Monthly Archives: October 2012

THE CHOCOLATIER’S WIFE — free until midnight!

Cindy Lynn peer’s THE CHOCOLATIER’S WIFE is currently #29 bestseller overall and #2 in fantasy on the web site. Download a free copy TODAY before midnight at:

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Adding Chocolate into the Mix — by Cindy Lynn Speer

Adding Chocolate into the Mix

One of my challenges this summer was to write some recipes for a free giveaway book.  I actually wrote some short stories to go with it because in the end, grabbing a couple of things out of the letters that start each chapter of The Chocolatier’s Wife was easier. (It’ll be available soon…keep your eyes peeled.  It’s a fun little book…and, as I mentioned, free!) So, I wrote the short stories first.  I chose two of my favorite past moments from the book, and  wrote away.  The first was an adventure that may lead into a sequel to the book.  I always loved how William, when asked for a brass button for a protection ritual gives her pretty much every button he owns, and since what he wears is based off of 1800’s British Navy, there are a lot of buttons.

The second story is about how Tasmin found her little wind sprite family, and how they decided that they would stay right with her, thank you very much.

Then I worked on the spells.  The spells were easy, too.  I use actual flower/stone/herb lore in my books.  My favorite resources are George F. Kunz’s Curious Lore of Precious Stones, (You can read it, here: Maud Grieve’s A Modern Herbal  (which can be found online here:  and Miss Carruther’s Flower Lore — which, actually, isn’t my favorite, but I’m showing it to you because it’s so darn pretty:

Why do I use actual lore instead of making it all up?  After all, Berengia, the Pandroth Empire, Aversin Shore…none of these places exist in our world.  Am I being lazy, not making it all up? No, not at all.  If you make up something – let’s say you invent a new flower.  Let’s call it Anilom.  It’s a new word, and your mind will want context.  Now, you have to describe the flower, you have to give it more page space that perhaps it needs for the story…you’ve made it important.  But if I say rose petals, you already know.  You mind fills in the image for me, and if I want to make it more important, I can.  One of the rules for good writing, I believe, is that you should be careful to give the items and people in your story “screen time” in perfect proportion to their importance to the story itself.  There was an author I liked to read who would spend pages and pages describing a ship, and I’d be all excited and ready to see this ship in action…and the ship would disappear.  In the end, all he wanted to do was describe the ship, it really had nothing to do with anything that would add to the atmosphere or plot of the book.  It was frustrating.

And then…I had to get to it…the chocolate recipes.  It was daunting. I like to make jokes at my own expense (at potlucks I tell people that I make awesome paper plates and cans of soda pop) but honestly, I can cook.   Sometimes I even like to cook.  Before I had a full time job again, I made awesome bread.  But at the end of the day food doesn’t mean enough to me to extend real effort.  Dinner’s over, then I have to do the dishes.  So making up a recipe was scary.  Did it have to make sense?  Did it have to be something people could cook?  What if people tested it and it made them sick?

Then I started to research period recipes, thinking I could find things that were really old as a base and use elements….and then I was reminded of something that I should have realized all along.  Old time recipes are nothing like ours.  I have friends who have redacted medieval recipes…I’ve stood and nodded wisely while they explained in pain-staking detail how they managed to finally get a sauce right. Let me grab an example of a period recipe…aha.  Here is Martha Washington’s sugar cookie recipe:

To Make Sugar Cakes:

Take 3 ale quarts of fine flowre, & put to it a pound of sugar, beaten & searced; 4 youlks of eggs, strayned thorugh a fine cloth with 12 or 13 spoonfulls of good thick cream; & 5 or 6 spoonfulls of rose water; A pound & a quaeter of butter, washt in rose water & broaken in cold, in bits. knead all these ingredients well together . after, let it ly A while, covered well, to rise. then roule them out & cut them with a glass, & put them on plates (a little buttered) in an oven gently heat. all these kinde of things are best when ye sugar & flower are dryed in an oven before you use ym.

