy books, and there’s a good reason for that. The biggest reason I love the book (I’ve only gotten through book one so far), besides the incredible worldbuilding, is the magic system!

In this series, magic is based on the “stormlight” from High Storms. It’s still a little vague to me what High Storms actually are, but the magic is light-based and storm-based. Without spoilers, they use stormlight to charge spheres, which they use as money (uncharged, dun spheres are almost worthless), and they have legends of Shardbearers who can use the stormlight to fight and power armor and weapons, as well as unique abilities only those with stormlight can wield.

Elemental Magic

I love elemental magic, which is apparently not that big in publishing. But I love the idea of elements (old, new, anything) being used as magic, to give characters abilities and strength… and perhaps also weaknesses. The Avatar and Legend of Korra series were my first big forays into this magic system, and to this day they are some of my truest fandom loves.

Baking Magic

Okay, I have trouble finding this one, so I don’t have many examples. But I LOVE magic systems based around baking and baked goods. The only book I can really think of at the moment is “The Cupcake Witch,” by Poppy Lawless, which involved a baker who finds magic recipes and begins baking spells for the town. And as much as I loved the premise, it was too short (novella) and I hungered for more. *ba-dum-chh*

I also have a writer friend currently writing a middle grade cupcake witch story *ahem* which I need in my hands ASAP! *ahem*

PS, if you know any good books or series involving baking magic, please tell me! I need them!

Music Magic

Orpheum by D.S. Murphy and This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab sort of have this? Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger duology has a violinist as a protagonist, but the magic there isn’t based around the music, which is what I really mean in this category.

But I love a magic system based around music. A magic that uses music to cast spells or do great things. As a long-time musician (pianist for… 23 years now?), I have a soft spot for stories that involve music in some way, even better if they are fantasy.

Again, I need more of these, so please share!

Art-based Magic

I’m thinking specifically Shadowshaper here, by Daniel Jose Older. Imagine being able to draw things to life! Let’s get some more of these, as well. 🙂

Concluding Thoughts

There are so many more magic systems out there: color-based magic like in The Color Alchemist books by Nina Walker, classic werewolf or vampire magic, ghost stories, mermaid stories, fae and faeries… but I had to focus in on a few I LOVE today, even though I love many others as well. In particular, I wanted to highlight the one super unique system from Brandon Sanderson and a couple I rarely see but want to see more, the baking and music magic.

Now, I want to know your favorite types of magic and magic systems! Tell me some of yours below, and if you know any good baking or music magic books, tell me those, too! Let’s talk!

All About Fantasy Genres

Fantasy is my favorite genre.

Okay, let me get a little more specific. Urban and contemporary fantasy are my favorite genres to read. For writing, I love writing contemporary and high fantasy.

Wait, is it really high fantasy? What about epic or heroic? What am I writing? What am I reading???

If you’re anything like me, you love fantasy, but you are a little fuzzy on some of the differences between the subgenres. So today I want to take a little time to examine a few of the lesser known genres and clarify the differences between some of the confusing ones.

Let’s start with something general.

Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction in which the plot and the worldbuilding revolve around magical or supernatural elements that are not seen in the real world. All fantasy can be divided further and classified according to various elements and characteristics, such as the grimdark versus noblebright classification (which I won’t go into today). You may not agree with the subgenres I call fantasy, but that’s okay! We don’t always have to agree. 😉

Low Fantasies

Low fantasy is fantasy set in the real world (low refers to the prominence of the fantasy elements in the story) and is also known as intrusion fantasy. Within low fantasy, there may be historical fantasies, alternate timelines, post-apocalyptic fiction (which could also be science fiction, depending on the story), or contemporary fantasies.

Contemporary fantasy is the wider term for what some people call urban fantasy. It is a fantasy story that takes place during the present day in the present world, or during the time in which the author lived and wrote. It often incorporates elements of real places and people to ground it in reality. The Lost Voices trilogy by Sarah Porter is an example, as it is a mermaid story set in the Pacific Northwest (but also the ocean) during modern times.

Urban fantasy, on the other hand, is a subgenre of contemporary fantasy. It still takes place in modern times in the real world, but it is specifically set in cities (hence urban). Popular examples include Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson books and Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files.

There is also paranormal, but the jury seems to still be out on exactly what this is and how it is defined. Some people suggest that paranormal is like urban fantasy, but instead of following a fantasy story, it has other genre elements to it, like thriller or romance. Either way, there appears to be a lot of overlap between paranormal and urban.

High Fantasies

High fantasy, often referred to as Tolkienesque or Lord of the Rings-type fantasy, is a fantasy set in a secondary world with its own set of rules and laws. Magic or the supernatural is highly prevalent in the world and the plot, and these stories are often associated with large, sweeping stories with grand stakes.

