Saturday, November 30, 2013

Paranormal Holidays

Over Thanksgiving dinner the conversation turned to Buffy. All my college age daughters are watching the show on net sites. They all remember that it was my favorite TV show when they were in grade school. 

We all laughed about the Thanksgiving show 'Pangs' the one where Buffy decides to cook dinner for her friends and Xander wakes a revengeful NA spirit. Chaos ensues.

Quote:I love a ritual sacrificeTo commemorate a past eventyou kill and eat an animalIt's a ritual sacrificeWith pie.” ~ Anya

We loved the humor. Buffy, the powerful slayer, obsessing over a ricer. Spike, terrified of a bear...

Interesting how the conversation had everything to do with the characters and their relationships...none of the conversation had to do with the actual storyline of an ancient Chumash curse.


Characters, their complexity, their goals and desires--that is what make so many memorable books. By season four of Buffy, the characters were nuanced, they had histories of triumphs and crushing defeats. Books with nuanced complex characters are ones I as a reader remember the most.


I sometimes write a great deal of backstory in the early days of a project that eventually gets cut, but that is how I get to know my characters. The things that came before.


I've done character sheets but they bore me. I'd much rather write a scene or two from the character's past, scenes of what is most important to their lives.


My upcoming release, Winter's Light, is a bundle of short holiday stories I wrote some years ago. Paranormal/Fantasy and just plain weird. All are romances.The characters have been in my mind for  long, long time and sometimes I think about revisiting these worlds and expanding their stories just because I enjoy them so much. Available December 2nd on Amazon and soon at other retailers.




Friday, November 29, 2013

One From the Archives: It's That Friday

Veronica sez: We thought it might be a good day to revisit the Archives and pull out this fun post on "Black Friday". Found this great, Anonymous quote:
"I hope your Black Friday injuries aren't so severe that you can't click a mouse on Cyber Monday."

Yup, Cyber Monday is definitely more my speed...

Something to ponder:
Star Trek characters never go shopping.
Douglas Coupland 

And now here was the original post:

The sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day.

(AP Photo/Don Ryan)
Now, if it were just any old Friday I’d say go out and enjoy this wonderful day. But it isn’t any Friday – it’s BLACK Friday. You know what that means? If you walk out that door, at some point, somewhere, somehow, there’ll be hell to pay.

Here’s my take on the Black Friday shopping experience:
Stepping on toes – yours will be.
Don’t push me – they will.
Did you cut in front of me? – never ever ask that question, you may lose more than your place in line.
Can’t be intimidated? – yes, you can be. (BF shoppers travel in packs!)
Last but not least, wear a name tag – you will be called other names!

Stay home, eat some more turkey, watch a good movie, or better yet – Read a good book.

Happy Friday, and be safe!

Growl and roar-it’s okay to let the beast out!-J. Hali Steele

Thursday, November 28, 2013

What would you do if your neighbor were a...?



Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American peeps out there! I hope you're feasting on wonderful food and enjoying time with your family and friends. Oh, and get lots of sleep so you can shop tomorrow at the Black Friday sales.

I'm from Canada, so we already celebrated our Thanksgiving in October. It's a good thing we have ours earlier, because in November, weather is so unpredictable in Canada. It was nice at the beginning of the month, and this past weekend, temperatures dropped to below freezing, and we got snowed on. That leads to neighbors helping neighbors clear the snow in their driveway and more. I live in a neighborhood where we all pretty much know each other. And when it snows, we do help each other out. Those with snowblowers help those who don't have them.

But what if you don't know your neighbors that well? Or what if your neighbors have secrets that they don't want anyone to find out? In the city I live in, many people work shift work at factories. Someone on the midnight shift could easily be a vampire. And you never know who might be a demon.

In my Alien Next Door series, the neighbors are aliens, and will only reveal what they are to their true love. But, what would you do if you found out your neighbor was an alien? Would it help if they were sexy? ;)

*Alien Adoration, the first book in the Alien Next Door series is ON SALE for only 99 CENTS at All Romance eBooks!


