I Would Not Be Married To The Love of My Life If Not For Madiba! #RIPNelsonMandela

If it wasn’t for Nelson Mandela, I would not have written a book, I would not be married to my gorgeous husband and I would not have the privilege to call two beautiful girls my daughters. No, this isn’t me being melodramatic. I’ll tell you why.

Here’s what my life was like during Apartheid…

I was born Colored – a term given to those born of a mixed cultural and racial heritage in South Africa. I lived in a poor Colored community where curb appeal was non-existent and safety was something parents gave their kids by being overprotective. Even today, I cannot ride a bicycle because it was not safe to do that in the area I spent my childhood. I felt the impact of Apartheid within my own family unit too. My eldest brother and my mother both have fair skin and look Caucasian. I recall times when my father, my brother and I  (who were darker-skinned) were told that we could not accompany my mother and eldest brother into a cinema or a particular beach because ‘we did not look white’. I remember a poor school, poorer friends and riots on my doorstep with armed tanks stationed throughout the suburb. I remember my father and brothers making petrol bombs in our backyard to be ready to protect us against the rioting crowds trying to steal our livelihood, break into our home and harm us. Back then I was frightened. Today I know that those crowds were spurred on by poverty and the distress created by extreme oppression.

Then came change…

I remember watching the television with my family crowding the living room, hope permeating the air as Nelson Mandela took his first steps of freedom. And, I recall the many debates that commenced thereafter, including the infamous one between Mandela and De Klerk. I remember crossing the road to a friend’s house one day and waving excitedly as Mandela passed through the street, the sleek, black car a contrast to the bleak street. I remember the day he took his vows to become president.

Mandela and flag

After that, my life changed irrevocably. Because of Nelson Mandela and Freedom Fighters like him (including my own uncles), these moments in my life have occurred:

– My parents were able to buy a beautiful home in an area previously dedicated to ‘whites only’. I went from stone-littered curbs and arid playgrounds with broken playground equipment to living in an area with beautiful parks.

– I had the opportunity to finish Senior High at a school that non-whites could not go to during Apartheid. I then began receiving a good education. In South Africa the color of your skin dictated the standard of education you received. If you were white you received the best, Indians and Coloreds received a poor education and black South Africans received a sorry excuse for an education. It was at this school that I now had the challenge and opportunity of ‘catching up’ to my peers and where I had the wonderful opportunity to be introduced to English as it should be read and learnt.

– A new world awaited me. I could explore malls, beaches, cinemas, theaters and many other places because Apartheid was abolished. Admittedly, some of them were disappointing. When I was very young, my friends and I used to fantasize about ‘King’s Beach’ and what it was like for the ‘white people’ who went there. When my bare toes finally buried themselves in the white sands of that beach, I found that there were no butlers on call. Ha ha. 🙂

– Two years after Apartheid was abolished, I had the opportunity to attend a university that was previously meant for ‘whites only’ and went on to enter the Masters in Psychology program. Here I also majored in English and was introduced to more wonderful literary worlds. More importantly, a whole new world of diverse thought opened up to me. This was my true foundation years.

– My hope for romance turned to belief when I met my very own ‘Prince Charming’, the man I was to marry at university. He was white and the reality is that if it wasn’t for people like Nelson Mandela, our relationship and even our marriage would not have been legally possible in South Africa. Bi-racial marriages and relationships were seen as ungodly by the Apartheid regime and punishable by imprisonment. Thank goodness we met and fell in love during the early democratic years of South Africa. Oh, it was tough, though. There were many people – including our friends and family – who turned against us and put up many obstacles in place in order to prevent us from being together. But, in time, and through further efforts to re-conciliate our nation as a result of clever social re-engineering by the SA leadership, people gradually came to see things such as our relationship as less of a novelty or abomination and more as an actuality. Being shunned turned into being embraced.

– If I had not been able to marry my husband, we would not have had the two beautiful daughters we’ve been blessed with. That is what I am most grateful for. I’m sure that I do not need to elaborate on this.

