Friday, December 30, 2011

It is my great honor to announce the
Winner of the First Annual Supernatural Underground Holiday Giveaway is:

Donna will be receive a gift pack of lovely books from the Supernatural Underground Authors.
* * *
I’m sure that we have all heard of the movie White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, and Danny Kaye. If we don’t know the movie, we know the title song and have
probably heard it a million times already this season. Growing up on classic movies, I knew I had seen this movie a few times with its ridiculous dance scenes and budding romances.

What I didn’t remember until I sat down this year to watch it was that the bulk of the plot is about the two main characters, former army Captains, giving thanks to a General who got them through the war.

You’d think that a movie made in 1954 wouldn’t really relate to the situation in which we find ourselves in 2011. But it’s a message that seems to ring extra true to me this year. There
are men and women who are away from home serving in the military who are
trying to make the world safer for everyone. Despite your political viewpoints,
you can’t deny that it must be rough being away from your family during the

Our Supernatural Undergrounders decided to do something a little different this year. Along with
surprising a random commenter with daily giveaways and a grand prize (got to love extra
Christmas presents), we also decided to say Thank You to the troops who are away
from home this season. Where Crosby and Kaye saluted them in song, we are
sending our words of thanks and hope their way this Christmas season with
letters and books.

Books for Soldiers is an organization where soldiers or those acting on behalf of soldiers can request books. Civilians can send their new or gently loved books along with
care packages and words of thanks. This year, the authors of the Supernatural
Underground found five soldiers who loved a good paranormal or romance and will
be sending them our thanks with signed books, post cards, and a lot of

We hope that your Christmas was merry and bright and that this coming New Year brings love and laughter your way!
See you next year!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Join us on Twitter!

Here's a list of our authors who are on Twitter. Join the conversation!
  • Dakota Banks      @dakotabanks
  • Leah Clifford       @LeahClifford 
  • Leah Cypess        @LeahCypess
  • Merrie Destafano  @merriedestefano
  • Kim Falconer        @kimfalconer
  • Leigh Fallon         @leigh_fallon
  • Jeaniene Frost      @Jeaniene_Frost
  • Terri Garey          @terrigarey
  • Sable Grace          @sablegrace
  • Gretchen McNeil    @GretchenMcNeil
  • Nicole R. Murphy   @nicole_r_murphy
  • Tracey O'Hara       @traceyohara
  • Pamela Palmer      @Pamela_Palmer
  • Jaime Rush           @Jaimerush
  • Kerrelyn Sparks     @KerrelynSparks
  • Joss Ware             @joss_ware
  • Supernatural Underground  @superntrlUnderg

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

The winner is....drum roll....Eveeer!! Please contact me at so I can get your address! Thank you all for the lovely comments. Please come back Jan. 25th when I'll give away another signed book. Happy New Year!!

Since I blog every month on the 25th, I get the special honor of wishing all of you Supernatural Undergrounders a very merry Christmas!! It's a day for giving gifts, so I have a gift for one of you-- a signed copy of Vampire Mine! I like to think that the heroine, Marielle, was singing with the Heavenly Host when the Christ child was born. Please leave me a comment about how your holiday is going, and maybe an extra gift will come your way. International entries are welcomed.

The next Love at Stake book comes out March 27th. It's titled Wanted: Undead or Alive. And then the thirteenth Love at Stake book will come out in Fall 2012. If you haven't visited my website at, please do! In the Vampire World section you'll find games to play, quizzes to take, videos to watch, and more info about the series.

Wishing you all safe and happy holidays! And a happy New Year filled with good people, great times, and wonderful books!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Books for Christmas: A Celebration of Story

Giveaway Winners!

And  the draw winners are:

  •  SandyG265 ~ 'The Heir of Night'
  • Llehn ~ 'Thornspell'
  • JacquiR ~ JAAM 26
Congratulations to the winners and my thanks to everyone who commented---remember to stay posted for the 'Grand Supernatural Underground Draw' on the 30th. And of course I'll be back on the 1st for my regular slot and with something I hope you'll agree is special ...

Book recipients---please contact me on contact[at]helenlowe[dot]info so I can arrange to send you your 'loot'. :)
As a writer, it’s perhaps not surprising that books form one of the major landmarks of my Christmases past—not least, I suspect, because the gift of a book was always ‘sure to please’ me on the gift front. So I thought I’d share some of the brightest of those Christmas book memories today.

One of the earliest and most enduringly successful of those book gifts—possibly because it has always spoken to both the poet and prose writer in me, as well as to the lover of gorgeous illustrations—was Twas the Night Before Christmas (believed to be the work of Clement Clarke Moore, 1779-1863):

“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse …”

I have always loved the story this book tells, and the way it captures the anticipation and enchantment of Christmas Eve, a time when the young child feels as though the whole world is poised and waiting … for something magical to happen. And in Twas the Night Before Christmas it does!

I was 10 when I received the second of those very influential Christmas books—Roger Lancelyn Green’s Tales of Troy and Greece. (I suspect my book is a compilation from two publications: The Tales of Troy and Tales of the Greek Heroes, both first published in 1958.) I was already an enthusiast for both Greek and Norse myths and legends, but there was something particularly real and compelling in Green’s retelling, and all his characters came alive for me on the page. I have read many versions of those same stories, and many other classical works and reworkings since then. But I still feel that Tales of Troy and Greece was the signpost that set me firmly on the path to short stories such as The Brother King and Ithaca, and to poems like my Ithaca Conversations sequence, as well as establishing the strong mytho-heroic influences on my novels, Thornspell and The Heir of Night.

