The Next-Best News on Talldogs

the first order of news
The Penslayer has been jam-packed with news about this debut fantasy of mine; and The Penslayer hasn't been as frequented with news as my Facebook and my Twitter feeds have been!  I am thrilled to be able to offer you this novel at last, to finally be able to share secrets that I have been hording like a dragon for years.  At last you may know!  ...Just don't spoil it for those who are a little slower getting their hands on the book.

Otherwise, my head has been insanely busy.  Trying to brainstorm through pregnancy hormones is like spinning tires in the mud.  To the relief of all, my sister-in-law just delivered her third child, adding one more amongst numerous end-of-the-year birthdays to our family (my mother's is November 5th - I know, easy to remember, right? and it coincides with the release of Rachel Heffington's new mystery Anon, Sir, Anon!).

I've been lazing around among Mary Stewart and Georgette Heyer novels, because anything much more serious is beyond me at this point.  The majority of my cranial activity has gone, not to "nesting" or thinking about my first labour (I try to avoid overthinking that), but to plotting the ending sequences of Talldogs.  I am a step away from the endgame and I am that typical combination of excited and trucking.  If all goes as planned, it will have taken me a little over a year to have written the first draft.  We are currently at 109,448 words, and I am toying with the notion of leisurely Howling myself into pushing for 1,667 words each day through November until I finish the draft.  But don't tell me I said that, because I'll scare myself out of it.

snippets, anyone?

“…Small pressure needed, in the soft of the back, to put a knife through…”
“I know.”

Idly, Avery bent down and shifted up the coverlet, casting the glamour of a hunter’s colours through the golden gloom. “I will see that he finishes his supper.”
talldogs his mind’s eye he saw the inexplicable terror on his brother’s face, framed in the black-brown shadows of their room, staring at him as if for the last time.

Suddenly age and a war and a throw from a horse were visible in the man’s face. Wearily, he joined his hand with Raymond’s, and Raymond felt the hair on the back of his neck prickle as he was caught up and saw the small, personal, secret things in Bell-the-cat’s face which were not lawful for another man to utter. 

There was a squeal amongst the dogs’ noise, the crash of a door somewhere, and in a moment the rainy world was hammered apart by the ragged tattoo of a horse’s hooves. In a moment Geoffrey’s mucky brown came flying round the corner of the house, plunging sidelong into the stableyard gateway with its head flung round against the bit as Geoffrey swept his hand for a lost rein—then he was digging in his heels and the horse was shooting forward, head sawing, legs eating up the ground in a breakneck gallop. 

The gloom collapsed around us. We worked our way to the heart of the tangle, going it on hands and knees, the scent of hot earth in our nostrils, while the yew clawed at our faces and dragged our clothes at our shoulders. When it was almost black, with only spare bars of tiger-light leaking through the hedge, Pan Aeneas fell upon her side, flanks heaving, her hands clamped over her mouth. Under the roar of fire and the scream of men and horses, I heard the soft rustle-rustle of leaves beneath her shaking body, and realized that she was sobbing. The whites of her eyes flashed terror in the darkness.
Wordlessly, I rolled in the torn yew-brake and passed my arms around her head, pulling her close while the world burned over our heads and she cried.

She fell backward, the throat of a scream slashed open and bleeding in her mouth.

"Familiarity makes things small. You will grow into it, you'll see."

"When they threw you out of heaven, I think you hit your head in the landing."

"I desire his head upon a platter. Perhaps then," she concluded dryly, "it will have ceased speaking." 

The One Thing I Did Not Expect to Learn from Self-Publishing

Anyone who has self-published knows how blind and stressful the venture can be, especially if you are not naturally gifted in the arts of technicalities and marketing.  When I decided six or so months ago that I was going to self-publish Plenilune, I went into it knowing I was handicapped in some very important areas - pretty much all of them.  I had no idea what all it would require, I had no idea how much money it would cost, I had no idea if anyone would even care about the product I had to offer.  But I had a product that I believed in, and a waning appreciation for the traditional publishing route, so I went for it, literally in blind and foolish faith.

