Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Heroic Occupations

Posted by: Shona Husk
When I first started writing one of the rules of romance was never write a rock star or sports star hero. I don’t know how this rule came into play and it didn’t make sense to me. What’s not to love about a super fit guy at the top of his game? Who hasn’t eyed up a rock star and thought if I was ten years younger and not married… (that’s not just me, right?)

While I generally don’t read contemporary romances, for some reason rock stars and sports stars really work for me. Maybe because there’s that element of fantasy.

Fortunately for me that rule has been thrown out the window and I’m happily reading about hot rock stars in Olivia Cunning’s Sinners on tour series and there’s even a Pride and Prejudice remake “Fitzwilliam Darcy Rock Star” by Heather Lynn Rigaud (can’t wait to start that).While I’ve read a couple of Harlequin's NASCAR romances, I’m looking at dipping my toe into other sports.

Another reason I’m glad that these heroes are getting a turn in the spotlight is because I have a series of novellas with Ellora’s Cave about Lucinda's Lover, a Vampire electric string quartet, (because the only thing hotter than a human rock star is a Vampire one).

Lucinda's Lover #1
Lucinda's Lover #2
Lucinda's Lover #3
















The first two Lucinda’s Lover books are available now and the third will be out next year.

So which do you prefer, rock star or sports star and give me some book recommendations (because my TBR shelf still has room on it—if I put them in sideways and double stack :)).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lazy or Efficient?

Posted by: Jody W. and Meankitty
I am, at heart, an energy efficient person. Some might call this trait laziness, but if it weren't for people like me, we'd never have wonderful inventions like the cotton gin, the car or the, oh, I dunno, the apple slicer, to free up our valuable time for other tasks. Happier tasks. Writing and reading books, for example. (apple image from Wikipedia)

No longer do those of us who like our apple in lovely, biteable wedges have to spend 4 minutes chopping at it with a sharp knife. We can do it in 30 seconds with an apple slicer and return to the couch where our book awaits. Quit laughing. Those 3.5 minutes might make all the difference in finishing the chapter before the kids get off the bus.

In fact, clever devices like the apple slicer can inspire us to greater heights of efficiency. I just prepared a big pot of beans, something I didn't want to do because I was in the middle of a scene, but hey, we gotta eat. The bean pot called for beans (check), diced tomatoes (can! no salt added!), diced bell pepper (frozen this summer!), seasonings (packet!) and chopped onion. Man, I hate chopping onions. I'm a delicate flower, you guys. My lacrymal glands get so irritated when the onion mist hits me, it's unsafe. I can't see what my fingers and that aforementioned sharp knife are up to through all the tears.

So I looked at my three little onions. And I looked at the apple slicer. And I looked at my three little onions. And I looked at my apple slicer. I think you can do the math here, and then I had time to write this blog post without *any tears*.

Whether my experiment will be a success remains to be seen. The pieces of onion weren't exactly a fine dice. It may mean certain people under the age of 10 yell about how much they hate onions since they can actually SEE the onions in the beans. And it may mean I'm kind of awesome.

Which got me to thinking about my writing. (Arrogant much?) Well, that and the fact I'm supposed to blog about my writing, seeing as Here Be Magic is a writer blog and all. I do this efficiency thing in books, too. I look at an apple slicer -- or, say, an alpha male werewolf -- and I think, "How is this device used? Why is it used this way? Can I use it differently? Will it be efficient? Will I cry? Will I lose sight of the knife? And will the chunks of werewolf that remain be too big for the story?"

Pack and Coven, my February Carina release, has an alpha male werewolf. Who is kind of an onion. He'd rather gnaw off his own foot than be in charge of a pack. That sounds like WORK. And the female protagonist is a lot older than he is and frequently bosses him around. She's an onion that needs to be sliced, too. (Onion image by http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Ayla87)

Again, it remains to be seen if onions chopped with an apple slicer are delicious or if an alpha male werewolf who doesn't want to boss anybody around is popular with readers. The reason the apple slicer is not commonly used on onions might be because it does a crappy job, and the reason alpha male werewolves are not usually protrayed as less than commanding might be because readers don't like them that way. But, as with the onions and the beans and the ten minutes I gained today, I'm willing to take the chance, and I hope readers will too.

You can meet Harry and June here in the first chapter at my site: http://www.jodywallace.com/snips/packandcovenexcerpt1.htm

Jody Wallace
So much cyberspace, so little time!
www.jodywallace.com  / www.meankitty.com

PS The bean soup with apple-chopped onions was not hated.
PPS If you like holiday stories, I have a free holiday short you can find out about at my site and a contemporary holiday romance that just went on sale today, November 29.

Monday, November 28, 2011

In Praise of Sequels and Series

Posted by: PG Forte
The only thing better than discovering an enchanting  new (to you) world—the literary kind, that is—is finding out that it’s part of a series or, at worst, that there’s a sequel or two…maybe three, in the offing.

I love reading series. A good book leaves you with the certainty that the story isn’t over when you’ve turned the last page; that there’s more going on with the characters you’ve fallen in love with, or the world they inhabit, than can fit comfortably into just one volume. A great book leaves you yearning for some of that "more". A series means multiple chances to get it!

As an author, I love writing series as well. Because I write primarily paranormal/sci-fi, I put a lot of energy into my world-building. The settings for my stories are usually an integral part of the story itself.  It takes time  and patience (something I don't have all that much of!) to research all the science, history, geography, myths, legends, and who knows what else it might take to bring a new world to life. From a practical point of view, I have a hard time  justifying walking away from all of that after only one book.

