The Umbrella Academy: A Viewing

The Umbrella Academy Dark Horse comics and Netflix series

Last night I told my husband I was interested in seeing the new Netflix series The Umbrella Academy, about which I’d heard good things. I didn’t know much of the plot, but the teaser trailers had the right mood. The problem was, I said, that it was ten episodes and I was way too busy, behind on lots of things because of my Antarctica trip and in general, to start a series. (I don’t watch a lot of television at all anyway.) I was still working up until ten p.m., when I decided to forcibly reschedule my remaining to-do task and take a break.

So at ten last night Jon and I decided to try The Umbrella Academy. But just one episode. “Two is my absolute limit,” said Jon, who also had some extra commitments to take care of today.

And that is how we went to bed after seven this morning, while the light rose palely through the bare winter trees and the birds sang and the sleepy dogs wondered why we would change locations after spending the night on the couch.

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Hunter’s Gambit reveal with Brandy Ackerley

Today I’m pleased to welcome Brandy Ackerley to the blog! I first met Brandy a few years ago at a writers conference in Calgary, Alberta and knew immediately she had good taste because she told me how much she’d enjoyed Kitsune-Tsuki. /wink/ We got to talking about everything from fox youkai to writing to art (she’s way better than I am), and now I’m pleased to host the reveal of her debut novel’s cover!

Hello and welcome! My name is Brandy Ackerley and I’m taking over this blog with some very important news! My first novel will be coming out a month from now on March 15th and I am super stoked about it. As a fan of Laura’s novels, I am honoured that she’s letting me reveal its cover on here!

Hunter’s Gambit is the story of Kuzunoha’s quest to find freedom from the future her family has decided for her. Unfortunately, she’s running out of options, especially after her elder half-sister, Himiko, takes her place as family matriarch. That changes when she saves the life of a stranger…

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The Portland Haifu has a new novelette out

Do you guys remember back when I talked about an urban fantasy featuring Japanese youkai in the American northwest? K. Bird Lincoln’s Dream Eater was a fun ride featuring one of the less popularized youkai and Native American entities as well, in the fun setting of Portland. (Fun fact: I read my copy en route to Portland.)

Then I read (again on a business trip to Portland, though pure dumb luck) the sequel, Black Pearl Dreaming, which was even better. (Yes, there’s probably some personal bias in that, because I’m always gonna be a sucker for supernatural power plays and I admit it — but it was still a good read.) This time we got to visit Japan and meet a wider circle of youkai, including some more familiar to western audiences, and pick up additional historical-political implications.

And I just learned that there’s now a side novelette to accompany the soon-to-be-trilogy, all about Kennosuke the kitsune. And you can get Bringer-of-Death for free or 99c, your choice, here at K. Bird Lincoln’s blog.

(I’m posting this from extremely limited internet and cannot successfully upload a cover pic. Just click through to look at the cute fox.)

Note: I have only just acquired my copy as I write this and haven’t read it yet, but it appears that Bringer-of-Death may have some spoilers for Black Pearl Dreaming. Bear that in mind if you’re a spoiler-averse type like myself.

Happy reading!

Faithless, with Janeen Ippolito

man in buttoned coat flees before storm, title Faithless by Janeen Ippolito

Today we’ll hear from Janeen Ippolito, editor, publisher, teach, author coach, and author of a number of books including the upcoming Faithless.

What’s Faithless? It’s the latest installment in the Ironfire Legacy series, and, well, here’s the back cover copy:

One wild night, Shance Windkeeper discovers he’s married to a death unicorn.

But that’s the least of his troubles.

As an agent for the Lawless, Shance is working with dragonshifters Kesia Ironfire and Zephryn Nightstalker, trying to end the dragon-human war and the organization that masterminded it. While on a mission in the Scepter of Knowledge, the Lawless is hit with a devastating death unicorn attack.

Out of the wreckage new allies emerge: Lirome Ukerys, and his twin sister Maira, the death unicorn queen—Shance’s long-lost wife.

Recently freed from captivity, Maira is fighting to regain control of her herd. Lurien Alistil, a rogue death unicorn, has bespelled the Scepter of Knowledge and taken Maira’s son. When Kesia unexpectedly challenges Lurien to a public debate over the fate of the city, the Lawless has a chance to break the usurper’s hold. To obtain vital information they must infiltrate her lair—and as the husband of the death unicorn queen, Shance Windkeeper is the perfect prize to go in.

But Lurien’s power is stronger and more insidious than they realize. And if the final pieces of her plan fall into place, not even Shance’s newfound Talents and knowledge will be enough to stop her.

A steampunk fantasy adventure with much intrigue, unexpected romance, sudden tragedy, and a snarky cat-dragon.

Cool, right? Here’s some book chat direct from Janeen!

What inspired Faithless?

Janeen Ippolito

Janeen Ippolito

Faithless in particular was inspired by the profound idea that I have signed a contract for a five-book series with Uncommon Universes Press.

