Alara’s Call: Royal Palace Inspirations

It’s blog tour time again!

I’m part of the team introducing the world to Kristen Stieffel’s debut fantasy Alara’s Call.

Pardon me if I hyperventilate a little because have you seen the cover?!?

Rhetorical question, of course, because I revealed it on this very blog a few weeks ago.

So.

Have you seen the updated cover?

No? Well…here you go. And you’re welcome.

Alara’s Call

Only a little tweak, but instantly it’s waaaay more fantasy-ish. Dontcha love it?!?

I got to chat with Kristen (who made it through Hurricane Irma just fine, thank you very much), and she asked if she could share six pictures of the palaces that inspired the settings in Alara’s Call. 

And I said, please do! I love behind the scenes sneak-peeks, so without further ado, take it away, Kristen:


The story world of The Prophet’s Chronicle is loosely based on nineteenth-century Europe: lots of small countries with interrelated noble families and cultural conflicts.

The heroine, Alara, is a young clergywoman who is called to prophesy to world leaders about how the people of her faith are to be governed. At first she doesn’t understand why she should be given such an immense task. But her father is the prime minister of their country, Glynrell. Through her mother she’s related to the royal family of the neighboring country of Redíque. So she is already at the upper echelons of society.

The story ranges across three countries and visits several noble homes. I looked to the real world for a lot of inspiration about these places.

The story begins in the Glynrellan capital, Ayenni, where Alara’s family has their ancient estate, Ravendyn. It is very loosely modeled on Arlington House at the national cemetery. What struck me about the house is its position atop a hill. According to the National Park Service, the house “was purposefully set in a prominent position overlooking the growing capital city.” Ravendyn is much larger, but occupies a similar overlook.

Arlington House
Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, 2007, courtesy of the National Parks Service, npa.gov

The villains’ home base is the royal palace in Tarvag, the capital city of Makut, a country to the east of Glynrell and their historic enemy. It’s described as being over five stories, surrounded by a high wall. It has two wings enclosing a courtyard, kind of like the Palais de l’Élysée photo below, only bigger. Cross the Élysée with Burg Hohenzollern, a castle in central Germany, and drop it in the middle of a city instead of the forest, and it comes pretty close.

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Aerial view of Hohenzollern castle in Bisingen-Zimmern, view from the southwest. © MFSG / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Much of the story takes place in Redíque, where Alara’s family has two royal residences. Dorváir is in the capital city, and it’s sort of a cross between Buckingham Palace in London and Palais de l’Élysée (the French president’s residence) in Paris.

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Buckingham Palace. Photo courtesy royal.uk
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The Palais de l’Élysée is the official residence of the French president. Photo courtesy elysee.fr

 

The courtyard in the background of the cover of Alara’s Call is basically the courtyard at Dorváir. Just so you know.

The final chapters of the book take place at Shandór, a palace in the Redíquan countryside, and there was only ever one model for this location.

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Northwest façade of Chambord castle. Photo by Benh Lieu Song / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0.

 

The Château de Chambord is a sixteenth-century palace in the Loire Valley. Legend has it that Leonardo da Vinci contributed to its design.

I confess I may be exaggerating when I say Chambord is the only inspiration for Shandór—although that’s certainly where it gets its name. Those who’ve read the book will catch the detail that Shandór’s roofs are conical and blue. So yes, there is of course one more inspiration.

Cinderella_Castle_at_Magic_Kingdom_Walt_Disney_World.jpg
Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World. Photo by Ivan Curra / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0.

I am an Orlandoan, you know.


Ooooh wow! Thanks so much, Kristen. What a gorgeous selection of castles. Now I’m going to be dreaming all day about which one I’d like to live in.

 

If these photos have inspired you to dive into the world of Alara’s Call, I’ve got you covered. There’s a great preorder sale going on right now, so grab your copy of this fantastical read to enjoy when it releases September 19.

–> preorder here <–

Also, as I’ve mentioned before, L2L2 Publishing knows how to throw a party. There are great prizes to be won, and anyone can join in. The best part is we get to party in our pajamas!

 

You can RSVP here

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Connect with Kristen. I know she’d love to hear from you.

WebsiteFacebook | Twitter | GoodreadsPinterest

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour!