Of course, there’s also the emotional angle. I really hate saying good-bye to my imaginary friends. Writing a sequel is  a good way of putting that off a little while longer.  There’s also the fact that I’m OCD enough to really like things in sets, but that’s probably a good topic for another post!

In any case, it didn’t really come as a huge surprise when the idea for a four-part, spin-off series hit me when I was only about one-third of the  way through the writing of ThisWinter Heart. And, as if I needed more proof that my antho-sisters and I are truly connected, I was thrilled to realize that all of the A ClockworkChristmas authors have sequels or related series in the works, promising more steampunky goodness for the year ahead.

***
We Wish You a Steampunk Christmas

Changed forever after tragedy, a woman must draw strength from her husband’s love. A man learns that love isn’t always what you expect. A thief steals the heart of a vengeful professor. And an American inventor finds love Down Under. Enjoy Victorian Christmas with a clockwork twist in these four steampunk novellas.

Anthology includes:

Crime Wave in a Corset by Stacy Gail
This Winter Heart by PG Forte
Wanted: One Scoundrel by Jenny Schwartz
Far From Broken by JK Coi



The anthology releases December 5 from Carina Press. To keep up with the fun and laughter and sheer silliness of our pre-release celebrations, please join us on the A Clockwork Christmas Facebook page.

You can buy A Clockwork Christmas as an EPUB or for your Kindle.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Escape to an Alternate Universe?

Posted by: Veronica Scott

Sometimes the world we live in just gets to be too much – traffic, the day job, the construction AT the day job, children, cooking, commuting – whatever it may be that exceeds your tolerance threshold for the moment! Wouldn’t it be nice to slip away into some other universe and spend time as a character there?
One of the reasons I started writing as a kid was that I wanted so much to be on Mongo with Flash Gordon and Dale Arden, fighting Ming the Merciless and maybe meeting a good looking Prince. Sure sounded better than third grade and cursive writing with Mrs. Pierce! (Who I now realize was a nice person but at the time she terrified me and she didn’t appreciate my left handedness). So I’d write my little stories, which had an amazing resemblance to Flash’s epic adventures at times. It was always nice to lose myself in science fiction for a few hours.
Nowadays I write much more grownup stuff (Priestess of the Nile, paranormal romance set in 1500BC Ancient Egypt, coming out January 23rd – small plug there. I’d know what to do with the handsome Prince if I met him. (My third grade self had a pretty vague, G-rated vision of carriage rides, sweeping ball gowns and maybe a chaste kiss.)
I used to think if I could slide from this world into another fully realized one, I’d go to Pern, home of the weyrs and dragon riders created by the late, wonderful Anne McCaffrey. Only a gold dragon for me, thank you very much! If given two choices, I’d stroll through the dimensions to Middle Earth and seek out Eomer, who was left enticingly single at the end of Lord of the Rings movies, if you’ll recall. I love the whole setting and culture of Rohan. Just keep the orcs under control for me, okay?
Third choice? Hmmm. Probably Nalini Singh’s world of Psy Wars. I could DEFINITELY go for one of her sexy shifters. Deciding between wolf and cat would be the biggest challenge! And then I’d do my part to be a stalwart Pack member.
And of course I get to visit my version of Ancient Egypt all the time when writing or editing...
So what alternate reality world do you escape to when this one is just a bit overwhelming?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

When Faking It Is Better

Posted by: Keri Stevens
Last week, my BFF, our mothers and I went adventuring. We enjoyed a luxury night in Louisville's Brown Hotel enjoying a private dinner prepared by the chef and a series of cocktails featuring Kentucky's luxury spirit: Bourbon.
BourbonWomen.org at the Brown Hotel
But that's not all we did...oh, no! That's not all!
My Crys and my Momma.

We spent the next day on Millionaire's Row at Churchill Downs (home of the Kentucky Derby) enjoying the horse races, a wonderful buffet, mint juleps and a bit o' gambling.
Millionaire Row are the 4th and 6th floor upper balconies/banquet halls. They're called that because on Derby Day, if you ain't a millionaire you ain't getting in.

We admired the hats on display in the Kentucky Derby Museum and I went back to the buffet for seconds.
This is NOT a Derby hat. But if you ever get into the museum, you'll see that people wear far crazier things on their head during the first weekend in May in Louisville, KY.

The Kentucky Derby is considered the two most expensive minutes in sports. After our tour of Churchill Downs, we understood why: The seats in Millionaire's Row--the very seats we were sitting in!--run about $20,000 during the Derby. They are filled with the likes of Queen Elizabeth and Saudi royalty. If you or I show up on Derby day, we won't even get near the door.
We got close enough to touch the horses. And the jockeys. But we restrained ourselves.

We did not spend $20K for our day of luxury. We spend $40 apiece for the buffet and a shared tabled for eight. We spend $15 on the museum admission. We spent $8 apiece on mint juleps in souvenir glasses from the 2010 Kentucky Derby. And we gambled about $20 apiece. (I, for one, was a winner--coming away $3.30 ahead!)

If you're ever in Louisville, I strongly encourage you and yours to spend a day faking the high life at Churchill Downs!

For those of you disappointed that this post had nothing to do with sex, here's a chance at a consolation prize. For YOUR sake, I had a SECOND mint julep, and now can give away a Kentucky Derby souvenir glass (which I washed, I swear!) to a random commenter on this post. Please say hi in the comments before midnight, Sunday 11/27/11 for your chance to win--and I'll throw in an autographed Stone Kissed coaster to set your glass on.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Got some popcorn?

