Jasmine Angell's Blog

Imagination is freedom…on writing, self-publishing and all things fantasy


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Book Signing at Jordan Landing Barnes & Noble: The Hunger

The Hunger Barnes and Noble book signing event

There are a lot of milestones in the life of a writer: first short story or novel completed, first submission, first rejection, first publication, and first book signing to name a few.

What I’ve learned over the years is that within each of these milestones is the potential for smaller goals to be set and met. I’ll never forget the first time I signed a copy of my first novel, Luminous, at a local steampunk convention. It was exhilarating! Later I had my first table at the Spring Into Books event at the Viridian Event Center. In the past I’d sold my books at a shared booth with some of my artist friends at different conventions but that was the first time I had my very own table.

But for every author, the piece de resistance of book signing is to be at a signing event at a real bookstore! Not a virtual bookstore, not an online bookstore, but a bonafide bookstore in the real world. Physical, tangible and undeniable. Thanks to Caryn Larrinaga, Managing Editor of Twisted Tree Press, this milestone will be reached this Saturday, June 30!

It is such a privilege to share this day with some amazing authors who I’ve come to know and admire. The infectious enthusiasm of Johnny Worthen is unmistakable as is his talented writing repertoire. I owe much of what I know about horror and writing short stories to him and the workshops he’s given. C.R. Langille’s writing style reflects his extensive military background and his love of the outdoors colors all of his prose. Michael Darling’s delightfully creative story entitled, “Feasty-Feast” is one of my favorite stories in The Hunger and one that makes this collection unforgettable.

The Hunger
I truly hope that those who read The Hunger will enjoy my story, “The Pit and the Pendleton”. Inspired by the black and white horror movies of classic Hollywood, it follows one author’s journey into that harrowing world of monsters and his close encounters with the hungers that lurk within us all. I’ve been a life-long fan of the late Vincent Price and his 1961 horror film, The Pit and the Pendulum, has stuck with me ever since I first saw it. While the screenplay is loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s 1842 short story of the same name, the movie is quite different. Researching both Poe’s short story and the screenplay made this a memorable project I’ll always treasure.

I’m looking forward to meeting more of the talented authors listed for this exciting book signing event as well as getting to talk with fellow book lovers. For all of you who are local, I hope to see you there!

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An Unexpected Journey: Part 2

“But you don’t write horror! Why aren’t you writing fantasy?”

That was the inevitable question that fans of my Psyne novels would ask. Believe me, I have no aspirations to be the next Stephen King. I want to reassure all the fans of my fantasy novels that I am and will always be a fantasy novelist first and foremost.  There are many more Psyne novels in the works and will be available soon!  But I also write horror short stories.  The answer to why requires a little backstory.

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The Answer Part 1: I have always loved reading novels. I like to be inserted into a world and stay there for a nice long time. Novels give me that. That’s why I love writing them. Short stories are like diving into a swimming pool, coming up for air, and being told by the life guard that it’s time to get out. Nooooooooo! I’ve just never been a fan of reading them. In college I didn’t enjoy writing short stories because I didn’t want to stop writing. I didn’t want to say goodbye to the characters I’d gotten to know. It was like being wrenched away from your best friends with no hope of ever seeing them again. Now that’s a true horror story!

At my very first meeting of the Utah Horror Writers Association (UHWA) I learned that Griffin Publishing was taking submissions for their newest horror anthology, It Came From the Great Salt Lake, and something in my subconscious told me that I needed to try for it. I was a novelist who wanted to try new things, hone my writing skills and grow as a writer. Why not? I got to work and well, my first short story bombed – big time! I tried to cram a novel into the itty bitty space of a short story. I didn’t even submit it but ran it past my South African author friend, A.M. Winters, half a world away and we both agreed it needed work. A lot of work. Granted, I learned about the submission call only one month before the deadline which gave me zero time and I’d only been with the UHWA for little over one month. It was then that I vowed I would devote myself to cracking this juggernaut of a nut called the Short Story!

