30 April 2007
I'm happy (and a little overwhelmed) to report that my paranormal book, Lords of the Were sold out at the book signing! Wow! Thanks to all of you who bought it and all of you who have read it already. There's no better feeling than to know your work is appreciated. I was asked quite a few times about a sequel and yes, there is something in the works.
Which brings me to a good topic for this blog (I knew if I rambled a bit, sooner or later an idea would come to me!)... I tend to differentiate in my mind between a "sequel" and a "follow-on" story. My naming of each of these is probably bad, but in my mind at least, a sequel follows DIRECTLY after the action in the first book. It picks up where the first book leaves off. Now, on the other hand a follow-on or related story (that might be a better word), is one that is related to the first book, but doesn't necessarily follow directly after the action of the first book. Does that make sense?
As an example, Lords of the Were ends and two male characters (Dante and Duncan) have been introduced and played a large part in the action, but are left single. So a direct sequel - at least in my mind - would pick up with one (or both) of them and directly follow the events of that first book in chronology. By contrast, I actually have a book coming out later this year called Sweeter Than Wine, which is related to Lords of the Were, but not a direct sequel. Though it does reference some of the characters and events from Lords of the Were, it introduces new characters and situations. It's set in the same world, but it focuses on two vampires and a werecougar who are separate from Lords of the Were, though they do come in contact with some characters from the first book. So in my mind at least, they're separate-but-related, but not a direct sequel. With me so far?
So my question to you - readers of this blog - how do you view this kind of thing? Would you rather read a direct sequel first or a separate-but-related story? Does it really matter? Do you define those things the same way I've been struggling to define them? I'm really curious!
Come over to the D'Arc side... www.biancadarc.com
27 April 2007
Nothing like a deadline to focus the mind, I always say.
But I did find a topic and it's probably something I'll expand on in the weeks to come. The pantheon of the gods.
Every culture creates its own gods. The Greeks, the Romans, the Norse, the ancient Mesopotamians, Native Americans, as well as various Eastern cultures. We might even say that modern Western civilazation is not immune from creating deities of its own.
But the myths of theism provide a fertile ground for paranormal writers.
Some of the first stories we learned came from Greek and Roman traditions. Zeus or Jupiter and his squabbling family: Hera/Juno, Apollo/Helios, Aphrodite/Venus, Ares/Mars, Artemis/Diana, Athena/Minerva. They provide stories of love, jealousy, infidelity, and life everlasting. The Elysian Fields for the good, the embrace of Hades for the evil.
The legends of them and their interference in human lives (how many bastards did Zeus spawn, anyway? Surely Hera didn't focus all her spite on poor Hercules) give us not only inspiration for plots, but also for emotional themes.
Bulfinch's Mythology is an invaluable resource for researching Greek and Roman myths. The Theoi Project provides information about Greek stories, while the Encyclopedia Mythica gives insight into several different pantheons.
Next time, we head north to Valhalla.
25 April 2007
- Blood Bound Patricia Briggs
- Kissing Sin Keri Arthur
- Succubus Blues Richelle Mead
- Lover Revealed JR Ward
- The Leopard Prince Elizabeth Hoyt (okay, actually historical, but since I viewed The Raven Prince as alternate history, I'll list it here)
- Darkfever Karen Marie Moning
- Devilish Maureen Johnson (YA, but also paranormal, perhaps not a romance)
- Twilight Stephanie Meyer (YA)
- Demon Angel Meljean Brooks
- Seeing Eye Mate Annmarie McKenna
- Missing in Action Amanda Young
- Stray Rachel Vincent
- Ill Wind Rachel Caine
The fact that you could be dancing with somone who changes into a wolf and not even know it is what lots of paranormals are all about, when you get right down to it. In fact, I have have my hero and heroine out on the dancefloor, albeit briefly in The Wolf's Heart.
While Lainey figures out pretty quick that Marcus is hotter than a 2-dollar pistol, she doesn't know he changes into a wolf for a long time. He's adept at hiding his true nature behind his good ole' boy Southern charm, and it doesn't hurt that they've known one another since they were kids either.
I wrote Wolf's Heart's heroine with this thought in mind: What would you do if you found out the man who lay beside you at night, made you laugh, sigh, and yes, danced you off your feet, went furry every month? When she does find out are somewhat loud with threats of violence to certain parts of Marcus' anatomy. LOL.
The best part of any story of course, is the journey from point A to point B, at least to me, getting there is half the fun. Marcus wants her, but thinks they're too different. His wolf has a different point of view..in his mind or in The Wolf's Heart, there's never been anyone but her. He'll allow his other half to make mistake after mistake, knowing this one fact: to err is human, to forgive canine.
Have a great Wednesday!
