Jasmine Angell's Blog

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


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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

radiant front cover FINAL(1)

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.

httyd2 cake
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!

httyd2 close up
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.).

ice shards

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!

halloween cake
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!


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Cakes, Cakes, Cakes (Part Two)

Here’s part two of my blog post on my healthy obsession with decorating cakes:  A year ago last January (2014), I opted for a simple frosted cake for my two-year-old’s birthday since I was still recovering from the craziness of the holidays (I felt like they had chewed me up and spit me out at least a dozen times, do you ever feel that way?). He loves trains so I tried something a little different and literally forced myself not to use fondant.  I used the train from the movie, The Little Engine That Could (2011) as my inspiration.

choo choo cake

It’s not my favorite cake (it’s a bit too messy for me, I like the clean lines achieved by using fondant) but my son loved it and the candy-filled cars were a big hit with the kids attending the party.

coal carMmm…a train car full of coal (licorice)

lego candiesMmm…candy legos

candy rocksMmm…candy rocks

ball candiesMmm…chocolate baseballs, soccor balls, basketballs, footballs and tennis balls.

By February, I needed a long break from cakes as I had done too many in such a short amount of time and it was losing its appeal for me. (I couldn’t even eat cake, I was so over it!) With a nice break over the next few months, I recovered and finally felt like doing a cake at the beginning of summer.  I’d seen it on Pinterest:  a KitKat cake!

kitkat cake1
Many of you cake enthusiasts have probably seen versions of this cake on Pinterest and around the web, using colorful M&Ms or other candies. The cake was for my husband (the lucky guy) and I incorporated Almond Joy candy pieces on the top, alternating with Rolo caramels.

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The cake was a chocolate cake from scratch which just didn’t turn out very well, it might have been the higher elevation but I’ve never had much luck with cake recipes, I go with boxed mixes most of the time which everyone loves. If I make this cake again, I’ll just use brownie mix, yum!

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The filling is a coconut and almond sliver mixture (double yum!). With all the candy it was a heavy, heavy cake but super fun to make!

Ducky leaning
But not all of my creations turn out quite the way I hope they would. Case in point, the cake I did for my son on his first birthday. It was a Rubber Ducky themed party and so I thought I’d try doing my first cake from a mold.

Cute Ducky from side

Aw, isn’t that the cutest little ducky?  The idea of a 3-D yellow duck cake fit great with the party theme but I encountered one major problem: as I was just about finished piping on the yellow frosting all over the duck, the duck’s head literally rolled right off the body!

Duck fell apart

I was horrified because serving a decapitated duck birthday cake to guests was NOT my idea of a party (maybe a Halloween party but not a first bday party!). I realized I should have used a denser cake mix like pound cake which would’ve been able to withstand the added weight of the frosting as well as gravity (pesky gravity!).  Freezing the cake for a few hours before piping on the frosting would have also given it more support.  Live and learn, lol!

Salvaged duck cake

So I did what any self-respecting cake maker does: I cut the headless duck’s body in half, laid it on its side, cut the duck’s head in half, set in on its side and wah-lah, my 2-D duck cake was saved! (Thanks for that idea, mom!)
Watch for more of my cake creations in the near future. Coming up: a super fun How To Train Your Dragon 2 cake and a Disney’s Frozen cake featuring everything Elsa.


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Cakes, Cakes, Cakes (Part One)

I hope everyone’s 2015 has started off in an exciting way!  I’m happily (and furiously) working  on book 3 of my Psyne series, Radiant, due out this August.  I had PRK correction eye surgery last November and anyone who has had it done knows that it’s grueling to wait the four to six weeks it takes for the eyes to heal and vision to become 20/20.  Emailing was put on hold as was writing and blogging but I’m back and more importantly, I can see again!

Today’s topic is one of my creative obsessions:  cakes.  I have a thing for fondant. In 2009, I decorated my first cake with fondant instead of frosting and I was hooked.  Since making fondant cakes is a creative outlet of mine and most of them incorporate an element of fantasy, I thought I’d share them with you.

