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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Unleash the Inferno Release and Giveaway!!!

Today, my second completed trilogy hits the virtual shelves at the ‘Zon, and I am so, so thrilled about that! Unleash the Inferno, while arguably the hardest-to-write book I’ve released yet, is probably the most satisfying as well. I love how all the loose ends wrapped up, and in a trilogy with an enormous ensemble cast, that was a difficult thing.

Anyway, if you love epic fantasies and medieval settings and dragons and political intrigue and romance and Lord of the Rings-esque battles, you’ll enjoy this one! I hope it occupies a space on your Kindle shelf (or, if you’re like me, your REAL shelf that you have to dust every now and then).

Once you’ve read it, tell your friends! Hop on Amazon and leave a review, even a one-liner! I depend on those reviews for sales, and they’re super hard to get (because who has time to leave a review?). But I hope, if I ask pretty please with a fruit-or-candy-of-your-choice on top, that you’ll at least consider it. 🙂

In other news, I have TWO giveaway winners of this book! For those of you who signed up for my newsletter, you get access to discounts and giveaways that aren’t necessarily available to other venues, and two of you have been selected as winners! Congratulations to Rebecca Cooper and Shirley Cochran! I’ll have my editor send your free e-copies to you in short order. Thanks for entering!

For the rest of you, hop over to Amazon to pick up your copy! Only $3.99 (roughly equivalent to a chai tea latte at Starbucks, and instead of just an amazing drink, you get a whole amazing book with a little more staying power than a delicious beverage!)! Thanks in advance for reading!

After the Battle at ClarenVale, Kinna Andrachen unites those who spurn King Sebastian’s tyrannical reign, mustering a rag-tag army of soldiers and creatures to face Sebastian’s far larger Lismarian army. Victory is elusive and allies are scarce, but Kinna’s tenacious spirit cannot succumb to injustice. Her fiery heart must learn to lead.

At last mastering control of the four Touches of the powerful Amulet, Ayden finds himself at the center of an epic struggle to destroy the corruption that has tainted the throne of Lismaria for centuries. As time runs out, his options for survival fade, surrendering him to a dark destiny.

Tied to a fate he does not want, Cedric Andrachen resists his inheritance, fleeing the lust for power it sparks in him. As war looms, Cedric faces his choices: will he turn his back on his throne and his kingdom? Or will he enter the struggle against tyranny, bringing the freedom his people have so long sought?

Sebastian sits, at last, on the Lismarian throne, stolen from him twenty years prior. But now the Rebellion, led against him by his niece and nephew, threatens his security from across the Channel, and the Amulet’s promise of power tempts him into even darker shadows. Ghosts of the past brutalize Sebastian’s present until the lines of reality blur with nightmare.

Flames of war ignite between nations. Peril threatens the Andrachen line.
Who will survive the inferno?

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.

Margaret loves to interact with fellow readers and authors! You may find her here:

Website: http://margaretlocke.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMargaretLocke

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/MargaretLocke

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/margaret_locke

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/Margaret_Locke

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Margaret_Locke

 

 

Embrace the Fire is Liiiiiiiivve!

I had no clue when I started Embrace the Fire that I would want to throw in my writerly towel before it was finished. Of all my books, this story was the most complicated, hard-to-craft, frustrating, eye-bleeding, hair-tearing piece of fiction I have ever created, and that’s saying something.

Because of that, I think it’s also the best book I’ve written yet. Complicated and action-filled, the plot, characters, structure, and themes of the book are something I’m quite proud of. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I do (the reading is a completely different story from the writing of the book).

Enjoy fantasy? Give this book a read-through. Don’t necessarily enjoy fantasy but do enjoy stories of relationship, struggle, overcoming, romance, adventure, and action? Buy this book and another one to give to a friend. Want to see something cool? Check out the book trailer for Kindle the Flame… and then buy Embrace the Fire. 😉

And if you think about it, please post a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads when you finish! It can be as simple as “I liked this book,” but even that one review will make a huge difference in the career of this author. Thanks in advance!

Be sure and watch social media later this month. Emily June Street and I will be hosting a flash fiction contest and book giveaway to celebrate our June new releases. Even if you’re not a writer, this is still a fun contest you won’t want to miss!

Purchase Link

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Wanted by King Sebastian, Kinna, the long-hidden daughter of the assassinated King Liam, flees for her life, determined to seek out her twin brother and free him from Sebastian’s dungeons. Meanwhile, the King holds Kinna’s adopted father as collateral to ensure she keeps her betrothal to a man she does not love.

Once cursed by King Sebastian to turn everything he touched to ash, Ayden suffers from new, searing pain that heats his flesh in a different way. Searching for answers, he digs into the histories of West Ashwynd’s Clans, and his discoveries lead him to the Amulet he’d thought had rid him of his curse. When he finds a rare Mirage Dragon, hope for vengeance upon Sebastian fills him again.

