New cover for Ella

I’m considering a new cover for Ella and the Panther’s Quest to make it fit in better with my later books. Right now it’s only on the ebooks and slowly rolling out. I’m not completely sure this is the final version, which is why it’s going slowly. Once I’m certain, I’ll change the print version too.

This is the new cover at the moment.
Ella and the Panther's Quest new cover

Let me know what you think.

Another Book Trailer

I am now all caught up on book trailers.  That’s right, I’ve finished one for Ella and the Panther’s Quest.  So I now need to write some more books 🙂  Here it is.

Photos of the Cathedral St. Gatien de Tours, France

I promised pictures of the Cathedral St.-Gatien, and here they are.  When I was there, the cathedral was in mid-restoration (it seems like something’s always mid-restoration when I’m there), so I got to watch the masons cutting stone to replace what needed replacing, which was interesting, and I took this picture of a sign explaining the history of the area.

The cathedral is not near the old city, it’s actually on the other side of the Rue Nationale, which runs through the center of town. On one of the walking tours I took, they told us that the Rue Nationale was originally the Rue Royale, or Royal Road, in English it’s usually called the King’s Highway. During the Revolution, when they got rid of all signs of the monarchy, all towns that had part of the Rue Royal re-named them Rue Nationale.

But back to the cathedral. The old parts of Tours are split into two areas. The part with Place Plumereau and the remains of the Abby of St Martin, which was a pilgrimage site, was the economic area; the cathedral and chateau were in the old Roman walled city. Between them were vineyards and fields.

The cathedral is named Cathedral St. Gatien, after the first bishop of Tours. The first building there was built in the 4th century; the cathedral was built in parts from the 12th through the 16th, so there are a lot of different styles of Gothic architecture. The area around the doors (which seems like the front, but is really the back- the area around the altar is the front) is flamboyant style, with lots of carving, which is why I have lots of pictures of it.

The towers are French Renaissance style. You can see by the scaffolding in the first picture, they were part of the restoration, so I didn’t get to see much of them.

Behind the cathedral is what used to be the bishop’s residence. Now it’s the art museum.  I’ll see if I can find some pictures for next time.  And here’s an update on the picture I was messing about with in Daz Studio.  Ella and the Panther. 

 edited to add links to the other posts in this series

This is the book I was working on when I was researching Tours. Click to read the first few chapters

Photographs of Roman Ruins in Tours, France

Old City of Tours, France

Photos of the Cathedral St. Gatien de Tours, France

A Few Links to Tours

Not part of the Tours series, but still in the area

Villandry and Ella’s garden

Writing updates

I was going to post about the cathedral in Tours since I found pictures of it, but, as you can see, that didn’t happen, partly because I got swamped at work, partly because I sat down and actually started on my taxes.  But I did get a lot of editing done on Wizard of Pembrook, so it may actually be ready to come out in the spring, which is what I’ve been telling people.  Of course, when I said that, I thought I was being all Scotty (say it will take twice as long so they’re impressed when it’s done ahead of schedule.

A rough idea of what Ella and the panther look like

The rest of the time I was messing around with learning to use Daz Studio.  I may use it for book covers.  That’s one of my early renders.

What my next book looks like now. Sticky notes are my friends!

So, next time will be the Cathedral St Gatien in Tours.

Food in Ella and the Panther’s Quest

I’ve found another topic for Ella that doesn’t contain spoilers – food!  Be forwarned, lots of pictures of food in this post, so if you’re hungry, now’s the time to get the Thanksgiving leftovers if you have them.

plat eof salmon

I didn't have a picture of the bastilla, but here's some salmon similar to what she eats at another meal.

I got the idea for the post from Ella’s description of something she eats at her first meal in the manor house, a pastry layered with chicken and cinnamon.  I didn’t mention the name in the book since Ella didn’t know it, but it’s a Moroccan dish called a chicken bastilla, which I ate in Epcot a few years ago.  I couldn’t find a picture,  but I did find a recipe at (a great, unofficial Disney site, link opens in a new window)

chocolate cake with ice cream

As you can see, I do have lots of other food pictures.  That is the chocolate cake I was thinking of whenever Ella has it for dessert, also eaten at Disney World. 

cheese and bread

Food similar to what Charles eats at the castle

Charles doesn’t have nearly as much food mentioned as Ella does, but there is some.  While they’re performing, Phichorian sends him off to buy pasties, which are sort of like a pot pie that’s been stuffed inside it’s crust.  I don’t care for them myself (I still have the little kid dislike of having my food touching each other) but I picked it since it’s a very traditional sort of food preparation.  I learned from watching Rick Steves that Cornish pasties were popular with families of miners since they were easy to bring along and they could hold them by the thick crimping around the edge without washing their hands, eat the part with the filling, and through the crust edge away.

The closest I could find to a pasty, a corn and cheese empanada. It's similar shape, but smaller with a thinner crimped edge

There’s certainly other food mentioned, but those are the things I have pictures for, in other words, the things I’ve eaten on vacation since that’s the only time I take pictures of food.

