The Chocolatier’s Wife/The Chocolatier’s Ghost

Happy Thursday, Squiders! (I’m actually writing this at the beginning of July, so this shall be my farthest scheduled post of all time, ahahaha–I hope everything works!) Today I’m pleased to be the final stop for the tour for The Chocolatier’s Wife and The Chocolatier’s Ghost, two fantasy mystery books by Cindy Lynn Speer.

BLURB:

The Chocolatier’s Wife: ROMANCE, MAGIC, MYSTERY…. AND CHOCOLATE

A truly original, spellbinding love story, featuring vivid characters in a highly realistic historical setting.

When Tasmin’s bethrothed, William, is accused of murder, she gathers her wind sprites and rushes to his home town to investigate. She doesn’t have a shred of doubt about his innocence. But as she settles in his chocolate shop, she finds more in store than she bargained for. Facing suspicious townsfolk, gossiping neighbors, and William’s own family, who all resent her kind – the sorcerer folk from the North — she must also learn to tell friend from foe, and fast. For the real killer is still on the loose – and he is intent on ruining William’s family at all cost.

The Chocolatier’s Ghost: Married to her soul mate, the chocolatier William, Tasmin should not have to worry about anything at all. But when her happily ever after is interrupted by the disappearance of the town’s wise woman, she rushes in to investigate. Faced with dangers, dead bodies, and more mysterious disappearances, Tasmin and William must act fast to save their town and themselves – especially when Tasmin starts to be haunted by a most unwelcome ghost from her past…literally.

The Chocolatier’s Ghost is an enchanting sequel to Cindy Lynn Speer’s bestselling romantic mystery, The Chocolatier’s Wife.

EXCERPT:

Time was, in the kingdom of Berengeny, that no one picked their spouses. No one courted—not officially, at any rate—and no one married in a moment’s foolish passion. It was the charge of the town Wise Woman, who would fill her spell bowl with clear, pure water; a little salt; and the essence of roses, and rosemary, and sage. Next, she would prick the finger of the newborn child and let his or her blood drip into the potion. If a face showed in the waters, then it was known that the best possible mate (they never said true love, for that was the stuff of foolish fancy) had been born, and the Wise Woman could then tell where the future spouse lived, and arrangements were made.

For the parents of William of the House of Almsley, this process would turn out to be less than pleasant.

The first year that the baby William’s finger was pricked and nothing showed, the Wise Woman said, “Fear not, a wife is often younger than the husband.”

The second, third, and even fifth year she said much the same.

But you see, since the spell was meant to choose the best match—not the true love—of the heart the blood in the bowl belonged to, this did not mean, as years passed, that the boy was special. It meant that he would be impossible to live with.

On his seventh birthday, it seemed everyone had quite forgotten all about visiting the Wise Woman until William, who knew this of long habit to be a major part of his day–along with cake, a new toy, and a new set of clothes–tugged on his mother’s skirt and asked when they were going. She stared at him a long moment, tea cup in hand, before sighing and calling for the carriage. She didn’t even bother to change into formal clothes this time, and the Wise Woman seemed surprised to see them at all. “Well, we might as well try while you’re here,” she said, her voice obviously doubtful.

William obediently held out the ring finger on his left hand and watched as the blood dripped into the bowl. “She has dark brown eyes,” William observed, “and some hair already.” He shrugged, and looked at the two women. “I suppose she’ll do. I’m just glad ‘tis over, and that I can go on with my life.”

“For you, perhaps,” his mother said, thinking of what she would now have to accomplish.

“Do not fret, mother, I shall write a letter to the little girl. Not that she can read it, anyway.” He petted his mother’s arm. He was a sweet boy, but he was always charging forward, never worrying about feelings.

The Wise Woman rolled out an elegantly painted silk map of the kingdom and all its regions, his mother smoothed the fabric across the table, and then the Wise Woman dipped a brass weight into the bowl. Henriette, William’s mother, placed her hands on William’s shoulders as the Wise Woman held the weight, suspended, over the map.

