We have a winner!


On November 13, with the release of the final book in my Chronicles of Fallhollow series, I promised to give away a complete eBook set of the series to one lucky person on Thanksgiving. That one lucky person is:

Sharon Porter!!

Congratulations, Sharon!  I hope you enjoy your ebooks.

If readers would like information about the series, please feel free to head over to my website to learn more. Links to purchase are also provided there or you can click on each book below to visit Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to everyone who entered. May you have a blessed holiday season and keep your eyes open for more possible Christmas giveaways!

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YASH is over *sad face*, but we have winners!


Well, the Fall Young Adult Scavenger Hunt has come to an end. I hope everyone who played along had fun and that you plan on tagging along in the Spring when we do it all over again.

I was on Team Blue this year along with 19 other amazing authors, and each of us gave away a book to one lucky person who won the team giveaway.  This year, the winner of Team Blue is

Jenn Marshall

Congratulations, Jenn!!!  That’s 20 amazing books you will be receiving in the mail. Talk about early Christmas presents!! My gift to you is Julie Kagawa’s just released book, Shadow of the Fox. I hope you enjoy it!

I also ran my own giveaway of the first book in my Fallhollow trilogy, IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING during the hunt.  I’m proud to announce the winner of that ebook is

Cher Culliton!

Congratulations Cher!!!  Cher is also a middle school teacher who has promised to share the book with her students, which just made my day. I hope all of you enjoy it, Cher.

Congratulations to all the winners, and remember, we do it all again in the Spring. I hope to see you then.

 

 

The Fall 2018 YA Scavenger Hunt is about to begin!


The YA Scavenger Hunt is Coming!

It’s almost here! Are you ready to hunt? This year there are seven teams of 20 authors each. That’s 140 YA authors giving away at least one book to one lucky person with a bunch of smaller giveaways thrown in. If you haven’t joined the hunt before, you should! Click “How to Hunt” and watch the video or read through the page for details. Only 2 days to go, so sharpen your pencils and get your calculators ready!!
I’m on Team Blue.
and will be giving away a ebook copy of my 1st book, IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING, as well as a copy of Julie Kagawa’s newest book, SHADOW OF THE FOX as part of the grand prize giveaway.
The Hunt begins Oct. 2 with one grand prize winner getting a whopping 140 Young Adult books. Can you say book heaven?
See you around.
#YASH2018

How #GlennFrey influenced my novel, #IntheShadowoftheDragonKing


I know it might sound odd, but Eagles band member, vocalist, and songwriter, Glenn Frey influenced my novel, In the Shadow of the Dragon King.

I didn’t really notice it until I started going through my notes and saw all these references to Eagle songs. “Incorporate feeling here.” “Listen to I Can’t Tell You Why. Fill David’s gut with this raw emotion”

Frey wasn’t a magic man, a wizard. He didn’t own, fly around on, or, to my knowledge, even believe in dragons. He didn’t write fantasy stories or live in a hobbit house, so how could he possibly inspire me to write a YA fantasy book?

The answer is simple. He was an amazing storyteller, and his lyrics of love, heartache, life, touched me and my characters in more ways than I even imagined.

As I went through my notes on Dragon King, I was surprised to see all the references I’d made to Eagle songs. Trust me there were other artists referenced: Billy Joel, Pink Floyd. Aerosmith, but none as many times as the Eagles. And I found it equally weird and remarkable that the songs seemed to center predominately around two characters: my grand knight, Sir Trogsdill, and my very young, inexperienced protagonist, David. There are over 30 references to the Eagles/Glenn Frey songs in my notes. 30.  That’s mind-boggling to me.

What were the songs that kept popping up?

And the references continue to show up in my 2nd and 3rd books in the trilogy. Phrases, words of wisdom, notes on how to incorporate the message into the book. Some explore feelings within a character. Take New Kid In Town for example. The whole beginning of this song is exactly how David feels when he is entrusted with his quest. Everyone is watching him and he can’t let anyone down, however, I didn’t write the novel around those lyrics. The lyrics simply ‘fit’.

Desperado is a song steeped in wisdom of the heart. I can so hear Sir Trogsdill giving similar words of advice to his squire, Eric, and to David.  They are also words and emotions he wrestles with on his own as he battles his own demons. Again, no lyrics were used or re-worded. It’s more of a feeling. An interpretation.

Writers get their inspiration from a million different places. It just so happens that most of my inspiration comes from song lyrics, mainly because of the emotions they stir within me. If I want a character to feel a certain way, I delve into my memory banks and latch onto the song that makes me feel the way I want my character to feel. I note it in the margins, in comment boxes. That way, if I fall short in what I was trying to convey, I can listen to the music and then hone in on the emotion.

