August 12, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: Twelve Dancing Unicorns

I'm a big believer that, regardless of age, everyone should have a picture book collection. Since the quality ones will often run you upwards of $15, you have to be selective, but this is definitely a genre you won't want to buy for cheap on Kindle. If you have kids to share your literary treasures with, so much the better.

For the fairy tale lover interested in starting their own picture book collection, look no further than Alissa Heyman's upcoming book Twelve Dancing Unicorns. In this beautifully illustrated retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, a young girl offers to help the king uncover the secrets behind why his prized unicorns disappear every night.

The writing is charming, the illustrations enchanting, and the story is full of magic. For those familiar with the original tale, this version keeps the simple plot arc. The main difference is the substitution of unicorns for the princesses and the author's switching the protagonists from soldier to little girl. 

Sterling Publishing who sent my review copy, was kind enough to throw in an extra for me to use as a giveaway item. So if you'd like to be entered to win a hardback copy of this gorgeous book, like us on Facebook and/or leave us a comment sharing the name of your favorite picture book. Then use the widget at the top to be entered into the giveaway. 

This book comes out on September 2, 2014 and will be $14.95 on Amazon, but you can pre-order it now for $9.50.

P.S. Keep an eye out for a special author interview with Alissa Heyman, coming soon!

July 27, 2014

Ask the Editor Chat!

This Sunday, August 3rd, starting at 5 pm PST (8 pm EST), we will be hosting our first Ask the Editor chat using Google Hangouts. Come by and ask our editor, Tahlia Kirk, answer questions about writing, publishing, fairy tales, myths, or just to say "Hi". 

The link to the event is here:

Hope to see you there!

July 26, 2014

Last Chance to Vote and Win!

Only two days left to cast your vote for Issue #4's theme. Perseus and Medusa has taken the lead lately, but Baba Yaga isn't far behind.

And don't forget that we have TWO books up for grabs in our giveaway. The deadline is 11:59 pm on July 28th, so don't miss your chance.

Stats as of July 26

July 18, 2014

Lots of News

1. Calling all writers! Timeless Tales submissions open July 21 for Issue #3: The Twelve Dancing Princesses. That's this Monday, guys, so start writing! Full details can be found on the Timeless Tales submission page

2. In a similar vein, please note that we created a new email address exclusively for story submissions. We'd had a few requests for writers to receive an email confirmation after they'd submitted, so this will make that possible. The new email is You can still direct questions/comments to our regular email, of course.

3. We have an official logo! Thanks to Dreambrella for the design.

Of course, a new logo meant that I had to redesign the website a bit...okay, maybe a lot...

Ta da! New website look! 

I know the website has gone through a ton of transformations since it launched, so let me know if the constant changes give you whiplash. This is a small community, so don't be shy in giving your feedback on stuff, okay? 

4. I plan to host a live Ask the Editor chat in the next few weeks. I'm still working on the details, so stay tuned. What I really need to know is whether you would rather I did a video livestream (where people type their questions and I verbally answer) OR if I should just stick to a text chat format. Opinions?

July 14, 2014

Book Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

I found Cruel Beauty through a free YA audiobook program I'm following this summer. At its core, it's a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but I was delighted to find elements from many tales mixed into it, including Pandora's Box, The Little Mermaid, Bluebeard, Persephone, Rumpelstiltskin, Psyche & Cupid, and even some djinn mythology.

Our heroine, Nyx Triskelion, is betrothed to the kingdom's evil lord and moves into his castle intending to kill him. However, her plans get a bit muddled when she finds herself strangely attracted to her mysterious new husband. Her family is counting on her to free the kingdom from the evil lord's tyranny, but he's always one step ahead of her assassination attempts...but let's be honest, she isn't trying all that hard.

The novel successfully pulls the reader into its drama, creating a world full of mystery and romance. In fact, the world is so richly developed that if you're not well-versed in various mythologies, particularly Greek, you may have trouble following some of the overarching politics (I was scrolling through amazon reviews while writing this and noticed a few complaints). I personally liked that the magical system and the story's curse weren't one dimensional, but they are certainly complex.

Nyx's character can be frustrating at times because she believes herself to be more objective and determined than she really is. She believes t her resolve is strong, but she's actually quite blinded by her emotions. One minute, her teeth are gritted as she prepares herself to attack and the next, her heart is all fluttery under the influence of his gaze.  Perhaps she wouldn't be as relatable if she was capable of real cold-blooded attempted murder.

