Welcome to the official online launch party for TICKER!

Ticker cover

Now available in hardcover, paperback, audiobook, and e-book worldwide!

Order your SIGNED copies from the University Book Store!

To celebrate, I have joined forces with some lovely small and family businesses, just in time for holiday shopping!

Thirteen shops now open!

Thirteen giveaways open to entries until December 12th!

ARCANE VAULT

It was known about Bazalgate simply as “The Vault.” What began as an upscale art gallery owned by Sebastian Stirling’s parents was then sold to a group known only on paper as “Ligot & Gold.” Soon thereafter, the building was shuttered, entrances locked and windows boarded over. Odd noises and brilliantly colored lights shot out from between the cracks in the stone walls at all hours of the day and night. Curious children gathered at the wrought iron gate and gossiped, saying no one ever went in—

Which wasn’t quite true, because regular deliveries of metal sheeting and copper wire certainly went in…

—and no one ever came out—

Also a falsehood, because it wasn’t as though the delivery men were just going to hang about the courtyard all the live-long day.

When it reopened, it was something of a gala event. I lured Nic away from the Factory simply by flashing an invitation the likes of which neither of us had ever before seen. The cardstock was actually metal, engraved to produce a three dimensional image of a round vault door with a primary wheel that appeared to spin a quarter-turn to the right when the invitation was tilted in that direction.

Strolling down the length of the main gallery, we were greeted with several dozen impressive pieces of art, brilliantly colored and minutely detailed, but Nic had his sights set on the back workroom. Loud music rattled even the stones in the walls back there, and when the door opened, we were treated to the sight of four veritable mad scientists, green-glassed goggles, leather aprons and gloves protecting them from the red and blue lasers they wielded like paintbrushes. The scents of chemical powders and smoke warred with hot metal, and at least one project was merrily on fire.

“Password?” the one closest the door demanded.

“Stuff it, mate,” Nic said, cuffing him about the shoulder, because he attended school with all them. “Hand over the weaponry, I want to get a better look at it.”

SHOPKEEP - Matt

GIVEAWAY: TICKER-themed laser etched items in your choice of colors! Includes a leather book mark;  dogtag; aluminum wallet; cover for an Iphone 4 or 5, or cover for ipod touch 4th gen or 5th gen, or cover for galaxy S3 or S4

SHIPPING RESTRICTIONS: None; will ship worldwide

HOW TO ENTER: For your chance to win this item, send an email to lisa@lisamantchev.com with the subject line “BAZALGATE SHOPKEEPS – ARCANE VAULT”

Link: Website and Facebook

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SIHAYA DESIGNS

Entering Sihaya Designs was akin to stepping into a prism. The structure was circular, the walls ringed with open shelving and illuminated with tiny golden lights that winked a bit, like Fireflies. Perhaps my favorite thing about the shop, though, was the fairies. Similar in design to the mechanical Butterflies, they moved about bits of wire and resin, gemstones and botanical snippets with the tiny, high-pitched humming noises of their mica wings. Programmed, of course, since we’d yet to prove the actual existence of fae creatures, but there were rumors of such things in cities to the north.

Miss Page apparently found the idea quite inspiring, given the earrings she made to resemble their beautiful wings. The lady in question was good friends with Violet; it seems they visited the same hair salon, although her hair was the color of a brilliant pink saffyre held under a Geodesic Spectrophotometer. Today she wore a stunning gown of claret and gold, fabulously trimmed and tucked about the waist so that her skirts barely dusted the floorboards.

“Hallo, Violet!” she called. “I hope you’ll excuse me, but I’ve an order to finish.”

Violet leaned over the delicately carved wooden railing that separated Miss Page’s workspace from the rest of the showroom. “A pendant?”

She nodded. “Labradorite. My client needs help recalling her dreams upon waking.”

Slanting a look at me, Violet runs a finger down the blue-green stone. “I ought to commission you one of these. They help alleviate stress.”