My father died when I was twenty two, and money and good cheer were both in short supply on the Christmas following his death. But we still came together as a family and my mother gave each of us a book, a trade paperback from the stationers near her work. My gift was Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon—and I loved it. Although I was subsequently to read a huge number of retellings of the Arthurian legends (too many in fact!) The Mists of Avalon was the very first such retelling I encountered and I was enthralled by its interweaving of Celtic myth and real history, and the combination of politics and battles and magic, romantic and sexual relationships—but most of all that the entire story was told from the perspective of the women in the Arthurian cycle. That was definitely a first for me in my Fantasy reading and one I liked, opening up the notion that women’s history and women’s voices in and through storytelling had something to say: something that mattered.

My mother, like my father, passed away too young. But they left me a legacy beyond price, one bound inextricably into my Christmas memories—the gift of books, and through the books, of the magic that is both story and storytelling. So it is no accident, or mere observance of convention, that The Heir of Night, the first book in my Wall of Night series, is dedicated to my parents. 

Giveaways Galore:

As part of this countdown to Christmas, each Supernatural Underground author who posts in the "Christmas Memories" series is doing a giveaway—and there’s also a Grand Supernatural Underground Giveaway at the end of the series, I believe to be drawn on 30 December. There’ll be a copy of The Heir of Night in that Grand Giveaway—plus in the soldiers' gift package—but I am also giving away a copy of both Thornspell and The Heir of Night today, the recipients to be drawn from commenters on this post.

Plus for those who already have both Thornspell and Heir (yes, Sharon, I’m looking at you! :) ) I’m adding in a copy of JAAM 26, which contains my short story Ithaca and two poems from the Ithaca Conversations sequence—amongst very many other fine stories and poems from other writers.

Just post a comment here, telling me about a “landmark” gift you've received (it doesn't have to be for Christmas), and be in to win.

Eligibility will close at midnight, US Eastern Standard Time, December 26th—I will then post the result here on the 27th so don’t forget to check back.


Supernatural Underground author Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet and interviewer. Her latest novel, The Heir of Night, the first of THE WALL OF NIGHT quartet, is published in the USA, UK, and internationally and won the Sir Julius Vogel Award 2011 for Best Novel. Her first novel, Thornspell, is published in the US by Knopf. Helen blogs every day on her Helen Lowe on Anything, Really site and on the first day of every month right here on the Supernatural Underground.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Christmas Downunder

Christmas for us in the lovely old land of Oz is a very different beast to what you in the northern half experience because down here, it's Summer.

For a long, LONG time, the old Christmas traditions were stuck too. So we went looking for greenery (although the typical colour of the bush around here by the end of December is brown). We cooked roasts and turkeys and puddings (even though the temperature can be upwards of 30 degrees (that's 86 farenheit for you USians)). I think about my poor mother, trying to put on the traditional Christmas dinner in that heat and think - doesn't say much for how smart Aussies are that we kept that going for so long.

Luckily, in the 80s came more confidence in us as a unique country and with that came the decision that we were OVER sweltering in the kitchen on Christmas Day. If you go into a lot of Australian homes this Christmas, you'll see salads and seafood (in fact, Christmas Eve is the BIGGEST sale day for prawns (shrimp) in the entire year). Desert is more about fruit salad and trifles than hot puddings. If we can, we'll be eating out on the verandah - unless it's either a) raining (which is the forecast for the south-east of Aus for Christmas Day) or b) you have airconditioning.

Christmas afternoon is for a lot of us spent outdoors - playing with presents or, if you're a true Aussie, having the annual family game of backyard cricket.

Cricket is, like baseball, one of those great sports that doesn't require a lot of equipment and can be easily modified to fit any situation. Just a bat, a ball and a bit of space. In backyards, rules would be modified so, for example, any ball hit over the fence meant you were out (because it would be a PAIN to go get it so we want to encourage you not to hit it there). Adults, particularly those who actually played cricket as a sport, were stuck with the 'must catch it one handed to be out' rule, while the young kids could get someone out if they caught it on the first bounce.

So as you in the US and Europe awaken Christmas morning, shivering and wrapped up in your winter woolies, think of us Aussies for whom Christmas is almost over. We're in shorts and tshirts, we're sweaty and tired, we've probably run out of beer (and the shops are closed) and we're finishing off the salads and getting ready to sit in front of the television until we fall asleep.

And here's a link to some Aussie Christmas Carols!

As for a Christmas present for you all - a week ago, I released a brand new gadda story! It's a thank you to everyone who bought, read and loved the Dream of Asarlai trilogy. You can get your copy here:

Share with me what you'll be doing Christmas day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas: Retro Christmas

By Merrie Destefano

Thank you all for sharing your Christmas memories. I really enjoyed reading them all!
I used to select a winner and she is: CrystalGB.
Congratulations, Crystal! I'll be contacting you by e-mail to get your mailing address.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, Chanuka and New Year!!

I have to confess I love old things. It doesn’t matter whether they’re broken, battered or bruised, whether they’re from the 40s, 50s or 60s. Old is good. A piece of tattered lace, a vintage lamp, a sepia-toned photo—almost anything old-fashioned can capture my heart. Especially at Christmas time.

To most people an old-fashioned Christmas means hot cocoa and sugar cookies, Bing Crosby carols and a crackling fire. Nearly everyone has a Christmas memory of opening presents beneath a 7-foot evergreen tree that smells like heaven, while the landscape outside disappears beneath a blanket of fresh snow.

