Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Memories from Our Authors

Veronica sez: We thought it would be fun to share a few of our own favorite Halloween memories with you today. This little ghost guy is a favorite pin of mine, that my Dad gave me when I was a kid - have a safe and sane (but spooky!) holiday!!!

Robert C. Roman:
Mine is a mix of funny and little-kid-sweet-romantic. 

Three Halloweens ago, my wife stayed home to give out candy, and I took our little boys (aged 2 and 5, respectively) trick-or-treating for the first time in our new neighborhood. Our older boy, Lucien, had been trick or treating once before, but this was the younger, Viktor's, first time ever.

 Our neighborhood is four cul-de-sacs and two half-block dead end streets all connected by a single lane, and we're nearly at one end of all of it. We started through our cul-de-sac, picking up a few pieces of candy every few houses, as most of them were dark. After one lap of the cul-de-sac, the boys were a little dispirited by all the closed houses, and we were considering going back in, but after waving to Mommy, the little ones decided to press on.

 Ah, such a fateful decision. Halfway to the next cul-de-sac, we ran into a strange procession. Every child in the neighborhood, from my older son's bus stop partners to the few trick-or-treating teenagers, being led along the street by a tiny moppet no bigger than my two year old. She took one look at the boys, grabbed Lucien by the hand, and said 'C'mon! We're gonna get free candy!'
 And so my son met his first girlfriend, Carter, the tiny force of nature. She towed him around the neighborhood not once, but twice, and thereafter to innumerable play-dates and parties for the next two-and-a-half years, including one spur-of-the-moment Halloween party (she grabbed kids and pulled them inside when they trick-or-treated her house).

Diane Burton:
I was a young single and went to a girlfriend’s house to watch movies on Halloween. She wanted to watch a movie that I think was called “The Hand” about a dismembered hand that crawled around and killed people. In one scene, it crept up the back of the driver’s seat and strangled the driver.  It was in black and white, which made it that much more creepy, made in the 1930s I think. Anyway, after the movie was over I had to drive home. I just knew that hand would creep up the back of the seat and strangle me.  Fastest I ever drove home.

Heather Long:
When my daughter was 4 years old, we took her to Disney World. She dressed up like Belle and we went to the Mickey's Very Scary Halloween Party. All of the characters at the park bowed to the 'princess' and she trick or treated at the different attractions, we also got to watch the Boo To You Halloween Parade which is opened by a headless horseman racing up the street--and my daughter declared after it raced past--that poor horse, he needs a better rider. That man couldn't keep his head.

It's as hysterical to me today as it was then.

Jessica Subject:
My Halloween memory is...

We used to live on a street perpendicular to Elm St. And one Halloween, one of the residents had decked his house out, and he dressed up like Freddy Krueger. I didn't get scared, but a lot of the parents did when he jumped out at them. It was more funny than anything.

Maureen Bonatch:
One of my favorite memories was when I was pretty young and my older sister, Kathy, took me through a 'haunted house'.  I'm sure it was probably pretty lame as haunted houses go, since it was done by the church bazaar, but not when you're about seven.   A group of us were walking through it and we were at the end of the line, I turned around and Frankenstein was right behind us, arms outstretched, moaning and coming right for us! I became slightly hysterical, as seven year olds can, and Frankenstein ended up having to 'ditch the scary monster act' and kneel down to console me, lol.  

(P.S.  my parents home, where I grew up was and still is Elm Street..after I reluctantly watched the first Nightmare on Elm Street movie I slept with the lamp on for a week...  umm..I was probably about twenty years old, lol)

Mimi Sebastian:
Here's my memory from childhood. I was at my uncle's house in New York and like many of the brownstone type houses, all the backs faced an alley. My cousins and I used to play on the alley street with the neighbor kids, but one night around Halloween, all the adults had gone back inside the house and I stayed outside alone, leaning against the fence, glancing down the street. It was particularly dark. Suddenly, I saw a light appear in the middle of the street about ten yards away from me, almost like a flashlight or lantern, approaching slowly, but I didn't see anyone holding the light. I was somewhat frozen to the spot until I heard laughter coming from the same direction as the light. That pretty much unstuck my feet and I raced back into the house. I don't know what the heck it was, if it just a neighbor taking a stroll, but in my child's mind, it's provided a scary memory to this day!

Stephanie Beck:
My favorite costume is a tiny cow sleeper that all my kids wore when they were babies on their first Halloweens. I've never been big on the holiday, but who doesn't like candy and tiny adorable cows?

Virginia Nelson:
Back when I was a young teen, I got with a bunch of other kids who wanted to set up a haunted farm house (mostly  boys who wanted to scare their girlfriends), so we went out to the old deserted place, decorated it then several of us took our positions in the house... I was lying on the bed with a phony knife in my chest, fake blood all over the room... everyone set the stage and the kids coming out to the house got the scare of a life time...

