31 August 2007

Slavic Mythology

I apologize for missing my last turn, but I’m making up for it today with a short article about Slavic Mythology.

Sure enough, there be gods in Eastern Europe. From Macedonia (just above Greece) all the way to Latvia (just south of Finland) and including more than a dozen countries both large and small with ever changing regimes, borders and dialects.

In fact, there is a movement in the Baltic (Northern Slavic) countries to return to an ethnic polytheistic pagan religion called Romuva, which worships the old gods and is important in preserving Baltic folk traditions.

If you remember, we talked about Basque mythology recently and one of the problems in researching is that Christianity had been around for so long that many of the traditions were forgotten. You know, what with the Inquisition burning thousands of Basque pagans and all. The issues surrounding research into Slavic mythology have some of the same issues. Not necessarily due to the Spanish Inquisition – totally unexpected – but because of centuries of Christian influence in the area. In addition, the Slavs had no written language prior to their Christianization, and many stories were no doubt lost in the mists of time.

One thing that struck me in my study was the recurrence of a World Tree, which we’ve seen in Norse mythology and in Central American mythology. As in other cultures, the tree – an oak this time – was symbolic of the different levels of existence. The crown represented the heavenly deities, the trunk was the realm of mortals and the roots of the tree stretched into the underworld.

As opposed to many of the cultures we’ve studied, the underworld of Slavic mythology was actually very nice – not a world of fire and judgment, but of eternal spring. The tree was also organized along the four cardinal directions of the wind (horizontal axes) and the various levels of the tree (vertical axes). To correspond, there was the three-headed god, Triglav, the god of prophecy and soothsaying, and Svantevit, the four-headed god of both war and harvest. An unusual combination.

As to major gods, there were a few. Perun was the top guy. The god of the thunder, lightning and fire. He was also a dry god. This is important in a minute. He drove a chariot across the sky (Apollo, much?), hurled a hammer (Thor, much?) at evil spirits and lived at the top of the World Tree. His opposite number is Veles, the god of the underworld. Naturally, they were enemies. Veles was a god of peasants, cattle and wealth. He was a wet god. Represented as a dragon or serpent, he would steal Perun’s cattle. Dry periods were the result of Veles thievery and trickery of Perun. When Perun went after him to get his cattle back, a great battle would ensue – big storms with lots of thunder and lightning. The battles would result in the defeat/death of Veles – when his body was split open by Perun’s sword, the great rains would fall and order could be restored.

There are a number of smaller deities who controlled or symbolized other aspects of life for the Slavs. Czernobog represented the darkness of winter and was accordingly a bleak and forbidding god. His position was overtaken in the spring by the other half of himself, Bielobog, a god of sun, light, and life. The Czernobog/Bielobog deity, however, is unsubstantiated by modern research because of the dearth of proof. Indeed, while Czernobog is fairly certain to have existed within the pantheon, the only theory of Bielobog’s existence is merely the conjecture of a 12th century priest who assumed that the evil of Czernobog *must* have some balancing force – not necessarily true.

The Zorya were a trilogy of sister goddesses who symbolized the passage of the sun and moon. They are the Morning, the Evening, and the Midnight Star, guarding the gates of heaven for the passage of the sun. They also stand guard over the doomsday hound, who, if he ever breaks his chain, will eat the constellation of Ursa Minor. If he ever does, the universe will end.

The Slavs also have a rich and varied folklore consisting of goblins, fairies, witches, dragons and firebirds. For more information on that, see this University of Alberta link and this one from the University of Alabama. Those are also good sources for the mythology we’ve discussed here. See also the Slavic Pantheon. Wikipedia, as always, is a good jumping off point for further research, but my other two favorite pantheon sources, Godchecker and Encyclopedia Mythica, are sadly lacking in this area.

30 August 2007

The Strength of the Wolf


I'm very excited that next week my second werewolf book will be released. It's The Strength of the Wolf. In June, The Strength of the Pack was released and that was Seth's story. This is his sister's story.

For more on both books, visit my website.

Blurb:

For longer than she can remember, Veronica has been wolf. Dreams give her a name and the image of a brother. Memory gives her nothing and no one.

Book Two of the Strength series.

One late winter day, David Hardway saves a malnourished wolf from a trap and takes her in. During her time with David, the wolf finds in herself the desire to be human again.

David loves the wolf he saved, but dislikes the strange woman who asks for his help. Still, he is incapable of turning away someone in need and despite himself, David becomes intrigued. As Veronica strives to remember why she abandoned humanity for wolfdom, David becomes determined to save her from her violent past.

But others are in danger and Veronica will have to act to protect her newfound pack.

Excerpt:

It had been a mistake to be human yesterday, to sleep human in that barn. But after a long winter as wolf, she hadn’t been able to resist. Now there were consequences—the dreams haunted her.

She wanted the dreams. They gave her a brother who named her Veronica.

She didn’t want the dreams. Their violence disturbed her.

Had men always frightened her? She should know. But all she knew were wolf observations—the snow was beginning to melt and the days were longer—and wolf feelings. The she-wolf felt skittish this close to houses and cars.

She trotted, not allowing herself to dash in panic. Though the smells were wrong. Her nostrils quivered with gasoline and pollution, and even the distinctive musk of man. Her lip curled.

She moved forward. The smell turned abruptly to metal. Metal touched her paw and pain slammed down.

The bones crunched together. In her shock she yipped high, one time. Reflexively she pulled away, to no avail. She tried to make sense of the event. But it was happening again, this separation from her wolf’s body, as if it weren’t her own paw crushed between metal teeth, as if she were watching herself.

Her heart threw itself against her ribs and picked up speed, urging her to run. But when she pulled, the foot’s ligaments tore.

Think! She froze, crouching, ignoring the fire in her foot. Despite everything she’d lost, she was a thinking being. The trapper would find and kill the wolf. There was nothing for it but to turn human.

And freeze to death.

With a will that threatened to break, she forced herself to look at the trap, to touch it with the other forepaw. Possibly she could shift to human and use her left hand to free the broken one. She closed her eyes and worked her way towards a shift. But it was too soon. The panic would not allow any kind of focus and her body, with the temperature falling below zero, resisted the change.

She heard whining. Her throat betrayed her with a noise she couldn’t quite stop. To struggle all winter, to look forward to spring and the chance to be human again, and then to end like this. To stay wolf would get her killed.

It was dusk. No one, surely, would come till tomorrow. She had time to calm down, to concentrate on the change she must make.

Numb with pain and lack of circulation, her captured paw began to freeze. Her brain refused to focus on the shift. The whining didn’t stop though she tried to close her throat.

Time, she repeated to herself, when she could think that clearly. Panic does not last forever.

Then she smelled man.

***

Spring was late this year, which suited David Hardway just fine. He didn’t always get to snowshoe in mid-March and he’d set out this morning for one last hurrah. Soon the snow would be gone and visitors—the human kind—would invade the park. He didn’t consider himself a visitor, even if he lived and worked in southern Ontario. He’d grown up near Canoe Park and he allowed himself a proprietary sense of place.

He loved being here, even in drizzle, like the freezing kind that had just ended. Not that his snowshoes would be useful for much longer in these conditions. Good thing the truck was nearby. Just when he picked up speed, an animal cried out, high-pitched with pain. David stopped in his tracks. He waited to hear it again and perhaps locate it.

The park remained silent, except for the occasional car passing by. David turned and walked, straining to catch the sound of an animal in distress. The whining was so soft, it took a minute to register.

He listened carefully, then broke through the bush to make his way towards the creature. This wasn’t a poor-me sound, this was an I-hurt-bad sound.

The whining stopped. As he came upon a narrow deer path, he saw a wolf jerk, trying to get away.

It couldn’t. Its leg was caught in a trap. He moved closer. The trap was steel-jawed, not rubber-lined. This creature was doomed to death, not radio-collar and research. Or had been. He was going to change that. And report this to the park. Goddamn traps. He set aside his anger and focused on the quivering wolf.

“Hey,” he called.

It whined. Its entire body cowered, ears flattened, while its lips pulled back into a snarl.

“That’s right. Don’t go down without a fight. The thing is, I’m on your side.”

He crouched, not close enough for it to bite, and it growled and snarled, showing its teeth.

“Good. You haven’t been here too long if you’re willing to fight, right?”

It shut off its threats, as if realizing they were futile. Its eyes pleaded with him.

“I bet that hurts like hell. Those damn things usually break the paw. Listen, I want you to get used to me for a minute while I figure out how I’m going to help you.”

Its skinny body trembled. This past winter it hadn’t prospered. Shoulders jutted and the coat was decidedly lackluster. Despite its large size, he thought it too delicate to be male, but maybe that was just starvation.

He swore, though softly, so as not to alarm the wolf. Her large gold eyes seemed to glow at him, and he stared back, waiting for her to break eye contact.

