The Universe

Burning Rose Blog Tour (Huzzah!)

Hello, my friends! As you might have guessed from the header, it is my pleasure to assist the wonderful Hope Ann with her newest book’s introduction to the world. Today’s post comes with a special Behind the Scenes glimpse of Hope Ann’s writing process (excitement! I do love behind the scenes. Behind the scenes is where me and my fellow characters drive my Author to near distraction >:D). Enjoy!

Behind the scenes of Burning Rose: Shadows of the Hersweald song
I enjoy music. I find it hard to write without listening to soft soundtracks, though loud
siblings might have something to do with that. But not only do I enjoy listening to music as I
write, I also love finding songs for my characters. Sometimes I can find them, sometimes I can’t.
Sometimes they are perfect and sometimes they are only close. The song for Hayden, from
Shadows of the Hersweald, is pretty close. It is Set Me Free by Casting Crowns:

Read Haydn’s full story in my new paperback collection, Burning Rose!

The Burning Rose
A war, founded in ancient legends, changes the lives of those it touches forever.
Elissa, a villager from the northern mountains, attempts to save her brother and ends up trapped
in a hidden valley with a strange host and a treacherous enemy.
Evrard, the Wingmaster of the Prince’s army, races against his own weakening powers to
discover the location of his twin and save her from deadly mistbenders.
Haydn, a pardoned rebel from Tauscher’s army, confronts shadows of myth and former
comrades in his struggle to keep his sister safe and find the stolen Stormestone.
BONUS
Before the war, before the legends, before the Separation, there was a man who started it all.
There was a curse, a promise, and a sacrifice. There was the Oathkeeper.
Fairy tales retold as you have never heard them before.
ROSE OF THE OATH: Beauty and the Beast
SONG OF THE SWORD: Rapunzel
SHADOWS OF THE HERSWEALD: Hansel and Gretel
and
ROSE OF THE NIGHT: a Rose of the Oath prequel
Order Burning Rose now!

~~~~

Nikken here again! And I feel obliged to say, that these are some of the most unique fairy-tale retellings either my Author or I have come across. Sadly, my author’s life has been too busy to help me formulate a review at this moment, but hopefully she will manage to get that done and present it to you soon. Or you could just go and get the book, and decide what you think of it for yourself!

Farewell, my friends, until we meet again!

~Love, Nikken

 

(And now for our guest…)

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Hope Ann is a Christian wordsmith, avid reader, and dedicated author. Her time is taken up with
writing, reading, playing with inspirational photos, blogging, helping care for the house and eight
younger siblings, and generally enjoying the adventures of life on a small farm at the crossroads
of America. She is the author of Legends of Light is currently working on several projects
including a fantasy novel and futuristic trilogy. You can find out more about her at
authorhopeann.com

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life

Fall

If there’s one thing that I love that I can’t eat, it would be trees.

They’re tall and majestic. They’re fun to climb. They give shade on hot summer days.

Recently I was driving along with my non-imaginary friend and I noticed that in a gust of wind, leaves fell from a maple on the side of the road and fell on the pavement and on our car where they promptly flew off.

I realized that this could only mean one thing. Fall is finally here.

Already I can feel myself raking up the leaves in the yard, see myself cosplaying one of my favorite characters for Halloween, smelling freshly baked apple pie coming from the kitchen, tasting the pumpkin spice lattes (Yes. Starbucks is for teenage boys too), and hearing the sounds of the leaves crunching under my feet as I go on long walks.

Here’s to pumpkin picking, hay rides, fair rides, fair food, coffee, trick or treating, orange and yellow leaves, and jumping in leaf piles.

Here’s also to trees.

Without them, it wouldn’t really be fall.


Have a wonderful day! I’m off to go enjoy this wonderful weather.

Jese

 

The Universe

A Cover Reveal

Greetings and well met!
Do you remember a few months back, when my author was our honored guest and talked about Hope Ann’s new book, Rose of the Oath. Well, today it is my honor to finally reveal to you the cover her newest release, Burning Rose, a paperback collection of the first three Legends of Light novellas!

Burning Rose header

A war, founded in ancient legends, changes the lives of those it touches forever.

Elissa, a villager from the northern mountains, attempts to save her brother and ends up trapped in a hidden valley with a strange host and a treacherous enemy.

Evrard, the Wingmaster of the Prince’s army, races against his own weakening powers to discover the location of his twin and save her from deadly mistbenders.

Haydn, a pardoned rebel from Tauscher’s army, confronts shadows of myth and former comrades in his struggle to keep his sister safe and find the stolen Stormestone.

BONUS

Before the war, before the legends, before the Separation, there was a man who started it all. There was a curse, a promise, and a sacrifice. There was the Oathkeeper.

Fairy tales retold as you have never heard them before.

ROSE OF THE OATH: Beauty and the Beast

SONG OF THE SWORD: Rapunzel

SHADOWS OF THE HERSWEALD: Hansel and Gretel

and

ROSE OF THE NIGHT: a Rose of the Oath prequel

You can check out each ebook individually here or the Burning Rose page here. The Kindle version is available for preorder, but the paperback won’t be up to buy until the launch on October 3rd. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about it then. In the meantime, you can add Burning Rose to your lists on Goodreads.

I suppose you’d like to actually see the cover now? Very well. It is glorious.

The Burning Rose.jpg

Designed by Kate Flournoy

Worth the wait? Because I love it. And it’s less than a month before you can hold a copy of Burning Rose in your own hands! Also, if you want blow by blow updates as well as cool tidbits and a behind-the-scenes look of the launch, you can hop over here to Facebook and join the Readers of Aslaria launch group!

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Hope Ann is a Christian wordsmith, avid reader, and dedicated author. Her time is taken up with writing, reading, playing with inspirational photos, blogging, helping care for the house and eight younger siblings, and generally enjoying the adventures of life on a small farm at the crossroads of America. She is the author of Legends of Light is currently working on several projects including a fantasy novel and futuristic trilogy. You can find out more about her at https://authorhopeann.com/

