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Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Perilous Journey Of The Much Too Spontaneous Girl by Leigh Statham

September 28th, 2016 Bridget Posted in Blog Tour Comments Off on Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Perilous Journey Of The Much Too Spontaneous Girl by Leigh Statham

l-stathamPlease welcome author Leigh Statham! She’s here today with an amazing guest post about her new novel The Perilous Journey of the Much Too Spontaneous Girl! This is the second book in the The Perilous Journey of the Not So Innocuous Girl series and it is a YA steampunk novel!!! Can I just say that the covers for these books are so GORGEOUS!!! I haven’t had a chance to read these books yet, but I seriously can’t wait. I have heard they are fantastic!!! After Leigh’s guest post there is also an awesome giveaway so don’t forget to enter to win a prize!!!

About Leigh:

Leigh Statham was raised in the wilds of rural Idaho, but found her heart in New York City. She worked as a waitress, maid, artist, math teacher, nurse, web designer, art director, thirty-foot inflatable pig and mule wrangler before she settled down in the semi-quiet role of wife, mother and writer. She resides in North Carolina with her husband, four children, five chickens and two suspected serial killer cats. If the air is cool and the sun is just coming up over the horizon, you can find her running the streets of her small town, plotting her next novel with the sort of intensity that will one day get her hit by a car.

You can visit Leigh around the web here: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Want to read more from Leigh Statham?



Dark Faerie Tales: I love that the story is based on the true story of The Daughters of the King, Louis the XIV’s social program to settle the wilds of Canada with women of noble birth! What made you decide to choose this story? Can you tell us a little bit about the research you had to perform for the book? Can you tell us a little bit more about the real story?

Leigh: Thank you for having me on your blog! I discovered this story when I was doing family history research. One of my ancestors was actually a Daughter of the King. The more I dug into it, the more excited I got. This program was way ahead of its time as far as women’s rights go. Most of the details about the program I talk about in the books are true. The girls were recruited from noble families, they were between the ages of 12 and 19, and they were shipped across the Atlantic ocean during the Golden Age of Piracy. But the best part, to me, was that once they reached Canada, the girls got to choose who they would marry. In book two, I really wanted to delve deeper into the world of pirates, who they were, what their lives and social systems were like. I discovered a lot of interesting facts. Hollywood often portrays them as being lawless savages. While the most infamous pirates were, many were just unhappy sailors that escaped their Royal Navy (of one country or another) in hopes of making a decent wage. Life on a pirate ship was usually democratic; pirates got to vote on many decisions and majority won. The captain was usually chosen for their skills with pen and paper— if you could read and write, you were a hot commodity on the open seas. Captains were in charge of the books. They kept detailed records of their plundering and divided it evenly among the men. There were also a few women in positions of power in the pirating world. From China, to Scotland, to the Caribbean, women did their fair share of plundering and pirate bookkeeping.


DFT: Would you share your publishing story with us and possibly give advice to authors who are looking to get published for the first time!

Leigh: My publishing story is pretty standard. I wrote a book, couldn’t sell it, so I wrote another book, and another and another, finally, with this series, I got a bite and jumped in.  By that time I had moved from simply emailing agents one at a time after hours of research, to utilizing every tool I could to get noticed and get a deal. I started querying small presses and editors as well as agents, and I started making good use of Twitter. There are loads of great ways to connect on twitter, including twitter pitch contests like #PitchWars and #SonOfAPitch (a personal favorite of mine).  My book was finally discovered through a pitch contest on twitter hosted by Aussie Owned and Read. I got four offers from that contest after MONTHS of rejections. So, my advice to authors who are looking to get published for the first time is just this: Don’t give up. There is always something you can be doing to move your career (and your dreams) forward. Write a book, make it as perfect as possible, send it out, and while you’re querying, start writing or outlining another book. Look at feedback with an open mind, take a class on writing so you can improve your skills (everyone can always improve – NEVER STOP LEARNING) and most importantly READ. If you aren’t familiar with the market and what is selling, you aren’t going to be very successful in this field. Plus reading other people’s work is a valuable way to learn and it’s a great excuse for some time off. “Sorry, honey, can’t do the dishes right now. I really need to finish reading this book. It’s for work.”