After a time, she did. He had to establish the upper hand, though that in itself would not free the wolf from the trap.

“These traps are illegal, you know. The park is supposed to protect you guys, not kill you.”

She whined.

“That’s right. I want to help. Let me free you before the trapper comes back with his shotgun. Or before that paw of yours is ruined. Your life isn’t going to amount to much if you lose a paw.”

He edged forward, still out of reach of those teeth. She didn’t move. He opened his bag and took out his thick gloves. They wouldn’t fully protect his hands from a wolf bite, but they’d help.

He pulled them on. “My name’s David.”

As he approached, she began to shake again.

“Easy.” He braced for her to rush at him. Her whole body was vibrating. But she just stayed there, ears laid flat, crouched as low to the ground as possible.

Carefully, he placed his left snowshoe on top of her body. Not a lot of weight, but enough to prevent her from lunging at him.

She froze, whimpered.

“If you hurt me, I won’t be able to help you, okay?”

She wouldn’t look at him now, though her constant low whine wound through his nerves.

He talked, repeating himself, about friendship and help and trust, commiserating with her pain, making his voice a low, soothing vibration as he reached for the wolf’s damaged paw, always aware that she could snap at him.

He examined the metal trap and found the release. His sister’s boyfriend had demonstrated how they worked. In order not to further damage the paw, he moved as little as possible as he clipped the mechanism open and pulled the teeth apart. He eased her paw free and snapped the trap shut again so it wouldn’t clamp onto another unsuspecting animal. Winter had been hard enough for the four-legged without traps to worry about.

Moving slowly and deliberately, he backed away, taking his weight off her, retracing his steps so he was a good five feet from her.

She didn’t stir.

“If you were a dog, I’d take you into my sister’s to fix that paw. Are you going to get up and return to your pack?”

She lay still and he walked around to see that her eyes were closed, as if she was unconscious.

Damn. Now she might freeze to death, if the trapper didn’t come back and shoot her first. He wished his sister were here with a tranquilizer.

Once again he inched towards the wolf and after five minutes of ever increasing physical proximity, which included touching her pretty much all over, he concluded that she—definitely a she—was out cold.

Well, he might be an idiot to carry a wild, unsedated animal, but he couldn’t leave her. He bent down, lifted her over his head and placed her on his shoulders so her legs hung down in front. With his heavy load, he trudged towards his truck. For a skinny wolf, she was big. In fact, now that he had a moment to think about it, her large frame and black fur were unlike the park wolves he’d seen.

“Where are you from, girl?” he murmured. “We’re off to my sister’s, in case you’re wondering. Nell will look after you.”

Nell was a vet and though she’d scold David for being a stranger, she had a soft heart. She’d help.

The trap, he’d report later. He hoped they nailed the bastard who’d set it.

29 August 2007

Blue Moon


I'm wondering what's up with Hollywood and its prediliction with making werewolves out to be the bad guy. It all began with Lon Chaney Jr and continued with An American Werewolf in London which was an anti-tourist movie if ever I saw one. Stay home Americans, or this will happen to you! Then there was The Howling franchise, the second of which was just an excuse to give Christopher Lee a job, which is a great reason to do a movie! I love him! He's a wonderful actor. But another reason seemed to be to show Sybil Danning naked, and here's a word from the wise, it's a great view, but it only lasts a few minutes in the 'oohh' category before heading straight into 'ewww!' ville. That's a warning that my male cousins didn't have, yeah, I knew about it, but didn't tell them.


Underworld was slightly better (not really) with vamps against the werewolves, but still, everyone was bad in that movie, especially the acting. Cursed totally whimped out by making me think one thing the entire time then, taking it away at the end. And Christina Ricci's head is ginormous, so, she'd have made a goofy looking weregurrl, anyway. If I'd have been Pacey, I'd have stuck with that blonde Scott Baio lovin chick, at least she knows good actors when she sees them.


So, I was hoping that with the new movie Skinwalkers they'd give me some furries to love. Or at least give us a great Native American history lesson. No.. and um, no. Blood, guns, bullets, bikers and sex. Heck, I can go to Samhain right now, and pick out any paranormal shifter book and get 20 times the entertainment out of the first chapter than I got from this movie.

Now I know what some will say it's all about the beast within, the big bad wolf and yeah yeah I remember the Duran Duran 80's lupine love song, Hungry Like the Wolf. But seriously folks, can't we try to get along with our furry brethren? Wolves are pack animals, they like to be friends. Werewolves are the same thing, albeit with bigger teeth, and the attititudes , personalities and egos of the meanest mammals on the planet--man. But like any canine, they can be loyal, lovable and big hearted.


Werewolves are maligned, misquoted, and even mistreated with silver poisoning but has anyone called PETA to help them? No! Not that I'd want Pam Anderson near any of my werewolves. I'm not sure she'd survive. And no, I'm not talking about the males, I do have females in the pack. Hmm, I wonder if silicon can be digested by were-stomachs? I'll ask SJ, I bet he'll know.

28 August 2007

Samhain New Releases, August 28



FYI for paranormal fans, the new releases with paranormal elements at Samhain today are:

"Blood of Eden" by Edward Morris
Genre: Fantasy-SciFi
ISBN: 1-59998-554-3
Length: Category
--Not all faeries have wings. Not all goblins are green. And not all wars are fought on the outside.

"The Wolverine and the Flame" by Rebecca Goings
Genre: Fantasy Romance
ISBN: 1-59998-544-6
Length: Category
--One woman, bound to the whim of a talisman.
One dragon, driven to insane bloodlust.
One man, determined to save them both.

***

Jody W.
So much cyberspace, so little time!
http://www.jodywallace.com * http://otherworlddiner.blogspot.com

27 August 2007

Coming to An Imagination Near You!!!

It's happened to us all—we get that awesome, kick-ass idea for our break out novel...only to find that Hollywood is about to come out with a similar story on small or large screen. Usually this happens to me when I have a dream that is soooo out there and cool and just ultra ME that I have to write down the story idea and start plotting immediately, only to discover once story and plot are cast that "coming this fall on SciFi" or another such network will be my idea raped to the nth degree and displayed for all to see. Usually my mouth will be left hanging open at this point and I'm in front of the television slapping my forehead... "Ahhhh, they did it to me again!" Which brings me to my actual topic...the collective unconscious.

Without getting too Jungian here, is it any wonder my stories get hi-jacked if there is some unconscious mind-soup out there that might be syphoning off my ideas and selling them to someone with better more powerful connections! I don't ask for much in life...just enough time to write and develope my ideas before they become next week's new blockbuster with someone else's name on the credits. Am I going to have to resort to the tin foil headgear before bedtime to keep my mind blocked from those out to catch my brainwaves? (Oh man...as I wrote that line did I ever get hit with an inspirational thunderbolt!) I know whatever idea I get I'll take it and make it my own without it resembling something on television, because my own thoughts and experiences will be in it. However, that doesn't stop the groan that builds in my throat when I see a coming attraction and find my way-out-there concept about to line someone else's pockets.

If the collective unconscious is indeed a true concept (which I believe it is) then we are all tied together through the power of our minds and what they can conceive on a purely instinctual level. Joseph Campbell (who cut his teeth on the Jungian tradition) believed this same collective unconscious is why we find common concepts in myths and folklore that really had no way of having cross-pollenation. My husband explains this as "ideas that whirl around in space until they find the proper outlet." That's as clear of an explanation as I've ever heard.

It's kind of funny that the series I'm working on right now has all the makings of a good solid triology with potential for more books, but it has to do with dimensional travel. Not exactly an unheard of idea. Now, I've read books and seen shows on this before, and I'm not about to slit my wrists because I'm not the first out of the gate with it. I think I've done something with mine that is so different from the other stories it will be unique. Why then do I feel betrayed by the universe if someone writes a television show about a man moving backward and forward in time because it's like a dream I had a few months ago? (Of course Jason Stratham starred in my dream so it was HOT!!) The guy in the new series I refer doesn't look like sexy Jason. Too bad on that really, but the concept looks sooo incredibly close to the dream I had that I'm still wondering how, where and when the writers got into my head and plucked the idea out. It's just not possible. There has to be something more to where ideas come from that just sudden and inexplicable inspiration. For me, I'm going with the theory of the collective unconscious...but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

-Kat

25 August 2007

Divination: Celtic Ogham - Huathe


Huathe - Hawthorn
(Crataegus sp.)
Letter: H
Energy: Masculine
Color: Dark blue or purple
Celtic Calendar: May 13 - Jun 9
Planet: Venus
Celtic Deity: Olwen and Blodeuwedd
Crystal: Lapis lazuli or sodalite
Chakras: Third eye and throat
Bird: Crow
Animals: Dragon, dragonfly

Hawthorn (pronounced HOO-ah), also called whitethorn, is a tree of enchantment, under the protection of the Faery kingdom. The tree is often found near springs and wells, with prayer rags tied to its branches and offerings set beneath it. It is the sixth letter of the Ogham tree alphabet.