Still, it never ceases to amaze me how the music of one person, one band can touch your heart and soul.  There have been many artists who have found that special place within me, some more than others. Glenn Frey’s passing didn’t devastate me, not like Elvis’ did, but I can assure you, his music will be missed just the same.

So, Glenn, if you can hear me, thank you for your songs, thank you for the inspiration.

And more than anything, may there always be a rainbow above you.  Rest in peace.

A fictitious knight reveals 5 secrets to having honor


What does it mean to ‘have honor’? Is it something real, or is it more like an idea, a notion based on a set of beliefs? How does one obtain honor? Are we born with it, or do we learn it?

Read on to find out what Sir Trogsdill Domnall, the most revered knight in my novel, IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING, has to say about the subject.

***

Me:  “Sir Trogsdill, thank you for sparing a few moments to talk to me. I know from talking to the other knights in the Order you do not like these sorts of interviews, but I couldn’t think of anyone else who could answer my questions with complete honesty.”

The knight leans to one side and props an elbow on the arm of the chair. His forefinger and thumb cradle the sharp angles of his face; the other three perch at his lips. Thick, brown hair falls in gentle waves to his collar. His piercing, peridot-green eyes lock onto mine, and I gulp as my stomach takes flight. I can tell he’s waiting for me to continue, but I’m incapable of speech. I am drowning in a sea of green. Part of me wants to run, but I can’t. I’m drawn to him in a way that defies explanation. He is a mystery, an enigma that commands respect. I take a deep breath to ease the pounding of my heart and then shift in my chair, ignoring the sweat pooling at the nape of my neck. Somehow I gather my thoughts and steady the tremble in my voice.

Me:  Sir Trogsdill, the word I hear most often to describe you is ‘honorable’. Would you say that is an appropriate word? How do you perceive yourself?”

Sir Trogsdill: “I believe I am honorable, at least I strive to be.” His deep voice vibrates the air. My nerves quiver. “As for how I perceive myself? I don’t waste the time thinking of it. I am who I am.”

Me:  “What does being honorable mean to you?”

The man leans forward, his hands clasped between his knees. His eyes remain fixed on mine, as if he’s trying to dive deep into my soul. I want to look away, but I can’t. I’m mesmerized. I’m a noodle. I am a victim to his captivating presence.

Sir Trogsdill:  “You ask an interesting question. Honor, to me, is not something a king or a lord bestows upon you, nor is it something you win at the end of a joust. It is solid. It is moral. We are all born with it, this capacity to be honorable. It is what we choose to do with our lives that keep us that way.”

Me:  “Would you mind elaborating a bit?”

Sir Trogsdill: “I am not sure how much clearer I can get.”

Me:  “I suppose what I want to know is if you feel honor is something we learn?”

Sir Trogsdill pressed his back into the overstuffed chair. “No, it’s not. It’s something that resides deep within us. Some of us have it. Some don’t.”

Me:  “But don’t you have a code of honor you must abide by? Aren’t many of those things learned?”

The man smiles, and my heart swells at the way it touches his eyes. He is handsome in ways I can’t pinpoint. I wonder if he knows it.

“My code? My lady, honor is more than a code. It is something intangible. Yes, knights take oaths to follow certain conventions such as serving our liege lord in faith and valor, or to protect the weak and defenseless. To refrain from wanton acts and protect a lady’s reputation, but honor goes beyond these acts.”

He looks away for a moment as if collecting his thoughts, then turns his gaze back to me. His features are strong, his eyes trusting and kind.

“Honor, my lady, is about integrity, unwavering dedication to one’s morals and standards. It means walking a difficult path, even if we must travel it alone, but we must because it is righteous and true. Honor is holding tight to your convictions when you know they are right, and letting them go when they are wrong. It is about putting another before oneself and striving for a life steeped in justice, loyalty, and fairness.”

Me:   “But who is to say what is just, loyal and fair? Your definitions of those may not be mine. Who is right and who is wrong?”

Sir Trogsdill:  “Honor is not a question of who is right and who is wrong, my lady. You asked me what it means to have honor.  If one stands and defends what they believe in with every fiber of their being, whether you agree with their cause or not, then they are honorable.”

Me:  “So by that token, you’re saying that people who are consumed by evil can also be honorable because they adhere to their convictions?”

Sir Trogsdill shakes his head. “No, that is not what I said. Honor and evil cannot exist together.”

Me:  “Why is that?”