As many of you know, this year has been anything but calm.  I almost lost my father.  The economy necessitated our landlord to put his rental property on the market, which meant my husband and I had to begin looking for a house of our own.  My husband graduated from his five-year program at college and began working full-time with a landscape design firm.  We decided to have a baby.  I decided to publish a novel.  More huge unknowns have piled up in this year than I feel I have faced in my entire life.  I'll be facing more, no doubt bigger, unknowns as I progress through life, but just right now in 2014 I have had to shut my eyes and grow because there was no other option available.  Needless to say, it has been stressful and frightening and a lot to handle.

You figure, when you go through "life experiences," that you're going to learn a lot.  And you do.  I've moved, I've experienced that.  I have seven and a half months' worth of pregnancy experience under my belt - or I would, if I could physically wear a belt.  I've stumbled my way through the mechanics of self-publishing a very massive debut fantasy.  I've learned a lot.  But I've learned one thing that was wholly unexpected.
people have been there
Going into self-publishing, I had no idea what I was doing, I just knew that people did it and so could I.  The next thing I knew, I was being directed by friends who had self-published to people who knew how to help, to people with skills, to people who were willing to lend me a hand.  Out of nowhere I had a cover artist, I had a line-editor, I had people who could format manuscripts for several different venues.  I had people who were fine with my complete inability to grasp the basics of the technical aspects of self-publishing, let alone its niceties.  I had people who were happy to help.

I've tried the traditional publishing route.  I even pursued it with Plenilune for awhile.  But that's a big market out there, and while it is populated by human beings with personalities and feelings, it is kind of a monster, and I discovered that any up-and-coming author is competition, not always companion.  It is not a readily friendly world.  It is huge, and if you can make it, that is awesome: you can shoot to the top and shine.  But it doesn't care.  It's a dog-eat-dog economy in many ways, and you have to fight to survive, wounding people around you as you go.

I've learned that the independent publishing community is not like that.  I'm not a very personable person myself, although I like to be friendly, so I was expecting this to be an uphill battle the whole way.  I was expecting to have to win people with iron and conquest.  They came willingly.  To my shock, I discovered that they cared, that they were willing to go miles I had never asked them to walk.  Out of nowhere I was told that Plenilune had been nominated for a number of categories in the Annual Blogger Awards of 2014!  People have sat down at the computer and seemingly written volumes in praise of Plenilune with no other incentive than that they liked it: no "review this favourably and win a free copy!" carrot-and-stick-like prompting.  They cared.  They helped.  They gave.

I've learned that the "indi" publishing movement is a community.  No one is competition.  We're all here to give and take and help as we can.  How easy is it to host a cover reveal, to mention that a book is debuting, to share a status update on Facebook or retweet on Twitter?  So easy!  How much does it mean to the author?  A world of difference.  The old cottage-industry and its camaraderie is making a curious come-back in the wake of the internet, and the independent publishing community is one aspect of that.  It is populated by real people with products that they make and sell, and they are dependent on the give-and-take of charity and aid of others in the community, without which there would be very little material gain from the products themselves.  They call it "independent" publishing, but it is just the opposite.  If anything, the author is more dependent upon the community than he is in traditional publishing, and I have learned that the community is aware of that. 
so thank you.  thank you for making this possible.

PLENILUNE Paperback Release!

The paperback is available! 
A lot of people ask me, "How does the paperback printing work?  How do I get my copy?"  It's simple!  Primarily, people will order through Amazon (because that's the big gig on the block), the order will go to CreateSpace, CreateSpace will print the ordered copy, and it will be shipped directly to the customer.  Easy as pie!  

(Unless you're trying to make a gluten-free pie crust, which is a torment worthy of Hades.)