Posted by: J.K. Coi
I was having trouble deciding what to write about for today. You see, while I have a new release on November 25, it’s not paranormal or fantasy. It’s a straight contemporary with cops and mobsters, strippers and guns. So while I’ll be ever-so-slick about slipping that link in here for you to check it out at your convenience (*cough* BRAZEN GAMES *cough cough*), I’m not going to plug it on the Here Be Magic blog because that’s not really what we do here.

So instead, I’m going to take it easy and talk about some of the movies I’ve seen lately.

We rented Captain America this weekend and I really liked it.  Not as much as Iron Man, but more than Thor. I liked the hint of steampunk and the retro, 1940’s feel. I didn’t like the tacked-on romance they wrote in as an afterthought, but it seems most of the marvel movies have that in common. Overall, though, it was a great final lead-in to the Avengers movie coming up in May 2012.

My husband and I also went to watch In Time when it came out two weeks ago. This is the one with Justin Timberlake as poor kid from the hood who finds himself gifted with time. And time is a really hot commodity since people are genetically engineered to only live until age 28—that is, unless they can manage to earn more time, doled out by the minutes and hours as a substitute for money. I thought this was a fantastic premise and it had huge potential, but the director/writers/actors, none of them really went as far with it as they could have, which was ultimately really disappointing.

Actually, now that I think about it, that’s about it. I don’t get out much. Especially during NaNoWriMo. However, I’m still hoping to see Immortals, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, and of course as the new year rolls around…The Hunger Games. OMG. Did you see the trailer!??!! If not, then check it out here!


So what have you liked on the big screen recently? For those who are writing, how has your NaNo been coming along?



JK Coi
www.jkcoi.com

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Procrastination, I Heart You

Posted by: Seleste deLaney/Julie Particka
So, I was sitting in my office all relaxed and trying to figure out what we're going to do today. Then, while perusing my email, I got one from Here Be Magic and wondered why I started shaking. It wasn't a bad email--not like they're kicking me out (right, peeps?). I couldn't figure out why I reacted so oddly. And then it hit me. I was supposed to post today.

D'oh!

And now I sit here, frantically typing since the day is half over and I have nothing ready to go. Truth is... this is kind of my life. It's much rarer when I'm ahead of schedule and have all my blog posts out and scheduled and on time. Quite honestly, with blogging it often works better for me because I can blog about something that's on my brain right now and I won't wonder what the hell I was thinking when it posts. This is me. Today. Raw.

But hey, at least I showered.

The funny part is I'm in the midst of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and for the first time in ages, I'm ahead of my goal. No procrastination there. I haven't had any killer word days, but I'm averaging over 2100 words a day. If I really buckle down for the rest of the month, I could even have a completed draft by the first of December.

Yay, NaNoNovel!

On the other hand, I don't think there's a blog post I haven't written on the fly this month. I have stuff I was supposed to mail weeks ago. (One letter is sitting in my car right now, waiting for me to remember to get stamps.) The house gets cleaned in fits and starts (which means it's never really clean.

Hello, my name is Seleste, and I'm a procrastinator.

*everyone* Hello, Seleste.

*jerk in the back corner* That's not even your real name!

*me* Shut up, dude, that's really not the point.

Because of today's posting oops, I'm back at wanting to "cure" my procrastination sickness. And I'll probably bust ass over the next week and get crazy-ahead on life. Holiday cards will go out, blog posts will be written (and in a few weeks, I'll wonder what I was smoking when I wrote them), the house will get cleaned, decorations will go up. My writing might suffer a little, but hey, it's just my NaNoNovel, right?

Er... Back the truck up.

Out of four NaNos I've done, two of those novels (in some form or other) have gone on to be published--includingBadlands. A third is in limbo at the moment because I'm being very particular about who I'm willing to sell it to (at some point I'll let everyone know how that worked out).

That means this could be the NaNoNovel that changes everything, the one that breaks me into the big leagues, the one that makes me a household name (hahahahahahaha--okay, I don't really believe that). But it's important too. Arguably it's more important than the cards and the decorations and the cleaning. Maybe not more important than the blogs posts (I am ahead, after all), but I'm one of those people who generally needs to embrace my procrastination.

Without it, I'd never get the most important stuff done.
Now if you'll excuse me, my son wants to teach me how to play Lego Harry Potter.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Combining Paranormal and Erotic Romance

Posted by: Nicole North
Paranormal and erotic romance seems a natural combination because paranormal world-building comes from the author’s active, over-the-top imagination. There are some wild and far-out things that happen in paranormal stories—characters who shift into animals, characters who disappear, immortal characters, etc. So it makes sense that extremely sensual and highly erotic situations can easily be combined with this and it’s all believable… if the author is good at making you suspend disbelief. Plus, it can make the story more intense and spellbinding.

An erotic fantasy becomes even more of an escape when one (or more) of the hot, sexy characters isn't quite human. They’re larger than life. Maybe the hero is immortal and has lived for hundreds of years. He will no doubt have a lot of experience and know exactly what he wants between the sheets. Maybe he has special powers or abilities. A werewolf, vampire or other paranormal creature introduces danger into the equation. Danger can heighten the sensuality and passion, making it explosive.

Dangerous heroes are strangely compelling. The unknown. Is he dangerous to everyone, including the heroine, or only to his enemies? Part of the thrill is not knowing if he will become too enthusiastic in his passion and hurt the heroine.

