Stonebearer’s Betrayal Launch Party

Launch PartyTonight is the launch party for Stonebearer’s Betrtayal and I can think of no better way to celebrate than to have family, friends, and fantasy lovers come and enjoy food and fun together.

At 7pm, I will be reading a selection from Stonebearer’s Betrayal followed by time for those attending to ask questions. The signing will begin immediately afterwards. Books are available on site for purchase. There will also be a sword display courtesy of Wasatch Historical European Martial Arts, and prizes.

Come join Us!

Tonight, Friday November 16, 2018 from 7-9pm at:
The Printed Garden
9445 S Union Sq, Ste A, Sandy, Utah 84070

(closest intersection: 700 E and 9400 S)

Prize preview:

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5×7″ Leather journal with rosewood pen

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4×6″ Leather journal with rosewood pen

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Earthenware mug with patterned cloth wall hanging and custom pendant

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Earthenware mug with patterned cloth wall hanging and custom pendant

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Stonebearer’s Betrayal Release Day!

This is it, the day I’ve been waiting and working for since I started this blog ages ago. I’m so excited to share this moment with you.

Stonebearer’s Betrayal is now available for purchase on all major online book retailers.

There, I said it! Squee!

Last night, my 12-year-old finished reading it. He came up to me and said the best thing he could have possibly said.

“Mom, this is amazing!”

Yes, he’s a little biased, but he also reads plenty so I value his opinion.

So, what is Stonebearer’s Betrayal about?

At the very adult age of eighteen, Katira had her life figured out. She knew her place, understood her path, and was destined to be the best healer in the northern Panthara mountains, just like her mother.

That all changes when monsters from legends step into her real life, throw her world into chaos, and threaten to destroy both her and her family. To survive, she must accept that her world is far different from what she ever imagined and she must fight to protect what she loves.

Stonebearer’s Betrayal is a fast-paced coming-of-age story fueled with action, adventure, and danger suitable for readers 12 and up. It’s the perfect holiday gift for the fantasy lover in your family.

Get yours today!

Head on over to Amazon to order your copy –

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OR – If you’d like a signed copy, head over to my online store

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Utah Locals – There is a release party this Friday, November 16th from 7-9pm at the Printed Garden in Sandy (9445 S Union Square Suite A, Sandy, UT 84070)

I’d love to see you there!

Join me for an exclusive reading, Q&A, get a signed copy, prizes, a sword exhibit, and food! Books available for purchase on site.

Positive Influences of Writing, with Rachel Huffmire

Having a creative outlet in today’s busy modern life is a wonderful way to relieve stress, find greater fulfillment, and meet new people. Today we are talking to author Rachel Huffmire about how writing has influenced her life for the better.

Rachel and I met because of our mutually shared passion for the written word. We both are Immortal Works authors and we both have books coming out soon. In addition, we both are moms who work hard to find an ideal balance between filling our creative wells and spending time with our families.

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Photo by Koushik Chowdavarapu on Unsplash

My big question for Rachel is:

How has writing influenced you to be a better person?

Her response:

Learning to write is a great form of self-discovery! One of the first books I read about the craft was called “If you want to write” by Brenda Ueland. Ueland taught me I didn’t need to go to extraordinary lengths to be a good writer—I don’t have to spend a summer abroad, I don’t have to try Thai food (though that was a happy discovery)… I merely had to be honest about the way I saw my immediate world. So, I started to look deeper into the things I found commonplace. I realized how cool my life actually was! I grew up as a homeschooler in Utah, surrounded by wheat fields, raising a pet duck named Penelope… To me that was normal. To others, apparently, it was super interesting!

Writing also taught me to appreciate living in a whole new way. When you decide to become a creator of any kind, you absolutely must be deliberate about the way you observe, interact, and sense the world around you. In “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron, she talks about filling up a creative well to draw from by engaging your senses while seeking out a spectrum of emotions and details around you – not just the pleasant or comfortable ones. I learned to write three daily pages of subconscious jabber to get all the inhibitions, fears, and tasks out of my way so I can produce stories without being blocked by inner negativity. In an online interview, Liz Lemon Swindle recounted how her mentor told her she could become a professional artist in ten years. Liz said she would push herself and get there in a year, but her mentor replied with “It’s not a matter of time, it’s a matter of life.”  I’ve been writing consistently for seven years now, and am so grateful for the struggles, joys, and experiences that have stretched me over that time. All of it. The good, the bad, and the new.