Castle Cake

After I published my first novel, Luminous, fellow blogger and author, Sara C. Snider, posted an author interview of me and in it she asked about my cake-making hobby.  Be sure to check it out if you haven’t already.  For my daughter’s 3rd birthday, I went a little crazy with the castle cake using a Wilton kit for the amazing turrets.  It was a fantasy castle, there was no way I could resist!

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I baked up mermaid tail cupcakes for my very first Mermaid Tea which was loads of fun and then there’s the Steampunk cake I did for my friend, Abigail Sloan, the artist who did the artwork for the Luminous cover.

Steampunk cake for Abby

She introduced me to all things Steampunk and so for her birthday, I had the best time putting this together for her.

Steampunk Mermaid tail

Two of my favorite features on it is the purple Steampunk mermaid tail and the Kraken tentacle holding the paintbrush.

 

After that, the holidays picked up and by the end of the year (2013) I was burned out and in much need of a vacation. It took me a while to bounce back and that’s why I didn’t keep up with posting about my other cake creations. But better late than never and so here I am to show off the other cakes. At the beginning of December, I did this Minnie Mouse cake for Minnie-obsessed four-year-old daughter.

Isabel's Minnie cake

I found several on Pinterest and chose certain elements to re-create for this cake. Cutting out the letters by hand using the Disney font for inspiration was particularly challenging and fun. I’m a certified ‘font junkie’!

Isabel's Minne cake2
The best thing about the Minnie cake was that I got to try doing a polka dot cake so that when you cut into the cake, each slice features polka dots, just like the ones on Minnie’s dress.

Minnie polka dot cake1

I found the awesome polka dot cake tutorial on Pinterest (of course!) at Once Upon A Pedestal and it’s easier than you’d think!

Minnie polka dot cake2Minnie polka dot cake3

The key is to freeze your cake pop balls before you put them in cake pan and pour cake batter over them.  Freezing will help to keep them moist and adding the pudding packet to the cake pop balls when baking them helps too.  It’s all in the tutorial!

 

Usually December is far too busy for too much cake-making with family birthdays, Christmas, New Year’s and all the seasonal baking that goes on. But I just had to make this birthday cake for my friend, Joanna, who is the designer for the covers of my Psyne book series. She has a well-developed appreciation for Tim Burton and is a fan of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  The puncture wounds in the top layer is one of my favorite parts of this cake.

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One of my other favorite aspects of the cake is the shiny red ganache dripping like blood over the white fondant. It was super easy to do thanks to the tutorial from Cookies and Cups and since then, I helped a friend use it as lava on a volcano cake for her son.

I cut the letters by hand using the lettering used in the movie poster for Dracula as my guide.

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The cake was made with red velvet and the top layer had a cherry filling (without the chunks of cherry) so that when you cut into the cake, it oozed ‘blood’.

 

That concludes Part One of this post on my cake craziness. Part Two will be posted soon!


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Free eBook and Tidbits from My Second Steampunk Convention!

Who doesn’t love free stuff? My second eBook, Prism, is FREE for Labor Day weekend and the promotion starts today, Thursday, August 28 and runs through Monday, September 1. For your Kindle or Kindle app, click here.   You don’t have to have a Kindle to get your free copy of Prism! Download Amazon’s Free Reading App here:

Promoting books is an unavoidable part of being a published author and many of us aren’t very comfortable doing it but for me, a Steampunk convention makes promoting my book series a whole lot more fun and helps to get me out of my shell! Last year was my very first Steampunk convention which had me scrambling to learn everything I could about this new term ‘steampunk’ in the weeks leading up to it. I fell in love, of course, with all of the neo-Victorian costumes, corsets, airships, goggles and lots of metal – what’s not to love? I sat at a booth in Artist Alley with a few of my artist friends who were selling their wares and passed out promotional flyers about my upcoming debut novel, Luminous, which at the time was due out in a few weeks. It was uncomfortable and a bit terrifying for me to put on my saleswoman/self-promoter hat but the two day experience I had at the convention immersed in this unforgettable world of Steampunk made up for it in spades!