Henriette held her breath, waiting to see where it would land. Andrew, her younger son, had his intended living just down the street, which was quite convenient. At least they knew what they were getting into immediately.

The plumb-bob made huge circles around the map, spinning and spinning as the Wise Woman recited the words over and over. It stopped, stiffly pointing toward the North.

“Tarnia? Not possible, nor even probable. You must try again!”

For once, William’s mother wasn’t being stubbornly demanding. Tarnia, a place of cruel and wild magic, was the last place from whence one would wish a bride. They did not have Wise Women there, for anyone could perform spells. The Hags of the North ate their dead and sent the harsh winter wind to ravage the crops of the people of the South. Five hundred years ago, the North and the South had fought a bitter war over a cause no one could quite remember, only that it had been a brutal thing, and that many had died, and it led to the South losing most of its magic. Though the war was long over and the two supposedly united again, memory lingered. “I have cast it twice.” The Wise Woman chewed her lower lip, but therewas naught else she could do.

“Not Tarnia, please?” Henriette, usually a rather fierce and cold woman, begged.

“I am afraid so.” The Wise Woman began cleaning up; her shoulders set a little lower. “I am sorry.”

William, staring out the window at the children playing outside, couldn’t care less. What did it matter where anyone was from? She was a baby, and babies didn’t cause that much trouble.

“Only you, William,” his mother said, shaking her head. “Why can you not do anything normal?”

This was to be the tenor of most of their conversations throughout their lives.

BIO:

Cindy Lynn Speer has been writing since she was 13.  She has Blue Moon and Unbalanced published by Zumaya.  Her other works, including The Chocolatier’s Wife (recently out in an illustrated hardcover to celebrate its 10th anniversary) and the Chocolatier’s Ghost, as well as the short story anthology Wishes and Sorrows.  When she is not writing she is either practicing historical swordsmanship, sewing, or pretending she can garden.  She also loves road trips and seeing nature.  Her secret side hobby is to write really boring bios about herself.  You can find out more about her at www.cindylynnspeer.com, or look for her on Facebook (Cindy Lynn Speer) and Twitter (cindylynnspeer).

( Amazon Author Page )

GUEST POST:

As part of the tour, I’ve asked Cindy to put together a short post about where she gets her ideas. Take it away, Cindy!

~*~*~*~*~*~

Where do ideas come from?

The most important thing is to feed your muse.  Ideas are everywhere, but they need time to develop…and you need to feed yourself so that ideas have things to grab onto and add to themselves.  You may have this image in your head of a slave, who is lead to his freedom by a shape shifter who takes the form of a peahen.  (I do, I play with this story a lot, off and on.)  My problem is that I have not read enough…what would life be like for a black man of the time in the North?  What would induce him to go back — the woman wants him to, to free her husband, who lives inside the plantation house in a gilded cage.  I need to read to get his voice in my head, watch movies, look at pictures.  Then I will be able to take a wonderful idea and turn it into a great story.

For me, ideas are a combination of cool things coming together and things I would like to read.  Worlds I want to travel, people I want to spend time with.  You cannot draw anything from an empty well, so you should read, guilt free, widely.  Does it take time from when you should be writing?  Yes.  But if you are having a hard time putting ideas to paper because when you look inside your head and there’s nothing there to pull from, then maybe this is what you need to do.  Read things outside of your genre.  Read nonfiction that could be related to things you would like to write.  Go to museums, online and off, and explore their collections.  Look at the photos, the paintings, and tell yourself stories.  Throw your favorite TV or Movie characters in weird situations while you are sitting at a red light or waiting at check out.

Tell yourself stories as often as you can.  It does not matter if you can write them down or not, just letting your mind doodle, resting yourself from the everyday cares will strengthen you and help a lot.

As part of the tour, Cindy is giving away a $50 Amazon or B&N gift card. To enter, click the link below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Too Much Coincidence?