Writing also teaches me to live life deliberately. I’m a homeschool mom to two little boys and I make sure that writing always comes second to them. If I want to be as prolific as I hope I can be, I have to be very careful not to spend too much time engaged in things that don’t matter. And finally, writing has led me to some wonderful friendships that have shaped and changed my life for the better. Writers are some of the most friendly and encouraging bunch of people you’ll ever meet. Basically, writing taught me to embrace the life around me and savor every little piece of it, then figure out how to write it down in a way that others can enjoy it too.

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Rachel Huffmire works as a novelist and acquisitions editor for Immortal Works Press. You can find her in Southern California where she enjoys sand at its finest: the beach and the desert. She homeschools her two little boys, writes science fiction and fantasy novels, and reads bedtime stories to her husband every night. Her first novel, Shattered Snow, will be released on January 8, 2019.

Connect with Rachel! 
Facebook: Rachel Huffmire, Author
Twitter: @RachelHuffmire
Instagram: rachelhuffmire

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More about Rachel’s upcoming debut novel, Shattered Snow

The story

In 2069, time-travel is restricted to observation and research. But Keltson Grammar doesn’t mind breaking a few laws. Known only as “The Mirror”, Keltson runs an underground empire that rescues unfortunate souls throughout history. However, a single misstep could send an entire agency to reinstate his clients to their original dismal fates.

Lilia Vaschenko is a Russian mechanic surrounded by cinderblock towers, ladders she cannot climb, and a glass ceiling that holds her down like a casket. She’ll do anything to escape— even work for the world’s most wanted renegade.

Margaretha is a young countess, destined to be poisoned at twenty-one. But when she discovers a mysterious mirror in the woods that transforms the world into shadows and ice, her future shatters. Chased from her familiar home, will she ever find where she truly belongs?

Shattered Snow is a YA science-fiction retelling of Snow White. It is based on the real-life history of Margaretha von Waldeck, a sixteenth-century countess that may have inspired the Grimm brothers’ fairy tale.

Sounds awesome, right? You can preorder Shattered Snow on Amazon and other online book retailers.

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Hi everyone! Jodi here.

Release Day for Stonebearer’s Betrayal is coming up next week! I can’t tell you how exciting it is for this day to finally come. For those of you (wonderful people!) who preordered, your copies will be shipped to you or delivered to your e-readers on Nov 13th.

Want your own copy? Head on over to Amazon or your favorite online book retailer today!

Want a signed copy? Head over to my online store!

Utah locals! Come celebrate with me at the Stonebearer’s Betrayal Launch Party next Friday, November 16th, from 7-9pm at The Printed Garden in Sandy (9445 S Union Sq, Ste A, Sandy, Utah 84070). There will be fun, food, and prizes!

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Talking Pulp Fiction with Jay Barnson

Before you get all excited about a potential discussion about Uma Thurman, John Travolta, and Samuel L Jackson let me rein you in touch. Today, we’ll be talking about real pulp fiction. Popular stories such as Flash Gordon, Indiana Jones, Tarzan, heck, even Star Wars, all started out as stories that appeared in pulp magazines which were printed on cheap wood pulp paper. They had a distinct smell and feel to them, which pulp fiction enthusiasts have come to love.

My friend, Jay Barnson, is a true pulp fiction aficionado. So much so that he has published several stories in modern pulp publications, such as Storyhack and Cirsova. His new book, Blood Creek Witch, takes the engaging action elements of a good pulp read and weaves them into a fantastic urban fantasy. Jay and I go back to, you might have guessed it, Xchyler Publishing. In 2015, that’s where all the cool local writers hung out.

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My big question for Jay is:

What draws you to pulp fiction? (and how has it influenced you…?)

