This time it's all about US writer, Tonya Cannariato, who is a web project manager by day but spends the rest of her life devoted to reading, writing, reviewing and blogging about all three. She also hails from Wisconsin, though I believe she's yet to meet last week's IAAY contributor Rebecca Venn.
IAAY is published every Wednesday (yes, all of them), so there's plenty of time for you to join in too! Contact me via the comments or via Twitter: @mickdavidson.
It's All About Tonya Cannariato
It's All About Gayla Drummond
Two Katarr Kanticles Press Books
I'll admit off the bat that I have some stake in this review: I was given the privilege of beta reading the book, and then editing it. And its author runs the publishing house that published my book. We have a great professional relationship; part of the reason for that is her hard-nosed, results-oriented approach to running a writing-based business.
Gayla Drummond also has a heckuvan imagination that has allowed her to dream up interesting aliens (her Katarr and Werens) as well as purely human interactions (either sci-fi, like in Code Walker or romance, in some of her unpublished work). The book I'm focusing on today, Arcane Solutions, is the first in the Discord Jones series and is her latest release. I can't classify it as purely human, since there are shifters, elves, and other magic wielders in the story, but the protagonist is a human woman who wakes up three years after the Y2K experience to discover the world has experienced a "melding" that has allowed anything magic-related to become real. And she, herself, is saddled with a whole new set of psi talents.
Cordi, as she likes her friends to call her, emerged to Drummond and began her documented existence as part of NaNoWriMo 2009. There's every likelihood that the series will continue for another 8 books (9 total), and the first installment weighs in at a meaty 70K words, so there's a lot to learn about the world. The way Drummond sprinkles all the research she has poured into its creation throughout her tale is an object lesson for other world-builders: small bites flesh out key scenes but don't distract from the banter all her characters maintain to carry the story forward.
"Sure." She pulled out a map of Santo Trueno before reaching a hand behind her neck to unhook the gold chain her locator crystal hung upon. Handing her the photo, I dropped into a chair to watch. Dangling the crystal over the map, Kate gazed at the photo, her green eyes going vague. Her lips barely moved as she formed a silent request to her chosen goddess for guidance.
I don't pretend to understand magic or to believe in any pantheon of gods, but it works for some people. Kate and the others of her coven are some for whom it works really well. They’d all chosen Aztec gods, so I couldn’t pronounce half the names. Our city, Santo Trueno, is allegedly named after the Aztec god of thunder, so their choices seemed appropriate to me.
For fans who want just a little more, she's set up a series website where they can find some of the back story, too. Her main character is also on Twitter, though I suspect her fans are chasing her off that venue to encourage her to write more.
She's been racking up some pretty decent reviews for the book on Smashwords too, so while I may have my own personal inclination bias, there are others who find this variation on paranormal romance right up their alley as well. The book is also available from Amazon where there's another nice review.
It's All About Me
Part of what makes me a Drummond fan on a personal level is that she chose to accept my story idea, and has been shepherding me along the new-author path in ways at once firm and gentle. I dreamed up Dust to Blood in the fall of 2009, not long after I first met her on Twitter. I typed up a precis and emailed it to her, then sat on my hands for a day hoping I wasn't being intrusive, naive, or somehow inappropriate. Her enthusiastic response saddled me with a different kind of inertia. The last time (first time!) I had written to book length was my college honor's thesis, and it had been like pulling teeth and drawing blood--or whatever other horrible medical procedure that makes you break out in a cold sweat.
I finally overcame my internal roadblocks and committed to writing the story during the 2010 NaNoWriMo. What came out is something of a genre-bending mix of fantasy, mystery, action, and romance, speculating on the reason the Communists maintained power for so long when they did so much to disempower their population. The theory my story outlined was that they had trapped their land's magical beasts and were siphoning that power into their systems.
My protagonist is a researcher, visiting Moscow for the first time in the fall of 1992. Her assignment is to find the history of a small group of amnesiacs who share an unusual physical characteristic: Dust as blood.
On top of which, some crazy twist of fate has seated me next to a woman whose name is only one letter removed from mine. It’s a coincidence Ann noticed as we were sorting out boarding passes and carry-on bags. I’ve always thought my parents just ran out of creativity after the initial effort of gestation, so plonked an “e” at the end of a common name for their naming effort. The oddity of meeting someone whose family name is as similar (she’s a Cosby while I’m a Crosby) almost guarantees other comparisons. For my own peace of mind, I’m glad to see she’s my opposite both in looks—she’s much shorter than my own 5’4” and about as wide as she is tall, with blond hair and blue eyes—as well as beliefs—she’s traveling with her church’s youth group as something of a mentor/adviser, as they make a tour of holy sites in exotic places.
For myself, I’ve never been much more than agnostic. I acknowledge the existence of mysteries and a force outside myself, but have never been much on organizations and their doctrines. This is another reason for suspicion: my boss is a real conspiracy nut, so it would be no skin off his nose to manufacture a case that forces me to delve deeper into pseudo-history and related apocrypha. In fact, he would have reams of research for me to read proving that there’s no such thing even as the “coincidence” of sitting next to a virtual name double.
I had a lot of fun pulling up research on interesting locales throughout Russia, as well as Russian military hardware and common Russian phrases in the course of my writing frenzy, and am currently in the process of (procrastinating) writing the second in the series. I hope to release it by Christmas, and the third and final installment next April.
The book is available at Amazon and Smashwords, as well as being listed on Goodreads.
You can find Tonya at all of the following: