#WIPjoy: The Siren and the Skyship

During October, I was following along (some of the time) with #WIPjoy (Work In Progress Joy) by Bethany Jennings, on Twitter, answering the prompts I wanted to answer, with The Siren and the Skyship, my NaNo novel.

I thought it would be fun to gather my answers and post them all here, for those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter or just want to read them all at once! (And, to be honest, so I can see what I said and remember it, for part of my plotting. XD)

I also just figured out how to embed tweets in a post, so I’m feeling technologically advanced. XD Bear with me… *cough*

I’ll be muchly busy with NaNo, and I know I haven’t replied to some comments and haven’t done much blogging because I’ve been busy trying to prep for this month-long writing adventure and had other road blocks like colds and computer issues, BUT I STILL LOVE YOU, I PROMISE. I do have some blog things coming up and hope to catch up on comments and things very soon.

Love you guys!

BRB, have a novel to write.

(And a short story since I’m minorly rebelling for NaNo and starting with a short story…)

Enjoy…

Day 1: Introduce your WIP!

Day 2: Tell us about YOU

Day 5: Ask a question other writers might be able to help with!

Protagonist Week

Day 8: Introduce the MC (share a pic!)

Day 9:  How would your MC use Twitter?

Day 14: Who is the MC’s best friend?

Day 19: Your biggest daydream about this WIP’s future.

Day 20: When your WIP is a movie, what would the credits sequence be like?

Character Takeover Week

Day 22: Antagonist – Favorite snack food?

Day 23: Protagonist – Last dream you had?

Day 24: Side character – Is the author evil?

Day 25: Antagonist – What’s something that keeps you up at night?

Day 26: Protagonist – How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

Day 27: Side character – Your secret vice?

Day 28:  Protagonist – Worst way to die?

End of October Fun!

Day 29: What’s something that’s creepy in your WIP?

Day 30: How do your characters celebrate Halloween (or other holiday), if they do?

Day 31: Your dream cosplay from your WIP!

And there you are!

I hope you enjoyed this mini-look into my Work in Progress — thanks for reading! ^_^

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The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson (Review)

Title: The Noble Servant

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Date read: June 6, 2017
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Christian / Historical Fiction / Romance / Fairytale Retelling (The Goose Girl)
Age: YA
Year pub: 2017
Pages: 312 (hardcover)
Series: A Medieval Fairy Tale, #3 (or Thornbeck Forest, #3)
Fave character: Steffan
Source: BookLook Bloggers review program (Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Notes: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher

My Review

Melanie Dickerson does it again! Another extremely enjoyable novel from a talented author. 🙂

I always enjoy Melanie Dickerson’s fairytale novels, and this one was especially enjoyable for some reason! 🙂 It’s the final book in the trilogy which began with The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest and The Beautiful Pretender, and it tells the story of Magdalen, the friend of the heroine in The Beautiful Pretender, which I was very excited about. However, each of the books stands alone (aside from a few references/characters who reappear, which isn’t so important), so if you haven’t read the first two, you can definitely jump in on this one! 🙂

The Noble Servant is a retelling of The Goose Girl (with nods to The Prince and the Pauper as well), which is not a fairytale I’m as familiar with as some, although I know the general idea of the servant taking the place of her lady and forcing the heroine to become a servant tending to geese. I enjoyed the retelling aspect but likely didn’t pick up on as much of it as I might have if it was a different fairytale. But far from making it less enjoyable because of that, I actually enjoyed it immensely because I had no idea what was going to happen!

