Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Thinning of the Veil

This is my favorite time of year. In San Francisco, it’s the tail end of summer. We generally only have three weeks of it, starting in mid-September, but with global warming, it’s been extending well into October and even November in recent years. Still, the light has changed to autumn gold, with long shadows and harsh angles, and the nights are cooler. Not yet crisp like in parts of the world that have true autumn, sadly, but damper, with more reliable fog. (And isn’t fog the most paranormally perfect setting? I forget to include fog in my books, which is a shameful oversight on my part, living where I do, but perhaps I’ve just gotten so used to it that it’s like air. At any rate, it’s marvelous for setting a spooky atmosphere.)

My annual tradition at this time of year is watching horror movies. I start watching them on October 1 and watch as many as I can throughout the month. My favorite are ghost stories. Among my recent finds on Netflix are I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the HouseLavender, 1922, The Conjuring (attributed to demonic entities, but seems ghostly all the same), and the excellent series, The Haunting of Hill House. I’ve also rewatched favorites like Crimson Peak and Ghost Story. I’m saving one of my all-time favorites, The Others, for Halloween night.

So what is it that makes us crave being spooked at this particular time of the year? It’s not by accident that Halloween—All Hallows’ Eve—falls when it does. This descent into the darkest days of the year for the Northern Hemisphere has affected our psyches since we crawled out of the swamps. All around us, living things are dying. In Celtic tradition, the veil between the living and the dead is thinning.

But it isn’t only the Celts who felt this way. The Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead follows closely on the heels of Halloween on November 2, but the timing is still thanks to Celtic influence, via Catholicism. As with many Christian holidays supplanting pagan ones, the Catholic Church established All Hallows’ (Saints’) Day and All Souls’ Day as a means of subsuming the Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The Norse tradition, too has a “day of the dead” around this time of year, known as Álfablót, or a sacrifice to the elves. Perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch to call this a day of the dead, but there is some evidence that the concept of elves encompassed the souls of the dead. At any rate, in Nordic lands, by this time of the year, it probably seemed as if the world itself were dying, as almost every living plant returned to the realms under the earth. Another Norse celebration, Dísablót, followed, held during the “Winter Nights,” commemorating the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter and in honor of the female spirits, such as underworld goddesses Freyja and Hel. This is also when the Wild Hunt, or Odin’s Hunt, begins to ride (which sets the stage for my book, The Dragon’s Hunt, in case that tickles your fancy).

Regardless of its cultural origins, some sensitive folk believe they can feel this seasonal thinning of the veil. People who believe in ghosts report more ghostly activity and visitations at this time of year. And although the jury is still out for me on the existence of a spirit that lives on after the body dies, I’ve always felt some “ghostly” energy around this time. Around my house recently, out of the corner of my eye, I’ve begun to see what I at first take to be my cat. But then I realize he’s outside or in another room. The “cat” shadow slips about at foot level and between rooms, and I find comfort in thinking my other cat, Urd (named for one of the Norse fates), who died last year, is visiting me.

My Urdie is probably the only “ghostie” I’ve ever really encountered (if you can call a fleeting glimpse of a shadow cat that). Though I did feel my late husband’s arms around me shortly after he died, and a few years ago at RT Book Lover’s convention on a “ghost tour,” I swear an invisible child pulled my hair. I’ve also experienced a feeling of some kind of lingering energy in certain places—once at Alcatraz and once in an old graveyard I visited in the middle of the night in Arizona. I can’t say I truly believe in ghosts, but maybe, like Fox Mulder, I want to believe.

Are ghosts on your mind this time of year? Do you watch scary movies? Or maybe hold a good, old-fashioned séance and commune with a spirit or two?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

No tricks, just treats!




The holiday season is upon us, and I have a gift for you! My very first holiday themed novella, Blue Christmas, is now available on Amazon. It’s also available for pre-order on B&N, iTunes, and Kobo (release day on those platforms is November 1st.) 

