Lyrics & Curses Release Day Blitz

Blog Blitz

Lark Espinoza could get lost in her music—and she’s not so sure anyone in her family would even care to find her. Her trendy, party-loving twin sister and her mother-come-lately Beth, who’s suddenly sworn off men and onto homemaking, don’t understand her love of cassette tapes, her loathing of the pop scene, or her standoffish personality. For outcast Lark, nothing feels as much like a real home as working at Bubble’s Oddities store and trying to attract the attention of the cute guy who works at the Vinyl shop next door—the same one she traded lyrical notes with in class.

Auden Ellis silences the incessant questions in his own head with a steady stream of beats. Despite the unconditional love of his aunt-turned-mother, he can’t quit thinking about the loss of his parents—or the possibility he might end up afflicted with his father’s issues. Despite his connection with lyric-loving Lark, Auden keeps her at arm’s length because letting her in might mean giving her a peek into something dangerous.

When two strangers arrive in town, one carrying a mysterious, dark object and the other playing an eerie flute tune, Lark and Auden find that their painful pasts have enmeshed them in a cursed future. Now, they must come to terms with their budding attraction while helping each other challenge the reflection they see in the mirror. If they fail, they’ll be trapped for eternity in a place beyond reality.

*Set in 1985 and full of nostalgia! Perfect for fans of Stranger Things and Pretty in Pink.

To purchase on Amazon, click here.

For more info about the book and author, Candace Robinson, go here.

Blog Tour: Nemesis and the Swan

Blog Tour

Nemesis and the Swan

by Lindsay K. Bandy

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Release Date: October 27th 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Fiction, France

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Synopsis:


From her prison cell in revolutionary Paris, nineteen-year-old aristocrat Hélène d’Aubign recalls the events that led her to choose between following in her parents’ unforgivable footsteps or abandoning the man she loves.


Despite her world of privilege, Hélène is inspired early on by the radical ideas of her progressive governess. Though her family tries to intervene, the seeds of revolution have already been planted in Hélène’s heart, as are the seeds of love from an unlikely friendship with a young jeweler’s apprentice. Hélène’s determination to find true love is as revolutionary as her attempt to unravel the truth behind a chilling set of eye-shaped brooches and the concealed murder that tore her family apart.


As violence erupts in Paris, Hélène is forced into hiding with her estranged family, where the tangled secrets of their past become entwined with her own. When she finally returns to the blood-stained streets of Paris, she finds everything-and everyone-very much changed. In a city where alliances shift overnight, no one knows who to trust.


Faced with looming war, the mystery of her family’s past, and the man she loves near death, Hélène will soon will find out if doing one wrong thing will make everything right, or if it will simply push her closer to the guillotine.

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

Lindsay Bandy writes historical and contemporary young adult fiction as well as poetry. She lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with her husband, two daughters, and two cats, and currently serves as the co–regional advisor of the Eastern Pennsylvania region of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Guest Post:

On Cake and Privilege

You know the whole “Let them eat cake” thing that Marie Antoinette supposedly said? Well, historians agree: There’s no evidence that those words actually escaped her lips. So how did it become her most famous “quote?” Because the reality of privilege is nothing new!

Image credit: Public domain

As John M. Cunningham explains on Britannica online,

As it happens, folklore scholars have found similar tales in other parts of the world, although the details differ from one version to another. In a tale collected in 16th-century Germany, for instance, a noblewoman wonders why the hungry poor don’t simply eat Krosem (a sweet bread). Essentially, stories of rulers or aristocrats oblivious to their privileges are popular and widespread legends.  

So let’s set the scene for Marie Antoinette: It’s the 1780s. France is in crisis. There isn’t enough grain. Starving Parisians wait in bakery lines for HOURS hoping to bring home a precious loaf for their families, only to be turned away. Prices skyrocket. Taxes increase—but not for the nobility. Children starve and freeze to death in the streets while the occupants of Versailles toss leftovers on the floor for the maids and dogs to clean up. Before the Revolution forced her to pay attention, Marie Antoinette seems to have been oblivious to the plight of her people because she was too busy playing dress-up in her life-sized dollhouse. She was comfortable enough that she didn’t have to pay attention to the suffering of others. So, whether or not she ever said those words, she was, in effect, living them.

