Monday, August 30, 2010

“Releasing” the Book

(actually, NOT by Tera Lynn Childs, who is posting this because Blogger hates Sophie)

[ETA: The winner of the ARC of Firelight is ... I read banned books-Jen! Send your address to sophie(at)sophiejordan(dot)net so she can get your prize in the mail.]

With the release of Firelight only days away, there’s little else on my mind. I mean I take care of the usual business calling for my attention, but other than my two high-maintenance kids who have a serious set of windpipes, most of that business right now involves Firelight -- getting blog posts and Q&As completed, answering emails, getting swag packs out the door for Team Draki members (btw, you can learn about that on my website), getting ready for the book tour HarperTeen’s sending me on, making certain my website is up to date with all the latest information, and planning last minute details for my big book launch on September 10th.

The term release day is very apt because on the dawn of September 7th, the moment that my creation bursts free into the world, I will feel a sense of immense release – release from all those lurking anxieties, from the pent-up tension that this day would never arrive. I'll breathe again. And probably laugh. And cry. Firelight will finally be set free! Readers will shout their reviews from the blogosphere (not that they haven’t already). My inbox will see a little more activity. All the hard work and love I put into creating Firelight culminates in this single day ... which is amazing when I think about how it started with a vague desire to write a young adult novel with a paranormal element that touched on the myth of dragons. If you read my blurb, you can see how that idea exploded for me:



Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet of her kind, she nearly pays with her life, only to be spared by a beautiful stranger sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki--a descendant of dragons whose ability to shift into human form is her best defense.

Forced to flee into the mortal world, Jacinda struggles to adapt. The one bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irrestibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away - if it dies she will be left a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

From the kernel of an idea … to a proposal … to a book deal. Almost two years later, it’s finally here. It never ceases to amaze me! Just one more week, and it will finally be here, finally be real. Feel free to leave a comment. One lucky poster today will win an arc of FIRELIGHT! Be sure to check back tomorrow and see if you’ve won! *(US and Canada residents only)

Happy reading,
Sophie Jordan

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Where would you go?

Aussies call their home a land of sunburnt plains. Americans I’ve met call it the last frontier – a vast country, even newer than their own, with all the mod cons they like plus a dose of mystery in its alien vistas and ages-old peoples.

Next month I’m migrating to Australia… back to Australia. I lived in Melbourne, in the temperate south-east, from the time my dad took the family out there from Britain in the 80s, when we were teenagers and saw the whole thing as a grand adventure, until I got married five years ago and moved across the Pacific to the Old West.

It’s been an amazing year for us – my debut novel landed on bookstore shelves; we had our beautiful and long-awaited baby; my husband, an American who has lived in Tucson for 30 years, took the first step in his literary career when he signed with an agent; and now we’re setting off on an adventure of our own. Tucson has become my home over the past few years. I never quite got used to the heat, but I love the house we bought and the friends we made. Returning to Melbourne will be a major step for me as well as for my other half.

I write about far futures and distant worlds, knowing I’ll never visit those times and places. Other writers deal in creatures that don’t exist or alternate histories that never happened. The truth is, I always wanted to live in America, at least for a while, and now I have. Almost every American I meet, after a brief discussion about my accent, tells me they would love to visit Australia. What about you? Where have you lived or visited? Where would you love to visit or live, real or imagined? 