This giveaway is provided by Leigh Statham & Month9 Books!

One winner will receive a scrabble tile book cover charm!

Five winners will receive a digital copy of books 1 & 2 in the Perilous Journey of the Not So Innocuous Girl series by Leigh Statham


Available September 20, 2016 by Month9Books

About this Book:

Lady Marguerite Vadnay and her trusty automaton, Outil, have settled into life in New France rather well. Marguerite is top of the class at flight school and her future as an aerpilot is nearly secure. She has everything she wants— except a commission on the pirate hunting dirigible The Renegade. Using every card in her aristocratic arsenal, Marguerite wiggles her way onto the finest warship France has to offer. But as usual, Marguerite’s plans endanger the lives of those she holds dear— only this time no one else is going to save them. As Marguerite and Outil set off on a rescue mission they may not return from, she finally realizes it’s time to reorder her cogs.

This steampunk adventure is littered with facts from The Golden Age of Piracy and follows (not too closely) some of the lives and adventures of the brave men and women who sailed the seas as privateers, pirates and soldiers.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Spellbreaker by Blake Charlton

August 29th, 2016 Kristie Posted in Blog Tour 1 Comment »

Blake CharltonDark Faerie Tales has an exciting giveaway for fans of high fantasy novels! Spellbreaker the the final book in the Spellwright Trilogy is a crazy, wild story of gods, demons and the people that can hold the power over both of them. This novel was released on August 23, 2016 from Tor/Macmillan! Check out my review below this post or by clicking HERE.

A huge thank you to Tor/Forge for today’s giveaway! One lucky reader can enter for a chance to win Spellbreaker at the end of this post! This contest is open to U.S. addresses only.

About Blake:

Blake Charlton is now a proud dyslexic, but as a boy he hated the condition that kept him effectively illiterate. He learned to read fluently by sneaking fantasy novels into seventh grade special-ed study hall. Since then he has been (in no particular order) a JV football coach, an undergraduate at Yale University, bald, a high school English teacher, a chronically semi-employed writer, a special education advocate, and a medical student at Stanford University. He is currently a senior resident physician in internal medicine at the University of California San Francisco.

Blake’s non-fiction has appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, The British Medical Journal, and The New York Times among others.

Blake’s science fiction short stories have appeared in the Seeds of Change and the Unfettered anthologies. Blake’s novels Spellwright and Spellbound are published by Tor Books in the US and Harper Voyager in the UK. They have been translated into 9 languages. Spellbreaker is due out 2016.

You can visit Blake around the web here: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Want to read more from Blake Charlton?

Spellwright Spellbound Spellbreaker


Spellbreaker Blog Tour

Aug. 23: Fantasy Book Critic

Aug. 24: The Arched Doorway

Aug. 26: Worlds in Ink

Aug. 29: Dark Faerie Tales


TOR/FORGE Press Release

An exciting stand-alone tale set in the world of acclaimed epic fantasy novels Spellwright and Spellbound 


Blake Charlton


 “«The worldbuilding and the conflict are expertly delineated, but much of the trilogy’s focus is far more intimate: a richly textured portrait of personal growth . . . Vivid, intelligent, and painful in an authentically laudable way.”

Kirkus, Starred Review

“«There is significant emotional depth to the story, and ponderings on fate, love, and the purpose of human society give the novel some gravitas. Intricate plotting, strong characters, and a wonderfully imagined world make this a winner.”

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“«The thrilling conclusion to the Spellwright trilogy answers some lingering questions about Leandra’s parents and brings descriptive depth to her character. … It will appeal to readers who enjoy high fantasy, complex worlds, and characters that change and grow throughout the story.”

Booklist, Starred Review

Tor is thrilled to bring you a new novel from acclaimed fantasy author Blake Charlton, SPELLBREAKER (A Tor Hardcover; $26.99; On-Sale: August 23, 2016). This stand-alone tale set in the world of Charlton’s epic fantasy novels Spellwright and Spellbound has already received three starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist and Publishers Weekly, and Bookish has named it a must-read fantasy book for the summer.