And thus I realized…that William’s recipes for his confections would actually look much the same.  They didn’t have a set of standardized measures…no carefully marked out cups or a set of spoons that were made to be the same size no matter which one you picked up.  And William would be making notes so he’d know what he did, but he wouldn’t be exact.  His handful of sugar would be the same – he wasn’t worried about others making things  off his notes.

But I’m not sure if I would make any of my recipes…after all, I didn’t test them in my own kitchen.  I just made them up and tried to make them sound sensible.


THE CHOCOLATIER’S WIFE is free for Kindle at Amazon from October 26 to October 28. Download a copy at:

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ONCE UPON A CURSE anthology: advance review by Publishers Weekly


Publishers Weekly says:

“Not exactly bedtime reading, this collection of reinterpreted fairy tales takes readers on an intriguing journey.””An appealing way to rediscover the classic tales.”

“Rather than simple retellings, the authors present the original characters and situations turned on their heads. In Patricia C. Wrede’s “Stronger than Time,” Sleeping Beauty remains awake as her castle slumbers around her, while Cinderella appears from the fairy’s perspective in “But Can You Let Him Go” by Cindy Lynn Speer, who contributes two other stories. What these stories have in common with the other selections, which include Peter S. Beagle’s “Come Lady Death” and editor Kashina’s “Solstice Maiden,” is the ability to get readers to see well-worn folklore through fresh eyes.”

Read the full review at:

Follow our blog to receive updates about ONCE UPON A CURSE anthology, upcoming on the Winter Solstice, December 21, just in time for the Christmas holidays.

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THE GODDESS OF DANCE now available in hardcover and Kindle editions

Buy your copy today at Amazon in hardcover ( or as a beautifully formatted Kindle edition (, featuring beautiful cover art by Stephen Hickman and intricate design elements by Olga Karengina.

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Interview with Anna Kashina, the author of THE GODDESS OF DANCE

Anna Kashina’s THE GODDESS OF DANCE is the most recent release from Dragonwell Publishing, published in trade paperback on September 30, 2012. This weekend we are also releasing the e-book and hardcover versions. Here is what Anna Kashina says about her writing.

Q: How did you first start writing and how did Dhagabad and the Spirits of the Ancient Sands series come about?

A: I have been writing since I was five, and most of the time I have been getting the ideas from my dreams.  When I was little, I used to think that I was just seeing things that happened somewhere – possibly not in the world that we know.

Once I woke up from a very realistic dream set in a city that resembled the ancient Baghdad from the Arabian Nights.  It was about a princess who fell in love with her slave – a djinn, an immortal wizard whose absolute power has been contained by magical forces outside this world.  I had an incredibly sharp image of her standing opposite him in a huge palace library at the very moment when she realizes that she cannot live without him, and that they can never be together, unless a miracle would free him from slavery.  I started writing it right away.

A year later, having done lots of research about the ancient Middle East, I have completed the first draft of the novel.  The story burned inside me, and every time I sat down to write I ‘remembered’ another detail from my dream – as if I have really seen a lifetime and was now unraveling it piece by piece.  It was very intense, like being in love.  And, while I started thinking about trying to publish my novel, I kept postponing the actual attempts.

Q: How did you find your first publisher for the book that came out back in 2000?

A: One day I was on an overnight flight to London, sitting next to a very nice man.  We chatted on and off during the trip, and as we were coming out of the plane, I asked him about his occupation.  His answer was:  “I am a book publisher in New York.  By the way, I am looking for new authors with an unusual take on foreign settings.  So, if you happen to know anyone, please spread the word.”  My heart pounded as I opened my mouth to tell him that I wrote a novel, but what came out instead was: “Actually, I have a friend who writes fantasy.”  He smiled and handed me his card.  “Have this friend contact me,” he said.  And then, he shook my hand and left.

It took me another month to work up the courage to call him and confess that it wasn’t a friend, but I myself who was the author.  He only laughed.  “Send me your manuscript, and we’ll see,” he said.

