31 December 2007

Do You Believe in Luck??

Growing up, my family had a New Years' tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage to start the new year off with good luck. This was a Midwestern tradition that when I moved down south was told...."No! You're supposed to eat black-eyed peas." Well, all right. So I did. My luck has never been stellar, but last year I ate neither and probably had the worst year of my life.

While starting off the new year with a healthy dose of fiber might be good luck for your colon, I've heard of other traditions that don't involve ingesting your luck. I have a friend who is from England and she said their tradition (might be regional in the UK) was to see who came in the door first after midnight. It's called First Foot. That person receives a kiss and present from the homeowner and is supposed to bring luck to the entire household for that year.

I have to say after this past year, I'm willing to try hopping down Broadway on one foot if it'll help me. So, tonight I'm making the corned beef. I have to work tomorrow, so I'll take black-eyed peas to work with me. That way, I've flanked the holiday in good luck meals to increase my chances of wiping out crappy luck from 2007.

While contemplating these dinners of prosperity, I wondered exactly where the traditions came from. I haven't found any answers to date, but wondered what traditions you and your family have for ensuring good luck through the coming year.

Wishing you and yours a safe, happy and luck-filled New Year.


30 December 2007

New Year's Eve, Eve

All is still quiet on the western, eastern, northen and southern front while the last of the holidays moves along and we prepare to greet a new year. Those who make resolutions are scrambling to put everything in order and get ready to spend the next six weeks--I mean the next year--doing better and being better than they were the year before. Good luck with all your endeavors, but I have a suggestion for this time around.

Rather than resolutions, make decisions and follow them up with concrete plans. Don't outline what you hope to do but what you're going to do and how you're going to do it. And in the midst of all that determinaton and accomplishment remember to mix the magical and the mundane and go for broke!

Learn a new language. Then take the experience and build a new world, even if noone ever reads the result but you.
Take up a musical instrument. Then compose a song of a lost civilization.
Look into a craft. Then create an artifact from an alien world.

While you're caught up in what you feed your belly, make sure to feed your spirit and your imagination.
Resolve to play more and laugh more and do something that makes you afraid.
Get out and walk more, it's a great thing, but remember to look for Faerie Folk while you're out there, because they'll be looking for you.
When you finally get yourself organized, make sure you leave space for things with no purpose aside from looking pretty and smelling nice and inspiring you to places you can't get to any other way.

Do all the things that we all do at the beginning of a new year, and then do all the things we should do.

Happy New Year

Happy New You

And Happiness...Just for the sake of Happiness.

New Year's Ramble Done


21 December 2007

Winter Celebrations

Aahh, Christmas. A time of merriment and joy.


In keeping with my mythology theme, I decided to do a little research on the rites of our mythic forefathers during the winter solstice celebrations.

Blood and demons everywhere.

The Scandinavians celebrate St Lucy’s Day around Dec 13. Sounds lovely. Blonde girls carrying candles nestled in a wreath in their crown of braids. St Lucia helped to hide Christians and needed her hands free, so she figured out a way to carry the light on her head. But St Lucy’s Day coincides with a terrifying mid-winter coming of the female demon Lussi. Lussi came down the chimney to take away naughty children and lazy people who didn’t do their work.

In Aegean Greece, there was the Lenaia, or the Festival of the Wild Women. A man would be let loose in the forest wearing the disguise of bull to represent Dionysus, then Dionysus’ female worshippers, the raving Maenads, would be let loose upon him and tear him to shreds as a sacrifice. Yay Grrl Power. In later years, a goat replaced the human sacrifice.

The Saami, indigenous to Finland and the most northern parts of Scandinavia celebrated the Beiwe Festival. Beiwe was the sun-goddess of fertility and sanity (talk about your rampant Seasonal Affected Disorder – also, I bet there were lots of September babies.) Her followers sacrificed white female animals and used the meat, bones and sinew to decorate a bed for her. They also covered the bedknobs with butter for her to eat as she traveled on her way to bring Spring back to the land.

But no discussion of death in winter is complete without mentioning the Midvinterblót in Nordic folk religion.

Totally aside, have you noticed how many of these fun little rituals are Norse in origin? This is what happens when you don’t see the sun for four months out of the year. Anyway, back on topic.

Every year at the solstice, men would bring cattle and horses to be slaughtered for the blót – a sacrifice to Odin, Niord and Freyr. Smoke from the holy fire and blood were offered to the gods and sprinkled on the participants, then ale was offered. Odin’s goblet was for power and victory, Niord’s for peace and Freyr’s for good harvest. Finally, one goblet was emptied in memory of dead friends.

ETA: The picture above is Carl Larsson's Midvinterblót. It hangs as a mural at the Swedish National Museum. You'll notice that there is a man waiting to be sacrificed. Every nine years at the Temple of Uppsala, nine males of every species, including humans, were sacrificed as part of the celebration.

Fun party.

Well, ok. Not all celebrations were filled with blood, but enough to make us stop and consider the darkness in which people lived and their acceptance of the cycle of life and seasons.

As we take a sip of eggnog this holy season, let us lift a cup and remember those who have sacrificed for us as we celebrate a moment of light and hope while the earth sleeps.

Happy Holidays!

18 December 2007

I fell hard for Sudden Fall by Kally Jo Surbeck

Hope you're all having a wonderful holiday season. Mine was made a little brighter by this book!

Sudden Fall
Book 1: Yadderawal Balance Series

Kally Jo Surbeck
Available Print/Ebook at Samhain Publishing
Rating: 5 of 5 Bells(in honor of the season)

Hafwyen is the Princess of Yadderwal. However, royal blood is as much a curse as it is a blessing because she has to meet and bond with the mate of her soul before the end of her father's reign or her entire world will perish.

No pressure, right? Don't fret, though, because she's found him, if only in her dreams.

Hafwyen's not the ordinary type of princess kept stuffed away in an ivory tower waiting for her prince to come for her. Well, she is, but she escapes by learning how to go into dreams, or the Myst using a herbal potion that's just shy of being herectical. However, when she finally wakes up and figures out the man of her dreams might be closer to reality than she ever thought possible, it's almost too late.

Yestin has been waiting for Hafwyen to figure out he's real. He can't help her because his hands are tied by the gods. Unfortunately just when she meets an intriguing stranger who can tell her all about him, a dangerous enemy strikes at the very heart of the kingdom. Will she believe in time to save herself and Yadderwall?

Sudden Fall is filled with love, lore magic, dangerously complex court intrigue, and a legend that has a life of its own. The author has created a world that contains characters so vivid I found myself captured from the first page. I couldn’t stop reading until I found out what happened to Wyen and Yestin. Now I'm hooked and ready to be reeled in by the next installment in the series. If books where legend, lore and love collide is something you love, then do yourself a favor and get a copy of Yadderwal today!


Samhain New Releases -- Paranormal Holiday Snacks!

At Samhain today:

“Love Me, Still” by Maya Banks
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 1-59998-709-0
Length: Short Story
Price: 2.50
Genre: Holiday, Romance, Paranormal
Publication Date: December 18, 2007

Forgiveness is the most difficult thing to give but the most cherished thing to receive. A story from The Perfect Gift

Beloved mate to two wolves, Heather lived an idyllic life until hunters destroyed the pack’s peaceful existence. Believing their mate betrayed them and was responsible for their father’s death, Cael and Riyu cut Heather from their lives. But when they realize their terrible mistake, can they ever gain her forgiveness and win back her love?


“Miracle at Midnight” by Stacia Wolf
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 1-59998-710-4
Length: Short Story
Price: 2.50
Publication Date: December 18, 2007
Cover art by Scott Carpenter

Can a heart wrapped in stone discover the true meaning of love? A story from The Perfect Gift

In 1507 France, Comtesse Amara de la Cortese wasn’t a very nice person. She was a hard-hearted ruler who thought nothing of imprisoning beggars and ordering their children sold. Enter Saint Nicholas, whose quest is to protect the young. As punishment, he turned Amara into a statue—a prison of stone to match her heart of stone.

But Saint Nicholas believes in redemption, so every 50 years he frees her for 48 hours and gives her one of ten chances to answer one apparently simple question: What is the true meaning of love?

