Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Stillness of the Sky: by Starla Huchton w/ Guest Post

Title: The Stillness of the Sky
Author: Starla Huchton
Series: A Flipped Fairy Tale
Genre: Fantasy /YA
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: Feb 2 2015
Edition/Formats: eBook & Print
"Once upon a time, my life was certain: it was insignificant, and it was cruel. But I refused to let it define me, no matter how great the cost.
Once upon a time, I made a wish. The world I knew grew wider than the sky and higher than the stars, and I listened to the voice within me, reaching out for freedom.

Once upon a time, my wish became my fate, and my destiny the hardest lesson to learn: kindness may be the most difficult path, but it can save entire kingdoms.”

“My mother would bring me here when I was a child. She saw to my education as often as she could, though she wasn’t able to do as much as she wanted.” A distinct note of sadness colored his words. Queen Octavia died when I was barely old enough to remember, but before my own mother left. “When she could, we’d come here and she’d pick different pages for me to read on things I might encounter within our kingdom. One day, I asked her where it all came from, if there were specific spirits that created things like giants or selkies or whatever the case may be, and she asked the book for one thing.” He placed his hand on the cover, his fingers wrapped around the side edge. “Show me the Alabaster Heart.”
A golden glow filled the room, blooming from the book as Willem opened it. When the light faded, I looked down at the pages before us. The one on the right was filled with text black as pitch on crisp cream paper, but on the left…
I nearly dropped the lamp. “That’s it!” I said, staring stupidly at the full-color picture that looked more like a window into the great white tree’s cavern than a simple drawing could ever do. “That’s the tree Ro took me to.”
“It’s called the Alabaster Heart,” he explained, trading places with me to read from the text. “It says it’s the source and sustaining force of all magical things, location unknown. Most glimpses of it come in small pink flowers growing through the cracks in rocks, whose seeds are rumored to grant wishes. Those who seek these flowers should be warned: wishes are granted in an unpredictable manner and often come with a high cost to those who make them, weighed against the heart of the one requesting the magic to be performed.” He hummed thoughtfully. “Buyer beware, I suppose.”
Frustrated, I growled at my own ignorance. “While that would’ve been helpful at the time, it hardly does me much good now.”
“If you’re that unhappy with it, maybe you should go back and make another wish to undo it.”
I turned to him, hurt both by his tone of voice and suggestion that I’d be so selfish. “First off, I don’t know that I’d be any better off now than I was before. In fact, all things considered, I think I’m doing quite well, thank you very much. Secondly, look at all the good I’ve done since then. While I’m not at all proud that I destroyed another person’s life, Torell is certainly a touch nicer for my dealings with your Piper. Third…” I paused, softening my tone and touching his arm. “Do you honestly think I’d run away from this fate? Whatever it is I’m meant to do, I’m the only one that can do it. It’s important enough that the very source of magic itself summoned me for a conversation. It told me that everyone needs help at some point. Everyone, including the Alabaster Heart.” I shook my head and returned my gaze to the picture. “Kindness in all things. I’d never be able to live with myself if I walked away from this.”
His arm wrapped around my waist. “And that was why you were chosen, Jack. I’ve known generals and statesmen, the rich and the poor, kings and commoners alike. When I tell you that I’ve never seen your rival in altruism, that’s speaking from a great deal of experience. The magic you possess might be greater than we know, but it’s your heart that makes you so important. There might be others that can do as you do, but how many would?”
“But I still don’t even know what I’m meant to do,” I murmured, staring at the picture.
He sighed and leaned his head against mine. “Peace, Jack. You’re supposed to bring peace.”
“I wished for peace for myself.”
“But can a Bard have peace when the kingdom they live in is at war?”
I jerked and pulled away from him, gaping. “You think I’m meant to stop your father’s war?”
He nodded. “You have all of the pieces of the puzzle. You know where Aaron is. You know the giants didn’t kidnap or kill him as my father’s accused them. Your songs can soothe any enemy.”
My mouth fell open. “An enemy perhaps, but we’re talking about two entire armies and the population of not only Litania, but fixing the damage caused to the giants as well. Not to mention that I can’t produce any proof that your brother is alive and well. Who’d even believe me?”
“I believe you,” he said, setting his hand over mine as it rested on the desk. “Let me help you, Jack.”

: The Stillness of the Sky

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So, I was asked to create a playlist for The Stillness of the Sky, but, alas, this really wasn’t the kind of thing I could do for this particular story.
Why, you ask? Well, there’s actually a very good reason. You see, this might be the gender-flipped retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, but there’s much more to this story than you’d think. In the original tale, Jack comes across a magic golden harp. But in The Stillness of the Sky, Jack herself is the “harp.” A Bard, to be exact, and of the magical sort.
Jack has been blessed from birth with gifts of song, dance, and storytelling, and when they awaken on her journey, a very different world opens up to her. So, rather than a playlist, I’m offering you a little look at some of Jack’s songs directly from the book. In writing these, I wanted them to have the same feel as old folk songs from Europe. Those are simple tunes, but the melodies and poetry of them stay with you for years once you’ve learned them.
Along the way, Jacqueline has many obstacles to overcome. This one in particular serves to hearten her and give her strength:
Oh, gentle breeze
Carry my spirit
Send it along with a warm summer day.

Oh, sparkling starlight
Illumine the dark
Show me the path my feet yearn to walk.

Oh, powerful river
Lend me your strength
Let no stone bar me or send me astray.

For the sky is wide
And the road is long
And I’ve years to go before my heart is home.

The effects of Jack’s songs are far more powerful than she first realizes. When she gives voice to this next song, the toughest opponent she’s had to face up until that point is no match for her true strength. Above all else, Jack values kindness and believes that no matter what, a good heart will always win the day.

Let the lakes run dry
Let the stars burn out
Let the moon crumble up above.

You will never find
A love truer than mine
And a heart freer than the sky.

Let the clouds rain fire
Let the fields turn to stone
Let the earth split in twain

You will never find
A love truer than mine
And a heart freer than the sky.

Spirits above
And spirits below
None can measure the depths I know.

For you’ll never find
A lover truer than mine
And a heart freer than the sky.

So there’s a little peek at how music is intertwined with this particular tale. I don’t know that I could compile a list of inspirational songs for this book, as it already contains some of its own. I love old Celtic folk songs especially, so I hope I’ve been able to bring a tiny bit of that into story.

A geek of all trades, Starla Huchton has been crafting stories in various genres since 2007. Her first novel, The Dreamer’s Thread, was released as a full cast audiobook podcast, becoming a double-nominee and finalist for the 2010 Parsec Awards. After releasing short fiction of steampunk, noir fantasy, and other varieties, she released the first three books of the Sci-Fi Romance Endure series in 2013. All three books of the Evolution series, a New Adult Superhero Romance series, were released in 2014, as well as a Steampunk Fantasy novel, Master of Myth (the Antigone’s Wrath series, book 1), which was the first place winner of the Crested Butte Writers’ contest, The Sandy, in 2012. Shadows on Snow, a gender-flipped retelling of Snow White, releases in November 2014.

When not writing, Starla trains three Minions, a black lab, and a military husband whilst designing book covers for independent authors and publishers at

: Starla Huchton

Other books by: Starla Huchton

Evolution Series
The Endure Series
Maven #1
Paradigm #4 (WIP)
The Antigone’s Wrath Series
Master of Machines #2 (WIP)
Stand Alones

A Flipped Fairy Tale

The Stillness of the Sky (Coming Late Winter)

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