Not me.

The funny thing is I didn’t realize how different my Christmas memories were until I ran into them, head on. I was in a contemporary urban store—one of those trendy California shops that caters to a young, hip crowd—hunting for just the right gift for my twenty-something son, when I saw “it.”

Christmas personified: a spiky silver tree, as fake as they come, with maybe 12 branches total, all made of glittering tinsel. On the floor spun the magic color wheel, a spotlight that shined on the little tree, changing it from yellow to red to blue. And in between the primary colors flickered a million prismatic shades, melting into one another, tumbling over each other, each eager for a split-second moment to transform the world. Saffron changed to scarlet, vermilion to indigo, lavender to tangerine.

Like a deer in headlights, I froze. Lump in my throat. My eyes misting. Suddenly I was ten years old again, sitting on the floor of the apartment I shared with my mom and my sister, staring at our Christmas tree, mesmerized. Watching as the tree changed from emerald to aquamarine while all the other lights were turned down to a mere whisper. Outside an Illinois winter wind howled and icicles dripped from the eaves. Glassy stairways were treacherous and snow flurries spiraled through busy streets—an ever-changing paisley pattern of white on white.

But inside my living room was a drowsy, comforting heat, while in one corner stood all of the magic of Christmas: a tree that was never the same color longer than a heartbeat, surrounded by glittering packages filled with untold promise. Anything could be inside those boxes. A doll, a book, a sweater. A record, a hat, a necklace. The tree was a portal to another world, a land where colors danced and chased one another, where all the hopes and dreams of a year could be answered in an evening. In a moment.

In a fraction of a second, somewhere between amber and honey.

I was startled back to reality when I saw two teenagers staring at my tree, oohing and aaahing and giggling because it was so different. It was retro-chic. I think they liked it because it represented everything that Christmas wasn’t—this tree didn’t have prickly needles or sticky sap, it didn’t embody the fragrance of an evergreen forest at dusk.

What they didn’t realize—what very few people could realize—was what this “Charlie Brown” silver tinsel tree really did represent.

All the hopes and dreams of a ten-year-old girl’s Christmas.



Do you have any Christmas memories that you’d like to share? Comment on mine, or share one of yours, and be entered to win signed copies of both AFTERLIFE and FEAST. Be sure to include your e-mail address in your comment. Giveaway ends midnight Dec. 22.

12 Days of Christmas: Counting Down

Winner of the signed copy of Sacrifice plus the $25 Amazon gift card:
Michelle Bledsoe! 
Thanks, everyone, for sharing your stories here. - DB

The Christmas that made me cry - three times

It was going to be a memorable year for me, but I didn't know it yet. It was right after Thanksgiving.
I was eight years old and had heard a lot of talk at school that Santa Claus wasn't real. To be on the safe side, though, I wrote a letter to Santa during the first week of December. My dad mailed it for me, because there weren't any mailboxes we could walk to, and the post office was far away.

A few days later, I thought of something else I wanted to say. Can't remember what it was now, but it was one of those burning things that had to be conveyed. I went looking for a clean piece of paper in my sister's desk. She was fifteen years old and had stationery with roses on it and stamps in her desk. I intended to make off with a sheet of rose paper and only admit it if she noticed one was missing. (Did I mention we were sisters?) 

Inside her desk drawer, I was shocked and surprised to find my opened letter to Santa, along with a half-written reply. How could she have my letter unless...? Crushed by the realization that the kids at school were right, I hid out for the rest of the day and cried myself to sleep that night. Dad caught the scent of trouble the next day, and after I blurted out my problem, he explained that Santa did exist, but not as the man in the red suit. Santa was the spirit of Christmas that made us glow when we gave presents to others and gave to charity. The letter-writing, reindeer, and all that? Something to help the "little kids" until they had grown up enough to understand. I took right to this explanation. After all, I wasn't a "little kid" anymore, and here was the proof! Eight years old might seem like an advanced age to be figuring all this out, but it was a more naive time then. When it came time to tell my sons about Santa Claus, I have to admit I went for the magic. But I talked about the way different people around the world envision Santa Claus, including some stories from other countries, so my kids wouldn't get too hung up on chimneys and reindeer. I actually think they knew at least a year before they asked me.

If only Santa revelations had been the worst that Christmas had in store for me that year! Two days before Christmas, my cat Sugar died. It was some disease; all I knew was that she had been feeling bad, went to the vet and didn't come home. Oh, Sugar! I miss her to this day. She was a sweet, tiger-striped cat with a red nose I'd loved all my short life. Tears poured from me and I couldn't be consoled. On Christmas morning I opened my presents without joy and thanked everyone in a dull voice. It was too soon to be happy. Then my mother brought something in from the kitchen, and I heard a tiny mew. I couldn't believe it when Mom settled a little gray ball of fluff into my lap. I loved Sugar Two from the instant I laid eyes on her. This time there were tears of joy. 

The holidays tend to stir old memories and sometimes deep emotions. I'd love to hear one of your old holiday memories.

I've donated Mortal Path Books 1 & 2 for the Grand Giveaway at the end of this very special event. Right now, I'm giving away a signed copy of Sacrifice: Mortal Path Book 2, plus a $25 Amazon gift card so that you can enjoy even more books. I'll choose a random winner from those who comment by Friday, December 23rd. To make it easy to get in touch with you if you're the winner, please leave your email in some disguised form.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night.

