30 June 2007

The Paranormal and Romance: Perfect Together

I was reading some of the older posts about ghosts the other day and a memory came back to me. A memory of my first romantic fantasy.

I had to be about ten or eleven…and I had a fantasy about a ghost boy who was a character in an ABC “After School Special” (remember those?). It was called "The Red Room Riddle". All I can recall was that the ghost boy had beautiful blond curly hair and was trapped in the red room inside of an old mansion.

Don’t remember exactly how I turned that into a romance in my little elementary brain, but do remember having them.

And that made me wonder why some of us love our paranormals and other romance readers just shake their head. Obviously even as a young reader, paranormal stories appealed to me the same as it did to the millions who read similar books. But for some reason I took it step further and wanted my stories to have not only paranormal/fantasy elements but romance, too.

Why does paranormal and romance seem like such a natural fit to some of us and not to others? Have you ever tried to explain the appeal of the paranormal to others who don’t read them? I have one relative whose voice drips with sarcasm every time she mentions “a werewolf romance”…in a way that makes it seem like the craziest thing in the world. Never mind telling her that millions of readers like to read about vampires and werewolves finding true love.

Monsters in love. Monsters redeemed and forgiven all sorts of sins. Monsters forgiven and loved by not only the heroine, but also the reader. Perhaps what truly defines our paranormal genre is not the characters (who vary from god to demon, vampire to angel) but the readers. Maybe we’re the “thing” about paranormal romances that make them work.

Could it be that the lover of paranormal romance is more accepting, more likely to forgive rather than chastise in real-life too? I think it would be interesting to see if the ability to forgive and respect the strange, monstrous hero translates into a real-world view different from non-paranormal romance readers.

Just a thought.


28 June 2007

The Substitute is Here

Hello All You Paranormal Lovers! (and Paranromal-Romance Readers, too…hee, hee)

I’m Margo Lukas and I’ll be filling in for S.J. who is taking some needed time off. I’d like to thank Carolan for inviting me to come over and play for awhile. This is a great blog with some very interesting posts. I promised myself I’d take some time off from the online world to write and do family things this summer…but I couldn’t pass up the chance to be in such good company.

Since this is my first post on Beyond the Veil, I guess I should do a short introduction. My debut book Half Moon Rising was released in eBook this past March from Samhain and will be hitting the book shelves in print this October. I’m threatening my hubby that I’m going to give the UPS guy a big kiss when my author copies arrive. That’s not a lie because my UPS guy is a total hottie. If they come via US mail…well, my mailman is a sweetie but he’s in his 70’s!

I’m here on the paranormal blog because my hero is a werewolf. Half Moon Rising started as a project for a writing class I was taking and grew from there. I had written three contemporary romances (safely tucked under my bed) and wanted to challenge myself. (More on why I thought a paranormal would be a challenge in some other post.)

I have loved the romance genre since before I even understood what was happening behind that bedroom door. Then, as now, it was the "Happy Ever After" that made this genre my favorite. My maternal grandmother was the town librarian and I enjoyed many hours working in her library. I often wonder if she knew about the big juicy 1970’s & 1980’s romances I was sneaking home. I know she liked to read them. When she passed away she left each of her grandchildren $1000. Though I could have used it in a more “practical” way (i.e. paying bills) I bought a laptop computer that has increased my productivity ten-fold. I pray she’s looking down and smiling.

Over the next few weeks I hope to get know you and my fellow paranormal Samhain authors better (and vice versa). Thanks again to Carolan for the invite and have a warm, sunny weekend.


26 June 2007

My Time To Howl

Doe Ray Me Me Me Me *choke* Have you ever waited so long for something to happen then got what amounts to cyber stage fright? I should be used to it by now, but I always get that way. Today's the day. The Wolf's Heart is OUT! Yeeehaw!! I'm so happy and yet, so terrified people will hate my baby that part of me wants to snatch it back and hide it where nobody will ever see it again! LOL. However, I'm proud of my wonderfully weird werewolf, not to mention the wicked woman who loves him, so without further ado..

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The Wolf's Heart is available now from Samhain Publishing! Yeah!

Now, I'm just HTML savvy enough to link the picture to the site, so if you click it, it'll take you to the buy link and the excerpt, just like the blog below, however if you click on the smaller picture, you'll get another sneak peek.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I hope you enjoy Lainie and Marcus in The Wolf's Heart, they're two of my most favorite characters. He's all alpha but she's just sassy enough to ensure that sparks will fly. I'm already working on the second story in this series and of course, these two have made an appearance. Now to make sure they don't upstage my hero and heroine.

Happy Reading Everyone!

Jenna Leigh

New Paranormal Romance from Samhain Publishing

Last week Jorrie had a book out, and this week we've got a hot new release from BTV's Jenna Leigh!

“The Wolf's Heart” by Jenna Leigh
Paranormal Romance Novel

When a nosy reporter reunites with a werewolf in tycoon’s clothing, sparks fly and passions ignite. The burning question is, who’s taming who?

Investigative Reporter Elaine Westerbrook is determined to find the answers to the questions that haunt her. Plagued all her life by dreams of creatures that can’t possibly exist, she’ll do anything to get the information she needs, up to and including reigniting a fire with the deliciously mysterious Marcus Bei—a fire she thought extinguished long ago.

Marcus Bei fought tooth and claw to be an Alpha in the corporate world but it’s nothing compared to being Alpha of his pack. It’s lonely at the top as the Lupin of the Arizona werewolf pack, but that’s the price he’ll pay to keep his pack safe from his father and others like him. So when childhood sweetheart Elaine walks back into his life, his first instinct is to shove her right back out again. But Marcus can’t find the strength to push away the very thing his other half has been waiting for so long—his mate.

Together, Marcus and Elaine search for the truth and find out if they have a future in spite of a past threatening to tear them apart. Will Elaine run when she discovers what Marcus really is, or will she accept The Wolf’s Heart?

Warning, this title contains the following: explicit sex, graphic language, violence.

Read An Excerpt Online * Buy from MBaM!


Another paranormal romance novel releasing this week from Samhain is:

“Shameful” by Amanda Young
On a frigid winter night, vengeance is what he seeks. A love strong enough to melt the ice surrounding his battered heart is what he finds. Second book in MIA series.

Go see! Get yourself a little something, or a big something, from http://www.samhainpublishing.com/ to read on your PDA in bed at night :)

Jody Wallace
So much cyberspace, so little time!
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://www.elliemarvel.com/

25 June 2007

Mystical Places: Standing Stones

Standing stones are one of the great mysteries of the stone age. Wikipedia boils it down to this:

"Standing stones, orthostats, liths or more commonly, megaliths because of their large and cumbersome size, are solitary stones set vertically in the ground and come in many different varieties. Where they appear in groups together, often in a circular formation, they are sometimes called megalithic monuments. Standing stones are found throughout the world with no known or documented history."

I'm very interested in these structures because standing stones feature prominently in my book, Lords of the Were, and in subsequent stories I'm writing in that same setting. You might also notice the best known of these monuments - Stonehenge - is the current banner for this blog.

There's something mysterious and awe inspiring about these stone rings, and puzzling as well. Why are they there? What was their purpose? Are they really as magical as they seem?