When I was a kid, my primary sources of science fiction and fantasy (which they usually dumped on the same small shelf back then…) were libraries, and occasionally used book stores. This meant I wasn’t reading the newest stuff, and a lot of what I read was anthologies or novel reprints of “classic” science fiction and fantasy — much of which was originally published in pulp magazines. While my friends were discovering Lord of the Rings, I was discovering Conan of Cimmeria. I was into pulp SFF before I even knew what it was! These were the kinds of stories that inspired me. They were the kinds of stories also that inspired some of my favorite movies as a kid, too, like Star Wars (originally three films) and Indiana Jones (um, ditto).

Flash forward to today, and what I want to read (and write) today hasn’t changed much. Stories of the pulp age were well-told yarns focused on escapism and entertainment. The pulp masters made a living writing these things, by producing a constant stream of stories that readers wanted (and would pay for) – through the intermediate layer an editor. It wasn’t about producing an annual book in a series and having a publisher market the crap out of it, or gaining the marketing cachet of a major award or Oprah’s Book Club, or anything else from later eras that drove a “hit.” It was all about entertaining the audience, over and over again. Their stories had to be riveting from page one with nothing else to prop them up except maybe the reputation of their pen name and the name of the magazine.

Since I started getting published, I’ve gone back and read a lot of the original pulps and reprints (and I’ve even picked up a few original paper copies on eBay). Many popular misconceptions about pulp stories can be resolved simply by reading a bunch of them. Yeah, there are plenty of stinkers out there – I’ll be the first to admit that not everything was gold back then. Once you get past the cultural and language barriers of stories from nearly (or over) a hundred years ago, you may find these tales stack up well against a lot of modern stuff published today. They work. The storytelling still works. You can analyze it and find that these men and women figured out (often the hard way) the axioms of writing we take for granted today. They wove magic.

An emphasis on action. Character-driven stories. Show, don’t tell. Lurid spectacle. Escapism. Heart. Thrilling twists. Quiet heroism as well as bold fisticuffs. I want to tell those kinds of stories. Not pastiche stories that sound like they were written in the 1930s, but modern stories that embrace the pulp aesthetic. I’ve been happy to learn that there are a lot of readers out there just like me who crave exactly that kind of story, too, even if they don’t recognize it as “pulpy.” It’s just fun.

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Spring Into Books, 2016, Viridian Center

Jay Barnson writes speculative fiction across multiple genres. His stories and non-fiction articles have appeared in several anthologies and magazines, including The Escapist and the Hugo-nominated Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. He is the winner of the 2016 DragonComet writing award. Born in West Virginia, Jay grew up on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy, much of it from the pulp era. His latest novel, Blood Creek Witch, is a tale of magic, monsters, and mayhem set in the backwoods of modern-day West Virginia.

Blood Creek Witch

Want to connect with Jay?

Here’s his links:

Website/Blog: Rampant Games
Facebook page: Author Jay Barnson
Interested in Jay’s stories and books?
Thanks again for joining us today, Jay!
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Upcoming Events

Launch Party
Stonebearer’s Betrayal Launch Party Nov 16, 7-9pm. You know you don’t want to miss this. Come join me at the Printed Garden Bookstore in Sandy where I’ll be selling and signing books. There will be treats, activities, prizes, a reading, and a Q&A session. I’d love to see you there!
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Local Authors & You – November 2-3rd: If you live in the Salt Lake valley, this one’s for you! All three of my past guests, John M. Olsen, Candace J. Thomas, and today’s guest Jay Barnson, will be there. Even better, I will be joining them and bringing exclusive pre-release copies of Stonebearer’s Betrayal! So much win! The event is free to the public and requires no registration. It’s a great chance to get signed and personalized Christmas gifts for the book lover on your list.

Why Adults Should Read Fantasy with John M Olsen

I had so much fun featuring Candace J Thomas here on the blog last week that I invited another dear author friend to come join us this week. Be sure to stop by her blog to see her wonderful interview with yours truly. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, writer friends are the best.
Today we have John M Olsen with us. He is a fellow Immortal Works author who also has roots back at Xchyler Publishing. In fact, he and I met during the same event where I met Candace back in 2015. John is also currently president elect of the League of Utah Writers and just this summer released The Crystal Queen, the sequel to his first book The Crystal King. 
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My big question for John is:

Why should adults read fantasy?