“In which case, oughtn’t you purchase one for yourself?” I suggest sweetly. “Since I can be so very tiresome?”

And it would have been impolite for Violet to hit me with her reticule, but neither Miss Page nor I faulted her for doing so.

SHOPKEEP - Christina

GIVEAWAY: These gorgeous navy blue swirled glass rounds, topped with ornate bead caps and matching swarovski crystal, are disguised as holiday ornaments for your ears. They are delicate and very light-weight, measuring 1 1/2″ from the tops of their sterling silver earwires

SHIPPING RESTRICTIONS: Will ship worldwide, with the exception of ITALY

HOW TO ENTER: For your chance to win this item, send an email to lisa@lisamantchev.com with the subject line “BAZALGATE SHOPKEEPS – SIHAYA DESIGNS”

Link: Etsy and Facebook

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CHRONOHOARD

The tastefully worked gilt-lettered sign outside of Chronohoard proclaimed it dealt in “shiny bits from today, yesterday, and tomorrow for the discerning time traveler! Handcrafted jewelry for ladies and gentlemen.”

And while Nic was still working out the logistics and practicalities of time travel, the shop itself committed to no particular architectural period, with metal brackets and buttresses, a cupola and crenelated parapet both. Inside, every surface was draped and festooned with yards of bright fabric, wares set out on display and all within reach, because it was meant to be touched, tried on, considered from all angles in and in all lights before the perfect piece was selected for purchase.

“Greetings, Miss Farthing!” Miss Jamison bustled toward us the second we entered the shop, wearing a smart black lace ensemble and matching dark spectacles. She was like a tiny bit of onyx set in a pirate’s treasure chest.

“Is my order ready?” I queried.

With a smile, she held up my order: a spare key for my Ticker, suspended on an elaborately decorated chain. “Here you are.”

Violet captured it first, holding it up so the beads glittered in the sunlight. “Isn’t that a thing of beauty?”

I grinned, because Violet was a notorious magpie. For all her practicalities, she owned at least two jewelry boxes brimming over with glittering earbobs and bracelets and brooches. Within seconds, she and Miss Jamison were up to their elbows in a special commission—Violet apparently wanted a watch chain, and by the sound of it, it was going to be a gift for Nic—and I had to forcibly extract her from the store some time later, each of us carrying an organza satchel.

SHOPKEEP - Chronohoard

GIVEAWAY: “The Spare Key” 26 inch chain with a 3 inch key. Purple anodized aluminum links; amethyst, moonstone, coral, hematite, crystal, metal, and cut glass beads

SHIPPING RESTRICTIONS: US residents only, please

HOW TO ENTER: For your chance to win this item, send an email to lisa@lisamantchev.com with the subject line “BAZALGATE SHOPKEEPS – CHRONOHOARD”

Link: Etsy

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Creative Love

About the time the cold had settled deep into our bones, Violet dragged me across the street and into Creative Love. The scent of warm chocolate reached out in greeting the second she tugged the door open, and we happily fell into its embrace.

There were a thousand welcome distractions between us and the gleaming hot cocoa bar that spanned the back of the shop; behind the polished wood and brass stools, a massive copper contraption steamed and hissed and sang out at intervals, chirps and whistles as it heated milk and whipped cream and boiled flavored syrups. One second the undercurrent might smell of peppermint, the next of orange, and after that a bit of coffee. Four or five people sat at the counter, more at wrought iron tables, all of them cradling cups of various sizes: thimblefuls of spicy peppered chocolate, bowls topped with fluffy clouds of marshmallow.

“Drinks first,” Violet queried, “or browsing?”

“Why not both?” The proprietress, Miss Schepp, approached with two dainty, lidded cups. Twisted glass straws extended from the top. “Be a dear, Miss Farthing, and give these a go? I’m trying to decide if ‘sipping and shopping’ is actually possible.”

Game for anything, I tugged off my gloves and stuffed them in my reticule. The heat of the cup was pleasant, as was the first sip of chocolate. “Mmmm, perfection.”