I really liked our heroine, Lady Magdalen of Mallin, who was very sweet but capable; and I especially liked the hero, Steffan, Duke of Wolfburg, who was kind but heroic and noble, and had some great lines. They are both nobles who find themselves in servant roles outside Steffan’s castle, and there is a plot by Steffan’s uncle and all sorts of intriguing things. I loved how they both ended up servants for awhile, which was interesting to read about. My favorite thing about the story was probably Magdalen and Steffan. They were super cute together, too. 😉 I loved their dialog! Some of their discussions and times with the sheep and geese were my favorite parts of the novel. ^_^

I especially loved how Steffan really disliked the geese. XD You have a Goose Girl retelling, and the hero doesn’t like the geese the heroine is around because he’s scared of them. It. was. the. best. XD Steffan’s comments about the birds were my favorite. 😀

As always, I enjoyed the medieval German setting (Steffan had even been away studying in Prague! I loved that!), with the smattering of German words, and the castle and the woods and fields, and even a sight of the sea. It was overall lovely and a great setting and time-period. Also, I want to eat those stuffed rolls with bacon, potato, and sauerkraut in them—they made me so hungry. XD

It was exciting at times, and absorbing all throughout, and had a few surprise twists which I did not see coming! Especially with a few of the side characters surprising me. So that was neat. 🙂 Something about it felt a little different than Melanie Dickerson’s previous books, I felt, but not in a bad way. It was just… kind of new. 🙂 While still being slightly similar in a good and familiar way.

Like I said, I wasn’t ever sure what would happen next, and the writing was extremely well done, and kept me turning pages all throughout the book, eager to find out how our sweet heroine and dashing hero would get out of their predicaments, with God’s help, and maybe find a little love along the way. 😉 I couldn’t stop reading and was captivated until the final page.

I can’t think of anything specific that I disliked. Occasionally it gets very slightly exasperating how long it takes the hero and heroine to actually let on that they like each other and get over their worries about not being worthy etc., but that seems to be a classic romance theme, so oh well. 😛 And it didn’t annoy me as much as sometimes.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable story, which I quite liked. ^_^ I’d say that young adults and adults alike would enjoy this charming, sweet romance in medieval Germany, with a dash of retellings and Christianity, mistaken identities, lovable characters, and fun dialog about geese. 😀

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Favorite Quote

“Evil birds. What are they doing among my sheep?” He raised his arms. “Shoo, you cruel little beasties.”

About The Noble Servant

She lost everything to the scheme of an evil servant.

But she might just gain what she’s always wanted . . .

if she makes it in time.

The impossible was happening. She, Magdalen of Mallin, was to marry the Duke of Wolfberg. Magdalen had dreamed about receiving a proposal ever since she met the duke two years ago. Such a marriage was the only way she could save her people from starvation. But why would a handsome, wealthy duke want to marry her, a poor baron’s daughter? It seemed too good to be true.

On the journey to Wolfberg Castle, Magdalen’s servant forces her to trade places and become her servant, threatening not only Magdalen’s life, but the lives of those she holds dear. Stripped of her identity and title in Wolfberg, where no one knows her, Magdalen is sentenced to tend geese while she watches her former handmaiden gain all Magdalen had ever dreamed of.

When a handsome shepherd befriends her, Magdalen begins to suspect he carries secrets of his own. Together, Magdalen and the shepherd uncover a sinister plot against Wolfberg and the duke. But with no resources, will they be able to find the answers, the hiding places, and the forces they need in time to save both Mallin and Wolfberg?

New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson beautifully re-imagines The Goose Girl by the Brothers Grimm into a medieval tale of adventure, loss, and love.

Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, May 9, 2017

Links

Find the book on: Goodreads • Thomas Nelson • Barnes & Noble • Amazon • Author Website

Thanks for reading! 🙂

With Blossoms Gold Cover Reveal!

withblossomsgoldbanner

G’day, my Roadlings!

Today is a fabulous day, for many reasons… which I will magnanimously list for you. 😉

  • It’s the first day of March (hello) which is the best month of the year (besides November)
  • It’s Aragorn’s birthday (happy birthday! *gives out cake*)
  • It’s day one of March Magics (because celebrating Diana Wynne Jones all month is brilliant and necessary)
  • It’s the day of my 10-year anniversary of deciding to be a writer (I’ve been writing “officially” for a whole decade!)
  • It’s the day of the COVER REVEAL for With Blossoms Gold by Hayden Wand, which is what I’m here today to talk about!

Yes indeed, that AMAZING Rapunzel retelling, my absolute favorite story in the Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales collection (which I reviewed in December) is releasing on its own in paperback next month!

Which means it needs a gorgeous cover of its own.