In my books, stone circles are the sites of ancient rites and seats of power for those working on the side of light. You might notice the stones in the distance on my cover for Lords of the Were. The artist, Anne Caine did a wonderful job incorporating all the images I wanted on the cover of this novel. Kudos to her! In this book, the circle of stones is used as a ritual place where the werecreatures gather to celebrate the sabbat of Samhain at the beginning of the story, and later, to work powerful magic against those who would do evil.

A great deal of mysticism and myth has built up around megaliths over the centuries. In fact, many gather at Stonehenge and other sites like it on various pagan holidays to celebrate. One clarification - henges are considered to be slightly different. Again, Wikipedia gives us the definition:

"A henge is a prehistoric architectural structure and is nearly circular or oval-shaped flat area over 20 metres (65 feet) in diameter that is enclosed and delimited by a boundary earthwork that usually comprises a ditch with an external bank. The earthwork permits access to the interior by one, two, or four entrances. Internal components may include portal settings, timber circles, post rings, stone circles, four-stone settings, monoliths, standing posts, pits, coves, post alignments, stone alignments, burials, central mounds, and stakeholes (English Heritage definition).

Because of the defensive impracticalities of an enclosure with an external bank and an internal ditch (rather than vice versa), henges are considered to have served a ritual, rather than a defensive, purpose.


The word henge is a backformation from Stonehenge, the famous monument in Wiltshire. Stonehenge is not a true henge at all as its ditch runs outside its bank, although there is a small extant external bank as well. This is a modern distinction however, we do not know if ditch placement would have been a significant feature or not to the people who built the monuments."

So the "henge" formation indicates a ritual purpose to scholars who are trying to reverse engineer the function of these amazing structures in the modern world. Regardless of what they are, they seem magical to us today. The idea that Stone Age people could not only create such intricate places, but that they would last so many thousands of years is mind boggling. Yes, I believe, there simply must be some kind of magic involved. Don't you? ;-)


23 June 2007

Divination Sunday - The Celtic Ogham

Welcome back to the Hogwart's School Annex!

Today we start a series on divination with the Celtic Ogham, also known as the Tree Alphabet. The Ogham is sometimes confused with Runes, but these are two distinct sets of symbols with differing origins. What they have in common is that both are real alphabets that were used for writing in the ancient languages - in Ogham's case, old Irish and Pictish - and both are now used primarily as divination symbols.

Each letter of the Ogham represents a sacred Druidic tree or plant; the Druids themselves were said to secretly communicate with each other with Ogham hand signs. Divinatory meanings for each symbol are credited to Robert Graves and his book The White Goddess.

So, that's a brief history crammed into a very small nutshell! Before I lose your attention, let's get right into the symbols.

I choose to start with the symbol of "Beith", A) because it's considered the first letter of the Ogham, and B) the heroine in my upcoming novella "Wildish Things" is named Beith. :) Being American, Beith herself pronounces her name "beth", but in Irish it shoulds more like "bayh" or "beh-yeh." This is how the hero, Kellan, pronounces it in the throes of passion.



Tree: Silver Birch (betula pendula), the most common birch tree in Europe. One of the first trees to populate a clear-cut area, hence it's association with new beginnings. (Could be any kind of native birch, really.)
Color: White
Planet: Venus
Crystal: White or clear quartz
Bird: Pheasant
Deities: Ogma, the creator of the Ogham. Arianrhod and other forms of the White Goddess.
Meanings: New beginnings, origins, purification, spiritual protection, sources, precedence, warning, writing, eloquence, creativity.

Next time we'll move on to the next letter in the Ogham, "Luis" or rowan. Hopefully SJ will be well enough to rejoin us in a couple weeks!

Leave a comment and I'll hold a drawing for a free three-Ogham reading.


Abhainn's Kiss, available now from SamhainPublishing.com
Wildish Things, coming Nov. 1 from SamhainPublishing.com
Coming soon: Beaudry's Ghost

22 June 2007

The Muses

As writers, we love to talk about our Muses. Ethereal beings who carry our ideas, our motivation, our art with them. And when they flee, we're helpless.

*snort* I'm extremely hard-headed regarding that idea, believing rather that our creative ability stems from within, but that's not the point of today's post.

Today, I'm going to talk about the actual Muses of mythology. I know. You're expecting another pantheon. Next time, I promise.

Originally, there were only three, Aoede (song), Melete (practice), and Mneme (memory). Other tales suggest that nine were named by Pierus the Macedonian, but for today's purposes, we'll go with this version. Zeus, before he married Hera, was the lover of Mnemosyne, the personification of Memory. He slept with her nine nights, begetting nine Muses:

Calliope ~ The eldest child, leader of her sisters and muse of philosophy and epic poetry.
Clio ~ muse of history.
Melpomene ~ muse of tragedy. Not sure why, really, because she's also known for her singing and chanting. She's the mother of the Sirens -- beautiful singing monsters.
Euterpe ~ muse of music, especially the flute. She is also a muse of lyric poetry, a quality she shares with her sister, Erato.
Erato ~ muse of love poetry. Lyrics for music, especially marriage songs, stem from her.
Terpsichore ~ muse of dance, which was considered an important aspect of being civilized.
Urania ~ muse of astronomy and astrology, two very different approaches to reading the stars. She also represents philosophy, along with her sister Calliope.
Thalia ~ the muse of comedy (my personal favorite). She's also the muse of idyllic or bucolic poetry. Lots of comedy in trees and sheep, apparently.
Polymnia/Polyhymnia ~ the serious one. She is the muse of sacred poetry and she brings everlasting fame to writers. She is also a muse of religious dance, mime, and, oddly enough, agriculture.

Yet what is their true function for us as writers -- as people? To inspire. Temples were built to the muses to inspire people to beauty. Whether in art, song or literature, the muses brought people together and promoted peace and harmony.

So whether you take a particular Muse to heart, create your own, or believe in your own ability to create, the power and purpose of the Muses remain the same. They inspire us.

Tell me about your own Muse. Which one speaks most powerfully to you?

21 June 2007

Thirteen Werewolves

As Jody so kindly posted on Tuesday, my werewolf novel The Strength of the Pack is now on sale at My Bookstore and More.

So since you've had the chance to read both my blurb and excerpt, I thought I'd scan some of the Samhain titles and come up with thirteen werewolf books on sale at Samhain! Because I do love werewolves.

  1. Half Moon Rising by Margo Lukas
  2. Sweet Moon Dreams by Rose Marie Wolf
  3. Go Fetch by Shelly Laurenston
  4. Checkmate by Annmarie McKenna
  5. Seeing Eye Mate by Annmarie McKenna
  6. Lords of the Were by Bianca D'Arc
  7. The Beast Within by Kelly Ethan
  8. Wolverton Blood by Brenda Williamson
  9. Pack Challenge by Shelly Laurenston
  10. With Love by J.L. Langley
  11. Without Reservations by J.L. Langley
  12. The Strength of the Pack by Jorrie Spencer
  13. The Wolf's Heart by Jenna Leigh
Okay, the last doesn't come out until next week. But still. A good showing!

20 June 2007

Haunted history, and yes, some hilarity.

I've bravely gone where no chickenheart has gone before! Alright fine if you must know, this past October, my intrepid and yeah, bossy friend made me go on this haunted walk in the French Quarter of New Orleans. I didn't see anything overtly scary. Of course, I wasn't looking all that closely either. If you haven't figured it out, I'm Scooby Doo and she's Velma of this dippy duo, or terrible trio as we did have a third with us. To protect the guilty, I shall simply call her Shaggina of the frozen north, as she was as scared as me. If something did decide to jump out at us, and say "Les Le Booogity Boogity" well, 'Velma' would have a heavy load to carry is all I'm sayin.

At the beginning of our tour, the guide informed us that if anyone jumped out in a mask and said 'boo' at us, they were not ghosts, they were in fact muggers and we were to look to him for instructions on how and where to run. Ha, very funny, right? Riiight. But, he was full of trivia about the fair city.

The above picture was taken by me, and yes, it sucks. For some reason, my camera which had been acting fine, decided to become the heinous one and darken up. Was it ghosts? I doubt it, more like cheap batteries. Here is the story which I heard third hand and the tour guide got second hand, so I guess it's about fifth hand. So take it with a grain of salt and since it's in New Olreans, some gumbo file` too, cher`. *winks*

This is the house where Julie lived. She was the beautiful octeroon mistress of a wealthy businessman. She was so desperate to marry him that she stayed outside on the roof naked in the middle of December to prove her love. Her lover found her the next morning dead of exposure. A sad tale, and the only one that didn't scare the beejeezus out of me, just made me sniffle. But it is also said that she still haunts The Bottom of the Cup Tea Shop at the bottom of the building which you can't see in the crappy picture. But I like my picture, it's got atmosphere.

So, what did I learn? Just walking around in the dark is scary. No we didn't get mugged, but after the tour was over I was left all by myself with 'Velma' I found out that without the buffer of say Shaggina or perhaps even *coughs* Daphne the Designer Diva, Velma will say things like "jenkies" and drag you to every haunted nook and cranny of New Orleans in search of 'phenomenon'.

Did she forget that I'm Scooby Doo? I don't want to see phenomenon! I want some beads, a few scooby snacks and my nice air conditioned bed, (please recall this is New Orleans air conditioning is a must) not be subjected to dark and scary voodoo shops and creepy corners that make me scream so that people look at me askance. More than usual I mean. I won't even go into the chicken feet incident except to say. "Bok you!" While my own feet were killing me by the end of the night, my horizons had been broadened. I didn' t see any real ghosts, but she delighted in scaring the crap out of me at least ten times. Don't be fooled, by the cartoons yall, 'Velma' is the devil.

Les Le Boogity To Yall Too,

Jenna Leigh

19 June 2007

Samhain New Releases -- Strength of the Pack!

“The Strength of the Pack” by Jorrie Spencer
Genre: Paranormal Romance Novel
ISBN: 1-59998-512-8
Length: Novel

Seth Kolski, a werewolf, hides his heritage and passes for normal. Until he meets Jamie. Book One of the Strength series.

Since his sister disappeared two years ago, Seth’s solitude has intensified. Despite his deep need to be part of a pack, he sets himself apart, wary of humans who fear the wolf in him.

When Seth hooks up with his teenaged crush, loneliness and physical desire overcome his distrust. Jamie welcomes his attentions, albeit a little shyly, and Seth rationalizes they can have one night together before they part.

For Seth can never be part of a regular family. No normal woman is going to accept his freakish nature, nor his past violence. Especially a single mother determined to protect her family. However, Seth and Jamie’s bond runs deeper than he knows. He cannot return to the shadows. Yet exposure may bring danger to them all.

Warning: This title contains explicit sex.

Doesn't that make you want to rush out and buy it? Come on, let's get Jorrie on Samhain's Top Ten List!



There are more great June 19 releases at Samhain today -- go check them out! http://www.samhainpublishing.com/


Jody W.

18 June 2007

If Movies Were Books, Part 2

If you haven't read the first 9 movies, they are here: Part 1

What I was doing in my first post was looking at how various movies compare to the current state of the paranormal romance genre. I listed 9, and here are the next 9 movies I could think of that had both paranormal and romance elements:

Love Potion #9: I debated putting this one on the list, but the light paranormal gimmick, I thought, and the fact that the heroine underwent a geek to chic transformation, made this one worth mentioning. I don't remember the romance part of it that well except that the hero and heroine didn't get together until the end because the heroine in particular was distracted by how sexy the Love Potion made her. She therefore overlooked the cute that was the hero. So I think...more of a chick lit romance than straight paranormal romance? But its structure did seem to mimic a genre fiction novel pretty well.

The Mummy: Action, adventure, attractive and smart protagonists, bickering, worldbuilding, the eventual growth towards love despite the worlds of difference between them, the villain trying to "get" the heroine in a sexual manner -- and being hot -- yep, it's a paranormal romance! This one, along with Just Like Heaven from my last post, seems to most closely mimic the structure and progression of today's available novels more than a lot of other movies I watched, hoping for just such a story.

Princess Bride: Princess Buttercup had a bit of the TSTL about her, don't you think? The separation after a youthful declaration of love...meeting again as adults and batting through a spot of Big Misunderstanding...the villain, like in the Mummy, chasing after the heroine, albeit for dynastic reasons rather than sexual ones... Yep, I think we have ourselves another paranormal romance novel on our hands. The editor would probably request that the plot be edited so the hero and heroine could spend more time together, and could you please drop hints that Inigo will find love in the sequel? Probably with the daughter of someone who killed his father. That would be fitting.

Shrek: The only animated entry on my list, although many of the Disney fairy tales follow a typical paranormal romance pattern as well. The hero is sent to rescue the heroine even though he's not the "prince" and is only supposed to deliver her to the villain. Yet instead they fall in love en route, with a big misunderstanding/black moment that sends the heroine into the villain's arms under the mistaken impression he's not a villain and that marrying him will remove her curse...and the hero into a sulk. Sound familiar? Luckily, with the help of the characters involved in a secondary romance, the day is saved and true love prevails.

Sleepy Hollow: I wanted to include at least one movie with Johnny Depp, just because. The hero is sent to investigate grisly deaths (cop hero!) and the heroine is a young, innocent "witch", the daughter of a suspicious secondary character, and the target in a villainous murder plot. With the spooky atmosphere and level of violence, not to mention some hero backstory angst, this could definitely work as one of a growing number of horror romances being published today.

Spider-Man 1&2: My husband's favorite. The romance moves on a more "epic" scale, with "epic" meaning over the course of a longer span of time and with the hero and heroine in and out of other relationships. Peter, unless he's in costume and is actively saving lives, is a bit of a beta, which I love but I also know alpha is more popular in paranormal romance novels.

Original Star Wars Trilogy (Han & Leia): While these movies are definitely space opera and notromance and wouldn't be released by a traditional romance publisher if they were books, the Han & Leia relationship did have those classic sparks -- Han is the hot, cynical rebel. Leia is the driven, intelligent heroine. They bicker and then kiss with at least some of it happening on screen.

Underworld: We have a young, beautiful, confused protagonist being introduced to the dark, dangerous world of vampires and werewolves because of prophecies regarding bloodlines. We have the cynical, tough protagonist who is sent to eliminate the innocent but instead ends up falling in lust/love. Now which do you think is which? I included this one because I enjoy the turnabout in the male/female roles in this movie.

What Women Want: The hero is a charming cad who, through unusual and not very well explained paranormal circumstances, develops the ability to hear what women are thinking. This humanizes him and gives him the needed push to become a worthy hero for the heroine, who is a talented, attractive career woman. If this were a paranormal romance novel and I were reviewing it, I'd complain about the worldbuilding, but the plot would be consistent with other novels in the genre.

That makes 18 movies total I examined as to how they'd fare as paranormal romance novels. Which movies did I miss? How are these movies like and unlike books being published by today's romance publishers? Which movies "feel" like paranormal romances to you? Share your favorite movie finds!

16 June 2007

Ghost Bride - The Ultimate in Cold Feet!

I'm travelling to a wedding this weekend, so I must be brief in my blog post this time.
Okay, okay, don't everyone applaud at once! Sheesh.

So in honor of Jesse and his pretty new bride, here's a ghost legend from Utah. So maybe it's a little morbid, but he's a Tarheel - he gets it. :)

Bridal Veil Falls, Utah

There are hundreds of stories to the legend of a ghost bride at the falls. Here is a popular one.
In the late 30's a woman was driving from Ogden to Huntsville. She was going to be late for her wedding. It was the early morning and still somewhat dark, she was driving too fast and the road was too curvy. At any rate all they found was a bridal veil floating in the water, as she had slid off the road and presumably been killed. If you drive up the canyon to Huntsville in the early morning you might see a hitchhiker dressed in a white dress. Some people who have stopped claim that the woman says she is late for her wedding and upon reaching Huntsville limits vanishes from the car.
Source: Haunted Utah

13 June 2007

Ghosts and ghoulies and... lamps?

A good friend of mine is currently writing a spooky Halloween story for her publisher. Together on IM, we started looking at "ghost pictures" just to get in the right frame of mind. You know, I've seen some really spooky pictures that claim to show ghosts or spirits, and while I'm not quite sure I believe, they're fun to look at. However, this one takes the cake.

Look carefully at the small, square window beside the scaffolding. What's that just visible there?

Yes, my friends, this is purported to be the ghost of a LAMP. Don't believe me? Here's another photo, showing a close-up view of this grisly, terrifying haunting:

I think the grainy quailty of the photo just adds to the terror, don't you?

So this started me thinking--well, after I stopped laughing. (C'mon, really, how does a lamp haunt you? Is it trapped in this realm because it's enraged at getting knocked out the window?) What's the strangest or silliest "true" ghost story you've ever heard? Before finding this particular one, it was the ghostly pair of pants that haunts a Cambridge shop that Cat Marsters and I were told about during a really great ghost tour there. Ghostly pants! I never thought that one would be topped.

Anyone have a fun ghost story to share?

11 June 2007

What Bianca's Working On Now...

It's been a busy couple of weeks since last I blogged here. Since the release of Hara's Legacy (thanks to all of those who made it such a successful release!), I've finally been able to get back to writing. I've been working primarily on two manuscripts - my next Dragon Knights novel, FireDrake, and my next traditional paranormal, Sweeter Than Wine.

I'm very happy to say that FireDrake will mark the beginning of a new series of Dragon Knights novels with a lot more magic and adventure. Things are changing in Draconia and the dragons and knights are gaining powerful new allies. It's really fun to hang out with them and write their stories. LOL

On the more traditional paranormal front, Sweeter Than Wine is almost complete. It's the story alluded to in my novella, Forever Valentine, about a vampire named Sebastian and his love for Christy - a woman beaten to death by her husband. Only Sebastian can save her life - with a little help from a furry friend. ;-) Yes, this book will establish firm links between my vamps and weres, with cameo appearances from the Lords of the Were. It will also nicely set up the next Were Tale, which I'm also working on from time to time.

Maybe it's just me, but I find it refreshing to move from manuscript to manuscript - world to world. When I get too bogged down on one manuscript, I let it rest for a few days and work on another. It's just my habit and I know a lot of writers do it differently, but it seems to work for me.

Well, I'm off to play with some paranormal bad boys. Can't wait!

Oh, and let's not forget, the Summer Solstice is coming up in a little more than a week or so. Enjoy the sun, while it lasts! :-)


09 June 2007

The Next Big Trend...maybe

Hey there, and thanks to Beyond the Veil for the opportunity to post today. Hmm, a whole empty post just waiting for insightful words...sorry, you're going to get what's banging around inside my head instead. :)

I wanted to talk about the Next Big Trend. Why, you ask? Because I know what it's going to be, I lie with a straigt face. Okay, no. I don't know, but I'm always looking, as is every other writer out there wanting that edge.

Several years ago, no one knew that much about vampires. Then along came Anne Rice, and suddenly vampires were hot, sensual, sexy. Years later, Christine Feehan introduced her world of the Carpathians, Sherrilyn Kenyon gave us the Dark Hunters, and many other wonderful vampire stories were born.. However, recently it seems as if the paranormal market is gluttoned on vampires. While some readers are reading them, high on the transfusion of blooddrinkers, I'm about done with the genre myself. It was all I could do to pick up JR Ward's series, the BlackDagger brotherhood, and now I'm hooked, darn it. And I'm not putting down anyone who writes about vampires--not at all. It amazes me that for a well-known niche in the market, so many original stories are still written about the vampire. Heck, the other day I read the back of a book that tied vampirism to the Chupacabra.

Then of course, there are the books on shapeshifters, fae and Scottish warriors. The shifter books are still hot, more in electronic than print, I'd say. So many Scottish historicals have stayed the course when other historicals have fallen from the market. And the fae seem to pop up in every new book that has a collaberation of paranormal characters. Seems you can't have a world full of vampires and werewolves and witches unless the fae get in there too. And ever since Sherrilyn Kenyon made it big with gods and goddesses (sorry if I'm crediting her with too much, but I noticed this trend after her books came out), a lot of books appear with gods and goddesses, from Greeks to Romans to Celts, in the mix. If it seems like I'm down on these books, trust me, I'm not. My sad, empty little wallet can attest to such.

The problem, as I see it, is that authors tend to love what they read and want to emulate it. And so we have a bazillion books on vampires, werewolves and witches, gods and faeries. So where have all the ghosts gone? The traditional paranormal ghost story has all but vanished. So maybe that's going to come back. Or how about extra sensory perception, ESP, as a paranormal bend? Elloras Cave has created a new line/joint publisher called the Lotus Circle, which will focus on metaphysical topics. What about our friend, the historical? While Regencies and Victorians are still big, how about our good ol' buddy the Western? And last but not least, my favorite genre, futuristic/scifi romance. Personally, I can never find enough great futuristics to satisfy me, which is why I love writing them. Still, I'd love to see more at my local bookstore.

A big thanks to the world of epublishing for at least breaking the mold and letting new and interesting ideas flood the Internet. Funny how NY keeps adding more erotic romances and paranormals to their lists when the epubbing world has been doing it for years.

And now that I've thoroughly spilled my guts, I'm going to wind down and let you, gentle blog reader, think about what you'd like to see from a publisher the next time you're looking for a good book to read.


Experience the paranormal, the future, and the fantasy of romance
A Scorching Seduction, now available from Samhain

08 June 2007

Keeping Ka and Ba Together

An earlier discussion on Ancient Egypt revolved around Ra – simply because I had to focus somewhere! Egyptian mythology is complex and vast and the fact is that most of it centers around the Afterlife.

These people were obsessed with Death.

