Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Forward: Worlds of Ink and Shadow, by Lena Coakley, AND A GIVEAWAY!!

Once upon a time, many moons ago, a budding novelist (that's me) sat in a critique group at a writers' conference in Niagara Falls and listened to a passage that left her feeling awed, slightly inadequate, and a weeny bit jealous.

That the passage was one which was put forward for critique, and therefore considered by its author to be somehow lacking or Not Quite Right, left the budding novelist feeling even more inadequate and jealous. But mostly, awed.

The author of said passage was Lena Coakley, and the passage - which did not quite make it into the final draft - was a magical beginning, that grew into an even more magical book: Worlds of Ink and Shadow.

Look at all the Pretties...

I have been waiting so long for this book to be born. I am so excited to have finally gotten it into my hot little hands.


Worlds of Ink and Shadow is an historical fantasy that, as anyone familiar with Coakley's previous novel Witchlanders would expect, accomplishes many things at once. At its surface, serves as an origin story of the Bronte family, and a most magical and mysterious one at that. Coakley makes every one of the four siblings - Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne - live and breathe and shine in this novel that takes each of their points of view in turn. The way she seamlessly slips from one point of view to the next, always showing exactly what the reader needs to see, is masterful. Additionally, the blending of fantasy with reality - the way in which a tale about siblings who can cross over into their invented worlds is interwoven with the tale of four siblings who achieved literary greatness in our world - is a literary accomplishment worthy of the Brontes themselves.

But this novel is so much more than that. As Coakley weaves the story of the literary beginnings of this famous family, she also spins the story of every author, capturing the simultaneous joy and anguish of creating entire worlds, the fervent wish that those worlds could be real coupled with the great burden of being a God in those worlds, of being responsible for the lives and deaths of so many. All authors know the grief that accompanies the death of a beloved character, the weight that every decision about a character carries, the worry that if one does not get it absolutely right, then the author is doing her characters - and her story - a great disservice. Coakley allows Charlotte and Emily and Branwell to carry this burden, and thus shares with the reader something of what it is to create story. For writers like me, it is a work of great empathy. For everyone else, it is the final fleshing out that makes this story of the Brontes truly complete.

This is a masterwork. It was so worth the wait, and I cannot wait to read it again.

And because I am lucky enough to know Lena, and to have been to her launch party (which featured tea and scones and bonnets and a reading of the funniest scene in an historical fantasy ever), I have a treat for you.

I got an extra copy. An extra signed copy.


You want this. Trust me.

To enter, simply comment with your name and email address, and tell me which Bronte sibling is your favorite. (Your email address is important, since it's the only way I will have of contacting you if you win.)

One extra entry per share on Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr - link to your share in the comment, so I can see it, or if you tweet about it, put my handle @IshtaWrites in the tweet.

I will close the giveaway and draw a random entry at MIDNIGHT on the night of FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5TH, 2016. MIDNIGHT on the night of FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12TH, 2016.*

Open in the USA and Canada only. (Sorry, but shipping to Europe and beyond is EXPENSIVE, and the life of a writer is a hungry one. Just ask the Brontes.)

Good Luck!

*This week, I was taken hostage by alien invaders, and was unable to promote this giveaway the way it deserved to be promoted. So now that the invaders have released me, I've extended the deadline.


  1. Ishta, I met you at 'Packaging Your Imagination.' I saw this post on Jennifer Mook-Sang's (Speechless) wall. Glad to know you have a blog. Your strength in teaching impressed me at the session I attended, but even more than that I shared an 'ahh moment' when you spoke about connecting with the agent best suited for you. I've recently met Lena at CANSCAIP and oh how I would love to win a copy of her newest book. I'm in!