Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Giveaway - eBooks and Gift Card!

Posted by: Veronica Scott
NOW CLOSED
Winners: Grand Prize: Riley A. M.
Second Prize: Cindy C. H.
Third Prize: Debarshi D.
Thank you to everyone who visited the blog!




The Authors at Here Be Magic appreciate our readers and so we're offering up some treats (no tricks, I promise!) for Halloween.



We're doing a Giveaway with the following three prizes:
GRAND PRIZE, includes:
Amazon Gift Card (no cash substitutions or alternates): $50.00
Card donated by Veronica Scott, Jody Wallace, Angela Campbell, Joely Sue Burkhart, Linda Mooney, PG Forte, Cindy Spencer Pape and Janni Nell

PLUS:

eBook Basket, including:
Veronica Scott            Star Cruise Marooned and Ghost of the Nile
Jenny Schwartz          The Icarus Plot
Danube Eichinger       3 Volumes - Dreamwalker Series
R L Naquin                  Unfinished Muse
K D Collins                   Realm Walker
Kelly Jensen                 Less Than Perfect
Shawna Reppert          Where Light Meets Shadow
Cindy S Pape                Motor City Fae
Jax Garren                   Stripped with the Vampire
Jeffe Kennedy              Dark Secrets
Jody Wallace                Angeli (will be a pdf)
Linda Mooney             any eBook by Linda, Reader's Choice
Sonya B Clark             Mojo Queen
Rebecca York              Chained
Angela Campell           Spirited Away
P G Forte                      Children of the Night: In the Dark
P G Forte                      Children of the Night: Old Sins, Long Shadows


You will be contacted by Veronica Scott to find out what format you prefer, and then each author is responsible for e mailing you their book or books.

SECOND PRIZE:  $25.00 Amazon Gift Card only (no cash substitutions or alternates)
THIRD PRIZE:  $15.00 Amazon Gift Card only (no cash substitutions or alternates)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 30, 2015

A-Z of Halloween

Posted by: Janni Nell

In honor of Halloween, I’ve trawled the internet and come up with an A-Z of fun facts. Hope you enjoy reading about all the wacky and not so wacky things associated with this holiday.

A is for Apples. Bobbing for apples is a traditional Halloween fortune-telling game. Whoever is the first to snag an apple in their teeth will be the first to marry. If you get an apple on your first try, you’ll experience true love. Yay! If a girl puts her bobbed apple under her pillow she’ll dream of her future husband.

B is for Barmbrack. This is a kind of fruit cake or fruit bread. Click here for a recipe.

C is for Candy.  Halloween sales of sweet treats average about 2 billion dollars. The National Confectioners Association is predicting $2.6 billion in 2015.

D is for Dentist.  Visits to the dentist soar in the post-Halloween period. (Okay, I haven’t exactly found any statistics to back this up, but after all that candy consumption...)

E is for Eating. So far as I’m concerned any excuse is a good one for eating candy. The top ten Halloween candies according to kidzworld 

F is for Fine.  Don’t quote me on this, but, in Hollywood, it seems there’s a $1,000 fine for using silly string on Halloween.  Not sure what the silly string manufacturers think of that. I’m guessing, not impressed.

G is for Ghosts. Ancient Celts dressed up as demons and spirits because they believed that disguising themselves would trick the real ghosts, who were wandering around during Samhain, not to take their souls. Obviously the ghosts weren’t real bright if they fooled by people in disguise. 

H is for Halloween. We’re talking the movie here. There’s long been a rumor that the character, Michael Myers played (mostly) by Nick Castle, wore a William Shatner mask. You can see William Shatner talking about it here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rdidzp_SdKk

I is for Ireland, which is considered to be the birthplace of Halloween.

J is for Jack O’ Lanterns. These are named after a guy called Stingy Jack. There are many versions of the story, but in most of them Jack ends up wandering the earth with a turnip lantern. Apparently he liked to steal souls. Since people didn’t want their souls stolen (and who can blame them) they also carried turnip lanterns to keep Jack away. Not sure why that worked. I mean if Jack’s carrying a turnip lantern, why would he be scared of other turnip lanterns? Anyway turnips were replaced by carved pumpkins when Irish immigrants came to North America.



K is for Kids. Adults going trick-or-treating is not encouraged.  In some places anyone over 12 who goes trick-or-treating can be prosecuted.

L is for Lamswool. This is another name for Halloween, which has also been called All Hallows Eve, Witches Night, Snap-Apple Night, Samhain and Summer’s End.

M is for Mumming.  Back in the day—we’re talking 16th century or thereabouts—groups of people in costume went door-to-door singing, reciting verses and generally entertaining in exchange for food. This could be the forerunner of trick-or-treating. Or not.

N is for Norm Craven. This guy broke the world record in 1993 by growing an 863lb pumpkin. In 2014 Beni Meier of Switzerland grew a 2,323lb (1,054kg) pumpkin.

O is for Orange. Both orange and black are colors associated with Halloween. Orange is linked to the Fall harvest, while black is for death.

P is for Pomona. The festival of Pomona (the Roman goddess of the harvest) was celebrated on 1st November. When Romans invaded Celtic lands, they combined the festival of Pomona with Samhain.

Q is for Quick with a knife. Stephen Clarke set a pumpkin carving record of 16.47 seconds in 2013.

R is for Romance. There are lots of fortune-telling traditions at Halloween mostly involving girls seeing their future husbands. Scottish girls believed they could see their future husband if they hung wet sheets in front of the fire on Halloween.

S is for Samhainophobia. Yep, this is the fear of Halloween.

T is for Trick-or-Treat. We all know what it is, but apparently the term trick-or-treat dates back to the 1920s.

U is for Unusual. Apparently it’s unusual for a full moon to occur on Halloween. The next one won’t happen until 2020.



V is for The Village Halloween parade. Held in New York City, this is the largest Halloween parade in the U.S. It attracts about 50,000 participants and roughly 2 million spectators.

W is for Witches. Lots of kids dress up as witches for Halloween. Originally, a pagan goddess known as “the crone” was honored during Samhain.  She symbolized wisdom, change and the turning of the season.  

X is for Xtraordinary facts According to tradition, if a person wears his or her clothes inside out and then walks backwards on Halloween, he or she will see a witch at midnight. They’ll probably also trip and fall on their butt.

Y is for Young Women. This can’t possibly be true. Or can it? According to my sources, there was a Scottish fortune-telling game, where young women used cabbage stumps to predict information about their future husbands. Exactly what information this was I can only guess. Perhaps they were trying to predict the length of their future partner’s—um—sporran.   

Z is for Zombies. A popular costume for trick-or-treaters. (Okay, I’m fudging now, but there aren’t that many possibilities for Z.)

Happy Halloween everyone!
May your tricks be clever and your treats be many.


**** 

Janni Nell is the author of paranormal mysteries. “Darkwood” is the first book in a new series.


Wannabe witch, Ellie Oxrider, is about to have the worst week of her life.

It begins with a warning from her aunt that Ellie is in imminent danger. Okay her aunt’s predictions aren’t always accurate, but when Ellie is stalked by a faceless shadowy figure, she’s forced to take the warning seriously.

Already on her guard, she’s suspicious about the new guy in town. Saxon Darkwood claims to be an accountant, but he seems to know an awful lot about magic. Could he be the faceless stalker? Or is he just an innocent bystander?

Ellie is determined to discover the truth and not even the darkest magic will stop her.

Available now:  Amazon  iBooks  Kobo  Google



Thursday, October 29, 2015

Vampire Week: Doing my Own Thing

Posted by: Kathleen Collins
I am one of those people that when I'm told I can't do something I purposely go out and do it. You all know someone like that I'm sure. In fact, I'll let you in on a little secret. My entire vampire mythology was created just because someone said I couldn't so I guess I should thank them. Let me explain.

A long, long time (a few years) ago in a dark and depressing place known as the internet, a friend and I came across a tirade about vampires, particularly as they are used in paranormal romance. I realize tirade is a strong word, but in this case it's an accurate one. It basically was a list of all the things vampires do in paranormal romance and why it's wrong.

Point one: Vampires are undead. Therefore if they have sex with someone it's necrophilia.

At the core I have a problem with this statement because last I checked your typical corpse didn't walk and talk but whatever. Plus, vampires are sexy. Well, some of them are anyway. (Alexander Skarsgard, anyone?) Me being me took it one step further. My vampires aren't undead. Their lives have been extended through the use of ancient blood magic. And my vampires have sex. Because why live forever if you can't get laid?

Point Two: Vampires can not have babies.

Mine do. They have babies and the babies grow up and can choose whether or not to become full vampire so take that.

Point Three: Vampires can not go out in sunlight, see their reflections, etc

Yeah, mine do all that too. I actually have fun coming up with reasons why those myths came into being in the first place and explaining them away in my books.

Point Four: Vampires must consume blood and only blood.

Okay, so my vampires do drink blood to refuel the spell that lengthens their lives, and just because they like it, but they eat other things too. Again, why would you want to live forever if you couldn't have ice cream and Chipotle?

I'm sure their were other things but alas time has swept them from my brain. I do however vividly remember the part where she said if you didn't adhere to any of these rules to get out of her genre. Yes, she actually said that. Instead of getting out, I wrote a book contrary to everything she said and got it published.  That probably gives you a little more insight into my personality than I should have given you, huh?

So what twists on the vampire mythology do you love from books or movies? Please share them with me so I can add them to my list of things I must see/read.

*****
Kathleen Collins is the author of the Realm Walker series. She loves vampires and all manner of creatures that go bump in the night. You can find her on her website or facebook

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Vampire Principles

Posted by: PG Forte
The "rules" governing the writing of vampires are extremely fluid. I can't think of a single other supernatural creature with as much variety or range. How they're made, how they behave, what they can or can't do--everything abut vampires varies from series to series depending on the author's preferences. This is why we have vampires creepy or hot, soulless or not, vampires that sparkle or brood. Even vampires like Jim Butcher's White Court who are born rather than made (if I'm recalling that correctly) and who don't drink blood at all.

