Sunday, November 29, 2009

Guest Blogger: Helen Scott Taylor

Helen's winner is: Margay! Congrats, Margay. Send me your contact info and I'll pass it along to Helen. Thanks to everyone who participated.
Thank you to Lynda for having me as a guest on your blog today.

My favorite part of writing fantasy or paranormal stories is the world building, layering on the details that bring a fantasy world to life in my mind as clearly as a real place. For the second book in my Magic Knot Fairies series, I chose the small country called Wales in the United Kingdom as the setting for much of the story. Like most of Britain, Wales has a rich heritage of Celtic myth and legend.

All the pantheons of ancient gods—the Romans, Greeks, Norse and Celtic—contain a god who rules over the Underworld. In the myths of Wales, the Underworld is controlled by the Welsh Fairy King, Gwyn ap Nudd. He rules the Tylwyth Teg who are tall blond-haired fairies with a habit of stealing away mortal children.

In The Phoenix Charm, the Tylwyth Teg are my villains who trap my hero Michael O’Connor’s little nephew. He has to travel to Wales to recover the child and in the process comes face to face with a strange fairy king who is not what he seems.

In my fantasy romance series, I take my characters to Ireland in The Magic Knot, to Wales in The Phoenix Charm, and in the third book, The Ruby Kiss, due out in January 2011, my hero and heroine get tangled up in the machinations of the Seelie and Unseelie Scottish Fairy Courts.

For a chance to win a signed copy of either The Magic Knot or The Phoenix Charm, please leave me a comment and tell me which is your favorite mythical race or creature.

The Phoenix Charm

He’s Pure Temptation.
Cordelia has sworn she’ll abstain from looking into Michael’s future—particularly when the image in the gilded smoke of her divination mirror shows him half naked. Yet she can’t resist watching the sexy rascal slowly running his hand down his ribs, over his abdomen, flicking open the button on his jeans with a little flourish like a magician performing a trick.

She’s Trying To Resist.
Respectable wise woman Cordelia restrains her secret water nymph sensuality with the Celtic symbols painted on her skin. But Michael’s powerful fairy glamour leaves her breathless, off balance, struggling for control. When Gwyn ap Nudd, the Welsh King of the Underworld, steals away Michael’s infant nephew, Cordelia must work with him to save the child. But how can she trust her instincts with Michael tempting her to explore the hidden elemental depths of her nature and insisting that she believe in the power of…The Phoenix Charm.

To read an excerpt go to
Helen's winner will be selected and posted on Tuesday evening. Stop back by to see if you've won.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

My son and I had Thanksgiving dinner up at a buffet at the hotel in Estes Park that inspired Stephen King to write THE SHINING: The Stanley Hotel. It was lovely. Great food, wonderful company, excellent champagne! Good thing I wore elastic-waist pants! Happy holidays, all.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Guest Blogger: Jeanne Barrack

The winner of Jeanne's book is: s7anna! Congratulations! I'll send your info along to Jeanne. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Back to Ireland

Here, for the first time, is the entire saga of my love affair with Ireland. I've shared bits and pieces at different places, but since the story has a strong touch of the paranormal, I felt Paranormality would be the perfect place to tell the full tale.

Music has always been an integral part of my life. In my day job, I'm a music therapist and singer. My mother teased me that I could sing an entire song by the time I was three years old and indeed, my folks had an old 45rpm record (yes, I'm that old!) made in one of those recording booths at Coney Island in Brooklyn of me and my mother singing a ballad from the fifties. You can hear me sing every word on key with her in my childish voice. My mother also shared that even before I was born, I had a connection with Ireland. When she was pregnant, her neighbor, a recent immigrant from Ireland, placed her hand on my mom's bulging belly and predicted that I'd be born looking like a little Irish lass with big blue eyes and a little turned up nose. (I did. Folks were convinced I was switched at birth.) I was born in May and my birthstone is the emerald -- like the "Emerald Isle". And, then, my mom used to sing "An Irish Lullaby" to me during and after her pregnancy.

