Sunday, June 29, 2014

Creepy and Fun, Hand in Hand

I was raised in Montana, by a family that spent a great deal of time camping in Montana. We had an old Army issue canvas tent with a center pole; the whole family of six plus our dog(we always had a dog) slept in the tent. Sometimes the nights were well into the forties, up in the mountains, so we would sleep in our clothes and sweatshirts and zip sleeping bags together for warmth.

We usually camped by rivers so we could fish for trout, and my parents loved to find the most remote campsites with no other people around. They were never too worried about bears because four noisy kids would scare anything away! The rivers up in the mountains were like liquid ice, too cold and usually too swift to swim in, instead we waded, played on sandy shores, hiked. Sometimes we would find wild strawberries or squaw berries, which was fun. We would read, play cards and Frisbee. I had a Penny Bright doll with an extensive wardrobe in a little carry case, I would pack her around.

Being in such remote places so far from city lights, the nights would get so dark I literally couldn't see my hand in front of my face. I would blink and try to open my eyes wider, but it didn't help. Dark like that is spooky. You feel vulnerable. In places like that it is easy to believe something is out there...and not just wild animals. Ghosts! My parents also dragged us around to many Montana ghost towns, and some weren't the touristy ones with souvenir shops!  Not to mention the classic fireside scary stories ("Give me my golden hand!"). Small sounds were scarier--branches rustling in a breeze, pine cones dropping. Maybe it was a bear--or a monster!  

I was glad my mom slept on the outside by the tent wall (she did that because canvas tents will shed water unless you touch them and draw the water  to the inside). Like my tiny, skinny, little mom could protect me from monsters or ghosts. But I knew she could. 

So creepy and fun went hand in hand. Monster comic books, Frankenstein movies, Dark Shadows.  I loved them all! I still like the thrill  of a ghost story, or a death by werewolves plot. Nowadays, in paranormal romance, the scary beings are often our Hero and Heroine.
And that is good, too. While I personally wouldn't want to be a werewolf, I sure like reading about their adventures and journeys to true love. Their conflicts are dangerous and exciting, not dental bills and messy closets, and they have power to vanquish their enemies. 

I'm so glad paranormal romance is such a huge, diverse genre. Creepy, fun and romantic!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Penny Dreadful: The Birth of Paranormal

I’ll admit, I started watching Penny Dreadful mostly because I have had a giant actress-crush on Eva Green since I saw Perfect Sense (which is a truly stellar movie if you haven’t seen it yet). I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, it looked Gothic horror to me, which while it isn’t my favorite is just fine in my book. Turns out, the show is even more up my alley than I thought it would be! Penny Dreadful is a mash-up of the 19th-century British horror fiction that has interesting twists on traditional characters, a pretty hefty dose of creepy, and some really surprising character arcs even in the first few episodes. The costumes are gorgeous, the monsters are scary, and the cast is strangely alluring. Mild spoiler alerts for the rest of this post, but I’ll try to stay away from anything too specific.
Penny Dreadful features a whole bunch of very familiar characters to anyone who has dipped a toe in 19th Century British horror. Dorian Gray, Mina Harker, and Victor Frankenstein all play important roles in the show, but none of them are exactly as they were in their original stories. Frankenstein comes off as a bit more of a medical geek, pale and reclusive in exactly the right ways, with a dark secret following him around. Gray is as self-indulgent and hedonistic as always, but there’s something going on beyond his fabled painting. Harker in this incarnation is even more the damsel in distress than she is in Dracula.
More than just bringing back traditional characters of horror, Penny Dreadful has captured the essence of Victorian era horror. It’s dirty and scary and gory. If I do have one complaint it’s that sometimes the gore is a little overboard for my particular tastes, but I can move past that because of the show’s other favorable aspects. However, if the sight of blood makes you a little ill, you should probably pass on this show because there is a lot of it.
The main character of this series is the enigmatic Vanessa Ives, played by Eva Green. She’s tortured and complicated, just the way I like my protagonists. Actually, everyone in this show is tortured to some degree or another, which is likely one of the reasons I like it so much. The character arcs as a whole are interesting, and more than a little surprising. I won’t go into any more detail because I don’t want to spoil any of the twists.
There’s only one more episode left in the first season, but the series has already been renewed for a second ten episode season next year, and I’m just thrilled. Somewhere along the way, I realized that Penny Dreadful is trying to provide an origin tale for the paranormal genre as we know it today—it takes a healthy dose of traditional horror, adds in some scandalous sex, and a dash of Gothic sensibilities. The show has already featured vampires, possessions, and arcane magic; the only thing missing is werewolves. (There was a hint of my favorite paranormal beast in the episode “Resurrection” and I’m hoping they make an actual appearance in season two.)
Who should watch: Anyone who likes horror, Gothic costumes, and monsters.
Who should skip it: Anyone who is squeamish or has an aversion to horror.

