Fantasy Month Returns

February Fantasy Month Banner

Welcome to the third annual edition of FEBRUARY IS FANTASY MONTH! Now, with a free bag of cereal in every box of cereal you purchase.

Ahem. I might be just a teensy bit overexcited. But celebrating my favorite genre for an entire month with all of you is so much fun, and has made February one of my favorite months for the past two years, and I am looking forward to all the new fun this month holds.

If you’re just tuning in and are wondering what all the hubbub is about, here’s a quick refresher.

February is Fantasy month is an annual blog-link-up in which we celebrate the fantasy genre all month long! Bloggers are encouraged to join the link-up with reviews of fantasy books, reviews of fantasy movies, or any blog post that discusses or explores the fantasy genre in general. Please keep your content clean, as many of my readers are teenagers and I try to promote and encourage family-friendly content here on the ol’ bloggity blog.

If you do not have a blog, do not despair! There are other ways you can join in, this year!

For the facebook/instagram/twitter users out there, I have a shiny new hashtag game:

#FantasyMonth

 

Fun stuff, right?

And there is also a short story challenge, as that seems to have gone over fairly well the last few years…

Challenge: write a 500 – 3,000 word short story using the following prompt.


“Getting across the lava fields was the easy part. What I had not accounted for was….” 

For advanced writers who want an additional challenge, try to use all of the following words in your story (words do not have to be in the same tense as those in the word-bank):

glint, breathe, request, fortunate, effulgence, bubbling, book, harbinger

You can post the story on your blog and add it to the link-up, or just write it for your own enjoyment. Or you can share it in the Word War group – find the link below.

Games

Tune in tomorrow to join this year’s game of tag! This year’s tag revolves around the theme of “WHAT IF….?” so I think it’ll be Olympic-grade EPIC and a ton of fun!

I will also be hosting some WORD WARS throughout the month. Specifically on Tuesday afternoons for one hour starting at 3:00pm CST and Thursday evenings for one hour at 8:30pm CST. If you wish to join in and Word War with me (more details coming soon) feel free to come join my facebook group where I’ll be hosting the wars HERE

And finally…

At the end of the month, we will end the festivities with the cover reveal and release of Minstrel’s Call!

~ jenelle

Evil Author Tag

Evil AuthorTag

I saw this tag over on Claire’s blog @ The Overactive Imagination and thought I would steal it because it looked like fun. We authors really are rather evil… our poor characters often don’t stand a chance against us.

Many thanks to Kate for creating the Evil Author Tag in the first place!

1. How many characters do you typically kill per book? And how many people have you killed in real life, dear? Do you… feel any remorse about this? I’m concerned about you.

Hmmm, well… based on books I’ve completed so far, I kill off a fair number of characters. Some of them have names and page-time of their own, though many of them are sort of the faceless multitudes that you know are there, dying in battle (I write fantasy, after all… epic battles happen).

I… dislike killing off characters. Partially because I get rather attached to them, and partially because I generally dislike it when one of my favorite characters in a book or movie gets killed off. At the same time, sometimes a character death is necessary in order to further the plot in some way, and in those cases… well, like Anne of Green Gables said of her audiences, “I prefer to make them cry.”

2. Do you prefer to use weapons of mass destruction like explosions and famine and world war or more personal torture like killing family and friends and pets?

Definitely the more up-close and personal methods. Large-scale threats have their place, but sometimes they are a bit beyond what the reader can really grasp and connect with.

3. Are you more like Loki, who perpetrates great evil with a creepy grin, or… Darth Vader, who secretly weeps inside his… fake head, whilst destroying the world?

I would say it probably depends on what I’m doing at the time. There are moments when I’m totally creepy-grin Loki, or delighted Rumplestiltskin…. causing disaster with a certain… panache.

I saw some writing advice a while back that has stayed with me: “Think of what your protagonist wants more than anything else. Now, your job is to do everything in your power to prevent him from getting it.” I see that as my most important job as the author.

However, I also love my characters rather a lot, and so, there are definitely times when I am weeping secretly inside my Darth Vader helmet.

4. What is the most dastardly crime you have ever committed as a writer?

According to my readers… that would be the thing I do to Brant at the beginning of King’s Warrior.