Bio:

Jessica Subject is the author of contemporary and science fiction romance, ranging from sweet to sexy. In her stories, you could meet clones, or a sexy alien or two. You may even be transported to another planet for a romantic rendezvous.

When Jessica isn't reading, writing, or doing dreaded housework, she likes to get out and walk. Fast. But she just may slow down if there is a waterfall nearby.

Jessica lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two energetic children. And she loves to hear from her readers. You can find her at jessicasubject.com and on twitter @jsubject.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Books and Bunnies

So...I have a blog post to write and my brain is blank--more blank than usual. Plot bunnies jump out to throttle me at every opportunity, but blog bunnies? They're rarer than hen's teeth.

Again the fall back is my stack of reference books, piled up there to the left. There's nothing immediate that jumps out at me. I doubt a romance post should be about the Fortress Monasteries of the Himalayas (though seriously, the plans and drawings in this book are lovely and just begging for a fantasy set behind their walls...see what I mean about the bunnies?). Or there's Medieval Hunting squished up against Magick and Rituals of the Moon (another serious bunny forming!)

It's fairly plain that there's no order to my books. At all. I like to be surprised and often find books I have no memory of buying. I think they breed in the dark corners of my bookshelves...

One book I distinctly remember buying is How to Start a Kinky Relationship. Mainly as a writer, naturally *grin* because it's packed with really handy worksheets. Go to the look inside feature on Amazon. It's what sold it for me :D

The Appendix has useful things such as the Ideal Parter profile, the Role Play Worksheet, the Fetish Consent sheet, asking questions such as for role play, who turns you on, which clothes or fabrics do, how should the encounter end and listing ideas that could be the jumping off point for a detailed scene. For building characters, a scene, even simply dipping into the worksheet and thinking 'yep, I've love to write a story around this idea' I've found it very useful.

And yes, from flicking through this book...I have more bunnies *sigh*


---------------------
Kim Knox brews sex, magic, darkness and technology in a little corner of North West England. She writes erotic science fiction and fantasy romance for Carina Press, Entangled Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing, Cleis Press and others.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pondering Pilgrims and Family Ties

I've written elsewhere a bit light heartedly about the fact my mother's side of the family is descended from Priscilla Mullins and John Alden, the famous Pilgrim couple who came to America on the Mayflower in 1620, survived the hardships, got married, had ten (maybe eleven children)...of course celebrated that first Thanksgiving Day in 1621, so very long ago.

(And lest you think I'm unduly stuck up over this particular pair of ancestors,  I freely acknowledge that I'm just one of about 1,000,000 people currently alive who can trace the family tree back to John and Priscilla, so I've got perspective, I promise! Although I did get to play Priscilla in my third grade pageant...)

My Dad's family are Irish and arrived on these shores in the 1800's during the potato famine....or so the legend goes...

At any rate, the very unassuming little book pictured at the start of this paragraph has been in my mother's family since 1794, which is still 174 years after the Pilgrims of the Mayflower arrived...but that makes the book 219 years old - pretty respectable, I'd say. No collector's item, the volume shows its age - waterspots, back cover missing.... The book was given to "Stephen" by his grandmother "Mary". (And wow, was her handwriting gorgeous!) I don't know her age at the time but if we assume she was born in the early 1700's herself, we get within 100 years of those Pilgrim ancestors, which is just kind of cool to ponder.

Even more appropriate for this week, the book is an edition of "The Pilgrim's Progress," written by John Bunyan in the 1670's. Mr. Bunyan was a famous Puritan preacher and writer in England and of course the Pilgrims we talk about at Thanksgiving were earlier Puritans who'd left England in search of certain freedoms.