The phone call came after another two months.  “I loved your book,” he said.  “I am going to publish it.”  I felt surreal – as if I was suddenly a part of a fairy tale.  But he was true to his word, and my book came out as a beautiful hardcover.

This story has taught me to believe in myself, and never be too shy to try and reach for my dreams.

Q: Tell us about your other work.

A: I have written a total of five novels, and have a list of work in progress, which I really need to prioritize.

This year three of my novels came out — THE PRINCESS OF DHAGABAD and THE GODDESS OF DANCE from Dragonwell Publishing, and THE FIRST SWORD from Wildside Press. In addition, my novella, “Solstice Maiden” has been included into the upcoming ONCE UPON A CURSE anthology from Dragonwell Publishing, which features such legends of fantasy as Peter Beagle, Patricia C. Wrede, and Nancy Kress. It is a great collection, and I am very proud to be part of it.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: My Russian fairy tale-based fantasy novel, “Mistress of the Solstice”. A shorter version of it, “Ivan and Marya” has been published in 2010 as an e-book, but the publisher soon closed down and the book disappeared. The story still burns inside me, and I hope the new novel will be even better than the original short version.

Q: You have written fantasy based on Russian and Arabian fairy tales, as well as medieval action adventure. Do you feel like your writing has a theme that your fans would stick to?

A: A: Several themes, actually. First, all my novels have cross cultural elements and root deep in mythology and folklore. Even my medieval action adventure, THE FIRST SWORD, has several mythological themes that blend into the story, such as the carnal and beautiful Forest Mother.

But more than that, I feel that all my novels explore the themes of absolute power trapped and confined in a mortal form — more obviously so, in the djinn from THE PRINCESS OF DHAGABAD and THE GODDESS OF DANCE, but indirectly also in THE FIRST SWORD, where the elite Majat warriors who are pretty much all-powerful in their medieval setting, are trapped by the code of their Guild to the point that they are essentially deprived of the ability to command their power. This theme gets developed even better in my new novel, THE BLACK DIAMOND, which, I hope, will be published soon.

In a humble way, I feel that the same concept has been explored by N.K. Jemisin in THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOM, a novel I greatly admire.

Q: Who are your favorite fantasy authors?

A: Terry Pratchett. I keep an entire collection of his books, some in multiple formats and re-read them every once in a while. A more recent favorite is N.K. Jemisin, who I feel must be a soul mate in some other plane of existence. And the fantasy author that probably influenced me most as a child (besides J.R.R.Tolkien and Lewis Carroll, of course) is E.T.A. Hoffmann, known to the American readers as the author of NUTCRACKER. I know that Dragonwell is releasing a collection of his stories soon, including those that have not been published in English. I can’t wait.

I admire a lot of other fantasy authors, and could easily name 10-20 more favorites, but the three I mentioned are the ones whose books I keep coming back to in good and in bad times.

Q: You are originally from Russia. Do you find it hard to write in a foreign language?

A: Frankly, by now I don’t feel that English is a foreign language. Russian, maybe. But seriously, these two languages are different and they never mix for me. If anything, they help each other and I feel that they make my writing richer than it would have been with only one background.

Generally, the language I am reading in at the moment becomes more dominant in my head. Lately it tends to be English.

A: Where can the readers learn more about you and your books?

A: My blog, reachable through

I am also on Facebook (!/pages/Anna-Kashina/215289654593) and Twitter ( , and always welcome new fans and followers!

If you do look me up, check out a gorgeous trailer for THE GODDESS OF DANCE is up on YouTube:

There will also be one for THE FIRST SWORD REALLY SOON, and if you sign up to follow me in any media, you will learn it first hand.

Of course, I should also mention the buying links for my book on Amazon:

and on Dragonwell Publishing web site:

Incidentally, Dragonwell Publishing is running a special on the e-version of The Princess of Dhagabad until Monday, so please check it out at:



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GODDESS OF DANCE Goodreads giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Goddess of Dance by Anna Kashina

The Goddess of Dance

by Anna Kashina

Giveaway ends October 20, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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GODDESS OF DANCE: an Arabian adventure fantasy romance

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