If you’re on Pinterest, squiders, you know that it will notify you when someone re-pins one of the pins from your boards. I recently got a notification about this pin, which I had honestly forgotten about.

crrreeepppyyy
Picture seen here

This is one of my own photos that I’ve pinned. It may be the only photo of my own that I’ve pinned. In Sept of 2013, we went on a New England/Canada cruise, and at some point ended up in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. I don’t quite remember how we got there–it was part of some shore excursion, maybe something having to do with maple syrup–but we were given an hour or so in which to wander the town.

I found myself drawn to a neat old white and red building on the top of a hill that just screamed that it was haunted. And when we got there, we discovered the cemetery. AND THEN we discovered that said building was a school, and that the hill was called…wait for it…Gallow’s Hill.

Playground/cemetery proximity

I mean, what are the odds? Who looks at a building next to a cemetery on a place called Gallow’s Hill and says, “Ah, yes, here is where I will put my school”? An elementary school, even.

This is a horror story waiting to happen, and I’m so pleased that that person re-pinned this pin because now I remember it, and I remember the pure glee of finding this place, and I remember the potential of this location.

But, seriously, squiders, what are the odds?

(I really love cemeteries and I am aware that’s weird, but gleeeeeeeeee.)

Delayed Due to Cake

So, yesterday was my birthday! And I promise, I meant to post, but, you know. Sugar.

It was a nice birthday, though.

(I turned on the radio in the car, and Jack & Diane by John Mellencamp was on, which was apparently the number 1 song the week I was born. Weeeeiiirrrdd.)

I also drew you a birthday landsquid.

(Plus bonus turtleduck.)

I hope you have a lovely fall weekend, squiders!

Nonfiction Poll, Videocast Thoughts, and Other Sundry

Hey, guess what, squiders. I found my paper for the Shards library book talk. It was under my bed. Sigh. Who the heck knows why. (There were also cat hairballs under my bed, alas.) Too late to save me now.

(One would think I would put it someplace where I can find it now, but it’s still on my nightstand. Authors: not always the most organized people. We can follow a character arc to its completion but can’t remember where we put our socks.)

Nonfiction! Let’s start back up. I’ve got two options for the next one instead of giving you the giant list.

Which do you prefer?

View Results

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I’m good with either though I have already done a lot of work on the outlining one, so if you want to make my life easier… >_>

So, it sounds like people like the videocast idea! I like it too, and I actually have a pretty decent set-up for doing video which I’ve used previously for interviews and whatnot, so it wouldn’t be hard to get going! But logistics, logistics. You have to be consistent. If you were to tune in to said videocast, how often would you want to? Once a month? Twice a month? Once a week? I’m thinking they’ll be relatively short, at least at first, 10-15 minutes.

I’m also pondering tying them into my Patreon. My Patreon is an ongoing adventure in “marketing that I don’t really understand but am fiddling about with” and I know that not consistently producing content for it helps it not at all (the problem of course being that I don’t really know what sort of content people want over there). The videos won’t be limited to Patreon subscribers, but maybe I could release them a day early or something. Who knows? Not me!

I’m attending an online marketing conference this week, which has been interesting. I’m doing the free versus the paid option, so I have the day of to watch the conference videos before they disappear, which has been challenging. Thus far it’s been a good reminder of things, and I have learned a few new things to try. But it–and some networking I’ve done over the past few weeks–have reminded me that hey, there are some points of this marketing/publishing part that I’m good at–good enough to teach other people–and that I’m not as terrible as I sometimes feel like I am. So that’s been really nice.

I’d like to do another book-related thing this month. Which do you guys like better, the readalongs or the library book sale find reviews? I mean, it’s too late to do a readalong for this month, but we could get one rolling for the holiday season (not like the holiday season needs more stuff, but hey).

Found anything cool lately, squiders? Please let me know your thoughts!

Pondering a Podcast

Good morning, squiders! How is your October treating you? We’re in the midst of a butterfly migration. Which sounds amazing, but they’re literally everywhere and every time I hit one with my car I feel like a horrible person. (Two weeks ago the newspaper said we were at the peak of the migration, but they were wrong. There’s so many they’re showing up on weather radar.)

buuuutttteeerrrfffllliiieeessss

So, I’ve been pondering starting a podcast for about a month now. Well, a videocast. The idea started after the local author showcase I did at the library at the end of August, and it’s percolated after the last month as I’ve done some other networking with local authors and gone over what I want out of my writing during my writing break last month.

