Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men...
And Gingerbread Men?!
From the Back Cover:
After his harsh beginnings as a rough-and-tumble orphan on the streets of London, Jake Everton takes his rightful place as the long-lost heir of an aristocratic family with magical powers – his personal quest, to follow in his slain parents’ footsteps as a Lightrider in the age-old battle of good versus evil. In the fantastical nooks and crannies of the Victorian Age, Jake and his friends (including his pet Gryphon) find no shortage of adventure –
righting magic-related wrongs, solving supernatural mysteries, and exploring wondrous new worlds. Now it’s Jake’s first Christmas with his eccentric magical relatives, but trouble never takes a holiday…
A portion of the back cover
...Santa's Horrid Little Helper
Humbug hates being a Christmas elf. Instead of making toys, he’d rather make mischief. Angling for a new job in Halloween Town, he sets out to prove he’s frightful enough for the task by ruining Christmas for as many people as possible—until Jake and his friends capture him. The kids set out on a rip-roaring adventure to the North Pole to hand the troublemaker over to Santa and collect the reward. But the way is fraught with danger, leaving them to wonder if they’ll make it back in time for Christmas…or if they’ll even make it back alive!
JAKE AND THE GINGERBREAD WARS will be on sale next week! Sheesh, not a moment too soon! LOL. We'll send out our newsletter to let you know the exact day it's live, with links to the book on the online bookstores for your convenience. As usual, it'll be available as both an e-book and a paperback.
The other main point to know is that we specifically wrote this story so it would be able to stand alone. You don't have to have read all the other books to be able to enjoy this one. That makes it a great stocking stuffer or Secret Santa gift if you need one for a friend who likes reading.
Much to our surprise, the story turned out to be over half the length of our full-sized Gryphon Chronicles novels, weighing in at 52,000 words. (Our full novels are 90-100k words if you were wondering, with Giant being the biggest, appropriately enough!)
Parents may also like to be aware that, along with all the Santa stuff and the wild-and-crazy North Pole adventure, our story does not ignore the real reason for Christmas -- Jesus' birthday. Readers of other faiths or no faith can still enjoy the tale, but we just wanted to let parents know.
In the coming weeks, we look forward to sharing some of the amusing Victorian Christmas stuff and other interesting tidbits we dug up in research while writing this book. That's one of the most fun things about writing fiction - all the new things you learn!
Thank you very much for your interest in our writing, and if you want to be notified as soon as GINGERBREAD is ready, please make sure you're signed up for our newsletter. On Sale day is right around the bend.
PS--We are still accepting your pix (Jpeg, scan, or phone pic, whatever) of your kids' artwork for our future art wall! So if they get inspired to draw or color a picture of the Gryphon or Gladwin or any of our characters, please forward it to us with name (first name only) and age or grade level, and we'll add them to our future Virtual Fridge.
In the meanwhile, I leave you with this little beauty!
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Here's a sketch of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert with their kids during Christmas, 1850. This picture appeared in the Dec. 1850 issue of Godey's Ladies' Magazine. (Ladies' magazines in the UK always follow what the royals are doing even to this day, viz Princess Kate and Royal Baby George.)
So, in 1850, a Christmas tree was still a very novel tradition, though it was originally begun in England in the late 1700's by Queen Charlotte, wife to "Mad King George III." She brought it over to England from her German roots, and obviously it was a tradition that Victoria kept, since after all, Queen Charlotte was her grandmother.
What I think is especially interesting is how they clipped the layers of branches in between the decorated boughs so they could put the candles in there without burning down Buckingham Palace!
The Allegheny National Forest is only a few hours drive northeast of where we live in Pittsburgh PA. It's a large park consisting of 500,000 acres of wonderfully dense forests, rolling hills, clear rivers, and bubbling streams. It's remote location provides cover for a multitude of creatures both large and small. A good place to accidentally run into Bigfoot.
Some hiker a few weeks ago claims he did just that in a wooded area outside the parks boundary and he has the pictures to prove it. He's not alone. People have been thinking there are Bigfoot in north central Pennsylvania for years. Here's a report on this most recent sighting.
