Sunday, June 27, 2010

Guest Blogger: Vampire Professor Bertena Varney, Giveaway!

Thanks to everyone for a wonderful discussion! It has been great having Bertena here. I'll ask her to come back again soon. I wrote a name on a little piece of paper for each comment, and put them in my mini coffin, and picked one. The winner of a copy of one of my books is: Marty. Get in touch with me Marty, and let me know which book you want, and where you want it sent. Many thanks to everyone who participated!

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion as to why women love vampires, why there is a sudden rise in vampire literature, and basically, why are vampires everywhere today?

But did vampires really just come to be crazy-popular recently, or have we been slowly accepting them into our lives since we were children? Maybe women in our 30s were born and bred to love vampires. Or maybe not.

Let’s take a look at someone my age who grew up with Bunnicula, Count Chocula, and the Sesame’s Street’s the Count. It is rather simple. Long gone are the days of children cowering in the dark from fear of the vampire. The 1970s opened the door to change that not only affected the image of the vampire, but how we accepted them into our lives. I had one that taught me to count, one that taught me to love and the other taught me to make friends. The vampire has been the constant through each stage of our development. So it would be only natural for them to be a part of our adult life.


When our mothers were growing up, vampires were portrayed as the rat like Nosferatu or the strange, foreign speaking, Bela Lugosi style vampire. However, as we grew up they were portrayed as the cute Count von Count on Sesame Street. They were accepted into our daily society and as we grew, they no longer had to be explained or labeled; we simply knew by sight that the creature on the television. or the character in a book was a vampire. Simply put, everyone knew what a vampire was through simple phrases or placement of symbols.

The year I was born, General Mills introduced a new cereal that claimed to “bring monsters into your breakfast everyday.” The first of six monster-themed cereals was Count Chocula, a Nosferatu-looking vampire that was portrayed as rather comical looking. The Count would yell “I vant to eat your cereal.” As a result, the adults fled in fear but the children invited him and his friends, Franken Berry, Boo Berry, and Yummy Mummy in to enjoy breakfast, the most important meal of the day. The vampire was no longer scary to us and would become the first part of our day. We loved these monsters and looked forward to eating them daily.

After we finished eating our cereal, the next step in our morning would be to turn on the television to Sesame Street. Here we learned to count by a Bela Lugosi looking vampire named Count von Count. He was obsessed with counting and would count anything that came his way. He would even count himself if there was nothing to count. I know I laughed at his spooky castle, coffin, and bat friends. I did not fear him.

Then when we went to school, we read Bunnicula, a beginning reader book that told the story of a cute bunny that is also a vampire. Bunnicula was adopted into a new home where the other pets, a cat and dog, were fearful and didn’t accept him. Through different adventures, the cat and dog finally acclimated to the “different” and “new” member of the family. This was a perfect story of teaching us how to accept differences in other children and accept vampires as humans.

As we grew older there were reruns of television shows like The Munsters, The Addams Family, movies such as The Littlest Vampire, and cartoons such as Count Duckula, The Groovie Ghoulies, and Batman vs. Dracula. The vampire was now a friend and no longer a monster to be feared.

The Teen Years

The '80s actually were packed with 10 huge vampire movies, from pre-teen ones like The Monster Squad, the campy Vampire Kiss and Once Bitten, the dark Near Dark, Salem’s Lot, and The Hunger and the coming of age My Best Friend’s a Vampire and Fright Night. But the most pivotal and influential of my teenage years was, of course, David and his brothers in The Lost Boys. What teenage girl did not dream of David or Michael coming through your window and sweeping you away. Star seemed to have it made in our eyes.

These movies again did not strike real fear in us about vampires. Near Dark may have given you a little thrill, but in the end the bad boy turned good and got the girl. The beginning of our love for bad boys would begin during this time and vampires are what the media gave us.

The College Years

During college, I came “out of the coffin” with my love for the undead boyfriend.

There were television shows and movies such as the Forever Knight, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Interview with the Vampire, and Blade, just to name a few. Vampires were everywhere and finally the subject was addressed. We could fall in love with a vampire and it was ok -- maybe not safe, but ok. So began my search, and ultimately academic research, into why these hideous monsters are now longed-after lovers.

