Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Guest Blogger: Helen Scott Taylor

The winner of Helen's book is: Davina! Congratulations! Give me your snail mail info and I'll pass it along to Helen. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Magical Creatures

I love reading contemporary paranormal and fantasy stories (usually romance) where a hidden paranormal world exists alongside the normal world we humans live in. The main appeal for me is the fantasy that these magical beings really do exist. I love the idea that there is more out there than the mundane world we live in. With the popularity of television series such as Buffy, Supernatural and Charmed, and the numerous contemporary paranormal books on the shelves, I’m obviously in good company.

There are many wonderful paranormal stories about vampires, and shape-shifters of all kinds, so in my debut paranormal romance The Magic Knot, I chose to write about fairies. They live beside us in the modern world utilizing modern technology. The hero is half Irish Tuatha dé Danaan and half leprechaun, yet he rides a motorcycle and plays the stock market using his leprechaun touch of luck. His twin brother drives a Porsche. Yet they have special powers as well. With a winged vampiric nightstalker as a friend and a psycho fairy queen who wields fire out to get them, their life is anything but ordinary.

My heroine Rose is drawn into this world, unaware that she is half Cornish pisky. She soon discovers monsters really do exist! The fantasy for me is walking in her shoes as she discovers the fairy world, witnesses the amazing power these creatures have, and realizes her own hidden fairy qualities of power and beauty. I suppose this is my dream, discovering that deep inside, I am like Rose, that I have hidden magical depths waiting to be discovered. We all want to feel special. Rather like every little girl dreams of discovering she is really a princess and is swept away to marry a prince, I’d love to discover I’m something magical and special.

If someone told me there really was a paranormal world out there, I would like it to be a world populated by the sexy fairies and magical creatures from The Magic Knot. If you could chose a paranormal world to discover, what type of magical creatures do you wish existed?

To find out more about my writing and to read a two chapter excerpt of The Magic Knot please visit

The official release date for The Magic Knot is January 27, although it is already in stock at online retailers Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

The Magic Knot Back Cover Copy:


What woman wouldn’t be attracted to Niall O’Connor’s soft Irish brogue and dark good looks? But Rosenwyn Tremain must find her father, and she isn’t going to let a sexy, stubborn Irishman and his motorcycle distract her. Rose’s intuition tells her he’s hiding something, a secret even the cards cannot divine. Her tarot deck always reads true, but how can one man represent both Justice and Betrayal?


Magic. Niall’s body tingles with it when he finds the woman snooping in his room. Rosenwyn might believe she’s a no-nonsense accountant, but her essence whispers to him of ancient fairy magic that enslaves even as it seduces. Her heritage could endanger those he’d die to protect, but her powers and her passion, if properly awakened, might be the only thing that can save both their families, vanquish a fairy queen bent on revenge, and fulfill a prophecy that will bind their hearts together with…THE MAGIC KNOT

Helen will give away a signed copy of THE MAGIC KNOT to one commenter. The winner will be selected and posted here on Friday evening.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wed., Jan. 21: I'm Guest Blogging at Bitten By Books & I'm Author of the Week at

Hi, everyone. I hope you'll stop by Bitten by Books on Wednesday, January 21. I'm blogging about "Vampire Love" and giving away stuff!

And, I'm Author of the Week at!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Guest Blogger: C.J. Barry

The winner of C.J.'s book is: Willow! Congratulations, Willow. Send me your snail mail info and I'll pass it along to C.J. Thanks to everyone who participated.

I have a sign over my computer. It says “Be fearless. Write the books that only you can write.”

I have no idea where this came from, but for over ten years I’ve looked up at that sign every time I sit down to write. I have to. I write paranormal.

When you write paranormal, there are no guidelines, not even from the pirates. There’s no pre-built worlds or historical documents or roadmaps that you can start with. And by its very nature, it is supernatural. Speculative. Different. And unworldly.

There is, however, a method to the madness of writing paranormal. I’ve done workshops on world-building. I can tell you all the rules that make paranormals believable. With Fantasy, your characters live and die by the rules you set out in their world. In Science Fiction, your world and technologies have to be plausible science. Whether you are writing wizards or aliens or vampires, there is a strange new world that must be built. Built well and built bravely.

