Chasing Shadows

ChasingShadowsCoverChasing Shadows

by Ashley Townsend

4 stars

Young Adult (older teens) / Romance / Medieval / Time Travel / Christian

I received a complimentary PDF of this book from the author in return for my honest review. (Thank you!) I wasn’t required to be positive, and these opinions are entirely my own.


CHASING SHADOWS kept me guessing, there were lots of surprises, and it was overall a good and exciting adventure/romance! It was kind of too long for me, but that’s just my personal preference. I felt a bit like the first half dragged somewhat, with the plot seeming to get lost behind a lot of emotions and the love triangle, and a lot of stuff seemed to sort of come out of nowhere. But the final third picked up considerably and turned awesome and very exciting and I absolutely loved it!

I loved the romance — it was great and went back and forth between being breathtakingly sweet, to me wanting to bang the heads of both parties against the nearest hard thing and go “seriously guys, don’t be idiots!” But that of course is half the fun of romance tales — we like a little exasperating on the side with our heart-sighing romance. 😉 (I personally didn’t like the love triangle part of it though — nothing against this book in particular, I’m just not a big fan of love triangles in general. But I know many people would enjoy it so that’s fine and it was fairly well done.)

I had a hard time connecting with Sarah, the main character, since most of the time she drove me batty by being stupid. But I think that’s likely just me, and I have a feeling most readers would like her better. And I still wanted her to win, of course! She did grow on me, eventually.

Can we just take a moment to talk about Will now? Will was awesome and fabulous and I loved him a ton and he is one of my favorite characters now. He’s basically a big broken strong huggable bundle of epic, the perfect mix of a dark-guy and a hero and an all-around great guy who is just awesome and can be really sweet at times too, though you wouldn’t know it with his shell. His struggles and confused moments only made him more endearing. His caring and bravery and amazingness… just yes. He’s a mean shot with a bow, too. 😉 Will is basically the main reason I really liked this book. It’s well worth reading just for him!

The Spaniard was brilliantly done and I won’t give anything away but it was fascinating how he was written. I have very complicated thoughts/emotions about the whole thing that I’m still working on sorting out.

The other characters were all very well drawn and realistic-feeling, from Edith to Karen and the Professor and the Joneses (yay, Seth!) to characters like Robert. Particularly Robert. Yes. That is all I will say. (Also Richard. I really liked Richard! Even though he was sort of random. I somehow thought he’d be more important and now I really want to read more about him! I’m weird like that. 😛 )

The medieval setting was really neat. It was that sort of “gritty”, “realistic” sort of medieval that is more realistic than my taste would prefer, but I most people seem to like their medieval settings to be that way, so… *shrug* The whole book felt very REAL though. In fact, at times, it felt so real that it felt a bit more like real life than like a novel — like this was really happening to the main character. Very real emotions and problems and little day-to-day details instead of everything being streamlined and so dramatic and novel-like, if you know what I mean. Which was very different, somehow, and made me think about it, so even if I wasn’t used to that sort of feeling, it was actually kind of cool.

The level of detail was awesome! I loved how detailed everything was. I could see and feel everything and felt perfectly immersed. I loved the lovely settings, like the castle with its ornate feeling at times, and the cold but beautiful snowy forest… just yes! I loved being immersed, and it was amazing to feel so much a part of the world. I definitely felt like I was there.

It had its moments of fun and hilarity and I found myself laughing aloud a few times, and quoting some particularly wonderful lines that were funny, brilliant, or well-written. Points for that!

I wish the slight hints of Robin Hood stuff had been more explored (maybe more is in Book 1 and 3? I can hope! 🙂 ) but most of what there was, was cool! Even small hints are a lot of fun!

A few other little thoughts:

  • I really disliked the whole Jade plot though. I can’t really say much about it because of spoilers but… just no.
  • I definitely feel like this is for older readers, higher teens and up maybe, just for some general content.
  • There were occasional touches of Christianity, for those wondering if it was there.
  • I haven’t read much time travel, but this one was fairly neat! Interesting to read, anyway.