What if a prophecy predicts that you will either murder someone you love – or die yourself? This is the problem Leandra Weal, Warden of Ixos, encounters in SPELLBREAKER. But she doesn’t know who her future victim is – and there are a lot of possibilities.

Leandra’s quest to unravel the mystery of the murder-she-will-commit becomes more urgent when her chronic disease flares up and the Ixonian Archipelago is plagued by natural disasters, demon worshiping cults, and fierce political infighting. As chaos spreads across Ixos, Leandra and her troubled family must race to uncover the shocking truth about a prophesied demonic invasion, human language, and their own identities–if they don’t kill each other first.

As well as a stand-alone epic fantasy, SPELLBREAKER serves as the long-awaited follow-up to Spellbound, which was listed by Kirkus Reviews among the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2011. Fans of the series will find in it answers to the questions raised by the previous books about Leandra’s parents, Nicodemus Weal and Francesca DeVega.

Readers will enjoy SPELLBREAKER’s blend of a fascinating science-based magical system and complex characters, including two driven and ambitious women. Long-time readers and newcomers alike will appreciate the depth Charlton brings to his story, using his struggles with dyslexia as a basis for one of the characters and incorporating his knowledge of science and chemistry to create the magical system. SPELLBREAKER is a smart, complex epic fantasy for all fans of stand-out tales.

“« Charlton succeeds brilliantly here; this is no mere setup for the final installment. Absolutely not to be missed.”

Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review for Spellwright

Spellwright is exactly the kind of book that got me into fantasy in the first place.”

Daniel Abraham, author of The Long Price Quartet

“« A well-written and cleverly presented fantasy with strong characters and surprising plot twists, this saga should appeal to…fans of Terry Brooks and L. E. Modesitt Jr.”

Library Journal, Starred Review for Spellbound



This contest is provided by Tor/Forge!

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Spellbreaker by Blake Charlton!


Available August 23, 2016 from Tor/Macmillan

About this Book:

Leandra Weal has a bad habit of getting herself in dangerous situations.

While hunting neodemons in her role as Warden of Ixos, Leandra obtains a prophetic spell that provides a glimpse one day into her future. She discovers that she is doomed to murder someone she loves, soon, but not who. That’s a pretty big problem for a woman who has a shark god for a lover, a hostile empress for an aunt, a rogue misspelling wizard for a father, and a mother who–especially when arguing with her daughter–can be a real dragon.

Leandra’s quest to unravel the mystery of the murder-she-will-commit becomes more urgent when her chronic disease flares up and the Ixonian Archipelago is plagued by natural disasters, demon worshiping cults, and fierce political infighting. Everywhere she turns, Leandra finds herself amid intrigue and conflict. It seems her bad habit for getting into dangerous situations is turning into a full blown addiction.

As chaos spreads across Ixos, Leandra and her troubled family must race to uncover the shocking truth about a prophesied demonic invasion, human language, and their own identities–if they don’t kill each other first.

Spellbreaker is the long awaited sequel to Spellbound, which was listed by Kirkus Reviews among the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2011. This final installment of the Spellwright Trilogystands alone as a complete story; however, fans of the series will find in it answers to the questions raised by the previous books about Leandra’s parents, Nicodemus Weal and Francesca DeVega.

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Blog Tour: Burn by Suzanne Wright

August 26th, 2016 Kristie Posted in Blog Tour Comments Off on Blog Tour: Burn by Suzanne Wright

Suzanne WrightSuzanne Wright has a sinfully wonderful series called Dark In You that features Demons! This is a dark, delightlyfully erotic series. The first novel Burn will be released in paperback on September 1, 2016 from Piatkus while the second novel, Blaze, will be released in ebook the same day! Please check out my review for Burn below this post or by clicking HERE. My review for Blaze will be released in the next few days.

About Suzanne:

Suzanne Wright lives in England with her husband and two children. When she’s not spending time with her family, she’s writing, reading or doing her version of housework – sweeping the house with a look. She’s worked in a pharmaceutical company, at a Disney Store, at a primary school as a voluntary teaching assistant, at the RSCPA and has a First Class Honours degree in Psychology and Identity Studies.