Afterwards, we all left, went out for something to eat then returned to the old deserted farm house to clean up. The joke was on us because this time the girls who we had scared came back, cleaned up our mess and rearranged everything including the killing scenes. Scared the dickens out of this 13 year old and others when we walked in and saw three people lying on the floor in a pile of fresh blood and a hobo looking guy standing over them.

That was the last time I set up a haunted house for anyone...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Greetings at Halloween

This is my first post on Paranormal Romantics so I thought I would do a bit of an introduction.

I had a much older brother (still have him, actually) and he had a love for horror comics. Scary, bloody, violent, black and white drawings where the mean boy got shut up inside the Iron Maiden. I would sneak them and enjoy the shivery goodness, scared witless in the safety of my own cozy bed.

And I have to reveal my age by mentioning those classic TV Shows The Addam's Family and The Munsters. I particularly loved Wednesday, though I never enjoyed playing with headless dolls.

Sometimes though, my imagination would run away with me. I remembered covering my little brother's face with blankets (he is lucky he survived) because tiny witches and flying monkeys were going to drop Bad Pills in our mouths while we slept. And then there was that dream, the sound of footsteps crushing the gravel in the parking lot next door. Frankenstein! Surely I could out run him!

Also, my Dad was a bartender(back in the old days a bartender could actually raise a family of four and even take them on vacation every yesr!). He had to be at work by five thirty or so so we ate dinner quite early--and watched Dark Shadows with Dad.

And, most shocking, I married man about as tall as Lurch and with some facial characteristics quite similar. Hmm. He never says,"You rang?" though.

Years later I discovered gothic romances, Sihlouette Shadows romances, Barbara Michaels and Stephen King. All very very good.

Then came Buffy. I worked part time nights back then and would get home in time to see an eleven pm showing of Buffy, all by myself in a house full of innocent sleepers. I watched that show religiously, and when we got a computer in the late nineties, it was one of the first things I found on the Internet. I felt too old for the fandom, but eventually met older women fanfic writers, and I threw myself into that for a few years.

Eventually the show ended and the fanfic community drifted away. I wanted to read vampire romances. No one sold those books in Casper, WY, but they could be found in ebooks stores, online.

What if, thought I, I tried writing vampires to publish?

So I did. I wrote vampires and angels, tiger and Yeti shifters. Demons! I wrote a steampunk with a griffon shifter...Paranormal elements are alive and well in my brain! I have plans for more--too many plans.

Right now I have a .99 ebook, The Psyvamp and the Professor. She steals life force to survive, he has a dark past as a priest with a demonology specialization. They are perfect for each other!

Thanks so much for having me as a guest blogger, Jean. So fun.

Melisse Aires

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Another Cat Shifter to Celebrate Halloween With

It's almost Halloween. Time for the ghosts, goblins and spooky stuff. I was asked to write a quick story about a shifter. I'd written about tigers and black cats, so I wanted a new-to-me shifter. Enter King, the lion shifter. He's got one day to find his mate. One day! Halloween! Not much time. Tonya's never dealt with shifters, but something in this sweet lion's eyes makes her want to get to know the man underneath.

Writing shifters isn't as easy as it looks. Lions are complex critters. Lots of females, but only one male. I didn't want him roaming, so he's got to find his one person.

I'll admit this story goes by quick, but I like it. Tonya isn't a pushover. She gives him a run for his fuzzy money. Why don't you take an hour over Halloween and curl up with this hot read?

Roar by Megan Slayer
Contemporary, Paranormal
Short Story
Shara Azod Publishing

When the leaves turn and the air cools at Halloween, the shifters come out to play.
King has one chance for the entire year to find his mate. Halloween. Twenty-four hours to balance out the man and the animal. Will he be able to find her? Or will he be sentenced to another year locked within his lion’s form?
Tonya doesn’t believe in shifters, but she’s drawn to the massive lion at the zoo. The more she watches him, the more she wonders what secrets he hides. She’s not looking for romance on Halloween. Will she accept what she doesn’t understand...all in the name of love?
Available here:

