Monday, December 31, 2012

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone
Happy New Years Eve!

Just a few quick announcements this week:

Jody Wallace's urban fantasy novella, Tangible, will be released in May 2013 with Samhain Publishing. If Zeke, a damaged dreamwalker, can't tutor stubborn new dreamer Maggie without getting attached, her nightmares could become his own--and everyone else's to boot. Tangible is the beginning of a series set in a world where dreams don't come true, but nightmares do. FMI: http://jodywallace.com/books/tangible.htm


I'm participating in a New Year blog hop this week. Starting tomorrow, stop by EleriStone.blogspot.com for a chance to win an Amazon or B&N gift card from me. Commenting on the hop post will also enter you into the contest for the grand prize.





Best wishes for a happy new year!!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

End of Year Blues

Posted by: Jenny Schwartz
These are the sort of end of year blues I like: blue skies, blue ocean, endless freedom. I love that in Australia the year begins and ends in summer.

May the hurts of 2012 heal fast
& the joys of 2013 last forever.
Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Past. Present. Future.

Posted by: R.L. Naquin

I know people who spend a lot of their time and effort rehashing events from long ago, both good and bad.

Some dream constantly about the good old days when they were young or thin or popular or athletic. It’s easy to slip into that mode and remember things as being easier, better, more fun.

Others dwell on past hurts or hard times. They build lives around getting even with childhood bullies or become bitter over things said twenty years ago by people who don’t even remember saying them.

Do you live in the past?

Some spend all of their time dreaming of Someday. The perfect partner they haven’t met yet. Children or grandchildren in the distant future. A dream house on the Mediterranean/in the woods/in gated suburbia/on a private island.

On the flip side, there are those who live in fear of what tomorrow might bring. Their brains are filled with tragic possibilities—illness, heartbreak, financial ruin, accidents, death.

Do you live in the future?

We all do both those things sometimes, the positive versions and the negative. There’s nothing wrong with rehashing good times that make us smile. And the bad things that happen shape the people we are today. I don’t think we should forget.

Dreams are important. I’m a writer. Dreaming of the future and making things up is part of my job. And if we don’t think ahead to some of the things that can go wrong, we can’t take steps to avoid them.

But.

Today is when we are. Always. When was the last time you really stopped what you were doing and lived in Right Now?

I think it’s impossible to live in the moment every second of the day, but it’s far too easy to miss a great many moments because our minds have wandered backward or forward in time.

Myself, I tend to be a future dweller. I plan. I fantasize. I create elaborate visions of how my life will be. But you know what? My present is pretty damn fabulous. Sometimes, in my dreaming, I forget that part.

Take a moment to look around from time to time. Find the magic of Right Now. In this one moment, so much is waiting to be seen and enjoyed. So much is around you, waiting to slip into obscurity if you don’t pay attention and notice it.

Right Now is fuel for tomorrow’s memories. Make them good ones.


Friday, December 28, 2012

What's in a name?

Posted by: Eleri Stone
I have a problem with naming my characters. Some people swear they can't start writing a story until they've picked out the perfect names for the leads. My characters usually go through two or three different names apiece.

Part of this is because I don't plot extensively before beginning to write and as the character develops during the course of the story, my initial vision is sometimes no longer entirely accurate by the time I reach the end. Part of it is that when I add secondary characters into the mix it can throw the name balance off. You know, too many G names or too many that end with a -y. Sometimes the name combo starts to grate, especially if it's too matchy in the first place.

I have to change a character name in my current story because our new neighbor has a 7 year old daughter with the same (unusual) name and now every time I see it, I think of her. It's stressful and it shouldn't be. I'd like to find a name book created for authors that instead of meanings/origins has character traits associated with different names. I've seen short lists like that.

I have started to take note of names that I think are interesting as I come across them. The programs at holiday concerts are goldmines.

How do you pick out your names? And are there any that you're sick to death of seeing?

Eleri Stone
www.eleristone.com

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

On Planning for Life to Continue

Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy
Today is Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. We don't really celebrate it in the states, but I was in Scotland one year on Boxing Day. We flew overnight and landed early that morning. We checked into our inn and they fed us an enormous brunch, along with many people who'd come out just for that special meal. Because the Scots stay in with family on Christmas itself, they tend to emerge the day after. Boxing Day is for visiting friends and neighbors.

