Sunday, September 28, 2008

Guest Blogger: Eilis Flynn

The winner of Eilis's ebook is: Darbyscloset! Congrats, Darbyscloset. I'll pass along your email address to Eilis. Thanks so much to everyone who participated.

Faeries Along the Silk Road ... and Beyond

At this time of year, when the weather is changing and we’re getting closer to Halloween, I start to think about the spirits of the otherworld. Faeries are everywhere you can imagine, in ways you may not expect.

The term "faery" itself is definitely of European origin, but the concept of nature spirits or elementals who are both of this reality and not can be found all over the world. The names may change, but whatever you call them, faeries have been both kind and mischievous, kind to humans on occasion and sometimes not.

A walk along the Silk Road

The Silk Road was a series of routes going over land and sea that were integral to traders long before the Christian era began. A lot of trade occurred along the route, bringing silks and spices and more from the East to the West and back. Traditionally, the Silk Road connected a region of China with Asia Minor and the Mediterranean, a route that was over 5,000 miles long -- quite a distance now; think of what it must have represented 2,000 years ago. The goods that the travelers took back were transported from places as far away as the Philippines and Thailand and Brunei, all the way to Italy and Portugal and even Sweden. Not only were silks and spices and even technology moved along these routes, so was culture, and that meant Asian concepts and items were introduced to Europe, and vice versa.

That includes faeries.

Beyond Europe, the faeries aren’t referred to as such, but as nature spirits and demons and angels and even gods and goddesses.

The Middle Eastern tradition is ancient and rich with folklore dealing with beings of other planes of existence. The best known among them is probably the djinn, called a demon in some cultures but simply a spirit in others.

After Persia, which has its own cultural traditions, the Silk Road splits, with one part of the road heading north, skimming Tibet on the way to China, with the other branch dipping south to India. India has its own ancient tradition, with gods, goddesses, and demons--all faeries of their own land.

The Indian countryside has local gods and goddesses, with a local goddess often worshipped in the form of a sacred tree -- not unlike the European tradition of dryads. They can take human form, just like faeries of the West have been known to do, and there's another tradition in which some humans in folklore claim to be descended from these spirits.

Then in Japan, the term kami is the broad term used for the version of nature spirits or gods. The term kamikaze, as you may know, which was the term used for the Japanese suicide pilots during World War II, literally refers to "wind spirits." The wind spirits were credited with keeping away the Mongols when they tried to invade Japan in the late 13th century. Since the official religion of Japan is Shinto, which is an animist philosophy, there are a lot of earth spirits, ie, faeries, there.

Taking a leap from Japan down to Polynesia, the earth spirits there are also strong. The menehune are some of the most popular faery creatures of the Polynesians. In Hawaiian mythology, the menehune are said to be a people who live in the deep forests and hidden valleys of the Hawaiian islands.

Jacquie Rogers (author of Faery Special Romances) and I are conducting a workshop at the Emerald City Writers’ Conference in which we look at faeries around the world. Until I did the research for it, I never realized that faeries are everywhere, out of sight, no matter where you go. No matter what they’re called, whether it’s faeries (as in Western Europe), or gods and goddesses (as in India), or kami (in Japan), or even angels (as in the Philippines), just a glance at a map will give you an idea of where you can find them.

What kind of nature spirits are you most familiar with in your culture? Leave me a comment in the comments section here and one lucky winner will get a copy of my ebook, INTRODUCING SONIKA!
INTRODUCING SONIKA, now on sale at

Book Signing and Panel in Colorado and Guest Blogging at Witchy Chicks

I'll be participating in Author Fest of the Rockies next Saturday, October 4 in Manitou Springs, CO, with Jeanne C. Stein and Esri Rose. Drop by if you're in the area!

And, I'm guest blogging (ARGH! I'd better finish the post!) at Witchy Chicks on October 6. I'll post again closer to the date to invite everyone to come by and leave a comment.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Book of the Day at

Happy weekend, all. has THE VAMPIRE SHRINK as their Book of the Day today.

Just go to the homepage, scroll down, and read the rules to participate:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Guest Blogger: Phaedra Weldon

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

Walking Between the Worlds

So let’s talk about the Paranormal. Sounds easy, eh? Um . . . not so much. The Paranormal definition on my Mac’s Operating systems says, “denoting events or phenomena such as telekinesis or clairvoyance that are beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding.”

I write about ghosts, spectres, and astral walkers. How much beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding can you get? And what makes this subject so fascinating for me are the numerous testimonies of people who have felt as if they were out of body, had near death experiences, and seen ghosts!

How cool is that?

But before I get all hot and bothered about ghosts, let me express my absolute love of the Paranormal boom. I mean -- you did read that “stellar” definition above, right? How boring is that? The Paranormal is so much more -- something for everyone! It’s vampires, goblins, gargoyles, demons, ghosts, werewolves, were-cats, were-bats, trolls, ogres, ghosts, elves, witches, elementals, sorcerers, dragons -- and did I mention ghosts?

