Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Demonic Adventures in Wichita

Posted by: R.L. Naquin
So, yesterday, book five of my Monster Haven series came out. Demons in My Driveway is out in the world. Yay!

That’s not what I came to talk about today, though. Oh, by all means—if you’ve been reading this series, go now! Hurry! Grab it! And if you haven’t started the series yet, now is a perfect time to start. The first book, Monster in My Closet, is on sale for $0.99 for another week or so.

Ah. No stress.
Nope. I want to tell you what I did last week. I went away. (It’s okay if you didn’t notice I was gone. I’ve been really quiet lately. It’s cool.) My husband and I went to a town on the outskirts of Wichita, Kansas, and rented an Internet-less cabin in the woods. And we wrote. A lot.

S'mores action shot! Kapow!
I’ve got to turn in book six, Phoenix in My Fortune, in two weeks, you see. I needed a stress-free zone. Most mornings we had coffee on the screened-in porch, overlooking a river on two sides. We named a few of the squirrels, though they didn’t hold still long enough for the names to stick. We rejoiced in our foresight in bringing our binoculars and were filled with regret that we didn’t bring the bird book so we could identify the birds we couldn’t name.

And in the middle of the week, I traipsed off by myself into a strange city to meet a bunch of strangers at night.

A wonderful group of women, the Bitchin’ Book Club of Wichita took me out to dinner. You guys,
This is most of the BBC ladies. And me!
they had presents for me. Really thoughtful presents. I now have a framed, tatted-lace Bruce the pygmy dragon. I have a quilted purse with my book covers on it. Crocheted earrings made around pop tabs. Sparkling wine. Jars of tasty jams. Seriously. I felt so incredibly spoiled and important.

I signed books. I laughed. I ate. And I worried my husband because I got back so late. Are all book clubs that awesome? If they are, I suggest you all find one if you don’t already belong. Aside from being thoroughly spoiled and treated like a celebrity, I snagged a whole lot of excellent book recommendations.

They want me to come back next week. Too bad I still have work to do. I hate that I’m missing roller derby.

Rachel writes stories that drop average people into magical situations filled with heart and quirky humor.

She believes in pixie dust, the power of love, good cheese, lucky socks and putting things off until the last minute. Her home is Disneyland, despite her current location in Kansas. Rachel has one husband, two grown kids and a crazy-catlady starter kit.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases

A Monster Haven Story, book five

Zoey Donovan--Aegis and co-opted protector of all things supernatural--is moving up in the Hidden world. Actually, she's being dropkicked onto the front lines of a fight between the newly formed Cult of Imagination and Hidden governments everywhere.

The Cult is opening portals and unleashing demons, vampires and werewolves, growing closer to breaking the lock that holds back the zombie apocalypse with every world they crack open. Oh, and they want every last Aegis in the world dead, and a roving band of Hidden worshippers is only too eager to assist.

On the upside, Zoey finally has her mother back. But having another Aegis around--one with very different ideas on how to run things--is proving difficult. For their own safety, they're stuck inside Zoey's home. What was once a haven is now a prison, further straining maternal relations and alienating her reaper boyfriend. Taking down a cult and saving the world--again--would be a lot easier if she could go farther than her own driveway.

Get it today!

Other News

Eleri Stone: Cover reveal for Dragonslayer!

One year after his bride left him at the altar for his best man, Christian Jager is stuck in a rut. Working at the local co-op, dating the same handful of women he’s known since childhood, riding with the wild hunt twice a month to keep the jötnar who destroyed Asgard from invading earth.

He wants something more, but he’s not quite sure what it is until Jacey Morgan blows into his life like a breath of fresh air. A wildlife biologist who’s come to Ragnarok to investigate rumors of a strange predator in the area, she’s also a native Midgardian who can’t ever learn the truth about Christian or his clan. His job is to distract her and get her the Hel out of town as quickly as possible so the Æsir can take care of the problem themselves.

Jacey wants the case wrapped up quickly too, and she’s not about to get distracted by the sinfully sexy man who’s so unexpectedly determined to help. With a new degree and a plan to get out of Iowa, she’s ready to move on to bigger and better things… A dragon isn’t quite what she had in mind.

Available November 10

Sunday, October 19, 2014

How do you like your series?

Posted by: Shona Husk
To Love a King is the third novel (there is also a novella, The Changeling Soldier 2.5) in the Court of Annwyn series. As the name suggests it's all about fairies. To Love a King also wraps up this particular arc. The struggle for the throne of Annwyn is resolved and the mortal world gets a reprieve.

