Award-winning author
Unusual times, remarkable places

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

19 December 2012

Amber Kallyn's Birthday Bash blog-hop contest



From author Amber Kallyn:

I love the holidays, but not necessarily having my birthday fall smack dab in the middle of them. But this year, I’d like to do something special for my readers. Over 25 authors and bloggers have come together to celebrate my 24th birthday (I won’t mention how many years I’ve turned 24 again).

We have some wonderful prizes, and all you have to do is leave a comment at the participating blogs to win. Easy.

Also, my novel Bloodstorm (Heart of a Vampire, Book 1) is free right now for an early present:
http://amzn.to/QBFVsR
  

Grand prize 


One commenter will win their choice of a NOOK Simple Touch™ with GlowLight or a Kindle Paperwhite (up to $140 value).


Other prizes

Ebooks from the following authors:

  • Paloma Beck (Coming Home, contemporary romance)
  • Jami Grey (Shadow’s Edge and Shadow’s Soul, urban fantasy)
  • Zrinka Jelic (paranormal romance)
  • Christine Fairchild (An Eye For Danger, romantic suspense)
  • Marian Lanouette (If I Fail, mystery)
  • Sylvia Hubbard (five ebooks)
  • Kenra Daniels (Safe Heart and Kassern, paranormal romance)
A $40 Gift card to either Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Some of the other blogs taking part will have additional give-aways.


How to win
 

The contest is open from Wednesday, December 19, to Saturday, December 22. Hop to all the blogs. The winner will be chosen from among those who comment on participating blogs. Leave a comment at each blog for additional entries to win. The winner will be drawn on Sunday, December 23.

Participating blogs


Amber’s information
Website http://www.amberkallyn.com/
Twitter http://twitter.com/AmberKallyn
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/AmberKallyn
Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/amberkallyn
Books:
Bloodstorm (Heart of a Vampire, Book #1) http://amzn.to/QBFVdR currently free
Hungerstorm (Heart of a Vampire, Book #2) http://amzn.to/NFvW6E


❖❖❖❖❖

Happy birthday, Amber, and thanks for including my blog in your contest.
  

06 December 2012

Clarion Writers' Workshop opens to applications


As of 1 December, the Clarion Science Fiction and Writers' Workshop opened to applications for the class of 2013.

campus of the University of California at San Diego
Clarion is widely recognized as a premier training ground for aspiring writers of fantasy and science fiction short stories. The 2011 writers in residence Andy Duncan, Nalo Hopkinson, Cory Doctorow, Robert Crais, Karen Joy Fowler, and Kelly Link. (Learn more about the great faculty at http://literature.ucsd.edu/affiliated-programs/clarion/faculty.html.) Each year 18 students are selected from applicants who have the potential for highly successful writing careers. Students are expected to write several new short stories during the six-week workshop, and to give and receive constructive criticism. Instructors and students reside together in University of California at San Diego campus apartments throughout the intensive six-week program.

Application period: December 1—March 1. Applicants must submit two short stories with their application.

Workshop: June 23—August 3, 2013.

For more information, please visit http://clarion.ucsd.edu.


Why should you consider applying?
  • You'll learn how to critique other people's writing and thus your own.
  • Your writing will improve amazingly.
  • You'll make several friends for life.
  • You get to spend six weeks on a tree-filled campus immersed in writing—no cooking, no chores, no noisy children or demanding pets, nothing at all to prevent you from living and breathing writing.
  • You'll have the most fun one can possibly have while being severely sleep deprived.
  • You'll find out whether you truly want to be a writer.
  • Being a Clarion grad opens doors for you and gives you a professional connection to dozens of professional sf/f writers (and writers in some other genres as well).
  • Your life will change forever.
Yes, Clarion is pricey—nearly $5000 this year. (That includes tuition, private room in a three-person apartment with kitchen, Internet service, and three meals per day at the dining hall, as well as a parking pass if you take your car.) Some scholarships are available, including the Leonard Pung Scholarship initiated by my own class of 2009 for students over 40.

However, if you truly want to be a professional or semiprofessional writer, Clarion is worth the money. In essence, it leapfrogs you and your career several years ahead of where you'd be otherwise. And if you discover that the writing life is not for you, then you can stop wasting time writing and get on with what you should be doing with your life.

If you have any questions about Clarion, feel free to post them in the comments or email me at ShaunaRoberts [at] ShaunaRoberts [dot] com.

30 November 2012

Guest post: Constructing spells for fantasy


Today I welcome author Karin Gastreich to "For Love of Words." She is sharing the process by which she constructed magic spells for the fantasy world of her novels,the Kingdom of Moisehén.


Constructing Spells for Fantasy
by Karin Gastreich

Recently, a reader asked me to write a post about the spells in my novel Eolyn. Magic is a fundamental component of fantasy worlds, and so spells often form an integral part of world-building.

cover art © Jesse Smolover
I am unaware of any hard-and-fast rules for crafting spells, but I have come across some interesting debates in my journey as a writer.

I’ve heard fellow authors say, for example, that it’s best not to include verbatim spells at all; that funky language often distracts from the story itself. Others have contradicted this advice by insisting that spells add authenticity.

I have also witnessed debates over which spells to include. At one of my writers group meetings we once had a lively discussion on the dangers of writing spells for summoning demons as part of our stories. Some members argued that verses of dark magic should be left out altogether, because even fictitious spells might actually have some potency if they fall into the wrong hands.

