Prism Tour: Hero

Saturday Woodcutter would publicly declare, and only privately bemoan, that she was the only member of her family who was normal. Not Fey-blessed, not royal or mythic, not practicing magic.

And then she broke the world.

Hero, written by Alethea Kontis, is the story of Saturday Woodcutter – a young woman who no more knows what to do with her magic sword than she knows what to do with her gawky height. She’s supposed to have some sort of destiny, but she doesn’t know what it is. She’s about to find out, though.

I suppose this book is a fantasy, but it reads more like a long fairy tale by a modern author. There are dragons, witches, princesses, fates and curses and gifts.

And magic. Wild, unpredictable magic.

I enjoyed the characters, even the minor characters – from taciturn Mama to beautiful Monday to the heroic Jack. Saturday proved a unique and interesting sort of heroine, and Peregrine managed to capture the pathos, the danger, and the ridiculousness of his situation. I liked Betwixt, too, and the contrast of his odd shapes with his ironic humor, sophisticated manner, and general air of Britishness.

Coming from a large family, I liked the way the author not only made the heroine one of many siblings, but managed to include all her brothers and sisters. Not that they all had a part in the story – some were never even seen – but I had the sense that Saturday’s six sisters were people, and not simply a number. The author gave a brief but vivid glimpse of all of them. It wasn’t just an interesting biographical fact that Saturday came from a large family; it actually mattered to the story.

There were a few things in the novel I didn’t like – the bad language, for one, as well as the scene where Saturday bathes in a lake with no regard for the fact that Peregrine was right there. In the same place, the characters talk about a disease called “living death”, which sounded like Alzheimer’s. One calls it “sensible” for the son of a man so afflicted to wish his father would die and set everybody free. Maybe I took it worse than the author meant it, but such an attitude betrayed both a lack of love for the sick man and a general devaluation of human worth, as if forgetting everything destroys the value of a man’s life.

As far as I can see in Hero – perhaps it is different elsewhere in the series – the world is entirely pagan. There are many mentions of “the gods”, none of God. And they are not kindly, either, but rather capricious – as they usually are, in pagan tales. We do come across an abbey … dedicated to Mother Earth. It tasted bad to me.

Despite this, Hero has much to its credit, from its humor to its excellent characters to its crazy, patchwork, fascinating world of dragons and witches and Elves and pirates. This is a wild, spinning fairy tale, as bold as the old fairy tales that thought nothing of telling you how the oceans came to be salt.


Setting Sail on a Fairy Tale Adventure*

*Family Welcome

Hero

by Alethea Kontis

Hardcover, 304 Pages


Enchanted by Alethea KontisEnchanted (Woodcutter Sisters #1)

Hardcover, 305 pages

It isn’t easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true.

When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.

The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past – and hers?


Alethea Kontis

Alethea KontisNew York Times bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a goddess, a force of nature, and a mess. She’s known for screwing up the alphabet, scolding vampire hunters, turning garden gnomes into mad scientists, and making sense out of fairy tales.

Alethea is the co-author of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter Companion, and penned the AlphaOops series of picture books. Her short fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in a myriad of anthologies and magazines. She has done multiple collaborations with Eisner winning artist J.K. Lee, includingThe Wonderland Alphabet and Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome. Her debut YA fairy tale novel, Enchanted, won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award in 2012 and was nominated for both the Andre Norton Award and the Audie Award in 2013.

Born in Burlington, Vermont, Alethea now lives in Northern Virginia with her Fairy Godfamily. She makes the best baklava you’ve ever tasted and sleeps with a teddy bear named Charlie.


Tour-Wide Giveaway

Sept 22 – Oct 17

Fairy Tale Gift Bundle: Signed copies of both Enchantment and Hero by Alethea Kontis plus swag!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sail Away on the
Fairy Tale Adventure Tour*
*Family Welcome

Sept 22 – LAUNCH

Sept 23 – The Missing Piece at Alethea Kontis

– Review on Debz Bookshelf

– Celebration on Deal Sharing Aunt

Sept 24 – Interview with Miss Print

Sept 25 – Interview with Carina Books

– The Grandfather Pirate on Living a Goddess Life

– Meet the Inspiration on The Wonderings of One Person

Sept 26 – Review on Shannon’s Blog

– Meet the Inspiration continued on Bookmarks

Sept 27 – Meet the Sister on Leeana Me

Sept 30 – USA Today Happy Ever After Interview

– Review of Enchantment on Colorimetry

Oct 1 – RELEASE DAY!

– Release Day at Waterworld Mermaids

– My Favorite Bit (with Cat Valente) at Mary Robinette Kowal

– Review at Library of a Book Witch

– Interview & Review at Tressa’s Wishful Endings

Oct 2 – Video Rant at Geek Girl in Love

– The Big Idea at John Scalzi’s Blog

– My Bookshelf on Mel’s Shelves

– Did You See? on Cu’s eBook Giveaways

Oct 3 – The Missing Piece on I Am a Reader, Not a Writer

– Review at Books for Kids

Oct 4 – Podcast with Bennet Pomeranz

– Review of Hero on Colorimetry

Oct 5 – Hero LAUNCH PARTY at One More Page Books in Arlington, VA

Oct 7 – Character interview with Saturday Woodcutter at I Smell Sheep

Oct 8 – A Twist in the Tail at A Backwards Story

– Review at JL Mbewe

Oct 9 – Enchanted Inkspot

– Deleted Scene at Fragments of Life

Oct 10-15 GRAND FINALE

Prism Tour: Goddess Tithe Excerpt



Title: Goddess Tithe
Author: Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Series: Tales of Goldstone Wood
Expected Release Date: November 12, 2013
Publisher: Rooglewood Press
Page Count: 130 pages
The Vengeful Goddess Demands Her Tithe


When a stowaway is discovered aboard the merchant ship Kulap Kanya, Munny, a cabin boy on his first voyage, knows what must be done. All stowaways are sacrificed to Risafeth, the evil goddess of the sea. Such is her right, and the Kulap Kanya‘s only hope to return safely home.

Yet, to the horror of his crew, Captain Sunan vows to protect the stowaway, a foreigner in clown’s garb. A curse falls upon the ship and all who sail with her, for Risafeth will stop at nothing to claim her tithe.

Will Munny find the courage to trust his captain and to protect the strange clown who has become his friend?

You can learn more about Goddess Tithe, which novel it’s connected to and read Chapter 1, here:

Excerpt from the Story:

Here is an excerpt from the middle of the story. In this scene, Munny has been ordered to Captain Sunan’s cabin to clear away his breakfast . . . an unexpected task, for a lowly cabin boy would not ordinarily dare enter his captain’s private quarters! Munny hopes to slip in and out quietly without attracting the captain’s notice. But his hopes are dashed when Sunan addresses him, asking how their strange, foreign stowaway is faring:
__________
“And what do you make of him yourself?”
Munny dared glance his captain’s way and was relieved when his eyes met only a stern and rigid back. “I’m not sure, Captain,” he said. “I think he’s afraid. But not of . . .”
“Not of the goddess?” the Captain finished for him. And with these words he turned upon Munny, his eyes so full of secrets it was nearly overwhelming. Munny froze, his fingers just touching but not daring to take up a small teapot of fragile work.
The Captain looked at him, studying his small frame up and down. “No,” he said, “I believe you are right. Leonard the Clown does not fear Risafeth. I believe he is unaware of his near peril at her will, suffering as he does under a peril nearer still.”
Munny made neither answer nor any move.
“We will bring him safely to Lunthea Maly, won’t we, Munny?” the Captain said. But he did not speak as though he expected an answer, so again Munny offered none. “We will bring him safely to Lunthea Maly and there let him choose his own dark future.”
“I hope—” Munny began.
But he was interrupted by a sudden commotion on deck. First a rising murmur of voices, then many shouts, inarticulate in cacophony. But a pounding at the cabin door accompanied Sur Agung’s voice bellowing, “Captain, you’d best come see this!”
The Captain’s eyes widened a moment and still did not break gaze with Munny’s. “We’ll keep him safe,” he repeated. Then he turned and was gone, leaving the door open.
Munny put down the pot he held and scurried after. The deck was alive with hands, even those who were off watch, crawling up from the hatches and crowding the rails on the port side. They parted way for the Captain to pass through, but when Munny tried to follow, they closed in again, blocking him as solidly as a brick wall.
“Look! Look!” Munny heard voices crying.
“It’s a sign!”
“She’s warning us!”
“It’s a sign, I tell you!”
Fearing he knew not what, Munny ran for the center mast and climbed partway up, using the handholds and footholds with unconscious confidence. Soon he was high enough to see over the heads of the gathered crew, out into the blue waters of the ocean. And he saw them.
They were water birds. Big white albatrosses, smaller seagulls, heavy cormorants, even deep-throated pelicans and sleek, black-faced terns. These and many more, hundreds of them, none of which should be seen this far out to sea.
They were all dead. Floating in a great mass.
Munny clung to the mast, pressing his cheek against its wood. The shouts of the frightened sailors below faded away, drowned out by the desolation of that sight. Death, reeking death, a sad flotilla upon the waves.
“I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Munny looked down to where Leonard clung to the mast just beneath him, staring wide-eyed out at the waves. “How could this have happened? Were they sick? Caught in a sudden gale? Are they tangled in fishing nets?”
There was no fear in his voice. Not like in the voices of the sailors. He did not understand. He did not realize. It wasn’t his fault, Munny told himself.
But it was.