She’ll be the death of me or my salvation. King strolled the length of the lion enclosure. Being in his animal form meant he could watch the visitors to the zoo with no interruptions. They gawked at him and the lionesses, and he snarled and strutted for them. Not a bad life—if he were just a lion. No, he had to be born a shifter.
He snorted and shook his head. That’d give his artist something to look at. He watched her. The saucy woman with warm brown skin churned something inside him. He wanted to see her, talk to her, curl his arms around her. Her scent wafted to him. She smelled of flowers and sweetness...things he hadn’t smelled in a long time.
She tipped her head and focused on the page again. Was she looking at him? Or admiring the lionesses? Goddess, he wanted her to be paying attention to him.
One of the lionesses strolled past him and sniffed, then continued on her way. He knew the score. He’d been sold into slavery by handlers wanting to give him to the zoo. He flopped on his side and stretched out.
If he’d found his mate before the handlers attacked him, he wouldn’t be in this situation. He wouldn’t be locked in a zoo with lionesses who hated him for not being an actual lion.
Two of the zookeepers entered the feeding room behind the rock face of the enclosure. If they only knew what he really was, would they let him out? Cage him up tighter? He snorted again. Their voices floated out to him, thanks to his hypersensitive hearing.
“If he doesn’t mate with the lionesses, we’ll have to bring in another one,” the female zookeeper said. “He’s not working out.”
Well, no shit. He wasn’t a full-blooded lion. The lionesses didn’t understand his shifter self. They wanted an animal. He glanced over at the artist again. She stared at him, her brow scrunched and her lips twisted, like she was deep in thought. A man sat beside her. King’s inner man growled. Odd, since usually the animal roared, not the man. His lion wasn’t real thrilled, either. Was she his mate? If the cat and the man both claimed ownership, then she could be. But the real wild card was her. If she didn’t accept him, he’d spend another year locked in his cat form. He loved the cat, but the man needed a chance to stretch and exist.
The zookeepers grabbed his attention again. “He’ll work out down in Cincinnati. They need a lion. He’ll be alone for a while, but he can handle it. I’ll start the paperwork. They won’t move him on Halloween, so we’ve got a couple days.”
Like hell. He wasn’t going to be lonely much longer, especially if it was indeed Halloween night. King sat up tall. He roared at the man next to his dark beauty. Get away from my girl.
King suppressed a snort. His girl? Who the hell did he think he was to claim her? She could reject him. The reality that he could be stuck for at least another year wriggled into his brain. The woman met his gaze and grinned. Smiling at him? He wrapped his tail around his legs in his best photographic pose. Or he could win her over.
She shook her head at the man and grabbed her phone. “I’m taking a picture. Leave me alone.” She nudged him. “Go.”
She’s not interested, asshole. Instead of his words, all she heard was his roar. Damn it.
The woman swatted the man’s hand away again, but this time Mr. Grabby got the hint and left her alone. Good thing. King nodded once as if to approve the man’s leaving.
“It’s like he’s watching me,” she murmured, then smiled at King. “I’m not sure I want to know what you’re thinking, but you look like you’re paying attention to me.” Yes, yes, he was paying attention to her. She met every one of his needs in the physical sense. Would she warm to him? He’d find out. He needed to get out—out of the zoo, out of his animal...and into her arms. Tonight. Yeah, time to get the hell out of Dodge and start his new life.

* * * * 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Beware the Black Cat!

One summer, just before I'd turned seven, I returned home from visiting my aunt, to find my parents had gotten me a kitten. A pet of my very own that didn't have to be kept in an aquarium or a cage. And the best part of all, she was black. I've never been afraid of black cats, but I know many people avoid them if they see one on the street. Not me.

There is much written about the black cat being a witch's familiar (would enhance her/his powers). Though, I've also heard the same thing about a dark grey cat. And because of the tales of witches, black cats quickly became associated with evil. Some people even believe that black cats are actually witches in disguise. 

Just as I shared broom lore last Halloween, here is some other black cat lore:
  • In some places, it is considered lucky to own a black cat, but unlucky to have one cross your path.
  • A strange black cat found on the porch brings properity to the owner of the house.
  • Wives of fishermen on the Yorkshire Coast believe their men will return safely if a black cat is kept in their house.
  • In the English Midlands, a black cat as a wedding present is thought to bring good luck to the bride.
  • In Germany, if a black cat crosses your path from right to left it is considered a bad omen, but if it crosses from left to right, favorable times are ahead for you.
  • In Italy, if a black cat lies on the bed of someone who is sick, death will follow.
  • In China, some believe black cats are harbingers of famine and poverty.

Do you know any other lore about black cats? And what do you think? Lucky or unlucky?

Happy Halloween!

Author Bio:
The Power of Three
-Gargoyles, Witches & more in this
paranormal erotica story.

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 and on twitter @jsubject.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Here be dragons...

I'm on a dragon kick again. And nope, it has absolutely nothing do do with Smaug and a certain Mr Cumberbatch... Nope, nothing at all *whistles*

There's a theory that our fear and awe for dragons comes from far back in our mammalian past. Carl Sagan proposed that it was encoded into those first mammals' DNA at the time of the dinosaurs. That the inherent fear sewn into their genes of a fast beating fear of large reptiles with razored teeth and the promise of death was an evolutionary advantage.