23 April 2007
Well, there are a lot of people who buy those advice books. A lesser number start a novel. Still fewer finish one. Even fewer submit it for publication, and I think we all know how many get published.
For those of us in that minority, we aren't there because we all read the "right" book or employ some similar technique, besides write well and keep submitting. Everyone who pursues a writing career puts the words on the page differently, resulting in different words and different books. Some of us believe writer's block is a myth, and some of us can't write unless certain conditions are met, such as soft music, an IV drip of caffeine, or photos of our hero emblazoned across the computer screen. Some of us finish several books a year, and some authors, as legitimate as the rabbits, write at the speed of tortoise.
I'm an author who does her best work when there are no children tugging my legs, screeching at the cats, or babbling non-stop in the background. As a stay-at-home mom with two kids not yet in school, these "requirements" mean my writing time is limited. I have great envy in my heart for writer-types who can drop into the zone (the magical place where we can get something worthwhile onto the page) handily, taking advantage of fifteen minutes here or there, scribbling during ballet lessons or lunch breaks, pounding out hundreds of words while the baby naps.
If the baby naps.
My dream zone is silent, childless, catless, climate-controlled and clean, all things no one would use to describe my house. A place like that is a true fantasy. Right now, for example, my 5 year old has been talking so much her voice is husky, and the baby is headbutting my legs because I'm holding the laptop instead of her. I don't get my dream zone, so I make do with chaos, enforced Teletubbies hour, and occasional bouts of low rumbling.
What's important to realize, as you contemplate your own zone, is that what works for me won't necessarily work for you. What works for Jennie, or Bianca, or Carolan, might not work for me (though I wish more methods did work for me!).
One author I know swears by first drafts in two weeks at twenty pages a day--"Get those words on a page no matter what!" she cries. Another writer I know composes fifty page synopses before she begins a novel. She can't proceed until she's packed for all contingencies and knows all the stops along the way. Still another, who may or may not be myself, is slow, erratic, and finds synopses inhibiting. But the result of one of these journeys? Is a fantasy romance novel called A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH, purchased by Samhain for publication in the year 2008 :).
So I did something right, even if I felt unsure at the time when considering the seemingly more successful methods of my peers.
And that's what I want to celebrate today--our differences. Through it all, as we blog and vent and discuss the ins and outs of authorship, it's important to acknowledge there are as many routes to a destination as there are authors. No right path, no wrong path. Our brains and writing habits are as individual as the end results.
Thank goodness for that, because I was a reader long before I was a writer!
What's your process? Ever been convinced you had pinned down your process and tried something new anyway? Did it work or did it lead you astray?
This is it. Forget the nerves and anxiety, you've finally met the girl of your dreams and she's agreed to "try you out" with a nice meal, theater and dancing. So shave, shower, and get out your most stunning designer wardrobe—not forgetting her favorite men's cologne. Now you're ready for the most romantic and thrilling night of your life. But wait! Have you read your Horton's guide to Polite Dating? Do you know the difference between a Winny and a Whammy? Worried that you might not be able to impress her?
Never fear, our intrepid, never to be daunted, Agent Double D.3 has performed many an arduous night of research—with much wine, dancing and, well, yes!—to provide this report. Here is a detailed guide for prospective paranormal suitors on the correct behavior for your very first date. So, buy the bouquet of flowers, pick up a box of Godiva, and have yourself a very successful, and hopefully satiated, evening.
Agent Double D.3 reports :
The Gift— Flowers are a must, unless you know for certain the young lady in question is allergic to them, and some chocolates. For goodness sake don't take red wine, it will remind you too much of that other red stuff and might cause you to lose control. Since your love bite is of the, let's say more committed kind, you will need to control yourself with this hot babe.
The Date— During the actual date itself, keep focused, look interested in her at all times—even if she never leaves the topic of lipstick shades. Just smile, gently put your hand over hers, and politely suggest that she'd look good enough to eat with a bright shade of blood red. If you find it hard to control yourself around attractive humans avoid the dance venues on the first few dates. Dancing tends to accentuate the pulse and makes your date's neck far more attractive than normal. Many a vampire male has been branded uncouth for biting their partner on the dance floor.
The Walk/Ride Home— Please refrain from turning into a giant bat and carrying your date home. Aside from the likelihood of scaring her to death, bat dropping stains are awfully hard to remove from clothing.
After Date Desserts— It’s not considered gentlemanly to bite someone on your first date, unless they are willing. Of course, with that magnetic stare of yours, how could she not be willing? Not to mention, her bed can be terribly lonely for one.
The Gift— As much as it pains me to tell you this, a huge slab of raw steak is not, in human terms, considered romantic. If she swoons when you slap two pounds of the best, bloody sirloin in her hands as she opens the door, it will not be from delight. Give her something special, like a fur coat made from pelts of your prey—minus the bite marks, of course. Under no circumstances suggest that she might like to go to dinner, au natural, under the coat. If she suggests it herself, hey, that’s a different matter.
