15 September 2014

Cover Reveal: Anon, Sir, Anon by Rachel Heffington

Coming November 2014

The 12:55 out of Darlington brought more than Orville Farnham's niece; murder was passenger.

In coming to Whistlecreig, Genevieve Langley expected to find an ailing uncle in need of gentle care. In reality, her charge is a cantankerous Shakespearean actor with a penchant for fencing and an affinity for placing impossible bets.

When a body shows up in a field near Whistlecreig Manor and Vivi is the only one to recognize the victim, she is unceremoniously baptized into the art of crime-solving: a field in which first impressions are seldom lasting and personal interest knocks at the front door.

Set against the russet backdrop of a Northamptonshire fog, Anon, Sir, Anon cuts a cozy path to a chilling crime.

about the author

Rachel Heffington is a Christian, a novelist, and a people-lover. Outside of the realm of words, Rachel enjoys the Arts, traveling, mucking about in the kitchen, listening for accents, and making people laugh. She dwells in rural Virginia with her boisterous family and her black cat, Cricket.

Find Rachel: Blog / / Twitter / / Facebook / / Pinterest

Interested in more of Rachel's work? Read my review for her debut novel, Fly Away Home.

09 September 2014

Snapshots of Summer

Some wise sage whom Pinterest did not bother to credit said, "We only have what we remember." And I would add that we only remember what we repeat and retell. So that's what I'm doing in this blank white posting box that scares me too often with its blankness and its whiteness. This summer was one of the busiest and most memorable seasons of my life, and I want to record it for posterity's sake.

Maybe one day I'll look back on these youthful days and see the frivolity in them. For now, I feel like I'm hanging on to the tilt-a-whirl for dear life as it spins faster and faster. Be quick, now! Catch the pieces before they blow away!

And so I shall.

snapshots of summer

 / / Opening the cafe at six in the morning isn't so bad when the gym plays Ed Sheeran. / /

/ / Cleaning up, cleaning out, repurposing, and doing without are all very healthful and refreshing practices. / /

 / / Walking the streets of D.C. with a pastry in one hand and a cup of chai tea in the other. For all their talk about wood smoke, flannel, and rain, the hipsters may have hit on something: the thrill of visiting a new place and staying until you know it cannot be overemphasized. / /

/ / Families of seven and eight blend splendidly together. Few things sound happier than ten little feet bounding over the floorboards all at once. / /

 / / College dorms bear an unfortunate resemblance to prison cells. / /

/ / Spending a solid five days with this wonderful human being and all the giggling and hilarity that occurred as a result. / /

/ / Tuesday night Bible study and going through the Book of Exodus with some of the most God-fearing women I know. / /

/ / Four too-short hours in the historical district of Philadelphia. It had been too long. / /

/ / It's amazing how brief a time can birth such close bonds. / /

/ / David Copperfield and the Britishness of Dickens. Oliver Twist and maybe even A Tale of Two Cities will have to step aside; Copperfield has claimed my heart. A summertime prelude of the literature I'm now studying this year. / /

/ / Arlington Cemetery will never not be reverently stirring. / /

/ / When one is under a particularly cavernous dome, there's clearly nothing else to be done but mimic Rue's mockingjay whistle. / /

/ / Racing around a college campus on a rainy evening for the sake of pictures can make for some pretty interesting stories. Bree, for instance, is the only person still living who can claim an injury inflicted by George Washington. / /

/ / A Monticello visit that seemed to last the space of a second with the one and only Liza. / /

/ / "You know, I still don't know how to dance." | "I'll show you how. Just be there." / /

/ / Long summer afternoons by the pool eating good food and engaging in enriching conversation (there's something quite magical in tomato slices, basil, and mozarella on Italian bread). / /

/ / Good books come in all shapes and sizes. Besides David Copperfield, this summer's haul included Starflower, Flannery O'Conner's Prayer Journal, and Plenilune (coming October 20!) / /

/ / Roasting marshmallows, taking ridiculous pictures, laughing, eating, and celebrating on the Fourth. / /

/ / Notes, notes, and more notes. A whole book of them. Scribbling so fast that your hand starts hurting (and being mocked for not using the backs of the pages). / /

/ / Good cries may be necessary at night, but never—oh, never forget the joy that comes in the morning. / /

Here's to September and the mugs of hot cider, bonfire-air, apple-red cheeks, and autumnal memories to come!

