Finding the Magic Review

Last week, I got to have Adam Prince, one of the main characters from Finding the Magic, a novella by Jack Lewis Baillot over for an interview. Today, I get to fan-girl over this little Beauty and the Beast retelling.

I didn’t actually know this was a Beauty and the Beast retelling until I started reading it. I knew it was set in the WWII era, and honestly, historical fiction isn’t something I usually go seeking out. I believe this has something to do with the lack of dragons and magic. (Working theory).

However, I do love Ms. Baillot’s writing style, and I had been looking forward to reading this one, so when the opportunity arose to be part of her blog tour, I jumped at the chance! And I’m so glad that I did, because this story is absolutely precious!

Meet Belle Maurice, a young girl who has been shipped off to the home of a wealthy stranger in the country to get her away from the dangers of London during WWII. Belle’s own father is off fighting in the war, and while she misses her mother, her thoughts often center on her fears for her father. He taught her that there is magic to be found all around her, even in the most mundane of circumstances. But with him gone — and facing the constant danger of a soldier in war — can Belle hope to find that same magic anymore?

Adam Prince is as crotchety of an old gentleman as you can get. He hides in his mansion and broods, glaring fiercely at anyone who tries to get close to him. He terrifies Belle, but she also feels strangely compelled to befriend him. She can sense that there is sorrow behind his stern gaze and grumpy appearance, and she takes up the challenge of making him smile.

This novella is truly one of the dearest things I’ve read this year. Usually, short stories and novellas leave me a little deflated, wanting more, and frustrated that the story wasn’t novel-length. However, the brevity of this particular little tome just works. It underscores a simple plot with a heart of gold, and the characters — in spite of the short amount of time we get to spend with them — quickly become real as they step off the page and into your heart.

I loved that this was not the quintessential love story that Beauty and the Beast often turns into, at least, not a romantic sort of love. In spite of that, the story is very identifiable as a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and follows all the classic beats, but I got so wrapped up in the story that I didn’t recognize them until I was thinking about the book later, after I’d already finished it. There were moments that made me smile, and two scenes in particular that reduced me to tears.

If you love stories like “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey,” “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” or “A Little Princess,” then this book is a MUST READ!

Five Dragon Eggs

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And don’t forget, Ms. Baillot is running a giveaway consisting of a paperback copy of this lovely novella and a box of rose tea over on her Instagram Account, or if you don’t have Instagram you can leave a comment on her Blog. The giveaway ends on Dec. 14th, so make sure you enter soon!

But that’s not all, because Jack is also revealing the title of her next book…

 

Adam Clark has just returned from the war in Iraq. He has come home to a family which has rejected him and wants nothing to do with him. He feels all he has left is the house his grandpa left him and the God he put his trust in. Dealing with PTSD because of what he experienced in the war, Adam sometimes wonders how he will get through each day.

India Lee struggles with PTSD for different reasons. Suffering trauma from her past, India is often scared to leave her house. Depressed and lonely, her only companion is her older brother Jared and her only occupation her little flower garden. She doesn’t trust her new neighbor anymore than she trusts anyone.

Then comes the day when Adam steps outside his own shell to help India. A small act of kindness changes their lives and sets them on a path which could bring them healing if only they are willing to open up and face their broken pasts and their present pain. Their battles are long and frightening, but both believe God can bring them through the darkness until they see the light face to face.

Sounds like an amazing story!

~ jenelle

Blog-o-versary Vlog Part 2

Today I am posting the continuation of my vlog, and answering some more questions from YOU!

Table of Contents:

0:30 – My favorite Anne Elisabeth Stengl book

1:57 – Have I ever left the country? Where have I gone?

4:50 – I’m going on a quest, I can bring my own Fellowship of Characters from any book… who do I bring? (spoiler alert, I’m supposed to choose 9… I choose a few more than that!)

7:15 – Do I read every review I get?

7:55 – Am I ever tempted to reply to a review?

9:01 – Why should you leave reviews? How does one leave a good review?

11:45 – Have I ever changed anything in my books because of a review?

12:00 – Have you changed big things because of editorial feedback or beta readers? Is there a big scene that got cut because of feedback from them?

~ jenelle

NaNoWriMo Recap

For those of you who have been asking, “What exactly does it mean that you ‘won’ Nanowrimo?” or “What is Nanowrimo?” this post is for you!

NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month.” It’s been going on for almost 20 years, as I believe it got started back in 1999. I remember people talking about it in college, but I didn’t start participating until 2012 when I first started writing “The Orb and the Airship.”