You can visit Suzanne around the web here: Website | Blog Twitter | Facebook

Want to read more from Suzanne Wright?

BurnBlazeFeral Sins Wicked Cravings Carnal Secrets Dark Instincts Savage UrgesSpiral of NeedForce of TemptationHere Be Sexist VampiresThe Bite That BindsTaste of TormentConsumedFractured


BLOG TOUR banner (1)


Burn SW

Available September 1, 2016 from Piatkus/Little Brown

About this Book:

Part of a small demon lair in North Las Vegas, tattooist Harper Wallis lives a pretty simple life. That changes overnight when she discovers that her psychic mate, or ‘anchor’, is a guy who’s rumored to be the most powerful demon in existence. Compelling, full of secrets and armed with raw sexuality, Knox Thorne is determined to claim her as his anchor, creating a psychic bond that will prevent their inner demons from ever turning rogue. The billionaire also wants Harper in his bed. She’s not so sure she wants either of those things. No one seems to know what breed of demon Knox is, only that he’s more dangerous than anything she’s ever before encountered. But he refuses to walk away. And when an unknown danger starts closing in on Harper, it seems that Knox is the only one who can keep her safe.

As Prime of his Las Vegas lair and a successful businessman, Knox Thorne is used to being in control. He’s also used to people fearing and obeying him. Harper does neither, which unexpectedly amuses him. Unpredictable, elusive, and complex, she draws Knox and his inner demon like nothing ever has. Knox is used to getting what he wants, and he wants Harper. He’ll have her, and he’ll keep her safe from the threat that looms over her. Because Knox protects what’s his. He won’t allow anyone to take her from him. Even if it will mean letting the demon inside him rise and wreak the havoc it was created to make.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Reader by Traci Chee

August 17th, 2016 Kristie Posted in Blog Tour 13 Comments »

Traci CheePlease welcome author Traci Chee! Her Young Adult debut novel The Reader sounds absolutely amazing! Traci is here with a guest post about the loneliness of authors and finding a community. The Reader is the first novel in the Sea of Ink and Gold series. It will be released on September 13, 2016 from Putnam/Penguin! Read an excerpt of the first two chapters here!

Be sure to enter for your chance to win an “I Am A Reader” Prize Pack which includes a copy of The Reader and a branded “I Am The Reader” tote bag at the end of the post! This giveaway is open to U.S. addresses only. A huge thank you to Penguin Random House for this giveaway!

About Traci:

Traci Chee is an author of speculative fiction for teens. An all-around word geek, she loves book arts and art books, poetry and paper crafts, though she also dabbles at piano playing, egg painting, and hosting potluck game nights for family and friends. She studied literature and creative writing at UC Santa Cruz and earned a master of arts degree from San Francisco State University. Traci grew up in a small town with more cows than people, and now feels most at home in the mountains, scaling switchbacks and happening upon hidden highland lakes. She lives in California with her fast-fast dog. The Reader is her YA debut.

You can visit Traci around the web here: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr

Want to read more from Traci Chee?

The Reader (Sea of Ink and ...


Sefia’s clue to finding her lost family lies in a book. How have you found a family through books and/or through being a part of the online book community?


by Traci Chee

Two years ago, back in 2014, I had little idea that the online book community even existed. I was toiling away, alone in my apartment, trying to whip my manuscript into shape. (And very quietly failing, I might add.) I didn’t have a publisher. I didn’t have an agent. It was just me and my writing and not knowing if my words would ever reach the rest of the world.

But I wanted to be an author. I had wanted to be an author since I was in high school. I wanted it so bad I could feel it in my bones.

So I ventured out onto the internet for guidance. (How do I get a literary agent? What is a query letter?) I felt like Harry Potter entering Diagon Alley for the first time and finding, to my surprise, not only was I not alone, but there was this bustling, thriving community, full of people just like me, already in existence! Everyone was so friendly and so knowledgeable and best of all, they loved books. And not just books in the general sense either. They loved my favorite books! These were the people who could debate Peeta vs. Gale and cite multiple scenes supporting their theory about Jon Snow’s heritage and name all the dwarves that Bilbo traveled with in The Hobbit. These were my people.

And then I found Pitch Wars.