The ancient Glastonbury Thorn is a hawthorn, said to be a symbol of protection. It is said to be very bad luck to cut one down - just ask John Delorean, who hacked one down in order to make way for his car-building factory. Uh huh - the Delorean was one of the most famous failures in history.

Positive aspect: Very gentle and calming; the greening of spring; protection; clearing of negative energies, thoughts/attitudes; learning through adversity; this is a time to be patient and grow inwardly.

Negative aspect: Misfortune arising from careless past behavior; rushing ahead, not spending enough time with loved ones; obsession over any one thing causing distress; enforced inactivity leading to new opportunities; be wary of sabotaging your own efforts due to lack of self-wortth.

In Welsh mythology, Olwen is the daughter of the giant Ysbaddaden. She is the heroine of the story Culhwch and Olwen in the Mabinogion.

Her father is fated to die if she ever marries, so when Culhwch comes to court her, he is given a series of immensely difficult tasks he must complete before he can win her hand. With the help of his cousin King Arthur, Culhwch succeeds and the giant dies, allowing Olwen to marry her love.
-- Wikipedia

Blodeuwedd or Blodeuedd, (Middle Welsh composite name from blodeu 'flowers, blossoms' + gwedd 'face, aspect, appearance': "flower face"), is a woman made from the flowers of broom, meadowsweet and the oak by Math fab Mathonwy and Gwydion to be the wife of Lleu Llaw Gyffes. Her story is part of the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi, the tale of Math son of Mathonwy. -- Wikipedia

Sources:
Wikipedia
Sacred Texts
Joelle's Sacred Grove
Celtic Tree Mysteries by Stephen Blamires
Celtic Tree Oracle by Colin Murray

Click on the "ogham" tag below this post to see the rest of this series!

24 August 2007

Cavemen, Bulldogs, & Mini-mugs

This isn’t exactly a paranormal topic…but I read it on Yahoo and thought it was romance novel interesting: Women prefer “bull-dog” faced men.

We do?

When you say “bull-dog” I think of big slobbering jowls…sorry, not that sexy!

But then as I read the article and read short fore-head guys (i.e. Brad Pitt) are “chick-magnets”, I tended to agree with them more. They had a whole list of guys like Will Smith and Johnny Depp, too.

But they didn’t reach this conclusion by checking out People’s 100 Most Beautiful, instead they used…science!

Yep, a bunch of white lab coats measured the skulls of ancient men & our chimp like ancestors. They found that “Men with "mini mugs" might have been most attractive to the opposite sex and thus most likely to attract mates for reproduction, passing along the striking features to the next generation and so forth, said lead study author Eleanor Weston, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London.”

“Mini-mugs”. That doesn’t sound sexy, either. Doubt we could throw that phrase into our hero’s descriptions and make are readers swoon with desire.

Guess its one more piece of information to add to the romance writer’s research file. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s fun to research on why men and women are attracted to each other....not only because that “attraction” make the world go ‘round…it makes for some damn fine literature, too.

23 August 2007

Thirteen Things about JENNA LEIGH









Thirteen Things about JENNA LEIGH



1 - When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? Escape is the word that comes to mind. As a kid, I loved books, as a teen it was historical romances until I was bitten by the vampire bug. One fine day, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s website led me to her fan-fic group where I stayed for over three years, which was great training, if addictive. Then Patrice, a dear, scary friend said, “I review. I say your stuff is good. Submit somewhere! Don’t be an idiot!” I listened and got lucky, then the work started. I’m going to have to pay that woman a visit one day.

2 - Do you write everyday?
I try, but sometimes, it doesn’t happen. Any routines or rituals? I know there’s a stereotype about folks from Louisiana, but the only chickens sacrificed to the writing of my books were already dead and fried at Popeye’s, honest. Besides that one, it’s sitting down, turning on the computer and trying to get into my characters’ heads. Are you a plot or seat-of-your-pants writer? I am a panster. I wish I could plot, but I’ve tried it and everything ground to a total halt. That’s not to say I don’t have a rough outline of where I want my stories to go. I ‘rewrite’ scenes in my head a lot before ever putting them to page though.


3 - What are the challenges of writing paranormal romance? Making the unbelievable just believable enough so people won’t say ‘yeah right!’ and throw it down. I know werewolves don’t exist, but if they did, I’d like to think Marcus et al are pretty good examples of what they could be. Writers are all about the what if . What if this happened, then this could happen and then well, the possibilities therefore, the stories are endless.

4 - Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Trek of course. What sort of question is this? Did Jethro the Redneck Jedi put you up to this? Spock is hot. The fact that the Lucas can't stop remaking his movies is a sign of a sick mind. He has enough of my husband's money, so he can just shove a saber up his butt and call himself a nightlight! Did I mention Spock is hot?

5 - What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer? Finishing manuscripts, submitting them and having companies say yes. I can’t believe I’m an author, not really. I’m still just a fan girl at heart.


6 - What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Write what you love. Don’t do something you’re going to hate three books into the series. If you love it, it will show in your work. Don’t be discouraged if someone says no to you. Be encouraged by good criticism. Listen to it and learn from it.

7 - How much time do you devote to promoting your books? Not enough. Never enough. Buy all my books! Buy multiple copies! They make great presents!


8 - What kinds of books do you like to read? Sometimes, it’s the same as I like to write, humorous, paranormals or contemporaries other times, I read historical romances because I don’t write them and it’s a change for me. Who is your favorite author? Katie MacAlister, she makes me smile, always.


9 - What is your latest book about? The Wolf’s Heart: Lainie and Marcus haven’t seen each other since both were teens. Lainie’s a reporter now and back in his life asking his help to ferret out information on a story. Marcus has secrets in his life he doesn’t want known, namely that he’s the leader of a pack of werewolves. Will it make headlines when she finds out his furry little secret?

10 - What will your next book be about? I’m working on the sequel to TWH called The Wolf’s Mistress. I’ve submitted Dateless in the Dodge, the sequel to Braless in the Buick to my publisher and I’m also working on another project with co-author Melanie Gilbreath called Winding City, an urban fantasy romance. Wow, I look really busy don’t I?

11 - What are the goals you are still working toward? Write more. Promo more. Win lotto. Hire publicist. Quit day job. Eat more chocolate. That last one, I can do, easy.

12 - When people look back at your life, how do you want to be remembered? That Jenna Leigh! She made me laugh.

13 - Now for the most important question - what do you believe makes a book sexy? The author has to make me believe that the emotion in the book is real. I like to feel what the heroine feels too, every high and low. I don’t want to read, “Ooh, baby, you make me so hot!” and have to be content with that. No, I want to feel the heat, be scorched by it, have the pages crinkle and turn black from the sexual tension before they finally let go and have at it. I want to have to sit in a walk-in cooler while reading the book. Wait a minute, the heck with that! I want to write it!


Visit Jenna Leigh at her website -
http://www.jennaleighzone.com/



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21 August 2007

Reunited -- Does It Really Feel So Good?

Tonight, Hubby and I watched the pilot episode of the SciFi Channel's remake of Flash Gordon. On the surface it has all the elements we like in our television and literature -- speculative worldbuilding, romance, adventure, humor and, especially for him, comic book references. I'm not going to write a full-scale critique of the show, because then I'd have to watch it again to get the details straight. Nooooo thanks.

But one thing about the show did strike me as blogworthy. I realized I'd been reluctant to watch it during the weeks it sat on our TiVo, not because I'd heard it was cheesy, not because I didn't want to make time for another television show, but because I read that the romantic protagonists (Flash Gordon and Dale Arden) were previously involved in a romantic relationship.

They were, in short, reunited. But does it feel so good or just so familiar?

It's not that I won't give reunited lovers a chance when I'm selecting my stories. Even after catching a number of dubious commercials and negative reviews, I still watched Flash Gordon, didn't I? Yep, I sure did, asking my husband every five minutes if he thought it was as bad as I did. He did. He even agreed he prefers it when a show's love interests haven't been previously involved. (Either that or he was humoring me so I'd shut up and let him watch the terribleness in peace.)

I know opinions of readers and viewers are mixed on the whole "reunited" thing. Me, I’m not a fan. I don't know exactly why. Maybe it's because I'm more entertained by a depiction of that minty fresh new romance feeling, the excitement that this one, finally, will be "the one". Maybe it's a lack of ability on my part to believe two people who couldn't make it work once will be able to make it work a second time. In my experience, exes inspire revenge fantasies, not romantic fantasies! Particularly when the hero and heroine of a novel or movie were intimate during their prior relationship, there's less sexual tension and curiosity as they circle one another, deciding whether or not they're going to give this crazy thing another whirl.

