Writer’s Ink: Emily June Street

ejsheadnew1If you follow me–at all–you’ll know Emily June Street and I have not only an intense and amazing working relationship, but a close friendship as well. You may or may not be aware, but we’ve never met in person. She lives on the West Coast, I live on the East Coast, and 2,800+ miles separate us. However, we will fix this little detail when we attend the Writer’s Digest Conference together in New York City in August 2017. Can you imagine how excited I am?!

Emily June Street is the author of six novels: The Gantean, The Cedna, Sterling, Mage and Source, Secret Room, and The Velocipede Races. She has degrees in psychology and library science, but she divides her time between teaching Pilates and exploring alternate worlds in writing. She founded Luminous Creatures Press with Beth Deitchman in 2013.

Look for the next installment in the Tales of Blood & Light series, Light and Shadow, in 2018!
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Thanks for stopping by my website, Emily! Now let’s dive into some questions:

TS: Mage and Source is book four in your Tales of Blood & Light series, but for those who may not have read the foregoing books, could you give us a three sentence summary of the novel?

EJS: Magic is dead. The only hope for restoring it lies in the hands of a talented ex-mage and an enemy spy thrown together by fate and unexpected love. But an eastern foe seeks to destroy them both before they can uncover the true path back to magic..

old-books-1534109TS: I’ve only written, at the longest, trilogy arcs–three books that had to make sense from page one of the first book to the last page of the third book. Tales of Blood & Light is projected to be a whopping seven-book series. For lack of better wording, how in the world did you do it–keep everything organized, not drop plot threads, and maintain a solid story structure (one George R.R. Martin could certainly learn from you!)?
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EJS: Well, Tales of Blood and Light began as one book, The Gantean, no plans for any others in a series. Then I decided I needed a Book Two to tell the “villain’s” point of view from The Gantean, so I wrote The Cedna. Then I realized I needed to resolve the cataclysmic disaster that ends The Cedna’s story, and so I planned a book three, which was going to be Tianiq, Leila’s missing daughter’s story. Then I wrote a “companion book” called Night Queen, which was sort of a prequel to the planned trilogy set in the Lethemia world. Then I decided I didn’t like book three, Tianiq’s book, and wanted to revise entirely. Fortunately this was early on, well before I ever put out The Gantean, so I was able to revise all three books to adjust for this.
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But then I decided to write Sterling’s story, which came out very easily, and felt like a natural next step after the Cedna’s book. Only after writing Sterling did I decide to sit down and formally examine what I was trying to do with this series. That was when I finally realized I was telling a story about the fall and return of magic in this world, an apocalypse and a restoration. I was able to tease out from the exiting stories that I’d set up these seven stones (the Ophirae) that were vital to the return of magic, and thus, I could have seven books, each essentially describing a romantic relationship and the re-awakening of one of the seven stones needed to restore magic to this world. So, that’s when I finally realized I needed seven books. I tore apart everything and rewrote parts of all the books, dismantled the book Night Queen and turned it into Mage and Source, and now here I am with a completely pantsed seven-book series in the works!

So the answer lurking within all those words is…there was no planning, and what someone should learn from my experience is: this is not the best approach to writing a seven-book series!

Fortunately, I have a pretty good memory, which helps me keep track of the logistics of the story arc—that and a whole bunch of slips of paper and several maps. I also try to 1) trust in my subconscious to unearth the threads of the story that need to be unearthed; 2) keep track of essential facts with lots of folders and post-its (I like to have important information and details on paper rather than on the computer, as I like spreading out my papers on the floor and getting a big overall picture every now and again); and 3) endless reworking and rewriting.

In retrospect, this is a very labor-intensive way to write books, definitely not for people who don’t like the slog of rewrites and massive amounts of editing. Be a planner if you want a streamlined process! I’ve gone the planned route for other books, and it is much easier and it involves a lot less rewriting. That said, I do enjoy the endless managed chaos of my Tales of Blood & Light process. There’s something deeply satisfying about pantsing a story. It feels organic and sometimes you surprise yourself with connections and storylines you’d never have planned.

.TS: Laith fascinates me in this book. His chemistry with Elena is undeniable. Tell me, did you use a blueprint for either character (Laith or Elena)–someone in “our world” who was your inspiration for creating either of them in Lethemia’s world? If so, who? What were the standout characteristics that you tried to translate over? If not, what famous person or character in this world might be most like Laith and/or Elena, and in what ways?
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talking-1430913EJS: I rarely model my characters after real people, honestly. I suppose my characters are creations “borged” from a multitude of people I’ve known, some I might not even remember, and also from parts of myself that don’t see the light of day. Laith does share some character features with my husband, Brady, namely being obsessed with his own interests and being fairly impervious to the negative opinions of others. Brady also tends to do what Brady wants, just like Laith. My husband, however, is a quiet man, and Laith is a huge talker. I have reams and reams of cut pages of Laith, just telling his stories. For a while he really wanted his own book all to himself, but he just rambled on and on.
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I had no particular model for Elena, although no doubt her perfectionistic tendencies and her favoring of reason over emotion come straight from me. I certainly haven’t used any famous person’s personality to shape either character; again, that’s just not my style.