The Answer Part 2: Shortly after, I learned of the next horror anthology taking submissions entitled, Apocalypse: Utah. The submission deadline was in 11 months, on Halloween to be exact, so I had plenty of time. I knew I had to have a departure from the beloved Psyne characters from my fantasy novels if I was to grow as a writer. I needed to be objective with my short stories and working in the horror genre was perfect because I wasn’t emotionally invested. I spent months learning everything there was to know about writing horror and short stories. In time I came to envision each short story as a one-room studio apartment. It had limitations, it had boundaries and I had to work within those boundaries. Suddenly things began to look very clear to me.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the horror writers group was that the experienced writers were more than willing to mentor the inexperienced writers. During meetings, we would quickly go over member business and then move right into a presentation from one of the writers on the Elements of Horror or Using Devices in Short Stories. I also became aware of other anthologies seeking submissions as well as various writers conferences where I could continue to learn and hone my skills.

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LTUE Conference February 2017 at the UHWA booth

The Answer Part 3: While I don’t read horror novels or scary short stories for fun, I realized that some of my favorite movies are very much a part of the horror genre but I always thought of them as being science fiction: Aliens, AVP, and Predator. I’ve always had a soft spot for vampires. Long before Stephenie Meyer introduced her fangless version. My favorite literary novel is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a book I love because of the moral dilemmas rather than the horror elements. So I guess I’ve always been a closet horror fan. Who knew?

First page of my short story The Fateful Hour

Long story short, after a lot of hard work I submitted a polished short story and it was accepted for publication. My first short story entitled, “The Fateful Hour” was published in Apocalypse: Utah in early February 2017. The sense of accomplishment I felt was considerable. I had struggled with writing short stories for years and years but I’d finally cracked that nut.

A year later I submitted to The Hunger anthology and my second short story entitled, “The Pit and the Pendleton” was published in April of this year. I was slowly building my publishing resume and to be honest, writing short stories was addictive. I see them as instant gratification! A novel is a labor of love and that is where my true passion lies but now I have new tools in my writing tool box. When I’m short on time and can’t commit to a project as long as a novel, I have short stories I can jump into.

My horror stories aren’t tales of violence with copious amounts of blood and guts.  They reflect my obsession with science fiction.  They don’t venture down the path of dark fantasy but focus on moral dilemmas.  They deal with fear.  They deal with the human condition.  They deal with the psychological.

Looking back, it’s funny that it took joining a horror writers group to get over my fear of writing short stories. What’s holding you back in your creative life? What fear has you paralyzed? You’re not alone. We all have fears that control us but all it takes is one decision to face that fear and to fight it head on in order to change your life. I wish you all the best on your creative endeavors.


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An Unexpected Journey

After the publication of my third novel in the Psyne Series entitled, Radiant, in 2015 I needed a long sabbatical. I’d published 3 novels in 3 years and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment but I also felt that I had pushed myself to the limit. Juggling the creative life of an author, as well as family and friends, was difficult at times even with how wonderfully supportive everyone in my life was. I needed some time away from the series to recharge and set some new goals that would fuel my writing. What I didn’t know is that I’d embark on an unexpected journey that would lead me to a very surprising destination.

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In Cosplay as my alter ego, Lady Isadora Carrington, with a really BIG robot!

In July 2015 I attended the Salt City Steamfest, our local Steampunk convention, at the Sheraton Hotel and went to a seminar given by Xchyler Publishing. I listened to three fabulous women share their experiences about the world of writing and the advice they would give would truly change my life. They are (in no particular order):  Terra Luft, author and soon to be President of the Speculative Fiction Chapter of the League of Utah Writers (aka. The Infinite Monkeys); C.R. Asay, author and former member of the Special Forces Unit; and Callie Stoker, editor extraordinaire. They were all members of the Utah Horror Writers Association and spoke about the benefits of becoming active within local writing communities, how novelists can learn to be short story writers and how submitting your work to anthologies is essential to building your author resume. I was more than a little intrigued and spoke to them afterwards to get more information. They urged me to attend the next meeting of the Utah Horror Writers.