Ten chances. One question. Sounds simple. But Amara, whose heart is stunted by a loveless past, has failed each time. Now, on her very last shot at lifting the curse, she finds herself in present-day Manhattan. She meets six-year-old Samantha, who totally believes her fantastic story, and her doctor dad, Nick, who totally doesn’t.

Despite the deadline hanging over her head, Amara is determined to enjoy her last taste of freedom. With Nick and Sami, she explores New York’s unique style of Christmas. She also finds herself falling in love.

Then, in a flash, time runs out in a way none of them imagined. The pressure’s on for Amara to find the answer in her newly melted heart—or return forever to her prison of stone.


Jody W.
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--January 29, 2008, Samhain Publishing
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://meankittybox.blogspot.com/

16 December 2007

The Gothic Holiday Spirit

“How can you write that paranormal stuff during the holidays?”

A most interesting question; not because writing paranormal stories during the holidays is any great feat, but because the question itself over looks the fact that the holidays are full of paranormal stories. The enduring Christmas tales we all grew up with are full of ghosts, elves, angels, and magic unlike any stories to be told outside of Halloween. The Yuletide spirit is built upon the hushed magic of a world in winter slumber; and it has birthed tales we tell again and again, in forms that change but with messages that remain the same.

At what other time of year can you see what the world would be like if you were never born? When else can your entire take on life change due to seeing the happiness of your past and the loneliness of your future? What other season can see a department store Santa bestow the belief in magic and miracles to a place as sophisticated and jaded as New York City? It is a paranormal paradise full of possibility that calls for an opening of the imagination as well as an opening of the heart.

Sure, my on holiday cheer might have a few more vampires than most. My angels are sexy and hot rather than merely benign and helpful. And if my elves are making toys, they’re toys of a decidedly adult nature, but in the end it all comes out the same. My winter wonderland is full of magic and paranormal goings on that transform how you feel about the world and your place in it.

What more can you ask for?

So I say that if this holiday season your reindeer happen to shape-shift, that’s okay. If the immortal elf bearing gifts didn’t come from a chimney but fell out of an enchanted book and looks smokin’ hot, that’s perfectly legitimate. If your ghost-of-lovers past takes a more intimate and pleasure oriented approach to redemption of your hero or heroine, that’s all in the spirit of things.
It’s all about the ordinary becoming extraordinary beneath a blanket of the clean, yuletide snows, and not everyone’s extraordinary need be the same.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I’m off to deal with a herd of shape-shifting reindeer in need of a sleigh mistress.

Happy Holidays to all.


15 December 2007

December's Samhellion now available!

The December issue of The Samhellion newsletter is now available!

Click here to read a wide variety of interesting articles and short fiction by some of Samhain Publishing's brightest and best.

This month's theme is, of course, the holidays. Check out the article on Yule traditions and lore, co-written by me and Gia Dawn. Enjoy!

This will probably be my last post until 2008. I hope you all have a peaceful holiday season.

Nollaig chridheil huibh!

13 December 2007

13 Books that should be on you Christmas gift list

We're down to the wire with Christmas - only 11 shopping days left! My gift to you - 13 books you can put on your buying list. There is something here for everyone that loves paranormal reading, from Young Adult to sizzling hot romance. Some are print books, some are ebooks - really, something for everyone!

1 - Beautiful Monster by Joely Skye - M/M romance. 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.

2 - Blood Moon by Rose Marie Wolf - Werewolf hunter Simon Conner is so close to achieving his goal—or so he thinks. Little does he know that the werewolf he left for dead has awakened to avenge himself and the disappearance of his mate.

3 - Half Moon Rising by Margo Lukas - A bizarre connection between a werewolf and a woman reveals the truth behind a pack’s discarded magic lore.

4 - Monster by Joely Skye - M/M romance. 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.

5 - Not Quite Dead by Sela Carsen - He’s gorgeous, he’s got great manners, he’s got a mission to accomplish. The only drawback? He’s been dead for a hundred years.

6 - Poseidon VII by S. J. Willing - How can the delectable Anis Anamer and her hunkalicious bodyguard save the Poseidon VII colony from destruction when they aren’t even safe from each other?

7 - Reading Between The Lines by Lauren Dane - Celtic language expert Haley O’Brian is thrilled when she gets the chance to translate a scroll written in Ogham, an ancient Celtic text used in magic and divination. While translating the text, she unwittingly frees Conall macCormac’s Fae soul from a millennia-old curse that kept him imprisoned in a human body, lifetime after lifetime.

8 - Sweet Moon Dreams by Rose Marie Wolf - They only wanted a normal life, but never realized normal for their kind meant murder, deception, kidnapping…and hunters.

9 - Lords of the Were by Bianca D'Arc - An ancient evil is stalking the twin alpha rulers of the werefolk and the half-were woman who is destined to be their mate…if she lives long enough.

10 - The Gloaming: Abhainn's Kiss by Carolan Ivey - 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.

11 - The Vampire... In My Dreams by Tery Lee Wilde - Young Adult. Love bites when a seventeen-year-old vampire and witch tangle.

12 - The Strength of the Wolf by Jorrie Spencer - 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.

13 - The Wolf's Heart by Jenna Leigh - When a nosy reporter reunites with a werewolf in tycoon’s clothing, sparks fly and passions ignite. The burning question is, who’s taming who?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here
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!

12 December 2007

New Releases at Samhain This Week

Just in time for the holidays! There's a double stuffed stocking of new romances with speculative elements at http://www.samhainpublishing.com/. Check out:

"Sweeter Than Wine" by Bianca D'Arc
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Red Hots!
ISBN: 1-59998-682-5
Length: Novel
Price: 5.50

An abused woman has the power to unite werefolk, fey and vampire against an evil that would see them all dead—if she can learn to love again.


"The Sword Empire" by Robert Leader
Genre: Fantasy-SciFi
ISBN: 1-59998-190-4
Length: Novel
Price: 5.50

From the exotic mists of Vedic mythology to the harsh and barbaric Gheddan Empire, the Law of the Sword is carried godlessly into the space age. Book 2 of THE FIFTH PLANET


"Tales from Lachmuirghan" Anthology
Genre: Erotica, Fantasy-SciFi
ISBN: 1-59998-842-9
Length: Novel
Price: 5.50
Welcome to Lachmuirghan, where fantasies come true. You may have trouble finding Lachmuirghan on a map. That’s because it exists only in our imaginations. Hidden in this secret valley, Lachmuirghan can be whatever you want it to be.

"Winter's Daughter" by J. C. Wilder
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 1-59998-843-7
Length: Novel
Price: 5.50
Cover art by Anne Cain

One woman’s struggle to learn the truth turns into one man’s battle to save her life. The Coven, Book I


"Key West Magic" by Ciar Cullen
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 1-59998-204-8
Length: Category
Price: 4.50

A haunted-to-the-rafters inn. A haunted heart. A sexy Irish ghostbuster must face both before he can love one woman.


Jody W.
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--January 29, 2008, Samhain Publishing
http://www.jodywallace.com * http://meankittybox.blogspot.com

A Few Parting Words About Keeping Your Dreams Alive!

Isn't that a cool house in the photo at left? It's my parents new farm house which should be finished by January.

My parents are 70 and 65. At their age most people retire and move to town. (At least that's how it works with the farmers around here.)

...well, my folks have other plans. My father is raising natural beef cattle on this farm place and has no plans to quit anytime soon.

...so at the age when their peers are calling it quits and settling on their duffs in town, my parents are packing it up and moving back to the country. It's "back" to the country because in 1984 my parents had to quit farming and sell their home & farm, move to town, and find jobs in our small town.

Then in 1990, after years of saving and working off-farm, they started renting and feeding cattle at my grandfather's farm (Gramps semi-retired at 80). For the past 17 years they have been driving back and forth keeping their dreams of being back on the farm alive, plus my mother worked herself up from secretary to manager at her difficult job, and they cared for their ailing parents until their deaths.

They've been working their asses off for 24 years to see their dream become reality. TWENTY-FOUR YEARS!

And my parents did it their way. Others told them to just remodel the old (firetrap) house that was on the place. Some told them they were crazy to move out on the farm to deal with hot summers and harsh winters at their age.

I'm jumping for joy. I see hope in what they're doing. I see dreams becoming reality. I'm proud to have their blood running through my veins!