Since then, there have been many other opportunities afforded to me through the efforts of great Freedom Fighters. Many of these are things that you (and now I) take for granted – such as standing in a queue with everyone else, going to any public place you wish to, having the same rights as everyone around you and having those around you be of every color in the rainbow. Gotta love the ‘Rainbow Nation’. All of these moments led up to me sitting in my dining room to write my first novel. Does it still sound like a line? Yes? Well think of it this way… if sanctions against South Africa still existed, I perhaps would not have had internet, I would not have read a Nora Roberts or HP Mallory book and have been inspired, I would not have had the level of education I’ve had, I would not have had the corporate job I had that led me to meeting the woman who convinced me to buy a kindle, I would not have known of indie publishing, I would not…. *you get the picture*

Do you see it now? If not for Madiba, I would not be the woman, wife, mom and writer I am today.

And even in death, he keeps giving and setting an example… Today I was reminded of how forgiving he is when the news channels rehashed the fact that he became friends with his jailers upon his release. I just had an interaction on Facebook where a person commented that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist that killed innocent people and that racism is wrong except when directed at Muslims. She even went as far as to call me a murderer along with Madiba! Now, being a South African who understands the value of freedom (because we fought recently for every bit of it), my heart rate immediately increased and I became incensed. I then deleted the retort I was about to post and gave, what I hope is, a very mature response. I did not think that Nelson Mandela would have commented in an aggressive manner. As he was so forgiving, so could I, on a much, much smaller scale, be forgiving of ignorance too. I’m darned if I don’t vow, as of today, to ensure that I live peaceably, with empathy and dignity. Furthermore, my husband and I discussed how the little things that bug us about our new country of residence are inconsequential and how, with the courage that we learnt as South Africans, we will make the best of this and we will ensure that the journey Madiba mapped for us, is taken boldly and humanely.

Viva Madiba! Rest In Peace Tata!

Vive Les Femmes! The True Legend of The Coffin Girls.

The Coffin Girls really did exist! The fille à la cassette  were 18th century, French immigrés sent to the shores of Louisiana from France. These virtuous brides arrived under the strict supervision of the Ursuline nuns with nothing but little wooden boxes containing their belongings or trousseau.  In this blog, I speak of the legend that inspired my paranormal romance series.

The Legend

 museum pic of CG casket

In response to a request  for wives from Louisiana’s French settlers, the French authorities, with the aid of the Ursuline nuns, hand-picked marriageable young women from convents and orphanages. Approximately 500 young women were ‘dispatched’ to Louisiana, including New Orleans. The superstitious locals dubbed them as Casket or Coffin Girls and spread tales of vampire arrivals. It was said that the coffin-shaped boxes of trousseau were found to be empty when opened. The Ursuline sisters stored the caskets on the third floor of the convent and sealed the windows and doors, which led to the belief that this was done to prevent sunlight from killing or maiming the vampires hidden therein.  Other allegations were that the girls themselves were vampires due to their pale complexions and sickly appearance.

lg-embarkment-of-the-casket-girls-1250

Logic could explain much of that – the grueling journey across the Atlantic, that they would not have been able to afford the 18th century version of Louis Vuitton suitcases and that the third floor windows were sealed by standard issue hurricane shutters of the time.  The motives for the rumors were perhaps due to jealousy because these young women were admired for their French origins and virtue, or it could possibly have been due to discontent regarding the administration of the French, colonial rule?

Ursuline_Convent_New_Orleans_1733

My Novel Inspiration

When I began researching vampire legends, I knew I wanted to write a paranormal series centered on strong women. I wanted to create heroines that were the equals of their male counterparts, that were powerful and confident – survivors rather than victims. The casket-carrying girls provided me with inspiration for my own tales and I employed artistic license to ponder what their lives could have been like.

In Supernatural Seduction, Sophie provided an opportunity for my speculations:

“When she had been introduced to her fiancé, Pierre, his kind brown eyes had welcomed her, although his manner had been all business. He was one of many gentlemen of French descent who had visited the Ursuline convent to peruse the available wives. The act was humiliating. Some gentlemen openly leered at them and Sophie felt that the only thing stopping them from ‘testing the goods’ was the presence of the nuns. Others were like Pierre – all business and a few, too few, were shy.” (From Supernatural Seduction, Book 2 of the Coffin Girls Series)

“The nuns had subjected them all to ‘checks’ of their virtue, a demeaning physical examination that Sophie would rather forget. Sophie had therefore braved crossing the Atlantic and squared her shoulders against any angst she might feel. Being a secret empath and with the buckets of trepidation being felt from the other girls all around her, forced ignorance was survival tactic.” (From Supernatural Seduction, Book 2 of the Coffin Girls Series)