When I started my Children of Night series (at the urging of my daughter who was frankly sick of listening to my complaints about the things I didn't like about other vampire series) I had to make a lot of decisions about what kind of vampires I was writing. Here then are some of my personal principles:

Principle #1: Scientific basis. The first thing  I decided--and the guiding principle from which all the rest flowed--was that I wanted every aspect of my vampires to be something that could be explained by science--or at least psuedo-science--rather than being something that could only be ascribed to the supernatural. That means my vampires are fully visible in mirrors and on film, they are not adversely affected by religious icons or implements, they neither burst into flame or faint dead away at the first hint of sunlight, they do not need to maintain any connection to their native soil, and their aversion to garlic is purely a matter of taste. Though you'll never find it stated in any of the books, in my world new vampires are created through exposure to a parasitic organism that lives in the blood of other vampires. The reason it's never stated is that my vampires don't actually know that's why they are what they are. So shhhh! Don't tell them!

Principle #2: They don't rise from the dead. I didn't want to give up the undead aspect entirely, however my vamps don't die when they're turned. They do, however, fall into a comatose state (lasting for approximately three days)  during which their bodies transform. This stage is marked by the cessation of most important bodily functions--heartbeat and breathing, to name two of them--and in the past could reasonably be mistaken for death. But as they say, what the caterpillar calls death the rest of the world calls a butterfly...or however it goes.

Principle #3: They don't age. Well, really, this one was easy. They grow older, of course, but their cells replicate EXACTLY with none of the mutations we call aging. In fact, the only change that occurs is that the older they get, the stronger and faster, more powerful and less vulnerable they become. That might be my favorite part. In my world, a really ancient vampire would be largely indestructible, which brings me to...

Principle #4: They die. Okay, look, it's pretty hard to kill a vampire--they aren't prone to human disease, they're faster, stronger and more resilient than humans, they heal incredibly fast--but it can be done. The world is a series of accidents waiting to happen. Eventually, everyone's luck runs out. Everyone's.

Principle#5: Vampires are made, not born. Actually, here's where I ran afoul of my own "rules" because while this is taken as absolute fact by my vampires--and it is mostly true--I do have a set of twins who were turned in vitro and were born vampire.  It's never happened before...well, probably it has, there are legends, after all, but if it did, it was an unimaginably long time ago. And it's incredibly unlikely. I ascribe it to three factors. A, the twins were still mostly stem cells (which could adapt to become anything) when they were exposed to the vampire organism. This means their cells were able to adapt to the organism and force it to adapt to them. B, there were two of them, which strengthened the effect of factor A; and finally C, their mother never fully turned, so they were nourished with human blood right from the start.

Principle #6: They're not allergic to sunlight. C'mon, how's that supposed to work? Quite a few years back there was a movie and TV show about an alien race that had crash-landed here and managed to thrive despite the fact they were allergic to water. On a planet that's MOSTLY water? How's that gonna work? My vampires morph into nocturnal creatures when they are turned--that's why they mostly sleep during the day. They find bright sunlight enervating, they're extremely prone to sunburn and sunstroke, and yes, either of those could, conceivably, kill them. Other than that...no. Just no.

Principle #7: They drink blood. That one was pretty much non-negotiable. They are vampires, after all. But while my vamps need blood to survive, they don't need to hurt their victims. Vampire bat bites are painless and basically undetectable, after all, so why shouldn't the same hold true for vampires? They still have all the necessary equipment to eat regular food, but it doesn't nourish them and they don't need it. However...

Principle #8: They also eat cookies. Well, why not? As I said above, they get all the nourishment they need from human blood, however, they still retain some aspects of their humanity. So, yes, I have vampires who like to cook, who eat cookies and ice cream, who drink coffee, who basically, can eat anything they want. It just happens that one food they almost universally dislike is garlic. There's no accounting for tastes!

To learn more about my take on vampires check out this page on Amazon. It gives you links to all six Children of Night books as well as my short story, Blame it on the Voodoo, which is found in the Nine Nights in New Orleans collection.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Vampire Week: The Symbolic Vampire

Posted by: Jax Garren
When talking about romance trends this summer, Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches Trashy Books said she had a theory that werewolves in paranormal romance, with their rough and tumble pack mentality, are the reading-candy equivalent of motorcycle clubs in contemporary novels and that, in the same way, vampires with their cool elitism and centuries to amass fortunes, equate to contempory CEO billionaires--like Edward Cullen and Christian Grey. Of course there are many examples where this parallel doesn't work out perfectly, but I still think she's got a point. For many of us, we love paranormal romance (and science fiction and fantasy) because it allows us to talk about modern life in symbolic ways. Vampires in particular make fabulous figurative language, and I think that's why they remain impossible to kill as a fiction staple.