- Sara Creasy

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Killing 'em Softly - or Not

~~~~~ The giveaway for Sacrifice is over. ~~~~~

The winner of the signed copy of Sacrifice is alicia0605. Alicia, please let me know your mailing address by sending me an email through the contact page of my website, Congratulations!
Thanks to everyone who responded! 
It was wonderful to see your comments.

What happens when a paranormal series character you've grown to love gets the ax, sometimes literally? Do you:

A) Cry but trust the author that it was for the best in the series?
B) Vow never to buy another of the author's books?
C) Resign yourself to a joyless life without the Loved Character (LC)?
D) Leave a nasty note on the author's website as a spoiler?
E) Thrive on tragedy and get a burst of energy from it?

Authors have different approaches to this question, ranging from "They're my characters and I'll do whatever I want with them," to "I couldn't kill off LC, he's wonderful/sexy/supportive/funny/on the cover. I'll rework the series arc (the story that spans several books of a series) to keep him alive."

Dark Time
I always thought I was in the first category. I created these characters and I'm going to treat them any way I want. When I heard authors say that their characters were leading them somewhere, I thought that was silly. The author's in charge, I'd think, and those people are      nuts.

That was before I started writing my first paranormal series, the Mortal Path.

Something about writing in this genre pushed me to become much more emotionally invested in my characters. It could be the challenges that they face are more terrifying, more demanding of everything they've got. In one of my suspense books, the protagonist was chased around by a seriously bad serial killer with a knife. Okay, that's chilling.

In a paranormal book (though not specifically in mine), the protagonist can be chased around by a pack of werewolves with inhuman ferocity and strength. That's off-the-scale horrifying. So paranormal books have a different scope, where emotions are elevated beyond the usual human experience. Fear, love, loyalty, triumph, and failure--everything can be on a heightened plane, while still being acceptable, natural, even, if the world-building is skillful. To write about those experiences, I think the author can't just sit on the sidelines and manipulate characters like chess pieces. The author has to be in the fray, living everything in his or her imagination.

That means when I write passages that are supposed to inflict horror, I have to dig down into the dark, secret place we all have where our worst fears live. I have to dredge up something from that nightmarish world and haul it into the sunlight to make the horror match the heightened demands of paranormal books. Any plain old normal horror won't do. I have to have a demon-sized horror.

It's the same with the other emotions. Is it any wonder that my emotional investment and involvement in my characters is cranked to the max? Suddenly it becomes reasonable to say, "I can't get Maliha to do what's best all the time," or "Why is she putting up with that? Why doesn't she just kick his butt?" Previously, if I thought a character shouldn't put up with something, then she didn't. Now I deal in nuanced characters who know that there are a lot of factors to be taken into account, natural and supernatural. I'm a member of Maliha's close circle of friends now, though you won't see me on the page. I could sit and chat comfortably with any of them, and sometimes in the dead of night when I'm writing, I do that. As a writing exercise, I mean. Nothing bonkers. Really. You believe me, don't you?

Would I kill off a character I loved? It's a tough question. There would have to be an ironclad reason based on the story arc. And I would cry. When I was first thinking about the story arc (no spoiler), I thought it would be good to have Maliha come full circle. She started off her life as a demon's assassin alone--wouldn't it seem right if she ended the series alone, after all the happy and tragic experiences in between? That was before I wrote down word one on page one. Since then I have grown to love her and her close circle so much that I just couldn't do that. However things turn out for her, at least I know that story arc is toast.

I’ll be giving away a signed copy of Sacrifice (newly released August 31st) to a random draw among people who make a comment. To enter to win, please post a comment below. You can earn points by:

+1 Posting in the comments section
+1 Linking to this post on Twitter
+1 Linking to this post on Facebook
+3 Following my personal blog.

Just post the total number of points that you’ve earned in your comment. Winner to be announced at the top of this post on Tuesday, August 31st. Contest ends Monday, August 30, at midnight! Please note that if I don’t hear from the winner within 3 days after the contest closes, I will select another winner. 


Friday, August 27, 2010

Running away from bad guys

By Merrie Destefano


The WINNER is Zita, who posted at 8:20 a.m. on August 27. CONGRATULATIONS! Zita, there are two ways you can get me your contact info. One: Friend me on Twitter, I'll friend you back, then you can DM me your address and e-mail. Or you could post your e-mail address in the comments section like this: name [at] address. Let me know if you want me to delete that comment after I get your info. Please note that you need to contact me before midnight on Thursday, or the book will be awarded to another contestant.

Thanks so much to everyone who read this post and commented. I loved reading all of your answers! I wish I could have given an ARC to all of you. Just an FYI, I ran everything through a randomizer program to find the winner.

Plus, just for fun, I added something extra for you to check out below: the book trailer for Afterlife. Enjoy!

Fiction is full of bad guys. They’re creepy, they steal your seat on the bus, they follow you down dark alleys, they lurk outside your window at night. In real life, people aren’t pure good or pure evil. Sometimes even a good guy can drive you nuts. Like that nightly mock battle over the TV remote with your spouse. Or that sister/brother/cousin who makes all your family reunions a nightmare because they can’t forget that one incident you truly regret.

We all have regrets, right?

What if—and here comes that infamous writer’s premise—what if you could chose your family members and, at the same time, eliminate a few? If you were making out the list, and checking it twice, would you erase a few names, then pencil in a few others instead?

That “what if” is one of the premises in my novel, Afterlife: The Resurrection Chronicles. Each person gets the option to resurrect in a custom-designed clone when they die. They get a brand new start, compliments of the resurrection monopoly, Fresh Start. As long as you haven’t committed a capital crime, you get the opportunity to start all over. You can keep the memories you want, erase the ones you don’t.

So here’s my question for you: Are there any people in your life that you would like taken off your list? You don’t have to say who they are, you only have to say yes or no. You can keep all the gory details tucked neatly away. Unless you’d like to share.

And I’ll be giving away an advance reader’s copy to one of the people who make a comment. To enter to win, please post a comment below. You can earn points by:

+1 Posting in the comments section
+1 Linking to this post on Twitter
+1 Linking to this post on Facebook
+1 Linking to the Supernatural Underground blog on your own blog/website
+ 3 Posting a comment on my other blog here.