The Date— Firstly - avoid making a first date on the full moon. Even the most liberal of women can take offense at their hunky companion turning into Chewbacca over tagliatelle. Dancing is a must, since your natural animal grace will overawe any potential lover. For dinner, avoid places that serve raw meats, like steak and hamburger, and stick with processed foods like Italian or Chinese. Seeing you, with blood dripping off your chin, will not increase your chances of romance.
The Walk/Ride Home— We’ve all heard about the wonderful freedom of running the streets and forests in wolf form. Unfortunately your date is human. She can’t transform. Probably doesn’t want to transform, and is most likely to scream and run if you do transform. A taxi, or car, is the recommended form of transport here. Though removing the dead deer from the trunk and having the car detailed to remove the smell of wet wolf, before the date, is an advisory precaution.
After Date Desserts— Don’t automatically think buying her a nice meal, giving her chocolates and having a fantastic time dancing gives you the right to grab your date and hump her in her front garden. Get her into the living room first where it’s warmer.
The Gift— Now might be the time to raid that famous treasure stash of yours to find that one antique bauble of Aunt Matilda’s, which matches perfectly with your new date’s eyes. Make sure she’s aware of its sentimental value to you and how special she is, which is why she must have it. At no point admit you think the thing is butt ugly and you’re so glad to be rid of it.
The Date— Since your state of visibility is, let’s say somewhat challenged, the best venue for a date is that olde fashioned restaurant with separate booths, and preferably curtains that can be pulled across for more privacy. Have the lights turned really low—for romantic reasons, and keep your date distracted with interesting food and copious wine. The less she has to look at you, and the more she’s drunk, the less likely she is to wonder why the paisley pattern of the chair cover can be seen through your chest.
The Walk/Ride Home— You may be able to drift through brick, stone and wood, but she can’t. Open the doors for her, please.
After Date Desserts— With all that wine keeping her happily smiling, she won’t mind at all if you tell her a few ghostly stories, as you tuck both of you into her bed.
- Invisible man:
The Gift— Don’t be cheapskate. Presenting your date with a vase full of your specially grown invisible flowers, especially the ones you can’t feel, will always backfire in the end. With luck you’ll just get a kick or two to the shins, if you’re unlucky you'll get a kick or two somewhere else and the door slammed in your face. After that we’ll be calling you Ethel. Spend that extra twenty dollars and get her some real flowers. You, your shins and your other bits, will be grateful.
The Date— Walking around covered in bandages can make it a bit tricky when it comes to getting into some of the more exclusive places. The simple solution to this is to effect a snobbish British accent and accidentally drop some business cards in front of the maitre d. Make sure the cards have the seal of the British Crown on them and P. Willy underneath the seal. Apologize profusely, explaining that you’re not in disguise but simply holding the cards for a friend. You will suddenly discover the restaurant has excellent service for you and your date, though you may have to endure being called “your majesty” for the duration of the evening. Note that it is in extremely bad taste, when your date goes to the restroom, to unravel the bandages and slip inside just to get a peek. But if you do, make sure to take photos on your cell phone and post them on the web.
The Walk/Ride Home— Take a romantic walk across the park on your way home. If you choose a cloudy night, on a new moon when there’s a power outage, you can even take off your bandages and walk naked. She’ll never know the difference.
After Date Desserts— A simple peck on the cheek is quite sufficient. Though it may take a little persuading to get her to pull down the covers enough to expose her butt.
The Gift— Fish may go down very well at home, but here it should be reserved solely for the sushi chef. Seaweed too, since it really doesn’t stand well in a vase. Now an intricately carved statue of coral is acceptable, or a small strand of a hundred or so pearls. Well, who needs to go out for dinner with a gift like that?
The Date— Yes, we know you love to talk to the dolphins, and whales are really cool when you can share the local sea gossip. Unfortunately most women, when they dress in slinky evening wear, don’t like to spend their date at the local Sea World. This might stifle your creativity some, yes, but stop thinking with the flippers man, think with your head. And no, we don’t mean that head. A nice restaurant, away from sources of water— i.e. the sea front—will serve nicely. Oh, and unless it’s sushi or oysters, don’t eat the fish raw.
The Walk/Ride Home— Given the typically unpredictable state of the weather, always travel by car or taxicab. Any other form of transport runs the risk of being caught in rain. This would leave you floundering, and your angry date haggling prices with the local sushi chef.
After Date Desserts— This is your time to demonstrate how much you like to eat things raw.
The Gift— Please, please, please, leave that frozen sample from the sperm bank at home. Go for something simple like a velvet blindfold and silk scarves, just to give her a taste of what’s to come later. Besides her, that is.
