Vacation Reads Blog Tour – Week 2

This week’s Vacation Reads Blog Tour features four new titles, including interviews with the authors, book blurbs, and more.  Check for more information at the Vacation Reads web site and don’t forget to leave comments at at least one of our participating blogs (see Vacation Reads for the full list), as well as on the site itself, to enter our drawing to win prizes that include copies of our authors’ books, and more!

   

AETHER AGE ANTHOLOGY, edited by Brandon Bell
 
A past remade…

Take flight on airships, balloons, and wooden rockets. Soar with winged
hoplites, exiled princesses, explorers and philosophers.  Witness the struggle
for equality, freedom, and power like you never have before.

Explore a history transformed and travel into the heavens to discover what
awaits the civilizations of Humanity in…

Tell us about this anthology, Brandon.  What was it like for you to work as editor?

Aether Age: Helios was my first crack at working as editor.  By the time Aether
Age grew into something almost ready to open to submissions, Chris Fletcher made
the offer for me to co-edit the anthology, probably on the basis of my
involvement to that point, coupled with what he knew of me as a writer.  Being a
decent writer does not equal a decent editor, but I’d also done the guest post
on M-Brane outlining my ideas about what makes a good story, so Chris must have
believed he had enough data about what kind of editor I might be to feel some
confidence.

I’ve read interviews with editors that I respect and blog posts by writers
discussing their experience in magazines and anthologies.  Writers sometimes
feel betrayed by the inclusion of another story, or otherwise compromised due to
an inclusion, exclusion, or lack of editorial vision.  And depending on the
lens, Chris and I could look either terribly unpromising or a potential win —at
least in the matter of a diversity of views: two white guys (ah, hmmm), a gay
guy and a straight guy (oh, could be interesting), a non-christian and a
buddhist (really?).  All these are just details, though.  Diversity was never
even a discussion we had, it just happened.  I’m happy on this point: we have a
nice balance of female to male and a great world-spanning contributor list.

Ok, but what about the stories? 

Yes, that’s what matters. I won’t name names, but I find reassurance that the
tale I liked least during our reading period has grown into one of my
favorites.  Story, well told, trumps the most jaded of reader expectations. 

Our guiding editorial principle was simply to cover the range of time envisioned

with interesting tales that varied in tone.  We didn’t want a bunch of dark
stories or only stories that dealt with swashbuckling and adventure.  Though AeA
has all that. 

Some of the stories are not ‘my type of tale’.  Not the sort of thing I’d
typically read.  And I’m really happy about those stories.  I know a book like
Aether Age, so difficult to blurb or explain, is going to be a hard sell for
readers of a more romantic or mainstream bent, but I wish I could put it in the
hands of exactly that reader.  There’s just enough darkness, danger, and
adventure to make the gentle moments and so very human relationships echo in the
way that only seems to happen when a set of stories are presented as facets of
their own history.

We all love superstars.  Having a superstar in AeA would help sell copies, for
sure.  Well, we didn’t get the literary equivalent of U2 or The Beatles.  And
that is good.  If you are like me, you’ve had that pet band you know and love
that just never attained the household name-recognition of the superstars.  The
Mars Volta, The Tragically Hip, Arcade Fire, Portishead… notwithstanding my
Canadian readers for whom a couple of these ARE huge bands, down here in Texas
these are the good stuff that no one seems to know about. 

Maybe we have some future superstars in our midst among the AeA table of
contents.  We certainly have writers who are widely published and making names
for themselves.  But for now, here’s the short story equivalent to the 
‘educational mixtape’ you might put together in the hopes of pulling your
hopelessly misled buddies away from Lil Wayne and Justin Beaber.

In that same spirit I present to you The Aether Age: Helios.  For your enjoyment
and edification.


THE KULT by Shaun JeffreyThe Kult – People are predictable. That’s what makes them easy to kill.

Tell us about yourself, Shaun.
 
My name’s Shaun Jeffrey, and having grown up in a house in a cemetery, it’s
pretty safe to assume I was never going to be writing love stories, and perhaps
goes some way to explaining my attraction to the dark side of the literary
spectrum. 
 
I’ve been writing on and off for around twenty years, and it never gets any
easier. But then that’s all part of the challenge and the fun. If it was easy,
everyone would be doing it, and while everyone may have a story to tell, not
everyone can tell it.

