Sunday, May 30, 2010

Guest Blogger: Lynn Emery

Lynn's winner is: Anya K. Congratulations, Anya K! Send me your contact information and I'll pass it along to Lynn. Thanks to everyone who participated.

The Real Story on Louisiana Voodoo

Being a Louisiana native, south Louisiana to be exact, I have a unique view of the supernatural. Unlike most of the other states in the country, here we view the paranormal as “normal."

Our culture incorporates belief in traditional religions. We’re not called “The Bible Belt” for nothing. Yet along with being faithful Catholics, Baptists, Methodists and other conventional religious dominations, our culture is infused with Native American and African spiritual traditions and beliefs. I grew up hearing about spells and whispered references that “something was put on her."

My elderly babysitter, a Creole from old New Orleans, taught me to burn the hair from my combs and brushes. Not only would I be vulnerable to spells, but mice and rats would use the hair to build their nests which would give me terrible headaches.

For the most part when I read about Louisiana voodoo or Marie Laveau in books, the authors typically write a mixture of stereotypes and incorrect facts. That old cliché “Truth is stranger than fiction” definitely applies. Naturally I don’t have enough space to give this topic the full attention it needs, so I’ll just provide a few tips from this Louisiana native Creole (mixture of African, Choctaw Indian, and Spanish descent). Feel free to use them in your fiction.

Marie Laveau perfected the art of creating a layer of fiction to disguise the truth of New Orleans voodoo. She was brilliant at PR, recognizing the value of creating a mystique for the public. She perfected the public performance of voodoo celebrations that helped her become a force in New Orleans, and even in state politics. Marie used her influence to in effect become one of the earliest feminist activists. In her time, late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, women had no rights. Once married anything she owned belonged to her husband. He could divorce her, but she couldn’t get rid of him. Marie consulted with white and black women to help them gain some measure of control over their lives. She used a network of Creole freeborn servants, slaves and merchants to gather inside information. Her clients were convinced she had mystical powers to learn all these secrets. Marie also used her brains and skills to free slaves. I highly recommend VoodooQueen -- The Spirited Lives of Marie Laveau by Martha Ward (, a thoroughly researched and well documented account of the real story of this voodoo icon. In fact, you’ll learn much about old New Orleans and Louisiana history.

Voodoo as practice in rural Louisiana is different from what you see as a tourist in New Orleans. Actually most of what you see as a tourist is just that, created for the consumption of “outsiders”. In rural Louisiana, in most of the state really, true voodoo practitioners are very secretive. They don’t advertise. You must find them only through their former clients, friends and relatives, who will first feel out if you can be trusted to keep your mouth shut. Why? If others know about your spells or gris-gris then they will counteract them and thus render them ineffective. The other reason is because we are The Bible Belt, and they don’t want to feel the backlash of dabbling in what some consider witchcraft or sorcery.

This is just a small sample of the real story on voodoo in Louisiana. I haven’t even touched on traiteurs, loup garou and more. Here are a few more books I can recommend if you want to write stories about Louisiana:

The Free People of Color of New Orleans by Mary Gehman

Dictionary of Louisiana Creole by Albert Valdman, Thomas A. Klingler, Margaret M. Marshall and Kevin J. Rottet

Cajun Self Taught by Rev. Msgr. Julies O. Daigle

Louisiana Ghosts by Tracie Trog

You can read my short novel
A Darker Shade of Midnight for a taste of Louisiana.
Lynn will give away a collection of three of her novels set in Louisiana. Leave a comment here to enter her giveaway. Her winner will be selected and posted on Tuesday night. Stop back by to see if you won.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

2 more days! My critique at Brenda Novak's auction

Only two more days to put in your bid for all the great things at the Diabetes auction hosted by Brenda Novak. I'm offering a critique of 3 chapters and a synopsis of a vampire romance. Here's the link to bid:

Friday, May 28, 2010

"Interviewing Your Characters" at Boulder Writers Meetup, Sat., May 29, 9:30 a.m.

I'm presenting "Interviewing Your Characters" tomorrow. Here's a link with the details:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Guest Blogger: Donna Grant

The winner of Donna's book is: YzhaBella! Congrats! Please get in touch with me. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Magic – Do you believe?

First, thank you, Lynda, for letting me guest blog!

It seems in every culture throughout history there has been mention of magic. Some would say it doesn’t exist, some would argue it does. How can something so widely spoken about not be real? And if it is real, how do you prove it?

The wonderful thing about writing fiction is that I can include all kinds of paranormal elements in my worlds. The world in my new Dark Sword series is most definitely filled with magic. Both my heroines and heroes hold magic, though in different ways.

My heroes are warriors with primeval gods inside them giving them immortality as well as enhanced senses and the ability to control something be it water, people’s minds, or the very air you breathe. The gods also transform my Warriors. Each god favors a color, so when unleashed, the heroes turn the color of their god. They also have fangs and claws, and some even have horns and wings. It has been fun matching heroes to their powers.