When I was a kid, I read about "The Pilgrim's Progress" in the book  "Little Women" actually. Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy liked to literally re-enact the symbolic journey of this little book's hero as one of the childhood games they played, but as adults they also took the messages in the Bunyan book to heart and tried to live a good, productive life. Because of course "The Pilgrim's Progress" is a famous allegory about an everyman named Christian and his journey from the "City of Destruction" to the "Celestial City.". As a child, I had no idea about the real significance of the book and kept trying to figure out how the snippets of plot the March sisters were talking about could have had anything to do with the people on the Mayflower. But I did think it was extremely cool that we had a copy of that very book in our own family. (Which I must confess I've never read, to this day. Still on that TBR list LOL.)

So this post isn't really about either book, or any other book, but more musing about Thanksgiving and the threads that tie our families together through time, whether it's a fragile old book lovingly passed down from hand to hand through the centuries or some new tradition just started last week. At this time of year I'm always especially grateful for my family and friends, a warm roof overhead, food on the table...books to read, books to write and thankful for Readers to share my stories with.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving, if it happens to be a holiday observed where you live. If  this day isn't on your particular calendar, I wish you every happiness and people you love to share special moments and good things with in general!



Saturday, November 23, 2013

So long but not necessarily goodbye...

My fourth book in the "Blood of the Pride" series, "Battle Scars", released last month, both in audio and ebook form. While I think it's a heck of a good read (obviously) it's unfortunately going to be the last in the Felis series for the present.

And I'm okay with that.

One of the things that I've experienced over the years is falling in love with a series and watching it become less and less entertaining, at least to me as a reader. Sometimes the story's been told and it's time to move on. The characters have evolved and grown from the first book but like in real life there comes a time to shake hands and walk away, relishing a good friendship and remembering the best of the best.

When I wrote "Blood of the Pride" it was a NaNoWriMo project, fifty thousand words in thirty days. I finished it and edited the heck out of it. The first incarnation with a small publisher didn't go so well with the publisher deciding to stop putting out paranormal romances about the same time it came out. Needless to say the sales weren't much and when I asked for the rights back a year later we parted on amicable terms.

I polished it again and submitted it to Carina Press and for some strange reason got that golden phone call from Angela James, offering me a contract. It was retitled, re-edited and released as both an audio book and in ebook form. Later on "Blood of the Pride" would be picked up by the Harlequin Direct-to-Consumer program and placed into print for special subscribers.

I jumped at the chance to continue the adventures of Rebecca and Brandon in further books with "Claws Bared", "Family Pride" and now this latest release, "Battle Scars". All went to audio and all have been accepted into the DTC program, meaning that for the next few months they will be available from the Harlequin website for those wanting to get their Felis fix in print form.

But it's time to move on and I'm okay with that. I've got a new series starting in May 2014 with Carina - "In The Black", book 1 of Tales of the Bonnie Belle and a second book coming in October 2014. One door closes, another opens.

Not that I've given up on Reb and Bran - not by a long shot. But for the time being I'm happy to think of them snuggling on the couch with Jazz happily purring away in a rare moment of peace and quiet.

For those of you who have enjoyed my cat shifter adventures I thank you for your time and support. I hope some of you will come on over to check out "In The Black" which is best described as "Firefly" meets "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas". I'll be tweeting updates under the hashtag #InTheBlack and #TalesoftheBonnieBelle as we head towards the book release.

Again, my thanks - and hope to see you all back here soon for more great readings!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Wereturkeys

I've read a lot of paranormal stories in my life. Oodles of them. Creative use of shifters, histories and explanations can make an okay book into something amazing.

That said, some things leave me scratching my head. I love werewolves, and I love when the classic is revamped with a great explanation or starting point. I also love other shifters. Some, however, just don't do it for me.

Shifters That Just Don't Do It For Me:

ducks-quacking isn't sexy

platypus-funny, yes, but so awkward

giraffes-I think it's the neck. I imagine the human form having the unreasonably long neck and get all giggly.