Hosted by the inimitable Brenda Drake, author of Thief of Lies, Pitch Wars is an online contest in which industry insiders like agented authors, editors, and interns each choose a writer to mentor for two whole months. During that time, they hack, slash, burn, revise, rewrite, and regrow their manuscript until it’s pretty-as-a-picture. Writers also work with their mentors to shine up their elevator pitches for the agent round, when Brenda enlists a whole slew of agents to traipse by the Pitch Wars website, making requests to see manuscripts.

Unlike many pitch contests, this one isn’t just about getting your pitch in front of agents, it’s also about getting better as a writer. So I cut down my word count, squeezed in under the deadline, and alongside over 1,200 other aspiring authors, I waited for two excruciatingly long weeks to see who the mentors had chosen.

I got in! And it was seriously one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Not only did I get to work with Renée Ahdieh, author of The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger, and not only was she absolutely brilliant, but I also met the greatest group of bookish folks I’ve ever known.

I hadn’t realized how lonely this publishing business can be until I started talking with my fellow mentees from Pitch Wars 2014. These are people who are always there to commiserate or celebrate, to pick you up and cheer you on, no matter where you are in your journey. We swap queries and read each other’s books, but we also rejoice about job promotions and listen to each other’s personal struggles and someone is always there to pass the virtual chocolate.

Through this group, I also met Tara Sim, author of the forthcoming historical fantasy Timekeeper. You see, in February 2015 we were both thinking of flying down to Santa Monica for YALLWEST, a new west coast YA literary festival, and we were both in need of a roomie for the weekend. It would have been perfect! We’d both been part of Pitch Wars. We’d been talking on the internet for months.

The problem was we hadn’t met in person. And let’s be honest, each of us wanted to find out if the other person was a creeper before committing to sharing a hotel room. So we met up at one of our local independent bookstores, Book Passage (where I mispronounced her name immediately), shared a brownie, and after a few hours it was settled. Neither of us was creepy. (Yay!) And we would do YALLWEST together. (Double yay!)

Now, over a year later, we’re both debut authors with fantasy trilogies hitting shelves this fall. We carpool to book events, celebrate successes, and gleefully tell each other to start shows on Netflix that neither of us really has time to watch. I am the Pepper Potts to her Tony Stark, and once I actually prevented her from setting something on fire. It is great.

Back in 2014, I knew I wanted to be an author. I had no idea that on my path to publication I would find such an incredible community of book people (who are in my opinion the best people). Nor did I think I would find such stalwart friends. But that’s part of the magic of books, isn’t it? They bring people together. Through online fandoms and midnight Harry Potter releases and writing contests. Through literary festivals and libraries and bookstore coffee shops. They let you know you’re not alone, and your people are out there, waiting for you to stop in, say hello, and declare your allegiance to your Hogwarts house. (Ravenclaws, unite!)



This contest is provided by Penguin Random House!

One lucky reader will win the “I Am A Reader” Prize Pack which includes a copy of The Reader and a branded “I Am The Reader” tote bag!
(US only)

I Am The Reader Prize

Available September 13, 2016 from Putnam/Penguin

About this Book:

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliot

August 16th, 2016 Bridget Posted in Blog Tour Comments Off on Blog Tour & Giveaway: Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliot

KateElliottToday we have a special post for you guys! Kate Elliot is the amazing author of Court of Fives and Poisoned Blade and she wrote a great guest post for us. It talks about some of the experiments she went through when trying to write her sequel. She also includes some amazing deleted scenes! This series is YA high fantasy and I LOVED the first book. I haven’t had a chance to read book two but I plan to very soon, so keep your eyes out for my review!!!

After the wonderful guest post there is a fantastic giveaway for three finished copies of Poisoned Blade so make sure to enter that! This contest is open to U.S. addresses only.

About Kate:

Kate Elliott has been writing stories since she was nine years old, which has led her to believe that writing, like breathing, keeps her alive. As a child in rural Oregon, she made up stories because she longed to escape to a world of lurid adventure fiction. She now writes fantasy, steampunk, science fiction, and YA, including recent works Black Wolves, Court of Fives, and Cold Magic.