My heroines are Druids, blessed with certain magical abilities that will aid the heroes in defeating the evil spreading over their world. There are two sects of Druids in the series – the mie, or pure Druids, who practice healing and using their magic for good. Then there are the droughs who go through a ritual that binds their souls with evil to create black magic.

In FORBIDDEN HIGHLANDER (May 25, 2010) the heroine, Larena, is keeper of a magical ring. Inside the milky stone of the ring holds an ancient scroll the Druids used to write down the names of families who house a god. That scroll is being sought after by the hero, Fallon MacLeod, to help free his brother from the villain.

But in the hands of the villain, the Scroll is a weapon that could destroy everything.

Here’s the blurb for FORBIDDEN HIGHLANDER:

Fallon MacLeod has gifts any warrior would covet - fierce strength, unmatched skill, even immortality. But those gifts come at a price that puts everyone he loves at risk. Only when his brother, Quinn, is taken captive does Fallon leave the seclusion of his Highland home to seek the king's aid. And though every woman at court would gladly be his for the asking, one alone causes desire to roar to life within him: beautiful, mysterious Larena Monroe.

Rumors swirl around the castle about "The McLeod" but Larena knows the truth. Like Fallon, Larena is searching for a way to vanquish the evil Druid who wants to wreak havoc on earth. Drawn to Fallon in spite of her fear, she surrenders to a passion that shocks them both with its raw intensity. But Larena dares not hope for more - not when she holds a secret that could turn her fiery Highland love against her forever…

Do you think magic exists?

I’ll be giving away a signed copy of DANGEROUS HIGHLANDER to a commenter so talk to me. J

To find out more about me please visit my website at To read more about the Dark Sword series, see pics of the Warriors, take the quiz, download wallpaper, or search characters, please visit

Happy Reading!


Donna's winner will be selected and posted on Tuesday night. Stop back by to see if you won.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Guest Blogger: Elisabeth Naughton

The winner of Elisabeth's book is: flchen1. Congratulations, flchen1! Send me your contact information and I'll pass it along to Elisabeth. Thanks to everyone who participated.

The Soul Mate Cop-Out

Thanks so much to Lynda at Paranormality for inviting me to be with you today!

If you read any of my previous books you know that I’m a romantic suspense author.
With the launch of my new series, The Eternal Guardians, though (Book 1, MARKED, released 4.27.10), I’ve crossed that line from RS to paranormal, as so many authors do. I love writing in both genres and find many similarities between the two. But one thing I’ve discovered you don’t find in contemporary romantic suspense novels is the concept of soul mates.

I’ll be the first to admit that in some ways, I see the whole soul mate element as a cop out. I mean, when the soul mate concept is in play, it’s a foregone conclusion that the two lead characters will end up together, and the author doesn’t have to work so hard to show that burning attraction or challenging courtship. Granted, in a romance it’s always a foregone conclusion the two main characters will end up together, but it just seems like the soul mate element makes the happily-ever-after that much easier.

On the flip side, however, part of me loves the soul mate concept. The idea that there is one person you are destined to be with forever? That’s deep. The knowledge that when these two characters hook up, no matter what curve balls life may throw them down the line, they will never part? That’s even deeper. We live in a world where more than 50% of marriages end in divorce, and the reality of “love for a lifetime” is a dwindling prospect. So in a fantasy, in a romance novel, it kind of makes sense that there’s an element that guarantees these two characters, which the reader has invested 300+ pages in and has grown to love, will always be together. No matter what.

When I was writing
MARKED, I really struggled with the soul mate idea. I saw the benefit, and yet I couldn’t help viewing it as a cop out in some ways. Certain readers love the idea of a soul mate, others hate it. What’s a writer to do?

In the end, I decided to put my own spin on the soul mate concept, similar to the way I view it: A blessing, and yet at the same time, a curse. In my Eternal Guardians series, which is centered on seven guardians descended from the greatest heroes in all of Ancient Greece, I gave each guy a soul mate. But I didn’t make it easy. You see, Hercules is considered the greatest hero in Greek mythology, and yet, he was despised by the goddess Hera from the time he was born because he was an in-your-face reminder that her husband, Zeus, was never faithful. So in my books, Hera cursed Hercules, and all the Argonauts, by giving them a soul mate. One woman they are eternally drawn to. And she made sure that woman was the worst possible match for the hero in question. Someone they can’t live without, and yet someone they can’t live with.

In book one – MARKED – the hero, Theron—Hercules’s descendent—finds his soul mate in the human woman marked to complete a prophecy that will protect his world from a vengeful god and her band of seething demons. The catch, of course, is that his finding her and taking her to his world to complete the prophecy and save his world guarantees his soul mate’s death. And for a hero, whose whole life is centered on honor and duty, that puts Theron in a pretty tight conundrum.