Post Script: If you like werewolves as much as I do, check out my werewolf series, Broods of Fenrir.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Kicking off the Summer with excitement!

Buy At: LI, Amz, BN, ARe, Kobo

Every year I look forward to one month: June. June is not only the first month of summer but it also happens to be my birthday month. J. But this year is special for another reason: the blessings of sporting events that happened in June. Let’s start with the Stanley Cup Final between the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers. Watching the Stanley Cup last year inspired me to write my first ever hockey book Thawing Ava. The nail biting excitement of the game and the cute players helped overcome any confusion on the rules of the game or the actions on the ice. This year, I understand things a bit better. I can spot a foul and I understand the ways a player can be sent to the box. Seeing helps connect it with the definition.

I may have missed the playoffs but I managed to record every single game of the Final, watched each one and let me tell you, it was worth it! Both teams gave it their all but the Kings edged out the Rangers with 4 wins.  Watching each game was an exercise in excitement, on the edge of your seat action. Anything could happen at any moment and both teams managed to keep you glued to the screen waiting to see who would score next. I loved it and hope next year I can catch all the playoffs. I’m also hoping my Jersey Devils make it next year. *crosses fingers*

Buy At: Amaz, BN, ARe, Kobo
And then there’s the World Cup. There’s a lot of controversy about this event, the way Brazil handled things, where the stadiums were built, the cost and the fall out to the citizens. I won’t go into those but you check out all the hubbub on the web. This is my third time watching the World Cup and it still fascinates and surprises me.  Also, this sporting event served to help me fall in love with the sport of futbol aka soccer to us Americans. It also inspired me to write my first Bachelor Auction book which gives readers a paranormal look at how the Beautiful Game can be played by shifters and creatures of fantasy.

This World Cup has yet to truly bore me. The shock of the Netherlands win over Spain (last WC’s winners), the USA men’s team pulling out a win against Ghana (who sent them out of the tournament the last time they met), etc. I could go on and on over the surprises. This year seems to be a topsy-turvy one which gives me hope for my picks.

All this and my birthday! Summer is heating up in all the right ways, well except for the constant rain and humidity here but I’ll take the cooler days and rain over sweltering, unrelenting heat and 90 degree and above temps.

So I have a contest for you. You tell me what you’re looking forward to most about this summer and I’ll give one commenter a copy of both Mate Not Wanted and Thawing Ava and an ARC of my Upcoming Book Dead Man’s Hands from Etopia Press. Ready. Set. GO!

Here's an unedited snippet of my upcoming book, Dead Man's Hands:

He cleared his throat and she turned her attention back to him. He still had that smirk on his lips. Her palm prickled with the urge to smack him and make him stop. At least her magic hadn't been activated.
"What?" She had to ask or she'd go crazy with wanting to know.
He shrugged. "Nothing."
She gritted her teeth. "What?"
He picked up the cards and held them up. "Rules are simple. You win a round I answer whatever question you ask, I win you answer me. Deal?"
"That's why I'm here." She managed to get out without growling.
He raised an eyebrow. "To play poker and enjoy the pleasure of my company?"
"For answers, asshole." The last bit came out without being checked and she swore at showing how badly he'd rattled her control with just a smile.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Please Let Me Introduce Myself … by Nancy Gideon

Thanks to the coaxing of a friend (Thanks, Diane!) I’m thrilled to join Paranormal Romantics as a regular contributor on the 25th of each month. Since I tend to be more lurking lone wolf than pack animal, it takes quite the push for me to join a crowd, but how could I resist such wonderfully kindred company?

