Tag Archives: drollerie press

Book Geek Wednesday: Book Highlight

We here on Hollow Tree have fallen in love with fantasy. Irrevocably in love. I greatly appreciate the more traditional fantasies, with magic and swords and curses, but I’ve also come to appreciate and enjoy the ever growing trend of dystopian novels, the interesting sci-fi spin many of them have taken on, and the dark undertones/themes, which despite being YA feel very universal.

Keeping that in mind, I still have a soft spot for the fairytales. They are what drew me to the art of telling a story to begin with, and they are what continue to impress me as they can be written in a million different ways while still keeping that original feeling intact. And re-tellings have been everywhere.  Which is why I’m thrilled to suggest Straying the Path, a Little Red Riding Hood Anthology.

This anthology, presented by Drollerie Press, is unique in that along with various re-tellings of Little Red in the form of short stories and poems, it also includes illustrations. It looks and feels like the fairytale books of old. And though it is not necessarily strictly YA, it definitely can be appreciated by both mature YA audiences and adults alike.

The writing styles are diverse enough to remain interesting, and yet they each have a kind of fluidity, each story holding its own flair and its own unique viewpoint, yet still feeling a cohesive part of a whole.

Want a taste of what’s inside? Check out the full length excerpt here. In the meantime, check out this snippet of an excerpt from UNDER THE SKIN by Greg O. Weatherford.

Finally a thud and a scratch send me rushing to open the back door. My father stumbles in. He’s exhausted. His black, heavy fur is smeared with blood, firetruck red and clotted black. He smells of animal and fresh meat. He shuffles on his fours to the fireplace and collapses. As usual after a night’s work, he’s exhausted–his yellow, slitted eyes are rolling in their sockets. His heavy breath fills the room, his eyes close and he snores.

I lay an old blue blanket over his wolf body. When he awakes, he’ll pull his human skin back on; until then I don’t want him to be cold. Then I shrug my backpack over my shoulders and rush to school, just as the bell rings for first period.


My mother taught me what to do when it happens, when he goes out. Stay quiet, stay alert.

Stay inside. Do not walk into the dark where he can find you. Say nothing to anyone. We are alone in this.

Book Geek Wednesday: Kinlea Keeper by E. Grace Diehl

Kinlea Waltham has spent his entire life being told he’s dying. He’s never left his house or made a single friend. Everything changes when his parents send him to stay with family friends in the country (to “die in cleaner air”), and his hosts tell him that he is not actually ill. Instead, he discovers that he has been cursed with a powerful enchantment.

Born to be the Keeper of Haneth’s End, a small but pivotal corner of the world’s magical realm, he must stand up to enemies he can’t understand in order to protect everything he loves. His enemies want something besides Kinlea’s death, but he’s not sure what. Their perplexing actions endanger his Keep, the world, and even magic itself. It’s his job to stop them, for without Kinlea to stand in the way, everything might fold in upon itself, and the world might have to learn the true meaning of the words “the end.”

This book took me a little while to get through, mostly because I never felt like I knew where it was going, what it was doing, and how I was meant to feel about it. It often came off as a bit of a mashup of myths, citing fairies, witches, gnomes, goblins, Death, and magic realms. As you can imagine, this kind of all inclusive fantasy world is not one I’ve encountered often and though at times it did feel as though it was perhaps too much, there were other times when Diehl handled the magic of her world brilliantly.

For starters, she’s made the hero of her book, Kinlea, charming and innocent in all the right ways. He’s loyal to his position as Keeper of Haneth’s End, a job that requires he keep balance between the magic realm and the realm of reality, keeping the magic creatures from misbehaving and spilling out into our world to cause mischief and trouble through the opening in Haneth’s End. He’s witty and knowledgeable of what his position entails as we see from his dealings with the Goblin King, and he takes just enough risks to make him interesting. He’s often thinking he’s at Death’s door anyway since from his birth, he’s been told he’s sickly and will die, and so he often feels he has little to lose which can make him foolishly bold at times. But that makes for great reading.

While the beginning of the book is establishing the world, Kinlea’s place, and the big conflict that will send him on his hero’s journey, the middle of the book really shines leaving the reader with some impressive and memorable moments. My favorite, hands down was the pool of dragon tears. It’s stayed with me since I read it. And I cannot stop picturing it.