 

My first thought was, “But I’m not a horror writer. I write fantasy. I write about mermaids!” I was surprised to learn that Terra Luft didn’t start out as a horror writer and that C.R. Asay was a sci-fi author. The discussion I had with them was thought provoking to say the least. They reasoned that in any genre if a character possesses a fear of something, an element of horror was being used by the writer. If a character’s life was in jeopardy, an element of horror was there. Any genre can employ elements of horror to make it more thrilling, more suspenseful and more entertaining. I took the Utah Horror Writers Association business card and went out to the pool of the Sheraton to check in with my mermaid friend, Zmeya. I had a lot to think about.

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Zmeya

I balked at the idea of writing horror. Blood and guts and lots of screaming was not my thing. I preferred adventure, magic, and unusual worlds full of myth and wonder. But I couldn’t get the things they’d said out of my head.

I knew I really needed to get involved in a writers community. For the last few years while I wrote and published my Psyne novels, I’d become a part of an incredible artist community. All my friends were visual artists and I enjoyed our collaborations for the cover art on my novels immensely. But it was time for growth and growth isn’t always easy. I’ve read plenty of author blogs who’ve written about how they’ve very social and need to be around people. That they’re extroverts who love their writers groups and aren’t the stereotypical introverts that writers can be known for. But that’s not me! I’m very introverted, I love my quiet time to write and while I come up for air to get my friend fix, I need the solitude that a writer’s life demands.

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UHWA

In the end, I forced myself to go to the meeting. It was hard but sometimes you just have to eat the vegetable you really wish wasn’t on your plate. Lucky for me, that vegetable turned out to be the beginning of a beautiful learning experience! The Utah Horror Writers meeting was a group of interesting and talented writers of all genres, some published, some not published, as well as a few professors. This dynamic group possessed fantastic energy. I just wanted to sit there and soak it all in. For the next year I attended monthly meetings, learned all I could about writing short stories and attended writers conferences I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. I manned the UHWA booth at Salt Lake Comic Con and the LTUE Conference (Life, the Universe, and Everything) at Utah Valley University.

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Made a new friend

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Game of Thrones throne…dark fantasy much?

 

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February 2016

Meanwhile, many of the loyal fans of my sci-fi/fantasy novel series were thrown by my affiliation with a horror writers group. “But you don’t write horror,” they’d say. “Why be in a horror writers group?” The answer to that will be in my next blog post which will be coming up next. Stay tuned!


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2017!

Hi Blog!  My name is Jasmine Angell and it’s nice to meet you.  I feel introductions are in order since it’s been far too long since I’ve, well, blogged.  It’s not that I didn’t have anything to report in 2016 because I did.  2016 was an awesome year and I set some challenging goals for myself which I can’t wait to tell you about.  I took a year off from writing novels to work on short stories and it seems I took a year off from posting in my blog as well.  After three years of publishing novels, my inner hermit decided it was time to retreat and recharge.  The good news is that I’m back and I’m excited to share with you all my adventures in 2016 as well as tell you about what I’m looking forward to in 2017.

Since this is my first post after my extended absence, I’m going to take baby steps and keep this post short.  But I do want to geek out for one second and tell you how excited I am for one particular movie premiering this summer.  Can you guess??

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That’s the one!  Wonder Woman!  I know I’m not alone on this because I’ve read tons of blogs on how the world has been waiting…and waiting…and waiting for Wonder Woman to hit the big screen.  We’ve waited through I don’t know how many Batman films and Spider-Man remakes.   We’ve been more than patient through the last fifteen years of super hero movies featuring popular and obscure male heroes.  The rare female super hero movies have been less than stellar (Elektra comes to mind) and through it all, Wonder Woman fans have been teased by rumors of failed screenplays and rejected TV pilots.  We want Wonder Woman on the big screen!!

