Wednesday, July 18, 2018

What Genre is This? Paranormal VS Urban Fantasy by Elizabeth Alsobrooks

Many writers have a difficult time labeling their work or fitting it into specific categories or genres. In today’s popular cross-genre norm, this makes sense. Novels still need to be labeled for marketability, so I want to examine the differences and common traits of two popular modern genres that are often confused: Urban Fantasy and Paranormal.

I read somewhere that the difference between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal is that Paranormal is Urban Fantasy in which the main characters have sex. At first, I thought this was funny. Then I thought about it and decided it’s not as silly a statement as it seems. The description does, however, require a bit more elaboration to be considered anything more than an oversimplified characterization.

First, let’s start by examining the genres individually. Urban Fantasy was once considered to be a subgenre of Fantasy in which the story took place in a major city or town. Nowadays, it’s considered Urban Fantasy if it takes place in a contemporary setting (VS say High Fantasy which often takes place in ancient or medieval times or magical locales). The everyday world is far from “normal” however.  It involves magic or characters with supernatural powers or characteristics, though they still interact with everyday mortals—you know, Muggles. Urban Fantasy often has fantastical creatures, too, even those usually found in paranormal novels. The main character(s) are usually battling against supernatural beings, even if they have some supernatural powers of their own.

Paranormal novels contain supernatural beings, such as vampires, werewolves or other shapeshifters. They can take place in any time or locale. The main characters may or may not have actual intercourse, but they have a personal relationship of some kind around which the events and plot revolve.

Urban Fantasy’s main characters may well have a relationship, sexual or otherwise, but if their relationship were removed, the plot and events would still occur. There will be a story present even if the main characters have no personal relationship, whereas in Paranormal novels the story is about the main characters’ relationship and its development.

So, is Paranormal just Urban Fantasy in which the characters have sex? Sort of. Perhaps that’s why most Paranormal is labeled Paranormal Romance…

Monday, July 16, 2018

GUEST: Susan Kelley - EXILE'S SAVAGE LADY #Apocalypse

Where Would You Want to Spend the Apocalypse?

My latest novel, Exile’s Savage Lady: Book #3 of Survivors of the Apocalypse, wraps up this futuristic three book series in which two distinct groups of people must work together or watch mankind spiral into extinction.

Thousands of people have survived the pandemic inside a sealed biodome. A much smaller and scattered group of people survived the deadly illness that swept the globe three hundred years before. Both sets of people face particular challenges due to their environment.

Let’s look at the essentials. Water is the leading necessity to life. Outside the dome, there is abundant fresh water. They have no shortages for drinking, cooking or bathing. In the sealed biodome, all their water is recycled and has been for three hundred years. It’s not tasty and is rationed like everything else.

Second need is food. Once again, the people living outside have large resources of food, both plant and animal. They can hunt wild animals and have domesticated livestock as well as growing their own crops. Inside the dome, the soil has grown poorer with centuries or use despite attempts to fertilize it. The dome itself has grayed and darkened so less sunlight gets in for the plants. Food is rationed to near starvation levels.

Third in our hierarchy of needs is safety and shelter. Those on the outside have plentiful wood to build homes and can scrounge other materials from old ruins. The city was fully constructed before the pandemic. Its buildings are well build along with real streets and indoor plumbing. For safety, the city has a fully realized police force. There is little violence and since no one has anything to steal, little theft. The outside couldn’t be more different. The few people are scattered and live in extended family forts. Roaming through the wilderness are ruthless gangs who take what they want from those weaker than themselves. It’s a dangerous world for anyone not protected by a strong family.

In terms of comforts, the city doesn’t have to face dangerous weather situations like tornadoes or blizzards. The city has solar powered electricity. The outsiders know how to live through the changing seasons, but it’s a dangerous time. Without modern technology to warn them of incoming bad weather, they’re in constant danger from the elements.

Transportation in the city is mostly by foot, though there are some railcars. The outsiders use horses. Those stuck on the outside use oil for lighting and have harnessed the wind to draw water from wells. Though their lives are filled with hard work, the outsiders are healthy and happy.

Education in the city is similar to our modern world though children are directed toward certain area of studies based on early testing. The school system has professional teachers, and there is a university system where doctors, engineers, and other professions are educated. The outsiders have only homeschooling and only then if the parents bother. The only people they have as doctors are people who have learned what they can about medicine from old books scavenged from civilization’s ruins. Medicine itself is nothing more than herbal remedies. It’s a very frontier life on the outside. Those inside the city have medicines though like everything else, it is carefully rationed.