Vampires must bleed someone else to live. They are, by their nature, unable to escape harming others. In my current work in progress, Seduced by the Vampire, Javier Reyes, a newly turned vampire who grew up in and out of the foster system then became a doctor, compares the circumstances like this:

Years ago, Javier had proclaimed that he would make it, with “it” as some undefined idea of wealth and class. He’d been doing all right for himself with grit and caffeine until a one-night stand with the woman beside him. Now, ready or not, this world of complete privilege was his. All he had to do was let other people bleed for him.
In all his determination to prove himself, he’d never thought about the consequences of flipping to the other side of the highway, of knowing that resources were finite and he had more than his share. Even as a human, life was like that; the fangs merely made the relationship down the economic food chain more literal. It didn’t sit well with him.
Seduced is book two in the Austin Immortal series, and I've used the two novels and a novella in the line to explore modern themes of socio-economics, drugs, LGBTQ rights, and feminism. Vampires, being centuries old predators originating in Europe, are the embodiment of privileges, prejudices, and social constructs from eras gone by that still haven't died. The clash of their slow-evolving society with modern life has been both fun and challenging to write as I pondered modern social issues.

Before I sound too serious, I'll also say that a wealthy, handsome, alpha male with dark past and a thing or two to learn is sexy as sin!

What sorts of symbols do you see in vampires or other paranormal fiction?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases


COME JOIN US for a Release Day Party tomorrow from 8-11 pm ET!

Neverwylde, The Rim of the World, Book 2 releases on October 27th. Celebrating with me will be Veronica Scott, Jane Kindred, PG Forte, Maggie Mae Gallagher, Jenny Schwartz, Rebecca York, and Lisa Kessler. There will be giveaways galore, so don't miss it!

LINK



Idol of Glass, the conclusion to the Looking Glass Gods trilogy, is available Tuesday, October 27 in ebook and print.

Madness didn't destroy her; atoning for it might.

Ra has ruined everything. Returning to life through “renaissance” was her first mistake. Magical excess was her second. Now she must face the consequences of her reckless conjuring. Her beloved is dead by her hand, and the comfort she’d found in gender-rebel Jak seems lost to her forever.

Ra takes solace in punishment—and in communion with her punisher, the mysterious and merciless MeerShiva. But Shiva has spun a skein of secrecy over centuries—secrets about Ra’s origins and the origins of the Meer themselves. And as the secrets begin to unravel, someone else’s magic is at work from the hidden realm. Someone with the ability to redraw the fabric of the world itself.

As the picture becomes clearer, Ra must face some harsh realities: not everything is about her, and punishment isn’t enough. She must stand before Jak and try to atone for what she’s done. But seeing Jak will reveal one more secret Ra never saw coming—and one that may mean her own undoing.

Product Warnings: Contains scenes of intense BDSM, non-binary genders, and a preponderance of kick-ass women.

Amazon | ARe | B&N | BAM! | iBooks | Kobo | Samhain


And don't forget...

It's Vampire Week at Here Be Magic! 

Join us throughout the week as we talk about our favorite bloodsucking friends.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Recommended Speculative Reading

Posted by: Jenny Schwartz
Do you have books that you recommend as classics in their speculative fiction subgenre? Here are a few of mine, most of which exist as battered and beloved copies on my bookshelves.

Space Opera
The Witches of Karres by James H Schmitz

Paranormal Romace
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Paranormal Historical Romance
Bride of the Rat God by Barbara Hambly

Fantasy series
The Discworld books by Terry Pratchett

Steampunk
"Clockwork Fagin" a short story by Cory Doctorow

Urban Fantasy
Sacred Ground by Mercedes Lackey

Science Fiction
The Mind Readers by Margery Allingham  (This masquerades as a thriller in her mystery series starring Albert Campion, but it's SF, and as with all her books, wonderful)

Children's books
Archer's Goon by Diana Wynne Jones


Friday, October 23, 2015

Bootcamp of Misfit Wolves

Posted by: Annie Nicholas




Every time I return to the Vanguard world, it’s like taking a trip down memory lane. I’ve never been the type of person who fits in with the popular crowd. I marched to the beat of my own drum, even now as an author. So why wouldn’t I love writing about the outcasts of the wolf shifter packs. Sometimes a woman just wants to root for the underdogs.   






Bootcamp of Misfit Wolves is a novella-length book of approximately 36,000 words. It released on October 14th and has hit the Top 100 Paranormal Romance list on Amz. I'll share the blurb after the links:

========
From the author of the bestselling Vanguards books comes a new series focusing on a new pack of underdogs who desperately need guidance to find their inner alphas. Full of humor, personality, and a vampire warrior outnumbered, the Vanguard Elite is rising.

BOOK ONE

Ian’s alpha tosses him out of his car at a training camp for worthless and weak wolf shifters run by a crazy vampire.
His only choice is to escape and go lone wolf.
Until he runs into Clare…

She actually volunteered for this gig.
Her wolf is all alpha but it’s crammed into a petite package, and she definitely has no mercy when it comes to him.