I was a sociology major and, of course, was interested in why we love vampires. As a result I wrote my master’s paper on, The Search for the Lure of the Vampire. It was a great study but really had me looking back at my life as you have seen above.
There were sexy vampires such as Angel who wanted to be Buffy’s boyfriend but I always rooted for the biggest bad vampire -- Spike. He got my motor running. Who wanted a vampire who hated who he was when you could have one with hundreds of years of love making experience and could really knock you off your feet? Remember the hot and crazy sex scenes between Buffy and Spike -- yow!!

Adult Years

Vampires who were also bad boys were also, in many ways, a hero looking for his place. We love the sexy Henry Fitzroy, Mick St. John, Eric Northman, Bill Compton, Louis, Lestat, and the countless other sexy vampires in media. So, why should we not be attracted to them when many times what we get in real life is Al Bundy or the King of Queens?

Why can’t we long for that vampire who has had centuries of love making experience to share with just us? Why can’t we love the monster within while sexing the vampire on the outside?

True Blood has been the most recent television show that has been popular but there has been a vampire show on television since Dark Shadows broke down the barriers in 1966.


So ladies, let’s embrace the hot sex, snazzy dressed, perfectly carved, sexy vampire and just know that the vampire craze has been boiling upwards for just under 45 years and we are here to say BRING IT ON. We can love them with no shame, while passing this on to our daughters. I wonder what the outcome will be in regard to them, because it is not as subtle as when we were young girls. Do you think the vampire will be too tame for our daughters, and they will have to look for a bigger and badder monster to satisfy their needs?



I will be giving away a copy of THE VAMPIRE SHRINK or DARK HARVEST to one commenter who answers both Bertena's question and my question. I'll select a winner and post it here on Wednesday night. Feel free to post as many answers as you wish. Each comment will be entered into the giveaway drawing.

Here is my question: What is the name of the bad vampire who threatened Kismet in her office? (answer can be found on the excerpts page of my website:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I'm guest blogging at Terry Odell's blog

Hey! I'm over at Terry Odell's blog for the next couple of days, talking about bad boys. Stop by and leave a comment to enter the giveaway for one of my books!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Guest Blogger: Erin Kellison

The winner of Erin's book is : Lil. Congratulations, Lil! Give me your contact info and I'll pass it along to Erin. Thanks to everyone who participated.Scared out of my mind

First of all, a great big thank you to Lynda for having me back! I’m offering a book to a commenter, so make sure to check back to see if you won.

Last night I was talking with my husband about movies that we watched in our formative years that had a lasting influence on us. We focused on horror. My husband’s was Nightmare on Elm Street. He watched it young and the movie haunted him for a while after that. I caught my first Elm Street as a teenager, and aside from lusting after Johnny Depp, I survived unscathed.

The movie that kept me up at night, sweating in fear, was called Changeling (not the Angelina Jolie one). I saw it when I was seven and just talking about it last night, I was scared all over again. The main actor is George C. Scott, and in the beginning of the movie he loses his family in a car crash. He moves into a historical mansion that is haunted by the (absolutely freak-ifyingly scary) ghost of a little boy. Don’t get me started on the wheelchair. (I’m alone while writing this, and now officially nervous there is something looming up behind me. Great.)

In my upcoming release, Shadow Bound, the main characters live in a renovated haunted hotel, and yes, it comes with a ghost child. Strange how those influences creep in. Below is the blurb for Shadow Bound, and if you want more information about me or my books, check out Oh! My haunted hotel, which has become a paranormal research center, soon will have its own website. And guess what? The little girl ghost haunts that, too.

My contest question: What was your first scary movie, and did it torture you, too?


Some people will do anything to avoid it. Even trade their immortal souls for endless existence.

Secretly, inexorably, they are infiltrating our world, sucking the essence out of unsuspecting victims with their hideous parody of a kiss.