But that isn't where I wanted to end the series. I was having fun with the cool, calculating fairies. Manufacturing scheming and trickery was as complex as it was entertaining. And let's face it heroes that are morally ambiguous can be quite sexy...as long as at the end of the day they aren't outright evil. 

I like series that have an arc and a definite end point, so that's what I tend to write. Which meant that for Annwyn I needed a new arc if I was going to write more fairies. That wasn't hard to some up with as I had touched on a few different things while writing the first arc.

Like what exactly is a darkling vs a changeling?

And OMG what is going to happen in the mortal world since I killed all those people!

Yes it's true many humans die as a result of the fairy civil war (numbers are so cold so let's just call it more than a million and less than a billion), and all kinds of things happen to humans but in the first set of books Annwyn was the focus.

The next set of three (which while part of the Court of Annwyn series has a sub name of Court of the Banished) looks at our world, and the fairies that live here, not in Annwyn.

There will be darklings, kelpies, banshees and a few other types of fairies that didn't live in Annwyn, or couldn't live in Annwyn.

The Darkling Lord will be out in March 2015.

But until then there is To Love a King...

To Love a King
To keep the balance between good and evil at the court of Annwyn, Prince Felan ap Gwyn has two weeks to marry and take the crown. But he wants more than just power—he wants love; a love he once had but was too stubborn to hold on to.

It took years for Jacqueline Ara to put her life back together after Felan abandoned her. She’s moved on, even if her heart still burns for him. But with war in Annwyn looming and death bleeding into the mortal world, Felan and Jacquie will need to heal old wounds and rekindle the passion that once welled between them…or face losing everything.

"This compelling read will warm readers' hearts as the hero and heroine explore their second chance at love, igniting the page with their passion and giving readers a beautiful fairy tale ending."-RT Book Reviews, 4.5 stars

Buy links:
Barnes and Noble
Book Depository
Add to your Goodreads shelf: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17969495-to-love-a-king
Join my new release newsletter: http://mad.ly/signups/119074/join

How do you like your series? With an overall arc? A definite end point? Loosely connected?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Paranormal Whackadoo : The Most WTF Tropes of Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Posted by: Jax Garren
I'm not going to name names here or mention titles because I don't want anyone to take this as a personal affront, but a twitter exchange I saw the other day has me thinking about all the delightful gonzo that goes on in paranormal fiction. See, a reviewer was quoting her current read and lamenting a more painful than erotic sounding thumb-jab into a less-usual orifice. I was not as concerned with the jabbing of thumbs but a bit distressed over the fact that a were-shark was "devouring" the heroine's nethers. Ouch!!

From dino-rotica to aliens with exotic man-bits, the speculative fiction community has a delightful array of zany. I thought I'd name a few of the most memorable tropes I've read and encourage y'all to do the same. Please keep it friendly and done with love, SFF wouldn't be the same without our craziness!

  • Deus ex monkey-na: Created a problem that can't be solved? Eh, invent a spell or character or alien whatsit to save the day! I've named this trope thusly in honor of a book in which a hero is saved from a mortal wound by a totally random monkey coming out of the forest and spitting leaves on him. It's set on an alien planet where, I suppose, monkey-leaf-spit is the equivalent of divine intervention.
  • Spike-Alike : Because more stories need bleached blonde vampires with cockney accents. (This one is getting less common, but I still see it.)
  • Rolling Beasts : The conflicting forces of all five zillion powers the heroine has acquired strive for magical dominance in an internal power struggle that may save the universe...if the heroine can tame her inner passions. Named for...that series of books you've probably read in which this phrase is used a lot. (I love that series, btw.)
  • The Trauma of Immortals : Because a human lifespan can't contain enough pain, we need thousand year old heroes who never, ever, ever ever ever caught a break. 
  • Occult-gasm : Is normal sex enough? Hell, no! How about magically enhanced sex with paranormal man-parts in an otherworldly realm. Don't forget, ladies, your immortal lover has an immortal constitution that will consistently rise to the occasion...all night long.
  • Shifter-Zoo : Who needs werewolves or were-bears when you can have a squid-shifter. Tentacles, baby, tentacles. The ability to find new shifter-species is only limited by your imagination, and I've seen some highly imaginative writing. 
  • Did I mention Dino-rotica? Because it's a real thing.

