Interview & Giveaway: Anika Arrington, Author of The Accidental Apprentice

ArringtonAccidentalApprenticeFolks, please give Anika Arrington a warm welcome. She’s here to chat about her book, The Accidental Apprentice, and plenty of amusing things, such as Firefly, great food, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, and the need for sleep.If you’re interested in the giveaway, scroll to the bottom.

From your own writings, are there any characters you would like to cosplay?

Madame Falstead would be fun, with her wicked cane and crazy red hair. I’m even the perfect build if a bit taller than she is. There are aspects of her character that are slightly autobiographical as well, so I think slipping into her shoes for a day would be rather comfortable.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

Well, I’ve loved both of the Sherlock Holmes reboots. Downey Jr. and Cumberbatch both do incredible things with the character, and their Watsons are equally brilliant. Honestly, I now want to go watch the first episode of Sherlock season 3 just thinking about it. So stinking hilarious!

As far as remixes not working, while nothing specific jumps to mind besides Disney’s Maleficent (which wasn’t awful or anything), I’m not thrilled with the modern trend of bringing a story back around to make the bad guys merely misunderstood. I think every writer who has studied at least a little understands the value of having an antagonist that people relate to or sympathize with, but that doesn’t make them the good guy. If you are willing/capable of killing people or destroying civilizations to get what you want, then you are a bad person. And I like stories where the good guys win. Maybe not in the way you expect and not without loss and sacrifice, but the bad guy is the bad guy and the good guys (while not necessarily perfect) need to win in the end.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

I am a mom of 6, so if I wasn’t writing I know my time would fill up quickly, and that would be just fine with me. I toyed with the idea of going to culinary school to become a pastry chef, but I don’t think the hectic world of the professional kitchen is for me. And I love physics, but my brain doesn’t hold onto formulae in the way that’s required to play with the cosmos. My list of interests goes on for miles, actually, but the only thing I have ever been able to stick with and play with is the written word. Although I was rather good at charcoal drawing. . . .

As a published author, what non-writing/reading activities would you recommend to aspiring authors?

That is a trick question as all activity relates to writing or reading in some way. But in the spirit of the question: Cook!! Or at the very least, Eat!! Make it a truly visceral experience every time you sit down to a meal. Take in the scents and pick them apart in your head. Savor the mouth-feel of every bite. Let the flavors move you. And then when you sit down to the page let that same act of observation permeate every scene. A huge part of the “show-don’t-tell” aspect of writing is just taking observation to the next level. I am still learning and struggling to apply the concept, but all close observation feeds creative endeavors. Walk in a natural setting, and notice the smallest details of the life around you. Watching cloud shapes. Go to museums: art, historical, natural history, science. Listen to music., with a careful ear for melody, harmony, and lyrics. And love people. Engage with your family, co-workers, neighbors, and friends as often as possible, and I don’t mean on social media. Listen to people. Listen to the way they talk as well as what they say. Learn how to read between the lines so that your characters will never have to say insipid things.

FreemanMechanizedWhat were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

Ha, if anything my kid self knew it better than my adolescent and early adult self did. I memorized stories at the age of three and one of my parents favorite party tricks was to hand me a book and let their friends stare in awe as their three year old “read” herself a story. I would draw pictures and make up the stories that went with them. And I have always told myself stories in my head at night to put myself to sleep. I was pretty nerdy from the get go, but in a fairly out-going way. I was 6th grade student council president, lead (or at least I tended to have the most lines) in the school plays, and I spent my recesses in the library’s non-fiction section reading books about sharks, spiders, how to draw horses, whatever struck my fancy. And my kid self really wanted to be a doctor until I realized I am one of those people that can’t handle blood.

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Root beers and hot chocolate all around for Samwise Gamgee, Charlotte Doyle, Meg and Jo March, Neville Longbottom and The Weasleys, and Anne Elliot from Jane Austen’s Persuasion. (Hey, I’m a writer. I never said I could count.)

What do you do when you are not writing?