Ghost stories. Ghost legends. Ghost tours. Ghost Hunters -- yes I’m a fan. From as far back as I can remember the areas around my home town in South Georgia carried a variety of ghost legends. Mostly associated with the Civil War. From a lady in white that haunts a lone grave behind a tree on a rural road to a bridge where the screams of a dying woman can be heard only when traveling in one direction on the bridge.

I asked my grandmother once about the ghosts -- where did they come from? Did they see us the way we saw them? And would they always be there, never moving on? And her response always unnerved me.

“Honey -- the planes between the worlds are growing thinner by the day. Just as we see them on occasion, they see us. But what worries me are the things we can’t see.”


And thus was born a ten year old who slept with the light on and the covers pulled up that night.

What we can’t see? What did that mean? Were there things watching me and I couldn’t watch them? And how could I find them if I wanted to?

And don’t think I didn’t finally cough up the courage to ask my grandmother about just that.

“You have to go where they are,” she said. “You have to walk between the worlds.” Which I translated into something like -- if you want to understand a bee keeper and why he would purposefully stick his hand into a hive then you have to become the bee keeper.

And then I sort of thought from there that if you became like a ghost, or a spirit and immersed yourself into their existence then maybe they’d find a way to possess you and then you’d switch places and you’d be the ghost and the ghost would be you.

Yeah . . . and as Mr. Myagi said, “You too much TV.”

But from all this curiosity and fascination came the idea for an astral walking detective (though that term is a loose term for Zoë) named Zoë Martinique. Yeah I’d written the standard ghost story over the years -- unrequited love, ghost lovers, evil ghosts, loving ghosts -- and they were okay.

But taking that extra step like my grandmother threw at me -- now that was a bit harder. Because in truth -- we don’t really know what’s on that other side. Or how it’s built. Or why it really exists.

Taking the “what if” (that Oh Cool! You want to put into a proposal or book that makes an editor say, “Wow!”) and exploring the possibility -- however good, or bad it may be. I love writing about the different breakdowns of the after life, and making it like my grandmother said it was -- that the veils are thin and some things that shouldn’t cross over from the Abysmal side shouldn’t be in the living.

So take a journey with Zoë as she discovers what it’s like to walk between both worlds. No vampires. Or zombies. Elves or trolls or dwarves. Just the human condition, imagination, and fear.

Hehehehehe . . .

Any questions?

PHANTASM, the third book in the Zoë Martinique Investigation Series will be out in June of 2009. A Zoë prequel story -- spotlighting the paranomal investigation group SPRITE -- will be published in the DAW anthology Crime Spells to be released in February 2009.

Phaedra is giving away a copy of her book. Just leave a comment here, answering this question (winner will be selected Friday night and posted here):

If you were going to write about walking between the worlds, what would you come up with?

For more information about Phaedra's books, you can visit:

Monday, September 22, 2008

Guest Blogger: Lynsay Sands

The winner of Lynsay's giveaway is: Liz! Congratulations, Liz. Send me your contact information and I'll pass it along to Lynsay. Thanks so much to everyone for participating. Next guest blogger: Phaedra Weldon

Paranormal vs. Science-Based Vampires

So, when I agreed to do a guest blog here at paranormality universe I was mid-book (as usual), not paying much attention, and just said “Yes, fine, I’ll do it.” And then the day started drawing nearer and I came to see what others had done here and immediately began to panic. You see, my vamps aren’t cursed or the walking dead, and I have no zombies, were-animals, witches, demons, etc. In fact, much to my horror, my books aren’t paranormal at all! I’m an impostor! What was I thinking when I said yes? Obviously, I wasn’t thinking at all.

As per my usual modus operandi, I immediately went squawking to my husband about it. And in typical male fashion he peered at me like I’d sprung a leak (in the head) and said, “Yes, your books are paranormal.”

“Nope, sci fi, maybe,” said I, ”But I don’t have curses, walking dead, etc.” He just shrugged and said, “Its fine. They’re vamps. Stop panicking.”

So, what did I do? I looked up paranormal in the Merriam Webster dictionary online (of course, it wasn’t with the express intention of going back downstairs and quoting the dictionary definition to him in a “ha, ha I’m right,” sort of way. . . I would never do that—snort). Anyway, the definition I found was “Not scientifically explainable: supernatural” Sigh. While I would rather it had turned out that he was right, he wasn’t, and I was. You see, while my vamps are ancient, usually fanged, need blood, and can read and control minds as the typical vamps are said to do, they can’t fly or turn into rats or bats . . . and they are scientifically explainable. So, I hope you’ll forgive me for masquerading as a paranormal author and blogging here today.