Monday, December 19, 2011

12 Days of Christmas: 'Tiz the Season for Miracles

THREE LOVELY MIRACLES submitted by readers below, and all so amazing that it's too hard to choose a winner, so there's three winners today! ... Sharon, Billie Jo and SandyG265... if you can please email me by 31st December 2011, at needie35 AT hotmail DOT com with:
*  your postal addie
* the first name of the person for whom you'd like the book to be personally autographed (you or a friend?)
* and which book you'd like: Diamond Eyes or Hindsight....
* and the words Supernatural Winner in the subject line...

then I'll post them to you first chance I get!
and in the meantime, Merry Christmas everyone! 
May a miracle come your way when you most need it too!

AMAZING!!!: This fan letter made me feel like Santa when it arrived with a bag of others through the normal postal system WITHOUT my address on it! LOL.

Post stamp and return addie had it coming from Canberra, Australia, which is practically 2 states and 1200 kms away (over 750 miles!) from my home in the Lockyer Valley... (which was devastated by floods from Toowoomba's "inland tsunami" almost a year ago. First anniversary is fast approaching in early January, and after such a rollercoaster year, I'm keen to muster enough Christmas spirit to get us over the line to a brand new year in 2012...

So to continue in my impromptu role as Santa for the SU Blog during the 12 Days of Christmas promotion:

"I'll give a personally autographed copy of my multi-award winning sf& fantasy thriller Diamond Eyes, to the blog visitor who can make me laugh, cry, sigh or be blown away by a minor/major miracle from their own lives. The funnier, weirder and/or more inspirational the better!"

Doesn't have to be recent or specific to Christmas. Miracles can happen anywhere, any time and relate to anyone amongst your nearest and dearest, (for whom you may prefer the book to be personally autographed?)

I've also donated a generically autographed copy to the big prize at the end of the week + 2 for the Books for Soldiers initiative, so stay tuned until the Big Day to see if you're a winner!

And to kick start the list: here's a few wonderful miracles from 2011: Year of Disasters:

* The horse that was rescued from rising flood waters (not far from my parent's house, near Lowood).
* The dog that was found on a roof at sea 3 weeks after the Japan Tsunamis.
* The human chain that rescued children from debris during the Tsunami

And please share any funny/inspirational stories with your friends!  

Sunday, December 18, 2011

12 Days of Christmas, Briefly Interrupted...

Thank you everyone for commenting and for sharing your memories! They were all fascinating. The randomly-selected winner is Ambur of Congratulations!

We interrupt the Days of Christmas meme for a brief Chanukah memory! ;)

My family has always had a big Chanukah party on the Saturday night of Chanukah. Any relatives within easy driving distance would come over, and after the menorah was lit, we would settle down to eat (potato pancakes and unbelievably unhealthy but delicious deep-fried doughnuts) and play dreidel.

Dreidel, the traditional Chanukah game, requires no strategy or skill; this makes it perfect for kids. However, my cousins and siblings and I were a competitive bunch, so we found a way to make it into a contest anyhow. The coveted skill was the ability to spin the dreidel upside down. The older kids could do it, the younger kids couldn’t. I was never the epitome of manual dexterity and grace, but one year I practiced in secret for about a month before Chanukah. And when my turn came, I held the dreidel and, without changing expression, launched it into the air. It landed upside down in a perfect spin. I smiled as if this was no big deal, and the game went on.

Do you remember any of your early triumphs? Comment on mine, or share one of yours, and be entered to win signed copies of both MISTWOOD and NIGHTSPELL. Giveaway ends midnight Dec. 21.

Friday, December 16, 2011

12 Days of Christmas continued....

A dream can come true when you put your heart into it. ~Walt Disney

The WINNER of the Quantum Enchantment Giveaway is Bonnie (not because she was first in but because of Marshmallow Marsh!)

Thank you everyone for joining in and bringing such wonderful memories and experiences! Keep checking back as we continue to giveaway books right up until the grand prize at the end. All can enter! Blessings :)

When I was growing up in California, I had a brother. We were close in age and there was one thing we loved more than anything else in the world – Disneyland. OMG the Matterhorn! Tomorrow land, Pirates of the Caribbean, strawberry pancakes stacked to the sky and life size Mickey and Pluto and Snow White! In those years I divided my days between being in Disneyland (5), and wishing I was there (360).

Fortunately for me and my brother, our dad was a Disney nut so the trips were not too infrequent but the one I remember best was when I was eight, my brother nine and we spent Christmas in Disneyland. It was hands down the most spectacular time in my life, like living inside a storybook. Absolutely magic!

I am convinced that the shear imagination of Walt Disney and the world he created has influenced my writing. Walt believed in magic and he made me believe in it too. It’s not just a metaphor either. Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse, Pluto and all the rest in the face of daunting odds.

He was told he couldn’t draw, had no hope for a future in the industry and that his dream of Disneyland would fall flat on its face. But Walt wouldn’t let go of. After his first animation company went bankrupt he wrote himself an affirmation and kept it in his desk drawer until the day he died. It said simply, I am the greatest entertainer in the world. And he was! He put his whole heart into his dream and as a child, the world he created inspired me to do the same.

Quantum Enchantment Giveaway: In the spirit of this season’s celebration and dreams we dare to dream coming true, I’m giving away all three books in the Quantum Enchantment Series on Kindle. Just comment on your favourite Disney movie, character or ride to be in the draw. I look forward to hearing yours!