Did I mention my six children? The oldest is 8 years old this month, so yeah. . . . I love to be in the kitchen if my previous response didn’t make that evident. I love listening to baseball on the radio during the season (Go D-backs!). Watching it on tv makes me mad, no idea why. And I do like going to the movies. I don’t get to the theater as often as I would like, but that’s what Redbox is for, right? There are even things that I don’t do with my time that I miss, like going to art museums, concerts, practicing the piano and Japanese. As a parent (mom or dad) you give up things to make sure the family runs smooth. Oh and sleep, I miss sleep.

Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

I’ve always been of the mind that the side characters are where it’s at. Wash from Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” series was my favorite. In fact, nearly every time Alan Tudyk appears on screen his character ends up stealing the show for me. Neville Longbottom is my favorite character from the Harry Potter series, particularly the way Matthew Lewis played him in the films. He grows so much and develops as a character in really great ways, you just can’t help cheering for him in the end.

As far as The Accidental Apprentice goes, Crispin stands out as a sneaky B-character who runs off with most of the scenes he’s in. He’s so funny and tenacious and I just want to ruffle his blonde curls. I’m looking forward to making him a point of view character in the sequel.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Barring anything unforeseen, I will be at the Chandler Author Walk in Chandler, Arizona on November 21st. I’ll be selling and signing copies of The Accidental Apprentice and Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology. I’d like to add a few more, but we’ll see. I’m hoping to start work on Accidental’s sequel in January. And of course, any events I am attending can be found on my website, www.anikasantics.com.

The Accidental Apprentice by Anika Arrington

The Accidental Apprentice by Anika Arrington

The Accidental Apprentice by Anika Arrington

Find Arrington on the web: Website | Facebook | Twitter

The Accidental Apprentice by Anika Arrington

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New Spring, Part III

JordanNewSpringBannerWelcome everyone to Book 0 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan which is a prequel to the series set several years before Book 1. You can find the schedule to New Spring over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, Liesel at Musings on Fantasia is the host. You can catch Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, in the comments.  Stop by Sue’s at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers, a place for deft reasoning.

This week, we covered Chapters 17-END. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. What do you think of the fact that Moiraine met Cadsuane. I don’t think we knew that before. What’s Cadsuane up to? Do you think Moiraine’s eventual conclusion that she’s Black Ajah is valid? Logical?

I think that most of the Sisters eventually meet Cadsuane, so it was a nice touch that Jordan tossed her in this book. As usual, I think Cadsuane is searching for false Dragons, and perhaps even searching for the real Dragon.

No, I don’t think Cadsuane is Black Ajah and I think Moiraine’s reasoning is faulty. She and Siuan are both real new to the Shawl, but also to the reality of the Black Ajah. I think that both of them are still in ‘aghast, reaction’ mode and haven’t had time and opportunity to collect enough facts about the Black Ajah at this point.

Though to call Cadsuane blunt is to be kind. So I can see how Moiraine, who is still attached to being treated with the deference due a high born lady, would find Cadsuane rude and crude and may think vile thoughts about her.

2. Do you think Tamra was killed by a Darkfriend? Do you think the new amyrlin, Sierin, is Black Ajah? If so, why, and what do you think will happen next?

Since we don’t know how Tamra was killed (did she die of a fall or illness or a knife to the chest?), I waver between Darkfriend and Black Ajah offing her. If it looks like she died peacefully in her bed, then I would be inclined to say someone with the power killed her.

I don’t think Sierin is Black Ajah simply because the Blacks seem to use nitwits in power and control things from the shadows. Also, we learned from Eivind last week that Sierin doesn’t last many years before suddenly dieing. And we all know that eventually Siuan is raised to the Amyrlin Seat.

3. We saw the scene with Lan, Moiraine, and the lake that was mentioned briefly clear back in book 2. What was your reaction to it? Did it play out the way you’d imagined?

This was a great scene! I was laughing out loud. Of course, Moiraine is suspicious of the three men for her own reasons, but then so obviously following them, and then Lan alone, into the woods – I wanted to slap her upside the head! But then she tried to take Lan’s sword away, the simpleton! So I was quite happy to see her flying through the air and splashing down into the lake. But then she tries to pull Lan in! This is one of those times where Moiraine’s tenacity was not working in her favor. I loved the imagery of Moiraine dangling in the air from Lan’s arm.