But what is it? It’s a challenge to writers to write 50,000 words in a single month on a single project. This does not mean the book has to be completed by the end of 50,000 words, or even that you have to start at the beginning (and some “rebels” will spread that 50,000 words across two or more projects). You “win” if you manage to hit the target of 50,000 words, and they have an official “word counter” so you can verify your win. (Though, as a side-note, their word-count tracker and Scrivener’s word-count tracker are SIGNIFICANTLY different from each other).

According to my “recap post” I wrote 6 years ago (which also, oddly enough, was ALSO my first post here at this domain name!) I managed to get 21,000 words written that first time I tried it, and I was pretty firmly convinced that I was never going to manage a win.

I’ve dabbled with NaNo ever since. The siren song of all my author buddies furiously writing all month long and posting their word counts is a temptation that is difficult to resist. It just makes a person want to jump in and join the creative fun. However, November is such a busy month, what with my birthday, Thanksgiving, and holiday travels and fun. I’ve never managed to do more than dip my toes in the water.

This year, however, was almost tailor-made for me to participate. We did not travel anywhere, we had no guests come visit us until the very last day of November, and Derek’s been out working at the house every night laying tile, leaving me home alone with a couple of hours all to myself each night after the kids went to bed… AND we all stayed fairly healthy all month long!

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Week 1 (partial week): I did pretty well the first day, then fell behind on day two, only writing about 200 words. (You need to write approximately 1667 each day in order to stay “on track” with their counter. The rest of the week was better, but I was behind the tracker. Didn’t feel too stressed about it, though, as I still had the whole month to catch up.

Week 2 (first full week): Got caught up and stayed a little ahead for the majority of this week. Was feeling pretty good about myself.

Week 3: Lost all motivation, took the weekend off to celebrate my birthday and had a very difficult time forcing myself to write this week. I managed not to fall TOO far behind, but this was where I started to doubt whether or not I could keep up the grueling pace.

Week 4: The laid-back nature of school and our simple stay-at-home as a family Thanksgiving allowed me the time I needed to get caught up and even ahead this week! The end was in sight, but I also knew that I only had 29 total days to write, because we had family coming into town on the 30th and I wanted to spend SOME time cleaning up the disaster-zone that my house had become after several weeks of neglect (hey, when you’re a writer, some things just get neglected… for me, it’s housework)!

Week 5 (Sun – Thurs): Spent a lot of time praying over my writing this week, because I had hit a bit of what I thought was a snag. With the Lord’s help, I got it ironed out. I helped host a virtual write-in on Thursday evening (which was scary, but fun) and with the bump in adrenaline that gave me I managed to hit just over 50,000 words by the end of the evening!

So that was my experience winning NaNoWriMo for the first time ever! It was fun. I’d do it again – but the circumstances would have to align perfectly like they did this year so I wouldn’t have any reason to feel guilty for neglecting my family. Sure have changed my tune since six years ago, huh? *grin*

Also, today in celebration of SIX YEARS of blogging, I’d like to offer you all a FREE copy of Minstrel’s Call on kindle (if you do not have a kindle and would like a PDF or .epub copy, shoot me an email at Jenelle.L.Schmidt@gmail.com and I’ll send it to you in that format as well – you need to send the email to me by DEC. 7th – the day the deal ends on amazon - in order to redeem this offer).

~ jenelle

Interview with a Beast

Hello out there, dearest of Readers! It’s SO SO SO good to be back! I hope you enjoyed the first installment of my vlog earlier this week. Today, I have the great privilege of helping out my fellow author and dear Kindred Spirit, Jack Lewis Baillot with a blog tour and giveaway for her newest release, Finding the Magic!

I just finished reading this book a few days ago and OH MY GOODNESS I LOVE IT SO MUCH AACCCCK!!!! It is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, which is near and dear to my heart, and I just love what she did with the story.

I will do a more thorough review later, but seriously, this book is simply lovely and I highly recommend it!

But you’ll have to wait for my review, because today I am getting to interview one of my new favorite characters, Mr. Adam Prince. So, without further ado…


A cheerful young man named Chip greets me at the door to the enormous house and leads me inside, chattering enthusiastically. He brings me to a large, wooden door, whispers, “good luck” and gives me an apologetic grin as he leaves me to speak with my latest subject.

I knock on the door and it opens to reveal a stern man with stiff, gray hair and wild, bloodshot eyes. He stares at me out of those eyes, his shoulders hunched, and scowls deeply. 