I’ll admit, the overall storyline got a bit convoluted when the magic war began but it proceeded to resolve itself quite cleanly, and I came to appreciate Kinlea’s connection to the land and the weight of his obligation to it.

If I might speak of formatting for a moment, this is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read in PDF. The chapters are often decorated with artwork, pictures, sketches, that made it so pleasurable. In fact, much of the story felt familiar, like an old fairytale I might have been told in my childhood, and in that aspect, I thoroughly enjoyed it. My rating: C+.

Available from Drollerie Press.

Book Geek Wednesday: YA Speculative Fiction Panel

Hey readers!

I wanted to just drop in from the madness that is MayNoWriMo (good madness, as I’ve written over 3k so far, but madness none the less), and remind you all of the panel I’ll be taking part in this weekend, as part of Coyote Con!

Here are the official deets:

Young Adult Spec. Fic.

Join young adult author and librarian Heather S. Ingemar and author Isabelle Santiago as they discuss writing young adult speculative fiction, the current popularity of the category, and the future of YA.

Panel: Heather S. Ingemar, Isabelle Santiago
Moderator: Deena Fisher
Conference Room: Sun Wukong
Scheduled: 11PM EST May 15, 2010

Of course, all of us here share a love for YA fiction, so if you have any questions, book suggestions, or topics you’d like discussed in this arena please feel free to post below so I can incorporate it into my panel on Saturday!  I’d love to hear what you have to say on the matter, as I find myself often falling behind. The YA spec fiction and fantasy genres are growing by leaps and bounds, becoming more insightful and creative with each writer introduced and I just can’t keep up!

Either way, I really hope a few of you will try and make it, despite the late hour (omg, I’m getting old). It’s going to be a really fun time.

Book Geek Wednesday: Coyote Con

Drollerie Press is hosting Coyote Con, the “First Annual 31 Day Digital Author Conference,” to be held May 1-31, 2010. Best of all, it’s free (registration is required and to attend Special Sessions you need to obtain a ticket, which you can get here.

There will be a wealth of topics discussed. I’ll be taking part in the three panels: DigitalLit, Fairytales in Fiction, as well as the YA panel, along with a host of other wonderful authors!

About the conference:

Coyote Con is a 31 day digital author conference. If you have an interest in any of our topics, you are welcome to attend. There is no cost to attend the con, but registration is required as space is limited. Registration will open next week.

We hope to provide topics on issues of race, sex, ability, religion and colonialism in fiction, and incorporate a non-western perspective to include a global audience. The chats will be scheduled each weekend at various times so that at least some sessions will be a good time for your time zone, wherever you are.

Each weekend (May 1 and 2, 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 28-30, 2010) authors, editors, and other interested parties will be talking about our topics, alone or in panels, in a text chat or audio/visual conference environment. In conjunction, Joely Sue Burkhart has organized a MayWriMo writing challenge, and there will be Word Wars in the chat rooms throughout the week.

Here is the complete schedule of events. Register for Coyote Con.

Book Geek Wednesday: Looking Forward To 2010

I can’t believe it’s already the second day of December.  This year has been a whirlwind for me—I guess it really is true that the older you get, the faster the years fly by, but really now, I’m not that old.  And while I don’t understand where 2009 has gone to, I have to admit, I’m excited for 2010.  Not least because of all the amazing YA novels set to come out next year!  Here’s a look at just a couple of the ones I’m simply dying to get to:

All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab. – January 12th 2010 by Delacorte BFYR

Not fantasy, but man does it look good.

Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed.

Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.

Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.

As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save.

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater – July 20th 2010 by Scholastic Press

I’m only halfway through Shiver, but I’m totally excited there’s a sequel!

In Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other.  Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack.  And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love — the light and the dark, the warm and the cold — in a way you will never forget.

Sleepless by Cyn Balog – July 13th 2010 by Delacorte Press

I loved Cyn Balog’s debut novel, Fairy Tale.  Can’t wait to read this!