28 July 2014

Release Date Reveal: Plenilune by Jennifer Freitag

a planetary fantasy
by jennifer freitag

The fate of Plenilune hangs on the election of the Overlord, for which Rupert de la Mare and his brother are the only contenders, but when Rupert’s unwilling bride-to-be uncovers his plot to murder his brother, the conflict explodes into civil war.

To assure the minds of the lord-electors of Plenilune that he has some capacity for humanity, Rupert de la Mare as been asked to woo and win a lady before he can become the Overlord, and he will do it—even if he has to kidnap her.

En route to Naples to catch a suitor, Margaret Coventry was not expecting a suitor to catch her.

Coming 20 October 2014!

The official cover for Plenilune will be revealed in the upcoming months between now and October. If you have a blog and you'd like to be a part of the event, email Jennifer at sprigofbroom293[at]gmail[dot]com so she can put your name on the list!

interested in learning more about Jennifer?

author website: Jennifer Freitag

23 July 2014

This Mortal Veil of Fear

breathe life into this feeble heart
lift this mortal veil of fear
take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
we'll rise above these earthly cares
"dante's prayer," loreena mckennit

And thus we come to one of the best and most challenging aspects of blogging: accountability. A community waiting for an answer. My silence may have been some indication, but if it was not, you will know by the end of this post. I have not finished Anath's Song, and I will not be able to pick it up again until early August.

You can't know how tired I am of writing words like that. "It's going pretty well; I'm a little behind my goal"—and then, "I didn't finish," or worse, "I quit." Failure — because it feels so much like giving up — tastes bitter on my tongue. First Rifles, for which I have haphazardly researched, plotted, outlined, and written the better part of two years with little to show for it. Now this short project which should have been completed in two weeks still hangs on me unfinished. But good words come much more slowly than poor ones, and sometimes they have to be eked out with cups of tea and long bouts of still fingers and silent keys. And then sometimes other tasks simply must take priority, though I ignore that fact for as long as possible. An application for a college class that had to be sent in by a certain time. The business of shopping and packing for a two week trip also drains the hourglass. I'd like to say that life gets in the way of my writing goals, but life is the delays and the downtime and the dry months as well as the harvest.

Since I'll be out of town for the rest of July and unable to write, there's not much point in continuing to answer the questions for Actually Finishing Something [in] July after this week. Even though my word count is meager, I am so grateful for this opportunity to get a whole new project off the ground. And don't think for a minute that the story ends here. I had a mini breakthrough plot-wise just last week and the storybuilding will always continue. Reader, you have yet to hear the last of Anath's Song.

week three questions
actually finishing something [in] july

1. Were you able to meet your goal this week?

No, but I am satisfied with the current state of the novella and excited to get back to work when I return home again.

2. Where did you get the bulk of your writing accomplished? In the quiet of your room, outside on the patio, on the bus?

One evening when two of my siblings were out with friends and the rest were at the pool, I sat in our great room and carried on the wings of Pandora, typed away for two hours. It was blissful. As you can imagine, though, that doesn't happen often. The rest of the time I completed my writing in my room.

3. Share a couple of your favorite snippets!

Ha!” One eyebrow, visible in the slit between forehead and cheek, cocked in amusement. “You are nothing.”
“And yet, I am all I have to give.”
[anath's song]

Cassandra clenched her father’s hand until he cried out for her to release him. His hand burned, he said. Confused, she turned his palm upwards in her own. Long red burns, thin as spider webs, traced manic patterns over the surface of his skin. They singed her fingers and she flinched away in disgust. It was the last time she would touch her father.
[anath's song]

Young and naive, she had never guessed how her close, familiar life hung on a straining thread. One false step, and the fibers would snap altogether.
[anath's song]

4. Have you introduced a new character into your story? Tell us about his or her personality. 

Cassandra's father Titus has just recently entered the story and I've had an interesting time with his complexities. He was once a man of few words, strong, quiet, steady as the tide. One rash act later, and he is now entirely flat, washed of all identity save his own sins, which shine in brighter contrast. His daughter loved him once, but certain circumstances have changed that quickly enough.