The idea would be to talk about how awkward and horrible it is to be an author at times, all the silly introverted or shy mistakes that I make, to show that there’s a side behind the “professional” facade we’re supposed to present to the world.

(She says as she routinely posts pictures of landsquid.)

I just can’t figure out if it would be a good way to connect with people, or if it would be a good way to shoot myself in the foot.

Thoughts, squiders? Does hearing about my three awkward run-ins with the author coordinator at the library sound like it might be fun? Or do you think it’s a bad idea, that showing off potential weaknesses will make it harder for me to sell books in the future?

In other news, I’m taking a new approach to MileHiCon this year. Instead of buying a table in the Author Row and camping out sadly for the three days, I’m doing a 2-hour signing spot and participating on some panels instead. They sent out the initial panel listing the other day, and I’m on three, all fan-related stuff: Star Trek, Doctor Who, and fangirling in general. At first I was a bit disappointed at not being put on any writing ones, but now I think this will be better–it will be more fun, I hope, because I won’t have to worry so much about what face I’m presenting (see above) and I can hopefully connect to people on shared interests.

Anyway, let me know about the videocast. Still pondering, yet still routinely finding good topics for it…

(I would talk about other things too, genre stuff that catches my interest, writing, process, etc.)

Let’s Talk About Star Trek Discovery

Okay, Squiders, fair warning: SPOILERS THROUGH EPISODE 3 (which, for those of you who might read this in the future, is all there is as of today.) Though I am going to complain about CBS for a minute, so you can read that if you want.

First of all–what is CBS thinking with their Access service? Do they really think that the other content they’re offering is going to be enough to hook anyone that comes in just for Trek? Cuz let me tell you how motivated I am to poke around and see what else they have: not at all. I am here for Trek and Trek alone, and if that Trek fails me, then I’m out of here. Likewise, if the Trek does not fail me, then I’m still out of there as soon as the season’s over.

(Actually, we’re thinking after our free trial is over, we’ll bugger off for a few months, then subscribe for a month and binge watch the episodes we missed.)

The Access service is not a good value anyway. Not only is it $7 or $8 or whatever a month, but there are commercials. A lot of them. Probably 4 or 5 breaks an episode, and 3 to 4 commercials per break. If I am paying for my TV, it should at least be commercial-free.

And it feels like they don’t really know their target market. Yes, a lot of people my age and younger don’t watch traditional television and an Internet-based service might be a good fit for us (but still, $7 a month PLUS COMMERCIALS), but what about the older generations? The ones that watched the Original Series, the ones that made Trek popular enough to do the movies and Next Generation? Like my parents. Like my mother. These are not people who are terribly familiar with Internet television. These are not people who are going to watch TV on their computers. These are not people who are going to have streaming devices like Rokus or video game consoles. My mother-in-law has already given up on the series because she can’t figure out how to watch it.

GOOD JOB, CBS, YOU SUCK.

Anyway, let’s talk about the actual series now, shall we?

I will admit to being really wary about the whole thing. First of all, time period–why do we keep sticking things before the Original Series? Is there some reason we feel like we can’t explore what happens post-Voyager? The 25th century is too scary somehow? And then there were the issues with the showrunners and production and so forth, and the general worry from promotional stuff that they were simply trying too hard. (Uniforms whhhhyyyy. No one is going to be able to easily make that from scratch, and I say that having made an Original Series minidress from the pattern in the original technical manual.)

Also, I feel like some of the promotional stuff was misleading. “Look, we have a female first officer AND a female captain and neither is white!” without telling you that said captain dies and said first officer is stripped of rank and court martialed by the time you get to the end of the second episode. And the captain of the Discovery? Your standard white man, so if you signed up for some ladies in power, well.