For my part, I do not believe the spells we make up for storytelling have any power in the real world, for good or ill. No matter how many times you repeat the spell provided by the hag Ghemena in chapter two of Eolyn, you will not be able to heat up that cup of cold water containing a sprig of fresh mint with your bare hands. If you really want some hot tea, you need to put the teapot on the stove and do things the old fashioned way. (Or you can recite the spell while you put the cup in the microwave—not only will that work, it might even feel more like “magic.”)

In the earliest drafts of Eolyn, I did not include any verbatim spells. I began crafting spells at the suggestion of one of the members of my writers group.

I am not a linguist, so the first thing I decided was that the grammar—and vocabulary—of my spell language would be as simple as possible. In addition, I knew spells would have to be highly structured, reflecting the rigid organization of magic in the Kingdom of Moisehén.

Spells would also have to incorporate an important core belief of the magas and mages: All magic is a gift from the Gods, a power mediated through their messenger Dragon and brought into manifestation by the intent of the practitioner.

With these thoughts in mind, this is how I put together my spells:

photo taken by Julia Shapiro
In the tradition of Moisehén, all spells begin by calling upon Dragon. Dragon has two sacred names, Ehekaht, which reflects its female nature, and Ehekahtu, which reflects its male nature. In general, magas invoke the female manifestation of Dragon and mages invoke the male manifestation, but this is more a matter of cultural tradition than a necessary practice. Magas who invoke Ehekahtu and mages who invoke Ehekaht are just as likely to be successful in their spells, as long as their intentions are properly focused.

The body of a spell is constructed as a petition to the Gods. For example:

Naeom means “give us.”

Faeom means “protect us.”

Elaeom means “take us.”

See how easy I made the grammar? There’s only one option, ever, for conjugating those sacred verbs!

Following the command, it’s just a matter of stating what the practitioner wishes to be given or protected from or where she wants to be taken. For example:

Naeom tzefur means “give us heat.”

Faeom dumae means “protect us from the enemy.”

You can then add simple qualifiers to indicate in what form and for what purpose you want the heat to manifest, or who you consider your enemy, and so forth.

Because all mages and magas are well-mannered (even when they are at war with one another), a spell always ends by thanking Dragon and the Gods she represents. The sacred word for “thank you” is Ehukae or, less commonly, Ukahe.

So a complete (if simple) spell might look like this:

Ehekaht naeom tzefur. Ehukae.

Now, as Ghemena tells young Eolyn early in the novel, it is not enough to merely recite the words. The maga must accomplish two tasks in addition to this. She must anchor her spirit to the living earth, the direct source of her power. She must also focus her will on the task she wishes to accomplish. If her spirit is not properly anchored, or if her focus is off, the spell can misfire or simply won’t work. (The more powerful the spell, the deeper and stronger one’s anchor to the earth must be; it is here that the use of the staff comes in handy for practitioners of High Magic, as it helps them to better channel the earth’s energy.)

That covers the basics of spells in Eolyn’s world.

There was some debate during the final edits of Eolyn, just before the book went to press, as to whether the spells should be in italics, in quotation marks, or both. We decided italics without quotation marks, because spells are not so much spoken as they are imagined and visualized with tremendous force of intention.

I would be very interested in learning more about how spells are constructed in other fantasy worlds, so if you have something to share from your own stories, or books you’ve read, please tell me about it!

Ehekaht, raeom enaem.

Dragon, make us friends.

Ehukae.

❖❖❖❖❖

Karin Rita Gastreich lives in Kansas City, Missouri, and Heredia, Costa Rica. She is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Avila University. Her pastimes include camping, hiking, music, and flamenco dance.

Karin's fantasy fiction publications include short stories in Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, and 69 Flavors of Paranoia. Her debut novel, Eolyn (Hadley Rille Books), is available as an ebook, in paperback, and as a hardcover. The companion novel, High Maga, is scheduled for release in 2014. She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer's Residency.

You can visit Karin at http://eolynchronicles.blogspot.com or at http://heroinesoffantasy.blogspot.com.

28 November 2012

Update on fall 2012


I've neglected my blog lately, but not because anything is wrong. My life has been really busy!

I will have a real post up on Friday, 30 November. Check back then to read a great guest post by author Karin Gastreich on crafting spells for your fantasy story or novel.

In other news, all Hadley Rille Books ebooks will be on sale for a week starting tomorrow (Thursday, 29 November) for 99¢. Some new novels have come out this fall, so you may want to see what's new at http://www.hadleyrillebooks.com/titles.html. Ebooks make great holiday gifts.

Here's some of what's been keeping me so busy.

1. I've been a guest at other people's blogs.

In October, I did a Halloween-themed post at Star-Crossed Romance on how to create fear in your reader:
http://star-crossedromance.blogspot.com/2012/10/guest-shauna-roberts.html

Also in October, I blogged at Nicole Galloway-Miller's blog about whether one should research historical fiction before or after writing it:
http://nrgalloway24.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/guest-blog-how-circumcision-taught-me-to-always-research-first-write-second/

In today's guest post at Karin Gastreich's "Eolyn Chronicles" blog, I talk about how preconceptions kept archaeologists from realizing that at least some of the women buried in the Royal Cemetery of Ur (in ancient Sumer) were probably ruling queens:
http://eolynchronicles.blogspot.com/2012/11/women-and-archeology-queens-of-ancient.html

2. I am having a great—but exhausting—time teaching a University of California at Riverside–Osher Institute extension course on the "Epic of Gilgamesh." The Osher Institute here is one of several in the United States; as I understand it, all serve only people over 50. No homework, no tests, and no one is there because they have to be. My students are incredibly enthusiastic, making it a joy to teach them.