~~~
Isn’t that cover awesome? I especially approve of the image of the flower on fire. I do love me a good fire. Anyway, keep an eye out for more about this collection, but for now I must say farewell. Until we meet again, my friends!

~Nikken

apple pie · life

A Toast to Potatoes

If there’s one thing in life that’s more wonderful than ice cream, Netflix, and true love, it would be Potatoes. (However, Apple Pie is the most wonderful thing, so Potatoes come as the second)

Now. Why do I award Potatoes second place on the scale of wonderfulness?

Well, first off, they are similar to apples. The French word for Potato is “Pomme de Terre”, which means “Apple of the earth”. Apples grow on trees, and potatoes grow in the ground.

Second off, they actually have more uses than apples do. (shhhh….I did not just say something that makes potatoes seem better than apples).

With a bushel full of potatoes, you can make french fries, home fries, waffle fries, mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, potato rolls, potato donuts, baked potatoes….the list goes on and on. while, with a bushel full of apples, you can only make pie, apple crisp, dried apples (yuck), apple dumplings, and a few other apple desserts, and with a bushel full of Netflix or True Love (the next best wonderful things), you can’t really get anywhere.

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Also, Samwise Gamgee loves them, and that’s really all the reason you need.

See ya soon! Maybe I’ll make a tribute to apple pie next (which will be at least five times longer 😛 ).

Jese

 