What are some of your favorite WTF paranormal tropes?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases

YOUR HEART, MY HOME A Sensuously Erotic Urban Fantasy Romance Novel
by Linda Mooney
Word Count: 53.9K
They were deadly enemies, until a greater threat made them unwilling allies...and lovers.

Sherandar is the most cunning adversary Quazar has ever faced. He never knows when or where his worst nightmare will strike, but when she does, it's with the single-minded purpose to taunt him. Ridicule him. And to make his life a living hell. Regular cuffs and jail cells can't hold her, yet somehow, someway, Quazar has to bring her reign to a screeching halt.

But when a new enemy makes himself known, and tries to kill both Quazar and Sherandar, the two combatants realize the only way to defeat this deadly threat is to call a temporary truce and join forces.

It isn't until she lies broken, bloodied, and dying in his arms that Quazar realizes she has become more to him than his temporary ally. He has fallen in love with her.

Warning! Contains deadly necklaces, delectable desserts, a skintight costume, an antique stove, dining table sex, and a bored megalomaniac who has no qualms about killing because he just wants to watch the world burn.

Get it today!  http://lindamooney.com/YourHeart.htm

Other News

Help the sequel happen for an award-winning urban fantasy!  

 On October 31, 2013, I released the e-book edition of Ravensblood, an urban fantasy set in the Pacific Northwest and crowdfunded through Kickstarter.   (Trade paperback edition released this spring.) It garnered many glowing reviews on Amazon, including a positive review from the notoriously tough review site Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and it won a gold medal in the 2014 Global E Book Awards in the category of contemporary fantasy.
 I see the Ravensblood  universe as one that can be returned to again and again. It already has its passionate devotees.  One of my beta readers traveled here from France to take the Ravensblood  tour of Portland,  One reader who bought the book when it first came out put aside the work she was doing on deadline to finish reading the novel.  A supporter gave me the funds to pay the cover artist, and musicians among my support base did a custom arrangement of the music for the video trailer as well as editing the trailer itself.  (Do check out the video, for the music if for no other reason.  It's spine-tingling good.)

So where do you come in?  I got a good start with the I first book, but I need to get more books out there to build a readership.   Mostly, I need to pay my freelance editor in order to put out the sequel, because, to paraphrase an old axiom, any writer who acts as her own editor has a fool for a client.  I will be using the some editor I did for Ravensblood.  Anything above what I need to pay the editor will go to promotional costs.

A little bit about the book that started it all:

In a life of impossible choices when sometimes death magic is the lesser of the evils, can a dark mage save the world and his own soul? Corwyn Ravenscroft. Raven. The last heir of an ancient family of dark mages, he holds the secret to recreating the Ravensblood, a legendary magical artifact of immense power.

Cassandra Greensdowne is a Guardian. Magical law enforcement for the elected council— and Raven’s former apprentice and lover. She is trying to live down her past. And then her past comes to the door, asking for her help.

As a youth, Raven wanted to be a Guardian but was rejected because of his ancestry. In his pride and his anger, he had turned to William, the darkest and most powerful mage of their time. William wants a return to the old ways, where the most powerful mage was ruler absolute. But William would not be a True King from the fairy tales. He would reign in blood and terror and darkest magic.

 Raven discovers that he does have a conscience. It’s rather inconvenient.

 He becomes a spy for the council that William wants to overthrow, with Cassandra as his contact. Cass and Raven have a plan to trap William outside his warded sanctuary. But William is one step ahead of the game, with Raven’s life, his soul, and the Ravensblood all in danger.

And about Raven's Wing:

In Ravensblood we saw Raven’s struggle to escape the world of dark magic he’d committed to as a bitter young man. In Raven’s Wing he has to come to terms with both his past and his ancestry and figure out his new place in the Three Communities and among the people who enter his life. The task becomes more difficult, of course, when he finds himself on the run, trying to find the stolen Ravensblood in order to protect the Three Communities and beyond from the dangers presented by this powerful artifact in the wrong hands, and at the same time prove himself innocent of the theft.
Raven finds support in unlooked-for places, but he faces an unknown enemy  who is cunning, ruthless and powerful.
The manuscript for Raven's Wing is complete, needed only the deft hand of my talented editor before publication.

Teaser chapters are up here:  http://www.shawna-reppert.com/ravensblood-and-related-works/ravens-wing/

Depending on the level of contribution, supporters will get cool stuff to read, Raven's Wing swag and the knowledge that the helped the early days of a compelling new urban fantasy 'verse.

