Friday, August 9, 2019

It's Here -- And 5 Reasons To Read It

Unfortunately, Amazon is still in the process of reviewing and approving the files for the paperback, but the Kindle copy is all set to go! So, if you're in the mood for a cheaper, instant-gratification copy of Spindle Dreams, click here to get yours! I will let you all know once Amazon gets the paperback out.

[Update: The paperback version is now live and available to order! Link here.]

I still can't believe we're already to this day. It's been a long process, but I'm super excited to share this story with you all.

But why should you care? Why should you read it?

Oh, I'm so glad you asked.

Five Reasons to Read Spindle Dreams

1. It's a quick fairytale packed full of Sleeping Beauty elements.
Most of you have already read my post on the Disney Easter Eggs in Spindle Dreams here. But I had a lot of fun including more than just nods to the animated film. My goal with this series is to spin a tale that's dedicated to the charm and style of the original fairytale but twists things up just for fun. There will be much of the Sleeping Beauty you know and love, but I still have a few tricks up my sleeve. I mean, they don't call it a retelling for nothing. And since it only comes in around 26,000 words, you can easily read it in a day or two.

2. It's (mostly) a standalone novella.
Meaning you don't have to read The Rose and the Balloon to understand what's going on. There are some characters from RatB who make some fun cameos in SD, but the main cast is brand new. My qualification for (mostly) standalone is that SD does contain an epilogue that links it to the third book in this series. I've already had some hate mail concerning the epilogue, but that just means I'm doing my job as an author right. If you really want the book to remain standalone or if you wish to remain sane, don't read the epilogue <-- wise words from my readers.

3. It doesn't contain any magic. 
Have you ever wondered how a fairytale could come to life without magic? Wonder no more, for it is done! By mixing in some science and steampunk-esque elements, this novella is now my second fairytale retelling without magic. Personally, I like to see heroes get the upper hand and win the day without having to dabble with or against magical things.

4. It has a sweet and clean romance. 
I'm not a big romance writer, but I can't help when my characters fall in love. That's just part of life. I can, however, monitor what goes on the written page so the story doesn't get packed down with a lot of mushy dribble. (If you're looking for a book dripping with rippling muscles and passionate kisses, that ain't me, folks; I prefer real narration.) I enjoy romances with a good dose of humor, credibility, and intrigue. And Felix is just the sort of cinnamon roll to get the job done.

5. It has Samson.
Ok, yes, and Merryweather, but for me, Samson's the one who stole the show. You remember how mischievous and stubborn the twins in RatB were? That's Samson in this book. He was meant to be a horse in the background, but he was not content to stay there. I've had my stories torn from my grasp on countless occasions by my characters before, but never by a horse. And despite my better judgment, Samson became my absolute favorite. Pretty much of all time. And Merryweather is the fluffiest, cutest, most loyal sidekick a girl could want.


Important links to remember today:

For those of you who have beta-read or are influence readers for Spindle Dreams, please consider copying your review onto Amazon now that the book is live. I would be so grateful!

God bless!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

How We Did It - Cover Design

(Today's quote is not necessarily connected to the following post, but Samson wanted more spotlight.)

Three years ago, when The Rose and the Balloon came out, my designer guy (shout out to Latitude 40!) put together a post on how he did the cover. I remember reading it with no small fascination, just feeling so grateful that that beautiful cover was mine and that I didn't have to try to design it myself.

Still in awe. It's just so purty.

This time around, my hubby was the hero of the story. While he didn't design the whole cover start to finish, he was a tremendous help in getting the background picture of the wheel to where it is today. I am beyond grateful for all his help. And then it was just up to me to tweak some things and finalize the text for the end result.

After all the headaches, I was at the point where I wanted to release the cover and forget about it. I was happy with how it turned out, but I realized how much more picky I was since I was the one in charge of how it looked. It's so much easier to trust someone else's artistic eye and judgment on jobs like these.

Anyway, I can't forget about the cover (for very obvious reasons), and since I enjoyed reading the post linked above on how The Rose and the Balloon's cover was created, I figured you all would enjoy seeing how we created the cover for Spindle Dreams.

This was my original mock cover that I put together for inspiration as I worked on the book.

I did not own the copyright to the photo, so I knew I couldn't use that. Besides, the mock cover just looked too dark to me. I wanted something with more color, something that really matched the cover for The Rose and the Balloon.

So -- to start from scratch. I needed a new photo.