life

Strength in Numbers

Heiliel, everyone!
I want to talk today about something very important: Friendship.
I hope all of you have experienced at least one, though there are some people that sadly never have had a friend in all their life. But I was thinking recently: Why do we have friends? What’s so special about friendships that make us all want to have them?
I have two very close friends: Emr and Meron. Both are very different than me. Meron is brave and bold, with a dry sense of humor and love for wide open spaces. Emr is gruff with most people and grumbles a lot, but he’s loyal and loves to laugh with his friends. They’re about as different from me as you can get, and they are different from each other too. Why would three different people like us become friends? And if we are so different, why would we stay friends?
Honestly, I’m still not sure how we became friends. We just did, I guess. My guess is that my cousin had something to do with it, but I can’t prove anything. But I know why we are still friends.
Sure, we argue. We fight. We throw rotten tomatoes at each other and then summarily run while our target attempts homicide. But we still manage to stay together, and this is why: we stay together because we want to. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, Emr says (though he’s usually talking about breaking into the desert cellar). If we didn’t truly wish to remain friends, we wouldn’t. We would splinter and break apart, like shells smashed against rocks on the shore. But we want to. We want to always be friends, so we work to keep it that way. When something comes that may take us apart, we fight it. We don’t let anything stop us.
Sometimes friendships do end. It’s sad but true. But, unlike what most people say, you can always do stuff to try and stop it. People will move away, but you can fight to keep up your friendship. As long as both of you want it, it will happen. It’s the way life is–when it comes to relationships, there is no ‘there’s nothing I can do’. That’s just being lazy and defeatist.
But sometimes, someone won’t want to be friends anymore. People change, it’s what people do. They may not have moved away physically, but mentally they have. They’re like Susan in that book about the lion and the closet or whatever–at the very end, she couldn’t come back, because she didn’t want to.
When something like that happens, you still shouldn’t give up. Keep pressing on. If you fight, who knows? You may still win the day. But even if it doesn’t succeed, at least no one can say you did not try.
But back to the original question: what makes friendship so important? There are lots of answers, I think.
Friends will always be with you. With a true friend, even if you’re all by yourself, you’re not alone.
Friends will always have your back. When things are hard, they’ll rally to your side and help you win the day, like the army of the Rohirrim except less cool-looking.
Friends will help you stay you. When you mess up or start straying, they’ll be there to push you in the right direction (whether it’s a gentle nudge onto the right path or a shove into a creek to jerk you out of your self-pity).
Friends bring out the best in you. True friends love you for you, and will strengthen those best parts of you and help draw them out into the light where everyone can see them.
Friends defend you. When you can’t go on any further, your friends will step up and push away what’s crushing you long enough for you to breathe and get up again, so you can push on together.
But most of all, friends make us strong. Have you ever heard the phrase ‘strength in numbers’? A bunch of trees, all growing together, won’t be knocked down in a storm. A wall of linked shields can stand against the charging onslaught. Even if they’re not right there with you, their support and strength will always be with you. That’s why friends are so important. Alone, we’re all weak (though don’t tell anyone I said that. I have a reputation to keep). Together, nothing can move us or stop it.
Together we’re strong.

~Your friend,
Nikken

The Universe

What Makes a Story a Good Story?

As an avid reader, writer, and watcher of stories, this is something I’m always thinking about.

What makes a story a good story?

You know what the good stories are. You read that book, and now, two years later, you remember it as the best thing you ever read. You completely ignored that story you wrote back in november, but your mind will keep wandering back to it, desperately wanting to edit it and share it with the world. You watched that tv show and, despite the slow process of getting it out of the library since Netflix no longer shows it, you keep coming back for more, finishing it through sheer determination and multiple trips to the library.

The Book ThiefThe Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, To Kill a Mockingbird. All these are good books. Doctor Who, Sherlock, The Princess Bride, Lilo and Stitch. These are good movies/shows. (and these lists are by no means exhaustive. I love tons of other books and movies)

But what is it that draws us to the story and labels it “good”?

A good story is one that reminds us of who we are, what we can be, and what makes life worth living. It’s one with well rounded characters, effortless dialogue, and development: people becoming better people, worlds becoming better worlds.

For everyone, the answer to this question is different, but this is what it means to me. Next time you read a book or watch a movie, try to think of what the definition is for you. What do you look for in characters? In plot? What are you searching for? What is lacking in certain stories?

And when you find the good stories, don’t let them go. Treasure them always.

