Monday, April 14, 2014

At the Edge of A Dark Forest, a Retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Connie Almony

As you all know, I LOVE fairytales. Well today I have a big treat for all of us. Author, Connie Almony has a new book that's a retelling of Beauty and the Beast called At the Edge of a Dark Forest. She consented to share some behind-the-scenes thoughts from writing the books.

At the Edge of a Dark Forest
Cole Harrison, a war veteran, wears his disfigurement like a barrier to those who might love him, shielding them from the ugliness inside. He agrees to try and potentially invest in, a prototype prosthetic with the goal of saving a hopeless man’s dreams.
Carly Rose contracts to live with Cole and train him to use his new limbs, only to discover the darkness that wars against the man he could become.
At the Edge of a Dark Forest is a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Only it is not her love that will make him whole.

EM: Tell us about yourself.

CA: I am trained as a mental health counselor and have been married for over twenty years to a man who inspires the mischievous banter of my hero and heroine. I also have two children who model the quirkiness of my more colorful characters.

EM: What inspired you to write this particular story?

CA: This book began from an idea to do a series with my critique partners, based on Fairytales without the magic. I’ve always been intrigued with the story of Beauty and the Beast because of the element of loving someone for their insides and not their looks. However, as a counselor who’s worked with abused women who’ve chosen projects, as boyfriends, rather than soul mates, I’m always concerned about encouraging the idea that it is a woman’s job to change a man with her love. So, in At the Edge of a Dark Forest, it’s not Carly’s love that makes him whole.

I had to figure out how this man would be a beast, and how could he be transformed without magic. After having done a MilitaryMinistries Series on my blog a couple of years ago, I’ve been particularly moved by the many ways our veterans have sacrificed for our country. That’s how the idea of a war-vet, amputee with PTSD came to mind. Carly, the female protagonist is a physical therapist who’s developed an innovative prosthetic socket design. I got the socket design from a youtube video showing how it worked, and spoke to someone from the company who manufactures it. If you want to learn more about this socket design, go to the website. It’s really quite amazing!

EM: Tell us how you used horses in this novella.

CA: When researching various treatments for veterans with PTSD I came across one involving horses. It made sense to me, because whenever I envisioned the hero of the story, Cole, for some reason I kept seeing him on a horse. Horses are used in many ways with disabled vets. Riding, itself, can help develop underused muscles for amputees learning to walk again. Vets also benefit from the care and relationship with the horse, and so much more. So of course, this type of therapy became a significant piece in Cole’s healing.

EM: Tell us something about yourself that would surprise your readers.

CA: I once lived with hundreds of hard partying college guys in an all-male dorm. I was a graduate-assistant resident director. Yes, that sounds like the plot of a novel, and it is the setting of my first manuscript. It was quite the experience. While doing walk-throughs, I got hit-on by droopy-towel-wearing guys emerging from the public shower. Other residents tried to get my white t-shirt wet at a field day event. (Note: never wear white to college activities involving water. I don’t know WHAT I was thinking!). And they did announce my initial arrival at hall meetings like I was going to do a strip tease. But at least it inspired my writing career ;o). Like they say, whatever doesn’t kill you … you can make into a really great novel.

At least I think that’s what they say.

EM: Share something about your day-to-day life that might help a reader to feel as though they know you a little better.

CA: You know how movies always portray romance writers with their hair pulled up in a sloppy bun, wearing yoga pants (or sweats) and an old, beat up “grandma” sweater? That’s me. I think there’s a magic in it. You cannot write a good romance without the uniform. My grandma sweater was even once my grandma’s. Only it didn’t get all the holes in it until I started wearing it. If I’m not careful putting it on, my hand will go right through the hole in the elbow. But still, it’s very cozy and makes me feel close to my grandmother who is now with God (probably telling Him what to do).  

Thank you, Connie for sharing your world with us today!

Connie Almony is trained as a mental health therapist and likes to mix a little fun with the serious stuff of life. She was a 2012 semi-finalist in the Genesis Contest for Women’s Fiction and was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Winter 2012 WOW Flash Fiction Contest. Her newest release, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, is a modern-day re-telling of Beauty and the Beast about a war-vet, amputee struggling with PTSD.

You can find Connie on the web, writing book reviews for Jesus Freak Hideout, and hosting the following blogs: and
You can also meet her on the following social media outlets:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My New Favorite Steampunk Band—Steam Powered Giraffe

This past weekend I was at Writer's Advance Bootcamp and a friend of mine (waving to Alycia Morales) introduced me to a steampunk band I hadn't heard before.

And I can hardly wait to introduce you to Steam Powered Giraffe!

Here's another song from them. 

And I'm curious, what are some of your favorite steampunk bands?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

An Introduction to a Gothic Tale that Will have You Glued to Your Seat!

My friend and fellow author, Michelle Griep is a master storyteller and I couldn't resist introducing you to her. Today is the perfect time for you to get her book because it's the Daily Deal on CBD. And you can download A HEART DECIEVED in digital format for only .79 cents!