What do you think? Are you convinced? Or is your brain too slogged with tryptophan from leftover turkey to move:)
Did you see this amazing tribute to this week's 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address? These guys are amazing! Enjoy. :)
Hello, friends! Well, we missed blog day last week but we had a good excuse. It's birthday season here at chez Foley. First, Gael's dad on the 7th, the same day as our mega-awesome niece Deidre, then Gael's b-day on Nov. 16th (fyi she will carry on her tradition of remaining 29 until further notice), and finally, fluff-ball Bingley has his birthday on the 23rd, three weekends in a row. With Thanksgiving right on birthday season's heels, and the wonderful kickoff of the merriest pre-holiday excitement. (And the upcoming release of JAKE AND THE GINGERBREAD WARS, a Gryphon Chronicles Novella. Exact release date TBA.)
Anyway, Gael's dad had a major milestone birthday, so we gave him a major milestone birthday party. Dad loves sailing, so G. picked a cake for him with a seafaring theme. Those little fish swimming around all around in the "water" are actually S'mores flavored Goldfish. As for the boat, E. is our in-house Noah. It's an origami creation made of brown construction paper, a wooden shish kebab skewer for the mast (which also helped to pin it to the top of the cake), and white paper for the sail. We found the pattern for it on the website of one of G's heroes: Martha Stewart (yeah, seriously). If you ever need to make an origami sailboat
look no further. (Fashion tip: it doubles as a paper hat if you turn it upside down and put it on your head. Just sayin'.
As you can see, Bing really loved his birthday toy, a colorful giant jack with a squeaker in it. He's turning six.
So, that takes us to Thanksgiving right around the corner. Just like you kids out there will have a few days off school for the holiday, so will teachers like E. If it works out, we hope to take a roadtrip over to Mordor-on-the-Potomac, er I mean Washington DC (haha) to see George Washington's home of Mount Vernon
and maybe Colonial Williamsburg, too. Have never seen either, and hey, we are both history buffs. At Thanksgiving, when we celebrate the founding of America, we feel inspired to go visit the home of the "father of our country." If we manage to get there, we will definitely bring back pictures and tell old George you said hi (and thanks, too, right?) It sure looks great, doesn't it?
Thanks for visiting & have a great Thanksgiving!
Our Gratitude Lists
Every year at Thanksgiving we take time to remember what we're grateful for...
still have my parents around
I'm grateful for E
my family (including my dog!)
beauty of nature
...Too many things to count! :)
Much of the story in our new book, THE DARK PORTAL, takes place underground. This was a challenge in a number of ways. But unlike Jake with his mild case of claustrophobia, we LOVE going into caves and underground tunnels, so you can imagine how thrilled and inspired we were to find an outdoor adventure company in Snowdonia, right where THE DARK PORTAL takes place. These folks are not dwarves, but they do take people on underground tours of old Welsh mines!
If you want to get the flavor of what Jake's mine tour with the dwarves and his foray into the coalmine would have felt like, run-don't-walk your clicker over to the website of Go Below Underground Adventures and check out the dramatic pictures
. If you live in or near Wales, you should go! We'll be jealous.
But lest you think that's all we have for you today, nay nay! Here is a video by Paul Hawkins of his explorations around an abandoned goldmine in North Wales. Very mysterious! I'd also call your attention to the very lush, green, and mossy woodland setting. Magic in those woods for sure. :)
But wait, there's more. We wouldn't leave you hanging. You want to see inside! Well, Emrys was busy at Waterfall Village, so we brought in these guys to lead you on a tour into a _different_ abandoned gold mine in Wales. (Video copyright credit @ A n00b Production.)
Well, after all that traipsing around in the cold and damp, I'm sure you're ready for some of Snowdrop Fingle's warm bannocks and tea. No problem! I've got an authentic Welsh recipe for bannocks that I will share with you in an upcoming post. :) Thanks for reading!