Have a wonderful festive season and mid-winter (summer down under) solstice! Blessings!

Kim Falconer is a Supernatural Underground author writing epic science fantasy novels set in the worlds of Earth and Gaela. Kim’s latest series is Quantum Encryption. You can find out more about her at or her daily blog The 11th House. She posts here on the 16th of every month.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

12 Days of Christmas continued....

WINNER HAS BEEN DRAWN! CONGRATS TO THE YEARNING MERMAID. Please contact us at sablegrace (at) ymail (dot com) and we'll get a signed copy of Ascension out to you.

We're continuing the Christmas Memory theme for the 12 Days of Christmas giveaway with a little memory from both halves of Sable Grace.

                My earliest Christmas memory set the stage for most of the Christmases that followed. My sister and brother and I gathered around the tree. My dad playing Christmas music in the background, the smell of his pipe in the foreground (a habit he quit, and I still miss the smell.) My mom gives us our traditional hot apple cider and my dad takes on the role of gift-passer-outter, giving each of us one gift at a time to open. I’m the baby in my family, so while my siblings opened computer things and boxes of clothes, I remember opening a huge box of Golden Book stories. There had to have been about a 100 small books in that box and I was over the moon. Then, my sister, who’d desperately wanted a new stereo that year, and my brother who’d gotten plenty of nice things but not the one thing he’d really wanted (and sadly I can’t remember what that is anymore), said their thanks and we were told to take our gifts to our rooms. There, on my sister’s bed, was her much-sought after stereo. My brother was treated to the gift he’d really wanted as well. A sneaky little treat from our father who’s loved to surprise us like that ever since. And on my bed? A teddy bear that was 3x as big as I was. I spent the next year of my life sitting on that bear’s lap and reading him stories from that precious box of Golden Books.

                I will never forget that first Christmas. I had just turned three and got a new baby sister for my birthday—not the best gift at the time, but glad to say that’s changed—and I was so looking forward to opening presents.

We’d just moved into a new apartment and there wasn’t much in the way of furniture, but there was a sad Charlie Brown looking tree where we all gathered that early morning just before the sun came up. Each gift for my older brother and sister and I were passed out and opened with care to make every moment last. There were books and games and clothes and new bikes all around. Mine was a shiny red trike and the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I don’t remember much else about the day, but I can tell you until the late hours of the night I rode that bike around and around the hallway proud as any kid could ever be.

Anyone else remember the Little Golden Books or their first bike? Tell us for a chance to win a signed copy of Ascension!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Giveaways!

Congratulations to MamaMasseyWVU, who's won a signed copy of SILENT NIGHT, HAUNTED NIGHT! Mama, please send your mailing address to, and I'll put your book in the mail! Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by and shared your Christmas memories !

Only 12 more days until Christmas!  While we here in the Underground can offer no swans a-swimming, no lords a-leaping, no gold rings or partridges, we have something even better... books, books, and more books!

We’re kicking off the final twelve days of Christmas here in the Underground by talking about our “first holiday memories”. Each day will bring a new author, a new memory, a new book giveaway. Yep, we’ll be doing a book-a-day giveaway until December 25th, when one lucky winner will win a Grand Prize Packet, filled with books from some of your favorite authors!

Join me, Sable Grace, Kim Falconer, Joss Ware, Leah Cypess, Anita Bell, Dakota Banks, Nicole Murphy, Josephine Angelini, Juliana Stone, Helen Lowe and Kerrelyn Sparks as we share Christmas memories over the next twelve days.  Pop in and leave us a comment to be entered in the giveaways.

I’ll start the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway by offering a signed copy of my "Nicki Styx" style Christmas story, SILENT NIGHT, HAUNTED NIGHT, and by sharing with one of my earliest Christmas memories:

There were seven people in my family, five of us kids.  Money was tight, but excitement was high.  I have a vivid memory of squirming and giggling with my sisters and brother as we peeked into the living room on Christmas morning to see a brightly lit tree surrounded by presents that hadn’t been there when we’d gone to bed the night before. It was magical, astonishing, and I could barely contain my excitement when I saw that the thing I’d wanted most in all the world was right there in front of the tree – an adorable stuffed Bambi almost as tall as a four or five year-old me. I’d seen that Bambi in a store with my Mother two weeks before, begged for it, and had reluctantly been forced to accept my mom’s verdict that it was too expensive.

The tree looked huge, the pile of presents looked as tall as a mountain in my mind.  Where had they all come from? My mom couldn’t have wrapped and hidden that many gifts on her own, could she? Maybe Santa really HAD come and brought them! Maybe that’s how I’d gotten my wish and received my Bambi!

But I always knew that it was my mom’s doing.  She was the one who made the day special. She was the one who bought the gifts and wrapped them, saving a little bit week after week out of the grocery money in order to do it. She was the one who baked the fruitcake that some of us loved and some of us hated, and she’s the one who always waited until we kids had gone to bed to bring the presents out, telling us Santa brought them while we were asleep, even when we were far, far too old to hear it. I kept up this tradition with my own kids, always remember how magical it was to wake up to your heart’s desire. I don’t remember what happened to Bambi, but I’ll always remember that morning.

Tell me a Christmas memory of yours for a chance to win a signed copy of SILENT NIGHT, HAUNTED NIGHT, and let the Countdown To Christmas begin!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Merry Christmas From Hell.......

Happy Friday all!  It's been a bit of a crazy week for me with tons of stuff to get done over the next few weeks and Christmas is days away! Holy heck, when did that happen?