The Date— Naturist beach – no. Mixed sauna and hot tub – no. skinny dipping – no. Look dude if you want to get hot and naked with her at least find somewhere private. How about suggesting an indoor barbecue at your place, clothing optional?
The Walk/Ride Home— You’re already at home… What are you waiting for?
After Date Desserts— Slinky, smooth, sexy. This is just the area you are an expert in. Oh, okay, you can get those sperm samples out now…
The Gift— With the gifts of a thousand maharaja’s at your whim you had to go buy her a box of chocolates! Good grief! Next time bring a ruby or two, and a diamond necklace, a tiara, a…
The Date— A taste of the exotic will work wonders here. Take her someplace she’s never been—yes, we know she hasn’t been to Topeka, Kansas but you need make it exciting and someplace that people would actually want to visit. Bring her to locales where she can try food and wine that has never been seen on this World, just make sure to have the detox wagon ready for when she gets home. If you do all that, it will be a memorable experience for her she’ll never forget. Whatever you do, don’t take her to Paris, France or Florence, Italy. Those so called romantic pot holes are way too overused and utterly boring.
The Walk/Ride Home— Now, this magic carpet type thing is kind of cool. It is a thrilling ride, indeed, to feel the wind blowing through the hair and see the tiny, biddy people way, way below. Do check first, though, that your date isn’t afraid of heights or gets travel sick. Cleaning those antique carpets can be costly.
After Date Desserts— Who needs to go home when you have a convenient flying carpet and a few handy condoms? Watch out for those carpet burns.
Agent Double D.3 report ends.
20 April 2007
My paranormal leanings are fairly recent. Until, oh, about 2 years ago, I was strictly a fantasy/sci-fi girl with the odd historical romance tossed in for variety. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I was never a fan of vampires, weres or any usual suspects. In thinking about this, I wondered how I could love fantasy and magic and not care for the same types of story set in our own world.
I blame it on TV.
Ok, I can't completely blame it on TV. The truth is, I don't remember much paranormal TV or books geared towards teens. The 80's and early 90's were full of sitcoms and if there were any movies with para elements, my parents must not have let me near them. By the time Buffy, Angel and Charmed (among others) aired, I was too busy with college to watch much TV.
As for books, the problem might be that paranormal is generally shelved with romance, cause of course there's usually lots of hot nookie in them. Being a teenager, you don't want to be buying YA books (at least I didn't) and I felt...squicky...being infront of the romance shelves (I could borrow them from mum, but buying them was another story.)
Hopefully it'll be different for my kids. Buying books for them I see tons of stories with magic, faeries, etc, and paranormal has made itself known in a big way on the television and big screen. Hopefully it's not a fad, like a lot of people are saying.
So did I just miss out on all the good para TV as a kid? What were your first paranormal books/favorite movies?
18 April 2007
|To celebrate my latest release from Samhain Publishing--CHOSEN, Book Three of the Guardians' League--I thought I'd do a different sort of excerpt. Here are thirteen of my favorite lines from the book. I hope you enjoy them!|
1. “I know the whole Ambassador gig involves improving vampire-human relations, but damn, I didn't realize it meant that kind of relations."
Sin, Cobra Clan Patriarch to Gareth after Alexa did a very hot body-shot with Gareth in a bar as a dare
2. “What the hell were you thinking?” Kim demanded, gaping at her. “The man is a walking god and he was looking at you like he’d like to cover you in chocolate and lick you clean."
Alexa getting razzed after she refuses to dance with Gareth.
3. “Choose soon,” the man said in a voice like icy death. “Choose or die.”
4. . “Help me out here,” he whispered to her. “My ego can’t take another no. You’re going to ruin my reputation if you’re not careful.”
Gareth, asking Alexa out in front of her friends.
5. “Wow,” she said, staring at his gorgeous butt as he turned for her. Those tight leather pants were in serious contention for her favorite invention ever.
Alexa... well, really, Gareth in tight leather is enough to rob any girl of speech.
6. “I promise I won’t bite tonight. Not even a nibble.”
Gareth, reassuring Alexa.
7. “Let’s just say that I’ll start believing in vampires when I meet one,” she said as Jackson Square came into view.
A skeptical Alexa at the start of Gareth's vampire tour.
8. "Only consensual biting between legal adults is allowed on this tour."
Tour-guide Gareth laying down the rules.
9. “What are you going to do in front of your precious mortals, Gareth? You’re not going to get medieval on us in front of your girlfriend, are you? Whatever would she think?”
Outcasts taunting Gareth
10. She had finally managed to find a great guy—handsome, charming, gainfully employed—and he was some psycho vampire-groupie. She felt like crying. It just wasn’t fair.
Alexa reflecting that dating basically sucks when Gareth tells her the truth about vampires.
11. “Life needs a replay button.”