That quandary, whether I was paranormal or not, however, is what decided me on my topic: Paranormal versus science-based vampires.

I should say I didn’t set out to write scientifically based vamps. A conversation with a couple of writing friends about doing an anthology together merely brought about some cute ideas for my own short story; a vamp that fainted at the sight of blood (the heroine in A Quick Bite) and for a vamp on a shopping trip in a grocery store (a scene in Single White Vampire). We never did the anthology, but those ideas stuck in my mind and I started considering doing some vampire novels. Well, I immediately ran into trouble. It was the whole dead, cursed, soulless thing. I write romantic comedy as a rule and dead guys with sharp, sharp fangs just aren’t that sexy to me. (I don’t know why I don’t mind if they’re alive with sharp, sharp teeth, and I guess this aversion to dead fanged-ones blows any possibility of future excursions into necrophilia for me, but hey, I can deal with it.)

So, I had a problem. I started looking for possible causes of vampirism that weren’t curses or dead guys. Science was the obvious answer, but our technology is only now starting to explore nanos. That meant the vamps would either be the result of new technology, human but young (no older than eighty or so since it would have to be people alive today) or aliens with advanced technology. Hmm. Neither appealed to me and I had to think for a while before I came up with the end result. My main problem was I wanted them to be old. Odd, huh? Maybe not.

An earlier blogger mentioned the attraction of vamps, and the one thing they didn’t mention was that they’re often old, and therefore have seen a lot, experienced a lot, are probably smarter than the average bear (nothing turns me on like a smart man) and have known a LOT of women over their hundreds of years . . . which makes their choosing the heroine super special. I wanted that for my vamps, but how to manage it? Atlantis was my answer. That mythical land rumored to have been technologically advanced, and to have existed but disappeared a long, LONG time ago. (myth? That’s slightly paranormal, right? Okay, ignore me, I’m just indulging in wishful thinking here) Anyway, the result was a highly advanced society, Atlantis, that developed what would have been considered a miracle cure in the form of nanos that used blood to power themselves as well as to travel through the body making repairs. It gave me old vamps that hungered for blood (to support the nanos and repairs) but weren’t dead or cursed. WOOWEE! The stories just started to flow then, and yes, stories in the plural.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading the dead guy versions, I just can’t seem to write stories unless I believe it’s possible, and for me, dead guys walking the earth lusting after mortal blood . . . well, it gives me chills and makes me glance over my shoulder, but I don’t really believe it when I sit down and reason it out. So for me, the slightly fantastic, but maybe possible some day in the future, version of vamps are far more fun. But I know they’re not to everyone’s taste. I have received letters from disappointed readers looking for dark, dead vamps. Well, one or two anyway. I also receive letters from those who prefer the scientific vamps.

What about you? The dark, dead vamps? Or science based vamps that may be possible? Write a comment and state your preference and your names will all be put in a draw for a copy of The Rogue Hunter. The winner will be announced here on the evening of the 23rd. I'll send a copy to the winner as soon as I get them. (It’s not out till September 30th and I haven’t got my copies yet but I’m sure I will soon.) Good luck!

Lynsay website:
The Rogue Hunter - September 30 2008
Single White Vampire - November 25 2008
Devil of the Highlands - January 27 2009
The Immortal Hunter - March 31 2009

Saturday, September 20, 2008

New Review for Dark Harvest and Contest at

I found a new review for Dark Harvest today. This one from

One of the refreshing things about the Kismet Knight character is that she is not an action hero. No knives, guns, swords or other accoutrements. Just her sharp mind and an independent spirit. These traits of course manage to get her into and sometimes out of trouble. Also refreshing is her easy acceptance of gifts from her vampire lover Devereux such as her new office space in his ultra-modern building and a flourishing wardrobe. Kismet doesn’t angst over these things, but saves her energy to counter Devereux’s old-world controlling and protective nature. The dynamic between the two is quite engaging.

Hilburn populates her series with fascinating, extroverted characters. Every scene with tabloid reporter Maxie is a treat and Victoria, the witch has hidden depths that invite exploration and of course the absurd egomaniacal sex-obsessed Tom is a hoot. The vampires surrounding Devereux are an eclectic bunch as well, from the doorman Ankh to Porspero.

In Dark Harvest, Hallow the oldest vampire on the planet has come to Denver and is fixated on Kismet. He is a slayer, killing other vampires merely for his own amusement, and is thoroughly evil and assuredly insane. He can exert incredibly subtle mind control over humans and is a master at manipulation. In other words a really, really nasty bad guy.

Targeted by his psychic attentions, Kismet’s personality becomes fractured. A more base, primal version of Kismet emerges – an aggressively sexual and uninhibited alter ego. Her struggle with her loss of control, her inner dialogue, and her actions make for some of the best passages in the story.