Jas with falcon steamfest

Posing with a falcon at last year’s Steamfest

 

Getting to hold a falcon at last year’s Steamfest held special meaning for me since the falcon is the avian form that my main character, Ilauria, shape-shifts into when she needs to fly.  I think birds are beautiful but I was really nervous holding one, their beak and talons look sharp because they are sharp, ha, ha!  My costume is one I put together:  a bit of a neo-Victorian, carnivale/Southwest feel.  I decorated the hat and sewed the electric blue bustle from a prom dress I got at the second hand store.  The chains I added to the front of the corset was surprisingly easy and gave me that extra metal I needed to be steampunk.

Jas with mermaid Steamfest 2013

Last year, I also got to pose with the lovely mermaid Thalassah.  I felt like I was 4 years old again and it was awesome!   Doesn’t she have a fantastic tail?

 

But that was last year and this year proved to be an even more incredible experience! For my second Salt City Steamfest, I knew what to expect, I had a super fun costumes to wear and I had not one, but two novels to sell. Yippee! Having actual paperbacks of Luminous to sell made all the difference in the world along with having business cards to pass out and info about the eBook of Prism. I actually felt like I was doing more than just “playing at being a fantasy author” (I don’t know if it will ever feel ‘real’ to me).

My Promotional Poster 2014

My Promotional Poster 2014

 

For those of you unfamiliar with steampunk conventions, the Salt City Steamfest is a two day event similar to Comic Con and Fantasy Con but on a smaller scale with artists and vendors selling all manner of fantasy and Steampunk wares, panels and special guests, a fashion show, lots of opportunities for people watching (the costumes are beyond remarkable to say the least!), musical guests perform and there’s a Steamfest Ball at the end of the last day. The first day, I didn’t expect to sell much because it’s the day when everyone is perusing the vendor booths deciding how best to spend their money but I ended up selling one of the Luminous paperbacks and I was ecstatic! My hand was shaking so badly as I signed the copy of the book but I managed.

My first sale of the convention!

My first sale of the convention!

Afterward, I celebrated by visiting the mermaid lagoon where mermaids had taken over the hotel pool. Mermaids might not seem like they would belong at a Steampunk convention but they are a favorite at any fantasy convention. Steampunk, while growing in popularity and reaching more mainstream audiences during the past few years, is much like the mermaid genre in that they both occupy small niches of fantasy.  Fantasy is dominated by the usual suspects, ie. wizards, vampires, and witches – but many fantasy enthusiasts are looking for something new.  I’d love to try fusing these two genres:  a steampunk mermaid!!!

Second day costume with Luminous

Second day costume with Luminous

The second day was amazing because I sold three paperbacks of Luminous and was very pleased with how my books did. The highlight of my experience (besides the euphoria of signing and selling books) was actually talking to readers. They were all very vocal about their preferences in regards to books: some were Team Paperback and others were adamantly Team eBook. I was surprised to observe that it was actually readers  in their 20’s and 30’s who rejected eBooks for the incomparable feel of holding a book in their hands while readers in their teens and those 40 and up, were loyal to their eBooks. But most of the readers I spoke to had made the switch to eBooks citing the ease of purchasing online, how eBooks were more affordable and they preferred reading on a tablet as opposed to holding a book open for hours.  Whether it’s an eBook or a paperback or even a hardback, it’s the magic of the stories inside them that make books phenomenal!

My baby Kraken Victorian hat

My baby Kraken Victorian hat

Costuming is one of my favorite hobbies so putting this red/black neo-Victorian costume together was super fun and wearing it was even better!  I sewed the jacket from a pattern and added the black satin ruffle to it for extra pizazz.  The grand bustle was fairly easy to sew but I had to add wads of tulle to the inside to make the bustle have the correct ‘bouffant’ and poofiness.  The black velvet apron was easy to make and I used the black corset from my previous costume.  All of it went over a red bridesmaid dress which proves that some bridesmaid dresses can, in fact, be worn again, ha, ha.    The hat I embellished with feathers and a “baby Kraken (octopus)” which I molded from paper clay and painted to match.  The choker and red octopus tentacle earrings went perfect with the costume and I’d bought them from a vendor at Steamfest last year.

I’ll do a blog post soon on the inspiration for the red/black costume but in the meantime, you’re welcome to see more pics from Salt City Steamfest 2014 on the Prism Facebook page and be sure to Like it too!  Click here!