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Since I’m a lifelong Trekkie, I’m thrilled that Chris Pine has left the bridge of the Enterprise long enough to bring Steve Trevor to life opposite Gal Gadot (and then he must return to stardate 2263 ASAP).  Wonder Woman’s onscreen debut in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice was my favorite thing about the movie but I want more!!  Come June 2017, I’ll be at the movie theater with all the other fans taking a cinematic journey to Themyscira to see where it all began for Diana Prince!

 


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Radiant is now available on Amazon!

Find the magic within…Radiant, my third book in the Psyne series, has been published as an eBook on Amazon! For only $2.99, this action-packed fantasy is the perfect way to end your summer!  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B014PU7RY2

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RADIANT (Psyne, #3)
A Psyne Novel
by Jasmine Angell

A mysterious pool of the past…a cave of prismatic wonders…a dying planet.

The future of two peoples hangs in the balance.

In the wake of the victory over the Council and Atargatis, a new dawn breaks for the Psyne people. Ilauria embraces her title as Lysannah and has only one goal: secure freedom for her people. But between assassination attempts, a tentative new alliance with the male Psyne, and a strained relationship with Phaedrus, the man she loves, Ilauria soon learns the precariousness of her situation.

After a violent confrontation with the Bahree, tragedy strikes and the Vahjra Child goes missing. Events continue to spiral out of control for Ilauria and her friends when a dangerous prisoner escapes, allies become enemies and a powerful Ancient bent on revenge is revealed.

Will Ilauria’s era of freedom have a chance to thrive or will it end before it’s even begun?


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Radiant (Book 3, Psyne Series) Coming Soon!

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Summer is upon us and that means the latest novel in the Psyne Series will be available as an eBook at the end of August! The third book is entitled, Radiant, and continues where the sequel, Prism, left off. Between now and August, there will be a flurry of activity regarding the book as I continue to work furiously to get it ready for fans. The artwork for the cover is nearly complete and will feature our favorite mentor/Bahree named Shivan. I’m super stoked to see the cover design next month and the custom font work for the title created by the very talented, Joanna (Bishop) Wayman. It’s been very difficult for me to blog on a regular basis (or at all) while I’ve been writing the new novel and that’s why I’ve been so quiet this year but I’ll be sure to post new developments as they become available.  I’m excited to share the next thrilling installment in the Psyne Universe with all of you.


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Cakes, Cakes, Cakes (Part Three)

Here’s Part Three of my posts about decorating cakes. Last September, I had the best time decorating a cake for a fellow writer and friend of mine. She’s a big fan of the How To Train Your Dragon movies (so am I! Love that Toothless) and I was excited to see what challenges this cake held for me.

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Since it was a movie-inspired cake, I wanted to use scenes from the movie to give it that something extra. Etsy is a fantastic place on the web to order pre-printed sugar sheets featuring popular movies and characters and they’re less expensive than you’d think.  I got these sugar sheets (printed on special printers using edible ink) from EdibleCustomPrints and they’re round to be used as cupcake toppers but I thought they’d be perfect to use on the sides of a cake. After I ordered them, it occurred to me that cakes are indeed round and these sugar circles were flat. Since there was no way to flatten them onto a rounded cake (at least none that I knew of where I wouldn’t risk breaking them), I decided to solve that problem using hexagonal cake pans. The shape of the pans creates flat sides for the cake and would perfectly feature the sugary scenes from the movie. I couldn’t wait to try it!

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I used gray fondant for the cake to simulate the mountains in the movie and it was nice not to have to make the fondant perfectly smooth on the bottom, it could jut out like rock formations tend to do.  I also liked how the gray was a neutral background for the edible movie scenes. The cake topper, however, was not edible. It’s a toy figure of Hiccup riding Toothless and it was just the right size for the cake (there was no way I was going shape Toothless from fondant!  I’ll save that project for another day.).