A book which we call The Book of the Dead is actually the name for a large collection of ancient funerary texts. It contains instructions on all the details of death and steps for getting to The Field of Reeds, like the Greek Elysian Fields or the Christian Heaven – the reward for a good life. The Book was not a set in stone (Ha! A little Rosetta Stone humor), but could be individualized to each person who wished to obtain one. Spells and passwords unique to each bearer were included so that the dead person could pass through the afterlife.

Many funerary texts were translated by a Cornishman named E.A. Wallis Budge, including this Book of the Dead for the Scribe Ani.

They believed in an immortal soul. A soul which would be judged by its actions here on earth. But the soul in Egypt was a complicated thing, comprised of many different parts.

The Ba – the closest approximation is the Western idea of the soul. The a was a person’s personality. What made them unique.

The Ka – the life force. The difference between dead and alive is the Ka.

So when a person died, their Ka left their body. The Ba might remain trapped within unless priests performed certain spells to release it. When the Ka and Ba rejoined in the afterlife, they created a unique entity called the Akh. The Akh was the form in which the deceased occupied the afterlife. The true expression of the self, one might say.

Mummification was a vital part of the trip to the afterlife, so that the Ba and the Ka might recognize each other to form the Akh. More info here on burial rituals.

The journey of the soul in the afterlife includes a visit with Osiris, the king of the Underworld.

Quick aside: In the previous article, comments point to Anubis being the god of the Dead. In a spectacular bit of religious evolution, the legend of Osiris and Isis sprang up during the Middle Kingdom and by the New Kingdom, Osiris was the accepted leader in the Guide to Who’s Who in the Underworld.

In a related timeline, The Book of the Dead originates from funerary texts collected during the time of the New Kingdom. Hence, we deal with Osiris rather than Anubis.

Back on topic now.

After a person dies, they’re taken into the Hall of Two Truths. Thoth, the Divine Mediator, would read out the person’s deeds, then the heart would be weighed against the feather of Ma’at, the goddess of Justice.

If the heart was pure, the person could pass on to the realm of the blessed. If not, (I love this part – I’m just a wee bit bloodthirsty, it seems) Ammit, the Devourer of the Dead, would slither up from under the throne of Osiris, and eat the heart, condemning it to eternal restlessness. In some traditions, she didn’t eat the soul, but rather cast it into a fiery lake. Another example of religious synchronicity.

In any case, the amount of information about Ancient Egyptian death practices is enormous. Most of the sources I cited here are from Wikipedia, but also from the Encyclopedia Mythica and Ancient Mythology.com.

Egypt Art Site contains some excerpts from the Papyrus of Ani, plus a link to the Budge translation.

Finally, although the Egyptologist in “The Mummy” warns against it – for further information, I strongly suggest that you DO Read From the Book!

07 June 2007

Excerpt from The Strength of the Pack

In less than two weeks, my novel, The Strength of the Pack, will be released. I'm very excited. So, I'm going to post an excerpt here :)


“Would you like whiskey in your coffee?” he asked over the burble of the coffee machine.

“No, thanks.”

He added a dollop to his mug, then stilled. She might not have recognized the tension in his body if she hadn’t been watching closely.

“I had a crush on you, you know,” he said abruptly.

Her cheeks warmed as she sat on a stool behind the counter, putting a barrier between them. She didn’t want to get too emotional, something she was quite capable of, as Derek had pointed out oh so many times.

“I’m flattered.” Her words made it past the tightness in her throat as she realized they were going to make love. She was unlikely to back out now.

He hitched a hip on the edge of the counter. “Now you are. You wouldn’t have been flattered back then.”

“I liked your company.” She remembered the skinny, awkward teen. He’d followed her around when Tom was off playing with other friends who didn’t want to hang with the unpopular Seth. Derek—they’d just started to date—had teased that she had an admirer and she’d laughed, not wanting Derek to know she enjoyed the attentions of a fifteen-year-old boy. Derek would have given Seth grief.

Other memories were sweeter. “You thought everything I said was wonderful. Pretty heady for an eighteen-year-old girl.” With a college boyfriend who made sure she knew who the smart one in the couple was.

“I was obviously devoted.” He crossed thick, muscular arms. Despite his leanness, this was a man with a good amount of upper body strength.

“I didn’t quite figure that out.”

He raised an eyebrow in doubt.

She shrugged. “I didn’t think about it like that.”

“You didn’t think about me much,” he corrected. “Understandable. I was young.”

“You were Tom’s friend and Tom’s friends were first and foremost from another planet. Including the nice ones, like you.”

“So, I was nice.”

“Oh, yeah. Aren’t you still?”

He blinked at the question. “I try my best.”

“You were nicer by far than my then-boyfriend Derek. Even if I thought he was great at the time.” She didn’t hide her bitterness.

“I think it’s better we don’t discuss Derek.” His voice was solemn. Part of her wanted to complain about her ex, but it would spoil the mood.

Instead she watched him pour coffee, hands now steady. She, too, felt more at ease. Casual sex scared her, but this no longer felt casual, or at least thoughtless. They didn’t have much history, but they had something.

He picked up the two mugs and walked past her. “Come with me.” His elbow pointed towards the doorway.

He exited the kitchen. His straight back and strong shoulders mesmerized her, bringing alive a desire that had long been buried deep. She entered a cozy den. A place for friends. Though the thrum of excitement beating through her veins contradicted that thought. Since she’d set eyes on Seth, her body had its own ideas.

He placed the mugs on the coffee table. As he settled into one corner of the couch and she in the other, she was tempted to scoot over and cuddle up to him. She liked his caresses, his firm arms around her. The space between them suddenly seemed daunting.

He held out his hand to her.

She opened her mouth but the word “I” stuck in her throat. Indecision grappled with desire, tangling her words.

“Whatever you want, Jamie.” He dropped his arm, eyes pale and watchful. Attentive.

“I don’t know what I want. How’s that for sophisticated? Though presumably I knew when I accepted your invitation to drink coffee.”

“You wanted coffee,” he suggested, drinking his. She hadn’t thought that eyes twinkled, but Seth’s did.

“Truth is, I never drink coffee at night.”

“You don’t have to drink coffee for my sake.” His rapt attention flattered her. It had been years since anyone focused on her like this.

“I know.” She set down the mug and he reached over to snag her hand. “I just—”

“You don’t have to talk, either.” He closed the space between them.

Don’t talk.

He pulled her next to him, smelling of musk and male and outside. His fingers ran across the back of her neck and she shivered. The other hand came under her chin and he turned her face towards him, brushing a thumb across her lips. The feather-light touches had her trembling and he’d hardly done a thing.

“I don’t usually––”

“Shhh.” He brought a thumb back to her lips.

He was right. He didn’t want to know she’d left Derek two years ago and their sex life had stuttered to a halt before the split. He might want to know her belly was knotted with desire, but he was going to find out before long.

As his arms came around her, she forked a hand through his dark hair and remembered the buzz cut his father used to insist Seth wear. “You have gorgeous hair.”

He stiffened slightly and she wouldn’t have noticed if he hadn’t just pulled her into his lap. Maybe he feared she saw him as some kind of trophy. He was handsome, as well as physically fit. But what drew her were his volatile eyes, his soft, persuasive voice, his frank interest.