So I was primed to fall under Ireland's spell.

My parents bought me a transistor radio for my thirteenth birthday and I now could listen to whatever stations I wanted without my older brother switching the stations! During the sixties, folk music was very popular and there was a station in New York that carried mostly this kind of music.

One day I heard a song that immediately caught my attention. The song was "Singing Bird" performed by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. As I heard the soft sounds of their beautiful Irish accents and the lilting and haunting melody, I fell in love. The song called to me as if I had heard it before in another place and time.

I had to hear more. I had to learn more about the place from where this song came. I had to learn more songs. As I studied Irish literature, culture, history, language and of course, music, I felt more and more as if Ireland had been my home in some other life. The connection continued. I performed Irish folk songs all over NYC and environs in pubs, winning medals at fleadhanna cheoil (Irish music competitions) and singing at weddings and special events.

One time I performed at a St. Patrick's Day party in Manhattan sponsored by the English Speaking Union, a group that supports the teaching of the English language in countries around the world. As part of the event, they showed a travel film about Ireland. Each time the scene changed I knew before the narrator spoke where the scene took place. I'm not talking about Blarney Castle or Dublin City, but the hidden byways and off the beaten path places. It was as though I had wandered those roads before.

Fast forward to my honeymoon -- in Ireland, of course. For two magical weeks we put on over 1600 miles traveling from the northernmost tip of western Ireland in Donegal to a weekend in Dublin City. And we never got lost once even though some of the roads were little more than unpaved cow paths. I knew every inch of the miles we traveled. I felt like I was coming home.

We took over two hundred pictures along the way.

And everywhere we went I experienced some strange or magical event. All the places we visited were mentioned in either Irish songs or poetry. We clambered through ruins and towers, castles and cathedrals, Bronze Age forts and St. Patrick's Mountain (Croagh Padraig) -- even cemeteries. We visited the gravesite of William Butler Yeats, one of Ireland's most famous poets. Every place was welcoming except this one old cemetery where members of the English landed gentry were buried. I could feel the presence of ancient ghosts and somehow knew we weren't wanted. I shrugged it off even though my husband also had the same feeling.

Our next stop that day was at a Georgian mansion lived in at one time, by a rich British family. Even Queen Victoria had visited there. I watched from the second floor as my husband stood at the bottom of the double stairway taking a picture of a beautiful statue on the landing above him. Suddenly, as if he were moving in slow motion, I saw him turn around and whip open the back of the camera and tear out the roll of film from inside, exposing the pictures and ruining every one on the roll. And he stood there, immobile while I raced down the stairs to him.

"What happened? Why did you do that?"

He looked at me and I still remember his answer that stunned me.

"I took a picture and when I started to wind the film, it caught. I knew what I should do -- go into a darkened room and try to save the picture by manually advancing the film -- but suddenly I felt as though I didn't have control, like someone else was moving my hands and forcing me to open the camera and get rid of the film. I'm sorry."

On that roll were pictures of the cemetery.

Of all the pictures we took, that was the only roll that was ruined.

There were other unusual incidents, but that one was so perhaps the most weird.

We came home with my love for Ireland reinforced by our time there. Seeing and hearing and stepping on Irish soil was truly like coming home for me. All of my stories with Liquid Silver Books are Irish themed. I have a wip about a very special leannan sidhe coming out next year. My first book about Ireland was
A Song of the Sidhe

Here's the blurb: The place: Ireland, a long, long time ago when the Sidhe walked among mortals Donal Bawn was the most handsome man in all of Tipperary with a voice that could lure the birds from the trees. But that all changed when he angered Ogma, High King of the Tipperary Sidhe. Doomed to wander as a hunchback with a voice as thin as a reed, Donal keeps to the forests away from human companionship until one day he hears a melodious female voice singing a fragmented tune over and over. Ceoleen, a beautiful female of the Galway Sidhe has also been cursed for her vanity and foolhardiness. Blinded and exiled to a fairy ring deep in the woods, she can only repeat a broken phrase of music until that fated day when Donal finishes the song for her. But their curses are only partially broken. It will take a great deal more than music to decide their fate. Will their love be strong enough to finally free them?