I have done the Myers-Briggs Personality test for most of my characters. Laith is an ENTP and Elena is an ISTJ—very opposite types, but united by that thinking element. (Note: I am an INTJ, and I think my strongest domain is that T, that “thinking” quality. I find it very hard to write “F”s, or feeling types, because my brain just doesn’t work that way. I think so far only Sterling and Erich have been “feeling” types, and often I really had to pause and think to myself…what would someone entirely led by their feelings do in this situation? In some ways I think “F”s are easier for people to relate to, because that “T” quality can be very idiosyncratic, following a logic that isn’t always readily apparent, whereas everyone understands the basic human emotions and can relate to them immediately.

Appearance-wise Laith might look like a cross between Aiden Turner and Riz Ahmed, but taller than either of them, and Elena might look like Li Bingbing.

TS: You’ve told me that, according to many of your test readers, Costas Galatien, King of Lethemia, is not one of your more popular characters. Having read the books, though, I really dig the guy. He’s certainly a layered character with lots of depth. Where and how was he born in your mind? What went into his development? How did you pull off his tortured, wise, just, angsty, disciplined, and–dare I say it–dreamy layers? Asking for a friend. 😉
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king-1417290EJS: Costas (an ESTJ) is a favorite character of mine, too, but not for the reasons you may think. What I love about him is how we see him through the eyes of every one of my narrators, but never through his own eyes. As a king, he’s a man defined by his people and his mystique, and each character really does see him differently—most of them manage to see his complexities, too, but different complexities, with various beliefs about what is likable in him and what is not.
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I think some readers disliked how he treated Leila in The Gantean. They felt he wasn’t enough of a hero, that he was self-centered, a bit of a jerk. That is probably because they were sympathizing with Leila, the narrator, and at some points in the book, Leila and Costas were in direct conflict to one another in their actions (if not their in their emotions).
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Costas is complicated partly because his position is a complex one. He’s the King, but he is also a person with strong inner boundaries about privacy. He has his own desires that have nothing to do with his obligations as King, but he very strongly feels the duty of rule (even if he is sometimes unaware of its privilege). Sometimes he’s faced with difficult choices because of this—his personal desires (e.g., having Leila as his lover) are often in direct opposition to what is expected of him as King (e.g., marrying Stesichore Ricknagel and reuniting the Ten Houses). Costas picked duty over love at first, failing to understand the significance of the aetherlumo bind he shared with Leila. Unlike Laith, with his magical lore, Costas did not immediately comprehend that the aetherlumo is a BIND, meaning it not only joins him irrevocably with Leila, but it is forged by forces more powerful than human needs and desires. I think part of Costas’s character development is coming to understand that he cannot control everything, that there are forces to which even King Costas is subject. He is a controlling man, and he’s going to have to learn what he can and should control, and what he cannot and should not.

Costas is forever a work in progress, as you know. Each book shows a different side of him. In Mage and Source, we see a friend and subject’s view of him through Laith’s eyes. We also see an enemy’s view of him, as Elena has been sent to assassinate him at the behest of her Emperor. But Elena quickly complicates things, since her animosity isn’t based in her own emotions, only on her loyalty to her nation. Later in the series we’ll have a narrator who holds great personal animosity towards Costas. That’s been a tricky storyline to negotiate!

TS: I love the colors so prevalent in this series. Was there any order in your plans as you assigned a particular color of magestone with a particular mage? How did you plan who got what stone? Is the aetherlight–the colorful strands that appear INSIDE the stones–in any way connected to the owners, and if so, how did you decide on those colors? Are they representative at all of personality or background?
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EJS: I really love that you seem to think I planned anything about these books. Sadly, no, my strategy has been entirely “on the fly.” If I had planned, I would have planned better and followed some kind of recognizable color theory. But no, it’s all completely idiosyncratic. In this world, people have auras of aetherlight, and (in my mind, at least) the color of their aura does say something about their personality. But it’s one hundred percent based on my own personal feelings about colors and personality, not any existing color theory.
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So Leila’s colors are watery and cool, and her personality is cool and unemotional, but resilient and adaptable, like water.