But...we're no longer as scared of dragons as say, snakes or crocodiles. Or even dinosaurs. As I was writing this I wondered if the velociraptor in the kitchen scene in Jurassic Park would work as well with a dragon. And I couldn't believe in the sense of fear, of tension I remember from the film.

Dragons have had something of their fearsome reputation stripped away from them. They're no longer something we fear as unlike giant snakes or crocodiles they don't exist in nature. Making them a monster in fiction is harder because of that. 

Instead we desire them. We dream of being partnered with them--sometimes in every sense *grin*--wrapping ourselves up in their power and beauty, because--hands up--who doesn't love a dragon shifter?

So come December, I'm sure Smaug will play a little on the fear and a lot on our desires for a dragon. I can't wait! 

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.


Book two in the Demonic Liaisons series.

Fadeyka Bryce is on the run. She uncovered a dark family secret and now there’s a price on her head. Her best plan is to hide out in the last place they would ever look for her—a pleasure planet—until she can buy herself a new name and a new face.

However, the Athanasios—a race of pure energy—have plans for Fade. They’ve been waiting for her, for her unique flesh, and they ache to experience pleasure. They can become as many lovers as Fade could ever dream…except for one man. Taras Foster.

But then, the Athanasios want him too.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Halloween outside the US

Halloween is around the corner. I’m sure everyone in the US is busy carving pumpkins, and decorating with spooky things.
From what I've seen pumpkin wise, you are all awesome at it.

Not here in the UK--although there is a lot more Halloween stuff around than ever before. I saw tons of pumpkins on sale today, yet not one shopper had one in their trolley. We simply don’t know what to do with them.
A few years ago I went to visit a friend a few days before Halloween. When asked what I wanted to do, and being given a few very cool Halloweeny options…
I opted for:
Going trick or treating with my friend’s kids.
When asked why in God’s name would I want to subject myself to "Torture", I simply said “It’s the real thing. I don’t know how it works, so I’ll get your kids to show me.”
And boy, did they ever show me!
I had an absolute blast, and I think the kids did too. Everyone overdosed on chocolate and my friend’s son, the “Spectre of Doom”, introduced me to some I’d never had. (Much to the surprise of his father, who asked me where I’d got this changeling from, because his son doesn’t share candy…)

Sadly, in the UK, the shops being filled with toys and sweets, decorations and pumpkins has nothing to do with people wanting to celebrate Halloween. It’s all about money. Supermarkets have cottoned on to the fact that there is a holiday which hasn’t been commercialized yet. At least not here.
If you show kids the toys and decorations, they’ll want them without knowing anything about Halloween other than what they’ve seen on TV. Parents are helpless to resist the barrage of bright orange goodies and get sucked into it without really knowing what it’s all about.
Then comes the actual Halloween.
Kids here have no clue how it works. They don’t know the “porch light” etiquette, and if you say trick instead of treat…they’re at a loss of what to do.
Worse…many don’t go house to house because they want sweets. (Pardon me, candy.) Hell no. I’ve had “kids” (seventeen year olds!) stand outside my door, at 11pm, dressed in regular clothes, holding out their hand and going “Trick or Treat”. Foolish me handed them some chocolates, despite the non-effort and surly sneers. That got me even more sneers and a "I don't want chocolate, gimme a quid." (A "Quid" being £1, which equates to around $1.55)
If you think I’m kidding--I’m not.
The small kids don't tend to show up here, we're too far off the beaten track. The only ones who might knock are the neighbor's kids and for the past few years they had no idea Halloween even existed.
They do this year.
I'm prepared.

In all that, the real “All Hallows Eve” (as celebrated in the Church the day before All Saints), and the more ancient festival of Samhain, are forgotten.
Samhain (pronounced a bit like Sow-in) actually dates back to 10th century Ireland, and it is a festival marking the end of harvest and the beginning of winter. There is nothing sinister about Samhain. It simply marks a time when the cattle was brought in from the summer pastures, the harvest was finished and slaughter started for the winter months. Bonfires were lit to cleanse or protect from spirits wishing to do harm, so they couldn’t get into the winter food preparations.
I believe the “Night of the Dead” connotations came about much later, but Samhain has nothing to do with “The Evil Dead”, but rather with honoring the dead by setting an extra plate at the table and remembering those who have passed.
The Church later “appropriated” the date to celebrate “All Hallows Eve”, but it pre-dates the Christian holiday by many centuries.
Still, I think it is worth remembering where it all came from, and, having grown up in a family which had plenty of farmers among it, appreciate the harvest, and prepare for the long nights ahead, while remembering those who are no longer with us.

I’ll probably make my own little bonfire and reflect on the past year.
And in that spirit, I’d like to say “Blessed be”,  because I think everyone can use a little blessing in their life, no matter what they choose to believe.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Things that go Bump in the Night

Halloween is upon us...well...almost. Some of my favorite memories involve dressing up and going to our local Volunteer Fire Department's haunted house. My mom would scream, my brothers would hide in my cloak, and I would grin maniacally at all the horror movie things I recognized. 