3. I also have received the edits for my summer 2013 fantasy novel, Ice Magic, Fire Magic. A new manuscript is due back to Hadley Rille Books by the end of the year, so I won't have much time to breathe until 2013.

10 October 2012

Squirrel tunnels to nowhere


Have you ever read an article about how archaeologists can find traces of human activity from long ago by flying over and taking photos of the area? If archaeologists flew over my yard, they would discover that under the soil is an extensive network of squirrel tunnels.

The one saving grace is that the squirrels limit their  tunnel openings mainly to the bare hills in our yard and have only a few bolt holes in our lawn (with the exception of the week this summer when the 15 or more baby squirrels practiced digging tunnel entrances...but I try not to think about that).

However, this summer I started a vegetable garden, and I put it on one of the flatter hills. The digging apparently collapsed and interrupted some tunnels, because the squirrels kept digging new tunnels in certain places. I would fill them with rocks and soil; they would open a new tunnel next to a filled one or even pull out the rocks.

I laughed and laughed the day I discovered this Y-tunnel.


The tunnel emerges from the ground and branches into two open-air "tunnels." One goes under the side support of the garden bed and irrigation hoses into the garden path, where it peters out. The other runs along the side support for a little over a foot before it, too, peters out. The close-up below shows the tunnels better.



I left these tunnels in place for a while, but recently I started planting my fall crops, so these tunnels had to make way for more dirt and plants. But I took several pictures for whenever I want a laugh.

03 October 2012

A day in the life of


Several months ago, I heard about the 3six5 project and signed up.

The 3six5 project documents each day of 2012, with each day described in a 365-word blog post by a different person. I signed up for a day because I wanted to document what it was like to deal with several chronic illnesses while trying to squeeze in a regular life as well.

My post went up yesterday. It doesn't cover what I wanted to cover; 365 words was too short. My title, "Life in the Interstices," even got cut off because I didn't know its four words were to be included in the word count.

365 words turned out to be too short even to fully describe my prescription-related routine. Instead, I gave an impressionistic view of what it's like to be on 17 prescription medicines.

Medicine after medicine after medicine....
Ironically, even though my blog post at the 3six5 project showed my day to consist primarily of taking medicines, getting labs to check on the effects of taking medicines, and going to the drugstore to pick up medicines, I couldn't even squeeze in everything prescription-related I did.

Here's what also happened on 2 October 2012 that I left out:
  • I filled out an information form for the drugstore.
  • There was a snafu: I had requested three prescriptions online, but only two were waiting at the drugstore.
  • While the pharm tech was trying to figure out what had gone wrong, she requested a refill for a prescription I only take "as needed" and which I didn't need yet. So now I need to make another trip to the drugstore to pick that prescription up.
  • After I got home, I had to research my prescription histories at different drugstores to see what was up with that third prescription. I decided it was probably one that I had prescriptions on file for at more than one drugstore and so the insurance company didn't approve the refill.
  • I decided that from now on, I'll  print out online acknowledgements of prescription refills so that it will be easier to figure out what went wrong when I don't get the right number (which happens every couple months or so).
Anyway, my post is neither whiny (I hope) nor graphic. If you're interested in a snapshot of a typical day in my life, you can read about it here:
http://the3six5.posterous.com/october-2-2012-shauna-roberts

There are still some openings in 2012 for 3six5 project posts. If you're interested, you can learn how to apply for a spot at http://the3six5.posterous.com/the3six5-call-for-authors-2011.

Next week, I'm back to blogging about something lighter: squirrel tunnels. See you then!

27 September 2012

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade ... or gumbo


Much as we love all the wild animals that come to our yard, they can be a pest when they help themselves to tomatoes in the garden or nearly ripe fruit in our mini-orchard. Our long, hot, dry summers make things worse. The coyotes look for moisture everywhere. They not only drink out of the bucket of water we put out for them but also sometimes chew on the irrigation heads, knock over the birdbath, and bite open vegetables merely to suck the juice out.

The cactus before its fruits were stolen
 Recently, the coyotes climbed up the large cactus outside our dining room to get at its half-ripe fruits, in the process knocking off many leaves and leaving deep gouges from their claws in the leaves that remained.

I had started a cactus garden on the hill visible from my husband's office window, but the cost of large cacti has kept the garden growing slowly. After I got over my distress at what the coyotes had done, I realized that I could  jumpstart my cactus garden by planting all those large leaves in it...and those leaves wouldn't cost a cent. So I did.

But I saved two out to experiment cooking with. The first thing I made was a vegetarian Cajun gumbo. I put the recipe up yesterday at "Meal Times: Ancient Foods for Modern Cooks."

One broken leaf went into a pot of gumbo.
If you've never made gumbo before, my earlier post "Cajun Gumbo Made Easy" has many hints.