What do the outsiders need that the biodome does have?  People. The outsiders are few and scattered. What does the biodome need that the outsiders have in abundance? Resources of food, water, and freedom.

Exile’s Savage Lady: Book #3 of Survivors of the Apocalypse, is the final story in this saga of an America after a pandemic has nearly wiped out mankind. Robin Linden was saved by the Gibbs family when he was exiled from the domed city. He can’t enjoy his new life in the outside while those inside the city are slowly starving. Kerry Gibbs has finally found her match in the strong, quiet city man. When he decides to sneak back into the city and rescue his people, Kerry can’t allow him to go alone. Once inside the decaying metropolis, Kerry realizes the man she’s grown to love intends to save the poor city folks even if it means sacrificing himself. She’s not willing to let him, but the power-hungry city leaders might take the decision out of her hands. Is her love enough to keep Robin at her side? Find this book on Amazon.

Susan Kelley lives in a large, country home in Pennsylvania where she and her husband raised six children. She has been a fulltime writer for years after retiring from teaching high school. This is her nineteenth published romance.

You can find Susan:

On her blog:  Susan Says

Where would you want to spend the apocalypse? In the biodome, or would you rather take your chances among the dangers of the outside? Thanks for spending some time learning out the world I created for Survivors of the Apocalypse.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Earthman's Bride by Icy Snow Blackstone

Our guest today is Icy Snow Blackstone, multi-pubbed author. She's talking about her novel. So, welcome, Icy Snow!

Earthman’s Bride started out as a short story which ran away with my imagination.  I knew what I wanted to say, but the story had been told many times before with many variations:  a young woman given to a conqueror as part of a peace agreement...he desires her...she fears him,...eventually they fall in love... Okay, so far so good, but how to make it different?  How to keep it from being a rehash of every book ever written with the same theme?  Would changing the setting help?  Making it medieval...paranormal...futuristic?  And the conqueror?  Would he be a warrior...a beast...a supernatural entity?  An older man, inured to the cruelty of war...or a much younger one, still able to find some tenderness in his life?

There are too many science fiction stories of invaders from other planets coming to Earth a la War of the Worlds, but all of them are told from the Earth’s point of view.  That settled it for me.

I wasn’t going that route.  Not this little writer.  I’d make my story tell the other side of the coin.  I’d make the Earthmen the conquerors, barging into another a galaxy like barbarians, attacking and conquering. 

My Earthmen aren’t very nice people.  Having depleted their own natural resources, they head to the stars looking for planets having the elements they lack.  Using force, they “accept” these worlds into the Federation, placing them under their “protection” and then haul their natural resources back to Terra.  Since most of the planets are less developed than theirs, it’s easy to subdue them with superior firepower and take what they want.

The planet Tusteya is different. 

They received the Terrans in peace but within 30 minutes of their meeting, peaceful intentions go flying out the window.  Though not as technologically advanced, the Tusteyans knew of space travel and traded with other planets and weren’t about to allow themselves to be enslaved by aliens.  The resulting war, one in which the Tusteyans put up steady but futile resistance, ended in only one small tribe, the Elius, remaining free while all others were enslaved by the Federation’s representative, now called the Governor of Tusteya, Lieutenant Philip Hamilcar.  Ordered to stay behind with his men to keep the natives under control, Hamilcar was, in fact stranded on the planet as punishment for voicing his disapproval of the way the Tusteyans were treated. 

At the opening of the story, thirty years have passed, Hamilcar has died, and his son, another Philip—a young man barely twenty—has taken his place.  Alcin Spearman, leader of the Elius, asks for a truce, and to show the sincerity of his intentions, offers his 17-year-old daughter Rebeka to the new Governor to cement the peace.  Alcin is certain the young Earthman will want Rebeka, and once he meets her, Philip—being young and male—definitely does.  What he doesn’t know is that his bride-to-be has an agenda other than simply being a peace offering. 

Once Rebeka has gained his trust, she’s to kill him, and during the chaos of his death, her father and his men will storm the palace and end the Terran tyranny once and for all.

Rebeka goes into the marriage willingly, hoping against hope that some miracle will occur to prevent her from killing her new husband.  Nevertheless, everything appears to be going just as her father wishes...Philip is fascinated by Rebeka, eagerly agreeing to the peace.  The wedding takes place, and Rebeka is left in the palace her father used to rule, married to an alien whom she’s expected to bed and then kill.  She is completely alone except for the presence of Darius, a Terran android who has been re-programmed to protect her.  Unknown even to Rebeka, however, Darius has his own agenda.  He is capable of human emotion and has fallen in love with the woman whom he has been ordered to protect while she kills his former pupil. 