Today is my last post on Beyond the Veil. I'm changing up some things in my life. I'm taking steps to make sure I'm doing what I need to make my dreams come true...dreams about my writing career, but about some personal visions as well.

I'm confident I can make them happen. I hope it doesn't take 24 years...but so be it, if it does. I'm going to follow my parents example:

  • Work Hard
  • Ignore the Negative Nay-sayers
  • Decide Your Own Dream
  • Get Back Up and Keep Going...and going....and going...and going :)
Wishing my fellow writers and our readers the strength to follow your dreams, I bid you good-bye...for awhile anyway :)

~Margo Lukas

HALF MOON RISING, in print at Amazon now.

11 December 2007

Ten Fairy Tale Revisions That Haven't Happened Yet

My upcoming novel, A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH, is based on the Grimm's fairy tale "The 12 Dancing Princesses." A majority of times when you stumble across a fairy tale rewrite, the author takes great liberties with the plot, the setting, the characters, the atmosphere, and so on. The tale, in the end, can bear little resemblence to its origins, like the ten billion different versions of Cinderella or the Ugly Duckling.

Less frequently, the tale sticks closer to its fairy tale roots, like Robin McKinley's two versions of Beauty and the Beast or my own SUSANNAH. Both styles of retellings have their charms and challenges. Even the tales we think of as the originals today are merely the versions written down by whatever enterprising soul recorded them. In the romance genre and others, authors love to put their own spins and twists on these folk, fairy and mythological tales because of the classic themes embedded therein.

But enough of the academic approach! Here's a list of fairy tales I figure I ought to twist:

1) Rumplestiltskin. In which Rumpy, the little horny devil, spins more than gold for the queen. No one is surprised when the queen's first child looks a lot more like a dwarf than the jerkwad, materialistic king who only married her for the gold. Queenie then runs away with the hot short man and her kid. The end.

2) How Six Men Got On In The World. I've never tried my hand at any m/m, so why not start with some m/m/m/m/m/m? How Six Men Got It On All Over The World. My randy team of balloonists floats around the world in two years. They missed the eighty day mark because they kept running out of "supplies".

3) Snow White and Rose Red. This story includes a shapeshifting bear who's man enough for both lusty maidens. Toss in a suspense/treasure hunting plot where they race to find the magic jewels against the evil albino gnome (plus some religious imagery and Madonna references), and you have a possible best-seller on your hands.

4) The Three Billy Goats Gruff. In many versions, the goats are brothers, and we all know how popular brothers are in the romance genre. I guess this will have to be three connected books? The problem is, weregoats aren't sexy, even if they are horny, so they might have to be cowboys battling over water rights. Cowboys often adopt a gruff manner, so in the end, it's all good. And we'll call one of them Billy.

5) Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It's not what you think! She's actually an environmentalist fighting with those damn Gruff brothers who want to herd their goats on the land that's supposed to be a bear preserve. Should she be with Billy? Or Wolf? Yeah, yeah, I know, but how can I resist naming one of the Gruff brother "Wolf"? Answer: I can't.

6) Chicken Little. The sky is falling, and this buxom research scientist is the only one who can prove it! This might end up as a disaster movie on TNT, but as long as John Corbitt can be the sherriff/love interest, I'd definitely be willing to help revamp the script.

7) The Fisherman and His Wife. Totally women's fiction. That blasted cheating husband keeps going out "fishing" and coming back with all these presents for his "Queen", no, his "Empress", and finally she figures out what he's been doing. They're guilt gifts. So she baits her trap and catches both fish in it, with the help of a hunky PI who may be the love interest in the next novel of the "Fat Rita: PI" series.

8) The Greek Tycoon and the Virgin Mistress. What, that's not a fairy tale?? But it's been retold so many times, in so many ways! Are you sure? Well, in my version, she's the tycoon, he's the kept man.

9) Rapunzel. She's not a princess, but her extensions are fierce. What nobody realizes is that she's actually a modern-day Medusa, and she's trying to find the one man who *will* turn to stone when her gaze falls upon him. The rest of them, to her dismay, wilt in her presence. Such is the life of a cursed goddess in 21st century America.

10) Pinochio. Lad lit. After his friend Jack gave him those "magic beans", every time smooth-talking Pino tells a lie, his weiner gets a little bigger. At first--since he started out with quite the deficit--this seems like a blessing. However, he soon learns that not all ladies agree that size is the only thing that matters--they'd like a little love, caring and honesty to go with that beanstalk.

Know of any fairy tales you think need to be rewritten? What do you think the third Gruff brother should be named?

Here's a quick list of some already published romance novels based on fairy tales and other myths: http://www.likesbooks.com/fairytale.html

Jody W.
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--January 29, 2008, Samhain Publishing
http://www.jodywallace.com * http://meankittybox.blogspot.com

08 December 2007

Haunted Links

I'm spending the weekend in a hotel, with my windows overlooking the Leadbetter Golf Academy. The view from my window is all green driving range, and blue pools - and the sounds in my ears are "can we go to the pool yet? How about now? Now? When?"

I'm pretty sure the Omni is much to shiney and new to have anything so atmospheric as a resident ghost. But driving over to the course in the pre-dawn fog this morning, it looked much more like the links of Ireland than our American greens. I wouldn't have been surprised to see a ghostly form rise from the misty vapor and cross my path.

There are a few tales of haunted golf courses in America. Aetna Springs - - is said to be haunted by Dominican monks, murdered by rival Franciscan monks in the 1500's. Then there's Victoria Golf Club in Canada, where there have numerous sightings of Doris Davlin, who was murdered there in 1936.

America isn't alone in it's tales of haunted courses. In Europe we'll find more of the most well known haunted links. Golfers at Church Stretton Golf Club on the edge of the South Shropshire hills often find their balls have vanished when they land near the 13th greens. Some may say there's a more mundane explanation - local birds, perhaps - but I link to think the ancients are entertaining themselves on their long watch.

Perhaps the most famous golf course in the world, St. Andrews has hosted many a top tier golf tournament. Tiger Woods won the British Open there in 2005. If I ever make it over to the course, I'll be looking forward to taking the St. Andrews Ghost Tour. Many a suspected witch lost their lives on the rocky cliffs, thrown over to the waves pounding 70 feet below. Those unlucky enough to sink were declared innocent of the charges - although quite dead none the less. Those who floated of course must have been guilty - and these poor souls were condemed to burning at the stake.

The fog here has long since burned off, and the sun is calling us out to play. I'm sure someday my golfing husband will take me near one of these haunted courses (St. Andrews is way up on my list). When we make it there, I'll be keeping my eyes open for more than flying golf balls. I'll be hoping to get a glimpse of some of the areas most ancient residents to round out my travel experiences.

07 December 2007

The Selkie Legend

My latest release, HEART OF THE SEA, is based on an old myth about shape-shifting seals. The Orkney Isles in particular, lay claim to these stories. The word “seal” in the Orkney dialect is “selkie.”

The theme of the LOVE & LORE anthology is Celtic mythology, and there are Irish roots to my story, but the Heart of the Sea itself, the magical amulet on which the story hinges, goes all the way back to the ancient gods of the Northland.

It’s believed that the stories of the seal-people came from a source further north. In the north of Scandinavia, live a people called the Saami. They practiced the Old Norse ways longer than any of their Norwegian neighbors. The Orkney Isles were on a path the Saami used for trade and settlement and it was a legitimate part of Norway in the 13th century. Place names and dialect put Orkney closer to its Norse roots than its Scottish ones. Gray seals in the east Atlantic travel the same paths now, from the UK and Ireland up around the Orkney Islands, Iceland, Norway, and further.

Selkies are creatures of pure magic and the magic lies in their skin. They’re able to cast off their wondrous pelts and take form as humans. But if the skin is lost or stolen, then they’re stuck in human bodies until the skin is recovered. As soon as they find it again, they snatch up their fur covering and rush back to the sea.

Both selkie men and women are extremely attractive to humans. A common theme is when a human man sneaks off with a selkie woman’s sealskin. She’s trapped on land and has no choice but to marry the man who holds her pelt.

It often ends sadly, though. Many years pass and though she seems happy enough, she still longs for her watery home. It’s frequently her children who, by trying to cheer her up, tell her where the skin is hidden. She takes it back, bids farewell to her children, and returns to the sea, never to be seen again.