You can read an excerpt at this link:
My other Irish stories are The Shimmering Flame and A Perfect Symmetry, both part of LSB's Terran Realm world.

Thank you so much, Lynda for having me here today.


Jeanne will give away a download of A Song of the Sidhe to one commenter. The winner will be selected and posted on Tuesday evening. Stop back by to see if you won!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Guest Blogger: J L Wilson

The winner of JL's book is: Susan L! Congrats, Susan. Give me your contact info and I'll pass it along to JL. Thanks to everyone who participated.
Thanks to Lynda Hilburn for welcoming me to blog today. I'm here to talk about paranormal politics.

Euww, I hear you say. Politics? Yep. I wrote my series (The New Human Intercession) because I was so fed up with politics, governments, and social nonsense in the world today. I thought, 'hmm. What if people were on another planet, and they had paranormal talents, and they formed a government . . . How would it be structured?' What if we had a big 'do-over' and could try to get it right this time?

Oh, that had its appeal to me. Think about it -- a world full of paranormal-talented people. What could we do with that? So I took some ideas that have been rattling around in my brain and came up with the planet Delmorna, which is run by a triad of rulers, one from each of the families that settled the planet (Delaney, Moreno, and Nance). All people on the planet have a mix of paranormal talents (telepathy, telekinesis, etc.) and a rare few have the ability to Truthsense: to know when someone is lying. That eliminated a lot of social ills but as I explored further, it created new ones, intriguing ones.

I have a love of klutzy heroines, so I created Isbel, who's really sort of a nerd. She discovers a secret that puts the government at risk -- the government run by her savvy father & her devious sister, Dru. Cyrus Durant is sent in as an undercover cop to spy on her and determine if she's a traitor or not. He's assigned to be her Paid Male companion during a research holiday. The only problem is, he's a cloned human and has never slept with a woman before. Deep hypnosis training can only help so much when push comes to shove, so to speak ...

As their story evolved, the story of the planet evolved. Why were these people there? Where did they come from? Were they exiled there -- why? Cyrus is a clone, but who served as his clone 'base' -- what if it wasn't someone from that planet, but from Earth -- their original home? And what would happen if ancestral memory ('genetic memory') came into play? What if those old Earth genes somehow mutated and ...

That led me to create a history for those people, a history that ties in to a series I'm currently working on set here on Earth. I decided to elaborate on how those paranormal talents got started and how they became so well trained on Delmorna. And that led to two more books in this series, books that will address the politics of cloning, the morality of using clones for 'dirty' jobs, and what it means to be 'human'. The first book, "Human Touch", sets Isbel and Cyrus on their journey. "Living Proof" (releasing in 2010) pits Isbel's sister Dru against Jak Exo, a charismatic leader. And "Leap of Faith" (releasing in 2011) brings them all together to try to save their people from civil war.

I think this is why I love being an author. I get to take an idea that intrigues me, spin it and play with it, and finally spin out something that others want to read. And often that 'intriguing idea' is directly based on something that annoys me and how I could 'solve it' with fiction. So that's why I write about the overthrow of governments, the death of annoying people (in my mystery stories), the need for second chances (in my reincarnation series) or how to get two totally unsuited people together (in my romantic suspense books). It is SO much fun and satisfying to address that challenge and solve it...even if it's only in fiction!

JL will give away a copy of her book to one commenter. The winner will be selected and posted on Tuesday evening. Stop back by to see if you won!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Guest Blogger: Christian Saunders

The winner of Christian's pdf copy of her book is: Rosie. Congrats, Rosie. Contact me with your email address and I'll pass it along to Christian. Thanks, everyone!