And then...Rebeka discovers Philip isn’t the cruel monster she has been told but simply a young man caught in a fate he didn’t ask for—much the same as she—and everything changes...


For thirty years, Rebeka’s people have fought the Earthmen who invaded their planet.

Now, Rebeka’s father has devised a plan to bring about peace: offer the Earthmen a cease-fire, and cement it by giving his daughter as their leader’s bride. At first skeptical, Governor Philip Hamilcar is swept away by lust but he soon finds he has a rival for his wife’s affections in Darius Marx. An android possessing the ability to experience human emotion, Darius has also fallen in love with the Earthman’s bride.

Rebeka doesn’t want an alien husband and she certainly doesn’t want to kill anyone, but she’s given no choice. Once married to Philip, she discovers her husband more than empathetic to her people’s plight. Soon the two are in love, and Rebeka has to make a choice…

Will she make herself a widow or give up her own happiness for her people’s freedom?


Dressing in the wedding gown that had been packed in the little trunk the guard  brought from the gate, Rebeka had put on her makeup and done her hair and laid out the wedding veils on the bed so they would be nearby when she was called.  Her father had said he would see her married before he returned to the village with the treaty. 
            “Do you think I look all right?” she asked suddenly, and her voice sounded so loud she almost jumped.  “Will the Governor like it?”
            Darius studied her a moment, those blue eyes critical and serious.  Then, for the first time, he smiled.
            She walks in beauty, like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that’s best of dark and bright meet in her aspect and her eyes.”  He spoiled the compliment by adding,  “Hamilcar will go to his death willingly!”
            She turned away, closing her eyes. 
            A mind at peace with all below, a heart whose love is innocent,” he went on, cruelly. 
            “Don’t say that!” she ordered, angry that there were tears in her voice.
            “How long will your mind be at peace or your love innocent if you use it to kill?” he asked.
            “Why are you doing this?”  Rebeka flung at him.  “You know it has to be done.  It’s the only way.  Why didn’t you say something sooner if you disagreed?”
            “Because I can’t actually disagree.  Because your father and Master Martin were set on this course.  I’m only an android, Rebeka, a machine, and I may hold more intelligence than all the men on this planet in my databanks, but if they don’t want to listen to it, they won’t.  So I’ve kept silent.”
            “But you think I’ll listen?”
            He nodded.
            “Then you’re mistaken, Darius.  Because I agree with my father.  Philip Hamilcar must die, and I plan to kill him.”
            There was silence for a few moments.
            “He could actually love you, you know,” Darius persisted.  “I turned him away from your door three times today.”
            “Yes, I heard,” she retorted, and now her smile was sardonic.  “And your excuses were a little lame.  Really, Darius, sleeping all night and all day?  It’s a wonder he didn’t think me ill and call a physician!  You should have thought that out a little more.”
            “It worked, didn’t it?”  His smile matched hers in its cruelty.  “Kept him from seeing you, whetted his appetite.  I thought you were going to be the lamb who was slaughtered, Rebeka, but after the way the Governor’s acting, I realize that he’s the lamb in this story!”

The Earthman’s Bride is available in paperback from the publisher’s website:

Friday, July 13, 2018

What’s a #Hero? by Diane Burton

With all the recent movies about super heroes, we have to wonder what makes them a hero. Superman, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Black Panther. Captain America. What qualities do they all possess? Leadership, courage, selflessness, bravery in the face of danger.

We call the characters in our novels heroes—non-gender heroes. My female characters have the same qualities as super heroes. In my newest release NUMBERS NEVER LIE, a romantic suspense, Maggie Sinclair needs to know if her brother Jack’s fatal car crash was an accident or something nefarious. She’s determined and plunges ahead even when confronted by danger.

Drew Campbell, Jack’s best friend, is a reluctant hero. Though he doesn’t believe the police are wrong, he’ll help Maggie, if only to keep her out of danger. Maggie’s the leader. She buries her grief to find out what really happened to Jack. But when the villains go after Maggie, Drew protects her.

In real life, most of us don’t have opportunities to be heroes, let alone super heroes. Yet, mothers and fathers are heroes everyday. They support their families—financially, emotionally, physically, educationally.

Think about it. By being there, parents give their children time, a commodity more valuable than money or things. Parents are leaders and show their children, by example, how to be leaders. We’re raising the future super heroes.

Maggie Sinclair teaches high school students. Frequently, she chastises parents who don’t give their children time. The reader sees this when she scolds Drew for not spending more time with his daughter. Since his wife died a year ago, he has to be both mother and father. Yet, what Maggie sees is him spending too much time at work, leaving his daughter in the care of their housekeeper or his parents.

