CROWN OF ICE COUNTDOWN — Day 15: P is for Polar Bear

It’s day 15 before CROWN OF ICE releases and this day it’s P for Polar Bear.

In my novel, a powerful sorcerer has used his magic to transform animals into servants. This includes bears, rabbits, foxes, and other wild creatures.

Polar Bear -- photo by Ltshears, 2010. shared via Creative Commons Copyright

Polar Bear — photo by Ltshears, 2010. shared via Creative Commons Copyright

I hope readers feel the horror of this. Taking animals and turning their paws into hands, for example, is a dreadful act.  Without changing their true nature (other than keeping them under an enchantment that prevents the predators from eating prey) this transformation leaves the animals trapped in a type of nether world. They cannot be what they are meant to be, yet also cannot truly comprehend their new situation.



Like the animals, my main character, Thyra Winther, has been transformed into something she was never intended to be — the Snow Queen. While some might envy her magic, she struggles to balance her human nature with the powers that have been forced upon her. She doesn’t mind wielding her magic, when necessary, but neither is she entirely given over to it.

In his passage from CROWN OF ICE, Thyra speaks about the transformed animals, but her words could apply to herself as well:

“Bae’s standing in the paddock when I ride into the yard outside the stables. His liquid brown

Polar Bear Mother and Cubs -- photo by Alastair Rae. Shared via Creative Commons Copyright Lic.

Polar Bear Mother and Cubs — photo by Alastair Rae. Shared via Creative Commons Copyright Lic.

eyes follow my every move as I dismount and hand Freya’s reins to a waiting groom, a polar bear whose fur-backed hands tremble slightly. I read pain and confusion in the bear’s beady black eyes. It’s the expression that all our animal servants wear—the questioning look that asks why they’ve been ripped from their natural state and transformed into creatures neither fully humannor truly animal. I look away.”





CROWN OF ICE COUNTDOWN — Day 18: O is for Obsession

Today is Day 18 before CROWN OF ICE’s release, and it’s the day for — O is for Obsession.

Mael Voss 3The character who’s truly obsessed in CROWN is the mage MAEL VOSS.

Voss is a dangerous wizard, and much older than he appears. He’s been able to extend his life using his magic, but he has never been able to piece together the shattered enchanted mirror that could grant him even more power. It’s the reason, over many years, he’s stolen young girls from neighboring villages and carried them off to his ice palace to be transformed into the Snow Queen. He needs their hands to reconstruct the mirror — for the mirror, wielding its own magic, rejects his touch.

Unfortunately for these young women, Voss only allows them until their eighteenth birthday to complete this task. As Thyra Winther, the current Snow Queen, explains:

” …Voss was no fool. He’d create no creature whose power could challenge his own. He added a Wraith1draft of poison to his spell. The girl who reigned as queen had to reassemble the magic mirror before her eighteenth birthday. Fail, and she was transformed into a bodiless wraith, doomed to forever wander the halls of her former palace.”

This is the future that awaits Thyra, unless she can reassemble the mirror, and satisfy Voss’s obsession. Little wonder she’s determined to succeed at any cost!




On day 21 of the CROWN OF ICE publication day countdown I would like to highlight –

N is for NORTH.

Winter Landscape by Cornelius Krieghoff

Winter Landscape by Cornelius Krieghoff

Since CROWN OF ICE is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”, its setting must be in the North. Specifically, Scandinavia.

However, since this is a fantasy, I decided not to identify a specific country. Elements and images of Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Iceland influenced my descriptions.



Brudepars Amager by Johann Julius Exner

Brudepars Amager by Johann Julius Exner

I also didn’t mention a year, although through the context it is definitely the early to mid nineteenth century. (This fits, since “The Snow Queen” was first published in 1844).




Not all of the landscape is lost in a permanent winter.

Farm House in Finland, by Harri Blmberg

Farm House in Finland, by Harri Blmberg







But of course, the Snow Queen’s palace is surrounded by a wilderness of ice and snow:

Mountains in the snow. (Public domain)

Mountains in the snow. (Public domain)



Since CROWN OF ICE is a fairytale retelling and a Young Adult Fantasy, it includes a good measure of magic.

Thyra face 2My protagonist, Thyra Winther, has been transformed into the Snow Queen. Her magical powers include control over ice, wind, and snow.


Mael Voss 3




She wasn’t born with this magic — she was transformed by the wizard MAEL VOSS, in a process that she alludes to in the book (Hint: it was very painful).

Of course, Voss has many powers, but even he cannot repair a shattered enchanted mirror without Thyra’s help.