Happily, Heart of the Sea both begins and ends with the myth a bit backward. It’s the story of a human woman who turns into a selkie through a family curse and while she’s trapped in the body of a seal, longs for her home on dry land.

There are many retellings of this myth. I recommend Orkneyjar.com’s interesting pages about the heritage of the islands and the Selkie Folk. They have several different stories about Selkies. Another website is A Home for Selkies. They have quite a few poems and songs linked on their site. In addition, The Seal Prince, a children’s book by Sheila MacGill-Callahan is beautifully told and illustrated.

I also highly recommend the film, “The Secret of Roan Inish.” It’s a beautiful story within a story – framed by the Selkie myth.

05 December 2007

Whatta Rush!

Christmas is looming on the horizon waiting to swallow me whole. But even though I'm nowhere near ready for the big bad holiday monster, I'm not scared at all. Nope, I'm not gonna panic because I know that one of those wonderful alpha males I write about will save the day. He'll swing in on a vine made of tinsel wearing nothing but a pair of tastefully worn jeans. He'll come to my rescue and volunteer to do all that last minute shopping. And he'll do it with a sexy smile and a wink. Then, he'll give me an hour long foot massage. Oh yeah baby!

Yeah any minute now, it's gonna happen.

Where in the heck is he?

Okay, reality check. There's really no hyped up hottie coming to rescue me from retail hell. Nobody who'll come sliding in at the last minute bearing bags of toys for all the girls and boys. (Sorry Santa, you don't count) I'm not that lost in my own little fantasy world.

It's just me and my cute, quirky hubby against those who wish to sacrifice us upon the altar of capitilism. We'll arm ourselves with iced coffees knowing that if things get hairy at least we'll be highly caffeinated and can run away really fast. The credit cards will scream for mercy, however, we'll be firm and press onward fighting the good fight until good triumphs over evil once more in the quest for the perfect gifts for the ones we love! Or barring that, whatever's left after everything else has been picked over by the vultures also known as...

The Early Birds!

We don't like them, but we promise ourselves we'll be one of them next year. Yeah, we did say that last year, how'd you know?

Tonight We Shop In HELL.. mart

04 December 2007

New Release -Solarion Heat by Kathleen Scott

For over twenty years the planet of Cimirion has experienced devastating climatic changes that have turned it from a planet of four seasons to one of perpetual winter. The Cimirion High Command has sent an advance team of Runners to the duel-sun planet of Solarion to scout for possible relocation.

Kara Zaire’s talents as a Visionary—a psychic who can hear energy patterns as musical notes— have placed her on the advance team to determine how well Cimirions will adapt to the constant summer heat of Solarion. That task would be accomplished easier if only Team Leader Jonah Cash would quit treating her like an unwanted commodity. But sometimes there is a heat behind his gaze that makes her feel as if he could burn her as sure as any sun.

Jonah Cash has led many missions for the Runners, but none as desperate as that of Solarion. He’s leery of the Visionary’s talent, especially when a strange force field blocks her from reading the planet’s energy. He’s willing to put up with her hocus-pocus talent if it means a successful relocation. He just never expected for the mystic to cause him to see visions of his own and her beauty to heat his blood to the boiling point.


“Quit hugging trees and get your ass moving.”

Kara ground her back teeth together, causing her injured cheek to smart. She picked up her pace. The man had about as much tact as a rampaging glacial bear. “Yes, sir.”
The team stood at the base of a small hill in a semi-circle. They all looked over at her as if she were some loathsome tagalong on their vacation getaway. She’d been on many missions as a visionary, but she’d never come across such clear contempt from those she worked with. Of course they were all hand selected by Cash so most likely were his regular crew. She, being the outsider, had to prove her worth, and so far the planet couldn’t or wouldn’t cooperate with her.

If Cash continued to undermine her legitimacy for being on the team, she’d file a formal complaint with the HC. This mission meant the survival of their people, and having a team leader who thwarted her efforts to find a suitable planet for relocation could not be tolerated on any level.

“We’re going to split up into three two-person teams.” Cash pointed to the northern end of the plains. “Lowe and Dylan. Head north. Christo and Ramsey. East. Visionary, you’re with me.” He adjusted the volume on his earpiece. “Keep in constant radio contact. If you find anything of interest flag it and we’ll investigate at length tomorrow. We meet at the ship before the second sun sets.”

The rest of the team dispersed in their designated directions. Kara watched while Cash pulled out his canteen and took a quick mouthful of water. He swished it around his cheeks before swallowing.

“What have you found so far?” He replaced the canteen in the strap on his belt and rested his hands on his hips as if in preemptive challenge to what her answer might be.

“If I were blindfolded and brought to this planet, I would think it had died a long time ago.”

A deep frown pulled his dark brows into a V. His startling blue eyes were hidden behind a pair of wraparound sunshades that did nothing but reflect Kara’s image back to her. “What do you mean?”

“I mean I can’t hear anything. The only reason I know the suns are shining is because I can feel their heat. But they’re as silent as space itself.”

He let out a string of creative expletives and turned away. “Why didn’t you tell me this before I sent the others off into the plains?”

“Why didn’t you ask for my professional assessment before making that decision, sir?”

He shook his head and picked up the pace. “Doesn’t make much difference, I guess. This is a fool’s errand.”

Reluctantly, Kara had to agree with that assessment. The thought of relocating to a planet she couldn’t hear disturbed her more than she wanted to admit. But one thing was for certain: their civilization could no longer continue to survive on Cimirion.
Worldwide climatic changes had covered the planet in an icy crust in only a few short decades. Scientists couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason for the sudden shift in mean temperatures, but all agreed it appeared to be getting worse every season.

Seasons. They’d had nothing but perpetual winter for the past twenty years. Kara could barely remember the springs and summers of her childhood. Looking around her, she wondered what the HC had been thinking to want to take an entire population from a world of arctic blasts and hypothermia to one of perpetual summer and heat stroke.
Kara lengthened her stride as she caught up to Cash. She hung back a few steps just to admire the view. She might not like him as a team leader, but all that arrogance sure came in a tight, hard package. Briefly an image of spreading protective oil over his entire body flooded her mind and brought her up short. Just how long had she been without a man?

The heat had to be getting to her. Normally, the tall, dark and arrogant type didn’t thrill her in the least. However, Cash hid something, she was almost sure of it. In addition to discovering why the planet hadn’t spoken to her yet, she also wanted to uncover some of her sexy and untouchable team leader’s secrets. The prospect of which would be truly fascinating.


03 December 2007

The Retro Psychic

Everything old is new again.

In the past few years we've seen Detroit bring back the muscle car: Chargers, Mustangs and Camaros. VH-1 Classics brought back popular bands from the '80's with their Bands Reunited who have subsequently began to tour together. Auntie Lou keeps slipping back to the 1700s.

Say what?!

Retrocognition (or postcognition) is one of the coolest of psychic experiences in my book. I use the term psychic loosely here, since I've talked to some people who've had retrocognitive experiences, but vow to no known abilities in any psychic direction or channel.

Retrocognition can best be described as an replay of events that superimpose themselves on current ones - or better yet, as a sudden displacement in time where the experiencer stands in a 3-D past. The person has no known connection to these experiences (i.e. deja vue, remembered past). It can include sights, sounds and smells.

For example:

I have a friend whose grandmother lives out on Long Island in a neighborhood once occupied by the British Army during the Revolutionary War. Now, my friend's grandmother is a prudent sort, not given to believing in ghosts, ghoulies and phantoms. However, that didn't stop an entire troop of British soldiers from marching through her house on their way to meet the Continental Army on the field of battle. Of course when they arrived at the end of the driveway they kindly faded away. But according to my friend, these same soldiers have been spotted over the years by most of the neighbors. And before you dismiss the idea entirely - no they aren't Revolutionary War Reenactors as some skeptics have suggested. This isn't to suggest all hauntings are engery impressions left by emotional or stressful events, but a good many of them could very well be.