What Maggie doesn’t realize is he’s wrapping up his cases so he can leave the law firm or start his own small office. Like many men, he keeps things too close to his vest. He doesn’t share his plans with his daughter until Maggie insists.

Heroes are selfless. They put the needs of others before their own. When Drew’s daughter asks him to chaperone her camping group on a weekend trip, he agrees even though he dislikes camping. The group of fourteen-year-olds know more about the outdoors than he does. He’s definitely a fish out of water. Yet, to please his child, he’ll put aside his own needs to support her. That’s a hero.

A Romantic Suspense
By Diane Burton
Release Date:  July 9, 2018
Length: approx. 80,000 words
Available at Amazon
Free with Kindle Unlimited

 A shocking secret brings danger to Jack Sinclair and his sister Maggie.

As kids, they were the fearless threesome. As adults, Jack's an accountant; Drew, a lawyer; Maggie, a teacher and camping troop leader. Upon returning from a weekend camping trip, Maggie receives horrifying news. She refuses to believe her brother Jack’s fatal car crash was an accident. If the police won’t investigate, she’ll do it herself. Convincing Drew Campbell to help is her only recourse.

Drew Campbell was too busy to return his best friend’s phone call. Too busy to attend a camping meeting important to his teen daughter. Too busy to stay in touch with Jack. Logic and reason indicate Jack’s accident was just that--an accident caused by fatigue and fog. Prodded by guilt, he’ll help Maggie even if he thinks she’s wrong.

A break-in at Jack’s condo convinces Maggie she’s right. Then her home is searched. What did Jack do that puts Maggie in danger?


Maggie clapped her hands. “Girls, break time is over.”
The Drill Sergeant was back. Hup, two, three, four.
Groans from the girls met her announcement. Drew knew exactly how they felt.
His legs ached, a blister—no, make that two blisters—had already formed on both sides of his heels. Ellen had warned him not to wear brand-new hiking boots. But he always wore the appropriate footwear. He had golf shoes, tennis shoes, ski boots, and now hiking boots. A pair of bloody hiking boots.
Damn, he needed to take a leak. He never should have stopped at 7-11 for a Big Gulp of coffee no matter how much caffeine he required to start his engine this morning. Ellen warned him it wasn’t a good idea. He should have listened.
Jack would be laughing his head off if he knew Drew was actually hiking and camping. Both Jack and Maggie had inherited their parents’ enthusiasm for camping. Drew shuddered. Not him. After that disastrous Cub Scout campout, Drew vowed never again to venture into the wild.
Still, when Ellen begged him, he thought a little hike in the woods would be the perfect opportunity for some father-daughter bonding. This trip was not turning out the way he anticipated.
Ellen surrounded herself with her friends, staying as far away from Drew as possible. With the exception of their brief conversation a few minutes ago—and only after he’d pulled her aside to ask about the facilities—she barely talked to him. So much for father-daughter bonding. All he had to show for his efforts was a stitch in his side, a charley horse in his left leg, those bloody blisters, and chafing from his new jeans.

Despite all that, he doesn't quit. Is that a hero or what?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

DARIK New Release with Excerpt from Veronica Scott

I’m always so happy to come and be guest on this blog. Thanks for having me!
Thrilled to announce the next book in my Badari Warriors series, DARIK! The cover is another gem from the talented Fiona Jayde.

For this story, I decided to write a Badari who’s a bit more of a lone wolf than usual, and plunge him right into the whole mate situation, with a woman on the other side of a force barrier he cannot get through. Darik is also saddled with an Artificial Intelligence sidekick who doesn’t take orders well at all. I like to find new angles for the hero and heroine to deal with and I’ve really thrown a few twists at them this time, which I hope you’ll enjoy.

The blurb:
Nicolle James is far from her home in the human Sectors, kidnapped by alien scientists to be the subject of horrifying experiments.  Her only hope might be a mysterious soldier she’d glimpsed outside the laboratory fence. She’d managed to sneak a few words of conversation with him when her captors weren’t watching but now the aliens were taking her inside the lab to begin the experiments.

Darik, a warrior of the genetically engineered Badari pack, is on a solo recon mission to check out a mysterious new lab high in the mountains. His orders are strict – do not engage. But when he has a chance meeting with the woman who might be his mate, he vows not to abandon her, orders or no orders.
Can he get inside an underground lab, find Nicolle and rescue her without getting captured himself? And when he learns the lab’s deadly secrets, can he get word to his pack about the new dangers?

Because the ruthless alien scientist running the experiments wants to get her hands on him too and will stop at nothing to achieve her goals.