Now along with cover pictures, I think taglines are important. They sum up the
story in as few words as possible and hopefully entice readers to buy the book.
Or at least to give it more than a passing glance. ‘People are predictable.
That’s what makes them easy to kill.’ That’s the tagline to my novel, The Kult,
which is a fast paced serial killer story that contains a mix of horror, crime
and mystery.

Is it true that it has been optioned for a movie?

The book was optioned at the end of last year by Gharial
Productions, and shooting on the film begins in September.
www.gharialproductions.com.  It will be interesting and exciting to see my story
brought to life, a story that award winning author Jonathan Maberry called ‘a
bumpy ride through nightmare country’. I have two other novels available,
‘Deadfall’ – when the dead won’t stay dead there’s going to be hell to pay. And
‘Evilution’ – humankind is about to change.

Details of these and any other projects can be found on my website:
www.shaunjeffrey.com and sample chapters and my previously published short story
collection ‘Voyeurs of Death’ can be read for free at
http://www.scribd.com/document_collections/2519626


BASED UPON AVAILABILITY by Alix Strauss

What is your book about, Alix?

Based Upon Availability delves into the lives of eight seemingly ordinary women,
each who pass through Manhattan’s swanky Four Seasons Hotel.  While offering
sanctuary to some, solace to others, the hotel captures their darkest and
twisted moments as they grapple with family, sex, power, love, and
death.  Trish, a gallery owner, obsesses over her best friend’s wedding and
dramatic weight loss. Robin wants revenge after a lifetime of abuse at the hands
of her older sister. Anne is single, lonely, and suffering from
obsessive-compulsive disorder. Drug-addicted rock star Louise needs to dry out.
Southerner-turned-wannabe Manhattanite Franny is envious of her neighbors’
lives. Sheila wants to punish her boyfriend for returning to his wife. Ellen so
desperately wants children, she’s willing to pretend to be pregnant. And Morgan,
the hotel manager— haunted by the memory of her dead sister—is the thread that
weaves these women’s lives together.  

In this an utterly original read, I try to ask and answer the age-old question; ‘what happens behind closed doors’ while
examining the walls we put up as we attempt intimacy, and inspecting the ruins
when they’re knocked down. 

Alix Strauss
Journalist/Author
www.alixstrauss.com

NATIVE VENGEANCE by Julie Achterhoff

Julie Achterhoff is the author of three books, Native Vengeance, Quantum Earth,
and Deadly Lucidity. They are paranormal thrillers. She grew up reading such
authors as Stephen King and Dean Koontz, which influenced her own writing. She
has been writing since childhood, scaring her teachers with her horror stories.
Reading has also been a great influence on her. Her books can be found on
amazon.com in regular form, and now on Kindle for $3.19 a piece. They can also
be purchased from the publisher at allthingsthatmatterpress.com. You can read
parts of her books on BookBuzzr.

Why did you become involved in your particular genre?

I just love scary stuff! It’s exciting for me to write stories that will scare
people and make them wonder if something like that could really happen. When I
was a kid I read every scary book I could get my hands on. I loved H.P.
Lovecraft and others that kept me up at night. I enjoy creating characters who
are strong, yet also vulnerable, so the reader can relate to them throughout the
story. I also enjoy writing a strong storyline that will keep readers engrossed
until the very end. I also like adding a romantic element in my books. I think
that gives them a little spice. I believe that thrillers are the most
interesting books. They can really get to you!

Read more about these, and other great titles at Vacation Reads.

Vacation Reads Blog Tour

During the month of July I’m participating with several (30!) authors in a group blog tour called Seasonal Reading.  In July, we’ll be featuring sets of different books that will make great reads for the lazy days of summer.  Each weekend, we’ll offer great prizes, including copies of the featured titles, promotional items, and more! 

1. Each weekend, we will be offering great prizes, including copies of the featured titles, promotional items, and more!  To enter the drawing, please leave a comment on one of the blogs AND on the master site at Seasonal Reads.
 
2. BONUS DRAWING: If anyone features any of our titles on their blogs and send us the link (in the comments section), they will be eligible for a second drawing, to win more of our great prizes. 
 
Winners will be notified in early August. 

