Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Dancing & Doughnuts ~ Interview

I am absolutely delighted to bring you all an interview with the lovely Rachel Kovaciny today.  But first I would like to apologize for the lateness of this post and if anything shows up weird or doesn't come through.  I've been having internet issues.

My questions will be in boring old black.
Rachel answers in purple.

Hello, Rachel!  Very glad to have you here today!

I'm very glad to be here! 

I greatly enjoyed Dancing & Doughnuts and I'm glad I have the chance to ask you a few questions about it. 

Yay!  I'm glad you enjoyed it 😀 🙂  I had a ton of fun writing it.
First question.  What "got you started" with writing fairytale re-tellings?
I actually had the idea for a western retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" six or seven years ago.  But I wasn't sure anyone would be interested in fairy tales retold to feature cowboys.
But then Elisabeth Grace Foley wrote "Corral Nocturne," her version of Cinderella, and it was such fun to read.  And when a writer I know, Hayden Wand, won the "Five Enchanted Roses" contest from Rooglewood Press, I thought, "Hey, I could enter the next contest of theirs."
But when they announced the next fairy tale contest would be for retellings of "Sleeping Beauty," I was like, "Oh.  Never mind."  Because I've just got a lot of issues with that fairy tale.
But... I got an idea for a western version of it, and I realized I could FIX a lot of the things that bug me about that fairy tale, so I wrote my own version, which eventually became "The Man on the Buckskin Horse," which won the contest and got included in their "Five Magic Spindles" anthology.
(There, I'm done.  Sorry, that got long!)
As a lover of Westerns and fairytales, I'm glad you decided to give it a whirl!
You're welcome.
I was wondering though, why westerns?
Ahhhhh, why westerns specifically.
Because I love them.  I grew up watching old cowboy movies and TV shows with my dad, and I used to dream of owning my own ranch in Texas.  Westerns are absolutely my favorite genre to watch, and I love learning about the history of that era.  So in 2012, I started writing a YA western, my first western story in probably a decade.  And it felt like HOME.  Everything about writing that book just felt RIGHT.  By the time I was finished with the first draft, I realized I didn't want to write anything but westerns.  And I basically haven't.
I feel that westerns are America's mythology, and they really fit with fairy tales in a neat way.
Both westerns and fairy tales tend to teach the audience lessons about life, morality, and human nature. 
I couldn't agree more!  I've actually wanted to write western fairytale re-tellings myself.
I had the idea of a town where there both fairytale re-tellings and Jane Austen re-tellings.
Thank you! 
I think Jane Austen retellings in the old west would work superbly.  Actually, Cloaked has a bit of a Northanger Abbey vibe to it.  😉
You just make all the large land owners into large ranchers!
I have yet to read that story.  Is that your Red Ridinghood re-telling?
The eras aren't that different -- only about 70 years apart -- so a lot of the mores and conventions would be so similar.
Yup!  That's the Little Red Riding Hood one.
Very true.
Is there a specific event or story that you can point to as the inspiration for D&D?
Well, like I said, I got the idea for it probably in 2012 or 2013.  It's been a while.  I do know that just the idea of the main character being a soldier home from the war is what first made me think, "Hey, this could be a Civil War veteran!  This could be a western!"
But more recently, sometime in the spring or summer of 2017, I read something about dance halls that taught me that dance halls were NOT brothels, but were places where respectable people could meet and dance, and that really made me go, "Oh!  Twelve dancing sisters could work at a dance hall!"
And the story kind of snowballed from there.  Unfortunately, I no longer remember how I decided to add doughnuts to the mix, other than that "Dancing and Doughnuts" sounded like a fun title.
It is a cool title and I love the premise.  And yes, it is a bit annoying how few people know the difference between dance halls and brothels.
While we are on the subject of the girls, will they appear in later re-tellings?
Ahhhhhhhhhhh.  Um, well, probably not.  Not in another book, anyway.  However!  Just like I wrote a short-story tag to "The Man on the Buckskin Horse," I am open to ideas for short stories that add on to the books.
In fact, I have an idea for a prequel to this book, though it hasn't totally gelled.  But it would be a short story, something I'd offer for free somehow.
But the Once Upon a Western series is an anthology series of stand-alone books, so the next book will have all-new characters again.
Interesting.  I was hoping that some of the younger girls would be featured in their own story. 
But I can understand why you would do it that way.
I will not say it can't happen, because it could.  But I'd need an idea to hit me. 
It lets me explore different regions and eras -- like, Cloaked took place in the 1880s, but Dancing and Doughnuts takes place in the 1860s.
I was very tempted to stick Mr. Palmer from "The Man on the Buckskin Horse" in this somehow, but he never quite fit.
But I could see kind of having cross-overs in some short stories somewhere.
*nods* That makes a lot of sense.
Which character was your favorite to write?
Shhhhh, don't tell any of my other characters this,
but Jedediah Jones was more fun to write than any other original character I have ever written.  I LOVED writing him.  He basically wrote himself.  I just took dictation.
I noticed that one was quite talkative!
My favorite characters to read were the Sheriff, Mr. Kitteridge, Clara and Felicity.
Awww!  I absolutely love Sheriff Walbridge and Mr. Kittredge.  I would happily marry either of them.
You know, if they weren't fictional and I wasn't already married.
Um, and if they weren't married/engaged.
You know what I mean.
Funny, I was thinking that myself!
Clara and Felicity were superbly fun too.  Clara in particular just tickles me.  She's so snappy! 
Aye, that she is! 
If you do wind up writing any short sequels, I hope we see more of Trouble and More Trouble!
They were an absolute hoot!
Awwwww, those two.  I love those two!
I honestly meant to give them actual names, originally, and just stuck Trouble and More Trouble in there as placeholders.
And then I realized that nope, those were exactly what they needed to be called.
That's amusing.  If I were to learn their real names, I would never call them that!
I had to stop them from running away with the whole story a couple of times because they really do have a great energy to them.
Yes, they do!
They never did confess their real names to me.  And I'm okay with that.
I think most of your readers will be too! 
They'll have to be! 
This next question is one of my favorites to ask in author interviews.  Were any of the characters based on real life people?
Actually, yes!
I don't normally base characters on people I know in real life, but I made an exception this time.  My mom belongs to a book club at the church I grew up in, and last year, they invited me to come talk to them about my book Cloaked.
During our discussions, they announced that I needed to put them all in my next book.  I've known most of these ladies since I was 12, and they're like aunts and cousins to me at this point.
Ah!  The Quilting Ladies!  The ones who don't gossip!  
I kind of laughed about it, but as I was writing this, I got to the part with the sewing circle, and I realized that I could TOTALLY name all those lovely ladies after the Salem Book Bunch.
That's sweet! 
So that's why they all get first names.  Those are all people I know for real.  And I can't WAIT for them to read this! 
I'm sure they'll love it!
I hope so!
Well, this has been a delightful chat, but I'm afraid I must go now.  Supper calls.
And my kids just returned from the pool, so I'd better pop them all into the showers!  
But thank you for allowing me to ARC for you and for doing this little interview.
Thanks so much for the fun conversation!  You're welcome! 
I look forward to reading the rest of this series!  Happy Writing!
Thanks!  Have a good night!
You too! 
Be sure to look up this story on Amazon and Goodreads and you should check out Rachel's blog, too! 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Waiting For Isaac ~ Cover Reveal