Adam Thorne founded the Institute to study and destroy his monster of a brother, but the key to its success is held in the pale, slender hand of a woman on the run. There is something hauntingly different about Talia O’Brien, her unknowing sensuality, her uncanny way of slipping into Shadow.

This is the place between life and what comes after - a dark forest of fantasy, filled with beauty, peril, mystery. And Talia is about to open the door.

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

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Guest Blogger: Yasmine Galenorn

Hello, and thanks to Lynda for inviting me to guest blog here again. So, yes, I have a new series coming up (no, I am NOT stopping the Otherworld Series—in fact, I just received a wonderful new contract for books 10-12 in the series). Today, I want to discuss the magic in my new Indigo Court series.

First let me preface this with the fact that everybody who’s read the first book—Night Myst—has gone, to be blunt, ape-shit over it. They love it. It’s darker than the Otherworld Series, it’s edgier and in ways more romantic. But it’s also far more magical. Which brings me to one potential downfall: a review I read the other day totally slammed me for having so much magic in it.

All I can say in response is: the magic is what makes up this world, so I figure it just wasn’t the right book for the reviewer to read. Because the world of the Indigo Court is steeped in Fae magic. It’s a world of Fae and shapeshifters and vampires. A world of innate magic that permeates the land, of magic that sweeps through the air and the water to the point of where the magic itself is another character.

Now we’re not talking deus ex machina, where the gods come out and fix everything, where magic removes the need for thought and action. No, we’re talking inherent magic, where the world around Cicely Waters becomes a living, breathing entity and every aspect has some form of magic to it. The series is very shamanic and totemic by nature.

My background in nonfiction, and as a shamanic witch who works with elemental magic and totem animal spirits has given me a good perspective from which to write the book, and in some ways, I consider Night Myst my best book I’ve ever written. The magic is far more vivid than the magic of our world or the magic that I practice, it’s not ‘wiccan’ or dungeons & dragons magic, either, but the magic of transformation, where creating illusion, and manipulating the elements is as common as breathing.

In a sense, I believe that this is the series I’ve been waiting to write—that I’ve been working my way up to. I totally love the D’Artigo Sisters and the Otherworld Series, but the Indigo Court Series is darker and more sensual, it’s a world in which powers vie for supremacy, in which the balance is always off kilter and where you have to dance with the demons in order to still the devil. I’m hoping that you will enjoy this new world, and that it sweeps you away into a winter wonderland of bewitchment.

In case you haven’t seen the YouTube video for Night Myst, here is the
Link. (And yes, I make my book trailers myself. ~grins~)

So what kind of magic do you enjoy in books? What magical powers would you, yourself, like to have? My publisher will give away three copies of Bone Magic, the seventh (and most recent) book in the Otherworld Series to three people who comment (US/Canada only, please for contest).

New York Times bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn writes urban fantasy for Berkley: both the bestselling Otherworld/Sisters of the Moon Series for Berkley and the upcoming Indigo Court urban fantasy series. In the past, she wrote mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime, and nonfiction metaphysical books. Her books have hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists numerous times.

Yasmine has been in the Craft for over 30 years, is a shamanic witch, and describes her life as a blend of teacups and tattoos. She lives in Bellevue WA with her husband Samwise and their cats. Yasmine can be reached via her website at

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Guest Blogger: Eilis Flynn

The winner of Eilis's book is: Sweet Vernal Zephyr. Congrats!! Send me your contact info and I'll pass it along to Eilis. Thanks to everyone for participating.

What Ails Us, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

There was a time – not so long ago in the scheme of things – that being near-sighted spelled doom for you. If you couldn’t see far enough, clearly enough, you couldn’t track and hunt the game that could keep you and yours alive for another week. But as time went on and circumstances changed, being near-sighted didn’t automatically mean that you’d starve to death. Being near-sighted meant that you’d do work like sewing, or make clocks, something that perfect eyesight wasn’t necessary for.

These days, of course, being near-sighted means you slip tiny plastic discs to sit on the surface of your eye, or perch larger plastic disks on your nose, or even have a doctor use a high-tech device that corrects the shape of your eye so your sight is pretty near perfect. You could even go hunting, but you don’t need to do it. It’s amazing how things have changed, isn’t it?