4. Someone tried to assassinate Lan. He was an idiot who was told to kill Moiraine first, but didn’t. Who do you think the attack was aimed at and who was responsible for it?

This scene confused me a little bit. Lan, Bukama, and Rhyne recognized the dying would-be assassin. But this man also had been told that Moiraine was an Aes Sedai. Now Moiraine is still new to traveling the world and new to keeping her identity secret. So I am sure she did reveal her Aes Sedai nature 101 ways to the observant person. So this means that at least some of those asses trying to kill Lan could have ordered their minions to kill the Aes Sedai first.

At least, that is what sense I could make out of it.

5. What did you think of the Lan-Edeyn relationship, and all of Edeyn’s plans for Lan?

Fucked up. But I shall elaborate. Lan is bound by custom (because he is an idiot) and Edeyn is taking great advantage of that custom. If the roles were reversed and Lan was taking such advantage of his position over Edeyn, we would be cheering on those would-be assassins. But Lan is a full-grown man and has a lot of choice about where he puts his penis. I can see custom dictating that he show Edeyn some affection. But later on, we see him without his shirt and will all sorts of crazy monkey sex love marks on his back. So if he isn’t into Edeyn, and seems actually repulsed by her plans for him to marry her daughter, than why would he put on such a stunning performance in her bed? Does he have such pride in his sexual prowess that even in such a situation he feels he must perform to the utmost of his ability?

I was not looking forward to Lan marrying Edeyn’s daughter. I feared we would see one of those most awkward threesomes down the road consisting of Lan, Edeyn, and her daughter. *shudder*

6. In the end, a Black sister is revealed, and several innocents die. The fight scene was pretty epic. Thoughts? Feelings? Regrets?

Wow! I wasn’t expecting such death in this book. I think New Spring may be my favorite Jordan book just because there are so many intense scenes. It was hard to lose Bukama, and so suddenly. Then to have the Black sister tossing hosts over the railing was pretty awful. While Moiraine says she is just as guilty of Edyen’s daughter’s death as Meren (spelling?), I think she is wrong. Moiraine needs to realize that her actions, while they failed, were noble.

7. What did you think of final scene that led to Moiraine bonding Lan? Did you like it? Want more? Think it was legit?

I am very, very glad that Lan did not run away from a stupid marriage via the Warder way. Instead, Moiraine had to humble herself by chasing after him, and then had to be genuine by telling Lan the entire truth. I was very satisfied with how this all came about.

Other Tidbits:

I think, from numerous hints tossed around in this section (especially by Cadsuane), that Moiraine and Siuan were casual lovers while in training.

Moiraine used her super secret Blue Ajah powers to coax ants into Lan’s small clothes! If I was Blue Ajah, I would be in constant trouble from pulling such pranks.

Is Lan a minor ta’veren? Moiraine & Siuan speak of the Black Ajah systematically taking out any male who shows any hint of being able to Channel. But I don’t think Lan is a Channeler.

That evil inn keeper with her special spiced wine got a harsh kind of justice indeed.

Interview & Giveaway: Deirdra Eden, Author of The Watchers Series

EdenKnightOfLightHello All, please slap your eyes together and enjoy the following interview with the charming Deirdra Eden, author of Knight of Light, Book 1 in The Watchers series. Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway, which includes chances to win copies of the book as well as a $100 Amazon gift card.

Myths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how?

YES! Fantasy has actually become a subculture that is pretty magical and inspirational to creative people. Fantasy is also a genre being used to explore and expose many of the world’s problems today, without being overly political.

Are minions/sidekicks just throwaway devices in a tale? Can they become more? Do they need to become more?

They are the spice in the soup. They enhance your main character, plots and overall story.

Over the years, are the changes in society reflected in today’s villains and heroes?

Perhaps, but there will always be the age old story of good vs. evil.

Given the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs?

I would love to see a unicorn. Don’t ever want to see a Shadow Wolf.

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

Twilight. I’d be a vampire hunter.

What nonfiction works have you found useful in building fictional worlds, cultures, and plots?

Family history and the Atlas.

Who are your non-writer influences?

Queen Rania and Niecy Nash – Love those ladies!

Is there a book to movie/TV adaptation that you found excellent? Is there a PC game to book adaptation that worked for you?