In Coffin Girls, book one, Anais, the witch-vampire leader of the Coffin Girls, describes her relationship with her husband:

“I met my husband when I was brought to Papillion Plantation. It had another name and another life within it then. It was the time of slavery, racism and prosperity for the plantation owner – before the wars of North versus South. Disease was rife in New Orleans – not just the fever but the disease of arrogance. My husband suffered from that. And I’ve come to realize that it was the root of his insanity.” At Conall’s lifted brow, she explained, “To me, racism and slavery isn’t normal and neither is rape and torture. He was guilty of all of that.” (From Coffin Girls, Elegantly Undead, Book 1 of the Coffin Girls Series)

Coffin Girls is always priced at 99 cents on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Supernatural Seduction is priced at 99 cents until the end of the release event tomorrow and is also available on all ebook websites and in print. You’re welcome to join the Facebook release event for fun games hosted by Release Day Diva, swag and ebook prizes (18 years and older only).

Event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/583662281684227

Coffin Girls

Coffin Girls New Final Cover

A sexy, female vampire with secrets.

A sinfully-handsome witch prince on a mission.

A formidable Vampire Council with something to hide.

A vampire descendent from the original Coffin Girls, Anais runs a successful event and wedding planning business from her majestic New Orleans plantation house. To the Vampire Council, she is seen as an exemplary hostess and household head of a misfit bunch of vampires.
When Yves, her maker and head of the Vampire Council requests her assistance in hosting the mysterious, yet dashing Prince of Witches, Conall, she has no option but to accept. But Anais is the keeper of secrets; secrets that can kill. Protective of her family’s undiscovered uniqueness, Anais is guarded, yet intrigued by the enigmatic witch prince.
Conall and Anais are drawn together when confronted with fatal encounters and an unimaginable destiny… if she’s willing to accept it and fight.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Coffin-Girls-Elegantly-Undead-ebook/dp/B008N0GWVA

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Coffin-Girls-Elegantly-Undead-ebook/dp/B008N0GWVA

Barnes & Noble:

 http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/coffin-girls-elegantly-undead-aneesa-price/1112407366

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/205913

Supernatural Seduction

 Supernatural Seduction - CG2 - Final Cover

Witch-vampire, Sophie, has the power to feel and influence others’ emotions. With the establishment of the Coffin Girls as warriors for the Goddess that kick supernatural ass, the effects of her empath abilities threaten to harm her. Sylvain, the mischievous and seductive fae prince and Coffin Girls ally, offers her the assistance of the fae to hone her powers. Sophie is drawn to Sylvain, which unnerves her as her hope for love has only ever led to devastation. The two of them must face the demons of their past, unknown enemies and new evil to find true happiness at last.

“Once again Aneesa Price succeeds in transporting us to this magical world full of romance, action, & excitement! I am a true Aneesa Price addict…constantly needing more, more, more!” ~ Jeni’s Bookshelf & Reviews

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Supernatural-Seduction-Coffin-Series-ebook/dp/B00E1LF496

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Supernatural-Seduction-Coffin-Series-ebook/dp/B00E1LF496

Barnes & Noble: http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.barnesandnoble.com%2Fw%2Fsupernatural-seduction-aneesa-price%2F1116227626%3Fean%3D2940045151405&h=2AQGmssU7

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/338802

 

Related articles:

The Mystery in Our Midst by Jim Serra, http://kplcblogs.typepad.com/kplcgm/2007/09/they-walk-among.html

Casket (Casquette) Girls from Geni.com, http://www.geni.com/projects/Casket-Casquette-Girls/436

Casquette girl from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casquette_girl

Casket Girls of New Orleans: Founding Matriarchs or Vampire Smugglers? by Liz Genest, http://www.gonola.com/2011/08/09/casket-girls-of-new-orleans-founding-matriarchs-or-vampire-smugglers.html

An Interview with NY Times Bestseller Heather Killough-Walden

Every indie writer dreams of being on the NY Times Bestseller list and one indie writer did just that and then landed a publishing contract with one of the publishing houses. What I found intriguing is that despite her success, Heather Killough-Walden chooses to be an indie writer.