If you like meat in your gumbo, I suggest adding diced tasso and/or chopped chicken in step 5 (that is, let the meat simmer with the rest).

I hope you try my recipe out and let me know what you think!

16 September 2012

From niece to aunt


Today I honor my aunt Janet Louise Roberts as part of the "Celebrating Womanhood" blog event initiated by the Cabin Goddess blog.


Cabin Goddess Kriss wrote,

For one day, we want to drown out negativity and celebrate the beauty and pride of women.

These days it seems that some people want us to be ashamed of being women. They want us to believe that we’re less: less intelligent, less important, less human. There is so much negativity out there. For one day, we want to flood the internet with positive messages about women. On September 16, 2012 we’re going to write positive blog posts about women, and we invite you to join us.

Aunt Janet was the woman who inspired my choices and beliefs most. She was unmarried in a time when that was unthinkable. She knew what she wanted out of life and went after it, not letting other people or her health problems discourage her. It took years and years of writing in the sexist 1950s and 1960s before she found an agent to take a chance on her, but she never gave up. Her first novel—of more than a hundred—was published in 1970 when she was 42. She was a career woman who loved both of her jobs, librarian and novelist, and she traveled to many countries researching her novels, often by herself.

What a great example she set! I grew up knowing that even though I was a girl, I still had choices. I could follow my dreams and be successful if I was willing to work hard and ignore naysayers.

More importantly, Aunt Janet taught me to love reading and books. She herself loved to read from childhood. From the time I was small, she encouraged me (and later my siblings) with her birthday and Christmas gifts and her postcards from foreign countries to expand my mind and ambitions and to think beyond Beavercreek, Ohio.

Christmas 1971.  Left to right: Renee Roberts, Mitch Roberts, Janet Louise Roberts, White Star (cat), Vince Roberts, Shauna Roberts

Several gifts stand out. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, my favorite book until I read Jane Eyre. A two-book set for children on geography and world history, my first introduction to ancient history. A book on Renaissance art, which initiated my love of the Renaissance and my knowledge of art. A slide set of art in the Louvre. A wonderful book of fairy tales edited by Andrew Lang—the green one, I think—which I lent to a cute boy in junior high and never got back. All of the volumes of the "Narnia" series; the first was my favorite and I read it over and over, wishing the children never stumbled back into the normal world.

And then there was the eight- or ten-book set put out by Random House called the "Looking Glass Library." I still have seven, battered and faded and slightly speckled with mold from the 29 August 2005 flood in New Orleans. They were the perfect prep for a future science fiction and fantasy writer. Among the books in the set were The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Haunted Looking Glass: Ghost Stories Chosen by Edward Gorey, and Edward Lear's A Book of Nonsense.

Aunt Janet died in 1982 after heart surgery. She was only 58, two years older than I am now. I still have two of her postcards, which I use for bookmarks.

The next year, my first niece was born. Eventually I had five nieces and two nephews. I set out to do for them what Aunt Janet had done for me. For most gift-giving events, I gave them books on a wide variety of topics they might never otherwise have read about and toys and games that had won awards for creativity. I sent them postcards from the places I traveled to on business. I gave them extra books for no reason—ones I read and didn't want to keep, ones I got in my bag at professional conferences.

Did I succeed as well as my Aunt Janet in inspiring a love of books, a broad vision of the world and of history, and a willingness to work hard to achieve high goals?

The youngest four are still in high school, so the verdict is still out. But my first niece became a teacher. My second niece loves reading so much that my sister sometimes calls her "Shauna" by mistake; that niece wrote three novels before graduating college with a triple major in English, psychology,and genetics. My third niece loves reading, too, and has her sites set on becoming a marine biologist. I think I can pride myself on not having had a bad influence, at least.

I have no grandnieces or grandnephews yet, but I look forward to extending my Aunt Janet's legacy into a third generation of Roberts children.

“I'd tell you to be careful, except for two things. One, it wouldn't do any good anyhow. And two, I think we tell each other that too much. Be careful. Don't get hurt. Don't take changes. Don't try anything. Don't feel. Might as well be telling each other not to be alive at all. Boils down to the same thing.”
―Catherine Ryan Hyde, Chasing Windmills


28 August 2012

Orangeberry interview with author Marie-Anne Mancio


Today is my third and last author interview in conjunction with the Orangeberry Website as part of the Orangeberry Summer Splash.The interview does not follow my usual author interview format; the author received an Orangeberry Summer Splash questionnaire and was asked to answer at least twenty questions. Future author interviews will return to this blog's customary style, and I've already lined up some people to feature.

After the interview, at the bottom of the post, you can enter a contest to win a Kindle Fire and/or ebooks.


Today's featured author is Marie-Anne Mancio, who is an art historian, artist, and author of fiction and nonfiction. Her book featured today is Whorticulture, a collection of interlaced short stories about four women in pre–Civil War America.


Welcome, Marie-Anne!
If you could travel in a time machine, would you go back to the past or into the future?
Oh so difficult! The future. Writing historical fiction and lecturing in art history, I already spend a lot of time in the past. I'd like to see the future to know whether the gap between the wealthy and the dispossessed becomes impossible to bridge. I imagine the West like Huxley's Brave New World but with the rich genetically engineered for health, youth, and intelligence and a subclass of poor, aging people with no teeth. I'm also curious to know whether books will still exist in paper format in an hundred years' time or if they'll disappear and become collectors' items or just fine art objects.