The excerpt:
Darik had been dropped off at a higher elevation in the mountains so he wouldn’t be spotted by the enemy based in the foothills. He’d descended thousands of feet since his arrival, taking a circuitous route to his assigned target. Neither he nor his Alpha wanted any hint of a Badari presence in the area to become known. He relished the chance to hike through the old growth forest, alone except for his annoying AI companion.

“The sun will set in thirty two minutes and twelve seconds,” MARL12 announced in a crisp tone with no resemblance to the timbre of either human or Badari voices but was uniquely his own, as if a sizable bird had been given vocal chords.

Darik glanced at the small alien AI dispatched to assist him on this reconnaissance and decided to poke its emotional responses with a little barb. “I can see in the dark perfectly well. It’s a Badari attribute. Can’t you?”

A brief silence descended as the AI floated along on its antigrav cushion, bobbing over bushes and other obstacles. MARL12 might be a miniaturized version of its parent unit but the superior attitude was full scale. “I have complete visual acuity under all circumstances. My concern was for you to have a safe base camp established before dark.”

Pausing, Darik leaned in close.

The AI retreated a foot and hovered. 

“I can take care of myself, thanks. I don’t need a minder.” Standing at his full seven foot height, Darik sampled the air again. “There’s no predator in this area capable of taking on a Badari and hoping to win.” He flashed his talons and fangs for the sheer joy of it. Leaping to the flat top of a nearby boulder, he surveyed the vistas ahead and expanded his chest with pleasure. This was the way for a man to live—free, with unlimited nature to explore. Of course, I do have a job to do. Aydarr didn’t send me here to have fun.

Jumping to the ground as easily as he’d first catapulted to the rock’s top, he continued his hike, but kept an eye out for a suitable place to camp. The AI was right—it would be simpler to have his shelter set up before dark. He found a likely place in the lee of several massive trees and built a small fire. For tonight, he was content with the ration bars and water from his canteen, but he vowed tomorrow he’d hunt as he proceeded, and would dine on roasted meat. Darik had grabbed enough berries to fill a pouch as he descended the slopes earlier in the day, and he finished his meal with those for dessert, enjoying the tang of the dark red globes.

He rolled up in his sleeping bag, back to the trunk of the largest tree, and settled in for a night of soldier’s slumber, where he’d be only lightly asleep, ready to respond to any threat.

“I’ll monitor the surroundings,” the AI announced, drifting in a large circle tracing the perimeter of the camp area.

“You do that.” Darik pulled the edge of the sleeping bag tighter over his shoulder and closed his eyes.

“At what hour do you wish to awaken? Sunrise exactly or—”

“AI’s who keep talking and prevent me from sleeping will have a short lifespan,” Darik said, not bothering to open his eyes. “I have an internal clock and wake at the required time for the mission.” Being given a mini MARL for his assignment was an honor, but it was also proving to be more than a slight pain in the ass. Jill, his alpha’s mate, who owned the primary MARL unit, must be a lot more patient than he was.

“Understood. Shutting down interactive operations….now.” A hum echoed across the clearing.

Darik opened his eyes the least little bit and saw the unit was still doing its patrol of the perimeter, but most of the lights had gone dark. We’ll see how long the silence lasts.

Buy Links:  Amazon    iBooks    Nook      Google     Kobo

About the Author:
USA Today Best Selling Author
“SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happy Ever After blog
 Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.

Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances!

 She read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Throwing Fortunes: Plotting With Tarot by Jane Kindred

Every so often, I get a yen to do a tarot spread—otherwise known as throwing the tarot—for one of my characters. It’s helped me in the past when I’ve been stuck with where to go next, or when I can’t quite figure out my character’s motivations.

I’ve been throwing tarot since I was in my early 20s, and I’ve developed a bit of a tarot deck addiction over the years. I mean, I have a lot of tarot decks. I’m sure it’s not any kind of record, but at the moment, I count 11 decks that I could easily find in the house. (I don’t keep them in a drawer together or anything; each deck has its own box. And the boxes sit wherever they want to in the house. Sometimes a deck hides for a while. I can think of two others off the top of my head that aren’t anywhere in sight.)

Tonight, I’m using the Medieval Cat Tarot by Gina M. Pace and Lawrence Teng. (Did you know that tarot decks have authors and artists, and they get published much the same way books do? Each deck has its own little booklet of interpretations, and some have separate, full-sized books written to accompany them. I have eight full books on tarot that I can think of off the top of my head.) At any rate, I’m throwing the spread for my main character, Aoife, in my current WIP. Aoife is under an enchantment, so it’s difficult to figure her out, because she doesn’t know her true self at the moment. Hopefully, this will help me make some headway with her.

