Saturday, November 30, 2019

Friday, November 29, 2019

Free Short Stories (plus 250+ other books on sale)

Most of my short stories are in this sale for free. Plus, there are dozens of other great authors I know you want to check out!

Share with a reading friend!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thankful for... Trials?

This Thanksgiving, as I reflect on the last 12 months and everything that has transpired… I am thankful for trials. I know, that sounds like something delusional and maybe cynical, but hear me out. Our pastor referenced James 1:17 during our special Tuesday night service, and it got me to thinking. 

We often don’t see trials as God’s “good and perfect gifts,” but they are. According to James 1:3, the trying of our faith works patience. And patience builds completeness. I’m not a very emotional person, but I have cried more in the past 365 days than the five years prior to it. Some of it was a result my own stupidity and selfishness, some of it from the choices of others that directly affected me, some of it just life (changes), and some of it unavoidable trials.

I can honestly say, in looking back at the difficulties, heartaches, and worries I’ve lived through this past year, it’s been a good year. It’s been a hard year, but in the trials, I have seen God working in my heart to draw me closer to Him, to help me learn the Scriptures (not just what they say, but how to live them), to strengthen my relationship with my family and friends, and to strengthen me as an individual. I am not the same person I was a year ago, but that is a good thing. Because in these trials God has gifted me with, He has also used to grow me and work in me His beautiful purpose.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Retellings: Abigayle and Andora's Folly

Today marks the last day of my retelling blog series. It has been fun for me to get to know these lovely authors and their works. I know my TBR list has grown!

Meet Abigayle...
Abigayle has picture proof of being enchanted by books since before her first birthday. Jotting down her story ideas in spare journals and word documents came later, leading her to self-publish her first novel at eighteen. Now she’s dedicated to not only creative writing but to helping fellow storytellers refine their own words … when period drama films and wild mushrooms haven’t sidetracked her. None of her successes—from completed drafts to winning awards—would be possible without the support of her large family, online community, and Savior.

Social Media: @abitheauthor

Abi's Retelling...

A Pandora's Box retelling

Andora is a beautiful young woman with insatiable curiosity. Raised in splendor, she is spoiled by her privileged life. When a love letter is slid under her door, her life takes a drastically unromantic turn. Nothing makes sense--her arranged marriage, the gifts her parents bestow on her wedding day, or her new husband's temperament. 

As Andora begins to unravel the mysteries around her, she ignites a chain of events that have the power to sabotage her entire village forever. Only her new-found wisdom as a desperate peasant's wife can save her from her folly.

A Note from Abi...

If Amanda’s blog series has taught you anything, it should be that retellings are pretty common these days! When I decided to give a retelling a try for a writing challenge, I set out to find an obscure fairy tale to retell. Everyone retold fairy tales, right?

I struggled to find anything that caught my interest among the obscure fairy tales and anything that hadn’t been retold a million times among the common ones. Even most Disney princess stories are retellings, as the originals are much darker.

Then I remembered my love for Greek myths. Choosing a myth rather than a fairy tale was something a little different. Yet I decided on Pandora’s Box, a concept people are generally familiar with, even if they don’t know the story itself. This allowed an air of familiarity to play in my favor without giving my audience a whole bunch of pre-conceived notions of how my version of the story “should” to go. This also meant I could spend time developing the details.

Purposeful Details

One of my favorite parts of storytelling is infusing the details with purpose. For Andora’s Folly, I did this particularly with the character names. Andora was an easy substitute for Pandora, and for several characters, I used their original Greek (or sometimes Roman) name. However, most names are too cumbersome, so Prometheus was renamed Rome and Epimetheus was shortened to Theus. This was a fun way to draw parallels to the Greek lore and still give my own twist. 

Since I set Andora’s Folly in medieval England, I tried to keep it as historically accurate as possible. Because Greek lore is already so fanciful, I spent my energies grounding it in the real world, thus making it more relatable. I still blended some cultural traditions (like the names), historical elements (a potter and a shepherd), and myth with reality where I could. This meant most people consider my novella non-magical fantasy than true historical fiction. That sort of creative liberty is where the fun—and the challenge—came in.

Creative Liberties

As with any retelling, you have to eventually commit to departing from the original story in order to really make it your own. Come to find out, this was the hardest part for me. A well-done retelling merely springboards of some element of the original. The Pandora’s Box element I chose to anchor my version was the theme: a naive girl caving to curiosity and unwittingly unleashing a myriad of horrible “creatures.” 

