Author Interview: The Charismatic Kimberly Richardson

For my final author interview this month, I am fortunate enough to have snagged some of the valuable time of the charismatic Kimberly Richardson, my friend and the editor of the Cycle of Ages Saga. Let’s get down to business, Kim. I’m sure the readers out there are eager to learn more about you and your work.

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J:  Judging from our conversations and your stories, you have a vivid imagination. Where do you find the inspiration to fuel this creative fire and turn your wild ideas into amazing stories?

K:  I get inspiration by simply observing the world around me. The world is filled with magick and wonder; all one has to do is simply open your eyes. Even a simple conversation between two people in a coffee shop can inspire an awesome story – several of my stories began that way.

Photo by Kimberly Richardson.

Photo by Kimberly Richardson.

J:  You’ve reached some manner of acclaim in a short period of time as a professional writer. In fact, two of your novels were considered for the Pulitzer list a couple of years ago. Could you tell us more about that experience as well as your other accolades/honors?

K:  Being enlisted for the Pulitzer was quite a learning experience for me; it felt wonderful to know that my work stood a chance to receive such an honour. I do plan to enlist again very soon! I was also a finalist for several awards as well as edited several anthologies that later won awards through certain stories.

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J: Which of your fantastical tales has generated the most feedback from readers? What was their overall response to it?

K:  It is spread across the board; I get feedback from people about everything! Generally, the feedback has been great followed with questions of when my next work will be available. Either that, or they ask me if I’ve ever committed any of the “incidents” that are in my stories. I consider that to be a compliment.

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J:  What writers have influenced you the most? And which of their books are your favorites?

K:  That answer is very, very long but I will say that roughly 100+ writers have influenced me. The list of books is too long as well. I take little bits from those who inspire me and add it to my own mixture. The mixture is always changing and blending to whatever I’m either reading or writing.

J:  If you could talk to any of these writers, living or dead, who would it be, and what would you discuss?

K:  Actually, I really wouldn’t want to speak with any of them, strangely enough. They are in my mind in certain ways and for me to possibly speak with them might shatter that “image”. I know that sounds lame but it is the truth. Let them continue being that certain “thing” in my mind and I’m happy enough.

J:  Doesn’t sound strange to me at all. After having my own mental image of certain celebrities shattered by meeting them in person, I tend to avoid those who have had the deepest impact on me. Nice to know that I’m not the only one who would hate to be disappointed in the humanity of my heroes and idols.

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J:  In addition to writing, do you have any other hobbies or creative pursuits?

K:  Photography, tea blending, traveling, cooking, hiking, mycology, attending ballets, opera and the theatre in general, reading books (of course!).

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J:  Could you tell us more about your experiences as an editor for Dark Oak Press and others? Do you prefer to write your own material or help edit and shape the work of others?

K:  They are equal in my world. When I first began editing for Dark Oak, I wasn’t sure of what I was doing. After many bruises, scrapes, cuss words and failures later, I think I’ve gotten the hang of it. With regards to my work – I still enjoy it. That will never die even as I continue my work as an Editor.

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J:  As a writer and editor, what advice would you give to aspiring writers who want to become published professionals?

K:  Don’t stop, no matter what. I can’t get any more blunt than that.

Photo by Kimberly Richardson.

Photo by Kimberly Richardson.

J:  What project are you working on currently? Without spoiling anything, could you provide us with a snippet from it?

K:  As of now, I’m working through the second round of edits for my Southern Gothic novel, Open A. The novel is about a Memphian named Graydon Fayette who is also a world renowned violinist. He is also a member of a very old family that more than just dabbles in the dark side.

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J:  Do you have any new or upcoming releases that you’d like to promote here?

K:  Open A should be out next year if not sooner. Tales From a Goth Librarian II was released this past February. Both are/will be through Dark Oak Press. I also have a short story called “The Master of Tea” that will be released in Asian Pulp through Pro Se Press this year.

J:  Thanks for sharing, Kim. As always, it’s a pleasure to hear more about you and your passion for writing and editing, as well as your other creative pursuits. I wish you all the best on your upcoming releases. Maybe we’ll be seeing you on the Pulitzer list again soon.

Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Interview: Photographer Joel Price

As we rush toward year end and the holidays, I’d like to take the time to interview one of the people responsible for showcasing the guys and dolls of Cherry Sparkle Burlesque. As a result, I have their primary photographer, Joel Price, with me today for an interview. I look forward to finding out more about him, his work, and what it’s like to work with a troupe of burlesque performers.

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How long have you been a photographer? And when did you know that you wanted to do it professionally?

I have been shooting for about 4 years. For three of those, I have been shooting weddings, magazine articles, families, boudoir, and whatever else in between. I am currently not doing it professionally. I still have a day job but try to be a weekend warrior and pick up either weddings or family shoots when possible. I hope in the future I will be given the opportunity to do so.

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I’m not sure there are many of us in creative field these days who are not tied to a day job of some sort, Joel. Seems to be the nature of the new economy. And the exponential growth of those realizing their creative dreams. So don’t sell yourself short as a professional because you still have to work daily to keep the bills paid.

If you had to pick a favorite photographer and/or one who influenced you the most, who would it be and why?

My all time favorite photographer is Nick Fancher, his home is Columbus, Ohio. His work is very unique and always exploring new ways to shoot. He is currently in the process of finishing up a book deemed “Studio Anywhere.”
And you can check out his work at: http://nickfancher.com/ Nick, has influenced my work for the simplicity of his setup. He has a run and gun style. He shoots with limited gear and has always been kind to show his process in photography via social media and or publications. He is either using one flash and a bed sheet, or shooting on the side of a busy interstate. He has the ability to always think outside of the box when it comes to photography.

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Have your photos been featured in any magazines or on the web?

My work has been shown in a few local magazines, newspapers, and various websites. My biggest achievement to date was having my photo on the front cover of local love magazine. The company I shot it for was What A Whirl Events based in Gadsden Alabama.

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Congratulations on the magazine cover! I’m sure it’s just the start of good things to come for you.

The nature of creative enterprises often involves carousing, partying, schmoozing, or otherwise networking with others in the same or similar fields, so I like to ask a version of the following question.

If you could party with any photographer, artist, or other creative type, living or dead, who would it be?

I would probably pick Terry Richardson. He is way out there!

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Artists rarely limit themselves to a single medium. Do you have any other hobbies or creative pursuits?

I really enjoy fashion and portraiture. Since the first time I picked up a camera, I have been drawn to taking photos of people. Either in a controlled environment or out on the streets. People are constantly changing, and I love to document the change with my added eye.

When I was younger I would sketch and doodle. At times I will still pick up a pencil and a pad to sketch. Nowadays, I just focus on photography primarily.

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Much like me, you’re a local boy, one of the Piedmonsters lurking around the foothills of Calhoun County, Alabama. How did growing up here influence you artistically?

I am very much influenced by our natural backdrop. This ranges from crumbling buildings to mountainous terrains. It amazes me each time I get out to take photos and see what we have in the sense of natural backdrops. I like that I am not confined to a concrete jungle.

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How long have you been the chief photographer for Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company? And how did you find yourself in that envious role?

I have been photographing CSB for almost a year. I was given the honor of shooting the CSB Group on a whim. I talked to Phoenix Rose and the Red Dahlia (both performers) of possibly having the chance of photographing the troupe. After a phone call with Miss Cherry Sparkle herself, we set a date for a photoshoot. I was extremely nervous and excited at the same time. I reckon they like me so they still use me today…lol!

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Could you tell us about your involvement with the upcoming Cherry Sparkle Burlesque calendar?

Yes. We are currently in the final stages of finishing up the 2015 calendar for CSB. The calendar will be 12 months of pure awesomeness! The majority of the photos were shot in a single day. Nine photoshoots in various locations around Anniston. The others, due to scheduling, were shot at Miss Cherry Sparkle’s home. Michael Hardin has also helped with some of the heavy lifting when it came to backgrounds and fine details. Look for the release at the first of the year. I do believe the group will be throwing out some teasers sometime in the next week or so.

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When and where will we be able to find this eye-popping calendar?

I do believe the calendar will be available to purchase online or at any of the shows. Dig deep, boys, it’s well worth the money!

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Thanks for agreeing to the interview, Joel. It’s been enlightening to learn more about you and your photography as well as your involvement with Cherry Sparkle Burlesque. Not sure if you’ll be able to make it, but I look forward to seeing them again for their Tits for Tots benefit at The Smoking Moose on Friday, Dec. 12th. People will either be able to donate cash or an unwrapped toy for entry to the show, with the proceeds going to Toys for Tots. If I don’t see you there, Joel, I’ll be sure to contact you about signing the new calendar when it launches. Good luck on it and all of your future projects.

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Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Interview: The Fantastic Phoenix Rose

Once again, I have the privilege and pleasure of interviewing one of the ladies of Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company. In my interactions with her, Phoenix Rose has come across as a woman who is as creative as she is beautiful, as humorous as she is engaging. Today, I have a chance to find out more about her and showcase her beauty and talents for all the blogosphere to behold.

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How did you decide on the stage name Phoenix Rose? And what does it mean to you?

I just thought about the Phoenix being a beautiful, powerful, creature and rose because it’s a symbol of love. I feel like it’s an empowering name that I can carry with me beyond the stage.

Empowering indeed. I think your electric blue eyes transmit that energy and verve quite well. And photographers seem to have no problem capturing it when you’re their subject.

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By my recollection, you were originally the person responsible for makeup and styling for Cherry Sparkle. How, when, and why did you make the transition to performer?

I was doing Ms. Cherry Sparkle’s makeup one evening and I asked about the audition process. I’ve always loved to perform and dance so I figured I’d audition, what could it hurt? I joined in May and had my first performance on July 26th. I love doing their hair and makeup but performing with these amazing men and women was definitely higher up on the wish list. I still do their hair and makeup though. Lol

I can certainly see why they’d want to make full use of your talents, especially after seeing you work your makeup magic at the Seven Deadly Sins photo shoot. I am not sure what impressed me more, the transformative work you did on the dolls at the shoot or your quiet confidence and professional demeanor.

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How would you describe your role in the company and your performance style?

I think my main role is to keep it interesting. I always bring the crazy makeup, weird props, and slightly dysfunctional humor.

From G.I. Jayne’s candy-and-cake makeup and design for the Seven Deadly Sins shoot to your sexy, sizzling interpretation of DC Comics’s Poison Ivy at the Halloween show, I’d say you’ve nailed your role with the precision and grace of an Olympic gymnast.

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From what I have witnessed, you have a special partner that helps you out on occasion with your performances. Could you tell us more about him/her/it?

I do indeed have a very special assistant. I perform with my snake “Fluffy”. She’s a 15 year old, five and a half foot long ball python. She’s a lot of fun to work with and it’s awesome to witness the audience’s reaction when she comes out of “Pandora’s Box”.

Personally, my reaction was a full blown flashback to one of the steamy scenes of my childhood. I pictured the exotic dancer in Bladerunner taking the stage with her own snake. You really should check out that movie sometime; not only is it an amazing work of science fiction, but it might give you some ideas if the company ever does a show with a sci-fi or cosplay theme.

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Given complete creative control and few limitations on budget, what song would you perform to onstage and how would you garb yourself for this performance of a lifetime?

Wow, that’s a tough one. I think my dream routine would be a Lyra hoop/feather fan dance. Lol, of course there are hundreds of songs on my to-do list, but I think Hozier “Take me to Church” would be at the top of the list.

Speaking as a fan, and as a man, I hope you have the chance to make it through your to-do list. 🙂

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Besides burlesque, do you have any other creative interests, pursuits, or hobbies?

I have a few things I like to do outside of Burlesque. I’m a mom, wife, I’m in school full time for cosmetology and esthetics. I work full time as a vet tech at Valley Vet. My favorite hobbies are probably modeling, hair and makeup, photography, and sewing.

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It sounds to me like you enjoy working on both sides of the camera. How long have you been a photographer? And how long have you been modeling? Do you have a personal website or other location(s) where we can check out your work?

It’s definitely a lot of fun. I’ve been doing photography for a year now. I owe a lot of thanks to my mentor Joel Price for teaching me about photography. I’ve modeled off and on since I was 23. It’s one of my favorite creative outlets.

Here are the links to my hair and makeup and photography pages. I’m currently working on my website. It’s jennaQ.com, should be up and running by the New Year.

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You can find Phoenix Rose’s hair, makeup, and photography work online at the following links:

https://www.facebook.com/quinnessentialphotography

https://www.facebook.com/Quinnessentialhairmakeupandphotography

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Bringing the conversation back around to burlesque, what’s your favorite part of a performance? And what is your least favorite aspect?

My favorite part of the performance is just seeing the entire show come together. It’s truly is amazing how much hard work everyone puts into their routines.

My least favorite part (and this may sound harsh but it’s the truth) is ignorance about Burlesque. Most people hear the word and immediately assume we’re all strippers. Burlesque means an absurd or comically exaggerated imitation of something, especially in a literary or dramatic work; a parody or performance. To entertain and that’s exactly what we do. We have singers, dancers, hula hoopers, acts of unfathomable flexibility, comedians, the list goes on. You want strippers go to a strip club, if you want mind blowing entertainment go to a Burlesque show.

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That’s a great quote about distinguishing between those two forms of exotic dancing. “You want strippers go to a strip club, if you want mind blowing entertainment go to a Burlesque show.” Really sums up how I feel about it too. For the most part, strip clubs are badly lit, boring, and designed to drain money from lonely drunk guys or people trying to impress their friends by making it rain singles. Burlesque, on the other hand, is an extravaganza, a visual feast for the eyes that tickles the funny bone at the same time. It is inspired by the combined creativity, sensuality, and wit of the performers. Over all, the energy is so much more positive at a burlesque performance.

Sadly, Phoenix Rose, we’re nearing the end of the interview. But it’s been a treat having you. One last question: When will we be able to see you onstage again?

I’m not sure when our next show is. Guess you’ll just have to keep an eye on the Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company page on Facebook to find out. I can say we’ll all be making a fabulous appearance in our new 2015 Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company Calendar.

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I really appreciate you taking the time to tell us more about you and your creative pursuits. Best of luck with all of them. It’s been a pleasure, Phoenix Rose. Although the January show at The Ritz in Gadsden fell through, I know we’ll be seeing you and the rest of the guys and dolls of Cherry Sparkle Burlesque back on stage soon enough.

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Stay tuned to this blog for upcoming interviews with authors and burlesque performers, book reviews, and more news about the soon-to-be published sequel to The Cycle of Ages Saga.

A Happening Halloween with Rachael Hill

As I prepare for Halloween this year, I am excited to report those plans include spending the weekend at HallowCon with some of my favorite creative minds in the Southeast. To add to the excitement, I had the special pleasure of interviewing one of them beforehand. As imaginative and talented as she is pale and lovely, my friend Rachael Hill is the subject of today’s interview. Rachael is the author of Cuisine from Beyond, a professional photographer, experienced welder, culinary artist, and much more, as you’ll find out during the course of our interview.

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You’ve been called the Gothic Rachel Ray. Could you tell us about the book that spawned this apt description?

The book, Cuisine from Beyond, is a horror-themed cookbook inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos as a whole. I’ve always wanted to write a cookbook, but I didn’t want it to look like every other cookbook out there. I had to stand out and reflect my vision.

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If your vision included a visual feast for the eyes, I’d say you succeeded beyond your wildest expectations. Did you do all of the design work on your own or did you have help in putting it together?

I knew exactly what I wanted the cover and pages to look like. I just had to have help getting the images out of my head onto the pages. Mark Helwig did the cover art. He was somehow able to bring my idea of Chef Cthulhu to life. He is really brilliant at that. And as far as the rest of the design work, it was collaboration between me and the publisher. I’m sure I was quite the diva about it.

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How much experimentation did you do with the recipes beforehand? And have you gotten any feedback from people who have prepared your recipes?

Some of the recipes are recipes that I make often. But there are some that honestly had zero experimentation. I would literally have an idea, sometimes while in the grocery store, and roll with it. Sometimes it worked out and ended up in the book. Actually, it worked a lot of the time.

As far as feedback, yes, I’ve had several people contact me about cooking recipes from the book and that they loved them. A good bit of the feedback is about how easy the recipes are to follow. I also know of at least 2 people that have made every recipe from the book.

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How long have you been cooking creatively? And do you have any particular culinary mentors or other sources of inspiration?

I’ve been cooking for as long as I can remember. I don’t necessarily have any culinary mentors, but I grew up living next door to my grandparents and my grandmother was always cooking something. I can remember pulling a chair next to her and helping. She would make jellies and jams, from fruits her and my grandfather grew. I still make jams and jellies to this day. So, I suppose keeping those skills and memories alive is my inspiration.

Moon photograph taken by Rachael Hill

Moon photograph taken by Rachael Hill

In addition to your culinary and literary endeavors, you’re also a brilliant photographer, capturing everything from American bands to individual snowflakes to the icy rings of Saturn. And from what I understand you also set up most of the shots in your vaunted cookbook. How long have you been a photographer? And what are your favorite subjects/themes to explore?

Haha, I wouldn’t say brilliant. When I started the book, I was also learning about photography, so in the beginning I didn’t know too much. By the end of the book, I was MegaDiva about the shots. But, all photos were collaboration between me and Kevin and Joe. We all three put our heads together to make these shots beautiful.

I’ve only been a photographer for 4 years. I started in 2010 and it just took off.
My favorite subject by far to shoot is live music. I also love macro photography and astrophotography. My main goal with every photo I take is to capture feeling and emotion, not just an image.

Frozen bubble. Photograph taken by Rachael Hill.

Frozen bubble. Photograph taken by Rachael Hill.

A true Renaissance woman, you are also a painter. How would you describe your style and process? Do you have particular themes that you like to explore using paint and canvas?

I don’t consider myself a painter, at all. I know way too many artists that are brilliant at what they do, and to call myself an artist or painter is just nuts. But, I do, on occasion throw paint at canvas. I call it fast and messy art. Haha. There generally isn’t a theme. I guess whatever mood I’m in at the time reflects how I paint.

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Speaking of colorful canvases, like me, you’re a fan of ink and seem to find comfort under the needle. How many tattoos do you have so far? What are they? And what’s next?

Yes, I love being under those needles. I call it “tattoo therapy”. I only have like 8 tattoos. The number isn’t big, but the sizes of the tattoos are. I have a sleeve on my left arm. An original voodoo inspired artwork on my right forearm. A skull/flower piece on my chest. A demon hand ripping out of me on my left ribcage and the words “Somethings are Beyond Therapy” and the Ludovico Technique logo (the band that the quote came from) on my left ribcage that looks carved into my skin. Ummm.. a outline of a shark on my right ankle and a Winnie the Pooh on my left calf. Yes…a Winnie the Pooh.. don’t judge. Then there a few tribal tats here and there.

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What’s next.. hummm.. let’s see. There is a story behind the demon hand and the lyric carved into my side. Basically, in a nutshell, most people try to get rid of their inner demon. I embrace mine. I’ve also discovered the whole Supernatural fandom. So, I’m thinking my next tattoos will be something Supernatural-related that also ties with the whole “keeping my demon in” theme.

Andy Deane from Bella Morte at RavenCon. Photograph by Rachael Hill.

Andy Deane from Bella Morte at RavenCon. Photograph by Rachael Hill.

I like to ask a variation of this question of my interview subjects. If you could party with any creative type, living or dead, who would it be, and what would you drink and discuss?

This is such a hard question. I am so lucky to be able to know and hang out with so many creative types already. And I’m friends with someone that has inspired me so much already and that is Andy Deane of the band Bella Morte. I don’t really have an author that inspired me want to write or an artist that inspired me to create. So, after days of consideration, here is my answer. I pull a lot of inspiration from music, which is weird because I’m not a musician. And I’m not much of a partier or drinker, so I would probably just want to hang out and chill. But as far as a dead creative person, I’d say Peter Steele from Type O Negative. No idea what we’d drink, or discuss, but I “found my goth” by listening to Type O Negative. But the living person is someone that I’ve not actually physically spoken to and that would be Ben V. from Ludovico Technique. His music and lyrics have had such a huge impact on me personally. I’d drink Red Bull and water. I think I’d tell him how his words have helped me through some rough times, and then maybe we’d get out the telescopes and do some astrophotography. And now that I’ve went total fan girl and made a fool of myself, next question please.

Ben V. from the Ludovic Technique. Photograph & Jack-o-lantern by Rachael Hill

Ben V. from the Ludovic Technique. Photograph & Jack-o-lantern by Rachael Hill

Most people probably do not realize this, but the Gothic Rachel Ray is also a world-class industrial welder. Have you ever applied your skills with a welder or blowtorch to an industrial, metalwork, or steampunk-themed project? And if you have yet to do so, why in Dio’s name not?

Well, welding is my full time job. I’ve been welding for 19 years. And while I’m decent at it, I do not want to do it outside of my job. I’ve never applied my skills to any art or metalwork. And as far as a steampunk-themed project? I am going to make a few enemies here, but, you will NEVER see me do anything steampunk-themed. I am not a fan of steampunk at all. The only steampunk thing I even remotely like is the band Abney Park, outside of that, nope, no steampunk in my future.

Lemur Zombie. Photograph taken by Rachael Hill.

Lemur Zombie. Photograph taken by Rachael Hill.

What creative project are you working on currently?

Currently, I’m trying to get back into the artistic side of photography. I got so busy doing portraits and weddings that I lost that side of photography. I would only pick up my camera if I had to. I’m also working on releasing a small magazine/digest version of my book with all new recipes. And I am working on starting my blog back up, though I’ve really dropped the ball on that.

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Last but not least, when and where will you be making your next public appearance?

My next public appearance has yet to be determined. I will be attending HallowCon (in Dalton, GA) on Halloween weekend. There will be a table there with my books for sale.

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Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions about yourself. I know you prefer the darkness and behind humble, so I appreciate you letting me sing your praises and shine some light on you and your various creative pursuits. As always, talking with you has been a pleasure. I look forward to the sequel to Cuisine from Beyond almost as much as I look forward to hanging out with you at HallowCon once again.

To find out more about Rachael Hill Photography, check out her page on Facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/Rachael.Hill.Photography

You can follow Rachael Hill on Flickr at the following URL:

http://www.flickr.com/rdhill

To purchase Cuisine from Beyond on Amazon, click the following URL:

http://www.amazon.com/Cuisine-Beyond-Rachael-D-Hill/dp/0977043789

For more information about HallowCon, click on the picture below:

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