And I’m here today to help share that with you!

I’M SO EXCITED.

Scroll down to view the cover!

*drumroll*

*trumpets*

*dramatic music* Dun-dun-dunnnnn…!

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A little further…

ISN’T IT GORGEOUS? ❤

withblossomsgoldfrontcover

Synopsis

She never wanted to leave the tower. He never wanted to rule the country.

Nella has lived quietly in her tower in the woods for over a decade. After dangerous accusations drove her and her grandmother away from their village, they escaped deep into the forest where no one would try to harm them. Now, after her grandmother’s death, Nella is alone, and she is determined to stay that way. She has no patience for a world she deems judgmental and ignorant.

Or so she tells herself. In reality, her paralyzing fear prevents her from stepping foot outside of the tower.

Prince Benedict Allesandro is an adventurer- a rescuer who prides himself on saving the weak and unfortunate. When he hears rumors of a beautiful damsel trapped in a tower, he rushes to her rescue…only to find a woman who most definitely does not wish to be saved.

But when war breaks out, this reckless prince and reclusive maiden are faced with overcoming their deepest fears in order to determine not only their own fate, but that of their entire country.

Coming April 2, 2017

withblossomsgoldfrontcover

Add to Goodreads

About the Author

Hayden Wand is the author of the novel HIDDEN PEARLS as well as the novella “The Wulver’s Rose,” which was published in the FIVE ENCHANTED ROSES collection. A Christian and a 2012 homeschool graduate, she currently attends a local college where she studies history and haunts the campus library.

Visit Hayden’s Blog

What do you think, Roadlings? Isn’t the cover gorgeous? Are you excited for this book to come out?? Does the story sound cool? (Hint: it was one of my absolute favorite reads last year! ❤ ) Do you like fairytale retellings?? (Particularly of Rapunzel, in this case.) Tell me all in the comments! Thanks for reading! ^_^

Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales (Review)

onceboxset

This last week, an exciting new release happened… Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales, an ebook box-set collection of half a dozen novellas by six different authors!

I’m here today with a review for each of the six stories, but first a bit about the collection…

About ONCE

oncecover

Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales

Six fairytales you thought you knew, set against a tapestry of historical backgrounds.

  • A lonely girl plots revenge in the shadow of a mountain.
  • A stolen princess fumbles a century backward.
  • A dwarfish man crafts brilliant automatons.
  • A Polish Jew strikes matches against the Nazis.
  • A dead girl haunts a crystal lake.
  • A terrified princess searches a labyrinth.

A rich collection of six historically inspired retellings, Once is a new generation of fairytales for those who thought they’d heard the tales in all their forms.

Featuring the novellas of Elisabeth Grace Foley, Rachel Heffington, J Grace Pennington, Emily Ann Putzke, Suzannah Rowntree, and Hayden Wand.

Find the book

Amazon | Goodreads


Author links

My Review

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Overall rating for the collection: 4 stars

Six interesting retellings of six different fairytales by six skilled authors. I found each of these to be unique and very well written, although each of them are quite different from each other, and I enjoyed some more than others. Overall, a quite good collection of tales! Here are my thoughts on each.

(I received a free e-ARC copy of this collection from the authors.)

THE MOUNTAIN OF THE WOLF (by Elisabeth Grace Foley)

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4 stars

This one started out a little slow, so I was nervous I wouldn’t enjoy it, but once it got intriguing I was hooked, and read the second half in breathless anticipation.

The Little Red Riding Hood retelling part of it only came in near the end, but it worked really well and was unique. Not sure I’ve ever read a retelling of that one before! I haven’t read many westerns (I’ve seen a lot more. ;)) but I really enjoyed this one!

It all felt super authentic — descriptions, dialog, characters… all of it. Rosa Jean was a well written character who I quite liked, and Quincy Burnett was awesome! The writing is detailed and skilfully firm — I could really see the setting, even if it made the beginning slow.

Other than a quiet beginning and the fact that it took a little while for anything to be explained (including the fact that I automatically assumed Rosa Jean was a thirty year old woman whose husband had died… um, nope.. whoops), it was really good!