The author succeeds in making Dark Harvest a very dark and a frequently violent story but perfectly counterbalances it with just the right touch of humour. There is plenty of action and the climactic confrontation with Hallow is explosive. Sex, murder, mystery, vampire powers and thrills and chills make Dark Harvest one of the most interesting urban fantasy/paranormal romance reads this year. Highly recommended.

Here's the whole page:

I'm dancing as I type this (quite a visual, I assure you).

Also, DeNita at has posted a contest for Dark Harvest:

Book two in Lynda Hilburn's Kismet Knight, Ph.D., Vampire Psychologist Series, DARK HARVEST, releases on October 1st (as is already available for preorder!) and to celebrate Lynda's giving away an autographed copy of the book that started her series - THE VAMPIRE SHRINK!

Denver Psychologist Kismet Knight counsels vampires. Her life changed forever when she discovered a preternatural underworld, met Devereux, the powerful leader of a vampire coven, and was forced to rethink her notions of "reality."

Still adjusting to her new role as an expert on all things paranormal, she schedules what she believes is simply another radio interview. She couldn't be more mistaken. Not only does the radio host behave very strangely, but an ominous, on-air call from day-walking vampire Lyren Hallow turns Kismet's world upside-down -- again.

Shortly thereafter, Maxie Westhaven, a tabloid newspaper reporter in search of a juicy story, befriends Kismet, leading her into a bizarre world of role players, lost souls and death. Enter Victoria Essex, Devereux's building manager and resident witch, who discloses a startling secret of her own.

Meanwhile, Luna, Devereux's hostile femme fatal personal assistant, recognizes a perfect opportunity to throw a wrench into her boss's blossoming relationship with the human psychologist, and, to complicate matters further, Kismet's old boyfriend, self-absorbed Psychologist Tom Radcliffe, shows up with his own outlandish request.

For details on how to enter, head over to - Contest ends on Halloween - Good luck!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Guest Blogger: Kathryn Smith

The winner of Kathryn's book is: AriesRain. Congratulations! Send me your snail mail info and I'll pass it along to Kathryn. Thanks to everyone for participating!

So, like other bloggers who have blogged before me, I found myself at a loss for a topic, even though Lynda gave me a nudge by suggesting I talk about something fun or interesting about the paranormal. The only problem with that is that there is just so much to discuss!

After much thought, however, I thought that I would talk about dreams and Nightmares, since both are such strong components of my romantic urban fantasy trilogy (for now!) called the Nightmare Chronicles.

In the first book, Dawn Riley discovers that she is a Nightmare, and that a lot of people -- one bad one in particular -- think the world would be much better without her in it.

I've always found dreams fascinating. Nightmares even more so. How incredible does your brain have to be to scare you so unbelievably well?

When I was younger I did a lot of lucid dreaming. Not by choice, mind you. It just seemed to happen. I had a friend try to coerce me into joining a sleep/dream study but I never got around to it. Frankly, the idea of someone peering into my head while I slept creeped me out.

Now imagine that there is an entire race of people who can literally get inside your dreams and influence them. That was the basis for the Nightmare Chronicles. What if dreams *aren't* just in your head?

But of course, that's fiction. Regardless, many studies have been done into dreams and their meaning. During my research I found a fabulous book on dream therapy that was so interesting! I wish I could have used more of it in the first two Nightmare books, but Dawn had her hands full with other things.

So what's with our fascination with dreams? Most experts believe that dreams are simply our sub-conscience's way of working out issues that we encounter in our daily lives. That sounds fabulous, but what the heck does my daily life have to do with watching a soap-opera star get decapitated while it rains strawberries? I'm pretty sure that's not an issue that I need to work out!

Of course this is explained by the fact that the human mind is terribly complex. I also think the human mind is on a serious acid trip when we turn off all the switches and power ourselves down for the night. In order to try to put some order to all of this, people have assigned specific meanings to different images we see in our dreams. For the record, this directly opposes the theory that the meaning of dreams lies within the dreamer her/himself -- a theory I personally think makes more sense than the idea that a raven means the same thing for everyone. However, I'm no expert, and sometimes the books get it right -- or at least they seem to.

Now, I'm probably putting some of you to sleep with all this rambling, so let's get to some fun stuff shall we? I'm going to share some of my worst and best dreams that I have actually had. Please feel free to dissect them, comment upon them, or run screaming for a crucifix. Also, feel free to share your own dreams for other people to interpret. Best interpretation (judged by yours truly) gets a signed copy of BEFORE I WAKE and a sneak peek at the cover for my next Brotherhood of the Blood novel, due out in Feb 09.

OK, here we go -- in no particular order:

1. Freddy Krueger is my father. He tries to kill me, but I'm not afraid. I take control of the dream, and Freddy is so proud that he gives me his trademark razor glove, with the full expectation that I'm going to take over the 'family' business. I take the glove and put it on. It feels good.