It's a lovely tradition.

I'm writing this blog post ahead of time. Who knows how Boxing Day morning will find me? At the moment I write this, the bulk of the Christmas frenzy and festivities lie still ahead of me. I have more baking to do (largely because we already ate them all - eep) and shopping and wrapping and traveling. I look ahead to the future, launching this missive for our selves-yet-to-be.

Also, at the moment I write this, the Mayan apocalypse is supposed to occur at any time. Already it's December 21, 2012 on the Australian side of the world.

Me? I'm figuring on the world going on. Just a bit of planning ahead.

Thinking about the future can be a funny undertaking. We take so much on faith that the sun will rise again, that our lives and projects will continue. That 2012 will wind to a natural close in just a few days and 2013 will begin.

Dates are on my mind, too, because I just signed a book deal, announced on Monday in our Here Be News feature. The deal is for a trilogy and my editor and I just discussed dates for delivery. In the world of publishing, especially print publishing, there are long lead times. The first book is planned for early 2014. I have to turn in the third book by May 1, 2014.

It's hard for me to conceive of that date.

And yet, here I am, planning for it, just as I'm writing this post a few days ahead.

An act of faith and hope - in thanks for the blessings of good fortune.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Magic Of Giving

Posted by: Veronica Scott



 Some thoughts and anecdotes about giving from Here Be Magic authors:

TIA NEVITT: The magic of giving is … when a child says a real and genuine “Thank you!”
SHAWNA THOMAS: For me the magic of giving is that moment when someone's eyes light up with joy because you've given them something they love! Giving for me is also intertwined with memories of my grandmother. She had a way of making unexpected guests feel welcome. One Christmas eve on impulse my aunt brought someone home for Christmas who would have spent the holiday alone. I will never forget the look on that person's face when she discovered she had a stocking and presents under the tree. That Christmas I decided I wanted to grow up to be like my grandma. She defined for me the heart of hospitality and generosity. 

R L NAQUIN: One of my best friends now lives happily with my ex-husband—a hilarious story in itself that we won’t go into right now. After moving in with him, she discovered some truly awful, completely out-of-character decorations I’d left behind over twelve years before. She was especially horrified by the decorative broom made of twigs and sticks. I swear, when I bought it I had some weird ideas about glue guns, ribbons, and fake flowers. Decorated, I’m sure it would have been horrendous.
So, my dear friend wrapped it up and gave it to me for Christmas last year. I’m sure the look of shock on my face when I unwrapped it was priceless.
This year, she’ll never see it coming. My kids are going to smuggle it over there and slide it under the tree with the rest of the presents. Since I won’t be there at the time, she won’t realize what it is until it’s too late. The ugly thing will be back in her custody, and I will be free!
I just need to add a few blobs of glue and some smiley-face buttons on it. Maybe a gold ribbon. Now to find the right box to disguise it…

JENNY SCHWARTZ: For me, the magic of giving definitely includes having an excuse to SHOP! I love wandering around local markets, especially the Christmas ones, finding gifts that have been made by people in the community and thinking who they'd be perfect for. In addition, local markets mean chances are you'll bump into friends. It's a lovely seasonal thing to do and a way to connect with your neighbours. Plus, the food stalls are usually awesome!

JODY WALLACE & MEANKITTY: For years now, I have I hand-make at least one item apiece for the members of my family who come together on Christmas Day. In 2012, I spent all day on Black Friday crocheting and crafting instead of shopping...or otherwise setting foot outside the house. I sense a tradition coming on, sort of an anti-commercialism response, which is a funny thing for an author whose job depends on people purchasing her books to cultivate, isn't it? Well, there's room in all my split personalities for a little hypocrisy to go with the holiday spirit.

CINDY SPENCER PAPE: I grew up in the shadow of a much older brother who married and moved away when I was 5. So although I can’t remember living with him, I remember being told how perfect he was from our mother my whole life. No matter what I achieved, it seemed he had always done it younger or better than me, at least in our mother’s eyes. It was years before I figured out she was just missing him.

