Interview with Marik and Raisa

The day started out cold and gray. Rain beat down against the windows of my house all morning long. But now the clouds have parted and turned to fluffy whiteness, the sun is shining, and all that remains of the long storm are a few puddles.

Writing has been exceptionally difficult lately. With the busy-ness of autumn, a book release, unexpected travels, and all the fall-ish things starting back up, I’ve been sitting in what feels like a writing traffic jam, inching slowly towards an unknown barricade. That is to say, not much writing has happened in the past three months.

However, NaNoWriMo is fast-approaching, and what better time to try diving back in to the writing regimen? I’d still like to finish up my current story by the end of the year, and if I can rediscover my discipline… then I still think that deadline is doable. But somehow I have to find a way to reignite my own enthusiasm for this project, rather than the sense of dread I’ve been struggling against lately.

Which is why I decided to join Liv K. Fisher’s Language of Worlds link-up… but I’m letting a couple of the characters from my Turrim Archive series answer the questions.

Rubs hands together… this is going to be fun!


First of all, a bit about this story I’m writing and the characters you’re about to meet.

Towers of Might and Memory is a gaslamp fantasy novel. It is the fifth and final book in the Turrim Archive series. I am currently sitting about 45,000 words into the story.

Marik is a pirate. An airship pirate, to be precise. He prides himself on being able to steal anything… but he’s been distracted from piracy of late in an effort to save the world. He’s got a murky and questionable past, with secrets he’d like to keep hidden.

Marik Aesthetic

Raisa is one of Marik’s crew. She’s fiercely loyal to her captain, but she’s recently had a rough time (which I won’t go into due to SPOILERS) but suffice to say that she’s re-evaluating everything she thought she knew about herself and where her place in the world might be.

Raisa Character Aesthetic

We find ourselves aboard the Valdeun Hawk, Marik’s airship, high above the ground. The sails flutter in the breeze as the ship drifts lazily through a cloud. Despite the idyllic scene, the airship is being pushed to its top speed. However, since no threat appears to be imminent, perhaps we can let Oleck take the wheel and chat with Marik and Raisa on the main deck for a bit. Here, let me help you adjust your goggles, they’re new and a bit clunky since up until recently airships couldn’t manage speeds high enough to warrant them. 

1. Your character is in crisis! Who is the first person they turn to?

Marik: gives a dashing grin “I’d get myself out of it, like I always do. I spend most of my life dodging one crisis after another. Do you think it’s easy or safe being a pirate? Somebody’s always trying to kill you, and there’s never enough money to pay for proper repairs, but that’s what makes it fun.”

Raisa: lets out a snort “He would, too. Can’t have anyone seeing the *great* Captain Marik needing help.”

Marik: “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Raisa: “Like you don’t know.”

Marik: “Well, who would you turn to?”

Raisa: “Oleck, of course. He’s always been there for me.”

Marik: “Oleck! What about me?”

Raisa: “Well… if you weren’t off somewhere blowing up a mine or signing us up for a job without consulting us first… then I might come to you.”

Marik: “Excuse me? If you don’t like the way I run this operation…”

Raisa: waves a hand “We can’t spend the entire interview on this question. Next?”

2. Who has their unconditional loyalty?

Raisa: shifts uncomfortably “Captain Marik and Oleck. They’re… my… family.”

Marik: “We are NOT family.”

Raisa: “What is your problem?”

Marik: crosses his arms stiffly “Nothing.”

Raisa: clears throat pointedly

Marik: “My crew. Next question.”

3. What cause do they believe in? Why?

Marik: “I used to know….” he drifts off and stares out at the horizon “I had a monster to fight. One I thought was the worst possible. But then I met Dalmir, and he showed me how little I understood. There are bigger evils in the world than I ever knew. They have to be stopped so that people can live their lives without fear.”