Duncan, the hero of my Carina press book, Laird of Darkness, is half-Fae. This means he can disappear whenever he wants and fly through the air, no wings needed. When he vanishes, he also has enhanced strength. He can toss men or heavy rocks through the air. His own body is the only weapon he needs.
Though the heroine, Alana, is unsure at first how much of a threat he is, she is drawn to him. Should she want him as a lover despite his dangerous paranormal abilities?

Excerpt from Laird of Darkness

Lady Alana Forbes knelt by Loch Searbh, overjoyed to have found such a large clump of marsh tea. She would dry it and use it to heal many skin afflictions. A dull roar reached her ears. Thunder? No storm clouds lurked overhead. The loch at twilight, surrounded by the rugged Highlands, was one of the most beautiful sights she had seen. A pink and violet sunset painted the sky to the west, the direction she would journey tomorrow to meet her future husband at Castle Claren.
She hoped Kinnon MacClaren was a handsome and kind man. And though she would never admit it to anyone but herself, she hoped he was a generous lover and skilled in the bedchamber. If the rumors about him were correct, the MacClaren chief was indeed handsome, with blue eyes and tawny hair.
Rising, she sniffed the balsamic aroma of the herb. Above all, her new husband must allow her to continue practicing the medicinal arts her beloved grandmother taught her. Gran had passed three years ago, and Alana was the only one to preserve her family’s herbal knowledge and ancient Soillse EĆ²las Leigheashealing spells.
She took one step toward her party’s camp when a fierce clamor exploded from the loch. She froze. Water gushed upward and a herd of white horses burst forth, headed straight toward her. What in Hades?
Something unseen slipped around her waist, snatching her into the air far above the ground. Strangely, the invisible band around her felt like a man’s strong arm. St. Bride preserve me! Nausea roiled through her. She screamed, flailing, cold chills covering her body. Far below, the white horses galloped along the shore and disappeared beyond the bend. Alana knew a bit about magic, but sorcery such as this she had never encountered.
A few hundred feet from the water and her party, she floated down until she rested once again on solid ground.
“How… Who…”
Whatever peculiar force had lifted her out of harm’s way now released her. She perceived naught but a dull red spot glowing in the dimness. A body expanded from it—a man’s muscular chest and dark head.
“What in…” She covered her gaping mouth. What kind of enchantment could this be?
He turned, moving away toward the bushes, then his muscled back, hip and the rest of his nude body materialized. Sideways, he bent to grab a long piece of woolen tartan from the ground. When he straightened, the whole of his spectacular front was visible for a moment. Alana’s breath fled and heat burned over her. She had never seen such an enticing, yet forbidden sight. The flat rippled plain of his chest and stomach led down to a narrow, dark trail of hair that pointed toward fascinating masculine parts betwixt his legs. Quickly, he draped the plaid over his shoulder, and it hung to his knees in front.
His straight, jet-black hair brushed his broad shoulders. Eyes, dark as a midnight sky, stared a hole through her, though she was certain he couldn’t see her face beneath the cloak and deep cowl over her head. The men of her family had ever overreacted and made her travel concealed in this manner, to ward off those who would see her beauty and take her hostage, they claimed.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“Duncan MacDougall. And who are you?” His deep voice held a stronger, more northern Highland accent than she herself possessed. She found his tongue-rolling burr captivating and wished to hear more of it.
“Alana.” She would not reveal her clan name and position for her own safety. “You saved my life.” What a daft thing to say. She hoped he couldn’t see her blush.
“Aye.” A hint of a grin gave his rugged face a boyish charm. He was perhaps the most handsome man she had ever beheld, with his high cheekbones, wide sensual mouth and square jaw.
“I’m grateful to you.”
He bowed.
The plaid draped from his shoulder, covering the left half of his chest and the manly parts between his legs. His right thigh was visible as was his hip. How strangely exciting to see parts of a man such as were usually concealed. She yearned to see more.
His muscled arms and massive shoulders attested to his warrior training. But her mind kept drifting back to his groin. Well-endowed was how she would describe him, nothing like the stable lad she had called lover a few years ago. That was the secret she must never allow Kinnon MacClaren to learn. He must think her a virgin.
“How did you carry me through the air? What kind of creature are you?” she asked the sinister stranger.
He smirked. “’Tis a secret.”
Duncan MacDougall possessed a fearsome magic. Clearly. How else would such a feat be possible? She was skilled in the mystical healing arts, but she’d never before known of a person who could do something so remarkable as vanish or fly.
“Why did those white horses stampede from the loch?” she asked.
“They are kelpies, water demons who emerge at night.”
“So they do exist,” she mused. She’d heard tales of kelpies all her life, but she’d thought they were simply legends.
She forced her gaze away from Duncan’s appealing form and down to her hands, where she still held the precious herb she’d risked her life for. Her stranglehold had crushed some of the leaves and their strong aroma filled the air. “Again, I thank you for saving my life. How will I repay you?”
“No repayment necessary.” His deep murmur threatened to seduce her.
Alana dared not look at him again. She feared he was casting a spell upon her with his wicked eyes and sensual voice. Kinnon MacClaren was the man she would marry, though she didn’t know if he was as striking and tempting as this man.
A short distance to the south, the voices of her maids echoed as they shouted her name.
“Will you return me to my party now? They grow worried.”
“Where are you headed?”
Unable to resist, she drank in the sight of his pleasing face again. “Castle Claren,” she said.
“Castle Claren? Why?” he demanded. Duncan’s arrow-sharp tone startled her. Something was amiss. She had revealed dangerous information. “Maids.” Alana swallowed hard. “The chief has hired us as his new maids.” Her palms sweated. She clenched her right hand, only now realizing she’d dropped her dagger.
He frowned, his expression becoming harsh. “Remove your cowl, lass.”
Nay. She had to escape him. Turning her head, she slid a glance toward her party. Could she flee to them before he grabbed her? When she faced Duncan again, he stood beside her, close enough to touch.
He grasped her shoulder and yanked the cowl from her head, pulling her hair.
“Ow! Unhand me!”
His sinister gaze speared hers, his face inches from her own. His jaw tightened, and before he could conceal it, lust, greed and—could it be?—dismay played over his features. He was like all other men, then, wanting what he could never have. Quickly, he blanked his expression and pushed the front of her cloak back to reveal her fine clothing.
“I knew you were a noblewoman. No need to hide the truth. Now, tell me, Lady Alana, what business have you with the MacClaren?” He spoke low and close to her ear, his hot breath sending icy chills through her body. His tight hold made her heart beat fast as a bird’s wings.
She yanked backward, but his grip proved unbreakable. “I am to wed Laird Kinnon MacClaren,” she said through clenched teeth. “And if you do not release me, he will seek retribution.”
Duncan’s eyes narrowed. “Is that so?”
“Aye.” She could talk her way out of this thorny situation. ’Twould not be the first time. And though this knave seemed a bit dangerous, he did not have an evil air about him.
“Why did MacClaren not fetch you himself?”
“I know not. He sent his men. Do you know him?”
“Indeed.”
She wanted to ask what MacClaren was like, but doubted Duncan would tell her the truth. “Allow me to return to my party now.” She drew in a breath, and for the first time, detected his scent above the medicinal aroma of the plant in her hand. Warm, spicy and masculine—a tantalizing fragrance she’d never smelled the likes of before and which spoke to an instinct deep within her. Like when someone who had not eaten in a fortnight smelled freshly baked bread covered in butter and honey. Without logic, she wished to bury her nose against his neck, inhale deeply and taste him.
Was she daft? He was a stranger, and a violent one at that.
“I cannot do that,” he murmured in a voice that blended with the night, dusky and deep.
Laird of Darkness copyright 2011 Nicole North. Published by Carina Press.