Privilege is nothing new, but it’s nothing old, either. We may not have literal entitlement in the form of ducs, marquis, or princesses in modern-day America, but there is no shortage of privilege here. Jamie Beth Cohen, the author of Wasted Pretty and a Jewish friend of mine, recently wrote,

“If you hadn’t heard of the Proud Boys until last night (the first presidential debate), maybe consider how privilege works…it’s not your FAULT you haven’t heard of them, but it MAY be your privilege that you haven’t felt the need to track all groups that may want you dead.”

Acknowledging privilege can come with a certain amount of defensiveness, and the desire to shout: It’s not my fault! But being born into privilege doesn’t automatically equal guilt. The truth is, France’s broken system wasn’t Marie Antoinette’s fault. If we take a step back from the drama of her later years, we see a fourteen-year-old Austrian girl married off to an awkward, gluttonous, and clumsy teenaged French prince. On the journey from Austria to France, she was stripped of her Austrian clothes in a tent and handed over to the French naked and crying. As the fifteenth child of the Empress Maria-Theresa, her education had been neglected. No one asked her if she wanted to leave her homeland to become the future queen of a country already brewing with troubles.  None of those things were her fault, BUT as she came of age and into the role of queen, she had a choice to focus inward or outward. The choice to selfishly ignore her people’s suffering was, indeed, her fault!

When there is a call to change—whether it’s the tocsin of Revolution or the strained last words of George Floyd, the privileged have a decision to make: Are we going to selfishly fight to keep our privileges and delude ourselves that we somehow deserve more than other humans? The monarchy and nobility of the late 1700s refused to acknowledge systemic problems or step out of their literal comfort zones to change them, and it was their ruin.

Today, we’re faced with the same choice, but we have the benefit of learning from the past. In “Story,” screenwriter Robert McKee says authors of historical fiction must “…use the past as a clear glass through which you show us the present,” and I hope that Nemesis and the Swan will do just that. The future has yet to be written. It’s up to us to write it well!

Resources:
The Days of the French Revolution, by Christopher Hibbert. Perennial/HarperCollins. 1980
Britannica online: Did Marie Antoinette Really Say Let Them Eat Cake? By John M. Cunningham
Author Jamie Beth Cohen, http://www.jamiebethcohen.com
Smithsonian Magazine: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/marie-antoinette-134629573/
McKee, Robert. STORY: SUBSTANCE, STRUCTURE, STYLE, AND THE PRINCIPLES OF SCREENWRITING. Regan Books, 1997
Image credit: Public domain

Tour Schedule Here.

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Blog Tour: GOD STORM

Blog Tour

God Storm 

(Shadow Frost #2)

by Coco Ma

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Release Date: October 20th 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Book Depository | Kobo | Google Books

Synopsis:

Everything has a price.


In the kingdom of Axaria, a darkness has fallen. After defeating the evil mother who summoned an immortal demon to kill her, newly coronated Queen Asterin Faelenhart should have every reason to celebrate. Her kingdom is safe, forbidden magic eradicated, and her friends are alive. Except Asterin’s triumph has come at a devastating cost – forced to choose between a lifelong friend and true love, she’s lost both. But the shadows in Axaria have begun to stir once again, and no one is more starved for vengeance than Asterin….


Yet it soon becomes clear that the shadows plaguing her kingdom are just the beginning. Another realm coexists with the mortal world – the beautiful, nightmarish Immortal Realm ruled by the wicked God of Shadow, King Eoin. When their paths entwine, Asterin realizes that Eoin possesses exactly what – and who – she seeks most. And the fates of all those that she holds dear – Orion, her missing Guardian; Luna, the friend she could not save; Harry, the demon who saved them all; and Quinlan, her beloved broken prince – ultimately rest in the god’s hands.


But in a world of magic, not everyone is always as they seem. When shocking discoveries threaten everything and everyone Asterin has sworn her life to protect, she won’t be the only person forced to make a choice…a choice that will change the mortal world forever.
And maybe even destroy it.