We'd break out the scariest (and funniest) movies a week before the big day. I would read my favorite passages from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (and the other two in the trilogy). We'd make scary spaghetti and ghoulish goulash. Don't forget the frankenstein fingers with some ghost goop to wash it all down with. 

As I grew into an adult I lost sight of what I loved about the holiday and focused on the busy side. Too much to do, not enough time. My tastes changed, as well. I love curling up with a wicked (and sultry) ghost or witch romance. Children's scary movies fit on my shelves next to the old school scares. 

This year my mom posted a picture on her Facebook wall of her scary spaghetti and I got nostalgic. 

For Halloween this year, I think we're going to grab our own candy and throw a ghoul party where the kids can invite their friends to stop by. We'll have some snacks and drinks while kid friendly movies play in the background. Then, when the little one is tuckered out, maybe we'll rock some scary thrillers just for fun. :D 

What traditions do you have? Will you be bringing some of your childhood fun to Halloween this year? 

Halloween Heat II: A fantastic trio of novellas by three of your favorite erotic romance authors
Haunting Melody St. Claire: Do you believe in love after life? I do. Believe with me...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

You can't pick your family...

You know that old saying – you can't pick your family but you can pick your friends. And hopefully the two will merge in a wonderful connection where your sister *is* your friend and so on and so on and so on…

Yeah, right.

Me neither.

In "Battle Scars", book 4 of the "Blood of thePride" series releasing on October 28th, Rebecca finds herself in the middle of a modern-day Romeo and Juliet story where two Felis families end up fighting in her front yard of Toronto, Canada – and the possibility of collateral damage is high.

This is the fourth book in the series and frankly, I think it's the best. Rebecca and Brandon's relationship hit a new speed bump and new family members arrive to make the situation even more dangerous – and in some cases, humorous.  

I hope you'll come along for one more prowl through the streets of Toronto and visit old and new friends in "Battle Scars"!

Here's an excerpt from "Battle Scars", releasing October 28th from Carina Press and available at all ebook retailers!

Book four of Blood of the Pride

P.I. Rebecca Desjardin is surprised when two seemingly unrelated missing-teen cases land in her lap on the same day. Her cat-shifter instincts tell her there's more to the story, and when she uncovers a bitter feud between the two families, she suspects Romeo and Juliet runaways. She turns to her lover, Brandon Hanover, a man who knows the underground better than most.

Brandon is determined to help the woman he loves outwit ruthless enforcers and bring two missing kids to safety, but when a woman from his past resurfaces he finds himself caught between two worlds once again.

As the claws come out and the war between the shifter families turns deadly, the two will have to stand together or fall separately--and even that might not be enough to save them.


I'd always thought I'd appreciate the sight of a near-naked man scampering around my house in a pair of boxer shorts.

Until now.

I cleared my throat as Jake Middleston glared at me, his back to the kitchen. He had about ten years on me, with skin that had been left out in the sun too long. The jean jacket he wore over a dingy gray T-shirt was ripped along the arms--honest injuries and not for fashion. His short-cropped black hair was turning gray in spots, scattered over the scalp.

His nostrils flared and he frowned.

He could smell Brandon Hanover, my lover and new roommate, as Bran snuck into the kitchen.

He let out something akin to a huff.

Jake was old-school Felis. Tolerated humans when necessary, and even then under duress. He and his kin believed in the doctrine of each to their own and being in the same house as a human was tough, much less knowing said human was mated to me, a fellow Felis. I could see the words on his lips itching to break out, a good old-fashioned racist rant at me for being so involved with human society that I'd consider one of them as my beloved.

But he was also a client and I had to stay polite in the face of old-fashioned prejudice. I'd done it before for other clients, slimy adulterers who wanted an easy way out of their marriage and itchy-fingered businessmen looking for criminals in their midst who stole paperclips and pencils.

If you had asked me six months ago if I'd have my fellow cat shifters as clients I would have laughed in your face. Being outcast for two decades has that effect on me.

But recent events had brought me back into the family and scored me one hot human mate, so I was prepared to deal with family as possible clients. And keep my mouth shut.

Besides, I needed the cash.

"You said you needed my help," I prompted, trying to draw his attention away from Bran. I couldn't see him but I could smell him, fresh from our bed upstairs.

He hadn't showered yet, making his natural male smell more intense, almost to the point of overpowering--let's just say that we enjoy waking each other up multiple times before we actually get up. I'd managed to get into the shower before my arranged meeting with Middleston but he'd refused, showing his stubborn streak and annoyance at me having anything to do in the morning other than stay in bed.