Futuristic fiction reminds us of how far we’ve come, of course, while reminding us how far we have to go. The character Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation was established to have had an accident as a young man, forcing him to replace his injured heart with an artificial one. This being set in the far-flung future, it didn’t seem to affect him at all. (I think there was an episode or two in which he had to go get a heart tune-up, but that was it.) The heart that runs his body may not be a “real” one, but it works just as well.

With that in mind, you’ve got to wonder about the diseases and the challenges they present for us. Diseases don’t have to knock us down; they never have. They’ve simply presented a situation that we have to work around, and the characters we create, hero and heroine alike, who do so can warm our hearts and remain in our imaginations forever.

Being near-sighted is one thing, having a nonfunctioning heart quite another. Then there are those things in between. In futuristics, for the most part, glasses and contact lenses are a thing of the past: artificial eyes are a common thing – think of TV’s Six-Million-Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman, his female counterpart, with artificial eyes, hearing, and limbs.

In historicals and fantasies (nonurban variety), the diseases and challenges, the things that can be more or less managed, are more familiar. With fantasies in particular, artificial limbs, eyes, and so forth don’t seem to show that often, giving the overall impression that if you’re in a fantasy, it’s okay to limp. And as far as I’ve been able to figure out, knee and hip replacements are nowhere to be seen. No, in fantasies in particular, death seems to be an easier thing to overcome than a bum knee. For that matter, think of chronic diseases, like diabetes. They don’t appear that often, and why not? It’s one of those mysteries, I tell you.

A long way from simple near-sightedness as a death knell!

Eilis Flynn wonders about these things. Her latest book, ECHOES OF PASSION, is available as a download from Cerridwen Press, Amazon,, and more. Visit her at
Eilis will give away a copy of THE SLEEPER AWAKES to one commenter. Her winner will be chosen and posted on Tuesday evening. Stop back by to see if you won.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Giveaway: Ebooks and Ebook Reading Devices

Michelle: Would you contact me please? You mentioned you had problems with one of the e-versions of my book through Smashwords. The owner asked me for more details. My email address:

Scroll down under E.F.'s post for the giveaway.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Guest Blogger: E.F. Watkins

The winner of E.F.'s book is: tetewa. Congrats, tetewa! I'll send E.F. your contact info. Thanks to everyone who participated.
Where Do You Get Your (Weird) Ideas?

Every writer who’s published more than a couple of stories will be asked, in interviews and even casual conversation, “Where do you get your ideas?”

When you write on paranormal themes, though, the question may come with more of an accent on the second word. As in, “How do you think of such bizarre/creepy/violent things? You seem normal enough, but--!”

I like to smile and answer that I get my ideas “from real life.”

Since I’ve written about vampires, genetic-mutant yuppies, an ancient fertility god passing for a modern-day actor, and a neo-pagan cult shaking things up in a small Pennsylvania coal town, I guess they might not see the connection right away. But all of these stories were inspired by very ordinary experiences.

Someone else might have chosen to turn them into romances or mysteries or even humorous novels. I’m just compelled to give things that out-of-this-world twist.

DANCE WITH THE DRAGON, for example, started with two characters — lovers who shared some paranormal traits and a desire to fight evil. But I needed to put them up against a villain who’d really put them to the test. Around the time I was conceiving the story, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians dominated the news. That started the gears turning in my head. How about a cult leader who was an actual vampire? Who used what sounded like religious rhetoric to draw people in, mesmerized them, then “turned” some followers to be his enforcers and milked the rest for their blood? The more I read about how real cults operate, the more parallels I found. I let the group kidnap a senator’s daughter, and suddenly my hero and heroine faced a formidable enemy!

BLACK FLOWERS grew out of my experiences covering visual art for many years for a daily newspaper. A couple of decades ago, corporate headquarters often held rotating art exhibits in their lobbies, and many were classy enough to rate reviews. Some were pharmaceutical companies. Sometimes I’d encounter a high level of security before I could even get into the company gallery, which made me speculate about what they kept so secret. I imagined a woman artist married to the head of such a company who knew little about what her husband did all day. What if she began to suspect it was something nasty, at odds with her own very humanitarian ideals? I upped the stakes throwing in some uncanny murders by electrocution, and putting even her own children at risk.