Giveaway:

Anne Elisabeth is offering two proof copies of Goddess Tithe as prizes! (U.S. and Canada only)



a Rafflecopter giveaway



Prism Tour: Goddess Tithe Illustration



Title: Goddess Tithe
Author: Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Series: Tales of Goldstone Wood
Expected Release Date: November 12, 2013
Publisher: Rooglewood Press
Page Count: 130 pages
The Vengeful Goddess Demands Her Tithe


When a stowaway is discovered aboard the merchant ship Kulap Kanya, Munny, a cabin boy on his first voyage, knows what must be done. All stowaways are sacrificed to Risafeth, the evil goddess of the sea. Such is her right, and the Kulap Kanya‘s only hope to return safely home.

Yet, to the horror of his crew, Captain Sunan vows to protect the stowaway, a foreigner in clown’s garb. A curse falls upon the ship and all who sail with her, for Risafeth will stop at nothing to claim her tithe.

Will Munny find the courage to trust his captain and to protect the strange clown who has become his friend?
You can learn more about Goddess Tithe, which novel it’s connected to and read Chapter 1, here:
Intro to Illustration:

There are eight full-page illustrations in Goddess Tithe featuring various characters and events from the story. This is the first one in the book. I decided to share it with all of you since it depicts my young hero, Munny the cabin boy, under the watchful eye of his mentor, the old sailor Tu Pich. Munny is on his first voyage, and he is determined to learn all there is to know about a life at sea as quickly as possible. Thus we see him utterly intent upon the knot he is learning to tie. Tu Pich is old enough to know that no sailor will ever learn all there is to know about the sea. Thus he looks on, grave, caring, and perhaps a little sad. He might be looking upon his own younger self of many years ago, fumbling through the hundreds of difficult knots his fingers must learn to tie with unconscious ease.

I enjoyed creating all the illustrations for Goddess Tithe, but this one was my favorite. I love the contrasts of light and dark, the contrasts of young and old . . . youthful intensity versus the perspective of age.






Prism Tour: Goddess Tithe Cover Reveal




Title: Goddess Tithe


Author: Anne Elisabeth Stengl


Series: Tales of Goldstone Wood


Expected Release Date: November 12, 2013


Publisher: Rooglewood Press


Page Count: 130 pages


The Vengeful Goddess Demands Her Tithe


When a stowaway is discovered aboard the merchant ship Kulap Kanya, Munny, a cabin boy on his first voyage, knows what must be done. All stowaways are sacrificed to Risafeth, the evil goddess of the sea. Such is her right, and the Kulap Kanya‘s only hope to return safely home.

Yet, to the horror of his crew, Captain Sunan vows to protect the stowaway, a foreigner in clown’s garb. A curse falls upon the ship and all who sail with her, for Risafeth will stop at nothing to claim her tithe.

Will Munny find the courage to trust his captain and to protect the strange clown who has become his friend?
You can learn more about Goddess Tithe, which novel it’s connected to and read Chapter 1, here:

About the Cover Design:



I had the fun of designing this cover—finding reference photos, inventing the composition, applying the text, etc.—but the actual artistic work was done by talented cover artist Phatpuppy (www.phatpuppyart.com), whose work I have admired for many years. It was such a thrill for me to contact and commission this artist to create a look for Goddess Tithe that is reminiscent of the original novels but has a style and drama all its own.