Villandry and Ella’s garden

I’ve been posting a lot about Fantasy Kingdom XXI, but not very much about what went into writing Ella and the Panther’s Quest.  That’s because a lot of the topics I wrote about Fantasy Kingdom XXI would contain spoilers for Ella.   I was going through some old pictures and I finally found something spoiler free.

another view of Villandry gardens

These are pictures from the gardens at the Chateau de Villandry near Tours, France.  These were the gardens I used as the basis for the gardens in the book.  You have to imagine the hedges as being taller in the book, but the layout is similar.

gardens at Villandry

The picture below would be similar to what Ella sees from the window, only with a forest in the background instead of the town. 

view of Villandry gardens

If I remember correctly, the closer part of the garden in these pictures, with the small topiary trees, is called the Love Garden.  Each little hedge area represents a different kind of love, a very French Renaissance kind of garden.  The part you can see in the distance that’s set out in a series of squares is the vegetable garden.  It was October when I visited, and very rainy, which is why the pictures all seem to have a mist over them.

tree at Villandry


Here is the link to the official web page for the gardens.  There are a lot more pictures there of the gardens in different seasons.

Money in Pelimaa (and my other worlds)

I came up with the monetary system I use in my worlds while I was writing Fantasy Kingdom XXI since money was mentioned most frequently there, and I still think of it as Pelimaa’s system, but all of my books so far are taking place in the universe and all the countries there have the same basic system.  I’d like to say there was some deep, socio-economic reason for this, but really I like the system, it’s easy for me to make prices consistent with it, and I’m too lazy to come up with and remember a new system every time I create a new world.  So here is the short explanation.

  • gold coin: main unit the others are all based on, worth roughly $20
  • silver coin: 4=1 gold coin, worth about $5
  • copper coin: 10=1 silver coin, worth about $.50
  • penny: 50= 1 copper coin, worth about $.01

That’s it.  Different countries have coins that look different and may have different nicknames, and there can be different coins between these amounts, for example the book I’m writing now is set in Wallchester, where they have a coin called a rose, named after the design on one side, which is worth 2 silver coins.

Actual books are ready!

The paperback versions of my books are up on Amazon!  Very exciting for me.  The front covers are the same as the ebook versions.  Here are the back covers:

Fantasy Kingdom XXI back cover 

Fantasy Kingdom XXI.  The text is the same as the summary on the books page here.  Mainly more of the trees from the front cover.  If you were curious, the front cover image has Amertious’s sword, the smaller sword he taught Charles with (that’s the one on the ground), Phichorian’s mandolin and hat (he travels with a lot of instruments, that was the one that looked best in the picture), Bobble’s knitting, and Melissina’s crown.   I was going to use Melissina’s sword instead, but there were already too many of those scattered around and it wouldn’t have looked right.  Interesting bit of a fact, someone I knew who did re-enactments told me you never stick the point of your sword in the ground like they sometimes show in movies, bad for the point and gets it covered in germs which is not good if you accidentally cut someone later, although probably not a worry if you were fighting them for real.

Ella and the Panther's Quest back cover

Ella and the Panther’s Quest.  Again the same text as on the books page here.  Then there’s the door in the hedge from about halfway through the book, and the window from the panther’s prison that Ella sees in the first chapter.  The front cover has the panther and the footstool and Ella’s knitting.


Since this is the first post of my blog, I’ll start at the beginning. The beginning of my books. I don’t know where the ideas came from, but I do know where both books started.

Footstool from Ella and the Panther's QuestElla and the Panther’s Quest began with the footstool. Furniture with clawed feet seems like it ought to run around, so the idea of a footstool that suddenly gets up and walks away when you stand on it wasn’t hard to come up with. Then I needed someone to stand on it, and Ella appeared, nameless at the time, soon after.  She had to find the footstool somewhere, somewhere where you can climb on the furniture without it seeming strange, and where a mysterious new piece of old furniture wouldn’t draw attention to itself. The first ruled out a lot of public places, and the second a friend’s house. The library met both requirements. I didn’t go through that logic though, as soon as I saw Ella, I knew that was where she would find the footstool and that they would go though the mirror.  That was probably influenced by Through the Looking Glass, but I didn’t realize that until much later. The book she was looking at originally was Robin Hood, just because I liked how the line “It never would have happened if Maid Marion hadn’t been sitting on the top shelf,”  sounded.  When I caught the Alice connection, it was easy to modify the line to reflect that.

Fantasy Kingdom XXI started when I was on an airplane, going to Orlando (technically Lake Buena Vista). “Once upon a time, there was a sprite who knit a sweater” and I knew the sweater was magic, and that he would promptly lose it, and it would be found by someone he never intended. I had been working on Ella, which was a fairly feminine story, so for some reason I wanted this to be a more neutral story, something a boy could like too. I like video games, have liked them even when they were mainly a guy thing, so I thought that would balance out the girly-ness of princesses and knitting sprites, although Bobble is not the least bit girly once you get past that first line. Of course if you’ve read the book, or looked at the sample chapters I have online, you know that line never made it into the book. I considered writing a prologue, showing Phichorian and Sir Amertious waiting for Bobble to finish the sweater, but the book was mostly finished at that point, and it seemed like it would slow down the start of the story too much, especially since the reader wouldn’t know the characters or why it mattered so there would be lots of introductions needed, so I didn’t go too far with that.

my web page is copyright 2010, 2011 Lisa Anne Nisula
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