This isn't the only route to retrocognition. It also takes on the form of total submersion into a different time. When I was a little girl (elementary school) my mother worked odd jobs for the school so she could be home with us in the afternoon and holidays. During school hours she'd clean house, do laundry or begin preparations for the evening meal. My mother is very hard to scare. As a matter of fact I think the only times I've ever seen her scared was in the car driving with my father. Psychic phenomena doesn't make the woman bat an eyelash. One day, I came home from school and mom had an odd tale to tell. She had rounded the corner from the family room to living room with a basket of clothes she brought up from the laundry room in the basement. She stopped in her tracks because the living room she walked into wasn't ours. The light blue walls were brown, the white brick fireplace was now stone, and a fire burned brightly inside though it was early May. She stood there and blinked a few times until the scene eventually faded away. So how did this colonialesque scene superimpose over a 1970's suburban home? There was never any explanation for the occurance, which is fine with me. I think knowing more about it would ruin the mystique for me.

There have also been reported cases of audio retrocognition. One famous case involved two British sisters who took a vacation in Dieppe, France in 1951. They were woken one morning at 4am by the sounds of warfare. Bombs, machine guns, rifles, screams surrounded them. Imagine the panic they felt upon waking to hear such terrifying sounds? However, they were the only two in the hotel to hear the paranormal soundtrack. Nine years eariler, on August 14, 1942, Dieppe as the scene of a brutal air raid. The sounds heard by the sisters are consistant with the sounds of the battle that waged nearly a decade before. The audio battle lasted until 7am.

Retrocognition has also been used to solve crimes and in archeology. I remember a book some years ago by, I think, Virginia Henley where a woman found a gold Roman coin and was suddenly thrust back into ancient Rome. It was a good book, but the retrocognition in it opened the door for the heroine to experience a past life, so it's a little different than the examples I've provided here. Anyhoo, the concept of using retrocognition in ways other than for foreshadowing a trip into a past incarnation is very intriguing. Hmmm...I'll have to pull out some of my old story ideas and see if I've used it somewhere without realizing it.


02 December 2007

Sci-Fi 101

I grew up on science fiction and fantasy in a way no generation before mine could imagine and every generation after will take for granted. It gives a unique perspective on the world and what’s considered “common knowledge”.

In NBC’s new fall drama Journeyman, journalist Dan Vassar finds himself moved through time, forced to assist different individuals to reach whatever potential Fate/Destiny/The Universe has in store for them. It’s Quantum Leap meets Voyagers meets Every Super Hero Bestowed With Powers Without Explanation or Choice. What makes Journeyman stand out is that the character isn’t lost in the past but transported there in segments of time that range from minutes to days. He has to hold down a job and keep his family together in the present while being unexpectedly yanked into the past at any moment. It makes for a greater emotional interplay than any show it borrows from, and it also makes for the most interesting conversations on the part of Dan Vassar.

In one episode he attempts to explain the fact that he’s a time traveler and absolutely everything he said made sense. To me. He was talking to someone from the late 60’s/early 70’s and they were completely lost. It highlighted for me the change in perspective over a single generation.

From books to movies to television I’ve been exposed to the concepts of faster-than-light space travel, timeline manipulation, terra-forming, artificial intelligences and human-tech hybridization as common ideas of the future. My childhood is full of parallel universes, quantum leap accelerators, flux capacitors, and modified deflector dishes emitting tachyon pulses.

I know that if I discover a time machine in the future and go back into the past to tell myself how to build it, I’ve created a causal loop. I know that no computer system should ever be given autonomous control over a defense system because it will eventually try to kill us all. And no matter how much of a good idea it sounds like at the time—no good can come of a super-virus because it WILL escape and devastate the entire planet if not the entire solar system.

It’s all common knowledge. Even if you don’t quite understand how the science works, you know it works and that’s enough. I could no more imagine not understanding the idea of the space time continuum than my godchildren could conceive that people once lived without computers in their living rooms. Some things have just always been…even when you know they haven’t.

What have you noticed seeping into the collective consciousness and becoming part of the common knowledge in the last years?

Sci-Fi 101 Ramble Done


01 December 2007

Guest Blogger: Beverly Rae

Would You Want A Power?

Carolan Ivey offered me this chance to guest blog and I was more than happy to accept the invitation. I’m a fan of Carolan’s and Beyond the Veil, as well as a fellow author. Like Carolan, I write paranormal romance although most of my books are the lighter, sexy, contemporary paranormals. However, I do stray into the dark side of paranormals every once in awhile, too.

I was thinking about what I’d like to write when one of my favorite television shows, Ghost Whisperer, came on the screen. As I watched this week’s ghost appear to the main character, I began to wonder. What would it be like to have a power like hers? Would I appreciate such a gift? Or would it be more of a curse? For that matter, what would it be like to have any kind of supernatural power?

Would you want such a power? Would you like to be a modern-day Nostradamus and see the future? How would you feel seeing dead people pop up in your living room right before the in-laws dropped by for a holiday dinner? Which makes me wonder…how does John Edward, a real psychic medium, handle parties? Do the other guests hit him up for readings like a doctor being asked for free medical advice? Does he walk into a room and have to immediately declare that he’s “tuned out” for the night for him to simply enjoy being a normal partygoer? Or does he accept the fact that he is the ultimate party favor?

I believe everyone at one time or another has wondered about having a super power. For instance, I remember wishing I was Samantha from the old Bewitched show when I found out that my best friend in high school had cheated with my boyfriend. Oh how I wanted to twitch my nose and turn her into an ant and him into an anteater! Thankfully for them, I was just plain ole me and couldn’t take supernatural revenge. But could I really handle the stress of seeing ghosts like the Ghost Whisperer does? Would I want my days interrupted by messengers from the Other Side? I don’t think so. I’d become a nervous wreck.

There are, however, certain powers I would love to have, while there are others I wouldn’t want even for a ton of money. Let’s take a look at a few.

Divination or Predicting the Future: Maybe it’s just the planner in me, but I’d love to see the future. I’m always making lists and goals, and it would make me incredibly happy to know all my efforts were going to pay off. If the future wasn’t as bright as I’d like, I’d still want to know so I could plan accordingly. Unlike a lot of people, I’d want to see the path ahead of me whether it’s a smooth walkway or a rocky road.

Speaking with the Dead: Uh-uh. This one is definitely not for me. I don’t like uninvited guests, even in living breathing forms, so I’m thinking a surprise visit from my neighbor’s Aunt Maud wouldn’t sit well with me, either. The Ghost Whisperer heroine and John Edward can keep this power all to themselves.

Invisibility: I can definitely see the practicality of this power. Think of all the gossip I could have by slinking around unseen. Other uses come to mind, too. Like gaining free access to a concert or never again worrying over a zit on my chin. Heck, I could do anything, go anywhere without getting dressed, much less worry about my hairstyle flopping.

Flying: This ability, I think, would depend on the specifics of the trip. Sure, it’d be great to fly on over to Hawaii, free of charge and with no delays, but what about luggage? Who can go anywhere without at least three pairs of shoes? So, if I had to choose, flying wouldn’t make the top of the powers list for me.

Super-Strength: As far as safety goes, I think this power would come in handy. I’d feel secure knowing I could take down any mugger and bring him to his knees. Plus, I could get rid of all those rubber grips I use to open jars.

Intuitive Psychic: In my book, TOUCH ME, my heroine has the ability to touch a person and name their soul mate. I chose this power for her because being able to help people find their true love appeals to me. I mean, what’s better than helping people find someone to share their life?

After going through some of my choices of possible super powers, I discovered something very exciting. In a way, authors do have a super power. Much like the intuitive psychic in my book, writers are helping people—albeit fictitious people—find love. Yet in doing so, we also take the reader into worlds of joy and affection, giving them a taste of what true love can be like. Next to having the power to touch someone and tell them the name of their soul mate, writing the stories where wonderful romance can happen is the next best thing.

Beverly Rae – http://www.beverlyrae.com/
Giggle, Gasp & Sigh with a Beverly Rae Romance

29 November 2007

Thirteen Things about EMBER CASE

1 - Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your life?

What's the best way to describe it. Hectic? Often. Relaxing? When I make the time. Fun? Definately. Between the kids (two of them), husband (just one!), businesses (we run several from home), and writing (three works in progress at the moment) my day usually starts at 5:30am.

2 - Do you write everyday? Any routines or rituals? Are you a plot or seat-of-your-pants writer?

Every day would be a dream. Some days, the most I can manage is a sentence scribbled on a scrap of paper. But every day is the goal, and I hit it more often than not.