When his kids were grown, and I was married with young kids of my own, he moved back to our home state. Suddenly, he was there for Christmas for the first time in my memory. He bought me a pretty decorative lizard one year, that I loved and still have out. (Lizards were the animal used in my thesis research, so they’re a favorite of mine.) The next Christmas, he gave me a lovely carved, articulated cobra.
I opened the box, screamed at the top of my lungs, and threw the box across the room. In all the time he’d been away, he’d never picked up on the fact that I’m horrifically afraid of snakes, particularly hooded ones, even though I trained as a herpetologist. Eventually everyone laughed. My son is quite happy with the wooden snake. But the best gift that year? It’s the only time in my life I ever heard my mom call the “perfect” child an idiot. That part was priceless.

JAX GARREN: I prefer experience gifts to items--a pedicure with a friend, a fancy dinner with my family, a theater outing with my husband. This year my darling parents got me a plane ticket to Kansas City so I could attend Romantic Times Con. It'll be my first convention as a published author, and I'm SO excited.(I’m on the list!)  (More exclamation points!!!!!)

Wishing everyone happy holidays and a peaceful winter season ~ Veronica Scott on behalf of Here Be Magic!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone
Our new releases this week
Hunting Colby, The Angler series book 2.5


Once she catches her prey, God help him.

Almost a year ago Gwen had met her mate in the fury of battle. Like most shifters, they knew upon contact. Unlike others, Colby hadn’t stuck around to bond. Never one to surrender, Gwen had left her pack to find out exactly what sent him running. Hopping from country to country, she chased him until she lost his scent.

Not willing to return home with her tail between her legs, she takes a job guarding the newest member of the Nosferatu clan in New York City where she discovers fresh traces of her mate. Hope returns and she takes up the hunt once more.
A slayer’s job is never done and Colby is hunting the vampire who kidnapped a member of his team, but every turn he takes keeps leading him back to the one person he’s been trying to avoid. Gwen.

Buy

___________________________________________

TIP OF THE SPEAR will be FREE from Amazon 12/25-12/29. Merry Christmas and happy holidays from Marie!

Welcome to the New West, where the Nature Laws dictate who lives and dies by the way they treat the land, carnivorous horses and blood trees are accepted mutations courtesy of the sky rocks, and the Impact Zone separates the earth-friendly territories of the West from a more sophisticated, steam-powered East. Women are rare commodities, living in extended families with more than one husband, and children are a necessity in a world where sterility is often the norm. Life is full of challenge, romance and adventure. Something one courageous, wounded Amazon will find out firsthand.

Here's the free link:  http://www.amazon.com/Tip-Spear-Amazon-Western-ebook/dp/B009N835VQ

Again, the free dates are from 12/25-12/29.




Links of Interest

From NPR: Don't Hide Your Harlequins: In Defense Of Romance

From Publisher Weekly: Bram Stoker's Lost Romance Story

From The Mary Sue: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE FAKE GEEK GIRL: WHY WE’RE THREATENED BY FALSIFIED FANDOM

Michael Moorcock's technique for How to write a book in three days.

Here Be Magic Group Announcements

Congratulations Jeffe!
Jeffe Kennedy’s The TWELVE KINGDOMS Series, three books in which the three daughters of a failing kingdom find their own magic and use that to help heal their lands and people while finding love along the way, to Peter Sentfleben at Kensington, in a nice deal, for publication in 2014, by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg at Larsen/Pomada Literary Agents (World).

Saturday, December 22, 2012

How to Write A Good Bad Guy

Posted by: Regan Summers

I'm often asked by new and aspiring authors, how to write a villain. Not a stock figure with a dark mustache stomping around kicking puppies and doing obviously Bad Things, but a credible or sinister or surprising villain.

It's a good question and my answer is always: don't write a villain; write a person.

Construct the villain as you would the heroine. She has a body, a mind and a heart. She has pet peeves, deep fears and strong desires. Her past contributes to, but does not overpower her. While she is full color, her past - culture and heritage, important relationships and moments of strong emotion - trails her like a dimly-sketched river of ghosts.

She does what she does because she believes she must and she also believes, in the end, that it is right.

Here's the kicker: so does the villain. The bad guy can't exist only because the heroine needs a force to butt up against. And, while some bad guys - particularly in fantasy - can be beings of pure evil, it's difficult to get much mileage out of that. If the bad guy is PURE EVIL, the heroine doesn't have to be very complicated to oppose him. So, the villain believes that what he is doing is right but, unlike with the heroine, the reader does not root for him because his values are twisted. He is twisted.