And it was. We were able to warm our hands and our bellies as we perused all the beautiful, twinkling bits of glass. Violet contemplated a special order of cupcake-themed magnets to use for the Daily Specials board at SugarWerks while I bedecked myself in rings and necklaces galore.

SHOPKEEP - Tricia

GIVEAWAY: “New Years Eve” – antique brass filigree necklace

SHIPPING RESTRICTIONS: US or Canadian residents only

HOW TO ENTER: For your chance to win this item, send an email to lisa@lisamantchev.com with the subject line “BAZALGATE SHOPKEEPS – CREATIVE LOVE”

Links: Etsy, Facebook and Instagram @creativeloveNC

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SOPHIA NATURALS

Sophia Naturals was located inside a tree.

I know it must sound odd to say so, but the truth of the matter was that a large and rather dignified oak tree in the center of Square Park was destined for removal until Miss Mary Madewell offered to shore it up structurally and keep it from toppling over upon the zoological displays in exchange for the opportunity to turn it into a public bath house. The tree became an entrance point, an archway carved with all manner flora and fauna; inside, there were smaller trees rooted in beautiful pots, stained glass lanterns inset with flowers, and plush chairs for sitting.

It was, in truth, the perfect way for a tired young lady to conclude a long day. Beyond the entryway were bathing pools and rooms for massage and experts in lotions and creams and powders. One might employ the cunning use of natural rouge to tint the lips the same shade as berries in summer. Perhaps my favorite thing (and Violet’s) was the way they packaged their wares in cunningly folded paper slices of “cake” so that even purchasing cosmetics reminded one that we should always treat ourselves to a bit of dessert.

We were greeted by the proprietress herself, hurrying forward with a welcoming smile. “Ladies! You are in luck! We’re opening the Eternal Pool today!”

And after that, it was a flutter of changing and bathing costumes and giggling as Violet and I headed into the massive hot springs wearing potentially more fabric than when we first entered the establishment. For my own part, I relished the lace cape, pleated woolen skirt and stockings. Violet was a dog-paddler, and spent the majority of our time splashing me playfully in the face. We swam all the way out to the tiled edge of the pool and then hooked our elbows upon the dark blue tile, admiring the discrete view of the rest of the park.

SHOPKEEP - Mary

GIVEAWAY: Our Cake Slice gift boxes are a fun way to send a gift of all natural, handmade lip products! Included are two all natural, handmade lip balms in cute tin pots, as well as one of our tinted lip glosses, colored with natural powders

SHIPPING RESTRICTIONS: US residents only, please.

HOW TO ENTER: For your chance to win this item, send an email to lisa@lisamantchev.com with the subject line “BAZALGATE SHOPKEEPS – SOPHIA NATURALS”

Link: Etsy

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Bayley’s Books & Baubles

Books & Baubles wasn’t so much a store as it was a “mobile shopping experience.” Based out of an enormous, rolling and rollicking caravan, patrons first needed to locate it via cunning messages sent out via Aethergraph. Once it settled into place for the day’s business, a series of windows opened, awnings rolled out on brass rails, and rotating displays of wares slid out.

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EIGHTH ETOILE ROAD WHERE IT MEETS THE STRAND – STOP – SALE TODAY ON ALL FAIRY-SPELL BOOKS – STOP

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Despite the fact that Violet and I hurried, there was still a line of at least twenty people queued up on the sidewalk by the time we arrived. The perfect thing about B&B was the fact that the exterior displays helped pass the time while waiting to gain admission. Today, a bright display of scarves and pouches graced the exterior. We wound them about ourselves gaily, settling on one of brilliant saffyre for Violet and a muted esmeraude for me. A music-box tune wafted out of the caravan; once Violet and I stepped inside, we were greeted by the proprietress, Miss Jefferies, who had donned a pair of trousers the likes of which I’d not seen before.

“They stretch, you say?” I peerd at the fabric, hardly daring to believe it. “Such a thing would make riding the Vitesse all the easier.”