5. List the favorite foods of your main characters.

Cassandra loves a rich roasted lamb, heavy with spices, the sort that she rarely tastes. Of her usual fare, she would not turn up her nose at plain bread and oil. Anath enjoys any sort of fruit he can find at the market that reminds him of his home city, specifically grapes and pomegranates.

6. Introduce us to the antagonist in your story and tell us about one of his or her quirks.

You've met Titus already, who plays a slightly antagonistic role in Anath's Song, so I'll give you Damon instead. Tall and swarthy, he's about as handsome and as proud as they come. He can't abide fish, women less than six inches shorter than him, and admitting defeat.

to all who are attempting to actually finish something this july, how are your projects coming along?

15 July 2014

"I never could resist an adventure."

via inspiration: anath's song
...And just like that, July is half over. To where exactly does time fly? I'd pay a pretty penny to the person who could give me the answer.

week two questions
actually finishing something [in] july

1) Were you able to reach your weekly goal?  

My goal by now was 10,000 words, and I'm not quite there yet. Thursday and Friday were busy days with work and entertaining guests, and I caught a nasty summer cold over the weekend that had me going to bed early and rising late for a day or two. By the grace of God and under the influence of Vitamin C, ibuprofen, almost a dozen bottles of water, and a box of tissues, I'm feeling better now and ready to attack the writing week. "I shall conquer this!—I shall!"

2) Is this challenge encouraging you to write more often?

Oh my, yes. As with each July (and November, if I'm participating in NaNoWriMo), there's the added push of accountability that keeps you flying, moving, and yes, sometimes scraping along through your project. Some days have been flooded with inspiration; others not so much. But I'm progressing.

3) At what time of the day did you accomplish most of your writing? 

My writing schedule juggles around depending on the time of the year. When I'm in classes during the winter and spring, I do most of my writing at night. Now that it's summer time, I'm home at odd hours of the day depending on my week's work schedule. This past week I accomplished the majority of my writing during the afternoon and evening.

4) Which musical tracks do you listen to most while writing? 

With Anath's Song, I listen to a lot of Loreena McKennitt (who supplies the proper sound) and Coldplay (who supplies the proper lyrics) for the story. If I get into a rut with those two, I'll change it up a bit and throw "Colors of the Wind" in for good measure.

5) Share a descriptive snippet or two of your writing.

Two swarthy eunuchs appeared in a second’s time, both armed, and they snatched for the foolish man. The Veiled One rose from her throne, as still and dreadful as Medusa herself with her veils whipping around her face like the fabled snakes. Her figure shook so terribly that the chains at her ankles clinked together in piercing echo. Her voice, when it came at last, was a weak gasp, as if he’d taken the very air from her lungs, but more real than anything she’d uttered before.
[anath's song]

A bit of the mockery fled Lysandros’ face, and it was like someone had briefly sent a cold finger down Anath’s spine. Still, he maintained his composure; it was only a woman, after all. Womenfolk had been known to cause enough trouble of their own accord without piling on unnecessary heavenly wrath. Lysandros had been spending too much time near Eleni’s lips.
[anath's song]

6) Share three dialogue-based snippets from your week one writing.

Free this man, my lady. His neck may be weak, but it does not belong to you.”
[anath's song]

If she be foul,” he conceded to his friend’s momentary satisfaction, “she has shown no aggression to this point, and I doubt she will in future. If she is savage as you say, maybe she’s a milder brute: the sort that is content with knocking furniture about every once in a while and refrains from bloody ritual and slaughter. I still say she is worth approaching.”
[anath's song]

I never could resist an adventure, especially on a night like this.”
[anath's song]

7) How are you going to move forward in this challenge? Are you changing your word-count goal or other plans? 

My word-count goal remains, but I'll probably have to increase the number of words I write in a day. We'll see how this next week progresses and take it from there.

07 July 2014

Long As the Day in the Summer-Time

there like a bird I'd fly
high through the air
reaching for the sun's full rays
only to find you there

and in the night when our dreams are still
or when the wind calls free
i'll keep your heart with mine
till you come to me
"penelope's song," loreena mckennitt

Two events, great on some scales, small on others, came to pass this week. I officially titled my novella for Five Enchanted Roses and I began the writing process itself. That is to say, I now have a document on my computer titled Anath's Song that grows at a slow, steady pace. It's been so long since I've begun a new project, and it felt a little rough and unnatural at first, but as new projects run, this one has started with few bumps. I'm diving into Katie's Actually Finishing Something [in] July with this baby of a story, and I would have answered the questions last week, but I felt the novella needed to get off the ground before I could start talking about it.

week one questions

1) What is your writing goal?