Just post the total number of points that you’ve earned in your comment. Winner to be announced in this post Monday, August 30. Contest ends Sunday, August 29, at midnight! Please note that if I don’t hear from the winner within 3 days after the contest closes, I will select another winner.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Words to Die By

Disclaimer to my Gentle Readers: Today's post touches on a spread of subjects that some may find disturbing. As such, if you are one of many who are put off by the subject of serial killers and their crimes, please read no further, and wait with bated breath for tomorrow's post written by someone with much less darker fare than I.

Sincerely yours,
- K.

Inauguration day. Confetti. Music. Lots of men in suits and women in amazing dresses. They'd be vintage today, even retro. Not so, then.

Okay, maybe not confetti. It was in the middle of a bank panic. Oh, and a major depression—the Great one, actually. So possibly a little less swank than usual. Nevertheless! On this day, March 4th, 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously said: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Uh huh. What a load of crock.

But then, politicians aren't exactly known for their overarching grasp of a situation, yes? It's a very pat statement: the only thing there is to fear is, well, fear. That's all! Fear will getcha every time.

All right, you. Listen to me. I'll tell you what else there is to fear!

Monsters that Live

I fear the monsters that walk among us, disguised as every day neighbors, lovers, spouses and friends.

Among my many addictions and obsessions, a certain unhealthy fascination lingers for True Crime. Most notably, serial killers. I have read my share of books involving serial killer plots and threats, and I admit to having one or two of my own lined up in the future—fun-yet-twisted game: let's see how many standard sayings like "lined up" can be turned into serial murders!—so it's not as if I'm against using real life as inspiration for fiction.

But let's be serious for a second...

These people—these monsters wearing people faces—are real. Not just real, but out there. Right now. Hunting. Stalking. Killing. Are you shivering yet?

Okay, so that's a little sensationalist. It's impossible to get an accurate, or even remotely accurate, number of active serial killers at any given time, partly due to the—let's face it: erroneous—belief that a murder is always just a murder. (Do not, might I add, get me started...)

That said, the FBI has suggested that they believe there are between 20 and 50 unnamed active serial killers in the United States.

Fifty? That's almost one for every state! (Everyone knows the only bad thing to ever happen in Hawaii is volcanoes and tourists, so let's assume for now that Hawaii is serial-killer-free, okay? Humor me.)

And because I'm sick in the head, I have to read about them when they manage to show up in my radar. Usually, this is through a book that comes out, a media reference in the news or in a TV show, or a passing comment from someone much more learned than I.

Trust me on this, FDR. I totally fear serial killers.

In Douglas Preston's The Monster of Florence, the author and the contributor (Mario Spezi) take us on a grueling, harrowing, downright nerve-wracking ride into the strain that a monstrous serial killer causes at the height of his, or her, reign. And make no mistake, it is a reign. We only see glimpses of this in such popular TV shows as Criminal Minds, and even less in shows that aren't as tightly intertwined with serial killers and catching them as that one is.

Curious, I went looking to see where the fact met drama, and I found (as I always do) the Tru Crime Library. And despite my horror at the events unfolded for me in very plain terms, despite the list of victims, and the descriptions of the violence that made my stomach twist up in knots, I read it all.

Please forgive me, dear readers, as I lapse into a language best suited to describe my feelings on the subject. In the immortal words of, oh, probably someone on Jersey Shore or The Real Desperate Housewives: That is some fucked up shit, ya'll.

Because it is.

And who can forget the tragedy, mystery and worse of the legendary (and still unsolved) Black Dahlia? Shall we go back further?

The female serial killer with the most bodies attributed to her name is a Countess—that's right, you guessed it: Countess Elizabeth Bathory. While she most definitely existed, her guilt is still hotly debated by historians the world over. Personally, I can see why her legend has reached across scenturies to inspire some fo the world's scariest ghost- and vampire tales.

Wait, you want to go even further than that? Very well: his name is Gilles de Rais, and among his many exploits, he is best known as a prolific serial killer of children. This is the 1400s, my darlings, and he rode as a commander in Joan of Arc's army. Can you imagine?

I could, and didn't want to, so I read about it instead. And these are the ones that are dead and gone. What kind of legacy will tomorrow's bring?

Are you afraid yet? I am.

Monsters that Don't

Let's be honest. Ten years ago, you could pick up a paranormal romance book and expect to find two things: 1. your protagonists were human, and 2. the antagonist was a monster. Monster. Mileage does, in fact, vary, but the average paranormal romance involved the struggle between good and evil—and evil was very decisively synonymous with "not human".

Frankly, I enjoy the view of "monsters" as the "good" guys (as long as we don't sanitize them too much by stripping away anything that makes being a monster a drag—whynoI'mnottalkingaboutanyspecificserieshackcough), but it didn't always used to be.

Take, for example, Supernatural. Can we?

Yes, I think we can.

This show is a pretty good example of the Monsters That Don't Exist (insofar as far as we know) genre. Aside from the very sad fact that I have the world's largest unrequited crush on Sam Winchester, this show also provides a step back into what is rapidly approaching "vintage" paranormal.

The monsters are—are you ready for this?—monsters. Not human. That's right. Vampires. Shifters. Witches. Demons. Paris Hilton. Chupacabras, for crying out loud! Even the humans who are bad guys are invariably being puppeted by monsters.

And the good guys? Are human. I mean, sure, Sam's got a little bit of a weird demon blood thing going on and Dean's feeling a little Touched by an Angel—you know it's gotten totally romancey when one brother gets laid by a demon and the other an angel within two episodes, but I digress!—but the fact is, they're mostly human. (They started straight human, but that's an ongoing series for you...)

Even the non-humans that showed up that we'd expect to be good ended up to be something less than that. At best, misguided. At worse, bigoted monkey-hating featherbrains. Why, no, Uriel, I'm not looking at you.


Anyhow, this used to be the standard for books that boasted paranormal themes, and let me tell you, there were some monsters written in those pages that I can not forget, even if I no longer remember the titles.

But then, let's step out of the paranormal and back into suspense. It's mostly contemporary. There are many romance books whose themes are about the stopping, or surviving, of serial murders. The antagonists in those spine-tingling thrillers is most definitely human. At least in appearance.

Do I find those scarier than any monster in the dark? You betcha, buttercup. Kay Hooper comes to mind. So does Stephen King, at his less paranormal. You know who else freaks me the hell right out?

An author that has carved out a permanent niche inside my memory banks and seems intent on staying for the ride: Clive Barker.

On a lark one day, about ten years ago, I had borrowed one of his many Books of Blood from a friend. I—eh heh—devoured it rather quickly. Much like my fascination with true crime murders, I couldn't tear myself away from story after short story of the strangest, scariest, oftentimes sexualized horror I have ever in my life read.