To demonstrate, she executed several ballerina-graceful maneuvers the likes of which would be extremely difficult in a bustle skirt. I immediately ordered four pair, custom-dyed, to be delivered later to Glasshouse. In the meantime, Violet had drifted over to a display of miniature leather books, meant to be worn about the neck for inspired—or emergency—note-taking.

“I need one of these,” she said, looping one about her neck. “For all the recipe ideas I have when I’m working behind the counter.”

SHOPKEEP - Michelle

GIVEAWAY: one full-leather, hand-sewn miniature blank book that is also a necklace.

SHIPPING RESTRICTIONS: US residents only, please.

HOW TO ENTER: For your chance to win this item, send an email to lisa@lisamantchev.com with the subject line “BAZALGATE SHOPKEEPS – BOOKS AND BAUBLES”

Link: Facebook

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Emma Michaels

Miss Emma Michaels was a local author, a writer of some renown in Bazalgate who also produced lovely, limited edition novels with hand-painted covers. She greeted us at the door of her studio, red-golden hair braided away from her face. The pinafore over her lovely scarlet dress bedecked with ink from what appeared to be several different fountain pens.

“Penny!” She offered me a hand that was as inky as her apron, and I grinned, stripping off my glove before accepting it warmly. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”

“I’ve brought some of Nic’s schematics. I thought perhaps you could bind them and design a cover for them.” As we stepped inside, I sighed happily, for the space was wall-to-wall mahogany shelving, stacked floor to ceiling with books and bound manuscripts, some gilt-edged and others stamped with silver. Violet was already nose-deep in the small section devoted to recipe collections; in no time she’d have several volumes on pastry and a romance novel or three to go with them.

“Of course. Come over here where there’s space to spread out.” Emma led me toward a massive wooden table, turning up the lamps as we moved toward the back of the room. Other desks were covered in mucilage pots and paints, snippets of paper covered in scribbles, thread and wax and all manner of mysterious tools.

Dipping down, I gathered up Emma’s tiny mechanized pup, a wee thing with a wagging brass tail. “And how are you this fine day, Miss Winter Hope?”

Inner workings clicked over, the sound of a music box being wound up, and then she replied with a metallic “WOOF” that made me grin hugely.

“Who’s a sweetheart? Are you a sweetheart?” I tell her, hugging her close as Emma begins the laborious process of binding Nic’s drawings into what eventually be a lovely keepsake.

“I am, in fact, a sweetheart,” Emma said wryly, flashing me a smile.

SHOPKEEP - Emma

COUPON: mention TICKER to get a special 25% off all graphics

GIVEAWAY: annotated paperback copy of Owlet

SHIPPING RESTRICTIONS: US residents only, please.

HOW TO ENTER: For your chance to win this item, send an email to lisa@lisamantchev.com with the subject line “BAZALGATE SHOPKEEPS – EMMA MICHAELS”

Link: Emma Michaels, Cover Artist

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Clean Line Soap Company

One could actually smell the Clean Line Soap Co. long before it came into view. The building itself was composed of well-aged wood and panes of bubbled glass. The window display included yards of natural linen, brown twine, and clothespins artfully arranged to resemble large, fantastical flowers the likes of which never bloomed in a garden. Over the front door, a tiny machine released bubbles that, upon breaking, perfumed the street with the laundry-day scents of lemon, lavender, rosemary, and mint.

A strand of brass bells jingled as we entered; once inside, long glass cases reminded me of SugarWerks, down to the loaves of soap resting on polished wooden trays. They even had flavors like cake, with raspberry-lemonade alongside almond-honey, each handwritten sign labeled with care. Atop the counter, trays were stacked with lotion bars, balms, and salves. Through a set of double doors, I glimpsed the inner sanctum, where several large fires burned. Heavy pots sat alongside wooden molds and long-handled spoons. Jars of scented oils and baskets of fresh herbs and flowers occupied the windowsills. Dried plants hung from the rafters, and the distant bleat of a goat told me that it must nearly be milking time.