Bran knew we Felis had an enhanced sense of smell. And he knew I knew my new client would have it, as well.

The older man rubbed the palms of his hands on his jeans, likely in an attempt to ignore the musky scent drifting across the room. "I have a daughter, Lisa. She's almost eighteen and thinks she knows it all." He gave me a knowing smile. "As you can guess we disagree on a few things."

I nodded. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted Bran tiptoeing toward the stairs cradling a huge bowl of tortilla chips and a bottle of salsa.

He knew I hated crumbs in bed.

He knew I couldn't say anything without making a scene.

I kept my attention on Middleston. It kept me from considering disembowelment.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bunny Pumpkins

Veronica sez  to Steph: O_o that first one is a bit NSFW...what will they think of next?

If you were a werebunny, driven by sugar, sparkles and sex, what kind of jack o lantern would you carve?

This is the sort of question that keeps me up at night, so, I looked around and here's what I came up with.

Sexy Pumpkin (yeah, google this one. There are super duper naughtier ones)

Sparkle Pumpkins (now, these I could put out at my house)

And of course, cupcake pumpkins, because no werebunny fun is complete without cupcakes!

Find out what else the bunnies like in the F*ck Like Bunnies Series by Stephanie Beck

All the best on your pumpkin fun,
Stephanie Beck

Monday, October 21, 2013

Web Serial Review - Worm by Wildbow

As I may have mentioned, I write a pair of web serials, Blue Bloods and Blank. I've actually become fairly fond of the format. It means if I like a series, instead of waiting a year for a sequel I get more every week, sometimes more than once a week.

With that in mind, I've been reading a few of them. The best of the lot I've found so far is a superhero story called Worm, by Wildbow. As a quick aside, that link goes to the first chapter, not to the current one. Serious spoilers if you go to the main site, because the main site is also the current chapter, and the series is almost completed.

In the case of a normal book, that might mean there are, perhaps, fifty to one hundred fifty thousand bits of wordy goodness to read. For Worm, however, it means a lot more than that. Wildbow has been writing two chapters a week since the middle of 2011. He breaks it up into major storylines, each with a name (like 'Gestation', 'Parasite' and 'Monarch') and a number. The current storyline, which is purported to be the last, is arc number 29, "Venom". Overall each one is the length of a medium length novel.

But enough about format. If Worm were a traditional format print novel or an ebook, I'd be just as addicted to it, I'd just have to wait longer for installments. You want to know about the story!

Worm centers on Taylor Hebert, a high school girl with a secret: she has the ability to control any arthropod within a several block radius. In a world where super heroes and heroines have been around since the mid seventies, this gives her two options. She can use her powers for personal gain becoming a super villain, or she can use them to protect others and become a hero. She wants to be a heroine, but not too many people can see the heroism in calling swarms of creepy crawlies to stop bad guys, mostly because they're all shrieking and going squick.

The thing I love most about Worm is the characterization. Taylor is the target of an organized bullying campaign, and Wildbow nails it on every count. The methods of the bullies, the reactions of various bystanders, and the abortive attempts of the school administration to deal with it are all so startlingly true to life I'd almost guess Wildbow has studied his Olveus.

It's not just Taylor who gets that level of detail, though. Every character on the page is fleshed out and unique, whether it's Lung's warlord mentality, Imp's reaction to being a neglected child, Legend's constant struggle to balance work and family, or Rachel's fumbling attempts to deal with a world which mystified her before she got powers. What's even more impressive is that Wildbow even manages to put solid characterization into super-powered serial killers and a sentient AI.

Despite being a story about superheroes, Worm has less action than you might think. That said, when Wildbow does an super-action scene, he does it right. When the supers start swinging, buildings shake and shatter, Skitter's swarms fill the sky, and Grue's darkness blankets the land.

Did I mention Wildbow has some fantastic geek-culture references worked in, like the cape who can create and manipulate darkness who calls himself 'Grue'? It's the icing on the fantastic layer cake of characterization, subtle world building and action that is Worm.

Anyone who likes superheroes, action, or tales with some grit in them should give Worm a read. It's definitely worth the time. Do note that Worm is a bit on the dark side, and isn't recommended for children or folks who want to avoid possible Triggers. As Wildbow puts it, 'it's easier to list the triggers Worm doesn't have than the ones it does'.

Give it a try, let me know what you think in the comments, and I'll see you next month!

EDIT - As noted in the review, the actual title of the web series is 'Worm'. bit of a faux pas to name the character rather than the book in the title, I know. Sorry about that!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Cover Me

The new blog admin suggested that I write a post on doing my own covers. My policy on that is that a prudent person doesn't say no to the boss without cause, which I don't have.