Blue Christmas
A Prophecy Series Family Holiday Novella

Four-year-old Maggie Bock loves living aboard her parents’ space cruiser, but it’s almost Christmas. What if Santa doesn’t know where she is now? Someone will have to find him and tell him, of course. But when she stows away on her mother’s transport to Terr, she sets off a chain of events that brings the holidays to the Atlantis.

Join Maggie and her family for a hilarious and heart-warming adventure as Matirans and Terrians come together to celebrate what makes the holiday season so very special.

(Blue Christmas is a companion story to my novel Prophecy, Book One of the Prophecy Series. This story takes place three months after the end of Prophecy.)

Amazon * B&N * iTunes * Kobo


Those of you who read my first book Prophecy, and have been asking for more Alex and Gryf, your wish has been granted. For those of you who haven’t read book one of my series, have I got a treat for you... 

A SALE! Through December 31, 2018, you can get both Prophecy and Blue Christmas for less than Prophecy at regular price.

Prophecy
Book One of the Prophecy Series

A nightmare of galactic proportions...
One normal day turns into horror when Earth is attacked. Now ER nurse Alexandra Bock is imprisoned aboard an alien slave ship with no way out. She deems all aliens untrustworthy, including the handsome blue-skinned Matiran captain who shares her cell.

A betrayal from within… One night of treachery leaves Senior Captain Gryf Helyg a prisoner of his enemies. Because of him, Earth’s inhabitants face extinction and his home world is threatened. But his plans for escape are complicated by his inexplicable draw to the Earth woman imprisoned with him.A chance to save both their peoples… One ancient prophecy holds the key to free Alexandra and Gryf’s war-ravaged worlds. Can two wounded souls who have lost everything learn to trust and forgive in order to fulfill the prophecy, and find a love that will last for eternity?


Amazon * B&N * iTunes * Kobo 


Hope you all enjoy this new, sweet, family oriented story. Happy holidays!

~Lea Kirk

USA Today Bestselling Author, Lea Kirk, loves to transport her readers to other worlds with her sci-fi romances. When she's not busy writing about the blue and green aliens of her Prophecy series, she's hanging out with her hubby, five kids (the nerd herd), and spoiled Dobie mix puppy.

Her series includes ProphecySalvation, and Collision (all full-length novels); her series related short reads, All of Me and Blue Christmas. She also has one PNR, Made for Her, part of S.E Smith's The Worlds of Magic, New Mexico Series.

Connect with Lea:




Monday, October 29, 2018

I'm Late Again...The Story of My Life... @meganslayer #gayromance #gay #writing #meganslayer #late #iamwriting

I seem to have a talent for being late. I used to say I preferred to be early. I used to say I was good at arriving on time or being ahead of time. Why? Because I'm not wild about the embarrassed entrance or having to explain where I was.

That used to be the case.

Then life got involved. Oy. It's not been my month. I'll admit it. This has not been my month. If it can go wrong, it has. If it can go sideways...you guessed it. I won't go into details, but every time I think I'm getting ahead, I'm behind.

Which is why this post is going up, but later than I wanted. I can say this. I've been writing. I have. I've gotten good words on the document and I'm happy for that. I'm writing about dogs, which I love, so that's good, too. I'm competing in NaNo. I love that event. Maybe it'll help me get back to on time? I hope so.

So since we're just upon Halloween, here's a hot treat. My book, Craving His Roar. Check it out!


Craving His Roar 

By Megan Slayer
Sanctuary, Book 12
Paranormal Contemporary Romance
M/M, Anal Sex
Novella
SuperNova Indie Publishing


Jesse’s never stayed in one place for very long. Being a lynx shifter, he enjoys a solitary life. Then, like a bad joke, the lynx shifter walks into the bar to listen to a cover band. The singer isn’t anything he expects, but everything he desires. But can a human and shifter make a relationship work?