Case in point. A typical conversation between me and husband:

Me: I’m thinking about creating giant fifteen foot lizard-like creatures in my book who eat little crab-like creatures on a deserted planet for my book.

Husband (opens the refrigerator door): Uh-huh.

Me: The big lizards are the bad guys and the little crabs are the good guys. The crabs live under the sand but when there are earthquakes, which happen every time the portals open, all the little crabs climb out of the sand and the big lizards have a feeding frenzy.

Husband (starts looking through the kitchen cupboards): Okay.

Me: The lizards breed very slowly and the crabs breed really fast.

Husband (frowns): Huh.

Me: Does that sound like a good food chain to you?

Husband (finally looks at me): What?

Me: Food chain. Do you think enough crabs could sustain the lizards that size?

Husband: Um, I guess so.

Me (throwing my hands up): But would you believe it if you read it?

Husband: I have to read about a food chain?

Me (headache forming): No. No, you don’t.

Husband: Oh, then it sounds fine. Are we out of bread?

You see the problem here. To write paranormal, you must be brave, fearless. We imagine things that are frighteningly unique, as individual as we are. Worlds that only exist in words. Places and beings so real, they have the power to take us on the journey with them. Any crazy ideas we come up with, we have pull off. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. And when they don’t, you don’t feel so fearless. But how could you give up something as magical, as challenging and hard and fascinating, as building something from nothing?

So to all the readers out there, thank you for allowing us to write the stories and the worlds in our hearts. Thank you for following us down paths no one has ever walked. And thank you for believing in giant lizards and little crab people. Who else would have us?

Thanks for having me here on Paranormality.

C.J. Barry
To read more about my latest paranormal adventures, visit my website at


C.J. will be giving away a copy of her new book, Unleashed. Leave a comment here to enter the giveaway. Winner chosen and posted here on Friday evening.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Guest Blogger: Stephanie Julian

Stephanie's winner is: Carolyn Matkowski! Congrats to you. Send me your contact information and I'll pass it along to Stephanie. Thanks so much to everyone who participated!

Hi, I'm Stephanie Julian and I'd like to thank Lynda for having me here at Paranormality today.

I've always been interested the paranormal. I credit my mom for that. As a kid, she took me to every B-horror movie that opened in our local movie theater and never said no to any book I wanted. She put Stephen King's "Carrie" in my hands and I never looked back.

In my 20s, I read Maggie Shayne's Wings in the Night series and discovered a dark new world-paranormal romance.

I enjoy the "different" in paranormal romance, the unexpected. I like the edge of darkness a good paranormal rides on.

The heroes are harder and that much more mysterious. They can be angels, demons, wolves, vampires or elves. They can have horns or a tail or pointed ears but they'll almost always be ripped and buff and know exactly what to say to melt the heroine's heart.

Paranormal heroines also have that edge of mystery. They can be cursed or haunted, hunted or the hunter. They aren't afraid to swear and they can kick just as much ass as the hero.

What reader wouldn't want to put themselves in the heroine's place as she saves herself or the world?

But I think what's most attractive about paranormal romance is the possibility it presents. The possibility that there's magic in the world. Whether it's dark magic that singes your skin or light magic that infuses you with peace, magic is, well, magical.

And who hasn't wished for a love that transcends time and death? One that binds mate to mate with fierce passion?

As a romance author, creating a paranormal world gives me more tools to bring into play. Yes, it means more research to create a believable world but when it works, the rewards are incredible.

And how do you make it work? How do you draw the reader into a story that requires them to believe there are werewolves or witches or fairies in the world?


Sure, my heroine, Scarlata, has wings in "Seduced by Magic," but she's first and foremost a strong woman protecting her friends from a man she believes means them harm. It's what the reader will recognize as a human characteristic and that reader will then identify with the character.

In my latest release, "Seduced and Enchanted," Rosie is an average girl living an average life until she has sex with the most handsome man she's ever met and wakes up with superpowers she can't control.

So tell me, what makes you connect with a character? What draws you into a paranormal world? Let me know in the comments section and Lynda will pick on winner to receive a reader's goodie bag from me.