In this blog, I share a brief interview with her and my review of her NY Times Bestselling Big Bad Wolf compilation.

The Book Compilation ‘That Made It’ 

BBW

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005HMGY0G

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wolf-Romance-Compilation-Bundle-ebook/dp/B005HMGY0G

Blurb

Enjoy Heather Killough-Walden’s critically acclaimed, New York Times bestselling Big Bad Wolf series, now combined in one tome of sexual tension, romantic suspense and dark paranormal bliss….

“I was strictly a vampire girl until I came across this pack of big bad Alphas — Killough-Walden has converted me! Sexy, daring, and action-packed from start to finish. Warning: if you have a faint heart, do not read this.” – Dianna Hardy, paranormal romance author of The Witching Pen.

“Heather Killough-Walden happens to write books so brilliant, I’m a fan! (I was the minute I started reading Hell Bent.) There aren’t many I’d give my crown to, but this lady is totally worthy of my adoration!” – Poppet Author, paranormal romance author of Dusan.

“Hold on tight as these big bad wolves take you on a paranormal romance ride you won’t soon forget!” – Christine M. Butler, paranormal romance author of Moonlit Dreams

1. The Heat, Book One:

Lily St. Claire is a simple Southern girl who has no idea what she is in for when she decides to move back to her home town in Louisiana after a decade of being away. But between the two very different alpha werewolves who instantly begin fighting to claim her as their mate and the serial killer who has her in his sites, she’s about to find out.

2. The Strip, Book Two: (warning, contains graphic violence)

Green-eyed Malcolm Cole is a cursed werewolf, an alpha in the most powerful sense who has given up hope for any kind of happiness or peace in his life.

Until he catches wind of Claire.

Claire St.James, Charlie among friends, is an amazing young woman with an incredibly special gift. Cole recognizes this at once and swears on the spot to claim Charlie as his mate.

Of course, he isn’t the only one with such plans. Charlie is too precious to let go without a fight, and one of the most powerful alphas in the world has already staked a claim, whether Charlie – or Cole – like it or not.

3. The Spell, Book Three:

Dannai, aka the Healer, has begun dreaming of werewolves. She’d always been able to hide the fact that she was a dormant, using her magic to shield her promising scent from the alphas she’s been forced to work with. But now that they’ve invaded her dreams, her world has been turned upside down. For, though every dormant dreams of her intended mate – Dannai is dreaming of two wolves, not one. And neither one of them is good news. One is a notorious killer. The other is Lucas Caige.

Lucas Caige is a man with a haunting past. A warlock took his brother from him fifty years ago and he’s spent his life outrunning that dark magic. But fate has a way of throwing sand in your gears, and just when Caige thought he could forever leave behind the magic that brought pain to his life, his path crosses that of the Healer. Dannai unwittingly casts her spell over him the moment he lays eyes on her. She’s stunning, she’s kind, and everything about her wreaks havoc on his senses. She’s also magic incarnate.

But if Dannai thinks that’s going to stop him from doing everything in his power to make her his mate, the little witch has another thing coming.

4. The Hunt, Book Four:

Byron Caige has been a prisoner for the last fifty years of his supernaturally long life. Just when he gives up hope of ever knowing freedom again, he is unwittingly rescued by the very same woman who only wants to see him dead. Katherine Dare – Kat – is smart, fast, strong and beautiful – but unfortunately she’s a Hunter, and she’s convinced that Byron murdered her father twenty years ago.

She’s also Byron’s dormant.

As war breaks out amongst the otherworldly of Earth and threatens the existence of entire races, Kat is faced with a terrible decision. Should she give up her cause and believe Caige when he professes his innocence? Or should she fight him and possibly avenge her father’s taken life – even while she forfeits her own?

Also catch a tantalizing sneak peak at Heather’s upcoming paranormal series, The Lost Angels, 2011.