I've been writing like a mad woman, trying to finish up the 2nd book in my new series, League of Guardians.  KING OF THE DAMNED has been a ton of fun, but already I'm looking forward to the next one!  That is the addiction of writing, no?  I want more please!

It's been an awesome year and I'm a little sad to see it end.  BUT, of course it just means that 2012 is coming down the pike and who knows what it will bring? For me personally, I've got 4 books coming out, 2 novellas and 2 fulls for League of Guardians.  Check out the release schedule HERE!

And in the meantime, I can now proudly show off my new cover for WICKED ROAD TO HELL! (click on the title to read an excerpt!) Declan O'Hara never looked better my friends, and I'm so happy that he looks just like I pictured!  I can't wait for you to read his story and see how he and Ana overcome all the obstacles between them!

With the legions of the underworld gathering and chaos close at hand, Sorcerer Declan O’Hara’s deadly skills will be tested. But nothing will sway him from his duty…

Rescued from eternal darkness, vampire Ana DeLacrux owes her life to a mysterious stranger who asks for only one thing—her absolute allegiance. She serves this master without question until Declan, the one man who can make her forget her vow, returns. His magic is stronger, darker…more compelling than ever. His blood awakens a hunger she must resist, or risk deadly consequences.

As Ana and Declan join forces, the streets of New Orleans become a dangerous place for both humans and the otherworld. And the most dangerous place of all is a road Declan’s traveled before…the wicked road to hell.

Isn't he delicious?  I've got 5 coverflats I'll give away to random commentators!  Just tell me what you want most for Christmas this year!

Or, if you don't celebrate Christmas, what is/are your goals for 2012?

Merry Christmas from Hell my friends!  Me thinks it's never looked so good!  I'll give everyone until Sunday night to enter and will post the winners names in the evening!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

8 for 8 - The Eight Days of a Supernatural Christmas

*Clears throat* *Sings to the melody of the 12 days of Christmas*

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
a sparkly vampire high in a tree.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
2 wolves in shorts, and a sparkly vampire high in a tree.
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
3 angelic demons, 2 wolves in shorts, and a sparkly vampire high in a tree.
On the forth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
4 angsty ghosts, 3 angelic demons, 2 wolves in shorts, and a sparkly vampire high in a tree.
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
5 - hotties - with - wings, 4 angsty ghost, 3 angelic demons, 2 wolves in shorts, and a sparkly vampire high in a tree.
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
6 zombies-a-munching, 5 - hotties - with - wings, 4 angsty ghosts, 3 angelic demons, 2 wolves in shorts, and a sparkly vampire high in a tree.
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
7 aliens-a-possessing, 6 zombies-a-munching, 5 - hotties - with - wings, 4 angsty ghosts, 3 angelic demons, 2 wolves in shorts, and a sparkly vampire high in a tree.
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
8 witches-a-casting, 7 aliens-a-possessing, 6 zombies-a-munching, 5 - hotties - with - wings, 4 angsy ghost, 3 angelic demons, 2 wolves in shorts, and a sparkly vampire high in a tree.

Have a very Supernatural Christmas, everyone.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bah! Humbug!

The tree is trimmed and the exterior lights are lit.  The holiday cards have been sent and the presents have been purchased.  But for some reason, I lack all holiday spirit this year.  I see on the calendar that time is slipping away toward the big day but I only want to curl up in bed with the covers over my head while wait it out until the new year.

Is it because I'm behind on the short story that I'm working on?
Is it because the rain has not stopped for three days and I'm looking online for ark building plans?
Is it because the dog is rummaging through my dirty laundry and hiding my socks around the house?
Is it because the Bengals lost to the Steelers last week?

I don't know why I'm a holiday grump this year, but I thought I would celebrate it with the other well-known holiday grumps.  So here's a clip.

Oh, and here's another well-known holiday sourpuss!

Wait!  At the last minute, they all had an epiphany, where they mended their evil ways and made nice with the townsfolk.  So there's still hope for me yet.  I think all I need is this:

Yep. I think that would put me in the holiday spirit. Have a great holiday season and I'll see you in 2012 where I will be bringing new stories and new insanity.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

To cast or not to cast

I'm one of those crazy people who writes the movie they see in their head. In fact, if I can't see a character, I can't hear them and really can't write them. I know that I am a visual learner (think the girl with the seven highlighters on her desk), so it sort of makes sense that I'm a visual reader (think movie in my head) and a visual writer (have to see it to write it).

In my most recent book Claws and Effect coming out at the end of the month, I actually had a hard time figuring out Tyler, a shifter with a sharp tongue and equally sharp abs. He isn't the biggest character in the book but his relationship with another character is an emotional punch in the stomach for the main character, Violet.

As I was trying to find who Tyler was, I googled and oogled several leading men to find the right one. There is a website that has sucked hours upon hours of my time but really helped when it came to casting Claws and Effect. Pinterest is a pin board of your favorite things. From DIY household projects to pictures of favorite actors, pictures of anything you fancy can be found there.

As soon as I saw this pic of Ryan Reynolds I knew I'd found my Tyler.

But of course, this picture of Ryan didn't hurt either.

When I could see Tyler interact with the other characters, his purpose in the story bloomed. Only then did I know what he needed to be for Violet's journey- the wise-cracker and the straight-shooter. He was a complete character (with a completely amazing set of abs).

So, if you would like to see the cast that I see and hear in my head as I write you can find the cast of Diaries of an Urban Panther and the sequel Claws and Effect on Pinterest.