That being said, the series goes in a completely unexpected direction, and one that I am digging thus far. There are things I have issues with, but I am here for the storytelling. This is not your standard episodic Trek, and I will be very interested to see where we end up at the end of the season. The acting and characters are very good (though Anthony Rapp’s character Lt. Stamets is a no-go for me), and they’re playing around with making the aliens more alien since technology has improved.

So! If we ignore the CBS Access stupidity, I’d recommend Discovery. It’s early days, but I’m intrigued, and that’s high praise for a show that normally takes at least a season to get their groove (or three, if you’re Next Gen).

Have you been watching, Squiders? What do you think?

A Landsquid-y September

There’s been a distinct lack of landsquid on the blog lately, so here’s a landsquid on a laptop.

 

 

I am very pleased to see the end of September here. It’s been a pretty draining month, aside from Iceland at the very beginning. But it’s almost over! Hooray!

Here’s what’s ahead for October:

  • I’m doing a Christmas concert/play thing. It’s called “Christmas on Broadway” and is a collection of Christmas-related songs from Broadway musicals. I botched my audition again so I don’t need to do anything hard.
  • I’m also taking a drawing class! I’m super excited even though it is not cheap. Hopefully it is fun and I learn neat things.
  • I took a writing break for September to re-evaluate my goals and what I want to be working on, which I think has been beneficial. I’m going to go back to my rewrite, but I’m going to intersperse it with other things so I don’t feel like I’m trapped by it. Plus taking a break on it has made me excited to get back to work on it.
  • Here on the blog, we’ll start sticking in some nonfiction posts, topic to be determined.

That’s the general plan. As always, if you’d like more of a certain blog feature (library book reviews, landsquid stories or drawings, nonfiction post, genre musings) let me know!

Also I watched the first episode of the new Star Trek series, and I have Feelings, so maybe we’ll talk about that as well.

See you in October, squiders!

And Now, In Solemnity…

I apologize for the lateness of this post, Squiders. Our dog died suddenly on Sunday, and this week has been a bit rough.

R.I.P. Riley, 2008-2017

I am not a dog person, in general. They require a lot of work and a lot of attention, and in general I just don’t have enough spoons to deal with that. Also they’re messy and drool-y and…well.

But Riley was the ideal dog. He rarely barked and was never destructive, he was super patient with the small, mobile ones (though he did like to still their food), he was willing to walk and play but also willing to nap in the middle of the floor. He loved to have his tummy rubbed and his ears scritched, but he would be okay if you only did it for a minute and then wandered off.

He did shed more than every animal I’ve ever owned combined, but hey, in the great scheme of things, that’s not so bad.

It’s never easy to lose a pet, especially one that’s been an integral part of your family for several years. But I think what’s making it so much harder is that it was unexpected. Riley was not old. Riley was not sick. Riley showed no signs of anything being wrong and, in fact, had been in an excellent mood all week.

And then poof, suddenly gone. His heart failed. Why? Who knows? We don’t, and we never will. Was it a heart attack? A stroke? Did he eat something poisonous? Did he get bit by a rattlesnake (despite it being 50 degrees and raining)? Was there something we could have done differently that would have saved him? The ER did everything they could to get his heart going again, but nothing worked.

Sometimes that’s the hardest part, I think–being left behind and not having the answers.

It’s rained since he died, which matches the mood of the family.

Anyway, we’re coping. Everyone’s been very nice about it. His vet even sent us fancy flowers, delivery from a florist. But it’s been hard to get the creativity flowing.

I hope your week’s going better. See you Friday.

Promo: The Divinity Bureau by Tessa Clare

Good morning, Squiders! Today I’ve got The Divinity Bureau by Tessa Clare, a dystopian romance, for you.

Dystopian Romance
Date Published: September 21st, 2017
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Publisher: Asset Creative House
The Hunger Games meets Romeo and Juliet in a stunning debut about a forbidden romance between a young activist and a government employee for a corrupt bureau that controls the population by deciding who lives and who dies.