The mirror has it’s own magic — which is more ancient, and more powerful, than anyone truly realizes.Shattered mirror

The other mage in CROWN OF ICE is the sorceress SEPHIA, who has power over green and growing things.  She also has a connection, Thyra discovers, to Mael Voss.

Sephia -- Godward-Choris_-_A_Summer_Rose-1902







There are also magically transformed animal servants, flying horses and reindeer, and a few other surprises!

CROWN OF ICE Publication Countdown! Day 26 — L is for LUKI

Today is day 26 before CROWN OF ICE is released. It’s also that part of the countdown where I celebrate one of my CP and beta readers’ favorite characters: Luki.

The interesting thing is that Luki manages to capture hearts without saying a word. That’s right 0f8bb3bc92bcf7bce42d00b4d3551570– he doesn’t have any dialogue.

Which isn’t surprising, since he is a wolf.

A wolf pup, to be exact.




LukiWell, he does grow up as the story progresses, but readers still think he’s adorable …

… and who am I to argue?




Luki isn’t just an animal added to give the story “color” – he is a very important character in CROWN OF ICE.

It’s Luki who first teaches my Snow Queen, Thyra Winther, about another “l” word.

I bet you can figure out what that is!




DEPENDENT by Brenda Corey Dunn — Blog Tour Celebration!

Today I am very happy to host a blog tour spot for my agent-mate, Brenda Corey Dunn, and her amazing novel, DEPENDENT.

Dunncover 1


Brenda has generously provided a guest post for this tour stop –

Five Things I Didn’t Know About Life As A Military Spouse

By Brenda Corey Dunne

This summer marks my seventeenth year as a military spouse, and twenty-five years associated with the Canadian Forces. When my husband and I met, we were both in uniform. I had a relatively good idea what I was getting myself into when we married. I knew about long hours and unlimited liability. I knew about deployments and frequent moves and increased divorce rates. I had lived it, after all.

But there were some things that even I hadn’t accounted for. Some things that even I—an ex-military spouse—was unprepared to experience. No one could have told me these things, because I wouldn’t have believed them. And I would have thought I could handle it because, hey, I had worn the uniform, so shouldn’t I know all about it already?  Boy, was I wrong.

  1. The heartbreak of a child missing their Daddy. No one can prepare you for the two a.m. night terrors of an eight year old. Or the empty, lonely feeling of a month of empty calendar days ahead. Or a birthday not shared. This is just one you have to deal with in your own way.
  2. The chaos of moving. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard—“Oh, you’ve done it before, it must be easy for you now!” Um, no. It’s not. Every move is different. Sure, some aspects are easier—I don’t have a newborn to hold as I watch our worldly goods get swallowed up by a moving van—but others are not. Moving teens is tricky. Friendships get harder to break. School situations get more complicated. And really, you get tired of it all. But I also LOVE to see new places. I love the ability to start fresh in a new place—the adventure of sightseeing and exploring new stomping grounds. My family always tries to see the fun stuff, and we focus on that.
  3. The strength of friendships. Wow. You know the song—Make new friends, but keep the old…one is silver and the other gold. It’s so true. Military spouses have a lot to deal with, and we tend to depend on friends a lot. Maybe your spouse is deployed and you have a broken toilet. Maybe you need someone to watch your child while you take another to the dentist. Maybe you just really need to sit down and have a coffee with someone who’s been there. Military friendships pop up in the strangest of places, and they last a long time.
  4. The pride in our national anthem. There’s something about that uniform that magnifies national pride—be it military, paramedic, police, fire-fighter or other service. Any relationship—however distant—multiplies the gut feeling that we live in a great country. And for me, when the national anthem plays, that feeling explodes beneath my ribs.
  5. The kindness of strangers. This kind of goes along with number 3. People appreciate what our spouses do. And they will often go above and beyond to help a military spouse in need. From home-made cookies on move in day, to a helping hand when we need one. Military spouses often have to trust strangers, and that trust is often rewarded tenfold. Sure there are other instances of trust gone awry, but in my experience there will always be someone there to help when I need them. And I hope I can always do the same for someone else in need.

About the Author:

BRENDA COREY DUNNE, trained as a physiotherapist, worked several years as a Physiotherapy BDunne2Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force before meeting the love of her life, RCAF Colonel Tom Dunne, and becoming a military dependent herself. Brenda currently resides on a small hobby farm in Eastern Ontario, Canada, with her husband and three children.

About the Book:

Intense, emotional, inspiring. These are the only words to describe the novel that took the author over five years to write due to the emotionally draining story that’s drawn tears from everyone who’s read it.