What is one book everyone should read?
There are so many, but I recently re-read Jeanette Winterson's Gut Symmetries, and it's such an elegant, poetic book I think every aspiring writer should read it.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
As long as it's genuine Italian ice cream I don't mind. I had tomato flavour in Imperia and it was weirdly enjoyable. The Futurists created a recipe for vanilla ice cream with onion squares, which must be worth trying!

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
My great-grandmother. She was Uruguayan and travelled by boat (with her piano) from Montevideo to Naples when she got married. Apparently, when she got there, she refused to take off her hat because she wasn't planning on staying that long.

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
American pancakes with maple syrup every time. No bacon, no fruit, just the pancakes... they just don't do them right in England.

Night owl or early bird?
Early bird these days. A hungry cat makes the best alarm clock.

One food you would never eat?
Anything with mustard. It's the devil's food.

Pet peeves?
Prejudice. Double standards. Bad manners. Air conditioning.

Skittles or M&Ms?
Neither.

Please tell us, in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Because it will make you question your moral compass.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I'm starting a novel based on a true story about an alleged kidnapping in 18th-century London. I'd also like to make a limited edition paper version of Whorticulture. It would have to be very delicate with more of Robert Allmand and Michala Seilman Tønsberg's beautiful illustrations.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Having people speak about my characters as if they were real and asking questions about what happens to them.

If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world.. which book would it be?
I'd love to party at Gatsby's.

What is your dream cast for your book?
I think that's a question for readers. I'd hate to have to choose, partly because some of my favorite actors are a bit too old for the protagonists of Whorticulture, but, if you suspended disbelief, Nicole Kidman, Forest Whitaker, Natalie Portman, Naomi Watts, Julianne Moore,  and Robert Downey, Jr., could be in there somewhere. Or a whole cast of English unknowns posing as Americans.

What was your favorite book when you were a child or teen?

I loved Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters?
"Transoceanica" written by Georgia Mancio and Tim Lapthorn. Though it's about the building of a new road through the Amazon forest, it has broader implications. There are two voices: One sings about change bringing opportunity, wealth, and hope and the other about it bringing destruction, poverty, and danger. So it's actually a song about progress. The antebellum world of Whorticulture is a world on the cusp. We see immense changes in San Francisco after the Gold Rush; we see the destabilizing of the institution of slavery.

What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Keep a scrapbook and collect images.

If you could be one of the Greek gods, which would it be and why?

Proteus. He was a sea god who had the power to assume different forms. I've always been fascinated by chameleons or creatures such as the mimic octopus that use change as a survival strategy.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
New York. I know it's  a cliché but it really does have a better energy than London. And it has pancakes.

What is your favorite quotation?
“The average personality re-shapes frequently, every few years even our bodies undergo a complete overhaul-desirable or not, it is a natural thing that we should change.” Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's

When you were little, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?
A ballet dancer, James Bond, an actress, a detective....

Who are your favorite authors of all time?
Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Donna Tartt, Jeanette Winterson, Angela Carter, Truman Capote, Graham Greene, David Mitchell.....too many to mention.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
I expect most authors would admit to at least a little bit of themselves in their characters. I probably have Katharine's ability to daydream and Seraphine's impulsiveness.

What's the best advice anyone has ever given you?
To get your work out there in whatever form.

Hidden talent?
Scrabble fiend.

What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year?
I read somewhere that Donna Tartt's new book is due out this year and I can't wait for that.

How do you react to a bad review?
I try to take on board what the reviewer has said to see whether there's anything useful in it for me to learn from. I also remind myself not to take it personally. The themes in Whorticulture aren't going to appeal to everyone. There was a thread recently on whether The Great Gatsby is the most boring book ever and I was stunned by some of those views.

If you were a bird, which one would you be?
A flamingo. I saw lots in the Atacama desert and they are amazing.

You have won one million dollars: What is the first thing that you would buy?
A plane ticket.

What's your favorite season or weather?
Summer. I would be perfectly happy if it were summer all year round. A New York summer rather than a London one though.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
I didn't! Good point - I should do so.

What is your guilty pleasure?
British soap operas. I saw the first episode of EastEnders and have watched it intermittently ever since. The writing on Coronation Street can be comedy genius. And the acting is underrated.

Finish the sentence: One book I wish I had written is....
Music for Chameleons by Truman Capote. Just because it's a great title.

Thank you for stopping by my blog today, Marie-Anne!


As a girl waits for the return of her disappeared father, the story of four migrant women unravels. In antebellum America: A daydreamer from the country gets an unexpected education on the Mississippi river; a storekeeper falls in love with a thief amid the chaos of Gold Rush San Francisco; a fugitive quadroon re-invents herself in a New York brothel; and a young bride is trapped on a Louisiana sugar plantation. Though they do not know it, their lives are inextricably linked by the men they encounter. Peopled by whores, tricksters, gamblers, do-gooders, liars, and fools, and with allusions to the coded language of flowers, Whorticulture is about prostitution in its myriad forms.

Buy Now at Amazon Kindle or Smashwords
Genre - Historical Fiction
Rating - R - adult themes
More details about the book
Connect with Marie-Anne Mancio on Twitter and GoodReads



And now for the contest!