And one randomly selected commenter will received a copy of Diaries of an Urban Panther to form their own opinion about who they see as the cast of characters.
Happy Pinteresting!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

"It Started With A Kiss ..."

Giveaway Result:

The midnight hour has passed so it's time to close off the giveaway and make the draw, by Random Number Integer (as always since the Sorting Hat went back to Hogwarts!)

And the result is:
  • The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh: to blackroze37
  • Graveminder by Melissa Marr: to Yearning Mermaid
  • Thornspell by Helen Lowe: to Kathleen Peacock
Congratulations to the winners and thank you all very much for participating--I'll see you again on 'the other side': 1 January 2012!

Winners: if you haven't left your email contact with your comment then email me through my website, contact[at]helenlowe[dot]info with your postal address and I'll get the book in the mail to you.

I’ve recently finished proofing the manuscript of The Gathering of the Lost, the second in my Wall of Night series (publication day 27 March) and have begun working on the third book, (working title) Daughter of Blood. Being between two books in a series is a pivotal moment—and a big part of what is on my mind as the author is how all the events and action in Books One and Two are going to transition into the new storyline. Now, like the two protagonists in the old Hot Chocolate song, “It Started with a Kiss”, the central characters in the first book, The Heir of Night, are young. Not quite the eight and nine year old of the song, but still: young. In the second book The Gathering of the Lost Kalan and Malian are older and—without giving anything important away—“springtime love” is an important background motif of the story.

So now one of the things I have to think about going into Book 3 is what part romance is going to play in the narrative. Is it going to occupy center stage, slip into the background, or exit completely via stage left—and assuming we decide on center stage, should the romance start with a kiss (as in the song) or end with one? (Do you remember those old style romances, where the hero and heroine never kissed until the very end of the story?) Or is romance—and of course, the kiss—going to be a vital stepping stone through the heart of the story?

See what life-and-death decisions we authors have to make? In fact, we do have to make real life-and-death decisions for characters as well, but sometimes the circumstances of that first kiss can be vital to the romantic success of the story.

Take Snow White, for example: she might never have lived to fight another day if the prince hadn’t kissed her and shaken the slice of apple from between her lips. And then there’s Sleeping Beauty—no waking up for her either without the prince’s kiss. In The Frog Prince it’s the princess’s kiss that transforms the enchantment and frees the prince. And then there are the movie kisses: Scarlett & Rhett in Gone with the Wind, Leonardo & Kate on the bow of the Titanic, Princess Buttercup and the Dread Pirate Roberts in The Princess Bride.

So many great stories, so many famous kisses … But what about you? Is there a kiss that you feel “makes” a story, whether in a book or in a film or TV show? And why is that kiss ‘the one’ for you?

This Month’s Giveaway

This month I’ve got not one but three beautiful books to brighten the ‘bleak midwinter’ by giving away to readers: Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers, Melissa Marr’s Graveminder, and my own Thornspell, which is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty—and yes, indeed, the kiss does feature. :)

To enter the draw all you need do is post your “kiss and tell” comment here.

As always you can earn points by

+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
+1 for visiting me and commenting on my blog, here.

The giveaway will close at midnight, US Eastern Standard Time, on Saturday December 3—after which I shall post the results here, so don’t forget to check back. And have fun until next month; I’ll be back here again on New Year’s Day.


Supernatural Underground author Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet and interviewer. Her latest novel, The Heir of Night, the first of THE WALL OF NIGHT quartet, is published in the USA, UK, and internationally and recently won the Sir Julius Vogel Award 2011 for Best Novel. Her first novel, Thornspell, is published by Knopf. Helen blogs every day on Helen Lowe on Anything, Really and on the first day of every month right here on the Supernatural Underground.

Monday, November 28, 2011

EBooks 101

*** EBook Giveaway *** 
The Giveaway's over here,
but still running on my blog
until December 9, 2011.
I've recently gone through the process of converting one of my backlist books to an eBook. I wrote the PJ Gray series of psychological thrillers under the name Shirley Kennett. It was an interesting procedure, and I learned a lot along the way that will make the conversion of the next book in the series much easier for me. If you're interested in the process of eBook creation, whether for an original or existing book, I shared my experience in EBooks 101, complete with specific resources and lots of links. If you're a writer with a backlist or a reader who wants to tell her own stories, you might want to check out that article. If you're just interested in a free eBook, read on!

If you'd like to see how Gray Matter, book one of the PJ Gray series, turned out, I'll give away a free copy to EVERYONE who leaves a comment here by Friday, December 2nd. Let me know if you want the Kindle or Nook/iPad version (ePub). I'll be sending it to you as an email attachment, so I'll need your (disguised) email. If you prefer, you can email me at dakota @ dakota-banks dot com. Be sure to add my email to your whitelist for my response.

Happy holidays!

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Time to Give Thanks

Congratulations to Michelle from Rhode Island who won both signed books! Thank you all for dropping by and leaving wonderful comments! I'll be back Dec. 25th (Merry Christmas!) with another blog and contest. Happy Holidays!

I'm writing this the day before Thanksgiving, determined that on Friday when this posts I will be thankful I didn't overeat. Ha! We'll see how that goes!

I'm always thankful for all of you readers who continue to buy the Love at Stake series. And to show my gratitude, I'm giving away two books today. Which two? Well, they were inspired by this photo.