Séance conducted in Bristol, England by Victorian medium, John Beattie, in 1872 - via Wikipedia Commons
Greetings, my dears! Just in time for Halloween, we thought we'd touch upon one of the most interesting (to us) spooooky bits in THE DARK PORTAL - the Victorians' preoccupation with the spirit world - contacting it through séances, or capturing it on film with "spirit photography." Lucky for me, the talented video mavens of the Ghost Watching
channel on Youtube have already put together a little video showing a collection of authentic (?!) Victorian Spirit Photography. I think you'll really enjoy it!
As you may recall from our previous blogs (like this one on Real Steampunk Inventions
that we did for JAKE AND THE GIANT), photography was still quite new and the technology was improving every year. People got to a point where they started figuring out little tricks that they could do to create illusions....but who knows! Some of these pictures might just have a real ghost in them, so look closely!
And now, here's a special little Halloween treat for you, because I know our readers love strange, weird, and wonderful things. No Halloween would be complete without a little old-timey horror music on the theremin
, originally known as the Aetherphone. Here's the inventor explaining it. He starts playing your classic haunted house spooky music 15 seconds in so be patient. You'll laugh. But fair warning!!! Don't be surprised if playing this music lures a Frankenstein monster to come peering in your window. *g*
Happy Halloween, Everybody!
Photo by Erica Marshall of muddyboots.org
Today I am joined by special guest, Mischief, favorite gargoyle of Garnock the Sorcerer. Thanks to a special translation spell that I found in the Enchanted Library at Beacon House, I should be able to understand him long enough to ask a few questions about what it's like being a gargoyle. Sure look like water spouts to me
Inquiring minds want to know.
G: So, Mischief, how did you first come to be?
M: So glad you asked so I could take the chance to clear up some silly misconceptions about our kind. Actually, you see, it is not well known, but most gargoyles hatch from an egg in the underworld, where it's nice and warm, like an incubator.
G: An egg??
M: It's true. You must be confused if you doubt me. I understand there is some sort of myth going around that gargoyles were originally sculpted by medieval stone masons to serve as water spouts, made to carry the rainwater away from the walls of the great cathedrals so they would not be harmed by erosion, and last for many, many centuries. Nothing but a glorified water spout! How insulting. It may be true of some, but certainly not of the better class of gargoyles, such as those of us to be chosen to become the familiars of a powerful sorcerer.
G: Indeed. What exactly do your duties as a familiar entail?
M: Oh, mostly odd jobs. Appear when you're summoned. Fetch the items he needs to make a potion. Spy on persons of interest for him. Harass enemies. That sort of thing.
G: You're very good at harassment, aren't you?
M: I like to think so. :)
With that, our special guest, obviously bored, flies away to go cause trouble elsewhere. Which is just is well, because the translation spell has just fizzled out! Until next time. ;)
Witch Feeding Her Familiars, from a 1579 manuscript dealing with the witch trials
If you're reading THE DARK PORTAL, you may have come across a mention of "The Souling Song." If you haven't got to that part yet, you soon will! We thought you might like to hear what it sounds like. All story ghosts aside, E and I both find this song incredibly haunting. Below the audio is an old Victorian photo of some of the kinds of real, historical poor children who might have had to sing for a few pennies to buy something to eat. In this case, these were coalmine child workers.
To learn more about how life was for them, click the picture. It will take you to an article from the UK Daily Mail, by Annabel Venning, which discusses a recent scholarly book entitled Childhood And Child Labour In The British Industrial Revolution, by Professor Jane Humphries. Unfortunately, if you think that child labor - virtually child slavery - is the relic of a bygone age, brace yourself and click this grim infographic from the US Dept of Labor
, which we came across in our research. It shows the prevalence of child labor in poor countries today. Chilling. (Once you open it, it will enlarge if you click on it.)
On a lighter note--! If you missed last week's blog, please check out Welcome to Wales
, about the intriguing setting of THE DARK PORTAL. Right, then, my dears, enjoy your weekend! E and I hope to visit a spooooky Haunted House this weekend to help us get us ready for Halloween! We'll be sure to report back with details...as long as we get out of there alive. muahaha... ;>
Coalmine Child Workers. Photo cr. Daily Mail UK Online, click picture to read article.