“What do you want?” he asks.

“Excuse me, Mr. Prince, I’m the reporter…” I don’t have time to finish.

“No!” he growls, and slams the door in my face.

In real life, I would timidly retreat. However, this is fiction, and when dealing with fictional characters, I get to be braver than I would be in real life. I raise my chin and hammer my fist against the door until it re-opens.

“Mr. Prince, your author assured me that you would cooperate.”

Muttering and threats can be heard and a certain Author is very concerned and hopes the threats are idle, then the door opens. “Come in and have a seat, but know I am only doing this because I am forced to.”

I flip open my notebook. “I promise not to take up too much of your time. Let’s start with you, can you tell my readers a little bit about yourself?”

“What do you hope to find out?” Mr. Prince scowls. “That I am too cranky for my own good? That I was forced to open up my house to a child fleeing the blitz because I owed a favor to a friend? That I like too much sugar in my coffee?” 

I try to hide my smile. “Those are all wonderful answers and will give my readers a fairly good picture of you to start. What is going on in the world these days? Can you give my readers a picture of what your world looks like? Where exactly are we and what are some important current events?”

He squints at me in disbelief. “Do you live under a rock? There’s a war going on! A world war it’s coming to be called. As for my personal world, I try to keep my nose out of it as much as possible. I live outside London, in the English countryside and have not been effected by the Blitz until I was forced to take in a child needing to escape. That should count for my good deed in this war, goodness knows I served long enough in the last war to be allowed to sit away from this one.” 

I cough. “Well, yes, you see, I come from a different time…” I pause. “Never mind. It’s not important. About this young girl staying at your house, I believe she arrived here last night. Her name is Belle Maurice, if I’m not mistaken. Can you tell my readers why she is staying here? How did that come about, do you have some connection with her family?”

“I seem to be getting ahead of you.” And he smiles though it is humorless and doesn’t reach his eyes. “I have no connection with her family, but with a  friend of the family. I served with man who is friends with her grandfather, I believe. I didn’t ask too many questions. I owed this friend a favor and he asked me to keep this child safe for the remainder of the war. Of course I agreed.”

“I believe you have a vast library in this house. Can you tell me some of your favorite titles?”

There’s a slight relax to his shoulders and a deep sorrow in his eyes. “I have a fondness for all the classics. Jules Verne is one author I never tire of reading. Of course, there are also books on theology which I have gone through and find much to learn from their wisdom.” 

I nod and smile, glad that I can ask a question that doesn’t cause him to retreat into coldness. “What is your happiest memory?”

The stiffness returns and his eyes harden. “This is one question I refuse to answer, no matter what my Author has to say on the matter.”

“Oh… I… I…ah… I am very sorry,” I stammer at the unexpected rebuke in his voice. I rise and start to gather my things, flailing about for a way to extricate myself from the suddenly very chilly room. “Um…. finally, Mr. Prince — I am sorry for taking up so much of your precious time —but if you could ask your author to change one thing about your story, what would it be and why?”

“I could ask her to end this blasted war I suppose, though I don’t think she has that ability. I guess there is something she could change, but again, it is something I don’t feel you have any reason to ask me about.” He huffs and stares out a window.

I sense my dismissal and let myself out, closing the door softly behind me. As I make my way back to the front door, I pass a young girl coming down the stairs. She looks disoriented and achingly sad. I give her what I hope is an encouraging smile… she’s got a difficult task ahead of her, that’s for sure!


Are you intrigued? I hope so, because this story is just adorable and I love it to pieces and AAAHHH!

Also, it is a Christmas story, so this is the PERFECT time of year to grab a copy and curl up with it. Clocking in at just 56 pages, it’s an easy read that I promise will leave you satisfied, though you might want to flip back to the beginning and read it all over again just so you can spend a little more time with these characters as they find magic in the most unlikely of places!

Available on kindle and in paperback, get your copy HERE.

GIVEAWAY!

Jack is holding a giveaway where the prize is a paperback copy of Finding the Magic and a box of rose tea. In order to enter the giveaway, follow her on Instagram and comment on THIS POST with the name of someone you think would enjoy reading her book. (There are ways to gain additional entries, as well, so head on over and check that out!) If you’re not on Instagram, you can also enter the giveaway by leaving a comment on her blog HERE.

Now it’s your turn, dear Reader! What’s your favorite retelling of Beauty and the Beast? Let me know in the comments!

~ jenelle