Gareth reflecting that dating basically sucks when Alexa gets up and leaves.
12. “Let me try this again. Did you figure out why that guy broke my window or did you just stand there getting your butt kicked?”
Nurse Alexa's bedside manner suffers a bit as she treats Gareth.
13. “Compensating for something?”
His deep chuckle sent a shudder through her. “Wanna find out?”
Alexa's reaction to Gareth's car, which she thinks of as a "penis on wheels."
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If you'd indulge me for a moment, I'm changing course today. In the past few days, we've been flooded with some very painful images, and of course it brings to mind other recent and not-so-recent tragedies.
We all have ways of coping, whether it's the loss of a loved one, or the more distant feelings of loss for people we never met.
I've never been good at writing while I'm upset. I can't even read fiction when I'm troubled. Later on, however, I note that tragic themes can surface in my writing. September 11 figures in Princes of Anfall. Flooding figures in Lords of Ch'i.
Besides helping ourselves, how can we help others? After all, we're just romance writers, right? And romance readers, right? But we're a community, and communities can do a lot when they band together. Offer solace, talk, chat, blog, instant message, show compassion, reach out.
REACH OUT. Do you know someone who is depressed, suffering a loss, overwhelmed by television images, upset about Don Imus, whatever... And perhaps, if you're a writer, you can find a way to tell an important story, no matter how cloaked in mystery, romance, or comedy.
17 April 2007
Remember that show "Scare Tactics?" In this video, one cheerleader sets up her "ditzy" friend by saying they're going to an exclusive party somewhere out in the wilds of Utah. In reality, she's being set up. Vampires are about to attack. What follows is kinda scary, pretty funny, and - if you're like me - makes you think about possible plots and storylines...
So if you see a scene like this sometime in one of my vamp books, you'll know where it all started.
16 April 2007
Setting isn’t just where things happen. It’s a character in and of itself. If you picked up your protagonists and put them in another location, it would be a completely different story. Setting isn’t just a place geographically. It’s a place, psychologically, socially, culturally.
Your characters can interact a certain way in LA that would be completely inappropriate in East Anglia. Where they are influences everything about them. Not just how they might dress for a certain event, but how they act, how they frame their words, how they think.
In addition, your setting creates a mood, a tone to which you must be faithful. A lone werewolf running loose in Prague at midnight creates a very different expectation for the reader than a lone werewolf who happens to be the mayor of a small town in South Carolina.
You can use setting to your advantage. Putting that LA vampire in Maycomb, Alabama can create useful conflict – comic or dramatic. What happens when your urban chic vamp ends up in the English countryside? In LA, there’s a ready food source out on the streets at all hours of the day or night. In an area populated by small villages, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to find a meal.
So as you write, don’t just plonk your characters somewhere that sounds interesting. Or in a blank space that adds no dimension. Use the setting you create to make your story the most dynamic it can be.
15 April 2007
Okay so you’ve cleaned, scrubbed and de-make-upped your face. You’ve put curlers in your hair and plucked the ungainly growth from wherever the ungainly growth grew (hey, you try typing that line at 3am!) The wind outside is howling, the moon is full and bright and the cold frosty bit on the stairway is getting even colder and frostier. Not to mention there is a new batch of seaweed on the balcony and the smell of fish in the bath. So, what do you do now? Do you go and investigate these interesting phenomena, or should you call Mr. Husky nice guy, just in case you need a little comfort and—comfort.
Never fear, our intrepid, never to be daunted, Agent Double D.3 has done a special guide on how to deal with unusual nighttime paractivity and find yourself a perfect match. So go get yourself a nice mug of dreamy hot chocolate—made with added chunks of real Godiva. Find a cosy, alright steamy—okay, okay, hot enough to take your breath away romance? Slide into your slinkiest, silky sleepwear (really I am sober, honest.) And listen to the latest gossip on the sultry side of midnight.
Agent Double D.3 reports :
Vampires: Detecting a vampire in the house is achieved through a variety of ways. Screaming “Bite me, Bite me,” isn’t a recommended method until you know which type of vampire you have. A cautious approach to any attic, fully armed with crucifix, garlic, holy water and with a generous stake by your side is considered ideal. Of course, you may wish to wear a night dress which is particularly sleek and see-through. Just in case he’s handsome, sexy and an overall good guy. Then again, who cares about the good..?
Werewolves: The first thing one must do in detecting the presence of werewolves is to check the moon. Unfortunately, most modern werewolves can now change at any time of the month but it’s always good to know the moon is still there. The first and most obvious sign that a werewolf is on your property is the sudden depletion in your supplies of Kibbles and Bits. You don’t have Kibbles and Bits? Then try leaving half a lamb or a string of rabbit carcasses by the porchway. The next half-naked hunk with torn jeans who hammers on your door in the wee hours, demanding to know why you’re attempting to poison him with raw meat, is your man, uhm, wolf. On discovering his identity you must immediately offer to run a shower for him. Note: It is considered terribly bad form to do this while standing naked within the shower. But then, good form was never much fun.