Haha, I was also quite giddy to bring dragons, death unicorns, and a cat-dragon all together in one book. And this book uses some heavily-tweaked plot ideas from an obscure Grimm fairy tale, The True Bride, and those were a ton of fun. 

And after the intro book that was Lawless, it’s been great to dig a lot more deeply into the story, character arcs, and world of The Ironfire Legacy.

Which books or authors have influenced you the most?

Too many to name! So I won’t. ?

What is your writing process like?

A lot of starts and stops. Days and days of steady work, and then maybe a few days off, and then a day of writing four hours straight—and then maybe I get stuck and don’t write for a week. I like deadlines, but I tend to resist too much regimenting of the process to get to that deadline.

What gave you the most difficulty when writing Faithless?

Oh, I had to do a number of Hard Things in Faithless that pushed me to the limit. One of them is a major spoiler—and it made even the marketing for Faithless a challenge! 

What is your favorite writing fuel?

A glass of water. Sometimes with ice. Occasionally I shake things up with some iced tea or wine or a mixed drink, but usually just plain water.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from this book?

Hope in the face of tragedy and personal faithlessness. And strength from community and the grace there. The necessity of a cat-dragon for life.

Also, I hope readers immediately have a desire for more books!

What’s your next project?

I’m working on Destroyer, the first book in a prequel duology set in Elotrin, the country to the south of Sekastra where The Ironfire Legacy takes place. Destroyer takes place about fifty years before the events of Lawless and shows how Maira Ukerys and Shance Windkeeper met under terrible circumstances, and then teamed up to destroy the evil city of the self-made gods. And also, there’s Ademis the cat-dragon. And Lirome the Death Unicorn of Judgement when he’s a little less weighed down by the world.

This book has been a long time coming, so I’m excited to see it finished!

You can find Faithless at any major book retailer, and Janeen at

Cover Reveal: Severed Veil

I’ve got a pretty for you today.

Bethany A. Jennings is a marvel. She writes, she edits, she homeschools, she created and organizes the #WIPjoy hashtag game quarterly, and she runs not only her personal and author social media, but also runs the @sandwichmaven Instagram. (Go ahead, but don’t be long, we’ve got a cover over here.) She’s the kind of person you’d hate for making you feel inadequate if she weren’t so darned nice.

And she has a new collection of short stories coming soon. Ready for the cover?

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The Last Will and Testament of Captain Nemo

Need an autumn read (or a spring read, for my southern hemisphere friends)? Today a writer friend’s book is free, so I’m helping to spread the word.

The Last Will and Testament of Captain Nemo

From the tragedy of The Little Mermaid, and the mystery of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, comes the truth that ties them both together: the story of the love that saved a life and started a war, of the quest that became an obsession…of the seaman who, for love of a mermaid, became a legend.

“An absorbing twist on the classic tale that will fill your head with nautical fantasies and make you wish for a very different film version of The Little Mermaid.”

Evangeline Denmark, author of Curio

“A wonderfully creative blend of fairy tale and steampunk sci-fi. Mary Schlegel has written a charming, yet poignant story that manages to rework and blend two seemingly disparate myths. I really enjoyed this. Five starfish rating!”

Mike Duran, author of the Reagan Moon novels and The Telling

Fans of Verne or mermaids will want to grab this while it’s free. Enjoy!

Trial on Mount Koya

Trial on Mount Koya by Susan SpannToday is the release date for Trial on Mount Koya by Susan Spann, which is what happens when you put Agatha Christie in a blender with shogunate Japan and add a seasoning of ninja.

I had a chance to see this one in advance and I read it in a single sitting. It’s your iconic scenario of a group trapped together without escape (here, in an ancient Buddhist temple atop a sacred mountain) while one of them kills off the others one by one (and in this case, poses the corpses like the Buddhist judges of hell). The race is on to find the killer before he murders the entire cast. Continue reading

A Bit More About #Inktober (Part 2)

So about two weeks ago I blogged about attempting #Inktober despite having pretty much no art skill. If you didn’t catch that post, you probably should, because it’s about a lot more than just drawing badly, but here’s what you need to know for today’s post: I have pretty much no art skill, I’m doing Inktober (drawing in ink and sharing online) anyway, and I can only improve with practice.

Laura as Mara Jade with R2-D2

my Mara Jade made a friend at the con.

This past weekend I was teaching cosplay and mythology/folklore (Japanese and Norse) sessions at Quest Con, and between sessions I joined a one-hour art lesson, taught by artist Steven Moore. I figured I would learn something useful, and at worst I’d make someone else at my table feel better about their own work. Continue reading

Guest Post: K F Baugh, The Monsters We Are

Today’s guest post is from K F Baugh — why yes, we are related, by marriage — on her new book Valley of the Broken. As I also write from traditional folklore and various cultures, I really like her take on traditional folkloric representations of the humanity we still are now, and what that means for us.

Valley of the Broken

Who can say what will spark the idea for new book?

In my case, it was a monster.

Let me back up. Continue reading