Miss Guptill was not the sort to leave the work of mixing, stirring, and pouring to her staff, either. Even dressed in a lovely straw-colored gown with six flounces, she was up to her elbows and surrounded by steam.

She lifted a hand in greeting. “Hallo, Miss Farthing! I’ll just be a second!”

“No rush!” I was already nose-deep in the ware, sniffing my way around the room like a veritable bloodhound. I wanted a scent that would remind me of Sebastian’s country house in late summer, when the roses were in bloom and the hay fields were due for harvest.

SHOPKEEP - Cleanline

GIVEAWAY: two bars of soap, buyer’s choice

SHIPPING RESTRICTIONS: US residents only, please.

HOW TO ENTER: For your chance to win this item, send an email to lisa@lisamantchev.com with the subject line “BAZALGATE SHOPKEEPS – CLEAN LINE SOAP COMPANY”

Links: Website and Etsy

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Cemetery Cat Designs

Off to one side of the Bazalgate Bibliothèca sat a shop that, in all reality, looked like the spine of a book. Tall and narrow, each floor marked off by boards painted with gilt, it even leaned just a little to the right, resting on the building alongside it. There were two doors on the bottom floor: one large, one small.

The smaller one was for the cat. He was a dignified gentleman, sleek of tuxedo fur, like he was about to attend the opera. He often sat alongside the massive lions that mark the entrance to the Bibliothèca, quite at home with stone-carved jungle creatures. He didn’t deign to speak to just anyone, but when Violet and I exited with our arms loaded down with research papers—accounting for me, recipes for her—he stepped directly into our path with a rusty sort of “meow” that clearly indicated we should follow him.

We did just that, entering Cemetery Cat Designs a few minutes later. Miss Korman was perched behind the counter, magnifying goggles in place, black gown relieved only by the white collar and the ornate silver jewelry she wore. When we started to greet her, she merely held up one finger, indicating we should be silent.

Sliding from the stool, she approached me first; eying my clothes, my books, my boots, and my messenger bag, she plucked a slim volume of adventure stories from the shelf. Wrapped about it was a brass chain ornamented with dozens of charms: compass rose and telescope, airship and hot air balloon. A second later, Violet received a novel with a brilliantly-blue-haired girl on the cover. Her bracelet contained pirate sword and butterflies, tiny fairies, cakes, and what appeared to be a journal.

Awed by her intuition, both of us reached for our reticules. The cat blinked his approval once, twice.

SHOPKEEP - Synde

GIVEAWAY: A sterling silver plate Art Nouveau pendant holding an image of a fortune teller gazing into his crystal ball. A pewter palmistry hand dangles below, along with a skull, and a half moon. Clear crystal swarovski compliment. Silver plate chain is 18″

SHIPPING RESTRICTIONS: US residents only, please.

HOW TO ENTER: For your chance to win this item, send an email to lisa@lisamantchev.com with the subject line “BAZALGATE SHOPKEEPS – CEMETERY CAT DESIGNS”

Link: Etsy

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Voodoo Maggie

We have quite a lot of gloomy weather in Bazalgate, but Rainy Days was one of the few places I’ve ever encountered that could make inclement weather cheerful and inviting. The ceiling was tufted white fabric, with silver chains of varying lengths dripping down to suggest precipitation. The floor was a dark slate, like a road that’s slick with rainwater, and scattered about were tiny rugs of hooked green wool that looked like moss. Long, rustic tables resembled fallen logs in a forest, and upon them sat baskets, some overflowing with crocheted toys and others full of yarn, buttons, and beads for those who preferred to sit next to the massive stone hearth and weave their own magic. Fantastic creatures graced the wall hangings, and delicate sculptures and miniatures occupied a cabinet on the far wall.

The proprietress, a pleasant woman known as Voodoo Maggie, greeted us before we reached the first mossy rug. “Anything I can help you ladies with this morning?”

“I need a pattern and yarn both,” Violet said, heading straight for the baskets near the hearth.