Pandora’s Box itself is a retelling of the biblical story of Eve and the Fall. But Pandora’s story ends after she releases evils into the world. I wanted to write the end to her story. I set my character Andora in an already fallen world so she could have a character arc where she faced the consequences of her actions and learned from them. This was a fun theme to build on, easily lending itself to drama. And that’s finally where the pieces of my story were invented, falling into place to produce Andora’s Folly.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Deadly Deceit | Book Review

After reading “Living Lies,” I was pretty much in love with the nerdy Ryan Frost and knew I had to read his story. In addition, we get the whole reporter-with-a-stigma story with Vivian DeMarco.

Everything with the Watcher…! This was very creative and I enjoyed the bits and pieces that were woven throughout the entire story involving the Watcher. I’ll confess that I was wrong in who I thought the Watcher was, which actually made me enjoy it more.

The characters felt very real, with very real-life struggles. I’m a bit confused where the characters stand spiritually. Ryan definitely claimed to be a Christian from the get-go, but just when I thought maybe Vivian didn’t have a real relationship with God, she had just been mad at Him and was coming to terms with Him again. So yeah, the spiritual plot there was a little fuzzy, but it had a good message about forgiveness and moving on. Not a super strong spiritual plot, but it was there.

Being the non-romantic that I am, I would have preferred the story to be more involved in the mystery/suspense than in their romantic relationship. There was a pretty heavy infatuation line between the two of them. If I’m honest, I liked the last half of the book best, where things heated up with the suspense and their relationship was less obsessive. But I realize that this is me. They did kiss quite a bit and their thoughts often went to the physical attraction side of things.

All in all, it was a good mystery with likeable characters.

*I received this book from the publisher and happily provided my honest review*

About the Book
Independent and tenacious journalist Vivian DeMarco is back in Walton, Georgia, for one reason -- to do her job and get out. When her boss suddenly dies under suspicious circumstances, Vivian's only hope for finding the truth -- and the next big story -- is small-town law enforcement's lanky poster boy, Deputy Ryan Frost. But the deeper they dig, the more twisted the truth becomes. False leads, incriminating emails, and someone called the Watcher force Vivian to fight for answers -- and her life.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Retellings: Kendra and The Worth of a King

We're winding down all of the amazing authors and their retellings for my retellings series. I'm happy to introduce you to our second-to-last author, Kenda.

Meet Kendra...

Kendra's Retelling...
Book Description:
Princess Obsidia’s father was killed the night she was born. Since there was no male heir, the crown went to the man who killed him, by Dialcian law. This never bothered her, growing up, and when it comes time for Obsidia to choose her husband, she chooses Prince Delaney, the son of that man, with little hesitation. Only then does her life start crumbling around her.
Adrian expected to live a normal life, taking his father’s place at the print shop when his father retired. But, on his eighteenth birthday, when the princess’ engagement is announced, his world is ripped out from under him when he learns that his life was a ruse, and he is the twin brother to the princess – and expected to take back his father’s throne.
Delaney knows that his country is hovering on the brink of war – and that his father may harbor murderous intentions towards his intended bride due to her Zovordian blood. He wants nothing more than to protect Obsidia and his people, but as merely prince, he has little power against his father.
The ancient war between the Dragons and the Immortal King and Queen is nearing its climax, and the three are already caught in it.


When you Accidentally Retell a Fairytale
A Note from Kendra...
So there you are, confidently typing your story (unless you use pencil or pen - I flop back and forth myself, so have at!). Your story is awesome. The words are flowing and you know that what you have on your hands is definitely the next bestseller…

And then you realize that your totally unique idea might not be as unique as you’d like it to be. Maybe it’s something subtle - as you realize that your romance between your heroine and the outcast cripple has definite parallels to the tale of Beauty and the Beast. Maybe it’s more in your face - in that your whole plot of a fellow hiding in the woods and stealing from the rich to give to the poor … well, it’s just Robin Hood all over again, isn’t it?

Whatever it may be, I’m here to tell you - don’t panic. I’ve been there, it’s not the end of the world. My novel, The Worth of a King was supposed to be a completely original work of fiction, and I might have blissfully published the book thinking it such … but then the Five Poisoned Apples collection happened, and I was working on two other retellings of “Snow White” at the same time … and realized that there were a number of parallels between the fairy tale and my current project. It wasn’t a perfect play by play, but it featured a black-haired heroine who lost a parent on the day of her birth only to have someone who should be someone she trusted try to kill her when she got older, forcing her to flee and take shelter with … not dwarves, but the villain did have magic-mirror-esque tool with which to spy on her. 

I’d retold plenty of fairy tales before - to the point where I’d given myself the title of “The Arista of Fairy Tales.” Even when I’m not writing a deliberate retelling, I’ll make references (this one had already included one to Helen of Troy, Tristan and Isolde, and - if you squinted - the Little Mermaid). But I’d never retold a fairy tale by accident. 

But the fact of the matter is that most fairy tales are timeless because, at their core, their stories form the fundamental truths of humanity. Cinderella is the tale of how perseverance and kindness can raise someone from nothing. Beauty and the Beast tells us that love can overcome the prejudice of appearance. Rapunzel says that it only takes one person to break down the walls of isolation. Snow White gives us hope that our lives don’t have to end with one betrayal. The list can go on and on, for there are thousands of fairy tales. 

Fairy tale retellings are popular right now. In a time of shifting values, fairy tales may well be the last vestige we cling to of yesterday’s truths, and retellings are our way of bringing them into this era. Is it any wonder then that their themes will crop up even when they’re not supposed to? 

So if you find a fairy tale or other some such hiding in your book, don’t panic. Embrace the awesomeness!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Retellings: Camille and The Fairyless Tales

Today I'd like to welcome Camille to the blog. As with the other retelling authors, you can find out more about her book in this post--but you can find out even more because she's having an eBook sale right now for the book we're featuring today!

Meet Camille...
Camille was raised on a family farmstead, where she milked goats and daydreamed of becoming an author. At seventeen she began writing her first novel, and has kept writing ever since. She now juggles writing, raising a family, and (still) milking goats.

Camille's Retelling...

Kissing an apparently dead maiden was not what young king Gervaise had planned for the day. Nor was nursing her back to health and acting as her impromptu protector. Forced to face and counter danger for the first time in his life, Gervaise realizes he lacks the heroism he ought to have.

As the real source of the threat against his patient comes to light, the king-turned-doctor finds himself in the sole position to thwart an ambitious new ruler. But how can he save a kingdom that doesn’t believe it needs saving? And how can a coward such as he win the day with only a handful of men?

Find on Amazon

A note from Camille...
I well remember the first time I saw Ever After. When my mom and sisters decided to watch the Cinderella retelling, I politely declined. Ugh. Romance. Who needs more of that?

“But she climbs a tree in her underwear,” they protested. “You’d like it.”

I caved. I watched it. I loved it.

Kinda on the thin line between historical fiction and historical fantasy, some humor, some adventure, and a romance that wasn’t the sole focus of the story—that was my first taste of fairy tale retellings.
And that is the model I chose for my own venture in the realm of fairy tales. As I got ready to write Doctor and King, I asked myself this question: What real-life events could have inspired the story of Sleeping Beauty?

Then I added another question: How would the story look told from the prince’s perspective?
The result is the rather quirky tale of Gervaise and his struggle to understand true courage.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Retellings: Kirsten Fichter and Once Upon a Twist Tales

Another new-for-me author, and her books sound so amazing!

Meet Kirsten...

Kirsten Fichter is a twenty-something Christian writer who loves being the wife to her favorite person ever, mommy to two precious blessings, a piano enthusiast, a dragon buff, a serious bookworm, and an INFP synesthete. Fairytales have always fascinated her, and she has made it her goal to rewrite as many as possible and become known as the “Grimm Dickens” (i.e. mixing Grimm fairytales with a Dickens style). She is present in many online circles under the name "Kiri Liz" if you care about things like that. As you read this, she'll be somewhere under a maple tree - trying very hard to finish the seventeen and half other stories she unwisely started all at once.

·         My blog (Lianne Taimenlore) --
·         My book review blog (KiriBeth) --
·         My FB Author page --
·         My Instagram page --
·         The Rose and the Balloon on Amazon
Spindle Dreams on Amazon

Kirsten's Books...
Once Upon a Twist Tales are your favorite fairytales retold backwards and upside-down, with just a little bit of steampunk thrown in for fun.

A Beauty and the Beast Story (Once Upon a Twist Tales, #1)
In a kingdom where fauna and flora are held in higher esteem than breakfast, Dmitri is a prince who yearns for change and plans it in a single daring act that will alter his life forever. However, when his demented mother accidentally causes the destruction of a prized garden of roses, Dmitri is horrified when she proposes his hand in marriage to make up for it. Not only will a wife hamper his glorious plans, he doesn't even want one. Janelle has spent her whole life on her father's rose farm, tending the roses and staying simple. But she really yearns for something greater than the flower beds. But now there's a wrench thrown in the works – the crazy Queen Maeva wants her to marry the prince, and all for ruining her father's beloved roses. This is Beauty and the Beast with a twist like you've never seen it before.

Spindle Dreams: A Sleeping Beauty Story (Once Upon a Twist Tales, #2)
Marita Kadlec is the only daughter of Rohesia's poorest – and laziest – weaver. Her father prefers to spend his days gambling in the tavern, leaving the spinning up to Marita. She hates the family business because she's constantly pricking her finger on the spindle. She'd much rather be tinkering on an invention that she hasn't had the courage to show anyone yet. A special invention that will rid her of spinning for the rest of her life. Felix is a young nobleman plagued with the same nightmare – a giant machine, twisting and clanking, shrouded in fire, bent on pain and death. He's determined to find out what it means, no matter where the answers may lead him. This is Sleeping Beauty with a twist like you've never seen it before.

Coming 2020:  Diamond: A Rapunzel Story (Once Upon a Twist Tales, #3) – Teaser summary: She was never the one locked in the tower, but trying to hide him and his secrets may cost her life. 

Writing Fantasy Without Magic
A note from Kirsten...

I'll be honest with you -- it is very difficult to find fairytale retellings nowadays that don't include magic. It's even tougher to find FANTASY retellings without magic. Somehow, someway, magic must be included if it's to be considered a good fairytale retelling in a fantasy setting, right?


Scratching magic and magical components completely out of a fairytale doesn't make the story sub-par. True, most of the original fairytales include magic of some kind; that's what we've grown to expect of anything labeled "fairytale." But... if you know how to handle a good plot, memorable characters, and compelling dialogue, magic doesn't have to factor in for a second. It's a challenge -- but it's not impossible.

I appreciate a good challenge. That's what drove me to writing my own fairytale retellings. Besides myself, I know of very few authors who dare to approach retellings without involving magic of some kind. I've seen a lot of writers take to historical fiction as their genre, letting history speak through the fairytale instead of letting magic be the driving force. But I prefer to settle myself fully into fantasy, where I can control more of the details without having to worry about keeping things historically intact and accurate.

Plot and Fairytale Elements

When focusing on a fantasy without magic, plot is probably the most important factor of the story. Plot is always important, whether you have magic or not, since you have to have a good way to keep the story moving forward. But a fantasy story will fall apart if there's a boring plotline waddling down to the finish. For me, I let the "what if" and "but why" questions influence my plot greatly. A good way to do this with fairytales is to focus on one element of the original fairytale and flesh that out.

For example, with my Beauty and the Beast story, The Rose and the Balloon, I focused on the Beast's rose. Why was it so important? Why would it be so bad if someone messed with it/picked it? Even though the magical rose counting down the Beast's years from the Disney film isn't from the original fairytale, I knew I wanted to play with that. The trick was portraying the rose without its magic. Thus, a bit of steampunk entered my story, and we had a solar-powered rose. From there, the story kinda took off on its own. Magical elements don't have to remain magical; there are a million and one ways to explain why something happened without having to resort to magic.

Another fun thing to do with fairytale elements is to turn them completely upside-down. What if Sleeping Beauty's prince was the one with sleeping problems? That was the beginning question that sparked my retelling, Spindle Dreams. Right after that, I found myself asking "what if Sleeping Beauty was a spinner by trade?" Find ways to incorporate as much of the original as possible without involving magic to explain it for you.

Fantasy Genres

That's the other really fun thing about fantasy. It has so many sub-genres that you're never truly confined to the medieval-age tale with princesses and long dresses and tiaras. Fantasy has expanded to include aspects of steampunk, political epics, alternative history, and science fiction. And that's where you start when explaining a fairytale without magic. For the most part, we live in a world that is scientific and has an explanation for EVERYTHING. Let a book without magic do the same.

Consider this: steampunk alchemy would be a perfect solution for a Rumplestiltskin story, would it not? Ancient alchemists were always trying to turn something into gold. What about the magical fairygodmother? She supplies Cinderella with a dress and shoes, so it would make sense for her to be either a kleptomaniac or a seamstress. Rapunzel, honestly, is one fairytale that uses very little magic; instead of a witch, I turned the Gothel character in my retelling, Diamond, into an impulsive and successful gambler.

Fantasy sub-genres give you the leisure to explore a new side of fairytales. No one wants to open a retelling and have it match piece by piece to a Disney film adaptation. Disney is only another reteller when it comes to fairytales. And these sub-genres are something that Disney has yet to fully explore -- particularly without magic.

You can keep the fantasy-esque princesses and castles within the retelling, but you're not limited to that. And I think that's one of the reasons why we have so few retellings that tell the story without magic. We have a set idea that fairytales MUST include these elements, and so we include them. The beauty about a retelling is just that, however: it is a RETELLING. It doesn't have to be perfectly parallel with the original. We have the liberty to retell the fairytale in whatever way we want.

Magic: A Short Discourse

Now why bother with taking magic out of fairytales? Is there any harm to having magic in a fairytale? My answer: No, of course not.

Many Christians have problems with magic being present in literature of any kind. God is quite clear about condemning the use of magic in multiple Bible passages. I have done quite a bit of research on the subject, trying to learn for myself what God has to say about it. My convictions on the subject are pretty hardcore, and I realize that this is a highly controversial topic. But here's what my research has led me to believe and what I uphold within the world of literature. 

The danger with using magic in any book is that magic is real. The witchcraft that God condemns over and over in the Bible isn't a figment of people's imagination. It is a demonic power that can be copied in real life, and its source comes directly from the devil. 

Fairytale magic is just that. A fairytale. Legendary, mythical, and pretend. It stands clearly in a world of fantasy/make-believe and cannot be copied in our world. This type of magic, I believe, is not harmful, and is what makes up many of our beloved fairytales. 

For me, personally, writing with magic is a struggle. It can create a lovely, clean tale when used correctly, but it is also very dangerous. Because of that, I have decided to write my own stories without using magic at all. For me, non-magical fantasy, especially fairytale retellings, is an overlooked genre that deserves more attention, more fantastic books. So, if you're interested in following my writing journey, that's the niche where I'll be hiding. 

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Each Perfect Gift | Book Review

Happy release week to Alicia Ruggieri!

What do you do when the sins of your past rise from the dead? 

Ben Picoletti’s conversion astounded the little town of Chetham, Rhode Island – and no one more than the pastor’s daughter, whose heart Ben seeks to win… despite his shameful history. After all, the cross of Christ has removed Ben’s sins as far as the east is from the west, hasn’t it?

Yet, as Christmas 1937 draws near, Ben’s past returns to trouble him – and to force Ben to grapple with the practical meaning of forgiveness and grace in his own life… and in the lives of those around him.

A story for anyone who has ever been haunted by the consequences of choices they once made, Each Perfect Gift brings a message of the true redemption that is found in Christ alone.

Each Perfect Gift is the first story in the series A LEGACY OF GRACE, an off-shoot of the original A TIME OF GRACE series, featuring beloved Grace Picoletti and Paulie Giorgi. If you crave emotional, old-fashioned stories with strong spiritual heart, a reaffirmation of God's continual work in everyday people's lives and hearts, and memorable characters whose redemption is deep and realistic, you've come to the right place!

Find on Amazon | Add to your Goodreads' Shelf

More from Christian historical fiction author Alicia G. Ruggieri:
  • The Fragrance of Geraniums (A Time of Grace #1)
  • All Our Empty Places (A Time of Grace #2)
  • A Love to Come Home To (A Time of Grace #3)
  • A Holy Passion: A Novel of David Brainerd and Jerusha Edwards

My Review
I absolutely loved continuing the Picoletti/Giorgi families’ stories in this book! Ben was always the character that held my compassion and interest, so I was eager to see a book wholly dedicated to him. I’ll confess, this one took some turns I wasn’t exactly anticipating, but it made for a very good subject that believers should deal with in the reality of their past choices.

When I pick up a book by Alicia, I know that she’s going to have a very solid, Biblical message that gets to the core of the issue. She dealt with some touchy topics in here (recommended for conservative readers 18+), but displayed her characters in both a very real yet very Christian fashion. I absolutely loved that others could see the different in the “old Ben” and “new Ben.” I also really loved Annie’s story. She was a genuine character, even if she was genuinely wrong at times.

The salvation message was very clear and also very realistic—which is something I’m a tad picky on. Just because someone was presented with the truth did not mean they accepted it, and I like that presentation of reality.

Honestly, I didn’t love Betty. To me, she seemed almost stereotypical PK (preacher’s kid)—this is coming from me being a PK myself. I totally understand her temptations to pride and self-righteousness, having been raised in a godly family, but I really couldn’t empathize with her even when I tried. I think my favorite scene with her was when she actually seemed human, during the Christmas play.

All in all, though, this was a good and undeniably Christian read.

*I received this book from the author and happily provided my honest review*

Friday, November 1, 2019

Free today and tomorrow

You can still get "Wedding Score" free today and tomorrow! So hop over and submit your email for a free eBook!

Don't forget, if you are in the States and want a chance to get a paperback, enter the giveaway (which also ends tomorrow).

Once again, a shout-out to all of the amazing bloggers who helped make this release amazing!!!

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