A gripping, vivid, well-written story, which I quite enjoyed and made me happy there at the end. ^_^ *hugs book*

SHE BUT SLEEPETH (by Rachel Heffington)

5starrating

+

1starrating

=

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5-star story, 1-star ending

(don’t know what to rate it overall, so I’m going with 5+1=3 stars [shush, don’t question my maths])

This story was GOLDEN and I ADORED it and it was amusing and cleverly witty and fascinating and fresh and I was grinning the whole time I read it and it was a sparkling 5 star story… until the last second when everything crashed and burned and it ripped my heart out and left me DEVASTATED AND FURIOUS and I can’t say what happened because spoilers but IT WAS NOT OKAY AND I AM NOT OKAY AND I’M SO UPSET I CAN’T EVEN RIGHT NOW.

Some people might not mind such an ending but for me it just totally made everything not okay. I couldn’t even keep reading the collection for awhile because this one ripped my heart out so bad and made me so furious. *SADNESSES OF ALL SADNESS*

It was a modern-turned-time-travel-1897-Romania-Sleeping-Beauty-magical-gypsy-curse kind of story with a beautiful love story (most of the time), and was a magical, clever, fresh, funny, well-written, unique story, with so much personality and charm. I just loved it so much. Which is why it’s so tragic that the ending was… well… tragic. It’s not a fairytale romance, it’s a tragedy. And I need my happy endings or else I’m a heap of displeased as high as Mount Everest. So that was super disappointing, even though the rest was really good! BUT IT MADE SAD AND ANGRY AND UGH.

I just… don’t know what to rate it, since half of me says to give it 5 stars (or at least 4… knocking one off for the ending), and the other half of me wants to rate it 1 star and not even be sorry and howl from the rooftops how such an ending is so many levels of not okay. Bad endings tend to cancel out good stories for me. Plus, I expected something else to happen with Ioan, and it never did? There were a bunch of unwrapped-up things like that. I just… I really thought the ending would come together into something clever and interesting and happy and then it DIDN’T. Lost opportunities, IMHO.

Um. I’ll just be over here in a corner feeling conflicted and royally distraught.

Great story. Awful ending. We’ll leave it at that. (BUT IT WAS SO GOOD. BUT UGH THAT ENDING WHYYY. -_-)

RUMPLED (by J. Grace Pennington)

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4.5 stars

This story was so good! Definitely one of my favorites of the collection. 🙂

This was a Rumpelstiltskin retelling with a steampunk/sci-fi twist set in an alternate-history America (really intriguing, but I wish we’d learned more about it in the story than we did).

It was much more like the original fairy tale, in terms of plot layout, than any of the other stories in the collection, but I actually loved that because it made the differences, despite the similar framework, stand out a lot more strongly. Because this story was SO Rumpelstiltskin, and yet SO twisted around and fresh and different.

The writing is brilliant but also down to earth. The characters were real and interesting. I liked Amanda, and Byron, what was seen of him, was great. It almost felt like a Beauty and the Beast story occasionally, which was actually cool.

There were mysteries which kept me guessing, and I stayed on the edge of my seat for most of the story, immersed and reading as fast as I could, wondering how it would all turn out.

Overall, it was a beautifully written, entrancing and original tale, with a touching love story and a good dash of suspense, at least for me. I loved it! Definitely a favorite. ^_^

SWEET REMEMBRANCE (by Emily Ann Putzke)

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2 stars

This is one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” things. I knew from the start that this would be a story that would not be a favorite.

World War II, The Little Match Girl, first-person-present-tense, tragic love story, with a lot of darkness and grimness, and favorite character dying, and no happy ending in sight… Those are like some of my least favorite things ever, all rolled in one (seriously, it’s only missing dystopia and zombies. XD) so I knew it just wasn’t my thing.

But I admit I was surprised how sweet the romance was and how beautiful the writing was (in some of the flashbacks, anyway), and I could see why it was written how it was (the flashbacks, which are actually most of the story, are in past-tense, so it made sense to tell it that way), and Romek was the best (*sadnesses*), and it was gripping despite not being my thing.