Jebraun-Clifford-LR-3

Jebraun Clifford always wanted to step through a door into an imaginary kingdom, so it’s no surprise she now calls Middle Earth home. Too short to be an elf and too tall to be a Hobbit, she lives in a gorgeous town smack-dab in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island filled with thermal activity, stunning lakes, and enough Redwoods to make her Californian heart swoon. Her unpublished YA fantasy, The Two Queens of Kyrie, won both the American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2015 First Impressions contest and the 2016 Genesis contest. She loves coffee, tree ferns, dark chocolate, and Jesus, and harbours a secret penchant for British spelling.

 

 

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16 Breathtaking Reasons to Love ‘Ending Fear’

I’m thrilled to kick off the blog tour for fellow speculative author, Deanna Fugett. Her debut YA dystopian, Ending Fear, is finally here!

I remember critiquing her story on the main ACFW critique group years ago, Scribes, and in just a few short days, I get to hold a beautiful copy in my hands.

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Until then, I’ll have to content myself with my Kindle copy (not quite the same) as well as devouring all the blog posts after mine.

I’m going to her Facebook party July 20th too! There will be heaps of prizes and a good time had by all! Don’t miss it!

–> –> party here! <– <–

And now, Deanna gets to introduce some inspiring pictures and graphics (16 of ’em 😉 ) that give some background to Ending Fear as well as giving you, dear reader, an opportunity to connect with this talented author and win yourself some lovely book swag.


Here are some cool pictures telling a little bit about my story Ending Fear. I had fun making and finding these, and I hope you enjoy them and they make you a bit more excited about my debut novel coming out July 18th.Defeated.png

Fear is a slave. A slave to her family who show her no compassion. A slave to the Uppers who force the Downers to do their bidding with the threat of laser guns in the hands of the Sentinels. She’s strong, but you can only push a person so far.EF meme.png

When Fear finds a new family, they treat her with kindness. Something she’s never experienced. She’s not quite sure how to deal with it.The triplets.jpgThese three may look alike as far as the red hair goes, but their personalities couldn’t be more different.

I can’t wait for you to meet them on the pages. Especially Trouble. He’s named that for a reason.

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The harems are not a place anyone wants to end up. When Fear’s little sister is taken there, she must make a choice. Rescue the girl at the risk of death, or let her fear take over?


Here’s a behind the scenes look at the characters of Ending Fear as imagined by author, Deanna Fugett:

Fear Fear. She’s my MC. She’s pretty awesome. At least I like to think so.

 

CourageCourage. He’s smart, and a bit overconfident because of it.

 

HateHate. He’s the antagonist of the story. Tortured soul and evil go hand in hand.

 

CharityCharity. The Upper servant who takes Fear, Courage and Trouble under her wing.

 

TroubleTrouble. His name says it all. Biggest flirt ever. You can’t help but love him though.

 

ManlyManly. He’s the dreamboat. Hehehe. Come on now, every YA has to have one. It’s a rule, you know. 😉

 

MelodyMelody. She’s the friend. She’s a bit serious at times, but she’s kind.

 

HarmonyHarmony. The snob of the group. If she’s not horseback riding you can find her doing her hair or nails. Or possibly criticizing someone.

 

HappyHappy. Never short of spunk, this little one can sass you and still make you fall in love with her. She’s got talent.

 

FaithfulFaithful. Rotten in the kitchen. Really good at whining.


To further whet your appetite…check out the back cover copy:

Fourteen-year-old Fear learns she was a parachute baby, dumped over the edge of the Gliding Lands as an infant. Fascinated by the floating cities in the sky before, now she’s desperate for answers. But a slave isn’t likely to get those answers.

When her abusive Downer family throws her from their hovel, Fear takes refuge with a family who shows her love for the first time. Surely they can’t be trusted. Years of abuse has taught her that.

Then her brother discovers where she’s hiding and tries to kidnap her. Fear will never let him touch her again. Her new family conceals her at The Fallen, a ranch that hides parachute babies from the Uppers who discarded them.

Just as she’s beginning to embrace yet another home, Fear’s new little sister, Happy, is kidnapped and taken to the Uppers’ temple harem. Fear must go against her namesake, find a working hoverpod, and journey to the dreaded Gliding Lands before the little girl’s innocence is ripped from her forever.