I knew I wanted a spinning wheel. I also knew it would be a lot more difficult to get a photo of a spinning wheel than it was to get a photo of a rose. For some reason, people enjoy their roses a lot more than they enjoy their spinning wheels. I began a long and pretty much fruitless search. Even when I found pictures of wheels, they were at awkward angles or looked too modern or had too much going on in the picture besides the wheel.

It was frustrating.

Until I saw a Facebook friend post a bunch of pictures of her new spinning wheel. It's almost impossible to describe how excited I was at that point. Immediately, I contacted her and asked if she'd mind if I used a picture of her wheel for my book cover. She didn't, and quickly sent me tons of pictures of the wheel from a million different angles.

This was the photo we settled on.

My husband has some experience in using GIMP to edit photos. I, on the other hand, had never heard of GIMP before he brought it up. I still don't know all that it does, so I'm not giving you guys a run-down now.

Obviously, the first step was to remove the background stuffs, since we wanted to try fire with the wheel.

Once all of that was blocked out and colored over with a nice, neutral, all-purpose slate color/texture/thing, my husband cleverly added the fire. I don't know if you can tell, but there's actually two layers of fire: one in front of the wheel, and another behind the wheel.

Once the wheel and fire were set, the next step was to adjust the color to best set off the text. This fell to me, and of course, I got super picky and couldn't decide on the exact brightness of the thing for... well, days. I'm really good at procrastinating when I don't like the job I have to do.

After that, it was just a matter of getting the text done. And voila! We had ourselves a book cover.


What do you think about Spindle Dreams's cover? Fellow authors out there, how do you design your book covers? Let me know below!

Important links to remember today:

Don't forget that Spindle Dreams releases TOMORROW!

God bless!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

What I Stole From Disney: Part Two

Or... Disney Easter Eggs in Spindle Dreams.

(Read Part One here: Disney Easter Eggs in The Rose and the Balloon.)

If there's anything that'll grab my attention as I'm scrolling through my blog feed, it's someone announcing a post about Disney. Whether that's a movie review, character spotlights, hilarity loaded with gifs, whatever... anything on Disney makes me want to click and read through the whole post. So that may or may not be the reason we're doing two Disney-related posts as part of Spindle Dreams's release.

Easter Egging Disney in The Rose and the Balloon was very easy, very natural. I was super familiar with the film, so I knew most of what I wanted to do in my little nods. And the rest of the eggs just popped up naturally as I was writing.

Sleeping Beauty, however, was not as familiar to me. I'd watched the film a few times, but not in recent history when I was working on the novella. So, I actually went back and watched it again, just to see what I could see.

So, what Easter Eggs are we looking at, exactly?

While rewatching the film, I quickly knew that one of my all-time favorite scenes is the Once Upon a Dream song and sequence. While Aurora sings with the animals in the woods, Prince Philip hears her song and determines to find out who belongs to that lovely voice. However, in the process, Philip's valiant stead, Samson, accidentally loses his rider to a low-hanging branch and returns to find him dripping in the river. When he apologetically approaches, Philip flicks water at him and says, "No carrots." Although I love Tchaivovsky's score, THAT is the single greatest moment in the whole film. I knew it had to be in the book.

The only difference was, my Samson did it on purpose.

And on that note, I do believe it's safe to say Samson was the biggest thing I've stolen from Disney yet. I tend to really love Disney animal sidekicks, and Samson from Sleeping Beauty doesn't get enough love from fans. My Samson was all too eager to run wild and gain a fanbase of his own. He's stubborn, mischievous, and lovable. And my absolute favorite part of writing this book.

And poor, poor Felix. His constant habit of losing his boots and going around in his stockings is also a nod to the film. After falling in the river, Philip pulls his boots and cloak off to dry and the animals steal them to go dance with Aurora. When Philip finally meets the mysterious Brier Rose, he's in his stockings still. And does the whole romantic dance with her still in his stockings.

And in case anyone is wondering, yes, Inga's dream is a not-so-subtle nod to the Once Upon a Dream sequence.

One of the big parts of Disney's film are the three good fairies: Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. My novella doesn't have any magic in it, and sadly there are no fairies either, but I still kinda wanted to nod to them since they were so fun in the movie (even though they basically stole Aurora's screen-time). In my Sleeping Beauty research, I found one adaptation of the fairytale that had the Beauty awaken by a dog licking her hand (she'd been sent to sleep by a piece of flax getting stuck under her fingernail). So... putting these two pieces of information together, we ended up with Merryweather, the good-natured, copper-colored, protective pup.

This next Easter Egg isn't as noticeable, and I'd be surprised if anyone caught it before I admit it here. Normally, I allow my characters to name themselves. Oftentimes, they come to me with names and I just go with it. Marita, however, was willing to work with me, and she's actually named after the original voice actress from the Disney film, Mary Costa. Adding "ita" onto a name in Spanish lends it the meaning of "little" -- which I thought was appropriate, considering Marita was my little Sleeping Beauty.

Felix's nightmares are also a nod to the film. In fighting Maleficent to get to Aurora, Philip encounters a hedge of thorns that the dragon sets ablaze. There was no fire mentioned in the original fairytale, but that scene was always a piece of nightmares for me. Felix's nightmares came to be through combining that fire with the idea of reoccurring dreams the romantic, cartoon couple sings in Once Upon a Dream.


Be on the lookout for those Easter Eggs and a whole lot more when you read Spindle Dreams! We're inching closer and closer to the release date. Don't forget Friday is the special day!

Important links to remember today:

God bless!

Monday, August 5, 2019

What I Stole From Disney: Part One

Or... Disney Easter Eggs in The Rose and the Balloon.

(And just so everyone knows... Spindle Dreams Easter Eggs coming tomorrow!)

Hey, it's Monday! And if you're anything like me, you need today to sit and recover from the weekend. That's the funny thing about weekends -- they somehow end up being super busy and more exhausting than they ought to be. My husband's birthday was this week, and we threw him a party with the two things he asked for: board games and pie. And then Sundays at church with an active 15-month-old is always tiring.

Anyway, it's Monday, so it's time for something fun and not-too-exhausting.

Many of you know that I like making nods toward the animated Disney classics in my retellings. I grew up watching all the best Disney movies, and I'm still a big fan of them. Particularly the fairytales, and particularly the musicals. I have most of the songs still memorized. And it's absolutely way too much fun to throw in Disney Easter Eggs in my books. Funny thing is, I've had people read through my books and not even realize that they're there. So, I decided to give you all a head's up on what to look for.

OR... if you think you're an expert fan on all things Disney, forget reading this post right now, get my books, and YOU tell me where I Easter Egged Disney.

So today, let's examine The Rose and the Balloon.

The first book in the Once Upon a Twist Tales, RatB is my take on a Beauty and the Beast story with hot air balloons and a million roses throw in. Where did I nod to Disney?

One of the things I knew I really wanted to do was mimic the famous scene where Belle discovers the rose. Even though I don't have a cursed prince, Dmitri is very, VERY protective of his rose. When he finds Janelle close to touching it, he (like Adam in the film) gets angry. The scene isn't word-for-word from the film (obviously, I couldn't do that; duh, plagiarism), but there are a few lines that I repeated for kicks.

Additionally, Dmitri forbids Janelle specifically from going into the West Wing. I don't think I need to explain that one any further.

While my retelling doesn't have any magic in it, I still wanted to nod to Disney's magic of animated household objects. Thus, the feather duster was born. While helping the twins pull off pranks on each other, Janelle makes a puppet out of a feather duster and has it dance about on its strings. This was probably my favorite nod to Disney in this book, not because Plumette is a favorite character from the film, but because it mimicked the heart of Disney's film. The household objects play such a huge part in the film that I didn't want to leave them out entirely.

Okay, raise your hand. How many of you knew that the prince's name in the film is Adam? I didn't until I was about 15. I couldn't steal that name for my prince character; THAT would be like stealing Abu's name from the other Disney film and sticking it on a street rat (*cough*Dickerson*cough). Not cool. Besides, my prince was already adamantly named Dmitri. Couldn't go back on that. So, Adam went to a minor character, just to make the real Disney character squeal with pleasure.

Something that Disney is famous for in its film version is THE LIBRARY. So many girls claim Belle as their favorite Disney princess because she loves books. I don't believe the library is a big deal in the original fairytale, but it didn't seem right to retell Beauty and the Beast and not have a library. So, my library, while not a big deal, is the setting for many of the book's key scenes -- namely those between Janelle and Dmitri. I won't detail those; you should read the book to find out.

Dmitri may be the "Beast" character (and is called a beast by Janelle), but he is definitely not beast-like in form. Instead, I decided it would be fun to insert a real beast/monster into the tale with the story Janelle tells Nicoline near the beginning on the novella. Whether this monster truly exists remains to be seen, but he was similarly modeled after the horrific things the Beast is expected to do in "The Mob Song" as sung by Gaston and the mad townspeople in the film.

Finally, any Disney fan would have recognized some of the dialogue in Janelle and Dmitri's reconciliation scene. Just another key scene that I loved from the film and wanted to nod to in the book. But again, can't say too much -- spoilers.