My Magical Seduction Series from Ellora's Cave has been great fun to write and I hope to continue it for quite a while. There are a lot of heroes and heroines yet to meet. Hope you'll want to meet them too. Check out the books at

Stephanie's winner will be selected Tuesday evening and posted here.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Preditors and Editors Poll

Dark Harvest is nominated in several novel categories. If you'd like to vote for me you can go here:

Thank you!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Guest Blogger: Chris Marie Green

The winner of Chris's book is: Swing Club! Congratulations to you! Send me your snail mail info, and I'll pass it along! Thanks to everyone who participated.

The Great Beyond of Research

A huge thanks to Lynda for inviting me here today!

I’ll be giving away a copy of an anthology entitled FIRST BLOOD; it contains novellas from Susan Sizemore, Erin McCarthy, and Meljean Brook, as well as one based on my own Vampire Babylon series, which features a hunter named Dawn Madison who carries around quite a few personal and paranormal issues. Unfortunately, one of those issues involves an estranged father who went missing in Hollywood, and Dawn, an ex-stunt woman, has come back to town to find out what happened to him. What she discovers sends her into a tailspin: he disappeared during an assignment for a paranormal “firm,” and as she and his co-workers (including a “little person” actor named Kiko and a “lab rat” former actress named Breisi Montoya) track down clues that lead to dear old dad, Dawn finds out a whole lot more about her family—and vampires—than she ever wanted to know.

Now…on to the blogging!

Oftentimes, people ask me how much research is involved with writing the paranormal, but before I can answer, they laugh and say, “Wait—you can just make things up!”

Well, not always. Sure, there’s lots of fantasizing when it comes to world building, but since Vampire Babylon is an urban fantasy series, it’s necessary to ground the readers, making them think that, whoa, there really might be vampires or other preternatural creatures walking amongst us.

So aside from armchair research about setting, jobs, and characteristics of vampires, how does a person do research for a paranormal book?

I, myself, love firsthand fact-and-fantasy digging. I even went to London a little over a year ago to scout locations for books four through six of the Vampire Babylon series. (Isn’t my job the worst? ) But today I thought I’d tell you about a different trip I took for the first three novels: a little jaunt to New Orleans, pre-Katrina, to a “haunted house.”

It started with a bus ride beyond Canal Street to a location that the touring company wouldn’t reveal. When we arrived at a rundown street-corner joint that you wouldn’t look twice at, I was more worried about the dogs barking in the neighborhood than the house itself. Under the watch of a security guard, the staff separated us into “hunting teams” and still refused to tell us anything about the building because they wanted us to go in without preconceptions. Cool enough, and when they handed us our “hunting tools,” that’s when I started to geek out a bit.

I’m going to allow Kiko, the psychic vamp hunter from Vampire Babylon, describe just what that equipment was. (After all, I ended up using it for a scene in NIGHT RISING, Book One, which is being reissued in mass market format on January 27, 2009…PLUG!): “Tools of the trade. Ms. Montoya is using a thermo-anemometer, a temperature gauge. She’s taking the base reading of the room right now so we’ll get a foundation for comparison as she tests different parts of the house for deviations in temperature. Ms. Madison will be using a magnetometer, which searches for shifts in the electromagnetic field.”

(Thank you, Kiko.)

We were additionally assigned diving rods and then released into the house, which was just as decrepit inside as it was outside. It was also dark, necessitating the use of flashlights, but I think the tour people only wanted to creep us out.

And it worked. There were random, eerie things like old bathtubs that we measured with our tools while asking general questions to the air, lest there be ghosts around who’d answer us via the divining rods. There were spider webs and creaky floors, and those barking dogs outside didn’t get any quieter. We were being real live paranormal hunters, and settling into that frame of mind was, IMHO, a valuable experience because I could describe Dawn’s point of view as a normal person who’s thrust into a strange situation like this all the better.