Can she save Happy in time?

And will she find answers to the burning question of why anyone would throw her away?


Deanna’s also looking for people to join her street team!

Street Team.png

I would love some more Dorks to join my street team. If you love YA dystopia and/or want to help promote my books, join the rest of us Dorks on my street team by signing up here. I will love you forever and always!


We’re having a scavenger hunt to celebrate this new release. All you have to do is visit each stop on the blog tour, collect that stop’s clue, and put together the mystery sentence to enter. One lucky participant who correctly answers the question will receive (drum role, please): a signed paperback of Ending Fear and a coloring book (US only) or an e-book of the novel only for international entries.

–> –> Scavenger Hunt Form<– <–

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Don’t forget to collect ALL fourteen words! You can find them at the various blogs below:

Are you as excited as I am for the debut of this fabulous story? 

You can purchase it directly from L2L2 Publishing’s website!


Deanna

Deanna Fugett’s heart belongs to writing. Author of edgy YA Dystopian fiction with an underlying message of hope, this stay-at-home mom of four focuses on writing as much as humanly possible. She was published at the young age of six in a local newspaper and is excited to be published again. It only took twenty-six years. She enjoys the thrill of writing fiction that deals with intense topics and prays it will impact people for the better.

 

 

 

Social Media Links:
Website|Blog|Facebook|Twitter|Goodreads|Pinterest

Thank you for joining me in welcoming Ending Fear into the world!


Jebraun-Clifford-LR-3

Jebraun Clifford always wanted to step through a door into an imaginary kingdom, so it’s no surprise she now calls Middle Earth home. Too short to be an elf and too tall to be a Hobbit, she lives in a gorgeous town smack-dab in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island filled with thermal activity, stunning lakes, and enough Redwoods to make her Californian heart swoon. Her unpublished YA fantasy, The Two Queens of Kyrie, won both the American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2015 First Impressions contest and the 2016 Genesis contest. She loves coffee, tree ferns, dark chocolate, and Jesus, and harbours a secret penchant for British spelling.


Have you signed up for my newsletter? I give away an e-book in every one!

What Happens When a Sneaky Snek Takes Over My Blog? Coiled Blog Tour #9

It started innocently enough. I volunteered to be part of H.L. Burke’s Coiled Blog Tour. I love celebrating new books, and one that’s a retelling of the Eros and Psyche myth caught my attention.

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Then I got the email.

Would I be interested in a guest post?

Well, sure! Why not? Little did I know that a…ahem…snek…would be the guest! I tried to protest. This is a happy blog! No scary creatures allowed! But before I could say ophidiophobia, this sneaky little critter wrestled for control of the blog.

And won.

Without further ado, here’s the result *hides eyes*


A sneaky snek takeover ahead

Warning, if you have Ophidiophobia  this is not the post for you.

Why?

Because this post includes snakes.

Actually it includes sneks but that’s mostly semantics. For the ssssake of thissss post should we ssssay sssemanticsssss? Maybe? No, I’m not going to do that. That’s just annoying. (or issssssssssss it?)

So why sneks?

I think the questions should be, why not?

After all, sneks are charming.

On a scale of one to ten, sneks are at least an 8 (because 8 is the snakiest number. Just look at it and tell me it isn’t).

And also because in Coiled, Prince Calen has a problem, and that problem is snek related. In fact, he’s literally related to a snek because his brother, Volen, turns into a snek any time he’s alone or in darkness. This would be a big problem, a snek brother, but for the most part it is easy to fix (just never let Volen be alone or in darkness), so it’s not the biggest snek related problem in Calen’s life. Nope, that would be his own snek-hood. You see, Calen has the other half of Volen’s half. The half the turns you into a snek whenever someone looks at you, so unless Calen is alone (or in darkness) POOF! Snek!

1BP.jpg

You’d think Calen would be okay with this, but no, you see, there are a lot of things one can’t do as a Snek, and looking adorable and all sleek and scaly will only get you so far. For instance, sneks are messy eaters.

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Sneks can’t play most instruments. Sneks can’t write. Sneks can’t fly on planes, no matter what misleading movie posters would have you believe (you just try to get a snek through security). Snek life is adorable, but limiting.

