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
Palais de l'Élysée.jpg
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.

Chambord_Castle_Northwest_facade.jpg
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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Cover Reveal of ‘Alara’s Call’

It’s time again to reveal the cover of a soon-to-be-published book!

This one is a fantasy…um…my favourite…by Kristen Stieffel titled Alara’s Call. 

Here it is in all its gorgeousness:

Alaras-Call-Kindle.jpg

Love the dress, love the hair, love the opulent background! What could this amazing looking book be about? Well, I’m glad you asked because I’ve got a back cover blurb to keep you drooling:

Tales are often told of heroes who fulfill ancient prophecies. Alara’s Call is the tale of a woman who gives new ones.

Alara sees visions of other’s futures, but never her own.

A young clergywoman with a fiery passion for her Telshan faith, she has been assigned to a mission abroad but longs to lead a congregation in her homeland. Her father, the prime minister, jeopardizes her dream and her safety when he coerces her into what he calls a diplomatic mission.

But it’s a ruse.

The trip is meant to end with her marriage to the crown prince of a foreign nation, where members of Alara’s faith are persecuted and women oppressed. All for a trade agreement her father is desperate to enact.

But her mentor intervenes and takes Alara to Dorrel, the suitor she left behind. They
believe they are safe, but foreign soldiers are under orders to bring Alara to the king’s
palace…by any means necessary.

 

 

I’m not sure if we can wait for its release date of September 19, 2017, but we’re just going to have to!!


Kristen Stieffel is a freelance editor and writer who specializes in speculative fiction. Although she edits projects in varied genres for both the general market and the Christian submarket, she is a novelist at heart. Member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and Christian Editor Connection, mentor with Word Weavers International, and on the planning committee for Realm Makers, Kristen stays busy doing what she loves most. She is also the associate editor of Havok, a flash-fiction magazine focused on science fiction and fantasy.

 
Website|Blog|Amazon|Facebook|Twitter|Goodreads|Pinterest


 

Thanks for joining me in admiring the cover of Alara’s Call!

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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My Flash Fiction Story is Published!

A few months ago, I entered a fantasy flash fiction story called The Stone Veil to Splickety Publishing, hoping to final in their mythical mash-up short fiction contest.

My story was selected (yay!) and then came the nail-biting wait for publication.

That wait is over.

You can find the July issue of HAVOK at magcloud or on Kindle at Amazon.

Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!


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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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.

2bp.jpg

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.

3bpsnek.jpg

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

4bpsnek.jpg

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.

5snek.jpg


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!

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.

Illusionary Blog Tour Banner.jpg

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

Illusionary cover.jpg

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

Illusionary blog giveaway.png

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

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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!