It should come as no surprise that she met her future husband in a sword fight. When he gave up police work to study archaeology, they and their three children fell into an entirely new set of adventures amid dusty Mexican ruins and mouthwatering European pastry shops. Eventually her spouse’s work forced them to move to Hawaii, where she took up outrigger canoe paddling. With the three children out of the house, they now spoil the schnauzer.

Find Kate Elliot around the web: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Live Journal | Tumblr

Want to read more from Kate Elliot?



When First Draft Experiments Don’t Work (But Are Worthwhile Anyway)

From the beginning I envisioned Court of Fives as a trilogy or maybe even as a quartet. When I first started thinking about the series I had an idea in which I would write the first book in Jes’s point of view and then add one sister’s pov to each subsequent book until the reader met all four “in person.”

So when I started writing the first draft of book two, Poisoned Blade, I tried writing in the point of view of Amaya, the youngest sister. She’s the pretty one who loves fashion and theater, who writes poetry, who pretends to dream of marriage even though she is really dreaming of a different kind of independence in a world that gives her few options. She’s over-dramatic and self-absorbed.

Here is the opening scene I wrote for her:


EXCERPT FROM FIRST DRAFT in Amaya’s Point of View:

Once upon a time, in a better world, a beautiful girl named Amaya Tonor, daughter of the honorable and exceptionally brilliant army officer Captain Esladas, attended the theater with her best and most beloved friend, the equally lovely Denya Tonor. Denya was the daughter of Captain Osfiyos who was also honorable but quite honestly not nearly as brilliant as Captain Esladas. However that fact is something a well bred young Patron woman would never mention in company and certainly not to her most doting and affectionate friend.

With what pleasure did Amaya and Denya watch their favorite play, the Hide of the Ox, for perhaps the hundredth time! They had every line memorized.

It so happened on that occasion that a pair of handsome cavalry officers looking quite dashing in the uniform of the king’s royal horse soldiers sat in the audience. Smote by the charming girls’ beauty and lively speech, the officers at once begged leave to address the solemn fathers, and begged leave to contract each a marriage with the girl who most caught his eye. Because the officers were well connected and rich, the fathers naturally agreed but with the proviso that the girls prove willing.

Thus it was that, holding hands, Amaya and Denya sat later that evening upon a garden bench while the two officers proclaimed themselves unworthy of the elegant delicacy and alluring virtue laid before them. Being officers, they would often be away fighting in the wars. But being brothers, as is the custom of Patron households, they shared a compound and thus the two girls would have each other to keep company with in the months and years their husbands were absent. Would these frequent and lengthy absences be an impediment too great an obstacle for the girls to leap?

No! No! the girls assured them. It would be entirely suitable and just what they most desired.

Once upon a time, in a better world, this is the story that would have unfolded upon the stage of my life.

Meanwhile my insensitive older sister Maraya faces me in the empty common room of the dump of an inn we now live in. As if kindly scolding a slow-witted child, she tells me I have to cut my glorious hair and smear mud on my face so I won’t be possibly be recognized by customers while I serve drinks and clean the floors at this ghastly ramshackle tavern.

“I won’t cut my hair just because you have brewed up a hundred horrible happenstances that will never come true!” I protest as Maraya crosses her arms, callously unimpressed by my reasonable retort. “Even if our father is a famous general now, ten days ago he was nothing more than a humble lowborn captain. He kept us four girls under such a tight rein it’s astounding he ever let me attend the theater with Denya and her family at all! No one will recognize me, especially now that most of the army has left the city.”

Maraya blocks the door that opens onto the street. “If Lord Gargaron’s stewards catch sight of you on the street, they will run to tell his lordship immediately.”

“Lord Gargaron and his stewards only saw me once, Merry. I know I have the sort of pleasingly beauteous face that attracts notice, but it strikes me as implausible that important Patron men would remember me.” If I catch her by surprise and shove her to the left, I might be able to bolt out the door before she can grab me. I can’t breathe in here! So I chatter on, hoping to distract her before I make my move. “It’s unfair I’m not even allowed to go to the market and buy food!”