 

Roman Irvine is a disgruntled IT Technician for the Divinity Bureau, a government agency that uses random selection to decide who lives and who dies. In a world where overpopulation has lead to pollution, a crippled economy, and a world in crisis, he’s accepted the bureau’s activities as a necessity… until he meets April McIntyre.

 

April has every reason to be suspicious of Roman. He works for the Divinity Bureau, which sent her father to an early grave. But he’s also sweet and loyal, and unbeknownst to her, he saved her life. As Roman and April fall deeper in love, the deeper they’re thrust into the politics of deciding who lives and who dies. Someone wants April dead. And the bureau’s process of random selection may not be so random after all…

 

Tessa Clare is the author of The Divinity Bureau. When she’s not writing, she’s an entrepreneur, an activist, a speaker, and the Managing Director of Asset Creative House. Throughout her early career, she was a concession stand attendant, a busgirl, a barista, a player’s club representative for a casino, and an administrative assistant. She also spent years working as a manager for Vacasa, whose business model and revolutionary marketing strategies would later inspire the groundwork for Asset Creative House. The Divinity Bureau is Tessa’s debut novel about a forbidden love between a young activist and a government employee working for a corrupt bureau, set in a dystopian world.

 

 
Contact Links

 

 

Fun Scifi Tropes: Alternate Universes

Alas, Squiders, today we come to the end of our scifi trope series, and we end with alternate universes, which are a personal favorite of mine (which seems to be a trend). WordPress handily keeps track of blog posts I’ve started, and there’s one from, oh, six years ago that is entitled “Alternate Universes” and the entirety of the post is “ARE AWESOME WOO.”

Good job, me.

Related to this (and to be included in this discussion) are parallel universes, which are almost exactly the same thing.

An alternate universe is a universe existing alongside our own, usually with slight changes (or sometimes major changes). These can be accessed in some manner that helps the plot along (or, alternately, the alt universe can stick its nose into our universe, usually with disastrous results).

TV Tropes lists ten specific variations of alternate universes:

  • Alternate History (This is, as it sounds, where some major event in the past never happened, or happened differently. Germany winning WWII is a common example of this.)
  • Another Dimension (TV Tropes says this is actually the parent trope for Alternate Universes. In this case, this is any world next to our own, whether it’s the Otherworld of the Fey or some of the weirder planes in Dungeons and Dragons. There does not need to be a relationship between our universe/dimension and the other one.)
  • Bizarro Universe (Usually everything is opposite, though the name of trope makes me think of the bizarro episode of SeaLab 2021 where all the bizarro versions said “Bizarro” all the time.)
  • Dark World (Essentially our world, but everything is terrible. To link in with last week’s time travel, you can get one of these by accidentally messing up something in the past.)
  • For Want of a Nail (One small change creates a MAJOR change between universes. Also In Spite of a Nail where the differences are critical but the characters tend to be the same.)
  • Mirror Universe (a subset of the Bizarro Universe, but basically where everything is the same except good people are evil and vice versa.)
  • The Multiverse (There’s multiple universes to be bounced around across.)
  • Elseworld (This is essentially what fanfiction alt universes–AUs–are. Basically you take a familiar character and put them in a wildly different situation.)
  • Wonderful Life (How the world would be if you were never born/existed.)
  • Alternate Tooniverse (An alternative universe that’s animated.)

(As a side note, TV Tropes is a bit like Wikipedia and you can lose hours in there, so be careful.)

Like most of the scifi tropes we’ve looked at, alternate universes can be used pretty much any way you want. They can be used to explore aspects of humanity, causality, or history. They can be used as backdrops for adventure, romance, and exploration. You can have a new universe every week, or have a number of universes intricately connected.

What are your favorite uses of alternate universes, Squiders? I recently started V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, which deals with alternate universes in a fantasy setting. And, of course, Star Trek makes excellent use of this trope through episodes like Mirror, Mirror and even my very favorite Next Gen episode, Inner Light.

Books by Kit Campbell

City of Hope and Ruin cover
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Shards cover
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Hidden Worlds cover
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