Today I am privileged to bring to you the cover for Jessica Greyson's new book.  Waiting For Isaac, a non-fiction work, is a collection of essays on singlehood and waiting for a husband.  It sounds intriguing and I look forward to reading it.

And a snippet from the book.

Anne Shirley, in Anne of Avonlea, talks about Jonah Days—those days where nothing goes right, you are pestered with bad moods and unwanted ills or aches…and you feel just as if your life was swallowed by a whale. And yes, we have them, but we also have something else: Jonah Boats.
The more people I talk to, the more I realize that Jonah wasn’t the only one with this idea. Life starts getting hard, and you begin to build a backup plan, a place to go, something to do, a fallback, plan B…that thing you’re going to do if God doesn’t come through in exactly the way you think He should.
Jonah Boats often come with red ribbons, golden wrapping paper, and the jingle of all your dreams about to come to fruition.


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Dancing & Doughnuts: Book Release ~ Book Revew

  Today, I bring you my review of Rachel Kovaciny's Twelve Dancing Princesses re-telling, Dancing & Doughnuts!

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

I very much enjoyed this story.  It was a light and easy read, amusing, and even a bit thought provoking.  I love westerns and fairytales so I am always delighted when someone mixes them together.  

I liked how Ms. Kovaciny wove in the themes from the original Twelve Dancing Princesses tale.  Mixing fairytale aspects into a non-magical world isn't always an easy thing to achieve, but she did a very good job.  My favorite element was the silver and gold forest.

I felt the characters could have been more well rounded. 

Sheriff Walbridge, Mr. Kitteridge, Clara and Felicity were my favorite characters and I wish we would have gotten more of Trouble and More Trouble.  

Though not my favorite character, the mental processes of the hero (the book is portrayed through his first person POV) brought me the most laughter.  Especially when he is facing down twelve pretty girls. 

I also wish we could have gotten to know the girls a little more.  But maybe they will appear in later books.

It is a clean read and a good book that I will definitely recommend and will gladly turn over to my younger siblings when it is released.

I give it 3 of 5 stars (according to the Goodreads rating system) because there were a few times when it seemed needlessly wordy and a bit rambling.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Few Photos

I love the colors in this one.
My favorite part of this, is how the barbs are see through.
A golden sunset.  Classic.
A sunset taken through a piece of glass that I sprayed water on.
Sunrise through the wheat.
"All God's creatures got a place in the choir, some sing low and some sing higher some sing out loud on the telephone wire..."  A Western Kingbird against a smoky sky.
The moon is such an amazing thing.
You can see the craters.
And when it is in shadow...
"A red sun rises, blood has been spilled this night."  Only it was setting.  And it was made red by the smoke from wildfires.
One of the pivot lines near our house was drizzling.  The sun on the water had a very cool effect.
A closer picture of the lower water.
The quintessential fairytale rainbow.
And this one.  A bird flew in front of the camera JUST as I clicked the shutter!!  So cool!
And it's all misty.  Can't you just see a fairytale castle tucked away on that mountain in the mist?
An Orange Moon.  I thought it was orange from the smoke.  It was, but it had also just come out of eclipse.

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Stealthmaster's Shadow by Hope Ann

The Stealthmaster's Shadow is finally here!

It’s been ten confounded years since the war ended.
Verus, a retired soldier, determines to enforce the peace the victory ought to have brought. His wanderings bring him to the city of Nerva, a sprawling riverside chaos no other Stealthmaster will touch.
Commandeering the task of a former comrade, Verus presents himself to the governor and promises to search out hidden Subverters. The true reason for his actions he keeps to himself. After all, the tyrannical governor will hardly approve of lending aid to those pitted against him, but the Subverters need information. Maybe even weapons.
The wishes of the Subverters themselves are immaterial. They weren’t there during the war. They didn’t see the horrors Tauscher spread.
Verus has.
So has the new ambassador from Zahavia who strides through the great doors of the feasting hall, bringing Verus face to face with nightmares from his past.
As the simple mission dissolves into confusion, Verus struggles to help those he’s plunged into danger, from a serving lad to the infuriating woman he’s taken to calling “Princess.” Fleeing will only make the enemy stronger. But staying…
Staying could doom them all.

Verus clasped his hands behind his back, his gaze silently daring the guard at the palace gate to mention his weapons. The man fidgeted but let them pass without a word. This Osvaldus surrounded himself with decent men indeed. He even sent another four soldiers, under an officer, to join his guards in escorting Verus to an immediate audience. How considerate.
The darkened corridors curved like underground rivers. Orange lamplight spilled beneath two great doors framed in murals of twisting branches at the end of the corridor.
Verus’s hands clenched beneath his cloak.
The doors swung soundlessly open and a deep red light spilled across the threshold like an accusing finger.
“Thank you for the company, gentlemen.” Verus quickened his pace and slipped between the two foremost guards. “I’ll introduce myself to the governor, if it’s not too much trouble.”

Hope Ann uses chocolate to bribe a wide ring of spies, from the realm leapers of Aslaria to the double agents of Elkbend, for their stories. Based in Indiana, she is the self-published author of the Legends of Light series, personal writing coach, and the Communications Coordinator for Story Embers. You can find out more about her at