That… or ALL the things I do to Ky/Seamas in Second Son…

Though I can think of a few things in Minstrel’s Call that may… well… spoilers!

5. What kind of chocolate do you most like to devour as you burn things? White, milk, semisweet, or dark? Bonus points if you are so evil you find unsweetened cacao palatable!

I like dark chocolate best for most things (though if we’re talking about Reeses pb cups or some other candy bar like that, I generally prefer the milk chocolate version) but just straight-up chocolate, I prefer dark. Unsweetened cacao is inedible.

6. What is your villainous title? You may not have “Evil Overlord” because that one’s mine.

Stormaggedon, Dark Lord of All

7. Which of your characters would actually be a match for you if you were to duke it out one on one?

Like… in evil things?

I mean… all of my characters could take me in a one-on-one duel.

When it comes to thinking up villainous plots, though… I dunno. I scare myself sometimes with my capacity for darkness. The villains in my Turrim Archive would probably be a match for me.

8. Which character, in all the many books you have undoubtedly written, is most likely to be your Archnemesis?

Well, since I’m “Evil” hence the “Evil Author Tag” – there is little doubt that Kiernan Kane is my Archnemesis. He could beat me in no time flat, no matter what I threw at him.

9. Do you wear a cape? Face paint? A mask? Special underpants? Or do you hide in plain sight… like Moriarty? Give me details!

I totally hide in plain sight. I’m a pretty generally cheerful and comforting person… but I feel I have achieved something if I can make my audience cry. The people who know me best are the most surprised when something terrible befalls my characters. And I like it that way.

10. How do you react when you have to kill off a character that is dear to you? Do you laugh evilly out loud? Do you chuckle under your breath and quickly glance around for your next victim? Do you go and weep in a corner for a month because you just lost a best friend? Or do you just shrug indifferently?

I weep for a month. Then I frantically try to figure out if there’s any way to save that character instead. Then I waffle back and forth throughout the editing stages. If there isn’t any way to save them, I cry a lot throughout the editing process.

11. If you had to choose a fictional villain (from book, movies, etc.) to sum up your villainous style as an evil writer, who would it be? Why?

Sean Renard from Grimm. You never quite know who’s side he’s on, and while you really WANT him to be a good guy, you can’t help but admire his ability to be a cold-hearted jerk when he’s erring towards the side of villainy.

12. Do you believe in killing off main characters, or are they your smol precious babies whom you cannot even fathom laying a hand (or steel-tipped ax) upon? (#wimpyevilwriter)

I am totally a #wimpyevilwriter! I generally leave MCs alone… though anyone around them is fair game. However, in my up-coming and soon-to-be-released books… well… who’s to say?

13. Have you ever chickened out of your evilness and tried to resurrect a fallen character whom you have already brutally murdered? Or do you–as they say–let the sleeping skeleton lie?

So far, if a character dies in a published book, they stay dead. Now, until the book is published, anything is subject to change. I have killed off main characters in rough drafts, only to change my mind in the editing process. However, I can’t say that will always be a hard-and-fast rule…

14. When murdering a character, do you often describe it in cringe-worthy detail, or do you prefer to say “SPLAT! He’s dead”, and be done with it? (Bonus Question: have you ever actually said “SPLAT! He’s dead” in one of your writing projects?)

I’ve never said, “SPLAT! He’s dead.” in any of my writing projects.

I tend to describe the action that leads up to the death… and I like to give dying characters their death scene to try to get a few last words in and really grab the reader’s emotions and crush them into dust beneath the heel of my boot….

All images/gifs found via Google image search.

Are you an evil author? Consider yourself tagged!

Readers, do you prefer all the main characters to come through the book alive? Or do you like a little tragedy mixed in with your happily ever afters? Or do you prefer sad endings? Which character’s death most affected or traumatized you in your reading/movie viewing journeys? (They live on in our hearts…) Let me know in the comments!

~ jenelle

Best Fantasy Books of 2017

Good morning, dear Reader! Today, I am excited to give you my run-down of the best fantasy books I read in 2017. Now, technically, this was supposed to be a “TOP TEN” list… but as you will see… I… erm… cheated rather a lot!