“I wouldn’t be here.” She evaded his lips though she did want to kiss. But she couldn’t make love without talking. It wasn’t her way. “If I hadn’t known you ten years ago.”

His mouth explored her neck, giving her goose bumps.

“And you used to rescue frogs the other boys captured. Put them back into the pond where they belonged.”

He drew back, his eyes crinkling with humor in a way she hadn’t seen before. “My unpopular actions have had long-term benefits, I see.”

“I couldn’t have gone home with anyone else.”

His hold on her tightened. “Be careful, Jamie, if you do go to bars on your own again. Don’t go home with a stranger.”

She had to laugh. “Are you trying to talk me out of this?”

His serious, somewhat guilty expression puzzled her. She reached up and touched his face, rough from shadow that had formed by the end of the day. “I want to be here, Seth.”

“I sure don’t want you to be anywhere else,” he said roughly.

She grinned. “Maybe it is better if I don’t talk.”

“Let me think about how I can arrange that.” His mouth skimmed hers and her lips parted, wanting more. Which, she suspected, was how he wanted her to feel.

He took her mouth with his.

06 June 2007

Let's Hear it For the Wolves

The Wolf’s Heart is due out in just a few short weeks and of course, I can think of nothing else. So, let’s talk about werewolves! Okay, my werewolves. I’ll say up front that mine aren’t like the ones in myth and legend, I decided to forgo the whole cursed, or magic thing in favor of genetics and science. Well, not entirely. You see, I’ve long had a theory that science is just a form of magic that’s been accepted as fact. Strange, I know, but still, a girl’s gotta have some illusions to cling to in life.

So what makes the man a beast and vice versa? What makes this—or at least my—dual natured creature tick? Does the moon control him? If so, is it the wax or the wane of it? How or why does he become the wolf, does it happen in a twinkling or does he have to work at it?

I had to ask myself all these questions at the beginning of my story and then do the hard part, stick to it. I can tell you that my werewolves don’t just ‘zap!’ change into a furry beast. The bones slide and grind and the rest of his body adjusts to the change slowly and somewhat painfully. At the full moon, the wolf takes control, but until then, not as much unless emotions run high.

Marcus is the Lupin, or the head of the pack of wolves, so he’s also able to shift when the moon isn’t full, but will change other times so he can blow off a little steam. He and the other more powerful werewolves have two forms; the wolf, and the Wolfkin, a cross between a wolf and a man, only much larger and a lot more dangerous. But, there’s also the fact that Marcus is directly descended from David, who I call the prototype, so he’s a little bit different than the rest. David, well, the term ‘broke the mold’ pretty describes that one.

While I can’t spill all my beans, I will tell you that within the scientific origins of my werewolves lies a bit of magic. I mean, how un-fun would it be for the whole thing to have been hatched out of a lab? The mysteries of nature are vast enough to hide the beginnings of Marcus and the rest of his furry brethren; at least, they are in my book. I’ll also give you the sad news that all the answers don’t lie within the first installment. That would have made the book about a thousand pages long.

Does a paranormal still have the right to be called a paranormal when it’s got genetic enhancement shoved into it? I’m not sure, but David’s story is where the magic’s going to stay until I pick it out on this slightly battered keyboard of mine. I, for one, can’t wait.

Jenna Leigh

New Paranormal Selections from Samhain Publishing...

"Poseidon VII" by our very own S. J. Willing
Genre: Romantic SciFi-Futuristic, Red Hots!
ISBN: 1-59998-503-9
Length: Novel

How can the delectable Anis Anamer and her hunkalicious bodyguard save the Poseidon VII colony from destruction when they aren’t even safe from each other? Book two in the PIACT Undercover Agent series.

When Simon Delamer, a mouth-watering Greek God of a bodyguard, insists he remains in Anis’s bedroom while she sleeps, Anis Anamer desperately refuses. Not because of the loss of privacy, rather she doesn’t know if she can keep her hands off him. As CEO of the Company, having sex with her bodyguard would be a cliché way beneath her position.

Yet when her brother tries to murder her for control of the Company, and the blood-thirsty Separatists invade, Anis has no choice but to rely on Simon for her life. Then, when she learns Simon is more than he seems, she wonders if she can trust this alluring stranger. Can she control her passion and save her colony from the invaders or will she succumb to passion and lose everything she has?


"Immortal Protector" by Ursula Bauer
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 1-59998-501-2
Length: Novel

An immortal soldier defies the ancient Gods he serves and puts his existence and the world at risk when he saves the life of the mortal woman he swore to kill.


"The Saints of Midland" by T. L. Schaefer
Genre: Fantasy Romance
ISBN: 1-59998-502-0
Length: Novel

A smart-talking witch and a ghostly deputy travel another dimension to fulfill a centuries-old legend, and find a love that transcends every world imaginable.


"A Scorching Seduction" by Marie Harte
Genre: Red Hots!, Romantic SciFi-Futuristic
ISBN: 1-59998-572-1
Length: Short Story

Duty wars with affection when Racor’s greatest spy must decide who to trust, the evidence against her sexy suspects, or her heart?

A Midsummer Night’s Steam story


And there's more where those came from...enjoy! http://www.samhainpublishing.com

05 June 2007

If Movies Were Books...

Whenever the kids let me, I love to slink off with a good book. I'd say, curl up with a good book, but the kids won't let me do that. And whenever they get their wakeful heineys to bed at a decent hour, I also love to watch a good romance movie. One thing I've found when watching movies, though -- as a fiction writer well-versed in today's speculative romance market, I can't help but compare the movies to current fiction on the shelves. How they are alike. How they are different. Whether this movie would make a great romance novel or if it should be more LIKE this particular romance novel. That sort of thing.

Just for fun and discussion, here's an alphabetized list of relatively recent speculative romance movies and my thoughts on how they'd fare as romance novels. One of my requirements, in order to cut down on the list, is that the movie have a relatively standard HEA, so Ghost, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and Somewhere In Time, though enjoyable love stories, won't be showing up. Another requirement is that the romance has to be a major plot or subplot screentime-wise, so I won't list movies like the LOTR trilogy. That being said....

13 Going On 30: Jennifer Garner's character was 13 years old in a grown woman's body, technically, and the hero, a friend she'd been mean to in the past, was totally beta. While a bodyswapping premise has been used to great effect in spec romance, I don't think a heroine with a 13 year old mentality having the type of...adult relationships that take place in today's romances would fly. Sort of like Barbara Cartland chick lit, but as a movie it was cute. And I have a weak spot for guy next door heroes, who show up a LOT more frequently in romance movies than they do in romance novels.

Blast from the Past: The hero and his parents locked themselves into a fallout shelter by accident and sent the hero into the outside world to find supplies when he was grown. The hero is a boyscout character instead of a leather-clad, angsty growler, but the heroine was a good fit for today's market -- cynical, attractive and dubious about the hero, despite the fact he was an amazing dancer and...literally...kissed her feet in a surprisingly sultry scene. Technically there weren't any TRUE paranormal or sf elements, but as far as the hero was concerned, this was a futuristic romance.

Ever After: Cinderella story with an earthy, practical heroine and a slightly bossy prince who nevertheless becomes enchanted with our heroine after a rowdy cute meet. AND she maintains a dual identity for part of the movie, giving them a reason to remain romantically apart until the end. Yeah, I think this one could work as one of today's paranormal romances.