Ghosts: Ghosts are a particularly hard paractivity to notice. Being hard though is kind of what makes these guys fun. It is possible to detect these paramours through expensive and complicated electronic devices. This is not recommended. At worse you look like an idiot when you find you can’t operate the stuff, at best you look like a weedy college professor that no decent ghost would be seen floating around with. The best method is to take off your clothes and lie on the bed naked. Everyone knows that ghosts just love to look at people in bed, not to mention with this method you’re already half-way prepared for when he arrives.
Invisible men: Invisible men are tough bodies to crack, most of them being on the verge of half-crazy. Hey, if you couldn’t see it to aim when you needed to pee, you’d be waltzing up to the nut house too. Catching these types of paractivity requires cunning, stealth, a good ear, edible spray adhesive and several bags of your favorite chocolate ground into a fine powder. Since most invisible men are natural voyeurs find a nice private part of the garden that is well lit by moonlight. As soon as you hear footsteps and see feet depressions in the grass, spray liberally with the adhesive and toss the bags of chocolate powder. Once he’s fully, chocolately, visible and stopped sneezing, feel free to offer to clean the chocolate off him.
Mermen: No, no, no, don’t go walking around with a spray bottle of water and soaking all the men you meet hoping to find a merman. While this may have the added pleasure of a surprise male wet t-shirt contest, it will also give a lot of ineligible men the wrong idea. Not to mention if you find the object of your desire he’d be turned into a fish. And really, think about it. WHAT GOOD IS HE WHEN HE’S A FISH? Do I need to repeat myself? No? Good. The use of subtlety is paramount when hunting down anyone of a mer nature. Look for tell-tale signs, most notably the abject fear of getting wet. Observe how long it takes for your suspect to take a shower? Are there loud slapping noises on the floor after he has taken one? Is there an odd sea-like odor and strings of dried sea weed hanging around his balcony? If there are, then congratulations you have caught you a fish, uh, merman. Just make sure, the next time he heads to the beach, you get ahead of him and do some impromptu skinny dipping. The sun, sand and a battery powered blow drier will work wonders from there.
Agent Double D.3 report ends.
14 April 2007
I am haunted.
By words and images that dance in my head. By remembered ghostly tales told on my grandmother's front porch by moonlight. By the occasional glimpse of a beloved, long-dead pet, still sunning herself in her usual spot by the window. By the voice of a loved one, calling my name on the edge of sleep.
As a native of North Carolina with ancestors stretching back into ancient Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Cornwall, I am haunted by history, by the words of great Southern writers, and by music of times long past. So it seems only fitting that I could sing before I could talk, and have been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil.
Ghosts and ghost stories are a natural part of growing up Tarheel. From Murphy to Manteo, you can trace your way across the state following the trail of legends. I challenge you to find a North Carolina native-born who doesn’t know at least a dozen stories of haints, boogers, disembodies lights, and unexplained mysteries. Say the word “Croatoan” to a North Carolinian and watch their eyes light up. Before you know it, they’ll be telling you the whole story of the strange disappearance of the Lost Colony.
Even childhood games with my cousins leaned decidedly in a paranormal direction. We played a variation of tag called “Ghosts in the Graveyard.” And we really played it in a graveyard, because my ancestors are buried in unmarked graves along the edge of the tobacco fields beside my grandparents’ house. My sister is still convinced that a ghost from that graveyard slammed her Honda’s hatchback down on her head one dark, moonless night!
I asked my grandfather once if having graves so close to the house bothered him. He leaned back in his porch rocker and said placidly, “Nah. Dey rotten.” Ask him about the Haint Mule, though, and he’d shift uncomfortably and change the subject. My sister finally wormed the story out of him, about how he sold a particularly stubborn mule “down the river”, only to have its ghost come back to haunt him by repeatedly thundering around the house and keeping him awake at night.
My first published book, Beaudry’s Ghost, was born of a vacation trip that included Appomattox Battlefield and the most haunted coastline in America, the Outer Banks. Spirits of both these places began whispering in my ear. On the drive home, my brain began to play the writer’s game of “what if?” By the time I got home, a story was born of the ghost of a wrongly dishonored Union soldier seizing a chance for revenge during a modern-day Civil War re-enactment.
I could hold forth on for hours about the legends and lore that shaped me as a writer. But I will save those for another time. Wait’ll you hear the one about the Devil’s Tramping Ground. Hee!
For now, I’m off to watch another episode of “Supernatural” on DVD with my daughter. Well how about that. The title of this episode is... wait for it...