I want to finish Anath's Song before July 31st — more truthfully, by July 23rd, because I'll be going out of town on the 24th and won't be back until August 3rd. That's 17,000 additional words to the 3,000 I already have in a little over three weeks.

2) Give us a short synopsis of your project. 

“This life is but a slow death. I have learned well to bear its purgatory.”
Cassandra never dreamed of marriage until her father’s slip of the tongue bound her in chains. Now she spends her days hidden behind heavy veils as men compete for her hand, eternally aware of the ticking clock and her own impending death. With freedom her greatest desire and the wilting roses dropping petals by the hour, her desperation for a bridegroom will take a more drastic turn . . .

3) How long have you been working on this project?

I've been plotting and story-boarding since early June; I began the story itself just two days ago.

4)  How often do you intend to write in order to reach your goal by August 1st? 

Roughly 1,000 words or thereabouts per day. Anath's Song may surprise me and end before 20,000 words, but that is the contest limit and subsequently my own.

5) Introduce us to three of your favorite characters in this project.

You've met Cassandra already. Lysandros is a merry chap, a bit feather-headed, but generally fun to write. He's of medium build with the typical dark hair and eyes of his homeland, and if you want him, he can be found most often hanging around Eleni and her pomegranate stall. Whether its the girl or the fruit that interests him will remain to be seen.

I think I'll save Anath himself for this month's Beautiful People.

6)  Go to page 16 (or 6, 26, or 66) of your writing project. Share your favorite line or snippet on the page.

The two were silent for a while, allowing the cries of fishmongers and various peddlers to fill the gap in their conversation. Small brown children ran between the colorful stalls, clothed in rags and wide grins. A wealthy woman sneered at them from her shrouded litter, but a burly man followed behind them and scooped the boys out of her way. The sky was clouding over and the patch of shade grew larger: a welcome respite after the midday heat. Jingling in the breeze was the occasional clink of jewelry and coin passing from one hand to another; it pierced with the squawking chickens and bleating goats. Lysandros shifted closer, his brow serious. It was pleasant, Anath reflected, to sit beside a friend and know one’s life was in good hands. Perhaps there was something to be said for this island life after all.
[anath's song, page 6] 

7) Tea or coffee? 

Mint tea would be my more traditional choice, but there's something to be said for a tall glass of iced coffee with bits of undissolved raw sugar at the bottom. I have iced tea right now: a happy medium.

want some incentive to actually finish something this july? click here to join.

30 June 2014

Mint Tea, Old Navy Sales, and British Lit Nerd Moments

Because it's Monday, because Actually Finishing Something [in] July starts tomorrow (can you tell I'm excited?), and because I'm releasing my inner Ree Drummond in this introduction (but mostly because Emily tagged me with the Sunflower Blogger Award), I'm going to go with a more frivolous blogging topic and answer the tag questions. After spending the weekend in Georgia at my cousin's wedding and going to bed after midnight both yesterday and the day before, my brain is not up to the challenge of much more. So bear with me and enjoy the miscellany and madness to follow.


State eleven random facts about yourself, answer the eleven questions, and give eleven other people eleven new questions. (Also known as how many times one can use the word "eleven" in a sentence.)

eleven random facts concerning yours truly:

1. In case you haven't heard, I'm thrilled to be taking British Literature next semester. I've also probably told every person within the vicinity. That is all.

2. I quote Studio C, Blimey Cow, Broken Lens Productions, and the Lizzie Bennet Diaries on a regular basis. ("You had ninety-six episodes to think of a costume for me, and you came up with pigtails and a book?")

3. We are not above throwing spontaneous One Direction dance parties in the kitchen.

4. Iced mint tea (in Mason jars with fresh mint on top) is the lifeblood of our summer. Emily, you would know.

5. Loreena McKennitt's An Ancient Muse captures the sound of my Five Enchanted Roses novella (which still needs a title, by the by).