I read quite a few new-to-me books in 2017, and many of them were *gasp* fantasy novels. I know, that’s a shocker, right? And while I reviewed many of them, I thought it would be a fun exercise to go through my list and determine which ones were worth a special mention… it looks like 25 of the books I read were new-to-me fantasy novels. So which ones were in my top ten? Read on to find out…. if I reviewed the book in question, I will include a link to the review… (quick clarification: these are all books that I READ in 2017, that doesn’t mean they were released in 2017…)

10. The Fire Chronicle by John Stephens – While the first book was good enough that I wanted to read the next one… the second book was much better, and really pulled me into the story. I highly enjoyed the siblings element, as well as the magical books and the twisty-timey-wimey stuff. I also liked that the energy and “oh no! what’s going to happen next!?” element got turned up a few notches in this book.

9. Beggar Magic by H.L. Burke – This was such an adorable story set in an extremely intriguing world. I loved the world, the magic system, the characters, and the friendship between the two MCs. The only down-side is that there are currently no more stories to read in this world, and the author has said she doesn’t currently have any plans to revisit it. But the world is so interesting, and I could have happily stayed there for many more books… so it was like being promised that you’d get to lick the beater when your mom is making chocolate cake… and then discovering that she used the spatula to clean off practically every last drop before handing it over…

8. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill – This story was simply lovely. It was like a long, satisfied sigh as you slip into bed after a day working hard. It was packed to the brim with magic, amazing characters, a dragon, high stakes, twists and turns, growing up, love, hate, sorrow, evil villains, heroic heroes worth rooting for… all the things that make a story a winner. I plan to do a more thorough review of this one soon!

7. The Firethorn Crown by Lea Doue – This beautiful, gripping, intriguing retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses (one of my favorite fairy tales ever) had me hooked till the last page. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series.

6. Number six has to be a bit of a tie. The Half Upon a Time Series and The Story Thieves series (both by James Riley) – Half Upon a Time is a clever jaunt through the lands of your favorite fairy tales with Jack (the son of Jack and the Beanstalk). It’s clever and witty and unique and familiar all at the same time. Story Thieves is about a boy who is perfectly ordinary and completely bored by it. But things get exciting when he meets a girl who can jump INTO books, and their adventures within the realms of the written word take them all sorts of exciting places. These series are both clever and filled with laughter, I can’t choose between them. If I had to, I might say that Half Upon a Time edges out a bit in front, but simply because that series is finished, while Story Thieves is still in the midst of being written… but then, there’s the up-side of having more stories to look forward to… so… I really couldn’t say.

5. Halayda by Sarah Delena White – Fairy tales are marvelous, but I also fall easily for stories that take deal with the darker, more chaotic, realm of Faery tales. What I would call “High Faery” this is the sort of story that deals with fairy-folk the like of Queen Titania and King Oberon… a much more ancient and higher stakes tale than the other kind, where there is an invisible line separating the real world from the fairy world… and it exists to keep us safe! This book captured my heart, and I anxiously await book #2!

4. The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz – Oh my goodness! Magical detectives (not what you think it is), fairy tale retellings with multiple twists, cleverness, witty humor, fun characters… this book has it all! When I finished this one, I handed it to my husband (who is slightly pickier than I am) and when he finished it he asked, “Are there any more of these? Do you have them?” High praise, indeed!

3. Dragonfriend by Marc Seccchia – Epic, dragons, good vs. evil, air battles, magic, fantastical realms with amazing world-building…. this book settles easily into the top three fantasy books I read last year. It was good enough that I enjoyed it in spite of reading it on my iPad… and I got the paperback for Christmas and am looking forward to re-reading this and getting the rest of the series at some point in the near future!

2. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – Okay… so that’s probably cheating in a big way, as there are five books in this series… but they were THAT GOOD. Of all of them, I probably enjoyed Cress the most, with Cinder being a close second, followed by Winter, and then Fairest, with Scarlet and Stars Above at the end of the list… but they were all good. Fairy-tale retellings with fantastical elements set in a futuristic sci-fi earth full of space ships and cyborgs and cities on the moon filled with people who are born with magical powers? Yes, please! I have been meaning to do a full review of these since I read them, and I still plan to get to that… when things calm down a bit…

1. The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher – By far my favorite book I read all year. Fantasy and steampunk and pirates and airships and cats that talk and have their own culture… along with truly spine-tingling villains and incredible, heroic characters (who aren’t always the people you’d expect to be fearless in the face of danger)… this book had everything I love. And it was a good, clean read, which surprised me (as his Dresden Files has some adult content and swearing that makes it a series I can’t recommend). But this book I can recommend without reservation.