John’s answer:

A man by the name of G. K. Chesterson said, “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

Adults also know dragons exist. We face them every day. Maybe your dragon is a mortgage or a boss with a personality disorder. Maybe your dragon is a disability or a dear friend who refuses to make good life choices. Many of us like to escape into fantasy worlds, but there is much more than escape going on as we march page by page through a fantasy world. These worlds of the imagination are fraught with peril and doom, and good storytelling puts us on the edge of our seat as we hope good overcomes evil, or that true love will conquer all.

I love themes that confirm my faith in the goodness of humanity and of the universe, especially when we see so much entropy and failure if not outright evil. The bad guys may take the upper hand as a story progresses, but in the end, they will lose. Fantasy, at least the sort I prefer, shines a beacon of success despite the odds and illuminates a path forward. If the hero of your story can achieve great things, then you as a reader can as well, no matter how dark the night.

This is why I write, too. I love to write about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, something all readers can relate to. I’m a regular guy. Most readers are regular folks, too. Few achieve great fame or fortune, and the world spins on its merry way oblivious to our existence. But history is filled with true stories of ordinary people who stepped up just like fantasy characters to do what nobody could expect. We have power we don’t recognize. Power we don’t understand, and power we don’t use. But we will recognize, understand, and use that power as we learn by example. As long as we immerse ourselves in stories of success and never give up on ourselves and those around us, we put ourselves on a path to change lives, and through that to change the world.

Fantasy gives us power over reality’s dragons.

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A huge thanks to John for joining us and for his insightful thoughts on why fantasy is so important for readers of all ages, not just kids.
If you liked this message, please share it using the handy links below!
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You can find John all over the place, here are some handy links:

Twitter: @john_m_olsen
Find his novels and short stories over on Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/johnmolsen

 

About John M. Olsen

Motivated by his lifelong love of reading, John M. Olsen writes about ordinary people doing extraordinary things and hopes to entertain and inspire others. His father’s library started him on this journey as a teenager, and he now owns and expands that library to pass his passion on to the next generation of avid readers.

He loves to create things, whether writing novels or short stories or working in his secret lair equipped with dangerous power tools. In all cases, he applies engineering principles and processes to the task at hand, often in unpredictable ways. He usually prefers “Renaissance Man” to “Mad Scientist” as a goal and aesthetic.

He lives in Utah with his lovely wife and a variable number of mostly grown children and a constantly changing subset of extended family.

Check out his ramblings on his blog. Safety goggles are optional but recommended.

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Love staying in touch? So do I! Let’s connect. You can follow here on WordPress, or choose your favorite social media – I’m on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Discussing Worldview with Candace J Thomas

Today we are privileged to have my dear friend and fellow fantasy author, Candace J Thomas, here on the blog. Candace has been my cheerleader and spirit animal from the first day we spent time together behind Xchyler Publishing’s sales table at the 2015 Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium. At that point, she embodied everything I wanted to be. She had two amazing books and was working on the third, she radiated warmth and confidence, and she knew the industry.

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My big question for her is:

How has creating new worlds and characters changed your world view?

Candace’s answer:

This is a beautiful question.

There are two answers that I came up with.

My first answer – It’s all in the details. I am an observer of life. I’ve always been a people-watcher. People fascinate me, their mannerisms, drives, motivations. When building characters, I focus on these kind of things and strive to make them real, as real as if I knew them in high school.

Also, as an observer, the world becomes a more vivid and interesting place. I search for the interesting peculiarities to bring a more human experience – or basically, the Charm of things.

Currently, I am writing a story that takes place in Chicago. When I visited, there were little things I noticed, like how sidewalks wind around where trees are planted. It’s a charming fact that makes it interesting and human. Maybe the casual reader wouldn’t notice such a little detail, but I find it fulfilling and necessary to my stories. Adding charm is attractive to me.