So here’s the spread:

I use a modified Celtic Cross layout (there are many different layouts, but this is one of the most common). Each position has meaning. The three cards at the center of this spread (collectively, the “Heart of the Matter”) are the Significator, which represents the querent at the present time, the Covering Card, which represents what’s influencing (and generally helping) the querent directly, and the Crossing Card, which represents that which is at odds with the querent in their quest.

Aoife’s Heart of the Matter is Knight of Wands, Six of Swords, and Eight of Cups. Loosely, these represent “conviction,” “moving forward,” and “taking emotional inventory.” This fits very well with where Aoife is right now. She’s just discovered that she’s being lied to and is determining to fight back, and at the same time, she’s experiencing emotional attraction to a woman she’s just met.

Next, we have the cards above and below the Heart of the Matter (conveniently called Above and Below). These represent what’s on the surface of the current situation—what’s outwardly visible—and what lies hidden beneath in the subconscious realm. Aoife’s cards are Ten of Swords and the Empress. Now, the Empress is one of the cards of the Major Arcana, which represent archetypes and forces outside our control—in essence, Fate. The numbered (pips) and court cards of each suit (there are four, like in playing cards: Wands, Swords, Cups, Coins) are referred to as the Minor Arcana. Here, the Ten of Swords represents the culmination of negative energy around the present situation. There’s nowhere to go but up. Yep. This is very true for Aoife. And the Empress is Mother Nature, the goddess of abundance, calling on the querent to gather her internal strengths and take what she’s learned on her journey to manifest her truth. Interesting; Aoife needs to stop thinking and start doing what she knows is right.

The next two cards to the left and right of the Heart of the Matter, are Behind and Before: the immediate past and the immediate future. Seven of Cups is Aoife’s past: daydreams of happy times, in danger of dissipating as an illusion. Wow. That one’s right on the money. And I was just contemplating having Aoife remember the beauty and riches of the world she once knew. I wasn’t sure if that back story should remain off the page or if we should see it here. I think I have an idea now. The future card, Eight of Wands, says opportunities are coming Aoife’s way, and she needs to take aim. This one could be literal. Aoife is a soldier, so perhaps she’ll soon be in a battle that can tip the war in her people’s favor.

Finally, we have the four cards on the right: Self (where the querent is now), Home (how others see and influence her), Hopes and Fears, and the Outcome. The Self card, Page of Swords, shows Aoife poised on a new undertaking that will bring her greater understanding. So far, so good. Home, Seven of Coins, represents a small harvest—Aoife has what she needs at the moment. Her Hopes and Fears card, Four of Wands, indicates that Aoife may be starting a new relationship, from which she should pause to take joy in the moment. And Aoife’s Outcome? She drew a Major Arcana card: Judgment. Judgment Day is literally depicted on the card. This means Aoife will ultimately succeed, but she’ll have to pass through the fires of suffering, fear, doubt, and toil.

So now we put this all together: Aoife is moving forward after accepting that her past happy life is gone, acting on her new conviction and exploring new feelings as she heads into battle. All around her is negative energy and enemies, but she possesses secret strength in her Empress energy if she will only embrace it. Poised on a new undertaking and understanding the truth being kept from her, she has what she needs right in front of her if she’ll only look—a new relationship that will bring her joy, despite everything that’s happening around her—and, ultimately, she will prevail against the evil in her world. But the fight is going to be hard won.

So there you have it: throwing tarot for a fictional character. What do you think? Silly game or helpful tool to unlock the unconscious?

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Why Do We Like It Hot?

 By Maureen L Bonatch 

Happy Sidewalk Egg Frying Day! Yep, you thought I was going to say Happy Independence Day or 4th of July for those of you who celebrate this holiday like I do- well, I’ll say that, too. But since I have the date of the 4thof July every year here at Paranormal Romantics, I’ve talked about the fireworks in a story before. 

So, like you, I initially wondered exactly how Sidewalk Egg Frying Day came to be a ‘day’. Although it does seem there’s a day for just about everything anymore. 

Plus, most places are reaching that temperature this time of year that you probably could fry your eggs on the sidewalk if you chose to. 

Some Like It Hot 

Although as hot as it gets, and as much as people complain about the brutal weather, it seems most people prefer the hot temperatures over the cold. We’re looking for beach reads, or reading books where the characters are vacationing at the beach themselves. 

Even I’m currently planning for a beach vacation, despite knowing that I don’t tolerate the heat well. My pasty, Irish skin doesn’t care for the sun’s rays and my body seems to be constantly trying to cool itself—and failing. Yet like most of us, I’m still drawn to the sun like a bug to the light.