What also makes her compelling is that she has a ton of guilt and bitterness inside that she must overcome. Is Lord Ignifex actually the "beast" half of this retelling? Just like how Austen doesn't easily assign one character the "Pride" and one character the "Prejudice", Hodge keeps her characters layered and nuanced.

So overall, this is an enjoyable read. The ending felt a bit too convenient and tidy, but really, I suppose I shouldn't complain too loudly about happy endings.

Learn more about Cruel Beauty at the author's website:

July 7, 2014

Issue #3 Submissions Opening Delayed

Most of you probably didn't notice that Timeless Tales had its submission window for Issue #3 scheduled for today, which is because I never announced it. I set it for July 7 because I wanted to keep my momentum from Issue #2 going, but the truth is that I'm just not quite ready to get on that bandwagon again. So if you're a writer with a "Twelve Dancing Princesses" retelling, just sit on it for a little longer. I want to have plenty of time to promote the opening and get myself psyched up for going into editor-mode again. If you did submit your story already, fear not, I will keep your submission and read it with the rest.  I apologize for not mentioning this earlier, but I've been in denial about it and that's the best excuse I've got. Thanks for being patient with me. 

So submissions will open for Issue #3 (I promise!) on July 21, 2014. Details can be found HERE

June 28, 2014

Author Interview with Kaitlin Bevis

Greetings, Fairy Folk! Hopefully you aren't sick of hearing me talk about Persephone, because I have this final cherry to add to the sundae and then I promise I'll find something else to blog about. But how awesome is it that Kaitlin Bevis doesn't just write Greek mythology YA, but she's also a Whovian! How could I resist an interview knowing that? Anyway, let's get to it. (In case you need to play catch up, My original review of book #1 is HERE)

1. What made you choose to write about Persephone's story? 

Kaitlin: Something about the Persephone myth always struck me as unfinished. There’s something incomplete about that myth. We get a look at Hades’ reasoning and motivation, and Demeter’s reasonings and motivation, but Persephone, the victim of the story, is often an unexplored viewpoint in the abduction myth. That sense of being unfinished has stuck with our culture enough to create stories like Beauty and the Beast, or Phantom of the Opera, or the countless other dark guy falls for light girl retellings. 

So when I found myself brainstorming a Greek mythology retelling, I wasn't surprised Persephone popped up as the myth to retell. What’s funny is how many other authors came up with the same idea at the same time. Abandon, The Goddess Test, Persephone’s Orchard, and countless other Persephone books were in development at that time, completely independent of one another. Karen Hesse mentioned she and other authors were working on an anthology of Persephone stories around then too. My editor explained it by saying that’s a pretty common phenomenon in creative communities. An idea just gets in the air somehow and lots of people who never interact catch it.

2. How do you decide on who will be the heroes and villains?

Kaitlin: I’m actually not sure. The characters just kind of come to me. I swear, it feels like they write themselves. I was surprised as anyone else to realize Zeus was my villain, but then when I figured that out, it made perfect sense. Zeus was a jerk.

3. What sparked your interest in mythology and what kind of research did you do for this series?

I’ve always loved mythology. I took Latin in High School and any mythology electives I could get into. But what actually sparked my interest in writing the series is the trailer to Clash of the Titans

In terms of research I did endless amounts of research to write Persephone. I read every version of the Persephone myth I could find. I read the classics (Hesiod, Ovid, and the like), and I read a great book called Life’s Daughter Death’s Bride (and gave it a nod) and Traveling with Pomegranates. I buried myself in Greek mythology, and I still haven’t quite gotten out.

4. What was your road to getting published?

Kaitlin: I finished my book and ran a few drafts through my writer’s group before querying publishers for over a year before finding a home with Musa Publishing. They published me about six months after I signed the contract. I went through two rounds of content editing and a round of copy editing before my story was released. And then I gave them the next book. It’s been a fun road. Very busy.

5. What are some of your favorite Greek mythology retellings and what do you think it takes to write a really solid retelling of a story?

Kaitlin: I love the Percy Jackson series. I didn’t let myself read it until Persephone was completely written, but man was it hard. I also love Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B Cooney and…gosh, I could list great mythology retellings all day. Persephone’s Orchard is also great. 