2. I'm a cop investigating a disappearance. I must be fairly high up the food chain because others are reporting to me. I'm scared that the girl I'm looking for has fallen victim to a serial killer, and I can't get one of my best officers on the radio. "Where is she?" I wonder out loud, growing more and more impatient with this cop. Then a man's voice comes over my radio, "She's dead, bitch."

3. Related to the dream above, I am called out to find a missing girl at a farm during the late fall months. It's cold and I'm moody. I go out to the barn, and when I open the huge sliding door I find the girl hanging by her feet skinned and gutted like a deer.

4. I am responsible for the death of a friend's child.

And now, since all of the above are pretty grusome and you probably think I'm nuts, here are a few on the lighter side:

5. The Nelson twins (remember them?) ask me out on a date -- with both of them at the same time! I go. ;-)

6. I'm at the opera with Colin Firth. He hits on me, but before anything happens he turns into my husband. (Big mystery to that one! lol)

7. John Stamos asks me to go shoe shopping. He needs new shoes for some gala he's attending and he doesn't like the guy at the shoe store. We go to a second hand store and find the perfect pair for $20. They're vintage. And, they're purple.

You may have noticed that I have a lot of celebrity dreams. It's true. But it's never fancy, "oh, I love you Kathryn" dreams. Usually I'm doing something totally mundane or I'm ditched for someone much more exciting.

Anyway, that's it. Have at me!


For more information about Kathryn and her books:

Kathryn's winner will be selected Friday evening.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Interview and Contest at Patricia's Vampire Notes

I'm being interviewed today at Patricia's Vampire Notes:

We're giving away a copy of THE VAMPIRE SHRINK and DARK HARVEST to a couple of commenters.

Stop by and say hello!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Guest Blogger: Mark Henry

The winner of Mark's book is: Katie! Congratulations, Katie. Send me your snail mail information and I'll pass it along to Mark. Thanks so much to everyone who participated.

When Lynda asked if I'd guest blog here at Paranormality, I said what I always say -- being the promo whore, I am -- of course and when? I never think about the consequence of accepting. The costs. The emotional toll of it all. No. I just jump at the chance for a new audience.

Then it comes time to actually think of something to write about. I'm at a loss. Did it have to be paranormal, necessarily? Do I even need to talk about writing? Maybe I could just write about my day. No. Too boring. Who'd want to read about me yelling at the puppy that pisses on the carpet or my lengthy daily trysts with my mistress, Facebook? No one, that's who.

So I came up with this . . .

Harvesting Childhood Fears for Fun and Profit!!!

Now before you get your panties in a bunch, I'm not talking about scaring the poor little children here (not that a few good scares isn't what they need), I'm talking about our own fears. Think about it.

I don't write about zombies because I want to touch people in a deep and spiritual way. I want to scare them . . . and gross them out and make them squirm. And laugh. I always want that. But when I sat down to write the first book, I needed to figure out what I could do to make my scares unique. How was I going to tap into people's fear in a new way?

Well, of course, I wasn’t, because, truthfully, there's nothing new under the sun or moon. It's all been done before somewhere, which I learned pretty quickly. Sentient zombie protagonists have an actual history (who'd a thunk it), but hey, at least there hadn't been any in urban fantasy.

What I could do was inject some real scares. Real because they came from my own childhood crap. I'm talking about the baggage. That irrational stuff we all carry with us, all the tiny abuses, the nightmares, and fear. This is where we're each unique.

For instance, when I was 5 or 6, I was trapped alone in an elevator at this old hotel on Westpoint, the U.S. Army Academy. There was no phone and nothing I could do but wait. These are the times where having an overactive imagination can be detrimental. I sat and stared at the trap door in the ceiling for what seemed like an hour. I imagined the roof crawling with rats and even conjured up the sound of thousands of tiny claws scrabbling on the metal.

Bingo. Creepy elevator scene.

Lots of people have fears of the dentist. Me? Optometrists. I'd always worry that he'd poke me in the eye, or that in some weird turn of events, the chart that he'd been writing on would fall loose and he'd have to scramble to pick up all the paper, windmilling his arms in the process and slicing my open eye with the thinnest of lacerations. No joke. That's the kind of crap I'd think about at the eye doctor.

Guess what? That particular fear shows up in the finale of my first book.

I could go on and on. Don't get me talking about finger webbing.

For you aspiring writers, don't imagine that all this stuff has to be generated internally. Poll your friends. Get some conversations going. Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club) utilizes his social groups for his material. Find out about their fears, do it over drinks when people are less inhibited. Stories tend to escalate and you'll get some pretty weird ideas.

Try it.