Winter Wonderland

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the colder months and the comfort that comes with them of reading next to a nice fire, or swaddling myself in soft blankets or comfortable clothes.

But it seems that if it’s cold, the books I read with that setting feature a story about Christmas, or other holidays. Why aren’t there more books that we could call a ‘cabin cozy’ or ones we can ‘hibernate’ with over the long cold winter months when it seems that we’d be more likely to want to escape with a story? 

Fall for You

Personally, fall is my favorite season. Not too hot, not too cold—just right. Although some years it seems that mother nature forgets about this season and lets summer drag on, or she rushes right into winter. 

To help me think about a cool fall breeze caressing my skin that wants to challenge the sidewalk today to fry an egg, I write, or read, about that season in most of my stories

Do You Prefer a Beach Read or a Cabin Cozy?

Author Bio: Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. Find Maureen on her websiteFacebookTwitter

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Power of Doing Nothing by Sorchia DuBois

An acquaintance of Robert Frost called him “The laziest man in the world” since he spent a lot of time sitting on his porch instead of attending to his farm or to a proper job. Yet he won four Pulitzer prizes and produced countless poems and writings.

We may not put ourselves in the same category as Robert Frost, but a modern writer’s life seems loaded with work these days. We Gothic writers require a certain atmosphere when we write, so just keeping all the candles and incense lit can turn into an exhausting chore. Not to mention feeding the cats, bats, newts, and spiders.

Then we have the requisite writerly chores like promoting and social media and book signings and author conferences, —and most importantly—writing the next bestseller. It all has to be done at the same time, which means while you’re cleaning the writing cave and promoting your books, you are also editing, revising, writing—and rinse and repeat! Publishing early and often is the best way to keep the sales moving so the cycle is never-ending.

It’s easy to feel like you are caught in a washing machine set on perpetual spin.

An author friend likes to joke about the common misconception readers have about a writer’s life. “They think we spend the afternoon on our yachts, sipping champagne and hobnobbing with celebrities. Then we duck below decks to type out an eighty-thousand word novel before dinner.”

If that were reality, more people would be authors. As it is, the general populace will never write anything beyond a high school essay. About 81% of U.S. citizens report they want to write a book—that’s around 200 million people. But fewer than 1 million books are published every year so most of those wannabees either can’t, won’t, or don’t write books. (Based on some of the “great ideas for a book” some of my acquaintances regale me with, it is a blessing most of them never see the light of day.) A good number probably make a stab at it, see what kind of soul-sucking, mind-warping endeavor it is, and back slowly toward the door. And that’s fine. Writing, like any profession, isn’t for everyone.

And somewhere along the way, creativity shrivels like a witch’s blackened heart (present company excepted, of course.) Writer’s block is a real thing that sometimes has its roots in the constant pressure to be not only a writer but an editor, a designer, a marketing expert, a financial guru, an entrepreneur, a mom, a wife—not to mention whatever you do for a dayjob. The secret to dissolving this kind of writer’s block is to do nothing.

I think it pays to remember what we do is unique—maybe be even divine. With that in mind, time spent just letting that energy flow is a worthwhile enterprise. Sit on the porch. Star at the stars. Mutter to yourself. Daydream. Close your eyes. Take a nap. Replenish your creative juices with some hard-core nature walks and extreme rose-smelling.

Doing nothing—when you are a writer-- is always doing something. 

And—not for nothin’—I’m doing something starting July 13. My new book, Zoraida Grey and
the Voodoo Queen hits the virtual shelves on August 1. To celebrate, I’ll be guest posting, featuring giveaways and sales, along with other pre-, during, and post-launch festivities. Visit my Witchmageddon page for more info.

BTW—you can preorder Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen right this very minute HERE

If you haven’t read the first book in the series, Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones, you can get a copy of that HERE.

If you are interested in doing a pre-launch review of Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen, leave a comment or contact me on my webpage, and I'll arrange for you to receive ARCs of Books 1 and 2.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Thrill of Release Day

It’s finally here! Two-and-a-half years after the release of my first book, Prophecy, today marks the release of the third book in the Prophecy series--Collision. It’s also the last book in the series invasion-arc. But, don’t worry, the Bock family adventures will continue with new stories! These new stories will be less about staving off the threat of war and more about the lives of the characters as they rebuild in a post-invasion galaxy.

What does the future hold for this universe? (Possible spoiler alert warnings issued!) Well, I have several stories in various stages of completion. The current work in progress is actually a Christmas story featuring Alex and Gryf and their precocious youngest daughter, Maggie. It takes place during their year in space while Alex serves as ambassador to Matir, and Gryf oversees the dismantling of the Matirian Defense and Guardian Fleets. I truly hope to have this one ready for the holidays this year. If not, it’ll be out in 2019.