They've already whirled once. They know that merry go round makes them puke!

Is the appeal of the reunion romance the chance to snag the one that got away? The opportunity to make it right with somebody you wronged? The satisfaction of somebody who wronged you falling at your feet? Is it because you wanted it to be true love the first time and the second time proves you were right? Where do you stand on shows, books or movies where the romantic protagonists are reunited instead of first time lovers?

Jody W.
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--Winter 2008, Samhain Publishing
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://meankittybox.blogspot.com/

PS: Since I couldn't bear to do it myself, here are some Flash Gordon reviews by other people: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/33634

Samhain New Releases, August 21

A good day for sf/f and paranormal fans at Samhain! Three releases with speculative elements today:

"Serati's Flame" by T. J. Michaels
Genre: Red Hots!, Paranormal Romance
Length: Novel
Cover art by Anne Cain
For two Seekers of justice, hunting rogues is dangerous business. But not as dangerous as their yearning for each other.

"To Summon A Demon" by Kim Knox
Genre: Horror Romance, Fantasy Romance
Length: Short Story
A Demon is on the loose. And it’s bad to the bone.

"Father of Dragons" by Emily Veinglory
Genre: Gay-Lesbian, Fantasy-SciFi
Length: Category
One grieving man is forced to uphold an ancient bargain—by giving birth to a dragon. If only life were that simple.

***

Jody W.
So much cyberspace, so little time!
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://meankittybox.blogspot.com/

20 August 2007

News From Bianca D'Arc

Just thought I'd take time this post to bring you all up to speed on what's been going on with my writing of late. First, I've been working on preliminary edits for my next paranormal release, Sweeter Than Wine, which should be out from Samhain Publishing sometime this December. It features a cougar shifter and I've been having a lot of fun exploring the world of cat shifters in both this book and something else I've been working on.

The new book I've just started writing has an urban fantasy setting and the world is populated with cat shifters. Lots of fun to write and somewhat darker than my previous books, I'm hoping to pitch this to a larger publisher, but it's still in the very beginning stages, so we'll see what happens.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't at least mention the fact that my latest sci fi erotic romance story was released today by Phaze. It's called Michael, and it's the second in my Sons of Amber series. It's space opera with an erotic twist. If you want to learn more about it, please check the book's page on my website or the Phaze site for more information.

Until we meet again,
Bianca
Website: www.biancadarc.com
NEW Blog: http://biancadarc.com/blog/

18 August 2007

Haunted

I'm taking a road trip next Saturday. My baby sister is visiting, and we're going an hour down the coast to St. Augustine.

The Old City (some call it the Ancient City, but honestly - where but in "The New World" of America would we call something 440 years old "ancient") fascinates me. I can (and have) spend hours wandering around the fort - Castillo de San Marcos - getting lost in the feel of history within those "ancient" stones. It's an impressive site, and one I won't ever get tired of visiting.

And if you wander the narrow streets beyond the fort you'll find plenty to entertain. There's a story on every street corner, and usually a tour that will guide you. I'm going to try out something new to me this trip - a ghost tour.

I'm tired of sticking with the usual - Ripleys Believe It or Not has lost it's ability to bemuse, and the Alligator Farm isn't going to cut it this visit. No, I'm ready to "Saunter with the Spirits from dusk to darkness", and I'm going to tag along with a tour guide to make sure I don't miss a single spectral resident.

There are quite a few to choose from - there'a regular cottage industry of them going on in St. Augustine - but I'm gong to give Ghost Tours of St. Augustine a try. Their website has dozens of pictures taken by visitors. Some of them look like just badly blurred pictures - is that a ghost, or a car driving past? - but there are plenty of other pictures that make me stop and wonder.
I don't know what I really expect to get out of the experience. Not proof. But I'm ready to have my eyes opened by the experts.

I'll let you know how it went after I've had my first taste of St. Augustine's paranormal tours. And I'll be taking many pictures - maybe I'll even have my own contribution to the sightings page to show for it.

If you've ever been on a guided ghost tour, I'd love to hear what you thought of it.

15 August 2007

Joely Skye


I write paranormal novels under a second name, Joely Skye. At this point in my career, I'm not entirely sure branding my stories with two pen names, to distinguish between m/f and m/m romances, was the best choice. But when I began, and my two stories (Haven and Monster) were so entirely different, it seemed like a good idea.

My Joely Skye stories are gay romance and tend to be darker. They're also paranormal, at least to date. My three novellas starring heroes Josh and Kir are coming out in paperback next week, August 21. And I had to share my beautiful cover by the amazing Vanessa.

Here's the blurb:
Josh Mackay is hired to bring in Kiran Brunner, a Minder with the psychic ability to manipulate and kill. But Kir has been abused by the agency that wants him back and he’ll do anything to escape.

Josh Mackay’s job is to lure Kiran Brunner to a safe house. That part’s easy. The boy—Minder or no—is beautiful and surprisingly naive. Hunted by those who want to harm him, Kir doesn’t recognize Josh’s trap until it is almost too late.

Kir gets his hooks in Josh and when his job is done, Josh cannot walk away. Not only because of what Kir is, but because of why the agency wants Kir back. Josh wants above all to protect Kir. But Josh doesn’t know if that’s the right thing to do, or if he’s unknowingly succumbed to the Minder’s control.

Kir knows better than to fall hard for a new enemy, but it doesn’t stop him from wanting, needing and loving Josh. However, Kir may not be able to save Josh, and himself, from those who wish them harm. The time will come when Kir is forced to use his powers against the agency to bring Josh back to safety, whether Josh trusts him or not.


Links for those interested:
Excerpt
Joely Skye webpage and blog
Joely Skye at Samhain

The Hopkins House-Memories rise out of my gloamy brain

Carolan, Isabo and JC's book title kept niggling at me... In the Gloaming but I couldn't put my finger on it. Finally, I remembered. There's a house in my hometown called, the Hopkins House. It's said a woman named Anne Harrison grew up there and she wrote In The Gloaming because of this house it's a rumor, never proven, but you know how southerners are and I'm not arguing. Gloam refers to twilight, right before dark. All the shadows around that place literally and figuratively, well, the song fits the house like biscuits and butter.

Built in the middle to late 1800's The Hopkin's House has seen a lot of life, and of course, a lot of death as well. Set back on a hilltop, surrounded by bent and ancient Oaks and Cypress , and the ever present Magnolias it's got that good old Southern gothic charm. From the time I was born until I was fifteen nobody lived there. Those big empty windows gave it an air of dissolution and of course plenty of room for the ghosts to grow. That's right, the Hopkin's House, of In the Gloaming fame is haunted as they found out when they started renting it. Nobody lived there long and those who did reported seeing flickering lights, their belongings were moved around, and even more unsettling they heard strange noises coming from the upstairs bedroom. This room was used as the nursery for the original owner's of the house. This room still has the old furniture,including a rocking horse which would rock when nobody had been in the room to touch it.

Does it sound like a chicken may know a bit more about this than she should? Well, you're right. I, Jenna Bock Bock Leigh actually stayed many a night inside Haunted Hopkins House. Oh, I heard the gasps of shock, and believe me, my mother was just as surprised as you, are. I, like the rest of the town of Marion, went on tours of this beautiful home and was struck by the eerie stillness of it. It's large, with airy ceilings and hardwood floors so that your footsteps echo back to you as well as, other things. Not a great combo, huh? Well, no. However, friends of mine moved in and I screwed up my courage and stayed.

Sometimes I think ghosts may be memories of happenings gone by but not in this case. See, we'd make the bed in the nursery upstairs, together I might add, as there was no way in Mayhaw Country, we were going up there alone. Hours later, we'd go back up there and find that the bed would either be messed up again, or handprints would be pressed into one or more of the pillows of the high teaster bed. Many times the rocking horse would rock by itself, quickly or slowly, depending on the day and the temperment of the 'ghost'. The renter had two teenaged daughters and I firmly believe this entity liked these people, because at no time did we ever feel threatened by whatever it was.

Now that's not to say we weren't ever scared because please, we're big babies. But we were never scared by this so called ghost. We were scared by, the dog who got mysteriously shut into the nursery upstairs, bats inside the house.. oh dear God, I almost passed out, shut up, I know they're nice, shut up! The dude dressed up like Freddie Kreuger on Halloween! But the ghost, never scared us, not really. I mean, I had my share of goosebumps and chills down the spine walking from the bedroom to the bathroom in the middle of the night, but never in all my time at The Hopkins House did I ever have a bad experience with whoever it is that resides there. And for that, I'd like to say, thanks for never scaring me in the gloaming.

14 August 2007

Samhain New Releases!

We thought we'd try something new to showcase the new releases today.... A slideshow!



Now, all of these aren't necessarily paranormal, but they sure are pretty...