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I knew I wanted to incorporate the icy shards from the icy-breathing Leviathan dragon but rock candy is heavy.  Cake wouldn’t have been sturdy enough to hold the rock candy in place and fight gravity at the same time so I made the top layer of the cake out of Rice Krispie treats. It was easy to insert the rock candy into the layer but difficult to get them close together. Ultimately I was happy with the way they came out, although it would have been nice to have more of them but I didn’t want to push my luck.  Toothless Rules!

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In October, my dad requested a ‘polka dot’ cake for his milestone birthday celebration. He decided to have a Halloween-themed cake which was awesome because Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I used brightly-colored cake pops for the ‘polka dot’ cake layer and the orange, neon green and purple couldn’t have been more spook-tacular. I really had fun with the twilight blue fondant and decorating the cake with all the sugary ghouls, jack-o-lanterns, fall leaves, candy corn and bats.  Most of them I bought at the grocery store but I did take the time to make the witch hats, black spiders, ghosts, and leaves from fondant.  This cake was extra special because my nieces and nephews got to watch me assemble the cake and add all the decorations to it. Their awe and enthusiasm was utterly contagious!

Frozen. Anyone who has spent any times around kids under the age of 10 knows about Disney’s Frozen. My daughter knows every word to every song in the movie and she can sing “Let It Go” in Spanish (that’s not her first language).

Frozen cake

I’ve known for about eight months prior that there was a Disney’s Frozen-themed cake in my immediate future. My daughter specified that she wanted Elsa’s crown on the top of the cake so I printed out an image of the crown that was the size I wanted, outlined the image in food coloring, laid the fondant on top of the print out and transferred the outline of the crown to the fondant.  Then I cut it out my hand.  While the food coloring was a bit messy, I got the desired result.  I sprayed the crown with edible gold spray (they sell just about everything at the craft store these days).  The small snowflakes I used an intricate gum paste cutter but I enjoyed the challenge of cutting the giant snowflake out by hand.  My daughter, aka, Queen Elsa, loved the cake and she’s busy planning the cake I’ll be creating for her next birthday, lol.

Frozen decos

This was the food table I decorated for the Frozen party.  I’m always in awe of the party decorations featured on Pinterest and it was fun to go all out with snowflakes hanging from the ceiling (taken from my Christmas decoration stash), silver and icy blue mesh draped from the light fixture, an iridescent curtain (my daughter called it a frozen waterfall) hanging in front of the window blinds and fake icicles hanging from the table.

For months, my husband had been encouraging me to decorate a Thomas the Train cake for our train-obsessed son but I was still recovering from the trauma of my Ducky cake beheading itself before my eyes to attempt another 3-D cake. Instead I gave myself some time to get used to the idea and scoured the internet for any ideas on how to go about doing a Thomas cake.

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Luckily I found an awesome step-by-step tutorial to follow so be sure to check out all the behind the scenes fun there. The key is to freeze the cake after it’s been baked and cooled so that it is dense and sturdy enough to stack and carve. While piping on the butter cream icing didn’t take as long as I thought, mixing the colors took quite a while.

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I used my son’s train coin bank as my model. I had to let my squeezing hand recover an hour or two before doing the thin red stripes and other detail work because my hand wouldn’t stop shaking. But I was happy with how it turned out and it held up well in the refrigerator overnight.

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I added the fondant face the morning of the party (it took two attempts to come up with a decent face) and my son was thrilled to see his favorite toy train character as a birthday cake.

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All the kids had second helpings of the white cake and it was a hit.  Definitely worth all the good memories!
My friends often encourage me to go into business making creative cakes but I’m not quite ready for that. Each cake I decorate is very personal and created specifically for my family and friends. Making cakes for money would take the magic out of it for me and I don’t want it to turn into a chore. For now, I’m content to keep it as the creative outlet it is.

Now that I’m all caught up on sharing my most recent cake photos, I’ll be taking a short break from cake making but that just frees me up time to scour Pinterest for more visual inspiration! I hope I’ve inspired some of you to try your hand at creating your own fondant cake or amazing confection. You might be surprised at how easy it is and how much you enjoy it!