Greetings, my gargoyles! Today we're kicking off our Story Extras with a little Behind-the-Scenes about our new release, The Gryphon Chronicles, Book Three: THE DARK PORTAL
, and where better to start than by taking a look at the setting?
So how do a pair of American writers end up writing a fantasy novel set in Wales? Well, that's easy. First of all Wales is just plain cool. Just ask Dr. Who. He returns to the Welsh city of Cardiff
all the time. And if you don't think the bow-tie wearing Time Lord is really all that cool, then A) What's wrong with you, and B) Just look at their country's flag, the Red Dragon. Seriously cool.
A national symbol this cool could ALMOST tempt me to get it as a tattoo.
But more importantly, using Wales as a setting was inevitable when you consider the fact that one half of E.G. Foley (ahem, that would be G) was OBSESSED as a kid with reading the great Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander
(who was also an American, despite his Welsh name) over and over and over again.
G: Yes, the summer between fourth and fifth grade my family moved to a new state (from PA to New Jersey) and I was pretty devastated to leave my friends and grandparents and cousins behind. At our new home, I didn't know anybody, I didn't like it, and I did not know what to do with myself. In such situations, books can always come to a kid's rescue. I re-read Taran of Caer Dallben's whole saga five or six times in that summer, taking breaks only to try during that loooong summer to train my dog to do Dog Agility tricks, but she really wasn't into it. At all. LOL. So I just went back to reading.
So, Wales was always a draw, and as I started researching it, I grew all the more intrigued. I thought I would just show you a little of what I found so you can see it for yourself and perhaps picture Jake's next adventure better in your imagination.
First of all, you do know, right, that Wales is, um, attached to England. If you didn't know that, you might want to duck before "Old Sack," the headmaster ghost, whacks you in the noggin with an eraser from all the way up at the chalkboard. Wales is the dark greeny bit on the map below.
Jake's Welsh estate of Plas-y-Fforest is in the northern half of the country, in the mountains of Snowdonia. Nowadays, people flock to Snowdonia National Park to go hiking and camping, birdwatching, fishing, and communing with nature. Isn't it magnificent? For more pictures and info about the region, please visit this excellent link: http://www.britainexpress.com/wales/tour/anglesey/index.htm
Creative Commons courtesy of Mike Peel, mikepeel.com
Moving on, when you read the book, you'll notice that the kids visit the town of Llanberis. So why don't we go visit it, too? Let's take the train. :)
Now make sure you realize that when you're looking at the video of these lovely woods through which the train winds, don't forget, there are probably pixies living in the trees. Just sayin'.
Here's a cute picture of the shops in Llanberis, from the town's official website. Ignore the cars! Picture carriages instead - or a hansom cab like this one. Very Victorian! :)
Now then, as you noticed in these pix and vids, there are all sorts of mountains in Snowdonia. In a future blog, we're going to looks at what's UNDER them. You are gonna love it.
Before I wrap this up, I must mention one of the most remarkable aspects of Wales and that is of course it's unusual place names. Wales boasts having the longest name of any village in the world. Behold: Here's the full name and below it, a little audio player so you can hear it the name is pronounced. (Hopefully the audio will work.)
If you find yourself as charmed as we are by Wales and want to enjoy it more (short of a holiday there, like Jake and friends!) then you should look for this Hugh Grant movie of a few years ago, set in Wales. Really cute! I believe at one point in the story he is as puzzled by the Welsh place names as I am!
And finally, because we know our readers are smart and like learning new things, here's a friendly Welsh fellow called Jason Shepherd who will teach us all how to say hello and goodbye in Welsh.
Well, my friends, Da Bo! Until next time. Please visit again for more Story Extras about THE DARK PORTAL! Hope you enjoy the story. xo, G. and E. too :)
The Dark Portal, our spookiest book yet, is ready just in time for Halloween. It continues Jake's adventure in the mountains and deep mines of Wales. For a complete description, see our previous blog post (scroll down). To order, click any of the links below:
Barnes and Noble