Thanks for checking out my post and excerpt!
Nicole



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The World of What-If?

Posted by: PG Forte

It’s probably no accident that the two school subjects I enjoyed most were History and Science. I’m sure it goes a long way toward explaining why I love Steampunk so much. It is, after all, a genre that begins with a nostalgic look at the world as it used to be, then asks that ever-intriguing question: What if?

What if steam power had won out over gas? What if Charles Babbage had been able to fund his inventions, and computers had been readily available in 1812? What if the Hindenburg had never crashed and lighter-than-air travel had become the norm?  Or…what if the transcontinental railroad had never been built? What if wireless electricity had been discovered? What if the Louisiana Purchase had never been made, or hostilities between France and Britain had never ended?  What would our world look like then?

Of course there are countless questions you could ask, and endless ways in which the world around us might be different today—and that’s one of the things I love most about the stories included in the A Clockwork Christmas anthology. Each story is a unique melding of the past and the possible. Grounded in pseudo-science and altered-history, each one offers its own distinct version of a world that’s just a little bit different than our own.

There is one constant that unites these worlds, however, and that’s the people who populate them. Despite the fictional technology that contributes to our stories and that help to make some of our characters the unique specimens they are, they’re all still recognizably  human. They all want love. They all struggle, to a greater or lesser degree, for happiness. And, this being Romance, after all, they all demand their HEA.That might be my favorite part of all.

***

We Wish You a Steampunk Christmas

Changed forever after tragedy, a woman must draw strength from her husband’s love. A man learns that love isn’t always what you expect. A thief steals the heart of a vengeful professor. And an American inventor finds love Down Under. Enjoy Victorian Christmas with a clockwork twist in these four steampunk novellas.

Anthology includes:

Crime Wave in a Corset by Stacy Gail
This Winter Heart by PG Forte
Wanted: One Scoundrel by Jenny Schwartz
Far From Broken by JK Coi

Stories also available for purchase separately.

To keep up with the fun and laughter and sheer silliness of our pre-release celebrations, please join us on the A Clockwork Christmas Facebook page.

The anthology releases December 5 from Carina Press.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Magic of Stories

Posted by: Ruth A Casie
Stories are an important part of our society and culture. We find stories in the books we read, movies we watch, painting we study, music we listen to, even in the news of the day and the liturgy of our religion. You can see its impact on the people in every culture whether being listened to or told and even re-told. Storytellers have shaped our society and our ways of thinking. Their stories are used to entertain, teach, and pass on knowledge and wisdom. Stories define our values, desires, dreams, as well as our prejudices and hatreds.

No one knows when story telling began. All we know is that it is an ancient well respected art and played an important part is society. We can only guess what promoted the first story. Perhaps a hunter came back from the hunt and told of his heroic deeds or was it to explain why he came back from the hunt empty handed? Did a mother try to calm a child’s fears or doubts? Did a Shaman or tribal leader tell of an important event? The storyteller held an important position in these early societies. They were typically the priest, judge or ruler. People found their stories interesting and listened to them. Storytelling days were considered important.

Before man learned to write, he had to rely on his memory to learn anything. For this he had to be a good listener. With the importance of the story established, the listeners paid close attention. These stories were not only told amongst themselves but, when people traveled they shared their stories with others in faraway lands when they traveled. And when they returned home, they brought back exciting new stories of exotic places and people.