It turned out that we had a woman on our team who claimed to be psychic. Now I’d call myself a skeptic who’s always willing to be convinced, but when she told us about her talents during the investigation, I was like, “Riiiiiight.” And when we arrived at the back of the house, near a slumping staircase, I wasn’t super impressed when she engaged in a Q&A with a female spirit. When that spirit gave way to another one—a baby—I chalked it up to the psychic’s excitement at being in a so-called haunted house.

We collected our magnetic field shifts and temperature statistics, then met everyone else outside, where the guides finally told us about the building. It’d served a number of purposes: a general store, a boarding house…even a domain of prostitution. Then they told us about some of the house’s stories.

And wouldn’t you know it—there was a woman who’d fallen down the back stairway and miscarried before she, too, passed on.


So…research. It can be a passive experience, or it can be its own little horror movie. Whatever form it comes in, I love me some of it.

Have any of you guys ever had a brush with the paranormal? If so, it’d be great to hear about it in the comment section, where one of you is going to win that copy of FIRST BLOOD….

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the following book trailer for NIGHT RISING, which is out at the end of the month (PLUGs away!!!). Also, I’d love for you to visit my Web site at, where you’ll find a link to a monthly contest I’m holding. This time, you could win a darling little Pullip doll as well as a signed copy of THE BECOMING by Jeanne Stein.

Happy Hunting. : )

The winner of FIRST BLOOD will be posted here on Friday evening.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Guest Blogger: Margaret Carter

The winner of Margaret's download is: Shawnta! I'll pass your email address along to Margaret. Thanks to everyone who participated. Happy 2009!
Sex and the Sympathetic Vampire

When the vampire as a sympathetic character arrived on the scene, sex—as an element to be celebrated rather than feared—wasn't far behind. The erotic resonance of vampire fiction has been recognized for a long time, but in "Carmilla" and DRACULA the vampire's seduction was presented as an evil temptation to be resisted. The vampire gained recognition as a romantic hero (vampire heroes in love with human heroines make up the vast majority of the fictional pairings, although of course the reverse situation is far from unknown) after the sympathetic treatment of vampires developed in the fiction of the 1970s. Previously, non-evil vampires appeared only in the occasional short story, such as Ray Bradbury’s “Homecoming” and William Tenn’s “She Only Goes Out at Night.” The precursor to all the “good” vampires of the late twentieth century, of course, was Barnabas Collins from the TV series DARK SHADOWS in the late 1960s. Originally, Barnabas appeared ruthlessly evil, although motivated by a twisted version of love: He imagined Maggie Evans to be the reincarnation of his lost love Josette and kidnapped Maggie to make her his bride. Later, Barnabas grew into a sympathetic character because of his yearning to overcome his curse and become human again. As you probably remember, his friend Dr. Julia Hoffman conducted several experiments in a quest for a cure for vampirism.

The year before Anne Rice's groundbreaking INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, Fred Saberhagen published an undeservedly lesser-known account of a vampire's history told on tape in his own words, THE DRACULA TAPE. For the first time, we saw the events of Stoker's novel through the Count's eyes. He's the good guy in this story, unjustly persecuted by the vampire-obsessed Van Helsing and the fanatical professor's misguided disciples. Dracula falls in love with Mina, who rises from her grave to join him on the last page of the book. Although Rice's INTERVIEW deserves credit for bringing the vampire as protagonist to the attention of a mass audience, I've never considered her vampires either "good" or particularly attractive. Their apparent compulsion to kill almost every time they feed, disqualifies them for that status in my opinion. (Louis moans about it a lot, but he still does it, and Lestat isn't terribly consistent about feeding only on those who supposedly deserve it.) If human-vampire relationships, my main interest, exist at all, they remain on the periphery of her world; the vampire subculture holds center stage. Still, Rice's bestselling series opened the way for the myriads of vampire protagonists who have followed in the past thirty years. A more direct forebear of the vampire as romantic hero, though, is Count Saint-Germain from Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, the first in a long-running series. The horror in Yarbro's historical novels arises from purely human infamy and violence. Saint-Germain always appears as the voice of reason and the defender of abused or neglected women, such as his one great love, Madelaine, in HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, and Olivia in BLOOD GAMES (later the heroine of her own trilogy). Once "good" vampires became established in popular fiction, the way was open for romances and erotica focused on vampire-human pairings, as opposed to horror with romantic elements. If a heroine fell in love with a vampire who didn't have recognizable moral standards, she would probably lose the reader's sympathy, because she would be an accomplice to his crimes. Suzy McKee Charnas mentions this issue in her fascinating essay "The Beast's Embrace," posted on her website ( under "Byways."