Did you catch all these Disney Easter Eggs in The Rose and the Balloon? What Easter Eggs are you expecting to see in Spindle Dreams? Comment below!

Important links to remember today:

God bless!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Character Spotlight: Marita Kadlec

Since Felix got some time in the sun yesterday, it's only fair that Marita take the spotlight today.

Marita Kadlec

Ah, and who is this Marita, you ask? I'm so glad you're curious. Allow me to give you an archived set of questions from Cait's blog, shamelessly borrowed from the no-longer-live linkup, Beautiful People. Here, we will discover more (or less) about this mysterious Marita -- who, somehow, has not been properly introduced before now on my blog.


1. What’s their favourite food? (Bonus: favourite flavour of chocolate!)

Her grandmother's stew. Hearty and thick and filling and savory, it's just the thing Marita craves on cold nights. Now, chocolate? She definitely seems like a dark chocolate kind of girl. Dark, but still rich and a little sweet.

2. What do they absolutely hate?

Spinning. Marita's convinced the spindle hates her, because no matter how careful she is, she's always pricking her finger and staining her aprons with the blood. There are only so many scars one can put on a fingertip. However, being the only daughter of a spinner, she's expected to take up the family business.

3. What do they enjoy learning about?

She enjoys tinkering and inventing, and she's very curious to figure out how things work and why they work the way they do. She wants to know how she can make things work better.

4. Who is the most influential person in their life?

Probably her grandmother. Inga Kadlec isn't in the best of health, but she's been around basically since Marita was born. With her father away at the gambling tables so often, Marita has learned to rely on her grandmother for advice and friendship. The two of them became very close after an accident killed Marita's mother.

5. What is their childhood fear?

Failing and never earning recognition for what she wanted to do. Even at a young age, Marita was interested in tinkering, but continual failure at her projects made them impractical child's play in her father's eyes.

6. What is something they have always secretly dreamed of doing, but thought impossible?

Marita obviously wants to invent useful things, but she struggles with perfecting her inventions in the eyes of others. Her main goal right now is to complete a mechanical spinning wheel that will take over her spinning for her for the rest of her life. After that? Who knows?

7. What is something he is impractically afraid of?

People's expectations and thoughts about her and what she does.

8. Are they a night owl or morning person?

Definitely a night owl. Mornings do not agree with her at all. She'd rather sleep in as much as she can.

9. Do they say everything that pops into their head, or leave a lot unsaid?

She probably leaves more unsaid than not. She's not a stranger to talking, but she's just not used to opening up deeply to people to let them know what's really on her heart. After being brushed aside by her father so many times, she does have difficulty with trusting people -- especially on a personal level.


And there we have it! For me, Marita was one of those characters who I had to get to know through writing her and following her around. Part of me expected her to be more hot-headed like Janelle had been in The Rose and the Balloon, but as her character came through the story, she was oddly calm. But reserved. Not so much as Disney's Aurora, however. I feel Marita has a little bit more backbone than that. At least, I hope she does.

One thing that I had fun with diving into her character was trying to find ways to keep her from sleeping. Sleeping Beauty is renowned for her 100 years of sleep, and I thought it would be fun to twist up the story and keep my Beauty awake. That was easier said than done, for Marita dearly loves her sleep -- much as Elizabeth Bennet dearly loves to laugh.

Important links to remember today:

God bless!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Character Spotlight: Felix Barath

Welcome back to my week of shameless advertising!

I've realized that Spindle Dreams hasn't been much showcased on my blog. I recorded a short dialogue between myself and my Little Writer back in 2015 when I first began working on this story. After that, I remember posting snippets of the book here and here. And then I joined up with Melody's Quote Queste once here, and oddly enough that scene made it into the final edit of the book. Other than that, I've really only posted how much I wanted to publish it and how frustrating it was to hit so many setbacks.

But enough is enough, I always say. And this week, we're going to do this book some well-deserved justice and introduce it properly to the real world. Starting with introducing our lovely main leads. Staring with our humorous and handsome hero. (Also, yay for alliteration!)

Felix Barath

I debated how to do this post for only a few minutes before I decided to sneak into the archives on Cait's blog and steal a month of questions from the long-favorited, but sadly cancelled, Beautiful People.

Let's get to know Felix, shall we?


1. What’s their favourite book/movie/play/etc.?

Since movies aren't around in the fantastical, fictional time period that I've created for Rohesia, I'm going to have to say books would be the only thing realistic from this list. Felix is typically an on-the-go kind of person, so he doesn't read a ton, but he enjoys short stories full of humor or a how-to book. He was never one to sit for a play or opera. 