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes, except for a short season when I kicked around the idea of becoming an astronaut. Two problems with that, though. First off, I hate science and math, both of which are slightly necessary to succeed in an aerospace career. Secondly, it was a total deal breaker when I found out that astronauts don’t actually wear cool Lt. Uhura uniforms.

What’s your favorite part of the writing business? What’s your least favorite?
Getting paid for penning down my daydreams is my fave. Least is marketing. There’s a reason I’m not a salesman. I stink at it.

After becoming a published author, what surprised you the most?
The freak magnet effect. When people hear I’m a published author, suddenly I’m their bff. I’m convinced that 99.9% of the population is wannabe-writers with not only novel ideas, but entire epic trilogy sagas.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
I’d be running a B&B in England. Near a castle. On a moor. With Mr. Rochester as my neighbor. Wow. Did I mention I’m an out-of-the-closet Charlotte Bronte fan-a-maniac?

What does your family think about your crazy career?
My husband knew I was certifiably insane when he married me, so no problem there. As for my kids… My oldest son thinks it’s great but only reads audio/technical textbooks. My second son reads my rough drafts, cutting out scenes that are too sissy and/or adding in some sweet moves to my fight scenes. My oldest daughter is too busy fixing her hair to notice that I write. And my youngest daughter is pretty sure Hollywood will make blockbuster movies of my stories, and can I please get her into a starring role?

Why do you write?
Because being a pirate is frowned upon and I’m pretty sure no one will pay me to eat brownies all day. There’s also the simple matter of quieting the voices in my head by capturing them onto paper so I can have some peace.

What type of books do you write?
The kind that keep you awake late into the wee hours, heart pounding, curious to find out what’s going to happen. And long after you’ve read the last page, stories that won’t leave your mind for days. But if you simply mean genre, then historical. My latest is a Gothic Regency, full of intrigue, mystery and ultimately hope. Here’s a blurb…

Miri Brayden teeters on a razor's edge between placating and enraging her brother, whom she depends upon for support. Yet if his anger is unleashed, so is his madness. Miri must keep his descent into lunacy a secret, or he'll be committed to an asylum-and she'll be sent to the poorhouse.

Ethan Goodwin has been on the run all of his life-from family, from the law ... from God. After a heart-changing encounter with the gritty Reverend John Newton, Ethan would like nothing more than to become a man of integrity-an impossible feat for an opium addict charged with murder. When Ethan shows up on Miri's doorstep, her balancing act falls to pieces.

Both Ethan and Miri are caught in a web of lies and deceit-fallacies that land Ethan in prison and Miri in the asylum with her brother. Only the truth will set them free.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas…professionally, however, for the past 10 years. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. Her latest release, AHEART DECEIVED, is available by David C. Cook. You can find her at:, or on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Turn a Plain Top Hat into a Steampunk Masterpiece

One of the first thing anyone learns about Steampunk is that the costumes are part of the fun. But you don’t have to shell out a lot money to have one you can be proud of. Here’s how I turned a $24 top hat into a genre hit with things I already had or got from the scrapbook section of my local craft store.

The hat pictured above is the plain hat I started with.

Here's a list of what I used to make it special:
3 yards black tulle
Various fabric flower pins
2 pieces of rhinestone gathered ribbon
2 decorative head pins (used with the smaller piece of chain to form ornament pictured on the back of the hat)
12 inches chain (cut into two separate pieces)
Top hat charm
straight pins.

Here's a picture (below) of the back of the hat:

I used straight pins to attach all the elements to the hat. That way I can change it any time I wish.

I'd love to know what fun steampunk accessories you've come up with!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Gentle Art of Tea Dueling

Like all Steampunk enthusiasts, I adore the sport of Tea Dueling. I’ve become aware that many of you are not familiar with this sport and would love to introduce you. It is a gracious way to settle disputes, as well as a fun sport to take part in or watch.

Below I have shared (with permission) the official rules of tea dueling. But since they read a little stiffly, I’m going to give you my own quick introduction.

Tea Dueling 101
The matches take place between two challengers and are presided over by the Tea Dueling official or the Tiffen Master. The Tiffen Master is assisted by the Post Master, or Mistress, who is responsible for the preparation of the Brew Martial and handling of all buscuits.

The matches take place between two duelists who square off across a table. Each combatant must choose a biscuit (a cookie in America) and when directed by the Tiffen Master, dunk the bisquit into hot tea for a count of five.

At the end of five, the duel is begun. The duelists battle to be the last to achieve a clean nom. This means they must get the wet bisquit into his/her mouth before it breaks, falls onto their person, or anywhere else. The LAST person to achieve this is declared the winner. There is a good deal of skill involved in this process.