I once overheard an…er… “cosmetically challenged” young woman fantasizing about going to Hollywood and throwing herself at the handsome male movie stars. I realized that while many plots have homely men winning the hearts of gorgeous women, the reverse is rarely shown. So in PARAGON, I decided to flip the Pygmalion story. A very plain and somewhat scarred young woman gets the chance to “create” the man of her dreams with the promise that he will love her as she is -- providing she never asks who he really is or where he came from. I liked the idea of a dark fairytale with a loophole. Of course, eventually she’s going to try to find out! I based her handsome and talented actor boyfriend on the type of real celebrity who shoots to fame almost overnight based on sex appeal and getting the right breaks. (In this case, his rivals all tend to fall by the wayside due to unfortunate accidents.)

Inspiration for my latest book, DANU’S CHILDREN, goes all the way back to my childhood. My mother’s family hailed from northeastern Pennsylvania and we often visited relatives there. Compared to where we lived, in the New York metro area, the Lackawanna Valley seemed to me to be cut off from the outside world, trapped in time and scarred by its mining history. By the time I attended college there, it had grown even more economically depressed. I absorbed impressions of Jurassic potholes and stories of whole buildings disappearing into the ground and a large church sliding downhill, all from mine subsidence. From our campus, we could see one of the old slag heaps still burning in the distance. I thought the area felt cursed, poisoned — but by what? Or Whom? I filtered that question through my half-Irish ancestry and came up with the villainous entity of DC.

In short, if you’re searching for a unique character, plot twist or setting, before you copy some cliché from the movies or TV, look at your own life. What has moved you, frightened you, intrigued you? What people, places or events have stuck in your mind over the years? Can you give one of them an extra twist to create a paranormal story?

But if you’re reading this, you already may be one of those writers who gets asked, “Where do you get your ideas??”

E. F. Watkins, author of DANCE WITH THE DRAGON (2004 EPPIE Winner, Best Horror Novel), RIDE A DANCING HORSE, BLACK FLOWERS (2006 EPPIE Finalist, Action/Thriller and 2007 Indie Excellence Award Finalist, Mystery/Thriller), PARAGON and DANU'S CHILDREN

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious."--Albert Einstein
E.F. will give away a copy of Danu's Children to one commenter. Her winner will be selected and posted here on Tuesday evening. Stop back by to see if you won.

Friday, June 04, 2010

GIVEAWAY: E-Books! E-Book Reading Devices! What do you think?

Thanks so much to everyone who left a comment. I appreciate all the great info! I put everyone's name on little slips of paper and put them in my mini-coffin. The name I picked is: Jeanette 8042. Send me your contact information and I'll get in touch about which book you'd like.
I'm offering encouragement in the form of a prize for my blog readers' opinions. Since I jumped into the e-book pool in mid-March, 2010 by putting up versions of my two trade paperback vampire novels (THE VAMPIRE SHRINK and DARK HARVEST) and an erotic paranormal novella I regained the rights to (UNDEAD IN THE CITY) on Kindle and, I've been pleasantly surprised by the excellent results. I have been able to introduce my books to many, many new readers.

Now, I'm thinking about which e-book reading device (or devices) I might want to buy: Kindle? Nook? iPad?

So, I'm hoping you'll give me your thoughts about ebooks and ebook reading devices. Do you like reading books in e-form? Do you own an e-reading device? More than one? What do you like/not like about them? What's your opinion about how popular e-forms of books will be in the future? Do you only read paper books? Would you be upset if the predictions about ebooks becoming more available than paper books were to come true?

I'll give away a copy of either an e-copy or a print copy of one of my books (your choice) to a commenter here. I'll choose a winner (and will post the name on the blog) on Sunday evening, June 13.

This topic can be a heated one, so please keep your comments "polite."