He isn't just greedy; he believes he is owed or deserves his ill-gotten gains.

He wasn't born hating a group of people or creatures; he believes they did him insufferable harm or will turn his world into an unbearable place.

He does not hate the heroine; he is envious of her. So envious that he loathed himself for his jealousy, and that self-loathing made him lash out, and the more he struck down others, the more he believed he was building within himself something of the power he perceives the good guy as having.

That's a little bit scary.

The most insidious kind of villain is the character that is present throughout a book without the reader knowing he is evil, but the moment that fact is revealed, things become clear. The Usual Suspects is a great example of this. The villain is masterful, so intent on his goals (the only thing, in my mind, not well-revealed in this movie) that he disguises his brilliant mind and allows himself to be penned up with criminals who, if they discovered he was the cause of their incarceration, would likely kill him.

Author Raymond Chandler was also a master of the insidious villain. For one, he juggles fleets of distinct suspects without ever dropping a red herring, but he also allows the suspect to exist among the rest of the players. Chandler, of course, was writing mysteries so the emphasis is on discovering the bad guy rather than having to work against or defeat him, but I do recommend reading him. His stories are lessons in how to hide a bad guy as well as how to write a memorable character.

The exercise I use when I get stuck with a flat villain is to write from his point of view. If I'm halfway through a story and can't seem to get any further, I back up and write the most conflict-heavy scenes from the bad guy's point of view. It isn't always comfortable to step sideways into the mind of a monster. However, the less comfortable it is, the more compelling the character will hopefully be. And doesn't everyone love having someone to root against?

cross-posted at www.regansummers.com

***


Regan Summers lives in Anchorage, Alaska with her husband and alien-monkey hybrid of a child. She is a huge fan of the low profile. She likes books, ottomans with concealed storage, small plate dining, libraries, Corporal Hicks, some aspects of pre-revolutionary France, most aspects of current Italy, and books.

Her Night Runner series, including Don’t Bite the Messenger and Running in the Dark, is available wherever e-books are sold.

Friday, December 21, 2012

It’s the End of the World as We Know It...and I Want Cocoa

Posted by: Jane Kindred

Yes, I know; I’m probably the five-millionth person to write a blog post with this title today. Well, maybe not the cocoa part. ;)

If we’re all still here, I’m doing a special giveaway of a Mayan  Xocolatl hot cocoa gift set from Stella Leona and one of the books in my House of Arkhangel’sk series.

Xocolatl is a Mayan inspired hot chocolate beverage with a hint of cinnamon. Add milk and garnish with whipped cream. Um, yes, please. Yum!

Although the cocoa is Mayan, my series takes place in Russia, so I thought I’d share some Winter Solstice traditions from that part of the world.

It’s on this longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere that many of the rituals we now associate with Christmas originated. Celebrations of light emerging from darkness were common among pagan religions. In ancient Russia, Winter Solstice was the festival of Perun, the god of thunder and lightning, and of high places.

According to the website Trans-SiberianExperience, “The festivities for the Winter Solstice would have been led by Siberian shamans. They dressed themselves in a special festive hooded warm winter gown, adorned with exotic items. To work their magic, they would put themselves in a trance – in this trance they would fly through the air, in a sleigh drawn by reindeer. To celebrate the festival they would give attractive lucky charms to children, to bring them good fortune in the year to come. Does that sound like anyone we know?

Perun, according to the same website, is the son of Bielobog, god of light. On the Winter Solstice, Bielobog triumphs over Chernobog, god of darkness, in their eternal battle. There’s some argument as to whether these are two separate gods or two aspects of one god (or whether these gods of duality are actually a modern construct and were never worshipped at all), but the message remains the same—the ascendancy of light over the darkness begins after the longest night of the year.

And in Russia, the longest night is seriously that. In St. Petersburg, there are less than six hours of daylight today, while farther north in Arkhangel’sk, it’s less than four. And if you aren’t lucky enough to have a fire demon to keep you warm through the longest night like my character Anazakia in The Fallen Queen, I’m sure it will seem very long indeed.

But there’s something especially magical about the longest night, wherever you happen to be, because we know the darkness has reached its nadir and things can only get better from here. Which, after recent events here in the US, I hope very much is true.