This is a sequel, and I haven’t read the first book (RISING SHADOWS) yet, so maybe some things are more explained in that. Mostly though there were enough hints about the events of the first that I didn’t feel lost, so you don’t have to read it in order to “get” this one. I’m certainly now curious about it though and want to read the prequel — and the third one (DEFYING SHADOWS, when it comes out — which I see rumors of coming this November?) to find out what happens! But at the same time, though I do want more, CHASING SHADOWS still wrapped up fairly well. It left me feeling happy at the end.

Overall: It wasn’t a five-star favorite for me, but it earned its four stars and I absolutely loved the last third of the book! Mostly, the problems I had with it were my personal preference, and I feel like many others would enjoy it more.

If you like time-travel, awesome characters, medieval tales, realistic-feeling settings with a bit of grittiness, a love triangle and sweet romance, with a touch of Robin Hood and intrigue and adventure in castle rooms and snowy forests . . . then this is the book for you.

Back Cover Copy

From Goodreads:

Would you choose to entwine your fate with a hero of the past, even if it meant altering the future?

The murder of an ancient king spurs Sarah Matthews to travel back in time, putting her life in jeopardy as she races against the clock to solve a thousand-year-old mystery and pick up the pieces of her star-crossed romance. Her return to Serimone reveals that the kingdom is in upheaval and that the elusive Cadius has sinister plans for the throne. Unable to right the empire alone, Sarah reunites with Will, the love she left behind and the man beneath the Shadow’s hood. As they work together amidst lavish balls and explore the secret depths of the castle, they discover that the conspiracy runs deeper than they ever imagined. And when a counterfeit Shadow claims the life of someone close to her after a personal threat from Cadius himself, Sarah discovers that the price of questioning the new regime is a life.

Guilt-ridden and alone, she discovers comfort in her newfound friendship with Damien, a charming Spaniard who joins Sarah in her personal crusade for justice. But as she draws closer to his dark past and to the faceless killer in their midst, she realizes that the severed threads of time and the mystery surrounding Serimone Castle are unraveling rapidly, weaving new tapestries of devastation.

In this thrilling and deceptive sequel to “Rising Shadows,” Sarah is forced into harm’s way countless times as she races to solve the puzzle before it is too late and Serimone becomes nothing more than a faded memory of the past . . . And before Sarah becomes a permanent fixture in history.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About the Author

Ashley Townsend is a young twenty-something who has been spinning tales since she discovered that her wild imagination and love of storytelling could make a career. Reading and writing are her way of experiencing grand adventures from home, and she hopes that others will join in her fantastical escapades! She is a native to bookstores, coffee shops, the beach, and San Diego, CA. She also has an unexplainable aversion to clowns and describes outlines as a “proverbial noose.” Her first book “Rising Shadows” is available on ebook formats, and the follow-up novel “Chasing Shadows” is available for purchase on ebook and paperback via Ink Smith Publishing.

Follow her quirkiness on:

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

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Five Enchanted Roses: Stone Curse Review

Five Enchanted Roses, the collection of five novella-length retellings of the beloved fairytale Beauty and the Beast from Rooglewood Press, releases today!

Aren’t you excited? Of course you are. Because Beauty and the Beast retellings! And let’s be honest: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more downright beautifully gorgeous breathtaking cover than this one. ALL THE PRETTY. ❤

Today I’m reviewing the third story in the anthology, Stone Curse by Jenelle Schmidt.


stonecurseStone Curse

by Jenelle Schmidt

5 stars!

in the Five Enchanted Roses anthology

Fantasy / Young Adult / Fairy Tale Re-Telling / Beauty and the Beast / Novella

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in return for my honest review. It was not required to be positive, and these opinions are entirely my own.


As a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, STONE CURSE surprised me with its originality while still clinging to the familiar threads. The reader is plunged directly into several intertwined mysteries that it’s wonderful to try to unravel. I predicted just enough of the answers of the mysteries to feel excited and elated whenever I was right, but there were more than enough surprises and twists to keep me on my toes, which I loved!

The writing was excellent and flowed beautifully in an effortless fairytale-ish way, and I loved the “feel” of the story and the world. It’s exactly the sort of feel that I like best in the fantasy tales I read! I can’t really describe it but it’s gorgeous and makes me feel at home, while still keeping me on the edge of my seat about what will happen next, because even (or especially) the most lovely of fantasy worlds contain a measure of uncertainty and danger! Something about the feel reminded me of a couple other favorite authors of mine, especially Patricia C. Wrede. This makes me happy and I’m looking forward to reading more by Jenelle Schmidt.