Like all of us here, I love things out of this world – the unimaginable, the strange, the unique, the unexplored, the sometimes frightening, but at heart, I’m a true romantic. It’s all about two characters who connect and pull the reader into an irresistible love affair that’s juuuust a step beyond the expected.

I’ve been a fan of the preternatural since the original Dracula on Midnight Creature Feature had me closing the curtains tight for most of my growing up years. And don’t even get me started with The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery. I love that walk on the scary side (with a night light) which is why my heroes tend to be dark and dangerous and my plots filled with chilly suspense. Then toss in that too independent for her own good heroine to heat things up.

I can’t resist a story that takes a bite out of my imagination (sorry, couldn’t resist!). One book is never enough to satisfy. I’m a series junkie, both in what I read and what I write so it’s no surprise that my paranormals come with numbers attached, currently one through nine with both my vampires and my shape-shifters. Welcome to my “Midnight” and “By Moonlight” worlds.

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on REMEMBERED BY MOONLIGHT, the 9th book in my dark paranormal shape-shifter series, bringing fan favorite central couple, Max Savoie and Charlotte Caissie back in search of their happily-ever-after. And I’m excited to announce that ImaJinn Books will be re-releasing my entire “Midnight” vampire romance series, including the loooong out of print first three books, with new covers, one-per-month in 2015. That’s a lot to sink your teeth into!

Looking forward to seeing you again same time next month!

Nancy Gideon is the award winning author of over 55 romances ranging from historical, regency and series contemporary suspense to paranormal, with a couple of horror screenplays tossed into the mix. She works full time as a legal assistant, and when not at the keyboard, feeds a Netflix addiction along with all things fur, fin and fowl. She also writes under the pen names Dana Ransom and Rosalyn West.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

For the Love of Vampires

This is part of a trio of posts where I talk about some of the best in bad boy heroes and villains. I chatted up werewolves and shapeshifters on the 6th of April. Check out that first post HERE

Vampires. Dark seduction. Deadly intent. Dangerous in every way. They are a fantasy unlike any other. To know them is to know death.

So what makes them so sexy in the Paranormal Genre? 

My lust began with Fright Night when I was a kiddo. Vampire Jerry, seriously, well, until he turned into the nasty vampire at the end. Then the Lost Boys. Of all the characters I fell in lust with, the one that resonated with me the most (from the 80s) was actually the vampire in Waxworks. You caught just a hint of Vampire nobility and deadly killer. 

After that, I began reading everything I could on vampires, but they were mostly really bad guys. Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire hit on my love of a tortured hero and combined it with the kind of seduction I seemed to crave with my paranormal reads. I inhaled all the Vampire Chronicles, but couldn't find other books at the time that filled that void. 

Enter my RPG days. Vampire the Masquerade was a role playing game that was very popular in the 90's. I played along with several of my vampire-loving friends. Kindred the Embraced came on (loved that show). My first short stories were Vampire-based (and typed in a common Gothic format, 10 points if you can remember the name of it ;) ). I still have them. Oh man, they were terrible and completely awesome at the same time (ahhh teenage angst!). 

My love of vampire fiction hasn't stopped. Lynn Viehl's Darkyn, D.B Reynolds with Vampires in America, Chloe Neill's Chicagoland Vamps, Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series, Madeline Pryce's Dark series, and so many more. Of course I loved Maggie Shayne, Charlaine Harris, Christine Freehan, Sherrilyn Kenyon and P.C. and Kristin Cast. There are so many I'm missing. 

But it wasn't just romance or romance elements. I loved the Dhampir, as well. The half vampire, half living human. Vampire Hunter D, Barb and J.C. Hendee's Noble Dead, Blade (comics and the movies), and so many more.  

TV Shows and movies that I obsessed over: Underworld, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the series and the movie, I know I'm rare LOL), Angel, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Innocent Blood, (Of course there are many non-sexy vampire movies that I adore: From Dusk Til Dawn...I've watched all of them, btw, John Carpenter's Vampires, 30 Days of Night, Let the Right One In...Let Me In is the remake and awesome, and there are so many others.  

So tell me and the ladies of Paranormal Romantics...what is about the vampire you love? 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

What do Werewolves Wear?

By Stephanie Beck

I rarely put a ton of thought into what my characters wear. Sure, there is some thought, so style matches personality, but do I spend hours setting up a fictional wardrobe? To date, nope, but after this really fun interview I did, I'm thinking I might spend more time with dressing my characters in the future.