When in Austin, I saw a side wall outside of bar completely littered with industrial staples where band flyers once hung. I admired the dreams that once were and wondered what happened to the thousands of dreams that came and went.

Nature is a big fascination to me. I like the veins in leaves and how they change color. I like watching fuzzy caterpillars slink across the tree branches, just wandering about their day. I like broken sidewalks and aged cobblestone. As an author, I have a responsibility to bring an experience to the reader. If I don’t add the little details, the bits of charm, I feel like I’m failing. You can find little details in everything I write.

As to the second answer – being an author, in general, has changed my world view. I’m a simple person, with a very simple idea of life, but I am driven by creativity. I view things differently and communicate in the language of art. I am also dyslexic, but that never changed my desire to be creative and write. It did bring challenges and insecurities to what I was trying to do.

I have always ached to be a writer and had the drive to do it and be successful. There are pros and cons to authoring. Becoming an author has pushed my private writing public. It takes me out of my comfort zone and brings this out-going character to the stage. As an author, there is no hiding your mistakes and insecurities in writing. It’s out there for readers, and every reader has an opinion.

I’ve had to learn that not everyone loves reading fantasy, and not everyone will like what I’ve done. I’ve really grown and matured over the last five years being published. I’ve become a confident author and mentor to others. I’m much wiser and more conscientious about how my name, as a brand, is perceived. It’s like I took the blue pill in the Matrix and I can never view the world as general as I did before. But on the flipside, I get to influence readers and creators every time they open my books. That is the very best feeling in the world.

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Want to connect with Candace? Of course you do, she’s awesome.

Links: 
Twitter: cjtwrites
Instagram: candacejthomas
News! Candace’s book, Everstar, will be released in Audio very, very soon. Watch these links:

Candace J Thomas is an award-winning of Young Adult Fantasy and Sci-fi. She is the author of the Vivatera Series and Hawkweed, published by Xchyler Publishing. Her debut novel Vivatera won the LUW Diamond Award for Novel of the Year. Her Paranormal Satire, Vampire-ish: A Hypochondriac’s Tale, was published July 2016.

Candace is a freelance editor of the award-winning Billy Blacksmith series by Ben Ireland. as well as founder of Shadesilk Press.

Candace is known for her extreme fanatical love for both Count Chocula and smart, witty writing that expands her imagination and makes her wish she had thought of the idea.

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Interested in doing a blog swap? Send me a line! Don’t worry, I don’t bite.

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Love staying in touch? So do I! Let’s connect. You can follow here on WordPress, or choose your favorite social media – I’m on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

 

A Love Letter to Epic Music

Music is a powerful thing. There’s no other force on earth that can manipulate the whole spectrum of human emotion using only vibration. The closest parallel I can think of is what writers do using only symbols on a page. Go figure…

Growing up, I could never sleep (thanks anxiety!) and would lie awake in bed for hours. To keep me quiet and hopefully lull me to sleep I would listen to music cassettes. Yes, cassettes. There was once an incident involving the soundtrack to A Chorus Line. I must have been three or four years old.  Apparently, one day I started wandering around the house singing “Dance 10, Looks 3” (famously known as the “Tits and Ass” song). Google at your own risk there. Somehow that cassette disappeared from my collection and was replaced with famous classical pieces … odd.

I still have sleepless nights, but now I keep myself busy coming up with new things to do to my characters.  Insert evil laugh here.

An endless parade of violin lessons, orchestras, ensembles, and quartets later, and you can say classical music is in my blood. But, not the boring uppity stuff. Nah. Give me Dvorak, give me Wagner. Give me modern-day movie soundtracks! Get my heart beating. Excite me, people! Loud horns. Drums that shake the floor. Sweeping strings. I love it all.

It’s no surprise that now as a grown up, or at least someone pretending to be one, intense classical music works a special kind of magic over me. I am transported. I use it to summon up the right feelings when writing and editing intense and/or emotional scenes. Thanks to Mr. Internet, there is a wealth of music that really scratches my itch. Here are some of my favorites.

Do you have a favorite piece of music that stirs you? Share it in the comments!