And I still flash back to them now and again. The young kid pushed into insanity, who then turns into a scary fireman axe-wielding clown? Okay, sure. The girl and entire female-only family with the poisoned, uh, dentata? All... right...

The tourist who watches a village create a living giant of intertwined bodies that goes insane? Unfortunate.

The Sherlock Holmes & Watson tale of the Cthulhu-inspired house whose walls were on a sexual rampage? Awwwkwaaaaard.

And the worst? The one that really, really scared me? The Midnight Meat Train. I can't share the details, it's too horrifying and freaky and gross, but I do recommend you read the short story before you watch the movie. Even the title gives me a serious case of the heebie-jeebies and a terrible fear of late-night mass transit. Is it supernatural? Is it just humanity being sick and twisted?

Is it something older than even that? And how do we know that it does not, in fact, exist?

I leave you, my dear readers, with Katherine Pearson's unwitting counter to the infamous FDR, plucked from Jacob Have I Loved: "To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another."

So... What, then, do you fear? And why?

Karina Cooper is a paranormal romance author for Avon. Her debut novel, Blood of the Wicked—an urban romance set in a world torn apart by a war between the accused and the hunters sworn to kill them—will be released in 2011. She's not really a total freak and promises that despite a very odd and wholly parentally unclaimed fascination with murder and monsters, she won't ever bite you. Of course, Dove ice cream bars—dark chocolate shell, of course—will always stack the odds in your favor... Also, she fears bees. Yes, bees. It's a thing.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Supernatural Stepback

The winner is Sullivan McPig of the Netherlands!!! Sullivan, please contact me at to give me your address. Congratulations!

The Supernatural Stepback may sound like the dance you do when suddenly confronted with a group of really nasty-looking ghouls-- just step back and hope they didn't see you or smell you-- but never fear! Stepbacks do not mean you're in danger. The worst they can do is cause a dent in your wallet when they convince you to buy a book. You know how some books have a cover on the front, then you open the book to find a second cover? That's a stepback. I've been fortunate to have them on the last four books in the Love at Stake series.

I love stepbacks! Especially mine! I feel like I can say that since I have nothing to do with them. They're produced by the art department at HarperCollins. What I really love about them (other than the fact that they're beautifully done) is that they often tell a story all by themselves. Take a look at Exhibit A from All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire. On the cover, we see the heroine, Toni, patiently waiting in bed for her vampire lover. You can see him coming outside the window in the form of a bat. Then you turn the cover to the stepback and BAM!!! The vampire lover has arrived! And boy is he ready for action!

Here's Exhibit B from The Vampire and the Virgin. On the cover, the Virgin looks very healthy and enticing, but the Vampire-- he's looking a little too undead. Poor guy. What can we do to make him feel better? Just turn to the stepback. BAM! After sampling the virgin's charms, he has miraculously recovered his skin tone!

And now for Exhibit C from Eat Prey Love, which will release September 28th. On the cover, we see Carlos, the were-panther, on the prowl. He's looking very sexy and determined...and alone. Poor guy. He needs to find his mate. Turn to the stepback and BAM!Carlos has found a woman! YAY!!! Of course, if you want to know just how he finds a woman, you'll have to read the book!

Which of these covers do you like the best? Or do you have another favorite cover you'd like to mention? Leave a comment, and a winner at random will receive a signed copy of The Vampire and the Virgin. Be bold, be brave, be batty!

Monday, August 23, 2010

How Far Is Too Far???

**CONGRATS to nymfaux who won the signed copy of THE BODY FINDER!**

With the advent of DVRs, commercials seem to be falling by the wayside, so advertisers are finding more…shall we say "creative" ways to attract our attention. And maybe creative is a bit of an overstatement. Maybe in-your-face would be more accurate. It’s a little something we like to call Product Placement.

It’s actually nothing new. It’s really not DVRs that have spawned this event. Remember ET? That adorable little alien who stole our heart-lights back in the 80’s? Did he not make your mouth water for those delectable Reese’s Pieces? It just as easily could have been M&Ms you were craving if the Mars company made Spielberg the right offer.

Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t mind the shift toward product placement. Not even a little bit. It can even be entertaining, as long as it fits into the story. It can be as blatant and obvious as 30 Rock’s McFlurry episode (which, paid for or not, was sheer marketing genius!). And, which I might add, made my mouth water for the almighty McFlurry. Well played, advertising gurus…well played!

So, where does this product placement end, I wonder? Surely not with TV and movies. When will we see it bleeding into the pages of the books we love? And, more importantly, do we care?

In TWILIGHT, Bella drinks Coke. In Justin Cronin’s mega-hit THE PASSAGE, he mentions Nikes. I even did it when my main character in THE BODY FINDER goes for a run and listens to her iPod, and not her generic mp3 player.

But as an author would I be willing to change the soda that my characters drink based on a check I receive from PepsiCo? Or to change a setting to a certain fast food joint just for some extra change in my pockets? I don’t know…how much are we talkin’???

And what about the covers? Those beautifully crafted covers that we drool over? Should there be ad space for sale on those? Banner ads? Logos?

I don’t know…that may be too far even for me (and those of you who know me understand that “too far” is not a phrase I know well).

So, maybe “Sell-Out” is not my middle name. But I’m not ruling out “Apple” or “Charmin” or “Skittles”, you know, if the price is right….

But I want to hear your thoughts on brand names popping up in books. Does it bother you? Would it bother you if you knew the author was selling the right to have it named? Could you give a flip either way? And what other books can you think of that name actual brand names???

I’m giving away a signed copy of THE BODY FINDER, all you have to do is leave a comment by midnight on Wednesday, August 25th. One random winner will be selected!

What do you think: Kimberly Amazon Derting???

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What I should have said

My precious
The weekend of August 14 was the Romance Writers of Australia’s annual conference. It was an especially important weekend for me for a number of reasons. First, my New York agent was also attending the conference so we had a chance to catch up. Second, I was giving my first workshop which I had spent the last couple of weeks preparing. Thirdly, it was the first RWAus conference I had attended since the release of my debut novel, NIGHT’S COLD KISS, last September. And finally, that same novel had been nominated for the Romantic Elements category of the Romantic Book of the Year, or RuBY as it is more affectionately known (it's the Australian version of the RWAmerica Rita Awards).  The RuBY has four categories: Short Sweet; Short Sexy; Long Romance; and Romantic Elements and is announced at the Awards dinner at the Saturday night of the conference.