My Review

This is undoubtedly the best werewolf series I’ve ever read and I’ve read many! Although the compilation is around 4000 pages, it got me so hooked into it that I read it in 2 days after work. Yes, I hardly slept.
The compilation consists of all four books in the series – The Heat, The Strip, The Spell and The Hunt. Each story tells of a unique woman with magickal or shifter capabilities and their romance with handsome and dangerous, previously ‘hard to get’ shifters. Yes, that is a fairly standard plot. But the beauty of the compilation is not in the plot but in the telling of the tale and the world Killough-Walden created around them. It contains many elements that I look for in a paranormal read – magick, intriguing secondary and peripheral characters and the right combination of fantasy and realism so that a reader is allowed to truly escape into the book while being able to relate to the characters’ vulnerabilities.
The compilation is not so much a revelation in that it has a new angle to werewolves. I personally found that it stuck to a lot of the tried and tested literary myths concerning these shifters. Reading this was a helluva ride and I won’t forget it. In fact I haven’t forgotten it although I read this compilation months ago.
On a different note, I appreciate what this compilation represents. I admit that when I picked it up I was curious as to what standard of writing obtained Killough-Walden the NY Bestseller status with this series. I was prepared to enjoy it but I wasn’t prepared to be sucked into it so thoroughly. It is undoubtedly a must-read for any werewolf fans. I don’t think you can truly say that you’re a fan of paranormal romance without at least sampling this series. After having read this, I believe that Killough-Walden has earned the accolades that she’s achieved. And as an indie writer, I take umbrage in that and just like this compilation ‘kicks proverbial’, it reinforces the belief in me that indie writers are on their way to making a significant difference in the literary world.
Review of Big Bad Wolf by Aneesa Price
Author of The Coffin Girls Series and Reviewer at http://www.sugaryspicyreads.com

heather killough walden

An Interview With Heather Killough-Walden

Aneesa: I’m in awe of you as a writer, as I’m sure are many. What put you on the writer’s path?

Heather: It’s a gift (and as Monk would say, “and a curse”) that I was born with. So, I guess… I really had no choice in the matter. I’m a writer. The liquid in my veins is composed of white blood cells, red blood cells, and words.

Aneesa: What did it feel like when you found out that you were a NY Times bestseller?

Heather: It was anti-climactic. Looking back on it now, I recognize that my mistake was signing on with a print publisher who ran me ragged and was just basically… not a good match. I was so emotionally wrought by the time the NYT listing came about, I could not even summon a “yay.” I’d made it on my own, with a kindle book I published myself, and I couldn’t even congratulate myself. My health was failing due to massive amounts of stress, and at this point my editors had made me hate my job. I realize now, in the hindsight I am afforded, that if I’d been on my own at the time rather than under a “Bix Six”‘s thumb, I would have been ecstatic. I probably would have turned cartwheels.

Aneesa: I know you published work through a traditional publisher, what do you love about indie publishing? What are your pet peeves?

Heather: I love most things about indie publishing – the freedom to write what I want, title what I want, edit what I want, price how I want, cover image how I want, and release when I want. It’s a lot of work. We do everything that a print publisher is supposed to do (but doesn’t do because they no longer do marketing for you – you even have to do that on your own now, so what’s the point?), but it’s worth it to have this autonomy. Especially when you’re smarter at selling books than the print publisher is. My pet peeves about indie publishing are only related to the eBook aspect of it. I abhor the mentality that an eBook is not a book and that it only becomes literature when it is printed on a dead tree. Come on, people. Time to wake up, shave your beard, and realize you’ve been asleep since the dark ages.

Aneesa: I absolutely LOVE your ‘King Series’ and I read BBW obsessively until I finished it. BBW still remains the best shifter series I’ve read. As much as I love the ‘Kings’, are their plans for further BBW shifter tales?

Heather: No. No. No. And again – No.

Aneesa: When you’re not writing and promoting your work, what do you like to do?

Heather: When I’m not writing or promoting my work…. When I’m not writing or promoting my work…. Um, hmm. Sorry. I seem to be malfunctioning or something. I don’t seem to be able to comprehend the scenario. Not writing…. Not promoting…. Herm. Nope. I’m trying to imagine it, but it’s not working. Error.

Author Biography

Heather Killough-Walden is a California native currently living in Texas with her husband and child. She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling e-book author of the Big Bad Wolf series and the October Trilogy. Heather’s educational background includes religious studies, archaeology, and law. She has traveled all over the world but hopes to one day live in a town with a world-class hockey team. (Let’s go, Pens!) Visit Heather’s Web site at http://www.killough-walden.com, where you can sign up for her newsletter. Also, be sure to keep in touch with her and other fans through her Facebook page and Twitter (killoughwalden)!