2. Is there anything they regret doing?

As of right now, I can't think of anything he'd regret. He's had a good upbringing and education, he's active, he's got a good sense of humor. He desperately wishes he weren't plagued with these reoccurring nightmares, but he has no idea where they came from, what they mean, or how to get rid of them. 

3. If they were sick or wounded, who would take care of them and how?

His mother, hands down. Felix is an only child and is very close to his parents. They waited several years for a child before Felix was born, and she would be the one to stick to his bedside to nurse him back to perfect health from anything. 

4. Is there an object they can’t bear to part with and why?

Samson. His stubborn, mischievous horse. Felix loves him to death, even though many of his acquaintances are convinced Samson will be the death of him. 

5. What are 5 ways to win their heart (or friendship)?

1) Making him laugh. 2) Through his stomach. 3) Engaging in outdoor activities together. 4) Accepting his help when he offers it. 5) Being there to understand and sympathize when he is down. 

6. Describe a typical outfit for them from top to bottom.

Top to bottom, eh? Well, since Felix is a nobleman, he'd wear fine tunics and trousers, some with embroidery when the occasion demanded such frippery; his favorite outfits are ones that allow him to ride his incorrigible mount, Samson, around, particularly with a nice riding hat. However, Felix's silk stockings would normally go ripped and dirtied as he has picked up the odd habit of going about without his boots. 

7. What’s their favorite type of weather?

Anything but rain, really. Windy days are great to get out in, sunny days are great to get out in, snowy days are great to get out in, etc, etc. 

8. What’s the worst fight they’ve ever been in?

His latest fight with his father. Felix hates disappointing his dad, since his dad is basically his best friend, but they just can't seem to agree on what to do about these horrible nightmares plaguing Felix. 

9. What names or nicknames have they been called throughout their life?

Felix's closest friend growing up was his cousin, the Crown Prince Dmitri. However, Dmitri never told me if they'd ever had any nicknames. I feel a little left out knowing this now. 

10. What makes their heart feel alive?

Being needed. He loves helping people and making them laugh.


Felix was so much fun to write. Honestly, he was my little cinnamon roll from start to finish. I felt bad that I made him go through so much, but I knew he needed it. And he's all the better for it now, I'm sure.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about Felix today! Marita (our fearless heroine) will be featured with another set of Beautiful People questions tomorrow.

Important links to remember today:

Questions/comments/fangirling -- please drop me a comment below!

God bless!
(Shamelessly reminding you that I've written another book. Link.)

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Cover Reveal: Spindle Dreams

At long, long last, I am delighted to finally share with you the cover we've been slaving over. I cannot begin to describe what a process this has been. My original hope had been to publish the book last October, but so many setbacks pushed the publication until now. As of right now, I'm still working on formatting the Kindle version, but happily, the paperback is all ready to go.

But you didn't want to know about that since the book won't be coming out until next week. You're just here for the cover. I know, I know.

To keep the REAL cover off your preliminary sneak peek, here's the original mock cover I put together when I began working on this story way back in 2015.

It was a good start, but I'll be the first to admit it wasn't the ideal cover that I wanted. Besides, I didn't own the copyrights to the photo, so using that at all was against the rules. I just wanted to have something on hand to inspire me to get the story done.

And guess what? The inspiration worked; the story's done, and we're now publishing it for the world to read!

So, I won't tease you any further, because I know you want to know what cover we came up with. And here, I am very happy to present to you my Spindle Dreams.

Maybe later this week, as part of the promo for this book, I'll do a post detailing what hurdles we had to go through for this cover. My husband was the main hero behind it all; I can only take a small amount of credit for its final look.


About the book: Marita Kadlec is the only daughter of Rohesia's poorest – and laziest – weaver. Her father prefers to spend his days gambling in the tavern, leaving the spinning up to Marita. She hates the family business because she's constantly pricking her finger on the spindle. She'd much rather be tinkering on an invention that she hasn't had the courage to show anyone yet. A special invention that will rid her of spinning for the rest of her life. 

Felix is a young nobleman plagued with the same nightmare – a giant machine, twisting and clanking, shrouded in fire, bent on pain and death. He's determined to find out what it means, no matter where the answers may lead him. 

This is Sleeping Beauty with a twist like you've never seen it before.


Be sure to come back often this week to check out this blog (as well as my other social media sites) for book updates, cool posts, and general promotion fun! I'll be popping in onto a few other blogs and I'll share those links as they become available.

For now, please share the cover and add Spindle Dreams on Goodreads

Additionally, the first book in the series, The Rose and the Balloon, is available on Amazon Kindle for $.99! 

God bless!