So, first a tiny bit of personal bio. I started out with brush and canvas as a hobby then moved into computer assisted graphic arts when I began illustrating Seasons of the Witch calendars and planners in 2000, which I still do, by the way.

Everything you've ever heard about the importance of cover is true.

In July of 2012, I met Mark Coker, founder and CEO of Smashwords, at the RWA convention in L.A. He showed how a book that was practiclly lying dormant spiked way up on the charts after being pulled and reintroduced with a sexy, shady new cover. Nothing about the book had changed. Just the cover. That made a huge impression on me.

I think the latest research shows that we have something like seven seconds (max) to capture a potential reader's attention. So, does cover count? Oh, yeah.

When I'm designing a new cover, I test it visually for a range of different factors including how well it stands out as a thumb nail. You know the Amazon best seller and also-bought lists? It's important that my cover draw the eye and that's not usually a problem.

For other authors, I do subscribe to the branding approach to covers. If you can find one cover artist and stay with them it would be good, because a consistent look promotes your brand as a writer.

As it turns out, my readers like my covers as a rule. In fact signed prints of the covers are popular prizes for giveaways.

What's next?

On December 8th, the box set of Books 1-6, of the serial saga, The Order of the Black Swan, will release at limited, introductory pricing. It will be available for preorder on B&N, Apple, and Smashwords by mid November. The set will include previously unreleased BOOK SIX.

Seasons of the Witch can be found at
TWITTER: @vdanann
Best-selling ROMANCE with Paranormal, Sci-fi, and Fantasy Flair.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Halloween Curses and Samhain Ménages

I love this time of year, it gets cooler, the air is crisper, it's sweater time and the perfect excuse to indulge in hot tea or hot chocolate. Other than have apple and pumpkin tastes everywhere it's a wonderful time of year. Don't get me wrong, I love apples and pumpkins are awesome but sometimes it can be much. Of course stores don’t care that it's Halloween/Samhain time, they've already moved onto to Thanksgiving and Christmas if they already haven't. As much as I love this time of year where there seems to be magic in the air, I only have two Halloween/Samhain oriented stories. I really would love to write more of them. There's something so mysterious and enchanting and yet there are shadows and a haunting sense that there something more in the atmosphere. Why wouldn't you get inspired? And there's also that naughtiness right around the corner when you add in candy and costumes.  

Here are my additions to the season. Have a Happy and Safe Halloween/Samhain but don't forget to add in the sexy and naughty. 

Lonely No More is my first and only Ghost story. It was difficult to write there was so much to consider. I'm not sure if I'd write another Ghost story but I'd love to give it a try if the right plot bunny came hopping along. 

Lonely No More 
Excerpt Rating (PG-13): Could She? 

Five years ago on Halloween, author William Moore carelessly broke up with a witch. Needless to say, she didn't take it well. Cursed to a lonely non-life as a ghost, trapped in his own home, he never expected to do more than exist in the world his ex had created. Except now he's got a new roommate in the form of fellow author, Alyssa Washington, and he doesn’t anticipate his strong attraction to her. As their simmering emotion sparks life within, he yearns to become mortal once again. 
Can his newfound feelings give him what he wishes for most? 
Buy Links: 

“So what’s up? What’s with all the questions all of sudden? Normally we talk about your latest masterpiece, business, and my lack of a love life while eating, and then we part ways.” 
William shrugged. He didn’t know why he wanted to know all these things. Normally, he had no interest in anything but himself. If he were honest, his encounter with the woman earlier left him craving some sort of human contact; a reintroduction to being a social creature, if you will. He had sensed the same loneliness in her that had gnawed at him his whole life. If it weren’t for Deacon he would truly be alone. “I don’t know. Something about that woman calls to me,” William said softly. 
“How so?” 
“I guess I see a bit of my loneliness in her. Things have become so monotonous. Write, scare people, write some more, not eat dinner with you, then go back to write or watch TV. That’s my day in a nutshell. The days just blend together. She’s like me, at least, I think she’s like me.” 
“You like her,” Deacon teased. 
“I never said that,” William said defensively. 
“You’re attracted to her.” 
William crossed his arms over his chest. “I am not.” 
“Look at you. You’re attracted to her and acting like you’re five.” Deacon laughed. 
“I don’t even know her and I’m not acting like I’m five.” 
“Yeah, but you said she calls to you,” Deacon teased again. 
“Shut up. So how are things in the banking world?” William asked, trying to change the subject. 
“Same as they were the last time you asked. So, what are you working on?” 
“I’m struggling. I need a sounding board. I’m not sure how this book is going. I like the storyline but it’s very different from what I usually write.” 
“Do you want me to read it? I could read it but I’m not sure if I could help,” Deacon pointed out. 
“Thanks, but I know you’re busy. Sometimes, I read it over and I start thinking the premise is horrible. That maybe it reads like porn,” William said, disgusted. 
“Maybe this woman came at the right time. Maybe she’ll give you some of the insight you need.” 
“I don’t know. I have to figure out how to interact with her first.” 
Deacon shrugged. “Very true.” 
William sighed. “I’m going back up to work on the story some more. I’ll see you tomorrow.” 
“And I’ll clean up. Good luck with the book.” 
“Thanks.” William pushed back his chair and walked away. 
Six hours and many starts and stops later, William gave up. He just wasn’t sure what he was doing or if it was any good. He went to his bedroom, shut the door, undressed, got into bed and flicked on the TV. He zoned out after five minutes, his thoughts drifting to his soon-to-be roommate. Deacon’s words echoed around his head. Could it be? Can she help me? 