Colin knows two things: he wants a life beyond the Mad Dog bar and for his band, the Full Collins Experience, to play more than just Phil Collins cover songs. The moment he sees Jesse, he’s smitten. He knows nothing about shifters, but his heart craves Jesse. There’s no guarantee the twosome will go beyond the bedroom, but Colin’s willing to try.

Can the loner really find a mate? Will his mate be everything he craves? Or will the human run the other way?

SuperNova Indie Publishing: https://www.supernovaindie.com/megan-slayer

Sunday, October 28, 2018

A fright from Barbara Edwards



With Halloween around the corner, I wanted to frighten readers. Here is the prologue to Ancient Awakening. I hope it draws you into my world.


Eastern Europe, 1000 AD

The terrified servant fumbled her armload of logs as she eased the laboratory’s paneled door open. The pounding of her pulse shredded his concentration. Hunger stabbed through his gut. His fingers flattened the quill’s nib against the parchment and ink smeared the last entry like blood. Saliva pooled in his mouth while she built up the fire, then scuttled to safety. 
His low growl muffled the soft snick of the latch. Once again, he had resisted the impulse to rend, to carelessly feed. A frustrated sigh heaved his chest. The only way to keep good servants was to reward them richly and let them live.  That lesson had been difficult to learn. 
He held the parchment to the fading light streaking through a slit in the thick stone. The pale glow outlined his almost fleshless fingers before a freshly penned phrase caught his attention. He threw the broken quill into the fire and selected another. The correction had to be made, and he bent over his desk to take care of it. 
Satisfied with the change, he straightened and stared into the dancing red and orange flames until his stiff muscles eased. He had to eat, but he resented interruptions. His latest research into a cure had been so promising; the details so fascinating, only the relentless blood hunger forced him to stop. 
Although he had searched the world, he had never found a remedy for the curse he had inflicted  upon himself. He eased erect and rubbed at his blurred eyes, before slowly stacking the parchment sheets, aligning the unused quills, and corking the ink well with shaky hands. He was weak, but the priests would have his nourishment ready. They always did. 
A snapping log showered glowing embers onto the slate hearth. He pondered the coals for a moment before he swept them aside with his bare hand. His changed flesh didn’t burn. Along with his soul, his body had surrendered its ability to feel pain, to age, or scar. 
Legend gave him many names, but the wide halls of his mountain retreat no longer echoed with countless worshipers. He could have ruled the world had his ambition not died with the passage of time. The endless whispers were from the cold winds and the few praying priests. He didn’t care that he couldn’t remember his real name or birthplace.
For an eon, he’d regretted the loss of softer emotions. Love had been the first feeling to die, along with the woman who had insisted he would never harm her. He couldn’t recall her features, just the merry tinkle of her laughter and the bright smile she had greeted him with every morning. He licked his lips. She’d tasted sweet. 
Fierce need flared in his gut and he sniffed the air. Outside his chamber, a single acolyte in long, brown robes waited to escort him. His mouth curved with a mirthless smile. The silent servants had ignited the flickering wall torches. Shadows jumped and shivered in the drafty halls like nervous virgins. 
A succession of priests had made him content with his self-imposed exile and search for knowledge. They kept his legend alive. Curious worshipers trickled into the fortress. The isolation hid their final lose. Many people died of natural causes in the treacherous mountain passes, and a few more deaths went unnoticed. 
He hummed with anticipation when the scent of pulsing blood drifted to his nostrils. The acolyte trembled as he led the way deeper into the fortress’ deserted lower levels. Public displays of his power tended to empty the halls. The priests had objected to sacrificing their own members, so they had carved a location deep within the heart of the mountain, where the terrified screams of his doomed victims went unheard. 
He trailed his hand over the rough walls hewn from living rock. It glistened with dampness. Recent chisel marks caught at his fingers. The memory of feeling cold tugged at him. 