Sir Trogsdill:  “Because having honor is to be selfless. As I said before, honor is about putting others before yourself. An honorable act is a selfless act. Evil, on the other hand, is based in self-gratification. Evil, by virtue of what it is, is not honorable. Therefore, those performing it are not honorable.”

I am touched by this man’s passion … and his wisdom. I can tell by the shifting of his legs and body, he’s getting restless, so I ask my last question.

Me:  “If you could give young people any advice about being honorable, what would you tell them?”

Sir Trogsdill counts on his fingers:  “One. Hold true to yourself. Two. Never lose faith in the spirit that guides you. Three. Do not let anyone sway you from your core beliefs. Four, turn your back on those who wish to destroy your sense of integrity, and five, stray away from those who disregard your values.”

Wow. Those are words we could all live by.  I stand and offer my hand to him.

Me:  “Thank you, Sir Trogsdill. That was an enlightening conversation. You have certainly given me plenty to think about.”

The knight stands, and I am dwarfed by his size, but instead of feeling insignificant, I am overcome by a sense of safety and compassion. He bows and kisses the back of my hand before departing the room. I watch as he leaves, noting the confidence in his walk, the strength in his demeanor, and my heart twinges again. What I would give to have half of the courage, poise, and assurance he has. I suppose it will  have to suffice knowing how honored I feel to have sat in his presence. I will never forget him. Ever.

***

So, what did you think? Do you agree with Sir Trogsdill or does ‘having honor’ mean something different to you? Please leave your comments below.

To learn more about IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING, please visit my website at www.j-keller-ford.com and sign up for my newsletter. Once a month, I will divulge parts of my story that no one else will see unless they are signed up.  I hope to see you there.

If you are into YA epic fantasy stories of love, honor, faith, courage and sacrifice, please head over to my Goodreads page and click on that Want to Read button.

I hope you enjoyed this interview. Stay tuned for more to come.

Five things I miss about Havendale


Hi all. It’s me, David from IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING. Charlotte and I took the day off yesterday. Things got kind of bad, and we had to run, but we’re safe for now (thank you, oh scribbler of our tale).

I have no idea what to talk about except what’s on my mind and right now, that would be my home, Havendale.

I miss my home so much.  I remember when I read Lord of the Rings how I used to wish I could go on grand Hobbit adventures. I used to think that would be so cool, but now that I’m on one, all I can think about is going back to my shire. My little hole in the forest of Tennessee. You know what I miss the most?

Sleep.  I miss being able to sleep all night and not have to worry about whether a dragon is going to eat me or if a sorcerer is going to kill me.

I miss showers, baths, bodies of water that I can bathe in. We’re always on the go and running and hiding. Deodorant and toothpaste are non-existent here, and the soap will burn a hole in your skin. And it’s not just me that stinks. When we’re in the wild like we are most of the time, Charlotte, Trog, me … God, we smell like wet dogs wrapped in sweaty gym socks.  And razors? Ha! It’s a good thing the hair on my face grows relatively slow, but I am growing a bit of a beard, which I hate. I’m sixteen. That’s just not right. And Charlotte? Let’s not go there with what the lack of a razor can do to a girl my age.  It’s not pretty.

I miss real food, like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, orange juice, chocolate chip ice cream. Coffee. Oh my God, how I miss my coffee. Trog says it sounds like something one might find in The Spice Isles. I don’t even have a clue where that is. Too far from Fallhollow, that’s for sure.

I miss my house. I live in this old 1800 civil war antebellum home with the big columns you see in old movies, except I don’t live on a plantation. The rooms are huge, but they’re not stuffy like you’d think they’d be. They’re really kind of modern. My favorite room in the house is the library. Two stories of nothing but books and artifacts. I could spend hours in that room and never get tired of it.

Last, I miss my car. You remember Eleanor from Gone in 60 Seconds? Yeah, well that’s mine, except in black and man, does she purr. She’s a ’67 Shelby GT 500. It’s got a 428 under the hood, and can go 0 – to 100 in 13 seconds. That baby is fast (not like I’ve ever taken it 100 mph, just saying). The car used to belong to my dad. Now it’s mine, and she’s in mint condition.  I don’t know how she’s stayed that way for so long, but I’m not going to complain. I think when I get home, I’ll take her for a spin, let her know I haven’t forgotten her … that is if I can find what Lily did with her.

Now that I’ve told you what I miss about my home, what do you miss about your home when you go away for a while?

Dragons! Oh how I hate and love them


Hi everyone. So sorry I’m late getting to this post. I’ve been dealing with two dragons, and I’ve had it up to my eyeballs with both of them! By the way, this is Charlotte from the novel IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING.

Yeah, this book is named perfectly. We are constantly living in the shadow of this jerk face dragon named Einar. Peeps, you thought Smaug was big? Heh, he looks like a toy next to this disgusting blackish-purple fire-breathing wreck.

Picture if you will an animal so large it would easily span a football field. A hundred yards. Easily, and he’s probably about 2/3s as tall. He’s got horns and frills and these black scales that have this purple sheen. If he wasn’t so freaking nasty, he  might be kind of cool to look at, but to tell you the truth, I wish someone would kill him. He’s evil. Bad evil. And he’s protected by some ancient magic and there are only two things that can kill him.  Of course, I have to be in the presence of both of them, which makes me dragon fodder. Grrrrr.

On the other hand, I know this really nice dragon. His name is Mirith and he’s the strangest creature I’ve ever seen. I mean, I don’t know if I would have classified him as a dragon when I first saw him, but he definitely is. He’s got these really pretty turquoise scales and a very interesting mane of feathers. He’s just so bizarre, but he’s safe to be around and really treats David and me quite well. You should see him. He’s curled up by the fireplace like a dog. He even wags his tail when you talk to him.  What a dope.  David wants to bring him back to Havendale with him. I don’t think that would be a good idea, do you? I mean, could you see someone walking a dragon on the streets of Anytown, insert country?

I don’t know. Mirith’s cool and all that, but there’s no way I’d want to own a dragon.  What about you? Would you want to own a dragon?  If so, where would you keep it, ’cause, you know they’re usually the size of, oh, I don’t know – Texas?

Anyway, I’m going to nap, now. Running around and staying in Einar’s shadow is exhausting. Chat later.

What is trust?


What’s up, guys? David here again. I was wondering if I could ask you something.

What is trust? I mean, I’m not looking for a definition like you get out of a dictionary, but more like an understanding of how it works.

Up until I was thrust onto the path I’m on, I was very trusting of everyone. I believed my friends and my family and never thought they would ever lie to me. But I was wrong. Now, I can’t trust anyone. Everyone except Char has betrayed me. Once that happens, how can I trust anyone else ever again? How can I trust myself to know the difference when someone is lying to me or being truthful? I feel so used and, and, manipulated.

Have you ever felt that way? How do you get through it?

The best book boyfriend ever, according to Charlotte Stine.


Hi, hi. What’s up? My name is Charlotte Stine from the novel, IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING, and I’m guest hosting J. (Jenny) Keller Ford’s blog for the next month or so along with my bestie, David (you met him yesterday.) There is so much I could talk about, but David said I should do what he did, and start off by telling you a little bit about myself first, so here goes.

I was born in Havendale General Hospital on April 1 sixteen years ago. I am an April Fools Day baby, and the joke is no longer funny (yeah, Cory, you heard me).  My dad is a retired Air Force Colonel which means I won’t date for the next 30 years. My mom bakes the best chocolate chip cookies in the entire world, and my brother, Dan, was a 1st Lieutenant in the Air Force before he went to Afghanistan. I won’t say anything more on the subject except this: I hate war and what it does to people. The whole idea of it sucks, and I think we, as the most intelligent species (that’s a highly debatable title in my opinion) on the planet needs to find a better way to get along. I mean, seriously. All this hate will put the world in a flame. Sheesh.

Anywho, I have a beagoodle (a poodle-beagle mutt) named Dixie, and this insane orange cat named Oscar. As for me, I’m just shy of 5’7″ and I have long brown hair that David says reminds him of melted milk chocolate, which is cool, as long as he doesn’t try to eat it. 🙂 I am a rhythmic gymnast and have won a few competitions, but I don’t do it for the trophies. I just love the sport. Hmm, what else. Oh, I’m a HUGE Taylor Swift and Adele fan, and Daemon is the best book boyfriend ever! Nom nom.

What do I want to be when I grow up? I don’t know. I used to think I wanted to be an attorney, but after everything David and I have been through, I’d be happy just being mommy and daddy’s little girl for a while longer. I can’t describe how much I miss them. I mean, as much as I hate my dad’s bark, I’d give anything to hear it right now. This place where David and I are right now is so messed up on so many levels. The food is awful, and the clothes are gross. I never thought I’d ever miss a pair of jeans and sneakers the way I do, so a word to all you complainers out there. Be thankful for what you’ve got, because the alternative is not always what you think it will be.

Now that I’ve told you a little about me, why not tell me a little about you? Do you have any questions, anything you want to know? Go ahead and ask because David and I don’t have a clue what you’re thinking, and it would be kind of dumb to guess.