“Amaya, can you think about something other than yourself for a single blink of an eye? Don’t you recall that Lord Gargaron had Father investigated to make sure he was the brilliant military commander who kept winning victories that gave honor and glory to Lord Ottonor? Don’t you recall that Lord Gargaron had Lord Ottonor murdered? He knows everything about us. He knew Jes secretly ran the Fives. Not even Father knew that!”

“Jes is the selfish one, not me! She ruined everything for the rest of us by sneaking out to run the Fives when she knew Father would never allow any of his daughters to do such a thing.”

“Don’t change the subject.” Maraya pierces my five souls with a deadly flat stare that makes me feel like a bug she is too bored to squash. “You ought to be grateful to Jes, since she is the one who rescued us from a living death in an oracle’s tomb.”

“Of course I am grateful but this wretched compound might as well be my tomb if I can’t ever leave its walls.” I sob a little, as actresses do to show the depth and intensity of their scorned feelings.

“Do you have any idea how tedious you are, Amaya?”

“You have the heart of a fish! Cold and sluggish!”

She snorts indelicately. “Is that a quote from a bad play?”

“No!” I say quickly, even though it is a line from a play I wrote, which no one knows about except Denya.

“Thank the gods,” she replies.

“No one appreciates me!” I mutter in an undertone, but Maraya hears me and in reply sighs so heavily her disparagement might as well be a huge wreath of withering flowers shedding dying petals all around her.

“Amaya? Maraya? Are you in here? It’s so dim without the shutters open.”

Mother appears at the curtain that hides the kitchen from the front room where drinks and food are served. She has to lean against the wall to hold herself up.

I rush over to her. “You shouldn’t be walking yet, Mother! Did the healer give you permission to get up? You are supposed to stay in bed until the bleeding stops.”

“What a scold you have become, Amaya,” says Mother in her gentle voice as she takes my hands and squeezes them. As if she needs to reassure me! Her grip is so frail.

I burst into tears, fear choking my voice until it comes out as a leaky squeak. “You must go back to bed, Mother. You were so sick. Here, let me help you.”

Maraya hurriedly limps over to us and takes Mother’s other arm.

But instead of going back to her bed Mother sinks onto a bench, so we sit beside her. Although I no longer fear she will simply cease breathing and die while she sleeps, her normally radiant complexion looks gray with weariness. “I would like to see other walls just for a little bit. Let me rest here a while.”


After I wrote this I was surprised at how self-conscious Amaya’s voice was. As a writer I wasn’t sure whether that coyness was truly her voice, or whether *I* hadn’t gotten into the heart of her yet.

Regardless, it quickly became apparent for other reasons that the Court of Fives trilogy is Jes’s story to tell. I decided against using any other point of view except Jes to keep the story streamlined and focused, just as Jes herself is very focused, and I’ve been really happy with that decision as it plays out in Poisoned Blade and in book three, which I’m revising now (for a 2017 publication).

However, there were a couple of lines from my attempt to write in Amaya’s point of view that I wanted to keep, so when I wrote a scene toward the beginning of Poisoned Blade in which Jes visits her family, I managed to work those in.



A drab curtain separates the front room [of the inn] where drink and food are served from the back where they are prepared. I smell bread grilling, but it is the familiar voices of my older and younger sister rising behind the curtain that captures my attention.

“It’s unfair I’m not even allowed to go to the night market!”

“To do what, Amaya? We don’t have money to buy anything. If Lord Gargaron’s stewards catch sight of you on the street, we’ll be discovered.”

“Lord Gargaron and his stewards only saw me once, Maraya. I know I have the sort of pleasingly beauteous face that attracts notice, but it strikes even me as implausible that important Patron men would remember.” By the strength of Amaya’s wheedling I can hear she has recovered from her near death by poisoned candied almonds in the tomb. “I can’t breathe in here! It doesn’t even have to be the night market. I’ll hide my face beneath a shawl and walk down by the water and breathe fresh air and listen to the mellifluous cries of the wind-kissed birds who are allowed to y free. Unlike me.”

“Do you have any idea how tedious you are, Amaya?”

“You have the heart of a sh! Cold and sluggish!” Amaya sobs as third-rate actresses do to show the depth and intensity of their scorned feelings. “This wretched compound might as well be my tomb if I can’t ever leave its walls.”