The trick is then to incorporate these fears into your character somehow. Despite sharing some fears and quirks, my character is not me, but at the same time she is. And she's my wife and my mother and probably bits of all the women in my life except she looks like Jennifer Connoly.

You'll have to figure out your own tricks and fears and all that, because in the end, writing is about introspection. Whether you're writing about yourself or inhabiting a fictional character, it's all rooted in some human experience.

Jeebus, that sounded hokey.

How about this? You tell me what scares you and I'll give one random commenter a signed copy of Happy Hour of the Damned. That's as good a way to rap up a rambling blog as any. The winner will be selected Tuesday evening.

Mark Henry's Happy Hour of the Damned, a zomedy with teeth and liquid eyeliner, is in stores now. The sequel, Road Trip of the Living Dead is coming in February 2009 from Kensington Books. Visit Mark at his blog ( or the League of Reluctant Adults (

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Day The Earth Stood Still

Whoa. I knew they were remaking my favorite space alien movie: the 1951, black and white, The Day the Earth Stood Still. I didn't give it much thought. I don't think perfection can be improved upon. Michael Rennie, who played the alien in the first version, was magnificent. Understated, suave, with wonderful, subtle facial expressions. I just saw the trailer for the new movie and it's really nothing like the original. I hope they don't screw things up too badly. The original was just so freakin' great it's almost CRIMINAL to try to reproduce it.

Klaatu, barata, nikto (or however you spell it)

I'll be so pissed if they turn a classic film into what passes for movies today. Keanu Reeves can be good in very specific roles. And he's cute. But that might not be enough. What was great about the original actor was he actually had acting depth, so he didn't need to do a lot in order for us to get the drift that still waters run deep.
Of course, I'll go see the new movie. But I might have to heave my popcorn box at the screen. We'll see.
Maybe Klaatu will show up again soon and throw some cold water on all the political nonsense going on this year.

Here's a clip of the original (but you really need to rent it and watch the whole thing. The main female character turns out to have a very important role.), followed by the new version. (The old clip has a few seconds of blank screen at the beginning. I don't know why.)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Darque Reviews: Dark Harvest review and interview

Many thanks to marvelous Kimberly of Darque Reviews for running a review and interview of me:

Monday, September 08, 2008

Guest Blogger: Jeanne Stein

The winner of Jeanne's book and magnets is: Ruth Schaller! Congrats, Ruth. Send me your snail mail info and I'll pass it along to Jeanne. Thanks so much to everyone for participating.

Urban Fantasy

Thank you, Lynda, for inviting me to post here. I just got back from DragonCon -- a four-day love fest for all things that go bump in the night. In both participating in panels and listening in the audience, I was struck once again by how many aspiring writers out there have questions about Urban Fantasy. The main one is: How do you write it?

So, for all you aspiring writers, here’s my take on the subject.

First, we start with some rules.

I know, I know. I hate it when someone says there are “rules” to writing -- And of course, for every rule we set there will be an exception that works perfectly well. But the first rules I’m setting forth here apply to ALL writing. They are basic, maybe too obvious, but worth mentioning.

They are Robert Heinlein’s Five Rules:

Heinlein (1907-1988) was one of the first authors of bestselling, novel-length science fiction. He was also one of the first to break into mainstream markets and is often called the “dean of science fiction writers.” He freely gave away his five rules because he said almost no one would follow them -- hence he was not afraid of competition. What are they?

1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you start.
3. Your must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.
4. You must put your story on the market.
5. You must keep it on the market until it has sold.

Did I mention they were obvious?

Let’s start with rule one. How many people do you know that have either started a novel or said that they plan to write one “someday?” They are not writers. A writer puts his butt in the chair everyday -- even if it’s fifteen minutes at lunchtime, during the baby’s nap or an hour before bedtime. If you are serious about writing, you will make time.

Rule two -- another no-brainer. Yet, there are countless unfinished manuscripts floating around waiting for the magic moment when their authors find time to finish them. Refer to Rule one.

Rule three -- This does not mean NEVER rewrite. It means don’t keep REwriting Chapter One because you want to make it perfect. If you have a critique group, let them offer suggestions as you go along, but forge ahead. Don’t get hung up on one sentence or page or chapter. When the manuscript is finished and you get an editor or agent, they will tell you what more needs to be done.

Rule four -- May be the hardest rule of all. It’s scary to launch your baby on the world, but you have to. Research markets, research agents and editors, network at conventions. Get it out there.

Rule five -- I take it back. This may be the hardest rule. If you’re lucky, you’ll strike gold right out of the box. If not, take whatever comfort you can from knowing that authors from J. K. Rowling to Stephen King have faced rejection. Many rejections. It’s different when it happens to you. It’s personal and it hurts, especially if it comes in a form letter. On the other hand, sometimes you receive a real letter offering advice and extending an offer to reread the manuscript after you make whatever rewrites are suggested. This is a very GOOD rejection letter. It means you’re on the right track.