What’s worse is that Calen isn’t in control of his snek-instincts when in his snek form. Calen really doesn’t want to hurt anybody, but the inner snek wants what the inner snek wants, and that is often to bite and squeeze.

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But Calen is not a killer. He’s protector! Especially when Laidra, a princess with her own curse, comes into his life.

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Calen just wants to keep Laidra safe, especially from his own snekky self, but that might be harder than anticipated.

If you want to the full story of how Calen struggles with his inner snek, and whether he can break his curse to become a prince once more, you’ll have to read Coiled.

Because … sneks.

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Phew! We made it to the other side! Now that the snek is contained (for now!), check out the other posts on the tour:

Seven stops on this blog tour contain special Scavenger Hunt Clues, presented by #TheodoretheDragon and #PistachioSnek. Look for a photo of either or both of those little guys holding up a note. Each note is part of our secret phrase. When you have all seven pieces of our secret phrase, click here to share your clues. All correct entries will be put into a random drawing for a signed paperback of Coiled. The winner will be drawn at the Facebook launch party June 23.

Look out! There might be sneks!

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In the vein of Eros and Psyche, two cursed souls find each other on a forsaken isle and together must shed the darkness inflicted upon them–or else live as monsters forever.

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A healing touch. A hideous face. A looming curse.

As the ugly twin to a perfect sister, Princess Laidra lives her life in the shadows—until her parents offer her as bait for a giant serpent.

Her escape attempt leaves her shipwrecked on a secluded island with only one inhabitant: Prince Calen, who lives under a curse. If anyone looks upon him, he turns into a giant serpent. Speaking to him in the darkness, Laidra sees past the monster to Calen’s lonely soul, and she determines to free him from the magic’s hold.

But if Laidra can’t break the curse in time, Calen will become a mindless creature of scales and fangs forever.

Buy it now! –> –> –> on Amazon or Kobo, Nook, and iBooks 


AUTHORPhotolego

Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

BlogFacebook | Twitter |Instagram | Website


Thanks for joining me for this fun look at Coiled! Any questions for the author?

Jebraun-Clifford-LR-3

Jebraun Clifford always wanted to step through a door into an imaginary kingdom, so it’s no surprise she now calls Middle Earth home. Too short to be an elf and too tall to be a Hobbit, she lives in a gorgeous town smack-dab in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island filled with thermal activity, stunning lakes, and enough Redwoods to make her California heart swoon. Her unpublished YA fantasy, The Two Queens of Kyrie, won both the American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2015 First Impressions contest and the 2016 Genesis contest. She loves coffee, tree ferns, dark chocolate, and Jesus, and harbours a secret penchant for British spelling.


Sign up for my newsletterI give away an e-book in each one!

Imaginary Friends & Other Such Misfits

This has been a great week for my blog. Earlier in the week, I got to write about Desiree William’s new book Illusionary, and today I get to share another awesome new release: Kara Swanson’s YA urban fantasy, The Girl Who Could See.

I think I say this every time. But seriously. Look at this cover. I mean. Really. Perfection.

The Girl Who Could See

It sums up everything bold and beautiful about this novella.

I got to chat with the author and ask her a few questions to get to know her better.

Jeb: I’d love to know about your experiences growing up in Papua New Guinea. 

Kara: Where do I even start? I spent my childhood in an exotic place that only a handful of eyes had ever seen. I ran barefoot through glistening jungles, learned to swim in the river that ran past our house, climbed trees like a monkey, and raised all kind of unique pets. From wallabies (mini kangaroos) to Cockatoos, Hornbills (like a Toucan without the colorful beak), and singing Dingo dogs.

Jeb: Sounds amazing! What’s it like being a third-culture kid? How does that contribute to your storytelling?

Kara: Growing up in a third world country, I learned how to make do without a lot. My imagination became my greatest plaything. And that definitely impacted my writing. I also knew what it was like to live in two very different worlds. I related to characters who didn’t quite fit in anywhere, and had a perspective on life that was hard for anyone else to grasp. I felt like the Pevensie children, returning from Narnia, trying to find a way to have England be home again. Writing soon became a place to expel all the pent up emotion and the many worlds swirling in my mind!