The work is hard.
The training dangerous.
Surviving is optional.
Clare can’t stand Ian’s disregard for her authority and he hates her driven ambition.
Sparks fly and teeth are bared. Opposites attract they say.
If they don’t kill each other first.

Want a chance to win $50 gift certificate at either Kindle or Nook?  Click Here


Thursday, October 22, 2015

On Being Shifty

Posted by: Jane Kindred
I have to confess: I have shifter fatigue. Not about the concept, per se. Just that it’s been done so many times, and no matter the animal, shape-shifting creatures seem to have the same basic rules and behaviors. Sure, the wolves have their alphas and pack culture, the cats are more loners and fighters, the dragons are singular and mysterious, and the bears are a little bit dimwitted and can often be seen sucking their own paws.

Oops, that last was Chronicles of Narnia. Talking bears, not shifting ones.

Which brings me to the shifters I decided to write. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The standard shifters of paranormal romance and urban fantasy may have their canine, feline, and ursine personality quirks, but the way they shift is pretty much the same, the time-honored method since An American Werewolf in London spent a full twenty minutes on its new, cool special effects were-transformation in 1981.

And it is cool, thinking about a human having to rearrange bones and sinews and skin, and grow hair and claws, and morph into an entirely different shape, and exactly how uncomfortable that must obviously be. And then the shift back—and the problem of clothes. But whenever I considered writing a shifter, I thought about how many people had done it before me, and I just wanted to do something a little different.

Now, before I go any further, I should probably warn you that the rest of this post is a bit spoilery for my forthcoming gothic paranormal romance, The Lost Coast, since part of the suspense of the story is not knowing what the paranormal element really is until midway through. But read on, intrepid blog readers who don’t mind knowing a secret or two before they start a book.

Still with me? Okay, then. Back to the Chronicles of Narnia—the first fantasy books I read as a child, and one of the biggest influences on so much of my writing. My favorite Narnian creatures were the nymphs: the naiads and maenads, the dryads and hamadryads. In short, the nature spirits. So when I decided to write a shifter story, I thought, why does my shifter have to transform into another animal? Why not something else from nature? And how would a nature spirit shift differently?

The naiads in Narnia could assume human form when briefly out of the water, though they were tied to their watery domains. And the dryads and hamadryads could move their roots through the ground like feet shifting in sand or mud; some, if I recall correctly, able to leave their trees and assume a separate human form, while others seemed to shift into tree-like people. Though I’m probably confusing the basic rules of Narnian nature spirits with the unnatural states they were forced into by magic and the loss of magic, I always found the different ways they could shift from state to state fascinating, and I wanted to read more about them.

Hence, the idea for The Lost Coast was born. I’ll refrain from saying specifically what sort of nature spirits my characters encounter or which characters actually shift—I’d like to retain a tiny bit of mystery—but suffice to say, I had fun doing the research. I had already used a few nature spirits from Slavic mythology in my Arkhangel’sk series—the Syla and the Leshi, plus a Rusalka readers never got to meet—but I hadn’t really thought of them as shifters. For my gothic paranormal, I went with Swedish and Greek, just to mix things up. Even more fun was deciding how my unique brand of nature spirits would transform. And travel—because being connected to the thing into which you shift and yet being able to be separate from it as well can make travel difficult.

To some, I’m sure The Lost Coast won’t qualify as a shifter story at all, but like most shifter stories, it explores what it means to be human—and what it means to be something slightly other than human at the same time. The dual nature of being a shifter, in the end, is about being human. We all feel a little bit “other” and misunderstood from time to time. It’s how we embrace and celebrate the strengths of our otherness that counts.

The Lost Coast

Some histories should stay lost. Especially those written in blood.

The only things Millie Lang’s mother gave her were third-degree burns, and a name Millie refuses to use. Abandoned as an infant, Millie grew up as “the girl with the scars”, shunted from one foster family to the next.

Before she met Lukas Strand, she’d never understood what “home” meant. Then Lukas disappeared without a word. Eight years later, Millie is secure in the life she’s built as a physical therapist. Until she gets a letter from a mysterious stranger who knows her real name.

From the moment she arrives at the sprawling vineyard manor on California’s Lost Coast to work with the owner’s young son, she begins to doubt her secret benefactor’s motives. The vineyard is known as The Strand—and Lukas is her patient’s father.

As Millie delves into the tangled threads of their family histories, she realizes the fire that scarred her may not have been an accident—and Lukas’s son is in danger. Unless she survives long enough to unearth the key to some very uncomfortable truths…

Warning: Contains a vineyard owner whose family tree may not have the ideal number of branches, and a woman who is about to discover the magic hidden in her own DNA. May cause unsettling feelings of creeping anxiety and a sudden urge to make bad puns about wood.

Pre-order The Lost Coast now, available December 15:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Most Ancient of Shapeshifters

Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy

It's Shifter Week at Here Be Magic, a theme I particularly love as it distinguishes shifters from weres.

Yesterday Nicole Luiken riffed on the concept of whether various magical creatures could be "approved" as shifters. See, there are really several ways of looking at this kind of metamorphosis from human to animal.