6. In less than a month, Bree and I will be leaving for a two week summer travel course on the roots of American liberty. We'll be hearing lectures and stopping in several of the East's most historical cities to taste their richness for ourselves. I'm nervous, but mostly excited about the experience and the opportunity to travel more.

7. I'm currently loving a mint tank top I picked up at Old Navy yesterday for only two dollars. (Nothing beats the sale rack!) You may now condemn me for triviality.

8. I never know when to stop starting new books. I'm currently reading a biography on John Quincy Adams, Redcoats and Rebels (research), The Mind of the Maker (which I should have finished by now), Flannery O'Connor's prayer journal (small and powerful), David Copperfield (British Lit summer reading), The Lamb of God (devotional / Bible study), Plenilune (!), and this afternoon I began the first Cinderella retelling in Five Glass Slippers. I never realize how long the list is until I add them up on Goodreads. It's a problem.

9. You wouldn't believe how long it's taking me to come up with these facts.

10. I work at a fitness center, which means I get to make protein shakes and smoothies (and wraps, and sandwiches, but those aren't nearly as fun) for a living. I like when the regulars come in and you know exactly what they're going to order because each one is a creature of habit. Ten ounces of water with no ice. Chocolate protein powder, peanut butter, and half a banana. A vanilla Powercrunch bar. ("Have a good day, sir.") I love my job.

11. My go-to Pandora station for housecleaning is Disney.

emily's questions

1. Favorite classic Disney song?

"Belle" from Beauty and the Beast. We love doing all the overlapping voices.

2. Mermaids or elves?

Elves. Mainly because of Legolas. (I can feel all my respectability leaving me in this post.)

3. Who is your favorite dead author?

I'll resist the urge to retort that all my favorite authors are dead because there are several still living whose work I admire and love. (Jenny, Katie, Rachel: I'm looking at you.) But if I am to pick a favorite dead author, I'll skip over Lewis this time (he's implied) and say Flannery O'Connor, because I only recently discovered the wisdom and truth in her fiction, and she's a gem.

4. Which country do you most want to visit?

The United Kingdom, specifically England-an'-Scotland. Perhaps that's cheating, but I can't choose just one.

5. Which state do you most want to visit? (I'm talking U.S., of course.)

I have a pet dream to live for a time in a small cottage on the salty shores of Maine.

6. Dream job?


7. Any future names in store for your future children?

I have a full alphabetized document of names, if that answers your question. Some current favorites of mine are Cora, Eira, Rowan, Kenneth (you saw that one coming), and Henry. Since I do not have children of my own in need of names, I content myself by attaching them to various characters as the opportunities present themselves. I recently was able to use Cassandra for a character, which was exciting, as I've been keeping that name on hold for several years. 

8. Captain America or Bucky Barnes?

I haven't seen either of the Captain America movies . . . yet.

9. Which is your preferred choice of weapon?

For me or my characters? I'd take a gun. A sword sounds far more dashing on the page, but if it came down to it, I don't think my stomach could take physically stabbing something (or someone, if it was a matter of defending myself).

10. Which non-published book are you most looking forward to reading?

Right now it's a toss-up between Golden Daughter by A. E. Stengl and Anon, Sir, Anon by our own Rachel Heffington. I'm also excited about the upcoming Five Enchanted Roses collection, whether or not my story makes the final cut.

11. If you were forced to dye your hair a different color, what color would you choose?

I wouldn't have to be forced to dye my hair a dark auburn. I've always loved red hair, and I do have some strong higlights, but I might not be brave enough to go full Anne Shirley at first.

my questions for you:

1. What music inspires your writing?
2. How do you keep from reading too many books at once?
3. What movie could you watch over and over and still love?
4. Do you outline your novels?
5. Favorite book genre.
6. Why is a raven like a writing desk?
7. Would you rather attend a masquerade or spend the evening at home in a library like this?
8. You have an empty Saturday afternoon with reasonable funds, sufficient transportation, and your hometown at your disposal. How would you spend the day?
9. Share some of your own particular quirks, literary or otherwise.
10. Describe your writing style.
11. Are you for or against flowers in church? ("There. We have found something we disagree on.")

...and I tag anyone who wants to join in the fun!

[p.s. sanity to return tomorrow. we hope.]
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