The ARRA mass author signing  next to Maggie Nash
My fellow finalists, including my friend -- Rita nominated Bronwyn Parry -- were simply awesome. I was so very proud to have made the finals with such an impressive group of writers. So to say that I wasn’t prepared to win is an understatement. When
my name was called, I went deaf. I was so sure I’d heard wrong, but everyone seemed to be smiling at me and clapping. I had nothing prepared for this.  Somehow, I made it to my feet and staggered up to the podium. And opened my thank you speech with “Oh Crap – now what do I say?” or something along those lines. I remember I thanked my agent who was in attendance and of course my husband, but I can’t remember what else I said. So I thought I might give the speech here that I would like to have given that night.

Me with my bling
 Firstly I would like to thank the RWA for the support it has given to me over the years on my journey to publication and since.
I would also like to thank the coordinator, Louise and all the readers that made this award possible. 

I thank my agent, Jennifer Schober, for her belief in me and my editor at Eos Books, Diana Gill for helping to shape my story into the book it became.

To my family and friends, especially my boys, my parents, Cathy, Mel and Rachel -- I appreciate all your encouragement and for listening to me when the doubt demons came calling.

But I would particularly like to thank my husband of over 20 years, who put up with takeaway dinners, my disorganised mess and my endless hours at the computer. Without you I could never have done this and without you I would never have wanted to. You are the ink in my pen.

So that is my speech. I know that last part is a bit corny, but love does that to you. At least I didn’t say wind beneath my wings :)

The other winners of the RuBY were:
Short Sweet:
Sharon Archer
'Marriage Reunited: Baby On The Way'

Short Sexy:
Amy Andrews
'A Doctor, A Nurse: A Christmas Baby'

Long Romance:
Sophia James
'Mistletoe Magic'

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Celebrating Australia and Worldcon

Thanks to everyone for the great comments. I'm in New Zealand at the moment, at their convention, and there's some great local writers here.

Trent's book Death Most Definite has been won by Nymfaux. Kirsten's book Madigan Mine has been won by Shari C. Tansy's Book Power and Majesty has been won by GB (formerly JD). Congrats! Email to send me your address and I'll get your book in the mail to you asap.

In just under two weeks, the World Science Fiction convention (Worldcon) swings into action down-under.

Every ten years or so, Australia hosts Worldcon (under the name of Aussiecon) and for a lot of us who can't afford the airfares to the Northern Hemisphere, it's our only opportunity to enjoy the experience. Members of the Supernatural Underground who will be present are Tracey O'Hara, Helen Lowe, Carrie Vaughn and myself.

It's also a chance for us Aussies to spruik ourselves. The dealers room will be awash with Australian publishers, particularly small press, writers groups and artists.

In that spirit, I thought I'd use this month's post to spruik three new Australian paranormal/dark fantasy novels which have been released in recent months. These are all books that I've read and absolutely loved. In two cases (Trent and Kirstyn) it's the debut novel, and they are fantastic. In Tansy's case, it's a blend of urban and traditional fantasy that often had me stopping in awe of the brilliant ideas.

Note that only one is currently being published overseas, but I'll give you places to order the others if they interest you.

The most recent arrival on the Australian urban fantasy scene is Trent Jamieson, with his Death Works series. Death Most Definite is the story of Stephen de Selby, who is a pomp. It's a job that runs in the family and a job he likes - good pay, hours are okay, exciting enough without being overpowering. However, someone wants to take over Death's role, and that means killing all the pomps. Stephen has to find it within himself to not only survive, but find out what's going on and stop it.

Stephen's not your usual UF protagonist - he's a bit ineffectual, really. But the world Trent's developed is incredible, and Stephen is challenged and forced to grow like few characters are. This book is available in the US and UK, so look for it at your local bookstore.

Next is Madigan Mine, by Kirstyn McDermott. This isn't urban fantasy or paranormal romance, more what I'd call dark fantasy, but it's got such a fabulous premise and is so wonderfully written that I don't hesitate to recommend it to you all.

Alex Bishop's life is kinda drifting when his childhood soulmate Madigan Sargood reappears in his life. Alex is delighted to again be directed by Madigan's intensity and passion but all the while there is a time bomb - Madigan is dying. Eventually, the intensity becomes too much for Alex and he ends the relationship, then is devastated when Madigan dies soon after. But Madigan remains very much alive to him - too much alive.

Last is Tansy Rayner Roberts' Power and Majesty, book one of the Creature Court trilogy. Tansy has done something really interesting here - she's taken some of the tropes of urban fantasy, such as the hidden world and shapeshifters, and planted them into a fantasy world.

The city of Aufleur is a place of parties and parades, but each night while the citizens sleep the Creature Court wages war with the sky to save them. Velody is about to recieve the ultimate accolade for a dressmaker - the Duchessa is wearing one of her creations. But the Power and Majesty of the Creature Court is killed and suddenly Velody finds herself with powers and part of a world she never knew existed and she needs to learn how to live in it fast, or it will destroy her.

Unfortunately, neither Kirstyn nor Tansy's books are yet published outside Australia and New Zealand (although there are plans afoot - oh yes, my friends, there are plans). You can order them online at or

Fortunately, I have copies of all three books to give away to three lucky commenters! To win, join the fun by spruiking a local writer that you love. Winners will be chosen at random on 28 August.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ahh, those hot, sexy guys between the covers.

...The covers of books, I mean.

It's easy to fall in love with the likes of Clive Owen, Robert Downey, Jr., George Clooney, etc. etc., because we can see and hear them...but those of us who are book-lovers, who devour the literary hunks, know that it's just as easy to find a literary crush.

I mean...Bones. Need I say more?

Okay, how about Roarke? Hmm?

I thought so.

And then there's Mr. Darcy. *sigh* And Rhett.

Yes, yes, I've had my share of literary crushes (and some of them were even my creations--which I think helps when writing a book. You have to love the hero or your heroine won't!)...but it's not just a recent thing.

No, indeed. I've had literary crushes since I was back in middle school, maybe even grade school. I think my very first one, which I vaguely remember, was Rudy, the red-headed boy in Carolyn Haywood's Betsy & the Boys. Now, that's going wayyyy back to maybe second or third grade. And it was because he had red hair. (I have a thing for redheads.)

And then of course, I was enamored with Ned Nickerson, but he never even held Nancy Drew's hand (although he certainly seemed to rescue her an awful lot). Wimpy, I thought.

Interestingly enough, even though I read all the books, I never fell for Joe or Frank Hardy. (Except for the TV version of Frank.)

Nor did I think Almanzo Wilder was all that exciting, until I recently re-read These Happy Golden Years...that's when I realized what a total stud he is. (All those muscles pulling on the wild horses...driving through blizzards to drive Laura home...I mean, the guy's nickname was Manly, for pity's sake!)