So I’m giving it an extra star for being well-written and having some good things like that. I just… why can’t stories have happy endings? -_- Anyway, I’m sure many people will enjoy this one, it just wasn’t for me.

I just don’t enjoy tales that are hopeless and depressing, no matter how well-written they are. Just my personal preference.

DEATH BE NOT PROUD (by Suzannah Rowntree)

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4.5 stars

I wasn’t sure what to think about this one for awhile, but it surprised me by drawing me in and I ended up really enjoying it!

I found it interesting that it was set in New Zealand in the 1920s, and I enjoyed the slight unfamiliar touches of the setting and time period. Very loosely based on Snow White, I simply LOVED finding little hints and parallels to that fairytale. Unless you knew to look for them, they could easily slip through the cracks and not be noticed, so I found them to be quite clever and fun to look for. 🙂

It’s more of a thriller, murder-mystery type story, and much of the time you don’t know who to believe or trust, which only added to the suspense and mystery. Normally I really dislike stories which leave out key bits of information that we ought to know but for some reason I didn’t mind in this one. I guessed a lot of things, but despite that the mystery kept me on the edge of my seat.

The heroine, Ruby Black, was somewhat strange and I wasn’t sure if I liked her at first, but I found that didn’t really matter because by the end the characters were so real to me that I found “liking” or not had no say in the matter. They just… were. The other characters were interesting too, particularly Max, who we saw the most of besides Ruby, and who I was really kept on my toes wondering about.

There was also some poetry and imagery woven in, which only added to the ethereal feel. It was exciting and beautifully written, and the tiniest bit eerie, but in a way that didn’t bother me. I just… really really liked it! 🙂 Which surprised me, because it started out a little rocky and I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy it. I’m so glad I kept reading!

Somewhat haunting and gorgeous and strange and unique, and I liked the clever fairytale twists in it. Another favorite!

WITH BLOSSOMS GOLD (by Hayden Wand)

5starrating5 stars!!! Favorite of the collection! ^_^

THIS STORY!! *shrieking* I just loved it so so so much! ^_^

A retelling of Rapunzel, set in Renaissance Italy, this story was like golden sunshine and I LOVED it. What if Rapunzel (in this story, Nella) didn’t want to leave her tower?

It starts out a much lighter-hearted story than the rest, but it has its share of reality and war and adventure and peril as well. All of that comes later, but first we must meet quiet Nella, and two princes who are SO much fun to read… seriously, the dialog in this story is FANTASTIC. It’s mostly about Nella, who’s odd but nice and has to face many fears, and Prince Benedict, who is just… asldkjflk HE’S GREAT OKAY.

The humor in this story is superb and had me laughing aloud several times, or just grinning and grinning, quite unable to stop. The banter Benedict has with Nella, and with his brother (seriously great brother scenes with Benedict and Orlando, even if there weren’t a lot) just made my day.

In a way it’s a simpler plot than some, but it was just so refreshing and fun and gorgeous and I adored it. ❤ When war threatens and peril engulfs our main characters, they must be brave and press on in the face of adversity, with only their love, ingenuity, and faith to guide them.

There wasn’t a lot of Christianity, exactly, but it was worked into the story and certainly more prevalent than in the other stories in this collection. I quite liked how it weaved in. I also loved how some of the original fairytale things got worked in, in different ways than you’d expect. The labyrinth, for example, was cool. 😀

It was a beautiful, sweet love story and fairytale retelling, with princes and castles and towers and knights, loads of humor, and priceless character interaction and bickering which I seriously cannot say enough about because I LOVED the humor and fun and characters and banter! ❤

I just… *flailing* I don’t even think I can think of anything I disliked about it. IT WAS AWESOME, OKAY? The perfect note to end this collection on, it left me grinning and beaming and just so happy. ^_^ This story is the BEST. EVERYONE, READ THIS COLLECTION IF JUST FOR THIS STORY!

I loved it so very much and it made me incredibly happy. ❤

There you have it! My thoughts on ONCE. Overall, I enjoyed them. 🙂 How about you, my Roadlings? Have you read, or do you wish to read, these tales? Which most interests you? Hurray for fairytale retellings! ^_^

The Five Gems & Thaw Book Launch Party!