The oldest surviving story is believed to be the epic tale of Gilgamesh. This story tells of the deeds of the famous Sumerian king. The earliest known record of storytelling was found in the Egypt. Cheops’ scribes recorded the stories told by Cheops’ sons who told their father stories to entertain him.

There are all kinds of stories myths, legends, fairy tales, trickster stories, fables, ghost tales, hero stories, and epic adventures, and that over time these stories were told, and retold. Passed down from one generation to the next, these stories reflect the wisdom and knowledge of early people. Stories were often used to explain the supernatural or unexplainable, confusing events and disasters. It was common for people to believe in the stories of gods that bound them to a common heritage and belief.

Most historians and psychologists believe that storytelling is one of the many things that define and bind our humanity. Humans are perhaps the only animals that create and tell stories.


Tell me your favorite story in a comment and your email address here and win a free copy of Knight of Runes (epub or pdf format), a new story by Ruth A. Casie.   One person will be randomly selected on November 20.

The characters are strong, vibrant, true to their nature, and albeit very heroic.  The author, Ruth A. Casie, weaves an exciting and beautifully told legendary tale that is both rich and engaging.  It is full of, ‘on the edge of your seat’ suspense, mind-boggling drama and a forever-after romance. Ms. Casie's sparkling new novel, KNIGHT OF RUNES is a winner! ~ Romance Junkies – 5 Blue Ribbons
I totally enjoyed this time travel romance. I actually felt like I was Rebeka immersed in her adventure. I found this book well written, warmhearted and believable. I loved the use of runes, magic and ancient Druids as part of her plot. The romance was heartfelt and not overly mushy. ~ Bookloons – 3 Books

Knight of Runes

It’s the 21st century and time travel is still a Wellsian fantasy but not for Rebeka Tyler. While on an impromptu tour of Avebury, she takes a misstep at the standing stones, and finds herself in the right place but tossed back into the 17th century. When Lord Arik, a druid knight, finds Rebeka wandering his lands without protection, he swears to keep her safe. But Rebeka can take care of herself. When Arik sees her clash with a group of attackers using a strange fighting style he is intrigued.

Rebeka is desparate to return to her time. She poses as a scholar sent by the king to help find out what’s killing Arik’s land to get access to the library. But as she decodes the ancient runes that are the key to solving his mystery and sending her home, she finds herself drawn to the charismatic and powerful Arik.

As Arik and Rebeka fall in love, someone in Arik’s household schemes to keep them apart and a dark druid with a grudge prepares his revenge. To defeat him, Arik and Rebeka must combine their skills. Soon Rebeka will have to decide whether to return to the future or trust Arik with the secret of her time travel and her heart.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

I'M A GAMBLER

Posted by: Barbara Longley

By Barbara Longley

I buy lottery tickets every week. I know my chances of winning are astronomically slim, hovering right there next to nil, but I buy them anyway. It’s a gamble, and I guess I’m a little hooked. I don’t spend a lot—a couple bucks a week at the most. I don’t see it as a problem. Still, this week it struck me. I am a gambler. What does this have to do with writing?
Buying lottery tickets requires a modicum of optimism, or desperation, depending on the day and the circumstances. Writing requires the same. It’s a gamble. Here’s how it works. You write a book, enter it into a few contests, experience the thrill of a final and…HOOKED. That little bit of positive reinforcement spurs you on, you want another taste. You want the prize—a CONTRACT! You work at writing. It begins to consume bug chunks of your time. Writing is not a major component of your life. You start hanging with other writers who all have the same prize in mind. They are hooked. You are hooked.
Yep, I know. To succeed, to beat the odds in this game, you have to keep playing. It’s hard work. Expect bruises, because you’re going to get knocked around. Even after you win that prize, that first contract, the gamble isn’t over. The bar has just been raised, but you’re HOOKED, so you keep at it. The prize was that first contract. Now you have it, the prize changes. You’re aiming for the NYT bestsellers list, right? It’s like you used to play the slot machines, and now you’ve moved to the blackjack table. Next it’s the high stakes poker games. 
I’m not talking talent here. You have it, and, as you already know, those other writerly types you’re hanging with? They’re talented too. I’m talking about luck, timing, and a willingness to take the risks. It’s a gamble, but I’m hooked. How about you?

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Re-Read

Posted by: Marie Harte
First, thank you to all the veterans out there. Been there done that, and I know how much work and sacrifice it takes to help protect our country. So thanks again.

I'm shamelessly reposting this topic that I posted the other day. One, because it's relevant, and two, because I somehow forgot this was my day to post, even though I have it jotted down and listed on my own website! Gah. But here's a topic dear to my heart. Reading your books, over and over again.
People--who don't read--think I'm crazy for having such a huge amount of books. It's not a collection, I tell them. Because it's not. My library does not just gather dust. I've read every book I own on those shelves more than once. More than twice. There are some I revisit more than others, like old friends, years after their release. I remember plots and characters, but going back is opening up those pages of joy all over again. The memory is there but fuzzy, so refreshing it gives me that happy buzz.

Some reads I need when I'm feeling blue, others when I need to just laugh, and others when I'd like something to steam up my windows. Series books make great re-reads because I can see familiar characters and lead-ins to their romances, one at a time. I don't have to wait months or years to know how the next hero saves the day. Not when I already own the book.

You'd think the advent of the Kindle or Nook would have changed my library and reading standards. But no. To me, a good story is a good story, no matter its medium. So I'm good reading on an electronic device or holding actual pages in my hand. I admit I like to keep a series in the same family type as I bought the first book, all ebooks, all mass market, hard back or trade, not some of each. But I'll also take what I can get. In this day and age, price matters, sad to say.