Being an alien . . .

is definitely conducive to producing horror fiction. It must be the isolation, the inescapable notion that you are fundamentally, intrinsically different to those around you. And its not like you can blend in very easily – I am not a shape-shifter who can change his appearance at will, I am doomed to exist in my current form until the day I die. Shape-shifting aliens probably only exist in Hollywood (1).

I look different, I stand out in a crowd. I shock people. When I show myself in public people stop and stare at me in the street or try to take my picture. Some politely ask my permission, others try to do it when they think you are not looking. Surely that should be a violation of privacy laws. I worry that one day my image will wind up on the cover of a magazine.

Sometimes I make children cry. I don't do it intentionally, but the moment they see me a shadow of confusion falls across their little faces, then their eyes open wide in terror and they scream uncontrollably whilst their mothers try to soothe them. I feel bad about that, but what can I do? If I reach out a hand in friendship the children scream even louder.

I am what I am, I cannot change my appearance. Sadly, that is beyond my powers.

Most of the attention we aliens generate is down to plain old fascination. Despite the great strides made in recent years many of the people here have never seen an actual alien live in the flesh before. In the major cities it is much better. People are altogether more tolerant. Most big cities in the world are basically the same; they are melting pots which thrive on diversity. In a modern city with a population of several million-plus, every race colour and creed will be adequately represented and no matter what you look like or where you are from, the chances are that the natives will have seen your ilk before.

But in the provinces and rural areas we are few and far between, and this is where we do the most psychological damage. If an alien walks down a street in a small countryside village people will follow behind him to see what he does, shout or even throw things at him. It's a bit like that scene towards the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, when there are just a few humans left amongst the heaving throngs of aliens. They try to melt into the crowd, but then they are recognized and all hell breaks loose...

I live in a fair-sized city and in truth most people I meet here are very warm and friendly, just extremely curious. Every day I am forced into answering a barrage of questions: Where are you from? What do you eat? What are you doing here?

In some cases, however, there is a barely concealed air of hostility or resentment. A vocal minority don't want aliens of any description living in their country because they think it dilutes their national identity, which is fair enough I guess.

On my more sensitive days I feel like an escaped circus freak. Despite what people may think, even aliens have feelings. Sometimes I just want to blend in, I don't want to be different. I want to be able to walk to a shop and buy a newspaper like a normal person. A small part of me craves anonymity. Bizarrely, sometimes I surrender to a fundamental desire to be accepted and try to act like the local people. I eat the same food, as unpalatable as much of it is, and I copy their fashion sense with varying degrees of success.

But I can't really complain. I did my research before I came and I knew what to expect when I accepted this assignment. I was not misled or hoodwinked by anybody. My primary objective is to inform and educate the masses, but in my spare time I write stories. My situation inspires creativity, it urges me to look at things from different angles and new perspectives. I have always written stories, even as a fledgling, and maybe it says something about my psyche that I have never written about sugar, spice, or anything nice.

Oh yes, being an alien is definitely conducive to producing horror fiction.

It also has a lot to do with time, that most precious of commodities. In my other world, my other life, I was always too busy doing other things to devote much time to the craft. I had many friends, and there were always a lot of distractions. Here, I don't have many friends and my job is not too demanding so I find myself in the position of having a surplus of spare time. For that I am truly grateful.

Of course, I'm not a real, bona fide alien from another planet or solar system, with tentacles and a death ray. If I was, my marketability would soar. I'm only an alien in the eyes of the Chinese, a fact that is reinforced every time I visit an airport or government building and have to follow the signs saying 'ALIEN'S: THIS WAY...'

Sometimes I do actually feel like an alien, no matter how warm and friendly Chinese people are I will always be laowai; a foreigner, an outsider. Even though I've been here for two years now I still know very little of the culture, and even less of the language. The results of five thousand years of continuous documented history is not the kind of thing you pick up overnight. Most of the time I suffer from a strange sense of disconnection, almost as if I am looking out through someone else's eyes.