The concept of a were-creature, as in a werewolf, comes from the juxtaposition of the two root words - literally man-wolf, as "wer" meant man in Old Engligh (cognate with Gothic wair, Latin vir). The world of creative imagination has taken off from there to create all kinds of were-creatures. But using this terminology constricts the creature to being a human/animal, as in they transform to one kind of animal only.

Nicole posed the initial question of when did dragons become shifters instead of purely mythological creatures? She (humorously) answers "at least eight years ago." I'm not sure whose book she's thinking of there, though it would be interesting to know!

My answer? Since at least the 3rd Century BCE, and probably a hell of a lot longer than that.

In old Celtic lore, shifters roamed the countryside. These were people (using the term loosely) who could transform into any creature at will. Sometimes they're found in association with the Fae, othertimes not. Spenser, in The Faerie Queen, takes these old tales and explores the metaphor of metamorphosis. (See what I did there?) It's a topic that has long fascinated me.

Thus, when I set out to write the first of my Twelve Kingdoms books, THE MARK OF THE TALA, I knew I wanted to have shifters. Real shifters, who could take multiple forms. Not all of the Tala can shapeshift, but many can, particularly closer to the source of magic in their realm. The most proficient can take multiple forms.
There are even staymachs - animals that can be trained to shift into other animals.

It makes for an interesting world with tons of potential. Just wait until you all get to read THE PAGES OF THE MIND. More than that I cannot say. :-)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Shifter Membership Application Process

Posted by: Nicole Luiken
[This humourous post is inspired by a conversation with my husband wondering when, exactly, dragons became shifters instead of purely mythological creatures.]

Setting: A dignified library full of law tomes. A silver-haired Alpha werewolf enters. He uses a cane, but looks fully capable of using said cane as a weapon. His eyes are shrewd. With him is a stylish middle-aged female lawyer in a blue business suit and skirt. Her smile is rather... sharp. The old alpha sits, the lawyer consults a stack of official-looking papers.

Old Alpha: I remember back in the day when the only shifters were werewolves. We didn't call it the Shifter Council either. It was the Werewolf Council, pure and simple. Sometimes we'd get a vampire who could turn into a bat, but we kicked their asses.

Lawyer: I don't believe vampires turn into bats anymore. Nowadays the authors usually give them mind powers.

Old Alpha: Because we kicked their asses!

Lawyer (rolls eyes)

Old Alpha: I didn't mind so much the weretigers and werelions--that Curran fellow is a Predator--but when did dragons become weres?

Lawyer: Shifters. And at least eight years ago.

Old Alpha (sigh): Who's on the docket tonight? Mongooses? Were-dolphins? Were-octopuses?

Lawyer, straight-faced: Were-mongooses are in. Curran vouched for them and were-hyenas. Tonight we have a junior applicant. The form says siren.

Old Alpha: Well, send her in. (Pause while a handsome young man walks in) It's a him. What will these authors think of next? All right young man, speak up. What's your name?

Siren: Ryan Sullivan, sir. I'm from Nicole Luiken's young adult novel Through Fire & Sea.

Old Alpha: And what form do you shift into? A fire truck?

Siren: No, sir. Merman. Half-man, half-dolphin.

Old Alpha: No half-forms allowed.

Siren: But--

Old Alpha: Next! (After the siren leaves the room) How did he get on the docket? Mermen were ruled out years ago.

Lawyer: Sorry, sir. His author appears to have given him a silver tongue.

Old Alpha: Looked red to me.

Lawyer: A figurative silver tongue, sir. He's very persuasive.

Old Alpha: Damnfool authors. Who's next?

Lawyer: Ah, another applicant from the same author's series, book two this time. He claims to be a gargoyle.

Old Alpha: He changes into a statue? That's ridiculous.

Lawyer: I believe he's more of a rock-man. (She signals and the next applicant enters, a boy almost identical to the siren who just left.)

Old Alpha: Weren't you just in here?

Gargoyle: No, sir. That was my otherself. My name is Jasper.

Old Alpha, waves a hand: Demonstrate your form.

(The young man transform into a gargoyle made of red jasper stone: a tall humanoid with fangs and claws.)

Old Alpha, frowning: It's not an animal form.

Lawyer: The new law says 'shifter'. And he does shift form. He has claws and fangs.

Old Alpha: But no tail! I rule against admission.

Lawyer: But sir, were-bears don't have much for tails and we let them in years ago.

Old Alpha: We did?

Lawyer: Yes, sir. Sherrilyn Kenyon made a strong case. And Fang Kattalakis vouched for them.

Old Alpha: Fine! Provisional membership granted. Anyone else?

Lawyer: A phantom. Same author. He can levitate and become invisible.

Old Alpha: For the love of the moon, no! Tell him to try the Superheroes Guild next door. They'll let in anybody.