Jeb: Well, all that emotion and all the worlds combined into something beautiful in The Girl Who Could See. Give me some background on this story. What was your inspiration for it? 

Kara: I’ve always had imaginary friends. As a child, I played with them. As I got older, they became the characters of my stories. So when the idea popped into my head of a girl who’s imaginary friend never left—and isn’t imaginary—I just had to explore the possibilities.

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Jeb: I love that! an imaginary friend who never left! Did you have a favourite character?

Kara: Tristan was my favorite character to write, as he was this snarky, strong character! ❤ His perspective was so unique, and how he messed with Fern.

Jeb: Haha, yup, Tristan was a lot of fun. If you were going to sit down with him at a cafe, what hot drink would you order?

Kara: Mmmmm a good mocha Frappuccino!

Jeb: Good choice! What you do to overcome writer’s block.

Kara: I don’t actually get writer’s block. I have so many ideas. If I do slow down, generally I can just sit on the idea for a while and it works it’s way out…

Jeb: Well, that’s completely not fair! 😉 But I do appreciate you answering all my questions and best of luck with your new book baby.

Kara: Thanks so much for having me, Jebraun! I so enjoyed it ❤

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In case I haven’t convinced you yet, here’s a summary of TGWCS:

All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but, what if she is the only one who can truly see?

Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that’s what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear normal, she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.

Tristan was Fern’s childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man is not a hallucination after all—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.

Doesn’t this sound amazing? Check out more on Goodreads and then run, don’t walk, to buy your copy of the book today!!

Are you ready for your next clue? Yeah? Here it is!

Clue 11 TGWCS Blog Tour Clue

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour from The Girl Who Could See to find all the clues for the scavenger hunt!

JUNE 1ST:

(Release Day/Blog Tour Kick Off Post)
readwritesoar.com

JUNE 2ND:

emilybergstrom.com

writeremilymundell.blogspot.ca

JUNE 3RD:

tabithacaplinger.com

A Little Thought Garden

JUNE 4TH:

northernbellemeg.com

The Simmering Mind

JUNE 5TH:
annie-louise-twitchell.blogspot

gabriellaslade.com

JUNE 6TH:

theleft-handedtypist.blogspot.com

Godbooksandchocolate.blogspot.com

jebraunclifford.com

JUNE 8TH:

zerinablossom.com

JUNE 9TH:

rosalievalentine.com

thefandomstudio.wordpress.com

geekychristianblog.wordpress.com

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When you’ve collected every clue, go to –> –> –> TGWCS ~ Release day scavenger hunt


Kara SwansonAs the daughter of missionaries, Kara Swanson spent sixteen years of her young life in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped suddenly into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the speculative genre. At seventeen, she released a fantasy novel, Pearl of Merlydia. Her short story is included in Kathy Ide’s 21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Mom. She has published many articles, including one in the Encounter magazine, and she received the Mount Hermon Most Promising Teen Writer award in 2015.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website


Jebraun-Clifford-LR-3

Jebraun Clifford always wanted to step through a door into an imaginary kingdom, so it’s no surprise she now calls Middle Earth home. Too short to be an elf and too tall to be a Hobbit, she lives in a gorgeous town smack-dab in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island filled with thermal activity,
stunning lakes, and enough Redwoods to make her Californian heart swoon. Her unpublished YA fantasy, The Two Queens of Kyrie, won both the American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2015 First Impressions contest and the 2016 Genesis contest. She loves coffee, tree ferns, dark chocolate, and Jesus, and harbours a secret penchant for British spelling.


Sign up for my newsletter! I giveaway an e-book in every one.

The Irresistible & Amazing World of Illusionary

One of the best things about writing and blogging is all the fantastic people I meet along the way.

And all the amazing books I get to read.

The Amazing Illusionary

Desiree Williams’s Illusionary is no exception. Her YA fantasy was released into the wild a wee while ago, and I get to be part of the blog tour introducing it to the world.

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First of all, the cover is gorgeous. All pink, and glow-y, and, well, gorgeous!

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So what’s this story about? Well…here’s a little description to wet your reading appetite 🙂

Dorothy got sucked into a tornado.

Alice fell down a hole.

Wendy flew to Neverland.

Kamryn? She tripped down the stairs.

Dorothy got sucked into a tornado. Alice fell down a hole. Wendy flew to Neverland. Kamryn- She tripped down the stairs.

Now, Kamryn Kensington finds herself in a strange new world. Within minutes of her arrival, she dodges an archer’s arrow and avoids getting sliced up by a cosplay reject holding a dagger to her throat. And that’s before the storyteller’s breath brings stories to life.

Home is the mission—to return to her family and pursue her life’s dream of art and travel. Yet the longer she’s in the Land of Ur, the harder it is not to feel for the people she meets. Even her artistic side can’t help but breathe in the beautiful wonder and magic of this new world. So when the Oracle hands her a different quest, she takes it on the condition he sends her home afterward.

No one thought to warn her of a jealous queen and her dragon minions. Or that, by helping her, the cute storyteller would go crazy. Or that her heart would rip in two when she left. Those would’ve been great facts to know ahead of time.

Considering that nothing in Ur is what it seems, the mission proves to be more than she ever imagined. But more than her own future will be in jeopardy if Kamryn doesn’t succeed.

What did I think about this irresistible story?

I loved it!  Kamryn is such a fun heroine. Even though she’s been thrown into a strange land, she rises to the occasion with determination and a saving sense of humour. And I enjoyed her artistic bent that sees the beauty in everything around her. And Reese? What a swoon-worthy hero. The romance was satisfying without being too sentimental or mushy.

The imaginary Land of Ur was also well-developed. I had no problem imagining it’s forests, castles, Jolly Harbor, and other places (don’t want to give away too much!) because of all the descriptions that kept my mind spinning.

Beautiful truths like sacrifice, bravery, and true love just add to this wonderful story.

If you love fantasy, romance, and adventure, then you will enjoy this book!


Desiree has put together an amazing prize package to celebrate the release of Illusionary. Look at all this swag!

  • “Make everyday an adventure” pillow
  • “Don’t Grow Up! It’s a Trap!” metal sign
  • book cozy
  • signed paperback of Illusionary
  • notebook with pens
  • sketch book with colored pencils
  • “Eat Cake for Breakfast” travel cup

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Enter to win right here —> —> —> Illusionary giveaway

winner will be selected Monday, Jun 12th at approx. 9 AM (EST).


Don’t forget to check the other blog tour stops!

June 5th

June 6th

June 7th

June 8th

June 9th

June 10th


Desiree WilliamsDesiree Williams is a dreamer by day and chocoholic by night. She lives in the beautiful state of Kentucky with her husband and daughter, where she juggles life as a wannabe supermom. Desiree is a lover of food and avoider of dirty dishes. She delights in making people laugh and strives to bring hope and love with her wherever she goes.

You can find out more about Desiree and her books at www.desireewilliamsbooks.com

Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads / Newsletter

Purchase Links

Check out more about Illusionary on Goodreads


Put Illusionary on your TBR pile today!

Jebraun-Clifford-LR-3Jebraun Clifford always wanted to step through a door into an imaginary kingdom, so it’s no surprise she now calls Middle Earth home. Too short to be an elf and too tall to be a Hobbit, she lives in a gorgeous town smack-dab in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island filled with thermal activity,
stunning lakes, and enough Redwoods to make her Californian heart swoon. Her unpublished YA fantasy, The Two Queens of Kyrie, won both the American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2015 First Impressions contest and the 2016 Genesis contest. She loves coffee, tree ferns, dark chocolate, and Jesus, and harbours a secret penchant for British spelling.


Sign up for my newsletter. There’s an e-book giveaway in each one!


8 More Fascinating Behind-the-scenes Facts About Spark and a GIVEAWAY

I’m on the tail-end of the fabulous Spark tour which means they saved the best for last 😉

In all seriousness, I’m excited to share some more cool stuff about J.M. Hackman’s YA fantasy debut, Spark.

And I’ve got an e-book to GIVEAWAY! Woohoo!

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Author J.M. Hackman sat down with me in a virtual cafe, where I got a low-down on on all the gossip about Brenna and the fantasy world of Linneah.