So, there you have it. My top 10 (or thereabouts) fantasy reads of 2017.

Do any of these look interesting to you? Have you read any of these? What were YOUR favorite books of 2017? Please let me know in the comments, I love hearing from you, dear Reader!

~ jenelle

Sunshine Blogger Award

It’s January. Which means that in some parts of the world, it’s summer and sunny… but where I am, it means that seeing the sun is not exactly guaranteed on a day-to-day basis. And while I’m fine with that (I get Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder… because I’m a weirdo like that), many other people aren’t. So what better than a ray of bloggy-sunshine to cheer everyone up? Many thanks to Deborah @ Road of a Writer for tagging me!

Who is the one person who is the sunshine in your life?

Well, I’m gonna have to say that role is definitely filled by my husband. Derek is the person with whom I have the most fun, can laugh with, “gets” and even appreciates my nerdiness, talks me down out of my trees when it’s needed, and just overall is my best friend.

But I have lots of other rays of sunshine in my life. My four kids. My parents. My siblings. My amazing in-loves. My friends. And you, dear Reader! You are each and every one of you a ray of sunshine in my life.

Do you prefer all happy movies, or occasional sad movies?

I prefer happy endings. But every now and then I do love a good tear-jerker… so long as it’s not just depressing. I like movies that are charming, and I prefer movies that make me cry because they are beautiful, rather than because they are truly sad. Like “Dreamer” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” for example.

What is the one food that always makes you happy?

Chicago style pizza. (Or, more specifically, Pal Joey’s in West Chicago…)

What is the sunshine on your blog?

Comments. I love getting comments and having discussions about books and movies and nerdy stuff!

What is your favorite whacky “fun” day?

Hmmm. Well, my ideal “fun” day would include getting to hang out with my parents, husband, brothers and their families, and my sister… playing games, going for a hike, watching a movie, just hanging out… that sort of thing. But “whacky” makes me think this question is asking for something more… so it would have to include some rock climbing, definitely going out on a lake in a boat, playing ultimate frisbee, and then going to a baseball game. Somewhere in there, maybe we could go on a roller coaster with a giant drop of some sort… those are my favorites!

What is one thing you love about yourself?

I’m unclassifiable. I can’t be put into a box. When I took the Meyers-Briggs test in college, my results were all around 49-51% on every result except introvert… but even my introvertedness has grown a lot less obvious as I’ve gotten older. All those personality tests – I always end up being on the raggedy edge of multiple answers…. I am emotional. But I am driven by logic. I am creative. But I can think analytically. I like to be on time. But it doesn’t bother me if others aren’t. I trust my intuition. But I’m also pretty observant and I like details.

What is one thing you love about the blogging community?

I love the ability it brings me to find like-minded individuals whom I would never have known about any other way. I love that the blogging community is so quick to encourage each other and lift each other up.

What is the one book that made you smile the most?

Only ONE?!?!

Well, I went and perused my bookshelf, and the books that made me smile are all the ones that have been with me the longest. The ones I’ve read and rer-read so many times they are falling apart.

The Hobbit. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Dealing With Dragons. Charmed Life. A Wrinkle in Time. Dragon Wing. Magic Kingdom for Sale: Sold! Lad of Sunnybank. The Lord of the Rings. Thursday Next Series. Hind’s Feet on High Places. Anne of Green Gables.

Every one of those is a book I can go to if I need a smile.

Where is your corner of sunshine in your home?

Well, I love curling up on my bed with a good book. And I love sitting on the floor in the living room playing games with my kids. And I love sitting on the couch, reading to my kids. So… any of those places are my corner of sunshine.

What is your favorite color or colors?

Blue, maroon, silver, and lavender are all favorites. And that deep, dark green that there is never a crayon for…

What is one movie (or drama) that always makes you happy?

The Princess Bride

Tagging… 

Tracey, Abbey, and Savannah

No pressure to actually do the tag, though!

And, if you like being tagged… let me know in the comments!

Is it warm and sunny in your corner of the world, or snowy and gray? Which do you prefer?

~ jenelle