So, until we meet again … Bye. *blows kisses*

Fun facts you wanted to know about David Heiland, savior of the universe (not!)


Hi everybody.  My name is David Heiland from the novel, IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING, and I’m here because Jenny, the person who wrote me into existence, asked me to be, though I haven’t quite figured out why. It’s not like I’m a rock star, but whatever. I have no clue what to talk about because I’m kind of a brooder, at least that’s what Charlotte calls me. Char’s my best friend, by the way, and she’s sitting here next to me, coaxing me to write stuff about myself. Bor-ing. She said to start with the stats cause everyone wants to know about those, so here are some tidbits about me that no one should be required to know.

I was born in Havendale, Tennessee, which might as well be Bristol for all it matters, cause I can literally walk twenty-five feet in my yard, and I’ll cross over the town line. Weird, you know, that the map line runs through my yard, but then again, I have a pretty big yard, as in acres upon acres of Cherokee National Forest big. But you know what would be even weirder? Living on the time zone line. Can you imagine? Clocks on one side of your house would read one time, and the clocks on the other side would read another. You’d walk through your own house and be like where am I? What a mind blow. You know what else would be crazy? Actually being able to travel through time. I mean, what if you didn’t just change time zones. What if you could actually step through time and change the things that effed up your life? Man, that kind of power would screw with your head.

But I kind of went off on a tangent there. Sorry. Charlotte’s nudging me to get back to the stats. Can you hear my eyes rolling?

So, stat facts. I’m sixteen. I’ve lived in Havendale all of my life, but I have a gazillion stamps in my passport. My godmother, Lily, insisted I see the world from the time I could walk, so twice a year, we go somewhere new. Next Christmas we’re supposed to go to Italy. I’m stoked, and if Charlotte behaves, we might take her with us, too. Yeah, you should hear her squeeling right now. Too funny. Anyway, I’m average in looks, nothing really to talk about. My hair is dark, like mud, and I have blue eyes. Char says they’re like someone captured the summer sky and then threw a prism into the mix. I think she’s nuts, but she’s a girl, so what do I know. Anyway, I’m pushing the 6’1″ mark. I’m on the Havendale High track team, and I’m a two-time state champion archer. Yep, I can shoot a tennis ball out of the sky, whoo hoo, not like that will ever land me a job or anything, but it’s kind of cool to say I can do it.

What do I do in my spare time? I like to play video games. Right now, I’m really into Borderlands, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag,  and Tera, but I still like playing stuff like Burnout and The Legend of Zelda.  Sometimes I fool around on my Taylor guitar, which I love. I also like to read, swim, water ski, that kind of stuff, but I haven’t had a chance to do any of those things lately because the alterer of my life decided to thrust me out of my comfort zone and into something I was totally unprepared for. I wish I could find a do over button, but I don’t think one exists, at least not in my present world.

One of Jenny’s friends, Deby, wanted to know what I see as my role in this crazy story that is now my life, and if that role interfered with my plans for my future. My role in THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING, Miss Deby, is beyond insane. It’s twisted and I would never wish it on anyone. I hate being in the spotlight, yet here I am, right in the middle of it. Did it interfere with my plans for the future? Excuse my language, but hell yeah. I mean, I didn’t have anything set in stone, but whenever I envisioned my future, there were no dragons involved. Ever. Now I have two of them, and some other mind-blowing stuff I can’t even begin to explain. What has happened to me and Charlotte has made me question everything I believed in, everything and everyone I trusted. I’ve had to do some things I never, in a million years, ever thought I would do. I’ve been forced to look at who and what I am, and I still can’t wrap my head around what I’ve become. I mean, it’s hard enough being sixteen, but to have all this other shit, sorry, crap, thrown at me in such a short amount of time? There was no time to prepare. No training. It was just do or die. And to make things worse, the story isn’t even over yet. Ugh.

On the good side, I’ve experienced some crazy and bizarre things I never dreamed existed. For example, I came face to face with a real, live centaur. I’m not kidding. It was crazy. And then I met this bad-ass knight who’s scary as shit and as big as a freaking tank, but is really cool, if you can get past being scared of him. This road trip we’ve been on has taught me a lot, but one thing I’ve learned the most is to never say never. It’s amazing what you can find if you just open your mind and your eyes.

And, on that note, I’m going to call it quits. Charlotte will be here tomorrow to dazzle you with her charm. We’ve decided to switch off every other day, that way, if you want to ask us questions, we’ll have time to answer. I hope I didn’t bore you too much with my ramblings.

Later.