Shifters I Haven't Read, But Think I Might Like

snakes-I think it's the eyes. I have in mind a series that includes a snake shifter--could be super sexy.

elephant-Okay, I get the size ratio thing might take some logistics fussing, but I can just imagine what the guy would look like...and I don't hate it.


What trips your shifter trigger? Have you read any that were unique and really got your attention?

Oh, and happy Thanksgiving to my American friends. I hope you have a blessed day with those you love, and keep the attitude of gratitude all year round.

All the best,
Stephanie Beck
www.stephaniebeck.net
www.facebook.com/StephanieBeckAuthor
www.twitter.com/StephBeck123

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Philcon!

Hey there hi there ho there!

As some of you may know, I'm a guest every year at the oldest Science Fiction and Fantasy convention in the world, Philcon. It's held in Cherry Hill, a suburb just across the Delaware river from Philadelphia.

This year, I actually had another set of duties on top of my panel appearances. After three years of working toward it, the Woodrow Wilson High School Anime and Science Fiction Club finally got approved and funded to go to the convention. Nine students, two alumni chaperones, and two faculty chaperones, all led to the con by yours truly.

On the con-guest side, I sat in on some fabulous panels, including the one where I wound up as the mod and only panelist; an adults-only panel about Art, Erotica and Pornography. The audience didn't lynch me, so I'll consider it a success.

Saturday I unveiled my first costume / cosplay which *wasn't* put together by Steph Burke. I know I've got a pic or two around here somewhere...

So... hopefully you guys can guess who I was cosplaying. That's a hint, by the way.

At any rate, on the chaperone side, my kids did me proud. Not only were they instrumental in being a go-to support group for a young lady who was being harassed, they comported them selves so well they were not only invited to a con later in the year, and invited back to Philcon next year, but the program director actually invited a couple of the more erudite ones to come back and speak on panels.

Hope for the future, this is!

Overall, a really fun three days. Unfortunately, I got the con-crud in spades, and I'm still not over it ten days later. Hence the lateness of this post.

#PleaseDon'tHitMeWithSticks!

So... were any of you at PhilCon, or any other cons recently? Share!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The State of Indie Publishing



Black Swan Collected Tales (Volume 1, Books 1-6)


The Order of the Black Swan is a serial saga including My Familiar Stranger, The Witch’s Dream, A Summoner’s Tale, Moonlight, Gathering Storm, and NEVER BEFORE RELEASED Book 6, A Tale of Two Kingdoms.
Once upon a time a girl lost everything familiar. She escaped death by being forced into an experiment that left her in another world where modern day knights, elves, vampires, werewolves, witches, demons and fae became her allies, friends and family. She discovered a place where adventure intersects fairytales, where honor is more than an ideal, and she learned that love can find you in the strangest places, when you're least expecting it, even when you're far, far from home. This is the story of Elora Laiken's strange and wonderful journey. It is also the story of those whose lives she touches along the way.

If you love romance, paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, contemporary, this series is right for you. 17+
ISBN: 978-1-933320-94-6, 529,000 words

After December 15th $18.99, but available during release week for $0.99 and can be preordered at that price from either Smashwords or Kobo.  Buy links to Amazon, B&N, and Apple (iBooks, iTunes) will be available release week. Subscribe to the mail list for a reminder. JOIN THE MAIL LIST FOR NEWS & GIVEAWAYS

PREORDER LINKS:  



Appropriate for 17+

The State of Indie Publishing

by Victoria Danann

 

Last month I was the featured author at the first ever Indie Romance Convention where I was privileged to give the keynote speech on opening night and moderate a panel discussion for authors on Indie marketing.

The Indie Rom con is a convention with separate events (workshops, panels) for authors and readers. I didn’t attend any of the reader events because the con organizer had me busy working with other authors. During those exchanges I was able to discern a lot about the current state of affairs.