The boy on the front was quite a find. I hunted high and low for an image of a boy the right age, the right look, with the right expression on his face. Phatpuppy and I worked with a different model through most of the cover development stage. But then I happened upon this image, and both she and I were delighted with his blend of youth, stubbornness, and strength of character! It wasn’t difficult to switch the original boy for this young man. He simply is Munny, and this cover is a perfect window into the world of my story.

You can’t see it here, but the wrap-around back cover for the print copy contains some of the prettiest work . . . including quite a scary sea monster! Possibly my favorite detail is the inclusion of the ghostly white flowers framing the outer edge. These are an important symbol in the story itself, and when Phatpuppy sent me the first mock-up cover with these included, I nearly jumped out of my skin with excitement!

Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a kindle of kitties, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and practices piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, including Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower, and Dragonwitch. Heartless and Veiled Rose have each been honored with a Christy Award, and Starflower was voted winner of the 2013 Clive Staples Award.




Giveaway:


Anne Elisabeth is offering two proof copies of Goddess Tithe as prizes! (U.S. and Canada only)



a Rafflecopter giveaway





News

So, today, I have another announcement. The Kindle Edition of The Last Heir is now being sold on Amazon. Again, I’ve set a promotion for this weekend, September 21 and 22, when the e-book will be available for free download.

Over the past week I’ve been building up my profile on Goodreads; I’m starting to figure out the site. I’ve heard Goodreads called the Facebook of readers, seen several writers praise it to the sky, and now, I suppose, I’ll see for myself.

A week from today I’m scheduled to review Hero with Prism Tours. I’m about halfway through the book, slowed down by the fact that, this time, I couldn’t get a Kindle copy from NetGalley. They disabled the option partially on account of “reader experience issues”, which is ironic because the decision has given me all sorts of reader experience issues. The end of these is that I am now reading the book on my computer, which is why I am reading more slowly.

Prism Tour is also set to do a Cover Reveal for The Goddess Tithe, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, early next week. So, maybe, I’ll see you there.

Doings

I’ve been busy this past week, with various projects. One of these was getting onto Amazon.

The Last Heir is now on Amazon, eligible for free shipping and boasting one review. I also published Sweet Green Paper: An Adventure of Christian Holmes to Amazon Kindle. I enrolled it in KDP Select, making it free to rent for Amazon Prime Members.

And getting, incidentally, free promotional days. A promotion is set for this weekend, September 14 and 15; Sweet Green Paper will be available for free download then.

Beyond this, I’m busy editing my novella Summer Leaves (a companion story to Beauty of the Lilies) and making preparations to begin my next novel. Last Saturday I had thought I was about ready to write the first scene, but while planning it out, I decided to do some further research. I should stockpile some more scientific facts.

And maybe read some more pulp fiction. Outpost of Jupiter wasn’t bad.

Beginning – and Ending – Well

So let’s talk about one of my pet peeves.

The writing community is, these days, quite occupied with good openings. On writing blogs, in discussions and critiques, at the writing conference I attended last month – it comes up again and again: the Opening; Are Your Readers Hooked?

Taken individually, there’s nothing wrong with any of these posts or discussions; they were all interesting and informative in their own right. But taken together, they show a fixation with openings that strikes me as out of proportion to the actual importance of openings.

Oh, I know openings are important – beginning of the story, first impressions and all that. But the first five hundred words of a novel don’t hold a candle to its plot, characters, and style. And why, in all the attention to openings, does no one pause to discuss endings?

The way some people talk about openings, you would think the purpose was not to begin the story but to sell the book: This will be good! Any writer who can make an opening into a promise like that has accomplished something worthwhile. But if the opening is a promise, the ending is the fulfillment. A good ending is far more vital to any story than a good opening, but people appear less interested in it.

I think one reason for this is that you can snip the opening of a book and critique it to see if it fulfills its purpose (“hooking” the reader). But you can’t snip the end of a book and critique it for its success in its purpose (satisfying the reader). You cannot ultimately analyze the end of a book until you’ve read the rest of it.

And, I would contend, you cannot give final judgment on the opening of a book until you’ve read the rest of it. The judgment of a journey’s starting point is more reliable once you know the journey’s destination. You can, reading an opening, pick out its weaknesses, but you can’t properly weigh them. That it took J. R. R. Tolkien two hundred pages to get out of the Shire is certainly a flaw, and you’d know it without going past the two hundred pages. What you wouldn’t know is that in the vast breadth of the work of Lord of the Rings, it’s a small flaw.

I cast a vote for patience with openings – and, for that matter, more attention to endings.