What is a good vampire, anyway? Because we have a very difficult time stepping outside our own human perspective, we tend to judge "monsters" of any type by the way they treat human beings. A good vampire, therefore, is one who adheres to an ethical philosophy similar to ours and refrains from unnecessarily harming us. We find conflicts between good (valuing human life) and evil (preying indiscriminately on human victims) vampires in such novels as Elaine Bergstrom's SHATTERED GLASS and George R. R. Martin's FEVRE DREAM, both of which coincidentally present vampirism as naturally evolved rather than supernatural. Creating a vampire who holds himself aloof from human values and yet comes across as a sympathetic character is a rare accomplishment. You can find a prime example in Dr. Weyland from Charnas' THE VAMPIRE TAPESTRY. Weyland, a naturally evolved predator at the top of the food chain, professes contempt for the ordinary mortals he hunts for food. But he seldom kills, and his relatively modest theft of blood from his victims contrasts favorably with the horrors human predators have perpetrated on their own species. In the course of the novel, he unwillingly comes to care for some of his human acquaintances.

We can distinguish two main ways of approaching the creation of a "good" vampire. In the first approach, vampirism is intrinsically evil, as it's portrayed in classics such as DRACULA. In this kind of framework, a good vampire is one who fights against his or her demonic nature. Examples abound, such as Barnabas Collins, Nick Knight in the FOREVER KNIGHT series, and Angel in BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and Angel's own spinoff show. Such characters are typically searching for a "cure," a plot premise that makes their stories self-limiting. If they ever attain their goal, they lose the numinous allure of vampirism, so the story ends. In the second approach, vampirism is morally neutral. A vampire can make free ethical choices just as any ordinary person can. A natural rather than supernatural creature lends itself well to this approach, but in recent decades many supernatural vampires who fall into this category have been created, e.g., P. N. Elrod's Jack Fleming, Tanya Huff's Henry Fitzroy, and numerous vampire heroes of romance novels. Some romance vampires consider themselves cursed, but plenty of them are perfectly content with their transformed existence.

I've discussed this subject at greater length in an article in the "Strange Horizons" webzine, "Love, Lust, and the Literary Vampire," which can be found here:

My own vampires, members of another species secretly sharing our world with us, have reached varying accommodations with the necessity of feeding on human donors. Most regard us as prey or pets, while a few come to see us as equals worthy of love. Works in the series are listed in internal chronological order under “Vanishing Breed” on my website


Margaret will give away a PDF of her werewolf novel SHADOW OF THE BEAST (Amber Quill Press) to one person who leaves a comment here. Winner selected Tuesday evening.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009 Intentions and TV Taping

This had to have been the most boring new year's eve ever. I was so wiped out from work, I went to bed at 9 p.m. and slept all the way through til 9 a.m. this morning. Geez. Do I have an exciting life, or what?

2008 was a miserable year for a lot of people. Many of my clients and friends had their entire lives destroyed by the global financial meltdown. I really hope we can think outside the box in 2009 and beyond and lift ourselves out of the limited mindsets of the past. I don't make resolutions (my inner rebel guts them within 12 minutes of writing them down), but I do set intentions. What's the difference between resolutions and intentions? Maybe not much, but intentions feel weightier to me. Like contracts with myself. In The Active Side of Infinity, Carlos Castaneda talked about intention being the fabric of the universe. Works for me. So, here are mine:

I intend to become healthier and leaner over the next few months.
I intend to finish book 3 in my series over the next few months.
I intend to solidify ideas for an additional series.
I intend to walk for 30 minutes at least four times weekly.
I intend to eat like a grown-up instead of a teenager.
I intend to say "yes" to life more often.

How about you?

I'm taping a public broadcast interview tomorrow at the Broomfield, CO public library. I don't know when it will be aired, but I'll keep you posted.