First, as I’m sure you’re aware, Independent Publishing includes a variety of approaches to book distribution such as self-publishing, small press, and independent imprint digital. I don’t usually cite my own case because it’s unique. When I began publishing my works of fiction, I did so under 7th House Publishing, which is a small press and was owned by me at the time. For about fifteen years its focus had been strictly calendars, planners, New Age niche books, and sidelines.

As a person who began as owner/operator of a small publishing company, I was fortunate to have many of the skills necessary to running an Indie fiction business before I began writing the fiction I would sell. For the vast majority of Indie authors, that equation is the other way around.

In other words I was familiar with marketing principles, time management, and had acquired useful tech skills so that I can manage my own website, do my own graphics (including covers), and format my books for publication in various e-versions.

Not every Indie author has or is going to want to acquire that specific skill set, but that’s okay. There are people who can be hired to perform those tasks. What every Indie author does need to understand is that an independent writing career is not only a business, it’s an entrepreneurial business. It’s a leap for risk takers and scramblers.

If the voice in your head says, “But I just want to write,” Indie publishing is not for you. Sadly, there may not be any place for you because, while traditional publishing may survive in some form, the days of authors contributing nothing more than manuscripts are over. Even big names are now expected to spend time on social media and engage readers, contribute earnings to various promotions, and participate in marketing activities where their predecessors were simply left alone.

For a time traditional publishing tried to deny that the gate was open for good. For four hundred years nothing much changed in the world of publishing, but the Kindle created a revolution that upended the stranglehold the New York gatekeepers had over which things did or did not get published. Don’t get me wrong. I understand investing. The people who are putting up the money get to say how it’s used, where, when, and why. I have no problem with that. It’s only right.

On the other hand, there’s something truly noble about having a global forum that allows anyone with something to say to put it out there and let the reading public – rather than book investors – decide what they want to read.

As to the fate of traditional publishing, let me paraphrase Mark Coker of Smashwords. “They’re like the Titanic. They know they’re going to sink, but they’re too big to turn. All they can do is brace and wait for impact. “

 

Meanwhile, a lot of authors like myself are benefitting from a readership with whom contact would have been possible. My books would never have been published – too different, too much of a risk. So I owe Amazon a lot. If they dropped the props that are holding traditional publishing up, so that we were on a level playing field with those authors, I would owe them even more. (Are you listening, Amazon? We, Indies, are your future.)

 

Next year the Indie Rom Con will be held in Nashville next year, September 11-14 with outstanding small events for both authors and readers. http://indieromancecon.com/

Victoria Danann




TWITTER: @vdanann
 
 

 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cover Reveal: Draven's Crossing 4: Poisonous Desires

I just got this cover. No one but myself and the publisher has seen it yet so you guys are getting a first look. Here is my cover for the upcoming book Draven's Crossing 4: Poisonous Desires.




Unedited Long Blurb:
It's time for the Werewolf Summit and this year it's taking place in Draven's Crossing. It's a huge headache for Vampire Mayor Draven, and Chief of Police Torger. With the issues they're having with the Council and the fallout of the serial killings both men want things to go smoothly so Torger asks his brother, Urban, to make sure the meetings go well. But this is Draven's Crossing; what can go wrong will. Bodies start to show up and a drug epidemic hits in the feline shifter community. Two things Urban doesn't need. When his sometimes lover Nadia is thrown into the mix things go from bad to worse. Not only is he trying to hide his feelings for the fickle feline shifter but she's also trying to put some distance between them, and she's keeping something from him. How can he concentrate on his job when things are getting too personal and Torger the DCPD Chief of Police is breathing down his neck?

Nadia has finally shown up in Draven's Crossing after being held for a "talk" with the head of the Feline Shifter Quorum, Zerik. Zerik wants her to go to Draven's Crossing and figure out who's making and distributing a new drug an addictive drug killing feline shifters and breaking up families. She thought she could get into town, find the culprits and blow out with no problem. Now she's assigned to help her lover Urban with his werewolf problems. Her emotions for him are growing and for a woman who's tried so hard not to form attachments she fears her independent ways may have met their match. How can she keep her distance from the one man who could tear down her walls and stomp on her resistance?

Together they must stop the deaths, keep peace in the werewolf community and figure out where their relationship stands before everything is blown apart. Piece of cake, right? Not in Draven's Crossing.

Release Date TBA

Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving everyone!
-Se



Monday, November 18, 2013

Paying Homage


We definitely have a bounty of shows and movies that feature the paranormal, but that wasn’t the case ten or so years ago. Some of my current favorites include American Horror Story: Coven, True Blood (depending on the season), Sleepy Hollow, giving Dracula a try, Let the Right One In, The Revenant, Hellboy...but this post is not about the more current offerings. It’s about honoring the forbearers…the shows and movies that broke ground when the genre didn’t enjoy the same popularity as today. I could lose months of word count mulling over which shows or movies deserve mention, and decided on a few that made an impression on me and my writing, and some considered classics of the genre. Many are vampire centric, but vampires, or some semblance of, continue to dominate.

Starting with movies, well, we can go back to Nosferatu, Dracula, and the old Universal movie monsters. All classic. I would have loved to have attended the first movie theater showing of Frankenstein or Dracula. The special effects for that time must have scared the heck out of the audience. Fast forwarding, one of my all time favorites is Frightnight. I could write an entire blog post on that movie, discussing the non CGI special effects and tragic tone of Evil’s transformation back into a human after Peter Vincent killed him. The look of horror and despair on Vincent’s face as he realized the fearful wolf was really a young boy. You don’t see that kind of pathos in many movies these days. Roddy McDowell was great as Peter Vincent, and Chris Sarandon as Jerry Dandridge, the vampire.

Lost Boys anyone? Humor, good vampires, bad vampires, Jason Patric and Keifer Sutherland :) One of the first teen vampire movies, blending style with story, even if it was 80s style. Other great vampire movies: Near Dark; The Addiction, an indie flick staring Lily Taylor; the 1979 Salem’s Lot; Interview with the Vampire; the first couple of Blade movies; and I have to mention Vampire’s Kiss with Nicholas Cage. More of a supernatural thriller, black comedy, and definitely one of Cage’s best roles.

I do love me some werewolf movies, but much of the past movies focused on the horror aspect and not the type of werewolf hero we read about in urban fantasies and paranormals. But some great ones include American Werewolf in London and The Howling.

Of course, all these movies are classified as horror or thrillers, yet they definitely set the stage for urban fantasy/paranormal. Before the current craze, there really wasn’t another category. Interview with the Vampire was classified as horror/romance, and Lost Boys comedy/horror, but both had sympathetic vampires, and were not necessarily straight horror. On a side note, if you do a search for urban fantasy movies, stuff like Harry Potter and Ghostbusters comes up. So does Hellboy, which I absolutely agree with, but I wanted to look at movies that preceded Hellboy, which leads me to my next two movies: The Crow (1994) and Nightbreed (1990). Both movies twisted the previous classification of horror to something closer to urban fantasy/paranormal.

The Crow was actually labeled action/fantasy, which seems to fit. Its gothic stylings and story about a man that comes back to life to avenge the death of his wife truly hit on those supernatural, damaged hero beats. And it had a great soundtrack :)

Nightbreed is a very interesting movie and was completely misunderstood on release. The movie company sold it as a straight slasher type, but it was about a guy, who stumbles upon a community of monsters and outcasts, demon-like, known as the Nightbreed. They take refuge in an abandoned cemetery called Midian. Nightbreed is based off Clive Barker’s novella Cabal. Definitely B movie grade, but very interesting. For someone who features demons in my stories, I found Barker's exploration of the monsters a revelation, at the time. The Nightbreed were not the bad guys. Barker himself said: this picture is much more upfront about the fact we don't want to see the monsters die. We actually find them interesting. And sexy…we're actually on the side of the creatures of darkness. I think this movie would enjoy a second life with so many books featuring demons as heroes.

But really, urban fantasy/paranormal experienced its genesis on television, and Buffy reins supreme. (Dark Shadows absolutely deserves mention. I didn't watch it, but it's significant.) Not just for the wonderful supernatural world Whedon created, but for his exploration of the characters, the wonderful stories and writing. He built an incredible cast with Buffy at the center. She was a girl turned woman who took charge and dealt with her problems.

Before True Blood, in 2007, there was the sadly short lived, Canadian produced Blood Ties based off the Tanya Huff Blood Books. It centered on private investigator, Vicki Nelson, who teamed up with 470-year-old vampire Henry Fitzroy, bastard son of Henry the VIII. Blood Ties only lasted two seasons. Sigh!!! That’s one show that would have benefitted from the current vampire craze. You can find it around on the Internet. Before Blood Ties, was another Toronto based show, Forever Knight, about Nick Knight, an 800-year-old vampire, who seeks redemption for past crimes by working as a homicide detective. Forever Knight ran from 1992 until 1996. Lastly, I should mention Charmed, and I liked some of Charmed, but when they ruined Cole’s character (another demon), it all went downhill for me.

My little retrospective barely scratches the surface and I didn’t even go into zombies (which I write about) and lots of other stuff. So please join in and share some of your favorites that paved the way to the current paranormal craze.

Mimi Sebastian

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Getting to Know You...

Hi guys, I'm Beth Matthews. This is my first post at Paranormal Romantics, *waves* and I thought a fun way for you readers to get to know me would be if I started off telling you about some of my favorite paranormal romances.

As the divine Benedict Cumberbatch would say: Shall we begin?


INDEXING by Seanan McGuire
 
Indexing is about a crack government team that runs around our modern world trying to stop “mimetic incursions”; that is, they’re trying to stop fairy tales from manifesting in the real world. But I’m not talking about the Disney versions of fairy tales--nope these fairy tales are the full-on Grimm. Grimm-er even than the Grimms. And sometimes the fairy tales fight back. McGuire does humor and team dynamics really well. They banter, they bicker, sometimes the team is about ten seconds away from killing each other (and that’s literally…) and yet in the end they are family. They will fight for each other. This one is a bit more of an ensemble piece, and the romances don’t really get going until the end. But once they do there are not one but TWO romantic subplots. With KISSING. So I feel just fine including this story on my list. ^_^

SUNDIAL by Carrie Lofty

This one is a time travel novella, but the interesting twist here is that the hero and heroine are both out of their time. She’s an Australian from 2007, and he’s a New Yorker from 1987. Yet they’re both stuck together in Italy in 1958! I really enjoy the way Lofty plays with time travel in this story. She said she was inspired by the Terminator movies in that time travel is not some fun jaunt back to the past: time travel is scary and difficult and you probably won’t come out entirely intact even if you do make it back to your own time. The romance in this one is also deeply passionate and wonderful. And Lofty makes excellent use of the glamour of 1950s Italy as a setting. I drool when I read descriptions of the heroine’s 1950s wardrobe. It’s also a younger man/older woman story which is, I must admit, one of my favorite tropes.

PSYCOP SERIES (starting with "Criss Cross") by Jordan Castillo Price

This series of books revolves around a cop, Vic, who’s also a medium. He sees dead people. Lots of dead people. This series is M/M romance and Vic’s love interest Jacob is very dreamy. These books are sort of paranormal police procedurals and they are addictive! I burned through the first 8 stories (they are a mix of novels, novellas and short stories) in a few weeks. These books get a little gory for my taste, but the hero is so likeable in that Sherlockian, head down, oh my God you’re a hot mess kind of way. The world building of the ghosts and other supernatural nasties is also wonderful and really nuanced. And the romance is super sweet with really hot love scenes.