For those locally who find themselves intrigued by this sport, we are fortunate to have an Upstate Steampunk society in Anderson, SC. Their annual event will be held on November 15, 16, & 17. For more information you may visit their website, Upstate

A quick YouTube video on the art of Tea Duelling:

The Official Rules of Tea Dueling
Article 1.1 A duel as constituted under the auspices of the International Association of Tea Duelling shall be known as a "Tiffin Party"
Article 1.2 The only permissible beverage is tea. Coffee and chocolate are strictly prohibited. This beverage may be any blend of chai as supply allows. The combatants may add milk and sugar to taste. This beverage should be no less than 65 degrees at the time of competition. The beverage should be known as the "Brew Martial"
Article 1.3 Upon agreement of all parties an agreed alcoholic tipple may be added to the Brew Martial on the understanding that it does not unduly reduce the temperature of the Beverage. In such circumstances this shall be known as the "Toddy"
Article 1.4 The drinking vessel, known as "The Keg" shall be no less than three and one quarter inches depth. Kegs should be of pottery or metal. Single use kegs may be used in extremis but these must be of paper or card.
Article 1.5 The provision of the Brew Martial along with the approval of Kegs etc shall be the responsibility of the "Pot Master". See section 2.
Article 2.1 The duel shall be facilitated by the appointed officer known as the "Pot Master" the Pot Master is responsible for supervision of Kegs and Brew Martial. The Pot Master is also responsible for the provision of suitable bisquits. (See section 3)
Article 2.2 The duel shall be presided over by a president/umpire known as the "Tiffin Master". When honour requires satisfaction and insufficient suitably qualified officers are present the Pot master and Tiffin master may be embodied in one person.
Article 3.1 The Tiffin Master shall supply the bisquits. Ordinarily these are "Malted Milk" otherwise known as "Cows". With agreement of all parties these may be substituted for "Nice" bisquits, known as "Nickies". Unfortunately those honourable snacks, biscuits brown and biscuits fruit are forbidden for use in Tea Duelling under Queen's regulations. In the most dire of supply emergencies when honour must be satisfied then Digestive Wheatmeals or "Rusgetifs" may be substituted but the size of Kegs may need to be adjusted accordingly. All other varieties of bisquits are known as "fancies" and are prohibited under the Hague Convention other than those approved by the Atlanta Convention of 1902 which allows for locally sourced alternatives under the Transatlantic Rule. The recommended bisquit is “Pepperidge Farms Chessman”.
Article 4.1 Each duel should be attended by the two protagonists or "dunkers" and their seconds. All accept fully the articles of the honourable association.
Article 4.2 Should a dunker suffer a crisis of confidence and withdraw before the duel then their second should step into the breach. The second will be afforded full honours.
Article 5.1 The duel will begin with the laying out of the bisquits by the Tiffin Master. Six bisquits will be lain upon a white napkin on a serving plate. The laying out of the bisquits will be done in the presence of the seconds or in the case of a full tournament by officers appointed to this task known as "Cosies"
Article 5.2 The Pot Master will supervise the provision of the Kegs of Martial Brew ready for the duel to commence.
Article 6.1 The dunkers will take their kegs of brew martial and place them on the table which is set up between them.
Article 6.2 The Tiffin Master will place the charger of bisquits on the table between the dunkers. Article 6.3 On the command "choose your weapons" the dunkers will each select a single bisquit. No handling or replacing of bisquits is permitted.
Article 6.4 The dunkers will hold the bisquit in one hand with finger and thumb no further than one half inch from one edge.
Article 6.5 The Tiffin Master will give the order "Ready" and both bisquits will be positioned over the appropriate keg no further than six inches above the lip.
Article 6.6 On the command "Dunk" both dunkers will immediately and swiftly lower their bisquit into the Brew Martial. The Tiffin Master may declare a penalty "a bagging" against any dunker who unduly delays their dunk and the bisquits will be removed and discarded. Replacement bisquits will be chosen by both dunkers from the remaining four.
(Note: If a dunker is penalised twice for bagging then he or she shall forfeit.)
Article 6.7 if the Tiffin Master is happy that there has been a clean dunk he shall count to five. Dunkers shall not remove their bisquit from the brew martial before the Tiffin Master calls "five".
Article 6.8 Once five has been counted and the bisquit removed the dunkers shall attempt to eat the bisquit. 94% as adjudged by the Tiffin Master must end up in the dunker's mouth for a clean "Nom".
Article 7.1 If a bisquit falls back into the brew martial this is known as a "splash" and the dunker is considered beaten.
Article 7.2 If a bisquit falls onto the table or floor etc this is known as a "splatter" and the dunker is considered defeated.
Article 7.3 If a bisquit falls onto the dunker's person this is known as a "splodge" and the dunker is considered defeated with credit.
Article 7.4 Where both dunkers manage a clean Nom then the dunker who last mouthed their bisquit is considered to be the victor with their opponent defeated.
Article 7.5 If no dunker has managed a nom after two rounds (and there has been no win by credit of a splodge over other scores) the third and final round shall be decided by default as the last dunker to splash, splat or splodge as called by the Tiffin Master.
Copyright (C) Geoff Banyard & John Naylor 2010, 2011 & 2012
. Permission is hereby granted for these rules to be downloaded and shared free of charge. They may not be published in any other form or for any reward unless advance permission is obtained from the copyright holders.