If you can't contribute financially (and believe me, I understand broke), you can still be part of the magic by spreading the word via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, your own blog, etc.  Every shout-out is greatly appreciated.

On Sale for only $0.99!





Sunday, October 12, 2014

Zombies: The Good, The Bad, and The Undead

Posted by: Eleri Stone
The Walking Dead is back! To celebrate, I thought I’d talk a little bit about zombies. As you may or may not know, I pitched Reaper's Touch as a cowboys versus zombies story because that gives you a quick sense of the world in what’s kind of a twisted cross-genre mash of a series. BUT, I usually qualify that by saying that REAPERS aren’t your traditional zombies. They’re more along the lines of the creatures in 28 Days Later—infected with a disease that turns them into mindless, cannibalistic monsters—and less like classic Romero zombies.

If you’re looking for zombies, here are some of the classic movies you won’t want to miss…

I Walked With A Zombie is a 1940's classic set in Saint Sebastian.

The zombies in this movie are voodoo zombies who appear perfectly healthy aside from their blank-eyed stares and complete lack of willpower. The setup is that the heroine, Betsy, is a nurse who's been hired to care for the mentally ill wife of a wealthy plantation owner. 

Paul Holland is a dour, serious man. Not only is his wife in need of constant care but before she became ill she planned to run away with his brother Wesley. Despite multiple warnings from people living on the island, Betsy falls in love with the tormented Mr. Holland and then comes up with a wildly unconventional treatment plan in an effort to cure his wife. 

Kind of like Jane Eyre if Jane Eyre was set in the West Indies and Mrs. Rochester was a zombie. 

It's a smart, atmospheric horror that manages to be incredibly creepy without any gore. What's especially cool is that despite the film being 70 years old, the female characters are interesting, complex and actually move the plot forward.

I also love this disclaimer:

The characters and events depicted in this photoplay are fictional. Any similarity to actual persons, living, dead or possessed is purely coincidental.


The Plague of the Zombies (1966) is kind of a zombie mystery film that starts out with mysterious deaths, a baffled doctor, and a secret organization led by the local squire. The baffled doctor and his mentor decide to dig up some of the recently deceased in order to figure out what's causing the plague. They find empty coffins and from there it's a whodunnit...with animated corpses.

The zombies are the same kind of voodoo zombies that you see in movies like I Walked With A Zombie, except that while earlier zombies could be mistaken for living people, these pretty much look like walking corpses. They're bloodthirstier too and prone to violence when left to their own devices.

The Plague of the Zombies is more spooky than actually frightening, but if you're looking for a non-gory zombie movie, this might be the one for you.


To be upfront, Night of the Living Dead isn't my favorite zombie movie. I think it's interesting because of the way it transformed zombie myth, but the female characters are frustrating and it's a little dull. The best thing about it is that everyone dies in the end. I feel kind of guilty for not liking it more than I do, but...there it is.

Night of the Living Dead is an important movie though and no zombie movie marathon would be complete without it. It's the movie that made the leap from the old voodoo mindless-slave zombies to the aggressive, flesh-eating zombies of the modern era. These new-and-improved zombies have no master but their own insatiable hunger. They're not intentionally-made creatures either. Their condition is a side-effect of...well, whatever bad thing the author wants to comment on. In the case of the Night of the Living Dead, it's radiation.

The story is that radiation from the Venus probe is causing the recent, unburied dead to become animate. It's a "sudden general explosion of mass homicide" and the ghouls are "ordinary looking people, some say they appear to be in a kind of trance". They can only be killed by a shot to the head or blow to the skull. Because the radiation activated the brain, you kill the brain and you kill the ghoul.

Barbra ("They're coming to get you, Barbra!") and her brother have the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, visiting an isolated cemetery when the uprising occurs. The brother dies and Barbra escapes to a farmhouse where she holes up with a small, dysfunctional group of survivors.

Law enforcement and army deal effectively with the ghoul problem in more populated areas, but it takes them awhile to get into the country. While Barbra's group doesn't fare well, this isn't presented as an apocalypse. There's an uprising of a finite number of corpses. It's cleaned up and presumably people continue on as normal.

As far as gore goes, it's not a complete gore fest but the late night zombie picnic is pretty gross, as is the child zombie eating her parents. But, then, aren't child zombies always creepy as hell?