Raisa: stares at Marik like she’s never seen him before “I… um… this is going to sound… I always just believed in taking what I could. The world kicked me in the teeth and I just wanted to kick back as hard as I could. But… recently….” she pulls her sleeves down over her hands in an effort to hide them and if we’re observant we might notice that she has a strange pattern criss-crossing her deeply tanned skin “Well… I’d love to see the Ar’Mol and his entire regime toppled for good.”

4. Are they easy to get along with?

Raisa: Flashes a wide smile, her green eyes gleaming in the shadows of her hood “Not really. I don’t enjoy being around people much. It’s why I keep my circle of friends small. Besides, you never know when someone might come along and stab you in the back.”

Marik: “You really have to let that go, Ray. If I can forgive Shaesta, so can you. She didn’t have a choice.”

Raisa: shrugging “I wasn’t talking about Shaesta.”

Marik: raises an eyebrow “Well then.” grins and spreads his hands “I have to be easy to get along with, it’s part of what makes me a good pirate… getting people to trust me.”

Raisa: snorts

Marik: “I’m very easy to get along with.”

Raisa: “I didn’t say anything.”

Marik: glowers

5. Are they a night owl or morning dove? (Or “weird daytime pigeon”?)

Marik: “I guess you’d say I’m a weird daytime pigeon. When I’m awake, I’m awake. When I climb into my bunk, I sleep.”

Raisa: “Mornings are my favorite time of day. I love the quietness of the air, the colors swirling on the horizon, and that moment when golden dawn pierces the sky and changes everything from darkness to light.”

Marik: “Since when are you a poet?”

Raisa: “I like mornings, okay?”

Marik: tries to hide his laughter

6. What do they consider most vital to their health? Are they right?

Raisa: “Being able to trust the people around me.”

Marik: “The Valdeun Hawk.”

Raisa: rolls her eyes “Admit it, the only thing you really care about is this ship.”

Marik: “She’s the only thing that’s never let me down.”

Raisa: “Um….”

Marik: “Neither of those times was her fault. Besides, I’m still here, aren’t I?”

Raisa: muttering “Barely.”

7. What was their childhood fear?

Marik: presses lips together

Raisa: “Were you ever a child?”

Marik: “Ha ha, very funny.”

Raisa: “Well, it’s not like you ever talk about your past. The rest of the crew and I don’t know anything about you before we all met.”

Marik: “And that’s worked well for everyone. I see no reason to change that now.”

Raisa: “Well, I was afraid of Igyeum soldiers. Turns out, I was right to be scared.”

Marik: scowls “Let’s move on.”

8. What do they have nightmares about?

Raisa: shudders and wraps her arms around herself “Trust me, you don’t want to know.”

Marik: “They probably do. That’s why they asked the question.” he scowls “Fire. My nightmares are about fire.”

Raisa: takes a deep breath “The night my father was murdered. And…” she shudders and draws her sleeves further over her hands “…and…. no… I’m sorry. I can’t.”

9. What sights/sounds/smells remind them of home?

Marik: his gaze grows wistful “Long, winding rivers cutting through emerald plains and meandering around the tall, verdant peaks of mountains that rise up almost unexpectedly throughout the landscape. When a sudden breeze wafts the scents of fruit past you. The gold of aspen-glow…” he shakes himself. “But of course, the only real home I’ve ever had is the Hawk.”

Raisa: “I try not to remember home. It’s too painful to think about the things I loved and lost.”

10. What do they love most about themself?

Raisa: laughs self-consciously A few months ago, I could have answered that question without a single thought. But now… now I’m not even sure I know who I am, let alone what I love about myself.”

Marik: “My freedom.”

Raisa: “I’m… not sure that’s what they mean, Captain.”

Marik: shrugs “It’s still true. But if you need more… well, I’m dashing, confident, stylish, and charming. I’m also brilliant. What’s not to love?”

Raisa: “Humble, too.”

Marik: looks up thoughtfully “No… not that so much.” tosses her a wink that makes her laugh out loud then gives us a flourishing bow “I hope we have answered your questions to some amount of satisfaction, my lady, but we have urgent business to be about. Outrunning and outwitting assassins, and forestalling the end of the world and all that… so… if you’ll excuse us…”

Mountain Segue

And there we have it!