One confusing distinction in high fantasy is epic versus heroic fantasy. Epic fantasy are stories which often have large casts of characters, dramatic fights between good and evil, and plots on a worldwide scale.

Heroic fantasy, on the other hand, focuses more on the characters than the world. It often follows a hero or set of heroes on a specific quest, often with a good versus evil plot, on a smaller scale than epic fantasy. Some people refer to heroic fantasy as sword and sorcery.

Portal Fantasies

Kind of in between high and low fantasy are portal fantasies. These stories often start in a low fantasy setting (our world), but the characters are transported to a new secondary world for much of the story (hence portal). My upcoming release This Cursed Flame is a portal fantasy. So are the Kacy Chronicles by A. L. Knorr and Martha Carr.

Magic Realism

Here is another, similar beast. Magic realism is a bit of fantasy and a bit of literary fiction smashed together. In these stories, magic elements intrude on real life, but it is so smoothly integrated that it is often unclear if the magic is real or some sort of delusion. Many magic realism authors are associated with Latin America, like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but I would argue that other authors such as Neil Gaiman can fit this genre (I’m specifically thinking of The Ocean at the End of the Lane).

Science Fantasy

The last genre I will discuss today, even though there are many other possible subgenres, is science fantasy. Science fantasy is a unique blend of science fiction and fantasy in which both technology and the supernatural or magic elements play a role.

Sometimes steampunk is classified here, though I would say that gaslamp fiction is more accurate (think of gaslamp fiction like steampunk with more magic).

I would also argue that many LitRPG books could fit under science fantasy as well. LitRPG is a somewhat new genre in which much of the story takes place inside a video game world, like in Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It’s somewhere between science fantasy, portal fantasy, magic realism, and sometimes science fiction, in my opinion.

Concluding Thoughts

If I spent the time to discuss every potential subgenre of fantasy out there, we’d be on this page for hours. Just look at this site’s list! (Though I disagree with some of the lines they draw) But the subgenres I discussed above are some of the more well-known or easily confused ones, and those are what I wanted to highlight today.

So now I want to know what I missed; tell me some of your favorite fantasy subgenres! What other subgenres would you like to discuss? Do you disagree with anything above? Let’s talk in the comments!

Continuing Fantasy Month

This post is part of the Fantasy Month blog tour! But did you know there’s a whole list of posts like this here? You can see the previous post here, too. So jump in to the other blogs, hop onto Twitter for the hashtag game, and let’s have some fun!

Other Participating Blogs

There are a ton of bloggers participating in February is Fantasy Month. Here is a list (and hopefully I didn’t miss anyone!):

My Favorite Fantasy Creatures

Okay, so I know I posted already this week (yay, cover reveal!), but I don’t want to skip Friday’s post! So in the spirit of Fantasy Month, I decided I would discuss some of my favorite fantasy creatures and maybe find out some of yours!

Werewolves

Yes. Werewolves. And all other types of were-creatures. I know they’re one of the cliche fantasy creatures, but they fascinate me, the way there’s the instinct of a beast at war with the logic of a human. And then the mythology that authors build into those worlds is awesome!

Shapeshifters

Kind of like werewolves, but what I like about shifters is that they’re a little less common… and they can have all kinds of origins. Like Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson, who is a coyote shifter based on her heritage. And then there are all kinds of fae who can change shape. And these kinds of shapeshifters, unlike were-creatures, don’t show up in much fiction.

Mermaids

A few years ago, I would never have said anything special about mermaids. But for some reason, they have attracted me greatly in the past few years. I’ve read several books and series, and I just love the idea of creatures who live in the ocean, who can blend in with humans (in some cases), and the unique trials that accompany many of the mythologies. Perhaps I have the TV show H2O to blame, because that was my first foray into mermaid fiction… and I still re-watch it regularly. In fact, it may be about time for another round…

Genies and Djinn

Okay, did you really expect me not to have this on the list? I mean, I am releasing a book all about genies and djinn in April…

I love the mythology about djinn and genies, and after the research I had done for the book, I learned so much about how it influenced mythology of creatures like ghouls (ghul) and how it has changed over time and place. The elemental aspect to different kinds of djinn is fascinating to me as well (I probably have Avatar: The Last Airbender to thank for that).

And then there’s the fact that there really aren’t that many djinn/genie books out there. To me, it still feels refreshing and new, something not overdone.

Concluding Thoughts

I want to mention that while I love most kinds of fantasy creatures, there are also those I don’t like… particularly vampires. There’s just something about them I can’t stand. And while I personally believe in angels and demons, I do not appreciate them in fiction and would rather not read about them. So I suppose those are my two fantasy creature dealbreakers.

But I’m curious what other creatures I may not have thought about. I have considered zombies, unicorns, kelpies, and other types of fae, but I know there are way more things out there.

So what are your favorite fantasy creatures? What creatures are your fiction dealbreakers? Tell me below, I want to hear about all the creatures!