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Love staying in touch? So do I! Let’s connect. Pick your favorite platform, either here on WordPress, or you can also find me on  TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Meet the Stonebearer Cast: Jarand Pathara

A few weeks ago we discussed the main character of Stonebearer’s Betrayal, Katira. That discussion can’t be complete without also learning about her father, Jarand Pathara.

Jarand wants nothing more than to live a peaceful life as a father, husband, and blacksmith, hidden away in the remote village of Namragan. He wants to raise his daughter and teach her the wisdom he’s gathered over the long years of his life. He knows it can’t last, there are forces at work that will put an end to this peace, but at the start of Stonebearer’s Betrayal he refuses to dwell on the changes that will come.

He chose Namragan for one reason alone, it is the least likely place his enemies would look for him and the best possible place to keep Katira safe. Jarand’s history stretches back further than a mortal man, he wasn’t always a simple blacksmith.  If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know immortals play key roles in this story. Jarand is one of them.

Jarand is an oath-bound Stonebearer of the Khandashii. While his immediate concerns are to protect his family, his larger duty is to protect the people of the world against dark creatures escaping from the mirror realm. If you’d like to learn more about what it means to wear the stone, there’s a blog post about that too.

Amidst the Stonebearer society, there are five orders that stem from the five distinct types of magic. Jarand is a guardian and well-trained in warfare. He survived the great wars when the world turned against those who could use the power.

I mentioned in the blog post about Katira that in the early days of writing Stonebearer’s Betrayal, Jarand used to be the main character. I loved writing about him because I loved what his character represented. In the end, it wasn’t his story to tell.

His creation is a result of my own wish fulfillment. I took the best traits of all my favorite characters and allowed him to grow from them. In Jarand, we find the wisdom and fierce protectiveness also found in Doctor Who. We also see how time has worn him down. He is a world-weary tired warrior, much like Geralt of Rivia. He holds his oaths dearly and for that there is a feeling of nobleness to him, much like Ned Stark. I promise, I’ll let Jarand keep his head.

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The 11th Doctor

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Geralt of Rivia

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Ned Stark

The big question is – do I see Jarand as the perfect man? My answer is no, simply because there is no such thing as a universally ‘perfect’ man. He is a good man and something all men can strive towards. He is caring, selfless, and hard-working. He’s also had hundreds of years to learn from his mistakes and discover what brings him the most fulfillment, which for him is the safety and happiness of his family.

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Join the conversation! Who is your favorite “noble man” character? Brownie points for sharing why they are important to you.

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Love staying in touch? So do I! Let’s connect. Pick your favorite platform, either here on WordPress, or you can also find me on  TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Cover Reveal – Stonebearer’s Betrayal

Each phase of the publishing process brings with it a mix of excitement and carefully controlled terror. Excitement springs from completing another step and coming that much closer to bringing your book baby into the world. Terror lurks around each turn, because there is always the possibility of something going wrong.

Whoever compared creating a book to having a baby is absolutely right. Each month of a healthy pregnancy is cheered, each milestone celebrated, but disaster is unpredictable and always a heartbeat away. Until the baby is born, all mothers understand the fear of something going wrong as they carry their child. I know I did with all three of my pregnancies. I’m doing the same now with my book.

But, you can’t allow fear to stop you. In fact, if you aren’t doing something that scares you from time to time, then you aren’t stretching to meet your potential.

Allowing myself to trust my cover artist to create an image that represented the entirety of a project I’d been working on for years was scary. Really scary. I’m glad I did. She did amazing work.

So, here it is. The moment I’ve been teasing about for the last few weeks.

My cover reveal.

(Squee!)

Stonebearer's Betrayal

Isn’t it amazing?

A huge thanks to Ashley at Strange Devotion Designs for creating a magical cover for me.

Here’s the back cover copy:

A secret society of immortals, tasked to protect the world.

A demon bent on revenge.

A girl brave enough to fight for her family when the two collide.

Archdemoness Wrothe stirs the ashes from a long dead war, rekindling a fire that threatens to burn the world. Only the legendary Stonebearers of the Khandashii have the power to stop her, if they catch wind of her plans in time.

