Saturday, July 20, 2019

Top 3 Newsletter Quotes of the Month (Laurie)

I've been sending my monthly author newsletter for over two years already (where did that time go??), and one of my favorite sections is "Quotes of the Month," where I feature favorite quotes from books I've been reading recently. Or once in a while quotes from my own stories :) I haven't sent out a newsletter in a few months since I'm on a bit of a maternity leave at the moment, and I've missed scouring my latest reads for lines that make me think or laugh, or just strike me as noteworthy for whatever reason. So I thought it might be fun to go back through all my previous Quotes of the Month and pick out a few favorites (there were so many good ones, it was really hard to choose!). Enjoy!



3. Julie Hall's Life After series is a fabulous mix of this kind of snarky humor (I just love the main character Audrey's voice - I totally feel like we should be friends!) and deep spiritual insights. Plus swoony romance and a fascinating vision of heaven to explore!





2. Our own Katie Clark really struck me with this beautiful line from The Rejected Princess. This book has such a powerful message, and the mystery and tension kept me turning pages late into the night. Plus characters I could relate to and such great romance! (Are you seeing a trend here?) P.S. Did you see her cover reveal for the sequel earlier this week?? SO pretty!





1. The Mermaid's Sister by Carrie Anne Noble was one of those books where I felt like I wanted to underline every other sentence because the prose is just that gorgeous. Add to that complex characters, the sweetest romance (again, ha!), and a unique story premise, and I was totally hooked. And so much to think about - this line still gives me chills every time I read it.





Of course I need an honorable mention because I can never seem to limit my choices to just three! I love this line, and I feel like it's representative of Tammy Lash's lovely writing style in White Wolf and the Ash Princess. Plus I really like the way it came together with the font and graphic, if I do say so myself :)



If you're interested in more quotes, I'd love to have you sign up for my newsletter! Monthly writing and personal updates, plus great quotes of course! You can find it here.


See you next time!
Laurie

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Writer's Life: A Cover Reveal! (Katie)

Cover Reveal for The Rebel Princess


Happy July everyone! The summer is in full swing for most of the country, and along with the sunny weather I'm enjoying having just received the cover files for my latest novel, The Rebel Princess! I thought I'd give you all one of the first peeks--which is also a peek into the life of this writer.

The Rebel Princess is book 2 in the series (the first book is The Rejected Princess, which you can learn more about at Goodreads). There might be a book 3. I'm playing around with that one still!

So, are you ready to see the cover?
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Ta Da!


Merry Stern has never been a spy, but when she’s offered asylum in exchange for her
help uncovering remaining rebel bands, she accepts in hopes of freeing her father.

Working with the royals is no easy feat, as Prince Gregory Hamilton considers her untrustworthy and duplicitous. As she and the prince navigate their uncomfortable relationship, Merry is introduced to questions she did not know she possessed; questions of light and darkness, good and evil.

Princess Roanna is finally engaged to Prince Benjamin of Lox, only the marriage seems stalled and she cannot determine at whose hand. The Dawsons won’t let her out of their sight, Chester’s Wake is focusing all efforts on finding their lost princess, and Lox refuses to acknowledge her position entirely.

Truth and lies are brought to light as those who seek to control and destroy are finally
uncovered in The Rebel Princess

I have to be honest, as soon as I saw this cover I was in love. I squealed and showed my husband, who smiled at me like I was an amusing child. Haha! 

So, what about you? What do you think? How's your summer rolling along? I'd love to know!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Top Three Summer Reads (So Far) (Lauricia)


Ah, summer! Most notably recognized for vacations, summer is a time when school is out of session and a vast number of people experience long spans of down-time (at least in America). Since I am a teacher as well as an author, I have a few months to spend schedule-free, which means more opportunities to write and read.

Which is exactly what I’ve been doing. From fiction to non-fiction (because I am still working a bit), from traditionally published to indie, from classic to new, I’ve been a book-devouring monster since Memorial Day, which is my first official day off. So far, the top three novels that stick out are:



The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Maya is the favored daughter of Raja Ramchandra of Bharta, but she is cursed with a horoscope predicting a marriage wedded to death and destruction. This makes her a target of malice and suspicion within her harem family and marks her as undesirable for a prospective bride. Maya has no desire to be a harem wife, however, and looks forward to a future as an unmarried scholar. The last thing she ever anticipated was being commanded by her father to marry and sacrifice her ideal future in order to save the kingdom of Bharata and everything she loves.

I love, Love, LOVE this story. Rich in Indian mythology and folklore, The Star-Touched Queen transported me to a fascinating world of mystery and magic, love and betrayal, danger and sacrifice. Superbly written, the artistry of the author allowed me to slip fully into the story and gave me no desire to ever leave until long after I read the last words. Fair warning: Don’t start this story until you have time to finish it because you won’t be able to put it down.




Raven Thrall by J. Elizabeth Vincent

Mariah is Ceo San, touched by the gods and gifted with the ability to shape-shift into a hawk. It’s supposed to be a blessing, but for Mariah, it feels more like a curse. Stuck somewhere between Human and animal form, Mariah must hide the wings that betray her identity or else she will be conscripted into the king’s army, enslaved to live as nothing more than a weapon.

Betrayed by someone she thought she could trust, Mariah is forced to flee her home. She manages to create a life of safety, even if it does mean being alone, until she meets Xae, a raven shifter whose family has been captured. Mariah is forced to choose between her life of relative safety or helping Xae rescue his family. In the process she learns more about herself than she ever thought possible and receives a calling on her life that could change the fate of the Ceo San forever.

Raven Thrall is an epic fantasy novel that examines the impact one person can make. Mariah’s conflicts do not influence her world on a grand scale, but they represent the common battles each of us face on a regular basis. Mariah’s growth throughout the story is organic and realistic and speaks to the way each person’s life can make a difference. This book will be especially appealing to readers who like strong female characters with strengths that lie outside the realm of mastery in weapons.





Dune by Frank Herbert

Okay, bear with me. Dune is not a fantasy novel. It is a science-fiction classic that I have been wanting to read for AGES, but it is foundational to the speculative fiction canon, which is why I’m including it here.

Set on the desert planet of Arakis, Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides, the son of a scapegoated Duke exiled to a hostile planet. Instead of dying like he’s supposed to, Paul adapts to the rough demands of the desert and its people, even becoming a messiah of sorts to the planet’s native race.

This is an intriguing story. It would be easy to read it and think of it as cliché, but remember that it was written forty years ago. Although it is often criticized as a book filled with genre stereotypes, this is actually the work those stereotypes were born from. If you are a fan of speculative fiction, Dune is a must-read. 

As I said in my last post, I hope you are enjoying a summer filled with rest, recuperation, and good books. I’m always looking for good books, so I’d love to know your top three reads so far. Please list them in the comments below.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Everard (Not-So-Fairy Tales) by Chautona Havig (Lizzie)

I'm in something of a conundrum. I've been reading wonderful books lately and have a stack of unexpected treasures waiting for me to read and absorb their creative juices (they're middle grade fantasy--probably the most creative genre out there), but the most recent books I've finished have either already been covered on this blog (like the excellent Mark of the Raven) or are inspirational historical romance (Karen Witemyer's More Than Words Can Say). So, I decided to turn to an old friend for help. We haven't talked in a while, but I remember him as being cute and sweet.

Allow me to introduce Everard,

The shy knight.

He is also very old fashioned, which leads to a lot of trouble but eventual happiness for this brave young prince. On his way home from the end of a centuries-long war, Prince Everard, in his excitement, kisses a peasant girl. This comes as a terrible shock to the young gentleman when he regains his calmness later at the palace. He feels duty bound to marry the girl, so he returns and proposes to her. She's not terribly thrilled at this unexpected request, and her father certainly isn't. I mean, who wants his daughter to marry a noble prince? The father tells Everard he can only marry his daughter if his completes several missions. Off poor Everard goes to face myriad dangers for the hand of a woman whose identity quickly becomes a pressing question--who is she really? What is her father hiding? Will Everard survive his missions to find out?



Everard (Not-So-Fairy Tales) was written by Chautona Havig, a prolific writer of Christian fiction.

Here's the official blurb:

A Prince, a friend, and a lizard walk into a trap…

Everard of Havilund—fierce warrior, brave soldier, loyal friend, heir to the throne, and painfully shy.
The war is over! Or is it? After four long years fighting in a war that has spanned a millennium, Everard is finally going home. He has faced everything he fears most—he thinks. Alas, trouble is brewing in the little hamlet of Hidden Hollow and he has only himself to blame.
Follow Everard as he tries to slay the Dragon of Ironia, face the Giant of the Tripp Mountains, bring the Enchantress of Enervatia to justice… just for starters.
Will he succeed? Will he overcome his personal demons that threaten all he is working for?
Find out in this second installment of the Not-So-Fairy Tales.


Happy summer reading!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Behind-the-Scenes of Keen (Keen Blog Tour)


We're thrilled to welcome Laura L. Zimmerman to Lands Uncharted today to celebrate the upcoming release of her debut fantasy novel, Keen! I had the opportunity to endorse this book, and you guys, it's SO GOOD! I'll share more about it below, but first, here's a behind-the-scenes feature from the author! Enjoy!


A lot goes into a character. An author often pulls inspiration from several people in their own life to help round out each role in the book. Let’s learn what inspired Caoine Roberts.

Her personality is based on my daughter. They’re both extreme introverts and avoid social situations at all costs. Think it’s odd that Caoine spends her early days at West Lincoln High under a stairwell? Those scenes were inspired by a real life situation when our family was on vacation. I couldn’t find my daughter until a second sweep of the rental house. She was hiding in the bedroom closet scrolling through Instagram. She literally needed time to be away from people and to re-energize. The running joke in our house is that she “hates people.” Even though we know this is far from truth, there are time’s when Caoine truly believes she just can’t like anyone.

When it comes to food, Caoine is all ME! I’ll admit to being a carb-lover--especially those beloved french fries. *swoon* This food is prominently featured throughout the novel as Caoine’s favorite, as well. Also like me, she’s a vegetarian. In the novel, she can’t tolerate meat because she’s part fae. I wish I could say the same for me--wouldn’t it be cool to be part faerie??--but it’s not because I’m supernatural. Just a boring human.

Okay, let’s move onto the most important detail: coffee. Many of the main characters I create are in love with coffee. (Because coffee is life, right?) And I tried to stop this trend, I really did! Alas, I only got as far as making Caoine hate coffee. (She prefers tea.) Her sidekick Aubree adores the “liquid gold” (as I call it), and the coffee shop is their spot to hang.

My love of singing is also portrayed through the fact that Caoine is literally a banshee who sings a beautiful lament each night. Some say I sing a bit too much, but it’s not something I can turn off. I suppose it would be easier if I were a banshee. At least I’d have an excuse!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peek into Keen. Stop by the other blog tour stops to read more Behind the Scenes!


How fun, I love that her inspiration comes from both you and your daughter! Congratulations on your new release, Laura! Thank you so much for joining us today! Here's a little more about the author:

Laura L. Zimmerman lives in a suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband, three daughters, and three furbaby felines. Besides writing, she’s passionate about loving Jesus, anything Star Wars, and singing loudly. She takes her coffee black and spends her days pretending to do yoga. This is her debut novel. Find out more about her at www.lauralzimmerman.wordpress.com.









You can also connect with Laura on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Pinterest. And here's the back cover blurb for this fabulous book!

You must walk the darkness to find the light.

Half-faerie Caoine has no control over the banshee lament she sings each night, predicting the death of others. A senior in a brand new high school, she expects the same response she’s received at every other school: judgment from fellow students over her unusual eyes and unnaturally white skin and hair. However, when Caoine arrives at West Lincoln High, for the first time in her life she finds friends. Real friends.

But being a teenager is never easy, especially when the star soccer player, Oliver, sets his sights on her. Allowing him to get close means revealing her curse to the human world. She can’t let that happen. Life spins further out of control when her lament comes out during the day, those whose death she predicts die right in front of her, and a dark faerie known only as the Unseelie prince blames Caoine by leaving her the creepiest notes ever. Her curse is not supposed to work like that.

In a race against time, Caoine must uncover the Unseelie prince’s identity and stop a spell before it unleashes hell on earth, all while trying to control her banshee song and finding a place among her peers.

Senior year just got real.