The Cedna’s color was black, since she was embodying the absence and darkness of the world. Her elemental themes were fire and ash, so her color was the char that was left after the fire.

Sterling’s color was sunshine yellow, since her basic temperament is optimistic and bright, despite her sufferings. Her elemental theme was air, and I see the air around her being shot through with sunlight.

Laith is opal, shiny and shimmering, full of hidden colors. His elemental theme was aether, the stuff of magic, so I wanted his aetherlight to reflect the power and complexity of magic. He is also cool, like Leila. He explained in The Gantean that cool aetherlight people are draw to warm aetherlight people, and vice versa. Elena’s elemental theme is earth, so her aetherlight is green and rich and warm, like healthy leaves.

color-1186259I have tried to reflect the aetherlight colors of my narrators on the covers of the books. The elemental themes of the narrators are indicated on the back covers, in the taglines: flow like water; fall like ash; rise on air; bright as aether, strong as earth.

As far as the colors of the Ophirae magestones and whether they match those of the couples who ignite them, unfortunately, not really. It’s been more about which stone was available given the storyline, and given the fact that these plotlines are completely pantsed, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room for applying any logical color theory after the fact. I have to work with what I’ve already set up and written into “the canon.” For the Ophirae colors, I literally just picked colors I liked way back when and those are the colors, end of story. No planning at all.

TS: Stepping outside the series: do you have other books you’re working on, or is Tales of Blood and Light your sole focus for now? If so, can we get a peek at what we can expect to hit the shelves at some future point?
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EJS: Well, Tales of Blood and Light still has three books to go. All are at least partially drafted. I’m working hard on Book Five, Light and Shadow, right now, with a massive rewrite/revision inspired by a certain brilliant editor.
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TS: Who is this nefarious creature!?
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I have also co-written two all new fantasy books with a certain fellow author who greatly resembles my brilliant editor, as you might know.

TS: Apparently, there are doppelgangers.

charleston-mansion-1204334These books are: River Running (elemental magic and romance in quasi-American South Reconstruction Era) and The Eighth Octave (music, magic, and mystery in a fairytale 18th-century world). We’ll be pitching these books to agents at an upcoming conference in New York City. *gulp*

I’m working on a new fantasy series with a first book tentatively titled “Midnight Oil,” too. Similar to Tales of Blood & Light, it involves culture clashes, empire, and magic, but the world and the magic system are quite different.

TS: Time for some fun! Quick Answers (don’t think longer than a second for these):
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Song of Ice and Fire or Lord of the Rings? EJS: Apples and oranges. I pick fruit salad.
Piano or Cello? EJS: That’s just mean and wrong. Why, Tamara, why?
TS: Because… Westley
Phantom of the Opera or Les Mis? EJS: Finally, one I can answer! Phantom of the Opera.
Coffee or Hot Chocolate? EJS: Thank goodness for some easy ones. Coffee.
Yoga or Pilates? EJS: Pilates 4 evah
Editing or Writing? EJS: Both, always.
Spring or Fall? EJS: Spring.
Archery or Sword Play? EJS: Archery.
Dragons or Phoenixes? EJS: Phoenixes.
Legolas or Robin Hood? EJS: Legolas.
Co-Writing or Writing Alone? 😉 EJS: Piano or cello?
Facebook or Twitter? EJS: Facebook, mostly, but sometimes it annoys me.
London or Paris? EJS: Cello?
Travel choices: Europe or the Caribbean? EJS: Piano?
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And finally…
Heart of a Dragon or Guardian of the Vale? 😉 EJS: Heart of a Dragon!
HOAD Box Set
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Justification for any of the above? 😉 EJS: Emily does what Emily wants.
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Thanks, Emily! Check out Mage and Source, available now on Amazon!
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Mage and Source Cover

The next world arrives in a shattering fall.

The Cedna is dead, and magic is broken. Laith Amar, a famous mage, must learn to live without his skill as all of Lethemia reels from the Fall. Fighting despair and skeptical colleagues, Laith seeks any solution that can return his talents.

From hidden sources, hope emerges.

Angered by losing the war against Lethemia, the Eastern Emperor dispatches Elena Rith, a trained potion-mistress, to assassinate the Lethemian King Costas Galatien and to learn what she can of the West’s fallen magic. Alone in a foreign country, Elena battles new hazards and old fears as an Eastern hunter tracks her.

A new alchemy ignites an old power.

After fate throws them together, Laith and Elena discover an intriguing method to revive magic that depends on them both. But when Elena’s foe finds her, can Laith save her from a past of pain and violation?

Only love can resurrect Laith’s faith and Elena’s hope, but darkness surrounds them as their enemies close in.

Magic’s restoration hangs in the balance.