See ya later,

Jese

apple pie

The Dessert that I Adore

It has come to my attention, good friends, that I have not yet discussed in full a subject that is near and dear to my heart: Pie.
Pie, if you were to ask my opinion, is one of the most important foods in our culture. There are a great many desserts and food, but what dish is served at every one of your newfangled “United States’” holidays?
Pie.
There are many types of pie. There are meat pies, which are the favorite of the High Prince. Every festival, he’ll steal one or two and sneak off to eat them in secret (this will usually result in him being attacked in a flurry of meat-pie-loving righteous fury by my best friends Emr and Meron). There are fish and seafood pies, which are a favorite in my homeland, especially on the Day of the Ships (our version of your Thanksgiving. Except it’s kinda a few millennia older…). There are even pies made of nuts or sugar or both!
While these can be quite good, there is only one kind that rules them all. The best, the most true, most pure, most import species of pie: Fruit Pies.
(In case you are wondering, I’m not counting pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is an imposter. One simply should not make pies of vegetable skins. It’s just wrong.).
Fruit pie is the epitome of all dessert. Why, do you ask? What about cake, everyone loves cake?
The answer is simple—pie is healthier for you. After all, cake is just flower and sugar and stuff. Pie is made of flower, sugar, stuff and fruit. Fruit, everyone knows, is much healthier for you. So not does it only have the same ingredients as cake, it tops it by one (with a healthy ingredient!)!
Pie: 1
Cake: 0
Also, there are as many possibilities for flavors of pie as there are fruit in the world—apple and berry, pear and cherry, peach and lemon and lime and orange, etc. etc., but how many options do you have for cake? Chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, lemon, coconut… and that’s about it (no one speak to me of carrot cake, for the same reason that I ignore the existence of pumpkin pie).
Pie: 2
Cake: 0
Thirdly, and most importantly… the cake is a lie. Everyone knows that. Who can tell what kind of flavor may be lurking beneath the icing? Who knows what horrors lie within the icing itself? Something that hides its true nature beneath layers of sugar and sweetness just cannot be trusted.
But you can trust pie. A pie won’t lie to you. You can poke a knife in a pie and almost immediately guess what kind it is. A pie won’t have creepy, weird ingredients thrown in just to torture you (like all the innocent looking cookies at weddings and parties that by some strange coincidence are all coconut).
Pie: 3 bazillion
Cake: 0
Besides these obvious advantages, there is another aspect. What use is a cake, except to eat, look pretty, and perhaps (if it’s lucky) to be thrown at someone. But pie has many, varied uses such as:
1. A wake up call: what better smell is there to wake up to than the hot puff of air from a fresh baked apple pie?
2. A peace offering: with cake, it’s easy to run into people who are allergic to chocolate, or nuts, or coconut. But who is allergic to fruit? If you want to give a peace offering to the neighbor you’ve been spatting with or an entire enemy nation, pie is the way to go.
3. Celebrations: if you bake a cake for a friend, you’ll spend ages agonizing over the icing and stuff, trying to make it look nice because we expect our cakes to look all smooth and fancy-shmancy. But a pie? It can be lumpy, smooth, perfectly formed, slightly burned on the very tip, we don’t care. It’s still yummy.
4. Meals: This applies more to meat pies (which, while yummy, are inferior to the fruity breed). Consider: which would you eat for supper—a cake made of meat (frosting and all) or a pie made of meat, with a nice, crispy, buttery crust and tons of gravy on the inside?
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
5. Cheering up: A pie fills both your tummy and your heart. Pies are famous as a way of cheering up sad or miserable people. I myself have used pie to help my friends and family out of the blues numerable times (such as a time I dropped a berry pie onto the High Prince. He was so busy chasing us screaming bloody murder he had no time to be sad. It was brilliant).
6. Inspiration: Food powers the brain! Many a time has my author been mulling over a difficult problem and solved it while munching thoughtfully on pie. Of course, one could make this argument for cake, but one must remember point 1 (aka, pie is healthier). Also, pie plates caused the invention of the Frisbee. You can’t say the same about cake plates. Actually, cake plates don’t even exist. So there.
7. Humor: honestly, do I even need to mention this? Clowns and cream pies, people. There is nothing better than watching a pie splatter across someone’s face. Well, except eating it, of course ;).
8. Fighting: This use, I admit, is a little more rare, but a dear friend of mine once used pies to help save an entire kingdom! Smashing a pie with a ceramic plate into someone’s heads is quite effective.
There are, of course, many other examples, but I believe I have made my point. Pie is the greatest dessert of all time, and yet, sadly, it does not get enough credit. But perhaps one day that might change, and we will set pie upon the pedestal it deserves to inhabit.
Alas, now it is time for me to depart—all this talk about pie has been making me hungry, and my Mammami just finished baking my favorite berry pie and I can smell it from here. Farewell, and eat more pie, my friends!

~Nikken

*The views expressed by Nikken are entirely his own and may or may not be shared by his author