 
ALSO: If anyone features any of our titles on their blogs and e-mails us the link, they will be eligible for a second drawing, to win more of our great prizes.

Winners will be notified by e-mail.

* * *

ALIEN DREAMS, by John Rosenman
http://www.johnrosenman.com

Captain Eric Latimore leads a four-person crew to Lagos to investigate a previous team’s mysterious disappearance. Once there, he discovers that an ominous alien presence is invading their dreams. Each member of his crew has the same dream–huge, seductively beautiful “angels” speak to them telepathically.

The creatures strand his crew on the planet and only Latimore can free them–if he survives.

What is different about ALIEN DREAMS, John?

I think Alien Dreams stands out from other space operas because I tried to open myself to and expand the vast conceptual possibilities of the genre.  Captain Latimore faces a unique threat to his crew on the planet Lagos: beautiful but deadly angel-like aliens who invade their dreams.  To save his crew, he must not only change into a gigantic angel himself, but mate with their ravishing queen for thousands of subjective years.  I believe this erotic scene breaks new ground, as does the hero himself, who is not one but two: a silent  brother exists within his mind and ultimately tries to take over.  Finally, Latimore must travel across the universe and do battle with a cosmic Gatekeeper for control of the universe.  In such areas, I try not only to explore new dimensions but to illuminate what it truly means to be human.

* * *

UNSEELIE, by Meredith Holmes
http://www.meredithholmes.com

When Alfhild was a little girl, her grandmother called her a fairy princess and told her all of her favorite tales.

She’d never imagined they were real.

Anxious to avoid the swarming reporters and ghoulish souvenir hunters who won’t leave her alone when her brother Gulliver is tried and acquitted for multiple murders he almost certainly committed, a grown up Alfhild changes her name to Lorelei and flees Louisiana to the sanctuary she inherited from her grandmother, the ancestral home in England.

All is well until she wakes one morning to find a naked man in her rosebush.

And the games begin . . .

Can you tell about your book, Meredith?

I fell in love with urban fantasy by accident–one day I saw a card in a local metaphysical shop, one of those blank jobs that you fill out for random occasions, when you forgot a birthday or need to send a thank you note and don’t like what the mainstream card shops have to offer (you can only deal with so many dancing bunnies and softly flourished flowers, after all).  The card had a picture of a autumn-colored man clad in green velvet and wearing a crown of dark leaves.  A story sprang into my head about him and I called him Cadfael.  By that night, I had the first six chapters of Unseelie written (in their earliest, raw form); Alfhild, Cadfael and Du had taken off and were running away with my plot and the twists and turns of the Unseelie and Seelie Courts were just pouring out into the digital pages.  I blithely called it a romance but within a few more chapters, I realized no, it was urban fantasy, a genre I’d shunned as a fantasy purist… Well, fool me!  Now that is my genre of choice when I write and I’ve expanded from faeries to include demons, witches, and creatures of all sorts.

* * *

IVAN AND MARYA, by Anna Kashina
http://annakashina.com

Every Solstice, every year, a young girl dies to prolong the life of a madman.

Every Solstice a hero tries to stop them…and dies.

But this is Ivan’s year. Though his brothers plot his death, and the villagers
whose daughters are dying warn him not to interfere, Ivan the Fool is determined to stop the sacrifice.

With the help of the immortals, gotten by sympathy, force, or guile, Ivan
believes his love will save the beautiful Marya from herself.

Where did the idea for IVAN AND MARYA come from?

I felt that Russian fairy tales have not been explored enough in fiction, and
they have so much to offer to a writer and a reader.  I built on a most
classical one, but also did something different with it.  My story is told from
two points of view — Marya, who is on the side of ‘evil’, and Ivan, who is on
the side of ‘good’, and the contrast between the two creates shades of depth
that amazed me when I was working on the story.  It was a pleasure to write,
and I constantly had this feeling of revelation, as if I am not making this up
but uncovering yet another layer of a fascinating world.  I also did my best to
make it as authentic as possible, down to the details of the Russian Solstice
celebration, an ancient tradition that is very much practiced today.