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Writer’s Ink: Allison K. Garcia

Allison K. Garcia
Allison K. García is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a passion for writing. Latina at heart, Allison has absorbed the love and culture of her friends, family, and hermanos en Cristo and has used her experiences to cast a glimpse into the journey of undocumented Christians.
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1.) In two and a half sentences, give us the book summary. I shall be strict and exacting. 😉

The fates of an undocumented college student and her mother intertwine with a suicidal businessman’s. As circumstances worsen, will their faith carry them through or will their fears drag them down?
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*Editor’s note: My strict and exacting nature apparently isn’t terribly strict and exacting; I’ll let you keep that last clause and use it as your “half sentence.” 😉
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2.) What was your inspiration for this book? And how does its subject matter affect you personally?

I have been inspired by a lot of people in my life, especially by my hermanos en Cristo. Seeing their unwavering faith in times of crises really pushed me to write the book. Also I have heard a lot of stories of injustice through friends, family, and therapy clients, which also inspired some ideas for the book. Personally, my husband is Mexican and my son is mixed, so I think about the struggles my husband has had to face and what my son will one day face. And a good friend of ours from church was deported before I wrote the book and that was something that affected me and our church community very deeply. On a positive note, I have been inspired by Latino culture, particularly Mexican culture, and love the cuisine and the kindness and the language. I tried to make that come through in the book as authentically as possible.
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3.) One of my favorite characters was Hector, particularly his character arc as he changed from someone who flirted with the wrong side of the law to someone who walked in faith, trusting God to lead him. Did his character grow organically in your mind? Or was he a sudden idea?


So, I did this book during NaNoWriMo (*Editor’s Note for everyone that has heard me go on and on… and on… about NaNoWriMo: that’s National Novel Writing Month–generally taking place in November) and all I had was a three-page start, the name of the book, and a general concept of an undocumented college student trying to make her way in the world. This said, there was no Hector when I began the book…I set forth with zero romantic ideas and then suddenly there were two fellahs on the page! I also love Hector. He came out of nowhere and won the show! I think subconsciously I liked the idea of him actually having a good heart underneath his hard exterior.
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4.) Do you have a favorite scene in this book? Can you give us a taste of what it looks like?


Aaah! This is the hardest question yet!!! I love all the scenes! Okay, there are a few I hate because of how they hurt my favorite characters.
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Okay, okay, I know I need to choose…I’m trying to think of the ones that only make me cry…
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One of my favorite scenes is when Linda steps forward at the Dream Act rally as an undocumented college student (i.e. Dreamer). When I have gone to those rallies and have seen the Dreamers stand at the front like that, I am awestruck by the bravery that takes. I tried to evoke that in Linda’s scene, along with her realization that she is loved by God whether or not she has “papers.” Then having the people there that she loves support her and not judge her for her undocumented status added an extra beautiful angle, I think.
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5.) You mentioned that you had originally intended this to go through the traditional publication route, and then you switched to indie publishing. What was your reasoning? Did you enjoy the process more or less than when you were sending out 80+ query letters?


Well, it’s hard to top the excitement of sending out 80+ query letters…hahahhaa!
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So…I really wanted to be traditionally published and gave it a good shot for about 5 years but because I came to the realization that my book falls between genres, really creating a new genre, Latino Christian Fiction, which at least as far as I could see on Amazon and Google, there weren’t many other books like this out there. So the Christian agents didn’t know how to market it and some were turned off by the undocumented angle, and secular publishing doesn’t deal with Christian fiction. Therefore, after much praying and consulting with friends, I decided to go indie.
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Being an indie-published writer is hard! That’s kind of one of reasons I wanted to do traditional! But, alas, I really felt like God wanted me to write this book and get it out in the world, so in the end, you gotta do what you gotta do! I have been through very vigorous editing, which a friend and I like to call, “The Tamara Effect” (*Editor’s Note: This Effect of which you speak sounds fascinating and amazing, and more people should know about it!), which I believe helped my book be super awesome, and I got an awesome formatter and my husband to do the cover. I hope people like it!!!
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6.) What are other projects? Can we expect to see more of your work hit the market in the next months?


The word “months” just scared me a little. Ahem. I’m fine now. I plan to translate Vivir el Dream into Spanish by the end of the summer. I also plan to edit another Latino Christian fiction book I wrote called Finding Amor. Then in November during NaNoWriMo I plan to finish the last 2 books of my 8-book children’s fantasy series, Prince Miguel and His Journey Home.
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7.) What author or authors have impacted you the most on your journey to becoming a writer?