Jeb: Very excited to catch up with you about Spark. The first few chapters are intense. Man, you jump into the action right away. So, explain to me where Brenna’s powers come from?!?

JM: She was born with them, although Linneans don’t come into them until their teen years (a lot like puberty).

When I first started writing Spark, I tried to come up with a superpower that hadn’t been done before. Unfortunately, I think Solomon was right—nothing is new under the sun. Still, fire-starting intrigued me.

Jeb: Are you kidding? Fire-starting is cool! It’s a talent that would come in handy in more than one scenario, though I understand Brenna kinda wishes it would go away. She also mentions her frustration that Belgian waffles don’t exist in Linneah. I want to know if there’s a significant story to why she loves them so much?

JM: When they lived in Vermont, Brenna’s mother made them often on Saturday mornings. They would douse them with butter and real maple syrup because everyone in New England (and I mean everyone) uses real maple syrup.

Why does she love them? Have you ever had a Belgian waffle? Fluffy dough, fried to perfection, smothered in syrup, or confectioners’ sugar, or fruit/chocolate chips/whipped topping? What’s not to like?

Why does she love them- Have you ever had a Belgian waffle- Fluffy dough, fried to perfection, smothered in syrup, or confectioners’ sugar, or fruit%2Fchocolate chips%2Fwhipped topping- What’s not to like-.png

Jeb: You’re right. Belgian waffles are awesome. Unfortunately, maple syrup is rarer than dragons here in Middle Earth. Speaking of dragons, in an epic battle with a dragon, who would win…Brenna or the dragon?

JM: Hmm. Brenna hasn’t learned all there is to learn about being a Firebrand. And if she didn’t have protection (i.e., a shield), I think the dragon would win. After all, before dragons became extinct in Linneah, the Firebrand’s main rule was, “Never engage a dragon in an unnecessary firefight.”

Jeb: Sounds like a wise proverb! I love the world-building in Linneah. Are any of the settings (Silvastamen, for example) based on real places?

JM: Cloverdale’s reservoir and spillway are modeled after the reservoir our small town used before the artisan wells were drilled. I haven’t been there in years, but I remember a trip there when I was young. Most of Linneah is lightly wooded, much like central Pennsylvania. Flare (book 2) will take place elsewhere in the Jasper Territory and therefore have different scenery/settings.

Jeb: Well, your memory is a good one because I can picture the Cloverdale reservoir clearly from your description in the book. What about Brenna? Does she have a favorite childhood memory?

JM: When she lived in Vermont, she loved to go ice skating—especially on the dirt road that went past their house! (If it sleets—or rains and then freezes—on top of untreated hard-pack snow, it becomes like an ice rink.) She and the two other neighbor kids would strap on their ice skates and skate in each other’s driveways and the ice-covered dirt road. Going downhill was especially terrifying because it was impossible to stop once she picked up enough speed. She’d just skate into a snowbank to stop.

Jeb: I’ve never been ice skating. I prefer my own two feet flat on the ground, lol. What does it feel like to travel through the portal to Linneah?

What does it feel like to travel through the portal to Linneah-.png

JM: Are you wearing a jasper?

Jeb: Uh…no…

JM: That’s what makes the difference. Without the jasper, it’s harsh. You get blasted with extreme temperature swings, your vision becomes fuzzy, and nausea hits. With the jasper? A brief cold wind, a little hot flash, some hazy vision, and you’re through.

Jeb: Eeek! Sounds a little scary. I’ll stay in my world, thank you very much. Brenna’s hair is gorgeous—did her mother object when she colored it? (Did you notice my attempts at using American English with favorite and colored? I’m biting my fingernails, it’s bothering me so much, lol.)

JM: Good job, Jeb—we’ll convert you yet! Her mother didn’t object—because both her mother and her grandmother have a similar colored hair streak, too. You’ll have to read the book to find out why!

Jeb: Oooh, like the teaser! Any of your characters based on real people? 

JM: I think Brenna is a mixture of my two daughters and a much-younger me. My youngest has ADHD, my oldest is the same age and emotionally like Brenna, and when I was younger, I would say anything (like Brenna, I had no filter).

A few months ago, I realized Baldwin is like my husband: dark good looks, sexy (at least I think so), and very conscientious. He plays by the rules (while I look for ways to break them.)

Brenna James wants three things for her sixteenth birthday- to find her history notes before the test, to have her mother return from her business trip, and to stop creating fire with her bare hands. Yeah, that’s  (1).png

Jeb: Now I’d like to find out a few things about you. I understand you’re a chocolate lover like me. What’s your favorite? If you say white…I may have to unfriend you on Facebook…

JM: White!?! Phth! That’s not chocolate—that’s candy. My favorite is dark. Deep, dark, rich chocolate…excuse me while I wipe the drool off my chin.

Jeb: Yusss! Kindred spirits!!! We’ve both worked at libraries before, too. I always got in trouble for reading the books I was supposed to shelve, hehe (I mean, I worked in my university’s children and YA section…what did they expect?!?) What was the best part about working in a library?

JM: Getting a new shipment of books. I read them first, because my name was at the top of the list. (For what it’s worth, I also got in trouble for reading the books in the stacks. Some people just don’t understand the temptation. All those books, and so little time.)

Jeb: I know, right? Wait a minute. You like dark chocolate, you worked at a library, you were also a teacher. Me tooooo! Were we separated at birth? You’ve got wavy hair and glasses…your name starts with a ‘J’…hmmm…I can’t believe all of these similarities are a coincidence.

more chocolate- yes, please!.png

JM: As far as I know, Jeb, I was an only child and used my vivid imagination to keep myself occupied. I did get a degree in elementary education. Although I enjoyed the kids, I was surprised at how much discipline factored into the job. About 50% is teaching and the other 50% is discipline. Because I tend to throw myself into almost everything I do, I probably would’ve been one of the teachers that burned out.

Jeb: Well, you’re going to excel at writing books. I for one, have loved reading Spark and can’t wait to finish it. And then I get to look forward to Flare getting published.  

JM: Thanks so much, Jeb, for chatting with me!

Jeb: Thanks so much for taking the time to share all about your new book and congratulations!


Author_JM_Hackman_HeadshotJ.M. Hackman has held many positions: assistant librarian, office assistant, office manager, substitute teacher, writer, wife, and mother. She still holds the last three. And loves it. She received a degree in Elementary Education from Pennsylvania State University and now spends her days writing stories, consuming massive quantities of chocolate, and looking for portals to other worlds. You can find her at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads |Pinterest

You can purchase Spark from L2L2 Publishing and it’s also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBook, Kobo, and any other online retailer.


Did you miss any of the other blog stops? Then check them out:

5/15: Amy Brock McNew – Spark! Into the World of J.M. Hackman
5/16: J M Hackman – What I Learned While Writing Spark (And Spark Teaser!)
5/17: Emilie Hendryx – Author Chat with J.M. Hackman and The Story Sanctuary – Review
5/18: Michael Israel Harper – Five Reasons Why I Love Linneah
5/19: Kat Heckenbach – Behind-the-Scenes: A Different Kind of Magic
5/20: Writing Prompts, Thoughts, Ideas – Interview

Week 2

5/21: Quills and Inkblotts – Visual Post: The Visual Feast of Spark
5/22: Laura Zimmerman – Book Review
5/23: Lands Uncharted – Behind-the-Scenes: The Evolution of Spark
5/24: Pam Halter – Guest Post
5/25: Pages and Hope – Interview

5/26: Ralene Burke – Confessions of a Small Town Mountain Girl) and 8 More Fascinating Behind-the-scenes Facts about Spark (right here!)


Spark_cover_med_res (2)Do you want your very own copy of Spark? Cos I’ve got one to giveaway!
–> –> –>enter to win!<– <– <–


Jebraun-Clifford-LR-3

Jebraun Clifford always wanted to step through a door into an imaginary kingdom, so it’s no surprise she now calls Middle Earth home. Too short to be an elf and too tall to be a Hobbit, she lives in a gorgeous town smack-dab in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island filled with thermal activity, stunning lakes, and enough Redwoods to make her Californian heart swoon. Her unpublished YA fantasy, The Two Queens of Kyrie, won both the American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2015 First Impressions contest and the 2016 Genesis contest. She loves coffee, tree ferns, dark chocolate, and Jesus, and harbours a secret penchant for British spelling.


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