Right now I'm lamenting the fact that most of my library is back on the East Coast, alone and lonely, with no one to turn their pages. I won't be reunited with my books until next summer, when I go back to drag them out West. But hey, they're still there. And being so far apart from them guarantees me "fresh" reads when I set up my new library out here.

Some of my favorite rereads...
Shelly Laurenston's Pride series and dragon books
Jayne Ann Krentz's Arcane series and futuristics and contemporaries...you get the idea
Jose Litton's books, (wish the heck she'd write more)
Anything written by Sabrina Jeffries
Feehan's Carpathian series
Jill Gregory's Thunder books (set in Wolf River, MT)
David Eddings Belgariad

Happy Reading. :)

Marie
www.marieharte.com
Grayson's Gamble, coming to Loose Id Nov 22nd

Thursday, November 10, 2011

You know what they say about redheads…

Posted by: Shona Husk
Yep, I get that all the time. I’m the only redhead in my family and I have dyed my hair everything from blond to black to blue (don’t ask). While I never thought I was scarred it wasn’t until I’d written quite a few novels and novellas that I realised I’d never written anyone with red hair.

Not even a secondary character.

Natural red hair exists in about 2% of the population (higher in Scotland and Ireland). I’m sure blond or brunette writer don’t worry about the hair color of their heroine. So when I started DARK VOW and I was wondering what the heroine, Jaines, should look like I thought it was high time to embrace having red hair and write about a redhead. 

Being fantasy I could ignore the stats on redheads and I went for broke. Red hair is ordinary and nothing special in Westly County—Jaines even has lilac eyes, which are again common. Jaines wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. (Imagine growing up with Ranga jokes and being called blue—it’s an Aussie thing)

Of course now I’ve populated the Westly County with redheads every time I write a story there I have to keep this in mind. So eventually I’m going to have to write a hero who isn’t tall dark and handsome…he’ll have to have red hair. Gulp.

Have you avoided certain hair colors for your hero and heroine? Or as a reader how important is hair color?

DARK VOW, Novemeber 14, Carina Press

Jaines Cord plans to kill the man who murdered her husband, even though killing a Bounty Hunter is said to be impossible. One bullet took away her livelihood, her home and her love. One bullet made by her. Fired from the gun she completed for the Arcane Bounty Hunter.

Obsidian wears the scars of disobeying the powerful Arcane Union. He barely escaped with his life and now lives quietly, in a town the lawmen forgot. When Jaines arrives asking too many questions, he's faced with a decision. Help her or run…again. Obsidian knows that if he flees he'll always be looking over his shoulder. His name is one of the first on the Bounty Hunter's death list.

Yet when Obsidian is offered an opportunity to stop the stone taking over his body in exchange for retrieving the gun, he asks Jaines for her help. Now Jaines must choose: a dead man's vengeance or a living man's hope?


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The unheroic hero

Posted by: Julia Knight

And so it came to pass that a load of edits for my follow up to Ten Ruby Trick landed in my email and I was knee deep in them. And lo! I forgot I was supposed to do a blog post. Meep!

Luckily, something came to the rescue just in time. I’m a member of a few fantasy forums, and this particular one had a discussion about heroes and grittiness, among other things.

Or rather, protagonists who aren’t heroes. The trend in straight, non romantical fantasy, seems to be for antier and antier “heroes” (or it seems so perhaps, especially this side of the pond). Or main characters, or just protagonists. To follow in the footsteps of someone unlikeable, perhaps irretrievably so. And it made me wonder, just what is it that makes a character likeable? And how far to the unlikeable do we each like our characters?

Thomas Covenant was too far for me. The only redeeming thing was he wasn’t written to make what he did look at all likeable or heroic. He just happened to be the main character.

Other times, the bad guy has so much charisma (or all the best lines) that he’s fascinating to watch—such as Hannibal Lector. It worked for me in Silence of the Lambs, but not in the films where we saw more of him. Because he was only in small doses, his awfulness didn’t overwhelm me.

So for you (when and if you read non romantic fantasy), what makes a hero heroic, and would you read a protagonist that wasn’t, and wasn’t even trying to be?


Julia Knight writes fantasy and historical adventure with dollops of romance, and her next release, The Viking's Sacrifice is coming in January from Carina. You can find out more about her here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Food. Glorious Food!

Posted by: Jenny Schwartz
I love the strange and adventurous foods in fantasy novels.

Jayne Castle (aka Jayne Ann Krentz) has an amusing trick with her light SF Harmony novels. The foods are similar to those from Earth, but slightly different. So the characters drink coff-tea and eat pear-berries.

Fairytales make a big deal about food with Snow White eating a poisoned apple, Goldilocks stealing breakfast and various draughts of forgetfulness, immortality or love sickness causing no end of trouble.

When I was writing my Steampunk novella, "Wanted: One Scoundrel", I couldn't resist adding a Steampunk touch to the suffragette afternoon tea. Fog cakes have a dab of dry ice in their centre so they "fog" as the automated butler hands them round.

Do you have a favourite fantasy food?