There is one True World, and then there are the four mirror worlds: fire, water, air, and stone. And each has a magic of its own…
In the Fire World, seventeen-year-old Leah is the illegitimate daughter of one of the realm’s most powerful lords. She’s hot-blooded—able to communicate with the tempestuous volcano gods. But she has another gift…the ability to Call her twin “Otherselves” on other worlds.
Holly resides in the Water World—our world. When she’s called by Leah from the Fire World, she nearly drowns. Suddenly the world Holly thought she knew is filled with secrets, magic…and deadly peril.
For a malevolent force seeks to destroy the mirror worlds. And as Leah and Holly are swept up in the tides of chaos and danger, they have only one choice to save the mirror worlds—to shatter every rule they’ve ever known…

Buy links

Monday, October 19, 2015

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

It's Shifter Week at Here Be Magic! 

Join Jeffe Kennedy, Nicole Luiken, Jane Kindred and Annie Nicholas as they discuss the ins and outs of writing characters with a wild side.

 

News

Veronica Scott's science fiction romance novels Wreck of the Nebula Dream and Star Cruise: Marooned  were mentioned on the Barnes & Noble Blog in the article "20 Books That Offer A Perfect Blend of SciFi and Romance"  last week.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

When the Skeptic Became the Believer

Posted by: Linda Mooney
For most of my life I didn't believe in ghosts. That changed back in 2008 when I went on vacation in Vermont.

During the summers, I take a "self-cation". Just me, myself, and I. A stress-reducing week to see parts of the US I'd never seen. Plus I take copious notes for forthcoming books.

Vermont is one of the loveliest states I'd ever visited. My primary goal was to see as many of its covered bridges as possible.

One of the most haunted bridges is Emily's Bridge. I reached it near the end of one long day, then went into town to find a motel.

That night, I woke myself around 4 a.m. screaming, "Who are you?" I can still feel the cold hand that had lifted mine high over my head. A hand that had released me the moment I was awakened.

My heart was pounding so hard, I couldn't go back to sleep. I was terrified that hand would return, or worse.

Eventually, around seven, I finally gave up and crawled out of bed. Still groggy, I thought a shower would help. I set my bottles of shampoo and conditioner near the tub, and tried to erase the memory of that night underneath the spray. As I washed my hair, I thought I heard a thump, but I knew I was alone, and I knew my door was locked and bolted. However, when I went to reach for the conditioner, it was no longer where I'd set it. Thinking I must have accidentally knocked it over, I got out of the shower to look for it.

It was sitting in the middle of the bedroom floor. And it was standing straight-up...as if someone had placed it there. I knew that if I'd knocked the bottle off, it could have possibly rolled that far, but there was no way in hell it could have sat itself upright.

Needless to say, from that moment on, my skepticism evaporated. And to this day, although I never thought the ghost or spirit that was attracted to me meant me any harm, I do think it was playing with me.

It's an experience I'll never forget.
***
Now Available as an Audio Book!

ZONATON
Sensuous Sci-Fi Romance
Narrated by Audrey Lusk
Length: 6 hrs, 1 min

She was the child of his heart. Then she grew up to become the love of his life.

A hundred years ago, the last people of Earth landed on planet AR617b. It was their only hope after being forced to flee the dead planet that was once their ancestral home.

The native inhabitants of AR617b, known as gerons, are sentient creatures that resemble a cross between dragons and griffins of old Earth lore. When they initially tried to destroy the settlers, a deal was made to ensure both species' survival. It was decided that each year, every five-year-old human child must take The Walk across a hundred meter field. If they don't stop or run, they will arrive safely on the other side, and be allowed to grow up and have families of their own. But if they break the rule, the gerons will kill them. Unless, by a strange quirk of fate, a geron decides to Pair with the child, taking and raising the human as its own.
 
Emmala took The Walk, and found herself adopted by one of the older gerons, an immense silvery-white creature named Zonaton. For the next fifteen years, he cared for her, protected her, and loved her. But now Emmala's real family wants her back, and they will do everything they can to have her returned, even if it means killing Zonaton, and starting an all-out war with the gerons.
 
What neither the settlers nor gerons realize is that there is another alien species watching and waiting for the two combatants to go into battle. Because when they do, that will be the aliens’ cue to destroy everyone and claim AR617b for their own.


Warning! Contains green fire, arrogant assholes, plunderberries, child abuse, rectangular spaceships, shadows on the wall, and a love so great, it defies death.

Click here for excerpt and buy links.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Got my mojo workin'

Posted by: Sonya Clark
One of my favorite characters I've written is Roxie Mathis, the lead in one of the first books I wrote, MOJO QUEEN. Roxie's a witch with her own paranormal investigations business, a BFF who is both a vampire and her ancestor (that would be Daniel, another of my favorite characters), and sometimes questionable taste in men. The rights to MOJO QUEEN, as well as two more Roxie books, RED HOUSE and HOODOO WOMAN, reverted back to me some time ago but I never got around to doing anything with the books. Well, I finally got around to it. MOJO QUEEN is back out in the world and the other two books will follow shortly.