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram 

Coco Ma is a Canadian author and pianist. At the age of fifteen, she wrote the first book of the Shadow Frost Trilogy and hasn’t looked back since. After learning the piano during her childhood, she has performed on some of the world’s greatest concert stages and graduated with a precollege diploma in piano performance from the Juilliard School in New York City. Currently, she studies at Yale University.


At this point, she wishes she could mention having a dog or a small dragon, except pets (and happiness, apparently) are tragically prohibited at her dormitories. When she isn’t writing, practicing piano, or wreaking havoc, you might find her bingeing Netflix or eating cake. Lots of cake.

Blog Tour Schedule Here.

Blog Tour Organized By:

Release Spotlight: Lion

Short Story, Spotlight Tour

Langwidere has an obsessive habit—collecting heads. She wears a new one each day, changing them out like she does her ivory dresses. But Landwidere doesn’t have the one thing she truly wants: complete power over the territories in Oz. When Lion—the once cowardly fae—shows up at her doorstep, he offers her an opportunity to achieve her desires. Will he use the courage the Wizard gave him to help her succeed, or will he betray her in the process?

This is a short story prequel to the Faeries of Oz trilogy. 

Available now!


Purchase Link: https://www.amazon. com/dp/B08FT5SSJW/

Blog Tour: Kingdom of Ice

Blog Tour

Kingdom of Ice and Bone 

(Frozen Sun Saga #2

ByJill Criswell

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Release Date: September 22nd 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fiction


Synopsis:


Lira and Reyker have lost everything. Including each other.


Lira of Stone watched her home burn and her clan fall beneath the sword of the warlord known as the Dragon. She believes the man she loves, a warrior who defected from the Dragon s army, is dead. Alongside her exiled brother and his band of refugees, she will fight the forces that conquered her island. But the greatest danger may come from Lira herself with the blood of banished gods running through her veins, she s become a weapon, and no one is safe from the power of her wrath.

Reyker Lagorsson thought he was done being a Dragonman. That was before he saw Lira leap from a cliff and vanish into the sea. Determined to honor her memory by protecting her people, Reyker must feign loyalty to the warlord, undermine him at every turn, and seek alliances with renegade soldiers without succumbing to the battle-madness that threatens to possess him once more.


When the Fallen Ones offer Lira a chance to defeat the Dragon, her quest leads her to a place she never expected Iseneld, the warlord s homeland. Her journey into the heart of the Frozen Sun will put her on a collision course with Reyker, costing both of them more than they ever imagined, and leaving her with a terrible choice: to save their countries, she must forsake everything she loves.

Guest Post

Agony and Ecstasy: An Insider Look at Sequel Writing

All authors have fond stories to share about “the call”—that magical moment when they first heard they were getting a book deal and their lives were forever changed. But here’s a story we don’t often hear: the moment of panic when you realize, “Oh, crap, I have to write another one.”

While there is a thrill in knowing your characters’ stories will continue past whatever condition they were frozen in at the end of your first book (especially if it ends on a cliffhanger, as mine does), there is also a lot of self-doubt that goes along with writing a sequel. What if you only had one book in you, and all your talent has been expended? What if you blew your most interesting storylines on book one and now all you have left to work with are duds? What if by giving your first book that crazy, fiery, dramatic ending, you’ve written yourself into a corner, because—like most writers—you were so focused on book one you couldn’t spare a thought for what might have to come after?

Personally, I had to shove all those doubts to the back of my head and just move forward. The first thing I did was re-read my first book, Beasts of the Frozen Sun, and make a list of ideas and things that needed to be addressed/resolved. I have two main characters—Lira and Reyker—who were separated at the end of book one. I started thinking in terms of ripple effects: Lira and Reyker have their own paths, so I need them to move forward on their own, but I also want their actions to cause ripples that effect each other, even though they’re unaware of these impacts. This was tricky, but also a lot of fun.