Low chanting grew louder, along with the sacrifice’s fearful prayers. They turned another corner, and his escort drew back. He stepped through a narrow doorway into a square room. The priests had created a new dining chamber for him. 
His breath quickened. Clad in elaborate regalia, the high priest, Armid, waved him closer. Armid’s shoulders were stooped, although he was still in his middle-years. He bowed low and swept his embroidered robes aside with one shaking hand. The stink of fear flowed from him in an exhilarating river. 
Torches flared in every corner. They reflected red off the sweating male body lashed to a center post. A heavy block of gray-green malachite was placed before the naked prisoner. Tiny carved figures danced and postured on the sides of the block in a grotesque celebration of death.
“My Lord,” Armid intoned. His eyelids nervously twitched before he lowered his gaze to the floor. “The servant reported you had finished your studies. We prepared the feast that awaits you.” 
The youth held his stare for a second then strained wildly against his bonds. The thunder of his victim’s racing pulse echoed in his ears.
“He seems a suitable prize. His strong heart surges lifeblood like the rising tide.” He licked his lips. The feeding was so exquisite when the blood wildly pumped with dread. It was a taste he had developed after the other pleasures had faded.
“Yes, my Lord.”
Armid took a wet sponge from a nearby wooden bucket. He lovingly laved the victim’s face until the young man stilled. Armid held the youth’s head upright and gently murmured, “It is time. The path you have chosen has its price. Our thanks go with you.”
“Strange. Do you seek volunteers to come to me, priest?” 
Not waiting for a reply from the elder, he hunkered over the sacrifice. The scream from his victim abruptly cut off. He drank with delight. So enthralled with his feeding, he was barely conscious of a loud clang reverberating through the small chamber or the wavering of the torch flames.
When he lifted his crimson-stained mouth from the drained remains, Armid’s white features were stretched over his skull in a death mask.
He spread his arms wide and chanted, “We have served you, Lord. We have filled your needs. We have provided the sacrifice.”
“And I thank you, Armid,” he managed before a sleepy yawn cracked his jaw. “Take me to my chamber.”
He wiped the fresh blood from his mouth and licked the last drops from his hand. The torch flames dipped lower. His body needed sleep to fully rejuvenate. 
Armid collapsed onto the intricately carved block before he gathered his flowing robes about his legs as though chilled. His fingers trembled when he stroked the  sacrifice's dangling leg. 
“This is your final chamber, my Lord.” Armid’s voice was powerful, but strangely calm. “While you fed, my followers sealed the door and closed the hall.” 
It was an instant before he understood. Rage poured through him at the effrontery in this mere human’s resolute stare.
“I am indestructible. You cannot harm me!” 
“It matters not. You will never escape. The entry hall is already blocked.” Armid shook his head before a deep sigh racked his chest.
“Then you will die here with me.” 
“It is time to pay for my sins. I am the last to serve you.”
Tears flowed down Armid’s sunken cheeks. His arms hung limply at his sides. His hands lifted slowly toward the limp figure. “My only son volunteered to serve as a  sacrifice.  My death will end our line of human betrayers.”
His hands crunched bones as he lifted Armid, until his feet dangled inches above the floor. He drained the priest before flinging the corpse aside. Then he turned his rage on the sealed door. The air reverberated with his savage hammering. By the time the last torch burned out, he knew he was trapped. 
“I cannot die,” he screamed into the darkness. “I am immortal!”
Blurb:
In Ancient Awakening, Police Officer ‘Mel’ Petersen investigates a death only she believes is murder. By disobeying direct orders from the Rhodes End Chief, she risks her career to follow clues that twist in circles to her backyard and lead the killer to her. 
Her neighbor Stephen Zoriak is a prime suspect. Steve worked for a major pharmaceutical company where he discovered a weapon so dangerous he destroys the research. He is exposed to the dangerous organism. He suspects he is the killer and agrees to help her find the truth.
In the course of their investigation Mel and Steve find the real killer and a love that defies death.
Author Website: http://barbaraedwards.net
Ancient Blood http://on.fb.me/naHRY5