Um, are you still with me?

But my first real, true, long-lasting literary crush was Trixie Belden's Jim Frayne. Yep. It's that redhead thing. (Which is why Ron Weasley is the one who makes my heart go pitter-patter, not Harry.)

I admit, I read those books in grade school...and then I went back and read the good ones in middle school. And maybe even high school. And maybe I even have sought out some Jim/Trixie fan what? In my mind, they're still teen-agers, and I'm ready for them to get on with things, thankyouverymuch!

So...what about you? Who was your first literary crush? 'Fess up!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Jane and the Very Damned, A Contest

The Contest is over, and thanks to everyone who participated! There were some great suggestions and I've had quite a bit of trouble picking a winner because I liked so many of them. But...drumroll...I've decided to take the suggestion of Krista who posted on August 16...Les Sales, which means the unclean or dirty ones. Brilliant, Krista, and contact me for your prize--a signed copy of Jane and the Damned and some other goodies--at jmullanyATcomcastDOTnet.

I need to tap into the creative, snarky brilliance of the paranormal reading and blogging community. That's YOU, folks.

I have this problem. I'm writing the second book about Jane Austen as a vampire, a loosely-related book set in Chawton, Hants, where Austen lived with her sister Cassandra, her mother, and her friend Martha Lloyd from 1809 until her death. I visited her house, now a museum, where you can see her writing table and many of the family's possessions, just over a month ago. There's an account of my visit at

After several years of moving around, experiencing deaths of loved ones including her father, and the realization that at this late age (33 when they moved to Chawton) she probably wouldn't marry, Jane pulled out her neglected manuscripts, and produced. There are many theories why Austen, after the burst of creativity in her late teens-early twenties, had a massive case of writer's block for a decade. Was she too busy partying in her nomadic existence and found the stability she needed at Chawton? Was she secretly writing all the time? Or observing and mentally, or physically, taking notes? Since so few of her original mss. survive and so many of her letters were destroyed by family members, we just don't know.

Although I do. She was coming to terms with recovery from vampirism and lost love and you can read all about it in my October release JANE AND THE DAMNED.

And therein lies my problem for the next book. By 1810, the Damned, the gorgeous, sexy vamps of Georgian England, are out of favor with high society. The Prince of Wales (soon to achieve his dream of becoming Prince Regent) has dropped them, as he tended to do with many of his friends. Some of the Damned decide their survival depends upon integrating themselves into a less exalted sphere and lying low for a few centuries. Other Damned are just mad at the fall from favor and start behaving badly, going feral and attacking instead of seducing.

So here's the Contest: What do I call the feral Damned? At the moment I'm referring to them as the Very Damned for lack of a better term, which is very, well, lame!

I have definitions of a few expressions of the Damned here where you can also read an excerpt, (and there's another regular sort of contest on the site here). The term has to sound eighteenth-century/Regency, sophisticated, and avoiding such terms as fanged or feral which are quite modern. French is great--for instance, en sanglant means to have a fang-on. Basically, I want a good, juicy euphemism (and how often do you hear that?).

How to Enter: Post your suggestion here. I'll take entries until the end of August and announce the winner at the top of this post in September.

The Prize: A signed copy of JANE AND THE DAMNED plus some chocolate and Austen-related goodies, and a mention, if you like, in the acknowledgments of the book.

So get your thinking fangs on! I'm really looking forward to what you'll come up with.

JANE AND THE DAMNED an impressively compelling Jane Austen mashup full of humor and poignant irony. Publishers Weekly (October 2010).

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Forbidden Fruit

***WINNER ALERT*** Congratulations to DANIELLE (Comment #8), who won the hardbacked copy of Insatiable!  Thanks so much to all who commented! :-)

The apple is dangling on the tree right in front of you.  It's deep red in color, ripe and shiny and plump with juices; a perfect orb just begging to be cupped by your hand.  One sharp tug and it'll be freed from the tree, ready to be raised to your mouth and bitten; you can practically feel the crispness beneath your teeth.  One bite, and there's no going back.  The pristine perfection of that shiny, untouched apple can never be regained, lost forever the moment you reach out your hand, and take it.

Do you take it?

Maybe you're not hungry.  Maybe you know that it doesn't belong to you, or maybe you don't like apples.  Maybe you think it will be there another day, when you are hungry, or (oh, yes!) maybe there's an even better apple on the next tree!  Or, (oh, no!) the apple belongs to someone else, and if you eat it, it would be stealing.  Even if you just took one bite and gave it back, it would be forever spoiled.

So many decisions. So many complications, when really, all you wanted was a simple bite of an apple.

The cycle of temptation, choice and consequence is a recurring theme in our lives, and why, in my opinion, romance novels are the perfect solution.  You can pick up a romance novel, and while you're between those pages, you can sample as many red, juicy apples as you like, no strings attached.  With paranormal romance, you can kick it up a notch, and let your imagination go wild!  Dark-haired men with magical powers? Open the pages of a romance, and you can try out as many wizards, warlocks, vampires or demons as you like without having to actually take orders from them, cook their dinner or pick up scattered pieces of eye-of-newt.  Prefer the sensitive type?  Here's a savage, leonine beast with brown hair and green eyes who--at heart--is really a pussycat.  Or how about this one, the proud hero with the blood of the Fey in his veins, whose anger threatens to rule his life, but is calmed by the touch of your hand on his brawny, muscular arm?

So many decisions. So many complications, but between the pages of a romance novel, none of them actually affect you! You can finally take bite of that apple.

No guilt, no consequences.  A veritable orchard of ripe, crispy apples, waiting to be tasted.

Romance novel sales defied industry trends last year, up $100 million in sales from the year before, in the face of an almost 2% drop in overall book sales.*  And yet, we're a genre that still gets very little respect from the general public. Even those of us who read it and love it sometimes feel like reading romance novels is our "dirty little secret".

I, for one, have decided that there's nothing wrong in having a dirty little secret, particularly when it contains forbidden fruit that's perfectly safe to eat.  :)

Today I'm giving away another book I got at the recent Romance Writers of America conference, a hard-back edition of INSATIABLE, by Meg Cabot (in large part because I love the cover, which reminds me of forbidden fruit).
For a chance to win, just answer me this:  Isn't it fun having a dirty little secret?

*Bloomberg Businessweek, July 26-August 1, 2010, by Spencer Morgan
The (AAP) Association of American Publishers reports an overall 1.8% drop in book sales for 2009, except for one genre: romance. Romance novel sales in 2009 defied industry trends, increasing 7.7%, up $100 million from the year before, to the tune of $1.4 billion dollars a year. Some 75 million people read at least one romance novel in 2009, and it's the top-performing category on the best-seller lists compiled by the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Writing the Story -- Just a trip on the open road

I used to think I was a plotter. Or maybe I just wanted to be a plotter since it appealed to my control freak side. The idea of sitting down to write with a thoroughly plotted outline at my fingertips enthralled me. I imagined that marvelous document, each chapter broken down into detailed scene-by-scene action, emotion, and descriptions, with character goals and conflicts spelled out in perfect clarity. Writing would be a snap, I thought.

Then I tried it. And failed. Miserably.

I spent months creating that brilliant outline for one of my early books (a Scottish historical that will never see the light of day). But at the first critical turning point in the story, all that meticulous planning fell apart. The hero, who had come roaring to life in the first few chapters, simply refused to react to that pivotal moment the way I (and my beautiful outline) required him to. I could have forced him, of course. And he and anyone who read the book would have hated me for it. So I didn't. I let him react the way he needed to, which sent the story spinning in a direction I'd never foreseen. And all the meticulous planning I'd done from that point forward had to be scrapped.

So, I tried again, carefully plotting the rest of the story from that point on, convinced it would work now that I understood the hero better. Wrong. Within a few chapters, he was glaring at me, arms crossed, a mulish set to his chiseled jaw. No way in hell was he doing what I'd intended. Again.

I'd love to say that after two failures I'd learned my lesson. Nope. To paraphrase one of my favorite fictional characters (Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum), I try never to make the same mistake more than two or three times. Eventually, I figured it out. For me, traveling through a story is a lot like traveling by car along roads I've never visited before. Yes, I can grab a map and plan the route ahead of time, in detail, but all I'm doing is guessing the best way to go. We've all done it--chosen a route that appears to be quick, or short, or interesting, only to find the reality anything but. That 'straight shot' through the city has us caught in traffic so thick we haven't moved for an hour or that 'short cut' between two highways turns out to be little more than a track through the mountains where we can hardly tell the roads from the driveways.

Planning the trip ahead of time is all well and fine, but it's not until I get into the middle of it that I'm able to see where I really want to go.

I still plot, because my stories are too complicated to simply dive into without any plan. But my plotting these days looks more like a trip itinerary that reads: Atlanta to Cincinnati to Denver to Albuquerque. The highlights only. I refuse to plan the details of how I'll get from Cincinnati to Denver until I reach Cincinnati. At that point, I'll look at the situation (how much time I have, how much money, what the weather looks like, and how the traffic reports are stacking up), and make my decisions based on up-to-the-minute data. And even then, I'm okay with things changing. If a road looks good, I'll take it. If not, I won't. No commitments. No meticulous pre-planning. And if it starts to make more sense to switch Albuquerque with Denver, that's okay, too.

My current go-with-the-flow approach to storytelling allows my stories to develop and grow as they need to. And it gives my characters the freedom to be true to themselves, to act and react as they must. I find that this approach makes the writing far more fun, even if I don't always feel in control. Like life itself, I never quite know what the next day, or the next chapter, will bring.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Lighter Side of Paranormal

If you walk through the sci-fi/fantasy or young adult sections of a bookstore, you will see a predominance of dark covers. Black, charcoal gray, midnight blue. (Just take a quick gander down the right side of our page and you'll see what I mean.) And then, if you're in the YA fantasy section, you'll come across a bright spot. A hot pink or royal blue or bright turquoise spine. Those would be my books.

There aren't many of us out there writing light paranormal books. (To be fair, many of the darker paranormal books have strong humor elements. To be even more fair, some of the lighter paranormal books still get packaged with dark covers. And to be the fairest, my new series that starts next fall about descendants of Medusa swings a little darker than my other books.) But we are out there.

Whether a book is light or dark has less to do with the type of paranormal elements in the story, than with the voice and style of the author. While my mermaid books (Forgive My Fins) are super light, there are darker YA mermaids stories (Sea Change by Aimee Friedman and Siren by Tricia Rayburn), as well. Oh. My. Gods. take a lighter look at mythology, but the Percy Jackson series edges a little darker, and P. C. Cast's Goddess Summoning books darker still.

Maybe the determining factor is whether lives (or the fate of the whole entire world) are at stake. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that nobody dies in either my mythology or mermaid series. (I'm making no promises about the Medusa girls, though.) Or maybe it's just a darker, edgier outlook on life from the main characters. I guess it doesn't really matter why some books are darker than others, it only matters that there are readers out there for them both.

My question for all you readers out there is simple:

Do you prefer your paranormal on the dark side?
Or do you like the light, too

Really, this paranormal author wants to know.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Signed Goodies from the Underground!

****WINNER ALERT!!**** Congratulations to Amy J - Book Addict for winning a signed copy of Juliana Stone's HIS DARKEST HUNGER, to Jacqueline C. (post #64) for winning a signed copy of Kathryn Smith's BEFORE I WAKE, and to Alicia 0605 for winning a signed copy of Jocelynn Drake's DAWNBREAKER!  Thanks for sharing your karaoke choices - wish we could all hang out together and sing them at the same time!  Amy, Jacqueline, and Alicia, contact us at booksthatgobump@gmail to claim your books!

Ok, boys and ghouls, I promised you some signed goodies from some of the authors here in the Underground, gathered while we were attending the recent RWA conference in Orlando. Here are a few of us yakking it up (l to r) Juliana Stone, Pamela Palmer, Terri Garey (me), Jocelynn Drake and Joss Ware) before heading off to some of our various signings and workshops.

Lest you think it was all work and no play, however, here's a shot from the workshop we paneled on the cross-genre aspects of Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy and Sci-Fi Fantasy.  (Don't we look official?)  This motley crew, from left to right, is Juliana, Terri, Joss, Jeaniene Frost, Kelley Armstrong and C.L. Wilson.
Of course, it would be lying to say we had NO fun, as evidenced by this shot of Joss Ware, rocking out to Madonna's Material Girl during Karaoke night (I would've taken more pictures, but I was too busy singing along!) 
At any rate, in between the work and the play, I made a point to snag some signed books during the conference, specifically to give away to those of you who lurk in the Supernatural Underground!
First up is a signed copy of HIS DARKEST HUNGER by Juliana Stone,

and a signed copy of DAWNBREAKER by Jocelynn Drake,

 and a signed copy of BEFORE I WAKE by Kathryn Smith!

Yep, three giveaways today, and more to come (I feel like Jack Skellington in the Nightmare Before Christmas!)

So tell me, for a chance to win one of these autographed books, if you were going to Karaoke your heart out with your best ghoulfriends, what song would you choose?  (You're allowed to state your preference of books in your comment, but I can't promise that will be what you get if you win.)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

fun at san diego comic-con international!

hello supernatural book-loving fans! i thought i'd spend this month's posting opportunity by sharing some fotos and experiences from this summer's comic-con festivities! i was only there for two days-- as i find the con quite overwhelming! i went on friday in costume then on sunday to moderate a YA ANGST panel with some awesome authors!

*me and megan whalen turner, author of newbery
honor The Thief, Queen of Attolia, King of Attolia
and A Conspiracy of Kings. one of my favorite series
and one of my favorite people! we're at the harpercollins
booth. you can see merrie's awesome debut poster for
Afterlife behind us. i was bummed i missed out on her
paranormal panel.

*my pirate soulmate saw me in costume and
asked for a foto! he lent me his gun as he thought
i was weaponless, but i had a dagger in my right
boot. (you can see the tip of it in this foto. =)
i take my costumes very seriously!

*the day ended with a fancy party thrown
by penguin called "fangfest". it was a lot of
fun and although i was there only briefly,
i got to catch up with margie stohl and
kami garcia (Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful
Darkness) as well as meet heather (The Chronicles
of Vladmir Tod series) and her son.

*sunday was my comic-con panel and i had
awesome authors on it! [me, james owen, emily
drake, nancy holder, kathy reichs, d. j. machale,
neal shusterman and michael spradlin.] foto
courtesy of liz's blog.

i managed to end the panel on time after some great
discussion and questions, and herded the audience
and authors to the open signing area without a hitch.
*pats self on back* =D

*the calm before the signing.

*a view of our line and the readers waiting

we managed to get a group foto after it
was all said it done. the signing was run
by mysterious galaxy and i always have fun at
their events--it was such a pleasure meeting
these new authors. i've been introduced and read
many great books because of this! [kathy reichs,
me, james owen, d. j. machale, michael spradlin,
nancy holder and patrick from mysterious galaxy!]

Saturday, August 7, 2010

In the Beginning...

[Edit: The winners of the contest are: Cheryl Kordes, Tura Lura, Mandy, and tsalvatore! Please email me at JocelynnDOTdrakeATgmailDOTcom with your name and mailing address so I can mail out your signed copies of Wait for Dusk]

In the beginning, there was a daydream of a woman who was strong and stubborn and more than a little broken. I couldn’t get her out of my mind. She occupied my daydreams and stalked me while I slept until I finally started to put her on the page. And even then, there was no evading her. For more than five years now, there has only been Mira with the flaming red hair and explosive temper.

Recently, Wait for Dusk: the fifth book in the Dark Days series was released into the world. It follows Mira and Danaus along with a couple nightwalker companions to Budapest where they have to not only face a familiar enemy that has been haunting Mira for most of her existence, but she and Danaus also have to escape a plot that nearly claims their life and destroys their budding relationship.

Today, I thought I would take a step back and wander down memory lane for a moment to talk about where and when Mira was born, because she had a somewhat rough and unusual start in comparison to other stories that I’ve written.

While I’ll admit that I’ve only been an author for three years now, I first started writing stories when I was twelve. I spent one summer retelling the tale of Robin Hood so that it included a kick-ass female that could hang with the boys. It was just an early sign of the direction that I would be headed. From there, the stories just kept coming. I filled notebooks with random scenes that would pop into my head. During high school, I kept two notebooks on my desk at all times. In one, I took notes for the class I was in and in the other I wrote stories during the boring parts of the lectures.

The scenes rarely ever turned into books. They were just scenes filled with unique people that interested me for a flash of time. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I was introduced to fantasy novels, and suddenly my world exploded into this vast new universe where magical things could happen and characters could be so much more than what I was writing. It was then that I started my first novel. It was the first time that I outlined an entire novel and actually finished it. It was the first time I drew out a detailed map of the world and kept it close to my side as I worked. It was my first true labor of deep love.

Years flash by and the stories continue to come. And one day, a character walks into my brain after I had spent several months reading a wide variety of urban fantasy novels. She was tall, lithe, and strong. She had red hair and a mischievous smirk and a sarcastic biting tongue. I wanted to play with her. I needed to. So, I started some scenes with her in them. At first, she was an elf and then a witch and then finally, a vampire. I found that I would write about thirty pages for each tale she was involved in and then stop. I would open up a fresh document and then take her in a new direction for thirty pages before stopping again.

All those scenes that will never see the light of day were practice. I needed to hear her talk, watch how she walked into a scene and interacted with other characters of varying strength and temperament. I needed to know what lit her temper and broke her heart. I needed to make her smile when all she wanted to do was cry.

Weary of scenes that went nowhere, I finally tried to put this character aside, whose name had evolved from Miranda to Mira. I started a short story about a vampire hunter, but I wanted to tell the story in such a way that it wasn’t from his point of view, yet it was about him. When the narrator opened her mouth for the first time, I knew that I was listening to Mira and the words flowed like water down a mountain.

I was content to leave it as a short story. On a whim, I showed the story to a friend. When he was finished, he simply shook his head to me as he handed it back, saying “You’re not finished.” He wanted a book. It had never occurred to me that Mira and Danaus needed an entire book, but at that point Mira was screaming for more pages and Danaus had begun to intrigue me as well.

For the second time in my life, I outlined a book and the pages pour forth with a new deep love. And Nightwalker was born.

So, for the curious, yes, I still have that map that I made during high school and dream of returning to that fantasy world I created so long ago. And I still possess every note, character sketch, and lengthy scene that I ever wrote involving Mira. The love still runs just as deep for my characters. But if you love the Dark Days series, direct your thanks to my friend Joe. He’s the one that said that I wasn’t finished, and without that, the tale might never have continued.

To celebrate the release of Wait for Dusk, I am going to give away four signed copies of the book to people who leave a comment in this blog entry. The contest is open to domestic and international readers. I will draw the winner on Sunday, August 8 and will announce the winners at the top of this blog post. Good luck.