Dear Santa: An Avalon Christmas Carol

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Today on Dear Santa!, we have Danielle Shipley. She’s been on the blog many-a-time before, and I’m a huge fan of anything of hers! She recently published her Christmas novella, An Avalon Christmas, Outlaws of Avalon Book 1.5, just this week. And, she’s graciously given us an excerpt of the book!

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Merlin entered his bedchamber – at which time a warming fire bloomed in his grate – and exchanged his daytime robe for a nightgown. Then, above the crackle from the fireplace, he heard a clanking noise; a sound unmistakably like rattling metal chains. He scarcely had time to wonder what the clatter might portend when the source came on through his door – his closed door, mind – and passed into the room before his eyes. The body was tall, well-built, and fully transparent, Merlin’s gaze easily penetrating flesh and bone and armor of mail that caused all the clang and jangle.

“Arthur,” said Merlin, incredulously, for the face and form of the phantom appeared every bit that of Camelot’s lord, save for the see-through quality. “Is that supposed to be you?”

“Ask me who I was,” the specter said in a moaning version of Arthur’s voice.

“All right… Who were you, then?”

“In life, I was your king,” he moaned again. “Arthur Pendragon.”christmas-carol-cover-w-text

In life? But Arthur was alive – at least, he had been the last Merlin had seen of him, over dinner. And there was no call for him to have died in the meantime, not in Avalon. What purpose, then, in feigning death? What point to this ghostly charade?

Merlin’s eyes narrowed as the pieces began to fall into place. Scarlet’s strange dress and calling him “uncle”; Gawain laboring in a dismal cubicle; now Arthur clanking around like a wraith. Yes, at last, it all came clear.

“You don’t believe in me,” Arthur observed.

“Of course I don’t,” said Merlin briskly. “I’ve obviously been dreaming since Scarlet’s entrance in a top hat, or earlier. I should have known it the moment Robin brought up the movie on television: We were all of us watching a holiday special like this, today (or maybe yesterday, by now); a film based on that novella by Dickens. You’re nothing but a product of that viewing, none of you; nothing but figments of my subconscious.”

At this, the spirit raised a frightful cry, and shook his chainmail with such a dismal and appalling noise that Merlin was tempted to knock the noisemaker over the head, never mind if he did look like his king.

“For pity’s sake,” he snapped, “what are you carrying on about?”

“It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow men,” the spirit howled, “and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in second life, it is condemned to a doom as good as death. It is doomed to wander within but apart from the world – oh, woe is me! – and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!”

Merlin blinked at the flow of the ghost’s words. Arthur had been known for many excellent traits, not among them any especial eloquence. His was a royal heart with a common man’s tongue, and was not prone to flowery speeches. For the sake of the novelty of it, Merlin gave the romantic ravings ear.

“Oh, captive, bound, and double-ironed, not to know,” the spirit lamented, “that ages of incessant labor, by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such are we! Oh, such are we! I am therefore here tonight to warn you, my old friend, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate.”

“To what supposed fate are you referring?” Merlin demanded – forgetting, in his agitation, that this was but a dream, and so this lecture was surely not to be taken as seriously as its deliverer would have liked. “You are alive and well, Arthur! – that chance and hope of second life of my procuring, it seems I am obliged to remind you!”

The ghost went on as if the wizard had never spoken. “You will be haunted by Three Spirits,” he pronounced. “Without their visits, you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first tomorrow, when the bell tolls One.”

“What bell?” said Merlin, in a mood to pick at nonessentials. “We’ve never had a bell to toll the hours, here.”

But the apparition vanished before his eyes, without reply.

“Humbug,” Merlin growled, then slapped a palm to his forehead at recognition of the catchphrase.

***
About the Book
Merlin was asleep, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that…

And yet, when you’re a wizard with a legendary gift of prophecy, who can tell whether a dream may be something more?

In the tradition of Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday classic, join Camelot’s court and Sherwood’s outlaws on a spirited holiday journey through Avalon’s past, present, and future.

Where to Buy
About Danielle
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Danielle E. Shipley is the author of the Wilderhark Tales novellas, the novel Inspired, and several other expressions of wishful thinking. She has spent most of her life in the Chicago area and increasing amounts of time in Germany. She hopes to ultimately retire to a private immortal forest. But first, there are stories to make.

ARC Review of Disenchanted by Janet Ursel

Hey guys! It’s been a while since I posted reviews of books I’ve read, simply because I didn’t really have the time, but I’m making time for this one. I’ve recently gotten into fantasy novels, and that’s probably because I was hired to proofread three of them. I fell in LOVE with those books (Leeland Artra’s Golden Threads Trilogy). But that’s neither here nor there at the moment. It was one of the reasons that I decided that I wanted to read Disenchanted when I was offered up a chance to read the ARC.

Disenchanted ecover

Disenchanted is a fantasy novel that focuses on a few characters, but mostly on Blayn. Blayn is a special kid who grows up into an even more special man. He works his way up the wizard ladder with his Truesight and to Grand Wizard. But along the way, Blayn falls in love and marries the woman of his dreams, yet he has to keep her a secret due to the wizards. They don’t believe in marriage, but Blayn is a bit different.

While all of this is happening, black wizards from the North are threatening to take over the lands, placing spies in the land and working their black magic.

As a means to find help take care of a black wizard within the Grand Wizards where Blayn and his family are, he is sent on a mission to recover a book to help with that. In his studies of this book, he discovers a God he never knew existed.

I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of this novel. For the first forty percent of the book, I wasn’t sure which direction this was going to take, especially with it being a Christian novel about wizards and magic. But boy, once I started to see what was going on, I couldn’t get enough! This novel will keep you on your toes, trying to figure out how it would end, and it will show you the power of God in a world where God had been forgotten for hundreds of years. True love, between God and humans and humans and humans, will prevail, and so will the power of God. If you love Christian fantasy novels, this one is for you!

I gave this a hearty 4 of 5 stars!! Disenchanted will be available on the same day as my short story, Before We Say I Do, on July 14th! Mark your calenders folks!

What’s Disenchanted about?

In this Christian fantasy, one young wizard with a hunger for wisdom and some dangerous secrets finds himself pitted against another ready to reach for power with the darkest forces possible.

Wizards have never in the history of Coventree, renounced Wizardry. But Blayn Goodwin finds himself growing detached from the practice of Wizardry, even as he rises through the ranks to become the youngest member of the Supreme Council. He has lost interest in the usual gods in favor of a god without a name, not that he makes that fact public.

Edgar Savile has his own traitorous secrets and kidnaps Blayn’s eldest son to prevent Blayn from probing into them. Meanwhile the Supreme Wizard, suspicious of Edgar, sends Blayn to retrieve an ancient book from the Other World, hoping it will arm them against Edgar’s treachery.

What Blayn finds is not what anyone expects, and threatens to tear Coventree’s fraying system apart at the seams.

About Janet Ursel:

10487608_10152520063428048_6660781773769100773_nAfter raising five children and one husband, Janet came to the obvious conclusion that writing novels was an essential part of the recovery process. So she writes. In whatever she writes, she aims for a deep honesty and a respect for the complexity of all human beings, from the most virtuous to the most depraved. Except, of course, when she’s just having fun.

In addition to acquiring the husband and children, Janet also picked up a number of languages along the way, along with a rather diverse, some would say fragmented, resumé. She’s waited tables, cleaned furnaces, taught English as a Second Language, been a pastor’s wife in a small church (a job in and of itself), sold life insurance and mutual funds, developed market forecasting models, and spent some years homeschooling. She loves music and gardening and animals and kids and food and travelling and life in general.

You can connect with Janet on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Goodreads.