So...there's not an elaborate plot and pretty much all the characters are unlikeable, but nothing beats it for sheer influence. It introduced the concept of zombism as a widespread outbreak and the idea of zombies as flesh-eating ghouls that could only be stopped by destroying the brain. It's so influential that lots of people consider Romero's version of zombies in Night of the Living Dead to be the only true zombies...even though they're never actually referred to as zombies in the film.


What's your favorite zombie movie?

Also... If you want to read some zombie (or zombie-like) books, Reaper's Touch is on sale right now for only $0.99, as is PJ Schnyder's Bite Me. So get 'em cheap while you can:) Not on sale, but still full of zombie goodness is Joshua Root's Undead Chaos.


Eleri Stone is a RITA-nominated author of paranormal and fantasy romance. Born in New Jersey, she now lives in Iowa with her husband and their three children. All of her stories have some element of speculative fiction in them and they all end with a happily-ever-after. www.eleristone.com

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Pitfalls of Writing Fantasy - Or Why Your Heroine Can't Sleep So Much

Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy
The other day on Twitter, Angela James, Editorial Director at Carina Press, asked about common tics in writing fantasy genre as part of her really useful writing workshop Before You Hit Send. She used as an example that romance writers can fall into the trap of repeatedly describing hair and eye color. A few of us pitched in thoughts and the results were very interesting.

Then yesterday I started reading a fantasy romance that I'd put off reading for no good reason. You know those books - everyone and their Cousin Fred recommends it and it's been in your TBR pile for literally YEARS and you keep somehow not getting to it. When you finally, randomly - or because the number of recommendations reaches some titration point - actually read it, it's really wonderful and you gobble it up, exactly as everyone and their Cousin Fred said you would.

Yeah. So I really like this book.

But I did notice a tic, one I've noticed in other fantasy novels that take place in low tech alternate worlds or sometimes historicals. It's sometimes hard to think up what your characters do all damn day.

Because they're not watching reality TV or surfing the internet or addictively following Twitter, are they? They don't have carpools, dance recitals, soccer games and PTA meetings. They don't spend two hours every day commuting to work and another eight hours participating in meetings and conference calls. If you're lucky - and by which I mean, if you've done your job as a writer - there's sufficient conflict to keep them running around dealing with it. Inevitably, however, there's down time. This is particularly exacerbated with heroines who are upper class ladies. There's a tendency to have them lolling about all day while the women who actually do the work of keeping people clothed and fed tend to them.

What did these women do all freaking day???

Needlework, right? And gossip. I dunno. Watch any historically set film and that's all the women seem to do. No doubt this reflects a deep cultural bias where the men run around doing active, dynamic stuff and the womens dangle embroidered handkerchiefs out the unglazed castle windows.

One of the best parts of writing fantasy, I think, is that you can tear up these tropes. Maybe you historical types out there can, too? There ARE a lot more bluestocking-type heroines running around doing cool things in historical romances than HBO would have us believe. In fantasy, however, the heroines can wield great big swords and work magic and shift into predatory beasts. It gives them a lot of cool shiz to get up to all day.

So, why do we sometimes fall into the pit of having the heroine take a lot of long naps, in between bathing, eating and waiting around for the very hot hero to return from doing his active, dynamic stuff?

I think it's partly that internalizing of "if she's not loading the dishwasher, going to work, feeding the kids and dealing with the groceries, then what the hell DOES she do" thing. And it's easy to let the hot, hunky warrior hero be all protective and nurturing. Which inevitably leads to naps, meals and sex.

The other thing that happens, I believe, is something I did in writing my first novel, the fantasy romance Rogue's Pawn. At that time in my life, I was freakishly busy. I had two young stepkids, I worked a full-time career job, took or taught martial arts five nights a week, including some classes a two-hour drive each way. I often did not go to bed until one or two in the morning and then would get up at five or six to try to cram in an hour or two of writing on the novel. I was chronically sleep deprived and the novel took *forever* to finish.

When I couldn't sell it to anyone, but some wonderful people had given me great feedback on it, I went back and did a major revision on it after about nine months of distance. Guess what I saw? My heroine was exhausted ALL THE TIME. She had headaches. She took naps. She went to bed early and slept in late.

Shocking, huh?

It was amazing to go through and revise for that. Partly I'd committed a newbie writer mistake, but I've seen much more experienced writers do it, too. Being able to channel parts of ourselves into our heroines makes our work come alive - that's part of the magic we bring to the process, not unlike acting - but we need to apply the craft also, to ensure that we're not "leaking" our personal woes and wishes into our characters. Kind of a write-raw, edit at leisure deal.

It also helps to get enough sleep.
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