Today I’m spreading the word about my friend E. Kaiser Writes’s book-launch party! Read on for info on the books, a Facebook Party, and a giveaway. 🙂

What’s the occasion? I’m glad you asked! At long last her available novels — previously available only in ebook editions — are releasing in print today, which is super exciting!

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You may remember I posted about the launch of the first three THAW books: Winter’s Child, Winter Queen, and Prince of Demargen. (You can also read my review for Prince of Demargen on my other blog — hint: I LOVED IT!) Well they’re in print now! (And they’re all gorgeously illustrated by the author.)

EEEK I love seeing them in “real” form here… So pretty!

New Covers Reveal

Today also marks the launch of the new ebook editions (also available in print) of the first two books of the Five Gems series, Jeweler’s Apprentice and Traitor’s Knife with new covers — aren’t they pretty?

The Books, With Links

Jeweler’s Apprentice (Five Gems, #1)

On her first visit to the palace 16 year old Fia Brithin stumbles onto a court secret. To keep the secret safe, the Chancellor sends her off as apprentice to a famous, reclusive, high mountain jeweler.

…And straight into adventure.

Discovering gems with deep secrets and new friends with the same, Fia learns a whole lot more than just making wax models.  She learns… When to trust a stranger, and when not to; why not to try stealing from gem thieves; what heroism is, what royalty ought to be, and that the mountains themselves can sometimes be the greatest danger of all.

Kindle Ebook | Paperback


Traitor’s Knife (Five Gems, #2)

When the loyalist cause enlists the mountain house into a weaponry, young apprentice Fia is confronted with three refugee children, a disturbingly upstart former messenger, and accidents happening everywhere. Are saboteurs out to nix the weapons works… or is it her friend, Othira’s incognito crown prince they’re after?

Traitor’s Knife continues where Jeweler’s Apprentice ended, and nearly seventeen year old Fia Brithin from the foothills still has a lot to learn about the mountains, and the people now in them.

Kindle Ebook | Paperback

Winter’s Child (Thaw, #1)

A barren king and queen pray for a child, and when in their loneliness, they make one out of snow, their prayers are answered in a special, and unusual way.

Sometimes, when we get what we wish for, we don’t know what to do with it.

Kindle Ebook | Paperback


Winter Queen (Thaw, #2)

A slightly pampered girl allows her avoidance behavior to isolate her from the world… it’s only when she takes the final step that she realizes the wall she’s built in the name of safety is also the one that will hold her prisoner forever… unless she discovers how to destroy it.

The only one who can break a neurosis… is the one who has it.

Kindle Ebook | Paperback


Prince of Demargen (Thaw, #3)

The whole world knows his guilt, and is absolutely correct about it, but how far can a man go to regain respect so swiftly lost?

Or is an honorable death the best a fallen star can hope for?

The only person who can help him… is the one he most deeply wronged.

Kindle Ebook | Paperback

About the Author

ekwProfileE. Kaiser Writes credits her nearly nomadic childhood for the vast reach of her fictional worlds; she has lived (and gotten to known the locals) in the Rocky Mtns, the Smoky Mtns, the plains, the deep forest, the searing Texas summer and frozen Minnesota north. She wears many hats: writer and editor of ad copy, web copy, office correspondence & fiction; a cowgirl, animal trainer, seamstress, jeweler, artist and… authoress! Connect with her online:

Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads | Pinterest

Facebook Party

There’s a Facebook party tomorrow (Saturday, April 23, at 1:00 – 4:45 pm CST) to celebrate the release of these books, so if you are on FB be sure to mosey on over there to join the fun! There’ll be giveaways and fun stuff, including other authors like Rachel Rossano, Kelsey Bryant, and Faith Blum, joining in the celebrations. 🙂

Giveaway

If, like me, you are not on Facebook, fear not! The author is kindly also holding an extra giveaway, winner(s) to be selected from those who comment on this and other posts about the launch this weekend! Check out her blog to learn more about what-all’s going on. 🙂