This next offering is from my Dragon New Year series. It's a mini story that fulfills Carissa's fantasy that was mentioned in Dragon Ugly. I loved bringing back the pairing of Brent and Carissa and Fletch. Take a sneak peek. 

Excerpt Rating (PG-13),   
It’s Samhain and Brent wants to fulfill Carissa’s fantasy of sex in a bookshop while it’s open. With help from Fletch he’s going to make it a hot, steamy night she’ll never forget.  
Carissa only wanted to spend more time with her mate she didn’t know what to expect when they arrived in the mountains to visit his parents. After dressing her as a French maid, him as Highway man and their friend Fletch as Zorro, she’s pretty sure that he’s taken her fantasy to a whole new level.  
Samhain has always been a magical time, now it’s about to get a whole lot hotter.  
Author Note: This story comes after Dragon Ugly.  
Buy Links:  
Carissa’s heart thudded against her ribcage as she allowed Brent to guide her past the shops declaring Halloween and Samhain sales and discounts. Children dressed up in various costumes rushed past them, chased by harried parents. None of that really registered. Brent’s solid, roughened palm against hers, the heat rolling off his body in waves, the aura of sexual determination and arousal coming from him wrapped around her. Her own desire pulsed between her thighs; her nipples tightened and ached for his touch. He’d dressed her tonight in a sleeveless French maid costume with crotchless panties and no bra. Cool night air brushed against her overheated sex, teasing her throbbing clit.  
Fletch trailed behind them in a Zorro costume, complete with cape and mask. Brent had decided that the Highwayman costume was more to his liking, complete with a cape and mask of his own. Both men looked dashing and dangerous. A thrill raced down her spine as she glanced back at Fletch, who’d decided to go the scruffy route with a bit a coppery colored beard on his jaw. Brent’s darker five o’clock shadow made him look just as fierce. He had insisted that during the fantasy her wrists would be bound behind her back and she would be blindfolded so she wouldn’t know who was doing what. Carissa hadn’t thought that far for her fantasy, all she’d known was she wanted to fuck in a bookstore. Brent had taken it to a whole new level.  
She’d even overheard them talking of using nipple clamps to help increase her pleasure. None of that mattered as much as being with the man she loved, her mate. Her wolf was just happy for a change in scenery. At the end of the night, when the clock struck Midnight, they would all shift, Brent and Fletch into dragons and Carissa into a wolf. According to Brent’s parents, it was a way to welcome Samhain in your purest form. New place to explore, and a new experience to add to the ones that Brent had brought into her once boring life.  
They continued on down the block, passing more kids and parents and dodging late night drunks who were leaning on each other for support as they walked down the sidewalk. The air was filled with softness and anticipation, as if the world was holding its breath for the Witch’s New Year, when the veil between man and the dead was the thinnest. Or in this case, when the veil between mortals and the paranormal blended together to become one.  
Tension shivered along her muscles as her arousal and excitement blended together. She hid her eagerness to act out this fantasy and move on to the next. Brent led the way, and she rushed to catch up with him.  
Whoa there, lover,” Carissa called out. “We have time, there’s no rush.”  
He’s just impatient,” Fletch said as he caught up. “Slow down man, I don’t want to look suspicious to the cops.” He nodded his head toward a man dressed as a British Bobby.  
Brent grumbled something that Carissa didn’t catch, but she was relieved when he slowed his pace to a relaxed walk. Her muscles ached as she matched his speed. They had been walking over uneven cobblestone, up and down hills, for the last half hour.  
Trying to get me to lose five pounds?” she teased, knowing that wasn’t the case.  
You know I love your curves, honey.” Brent leaned down and pressed a kiss to her cheek. “Sorry for the rush, just wanted to get there as fast as possible in case they changed their mind.”  
Fletch laughed. “Fat chance of that, they’ve done this type of thing before. Tor arranged for it last month when he brought Louisa with him on a visit to his parents. So no worries.”  
Carissa didn’t comment, she just kept walking. At least she knew that this would be a safe place to fulfill this type of fantasy.