Eron De Marchelle isn’t supposed to feel a connection. He is a Sandman, a supernatural being whose purpose is to seduce human charges to sleep. While he can communicate with his charges in their dreams, he isn’t encouraged to–after all, getting too involved in one human’s life would prevent him helping his other charges get their needed rest.

But he can’t deny that he feels something for Julia. Julia, with her fiery red hair and her sad dreams. Just weeks ago, her boyfriend died in a car accident, and Eron can tell that she feels more alone than ever. Eron was human once too, many years ago, and he remembers how it felt to lose the one he loved. Eron has always felt protective of Julia . . . but now, when she seems to need him more than ever, he can’t seem to reach her . . .

Sandmen are forbidden from communicating with humans outside their dreams. But will Eron be willing to risk everything for a chance to be with the person he loves?

Spells by Aprilynne Pike – May 4th 2010 by Harper Teen

I confess, I haven’t read Wings just yet, but I can’t wait to get to it, and I’m excited to hear about the sequel!

Six months have passed since Laurel saved the gateway to the faerie realm of Avalon. Now she must spend her summer there, honing her skills as a Fall faerie. But her human family and friends are still in mortal danger–and the gateway to Avalon is more compromised than ever.

When it comes time to protect those she loves, will she depend on David, her human boyfriend, for help? Or will she turn to Tamani, the electrifying faerie with whom her connection is undeniable?

Honestly, those are only a few of the books I’m looking forward to!  As far as YA fiction goes, 2010 looks bright indeed!  (All descriptions from goodreads.com)

Fantasy Dipped Friday: Zerah’s Chosen

Zerahs ChosenMonday saw the release of my YA romantic fantasy Zerah’s Chosen, Book I of The Guardian Circle Series, published by Drollerie Press. I’m hosting a giveaway for it on my blog which I’ll extend over here:

Post a comment about your favorite elemental and why you love it and you’ll be entered to win a pack of awesomely sparkly glitter fairy tattoos and a free copy of Zerah’s Chosen!

Giveaway ends Friday, 11:59 EST.

Chapter 2:

The Dark One

The crowd gathered in the Great Hall of the House of Eukleides waited with eager anticipation for the death sentence of a woman none of them knew. They huddled along the edge of the expansive rotunda, gathered in the portico’s colonnade, hung over the second story balcony. In a land where disobedience meant Divine Judgment, they watched, impatient to see who had been bold enough to go against the Code. Their voices, en masse, created a mind numbing hum, a swarm of hornets eager to attack.

Kieran glared at them, challenging them with his eyes.

Bronze double doors opened with a heavy thud, ripping his attention from the crowd. The excited whispers died. All eyes turned toward the deliberating jury of High Priests as they walked into the Great Hall. Kieran cursed their dour faces under his breath. He knew what they would say.

Everyone around him stood at attention, but he remained seated. He would not now, or ever, give them honor they did not deserve.

With a heavy heart, Kieran watched as a woman was brought in and forced to stand in the center of the room. She looked nothing like the tender-hearted mother he knew, with her soft hands and loving smile. Instead, her delicate wrists and ankles were bound with thick rope. Her long, ebony hair fell disheveled over her face, a clear sign of dishonor. The tattered remains of a white hava draped her body, soiled and ripped, barely held up by the broche on her right shoulder. Still, she stood with pride, her posture straight and her shoulders back. A woman with nothing to be ashamed of.

His throat thickened. Guilt burned a hole in his stomach. He’d woken that morning on a comfortable bed covered in plush linens. He’d eaten from a buffet of fruits and grains, and washed himself with warm, clean water. Meanwhile, she’d sat alone in a dark cell all night. No telling what abuses she’d suffered there. Whether they’d even allowed her water to drink.

Seven of the priests sat, almost in unison, on a long stone bench, their robes sweeping the floor, while one near the center, Ophiuchus, remained standing. Kieran glared at him, the head of the House of Eukleides, the man who proclaimed himself the mouthpiece of the Beings.

Kieran knew with absolute certainty that Ophiuchus had never once heard the Voices, never felt Their presence. The weight of it would have bowed the old man’s shoulders, would have painted shadows in eyes that didn’t sleep. Kieran sneered. No one knew what a connection to the Beings meant better than he did.