I’ve decided I enjoy novellas. I was able to read this in a sitting but it felt more fulfilling than a short story, and yet it was close enough to a novel’s depth, without the extra fluff, that it was extremely enjoyable.

It’s a very fun adventure, with some banter and journeying through a gorgeous fantasy world, tangled woods, homely (and not so homely) inns, and dark mysterious crumbling castles surrounded by roses… (I almost felt like a couple other fairy tales were subtly hinted at as well as Beauty and the Beast, which of course only made it cooler.) And then it got so exciting and epic. Yes! I basically loved this story a ton and had such a great time reading it. (Also, Ritter’s horse was cool. I think I want a horse now please. And a Beast like Barend too. Thank you.)

All of the characters were awesome and felt so very real. Characters are important to me and these definitely rank up with my favorites!

I actually loved the heroine! This may not sound odd to most people. But I’m notorious for disliking most female main characters, and even if I tolerate a heroine, it’s extremely rare that I like her as much as I liked Karyna! She was so extremely sturdy and nice and determined and helpful and useful! It was marvelous how she always had that satchel of hers that she would pull things out of and fix someone up or do a bit of gardening or pruning. She’s also so full of hope and won’t give up, which I loved. I just adored Karyna.

Our Beast, Prince Barend, was fabulous! His story was unique and I so enjoyed reading about him! Like the best Beast characters, sure he had some problems but ultimately you love him. I loved his loyalty and protectiveness, bit of stubbornness, and his willingness to go so far for the one he cares about. Just… yes. Barend! He’s so awesome. And he’s a little uncertain and gruff and awkward but also determined, and was wonderful. I especially liked getting to see his thoughts from time to time, as well as Ritter’s.

Much as I loved the other characters, I think I might have liked Ritter even better! He’s my favorite. His endearing charm, quick tongue, humor and bravery. I just loved Ritter! Considering how much I loved both Karyna (unexpectedly) and Barend (of course), it’s incredible that another character could surpass them and become my favorite, but Ritter definitely earned that place. I was super intrigued by him from the moment he entered the tale, and simply loved how he factored into the story. As soon as I figured out what was up with him I may or may not have actually made a squealing noise. I was also addicted to quoting his lines aloud. Ha! Quotable characters are the best, but he was also such a great all-around guy and one of my very favorites!

I’m always a big fan of humor and great dialog, and I loved the characters’ journeying and interactions and banter! One of my favorite parts involved reminiscing about the mischief young royals got into as children. That was HILARIOUS. They’re a really great cast of characters! I just love them all so much and they feel like my friends. I’m looking forward to reading this again to be with them once more and re-experience this wonderful story and its beautiful and shadowy world.

I do wish Princess Bellenya had been gone into more. Her part of the story wasn’t as developed as I’d have liked, especially considering how it all ended up (which I really liked! I just… wanted more). I was okay with it, I just wish she’d been more delved into so I could understand her more or something? That being said, it’s basically the only thing I have a complaint about in this otherwise fabulous tale!

The ending felt a tiny bit hurriedly wrapped up, but I didn’t mind because it was still awesome. The final scene was absolutely perfect and made me cry. (I’m not much of a book-crier, but this was wonderful!) At the end, when I finished reading and sat back with a little sigh of happiness and wiped my eyes, with a smile on my lips that I couldn’t seem to get rid of even if I’d wanted to, I would have hugged the book if it had been a physical copy. As it was, I settled for hugging my laptop which contained it.

Overall, I positively loved STONE CURSE and it left me with a happy, smiling, in-the-clouds feeling of contentment. I don’t know what else I can ask of a fairytale! It had a little bit of everything.

I look forward to reading the other four novellas in this collection, but I can tell you that FIVE ENCHANTED ROSES is well worth picking up if only for this delightful story.