Grand Prize - Winner wins Kindle Fire and all books
Consolation Prizes - 25 x winners choice of 3 ebooks


Kindle Fire Giveaway is sponsored by
ALL participating authors in the Orangeberry Summer Splash event.
Check out these awesome peeps HERE

Book giveaways are sponsored by:
 Tonya Cannarioto - Dust to Blood and Dementional
Bruno McGrath - Elevenses
Pandora Poiklos - Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out
Pandora Poikilos - Frequent Traveller

Caddy Rowland - Gastien
Bruno McGrath - Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability
Patricia Macias - Hot and Spicy
Shauna Roberts - Like Mayflies in a Stream
Joseph DiCristofano - Paths to Divinity

Maggie Bonham - Serpent Singer
Donna Burgess - Solstice
Diana Murdock - Souled
Hillary Peak - Wings of Hope
Shel Delisle - Winging It


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24 August 2012

Free e-novelette "The Hunt"


My speculative fiction e-novelette "The Hunt" will be free in Kindle format today through 28 August here at Amazon.com. 

Here's a description and some reviews:

Book Description
In a run-down spaceport, assassin Thadow hunts for a bag of stolen pearls to prove his worth to the head of the Guild of Transmuters. Meanwhile, two spoiled teenagers, Trilia and Lateron, pass the time while their mothers' spaceship is in port by harassing the locals and stealing things from them as part of a scavenger hunt. Then their paths cross, and life will never be the same again for either Thadow or Trilia and Lateron.

Genre: science fiction ("sword and planet") mystery

Length: Novelette (about 10,000 words)

Previously published in the February 2010 issue of Jim Baen's Universe

Editorial Reviews
"...I really enjoyed Shauna Roberts's 'The Hunt', at first blush a romp about some teenaged members of a space traveling merchant culture (like Anderson's Kith, perhaps) playing a scavenger hunt in port. But Roberts looks deeper, at the local people whose lives are disrupted by teens' thoughtlessness, and at the apprentice 'Transmuter,' a member of a sort of private justice guild, whose latest assignment intersects with the mini-crime spree the spaceship kids have created. It all wraps up with a nice twist. It's in many ways a familiar story, but fun." — Locus, April 2010

"...a good "timepass" read - no boring moments."  — Variety SF, May 9, 2010

"'...a wild, fun story with good characters." — SFRevu, February 19, 2010.


Please download it for your Kindle and invite your friends to do so too. Thanks.

Orangeberry interview with writer J.R. Tomlin


Today's author interview again is in conjunction with the Orangeberry Website as part of the Orangeberry Summer Splash.The interview does not follow my usual author interview format; the author received an Orangeberry Summer Splash questionnaire and was asked to answer at least twenty questions.

After the interview, at the bottom of the post, you can enter a contest to win a Kindle Fire and/or ebooks.


Today's featured author is Jeanne Tomlin, who writes as J.R. Tomlin. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she writes historical fiction and (with co-author C.R. Daems) fantasy fiction. Her featured book today is A Kingdom's Cost, set in Scotland during the time of Robert the Bruce.


Welcome, Jeanne! 
If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
Tough one. Would the desert island have power? I need power for my Kindle and laptop.

Ack? No power? Three books. I can’t even imagine trying to survive without books. I would take Mary Renault’s The Charioteer, Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo, and Homer’s "The Odyssey."

What is one book everyone should read?
Another tough one, especially since I think people should read a lot of books. The most important book for people to have read? Homer’s "The Odyssey." Oddly enough, it’s a rather fun read but it is seminal to much of Western literature and teaches a lot about overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Oddly enough, I prefer vanilla but it has to be a good vanilla, not the bland fake stuff.

One food you would never eat?
Fried liver! It is truly disgusting.

Pet peeves?
People who, when told I’m an author, come up and tell me they’ll write a great novel—when they have time.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
Several of them. Together with my sometimes co-author, C.R. Daems, I am working on a paranormal fantasy titled Voodoo Seer. I am also working on the final novel in my historical novel trilogy The Black Douglas Trilogy. Both should be out before the end of the year.

What was your favorite book when you were a child or a teen?
Before I switched to adult books, which I did when I was about nine years old, my favorites were Nancy Drew novels. I think I read all of them. Once I discovered grown-up books with The Three Musketeers, I never looked back though.

Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters?
"Flower of Scotland" by the Corries

What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Be aware that it usually takes time and practice to become good at anything and that includes writing.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?
A writer. I always wanted to be a writer.

Who are your favorite authors of all time?
Mary Renault, Michael Nava, Homer, Joseph Hansen, Alexandre Dumas, Dashiell Hammett, Bernard Cornwell. I have pretty varied tastes. I love a writer who can tell a good story and bring a great character to life.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
No. All my characters tend to be very different from me.

What's the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t be impatient.

Favorite food?
Bread. Which I can’t eat because I am severely gluten intolerant. I really hate that.

Which authors have influence you most?
Bernard Cornwell was a big influence, probably the biggest.

What do you do in your free time?
I do some hiking, listen to music, and read mainly. I’m not a TV watcher although I occasionally download something to watch.