Kindle 
http://www.amazon.com/Ancient-Blood-Finding-Rhodes-ebook/dp/B0052NUR12/


Saturday, October 27, 2018

You Don't Know Jack (About Jack O'Lanterns, Stingy Jack, and Spring-heeled Jack) by L. A. Kelley

Halloween is right around the corner, so what better time to explore the legend of the jack o’lantern. Good old Jack has had a long history and you may be surprise to learn originally the term didn’t refer to a vegetable at all. Jack was an all-purpose term, like “bub” or “fella”, use to denote a man. A night watchman who carried a torch or lantern at night was called a Jack o’lantern or “the guy with the lantern”. In the days before electricity, lights at night were creepy especially when they mysteriously appeared over bogs, swamps, or marshes—places where no living being in their right mind wandered at night. Caused by ignited gases from decomposing plant matter, these ghost lights had a variety of names; hinkypunks, corpse candles, fairy lights, will-o'-the-wisps, fool's fire, and good old jack o’lantern. Lacking a scientific explanation, people told stories to explain their appearance. In Ireland, they often involved Stingy Jack.

Stingy Jack lived up to his name. The legend goes he invited the Devil to a local pub for a few rounds and wheedled the Devil to turn into a coin so neither would have to pay. Jack put the Devil into his pocket next to a silver cross so he couldn’t change back into his demonic form. He freed the Devil only after a promise that when Jack died he wouldn’t claim his soul.

When Jack finally kicked the bucket, God refused entry into heaven for such an unsavory character. Frankly, I don’t get God’s reasoning in this. It seems to me The Almighty should have gotten a big kick out of how Jack tricked the Devil, but there’s no arguing with the divine. The Devil had already promised not to claim Jack’s soul so the poor guy was dumped back on Earth, a wandering spirit with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming ever since. Thus Jack of the Lantern or Jack O’Lantern was born.

On All Soul’s Eve, wandering spirits such as Jack were supposed to be particularly frisky, playing tricks and causing mischief. Making vegetable lanterns was a tradition of the British Isles, and carved-out turnips, beets, and potatoes were stuffed with coal, wood embers, or candles as impromptu lanterns to celebrate the fall harvest. Children would sometimes wander off the road with a glowing vegetable to trick people into thinking Stingy Jack or another lost soul was watching. People began carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten Jack and his cohorts away.

Stingy Jack wasn’t the only Jack to cause trouble though. A wraith called Spring-Heeled Jack first started to appear in 1837. Residents of London began to report bizarre harassment from a ghost, imp or devil apparition in the shape of a large white bull. The strange figure would ring a doorbell and then ravage the clothes of the person who answered. Sometimes he simply ambushed people out walking. He was an athletic fellow, capable of scaling walls and jumping across rooftops. Thus, the spring heels. He often appeared in different guises such as a ghost, a bear, or devil or wearing red shoes or armor. The idea of costumes began to be linked to an apparition named Jack who like to play tricks on unsuspecting souls.

Immigrants from the British Isles brought the legend of Stingy Jack and Spring-heeled Jack with them, along with the custom of carving marrows and tuber and lighting them with candles. Pumpkins were plentiful in the fall and made even better jack o’-lanterns with large surfaces perfect for carving. The two Jacks merged, brought the pumpkin with them, and combined with local harvest festival traditions. Soon All Hallows Eve became the day to carve crude faces into pumpkins to frighten wandering spirits away. It was only a hop, skip, and a boo from there to our modern custom of exacting tribute from perfect strangers to keep Jack and his ghostly companions from our doors.

L. A. Kelley writes science fiction and fantasy adventures with humor, romance, and a touch of sass. She knows Jack.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

COULD IT BE WRITTEN IN THE CARDS? By Nancy Gideon


As writers, we’re always eager to explore backstory and on the lookout for new ways to enrich characterization. When beginning my new release, PRINCE OF DREAMS, 4th in the spin off House of Terriot books and #14 (!) in the over-arcing By Moonlight dark paranormal shapeshifter series, my well was fairly dry when it came to getting to know Ophelia Brady, the heroine for my youngest Terriot prince. I knew the premise, had the meet cute from an earlier book but I didn’t have a handle on what would make her unique. Sound familiar? The answer was too simple. It was written in the cards. Literally! 