StoneCurseButton-1-300x300

Back Cover Copy

From Goodreads:

STONE CURSE
By Jenelle Schmidt

Years ago a terrible curse swept over the revelers at Thorndale Castle, turning them to stone and transforming Prince Barend himself into a hideous beast. But Karyna, a former lady-in-waiting, will not abandon either her father, who stands in the throne room among the other statues, or the prince. Indeed, she sets out alone on a dangerous quest to find the one responsible for this dreadful spell. If she can but discover the reason why the stone curse was cast, perhaps she can also discover the solution.

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Five Enchanted Roses released July 27, 2015

Find it on:

Publisher | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About the Author of Stone Curse

Jenelle is one of those rare and elusive creatures known as an “author.” She enjoys hanging out in darkened corners of coffee shops, sipping hot chocolate and carrying on animated conversations with those strange and invisible beings known as “characters.”

As most other authors, Jenelle is a bit shy and timid, though her friends would disagree with that statement. Her favorite genres to read and write are fantasy, sci-fi, and fairy tales.

Learn more about her on her blog/website:

www.JenelleSchmidt.com

Find her elsewhere online:

Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Corroded Thorns

ctcoverCorroded Thorns
by Emma Clifton

5 stars!

Young Adult / Fantasy / Steampunk / Fairy Tale Re-Telling / Beauty and the Beast / Novella

Sequel to Broken Glass (review here) in Five Glass Slippers

I received an e-copy of this book from the author in return from my honest review; I was not required to be positive; these opinions are entirely my own.


As the sequel to BROKEN GLASS (found in the FIVE GLASS SLIPPERS anthology), I was so excited to read CORRODED THORNS to experience the rest of Darcy’s story! And boy does it ever not disappoint!

I loved this book so much that I read it twice in one week. I have an occasional urge to do that with other books, but almost never follow through. But this time I just couldn’t help myself! Fortunately it’s a novella so I was able to read it in a sitting, and it’s one of those perfect novellas that feels exactly the right size.

As a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I so enjoyed watching the plot unfold and picking out the similarities and twists. It’s a favorite fairytale of mine, particularly that it shows how even really horrid characters can find redemption. I LOVE fairytale retellings, and this has to be one of my favorite versions of Beauty and the Beast! I simply adored it.

The plot behind the normal Beauty and the Beast part of the story was so awesome — I loved that there was so much more going on under the surface than meets the eye and it TOTALLY made sense for the story; plus, fascinating fairy godmother politics! Isn’t that just cool? It was all so interesting to read about!

It was a gorgeous world, the settings felt so alive and real and everything was extremely vivid in my mind, despite the relative shortness of the tale. I really felt like I was in that old dark castle on the lake! The touch of steampunkness was SO cool and original (steampunk Beauty and the Beast? Yes please!), and I don’t usually notice this but I LOVED the magic in this story! It was just… I can’t describe it but it was perfect and seamless and interesting. Just… really well done.

In the interests of being fair and looking at both sides… Complaints? Umm, it took me a moment to think of any. There’s hardly anything wrong with this book! I did sometimes have a hard time visualizing exactly what the Beast looked like. I wished there had been a little more description on that, since my mental image kept changing. That being said, it was still an extremely awesome idea the way he was done!

At first as I started out, I was slightly disappointed that it didn’t feel just like the first one, BROKEN GLASS, which was hilarious and mad-dash and there were so many characters running around making a mess and being fabulous. But that’s only a partial complaint, because I quickly grew to love CORRODED THORNS just as much, despite its different feeling, and perhaps more because this one was much more straightforward of a plot, mostly following the one storyline, so I ended up more invested and just loved watching Darcy and Madeline’s story unfolding!

So don’t expect CORRODED THORNS to have exactly the same feel as BROKEN GLASS. This one is a little less whimsical and has a darker, more serious and epic feel to it (but there are still fabulous characters and some hilarious parts, never fear!). But I ended up loving that about it. They’re just different stories but you can still feel that they’re connected as well.

And now we get to the best part. The characters! I LOVED THEM.

  • Madeline is such a sweet, insecure, mousey thing and I found myself really really liking her. She’s so used to being a failure and yet she KEEPS TRYING and I love that about her. I can’t even quite describe it but… Madeline’s just so likeable. (Also tea and cucumber sandwiches.)
  • Young Niles was an unexpected but splendid (and rather important) addition, the one servant who stayed behind for the Beast. Gaahh, I just adored him! He was such an original, cheerful, stubborn, friendly fellow and was just fabulous! Yes, yes and yes. His role in the story really surprised me and I thought it was so cool!
  • Darcy… Ah, Darcy. What does one even say about him? DARCY. That is all. Despite his somewhat beastly tendencies, you still love him and it’s just incredible watching his story-arc leading from BROKEN GLASS and progressing through this one. It was amazing to read about, quite believable, awesome, and extremely well done. DARCY IS MY FAVORITE. I just loved loved loved reading this story about him! Especially his snark. So much fun.

Darcy, Niles, and Madeline make for a splendid main cast. Their interactions are just the best! The humor, the gems of hilarious lines… I loved it all! The other characters were interesting as well. Basically look forward to a great cast of characters in this book.

The ending. THE ENDING! There was one of those moments near the end where I suddenly stopped reading and went oh no — it’s about to be over — I don’t want it to END!! But then it stayed just the right extra amount of time to wrap up the things I wanted addressed and it felt… I don’t know… like a reward and it was just PERFECT! AAAHH. I loved it so much! Also, the glimpse of some characters from the first at the end totally made the book!! It made me so very very happy!

And not to give anything away, but this book contains my favorite proposal scene EVER. Yes, it was that good. ❤

Gaahh, how can I say enough wonderful things about this wonderful book? I feel like I’m falling woefully short! For such a small tale, it was packed to bursting with fabulousness. There was much incoherent squealing and babbling about its awesomeness on my part after finishing it. EEEK! ❤ And then I had to reread it only a few days later because I couldn’t help myself — I had to enjoy its loveliness again!

Basically it was glorious, epic, funny and full of characters I loved a ton, plus a setting I was completely immersed in (I want to live there!), and of course Beauty and the Beast! What more can you want?

I adore it and love it to bits and it just made me indescribably happy!

Back Cover Copy

From Goodreads:

A fairy godmother—in prison? Madeline can’t remember even being a fairy godmother, let alone doing something bad enough to land her in a cell. When a mysterious lady sends her back to her old village with cryptic instructions and no answers to her many questions, Madeline must find a way to free her father, who has been imprisoned in a tower by a terrible beast.

First banished by his father the king, then cursed by an angry fairy, Prince Darcy will do anything to escape this fate and achieve revenge and power. Just when he thinks his chance has arrived, by some cruel trick of fate a girl from his past returns and once again wreaks havoc on his life. Worse still, he begins to question what he truly desires.

Published July 14, 2015.

Amazon | Goodreads

About the Author

Emma Clifton has been thinking up stories before she knew how to type them out. Reading books such as the Chronicles of Narnia, The Door Within Trilogy, and Redwall inspired her to take her writing more seriously. Though her rigorous homeschool education keeps her busy, she also enjoys sewing, reading, and spending time with her family in beautiful Northern Virginia.

Emma won a place in the bestselling Five Glass Slippers anthology of Cinderella retellings with her enormously popular novella, “Broken Glass.”

To find out more about Emma and her work, visit:

www.PeppermintandProse.wordpress.com

(You can also find her on Goodreads.)

Glorious Broken Glass!

5gsTo my delight, I was recently asked to review the just-released Corroded Thorns which is the sequel to Broken Glass, Emma Clifton’s contribution to the Five Glass Slippers anthology. Said collection had been languishing on my Kindle app, collecting pixel-dust for longer than it deserved, so needing to read Broken Glass in order to read and review the sequel was the perfect excuse to actually start reading it!

Below you will (hopefully) find some semblance of a review for Broken Glass (if you can successfully read between the lines of fangirling… Ahem).


Broken Glass

by Emma Clifton

(in the Five Glass Slippers anthology)

5 soaring stars!

brokenglasscoverThough I was not actually required to review Broken Glass (and in fact don’t tend to review books on my blog unless I’m “supposed” to), I found I loved it so much that I simply HAD to review it and tell the world about its amazingness because OH MY GOODNESS, SO MUCH LOVE. ❤

It may tell you something to say that I adored it so much that I read it aloud to my younger siblings after reading it the first time, just to have an excuse to read it again. (Not to mention the immense fun of getting to narrate such a delicious cast of characters and witty lines aloud! Scrumptious.)