Okay, those are Heinlein’s rules. Here are some of my own:

1. You want to write UF -- read it. To grab an audience, you need to know what it wants.

2. Now that you know what it wants, write for that audience.

3. Learn about conflict -- creating it, resolving it.

4. Structure your story for maximum impact.

5. Beginnings and endings are most important -- learn to make them so good, your readers will not be able to put the book down once they start and disappointed when they get to the end because they want more.

As for rules one and two, I know the popular conception is that since it often takes two years for a book to go from acceptance by a publisher to release, if you write what’s hot in the market NOW, by the time your book is released, the wave has passed. Perhaps. On the other hand, if you write the book you WANT to write, if it’s well written and compelling, it doesn’t matter what’s “hot” in the market. Well-written stories sell.

Rules three and four -- Dwight Swain in his book Techniques of the Selling Writer showed us how to create conflict: with the scene. He told us what each scene should contain: goal, conflict, disaster. What does this mean? The easiest way to explain it is to show it. Our protag for this simple example is a vampire. She is after a potion that is believed to hold the secret to regaining her mortality, something she desperately wants. She knows where it is (goal). She gets there. The potion is guarded by a supernatural determined to keep it from her (conflict). They fight. She wins. When she opens the bottle, it’s empty (disaster.)

Every chapter in your book should be constructed in such a way that the reader has to keep turning the pages -- has to find out what happens next. If you do that, your story has maximum impact.

Beginnings -- I can’t emphasize how important the opening paragraph of your book must be. In fact, if you’re submitting a manuscript, let me pass on what I’ve heard from EVERY editor and agent -- if the first paragraph doesn’t grab their attention, they will read no further.

The first paragraph.

How do you make that paragraph an attention grabber? Drop your protagonist in the middle of the action. If she’s human, she’s being chased by demon bad guys. If she’s paranormal, demon bad guys are chasing her.

I know I’ve covered a lot in a very abbreviated way. But honestly, writing is not complicated. It’s not mysterious. It’s not impossible. The road to publication takes dedication, perseverance, hard work. But the rewards are well worth the effort.

So: here’s my question for a copy of Legacy and a set of book cover magnets: What is the main feature of Urban Fantasy that distinguishes it from paranormal/romance? Remember when I said if you want to write it, you have to read it? Here’s your chance to prove you’re doing your homework!

Jeanne Stein



Leave a comment here to enter Jeanne's giveaway. The winner will be chosen Tuesday evening.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Guest Blogger: Kassie Burns

The winner of Kassie's download is: Connie Northrup! Congrats Connie. Send me your email info and I'll pass it along to Kassie. Thanks to everyone for participating. Stay tuned . . .

A Touch of Paranormal

You'll find a lot of paranormal books on the shelves that deal with a hero or heroine who lives in two worlds. This isn't really that surprising when you consider that the authors who wrote them are well practiced at living in two worlds themselves, the world of so-called reality and the world of the imagination.

My own experience with living in two worlds started at birth. I'm half Swiss and half Irish, a strange combination, as my father observed. The Swiss are quite the practical race (you have to be to survive in those mountains), and the Irish are probably the greatest paranormal storytellers of all time. So naturally I ended up as a journalist (writing only the truth, please) who tells paranormal stories on the side.

My sister apparently got a bigger dose of Irish genes than I did, and my paranormal journey started with her. She saw "things that go bump in the night," and they were usually hiding under my bed! It gave me some bad childhood dreams. She also had impressive psychic abilities. There was a game show on TV where they spun a wheel and a number came up, and she would always announce the correct number before the wheel stopped. If only we could have gotten her on that show!

When I went off to college, I discovered that our dorm was located across the street from a cemetery. That might explain the ghost that showed up in our room. Or maybe it was because my roommate Sharon was a full-blown medium who could talk to the dead and see spirits in mirrors. (I'm a little leery of looking too deeply into a mirror to this day).

Sharon was the one who told me I was psychic. I didn't want to believe it, although I saw a lot of strange things happen when I was with her. Among her various talents, she could touch any object, pick up on the energy, and tell you all about who'd owned it. I never got quite that far, but she did teach me how to spread out a deck of cards, face side down, feel the vibrations, and pluck out the very card someone else would ask for.

After college, I got fairly busy with the real world and took a vacation from the paranormal, but it found me again when I developed an interest in tarot cards. That led me on to a fascination with astrology. The stars were my passionate hobby for a number of years. I started to post in various astrology groups online, answering questions, and even developed a following of people who wanted me to do their charts for them.