Give us a glimpse into a typical day in your day starting when you wake up till you lie down again.
I never write in the morning. I am just not a morning person so I get up, make coffee and drink several cups, check to see how many novels sold on Amazon on my Amazon dashboard, check some writers forums, probably argue with someone there, give a little advice to some other authors, twitter a bit, check about 50 different blogs, and then realize it’s noon and I still haven’t eaten. So I have some lunch and then it’s time to write. I write on and off for the afternoon. I have trouble writing for long stretches so I usually only write for an hour before I take a short break. Then I write some more. Somewhere in there I have to fit in some research. In the evening, if I’ve met my writing goal, I’ll do a little blogging and maybe download something to watch or read for a while.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
My first book sale was to a small publisher. I bought a box of Ghirardelli’s chocolate, which seems rather trite, but it’s what I did.

Favorite places to travel?
Oh, Scotland. Absolutely, without doubt. I spent much of my childhood there and love going back. I love the coast of Scotland. It is a wild and exciting landscape.

Favorite music?
I’m a big fan of the Scottish folk group The Corries. I like Clann an Drumma. I listen to a lot of classical, particularly Chopin. And I like classic rock. So… that’s a pretty eclectic selection. I can’t say that I’d choose one over the other. It all depends on my mood—and what I’m writing.

Thank you for visiting my blog today, Jeanne!



Scotland is occupied; Scottish resistance is crushed.

Eighteen-year-old James Douglas can only watch as the Scottish freedom fighter, William Wallace, is hanged, drawn, and quartered. But even under the heel of a brutal English conqueror, the Scots may still have one hope for freedom: the rightful King of the Scots, Robert the Bruce. James swears fealty to the man he believes can lead the fight against English tyranny.

The Bruce is soon a fugitive, king only in name. The woman James loves is captured and imprisoned. Yet James believes their cause is not lost. He blazes a path in blood and violence, cunning and ruthlessness as he leads a guerrilla war to restore Scotland's freedom. James knows if he is captured he will share Wallace's fate, but what he truly fears is that he has become as merciless as the conqueror he fights.

Buy Now on Amazon Kindle
Genre - Historical Fiction
Rating - PG
More details about the book
Connect with JR Tomlin on Twitter



Aisha is the newest Talon of the Raptor Clan, mercenaries prized by rulers, nobles, and the wealthy as elite bodyguards. Her skill with a blade and her magical rune have won her a prized place as a Talon, but she wins her fights through wits as much as her skill. Guarding a spoiled young princess is Aisha's first assignment for the clan.

Surrounded by dangerous plots, keeping the girl alive takes all of Aisha's guile and so does dealing with the warrior prince who seems to be falling in love with her. When assassination turns the princess into a queen on the run, Aisha needs every tool she possesses to protect her young charge, help her find the strength to grow up and reclaim her throne.

2010 Epic Award Finalist for Fantasy
Buy Now on Amazon Kindle
Genre - Fantasy
Rating - PG
More details about the book
Connect with C.R. Daems and J.R. Tomlin on Twitter




And now for the contest!

Grand Prize - Winner wins Kindle Fire and all books
Consolation Prizes - 25 x winners choice of 3 ebooks


Kindle Fire Giveaway is sponsored by
ALL participating authors in the Orangeberry Summer Splash event.
Check out these awesome peeps HERE

Book giveaways are sponsored by:
 Tonya Cannarioto - Dust to Blood and Dementional
Bruno McGrath - Elevenses
Pandora Poiklos - Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out
Pandora Poikilos - Frequent Traveller

Caddy Rowland - Gastien
Bruno McGrath - Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability
Patricia Macias - Hot and Spicy
Shauna Roberts - Like Mayflies in a Stream
Joseph DiCristofano - Paths to Divinity

Maggie Bonham - Serpent Singer
Donna Burgess - Solstice
Diana Murdock - Souled
Hillary Peak - Wings of Hope
Shel Delisle - Winging It


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21 August 2012

Orangeberry interview with author Caddy Rowland


Today's author interview is different from previous ones: For the first time, I've linked up with the Orangeberry Website. I'm posting interviews two authors as part of the Orangeberry Summer Splash. These do not follow my usual interview format because both authors were given an Orangeberry Summer Splash questionnaire and asked to answer at least twenty questions.

Be sure to read down to the very end! There, you can enter a contest to win a Kindle Fire and/or ebooks.


Today's featured author is Caddy Rowland, a Minnesota author of historical fiction. Her novels Gastien: Part 1: The cost of the Dream and Gastien: Part 2: From Dream to Destiny follow the life of a 19th-century peasant who goes off to Paris as a teen to become an artist.


What is one book everyone should read?
1984 by George Orwell. It’s a great lesson in what can happen when you allow a government too much control. I think it should be required reading for everyone.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Real vanilla – the high fat kind, not the sugary kind.  The reason I like vanilla is because the possibilities are endless as to what you can add to it.  Every dish can be a new flavor with toppings, fruits, etc.

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
Pablo Picasso. I am also a painter, and his talent was amazing. It would be heaven to work next to him and just learn. I know many say he was an asshat, but the things he could teach me would make it worth putting up with that if that was true.

One food you would never eat?
What perfect timing to be asked this question!  I just read that lamb balls (yes, testicles) are going to be offered at our state fair this year.  I don’t believe I will be eating lamb balls during this lifetime.