I love so many authors, it is hard to choose. I love classics like the Brontes, Dickens, etc. In the contemporary realm I love Agatha Christie, Barbara Kingsolver, Isabel Allende, Paul Coelho, Lois Lowry, J.K. Rowling, and Suzanne Collins.

Thanks for stopping by, Allison! Check out Vivir El Dream for yourself. Purchase your very own copy and then do Allison a favor and leave a review on Amazon or another retail site. Those reviews are essential for sales!

Vivir kindle cover new

Linda Palacios crossed the border at age three with her mother, Juanita, to escape their traumatic life in Mexico and to pursue the American dream. Years later, Linda nears college graduation. With little hope for the future as an undocumented immigrant, Linda wonders where her life is going.
 
Tim Draker, a long-unemployed businessman, has wondered the same thing. Overcome with despair, he decides to take his own life. Before he can carry out his plan, he changes course when he finds a job as a mechanic. Embarrassed about working at a garage in the barrio, he lies to his wife in hopes of finding something better.
 
After Juanita’s coworker gets deported, she takes in her friend’s son, Hector, whom her daughter Linda can’t stand, While Juanita deals with nightmares of her traumatic past, she loses her job and decides to go into business for herself.
 
Will the three of them allow God to guide them through the challenges to come, or will they let their own desires and goals get in the way of His path?

Writer’s Ink: Taryn Noelle Kloeden

highrezheadshotTaryn and I have been writerly sisters-at-heart for quite a while now, ever since she tore apart my Mark of Four in its draft stage at our critique group (with some GREAT suggestions I incorporated into the final product), and ever since I got a chance to peek at an early version of Hex Breaker.

I was so excited when Taryn hired me to edit for her, because not only did I get to PEEK at Hex Breaker, but I got to revel in it. It was so much fun going on this quest with Taryn’s Fenearen characters and watching them grow. So now that Taryn is releasing Hex Breaker to the world for you all to enjoy, too, I jumped at the chance to interview her so you could see some of the thoughts behind this book.

1.) Hardest question first: In three sentences, give us a summary of this 150,000 word book (hahaha!).

Challenge accepted!

When a peace treaty goes awry, an innocent man is cursed to a horrific fate and a nation faces extinction. A young woman away from her home and family for the first time undertakes a perilous quest to break the curse while her people fight to save their country. Featuring: wolf-shifters, demi-gods, prophetic dreams, the undead, epic battles, and a gigantic sea monster.

Editor’s Note: Well done! I’m impressed! 🙂

wolf-2-15684582.) There was a wolf shape-shifter breakout when the Twilight craze hit international shelves years ago, and suddenly, everyone wanted more shape-shifting stories. What is it about Hex Breaker that stands out from the crowd of wolf-shifter stories we’ve seen thus far?

Unlike Twilight or Twilight-esque wolf-shifter stories, Hex Breaker does not take place in a version of the modern world where werewolves exist. It’s not a paranormal story. It’s an epic fantasy more along the genre lines of A Song of Ice and Fire or Lord of the Rings. So while many of my characters transform into wolves, they’re quite distinct from werewolves or other wolf-shifters because their power is rooted in a culture and mythology unique to their world and this story. Also, unlike Twilight, this story is not primarily a romance. There are romantic elements of course, but it’s an epic heroine’s journey first and foremost. Hopefully that means it will appeal to fans of wolf-shifter stories as well as other fantasy readers!

3.) Where did this story begin for you? How long have you worked on it, and how much has it morphed from its original seedling of an idea?

I trace the idea for this world and some of its characters back to imaginary games I made up as a child playing in the woods outside my house. When I got a little older, I wanted to write a story featuring some of my ideas. I loved fantasy books, movies, and legends, so I wanted to write my own version of those. But I was always frustrated that so many of my favorite stories focused on a male hero rescuing their female love and saving the world, so I decided my story would be the opposite. I think my exact thought was, “What if in the Princess Bride, Buttercup had to save Westley instead?” I started writing my story in notebooks at age 13, finished the first draft at 17, let it lie for a few years, then came back, totally revamped it about 35 times, and here we are!

4.) It’s been said that authors put a bit of themselves into every character they create. Which of your characters do you most identify with, and why? If you had to take the place of one of them, which one would you choose?

I definitely think there is something I can identify with in every single one of my characters, even the villains. I probably most relate to Rayna as I think she and I share the flaw of always having to be the best and needing to learn that it’s okay (and sometimes better) to not take everything on yourself. That being said, she and I are also very different. I think Rayna is a lot more decisive than I am. Also, she loves to hunt, and I’m a vegetarian 😉

lettuce-garden-1498912Editor’s Note: I suppose it wouldn’t be quite the same to hunt, say, lettuce. The thrill of capture is somehow less. 😉

I put my characters through so much—I’m not sure I’d want to switch places with any of them! But if I had to choose, I’d probably like to be a Fenearen– just not one of the main ones involved with all the fighting. Maybe I’d be a nice background healer or something?