My son's wedding occurred on 11/11/11, and we ended up dog-sitting their pet while they were busy with last minute wedding preparations and then their honeymoon. My daughter came home from college for the wedding, bringing her pet kitty, so we ended up with two animals who glared at each other for hours through the back door. It made me think of the tensions that might go on at the Dragon Nest Academy where you have were-panther kids mixed with werewolf boys. Could be a lot of hissing and growling going on!

Which side would you be on? The wolves or the cats? Can't decide? Then you'll need to read werewolf Phil's story, Forbidden Nights with a Vampire, and were-panther Carlos's story, Eat Prey Love. I'm giving away both books, signed, to one lucky winner. International entries welcome. Just leave a comment, telling me which side you're on. Good luck!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving thanks

Just four days until Thanksgiving! I have to admit, this is my favourite American holiday. I don't tend to hold with just adopting things Americans do (you're all fabulous but we Aussies have our own way of doing things) but this is one thing that I'd love for us to adopt.

A day of giving thanks - a fabulous concept. So, with this being my quasi-American home, I'm taking over the Supernatural Underground and invite you all to post what you're thankful for this year.

Me? I'm thankful for the publication of Power Unbound and Rogue Gadda. It's still something akin to a miracle to me, to know that I've got three books out on the shelves.

I'm thankful for every reader who has contacted me to tell me how much they love the books. It's a remarkable thing, to have this connection with people you have never, and probably will never, meet. A moment where we're joined. It's makes the world a nicer, less scary place.

I'm thankful that I have a wonderful husband who understands this desire of mine to disappear into imaginary worlds and encourages me to chase my dreams.

I'm thankful for my health - this body can be fragile, and must be cared for and I need to do better on that front.

I'm thankful to live in a land of peace and prosperity - there so many places in the world where life is a struggle, and death stalks the suburban streets.

I'm thankful for my fellow Supernatural Underground authors, who are fun and fabulous and supportive and inspiration in so many ways.

I'm thankful for paranormal romance, urban fantasy and things that go bump in the night: strong, sensual, wonderful women and intriguing, interesting, hot guys and overcoming danger and righting wrongs. Ah, we really do love the best genre of all!

So tell me - what are YOU thankful for this year?

As a Thanksgiving gift to you all - I've self-published a short story called How Astrid Found Her Passion - about a woman who finds herself in another land and through that, her true calling in life. It's on sale here but type in this code and you'll get it for free - SF75U

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Editing: How much is too much in the pursuit of perfection?

Every time I see a certain gorgeous quote from Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven, I have to read it several times, savouring each and every delicious syllable.
"And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming....."

Ahhhhh, gargle, gargle, drool....

 <So hugs to fellow spec-fic writer Paul Mannering for ensuring my weekly taste of it all these years, LOL.>

Yet how many editors would leave that line alone if it came to them from a new author today? e.g. After Eddie junior's submission, it might come back:

... However, his eyes had all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming.
(From all those editors who'd advocate never starting a sentence with And)

However, his eyes had the appearance of a demon's that is dreaming.
(From those who'd advocate that modern readers wouldn't "get" the archaic literary use of seeming as a noun.)

However, his eyes held the appearance of a demon's that is dreaming.
(From those who always avoid the use/overuse of had.)

However, his eyes held the appearance of a demon who is dreaming.
(From those who'd argue the subject is human enough to be a who, not a that)

However his appearance seemed like that of a demon, dreaming.
(From those who'd argue that we'd never get close enough to see his eyes in the first place)

However his appearance seemed like that of an ogre dreaming.
(From those who prefer to remove all religious overtones.)

He looked like an ogre dreaming.
(From those who'd simplify their own deaths if they could.)

He looked like a sleeping ogre.
(From those who'd argue that ogres can't dream, because they're more like animals...)
<cough cough, like as if animals don't dream too>

She looked like a sleeping ogre.
(From those who'd prefer a female protagonist.)

She looked like a sleeping rat.
(From those who don't know what an ogre is.)

He looked like a sleeping rat.
(From those who just changed their mind about the female lead, now that s/he has more evil overtones.)

He looked like a dead rat.
(Because a sleeping rat looks like a dead one, and dead is more dramatic.)

He was a dead rat.
(From those who'd advocate that metaphors are stronger than similes.)

He is a dead rat.
(From those who advocate avoidance of passive voice.)

He's a dead rat.
(From those who advocate use of conjunctions for this genre.)

He died a rat.
(From those who avoid use of the verb to be at every opportunity.)

The bird died.
(From those who just realised what a Raven is.)

"... but he's not dead!" replies poor Eddie Junior, to which the only compromise left is:

He slept.

(Even though he wasn't really doing that either.)  

Sigh.... And how much have we lost, and continue to lose every day from every story in the pursuit of perfection?

There's a lot said about editing, and sure, virtually everyone needs it to an extreme extent at one stage or another, but gosh,  I really think more needs to be said about embracing rhythm amid the fantastical.

In my multi-award winning novel, Diamond Eyes, the sociopath was inspired in part by The Raven, and one of his seven personalities also mimics the same tone. However, I had a wench of a time getting Diamond Eyes published… until I finally found a publisher who "got it" that the sociopath needed a completely different voice to those of the other characters. (Because sound is everything to him, and to each of his sub-personas, and therefore all the rules of consistency also required a little leniency to accommodate such a quirky character.) Luckily, most readers seem to get it too.

So does anyone else have an "offbeat" character we need to stand up for? Not only in your own fiction, but also thinking of  favourite stories you’ve read or heard?

Would love to hear from you!