Of course, there are many astrologers who treat it like a science, but my own belief is that astrology is another form of divination, like tarot cards, full of symbols that speak to the inner psychic awareness of the reader -- or astrologer. Looking into a chart is rather like looking into someone's soul and is an awesome responsibility. It got me to thinking about all the other powers and responsibilities that come with a psychic ability, and that got me to writing.

My first paranormal story is called Gabriel's Gift, and it's about an alien who comes to Earth and uses his psychic abilities to send visions into a young woman's mind, visions that he uses to seduce her.

Next, I wrote about the Eight of Cups for the tarot card series put out by Extasy Books. I called that one Dreams of Desire. It's about a heroine who has the ability to dream the future, and shape existence itself with her thoughts. But will this gift truly satisfy her deepest needs?

Last year, I combined my love of the paranormal and SF by writing Starbound for Samhain Publishing. When a group of human colonists journey into the depths of space on the Starbound, they find their voyage interrupted by aliens of pure energy who can possess their bodies, rather like the demons of legend.

And just this summer, I've written two paranormal stories for Changeling Press. One is called Defiant Love. The heroine in this tale can hear the banshee's cry. Since banshees cry to announce an approaching death, that's not a gift you really want to have -- unless, like the heroine, you think you can figure out a way to save the doomed.

And, of course, every paranormal author needs to write a vampire story at some point. In Night Heat, my vampire stalks the shores of ancient Europe a thousand years from now, and a immortal visitor from the stars comes seeking him, hoping to find release from her endless life.

When I first became aware of the paranormal at such a young age, I thought it was cool. Later, after seeing some of the things these powers can do, I became more interested in the question of how paranormal abilities can be used. If you can see the future, can you stop it? If you can live forever, can you still find a purpose in life?

Do you have a paranormal ability and how do you use it?


Kassie Burns writes erotic SF and paranormal romances. Anyone interested in learning more can find her online at: and
To enter the giveaway for a download of Kassie's book, Starbound, answer her question here. Winner will be selected Friday evening.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Guest Blogger: Sara Reinke

The winner of Sara's book is Dina! Congratulations, Dina. If you'd like to give me your snail mail info, I'll pass it along to Sara! Thanks to everyone for participating. Stay tuned . . .

I'm frequently asked why I think vampire fiction is so popular these days, and as someone who writes it, I have to say in all honesty that I haven't the foggest idea. It's easy to say that it's because human beings have always had a dark and sensual fascination with those of the vampiric persuasion. There's just something inherently sexy about a creature that draws blood by placing its mouth on the neck -- one of the body's most powerful erogenous areas.

Some might suggest that it's the idea of absolute surrender that makes vampires so appealing. They can control our minds, manipulate our emotions, make us give in to their every whim and desire without protest or struggle. They're dominating but not necessarily demanding; when they feed, it is often presented as an unforced and intimate act rather than something violent or invasive -- almost like lovemaking.

You could also argue that the idea of transcending death -- the greatest unknown of them all -- and being able to live forever, as vampires often are portrayed, is a basic, long-standing desire of the human race. We're intimidated by our own mortality and from our very earliest recorded civilizations have developed elaborate mythos to try and explain away its mysteries, to find a way to escape its inevitability. Is our love affair with vampires merely an extension of this primitive and deep-seeded wish?

Or maybe it boils down to nothing more complicated than the fact that we love a bad boy and vampires -- with their smouldering good looks, mesmerizing stares and penchants for neck-nibbling -- are the all-time ultimate examples.

Whatever the reason, no matter the appeal, it's clear that people today love vampires. From the teen angst of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight books to the erotic angst of J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood, readers of all ages have embraced these legendary bloodsuckers with open, eager arms. Part of the fun comes from discovering all of the ways that an author can interpret the tried and true legends synonymous with traditional vampire lore. Or perhaps it comes from finding all of the new and exciting twists that an individual author can give his or her vampire species to completely distinguish them from any other.

So while I don't know why vampire fiction is popular today, I'm sure glad that it is. In my own experience writing it, I've dreamed up some pretty fascinating characters, and in sharing with them with others, I've had the pleasure of meeting some new and wonderful friends through my readers. And given that vampire stories have entertained, frightened and fascinated us for countless centuries, I for one don't think their popularity is going to fade anytime soon; that, like these legendary creatures themselves, vampire stories will be around eternally.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hailed by Romantic Times magazine as "definitely an author to watch," Sara Reinke has interpreted vampire legends and lore in her own unique way in The Brethren Series. The first book, Dark Thirst, called "a fascinating and unique romance" by Romantic Times is available now in mass-market paperback from Zebra Books for only $3.99. The sequel, Dark Hunger, which NY Times best-selling author Lara Adrian calls "a paranormal treat to be savored," will hit bookstores on September 2 for only $4.99. Find out more about Sara and The Brethren Series at


Sara will give away a signed copy of her first book to one person who asks her a question here. Winner will be posted Tuesday evening.