Jody W.
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--Winter 2008, Samhain Publishing
http://www.jodywallace.com * http://meankittybox.blogspot.com

Paranormal Creature Combinations

Just like last time's Paranormal Uncute Meets, I'm working on my blog entry way too late, after grocery shopping, and aided in no small part by the hooting and laughing of my younger sister, who is sometimes an aspiring writer but most of the time just a freeloader. Okay, not really. But she is here and we are in a late-night fit of the sillies. So you have been warned, and if the following list (yes, yes, another list) is too silly for you, it's her fault, not mine.

(Don't we sound like sisters?)

Today's wackiness is Weird Paranormal Creature Combinations. Since paranormal laws are made to be bent by the writer, here are some crossbreeds that may be a little too bent.

1) The vampire ghost. When he tries to bite you, his teeth go right through your neck. There are 2 types: the vampost is a vampire who was dusted and became a ghost, and the gopire is a ghost who was bitten by a vampost (because they can bite other ghosts). My sister adds that the vampire's supernatural strength would come in handy for those damn chains the ghost has to lug around.

2) The were merperson. Considering only the human half of this creature shifts into the other form, a wolf with a fish tail -- what if, in his shifter frenzy, he tried to eat himself? I mean, wolves love salmon, right? Those sled dogs live on it. Besides, if they're lurking around on the ocean floor, how will they know when it's a full moon, anyway?

3) Time travelling centaur. This is a particularly challenging combination since travelers are required to blend in to whatever era their time travelling drops them into. If our traveler was half horse, half hunk, it would make it really hard to be innocuous. Even in the Old West.

4) Frankenfairy. Doc Tinkerbelle knocked back one too many nectar on the beaches and cobbled together this lumpy green monstrosity from leftover elves, goblins, fairies and a couple Dodge mufflers. Stitched together with spider web, Frankenfairy just wants to be your friend!

5) The incredible shrinking dragon. When said dragon is involved in territory wars with normal sized dragons, and when he cannot control his abilities, this shrinking curse would not be handy. From Smaug to Mushu in the blink of an eye! Due to the high mortality rates, this breed would not lend itself to the ever-popular romance series.

6) Zombie incubus. My sister is making me include this one. Zombies lose parts. Incubi use certain parts a lot. Nuff said.

7) Mummy hobbit warlock from outer space. This one presents less of a writing challenge and proves that my sister and I really ARE up too late. And on that note....

***

Jody W.
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--Winter 2008, Samhain Publishing
http://www.jodywallace.com * http://meankittybox.blogspot.com

13 August 2007

A-Musing

So, what gives you inspiration?

Is it a favorite song? A secret place? A haunted house on your street? The little voice in your head that whispers to you when you're bored. (Sometimes it's best not to listen too closely to that voice, as it is usually the one that gets you into trouble.)

I read a lot of posts from writers who talk about their muse. If I have one he/she is a silent partner who pushes my characters on the stage to say their lines, or tell me their stories.

I've been known to write down ideas after looking through Fate Magazine, or Scientific American. Both are periodicals rich with wonderful articles to spark the imagination. Sometimes my ideas will come from dreams. Though I have to admit to most of the time only being able to use the germ of the idea gleaned from dreams because mine tend to run to the chaotic and unsensible.

Once I got an idea when one of my characters climbed into the shower with me. But it wasn't just any character, but a minor villian from a novel who had caused the heroine a broken heart and years of self-conciousness when he did something horrible and humiliating to her back in high school. I love telling this story, and have done so on another blog...but I love it so much it's worth retelling. It goes something like this:

I was in the midst of a shampoo, rinse, repeat cycle when I hear the sliding shower doors open. I crack one eye open and there's this tall sandy haired hunk standing in front of me buck nekkid with his arms crossed and a pouty look on the most sensuous male mouth I've ever seen. At first I had a hard time placing him...as my eyes weren't entirely focused on his face. (Hey, can you blame me?) When I finally looked into his eyes...my heart sank.

"Well, hell. What do you want?" I started to rinse my hair again. If I was going to have a discussion with Hot Nekkid Man, I was going to do it without the shampoo induced mohawk.

"You know it didn't happen that way." Okay, so I have to admit if the buff body wearing nothing but shower steam didn't get my attention, his opening gambit sure as shit did.

"Oh, yeah? Then what did happen?"

For the next ten or fifteen minutes he regaled me with the story of his horrible youth. The golden boy had a pretty rough homelife that he kept from friends. I kinda started feeling a little sorry for the dude, when he says..."But that's not as interesting as how my wife and I got together."

To say I'm shocked speechless at this point is an understatment, because I didn't even know he'd gotten married or that his courtship and subsequent marriage had been arranged so with the not-to-subtle hand of divine intervention.

Needless to say, I run from the shower, dripping wet and freezing my soap suds off to sit at the computer and start taking down the wonderful, poignant and totally redeeming story of this minor villian's rise to herodom.

Like I said, I may not have a muse perse, but I have story ideas come to me in many fun and interesting ways.

Any of you ever get an idea for a book in a less than traditional manner?

-Kat

11 August 2007

Pre-Order IN THE GLOAMING on Amazon!


My trade paperback anthology, IN THE GLOAMING, is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com! This anthology contains the print version of my novella, ABHAINN'S KISS, along with two other stories by J.C Wilder and Isabo Kelly.

Order now and get the sale price!

Blurb:

Her peaceful world shattered, she has only days to fulfill her destiny. She must defy a curse that dooms her to hide from the sun, and take her rightful place in the Great Circle on the Isle of Avalon. Only Abhainn can restore the balance of Dark and Light, and heal the rift between humans and Fae. That’s a tall order for a one fragile Faery.

Michael Craig is on a quest of his own, one grounded in cold, hard reality. Fairy tales? They’re for children and dreamers. But when he rescues Abhainn from certain death with an accidental kiss, he finds himself thrown into a very different reality. One he’s reluctant to accept, even as it unfolds before his eyes. Only one thing holds him there—Abhainn will die without him.

Abhainn’s life depends on Michael’s kiss, his sword arm…and his ability to believe.


Excerpt:

He grabbed his shirt and pulled it on without buttoning it. He was halfway to the caravan door before he realized the taste on his tongue wasn’t just part of the dream. She must have kissed him in his sleep before slipping out. Still, she had no business being out there alone, no matter how many friendly Fae surrounded them.

The familiar tinkle of her laughter drifted in through the caravan’s half open door. He stepped quietly outside and settled on the driver’s seat to watch the scene before him. The horse, unhitched, grazed nearby; Eoth lay draped across its back, sound asleep. Michael’s gaze swept the stone-littered meadow, and at last he found her.

She sat on a boulder, legs folded beneath her, arms thrown wide. Unabashedly naked as the day she’d been born. His groin tightened as, unobserved, he let his gaze pass over her body. Tiny as she was, there was no doubt that Abby was a full-grown woman, all slender curves and high, firm breasts. The morning light glowed on her pale skin, so fair as to be translucent, traced with river-maps of blue veins, flawless from the tips of her toes to the delicate points of her ears.

All around her flitted a cloud of tiny, winged Fae, who tended to her as if she were a queen in waiting. Which, he realized suddenly, she was. As the last of her kind, she by default was the Queen of the Asrai.

Humming like a swarm of honeybees, the Faeries combed and braided her white-gold hair, washed a smudge of dirt from her nose, handed her damp handfuls of moss with which she cleaned herself, rubbing it over her skin—all her skin—in slow, sensual delight.

More Faeries brought her sips of water and a sticky substance that looked like nectar, cupped in spring flowers. She tipped her head back and accepted their offerings on her tongue, smiling and licking her lips after each taste, catching stray droplets on her fingers and licking them, too.

The ache in his groin hardened into a painful knot. Blood pounded in his ears so hard that for a second he couldn’t trust himself to move. Despite the lust that roared through his veins, he remained conscious of the delicacy of her small, fragile body. She’s like porcelain. Like one wrong touch could break her.

Yet for that second, he understood what had driven Blaen of CraighMhor to risk everything for one night with a Fae.

And he lost it all, Michael reminded himself.

As if she sensed his eyes upon her, she turned her head and looked at him. She blinked once, slowly, and the smile on her face grew brighter. She held out her hand.

Abruptly, the attending Faeries screeched and scattered. Only one stayed, hovering above and just behind her golden head. Its buzzing grew into a snarl, and before Michael’s eyes it changed from a thimble-sized thing to a fox. It bared its fangs and bunched its muscles to spring at Abby’s unprotected back.

With a sickening lurch that took him back to his combat days in the Marines, time slowed to a crawl. Every detail of the scene sprang into sharp relief. Before Michael could do more than shout a warning, Abby’s face went blank.

Then, as the fox sprang, she changed into a statue of clear, hard ice.

The fox yowled in frustration as it clawed and bit at the back of her neck, but managing no more than a few superficial scratches.