What regional ghost stories and supernatural legends do you remember from your childhood? Let's see who can raise those most hairs on the backs of our necks!
ABHAINN'S KISS, available now from SamhainPublishing.com.
13 April 2007
But, I realize, these are hardly the first paranormal-type books I read. I cut my teeth on The Wizard of Oz and its sequels (okay, fantasy), The Black Stallion series (with its time travel episodes, among other things), The Tripods series by John Christopher (okay, science fiction), and I can't not mention Lord of the Rings, although I do think of it as fantasy.
Anyway, I realize what I can't remember is when I read my first shapeshifter or werewolf. I would guess in a romance, but which romances I don't know, and it could well have been a fantasy, too. (I didn't read Anne Rice, btw.)
My personal tastes run towards shapeshifters, not sure why. Maybe it's simply because I'm not a night person! But when did you read your first vampire and/or shapeshifter. What teen or childhood reads were important to you?
(By the way, if you like futuristics, Angela James is giving away a digital copy of a soon-to-be-released futuristic, Forget About Tomorrow by Liz Kreger.)
12 April 2007
Warning! Brag blog to follow! Ok, not really, well, maybe a tad. And not on me, much, just on Anne Cain who gave me the lovely cover you see above. The Wolf's Heart is my first, but hopefully not my last, release from Samhain.
As the title indicates, it's about werewolves, but mine aren't the usual cursed ones who shy away from civilization, raising their fists to the heavens and bemoaning their fates. No, they live among humans, only leaving civilized society to shift and revel in the freedom of their other forms. I try to make them as normal in other ways as I can besides being a bit crazy. The heroine tells the hero, Marcus, to chill, all he has is a furry version of PMS. Oh yeah, he loves that, let me tell you. I love my werewolves and the way they interact with humans, fooling them into thinking they're normal without looking down on them. Marcus likes being a wolf, loves it in fact, but he doesn't think it makes him better, just different.
I love the idea of them existing right beneath our noses. The strange, the unknown living right around the corner or in a bayou or desert. Surely if magic or extraordinary exists, then the world can't be all bad, in theory anyway. I don't know what I'd actually do if confronted by a Were in real life, besides freak out. Unless, he looked like my hero in non-furry form, then, hey, I got plenty of ideas. *wiggles brows*
Some feel that a hero/heroine can’t like their powers. I don't really agree with that. I do know that absolute power can corrupt, and I make it so there is always a struggle to keep that from happening. If you have the strength of character to be the hero or heroine of the story, surely you can control your so-called darker side, or beast so that you don't go on a rampage and start killing everyone in sight. Hey, there's always politicians and lawyers and such for that, right? Just kidding, ok not really. *winks* But, really, if you had this awesome ability to turn into another thing, like a wolf, bear, or panther, wouldn't you love it too?
10 April 2007
Paranormal Fiction is a hot genre at the moment. But to capture a reader’s attention, you have to create a fictional world that seems real. It doesn’t matter that your characters live on Planet XYZ or in Medieval England fighting Dragons; the rules of their world must have a footing in reality. And by reality, I mean what’s real to those characters and those worlds. You can create any world setting your heart desires, but you have to define rules that make your fictional realm go round without any hitches.
Take for instance the vampire romance. I’ve written vampire novels where my vamps can go out in dim sunlight, where they’re hybrid beings such as part fallen angel, and even one novel where a specific sect of vampires are subjects of the Celtic fire / sun god Lugh. But in all those cases I needed good rules as to why my vampires were a bit different from the stereotype. My fallen angel vampires don’t drink blood unless they are in dire straights, they survive on the fruits and berry wines of Paradise supplied to them by the archangels. In my upcoming Samhain Selkie vampire novella IN THE SHADOW OF THE SELKIE, my vampires follow the rules of the Selkie world – they have Selkie / Seal pelts and should they lose their pelts, the person who takes them owns their souls.
You can do anything you want in your paranormal novel, but you have to have good reason behind it so the reader can associate the character with his or her special twist on the genre. Maybe you have a werewolf who instead of shape-shifting every full moon transforms whenever he smells roses. The shift can be a result of a scientific experiment gone wrong where werewolf blood accidentally became tainted with rose oil before being injected into the human it was being tested on. Or the werewolf who bit the human did so in a rose garden and in the process a bit of rose oil mixed with its blood as it bit its prey. Now you have a werewolf shape-shifter who is sensitive to the scent of roses. And what if the heroine in the story is a Botanist cultivating a special rose hybrid for medical purposes or she’s the head of a mega perfume company specializing in rose scented fragrances. This can cause some interesting scenarios. Readers will identify with the difference in this werewolf character since there’s good reason behind why he transforms when smelling the specific fragrance. (Okay, the mentioned plots were off the top of my head and probably not the best thought out ones, but you get the idea :-)
Adding a special twist to your character can make for an interesting plot in this very popular genre. Have you ever read a paranormal novel that had rules outside the norm?