 DRAGON BOUND by Thea Harrison

This whole series (Elder Races) is really excellent, and one of my favorite parts is how Harrison continually uses unusual mythological creatures as her main characters and then she writes them wonderfully. In this, the first book in the series, the hero is a dragon-shifter. (The heroine is also a shifter, but that’s a spoiler so I can’t tell you what kind. Sorry! ;P) And what I really love about the hero is that he actually feels like a dragon. He admits he used to eat people. He has the dragon hoarding tendencies. He’s strong, arrogant, fierce. He feels otherworldly, definitely not a human in dragon-shifter drag, and I love that. The whole series is really wonderful and different, including the novellas that are released from Samhain. But Dragon Bound is still my favorite.

TITHE by Holly Black

Last but certainly not least, one of the first books to get me hooked on paranormal romances. The “paranormal” in this book are fairies, and what I love is that these are evil, scary fairies. Even the “good” fairies are…not so good. The details and world-building in this are also really intricate and evocative, and Black’s writing is lyrical and delicious to read. The hero, Roiben, is also quite, quite yummy. Another fun thing about this book is the power play between the heroine, Kaye, and Roiben. Early in the book Kaye learns Roiben’s true name, which means that when she uses his true name, he has to do what she says. But sometimes he obeys her in a way she doesn’t expect. The interplay between them is wonderful, and the romance is very intense but lovely.

So those are some of my favorites. What are yours? :)

Ta! ;)
Beth Matthews
http://bethmatthewsbooks.com/
@IAmBethMatthews

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Why Fairy Tale Endings Weren't Always Happily Ever Afters

by Jeffe Kennedy

One of the things I love best about Halloween is getting my decorations out. They bring a different feel to the house, reminding me of the dark and dangerous time of the year. As you can see, both indoors and out, my taste is for scary and unsettling.

I don't do cute.

For me, it's the same with the fae I write about.In my mind, fairies aren't cute, goggle-eyed Disney sprites. No, they're much more frightening than that.

I knew that about myself, but hadn't thought about it in some time until I did an interview yesterday about my Covenant of Thorns series. The gal who interviewed me, A.J. Larrieu, who blogs at Paranormal Unbound, asked me a lot of very interesting questions about my world-building and what kind of reading went into it. Usually I respond with a fairly short answer about the fact that I've been reading fairy tales all my life. Something about A.J.'s phrasing, however, made me recall that I had made a concerted effort when drafting the first book to locate and read a particular kind of tale.

In short, I looked for the oldest stories I could find, the ones without happy endings.

See, the whole idea of the "fairy tale ending" is really a fairly recent development. Disneyesque to some extent, yes, but also before that. Before the stories were cleaned up for children, before the Catholic Church co-opted them to show the triumph of Christianity, these tales rarely ended well for the humans. The fae much more resemble demonic creatures than the short-skirted and sweet pixies of our modern era.

Now, to me, these traits aren't necessarily evil, but they are inhuman. That's the key. The fae operate on a totally different ethical system. My heroine, who is a scientist, records her observations about them. She keeps her notes in a book she ironically refers to as her "Big Book of Fairyland." In Rogue's Possession, each chapter begins with a quote from her notes. Here's one about fae morals.



Faerie operates on a sliding scale of moral ambiguity. The Golden Rule is turned inside out to become “When others do unto you, weigh the cost to yourself and charge accordingly.”

~Big Book of Fairyland, “Rules of Bargaining”





I think that sums up quite a bit, right there.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author with a writing career that spans decades. Her works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.  

Her most recent works include three fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant ofThorns, the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and the post-apocalyptic vampire erotica of the Blood Currency.  A contemporary e-Serial, Master of the Opera, will be released in January. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, will hit the shelves in 2014. A spin-off story from this series, Negotiation, appears in the recently-released Thunder on the Battlefield anthology. Her newest book, Five Golden Rings, comes out as part of the erotic holiday anthology, Season of Seduction, in late November.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, a border collie, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg of Foreword Literary.