Here’s what wasn’t so fun: tying up loose ends. The whole first book takes place in Lira’s home country of Glasnith. I knew for the sequel, Kingdom of Ice & Bone, I wanted Lira and Reyker to travel to Reyker’s home country of Iseneld. I was dying to get them there. If I could have had my first sentence be “Lira and Reyker are now in Iseneld” and go from there, I would have. But there were so many loose threads from the first book that had to be resolved before that journey could happen. I was quite annoyed with first-book-me who left that giant mess for sequel-me to clean up. I’m not going to lie—writing Part One of the sequel was sometimes a slog for me. But with each new chapter I wrote, a clear path emerged. It felt like playing a game sometimes: move Lira here in this chapter, move Reyker there in that chapter, with each move edging them closer to stepping on those ships that would carry them to Iseneld.     

Another issue I had was correcting mistakes from book one. Some readers complained that the first book meandered: there was no clear goal. Giving your characters a goal to move the plot forward is like Novel Writing 101, but it’s something I’ve never been great at. I’m an ambler, and so are my characters, but this time I knew I had to do better. This time I had to give my characters clear motivation. For Lira, it’s saving the young women who are imprisoned by the warlord, Draki, and achieving her revenge against him for the destruction of her homeland. For Reyker, it’s seeking redemption by protecting Lira’s island and her people, and saving his own island from Draki’s reign. Once I found that motivation, it gave me focus as my characters stumbled through the obstacles I’d set before them.

Finally, I knew better this time around that I wasn’t just writing a self-contained book. This is a trilogy, so I had to know where I was headed in the third book in order to set up those threads in the sequel—not every detail, but at least the basics. This was another tactic that helped with writing the sequel, illuminating a path for me to follow.

In the end, I’d say that writing the sequel wasn’t easy, but it proved easier than writing the first book. Now, writing a finale—yeah, that’s another story. Cue the cliffhanger…

About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Jill Criswell is a writer of Young Adult Historical Fantasy. She was born and raised in the swamps of northeastern Florida. She earned degrees in English and Psychology and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida.

Her greatest passion, besides reading and writing, is traveling the world; she’s visited fifty countries across six continents, falling in love with places like Iceland, Namibia, and Cambodia. She works as a university English teacher and lives in South Carolina, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with her husband and daughter (who is named after a volcano in Iceland).

Blog Tour Schedule Here.

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Guest Review: Vortex Street

Misc.

Guest Review by: Kailey Tedesco

Kailey Tedesco is the author of She Used to be on a Milk Carton (April Gloaming Publishing), Lizzie, Speak (White Stag Publishing), and the forthcoming collection, FOREVERHAUS. She is a senior editor for Luna Luna Magazine. You can find her work featured in Electric Literature, Black Warrior Review, Fairy Tale Review, and more.

For further information, please visit kaileytedesco.com

The Review

Let Yourself be Swept into Heather H. Thomas’ Vortex Street

In a labyrinth, a vortex represents a choice. You’re in the center of a maze. You’re spiraling. You’re confused. All passageways say “exit”, but you know it’s not that easy. You must choose or else find yourself back where you started.

In Heather H. Thomas’ Vortex Street (FutureCycle Press), the reader is guided on a temporal journey through memory and witness where all paths lead back to the starting point, and the starting point is in a constant state of manifesting new paths to follow. All that are lost are eventually found, but the found will then continue to re-seek lostness dutifully. It is a collection that begs the reader to question the comfort of nostalgia so that the entirety of the self might be viewed objectively. In the ekphrastic poem “Voyage” inspired by Magritte’s “L’Evidence Eternelle”, Thomas writes:

As though parts of a body can suggest

            what is missing, a child and her father

sing open a spot where the parts

            reassemble and walk forward,

carrying themselves.

The speaker of these poems is acutely aware of & influenced byher ancestors, both biological and spiritual. She conjures apologies and confessions from deceased or missing relatives in order to create closure so as to continue the path of understanding the self in relation to those who surround her. In “Letter My Father Never Sent Me”, the poet writes: “All those years you were just across the bridge. You had a new / father, new name. Why interfere? How could I, having failed to give /your mother a cent” and later, “Look, there’s a war going / on. People getting killed by the hundred thousand, guys sweating it out / learning life, death, and God in the air…”

By adopting the persona of an absent father, the speaker exercises an act of empathy crucial to this collection as a whole. By removing the self from the self, the speaker briefly rectifies her relationship with her father by examining the possible trauma that may have led to him causing further pain. This insistence on interconnectedness is vital & woven into every poem. Further, the poet interrogates the way place and upbringing inform our ideas of family. In the poem “Pagoda”, Thomas writes:

            A poet becomes emperor of ice cream

and my parents split. The closed door where

a poem takes the place of a mountain.