Rituals - coffee or tea. Usually a candle nearby, to stare into when I need to blank my mind to better hear 'the voices'. I'm a plotter, but not a detailed one, and the actual book rarely ends up looking like what I thought it would when I plotted it out. I'm ok with that - as long as the book makes sense when it's finished!

3 - How would you describe the genre in which you do most of your writing?

"There can't be only one!" Ahem. Sorry. Most of what I write is erotic romance, but some of it has been more adventure than romance, and then there's the paranormal, fantasy, historical, and one contemporary story in there. SciFi is a big love, and I've got a "space western" I've been sitting on for way to long that I need to dust off and polish. So... varied, I guess.

4 - Star Wars or Star Trek?

Harrison Ford in a gun belt, or Patrick Stewart's beautiful green eyes? I'll get back to you.

5 - What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

That first sale. Nothing makes you feel motivated like success.

6 - Once the deadlines are all met and the manuscript is delivered, what do you do to relax and give yourself a break?

Does laundry count? How about dishes?

I read as much as I can, every genre I can. Ebooks have made it incredibly easy to have a book at my fingertips whenever I find a spare moment, and I've usually got several loaded on both the laptop and cell phone so I can pick up wherever I left off.
I just received my print copy of the fabulous Love and Lore yesterday, and got through most of it last night before I finally couldn't keep my eyes open. Fabulous book! Go buy a copy now!

7 - What web sites or reader groups / author groups do you frequent and recommend?

Samhain Cafe is a fabulous place for readers and writers to talk about their favorite books, life, whatever. Romance Divas has been a huge help since I started writing. And I love blogs. I skim several hundred a week, and have over 50 on my daily "must read" list.

8 - What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

I read anything that I can lay my hands on. Favorites are romantic fantasy, scifi, paranormal, some romantic suspense.

I'm lucky so many of my favorite authors are published with Samhain - I get to consider them "sisters". Lauren Dane writes some of the best paranormal erotic romance I've ever read. I'm afraid to list names here because space is short and I'll leave someone out, but the three authors in Love and Lore (Carolan Ivey, Gia Dawn, Sela Carsen) are all fabulous.

I love, love, love Nora Roberts and Linda Howard - I've been reading them both since before I ever really thought about trying to write my own stories, and they never dissapoint. Sylvia Day has been a huge inspiration, as has Angela Knight. Eden Bradley is someone whose books I look for on release day as well.

9 - What is your latest book about?

I'm doing that dreaded two-projects-at-once thing right now. I've got a short sci-fi piece in the works, about a bounty hunter and the woman he's hired to rescue. And a contemporary, about an ultra-rich playboy and the woman he can't get out of his mind.

10 - What will your next release be about?

My next release is also my first - Hunting the Huntress releases on January 8th from Samhain. You can read an excerpt to get a taste for it now, then hurry back and order it in January!

11 - What are the goals you are still working toward?

Time management. Ugh. Self discipline. I constantly ask my little sister, "what's it like to have willpower?" I want it all, now!

12 - When people look at your books, how do you want them to be remembered?

As someone who made people feel. Love, anger, happiness, passion, excitement, anticipation, joy. I want to wring emotion from the reader, so when they sit a book down unfinished they can't wait to hurry back to it. And when they finish it, I want them to be lingering over the last pages, unable to walk away.

13 - What do you believe makes a book sexy?

Emotions. Make me feel what the hero and heroine are feeling, make me know every thought in their head, so intensely I don't hear the phone ring or the kids asking "what time will dinner be ready". Make every page come to life, and you'll have me hooked.

A Tyson Beckford lookalike doesn't hurt either >G<

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here
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!

28 November 2007

Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas

It's easy to assume that Halloween is the most paranormal holiday out there, but is that the truth? Let's take a turn around the Christmas Tree and perhaps we might start to feel differently...

Here's a festive ornament; Santa in his sleigh with a load of toys. A timeless figure who was been known by many names throughout history....Santa Clause, Chris Kringle, St. Nick, Father Christmas. He's been around for ages. Why? Because he's an Immortal! I wonder what he takes in return for all those presents found in our stockings?? Is he a big elf, or something else...vampire, fallen angel, a jolly Druid perhaps?

Next on the tree is a trio of his little helpers. Those industrious elves painting trains and rocking horses. Are they immortal like their boss? Or perhaps these elves are enslaved by some sinister magic?

Farther up on my tree I see a familiar fellow flashing his red nose. Good old Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Yeah, a deer that can fly and has a glowing nose--that's seems perfectly natural! Makes you wonder what kind of spell these poor animals are under. Or perhaps they are spirits trapped in the bodies of reindeer until they perform enough good deeds to be freed.

And who is this brightly painted little soldier? It's the Nutcracker. Reminds me of Frankenstein! I hope the only things he cracks in that jaw is nuts.

Frosty is peeking out from the wrapping paper below. A man made of snow who uses a magic hat to come to life. An Arctic circle golem! His could be a kiss that chills you to the bone.

Over on the piano my song book is open to "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing." Can you imagine how scared those poor shepards were when angels from heaven came a calling? Any holiday with angels, guiding stars, an evil king (Herod), and a baby who is the savior of mankind has the right elements for a paranormal legend.

At this time of the year who needs werewolves and vampires....we've got angels and flying reindeer!

Wishing you a joy as we start our holiday season!


27 November 2007

One of the Magical Musing's gals has her second book out from Samhain today! Be sure and check out the speculative romance offerings for November 27:

"Promise for Tomorrow" by Liz Kreger
Genre: Romantic SciFi-Futuristic
ISBN: 1-59998-694-9
Length: Novel
Price: 5.50
Publication Date: November 27, 2007
Cover art by Anne Cain

Rianna and Jhaan fight to bring a promise of hope to a world on the edge of extinction. A Part of Tomorrow book 2.


"7% and Rising" by Kim Knox
Genre: Romantic SciFi-Futuristic
ISBN: 1-59998-695-7
Length: Novella
Price: 3.50
Publication Date: November 27, 2007

He used her. She can’t trust him. But the fire burns between them hotter than ever.


"To Catch a Wolf" by Colette Denee
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 1-59998-698-1
Length: Short Story
Price: 2.50
Publication Date: November 27, 2007

The best way to catch a wolf? Use your heart as bait.
Jody W.
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--January 29, 2008, Samhain Publishing
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://meankittybox.blogspot.com/

Going Electronic: Writing Contests

I just wound up our local RWA Chapter's first chapter contest as the coordinator. It was my first year to be the woman behind the curtain, and with a few small exceptions, the whole contest ran smoothly and was a great experience, hopefully for everyone involved. One of our final round judges even requested some full manuscripts, which is the best part of all. All that's left for me to do is to post our talented winners on the website and send them their prizes--and we give money, not jewelry!

There are so many RWA chapter contests right now. RWA chapters have to make enough funds to stay afloat, pay RWA dues, rent meeting space, etc., and contests are the moneymaker du jour. I tweaked ours in hopes of making it stand out. After the first-round finalists were announced, I expressed the scoresheets to them and offered to give any of the finalists who were interested a bonafide "Grammar Wenching" (that would be me) so they could use the scoresheets, my reactions, and their own gut to revise the entry one last time before we sent it to the final round judges--the industry professionals. Hey, two fulls got requested, so maybe our revision period benefitted them.

Anyhow, we're deciding how to improve our contest even more next year. I've already agreed to coordinate again, but there are more changes afoot. For next year our chapter is considering going electronic. I thought I'd bring some of the benefits and detractors to the Beyond the Veil cyber-table, since many of our bloggers and readers are quite familiar with the ins and outs of reading electronic fiction. But first, a few facts about our chapter so you'll understand what our constraints are:

1) The contest is our primary moneymaker aside from dues, and entries are down. We are faced with reducing services to members, primarily our awesome member retreat.

2) Although a small chapter, we use *all* in-chapter judges. This limits how many entries and categories we can have, but we decided this was a necessary evil. That way we can train all first round judges and we know where they LIVE *heh heh heh*.

3) We have a diverse membership, as do all chapters, from complete newbies, to a granny who writes some of the hottest erotica ever, to a lady minister, to a New York Times best-selling author or two.