* * *

CHOCOLATIER’S WIFE, Cindy Lynn Speer
http://www.apenandfire.com

Tasmin, William’s wife to be, was chosen by a spell, as all wives and husbands are chosen. It’s a nice, tidy way to find a reasonable mate for almost everyone. Unfortunately, Tasmin is from the North, a place of magic and strange ritual, and William is from the South, where people pride themselves on being above that kind of insanity.

William doesn’t seem in a hurry to send for Tasmin, for which none of his family blame him. After all, she’s a barbarian. She, on the other hand, would like to know what’s keeping him. When he’s framed for murdering his patron, Tasmin takes matters into her own hands. She’s gotten to know William from his letters. He’s not a murderer and she’s going to help him prove it.

Someone out there doesn’t like him and is beginning to dislike Tasmin almost as much, and that someone isn’t at all averse to making sure William and Tasmin aren’t around long enough to celebrate their wedding.

Tasmin, of course, has other plans.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I am a part time writer… like everyone, I’m juggling a lot of delicate porcelain plates… one for writing, one for work, one for family, one for fencing.  It splits your focus… but it also gives you a lot of great ideas and experiences to pull from.  Would I like to be a full time writer?  For certain.  But I think that being forced to go out and talk to people every day, being exposed to life, enriches me and therefore will, hopefully, be reflected in my work.  So, in that way, it affects things positively… in the whole productivity issue, well… sometimes things are not so positive.

* * *

COMPOSING MAGIC, Elizabeth Barrette
http://ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com

Composing Magic: How to Create Spells, Rituals, Blessings, Chants, and Prayers guides you through the exciting realm of magical and spiritual writing.  Explore the process of writing, its tools and techniques, individual types of composition, and ways of sharing your work with other people. Each type of writing includes its history and uses, covering diverse traditions; plus step-by-step instructions, finished compositions, and exercises.  Intended for alternative religions, but it can be generalized to others or used by fiction writers to create background tidbits.

Why did you write this book, Elizabeth?

I spotted a gap in previous material — I have a knack for doing that.  Pagan/magical books tell people to write their own rituals, spells, etc. but rarely give any guidance on doing it.  Writing books tell people how to write in general, but there were no specific guides for magical writing and not many for spiritual writing.  I’m good at figuring out how I do what I do and then explaining it to other folks so they can work through the steps.  It wasn’t until the reviews came in for _Composing Magic_ that I realized this is a rather rare skill — most of them mention how clear and doable the instructions are.  So now I’m trying to make more use of this skill.

Drollerie Press Blog Tour

This month, our theme is music, and I’m honored to host Nora Fleischer.  Mark your calendars for the next Drollerie Press chat on September 27th at 4 PM Eastern.  We always have a ton of fun and usually end up talking about zombies, Muppets, Sting, and everything in between!

(My post will be posted sometime today at Sarah Avery’s livejournal here.)

~ * ~

Over Her HeadI love setting stories in the early twentieth century, partly because I like the popular novelists of the era (dig up The Wall Street Girl, if you can, for a fun read), but mostly because they’re the first generation to be recognizably modern.  They have cars, bicycles, and telephones.  For the first time, young women get educated and work in jobs that use their education.  (They called them New Women.)  And, for the first time, people are able to record music. 

Recording music must have been a great thing for musicians– can you imagine knowing that your art would disappear as soon as it was completed?– but it might have been even better for the average music lover.  Imagine living in a period when hearing good, professional-quality music was a rare treat, not something you could get for free just for snapping on the radio!  When if you wanted to hear music, you’d better learn to play an instrument.

Garrett Hathaway, the hero of my novella, Over Her Head, set in 1905, is a huge opera fan, and he treasures his Victrola.  What sort of thing might an opera lover in the early 1900s be able to listen to?  Here’s a recording from the Library of Congress’s American Memory site:  http://memory.loc.gov/mbrs/berl/131113.mp3.  The sound quality makes me very happy to have an iPod!  But here’s the challenge for me as a novelist– people like Garrett were very proud and excited about all the opportunities that modernity brought to them.  I hope, by showing the way Garrett enjoys listening to music, I’m able to convey that excitement to today’s reader.”

Drollerie Press Blog Tour

In honor of Father’s Day, this month’s theme is, of course, fathers!  Please welcome Angela Korra’ti, author of the fabulously fun Faerie Blood.  The links for the rest of this month’s posts can be found at Drollerie Press.