Katira didn’t believe the legends. She didn’t believe a person could alter the fabric of reality or live forever. She didn’t believe in the dark mirror realm or in the dangerous creatures prowling there either.

That was before the first shadow hound came for her.

Release date for Stonebearer’s Betrayal is November 13th, 2018. Available at online retailers where books are sold.

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Mini Blog Tour

Two awesome friends from the Twitter #DarkLitChat offered to help spread the word. As a thank you I encourage you to go check out their blogs, not just because I wrote mini articles there, but because they went above and beyond for me to help with my cover reveal.

Elesha at E’s Writing Journey

Rae at A New Look on Books

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Love staying in touch? So do I! Let’s connect. Pick your favorite platform, either here on WordPress, or you can also find me on  TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

 

Magical Places: Mont-Saint-Michel

Castle and monastery, church and fortress, Mont-Saint-Michel in northern France has been a bit of everything over its thousand-year plus history. Which is what makes it perfect material for a post here on the blog, where I seek to find magic everyday.

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Mont-Saint-Michel at Sunset

I’ve mentioned it before, but I love ancient castles and churches. My Instagram is loaded with gorgeous pictures of them because they stir my imagination and tell so many stories.

 

I visited Mont-Saint-Michel when I was a young naive teenager. At the time, it was just another wonderful place to visit in a series of interesting places I’d been on a long trip through France. Looking back, I wished I had taken more time to soak in the history. I’m making up for that now.

The earliest history of the island extends back to the 8th century, when the island was called Mont Tombe. “Tombe” meaning grave in Latin evokes the feeling of a graveyard or a final resting place. There is a secondary, and far more fitting, translation as “mount hillock” meaning a raised place. For anyone who has visited the island, it fits this description well. From base to tip, the island rises over 260 feet out of the ocean, and all of it rocky unforgiving granite. I remember my legs burning as we trekked up the steep streets toward the monastery.

According to legend, in 708 AD Archangel Michael appeared to Aubery, bishop of Avranches, and instructed him to build a church in the Archangel’s honor. The bishop repeatedly ignored this heavenly visitor, a truly bad idea, until Saint Michael burned a hole into the bishop’s skull with his finger. The church was built October 16, 709 and devoted to Saint Michael. Mont-Saint-Michel literally means “Saint Michael Mount.”

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Saint Michael Iconography

The location of the island is unique as it historically it could only be reached during low tide and was surrounded by silty sand that was prone to becoming quicksand. This made the island easy to defend as the assailants couldn’t continue their fight for risk of drowning.

 

It was also halfway between the two power Duchies of Normandy and Brittany during the early Middle Ages, which made it the target of the two powers and through the ages it changed hands frequently. At one point it was invaded by Vikings.

Fast forward to 1204, the Breton Guy de Thouars, an ally to the King of France, tried to take the island in a siege. In the process, he accidentally set the main buildings of the monastery on fire, destroying the very same buildings he wanted to occupy. The King of France at the time, Philip Augustus, or Philip II, was horrified that a holy site was damaged in connection to him and offered funds for a major restoration and expansion which included many of the Gothic style buildings we see today.

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Courtyard with Gothic arches

Throughout the following hundreds of years the island continued to be an area of dispute. Each successive conqueror added and destroyed parts of the island’s structures until we reach the present day. For more history, there are references below.

 

Modern day Mont-Saint-Michel can be reached by a long bridge built specially to allow the flow of tidewater underneath. Thrill seekers are still allowed to approach over the sand during low tide, however there are signs everywhere warning of the dangers of quicksand.

Do you have a favorite castle or magical place? Share about it in the comments below and I might do a feature on it in the future.

References:

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Update

I swear I’m not teasing you about doing a cover reveal. It will happen, and it looks like it might be by next week’s post. This week we pinned down a few more needed pieces to create the advance review copies for distribution. If you love reading epic fantasy, and even better, love giving reviews, please send me a note!

Also, I’ll be at the Eagle Mountain Writing Conference this weekend. If you are there, come say hi!

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