4) We have 3 categories (contemporary, historical, paranormal), take 25 pages with no synopsis, and make an effort to find appropriate first-round judges if said entry has inspirational content, erotic content, or falls under "romantic elements" instead of straight romance.

So here are the pros and cons we have tossed around about going electronic:


1) Saves trees -- paperless entries, maybe paperless responses

2) Saves money -- no postage, printing, etc.

3) Might increase the number of entries since many perceive electronic entry as "easier" or "quicker"

4) Many judges filled out their scoresheets on their computers, anyway

5) It has a hip/modern factor that might attract entrants who would not normally be attracted by our contest

6) I have wanted an excuse for an ultra-huge e-mailbox that can hold a lot more than the 10 MB my regular account allows, so I went ahead and got one. Ok, that's not really a "pro", that's just me being greedy.


1) More chances of snafus with format incompatibility between entrant, contest coordinator, and judges

2) Some judges honestly do not enjoy reading on the computer, which means:
a) Will this reduce the number of judges in our limited pool? We don't want to go outside the chapter for judges.
b) Judges already volunteer their time and energy. Is it fair to ask ones who do not enjoy reading on the computer to use their paper and ink to print out the entries?
c) Conversely, is it too expensive for our chapter to print the entries for first-round judges who want to participate but don't enjoy reading on the computer (or can't for whatever reason)?

3) Might increase the number of poorly edited/sloppy entries since it is easier to pop off an email than print out the entry, sweat over the formatting, and find time to go to the post office

What I'm looking for, if you're willing to jump in, is a discussion of the pros and cons of a contest like ours going electronic, maybe a few new pros or cons we haven't considered. Then I can take a fully-fleshed proposal to our chapter board and we can decide what the best route for our chapter is.

Thanks for being my sounding board! (Oh, my local chapter is Music City Romance Writers, http://www.mcrw.com/.)

Jody W.
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--January 29, 2008, Samhain Publishing
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://meankittybox.blogspot.com/

26 November 2007


I think there's time for a more writerly discussion today on a topic that's been on my mind quite a bit of late as I finish up my latest paranormal novel, Sweeter Than Wine (releasing December 11th from Samhain). Now that the obligatory plug is out of the way, the thing I've been wondering about is just how long the amazing popularity of paranormal romance might last.

I've been an avid reader since high school and have a paperback collection that tops 3,000 books - and those are just the ones I've organized and counted! (There are ALWAYS more lurking in the shadows of my home. They seem to multiply in the dark.) I remember a time when it was really HARD to find a paranormal character in a romance book. I remember a time when having characters with paranormal abilities was a strict no-no in the publishing world. Okay, maybe around Halloween each year, they'd publish a few paranormal-type books, but that was about it.

Only in recent years have the taboos lifted. I think the trend started with Christine Feehan's phenomenal success and the change in the popular culture brought about by the success of things like Buffy and all the copycats/spinoffs. Now, it seems, paranormal is everywhere! But that begs the question: how long can it really last? Is it a fad? Is it a fashion that will go out of style next year or the year after? Just when might the bubble burst?

As a writer, I'm concerned about trends, of course. I want to write things that have the best chance of selling, of course. But, more importantly, as a reader I want to know the kinds of books I really like will be out there and available for me to pick up and consume. My fear is that - as has recently happened with historicals and westerns - the books will just dry up as the bigger publishing houses decide they aren't as profitable anymore.

Personally, I'd hate to see that happen. Of course, there are now a wider variety of smaller publishers that can take bigger risks and can publish things that bigger houses may pass up. So that's one thing in the reader's favor that wasn't there before. But I do think that every publisher - regardless of size - is always looking for "the next big thing." A few years ago that was Chick Lit. Today it appears to be paranormal. I wonder what will be next?

Bianca D'Arc
Come over to The D'Arc Side... www.biancadarc.com

25 November 2007

Divination Sunday: Celtic Ogham - Tinne

Ogham letter: Tinne ("chin-yuh")
Plant: Holly
Month: December (some sources say July/August)
Color: Bright red (other sources say Dark Grey)
Element: Fire
Bird: Starling
Animal: War Horse
Planet: Saturn
Deities: Brighid the Smith, Goibniu the Smith, Cerdne the Craftsman, Lugh
Crystal: Bloodstone
Old Irish: Tind=Brilliant; tend=strong

Creative force; making; mastery of a skill (or oneself); arts and crafts; wealth, money; today (as a time indicator in a reading). With its evergreen quality, it is linked in inspiration and resilience. Balance of strength and power; integrity; courage; fatherhood, growth. Sticking to one's principles. Justice.

Tinne in a reading indicates challenges are on the way. You need to face life's ordeals with the endurance of a warrior. Even in adversity, you will grow stronger. It could also mean that you are letting fear hold you back; you have a lack of direction or balance, or justice is not being served.

Tinne is a protective energy, which makes sense because weapons were once forged in the heat of a holly fire. Shamans and metalsmiths were once held in the same high regard as workers of magic.

It's interesting (to me, anyway) that Tinne reversed is the same as Fearn, or Alder, which carries on the "fire" in terms of inspiration and relying on one's intuition.

Have a good holiday season!

PS - Feel better soon, SJ!

For more in this series, click on the "ogham" tag at the end of this post.


24 November 2007

The holiday eating stops here.

My family just headed out for their 8 hour car trip back home, leaving my house a quiet place. But a place with much depth and brilliance, courtesy of my "little" brother and his tree lighting skills. Sis taught him well.

The holidays are a dangerous time in my house. Not just because I don't know how to change a light christmas tree light bulb- although it did get ugly yesterday. There were many broken fingernails, then pliers got involved, and then there were many broken bulbs. Cursing ensued. No, mostly it's dangerous for my waist, my wardrobe, and my productivity.

I've spent too much time in the kitchen and not enough at the keyboard (or on - gulp - the treadmill) this week. I'm so overly stuffed I can barely type today. It may have something to do with the bread pudding with whiskey cream sauce I had for breakfast - and midnight snack, and dessert last night. It may have more to do with all the pineapple casserole, mashed potatos, apple pie, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, grilled pork chops, stuffing, and half a dozen other dishes I've greedily devoured the last few days. Notice "salad" is missing from that menu. It's a good thing I've got kids to decorate the lower branches of the tree, because I probably couldn't have bent over to do it myself yesterday.

I'm going to need a bigger treadmill if I don't stop eating soon.

I've got a bad habit of nibbling while I write, and the three buckets of snack mix (home made, and the best damn "nuts and bolts" I've ever tasted) aren't going to be easy to resist. Especially since I can clearly see them siting on the top of my fridge from my desk.

I need a holiday resolution, and I can't afford to wait unti New Years. More writing, less eating. And no rewarding myself with food, because my willpower is a mythical thing - "Imaginary; fictitious." When I tried a Hershey's Kiss for every 100 words, it turned into "I might as well eat a half dozen, because I don't want to have to stop in mid-paragraph to have my reward".

Today's post is going to be a short one. I think before anything else gets done today, I need to clean out the fridge - and most of what's in there is going to have to be disposed of. But it's for my own good really. If all these delicious treats stay around any longer, I won't be able to fit in my car by Christmas, never mind my clothes.

Everything must go. Except for the snack mix. A girl's gotta have *something* to use for brain food.

Anyone else go overboard on the eating this week? >G<

22 November 2007


First off, Happy Thanksgiving for those of you in the US! Here in Canada we celebrated our Thanksgiving back in October, so it's just a regular November day—grey, wet, cold. But I hope you all enjoy your day with family, food and laughter.

I'm just doing a regular post today. It's about my next book to be published at Samhain, Marked by my alter ego, Joely Skye. Dawn did a fantastic job with the cover. (She also did my other two werewolf covers: The Strength of the Pack and The Strength of the Wolf.) Cover artists at Samhain do incredible work, imo.

Anyway, here is the blurb for Marked, which will be released December 4.

Marked as prey, Alec refuses to fall for a werewolf. Until he’s forced to turn to Liam for protection.

Alec Ryerson carries a scar over his heart and scars on his psyche, ugly reminders of a nightmare that still doesn’t seem quite real. Even a year later, he stays inside on full-moon nights and avoids most people—until he meets the strange and beautiful Liam.