Faerie Blood

Every writer who’s strung together more than five words in a row knows the maxim “write what you know”. Given that my mother passed away when I was sixteen and that I saw very little of my father throughout my childhood and much of my adulthood before he too finally passed away, it’s therefore probably no surprise to anyone that a lot of my characters wind up with parental issues–if they have parents around on camera at all.
In Faerie Blood‘s cast alone, I’ve got a heroine whose parents are both dead, a hero with a dead mother and a father shattered by her death, and an antagonist who is himself a father with severe issues. And if I go and survey stories I haven’t sold yet, I’ve got an epic fantasy with three main characters whose fathers are all dead, a Greek-mythology-based urban fantasy which by definition has characters with father issues all over the place, and a couple of science fiction novels whose lead characters are decidedly father-deficient.

Are y’all sensing a pattern here?

And yet, I can’t say that I set out to work out my daddy issues through my characters. If anything, I’d say that I picked it up from all the books I’ve ever read in my life–since after all, you can’t swing a stick in a library without hitting a book that involves at least one character with major parental issues. It’s one of the most universal themes there is.

I can say this, though: that memory I have of writing the leprechaun story, the one where the girl gets swept off by the leprechauns to be their queen for a day? I remember telling my dad about that not long after I’d written it. I was riding somewhere with him in his big convertible car, and although I can barely remember the incident now, I’m pretty sure Dad was listening to me with that tolerantly interested way I’m thinking any parent reading this will recognize themselves having whenever their child starts telling them all about leprechaun stories they made up. It was my dad, too, who bought me my first typewriter, the one on which I typed up the very first manuscript I ever tried to professionally submit. So among all of my family members, my father’s still the one who gave me the most support.

Which means a lot to me, to this day.

I wish you could have gotten to see my first real novel come to life, Dad. I miss you. And if I ever sell Queen of Souls, for the record, none of the daddy issues in there came from you.

News & Thanks

First, thank you to everyone who helped make this a great week for Dear Sir, I’m Yours!  I’m stunned and honored to see Dear Sir in the #1 bestseller slot at My Bookstore & More.  I hope you’re enjoying it!

Second, I have news.  If you were at the Drollerie Press chat last night, you know this already.  The Rose of Shanhasson is coming to PRINT this November, along with Confessions of the Creature and two others (sorry, I can’t remember them off the top of my head — some of our earlier releases).  As we get closer and details are firmed, I’ll update Rose’s page.  I’m so excited I can hardly sit still!

Watch the DP Bookshop for several new releases coming today or this weekend, including Needles & Bones, a fantastic looking anthology I can’t wait to get my hands on.

Lastly, the Drollerie Press blog tour will be this weekend, too.  In honor of Father’s Day, Isabella Thanatos (Beautiful Death) has a few choice words to say about her father (monster! murderer! bastard!)  Oops, maybe she’ll talk about Icarus instead.  He’s the father she wished she had.

Drollerie Press Blog Tour

Our theme this month is “poetry” in honor of poetry month.  The master list of participants can be found at Drollerie Press.  Please welcome Cindy Lynn Speer, the author of the lovely The Chocolatier’s Wife!  My post can be found on her blog here.

I have a strong connection to poetry…I was drawn to it early, partly because it was something that felt accomplishable.  I could finish a poem in one sitting if I felt the words, and it was an outlet for all those jumbled, impossible emotions we feel in our teens, a place to say things about the things I’d seen, to remind me of what I’d felt, of what I’d experienced.   Sometimes you can’t use an image in a story, but it still means something…the abandoned warehouses, the fallen in barns, the boy on the bus with the smile that means a thousand things.
 
For years, I’d be walking around, or doing work, or whatever, and I’d hear a line in my head, over and over again, like a song.  I’d write it down, and sometimes, the lines would follow, spinning like a web.
 
I used to read my poems out loud, to audiences.  Sometimes people would ask for copies.   One of the most popular was this, inspired by a line from Dante.
 