Closed door that takes the place of my father.

Through masterful language & tone, the poem makes a direct allusion to the poet Wallace Stevens and then immediately ties this allusion to the speaker’s own familial background. Throughout the book and in the Notes section, it becomes clear that the poet briefly lived in the home where Stevens was born in Reading, PA.  Later, this same poem reads:

            I’m attached to my father because

his body was conjoined with my mother’s

before he was erased and

            When he died, we did not separate.

I am not this thing a hungry ghost

with my neck as thin as a needle’s eye

and my stomach the size of a mountain —

This home is then a place atavism for the speaker. The inhabitants behind the closed door of the house, in both past and present, inform her identity and her desire to understand the voices and ghosts of those who surround her as a way to insist that she is not a ghost herself. She is working on her own story through the stories of others. Here, to understand the past’s mingling with the present is to understand the significance of life.

And while this childhood home certainly holds significance, this collection also rejects the idea of home as a place. Instead, home becomes the practice of conjuring memory and bearing witness to all other existence. Vortex Street is also not a home, but a place to be visited or passed through. It seems to exist along the river of the speaker’s geographical upbringing, but it is also a place where the speaker “follow[s] the map / of your voice / divergent, convergent” and finds that those who inhabit Vortex Street have “defeated old ghosts / and stayed.”

These words come from one of six postcards from Vortex Street, each dated with no year. However, this particular postcard shares a date with a previous one: 4/13. The first of these April 13th poems reads: “The trees are for you, / the whole of their wideness // blooming magnolia.” In this haiku, the poet communicates succinct images suggesting growth and spring. Yet, on the later April 13th postcard, perhaps from the same day or perhaps from years before or after, there is a lack of trees — only darkness and ghosts. Something has been lost and so it becomes imperative to “[find] a flashlight and [go] / looking for [ghosts] again.”

Ghosts haunt the pages of Thomas’s collection. Sometimes they are guiding and sometimes they cautionary. In the poem “Oblivion”, the poet writes:

            Stone faces in my house tell their harrowing stories:

I got out but I lost my wife.

The men forced my son to watch. I never saw him again.

I crawled from a ravine where they’d thrown a pile of bodies.

Here, survivors of war and immeasurable pain speak of their trauma. They testify as the speaker listens, sometimes recording their stories in her “reporter’s notebook.” All of these stories become woven into the walls of the many homes the speaker inhabits and into the very infrastructure of the poems the writer records. The aforementioned poem continues: “Inside, the living / room brims with fish and fresh water. Everyone is coming in to eat, / drink, live on in the space after I disappear.”

A book of knowing and clairvoyance, Vortex Street is a testament to the existence of the living and the dead. It is a collection about survival through an examination of those who survive to tell our stories. It is a reminder that even behind closed doors, there are others witnessing our stories, recording them, validating our existence through understanding, even if that understanding is “Brief as a negative / held to the light.”

Thomas is a phenomenal poet, and so naturally Vortex Streets is a phenomenal collection that blends varying structures and language that is reflective of both modernist and contemporary sensibilities. Through a voice uniquely her own, Thomas weaves each striking image into the reader’s body & bones so that all who engage with this work are swept into the vortex, joining the chorus of prophetic and reflective voices that echo in this collection.

Heather H. Thomas is the author of six poetry collections, including Practicing Amnesia, twice a finalist in the National Poetry Series; Resurrection Papers; and Blue Ruby. Her honors include a Rita Dove Poetry Prize and a Gertrude Stein Award in Innovative American Poetry. Thomas’s poems have been translated into seven languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, Lithuanian, and Spanish. An award-winning teacher, Thomas is devoted to sharing the creative and healing power of poetry. She lives in Reading, Pennsylvania.