“Help me,” whispers Polodos with a look of such desperation that I giggle.

An abrupt silence follows my betraying laugh.

The curtain twitches as a person on the other side hooks it open just enough to peek through. I would know those lovely eyes anywhere.

I say, “Amaya, if you cut off all your hair, smear mud on your face, and wear a dirty canvas sack with a hole cut for your head, then you can safely go to the market without being recognized.”

With a shout of excitement, Amaya plunges into the room, flings herself upon me, and bursts into sobs while clutching me so tightly I have trouble breathing.

Maraya limps in, smiling. “Oh, Jes, I am so glad to see you! I was afraid it would be unsafe for you to visit us.”

They look just as they did back when we all lived well protected at home, only without the fashionable clothing, perfectly beribboned hair in the most up-to-date style, and fragrant oils and perfumes to hide the smell of sweat. Had we grown up without a successful Patron father who acknowledged us, girls like us might have lived in a place like this, scrambling to make a living and able to afford only cast-off dresses and mended muslin shawls for wrappings.

“How is Mother?” I ask into Amaya’s hair. When she hesitates I shove her to arm’s length, gripping her shoulders so hard she winces. “What’s wrong?”

“Jessamy? Is that you?” Mother appears at the curtain. She has to lean against the wall to hold herself up. She is as tall as I am, and the most beautiful person I know. But right now her dark brown complexion is sheeny with perspiration; her magnificent cloud of hair has been bound under a scarf; no earrings or jewelry ornament her, all the little gifts Father used to shower upon her. She coughs weakly. I rush over but Amaya bolts past me to reach her first.

“You shouldn’t be walking yet, Mother! You are supposed to stay in bed until every trace of bleeding stops.”

“What a scold you have become, Amaya,” says Mother in her gentle voice as she takes my hands as if she needs to reassure me. Her grip is so frail that I fear I might squeeze hard enough to shatter her without meaning to. “I am so glad you have come back, Jessamy. Is Bettany with you?”

Anguish chokes my voice until it comes out as a leaky squeak. “You must go back to bed, Mother. You were so sick. Here, let us help you.”

Amaya takes Mother’s other arm.

She sinks down onto the nearest bench. “I would like to see other walls just for a little while. I have not been out of that tiny room since we came here.”

Amaya and I sit on either side, snuggling close against her as we used to do when we were little.


For me, a large part of writing and revising is knowing when to discard an idea or approach, however painful it may be to throw out work I’ve already done, and when to repurpose it, as in the rewritten Jes-narrated scene. Experimenting with Amaya’s point of view gave me some insight into how the sisters interacted that I might not have noticed otherwise. That’s the great thing about experimentation during the first draft: It might turn out brilliantly, or you might have to throw it away, but regardless it’s a great way to look at your story from a different angle.


Tour Schedule

Week One:

8/8/2016- – Interview

8/9/2016- Sarcasm & Lemons – Review

8/10/2016- Such a Novel Idea – Guest Post

8/11/2016- The Eater of Books – Review

8/12/2016- Two Chicks on Books – Interview

Week Two:

8/15/2016- Fiction Fare – Review

8/16/2016- Dark Faerie Tales – Guest Post

8/17/2016- YaReads – Review

8/18/2016- Once Upon a Twilight – Interview

8/19/2016- Just Commonly – Review



This contest is provided by Little Brown for Young Readers!

Three lucky winners will receive a finished copy of Poisoned Blade!
(US only)

Poisoned Blade

Available August 16, 2016 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

About this Book:

Jessamy is moving up the ranks of the Fives—the complex athletic contest favored by the lowliest Commoners and the loftiest Patrons in her embattled kingdom. Pitted against far more formidable adversaries, success is Jes’s only option, as her prize money is essential to keeping her hidden family alive. She leaps at the chance to tour the countryside and face more competitors, but then a fatal attack on Jes’s traveling party puts her at the center of the war that Lord Kalliarkos—the prince she still loves—is fighting against their country’s enemies. With a sinister overlord watching her every move and Kal’s life on the line, Jes must now become more than a Fives champion…She must become a warrior.

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