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In continuation of our January giveaways we are pleased to offer you THE CHOCOLATIER’S JOURNAL by Cindy Lynn Speer, free for Kindle until Friday at the Amazon web site:

The Chocolatier's Journal

This e-book contains two short stories by Cindy Lynn Speer, “Sea Witch” and “Tasmin and the Sprites”, featuring the main characters of her critically acclaimed novel “The Chocolatier’s Wife”, as well as some magic spells and chocolate recipes from William’s and Tasmin’s secrect journal. It offers a great chance to the readers to become familiar with Cindy’s work. For the fans of “The Chocolatier’s Wife”, this exclusive volume reveals the two mysteries that were never resolved in the novel: why did William abandon his promising career as a sea captain; and how did Tasmin acquire her magical following of invisible and mischievous wind sprites.

Download a copy today at:



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For the next three days, download a free Kindle copy of Anna Kashina’s The Hatchling, a sensual and exotic short story about the adventures of a girl in a human hive.

The Hatchling

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Today and tomorrow only: download a free copy for Kindle on the Amazon web site:

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THE PRINCESS OF DHAGABAD reviewed by Portland Book Review

Happy New Year, everyone, and great wishes to you in 2013!

Over the holidays, a great review of Anna Kashina’s THE PRINCESS OF DHAGABAD has been posted by Portland Book Review.

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“The Princess of Dhagabad is a beautifully written novel by author Anna Kashina. She creates a world of the Middle East that is sensual, subtle and vibrant. The characters of the Princess and Hasan are layered and subtle – both show an innate curiosity about the world but with realism that their wants are overridden by political and cultural requirements. The larger cultural setting has a significant place in the story and can be considered a character of its own in the book. This novel is a delight to read and Ms. Kashina is a truly gifted storyteller.” Reviewed By Barbara Cothern

Read the full review at the following link:


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ONCE UPON A CURSE Author Nancy Kress on fairy tales

I have always loved fairy tales.  As a child, I read my way steadily through Andrew Lang’s twelve “colored fairy” anthologies: The Red Fairy Book, the Blue Fairy Book, etc. (although the idea of either a grey or an olive fairy was not very appealing).  Then I moved on to Hans Christian Anderson and Grimm (both frightening, in ways that thrilled me).  I even liked the watered-down Disney versions.  The first movie I ever saw was a re-release of Snow White.  I was four.  I was enthralled.

Much has been written about the uses of fairy tales to the psyche of a growing child.  I studied some of this material when I was in college, working toward a B.A. in elementary-school education.  I’ve forgotten most of the theory now, but never forgotten the stories themselves.  I read them aloud to my own children.  If I’m ever fortunate enough to have grandchildren, I expect to read them aloud again.

And yet—despite all this passionate devotion to fairy tales, even early on I had reservations.  It bothered me that all the princesses were blonde, since I was not.  The one exception was Snow White, but as I grew from four years old to ten, Snow White struck me as sort of dim.  She’d been told by the dwarves not to open the door to anyone, and what does she go and do?  Open the door to the evil witch and then eat the poisoned apple.  If she was the role model for brunettes, I wasn’t having it.

Then, too, I began to wonder about all these helpless females in the stories.  The whole idea of being rescued by a handsome prince was definitely appealing—but couldn’t any of these girls (it was always the girls I was interested in) help themselves at all?  Or at least try to?

Finally, I worried about the minor characters.  I was perfectly happy to have Cinderella’s sisters rolled down a hill inside a casket of nails (the Grimm brothers’ original, horrifying fate for them), but what about all those servants asleep in the castle with Sleeping Beauty?  Wouldn’t their mothers all be dead by the time they woke up and tried to visit back home?  Were Cinderella’s coachmen frightened to suddenly find themselves coachmen instead of rats?  Was there enough porridge left for Baby Bear to get his breakfast?

Decades after I’d replaced these worries with ones about prom dresses and college applications, Ellen Datlow began to publish anthologies of fairy tales told from the points of view of minor characters.  I wrote a lot of these, happy to revisit my childhood concerns.  Two of them are included in ONCE UPON A CURSE: “Words Like Pale Stones” and “Summer Wind.”

“Words Like Pale Stones” is a version of “Rumpelstilskin” in which the heroine starts out helpless but does not stay that way.  And even helpless, she knows more about the real, true world than does her prince.

“Summer Wind” is my favorite of my own rewritten fairy tales.  As a child, I wasn’t concerned with the fates of the old people in fairy stories.  The young never are.  But as I grew older myself (and older, and older), the lives of all those grandmothers, crones, fairy godmothers, and ugly ancient witches began to interest me.  Did magic reside in age itself, or in what has been learned through long ages of life?  “Summer Wind” considers that question, with a heroine who both is and is not helpless.

I hope you enjoy both stories, as well as the others in this exciting anthology.


The official release date for ONCE UPON A CURSE ANTHOLOGY: TOMORROW, December 21!

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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 http://www.annakashina.com.

I am also on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Anna-Kashina/215289654593) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/annakashina) , 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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSw_O1qhOII&feature=player_detailpage

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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New Review of THE CHOCOLATIER’S WIFE by Cindy Lynn Speer

A great review of Cindy Lynn Speer’s THE CHOCOLATIER’S WIFE has just been posted at: http://www.miscfinds4u.com/blog/2012/08/07/book-review-the-chocolatiers-wife/

“this book combines two of my favorite things… fantasy and chocolate!… If you’re looking for a good summer book, consider ‘The Chocolatier’s Wife’. You won’t be disappointed.” — read the full review here.

Or, visit our store to buy your own copy today.

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