Plenilune is processing through to Amazon and will be available there within a few days, but CreateSpace offers the paperback direct from their site as well.  I also receive more of the royalties if customers order from CreateSpace because Amazon does not get a cut, which, from a self-published point of view, is great support.  Either way, here it is at last, the long-expected Plenilune paperback!

PLENILUNE: Defining Genre

elisabeth g. foley // review
While preparing for a party totally unrelated to anything literary, I stressed about how to define Plenilune.  You all know the struggle: the moment you mention your overarching genre, you feel you've been pigeon-holed as an author.  Plenilune is a fantasy, no doubt about it, but it does not lend itself to pigeon-holing.  So how did I present myself, as an author of fiction, with a book newly hatched on the market, without immediately consigning myself to the enormity of the fantasy realm?  How did I define my genre?

The last thing I wanted to do was hem and haw.  "Well, it's a fantasy, but - " long-winded back-pedaling.  "It's historical-fiction in the sense that - "  "But, you know, it's definitely a fantasy because - " "Only, you have to keep in mind that my style is very ordinary and doesn't hinge on the fantasy aspect..."  Kicking a lame tin can of rhetoric down the road is a great way to lose the listener's interest.  I needed to be short and snappy and know my stuff.  The problem was, Plenilune is complicated, and I'm so close to the mark that I have difficulty picking out its defining features.  In the end, I decided the best way to pick it apart was to look at some of its biggest aspects, its tell-tale, key features, and find their categories in literature.  I wound up modifying the fantasy genre. 
magical realism meets planetary fantasy
No hemming, no hawing: two legitimate sub-genres collide to define the novel, just forceful enough to stop people in their tracks on the way to the nearest pigeon-hole.  It adequately summarizes my approach to fantasy in general, it gives a glimpse of my style, sets my writing in the swath of literature to which it belongs, and you're left wanting to know, "Wot."

read the book

PLENILUNE Ebook Release & Goodies

October 20th!
Plenilune is now available in ebook format!  If you haven't pre-ordered it, you can buy it for your digital devices now!

Plenilune is available in ebook format through

In case you were wondering, that's not all.  I know many of you are disappointed by the paperback release delay (tell me about it!), but there are lots of Plenilune-related things to do in the meantime.  I have been incredibly impressed by everyone's enthusiasm for this book.  Literally, I cannot believe how thrilled people have been about it's release!  To help make this launch a success (because you are what make books a success), please do any or all of the following that you can.  Oh, and don't forget to buy the book!

Share the news on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, your neighbourhood Starbucks!

and remember
Christmas is coming

PLENILUNE Paperback Delay


Yes, you read that correctly.
there has been a delay in the release of plenilune in paperback
I suspected this was coming and I'm sorry I have to say it.  Due to technical hiccups, the paperback version of Plenilune will not be available by October 20th.  Hopefully these hiccups can be avoided with future titles, and in the meantime, Plenilune is all set to be available through multiple ebook channels!  The pre-order option has already been taken advantage of, and the interest turn-out on Goodreads has been wonderful.  There are more Plenilunar things to come, and the paperback progress to keep track of, so if you don't already, follow me on Facebook and like my author page!  Are you on Twitter?  Follow me there too! 

Fifteen Out of Thirty - An Interview For Plenilune

These are the last fifteen questions out of a thirty-question interview hosted for me by Joy from Fullness of Joy.  To read the first fifteen, check out her post!  There are some really good questions over there.  Now we're going to jump right in.

Have you ever met any people in real life that have inspired you with any of the characters we read about in Plenilune?
Not strictly speaking, no, I do not tend to model my characters off people I know. I’m not Dickens… I think Rachel Heffington believes that I came from Plenilune and that somehow I got stuck here. I am merely telling you about the people I knew there. I can recall no conscious effort to paint likenesses of people around me now.