Maybe the eyes of a real alien. So if the are any out there and they do, by chance, read this, I sympathise...

(1): I say 'probably' because if there were shape-shifting aliens among us who can can change their appearance at will, we wouldn't know about it.

Contact Christian Saunders at:


Christian will give away a pdf of her book to one commenter. Stop back by on Thursday evening to see if you've won.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Guest Blogger: Julie Kenner

Julie's winner is: Lori T! Congrats, Lori. Send me your contact info and I'll pass it along to Julie. Thanks to everyone who participated.
Magic, magic all around…..

I love being a writer, partly because I get to be so many different things. For example, in my books (on shelves and upcoming), I’ve been a cat, a spy, a demon hunter (different demon hunters, actually), a vampire, a succubus, a werewolf, a demon, a psychic, a fireman, a bookstore owner, a werecat, a ferret, a codebreaker, a spy, a film producer, a superhero, and even a mom.

One thing you might notice is that my books often have paranormal elements, which is great for me because the paranormal market has really taken off, and that’s the natural direction of my imagination. There was actually a time (in relatively recent memory) when paranormal books weren’t nearly as hot. But I was always confident that couldn’t last. Why? Because paranormal stories strike a chord in people.

Let's take a walk down memory lane, shall we, and I'll show you what I mean.

Think about all the stuff that’s been out there in pop culture for years:

Dark Shadows -- this one's a bit before my time, but even I can't miss the allure of Barnabus.
My Favorite Martian
Lost In Space
Star Trek (and the 8 bazillion sequels and spin offs it spawned and still spawns)
I Dream of Jeannie -- anyone who's read my lighter stuff can probably tell that I was weaned on Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. In fact, I had it so bad that I used to go to flea markets with my mom and check out the old bottles, convinced that one of them would have a genie.
Battlestar Galactica
Star Wars
Close Encounters
It's a Wonderful Life
Miracle on 34th St.
Salem's Lot
Star Man
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Invasion of the Body Snatchers,
Rosemary’s Baby
X Files
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
And the list goes on and on.

Those stories cover the gamut. We've got pure fantasy, future worlds, magic, demons, vampires, immortals ... all inbred as part of our pop culture now.

So where were all these wonderful paranormal ideas coming from? Well, they come from the very beginnings of storytelling. Mythology, Homer, the Brothers Grimm.

The paranormal is nothing new.

In fact, have you every thought about how much classic children's fiction is fantasy or paranormal?

The Chronicles of Narnia
The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings
Alice in Wonderland
A Wrinkle in Time
Half Magic
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Peter Pan
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Pretty much all the fairy tales

So what does that mean? Fantasy -- make-believe -- is a huge part of childhood. And it's spilled over into television and film and books. It's grown up with us, and its woven right in there as part of pop culture. No, not even pop cultures. Culture.

And, yes, maybe there was a period when the books weren’t a direct reflection of these paranormal worlds, but I have a thesis. I think that paranormal is inherent genre fiction, if not all of fiction. Heck, that it’s inherent in writing itself. Authors, after all, are creators. And if that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.

Thomas Carlyle said--All that mankind has done, thought, gained or been: it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books.

"Lying like magic" ... and authors put those thoughts and deeds into the books, and make a little magic of our own.

Visit Julie at her website,, where you can learn more about her books, and even listen to her current release, TAINTED, in podcast format!


Julie will give away a copy of one of her books to a commenter. The winner will be selected and posted on Tuesday evening. Stop back by to see if you won.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Guest Blogger: Danielle Ackley-McPhail

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

Put A Little Magic Into It

The world is full of wonder. Sometimes we forget about that. Everything that happens is a little bit of magic or miracle. As writers, particularly paranormal writers, we need to focus on that.

One of my favorite things is to take an event…just a normal event, and put a twist to it. Think what would make it different. Just an early example of this, in my eighth grade English class we had to write a story. My story was about the splendor of a moonrise, so overlooked and under appreciated in comparison to the sunrise. Now that is unusual in itself.