Michael took advantage of the time she had given him by lunging into the caravan to retrieve the rusted sword. He lay hands on his rucksack and threw himself out of the caravan, pulling the sword out and dropping the bag on the ground as he ran, spilling the contents.

He sprinted the few yards that separated him from Abby, a hoarse cry in his throat and the sword raised to strike. The fox saw him coming, issued a series of short, harsh barks, then shapeshifted again.

Michael found himself looking up into the face of what could only be described as a vampire-like woman, complete with glistening fangs and black wings sprouting from her shoulders. With a hiss she flew at him, driving him back. He let her come, knowing it would draw the creature away from Abby.

“Come on, come on, bitch! What ya got? Come on!” he growled, goading her with the sword.

The vampiress closed in, and with moves too quick to see, she knocked the sword away then hit him square in the center of the chest with the leading edge of a black, leathery wing. Michael caught his heels on the rucksack and landed on his back, flinging his arms wide to break the fall.

His hand fell on his grandmother’s precious stone, which must have rolled out of the rucksack when he’d dropped it.

Wrapping his fingers around it, he waited, heart speeding to dangerous levels as the vampiress closed within striking distance. Waited, sweating, until her hot breath blistered his face, until he could count the veins in her bulging eyes. Then he swung at her head.

Instead of spurting blood, the broken skin on the side of the creature’s face erupted with huge horseflies the size of golf balls. In moments, the thing had completely dissolved into a cloud of the droning black bugs. Abby’s attending Faeries chased them all away, leaving the morning eerily quiet, as if nothing amiss had happened at all.

Panting, Michael hauled himself to his feet.

“Well done.”

He spun and found a tall, Tolkienesque elf lounging against the side of the caravan, idly examining his fingernails, longbow thrown casually over one shoulder.

Michael relaxed and straightened. “Thanks for the help,” he said dryly.

The elf raised an eyebrow, as if he were actually offended. “You did well enough on your own. Had you needed it, I would have intervened. The Lady chose well.” With that, the elf sauntered away into the trees.

“I will never get used to these people,” he muttered, turning toward Abby as thunder rolled overhead.

Abhainn still hadn’t changed back from the block of ice. It was a perfect replica, captured just as she had been sitting on the rock.

He crouched by the rock, afraid to touch her. “Abhainn. Abby, can you hear me?”
Huge, fat raindrops began to splat the ground.

Maybe she can’t change back.

His mind kicked into gear, looking for a way to keep her from melting and running in rivulets down the side of the rock. But as the first drops of rain struck her head, she shifted back into normal form and fell, shivering and blue with cold, into his arms.

“Jesus, you scared me, woman,” he said, gathering her closer, rubbing her arms. The bare skin under his hands felt like the ice from which she’d just shifted. He quickly lifted her hair to examine the back of her neck. Relief flooded through him. Her skin remained unbroken.

“I…I…knew not…I c-c-could do that,” she managed through clattering teeth. “I-I-I sensed the Mei was behind me and-d-d it j-just happened!” Then, incredibly, she began to laugh. “I wonder…w-w-what else I can do?”

Before he could stop it, anger flared white hot in his chest. How could she laugh? She had come within a hair’s breadth of death, and yet she laughed!

Shaking, not trusting himself to speak, he scooped her up in his arms and strode toward the caravan.

“Mícheál?” she gasped between giggles and shudders of cold. “W-what is it?”

“The fate of your people depends on you,” he gritted out. “And you sit there laughing when your quest almost came to nothing.”

She leaned back in his arms, her laughter fading to a gentle smile. “But it did not,” she said simply. “I have you to protect me. All is well. And I have found that I have powers I knew not I had. Why not enjoy the moment?”

He stopped dead in his tacks, light rain tapping on his head. He had no answer for her.

“Mícheál,” she said gently.

He shook his head, surprised at his inability to speak, jaw clenched tight. She could have died. She could have…

“Mícheál.” This time her lips touched his ear.

At the touch of her breath on his skin, he drew her to him tighter still, buried his face in her hair, inhaling the fresh-rain scent of her. He could find no words to say other than her name.

The skies let loose with a torrent of rain.

Pre-order on Amazon.com.

10 August 2007

Carnival Ghosts? County Fair Phantoms?

It’s race against the clock. A storm is a coming and it’s always a possibility that the electricity goes out here on the plains. Not unusual for August either.

Rain, Thunderstorms, and the County Fair. That’s what August has always been about for me.

And being the County Fair, my daughters and I had an interesting conversation on the way home…through the fog-filled eight mile drive home across muddy gravel roads. Has there ever been a story about a County Fair ghost? See, my girls love Phantom of the Opera so they began this crazy story (they are 8 & 4) about the Phantom of the Fair and then through a barrage of giggling the story quickly became “the Phantom Pig of the Fair.”

But still it made me wonder if there were any real ghost legends or fictional paranormal stories about fairs or carnivals. I could recall Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and the 1932 movie, “Freaks” (which isn’t a paranormal but is as scary as heck.) Nothing else comes to mind. Anyone out there know of a paranormal fair story?

A quick search online didn’t turn up any ghost stories related to fairs or carnivals either. I did find an Angel sighting. (I’m agreeing with the Moth camp).

Personally, I think either a fair or a carnival would be a perfect setting for a good ghost story. In one of my early drafts of Half Moon Rising I had a “hazing” scene where a teenage werewolf was dared to sneak into a cheap carnival haunted house and shift without getting caught. It didn’t make it to the final drafts, but I still think it would make a cool scene.

Well, the storm is in the next county. Time to wrap it up. Have a great weekend and see you at the fair!

~Margo

P.S. The storm came through, but only a few end rows of our crops got flattened by the winds. Thank goodness for small favors :)

09 August 2007

Thursday Thirteen - Thirteen things about Carolan Ivey



Be ready to be spooked and have your timbers shivered - here are 13 things about Beyond The Veil author Carolan Ivey :

1 - Tell us a little bit about yourself and your life? I'm a born Tarheel living in "exile" in the Buckeye state with my husband, kids, and 2 highly opinionated dachshunds. Actually I've lived in Ohio most of my life and it's been good to me. But I never let anyone forget I'm a NC native.

2 - When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? I've been writing since I was old enough to pick up a pencil, but it never occurred to me to try to make a living at it until I was in college. I switched majors to combine my love of the natural world with my ability to write, and ended up with a degree in Natural Resources/Communications.

3 - Do you write everyday? Any routines or rituals? Actually I am a working writer and editor, so I have to write everyday or I don't get paid. :) I left a journalism job 15 years ago to do technical writing - pretty dry stuff, but it pays better. Right now I have two clients, writing web content for a multi-media company based in San Antonio, and web-based training materials for a company in Toledo. The great thing is I can do this work from home. I hate commuting. My routine these days: Bed to coffee pot, coffee pot to La-Z-Boy, boot up laptop, get to work. Shower is optional. :) Somewhere around noon the kids start complaining about the smell, so yeah, eventually I get cleaned up. When I get an idea for a book, I usually write some kind of loose outline or synopsis first, just to see if the idea has enough "legs" for 300 pages of manuscript. But after that it's all seat of the pants. I rare stick to the outline.

4 - How would you describe the genre in which you do most of your writing? My stories end up crossing genres - fantasy, paranormal, historical, contemporary, time travel. If I were a bookseller it would be hard to know which shelf to put it on.

5 - What are the challenges of writing paranormal romance? Making it believable enough so that the readers can lose themselves in the story and not get tripped up by huge lapses in logic. :)

6 - Who would you say has influenced you the most? It would be more like a "what", and that would be a couple of things. I spent my formative years sitting on the darkened front porch of my grandparents' farm house, telling and retelling the tales, legends and ghost stories of North Carolina, of which there are hundreds! Also, I grew up with a chronic illness so I read early, and voraciously.

7 - What would you say is the biggest challenge that you face as a writer? Time management! I'm a tiny bit ADD, which means I can be easily distracted or, if I'm bored, I "check out" and start daydreaming. On the other hand, I can easily get hyper-focused when I'm working on a story, and get so lost in it that I forget important things like doctor appointments. That's why I love my laptop because I can set it up to beep at me when I have to be somewhere!

8 - What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer? Winning the Independent Publishers of America Award (Ippie) for best romance for my paranromal, "Beaudry's Ghost" (which is about to be re-released by Samhain Publishing, sometime early in '08.

9 - Once the deadlines are all met and the manuscript is delivered, what do you do to relax and give yourself a break? Cruzan rum. ;D (Ember takes a break to mix up mojitos.)