I hope you enjoyed reading this little interview as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Thanks for reading! And let me know what you think of Marik and Raisa in the comments!

~ jenelle

A Kind of Death Blog Tour

Have you heard about the new anthology releasing soon from Uncommon Universes? I am super excited about these stories, as quite a few of them were written by my author-friends. With stories by my dear friend Beka Gremikova, Silmaril Awards host Savannah Grace, my Five Enchanted Roses sister Savannah Jezowski, and quite a few fellow Realmies and Fellowship of Fantasy authors as well this anthology is sure to be jam-packed with awesomeness!

A Kind of Death

A princess who makes dangerous bargains with the afterlife. A man desperate to save his wife, no matter the cost. An uber driver for the undead.

Death, whether real or metaphorical, comes for us all. Yet it is not always the end. And in the depths of grieving can be the promise of hope and redemption.

The tales and poems in this anthology explore the depths of love, loss, and transformation. Whether in a reimagined folktale or a modern urban fantasy, A Kind of Death features a fine balance of tragedy and comedy, but always with a hint of wonder and hope.

As this anthology concerns matters of loss (all handled tastefully and without graphic depiction), certain stories might prove challenging for sensitive readers. Recommend reading with a hot beverage and/or a packet of tissues.

aKoD - 3D Composite

Jenelle! This anthology sounds amazing! Where can I purchase or pre-order it?

I’m so glad you asked that question, because I know the answer! Pre-orders for this book are open through Tuesday, October 22nd, and after that, the book will be released and available for regular purchase in the following places!


And don’t forget to add the book to your GOODREADS SHELF!

BUT WAIT! Don’t run off yet, because there’s more! You can also take a minute and enter the GIVEAWAY below for a chance to win a hardcover copy of A Kind of Death, as well as some other fabulous goodies!

For Rafflecopter Giveaway Prize Pack

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Happy reading, my friends!


Uncommon Universes Press is a traditional publishing company featuring fresh science fiction and fantasy stories with wonder, adventure, and sacrifice. Check out the links below to learn more!





~ jenelle

Strayborn Release + 7 Reasons to Read This Book

Blogbanner-Straybornpromo2 copy


Today, I am pleased to have the privilege of helping introduce a brand-new fantasy novel to you! Our very own Silmaril Awards host, E.E. Rawls has just released her first fantasy novel into the wilds, and I get to shout about it! The author is also hosting an epic giveaway, AND she’s got a short prequel that she’s giving away for FREE! So stick around, because in addition to my own review below, there’s lots of epic awesomeness to be had here!

Insta-SpookywordsElemental Manipulation is a tricky business. Only those with the power can train to become a Draev Guardian.

Cyrus Sole hates life. She’s only half-human, with weak wrists, and not a day goes by when someone doesn’t say something mean about it—especially her step-mom. But when the forbidden power to manipulate metal awakens inside her, she finds herself on the run as the Argos Corps is sent to kill her…

Aken is a Scourgeblood, the last in a line of monsters. But all he really wants is to gain wings and be free. Until a new power suddenly awakens, changing the course of his life…

The Draev Guardian Academy is their only sanctuary. But training to become a Draev won’t be easy. Cyrus has to hide her human side, as she gets placed in Floor Harlow with the outcast students, and nightmares of her deceased mother keep returning.

With creepy Corpsed on the prowl, and whispers of Cyrus possibly being a reborn Hero, both she and Aken find themselves caught up in a web of secrets, racial tension, and an old legend with enemies that could spell their untimely demise…

—This book is a good fit for those who’ve enjoyed the Percy Jackson series, Brandon Sanderson’s fantasy world-building,and the fun of J.K. Rowling.