“I am at loose ends, if you’ll pardon the terrible pun,” I said.

“Feel free to look about, in that case,” Maggie told me.

Strolling about the store, I spotted a heap of tiny, top-hat adorned skulls, which I knew at once would be the perfect thing for her upcoming birthday. With a series of hand signals, I managed to convey to Maggie that I needed three of them delivered to Glasshouse with all due stealth; eyes twinkling, she took down the order and secreted the items into a back room before Violet ever clapped eyes upon them.SHOPKEEP - Maggie

COUPON: mention TICKER for a free pattern of your choice; drop message through Etsy or Facebook!

GIVEAWAY: Plush skull, choice of headwear

SHIPPING RESTRICTIONS: None, worldwide giveaway!

HOW TO ENTER: For your chance to win this item, send an email to lisa@lisamantchev.com with the subject line “BAZALGATE SHOPKEEPS – VOODOO MAGGIE”

Links: Etsy and Facebook

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SKYSCAPE

Violet’s day off happened to align with mine this week, so the two of us conspired to do a bit of shopping. Whipping down the Strand on the Vitesse in pursuit of some fun and in search of my best friend, I arrived at the airfield and spotted her at fifty paces. Acid green taffeta tends to draw the eye, so Violet’s new morning suit was truly a sight to behold, especially against the brilliant shock of her amethyst hair. She held up a hand in greeting and then jumped three feet to the right as I rocketed past her.

“Just be a second!” I yelled, but stopping the Vitesse was something of a tricky venture, I’d learned. At least this time I didn’t run headlong into a brick wall. As it was, Violet came running, drawing abreast of me in a swirl of vivid skirts just as I dismounted and tried to smooth down all my ribbons.

“Lawful—”

“—heart,” I finished for her with a grin. “I know.” Before she could deliver a well-meaning lecture, I hurried her away from the main building and down an adjacent walkway. Before us sat a massive airship, gangway locked into place. There was a queue of at least three dozen people, wearing everything from the latest fashion to just-clocked-out working clothes.

When it was our turn to enter, I passed over my membership key to the attendant near the door, rather than a set of tickets.

To Violet, I only said, “Welcome to SkyScape.”

She laughed aloud and accepted the proffered gilt shopping basket. Newly-installed Eidolachometer machines were grouped between the floor-to-ceiling windows and interspersed with palm trees. Golden punch cards could be ordered by Aethergraph and were delivered via a complex series of inverted overhead tracks. Oversized chairs and tea carts punctuated the space like cozy little question marks, and within minutes, the view of Bazalgate was nothing short of breathtaking. It was quite obvious to me why patrons adored the afternoon excursions in this most unusual bookstore, at any rate.

“Jam cakes and oolong,” I said, not a question as I pulled forth the second menu. “Now, will you have a romance novel, an adventure, or a mystery?”

“My dear girl,” Violet answered with a grin. “Do not make me choose.”

SHOPKEEP - SKYSCAPE

GIVEAWAY: Here is your chance to win your very own Eidolachometer machine, cleverly disguised as a Kindle Paperwhite that not only arrives with a customized cover, but is also preloaded with your very own copy of TICKER.

SHIPPING RESTRICTIONS: US residents only, please.

HOW TO ENTER: For your chance to win this item, send an email to lisa@lisamantchev.com with the subject line “BAZALGATE SHOPKEEPS – SKYSCAPE”

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World in Chains

“Those are new.”

Feet firmly back on solid ground, I followed Violet’s pointed finger. Perhaps it has been some time since anyone in Bazalgate lived in an actual castle, but you’d never know that by looking at Miss Rhoads’s store. An actual stone tower, it was separated from the other shops on the street with an intricate bramble hedge that brought several fairy tales immediately to mind. Leaded glass glittered in the sunlight; if one had the time and the inclination to sit upon the park bench opposite, you could watch the windows open at intervals to reveal in turn a King, a Queen, a princess with impossibly long hair, and the recent addition of a fire-breathing dragon.