Captured and stripped of his power as Dragon-Master, Cedric resists using his Dragon-speak to advance Sebastian’s political aims. When he escapes the King’s clutches, he resolves to find his twin sister, Kinna. But the enemy has a long reach, and Cedric’s chains are unrelenting.

Ice and agony torment Sebastian, King of West Ashwynd. His fury rages unabated as he prepares for war. When treachery leeches into his ranks, he turns against everyone he trusts. Sebastian believes he cannot be outwitted, but…

Kingdoms rise and fall; wars transform nations—Who can survive the fires of Dragons?

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For release day, a peek at the prologue:

Dark of Dusk and Magic

Time lost its steady cadence in the caverns where the woman crouched next to a guttering candle. The art of the heavens remained unseen here; she could not trace the tracks of time across the sky. The only marking of a day’s passage was the time it took for the daily candle to burn into nothingness, extinguishing at last with a silent puff of smoke, plunging her into deep blackness.

And then she would sleep. When she woke, another candle would rest in the holder, another day would pass in the weak flicker of warmth. The tallow pooled around the candle’s flame that cast shadows upon the cave walls where moisture dripped and moss crept. A quill shivered in her fingers, scratching across the creased parchment on the cavern floor.

Hash marks covered the wall, one mark for every lifeless candle, a representation of the elusive time. Somewhere, out there, a king sought her son, who, with others, had fled The Crossings, West Ashwynd’s capital city, after the Tournament. Death awaited him if he were caught, but a life on the run presented its own cage.

The woman raised a hand to her mouth, blowing a warm breath over her chilled skin, and returned to her script. The words, she thought, might never escape the cave, but the relief from their release kept her cold fingers at their task.

Dearest son,

I hear the Dragons in my dreams, but even waking brings no end to their fury. It troubles me greatly.

I hope you are well, and that you continue in the path set before you. My captors have yet to free me or to deliver messages; however, they allow me to scribble my thoughts onto parchment. I hope, someday, that you may receive this.

The Amulet calls to me, even from its hiding place. At times, the urge to take it and use it overwhelms me, and it is then that I am glad for the safeguards I’ve placed around it. It is powerful, son, and evil at times, drawing upon the darkness of the Seer Fey who chose power over peace. The Amulet, carrying traces of the Fey who have left the path of the just, draws all darkness into itself.

It is well that Sebastian no longer possesses it. The Amulet would ignite like dry grass beneath such a volatile temperament as his.

No longer is the Amulet the pure gift of the Stars. No longer is its power clean and self-contained. Both it and our peace were shattered when the Seer Fey divided.

The Amulet was meant for good, and some goodness remains within, but deep blackness tarnishes its power now. It has separated our people, my son, creating a rift that will never be healed. Those Fey who remain loyal to the tenets of our agreement with Aarkan are far fewer than those who deny them.

The opposition refuse to listen to me; they vastly outnumber the ones who remain faithful to the Bond of Blood and Fire. They did not listen to me when I told them my discovery—that the Amulet does not break curses, only redirects them. Instead, they enclosed me in their prison, and I am a captive of their greed. Guilt pierces me, my son. As you know, I gave the Amulet to one in order to break his curse, but instead, I have unknowingly only redirected it.

The greed of the Seer Fey Council holds sway at present, and I fear, the end of peace.

Stay strong, my son. May we never stumble from the course the Stars have set before us.

She set the quill on the stone floor and rubbed her aching knuckles. The tallow dipped lower in the holder, hardly illuminating the parchment, though the glow of her pink hair shivered in the flickering light.

She picked up the quill once more and signed her name with a flourish.

Lovingly,

Helga

The Write Giveaway

TamaraShoemaker-300dpi-3125x4167(1)Alert to all Flashdogs, FlashMonkeys, FlashDragons, and anyone else who just likes Flashy things!

In honor of the upcoming releases of new installments in two of our fantasy series, Emily June Street and I are co-hosting a ONE-TIME FLASH FICTION CONTEST on the Luminous Creatures Press Blog.

The contest submission dates run from June 28 – June 30. The prompts will be posted on June 28th, and then you’ll have two full days to create a story of 100 words or fewer to enter. The theme will be fantasy, since the newly released books we are celebrating are both fantasy stories.

Please note: you do not have to be a writer to enter this contest; Emily and I are hoping for entries from anyone who is interested in winning a free copy of our new releases, whether you’ve written anthologies, novels, flash fiction, or only your name. Come one, come all! It’ll be fun!sterling

More specifics on theme and a photo prompt will be posted on June 28th on the Luminous Creatures Press Blog.

For advance information about our rules and story content, please visit the Luminous Creatures Blog here.

Preeminent Flashdog Mark A. King has agreed to serve as our judge. The winner will receive paperback or ebook editions of our two new books: Embrace the Fire, by Tamara Shoemaker, a YA novel set in a classic fantasy world with dragons, elves, and other creatures, and Sterling, by Emily June Street, a fantasy romance with an intricate magic system.

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