7 Reasons You Should Drop Everything and Read This Book:

1. Cyrus Sole. I completely fell in love with young Cyrus within the first chapter, and when the story deviated from her storyline to briefly introduce a new character, I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to know more about her, about how she was going to handle all the things, and where her story would take her, and what would happen next. She starts out as a sort of Cinderella-meets-Harry-Potter, but there are plenty of unique twists and turns to this tale as well.

2. Aken Shou. Right about the time I was really becoming invested in Cyrus’s storyline, the next chapter introduced Aken and I was a little miffed. However, I quickly came to enjoy learning more about Aken Shou, and found him to be a sympathetic character as well. However, he takes a few of life’s more difficult blows and it changes him a bit from a quiet, introspective boy into a mischievous troublemaker carrying a grudge and a well of darkness within his heart that he tries to hide. And yet, when he lets his guard down, there’s an innocence about him as well that you just can’t help but be drawn in by. The friendship that grows between Aken and Cyrus (though Cyrus is a bit reluctant at first) was another of my favorite things about this story.

3. Nephryte. Quite possibly my favorite character in the entire story… and that’s saying something considering that about halfway through the book I began suspecting that he was actually a villain. I won’t say if my concerns were founded or not… you’ll just have to read the book to find out! The characters in general were all well-developed and each of them had interesting and understandable reasons for the various actions they took throughout the story.

4. The Draev Academy. I would  have happily spent many more pages exploring this school. I really enjoyed the few glimpses I saw, and would have enjoyed getting better acquainted. In so many ways it felt akin to getting to go back to Hogwarts, and yet it definitely had its own feel and unique elements as well.

5. Elemental Power Manipulation. I loved the way the author took the basic idea of elemental powers that we see in many different stories and gave them her own twist. Instead of just having the four basic elements of earth, fire, water, and air, she breaks the elements down into even smaller components and each of the vempars have fairly specific abilities and focuses when it comes to their powers.

6. The plot and story… lest you think I got overawed by the characters and trimmings… this book also has a well-paced, epic story surrounding the characters as they struggle to achieve their various goals.

7. The world-building. Speaking of vempars, have I mentioned that I went through a vampire-reading phase when I was about 12? I devoured just about every MG vampire book I could get my hands on, most of them were cheesy beyond all reason, but I loved them. I graduated to Bram Stoker’s Dracula in high school and actually can appreciate Stephanie Meyers for giving them her own unique twist. (Disclaimer: There are definitely parts of the Twilight saga I take issue with and I wouldn’t recommend them to their target audience for many various reasons… but Meyer’s making vampires her own thing is not one of the problems I have with the series). I only bring this up because Strayborn also takes the mythical “vampire” and makes it something wholly unique to this fantasy world. While vempars have the classic sharp teeth, they do not appear to feast on human blood, but rather on human “essence” which can be harvested without actually harming the human. Or at least, that’s the idea. There is a darkness in the vempar culture that Cyrus begins to discover in the short time she has been living at the Draev Academy. I also liked that other mythical creatures and races were mentioned and seen throughout the story, and a lot of history is described… giving the world a feel of largeness and scope without actually having to travel terribly far. If anything, the scope that is hinted at made me wish that I could have unpacked the world itself a bit more, I feel that there is still a lot I don’t understand about Eartha and how it works. I’m still not sure if it is supposed to be some post-apocalyptic version of Earth, or if it is supposed to be completely its own totally-made-up world. Part of what threw me about this is that throughout the book, the Bible is quoted and read and important to several of the characters, which made me feel like this must be some sort of variation on our own Earth…. but that is never made clear to the reader.

A few nit-picky little unimportant things that did not in any way detract from my enjoyment of this story…

I would have loved to see Cyrus spend some more time in various classes and actually learning how to use her powers or at least work on some things like conditioning and strength-training. As it was, there were parts about the end that felt a little rushed and her participation in the big competition was a wee bit  difficult to fathom.

The second to last chapter detours away from the main plot and characters to follow a secondary character to his home. While there are important things that happen in this chapter, it sort of came at me out of left field like a baseball zinging the wrong direction and I was left trying to figure out why we couldn’t have gotten hints of this earlier in the story, or if it even needed to be in this book at all.