Groundhog Day: This might seem like an odd choice, but it's got paranormal and it's got romance and it's got a hero who starts out very much in need of a character arc! He's a cynical playboy when he gets trapped in one of those "live the same day over and over again" loops. Turns out the thing to get him out of the loop is... Oh, I won't spoil that, but it involves the heroine. Unless there was a lot of sex thrown in, I can't see this one getting published as a straight up paranormal romance novel -- the author would need to go to a quirky, risk-taking small press to publish what is, in the end, a very charming love story. Somewhere like Samhain *heh*.

Just Like Heaven: Of all the movies on my growing list, this one follows the typical progression of a mainstream romance novel very closely. The heroine dies but her spirit is trapped in her old apartment...where the hero tries to move in. She's high strung, he's laid back. She's angry, he's determined to help, once he figures out what's going on. However shall they get down to business with the heroine being noncorporeal and all that? Okay, he's more beta than most romance heroes in fiction, but the structure of the movie and the ending are definitely worth the comparision.

Kate & Leopold: Time travel where Lord Darcy is transported to modern day America and... Well, he's not really Darcy, but close enough. The progress of the hero and heroine's relationship, while Hollywood-ized and fraught with subplots and time apart, approximates the structure of a paranormal romance novel pretty well, in my opinion. I think this one might be a sale!

LadyHawke: Shapeshifting, star-crossed love, adventure, magic.... But it's not suited to today's paranormal romance market. Nope, it's romantic fantasy. The hero and heroine are already in love at the start of the book but cursed to be shifted into an inappropriate-for-love form when the other one is human. Plus the heroine was weak instead of the kick-butt shifter one might expect in today's fiction. Which doesn't make this a bad movie, mind you!

The Lake House: A movie whose premise relies on the hero and heroine to be uncurious and unable to use the internet. As a romance film, it had some stellar moments and interesting twists, but the hero and heroine weren't together enough for this to be a workable paranormal romance novel. There wasn't a lot of sparkle or adventure, though there was a good helping of angst.

The Lost Boys: I'm mentioning this one because I felt like there needed to be at least one vampire entry in my movie list to better represent today's paranormal romance market. The hero was good looking, but young -- but he did have him some angst and he got to participate in some huge action sequences. The heroine's role was primarily as a love interest, since it was more of a movie that revolved around the hero's arc instead of the romance. I'd say this one was an urban fantasy with a strong romantic subplot but not a paranormal romance.

Next time I post....9 more movies and how they'd fare as paranormal romance novels! What movies do you think fit in this category? How are they like and unlike books being published by today's romance publishers? Share your favorite movie finds!

02 June 2007

Local Flavor of the Haunted Variety

I'm packing this morning to attend Lori Foster's annual Readers and Authors Get-Together in Cincinnati this weekend. Lori always plans fabulous events and I'm anticipating a fun weekend in my old stomping grounds.

I grew up in the Dayton area, and spent my share of time in Cincinnati over the years, attending Reds games and eating at Skyline Chili. Wherever I travel, I always surf the Web ahead of time to check out the local flavor, and not just restaurants.

Most historic cities like Cincy have a ghost walk or two. According to Forgotten Ohio, one of the most haunted areas in the Cincinnati area is Buffalo Ridge, a heavily wooded area west of the city near the Indiana border. This is one of those every-town-has-one legends that teenage boys use to scare the bejeezus out of their girlfriends!

"The many legends associated with this creepy wooded road seem to center around an abandoned crematory located somewhere far back on the Ridge, which may or may not have been the site of a cult sacrifice at some point in the past. The ghosts occupy this building and sometimes wander across the road as well.

"An abandoned house with dilapidated barns and junked cars on its lawn is also the site of some scary happenings. Lights are seen there at night even though no one has lived there for years. If you go up the driveway supposedly you will see a witch in one of the windows.

"A park along the road is haunted by the ghost of a little boy who was killed in the road by a hit-and-run driver who was never caught. The stain his mangled body left smeared on the asphalt has never gone away. Possibly associated with this is the malevolent black van with tinted windows that is said to chase unlucky travellers on Buffalo Ridge. Is it the vehicle that ran the little boy down years ago?"

Oooh, creepy! Where's my husband? I need to pretend I'm scared. [wink]

Have a good weekend!

Coming Nov. 1 in print: "Wildish Things" in Samhain Publishing's Love and Lore anthology

01 June 2007

Quirky Eye for the Romantic Guy

A.k.a. Fashion Advice for Romantic Heroes.

So, you think you’re a romantic hero. You’ve got muscles; can defeat a room full of villains in five minutes; have a snarky attitude; a special way with girls and you floss between your teeth morning and night. Even with all these gifts can you really compete in the realms of romantic hero? Do you have an impeccable reputation? Can you, the romantic hero of her dreams, take on and excel in the most dangerous realm of all? Can you take on the fashion world?

Whether you’re a dandy, spiff or Mr. Universe of the Paris Fashion show, never fear, Agent Double D.3 comes to the rescue. Follow this fully detailed dress code and you too can be the best dressed hero in romantic fiction. Copy these guidelines, slap on the pheromones, polish your weapons and soon the world and its oyster will be yours. With luck you’ll even get the girl too.

Agent Double D.3 reports :

1. Vampire heroes. If you want to be a vampire hero always wear black Armani or designer cloak, shoes, pants and jacket. White shirt is obligatory—because white really shows the blood stains and, hey, blood stains are really sexy. Vampire heroes look best with long and thick hair, preferably black or silver/white. They are often well shaved but under duress are sexy with designer stubble. (They have no trouble achieving this since everyone knows just because a vampire is dead, it doesn’t mean their hair doesn’t grow. It’s called magic, see.) Historic vampires are always dressed as gentlemen (see Regency heroes below) and always in the best available—because they are so wealthy. Being seen frequently in polite society is the best way to keep a low profile and hide those irritating habits, like sleeping all day and biting people at night. Alternative clothing: A modern day vampire can simply wear tight fitting black pants, white shirt, a sexy smile and fangs.

2. Werewolf heroes. Werewolves tend toward homey and country style clothes, lumberjack shirts, jeans—all in designer names if possible. Always purchase a plentiful supply since they frequently get torn to shreds during a full moon. The latest trend for alpha/lone wolves, and ones that manage to change out of their clothing before the full moon, is a move to classic designer wear. Formal Armani suits, normally dark to black, white shirt with matching red/brown tie—hey so they're a little smarter than vampires. You'll never see a werewolf with a bloodstained tie. Both types of werewolves should have long thick hair, colored according to the fur color of their wolf form. Their hair should preferably be streaked for added interest. Werewolf heroes are usually smoothly shaved, they go overboard with the facial hair at the full moon so why do it as a man too? (Latest figures indicate werewolves no longer linked with the moon and just change whenever they feel a bit wolfish.) Alternative clothing: Tight fitting black pants, shredded white shirt to show off chest and abs and a sexy smile.