I had not a single complaint about this story. Which, lately, is indeed a rare find among the books I read! I loved everything.

As a novella, it was a quick read that I devoured in a sitting (both times). A nice bite-sized story that held SO much in it, despite its relative smallness. It felt neither too short nor too long; neither stretched nor squished. It was just perfect!

The writing was amazing, brilliant, and witty — every word was intricately yet effortlessly woven together with its neighbors, creating sentences that packed a punch and I was just staring in awe half the time because of how simply fabulous it was.

The characters. THE CHARACTERS!!! They were such a glorious bunch who often had me hysterical with laughter! All the humor and snark and banter and gaaah I loved these characters so much! The three princes were so awesome to read about, different as they were! I just loved reading about that entire messed-up family. It was a delight! Spoiled, full-of-himself Marius, dark and shadowy Darcy, endearing and wonderful Henry… All favorite characters in their own right! (Despite certain failings on the part of some… ;)) Rosalind and the cinder-girl and the (quite surprising!) fairy godmother were all great too! Each were distinct and fully real. I LOVE THEM ALL. The whole story was bursting at the seams with this spontaneous crackling cast of characters. I can’t even EXPRESS how much I loved the characters and the humor and their interactions!

The story itself was awesome. I loved how it feels like a Cinderella retelling, and yet at the same time like its own tale, especially how it starts in an unusual place — when the slipper is being tried on . . . and fits the wrong girl! The twists were wonderful. I was just amazed at how many different story threads were going on, weaving together seamlessly. It was fantastic!

I loved the setting! It’s fantasy with a dose of magic and some fabulous steampunk — surprising, but actually incredibly well fitted to the tale! It just all felt so awesome and I loved feeling a part of this lovely world.

The story and characters had a “British” feel to me, which is basically the highest compliment I’m capable of giving a book, and I really can’t describe it any other way. (If that makes sense to not a single person in the world besides me, I do apologize…) But something about the writing and style and dialog reminded me in some indefinable way of beloved books like Entwined and Howl’s Moving Castle.

Between a twisty retelling, a beautimous setting of steampunk and magic, a cast of colorful characters that you’ll find yourself falling in love with despite their bickering, some mad schemes and uproarious disasters, a touch of superb EPICNESS by the end, hoards of humor and wit and snarky dialog that just begs to be quoted aloud, not to mention the tea and cucumber sandwiches — why, what is not to love about this, quite simply, incredibly fabulous, rollicking, hilarious tale?

I have yet to read the other four Cinderella tales that share space with Broken Glass in the Five Glass Slippers collection (though I look forward to hopefully enjoying them as well), so I don’t know if they’re any good or not . . . But I can tell you that the collection is well worth grabbing a copy of if only for this one story.

Keep an eye out for my review of the sequel, Corroded Thorns, in a day or two!

Starrellian Celebration

You may wonder at the title of this post, since I’m afraid I haven’t done much talking around here about my Starrellian Saga, the ten-book epic fantasy series I’ve been working on, on and off, since I first began to write, set in the Land of Starrellia. But today seemed a good day to revisit it.

Today, July 20, is a special day. It is the birthday of a character of mine.

Faron is turning 5 years old today.

trillum

(I know I’ve used this picture for Trillum, and it actually makes me think a tiny bit of Ryan too, but it’s also the closest to anything Faron-like I’ve found — minus pointy-ears — so I’m using it again)

…All right, technically, he’s 17 when we meet him in the first book.

I mean that his character is 5 years old. Because on July 20, 2010, is when I first “met” him in my mind and he came into existence as a character. This is important, and I’ll tell you why.

I’ve before told the story of when I became serious about my writing in 2007, after a few early years of aimless scribbling on different tales. In 2008 I finished my first novel. But it was June of 2010 that I first began keeping a log of my writing.

I’ve been keeping that log ever since — noting down all of the writing or writing-related stuff I’ve done, each day, for the last 5 years and a bit. Wow. That’s kind of an amazing thought for me to realize… (My records also claim I’ve written over 580,000 words since beginning to record such things… But I digress.)