10 - What will your next book be about? WILDISH THINGS is another novella that will be released in both eBook and in paperback in Samhain Publishing's anniversary anthology LOVE & LORE on Nov. 1.
Here's the blurb: One man. One woman. One Harley. And one dangerously horny goddess. Ireland may never recover.
A year after a horrendous accident, wildlife artist Beith Molloy journeys to Ireland to get her career back on track. And maybe recover her missing spirit of adventure.
A twist of fate lands her with sexy, bad-boy tour guide Kellan O'Neill, who whisks her away on his Harley to the wild and mysterious Burren. Like the Burren, Kel is not what he seems on the surface. His impulsive plan to kidnap Beith – all in fun, of course – and entice her into a casual summer fling starts to go awry when her wounded spirit touches his heart.
Things go even more sideways once they set foot on the Burren. What awaits them there is the Cailleach, an ancient, nearly forgotten goddess who’s bored, lonely, and more than a little horny.
When Beith and Kel begin their dance of seduction, the Cailleach sees her chance to use their desire to release her pent-up lust. There’s just one problem. Legend has it that once the Hag’s lust is aroused, men die.

11 - How much time do you devote to promoting your books? Well, I'm kinda addicted to blogging right now. They're fun to do and popular among readers, so I'd say right now I spend most of my promo time blogging. This will change once my paperbacks start hitting the shelves. Right now in the blog world I can be found:
http://www.carolanivey.blogspot.com/ (almost daily)
http://www.paranormalauthors.blogspot.com/ (alternating Saturdays and the occasional Sunday)
http://www.fantasyandenchantment.blogspot.com/ (alternating Saturdays)
http://www.ladiesoftheclub.blogspot.com/ (once a month)
www.samhainpublishing.com/blog (about once a quarter)

12 - Now for the most important question - what do you believe makes a book sexy? It's the character development, hands-down. If you don't make me fall in love with those characters, the book isn't sexy to me. 99 percent of sex is in the brain!

13 - What is your latest book about? Available now is ABHAINN'S KISS (http://samhainpublishing.com/romance/the-gloaming-abhainns-kiss), a Celtic romantic fantasy, but I hesistate to call it a straight fantasy because the story crosses back and forth between the real world and the Fae world. Here's the blurb:Avalon reborn…
Hidden away on a misty island off the Irish coast all her life, Abhainn has no idea she is the last of her Faery race—until a troll tries to kill her.Her peaceful world shattered, she has only days to fulfill her destiny.
She must defy a curse that dooms her to hide from the sun, and take her rightful place in the Great Circle on the Isle of Avalon. Only Abhainn can restore the balance of Dark and Light, and heal the rift between humans and Fae. That’s a tall order for a one fragile Faery.
Michael Craig is on a quest of his own, one grounded in cold, hard reality. Fairy tales? They’re for children and dreamers. But when he rescues Abhainn from certain death with an accidental kiss, he finds himself thrown into a very different reality. One he’s reluctant to accept, even as it unfolds before his eyes. Only one thing holds him there—Abhainn will die without him.
Abhainn’s life depends on Michael’s kiss, his sword arm…and his ability to believe.
This is available in eBook now, and you can preorder the anthology in which it's included, IN THE GLOAMING, on Amazon right now. It'll be released 2/08.

Bonus - What kind of chocolate do you like, how much of it do you eat every day, and where can I send the 5-lb. box you demanded for doing this interview? (I want Carolan to negotiate my contracts for me! EC) Dark chocolate. The darker the better. Send it express, please. :D


Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

07 August 2007

Samhain New Release -- August 7

While there are several releases from Samhain today, since I'm posting at Beyond the Veil, I have to admit the following new release caught my eye:

"The Sword Lord" by Robert Leader: http://samhainpublishing.com/books/the-sword-lord
Fantasy-SciFi Novel
ISBN: 1-59998-173-4
Cover Art by Anne Cain

A planet faces destruction. An ancient Indian kingdom is doomed to the same fate. The solution to both troubles lies in the Law of the Sword.

They came from Dooma, the fifth planet in the solar system. A planet destined to destroy itself in the holocaust war. They came in separate expeditions, each one seeking refuge on the third planet, the only other inhabitable body. They came in the dawn of time, when the Earth was young, to discover an ancient India, where the kingdom of Karakhor fought its own deathly struggle with the massed forces of Maghalla and their allies of sub-human tribes.

So begins a love story: for Kananda, the First Prince of Karakhor and Zela, his golden-haired goddess from the stars—and for his sister, Maryam, the rebellious princess fated to love and be loved by Raven, blue-skinned Sword Lord of Ghedda.

***

Jody W.
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://www.elliemarvel.com/

06 August 2007

Mystical Places: The Oracle at Delphi

The Oracle is both a place and a person. The Oracle was a woman who predicted the future at the site of Delphi. As one site puts it: "During the 8th c. B.C. Delphi became internationally known for the Oracular powers of Pythia--the priestess who sat on a tripod, inhaled ethylene gasses, and muttered incomprehensible words that foretold the future."

The ancient Greeks believed Delphi to be so important that it was the center of the world. As the NY Times put it: "For at least 12 centuries, the oracle at Delphi spoke on behalf of the gods, advising rulers, citizens and philosophers on everything from their sex lives to affairs of state. The oracle was always a woman, her divine utterances made in response to a petitioner's request. In a trance, at times in a frenzy, she would answer questions, give orders and make prophecies."

In the late 1990's a theory was put forth that the women would inhale naturally occuring ethylene gas from fissures in the rocks at the site of the temple, and thereby induce a trance state. Some scholars argue against the theory, first because there's no way to know exactly if or how much ethylene gas was present at the site 2,000 years ago and second, because the theory plays into modern ideas about the need for intoxication or some kind of substance use to induce the trancelike state. Maybe the priestesses were truly gifted. Maybe the site was indeed magical. Maybe they didn't need any kind of chemical assistance in order to fortell the future. Or maybe not. Truthfully, scholars dismissed the whole idea of them breathing vapors as nonsense until the ethylene gas theory was first put forth in the 1990's, so who's to say?

Regardless, there are many accounts in the literature of ages past recounting accurate and often gruesome fortellings by the Oracle at Delphi. We assume it was a series of priestesses who took on the role, but again, who's to say? Could there have been one being called Pythia, fortelling the future at Delphi for twelve centuries? The very idea boggles the mind and fires the imagination!

I find it interesting that the name Pythia is a reference to the legend of Apollo killing a dragon named Pytho. Of course, I always find dragons interesting. ;-)

Until next time,
Bianca
http://www.biancadarc.com/
New Blog: http://biancadarc.com/blog/

04 August 2007

Klahdaghoscopes August 5th to August 19th

The Klahdagh is a tile based divination system that works as a kind of mix between Viking Runes and the Tarot. Tiles can be drawn for short reading patterns of five and seven tiles, or a full reading pattern of twelve tiles. Alternately a "snapshot" of three tiles can be used for a "quick peek" reading. Although the seven tile pattern is the standard, I've used the snapshot version here simply because of time restraints and ease of readability. Because the readings below are grouped for people under the astrological signs I call them Klahdaghoscopes as opposed to regular Klahdagh readings. If anyone would like a free seven tile reading for themselves or for a character they are writing please contact me at sjmsmith44@comcast.net, with Klahdagh Reading in the subject line. If you'd like to know more about how a Klahdagh reading is done have a look here.

Please note; these readings are currently for entertainment purposes only since the system is still fairly new.

For more entertainment come watch my movie for Poseidon VII here ,
take part in my contest here ,
or come meet me at my new Forum here.

I look forward to seeing you all and would love to share my PIACT undercover agent universe with you.

S.J.

Now for the good bits!

Aries
Work: Shelea - the comet. There will be a passing influence of someone special or extra capable in your working environment over the next couple of weeks. Gain whatever benefits you can while they are available, this is likely to be a passing phase.
Love : Urld - the world. Unexpected events are going to bring a sparkle to your love life. Smile, be happy and go with the flow.
Wealth : Fetoi - the man. You may need to accept a little directional advice regarding money this month. Think the advice through carefully and choose wisely.

Taurus
Work: Kamen - Northern King. You may need to dig your heels in over policy this week. If you run a family business, events will help bind you closer together.
Love : Tiall - the scroll. Someone you love will be teaching you new things. It will be good and probably pleasureable, for you to learn them.
Wealth : Cisica - Northern Queen. Financial success will come through the careful guidance and care of others. Be confident in your skills.

Gemini
Work: Urld - the world. Be prepared for sudden deadlines and new contracts (or work) to head your way. Grit your teeth, dig in and get it done.
Love : Scoci - the shield. You need to look after yourself this week, someone close to you might hurt your feelings. Try not to hold resentment if they do. But be prepared to let go if the hurt goes too far.
Wealth : Brica - the element of fire. Be prepared to fight for your money this week. Circumstances and people would love to empty your pockets for you.