Pet peeves?
Stuffiness! That drives me crazy, along with prudes. Oh, and people who go into too much detail, stinginess, people that can never make a decision. Those who chew with their mouth open or talk with food in their mouth. Lack of follow through when something is promised.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
The story of Gastien will affect you deeply and take you on an emotional ride that causes you to think of him for weeks after reading the last page.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects
?
Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream is the first book in The Gastien Series. Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny is already available, and Tristan Michel: Bloodline of Passion (Book three in the series) is available also. I am currently working on the fourth (Giselle: Keeper of the Flame) which I hope to release in September. The fifth and last book of the series will come out in late 2012 or early 2013.

After that, I do have a couple of stories involving internet affairs bouncing around in my head.  They would be dramatic, contemporary fiction.  I may also choose to do a fiction novel about a real artist who lived during the same time my character Gastien did. Her name was Susan Valadon.  Very few females were artists during the bohemian artist era in Paris. I also have a scary story that has been in my brain for years.  I have completed a children’s book called One Little Snowflake that I also did the illustrations for. It is for children with terminal illness and explains the circle of life. It has never been released and perhaps someday it will be.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Without a doubt, it would be reader emails or in person reader meetings.  They almost always make me cry because they so strongly love my work. That is why I write.  When it happens it is magical.

What was your favorite book when you were a child or teen?
Alice in Wonderland, as a younger child. Crazy Horse when I was around 10 and 11.

If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why?
Nineteenth century France, in Montmartre.  It was where the bohemian artists lived and worked. Montmartre was technically part of Paris by then, but they definitely considered themselves a separate village. It was the most important era in painting.  Since I paint I would love to live there, as a male.  It was not so great for females yet. This is the setting for the story of Gastien.

If you could be one of the Greek gods, which would it be and why?
Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, love, pleasure, and procreation.  Why?  Well, what could be more enjoyable?

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
France. Not sure if I would pick Paris, a small town in the country, or the South of France.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?
A movie star. I used to pray every night that God would turn me into Ann Margaret or Tony Oliva (a baseball player)! Quite a difference between the two.

Who are your favorite authors of all time?
Sidney Sheldon, Harold Robbins, John Steinbeck, George Orwell, William Burroughs. Oddly, all men.  Women writers I have enjoyed are Jacquelyn Suzanne and Toni Morrison.

What's the best advice anyone has ever given you?
To not be afraid to say no, even when it makes people angry. You can’t be taken advantage of without your permission.

If you were a bird, which one would you be?
My two parrots will be disappointed, but I would pick an eagle. They fly so high and dive so fast!

You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy?

Our home! I would pay it off.  Then I would buy us airline tickets to France for three months. The rest would go in savings.

What TV show, movie, or book do you watch or read that you'd be embarrassed to admit?
When riding my exercise bike I watch various crap on Bravo, like Millionaire Matchmaker, Real Housewives, etc. (blush).

Finish the sentence: One book I wish I had written is...
Harry Potter.  I don’t read or write that genre, but had I written that we would certainly have enough money!  I could write and paint anywhere in the world. Money is not the reason I write, but if I could pick any book, why not pick one that has made big money! Other than that, I already am writing what I want to write.

What's your favorite season or weather?
Summer!  I love hot weather.  We have a pool and one of my greatest pleasures is floating in a pool chair that keeps your behind and lower legs submerged, and then tying it up so that it can’t turn and I face the sun.  Yes, I do wear a good sunscreen.  I am mentally healed and relaxed by this.

Thanks for having me on your blog.  It was fun!
Thank you, Caddy!


In this first book of the Gastien series, young Gastien Beauchamp begins his journey from the farm to Paris with two goals in life. The first is to become an artist with his own studio, following his own rules. That is an almost impossible dream for a peasant with no money or formal training. Paris spits out talented men into the gutters every day. “Good” gets you nowhere. “Great” maybe gets you a bowl of soup.

The second is to become the greatest lover in France. That should be easy. With his stunning looks and willingness to learn, the women of Paris are about to be awakened in a way they have only dreamt about in the nineteenth century!

Gastien also has focus, drive, and raw, natural talent. With the dream burning inside of him, he is determined to succeed at any cost. Poor Gastien. If he could only know in advance what brutal struggles await him, he might turn around and go back home.

Sometimes the “impossible” is possible. But the cost can be extremely high.

Buy Now @ Amazon Kindle
Genre - Family Saga / Historical Fiction
Rating - 18+
More details about the book
Connect with Caddy Rowland on Facebook and Twitter


And now for the contest!

Grand Prize - Winner wins Kindle Fire and all books
Consolation Prizes - 25 x winners choice of 3 ebooks


Kindle Fire Giveaway is sponsored by
ALL participating authors in the Orangeberry Summer Splash event.
Check out these awesome peeps HERE

Book giveaways are sponsored by:
 Tonya Cannarioto - Dust to Blood & Dementional
Bruno McGrath - Elevenses
Pandora Poiklos - Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out
Pandora Poikilos - Frequent Traveller

Caddy Rowland - Gastien
Bruno McGrath - Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability
Patricia Macias - Hot & Spicy
Shauna Roberts - Like Mayflies in a Stream
Joseph DiCristofano - Paths to Divinity

Maggie Bonham - Serpent Singer
Donna Burgess - Solstice
Diana Murdock - Souled
Hillary Peak - Wings of Hope
Shel Delisle - Winging It


a Rafflecopter giveaway