As one of the many teens fascinated by the otherworldly, I’d explored card reading on the periphery (I still have my The Tarot Revealed by Eden Grey purchased in the late ‘60s) and my interest rekindled through critique partner and later my Tell-Tale publisher, Elizabeth Alsobrooks/Fortin who used to do spreads for me whenever we’d get together (and still videos them for me!). Arwen Lynch was a delightful guest in one of my Haunted Halloween Open Houses several years ago, and I followed her weekly three card readings for my astrological sign (Gemini, of course!). I’d gotten to know Tarot expert and Professional Joy Seeker (don’t you just love that!) Arwen Lynch, loooong ago through RWA’s FF&P loop. When Arwen put out the call for authors willing to do a video reading to help launch her book Mapping the Hero’s Journey with Tarot: 33 Days to Finish Your Book, I forced myself (being phobically camera shy!) to volunteer. I can safely say that experience half wrote PRINCE OF DREAMS! 

During our on computer cam session, we explored what makes Ophelia tick using the Background Check spread outlined in her book. Basically, by answering questions ranging from family influences, childhood, best friend, first love, biggest secret and even criminal record (the legal assistant in me loved that one!) with the draw of a card, Arwen interpreted the card’s meaning for my heroine and I ran with it as it applied to my book. It was amazing! See for yourself:


When I sat back with the notes I’d taken, Ophelia Brady came to life in rich detail with a full-blown life before page 1, motivations and a cast of supporting friends and family. From that point on, with its in-depth exploration of the Hero’s Journey, Tarot interpretations and various spreads geared toward specific answers, Arwen’s book became a must keep handy for me alongside my growing collection of decks.


Arwen recently provided a program for my Mid-Michigan RWA chapter, delighting members with her sassy wit and keen intuitive nature while surprising them with spot on comments on their characters. I took advantage myself to ask what new something I could bring to my WIP with a hero and heroine who’d been together since 2010 and through just about everything. Her answer will provide just the shakeup I need for Max and Cee Cee in RISE BY MOONLIGHT.


AmazonBarnes & NobleKoboiBooks

I highly recommend the addition of Mapping the Hero’s Journey with Tarot to any writers’ tool box when it comes to plot building, character development, and getting from page one to page end!
♚♚♚♚♚
Nancy Gideon on the Web


Monday, October 22, 2018

PETS IN SPACE 3 Stories Connect With Authors' Series!

Veronica Scott: Back one more time, to mention that many (not all) of the stories specially written for the Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 3 anthology are from the authors’ existing series. Each story is standalone, however, and we have varying lengths from short to novellas to full blown novels this year.

Anthology Blurb:
Pets in Space™ is back! Join us as we unveil eleven original, never-before-published action-filled romances that will heat your blood and warm your heart! New York Times, USA Today and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Ruby Lionsdrake, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Carol Van Natta, Tiffany Roberts, Alexis Glynn Latner, E D Walker, JC Hay, and Kyndra Hatch combine their love for Science Fiction Romance and pets to bring readers sexy, action-packed romances while helping our favorite charity. Proud supporters of Hero-Dogs.org, Pets in Space™ authors have donated over $4,400 in the past two years to help place specially trained dogs with veterans. Open your hearts and grab your limited release copy of Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space™ 3 today!

HEART OF THE CAT by S.E. Smith is book 3 in her Sarafin Warriors Series and it is a full length novel!!
Can love bridge the gap between a wounded alien warrior and the reclusive human woman who holds the future of his species inside her?

Longing for more of Anna Hackett’s Galactic Gladiators Series? Anna gives us a treat with DESERT HUNTER and the romance of Mersi and Bren from the Corsair Caravan.
Among the desert sands of an alien world, a man with secrets to hide finds himself face to face with the one woman who can bring him to his knees.

Ruby Lionsdrake takes us back to her Mandrake Company Series with QUASHI.
Alien fur balls, a handsome doctor, and a little white lie create havoc for a young woman who only wanted a job.

Sketch by Nyssa Juneau
I love spending time in my The Sectors SF Romance Series and my story this anthology is STAR CRUISE: MYSTERY DANCER (Veronica Scott)
A long-lost princess and her three-eyed cat seek refuge on the Nebula Zephyr only to catch the attention of an inquisitive Security Officer.

Pauline Baird Jones jets us away to her Project Enterprise Series with OPERATION ARK.
A not quite routine mission to return rescued prisoners to their home worlds turns deadly for unlikely allies, a USMC Sergeant and a raised-by-robots pirate. Is the Sergeant’s unusual pet the wild card that will save or doom them?

Carol Van Natta adds to her space opera series, A Central Galactic Concordance, with CATS OF WAR.
A disgraced military Sub-Captain, a repair technician with secrets, and two special cats must save the day when trouble erupts at an important factory.

Who doesn’t love a good Kraken story?! Tiffany Roberts gives us HUNTER OF THE TIDE, book 3 in her The Kraken series.
Nearly broke by betrayal, a human discovers solace—and a chance for love—among the creatures he once hunted, but he must overcome prejudice and inhibition to claim the female he desires.

STARWAY by Alexis Glynn Latner
A lonely interstellar pilot and a passenger’s mistreated consort find each other in an interstellar hotel that offers everything to satisfy its guests’ desires—even desires they didn’t know they had.

THE BAJO CATS OF ANTEROS XII by E D Walker
Two ex-lovers, stranded in space, have to save a pair of kittens with hazardous powers before the local drug cartel catches up to them.

SHADOW OF THE PAST by JC Hay
On a world of perpetual night, an aging ranger and a widowed veterinarian need to put aside their past to protect a pack of wolves... and their future.

AFTER THE FALL by Kyndra Hatch
The Invaders took everything worth living for. Could an Invader show him how to live again?

Eleven original Science Fiction Romances. Eleven action-filled tales that mix pets in space with their two-legged companions. Supporting a great cause – Hero-Dogs.org. Don’t miss out on Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3! https://www.petsinspaceantho.com 

ANTHOLOGY BUY LINKS:
Amazon     iBooks     B&N    Kobo     Google

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Halloween Monsters: Werewolves & Shapeshifters

Happy Halloween! October is possibly my favorite month of the year, and Halloween has a great deal to do with that. I thought it would be fun to do a little fact finding about the traditional Halloween monsters (werewolves, vampires, Frankenstein, etc.) and their evolution in folklore and literature.
Since every single one of my series (Fire's EdgeSvatura, Shadowcat Nation, Legendary Consultants) involve shifters or werewolves of some sort, you know I had to dig into the history of those creatures.
156637714As I researched this topic, I found it very interesting that unlike vampires and Frankenstein almost every culture around the world has some type of transformation or shape-shifting mythology (typically with animals indigenous to the area). Many of these mythologies go back to antiquity.

In earlier history, shapeshifters were most commonly deities (gods or goddesses) with the magical ability to transform. In Japan they have Kitsune, a fox shifter who is typically benevolent but often a trickster. Korea and China have similar fox shapeshifter myths. In Africa, deities shift into lions or leopards. In South America they transform into jaguars. Some gods/goddesses in Greek, Roman, Norse, etc. mythology can choose their forms.

Another frequent myth seen for shifters in earlier history is humans who were transformed into something by a god or goddess as a punishment. In Greek mythology, Arachne was transformed into a spider. In Roman myth and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, King Lycaon was changed to a wolf by Jupiter (some attribute this as the beginning of werewolf mythology). But in these cases, the person changed had no power to return back to human. This theme continued in later European folklore. The Frog Prince and Beauty and the Beast both involve transformation into animals as a punishment.
fde99-werewolf

Enter the Middle Ages where the werewolf mythology became prevalent. Most of the people executed for being werewolves in this time period were later found by historians to be serial killers. The werewolf mythology also closely follows witch folklore and persecution. In fact, shifter mythologies were not all that prevalent in North America until brought over by European colonists at the same time as they brought their fear of witches.