Ophiuchus spoke directly to the woman who stood before him. “You have shown a blatant disrespect for the Code in the handling of your son. From the moment of his birth, he was marked for service at the Temple. After his weaning, you were to bring him in for training. How do you account for your selfish indulgence? Do you know the danger you have placed upon us all?”

Kieran winced at the charges she faced. It took all his self-control not to speak up for her, but an outburst would only make matters worse.

“I make no apology for what I have done.” She kept her head high, though tears shimmered in her silvery eyes. “He is my son, given to me by the Higher Beings that I might be blessed with motherhood. It is what I prayed for and it was granted. How could I give him up when I had only just received him?”

“It does not excuse you. This child, with the mark of the Dark One upon him, should have been delivered to the Temple years ago. Now, we have seen the consequences of such frivolity. A man is dead, a seer from your province. How do you account for this?”

Kieran fought the memories that surfaced at the mention of the old seer. He bit down hard and tasted the metallic tinge of blood. Nausea filled him. He envisioned the man’s milky white eyes, the look of horror on his face when he realized just who, or rather, what Kieran actually was.

His mother didn’t flinch at their accusation. “I take full responsibility—”

“No!” Kieran jumped from his seat. “That is not true!”

Strong hands caught him and pushed him back down, the faces of the two armed guards at his left and right expressionless.

She never looked at him. “I accept my punishment with humility. I know the Beings to be full of mercy.”

“Very well then.” The Priest rubbed at his thick grey beard. “In accordance with the Code, we, the adjudicators of the House of Eukleides sentence Najad of the Province of Aipa to public execution, to be carried out at first light tomorrow.”

“No!” Kieran fought the hands that kept him down. He could not let her do this. It was his fault. All of it.

Harsh whispers traveled with lightning speed, the noise deafening. The weight of the crowd’s macabre joy filled the room. He lost all sense of reason. Time slowed. Desperation fueled something dangerous in him.

He recognized the sensation. This time he didn’t fear the surge of power that filled him. He embraced it, fueled it with his rage, bitterness, and remorse.

Sudden silence broke the footpace of time.

Each person’s soul began to separate from their bodies, called on by his authority over them. Their delicate spirits became a tangible cloud of life that hung above their heads like halos. He reached for the cloud above the High Priest’s head and tugged at it, soft at first, then harder, willing it to come free from the man’s body.

Ophiuchus grasped at his neck. His wrinkled skin bunched in a pained, strangled expression as he struggled to breathe.

“She will not die.” Kieran’s voice, like rolling thunder boomed throughout the chamber.

Time returned, racing through the crowd with the swift strength of a tsunami. Eyes stared at him wide with horror. The guards stepped away in alarm.

“Restrain him!” Person after person called out orders until voices came from every direction, circling him.

“Enough!” his mother commanded.

Immediately, the spell of death dissipated from his hands. Ophiuchus’ breath came in heavy, panted gasps. He fought the very atmosphere, drank it in as though he knew each gulp of air might be his last. Kieran gathered sadistic pleasure in Ophiuchus’ suffering.

“Is this what you want?” Najad faced him. “With this senseless act you prove only that everything they fear about you is true. This is not who you are, Kieran.”

The accusation in her voice tightened his chest. “I cannot let you die. Not because of me.” He fought the childish tears that attacked him, refused to cry in front of so many condemning eyes. He would not give them the satisfaction of knowing they’d broken him.

“If you had killed that man, I could never forgive you.”

Her words pierced his heart. He froze, uncertain what to say or do. Didn’t she realize he did it for her, for them?

“If you ever kill a man of your own accord,” his mother cut into his thoughts, “you go from being a victim of circumstance to being a murderer. There is no mercy for those who take lives senselessly. The power that lives within you would consume you and you would become the very thing you fear. You are not Death, Kieran. You simply control it. Do not let it control you.”

“It isn’t fair!” he shouted, angry with her for not understanding, angry with himself for having lost control. “Remove this burden from me! I do not wish to be marked!” He ripped his wrists, scratched at the spiky black tattoos that had branded him into servitude from birth until blood leaked onto the stone floor.

“Take the child away,” Ophiuchus called out, “before he harms himself.”