***


We Wish You a Steampunk Christmas
Changed forever after tragedy, a woman must draw strength from her husband’s love. A man learns that love isn’t always what you expect. A thief steals the heart of a vengeful professor. And an American inventor finds love Down Under. Enjoy Victorian Christmas with a clockwork twist in these four steampunk novellas.
Anthology includes:
Crime Wave in a Corset by Stacy Gail
This Winter Heart by PG Forte
Wanted: One Scoundrel by Jenny Schwartz
Far From Broken by JK Coi
Stories also available for purchase separately.
117,000 words
The stories in this anthology are fabulous (yes, I’ve had a sneak peek–gorgeous!) and so are the authors. To keep up with the fun and laughter and sheer silliness of our pre-release celebrations, join us on the A Clockwork Christmas Facebook page.
The anthology releases December 5 from Carina Press.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Unseen World

Posted by: Jane Kindred
Last weekend at World Fantasy Convention 2011 in San Diego, I attended a panel on "The Not-So-Fair Folk," in which the dark side of fae folklore was explored. The importance of keeping mum about the fae was mentioned more than once, making the panel itself feel just a bit dangerous, as if talking about it just might land us all in trouble.

Like the fae themselves, the darker tales are often hidden among the seeming light. In Disney's Sleeping Beauty, the fairies are portrayed as benign and somewhat daft—except for Maleficent, who appears uninvited at the christening of newborn Princess Aurora to "gift" her with a curse after being denied the proper respect. As a child, I was always much more interested in Maleficent than anyone else in the story. Why was she so different? Why didn't they invite her? What was her history?

Another favorite of mine was the Snow Queen. She swept in with the north wind and stole away pretty boys to keep for herself. I was instantly intrigued.

When I was a little older, I discovered the White Witch in C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and recognized her as the same figure, as she turned the world to eternal winter and brought Edmund under her thrall from her sparkling sleigh. And then again in The Silver Chair, the Lady of the Green Kirtle came along and stole away and enchanted Prince Rilian of Narnia.

These mysterious, powerful women are all nods to the Queen of the Fae, who was prone to stealing human children and replacing them with changelings, or captivating the hearts of mortal men who followed her into the unseen kingdom of the fairies. The fear of a powerful woman seems to infuse men's psyches in the oldest of folklore of many traditions. From sirens and mermaids to veela and rusalki, all of them lure men to their hidden realms. (Which I guess pretty much speaks for itself.)

As much as I love my protagonists, I can never quite resist a strong and dangerous woman. When I started my current series, The House of Arkhangel'sk, I had no intention of writing about dark fae. It's a story about angels and demons, and the Russian imperial family. But somehow as I was developing the villainess of the story, I ended up with none other than the Fairy Queen herself. She was the perfect enchantress to lead my fallen angel astray.



I took some liberties, of course. My Fairy Queen comes from a Celtic tradition (the same that inspired C.S. Lewis—the ballad of Tam Lin; as well as Irish poet Brian Merriman's The Midnight Court), but I moved her to the icy Russian north and gave her the qualities of a Slavic veela. Her origins, however, are something I haven't explained. Queen Aeval remains a bit of a mystery. Somehow, it didn't seem appropriate to talk about where she came from. Maybe subconsciously, I, too, was afraid to delve too deeply into her realm, or at least to speak of it. You never know what she might do.

If you dare to speak of the unseen, feel free to leave me a comment about your favorite fae. I'll give away a signed ARC of Book One of The House of Arkhangel'sk, The Fallen Queen, to a commenter chosen at random.

Jane Kindred

www.janekindred.com

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It's November, and For Some, the Writing Craziness Has Only Begun

Posted by: Linda Mooney
November is a time when authors try to rev up their creative engines and tackle the NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. I tried in the past to tackle composing 50,000 words in 30 days, and I always got off to a great start, but then one of three things usually happened: I wrote myself into a corner, I lost interest in the story, or I came to the realization that the story wasn't going to fill up all that room. And all three of these problems boiled down to one undeniable truth - I can't write under pressure. 

I was that way through high school and college. Give me a term paper with a month-long deadline, and I was a happy camper. I'd start on the project that day, get it finished about a week prior to the due date, then sit back and watch all the other students scurry like ants to get theirs done at the last minute.

I like to take my time. No deadlines. No rushing. No stress headaches. Better still, if I find myself greeting that corner again, or petering out on an idea, I have the option of picking up where I left off on another book. You could say it's a wonder I have completed any books at all!

My latest release, believe it or not, was started three years ago. I felt it was a good premise, and I loved the characters, but I didn't have an ending for it in my head yet. While perusing my works-in-progress file, I came across it, reread and edited what was already there, and voila! I finally knew what I was going to do with it!

So letting it stew subconsciously all this time was a good thing for me. Guess you could say my brain works like a crock pot.
*****

Breachers: Holt and McKenna

A sensuously erotic urban fantasy, paranormal romance
by Linda Mooney
(ebook) ISBN# 978-1-4507-1947-6
Word Count: 28.1K
http://www.lindamooney.com/
Now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance eBooks, and BookStrand

They are the cause of many legends, myths, and fairy tales. And they still live among us.
 
There are creatures from a parallel world called Breachers who, for hundreds of years, have been inadvertently pulled into our world. They are the truth behind the creatures normally considered to be mythic. Once on Earth, they cannot go back, and those who cannot cope become rabid. Murderers. And when they go berserk, they must be put down.
 
Jerrod Holt always wondered why he was selected to be part of the secret governmental organization. More perplexing was why his skills as a professional bodyguard were needed.
 
He discovers his partner assigned to help him bring down a Breacher is the one woman who had caught his eye the moment he saw her at their initial group meeting. Together, he and McKenna travel to Utah to confront a killer beast, not knowing that the terror would be all too real, and too damn close to home.

Warning: Contains bloody deaths, smart ass remarks, unbearable cold, a nightmare come to life, toe loss, rabbit farming, a search for the truth, and an unconditional love that defies all boundaries.
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