Liam feels an undeniable pull toward Alec. However Liam is a werewolf; Alec is a human who clearly has trepidations about a relationship. Then Liam discovers he is not the first werewolf Alec has encountered. Alec has been marked for death by the murderous “quad”, a group of twisted werewolves who prey on humans. Now the quad’s sights are set on recruiting Liam’s eight-year-old brother into their murderous pack.

Liam will do everything in his power to protect both his brother and Alec from the wolves, even if it means calling in favors and killing those with whom he once ran.

Because Alec, like it or not, is Liam’s chosen mate.

20 November 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Yes, it is a day early, but since this is my day to blog and it is the day before Thanksgiving, I'd like to talk about what I'm thankful for. Of course, there's my family, my job, and my life. But, I'd like to thank the readers and reviewers. Your feedback goes a long way in making my smile brighter and making me want to keep writing just because you've let me know you like my stories. Believe me, you've helped me through some tough times, and I wanted to let you know that you do make a difference.

I know it seems like it doesn't sometimes, but you do. Whether you're a reviewer for a website, or just a reader with an opinion, every word, good or bad, matters. It, as much as money, is bread and butter, it helps direct me, shows me where I might have strayed and maybe leads me back to where I need to be. So..

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you out there.


Samhain New Releases, November 20

This week's paranormal releases from Samhain Publishing focus on men of all stripes. We've got musicians, werewolves, magicians, and an assassin. Check them out!

"On Wings of Blue" by Anne Cain
Genre: Gay-Lesbian Fantasy Romance
ISBN: 1-59998-689-2
Length: Short story
Cover art by Anne Cain

A world away and centuries past, nothing in this feudal kingdom is ordinary—especially love.


"The Assassin Journals: Hunter" by S. L. Partington
Genre: Romantic SciFi-Futuristic
ISBN: 1-59998-690-6
Length: Novel

An assassin can’t afford a conscience. It’s bad for business.


"With Caution" by J.L. Langley
Genre: Gay-Lesbian Paranormal Romance, Red Hots!
ISBN: 1-59998-692-2
Length: Novel

A brother’s vow. A lover’s promise. Both could put them all at deadly risk.


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

18 November 2007

Over-saturated But Still Thirsty

I’ve been reading lately about how the urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres are over-saturated when it comes to vampires and werewolves. I understand how this could be assumed with the sheer number of titles out there with vampires and wolves running about at their carnal or otherworldly best. However why does it seem I’m still forever looking?

Perhaps I, like many vampire fans, suffer from selective perception. As we peruse the shelves, picking up this one and that one, and looking for that spark of connection, we filter out those that don’t resonate. Through that filter we cease to see those which don’t connect and only focus on looking for more of what does. Depending on what you’re looking for, it can make the shelves seem like a virtual wasteland; each favorite, a tiny oasis in a desert of the not-quite-right.

During that torturous time inbetween releases of solid favorites comes The Search. It’s tentative at first. A shy glimpse at a title here, a curious peek between the covers there; all done with a soaring hope that another will now fill the void left behind. We talk to our friends, look for recommendations on line, and search out excerpts and blurbs like the cure for some deadly disease of mundane-ness we seek to avoid.

The first time a friend enthusiastically pushes us toward a title we take a deep breath, hesitate and then dive in. Like any blind date, we don’t expect too much but secretly we hope for everything. We imagine a happily ever after where we’re reading the series or author five books from now, ten, more. We foresee celebrating triumphs, weeping over losses and blushing over carnal victories for characters that become like friends or even family over time. And at our luckiest, we get it.

We get everything we hope for and there’s yet another staple on our PR/UF shelf waiting for the next release. But then, well then, we have to start all over again with the search and we’re rarely so lucky twice in a row. We try another, a third, a fifth, all hoping for that spark, that happily ever after again. And then we drink it in until we’re full and the search begins anew.

I’m new to werewolf UF/PR and find myself even pickier than with my vampire fiction. That connection is harder to find and even more fleeting at times as so much can go wrong with shifter mythos. Of course at the same time, so much can go right and that’s why I still search. It’s why we all still search. But the fact that we much search by definition means over-saturation doesn’t hit the reader the same as the industry.

If we connected with everything out there and were left swimming in titles every week, as readers we might see what the publishers are looking upon. But because we must sift and sort and search, it seems like there’s never enough of what we want as individuals to even get sufficiently wet, let alone drown in choices.

In the end, as with all things, it’s a matter of perception and reception. One side perceives endless choices while the other is only receptive to a limited few. And just like in dating, it’s not about the numbers but about the quality within the quantity that appeals to our particular palates.

Everyone is looking for the next big thing, but there are still of those at the core of it all that are looking for the next good thing, even if looks like the same old thing to the untrained eye.

Perception Ramble Done


16 November 2007

Breton Mythology

At the very northwestern tip of France lies a region called Brittany, or Bretagne. Directly north of it, across the English Channel, is Cornwall. And a very long time ago, they weren’t so different from each other.

When the Romans came to Gaul, they called the area “Armorica.” Trade between Armorica and Britain had been long established and Brittany had far more in common with Cornwall than with its Frankish neighbors to the south. They even shared a language across the strip of sea.

So it’s no surprise that they also shared a mythology. It’s difficult, however, to find much information about it. The French are a trifle tetchy about their Barbarian roots, so there hasn’t been much research forthcoming from them. What survives are the folktales of the area and a strong link to the Arthurian cycles that come from Cornwall, Devon and Wales.

I’m not going to go into the Arthurian legends in this article, but talk about some of their folklore instead. First, we’ll start with the Grim Reaper himself – Ankou. That’s a picture of the jolly guy himself. Charming.

But the mythology indicates that we base our modern image of the Reaper on Ankou. Tall, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a long coat. He doesn’t carry a scythe, but rattles along on a rickety wooden cart, into which his skeletal helpers toss the bodies of the dead. If you ever hear the rattle of his cart on a misty Breton moor, you’d better run before you end up as cargo!

The Breton Korrigan is, in some tellings, very similar to the Cornish pixie. Troublesome, but not usually malicious, depending on the tale. If these female sprites steal a mortal baby, they raise it as their own. They’re also associated with water and in these instances are beautiful creatures with long flowing hair – but their sexuality is dangerous. If a mortal man falls in love with a korrigan, he is usually doomed to die.

Other tales of the Korrigan can be found at Celtic Twilight

Morgens are also water sprites (Brittany is a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water – no wonder there are so many water sprites in their mythology). Again, like the Korrigan, her beauty is dangerous. She lures men to their deaths by showing them glimpses of undersea treasures. But her power isn’t always deadly. The Lady of the Lake in Arthurian legend, is named Morgen. And the story of Morgan Le Fay, Arthur’s half-sister, may have risen from Breton tales.

The last water-spirit of Brittany is the cannard noz. She’s the Washer Woman common in almost all Celtic mythology. In Breton, her name means “night duck” because she has webbed feet. In Ireland, she’s the Bean Nighe. She washes the grave clothes of the dead and is a portent of death. You don’t want to catch a glimpse of her at work.

Finally, we come to the legend of Ys. Ys is the Celtic version of Sodom and Gomorrah. There was a good and faithful king named Gradlon, who ruled wisely and well, but his daughter, Dahut, was a wicked young woman who reveled in sin. The city of Ys was built below sea level and protected by a dike. The king kept the key to the dike on a chain around his neck.

Dahut stole the key to let her lover – supposedly the Devil himself – into the city and retribution arrived. The entire city was swallowed up and only King Gradlon was saved. He went on to found the city of Quimper and when he died, a statue was erected of him on horseback, pointing back to Ys.

Dahut became a mermaid who haunts the waters in the Bay of Douarnenez and in stormy weather, the bells of Ys still toll to warn seafarers from the shore.

Here’s the thing. There’s a good deal of evidence pointing to the fact that Ys was apparently real. There are Roman roads that lead to it, Gradlon is pointing to it, and several of the locations mentioned in the legend are real. In addition, there’s a 5th century account of a Breton city being swallowed by a deluge.

You can find more information about Ys at The Legend of the City of Ys and Brittany’s Legends.

So there you have it. The folklore of the Breton. It’s easy to see the links to other Celtic and Welsh myths and the history that binds the cultures together.

For more information on Breton mythology, see Legends and Romance of Brittany by Lewis Spence, compiled in 1917.