My narrarator…a rubber band dropped in a garden.
What can I say; I’ve always been odd that way.

Writers are in a unique position where they get to reorder the readers’ perception of the world. Give them rules and a framework for understanding and you can do anything you imagine. One way to do this is to create a social structure of knowledge for your characters. Think out the hows and whys and what-fors. Just remember, even with fantasy, logic has to be in there somewhere, or you better be prepared to explain why it isn’t. Once you have that in place you can play in the new reality you’ve created exploring character dynamics and heroic challenges with your imagination the guiding force. Nothing to hold you back but yourself. This can be a lot of work, but also a lot of fun for the author. Kind of like the first time you received a box of crayons…at first you were a two-year-old Jackson Pollock, then as you gained control and understanding a recognizable order began to take shape. First squiggles corresponded with the rough area on the page they belonged, then a little while later you understood the concept of coloring within the lines, until ultimately, you learned the joy of telling the lines to take a flying leap and made your own image.

In the speculative genres, we have no lines we do not impose ourselves.

One of the ways I like to explore this open field is to take the tropes everyone is familiar with and re-arrange them. Currently I’m playing in the faerie realm, just as an example. My faeries are bikers. Now, I know most people will say “What the heck?” But my bikers are modeled on the concept of faeries that kept generations of villagers leaving offerings on their hearths and hanging scissors over their cradles. Old World faeries had teeth…and worse. They were tough and harsh and malevolent. They were warriors. I mingled a bit of the old-world with the new, channeled magic into wings of energy and introduced the peculiar nature of the biker culture, complete with legends of their own, to revitalize the Disney-fied fae.

There is so much of world myth that has been lost to common knowledge, but not lost to time. A little bit of exploring on the internet or at your local library and you can find so many forgotten treasures to revamp your paranormal playground.

A good example of this are vampires. Yes, everyone has their own concept…from the Anita Blake novels to Sookie Stackhouse and beyond. But how much of what you read is made up from whole-cloth and how much is based on an actual existing myth? You would be surprise about how much everyone “knows” about vampires just from the Stoker novel is unsubstantiated by the actual legends found in nearly every culture. I have done research on vampires around the world for a current—unconventional—vampire novel I am working on and discovered only one legend that actually credits their version of vampires with not being able to go into the sun. If you want to explore an overdone subgenre do a little research, draw in uncommon knowledge about the common populous of our paranormal world…and if there is something so entrenched the readership will be in an uproar if you try and mess with it…rearrange what you cannot change.

One of my favorite things to do is find or devise an unanticipated reason for the assumptions everyone makes about a myth cycle. Just as an example, most elf or faerie fiction will claim that these creatures covet human young because they do not have many of their own, and why don’t they have many of their own? It is popular belief that it is because immortal (or near immortal) beings do not have the same need…compulsion…to reproduce so energetically. Since they live so long they don’t need to worry about replacing themselves before it is too late…basically. For me, I wanted a different reason, one that had at least the illusion of being grounded in the existing mythology. My elves rarely have young because the Irish believe in reincarnation, but they believe that you come back as your descendents. With that in mind, in my novels, Yesterday’s Dreams and Tomorrow’s Memories, which are based on Irish mythology, the elves are incapable of having young unless one of them dies…because that frees up the soul to return. Finite amount of souls, death equals birth. Some implication that there is a mythological basis.

I like to play that way. There is so much that you can do out of your own imagination or by exploring the underutilized aspects of existing mythology that can breathe new life into the paranormal genre, setting your work apart from the cookie cutter books that invariably begin to surface with the popularity of any particular fantasy denizen.

Play, have fun, don’t tie yourself down to what everyone expects. Above all, create.
Danielle will give away copies of her ebooks to one commenter. Her winner will be selected and posted on Tuesday evening. Stop back by to see if you've won.