I think all a retelling needs to do is be different and well researched. If it’s just the surface of the myth then it just feels kind of gimmicky. Each retelling gives a different spin on the myths and to me, that’s fascinating. The spin the myth takes tells so much about the culture it was written in. Greek retellings aren’t new. Ovid’s Metamorphosis was entirely composed of retelling the classic myths with a spin. We change the myths so we can find ourselves in them.

6. Favorite social media?

Kaitlin: Tumblr. I love Tumblr, I learn something new from Tumblr every day.

7. If you were a character from Greek mythology, which one would you be? Which one would you *want* to be? 

Kaitlin: I would be some random human. That’s why I wrote Melissa into Persephone. I used to imagine in some magical alternate reality I would be something important, but then I realized that’s so unlikely. I mean, I wasn't born into this world super rich or super blessed or super talented in some other way (except writing, I hope :) ). I’m pretty much entirely average, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wouldn’t *want* to be singled out by fate. The heroes of mythology had *horrific* lives. I’m happy. I have a great family, great friends, and a great life. I’d pretty much have to tragically lose all of that to qualify as anyone interesting in mythology.

8. There's one moment in The Iron Queen where you drop a totally unexpected Dr. Who quote, so I'm guessing you're a fan of the show?

Kaitlin: To put it lightly. I love the Doctor. I was pretty much binge watching the Tennant seasons when I was writing Daughter of the Earth and Sky, and I had to go back through a few times to make sure Hades wasn't accidentally channeling the Doctor (he slipped a few times, but I caught them all). But that quote just stuck with me as such a great description for Zeus thinking of himself in these super lofty terms and kind of projecting that to Persephone. I stuck it in there as a place holder and tried to rework it for months before I realized that being from Dr. Who worked. Because even Zeus’ most self-aggrandizing thoughts about himself are stolen from someone else.

9. What's next?

Kaitlin: I will have news on Venus and Adonis (Aphrodite book 1) within the next two-three weeks. Big things in the works there, very excited. I need to finish that trilogy, but I also have a side-project going called Blood and Other Matter that I’m pretty excited about.. You can check out quotes from both books on my tumblr, Facebook, or twitter feed.

June 23, 2014

The Iron Queen Review

Normally, I don't review every single book in a series, but I know ebooks can get a bad rap, so when I find ones that are worth reading, I try to go the extra mile to promote them. 

So just to recap. Kaitlin Bevis' Daughters of Zeus series started out with Book #1: Persephone (My review HERE), Book #2: Daughter of the Earth and the Sky and now Book #3: The Iron Queen

The Iron Queen offers a satisfying conclusion to the series' plot arc and although the series' lighthearted tone is one of its strong points, I was gratified to see matters get a bit more serious in this book. A little drama keeps things interesting. For the first time in the series, Bevis bounces between multiple characters' points of
view, adding Hades and Aphrodite's voices to the mix. This keeps things fresh and also helps set readers up for the next book in the series, which will feature Aphrodite as a main character. 

What I love about these books is that Bevis understands that the beating heart of Greek mythology is family politics. All the gods have had eons to accumulate touchy subjects and messy relationships, so when they get together, it's kind of like a big Thanksgiving dinner at your in-laws. Except that offending one of them could mean getting banned from their realm for all eternity. Learning how all the rules and limitations of each god interact with the others is what makes these books fun. 

Alternate cover

Major SPOILERS in this paragraph and then you'll be safe.
My only criticism is that the gods are too easily defeated and far too easily obliterated.  Boreas' death was incredibly clever and had the desired shock effect, but after that, destroying first Thanatos and then bringing down Zeus felt a little too easy. I mean, they make it seem like it's impossible to kill a god, but then three gods just go "poof" in one series? And then at the end of the story, it introduces the concept of Olympian Steel, which basically sounds like deity kryptonite. I'm a little worried that the gods are turning into superheroes, not mythical immortals. The central conflict on Olympus has always been that the gods have to solve their problems without murdering each other, which forces them to be creative. What happens to the mythology's structure when you take that away? 

Answer: I don't know, but I'm going to put my trust in the author to figure it out. 

Venus and Adonis is the next book in the series. It's publishing date hasn't been announced yet, but I'm certainly looking forward to it. Aphrodite wasn't my favorite character in the first three books, but maybe a book from her perspective will change that. We shall see!

  • The audiobooks of the Daughters of Zeus series can be found HERE

  • More information on the books and the author can be found HERE