I’ve actually had a lot of fun with this soul mate concept. Because it’s a curse and not a blessing, I’ve been able to play with it and mold it into a major headache for my guys. Does it preclude the romance and the attraction? No, but it is one-sided. My guys recognize the soul mate element, but the women in the equation don’t. They aren’t cursed. They’re free to choose who they want, when they want. And that adds in a whole extra layer of conflict my guys definitely don’t like. Imagine if you knew that this other person was yours—your one single soul mate for life—and that after finding them you were ruined for anyone else, forever. And now imagine if that other person didn’t give a rip?

Conflict. Struggle. Angst. Fuuuuuuuuun.

How do you feel about the whole soul mate element? Do you enjoy books that have soul mates? Or do you see them as a cop out? I’ve got a copy of MARKED to give away to one lucky commenter today, so be sure to tell me what you think!

A previous junior-high science teacher, Elisabeth Naughton now writes sexy romantic adventure and paranormal novels full time from her home in western Oregon where she lives with her husband and three children. Her debut release, Stolen Fury, heralded by Publisher’s Weekly as “A rock-solid debut,” was recently nominated for two prestigious RITA® awards by Romance Writers of America in the Best First Book category and the Best Romantic Suspense category. When not writing, Elisabeth can be found running, hanging out at the ball park or dreaming up new and exciting adventures. Learn more about Elisabeth and her books at
Elisabeth's winner will be selected and posted on Tuesday evening. Stop back by to see if you won.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

German Version of Dark Harvest: They are calling the book Vampire Love Longer

I just stumbled on this when checking out my German pub's website. What fun. It comes out 12/13/2010.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Guest Blogger: Annette McCleave

The winner of Annette's book is: Pamk! Congrats, Pamk! Send me your contact info and I'll pass it along to Annette. Thanks to everyone who participated.
The Flawed Heroine

A few weeks ago, I read with interest the debate on
Dear Author over the double standard used to judge heroines versus heroes. My interest was more than just simple curiosity—the heroine in my second book, Lena Sharpe, is an antiquities thief who makes a difficult and dubious bargain for personal reasons, and I wondered how she might be perceived by readers.

As a reader, I tend to hold heroines to a higher standard—mostly because I like to identify with them. I’ve never been a thief, nor do I think stealing is an admirable career choice, but my reasons for making my heroine a thief was based on her personal history—she needed to be able to make a living from an early age and the one tool at her disposal was an in-depth knowledge of Egyptian artifacts. Her motivations, which I won’t reveal here for spoiler reasons, rang true for me.

I also enjoy reading about heroines who aren’t perfect—because I’m certainly not—and I hoped my readers would enjoy Lena Sharpe and her unusual background, as well. Here’s a small excerpt from the story:

A quick snap of her leg against the man’s relaxed thumb and Lena cleared his grasp. A miracle, really, considering her heart was ricocheting around in her chest and her muscles barely had the sense to do her bidding. Her first kick should have been followed by a prompt second. Instead, she’d hesitated. Why? Was she really that easily undone by a handsome face?

A heart-stoppingly handsome face, to be fair, but still . . .

Punishing him for her brief enthrallment, she delivered an uncompromising kick to the intruder’s crown jewels. His eyes rolled back in his head and he slid to his knees with a faint moan. Lena wasted no time. Leaping from the chair, she dove over the big teak desk and snatched the coin box from the open vault. Any normal man would have succumbed to her sleep spell. That fact that this one hadn’t spoke volumes.

Get out, get out, get out.

There was no time to finish the job, no time to clean up, no time to collect her knapsack. In a brief, thoughtless moment, this fool had ruined all her carefully laid plans. And it wasn’t just her reputation on the line this time.
Get out now.

Box clutched to her chest, she sprang for the huge picture window overlooking the gardens. Headfirst, she smashed through the leaded glass, then rolled in midair to drop to the ground on her feet amid the shards. She shook her head to rid her ponytail of glass, then ran. The breaking glass should rouse the household, but Lena took the added precaution of flinging an enliven spell back at the house.

The alarms immediately sprang back to life, and seconds later she felt the motion sensors pulse a silent message to Duverger’s guardhouse. Her intruder had been in stealth mode, slinking about the room like a panther on the prowl. He didn’t work for Duverger. Chances were very good his intent had been the same as hers—to steal the coins—and the Frenchman’s army of bodyguards would be all over him in minutes.

Deal with that, Mr. Tall, Dark, and Annoying.

I think it’s fair to say that unless the backstory supports the choices the heroine made, and the heroine shows remorse over her inappropriate actions by the end, forgiving her would be tough. But do you think we’re more forgiving of a flawed heroine in paranormal romance and urban fantasy stories, a little more willing to see if the heroine grows in the right direction as the story progresses?

Lena’s story, Bound by Darkness, is the second book in the Soul Gatherer series and it officially goes on sale tomorrow. To celebrate, one random commenter from today’s post will receive a signed copy. Good luck!

Annette's winner will be selected and posted on Tuesday evening. Stop back by to see if you won.