Once, in a guest-post on Fullness of Joy you spoke about the significant power of reading and studying different philosophies in the process of writing a book of depth which explores themes of faith and different worldviews. In the case of Plenilune, what are some of the theological and philosophic themes/questions you feel the novel addresses, and what were some of the philosophic books that helped influence the heart of this tale?
Due to the nature of the interacting characters, I feel several theological and philosophical points are raised, but perhaps never fully addressed. Again, I never considered that the import of the novel. I’m going to chock this up to the fact that I don’t separate these topics from ordinary life, and so when they crop up, I don’t look on them as something wild and new which must be tackled head-on. This same view carries over into Plenilune, and so theological and philosophical questions and aspects are never the point of the novel, merely natural expressions of human life as I perceive it every day.

In one word each, how would you describe each of the main characters of Plenilune?
The Fool. The Gambit. The Magician. The Strong.

As you wrote Plenilune, were there aspects of the story that took you by surprise?
I’ve mentioned before that the ease with which the plot came to me, regardless of the usual hiccoughs in the writing process, surprised me a good deal, as no story had ever come to me that cohesively before.  In addition, I was not expecting there to be more.  The fact that Plenilune has turned into a casual series, when heretofore I never thought I would write a series in my life, has surprised me.

Do you outline your books or do you prefer to begin writing and let the plot sort itself out?
I let the plot sort itself out as I go. I have recently taken the tack of outlining from the antagonist’s point of view, to see what the protagonist is up against, but other than that, I work things out as I go.

How do you think the main characters of Plenilune would react if he or she were introduced to you?
Well, it depends on which character specifically I was meeting. I might be pleasantly tolerated, I might even be engaged with a degree of interest. I do not feel myself wholly equal to their company, but I think that might be recognized and accommodated for.

Can you tell us what are your current favourite movie(s), TV show(s), and/or book(s)? (Stress is on the current!)
Currently I have almost no time to watch anything, and since I am working on Talldogs (the third instalment in my Plenilunar series), I am at present writing more than I am reading. I can tell you that I have bookmarks in The Tulip by Anna Pavord, Holiness by J.C. Ryle, and The Charm of the English Village by P.H. Ditchfield (I like to think that surname is a joke). I’ll need another fiction presently, but I haven’t settled on one yet.

Having been already published through the traditional route through Ambassador International with your historical fiction novel The Shadow Things, what are some of the benefits you’ve experienced in self-publishing, and what have been its special pains?
Self-publishing has been a much more hands-on process, and while I am responsible for setting everything up and making sure publication happens, I like knowing what is going on. Thankfully, I have been gifted with a number of acquaintances online who specialize in aspects of self-publishing, without which I would be lost up the proverbial creek without the proverbial paddle. The special pain is simply the stress of it. All that responsibility is on my shoulders and since this is the first time I have self-published, this is all totally new to me. New waters are never calm.

Can you tell us a little about the amazing cover-design of Plenilune and how it came about (designer, etc)? It’s stunning, and quite wonderful!
An online acquaintance of mine, Elizabeth Liberty Lewis, is actually directly responsible for the gorgeous cover of Plenilune. She happened to pin a digital illustration by an artist, and I liked it so much (being on the hunt for a cover) that I searched the artist and discovered that he makes cover art for books. He agreed to take on my commission and after working with me for a few weeks, I was able to communicate what I wanted and he was able to deliver. I look forward to working with him on subsequent covers for my novels.

In offering advice to fellow young writers when it comes to sharing their stories, do you advocate they initially pursue the traditional mainstream route of finding an agent, etc and waiting it out, or do you consider indi publishing a healthy alternative?
I’m afraid I do not feel qualified or educated enough to offer that advice. I think it depends on the personality of the individual author, and the type of story whose publication is being pursued. Traditional and independent publishing both have merits, and it is up to the individual author to research and choose between them.

Was there any one moment when you were hit with an urgent need to invest your time to this particular work? What kept you going through the tough parts?
With Plenilune, no, it was not a question of laying aside another work to focus on this novel. And I kept going through the tough parts because I knew this was a good story. Every story will be hard at times: as much as I may complain about it, that’s just a fact of the creative process and is not usually a sign that there is something intrinsically bad about the plot. So I kept going, because I loved the story, and I knew it was a good one. It was worth it.