I was especially chuffed with the latter, because Nic had been involved with the mechanical design. He claimed it was worth singeing off both eyebrows to achieve the smoke-and-flames effect that blasted on the quarter-hour, and just now, catching a glimpse of it again in person, I was inclined to believe him.

Additionally, I mused as we entered the structure, if anyone was perfectly suited to the role of dragon-tamer, it was Miss Rhoads. Just inside the stone walls, she sat perched between two clockwork knights clad in scale-armor mantles. Amber-glass lamps hanging at intervals cast a warm glow upon various metals and sparkling crystal embellishments. A case on the far wall held impossibly intricate pieces; no doubt she was hard at work on another, given that she had to remove a pair of magnifying goggles as we approached. Her long, silver-white hair was caught up at intervals with floral chainmail pins. The effect was at once unexpected and altogether becoming, and an entirely new entry to the “language of flowers.”

“Hallo!” she called. “Do come in!”

SHOPKEEP - Shannon

GIVEAWAY: Steampunk chainmail hair clip: measures about 2 inches, and is made of stainless steel rings, reproduction gears, anodized aluminum rings in gold, and anodized aluminum scales in a bronze color.

SHIPPING RESTRICTIONS: US residents only, please.

HOW TO ENTER: For your chance to win this item, send an email to lisa@lisamantchev.com with the subject line “BAZALGATE SHOPKEEPS – WORLD IN CHAINS”

Links: Website, Etsy, and Facebook

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Creatures of Fae

The next stop on our route was a tea caddy of a shop, small, gilt-edged, with a single, multi-paned window lit up rosy pink and welcoming. The door was narrow as well, bell jangling merrily as we stepped inside. And suddenly we were giants, towering over fantastical miniature landscapes populated by all sorts of fairy tale creatures. The shelves were largely occupied by all sorts of animals; small enough to fit in the palm of one’s gloved hand, they perched on books and boxes, mirrors and teacups.

I pored over the dear little things, admiring the attention to the details in their scales and wings. One in silvery-white quite reminded me of a luck-dragon in a never-ending story I’d started reading just the week prior. Adjacent to the dragon sat a tiny elephant, trunk raised in trumpeted greeting. Determined to have them both, I carried them to the counter where Violet was deep in conversation with Miss DeAngelis. A massive white smock covered most of the proprietress’s navy-blue striped afternoon dress, but it didn’t completely obscure the gold-threaded embroidery that decorated the hem of her skirts.

“Just in time,” she was saying to Violet. “Your order’s ready, and not a moment too soon!”

Turning to a shelf behind the counter, she commenced pulling down dragons in all colors and poses. As it turned out, the colorful things had been commissioned by a bride and groom for their wedding cake, including a larger intertwined set, their tails touching at the uppermost tips to form the shape of a heart.

“What sort of cake did they order?” I asked, because flavor is of the utmost importance.

“Vanilla sponge with marzipan and raspberry filling,” Violet answered, a bit absentmindedly as she counted out her coins. “His name was Henry, and he kept referring to her as ‘my blossom.’”

SHOPKEEP - Karen

GIVEAWAY: A royal reading dragon, 6″ high from the top of his crown to his toes. He is a one of a kind little dragon made of professional grade polymer clay.

SHIPPING RESTRICTIONS: None; will ship worldwide

HOW TO ENTER: For your chance to win this item, send an email to lisa@lisamantchev.com with the subject line “BAZALGATE SHOPKEEPS – CREATURES OF FAE”

Links: Etsy and Facebook

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GENERAL RULES for the BAZALGATE SHOPKEEPS GIVEAWAYS.

You may enter as many of the giveaways as you like, but each entry needs to be a separate email.

You must be 18 to enter, or have your parents’ permission

Please note that shipping restrictions vary by giveaway

Entries accepted until midnight, Pacific Standard Time on Friday, December 12th. Winners will be selected by random and announced/contacted by email on Saturday, December 13th.