He fought the unmerciful grips on his arms. He would not leave until he saw his mother to safety. “Let me go!” he shouted. Another wave of dark energy flooded him, this time without warning. The very foundation of the room shook. The crowd gasped.

“Be still.” His mother’s voice calmed the demons inside of him. He broke free of the guards and rushed to her side, fell to her feet, and wrapped his arms around her. “I will go with you. I will go wherever you go.”

“Kieran,” she whispered as though they were the only two in the room. The tips of her fingers grazed his hair.  “Look at me.”

He glanced up, unable to fight the tears when faced with her all-seeing eyes.

“Perhaps you are too young to understand that in life, all have a purpose. Mine was to bring the Child of Darkness into the world, that he might know love and compassion. Not just death. Yours, Kieran,” she sighed, a weary little breath that signaled her exhaustion. “Yours is yet to be determined. Find peace in knowing that I have done my part. It is time to set the balance straight. Rules are to be followed, peace to be kept. When these things are disrupted, someone must be held accountable.”

“But I did it,” he cried out, “I killed the old man!” Chaos traveled like a wave amidst the crowd. One of the Priests slammed a gavel onto the stone bench.

“We command that the witnesses be escorted out. This matter has become a private hearing.”

Guards herded the audience, despite their groans and complaints, through the double doors that led outside and slammed them shut. The sound echoed against high limestone walls and marble ceiling tiles.

“Is this truth that you speak, child?” Ophiuchus’ brows furrowed in displeasure.

“It is.” Kieran forced himself away from his mother to stand before them. “I did not mean for it to happen. The man meant only to heal me of my curse.”

“It is not a curse. Your branding is a blessing from the Beings.”

“No blessing could be complete without my family.”

“The bond between you and your mother is troubling,” the Priest said. “As Guardian you should not have formed it.”

The men leaned in to whisper among themselves. Ophiuchus nodded and turned his attention back to Kieran.

“Your murder of this man, though unfortunate, was not purposeful. You lost control because you were never trained. But you are marked, which means you have been bonded to the Dark Stone. With the new group of Guardians growing older, time is not an option. To wait for another born with the mark would unbalance our society. Zerah has never been without a soul keeper. We cannot afford to lose your power because of a triviality.”

“A triviality? I killed a man. Should I not die too? Does his blood not call for restitution? I lost all control. I killed him and I deserve to die.”

“The blame lies on your mother for not delivering you according to the Code.”

“If she dies, then I shall die with her. I will not be the one to carry her soul into Arezh. I refuse.”

The priests turned away, speaking to one another in hushed whispers.

Kieran’s stomach turned. He had no idea what their sudden silence meant.

His mother’s eyes closed in prayer. Her lips moved in silent worship. Did she beg for mercy, forgiveness, or did she seek to clear her sins one final time? Kieran followed her example, and closed his eyes in quick prayer to the Beings he’d lost all faith in, the ones who demanded a task of him heavier than he could carry. He would do whatever They asked of him as long as his mother’s life was spared.

The eight men straightened and turned to him, their faces set, and Kieran took a deep breath.

Ophiuchus spoke the final verdict. “It is the decision of the House of Eukleides, under the divine influence of the Higher Beings, that Najad of Aipa be held in captivity for the remainder of her days.”

“Captivity?” Najad gaped at them in shock.

“She will be held in the dungeon, never to step on the Holy Grounds of Zerah again. Find comfort, Kieran, Guardian of the Dark Stone, that your mother will be alive and fed. You, Najad of Aipa, will suffer enough, alive but unable to see your only child grow into the powerful man he will become. The day will come when you will wish you’d perished rather than be left to die alone.”

Content with their decision, the high priest summoned the guards. “Take this boy to the Temple immediately and call forth Master Iagan.”

“Wait!” Kieran reached for his mother’s hands. “Let me say goodbye.” The guards lifted him off the floor by the waist. He fought them, but their physical strength far surpassed his smaller frame. “Mierma!”

To his surprise, she smiled sadly, but no fear or bitterness marred her gaze. Her lips shaped the words he wanted so desperately to hear.

I love you.

He tucked them away into the very depths of his soul for safekeeping.

Those three words would have to last him a lifetime.

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