Editor’s Note: I hear rumors, dear Taryn, that some healers may not have always fared so well in your story. I hope better for you… 😉

5.) Be honest now: how many times did you want to fire your editor when she sent you thirty pages of revisions? *drums fingers impatiently on desk 😉

Haha, never! I happened to have an amazing, insightful editor. I did want to fire my own brain a few times, though…

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6.) According to trusted sources, I’ve heard you based your character, Kellan (appearance-wise, anyway), on Ben Barnes. While I finish dreamily sighing over here, can you tell us what other famous people you based your characters on? Why did you choose their likenesses? And which came first: the character in your mind morphing into a similarity with your model, or a model who then morphed into your characters?

-Sigh- Yes, Ben Barnes (Prince Caspian era to be exact) is 100% how I imagine Kellan. I actually have a whole Pinterest board of character inspirations, if anyone is curious. Most of them I found after having written the characters. One exception is that I have always imagined Markus Seperun as Idris Elba (-double sigh-). Also, my friend’s dog inspired the appearance of Laera, right down to the one blue and one brown eye.

7.) Real-Life Rayna: Rayna is visiting your home. She has just settled onto your living room couch when the phone rings, and you have to take the call. Meanwhile, you have milk-based soup on the hot stove, and bread in the toaster. Cookies are baking in an oven heated at 350 degrees, and your cousin’s baby, who stayed overnight, is sobbing in his crib. He’s exploded out of his diaper, and he’s ultimate-crying-1563194screaming bloody murder. The Fed-Ex guy knocks, and doesn’t just leave a package like normal; he needs a signature. The person on the phone tells you there’s an emergency downtown, and you, as the head of Emergency Services, are needed immediately. You look out the window and see the city skyline imploding before your eyes. The world is ending, and there is no time to do anything, except… Rayna can save it all. But… how? (Have fun!) 😉

Okay, here we go. Rayna has the ability to dream about the future. So let’s say she had one such dream about this insane day. Using our knowledge of what’s to come, we skip the soup and bread and go for nice, non-fiery salad instead (she’d object to the “squirrel food but c’est la vie). We call someone to come babysit and sign for the package (I feel like Channon would be good with kids and he’s always ready to help Rayna out so, done). We leave the cookie dough in the fridge, allowing Rayna and I to preemptively head downtown and figure out if the coming disaster can be prevented. Assuming it can, we save the day, come home, bake the cookies, and celebrate.

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Forced to decide between her happiness and her pack’s safety, Rayna Myana chooses to protect those she loves. But when shattered promises and dark magic collide, no one is safe…

For six hundred years, Fenear, a land where humans can take wolf form, has warred with Maenor, its neighboring kingdom ruled by a ruthless dynasty. The possibility of peace emerges when the Maenoren Overlord, Rhael, enters negotiations with Fenearen leaders Bayne and Silver, but their niece, Rayna, is skeptical. Yet, when Rhael proposes to her to strengthen the alliance, she agrees for the sake of her country, despite her family’s objections and a blossoming romance with her best friend. Suspicion of treachery changes Rayna’s decision, but before she can annul the agreement, powerful forces subdue her with a sinister hex. Separated from her pack with Fenear and everyone she loves in danger, Rayna must escape and travel to a distant realm to break the hex. Only then can she save her best friend and her homeland.

Lines blur between heroism and recklessness, dreams and reality, even life and death, and Rayna risks losing herself along the way

Head over to Amazon and grab your copy today!

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Taryn is a lover of nature and all things furry and feathered. As a graduate student in Anthrozoology with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Biology, she is dedicating her life to understanding and protecting animals, both human and nonhuman. This zeal for the outdoors combined with a lifelong love affair with fantasy and horror stories led her to create the YA dark fantasy series, The Fenearen Chronicles. The second installment, Twice Blessed, is due out in 2018. Taryn lives in Richmond, Virginia with her prima donna cat, Stella, and personal piano player/boyfriend, Lorenzo.

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Writer’s Ink: Margaret Locke

Today, I have with me fellow author extraordinaire and hilarious friend in real life, Margaret Locke. I’ve interviewed Margaret at her previous book releases for A Man of Character and A Matter of Time, and I always love her responses, so I was super excited to have the chance to talk to her about her new release (tomorrow!!) of A Scandalous Matter.

I love many things, but high among them is history, romance, and wit, and Margaret supplies these in spades. Come see what she has to say about the making of A Scandalous Matter!