After the Epilogue, there are several additional scenes called “Extra Bites” that sort of felt like I was getting a view of random “outtakes” the way you might see them at the end of a movie after the credits have rolled. Some of them were interesting, but the tone was quite different from that of the book, which was a bit jarring.

Overall, I heartily enjoyed this intriguing, mysterious, fun-filled story about a young girl searching for her place between two worlds that do not want her. I’m not sure if she’s found her place yet, but she has found something equally precious: friendship and family.

If you enjoy Harry Potter, the Princess Academy, Percy Jackson, and non-sparkly vampires… I’m sure you’ll love this book!

Four Lovely Dragon Eggs


Purchase Strayborn


And read the exciting prequel to Strayborn, Storm and Choice by signing up for E.E. Rawls’ newsletter.





First place: One hardback copy of Strayborn, and one Percy Jackson soy/vegan homemade candle by A Court Of Candles.

Second and Third place: One ebook copy of Strayborn.

Ends on Monday, October 21.

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E.E. Rawls is the product of a traveling family, who even lived in Italy for 6 years. She loves exploring the unknown, whether it be in a forest, inside a forgotten castle, or within the pages of a book.

She runs on coffee, cuddly cats and the beauty of nature to keep the story wheels of her mind running, as she writes tales that will both entertain and inspire others, giving them worlds they can explore and become lost within.

Find out more by stalking following her around the interwebs:



Mountain Segue

So what do you think, dear Reader? Does this story sound intriguing? What is your take on vampires? How about fantasy academy stories? Do you have a favorite of either? I’d love to hear from you!

~ jenelle

Release Day: Twas an Evening in Bethlehem

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Today is the day!

The release date of my very first Children’s Picture Book!



‘Twas an evening in Bethlehem and all through the day
Many guests were arriving from far, far away…

The inn is full, but when a young, expectant couple arrives, the innkeeper cannot turn them away. Follow this beloved tale through the eyes of the innkeeper’s young daughter as she witnesses the glorious surprises of that very first Christmas and rediscover anew the gift of the manger that ultimately points us to the cross.

What Readers Are Saying:

This little picture book is a inspired by the popular, secular poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. However, this little tale doesn’t follow the adventures of someone waiting for Santa Claus, but rather someone waiting for the birth of the little baby who would one day save the world.

It’s utterly beautiful. The poem itself is rich and compelling and flows easily off the tongue. The illustrations are simply breath-taking and blend perfectly with the style of writing for the story. I can’t recommend this little picture book enough.


I love the idea of Jesus’ birth as seen through a child’s eyes! This book shows the true meaning of Christmas with whimsical rhymes and lovely artwork and would be a great addition to anyone’s Christmas book collection. I would recommend it to anyone with a child of eight or younger, but honestly, I enjoyed reading it as well!


…a beautifully-written and illustrated book that is perfect for your Christmas season. The heartwarming verses written by Jenelle Schmidt and the lovely artwork of Sierra Klein are both top-notch. You’re sure to make many treasured memories reading this title with your children during the time of Advent. Highly recommended


A timeless story told within a soft, lilting rhythm that readers will both recognize and enjoy. A unique view of the truest meaning of Christmas, accompanied by dreamlike illustrations in sweet earthy colors that give a sense of hushed reverence.



If you love heartwarming tales to read with your children such as The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, Owl Moon, or The Polar Express… then ‘Twas an Evening in Bethlehem is sure to delight you with its lyrical story and gorgeous illustrations!


And, although the idea of a children’s picture book in e-format makes very little sense to me… I am ALSO releasing this book in e-book form, though I hadn’t originally planned to. If you prefer that, you can get a copy HERE!

If you’d like to see what some of my advance readers are saying about this book, please visit the blogs below!

Kyle Robert Shultz

JL Mbewe

Morgan Huneke

Do you have a favorite Christmas book? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

~ jenelle