To enter my giveaway to win a copy of one of my Arkhangel’sk books and a cup of Mayan xocolatl to keep you warm while you read, see the Rafflecopter below. One winner will be chosen at random on Christmas Eve.

The House of Arkhangel'sk - A dark retelling of The Snow Queen, war in Heaven, and the last days of Imperial Russia. Epic fantasy with an urban twist.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cookies

Posted by: Evey Brett

Evey: Don't be mad, but my next book doesn't have any horses in it.
Carrma: -stares-
Evey: Sorry. They just didn't fit.
Carrma: We always fit.
Evey: Not in an M/M/F Paranormal BDSM you don't.
Carrma: A what? Nevermind. You're weird, human.
Evey: I might be able to put you in the book after that.
Carrma: You'd better. I won't talk to you if you don't.
Evey: Fine. Then we won't go out for rides and you won't get to follow me around the round pen when I hold the whip and no more trotting and cantering...
Carrma: -snort- So, human. This Christmas thing.
Evey: Huh? Oh. Yeah. Whatever. I'm working.
Carrma: I thought it was supposed to be one of those, um, holidays.
Evey: Not for those of us who work at hotels. Someone always has to be there.
Carrma: I heard some of the really nice humans give presents to their four-legged friends. -stares-
Evey: -stares back-
Carrma: May I suggest some horse cookies?
Evey: Dr. M is going to come take care of that eye problem. That's your present. I worked a lot of overtime to get it for you.
Carrma: Did I mention cookies?
Evey: Did I mention room and board and nice men who put your blanket on when it's cold?
Carrma: C is for cookie. And Carrma.
Evey: See, I knew you were smart. So smart you get to teach the humans I'm bringing in for a Narrative Medicine and Cherokee Bodywork retreat next week.
Carrma: I like teaching humans things. I like it better when they give me cookies.
Evey: I'm sure you'll get a few treats and plenty of attention. I'll be taking pictures and maybe getting ideas for another book.
Carrma: So back to this thing about presents. Maybe I should give you one.
Evey: I don't need any. Not when I have you.
Carrma: -happy ears- -lick chew lick chew- Aw. You love me. Now where's my cookie?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Aussie Christmas

Posted by: Janni Nell


Christmas is only one week away. So, I figured a post on the season was kind of obligatory.  I live in Australia and I’ll be spending Christmas with The Bloke, the Wild Boys, the Crazy Hound and the random drop-ins. Here’s how it’s done at my place…

The Weather:
 It’s summer, which means the temperature on the big day is anywhere between 20C and 40C. The sun could be shining or it could be pouring rain. Aussie weather is nothing if not fickle. So you have to be prepared for anything.

The Venue:
Our celebrations are usually held outdoors. If it’s really hot, we might take a dip in the pool. The order of the day is chilling and being lazy. Except for the preparer of food, which would be me. Okay, Wild Boy II likes to cook (Yay!) so I’ll be sharing preparation duties with him.

The Menu :
Some Aussies still opt for the traditional turkey, plum pudding etc., but many (my family included) prefer a barbie—the grill not the doll.  Seafood, steaks and salads are the order of the day. Yum!

The Grog:
Well, it wouldn’t be an Aussie Christmas without too much grog. Sadly, I’m usually the most sober. I’m sensitive to alcohol and a glass or two of wine is more than enough for me. Just as well, because settling disputes between the Wild Boys is a fulltime job.

The Presents:
I always get exactly what I want, mainly because I buy gifts for myself (using The Bloke’s money of course! Buying your own presents is fine, paying for them isn’t. J) The Bloke and the Wild Boys are easy to buy for since they tell me what they want. Ignoring their wishes is fraught with peril.

The Warm and Fuzzies:
Okay, the day can be a bit challenging, what with all the preparing food while holding a wine glass, and keeping the Wild Boys in their corners, but seriously, folks, I’m glad for one day a year to celebrate with my family. The boys might be wild and The Bloke might be—well, a bloke—but I love ‘em with all my heart and soul.

The Sentiment:
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the traditional wishes of joy, peace and goodwill are things to be treasured. At Christmas, I’ll try to be a little more patient, a little more loving, a little nicer… I might not be able to change the world, but I can change my little corner. 

Happy Holidays to you all. Be kind to each other and may your god go with you.

www.janninell.com
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