Can you tell us a bit about the new writing project(s) you’re currently working on now? Please do tell!
I am currently working on Talldogs, the third of my Plenilunar novels. Unfortunately, as I pointed out to someone in an email recently, I cannot give much detail on that novel without spoiling aspects of Plenilune. Go read Plenilune when it comes out, and then we can talk!

Out of the many themes and plots, what would you most like your readers to take away with them from reading Plenilune?
I’ve noticed that when people review Plenilune, they adopt a different tone of description and try to express emotions for which ordinary language seems to allow little room. These are tones and emotions which are rife throughout the novel, and it is encouraging to see them bubbling over and impacting my readers, to see them make a difference in the way my readers view their world. I want to make them stronger and braver and virtuous. I want to make them intangible to the world and more real than the momentary transitory things around them. Sometimes I hear that when the readers try to talk about Plenilune, and I know I have succeeded a little.

Kindle Pre-Orders For PLENILUNE

Ebook and paperback versions of Plenilune will be available by October 20th, so if you don't have an e-reader, no sweat!  Just hang tight.

Excited?  Spread the word!

Who Should Read "Plenilune"?

rachel heffington // goodreads review

Depending on maturity level, what age-audience would you begin recommending Plenilune to? In essence, how far does it get "dark" before the light of hope peeps through? 
Here is a question for Plenilune readers from another prospective reader.  What is the rating on this novel?  Who should avoid it?  Who should dive right in?  Are people going to be mentally scarred forever because they read this book?   (Well, one certainly hopes not.) This is a tough question, and I am not going to give you the orthodox answer.
"Do, pray, find me an eligible book!  I am not at all nice in my notions, and shall be satisfied with the barest modicum of virtues in my novel."
The reading "group" under which Plenilune would fall is "young adult" literature.  In short, it's not a children's book.  That said, I actually don't buy into the frenzy to rate fiction that is so common among the Christian community today, least of all do I consider it fair for me to give you a rating of my own novel (that is better served by third parties which are actually good at critiquing).  As true and admirable is the fact of the Kingdom, I take umbrage with the embarrassingly cloistered nature of the Christian community and its subsequent inability to comprehend the "outside world."  A few weeks ago I sat working on Talldogs and listening, for no reason than that I wanted to, to Billy Joel's "Piano Man," and it chanced across my mind that the lyrics were casually educational of the nature of people in general.

and the waitress is practicing politics
while the businessmen slowly get stoned
yes, they're sharing a drink they call loneliness
but it's better than drinkin' alone

It's not a song written by a Christian, it's not a song written for Christians, but in an arm's length of lyrics one gets an average picture of the fragile veneer of human happiness and the gaunt face of hopelessness beneath.  Again, educational.  (It's also a fantastic song.) When you pull your head out of cheap, "clean" Christian fiction and look around, there is a lot to be gleaned from other mediums of art, even from the unbelieving community.

Plenilune was written by a Christian (moi), and no doubt will probably best appeal to Christian audiences.  I have no problem with that.  But that is not the point.  The point is that I cannot tell the reader how dark it gets before it begins to grow light again.  For one, there is no standard measurement of that; for another, I cannot claim responsibility for the maturity of every reader who picks up my books.  Such things as human depravity and God's justice, as well as grace and mercy, are truths which I will not avoid nor dispute.  In what capacity the reader is able to face these truths, it would be impossible for me to account for.  In general, my literature will be gracious in tone, but my main concern is that it should not flinch, and the reader is responsible for appreciating that or not as he finds himself able.