When 45-year-old Ellen Michaels loses her husband to a tragic military accident, she is left in a world of gray. For 25 years her life has been dictated by the ubiquitous “They”—the military establishment that has included her like chattel with John’s worldly goods—his dependents, furniture, and effects. They—who have stolen her hopes, her dreams and her innocence, and now in mere months will take away the roof over her head. Ellen is left with nothing to hold on to but memories and guilt, and an awful secret that has held her in its grip since she was 19. John’s untimely death takes away her anchor, and now, without the military, there is no one to tell her where to go, what to do—no one to dictate who she is. Dependent deals with issues ever-present in today’s service families—early marriage, frequent long absences, the culture of rank, and post-traumatic stress, as well as harassment and abuse of power by higher-ranking officials. It presents a raw and realistic view of life for the lives of the invisible support behind the uniform.

Buy or Learn More About the Book:




GIVEAWAY! Enter to win –

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CROWN OF ICE COUNTDOWN — Day 32: K is for Kai

It’s day 32 before publication, and actually one month away, since CROWN OF ICE publishes on Sept. 9th!

So it seems appropriate to focus on a major character today — K is for KAI.

Kai Thorsen is the young man who my protagonist, Snow Queen Thyra Winter, decides to kidnap to aid in the reconstruction of a shattered enchanted mirror. Thyra knows that Kai’s mathematical skills rival her own, and his ability to visualize patterns and create equations may be just what she needs to complete the mirror and avoid an eternity of torture as a mindless, bodiless, wraith.

KaiThyra’s plan is entirely practical, and based on necessity. Until she spends time with Kai, that is. But Thyra’s logical equations leave out the effect Kai’s presence might have on her lonely life. Her match in intellect, skill, and determination, Kai casts a uniquely human magic over Thyra.

If her frozen heart thaws, will all of Thyra’s careful calculations fail her?

CROWN OF ICE COUNTDOWN — Day 33: J is for Journey

Day 33 before CROWN OF ICE is published, and — J is for Journey …

'Sleigh_Scene',_oil_painting_by_Cornelius_KrieghoffThere are a lot of journeys in CROWN OF ICE, and not all of them involve physical traveling.

Of course, there is the trek Gerda makes to find her missing friend (and love) Kai. There are also several trips that Thyra Winther, the Snow Queen, must make in order to find three missing mirror shards. (These are essential travels, since without these fragments, Thyra cannot reconstruct the enchanted mirror that will grant her immortality as the Snow Queen, and save her from an eternity of torment as a mindless, bodiless, wraith).

But there are other journeys as well — journeys of the mind and heart. All three of the main cropped-2014-Snow-31.jpgcharacters in CROWN make this type of journey as well, learning more about the world, and themselves.

For Thyra, the journey begins in cold and isolation. Where it ends … Well, you will have to read the book to find out!

CROWN OF ICE Countdown — Day 37: I is for Ice

It’s day 37 in the countdown to CROWN OF ICE’s publication date, and the focus is on ICE.

Snow waterfall


As it certainly should be, given the context of the story.

ice spearThere’s a lot of ice in the book — not just outside, but also inside the Snow Queen’s palace. Thyra, the young Snow Queen, can even form ice in her hands and send it hurtling like an arrow or spear, a talent that comes in handy in a few instances.

In fact, one of the things that was challenging about writing CROWN OF ICE was coming up with enough different ways to describe ice and snow. Unlike many other languages, English does not offer a lot of options. I hope I’ve been successful in providing variety, despite the limitations!



CROWN OF ICE Countdown — Day 41: G is for Gerda and H is for Hope

Gerda and Bae by laurartTackling a couple of letters today, because I may not be posting for a few days –

Day 41 of the countdown to publication, and I’m highlighting one of my primary characters, GERDA, and one of her major characteristics, HOPE.



(PIcture, GERDA AND BAE by laurart).



Gerda is actually the protagonist in the original literary fairy tale, “The Snow Queen,” by Hans Christian Andersen.  While she is not the protagonist in CROWN OF ICE, she is a major character, and plays a significant role in the story.

Although my Gerda is older than Andersen’s version, she is modeled on his character. For one thing, unlike many fairy tale characters, Gerda is not a princess. In fact, she isn’t any type of royalty, nor is she wealthy, exceedingly beautiful, or endowed with magical abilities. She’s just an ordinary girl.

But Gerda does possess some unique qualities, including a great capacity for love, an unwavering faith, and unquenchable HOPE. She embarks on a dangerous quest to save her friend, Kai, even though he hasn’t been very nice to her for some time before his disappearance. She encounters many obstacles, but never loses hope.

Sometimes “good” characters can seem annoying or boring, but in Andersen’s story — and, I hope, in mine — Gerda does not come off that way. I think it’s because she is so forgiving and non-judgmental. She is a bright light in a world of cold and darkness. She carries with her the hope for a happy ending.