Nor in memory held

It is dark and cold.
I sit on the heating vent in my kitchen floor,
thinking only of
the smoothness of the glass I hold,
the hum of the refrigerator…
mundane, I know,
cut to the chase.
You see, nothing major happened today,
I didn’t have a friend die of AIDS,
or wreck my car.
But the feeling I have
is incomprehensible…
It’s the feeling you get when your husband’s
no longer your best friend,
or you realized that the girl you thought
was your sister in college wasn’t ever going to call,
or write, or even remember you.
Nor in memory held,
you sit in the darkness and feel sorry for yourself,
happy for the warm air across belly and breasts,
for the dusky bitter taste of orange juice,
and the frost defracting into jewels on the window.
That is why I cry,
for beauty not…
Nor in memory held.

 
 
This was me, just before graduating from college…before I was married, before I found out that there may come a time when your “Husband is your husband’s no longer your best friend, or you realized that the girl you thought was your sister in college wasn’t ever going to call…”  It turned out to be prophetic.  I divorced my college sweetheart…and I found that I no longer heard the words in my head.  No lines came to me like a refrain, and any images that came seemed to fit better in a short story or novel…they had their own music to them, but not that kind.  It was as if the part of my mind that wrote poetry had died.  You’d think not, since poetry had been such a huge emotional outlet for me, but maybe it’d gotten overwhelmed, blown a circuit, or just decided to go on strike.
 
Sometimes, I try again.  I found a snippet of a poem I started, long time ago, sitting in the back of a soiree, waiting my turn to read.  It was about the time I started getting interested in fairy tales again, and so I decided, later, to finish it.   I don’t know if I will ever be able to call myself a poetess again, but maybe, sometime, to paraphrase a line from Anne Sexton, the music will swim back to me.
 
The Piper’s Children
 
“…and they were never seen again.” – from The Pied Piper
 
The woods are dark and deep,
but the blackness,
and bleakness,
bother me no longer.
It did when I first entered them.
I was seven and the music,
that lovely sound,
gentle and coaxing like a warm river,
lead us all.
We were leaves,
spinning and turning on that magic current…
But without warning
the music was gone,
leaving us empty,
abandoned and hopeless.
I found a wide stream
and I waited
for the music to come again.
If I wait long enough,
maybe he’ll relent,
lift his pipe to his lips
and that beautiful tide will return.
It will rise and flow
and take us home.

Drollerie Press Blog Tour

Cindy Lynn Speer's The Chocolatier's Wife

This month, we thought it would be fun to interview each other’s characters from a Drollerie Press story.  I was thrilled to interview Tasmin Bey from Cindy Lynn Speer’s The Chocolatier’s Wife

Stop by Angela Korra’ti’s blog for a talk with Herakles from Beautiful Death!  I’ll add the main blog entry listing all participants once it’s up.  And now, here’s Tasmin!

 

 

One of the things that intrigued me so much as The Chocolatier’s Wife (TCW) unfolds is how very upfront everyone is about the Mating Spell.  It was guaranteed only to find the “best match” not “true love.”  In William’s life, most everyone joined by the Mating Spell had significant difficulties (I won’t expand to avoid spoilers!).  Is the same true in Tarnia?  Is true love viewed as “ridiculous” as in the South?  Did anyone that William and/or you know personally ever disregard the Mating Spell and marry strictly for love, or were all required to either accept the spell or remain alone?
 

T:  I believe that, for the most part the spell is so culturally integrated that we all accept that it has to be done, usually the spell is completed when we are children and are too young to do anything else, and grow up accepting what has been given.  Since it is against the law to go against the spell, no one really speaks about whether they had or not…I don’t actually know of anyone who has gone against it, but you always hear tales of people being murdered so that they can be with the one they love.  It’s more like a whisper, or a myth…like the hook handed pirate who hangs about in the forest at the edge of town to kidnap naughty children.
 
When you found out that William had been arrested for murder, it would have been so easy for you to simply accept the news and remain at the university.  That’s certainly what your entire family wanted!  You’d kept all of William’s letters and gifts over the years.  Were there any special items or a particular tidbit in a letter that made you more determined than ever to join him?
 
T: I don’t know that there was one particular item that drew me, I think that I was far more enchanted by the whole than any one thing…because in some ways, the things he sent me, the letters, were all bits of the puzzle of what kind of man he was, and I knew him to be solid, and good, and generous…the way that he spoke was always kind, and it was comforting to know that the man I am to spend my life with would be all of these things.  
  
Very few people are born in the South with any magic at all, at least since the horrible war 500 years before TCW.  If someone is born with a talent in the South, where could he/she go for training?
 