Fang-tastic Books Blog played host to Scott from my book, Unraveling Midnight, and gave him some stellar fashion advice. Gillybean put together outfits for my leading werewolf, and I fell in love with Scott all over again (I'm sure Lucy from Unraveling Midnight would feel the same).

Now, go over there, read, feast your eyes on the super handsome set they put together for Scott, and come back. It's cool, I'll wait.


Super sexy, right? Oh. My. Word. "Fatherhood is the new sexy." Heck yeah! I would agree 100% with that one, although, I don't know when it ever went out of style. Speaking of style, get your copy of Unraveling Midnight, and find out for yourself if the witches did Scott Terwolf justice.

An entanglement with a werewolf brings unexpected turns.
Scott, a lone werewolf expelled from his pack, bends over backward to give his kids everything he can—including knitting lessons for his daughter. Learning to knit becomes much more appealing with Lucy Jamieson as the teacher. His heightened senses tell him the compassionate and beautiful human might be what he and his little band need, yet getting involved with Lucy means exposing her to his paranormal reality. Although Lucy’s childhood skewed her expectations of family, she recognizes and respects Scott’s desire to protect and provide for his kids. When Scott is hit by a truck, Lucy offers to help with the kids--and gets more than she bargained for after learning Scott’s true nature...

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All the best,
Stephanie Beck

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Vacation in Space - Where Would You Go?


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Batman: The Dark Hero

Reading comics is one of my favorite past-times. My brother used to work at a comic shop so as a kid, I was exposed to all sorts of amazing stories of super humans facing super problems. But underneath the Kapows! and super villains (which are a wonderful topic to explore as well) are some really interesting human stories and sometimes tragic themes explored by the writers. When you look at superhero origin stories, almost all of the heroes are outcasts, have suffered a horrific event or tragedy, death, mutilation, and/or abandonment by family. Superheroes have to be driven, almost pathologically, to make the sacrifices needed to fight the bad guys, so such drive can only be born from an intense trauma.

One of my favorite superheroes is Batman. His story is pretty well known after multiple re-tellings in movies, cartoons, tv shows, and of course comics. His father was a wealthy philanthropist in Gotham. After leaving a show with his parents, a mugger accosts them and shoots his mother and father in front of him. A new tv show called Gotham is set to air that takes place before Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, when he’s still a young kid. The show includes a young Bruce Wayne, Commissioner Gordon, and some of Batman’s most famous foes before they became criminals.

Batman is truly a hero, but one who struggles as much with the darkness inside him as he does with the good side. I loved the line from the Chris Nolan directed, Batman Begins, when Arthur asks Bruce Wayne why he choose the name Batman. Wayne replied with: “Bats frighten me. It’s time my enemies shared my dread.”

Batman fights crime and pursues justice, but a part of him gets off on scaring the crap out of people and raining his own brand of hellfire down on the bad guys. That’s why the Joker is one of his greatest foes. They mirror each other. “You’re just a freak. Like me!” the Joker says in the Dark Knight.

What else makes Batman the perfect tortured hero?

His tragic past as explained previously.

Even though he fights for a just society, he is at odds with society. The police sometimes see him as more of a menace than a hero, and as Bruce Wayne, he often challenges the board of directors of his company and refuses to act like the good, malleable rich boy.

Darker heroes are obsessed with self-sacrifice to an almost pathological degree. Batman is pathological and obsessed. Probably too much, which is partly what makes him so interesting.
And of course, he’s irresistible to women. Women are drawn to tortured heroes like Batman. They want to be the one to touch the lost and emotionally fragile side of such a man, believing they will be the ones to heal him. Batman has had many romantic entanglements with femme fatales. I find his relationship with Catwoman particularly fascinating. While they often find themselves on opposite sides of the law, they more often than not find themselves on the same side in the bedroom J He’s also gotten together with Talia al Ghul, the daughter of his enemy, Ra’s al Ghul, and even had a son with her in one Batman incarnation.