The Chronicles of Narnia! Not sure about PC. I do like World of Warcraft though.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

Okay, so this one time, at a writer’s conference, I met this man, he said he was an author. Everyone is an author. He asked me what I wrote, I told him fantasy. Then he got all excited and told me he wrote fantasy too. He was pitching to a publisher that is REALLY hard to get into and I was like, Yeah, every fantasy writer wants to publish through them. Some time later, I was doing some research on famous fantasy authors and SAW HIM. Tracy Hickman, the author who started Dragonlance. GAH! It’s probably best I didn’t know or I would have fan girled. My husband wants to meet him sooo bad. I could have totally tried to see if he wanted to do a double date since he doesn’t live too far from me. BTW he did get accepted by the publisher.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMVJ6btZLFA&feature=youtu.be

The Watchers Book 1: Knight of Light

In England, 1270 A.D., Auriella (pronounced yurr-ee-ella) flees her village after being accused of witchcraft. Pursued by nightmarish creatures, she struggles to accept the truth about her humanity. Filled with fairies, dwarves, pixies, dragons, and monsters, Knight of Light is an enthralling tale that will capture the imaginations of readers young and old.

The Watchers Series has been described as Braveheart meets Supernatural.

The mythology for the series is based on many theological texts from dozens of sects with correlating themes. Ancient writings include The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Traditional Apocrypha, The Pearl of Great Price, and The Kabbalah.

“The Watchers” are supernatural beings in human form whose duty it is to protect and guard mankind from the armies of darkness.
Unfortunately, as the Book of Enoch mentions, some of these Watchers go bad. Although the mythology is based on these texts, Deirdra Eden’s The Watchers Series is written in a traditional fairytale style with a young girl’s discovery of incredible, but dangerous powers within herself, a cast of humorous side-kicks, a quest for greater self-discovery and purpose, and villains of epic proportions.

About the Author

 



“My goal in writing is to saturate my books with intrigue, mystery, romance, and plot twists that will keep my readers in suspense. I want to see fingerprints on the front and back covers where readers have gripped the novel with white knuckles!

Aside from writing, I enjoy jousting in arenas, planning invasions, horseback riding through open meadows, swimming in the ocean, hiking up mountains, camping in cool shady woods, climbing trees barefoot, and going on adventures.”

-Deirdra Eden

Find Deirdra Eden and The Watchers Series online on AmazonDeirdra’s websiteFacebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Wattpad, and Pinterest.

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The Gathering Storm Read Along – The Schedule

Squatch being cute.

Squatch being cute.

Hello folks, we are about to embark on the final 3 books of The Wheel of Time series, written by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. Below is the schedule. Anyone is welcome to join us at any time. If you want to be on the weekly email list for the discussion questions, just leave me a comment with a way to contact you.

Enjoy!

Week 1: Oct. 5th, Prologue-Chpt.6 (103 pages), Hosted by Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers (CCCP)
Week 2: Oct. 12th, Chpts7-13 (105 pages), hosted by Eivind (our Nordic WOT encyclopedia)
Week 3: Oct. 19th, Chpts. 14-21 (110 pages), hosted by Dab of Darkness (DoD)
Week 4: Oct. 26th, Chpts. 22-28 (105 pages), hosted by Musings on Fantasia (MoF)
Week 5: Nov. 2nd, Chpts. 29-35 (105 pages), hosted by CCCP
Week 6: Nov. 9th, Chpts. 36-42 (113 pages), hosted by DoD
Week 7: Nov. 16th, Chapt. 42-End (103 pages), hosted by Eivind

New Spring, Part II

JordanNewSpringBannerWelcome everyone to Book 0 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan which is a prequel to the series set several years before Book 1. You can find the schedule to New Spring over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, I am the host. You can catch Eivind, our WoT, in the comments.  Stop by Sue’s at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers, a place for deft reasoning. Make sure to check out Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia, home of the cool non-spoilery fan art.

This week, we covered Chapters 7-16. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Throughout this section, we see that Moiraine is still having dreams about the babe born on Dragon Mount. Since we know dreams can have deeper meanings in this series, do you think it is just an anxiety nightmare? Or do you think it is something more?

I think it is something more. Sure, part of it is anxiety. After all, Randland is steeped in folklore, prophecies, religion about the next Breaking of the World (Tarmon Gai’don) and the Dragon Reborn. I guess it could be akin to worrying about the Devil or the Anti-Christ for those of Christian faiths. If you knew that a person of such legend/religion/spiritual belief had indeed been born, I guess your anxiety and/or enthusiasm would manifest in one way or another.

But in this world, we also know dreams can have deeper meanings. I don’t think Moiriaine is Dream Walking, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone could be influencing her dreams just a touch (like Egwene with her Dream Walking and happening to stride into a Gawyn dream and take control of it) to give her that extra push to go out and find Rand.

2) There were several side characters/minions from the series in this section too. Who do you wish we got to see a bit more of? Is there anyone you wanted to snuff out here and now?

Elyas!!!! I definitely want to see more of Elyas and his time as a Warder and then the change – how and when he became a Wolf Brother.

Of course, I wouldn’t mind Elaida being removed at this juncture, but that would probably screw things up later instead of making them easier. Can you imagine a competent Dark Friend/Black Ajah becoming Amyrlin Seat and denying Egwene her cozy rainbow stole and den? That would suck. So better to stay with Elaida.

3) Moiraine and Siuan are raised to the shawl. Do you think the ter’angreal used in the testing was created for that purpose? Or do you think it has another, long lost purpose, and the Aes Sedai of old found it and put it to this use?

Having seen how opportunistic and often twisted the Aes Sedai can be, I wouldn’t be surprised if this ter’angreal was originally created for another purpose (such as ascertaining info from a captured foe by running him/her through various scenarios) and then was repurposed to test the Accepted for the shawl. Perhaps for a while it was used for both and then perhaps such creative torture went out of fashion, so it all had to be kept hush-hush for several decades, etc. I wonder if the Amyrlin secret histories say anything about the origin of this particular ter’angreal?

4) The Amyrlin Seat, Tamra Ospenya, died. How, do you think? What do you make of the new Amyrlin Seat, Sierin Vayu?

We had no word that Tamra was ill, so I am guessing that she had a rather sudden and unnatural death. Perhaps there were Black Ajah in the Tower even back then and this was one of their deeds. After all, if Rand had been brought up in the White Tower, or even under the Tower’s watchful eye on a designated farm, the Dragon Reborn would be an entirely different beast. And for an as-yet unknown reason, the Dark One wants the Dragon Reborn at Tarmn Gai’don, in tact (largely) and with his powers. I don’t think that would have been the case had Rand been raised by Aes Sedai.

The new Amyrlin, Sierin Vayu, seems to be a vicious thing indeed. She has kicked out all the men from the Tower (all the ones she can. legally) even if they are elderly or harmless. Is it just me, or do the Reds and women like Sierin have an inordinate fear of penises? Really, like 80% of the time, they are flaccid harmless things that aren’t particularly noticeable at all.

5) What do you think of Moiraine’s decision to leave the White Tower? Is she leaving for the right reasons? Do you think Siuan will be punished for Moiraine’s actions?

I think Moiraine is leaving for the wrong reasons. She’s use to getting her way and not having to ask permission to do or not do something, being royalty and all. But she is no longer the Lady Moiraine Damodred. She is Aes Sedai Moiraine. She swore the oaths, had a fair idea of what she was getting into, and ran when the first hint of being asked to do something she didn’t want to do wafted her way. She didn’t even try any other options before just taking off. So, I don’t think she has particular respect for the White Tower and definitely not for the new Amyrlin Seat. I don’t either, but I didn’t go through the lengthy training and then swear the oaths.

Yes, I completely expect Amyrlin Sierin to punish Siuan for Moiraine’s sudden departure. She is a nasty piece of work and I expect Elaida may be tasked with questioning Siuan about Moiraine’s absence.

6) We spent some time in Lan’s head in this section. How does young Lan compare to the Lan we know from the main series? What are your expectations of the possible forthcoming reunion between Lan and his first lover, Edeyn?

Lan as a young man seems to have a stick up his butt. Granted, he isn’t as well traveled as the Lan we know from the main series, but he certainly does seem to be concerned with receiving the proper amount of respect – lowered eyes and all. But he isn’t as bad as Bukama, who seems to want people to blink the correct number of times acknowledgement of his rank and superiority.

Edeyn definitely is a user and opportunist. She used Lan’s position in society when she claimed him as a lover all those years ago, parading him around court. And then she raises the flag when Lan is reported dead, gathering all sorts to her banner. I am not sure yet why she wants an army, and one without Lan leading it. I am sure Lan wants this question fully answered too. Obviously, Edeyn can’t control Lan and I expect that’s why she needs a dead, martyred Lan, instead of a live, feisty, heavily armed Lan.

Their little chat should be most amusing. I expect Lan, like all our male heroes in this series, would truly despise himself (needlessly) if he killed a woman (even if it was well deserved), so I expect that there shall be another way to neutralize her.

Other Tidbits:

Moiraine and Siuan had one final prank to play before becoming completely respectable and level-headed Aes Sedai. I approve. Though the mice probably didn’t.

As with Egwene & Nynaeve becoming Accepted, we only got to see one of our current Super Girls (Moiraine & Siuan) go through the testing to become full Aes Sedai. Even though it was expected, I still wish I had gotten to see a little of what Siuan went through.

I like the idea of the woman deciding when to get in and out of the romping bed. ;)

Prepping for the 2014 Santa Fe Renaissance Fair

Weaving away for the 2014 Santa Fe Renaissance Fair.

Weaving away for the 2014 Santa Fe Renaissance Fair.

So I have this really big show coming up in just a few days. It is the Santa Fe Renaissance Fair. Last year over 8,000 people attended, so this will probably be the highest attended event this year that I participate in as a vendor. My weavings were juried in and it is my first year doing the event at all.

I am terribly excited! I literally start glowing every time I talk about this event. I also start talking really fast and go on and on. For those not interested in all this silliness, I ignore the fact that their eyes glaze over. There’s going to be all sorts of art vendors and food vendors. But then there will also be singing, dancing, fools of all sorts, equestrian jousting, falconry, and live steel combat. Yep. Fools of all kinds.

My man is also terribly excited about this event and has offered to help work the booth all weekend. I think this is so he can go watch the live steel combat more than once and sample all the food vendors over two days instead of just half of Sunday (just before take down). I’ll also be sharing a booth with my man’s brother, who does jewelry.

Booty from Battlemoor 2014!

Booty from Battlemoor 2014!

Now my man use to do the SCA thing (those folks who like to dress in Medieval clothing and reenact all the good parts) way back in highschool. So did his brother. Recently, my man and I joined our local SCA group. This is a whole new experience for me and kind of a home coming for my man. Anyway, lots of the SCA crowd will be at this event. I expect bardic singing at both the men in my booth, and at least one of them will gladly sing back. My man went to Battlemoor at the beginning of the month (5 days of singing and fighting in the woods) and brought back booty which included a pattern to make my own corset. Terribly cool! I just wish I had had time to do so before this event. But I will have time before the next Ren Fair.

Now for the bonus of the day! I have admired the work of three artists from afar and these three are going to be at the Fair as vendors. Not only that, they are on either side of me! OK, there is a bakery booth squeezed in there. But, basically, I am within easy shouting distance of these talented ladies. And I will try ever so hard not to go all fangirl on them.

The Wolf Sisters, Sandra SanTara and Goldie Grandjean, have had their work at Bubonicon, which is where I first admired their work. At Bubonicon, we can’t take any photos, so I will try to do their work justice via my words. Wolves and coyotes feature heavily in their work, and much of it has a Native American flair. The pieces that moved me in particular were of a more adult nature, showing wolves or coyotes with human attributes. I am really looking forward to showing my man their artwork. It stirs something visceral in me with the direct beauty. And yes, some of the pieces are arousing too. The combination of fantasy, nature, and allure is a potent, heady mix for me.

My Kickstarter packet full of Carla Morrow goodies. And Heldig kitty.

My Kickstarter packet full of Carla Morrow goodies. And Heldig kitty.

Then there is also Carla Morrow of DragonLady Art. I came across her work just a few months ago via Kickstarter. Her project was a 15 month calendar full of original dragon art. So I pitched in and a few months later got this incredible goodie bag that included the 2015 calendar, bookmark, postcards, a pencil drawing, and a fridge magnet. The artwork is stunning. I love the flow of the body lines of the dragons, making them sinuous and lithe. I keep returning to each scene, noticing something new each time.

So, yeah, there we have all my fangirl geekiness. Hopefully now that I have it all typed out, I won’t go all weird on them when I meet them.

This is just my second Ren Fair ever and I can use advice in general. So toss out quick easy hairdos, simple tent decorations, proper etiquette (is there such a thing if you’re carrying around a turkey leg?), and anything else that comes to mind!

 

All Bets Are Off by Sandra K. Marshall

MarshallAllBetsAreOffWhy I Read It: I find characters with an addiction to be interesting.

Where I Got It: Review copy from the author (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Folks who like contemporary, sweet romance.

Narrator: Terran McGahae

Publisher: Eirelander Publishing (2014)

Length: 1 hour 32 minutes

Author’s Page

The book starts with a slap and a couple separating. Ana Torres has a gambling addiction and it has ruined her friendships, her marriage, and potentially her husband’s business. The book then rockets forward 2 years and Ana has her addiction under control, she has paid off her credit cards, moved out of her parents’ house, and now has her own business where she provides guidance to others trying to rein in their gambling addiction. Formally separated from her husband, Jason Gibbs, they have had little interaction since he tossed her out. Then an unexpected encounter at a party brings them face to face. Apparently, there are still sparks between them.

The book started off pretty serious with Jason giving Ana a slap, and then he immediately felt angry and ashamed at himself. Of course, this put me on Ana’s side right from the beginning and even once I learned she was the cause of financial ruin for the couple, I still felt some sympathy for her. If it had started with her gambling their lives away, I wouldn’t have been sympathetic to her character, so this was a clever intro by the author to get the reader invested in Ana from the beginning. When we jumped ahead 2 years, I was a little sad because I wanted to see Ana struggle with her addiction. We do get to see some of that in flashback thoughts as we move through the story, so that inner battle isn’t completely ignored. And this is a romance and about love, etc., not about addiction and the inner battle of the human soul.

The set up was good, the story OK. Contemporary romance isn’t my favorite genre, but because of the addiction angle I wanted to give it a try. Then there is the sex. I enjoy sex scenes in my stories and this book has 2 such scenes. The first is the better of the two. I was thoroughly getting into it but then the man stuck his tongue in her uterus. Yep. Uterus. Briefly, I hoped the story was going to take on some mutant scifi elements, but alas, it did not. To get to the uterus, you have to travel the entire vaginal canal and then get past the cervix. The cervix doesn’t let just any old object enter the uterus, being perhaps 1/8 inch opening nearly all the time (common exception is when a baby is headed out). So either the man had a very long and narrow tongue, or the woman had some mutant uterus that sat in the vaginal canal with the wide open cervix. Anyway, here is the Wikipedia article - and yes, it is safe for work. So I was totally into this sex scene – there was heat between the characters, great descriptors, etc. and then he sticks his tongue in her uterus. I giggled, totally taken out of the moment. At best, this is a big typo. At worst, the author is not well informed on the female genitals/reproductive organs. But, other than this one typo (I will be generous in my thoughts), the story flowed smoothly and was fun.

Jason has a type of woman he likes. This type is totally based on looks (petite, short, brown haired women). I have always found that having a type, romantically, really limits a person and I tend to avoid people who rely on measuring people against some type standard they have in their heads. So, I wasn’t really into Jason (even though, or maybe because, I am his type). The ending was a sweet ending to a sweet romance. While I felt that some issues were wrapped up a little too quickly, this is a short story. I left the story wishing the best for both Ana and Jason.

The Narration: Terran McGahae did a good job narrating. Her character voices were distinct and she had a good male voice for Jason. She wasn’t shy or hesitant during the sex scenes.

What I Liked: Starts off serious; underlying addiction story; sweet ending; good narration.

What I Disliked: Jason has a physical type of woman he is into; the use of the uterus during the sex scene; the ending was a little quick in wrapping up.

What Others Think:

My Tangled Skeins