Hoodoo and high magic are on a collision course. 
Not only can Roxie Mathis mix herbs and roots for spells to do good or ill, she can see auras and spectral entities. Her magical gifts allow her to help people with their supernatural problems, but when she’s hired to exorcise a demon from a young woman, Roxie discovers the limits of her powers. 
If that weren’t challenge enough, a handsome sorcerer on the rebound has set his sights on Roxie. All sexy smirk and dark temptation, Blake Harvill is nothing but trouble. But he’s also in danger from the very demon he conjured, and that’s something Roxie can’t turn away from. In way over her head, it’s not going to be enough for her to just be a paranormal investigator and old school root worker – she’s going to have to be the Mojo Queen.

You can read the first chapter here on my website. Here's a short excerpt featuring one of my favorite moments between Roxie and Blake the Shady Sorcerer.
“I mean, not to knock the Broom Closet or anything.” 
I blinked at the sudden change of subject. 
“But I hope you’re past any naiveté about all that. Wicca’s a lovely thing. Very spiritual, and nourishing and warm and, uh…” Oh, go ahead, say fuzzy, you know you want to. But he plowed ahead. “We’re talking about real magic here. We’re talking about Mysteries.” 
I could hear the capital “M.” 
“Aligning all the energy of your being, all of your willpower, all of your intention, with the natural forces that make up the universe, and using all of that power to create an outcome of your design. That’s what magic is.” He paused. 
I ate the last bite of my French toast and wondered if I snagged a piece of bacon from his plate would he think this was a date. 
“You’d do better to study physics than feminism, if you really want to explore your power.” 
Even in bad lighting the guy was gorgeous, no doubt, but I was beginning to understand why he had to use Satan’s dating service to find a girlfriend.

Over on Wattpad, I have a prequel of sorts short story up, Goofer Dust Blues. This story features Roxie and Daniel on a case, and I really let my music nerd run free in it, so be warned. :) Roxie's world was always so much fun. I'm loving being back in it and I hope readers enjoy it too!

But I should say this: the Roxie Mathis series is paranormal, and there's a good amount of romance, but they're not romances in the traditional sense so I just call them paranormals. Kind of like the Sookie Stackhouse books. Definitely more UF than PNR. I want readers to know that so they don't go in looking for something specific only to come away disappointed. But if you're looking for a snarky vampire sidekick, Daniel is definitely the one for you. ;)








Thursday, October 15, 2015

Haunting your Story

Posted by: Cindy Spencer Pape


Ghosts.
I could probably make my post almost exactly the same as the one I did on psychics. I’d love to believe, but so far, nothing has convinced me. I’ve always wanted to see one, but never have.

But enough with the science. We want to talk about books!

Why do we love ghost stories so much? If they’re scary, there’s an actual biochemical reaction in our bodies that produces adrenaline and excites us—pretty much the same as riding a roller-coaster. If the ghosts are benevolent, we like them because they help us believe that our soul, our personality continues after death.

Ghosts have been a favorite paranormal element for me, since the first book I ever had published, TheCowboy’s Christmas Bride, which is still, by the way, available from the Wild Rose Press, along with several sequels. My co-written book with Lacey Thorn, One Good Man, one of my first erotic romances, is a spin on the phantom hitchhiker urban myth and the ghost is a major character—though not the hero. I didn’t do that in a book until All Hallows Evie, in my Holiday Hearts series from Ellora’s Cave. The hero can see ghosts, and the heroine, who died shortly after World War I, only manifests for a little while each year around the night she died—Halloween. There are even ghosts in my steampunk series, The Gaslight Chronicles. Nell, one of the major characters of the series, is another natural medium.  Ether and Elephants, the final book of the series is her story, and the ghosts are a major part.
 
So why ghosts?

Well, to start with, I think they’re fun to write. You can have snarky ghosts, know-it-all ghosts, sexy ghosts, scary ghosts, and silly ghosts. They can help or hinder your characters in whatever goals they’re trying to pursue. After all, a ghost who was a liar in real life probably isn’t much more reliable now that he’s dead, right? And then there’s always the element of how other people, who can’t see or hear the ghosts, react to those who can. Sometimes, a character seeing a ghost for the first time can even doubt his or her own sanity, which can certainly mess with a budding relationship.
 
Furthermore, ghosts are a very flexible element to play with while writing. What can they do, how much about the real world do they know? I’ve had some that were precognitive to a degree, and others who were absolutely clueless. You have to figure out why the ghost is still around. Unfinished business? Vengeance? To protect future generations of their family? Or just because, with no explanation necessary.

My newest release doesn’t, unfortunately feature any ghosts, just magic of other kinds. Just in case you’re interested, however, here’s the blurb and link:

Beltane Lion, in Entice Me: The Boxed Set

Rhodri of Llyan has returned from the Crusades a cursed man.  On the way home to Wales, a young friend is sorely injured. Rhodri seeks the aid of village healer, Selene, whose gift for healing is as uncanny as her beauty.  Selene’s magic can cure wounds, but she isn’t sure she can break the curse or heal the wounds on Rhodri’s heart.   

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
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