3. Regency heroes. Regency heroes are invariably smartly dressed in pressed dark pants and jacket, a white frilly dress shirt—good for tangling fingers in—and highly polished boots. Good boots are essential for a regency hero. Hire a good valet who knows a secret recipe using expensive imported vodka for polishing said boots. Always carry a spare overcoat and capes for those times when the heroine has to take off her clothes because a. she's fallen in a pond, marsh, river, mud pool, swimming pool, heavy rain. b. has been nearly ravished by the villain and her clothes are in tatters. Also an essential fashion item is the silk handkerchief embroidered with the hero’s initials. This handkerchief can be used to wipe tears from the heriones eyes after events a. or b. or dropped/lost in significant scenes to forward the plot. Sporting short-cut manly hair, gentlemen are always well shaved—only retired and podgy military men have facial hair. Alternative clothing: Dark pants and a devilishly sexy smile for those bedroom liaisons.

4. Scottish historic heroes: Scottish historic heroes have a very frugal budget since most of them are dirt poor after being robbed blind by the accursed Sassenach English. Fortunately a Scottish historic hero doesn’t have to compete in the upper echelons of the fashion market but there are several must have items for a good Scot. The plucky Scot must have a kilt, this is the essential item. It doesn’t matter what the tartan is as long as the Scot’s clan is noted. After all a kilt is a kilt is a kilt what's the difference in color got to do with it. It's the interesting bits underneath the kilt the heroine is ultimately interested in. Aside from the kilt the brave Scot always carries a shining dirk and claymore (not an official claymore, but one of those long swords with the swept back hilts because they are so much prettier and lighter to carry). Also the sporran is important because we need something to look at until we see if the hero wears underwear or not. An historic Scot hero saves a mint on the budget because he’s not permitted to wear a shirt, even if there’s one hundred and twenty feet of freezing snow outside. Scot heroes are never affected by the weather. Along with the muscular chest and bulging biceps the Scot historic hero has to have long thick locks of the heroine's favorite color hair. Most of them also painstakingly pluck out their own beards although, trimmed correctly, a small beard is acceptable. Alternative clothing: A strategically placed sporran and a sexy smile.

5. Contemporary heroes. Contemporary heroes always wear designer clothes (can we see a pattern here?) A designer suit, preferably Armani, usually dark black, gray or blue. The shirt can vary in color as long as it’s not girly pink or mauve. The shoulders should be especially well padded to give the heroine a soft place to cry on. Handkerchief's are handy for mopping up after a quickie in the closet. The contemporary hero normally has short hair, usually dark or blond, in a style that looks manly and is always in place—a fact the heroine is jealous of. Smooth shaven, though in the case of being stranded on a desert island, chased across country, living rough while rescuing heroine some designer stubble is wowser and eminently acceptable. Alternative clothing: Sexy hip hugging, bathrobe open to the hips with chest and hair damp from the shower with a sexy grin.

6. Fantasy heroes. Fantasy heroes fall into two types. You have the brash, muscular and bold Conan style. This style of fashion can only be done by the very muscular since it consists of bare chest, armbands wrapped around huge biceps, massive double headed axe or broadsword and a furry loincloth. Designer loincloth is preferred, ones made by virginal (until the hero found them) priestesses who live in a distant mountain temple a hundred plus miles from civilization. Finding these Priestesses to get the designer wear often involves the slaughter of several famous and deadly guardians. If you want the designer (insert mythical monster name)skin boots, please bring along the corpse of an (insert mythical monster name) along with you. Note specifically this type of fantasy hero only needs one loincloth. Laundry is done by jumping in a lake fully clothed. The second more attainable type of fantasy hero is the dark, broody type, designer stubble, long hair, lanky, slightly grubby armor takes a bath about once a millennium. Leggings and tunic are a must, preferably made of tough leather or covered with light chain mail. Broody fantasy hero’s still carry a whopper of a sword, though it’s rather shorter than a broadsword. Longswords are preferred, especially ones with some essential magical quality for killing the major villain and his underlings. Boots, dagger and a cape or cloak for bad weather are also useful. Designer clothes aren’t essential but broody fantasy heroes of the best class are always dressed in elven or fairy wear. The fantasy hero must make sure, during all the muck and grime, that he remains either smoothly shaved or maintains a subtle designer stubble. Elven heroes—that’s a whole other story. Alternative clothing: Rising out of a lake wearing a sexy grin.

7. Futuristic/scifi. Futuristic heroes in romance always has skin tight stretchy clothing. Whether it is a whole body suit that opens down the front all the way to the groin or a basic shirt and pants set the clothes must be thin enough to reveal every muscle on the hero’s body. Maintain a good supply of shirts since these are frequently destroyed or lost in battle scenes, sex scenes, domination scenes, and man-eating monster scenes. Shaving isn't necessary—futuristic man uses either Artificially Intelligent depilatories or are genetically gene altered to never have facial hair. Designer wear isn’t the norm because the designers haven’t been born yet so just do with the best you can. This shouldn’t be hard since most of the gear is synthesized from local matter transmutation machines it’s all pretty dull and boring anyway. The dull fashion may explain part of the heroine’s desire to constantly rip the hero’s clothes off (conversely heroine fashion has never been so fancy, lacy or transparent). The trend for short haired heroes has faded to the more pretty, long flowing lock types. Also if the hero can gene alter his body to contain such in-built fashion features such as blue skin, antennas, the ability to transmute into another form or have a double pronged penis he will succeed very quickly in the romance world. Alternative clothing: Spray on body paint and a very sexy grin.

8. Western heroes. Western heroes have two must have items. They must always wear a gun and a hat, all other items are optional. Designer stubble is a must and jeans (Levi preferred) are also typical western hero fashion. Only one or two articles of clothing are required as laundry, much as for the fantasy hero, is performed by swimming either fully clothed or with just the jeans on. Remember too that jeans are always made of denim, regardless of the time setting of the western. Rumors that jeans used to be made of canvas are just wicked lies. Suede or leather jackets are a secondary must have item along with lumberjack shirts for the cold country. The good Western hero also makes sure he can use the gun at all time, hit everything he aims at and never let it leave his side. Used cleverly it can also make a very intriguing marital aid but do remember to remove the bullets first or the heroine could be in for an interesting surprise. Always make sure there is plenty of dust or mud. No western romance hero is fully dressed without the dusty had or the muddy boots. Cowboy boots of course, the fancier the better. It wouldn’t do to be seen in polite romance company without the embossed/ivory inlaid riding through foul eather and climbing mountains cowboy boot—with spurs. It cannot be stressed enough that the boots need to be removed before sex, otherwise the sheets will be rather badly torn. An optional and sometimes used article of clothing is the bandana, this is best employed in blindfolding the heroine while she is bound and kidnapped. Alternative clothing: Cowboy hat and an extremely sexy grin.

9. Viking hero. The Viking romantic hero makes sure he buys a nice long woolen shirt and cloth pants, held in place by a quick release sash or drawstring. Over these the hero needs to wear a sleeved jerkin or a three quarter coat closed with a quick release belt. Around the house soft leather shoes are acceptable but for real combat situations the best heroes wear boots. Top notch Viking romantic heroes all buy their designer clothing from Valkyries-Я-us. Shaving is laughed upon as a wimpish thing and if the hero’s hair doesn’t host as least fifteen types of parasites or vermin then he is cast out of the Viking guild. Bathing is done in the cold waters of the northern Atlantic ocean because, well, they don’t believe the cold waters there can kill a man in ten minutes. Whenever the brave Viking hero heads into battle he wears an iron helmet, a big sword or axe (preferably one with great legends behind it) and a manic grin. Alternative clothing. Horns and an extremely big sexy grin.