Also in the works, Dante’s story. How could it not be after the revelation in Salvation? Besides, one of my author friends ordered me to write it because she adores Dante. Do you know how difficult it is to say no to someone who helped launch you into your career?

Other stories coming in the Prophecy universe will be Juan’s story—which right now is different from any of my other stories because it encompasses pretty much his entire life. I may end up billing it as Book 4, but, we’ll see. Maggie’s story—no, not the Christmas one. It will be her as an adult, and the love of her life is someone her mother has a hard time accepting. Ora, Gryf’s cousin, is due for her own happily ever after to wrap up her heart after her personal loss Prophecy.

Those are just some of the stories and ideas percolating in my head. Since I'm in the mood to celebrate, you are invited to join me at 11:00 AM PDT, June 30th, on my Facebook Author Page for a Facebook Live event. I don't do these often, but this is a special day.

Now, without further adieu, I give you Collision. Happy reading, everyone!


Collision, Book Three of the Prophecy Series
A heart-rending loss…
Flora Bock will never forgive the Anferthian invaders for murdering her birth-parents. Growing up with the grandson of her sworn enemies is living a nightmare—until the day she sees him through the eyes of a young woman. But giving her heart to him is the ultimate betrayal of her parents’ memory.

A life in peril…
There are precious few places in the galaxy where Fander K’nil is safe. One look into Flora’s beautiful, hate-filled eyes is proof enough that Terr is not one of those places. He must keep her at a distance and stay alive long enough to fulfill his destiny. No matter what his heart desires.

An empire at stake…
Just as Fander and Flora begin to discover the depth of their feelings for each other, they are thrust into a deadly game of politics and assassination with an enemy who stops at nothing to stay in power. With the lives of everyone they love at risk, they must find a way to avert a new invasion before it’s too late—even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice.

Collision Buy Links:


Social Media Links for Lea Kirk:

Excerpt from Collision:

The groan lodged in Fander’s chest broke free. He stroked his fingers up and down her back, opening his mouth to take her in. Every deity of every world must have blessed him, because how else had he come to be with this woman? This strong, soft, stunning woman moving her hips to rub herself along his hardening length. And she was all woman, now, not the awkward girl she had been the first time he had kissed her. This time it seemed she knew what she wanted and was going after it. And there was no reason to stop her—or himself—this time, except for the two people outside the door. 

He cradled her face between his palms and turned the one deep kiss into several short ones before pulling back. “The captains of our guard details are standing beyond the door. They could check in at any moment.”

“We can go into my room.”

The invitation he had waited his lifetime to hear. “They’ll still look for us there.”

“I’ll risk it.” Flora slid off his lap and cool air rushed over his thighs and overheated groin. She grasped his hands and tugged. “C’mon, Fander. We can lock the door.”

And pray Nor and K’rona did not smash it down in a panic.

Still, there was a tingle of excitement at risking discovery. He allowed her to pull him from the couch, across the sitting room, and into her bedroom.  

Friday, June 29, 2018

Trad, Indie, Hybrid...Which Should I Be? with @Meganslayer #authors #hybrid #indie #traditional #authortalk

So what am I?


I never thought I'd be a hybrid author. I was determined to go Traditional or nothing, but then a couple of my pubs closed and it was crushing. I thought these were my places to be...and they're gone. So some of my work I opted to self-publish.

It's been nice to have publishers still, but also nice to have print copies I've got control over in my hands. There's nothing like holding your own book in your hands that you helped create. So, I'm still with publishers because I like the safety of being there, but I like having some control over my work, too.

One of the bad things about being a hybrid published author is the cost. When you're with a publisher, they handle the costs. You write, do the edits and get the art, but they pay for it. With self-publishing, you have to foot the bill for that all. It's a push to promote more to recoup what you put into the cost, but it's not easy if you don't have a lot of startup cash.

Still, I like being a little of both. Kind of reminds me of that old Osmonds song...

Here's a little bit about my latest release, Roosters: Innocent & Sweet:

Innocent and Sweet by Megan Slayer
Roosters, Book 1
Changeling Press
Short Story
M/F, New Adult

Anissa Dunn wants one man -- Kameron. He’s got looks, brains and a boatload of attitude… and all that muscle. A girl can only take so much, and he's her heart's desire. She’s not afraid to give as good as she gets and she wants him to be her teacher in all things carnal.
There's only one catch -- he's her bodyguard and the rules state she can't date the staff.
But rules are meant to be broken…

Available from Changeling Press:
Universal Link: