Happy Third Anniversary to Stolen

It’s hard to believe that Stolen has been out in the world for three solid years! It seems like it was a hope and a dream on my harddrive just a little while ago.

I remember when I wrote the first book I was so scared about sharing the characters with the world. I was worried what people would think about Shaleigh, Mawr, Colin, Teagan, and Talek. It’s one thing to have characters living in your head and maybe know a handful of people who had read your book or know details, but seeing it live in the world where anybody could pick it up and read it… that was a whole different level!

The outpouring of love this series has received over the years has blown me away. I’ve had people message me directly, write incredible reviews, and tell me it’s one of their favorite series. That kind of affection was something I only dreamed of years ago when I was desperately trying to find a home for this intimate tale.

I wanted Shaleigh’s story to be personal, something that would connect with readers, something that would be filled with incredible scenery, beautiful vistas, and faraway lands–but also be a comfort book. I wanted it to be a story that people returned to because they wanted to spend time with the characters again. Or they wanted to reread to see if there were any clues early on. Or a story they pull off the shelf like a warm blanket out of a hope chest.

Three years later and I still have such a love for this world and these characters. I definitely want to return to them again at some point. I’ve been writing occasional shorts and making plans on scraps of paper, but not daring to put too much time into it yet. I know how easy it can be to fall into a new work in progress! But I wanted to take a moment today to reflect on this series because even though the trilogy has ended it is still very much a part of me and my future plans.

Here’s to three more years, Stolen!

Beyond the Cogs

Beyond the Cogs

Finished: 12/13/2021

Full disclosure: I was provided a complimentary copy by one of the authors. All opinions are my own.

This collection features three novellas, so I’ll be discussing them individually.

The Soulless Ones by C. Vonzale Lewis

I had the opportunity to be a beta reader for this incredible adventure, and I was absolutely in awe of the changes Lewis was able to incorporate from the rougher draft I read before. She has an incredible knack for creating unique characters and spectacular worlds, and I absolutely love her creativity in this story. It has an Old West feel with a distinct steampunk style and deals with monsters reminiscent of vampires. Her unique style really shines in this story. It’s an absolutely fun read and I truly hope we’ll get more stories about Parasol because I could read a whole collection about her adventures!

The Rogue of Vangard by Nicholas J. Evans

This tale was more abstract and more visually focused so it took a bit for me to warm up to the story and characters. Once we get into a steampunk taxi ride with a law-straddling driver, a stuffy top politician, and our thieving protagonist, the entire story shifts with growing tension. We learn how corrupt the city is that our protagonist is stealing from, we learn how brainwashed the politician is, and how controlled the magic is in this world. The ending is the topping on the cake so I can’t spoil it here, however I was sad to see this unique world end. I grew to love so many characters in such a short few pages. I would love to read more in this world!

Gossamer and Thorns by Elle Beaumont

Now this story was reminiscent of the Vincent Price classics such as Fall of the House of Usher. Wealthy young Kris has fallen in love with Emilie who has a chronic disease. He lives in an abusive home with his father who is obsessed with transferring human souls into automatons. Kris’ father is an even more unbalanced Victor Frankenstein. Admittedly, I don’t usually read romance stories so since Kris and Emilie’s relationship filled the majority of the story, that was a struggle for me. Readers who love a budding romance will probably adore this story. It had some wonderful twists that I didn’t see coming and I was pleasantly surprised by the ending.

Overall this is a strong anthology with only a few authors but with a wide variety of steampunk. As a fan of steampunk (and a dabbler in it myself), I had an absolute blast reading these. Definitely recommended for readers looking to dive into another world for a while. And I’ve found new authors to obsess over.

My rating: 5/5 stars

Panelist at Conjuration Con

I’m excited to once again be a panelist at Conjuration Con this weekend! I haven’t had the ability to be part of it since 2019, and I’m so happy to be back in the magical world again.

Conjuration Con is requiring proof of vaccination or proof of a negative Covid test before attending. Check out their website for more details.

Here is my full panel schedule:

Mental Health in Fantasy Fiction
Friday at 6PM
The Sorcerer’s Study – Harding

Join us as we explore the boundaries and pitfalls of including mental health problems in fantasy fiction. Some interesting questions to explore include, do they always need to have a trauma to give them an interesting flaw? What are the differences between how hearoes and villains handle their psychological weaknesses? How much knowledge and/or experience does an author need in order to be able to write and accurately represent psychological problems in their work?

Learning to Love Our Villains
Saturday at 1PM
The Sorcerer’s Study – Harding

As the saying goes, a story is only as good as its villain. The villain who wants world domination for the sake of world domination is unrelatable and can take a reader out of the story. When we understand why the villain does what he/she does, we are more immersed in the story, making for a more enjoyable read. There are many ways to handle this, and this panel will be discussing some of our favorite villains from pop culture.

Static vs. Dynamic Characters
Saturday at 4PM
The Sorcerer’s Study – Harding

In fiction, a static character is one who doesn’t change, but forces the world around him/her to change in accordance with their beliefs and ideals. A dynamic character is one that grows and changes through the trials and tribulations of the story. This panel will be to discuss the different static and dynamic characters in pop culture, and knowing when to use one in your own writing. Is one superior to another? Let’s discuss.

Cosplay and Social Media
Saturday at 5PM
The Sorcerer’s Study – Harding

Though cosplaying at conventions and events has always been popular, large numbers of cosplayers have taken to social media over the last few years to connect with people and express themselves in this creative medium. If you use social media to express your cosplay, come join us. We’d love to hear your stories and experiences.

The Bone Valley

Happy Release Day to The Bone Valley! Be sure to grab your copy if this sounds perfect for your October bookshelf!

The Bone Valley
By: Candace Robinson

Finished: 8/23/2021

I’ve read quite a few books by Robinson, and I can enthusiastically say that this one is my favorite! This is perhaps the most intense, grotesque, and beautiful story I’ve read from her, and I had a hard time putting it down!

I really loved Anton, a lover, and Nahli, a thief. They seem like characters whose paths would never cross until things go very, very wrong. Even Daryna, the old witch who lives int he woods, grew on me throughout this tale. Pav, Anton’s little brother, grew on me throughout this tale. At first I didn’t think much of him since he just seemed like he wanted to emulate his brother, but as the tale goes on he gains so much empathy and shows he has such a pure heart. I keep bouncing between Pav and Roka as my favorites, but as of this writing, I have to say the little skeleton meerkat Roka was my absolute fave. I can’t say too much about him without giving things away, but his tragic tale and determined love was touching. And he was such a cute companion to them.

I really can’t gush enough about this book because there were times when I was just blown away by the viciousness, the beauty, the cruelty, and the incredible levels of world-building. I could practically imagine this in a stock-motion animation ala Nightmare Before Christmas at times, and it was gorgeous. Robinson’s imagery and creativity was unmatched in this piece. She has such strength in mixing romantic storylines with horrific and dramatic world building and beautiful character development, but this one is a shining example of her skill. If this wasn’t already obvious, this book should not be missed!

I’ve never read a book like this and would happily devour more books in this style or in this world.

My rating: 5/5 skeletal thumbs up

Happy Release Day to Chosen

This is it. The final book in the Stolen trilogy!

It’s a strange feeling to finish a series, to write THE END and mean it for more than a single book, but to characters you’ve gotten to know for almost a decade. But it’s so rewarding!

When I first wrote Stolen, I feared nobody would ever read it. They would never read the banter between Teagan and Shaleigh, or the friendship between Mawr and Colin. They would never see the fire dragon Tanwen or explore the Bloody Forest and the bloodthirsty Pello Pines there. But that isn’t what happened.

I’m always going to be grateful to Parliament House Press for taking a chance on my YA portal fantasy series with its mysterious faeries and fantastic creatures from Living Statues to Minotaurs. I’ve learned so much compared to where I started!

Today both Stolen and Broken are discounted too, so it’s a great time to dive into an immersive world!