One of Batman’s writers, Frank Miller, who wrote the seminal, Dark Knight Returns, gave what I consider one of the best interpretations of Batman: Batman is a dionysian figure, a force for anarchy that imposes an individual order. In many ways, I draw upon Batman when writing my tortured heroes, well, except for the Batsuit!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Reviewed: "Maleficent"

From our Contributor Beth Matthews (writing as E. D. Walker), reposted from her blog:

Over the weekend, I went to see Maleficent with two of my girlfriends. Maleficent is basically Disney’s Sleeping Beauty repurposed and told from the POV of the villain, Maleficent. In this version, however, we find out WHY Maleficent decides to curse an innocent baby. The story starts with a war between the human world and the fairy world of which Maleficent is the protector (and she has some bad ass wings to do that protecting).

She’s a strong fighter, but a bit naive. She falls in love with a human man, Stefan, who then exploits her feelings to chop off her wings while she sleeps and thereby claim the human kingdom for himself. Maleficent, in her rage and grief at this betrayal, then shows up years later to curse his newborn daughter. But it all goes wrong when she starts to care about the child Aurora herself.

So…I liked this movie but didn’t love it. The visuals were amazing, especially in fairyland. I thought Angelina Jolie did pretty well, although I think she was better after Maleficent turned “evil.” In the early parts when she was supposed to be innocent and naive it almost seemed like she didn’t know how to play those scenes. Elle Fanning was pleasing but vacant as Aurora, and that character isn’t a character so much as a MacGuffin to drive the plot. Sharlto Copley wasn’t given much to work with as evil King Stefan but I think he did well in the part. Especially as the king descends into paranoid madness, certain that Maleficent is coming for him at any minute. Maleficent’s charming crow henchman Diaval, played by Sam Riley, was easily my favorite character. He stole every scene he was in. Loved him. (He was also the only character who called Maleficent on her shit, which was great. I love when a stern, no-nonsense character has a friend who’s not afraid to talk back to them.)

The story itself felt a little thin and seemed to default to montage when I would have liked a bit more meat to scenes. I suspect at least part of this, though, is that they cut significant portions? I don’t know that for sure, but it just felt like a lot more stuff had been shot than was shown on screen.

OK, so obviously this isn’t one of my fangirl squees. Why am I writing this blog then?

Because you should still see this movie. If you’re a woman or even if you just have a daughter, go see this movie. Because, for once, Hollywood has a girl positive movie out where a woman has agency, where even if she makes a mistake she still gets to redeem herself. Women aren’t used as sexual objects, they aren’t vilified, they aren’t fridged for manpain, they aren’t relegated to the background, they aren’t token characters.

To read the rest of this review and her companion piece "It Doesn't Hurt When I Watch Maleficent: Feminism & Filmmaking", hop over to Beth's blog.....

Monday, June 16, 2014

On Going Long

I tend to be a concise writer. Always have been.


 No, seriously, I started out writing short essays because it's a natural form for me. Same with poetry. Even my Masters Thesis was the shortest in the department and it had been a PhD project I cut bait on. (Long story there.) It took me some painful practice and effort to write novels, and they still tend to be on the compressed end. My developmental edits always, without fail, mean adding more words. Usually 6,000-10,000. I can pretty much set my spreadsheets by that expectation.

The first two books in my Twelve Kingdoms trilogy came out around 100,000 words by the time all the edits were in. But The Tears of the Rose went from 89,198 at the first draft to 101,260 with copy edits complete. And the first book, The Mark of the Tala, went from 90,822 to  102,962.

Like clockwork.

So when I started writing book three, The Talon of the Hawk, I knew I was looking at about 100,000 words. This matters to me because I plan on how long a book will take me to write. I have a steady line up of contracted deadlines right now, so I need to strategize my time.

Imagine my dismay to reach my usual first draft waterline of ~90K, only to discover that I easily had another third of the story yet to tell.

Some of this comes of it being the third book in the trilogy, with a great deal of overall arc to wrap up. A lot of it comes from writing the story of an extremely hard-headed heroine who does not change easily. Suffice to say, for the first time since I've had contracted deadlines, I've missed one. Technically my editor gave me an extension. But the book was due June 1 and I didn't make it. Today is June 16. As of this writing, I have 117,201 words written and probably will hit 125,000.

Before edits and revisions.

Fortunately my editor is good with that, too. "Fantasy can take the longer word count," he says.

We'll see what he says after he reads it. :-)