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TS: Give us a three-sentence synopsis of A Scandalous Matter. To make it interesting, be sure to include the words love, time, and bonnet in your answer.

ML: Scarred by scandal, Amara Mattersley time travels from Regency England (bonnet and all) to present-day Virginia, to pursue her dream of a full education and desire for independence. Not love. But when she finds herself entangled with very sexy and somewhat befuddling computer science professor Matthew Goodson, complications ensue.

How’s that? 😉 (*Editor’s Note: Perfecto. I admit to wondering where you were going to stick the bonnet in your synopsis. Well done.) 🙂

TS: You write time-travel romances, among other things. Tell us about your decision to place your book in Charlottesville, Virginia. Did you travel to Charlottesville to research your setting? What were some of your favorite places you include in the book that you walked through in real life?

ML: Charlottesville felt a natural choice, because:

  1. I went to grad school there, so the area was familiar, and
  2. I fell in love with my husband there, so C’ville = love.

But though Charlottesville and UVa were familiar, the familiarity dates to the 1990s, so, uh, yeah, I had to head across the mountain from the Shenandoah Valley to see what’s changed—and what’s blessedly stayed the same.

Ironically, I never went into the Colonnade Club Pavilion in my grad school days (perhaps because it’s a place intended for faculty, and I was too chicken to encroach), so when I stumbled across it and dared enter, you bet I soaked up every bit of the interior, and was sure to weave it into A Scandalou467212_Gs Matter.

I also included bits about the Fashion Square Mall, driving along Orange Barrel Road (technically called 29/Emmet, but it was covered with orange barrels for construction when I lived there, and my mom always referred to it then as Orange Barrel Road. The name stuck.), and walking the Ped Mall, but it’s UVa and particularly the Lawn and Academical Village that always call me back, time and again.

Sadly, the UVa Rotunda has been closed for the past two years for renovations – and to be accurate to the time setting of A Scandalous Matter, that little tidbit made it in there, too.

TS: What was one of the most difficult things about writing this book? Was it harder than A Matter of Time (which is more of a traditional Regency romance, although not completely) or A Man of Character, which is also set in Virginia?

ML: Harder? Yes and no.

Yes, it was harder, in that I wrestled with the plot and where things were going to go (and what was going to happen once they got there) quite a bit more than my first two books – in part because I started this book as a NaNoWriMo (*Editor’s note: that’s National Novel Writing Month–the month of November where you scramble like crazy to crank out 50,000 words in a month’s time) book last fall and therefore wrote most of it in thirty days. While simultaneously preparing to launch A Matter of Time. In other words, I was crazy.

I pantsed (rather than plotted) far more of the story than I would have liked and agonized over all of it. As I joked with friends, this was “the book that would never end” – the original first draft clocked in at nearly 117,000 words! I did manage to shave 10,000 words off of that, but still, the story definitely had a life of its own. An Energizer Bunny life that wanted to just keep going and going and…

No, it wasn’t harder, in that I was back writing about the present, which meant less research. Kind of. I did spend a lot of time looking up words to try to ensure Amara was speaking, at least at first, like a woman from 1813 England. It’s amazing how many modern idioms sneak in when I’m not looking!

TS: One of the things I admire about your characters is their ability to carry out effortless and witty back-and-forth banter. Do you create dialogue based on conversations you’ve had in real life, or does the conversational portions flow naturally from your mind into your manuscript?

ML: Oh, goshoh-these-photographers-1430111, that’s a kind assessment. I love you. (*Editor’s Note: Why, thank you! I love you, too!) 😉

It’s been my ultimate goal to create dialogue in the vein of Julia Quinn, who writes some of the best, most hilarious banter around. I will admit, there are a few bits I’ve included from real life, but much of it is just my brain going, “Hey, that’s kind of funny!” as I write. It’s nice to know others think I’m witty, too. Because my husband never finds me as humorous as I want him to. The rascal. I’ll, uh, admit that a few of his and my exchanges made it into A Scandalous Matter – points to you if you can guess which ones. (*Editor’s Note: Verbal exchanges or… Um, I’ll pass, thanks!) 😉

TS: Do you have someone who inspires you for certain characters? For instance, is there a Matthew out there that you could look at and put parts of him into the story, or an Amara?

ML: Are we talking physically, or more internally/personality?

Physically, Matthew Goodson was originally based off of Matthew Goode, the British actor who’s quite fetching in that slightly geeky way I adore. A fierce, unsmiling Jennifer Lawrence was the physical model for Amara Mattersley (I say unsmiling, because Ms. Lawrence looks much different when she smiles, and that’s not how I imagine Amara).

But personality/temperament-wise, uh, well, Matthew does share a lot of traits with my husband. Hey, they say write what you know. But Matthew’s also a blend of other people I’ve known, just as Amara is. In fact, Amara started out merely as the idea of someone opposite of Cat and Eliza. I wanted someone bolder, someone more confident in and desirous of her sexuality, because neither Cat nor Eliza are like that in most ways. Some of Amara’s emotionality and struggles with wanting independence versus accepting love probably reflect my best friend from college’s and my own struggles and conversations about that very topic, way back in the day.

TS: You now have three books in your Mattersley family series. Are you planning to continue creating stories based on this family, or will you branch out into other romance series soon? Will all of your books have a paranormal (time-travel and magical) element, or will you write straight romance at any point?

ML: Both! And all!

Most of Deveric’s siblings from A Matter of Time will, at some point or other, get their own stories – and those will be pure Regencies, without the magical aspect (*gasp*). Some of the Mattersley siblings will find themselves in my new Put Up Your Dukes series, featuring (surprise surprise) dukes and their foibles in life and love (including Grace Mattersley, whose story comes in The Demon Duke, my fourth book and first in this new series. James Bradley and Morgan Collinswood, my beloved sidekicks from A Matter of Time, also need their own tales!). Other Mattersleys not messing around with ducal folk will be part of the Matters of Love series, again straight-up historical Regencies without magic.

But will the Magic of Love series end here? I think not. For one thing, there’s a character in A Scandalous Matter for whom several beta readers have already demanded a story, as well as one from A Man of Character who deserves a happy ending, I do think. And I can’t let go of Cat for good, can I?

TS: Quick answers: don’t think more than a second about any of these.

Tea or Coffee?: Tea. Not that I really drink it, but I do fancy Earl Grey, I’ve discovered. Plus, tea is quintessentially British, is it not?

2917182-p-MULTIVIEWDress Boots or Sneakers?: Dress boot? What the heck is a dress boot? (*Editor’s Note: See pic for details.) For style, I’d go with those, as I’m imagining the smart little Victorian-esque heeled boots we wore in the 80s (no, Madonna did NOT invent them – she just made them popular again). But for comfort, and I’m all about comfort, well, sneakers.

Siri or Cortana?: What the heck is Cortana? (*Editor’s Note: Come, my dear, and allow me to instruct you in the differences between Apple and Microsoft.) Siri – because she’s got the best answer for what’s 0 divided by 0.

Sweaters or Sweatshirts?: Sweater, unless the sweatshirt has an open hem. I don’t like sweatshirts whose bottom hem curls halfway up my belly.

Cadbury or Hershey?: Give me all of it. Right now.

Twilight or 50 Shades?: Twilight. Though I read both series. I was a total Twi-Mom (Team Edward) – though I admit I wouldn’t want my daughter thinking many elements from the Twilight book were to be idealized as far as relationships go. Uh, same for 50 Shades, actually. huzzah-3

Frozen or Tangled?: Tangled. Because I love Flynn Ryder. 

Austen or Bronte?: Austen, of course. Not that Bronte is bad. It’s just that Austen is so good.

Cats or Dogs?: CATS! Cats! Give me all the cats! And maybe one Golden RetrTamaraShoemaker-300dpi-3125x4167iever. But CATTTTTSSSS!

University of Virginia or James Madison University?: UVA. Can’t beat Mr. Jefferson’s university.

Thomas Jefferson or Alexander Hamilton?: Jefferson. Not that he was a perfect man, by any means, but I became obsessed with him and Monticello at the age of nine – and look where I ended up! Plus, it’s possible he might have been a bit Aspie, which makes me like him all the more.

Harry Potter or Mark of Four (oh Mortal, beware, for the ground on which thou treadest has most rapidly turned to quicksand…): There is no quicksand here. The obvious answer is BOTH! GO READ THEM NOW!

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A SCANDALOUS MATTER

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Independent, spirited Amara Mattersley may live under scandal’s shadow, but at least the nineteenth-century Regency society judging her is familiar. That’s all about to change when she finds herself in twenty-first-century Charlottesville, Virginia–and locking horns with one very befuddling, very male, UVA professor.

Computer science professor Matthew Goodson has no time for love–no time for anything, actually, but his quest for tenure and his obsession with the screen. The last thing he expects is to get side-swiped by this adorably odd British miss. Yet something in her calls to him, pulls at him, in a way unknown–and uncomfortable.

Can the past and the present blend together into a mutual future? Or will old wounds and new complications sabotage any chance at a twenty-first century happily ever after?

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Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fabulous kids, and two fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window); she’s come to terms with the fact that she’s not an outdoors person. She is the author of A Man of Character, A Matter of Time, and A Scandalous Matter.

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