As much as the next person, I get irritated when people use the excuse of "being real" to create an endless slew of rotten characters.  Being true to reality ought not give license to write all manner of subtly-veiled masochism on the part of the author.  Honestly, most folk look out for themselves, and do what they think is best for themselves, and as much as I seem to have garnered a reputation for being cataclysmic and colourful in my prose, characters in my stories are often small, law-abiding folk trying to make sense of feeling adrift, of realizing how wicked they are when they attempt to be good, and the subsequent tapestry which is created by a collection of sinful people living their lives side by side in a fallen world.
plenilune is fantasy, but - i hope - it is honest

PLENILUNE Cover Reveal!

yes, i know, everything after this image might as well be considered filler text
The fate of Plenilune hangs on the election of the Overlord, for which Rupert de la Mare and his brother are the only contenders, but when Rupert’s unwilling bride-to-be uncovers his plot to murder his brother, the conflict explodes into civil war.
To assure the minds of the lord-electors of Plenilune that he has some capacity for humanity, Rupert de la Mare has been asked to woo and win a lady before he can become the Overlord, and he will do it—even if he has to kidnap her.
En route to Naples to catch a suitor, Margaret Coventry was not expecting a suitor to catch her.

Cover reveals are awesome.  You get to see the face of the book you have been anticipating for so long, you get to meet it through a glass window and think, "Soon.  Soon, you and I will be inseparable.  Soon I will be able to hold you in my arms."  And most of the time, the cover art is crystalline and easy to see.  Not so the ultrasound.  I still have to wait until the beginning of December to have the cover reveal for my baby: it's a sort of cover reveal/release date all-in-one special. 
the game's afoot
october 20th

“Vous Êtes St. Jermaine?”

october 6th is just around the corner, which means
plenilune cover reveal soon!
I'll be emailing out the pertinent information for those participating in the very near future, so stay tuned for that!

After a convoluted discussion on flour, sugar, baking powder, and explosions, I am pleased to return us to the monthly topic of snippets.  It's either that, or discussing the fact that I have two more months left of carrying my baby, who has now moved into the stages of robbing me of breath and gifting me with crushing nausea.  Snippets seem more palatable to the crowd.

snippets du jour

I don’t suppose dead people say much,” [he] remarked. “And if you did, he would come back to haunt you while you went to the bathroom in the dark of night, and blow out your candle and shove you down the plumbing, and when we fish you back up, we will find you won’t have died of drowning, you’ll have cobbler nails in your throat!”

A brief shadow passed across the man’s face, but he gestured fluidly with the glass, saying, “Vous êtes St. Jermaine?”

Raymond was distantly aware of setting the silver down. It went down very softly, casting no shadow. His fingers were cold. His lungs hurt. He was conscious of a weight on his left side, dragging at his belt… 

She left the concept hanging open—it nagged at Raymond’s nerves, like a gate left unlatched.

For a dangerous moment, as [her] words had hung in that terrible silence, he had been blinded by the desire to strike out, to crack the flat of his palm across her face and see her wretched impudence send her sprawling.

She was picking up her bird-skirts, whisking down the steps to join him. He stood his ground as she approached and hated more things in that moment than he thought it possible for a man to hold.

They swung up and turned down the dark-red road with the evening sky smoked and blackened above them, a heavy imperial ribbon coiling among the treetops back into the town. The fireflies were their only light until they reached the first of the town houses where a lantern was set over the stoop, feathered in smoke and steady in the airlessness of the summer night.

For a moment no one moved. Even the horses, bellies half-content with grass, and sleepy with the warm night, stood patiently in the roadway and made no noise. Bell-the-cat stood on the broken stone threshold with his heels dug in and his hands plunged into the pockets of his rough hemp garment, incongruous samite cuffs bunched about his elbows. The lantern moths fluttered round his head, but he did not notice them: for a moment, to Raymond, he seemed intangible, and not to belong to the world at all. 

When he did speak, Avery said, “I think that man has prevented murder tonight.”
The horses’ hooves thumped in rhythm through the dark. Raymond posted in silence for several strides, then murmured, “Yes. And I think he knows it.”

I tried to be peaceable, which was the only recourse one had when going up against her irrational fury.

"Hast found thy phantom well in the wood, I see."