T: If the talent is minor…the ability to find lost objects, or such, then they usually get taught by the Wise Woman, but if the talent is greater, then someone from the North, called a Finder, is dispatched.  The person will be trained at a university, without their family having to worry about providing for them…tis a public service, since any unchecked talent is even more frightening than a person who has had training.
 
Tell us a bit more about your magic and the other talents.  Are women always Herb Mistresses, never men?  Or are there any clear “classes” that can predict the various talents?
 
T: No, not always.  There are many Herb Masters, as well…there are no truly clear classes, as in any ability there are people who excel at some things and are weak in others.  The talent that comes through the strongest is usually the primary talent that people concentrate on, but they can do other things, as well.  My mother always felt I could have concentrated more on elements and been quite talented, but I was much more interested in the workings of herb and stone.
 
William’s family wasn’t very welcoming, to say the least.  I thought you accepted their dislike very gracefully, but I’m afraid I wouldn’t have been quite so forgiving.  *wg*  Were you ever tempted to use just a teeny bit of magic to teach them a lesson?  If so, what would you have *loved* to do to gain a little revenge?
 
T: Oh, never!  *grins back*  There was never any moment when I would have been strongly tempted to play just a tiny prank to get them to break their absolutely voracious dignity.  They all acted with so much decorum sometimes that I would have loved to have seen one of them do something human…something that would have made them laugh at themselves a little and seem a little more reachable. 
 
This is such a sweet, moving love story.  Tell me, Tasmin, girl to girl.  At what point did you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you loved William, Mating Spell or not?

T: Forgive me for pausing so long on my answer, but I fear you will think me silly.  I think it was when we first, actually, met, and he kissed the palm of my hand.  I felt the warmth of his lips and this sort of fierceness, as if he were truly glad to see me, and it short right down my arm and into my heart. 
 
  *melts*

As I said in our Book Chats last year, The Chocolatier’s Wife is an incredibly sweet, romantic fantasy with a touch of mystery.  Thanks for stopping by, Tasmin!

Drollerie Press Blog Tour

This month our Drollerie Press blog tour theme is “origins.”  Please welcome Angela Cameron!

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Hello everyone in Burkhart land! *waves*

Angela Cameron here. As a part of the Drollerie Press author blog tour, I’m stopping by Joely’s to share the story of my beginning as a writer. I always think it’s so interesting to hear how others started out. We each have our own twisted tale of how we either embraced what we were from the beginning—or fought it back with a stick like I did.

 Mouth of the South

In all honesty, I knew that I was a storyteller from a young age. I rattled on so much that my parents and aunt literally nicknamed me “Mouth of the South”. In grade school, I wrote stories for my friends and journaled every day. They were often a little dark for my age. I blame it on my dad who is a huge fan of horror and vampires.

I didn’t publish anything until high school, and that was only because my English teacher threatened me into entering a poetry contest. I won, and that victory was almost tempting enough for me to abandon my chosen career as an artist to try writing.

 Me…a tech geek? Nah.

But life jumped in my path. I married early on and had a daughter, giving up any hope of ever being the next Stephen King or Anne Rice, who were my favorites. Then, in 1998, I found a guilty pleasure that started that dream right back up—Vampire: The Masquerade. I was such a role playing geek, but I really kicked some ass online. *smiles*

That level of character creation and writing really started an obsession. Still, I fought it and worked as a website designer until 2005, when I went back to college to finish my degree in psychology.  I’d done little more than outline a vampire story until 2006, when I finally gave in and sent off a few pieces of flash fiction. They were accepted and published, which started the whole crazy obsession with becoming a novelist.

 Regrets?

The next year, I wrote a novella that sold to Drollerie Press and published under the title Nocturne. Of course, it was a vampire story. By the end of this year, I should have four novels and two anthology stories with my name on them. I’m so ecstatic. I’ve never been happier, now that I’ve allowed myself to follow this path. I haven’t “arrived” by any means. No, there are still a whole lot of rungs on that ladder above me. My only regret though is that I’d have done this a long time ago. Seeing your name (or pen name, as in my case) on a published piece is the greatest feeling in the world.

For more information on Angela Cameron and her stories, check out Angela Cameron.