Based on what I could find, not a lot seemed to change about shapeshifter folklore for quite some time. Up to the 1940s (and even later) they were truly seen as monsters eliciting terror and revulsion. Early books and movies about werewolves have the happy ending being the death or defeat of the creature.

In my research, I couldn't find a specific trigger for the change in perception of shapeshifters and werewolves as monsters to the view of them today as sympathetic and even heroic. Even books written in the mid- to late-1900s still use a more classic example of shifters. For example, in C.S. Lewiss The Chronicles of Narnia, Eustace is shifted into a dragon but more as a learning moment or punishment, not at will.

White wolf
I would argue that shapeshifters we see today both in literature and movies, unlike their earlier counterparts, become the hero of most stories in the last 10-20 years by changing these aspects:
  • ability to change at will (rather than being trapped in the animal form)
  • more reasoned thinking (more human attributes, previous monsters went total animal)
  • usually good and are solving the problem (even if the problem stems from them)
  • frequently have an entire subculture to support them / live with in peace
  • more often than not, shifting/were-hood is not a punishment, but a lifestyle
What a change from the monsters they originally were. Right?
I've found this topic so interesting to research, I'll have to dig more on the psychology behind this phenomenon. My guess is that, like vampires, we've romanticized werewolves and other shapeshifters, giving them more human qualities, behaviors, and values. Dissatisfied by our human frailty, we are intrigued by the thought of what additional power assuming such a form could provide. It makes me wonder what the next 10, 20, even  100 years have in store for these fascinating and ancient creatures.


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Listen up! by Elizabeth Alsobrooks


Why audible? So many people told me at the Tucson Festival of Books that they only listen to books now, rather than reading, whether while they walked, exercised, did chores or even while driving, that I decided to really push for all my books to be in audible.

Thomas Edison made audio books for blind people in the 1800s, but not until after the advent of cassette tapes did audio books hit mainstream. So why are audio books up 32% in the first quarter of 2018 while digital sales have flatlined? Multitasking and burnout. So many people have told me they can’t focus any more, they are so burned out by a phone and internet-centered existence they just can’t find the patience to read an entire book. One reader recently told me they couldn’t make it through a short story. And in a day and age where everyone is said to multi-task, why should reading be any different? Hardly anyone just sits themselves down in a quiet corner and listens to a book. They stay busy accomplishing other tasks or performing other activities. Audio books become a companion to other tasks and often become a habit while performing those tasks. They can even be social, listening to a book together while on a road trip.

In the audio vs digital or paperback argument, do you get the same benefit? Yes and no. Your brain still processes the language the same, first decoding and then comprehending, so in that way you are still taking in the book. However, some would argue that you are not as one-on-one with the narrator, giving them your undivided attention and can quite literally miss some important details and nuances. You are not as emotionally invested in the story. Or are you? I guess it depends on the “what” you are doing as you listen, and how good a listener you are. Listening is a different activity than reading, and some people are better at it than others, audio versus visual. For example, do you learn better from hearing someone talk or from reading the information at your own pace?  Whatever your answer to that, listening to audio books will definitely improve your listening skills…and who do we know that can’t benefit from that?  

Guess what else I found out about audio books? Many readers are not only listening instead of reading, the what of their selections seems different from paperback or digital sales. I have still to figure this out entirely, but I am doing some logistics research, trying to ascertain the demographics of those who now prefer audio books over other forms. Do you listen to audio books? If so, what genre do you choose most often?  I'd love to hear your opinions of audio books.

https://www.amazon.com/Keepers-Secret-Tell-Tale-Publishings-Anthology/dp/B076TCH3FL