Keen releases on July 9th, you can (and should!) pre-order it here. Make sure to join in on the Keen Facebook Party on July 11th! And here's the rest of the blog tour schedule:

Monday, July 1st, Guest Post, Katherine Vinson, www.sparksofember.wordpress.com

Monday, July 1st, Guest Post, Rebecca Bruner, www.rebeccabrunerauthor.com

Tuesday, July 2nd, Visual Post, Kellie Parker, www.kelliemichelleparker.com

Wednesday, July 3rd, Review, Tammera Ayers, www.beliedoutcastlegends.com

Thursday, July 4th, Review/Interview, Pam Halter, www.pamhalter.com/fairiesfantasyfaith

Friday, July 5th, Interview, Jebraun Clifford, www.jebraunclifford.com

Friday, July 5th, Interview, Medomfo Owusu, www.writingsfromagodgirl.wordpress.com

Saturday, July 6th, BookTube Review, Gretchen Engel, www.gretchenekengel.com

Sunday, July 7th, Behind-the-Scenes Feature, Laurie Lucking, www.landsuncharted.com

Monday, July 8th, Behind-the-Scenes Feature, J.M. Hackman, www.jmhackman.com

Tuesday, July 9th, Release-Day Feature, Laura L. Zimmerman, www.lauralzimmerman.wordpress.com

Wednesday, July 10th, Interview, Kelly Barr, www.kellyfbarr.com

Wednesday, July 10th, Review, Vincent Vezza, www.hiddentreasurenovels.com

Thursday, July 11th, FB Party Feature, Michele Israel Harper, www.MicheleIsraelHarper.com

Friday, July 12th, Review, Abigail McKenna, www.novelsdragonsandwardrobedoors.blogspot.com

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Top 3 Animal Hybrids (Julie)

For my first book of the summer, I chose the 3rd book in Lisa McMann's Going Wild series. I previously did a post on the second book that you can find here. It has been a fun series, and I'm sad to see it come to an end.

The premise of the series is some teenagers wear bracelets that have certain animal DNA in it that allows them to "become" that animal. For example, if your bracelet has the monkey abilities, then when you turn it on to that one, you can swing and jump around. Pretty cool huh?

In the 3rd book, the "mad" scientist, aka the bad guy, is producing bracelets that allow the wearer to use multiple animal abilities at one time. So imagine swinging around like a monkey but with the strength of an elephant! Poor trees!!

But it's a lot of fun thinking about what kind of animal abilities would be good together. So here is my top three "hybrid bracelets" if I had a cool animal-giving bracelet (oh and I've limited it to only 3 animals each bracelet):

3) dolphin, panther, elephant. This one is good for land or water! You can swim and breath underwater,
run swiftly, and have the strength of an elephant.


2) plumed basilisk, sea cucumber, and dragon millipedes. These are more of the unknown species but with really cool powers. The basilisk can walk on water; the sea cucumber can shapeshift to fit through small areas; and the dragon millipedes can shoot cyanide. Now there's a lethal combo!

1) eagle, gecko, chameleon. I feel a bit Spiderman on this one, except the camouflage. But with these abilities, I would be able to fly, climb walls, and camouflage myself. All of which would be very useful for the enemy.

Animals have so many awesome abilities, many of which are relatively unknown. Can you think of a favorite combo that would be
really fun or really intimidating? I'd love to hear!





Tuesday, July 2, 2019

"A Blundering of Blue Sparkles" (Curse and Consequence Blog Tour)


We are so excited to welcome Savannah Jezowski to Lands Uncharted today as part of her Curse and Consequence Blog Tour! My path first crossed with Savannah when we both had stories published in the Mythical Doorways anthology, and when I heard her latest book described as "Jane Austen meets dragons," I just had to know more! I'll share all the details about Curse and Consequence and the blog tour below, but first here's Savannah telling us about the magic system in her story! Enjoy!


The warm glow continued until only a thin strand of blue sparkles coiled around Hugh, like a weak chain desperately fighting to keep him contained.
(Excerpt from Curse and Consequence

Magic has fascinated readers for generations.

I am no exception. I grew up watching Disney fairy tales and reading classics by C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Diana Wynne Jones, Gail Carson Levine, and Lloyd Alexander. I loved the feeling of being myself enchanted as I entered these fantastical worlds filled with magic rings and oracular pigs.

Magic can be tricky to write, because it has to make sense within your story world. It needs to have its own rules and boundaries, or else it comes across as trite and too convenient. You also have to decide what your magic will look like: is it all smoke and shadows? Lightning strikes and flashes of light? Is it invisible? What does it sound like? What does it smell like? How is it conjured? By a snap of the fingers? A magic wand? A thought?

For my story, I decided to go with sparkles and glowing lights. My design clients will tell you that I love sparkles—they’re so shiny and sparkly and make everything more exciting. For my light-hearted, humorous tale, sparkly just seemed to make sense. I didn’t want anything too grim or sinister.

When I set out to design the magical system in Curse and Consequence, I also wanted something a little more complicated than Girl Touches a Magic Spindle and Boy Saves Her with a True Love’s Kiss. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…but I love character driven stories. I love personality conflicts and misunderstandings, and I wanted my story world to reflect this.

In Curse and Consequence, like many fairy tales, you’ll find the basic curse that needs breaking, as well as the spiteful soul who casts the spell—in this case, a greedy faery. Unlike many story worlds, however, such as Harry Potter or Howl’s Moving Castle, you won’t find any magic wands or complicated spells. You won’t find magical orbs or pools of enchanted water.

There are no oracular pigs.

The magical system in Dragonshire is more genetic in nature: only those with faery heritage possess it. It’s not something that can be learned or obtained through a magical object like a talisman. Either you have it, or you don’t.

Most importantly, magic is directly related to the emotions and thoughts of the characters.

Is it the kiss that breaks the curse or actually the intentions behind the kiss? Similarly, is it the caster or the emotion driving the curse that truly matters in the end?
(Excerpt from Curse and Consequence


It’s difficult to say much more on this subject without giving away awful SPOILERS. I should probably just tell you that curses affected by the intents of the heart are much more difficult to break than one that simply requires two bat wings and the essence of a unicorn.

You can’t just go to the faery supermarket and buy yourself a remedy.

So if you decide to visit Dragonshire in the near future, just don’t run amuck of any faery curses.

They’re terribly complicated to get out of.


Thank you so much for sharing with us, Savannah! Doesn't Curse and Consequence sound like fun? Here's the back cover blurb:

When Love visits Ravenhead Hall, sparks fly…quite literally.

Miss Rea Abernathy only wants to honor the family who has taken her under their wing, rescuing her from a life of poverty. But thanks to two determined suitors, she finds herself in a state far worse than the one from which her benefactress saved her.

When Mr. Sedgwick Whitby sets his sights on his mother’s sweet-tempered pig keeper, his orderly life is thrown into chaos: Rea’s station is less–than-desirable, and another gentleman may be pursuing her. Hoping to get his annoyingly charming twin brother out of the way, Sedgwick purchases a simple curse from a disreputable faery which consequently plunges them all into a misfortune far more serious than troubles of the heart.

With time running out to break the curse and tempers flying high, can Sedgwick and Rea set things right and find love after all? Jane Austen meets dragons in this frolicking fantasy romance about a comely pig keeper, two wealthy gentlemen, and the curse binding them all together. Perfect for fans of Diana Wynne Jones and Gail Carson Levine.




I love it! You can find Curse and Consequence on Amazon and Goodreads. And here's a little more 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.




You can connect with Savannah on her website, newsletter, Facebook page, Facebook group, Twitter, and Amazon author page. Make sure to catch the rest of the blog tour stops! Here's the full schedule:


Monday, June 1st

- Katherine Brown Books: Book Review
- C O Bonham: Book Review
- Beka Gremikova: Book Review & Book Excerpt


Tuesday, July 2nd

- Jessica Belmont: Book Review
- Lands Uncharted: Guest Post on Magic
- The L. Palmer Chronicles: Guest Post on Themes of Curse and Consequence


Wednesday, July 3rd

- Paper, Ink, Lizard: Book Review
- Baroness’ Book Trove: Book Review


Thursday, July 4th

- She Hearts Fiction: Guest Post on Themes of Curse and Consequence & Book Review
- Flowers of Quiet Happiness: Book Review


Friday, July 5th

- Annie Louise Twitchell: Book Review
- Selina J. Eckert: Book Spotlight
- Kyle Robert Shultz: Book Review & Author Interview
- Pooled Ink: Book Review


Saturday, July 6th

- The Rustic Reading Gal: Book Spotlight
- Bold Reads: Book Review & Book Excerpt


Sunday, July 7th

- Unicorn Quester: Blog Tour Wrap-Up