Cancer
Work: Phel - the element of storm. Things will go surprisingly well at work this week with people coming together and ideas and projects running smoothly. Just keep a careful eye on everything to make sure the path stays smooth.
Love : Leig - the cat. Playful, loving and curious, love is especially fun this month, just be careful not to play too much with the wrong people or someone will be hurt.
Wealth : Amb - the cup. Get together with a trusted friend and chat about your money problems this week. There will be some good advice given.

Leo
Work: Delg - the cage. Work is going to seem a bit of a bind this week, don't let it phase you too much. A little extra hard work will make the problems go away.
Love : Etoi - the woman. A sign of healing and fertility. If you're trying for a child this is an auspicious week for it. If your relationship has been having problems now is the time to mend it. The Goddess is behind you in all your loving endeavor's.
Wealth : Phel - the element of storm. A time to save. And a chance of actually saving this month will come to you. Jump on it before it scuttles away.

Virgo
Work: Palentia - Eastern Queen. With care and nurturing work will be a place of success and peace this week. Encourage your colleagues and things will go well.
Love : Lianche - Southern Page. Loyalty will be strained this week when you discover some things that have been going on in secret. Don't be afraid to be confrontational about it. You have the strength to deal with the problem.
Wealth : Fatala - winter. Things are going to be tough financially for a while but good companionship and trustworthy friends and family will help you through.

Libra
Work: Ematis - Western Queen. Don't push the limits at work. Though it seems that you can get away with almost anything, going over the line will come back in a swift and sure punishment.
Love : Cisica - Northern Queen. Don't expect the same level of devotion from others that you are giving this week. Some people are just incapable of being as loyal as you.
Wealth : Lianche - Southern Page. Take care of your money, there are a few scams/entertainments out there which are just a little too tempting.

Scorpio
Work: Murral - the bard. Be extremely careful at work this week. Don't trust rumors or gossip as you'll be tempted to hear the version you want to hear and not the true version.
Love : Telora - Western Page. Love goes on the back burner for a while, there are other interests and study that are taking over your time.
Wealth : Banil - the ring. Look out for the snappy con man, or distrustful family member. Someone is out to get your money this week.

Sagittarius
Work: Vali - the window. Forward thinking and working outside the box are essential for progress this week.
Love : Urld - the world. Hang on in there, you've got a few nice suprises heading your way.
Wealth : Scoci- the shield. Save. There are indications you will be needing the cash in the near future so make sure you put enough aside now to cope with the need when it comes.

Capricorn
Work: Stexi - fall. Gather your resources in preparation. You have a hectic and difficult period ahead.
Love : Yanig - the necklace. There is a wealth of happiness for you this week. So much love and caring it will make you feel giddy. Enjoy, accept and luxuriate in it.
Wealth : Urld - the world. Those who build on rock can stand when the waters rise. Build up your savings well. Then the floods will never hurt you.

Aquarius
Work: Lianche - Southern Page. There may be problems with supervisors and superiors this week. Lie low, fall beneath their radar and let the bad tempers work themselves out.
Love : Palentia - Eastern Queen. Success, pleasure and wisdom in love are yours this week. Use them well.
Wealth : Stexi - fall. A time of harvest, go out and reap the rewards of all those investments and savings. Don't forget to leave a little behind for those rainy days.

Pisces
Work: Ematis - Western Queen. Don't push your luck this week. Work well and you'll be rewarded, pull a few fast ones and the punishment is swift.
Love : Orkst - the bridge. This is a time of joining, bringing things together. Expect to find yourself falling in love, or falling even deeper in love, this week. Take time to appreciate your partner.
Wealth : Kle - the babe. A long painful wait is coming to an end. Finally you'll see the financial fruits of your labors.

Black Cherry Moon

How do you count your days? Most of the world now uses the Gregorian calendar to keep us on our schedules; August 4th for me is the same day as it is for you. But long before Pope Gregory used math to put us all on track, people across the world had their own time keeping systems.

Native Americans use of the moon to measure time is a bit less precise than the Gregorian system, but it worked for them. "Black Cherry Moon" was the name given by the Assiniboine tribes of North East Montana to the month of August. As a culture less concerned with getting to Wall Street in time for the markets opening bell, and more worried about when the berries would be ripe for picking, the names they used have a more practical, but lovely for it, sound to them. "Moose Hunter Moon" was what the Abenaki called our March, a month their people were on the hunt for the might moose. The Mohawk's "Time of Cold" (December) and "The Big Cold (January) were certainly long, frigid days.

The Sioux were a fierce and proud tribe. They also had a gift with words - each of these names brings such a clear image of the time of year it is set in, you can all but smell the spring grass :
JANUARY - Strong Frost Moon
FEBRUARY - Raccoon Moon
MARCH - Buffalo Calves Drop Moon
APRIL - Growing Grass Moon
MAY - Ponies Shed Moon
JUNE - Making Fat Moon
JULY - Ripe Cherries Moon
AUGUST - Geese Shed Feathers Moon
SEPTEMBER - Drying Grass Moon
OCTOBER - Flying Ducks Moon
NOVEMBER - Falling Leaves Moon
DECEMBER - Popping Trees Moon


Another tribe with a gift for words was the Northern Arapaho. (Some of these are very similar to the Sioux.) The lyrical names they used will almost make you look forward to the coldest winter day :
JANUARY - WHEN THE SNOW BLOWS LIKE SPIRITS IN THE WIND
FEBRUARY - FROST SPARKLING IN THE SUN
MARCH - BUFFALO DROPPING THEIR CALVES
APRIL - ICE BREAKING IN THE RIVER
MAY - WHEN THE PONIES SHED THEIR SHAGGY HAIR
JUNE - WHEN THE HOT WEATHER BEGINS
JULY - WHEN THE BUFFALO BELLOWS
LATE JULY - WHEN THE CHOKEBERRIES BEGIN TO RIPEN
AUGUST - GEESE SHEDDING THEIR FEATHERS
SEPTEMBER - DRYING GRASS
OCTOBER - FALLING LEAVES
NOVEMBER - WHEN THE RIVERS START TO FREEZE
DECEMBER - POPPING TREES

Still looking for the perfect name for August? How about "End of the Fruit" or "Drying Up Moon" (Cherokee); "The Month Young Ducks Begin To Fly" (Cree); or just "Big Harvest" (Creek).

There's power in a name, and even more in having the right name for the right time. I think maybe the Hopi were on to something with this end of summer month. They called it "Month of Joyful" or "Month of Life at it's Height". I hope this long golden month is full of joy, and life at it's height, for each of you.

03 August 2007

Best Werewolf Movies

I don't like scary movies. I love werewolf movies. I like vampires, too, but that's not today's topic.


Ghosts? Uh-uh. No sir. Those are scary. Because there is this .0001% of me that believes they might possibly exist, I can’t handle them. Why aren’t they where they belong? There’s nothing more they can do here. You’re dead – Get ye gone!

But vampires and werewolves – since they don’t exist, they can’t scare me.

When Underworld came out, I nearly passed out with glee.

I laughed and giggled all the way through Cursed, where this chick (Christina Ricci) and her brother get bitten because the werewolf thinks she’ll make a good mate. Right until she stabs him with a silver pie server. That’s priceless.

An American Werewolf in London? The ultimate Horror-Comedy. A laugh a minute. An American Werewolf in Paris was funny, but not dark enough.

I hooted my way through Dog Soldiers, too. Gruesome, gory fun. Look! A leg!

And really, who could hate a movie called Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf. Yeah, it’s bad. Cheesy, awful bad. But still. You have to give them points for the title. Also, Christopher Lee is in it. He’s just so…so…Christopher Lee!

Wolf, with Jack Nicholson and James Spader had some truly fun moments. James Spader is sneakily sexy – and never more so with glowing golden eyes.

Silver Bullet – well, there just aren’t that many great Stephen King movies. And I’m too big a fraidy-cat to read his books, so I have to take my King where I can get him. The creepy preacher/werewolf loses an eye to a kid in a wheelchair with a Roman Candle. And who ever imagined Anne of Green Gables in a horror flick?

Teen Wolf is the other side of the coin from I Was a Teenage Werewolf. There’s no pair of movies more diametrically opposed. From Michael Landon’s classmates going “Eeek! It’s a werewolf!” to Michael J. Fox’s classmates going “Oooh! Back hair turns me on!” Both prizewinners. Though if you’re smart, you’ll skip the painfully unfunny Teen Wolf 2. Ouch.

The only one of these I haven’t seen, though I’d love to, is Blood and Chocolate. Reviews say it’s a beautiful film and I’m looking forward to catching it someday.

All these films, in all their varying levels of brilliance and cheesiness, however, pay homage to the ultimate werewolf classic, The Wolf Man. Lon Chaney Jr is the tragic hero, transformed by a Gypsy curse, doomed to destroy those he loves. It’s a fantastic bit of movie magic, especially as Chaney carries on his father’s gift of being able to transform himself into a creature of the night. Must See Movie.

What's on your list of Must See Werewolf Movies?