09 April 2007
Now, I know Bianca is going to be talking about this later, so I will leave the meaty stuff to her. Most of us nowadays, when we talk about paranormal, are thinking along the lines of Vampires, Werewolves, Ghosts and the like.
Here, and I hope I'm not stepping on Bianca's blogtoes, I'd like to talk about what I call Paranormal Light.
What is Paranormal Light? It is something, I believe, that happens to all of us at least once in our lifetimes. Paranormal Light is often ignored, disbelieved and frequently not even noticed. Most times it is counted as coincidence, a mere accident, or, to be slightly more mystical, an act of Fate. Looking back over my life I've seen many of these moments, though I've tended not to realize until after the event. Though I'm learning now to recognize them.
I last experienced Paranormal Light only a few months ago. It was a bright, sunny November day. Everyone I knew was in a good mood, things in general seemed to going well, yet I couldn't shake my feeling of utter depression. I found out a week later, after lots of unanswered phone calls and emails, my mother had gone into hospital again. This time she didn't come out. The deep sense of loss I'd felt that day had warned me, prepared me in a way, for what was coming.
I've known other people have events like this too, like my friend, L, who felt impelled to follow a fire engine while driving to a business meeting one day. She ended up arriving at her house where the firemen were fighting a massive blaze—her husband, and her terrified children huddled on the sidewalk, were overjoyed to see her. Another friend, J, who flew regularly with no problems at all became so panicked before one particular flight she didn't dare board—only to find, later that night, the plane had crashed on landing, killing all on board.
Paranormal Light is the feeling, or the need to do something, that you wouldn't ordinarily have, and which can give wide ranging consequences. It can extend to something as simple as knowing when your child is hitting the cookie jar when you're upstairs unable to see, or "feeling" your cat waiting at the door for you to let him in.
Are these moments important, do they mean anything? I believe we should rejoice and encourage these, "abilities", and learn from them. Think of the healing and joy could we bring to others. It could be that a friend is constantly dominating our thoughts—if we call her we might find her crying over a recent tragedy in her life and by talking over the phone we give her hope and comfort. Or suppose we listen to that urge we feel to visit a friend, and on arriving become instrumental in smoothing over a trauma, whether big or small. From my own experience I have found these instances of Paranormal Light to be times where we are called on to be of joy or assistance to others, or as protection from accident or sometimes even evil in avoiding those that intend us harm. These are good things.
I love the paranormal world and all its various creatures. I'm sure my vampire society and my hero, Valencius, would bite me if I didn't. To me, though, paranormal has no limits other than the prejudices of the human mind. It can be as simple—or complicated—as life itself.
Spend some time looking back over your life, and see where you've been a part of Paranormal Light and rejoice that these wonderful connections exist. Sometimes, it can bring a great sense of freedom to let the Paranormal Light in.
05 April 2007
The question becomes where to draw the line. How much is too much? At what point does your character become the equivilent of Q from Star Trek or an ascended ancient in Stargate? There is no magic number (no more than 4 powers to each customer) and every story is going to have different requirements. One option is to let the character have a couple strong gifts, and a very limited ability with some others. Mercedes Lackey did this with her character Vanyel in The Last Herald Mage trilogy. he was strong, yes, and had almost every gift out there, but some were only useful in small things. (Example: he had the firestarter gift, but it was only strong enough to start a campfire, and would't have been useful as an offensive weapon)
In a project I'm working on now, I divided the popular "powers" into elemental groups. Any one witch can have as many gifts as I care to give her/him in one group. Having powers from more than one group, ultimately destroys the witch and drives them insane. Some pairings are slower to disable the user, but others, like fire and air can mess them up pretty quickly. And what happens when some pour soul starts developing powers in all four elements? I don't know yet. I'll let you know when I get the story done *grin*
03 April 2007
Yes, as you can probably tell from the cover, this ain't your mama's paranormal romance. The heros - yes, there are two - are twin alpha werewolves, and the heroine is a newly discovered priestess who doesn't know much about the supernatural world, but learns fast when bad guys start lobbing fireballs her way. This story fits into a broader contemporary paranormal world in which all my vamp and were stories are set. I have a bunch of vampire novellas with Lady Aibell Press and now a few with Samhain as well. In fact, my first full-length vampire novel, Sweeter Than Wine, will be out with Samhain sometime this Fall.
In the next few weeks I'll probably be posing questions or reflecting on what I think "paranormal romance" is. Seems the definition is quite elastic nowadays. If you have a moment, post a comment and let me know what you think paranormal romance is. I'll compare notes and try to give you my take next week. (Or sooner, if one of the other authors on this blog wants to take up the gauntlet.) :-)
Bye for now,