I consider my beginning of keeping a log, in 2010, to be the next step in my writing years, following my decision in ’07 to be a writer.

In 2012, I met Tare and started writing The Owl of Kedran’s Wood, and other tales of Kedran’s Wood have been following it, along with yet other unrelated stories that have cropped up since doing my first NaNo in 2010. So I haven’t talked much about Starrellia, as I said, what with Tare and others having taken over a few years back.

But there was a time, before Tare, and after the beginning of my log-keeping practices, that I was very absorbed with my Starrellian Saga (a time that I hope will come again).

starrellianicon

Starrellia and all of its tales were my original stories.

Most of them remain unwritten, and those that are will require a major re-haul. But from my earliest years of writing, Starrellia has always been there.

What has become the first book in the series, Grey Betrayal, was having a problem around when I started my logs. The main character, Ryan, a mysterious young lad with silver hair and eyes, was too different of a character for me to have as the primary Point of View character.

I knew I needed someone else, someone more ordinary and relatable, to filter Ryan’s adventures through the eyes of, but I was stuck as to who that character might be, especially since I had far too many characters in my tales already, and did not want to spend a lot of time trying to come up with another.

Enter July 20, 2010.

At the time, I was reading a book on writing, called “Anybody Can Write” by Roberta
Jean Bryant. I honestly don’t remember much about the book now, but there was a particular exercise that I read in it that caught my attention. It was to write stream-of-consciousness from the Point of View of the paper you’re writing on, and then of the pen, using first-person. I didn’t want to do that in particular, but I thought — wait. I could use this for a character.

Yes, those were early days. I was used to writing in my own way and not trying new things. You’re probably all laughing at me. But it was an epiphany moment for me, and as those thoughts of a character for the reader to view Ryan through had been swirling, my thoughts took shape and solidified.

I took a piece of paper (yes, I wrote on paper back then; I know, I’m ancient; don’t laugh) and I became this new character who introduced himself in my head at that moment. His name was Faron, and he spent 45 minutes writing out his thoughts through my hand and my pen, and I suddenly knew his mind deeper than any characters I’d written before then.

And just like that, I had my new main POV character for the first Starrellian book.

Faron would be the Watson to my Ryan’s Holmes.

I consider that day to be the beginning of the new era of my Starrellian writing. Everything before that is old and distant. Everything after that, all the solidifying and expanding of the plots I’ve done since, is post-Faron. Somehow, he’s the line dividing past from now.

So that day — this day — July 20, Faron’s birthday, is the beginning of Starrellia-in-earnest. …As I thought of it, until recently.

Because I realized that with this long time stepping away from Starrellia — my heart and my home — in order to write the stories of Tare (my favorite character) and the Chess Club (my dearest friends), I’ve stepped away long enough that instead of becoming estranged . . .

. . . I have gained a new perspective.

I have discovered that I can now look at Starrellia, its lands, its tales, its characters, with new eyes, and I see everything fresh and ready to be rediscovered and made new.

I will return to it. That time is not yet, for I hope to finish some of my current tales first — stories that I love dearly as well, and which demand that I hear them out and set their words on paper. But then — then, I will go back.

I hope for a renewal, a returning, when I will once again journey back to the things I once knew, the hills and forests and mountains and seas, the castles and villages and caves, the cloaks and swords and harp music, the wild clans of talking bears, the Filanu and all their mysteries, the Seven and their long quest to protect the kingdoms, the exiled kings and lost princes, the villains who prowl at large and seek to dominate the free peoples of the land, the love and loss and victory and adventure, and all that is wild and adventurous and yet all at once comforting and at home, as only a world of fantasy can give.

And there I will meet long-lost friends, like Faron himself (happy birthday, m’lad! *tousles his hair fondly*), and Ryan the Silent One, and Prince Duncan, Bithoa the Outlaw, Varentle Kingson, Andrew, Ethan, Princess Atria, Eleanor, Oflagaro, Darksky the Bear, David and Donavin, Calendula, and all the rest, and we will travel on our quests through Starrellia and its surrounding lands.

And at night we will enjoy our friendship and sit or dance around a burning fire of red flickering flames, like a beacon of hope amid darkness, in a glade under the stars in the familiar forests of my dear Land of Starrellia.