Thursday, February 28, 2013

Eek! She speaks!

Here's a fun way to look at Deliverance, the third book in the Mortal Path series! A word cloud shows how often words appear in a sample of text; the bigger the word in the cloud, the more often the word appears in the text. I think it has a nifty 3D effect (or my eyes are just really tired!) These are the top 80 words in the manuscript. Even I was surprised by some of these words that made it into the cloud. Some of them are common English words like get, went, want, now, go, and put. But why is "one" so popular? Or "back"? Or "door"? Thank goodness blood, man, kill, and knife are in there. I think next time I will try to have the words sword and kiss on every page. Source:

I did mention something about speaking in the title of this post. I'm full-on busy right now, so I thought I'd let a podcast do the rest of my talking. Here's a picture of me, so we can be face-to-face while you're listening.

Dakota Banks-See her lips moving?

See you next time on the 28th of the month!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Those Vamps are still Going Wild!

Congratulations to Josette of Ohio, who won this month's prize! Thank you for all the comments!  Please come back March 25th for my next giveaway! Be brave, be bold, be batty!

Some of you may have already purchased the e-book version of Vampires Gone Wild. If you did, thank you! I hope you enjoyed it! For those of you who like your books in printed form, we have good news for you!  The print edition of Vampires Gone Wild will release March 26th. Since it's part of the Avon Impulse line (and not the mass market line), you won't find it on the shelves in your favorite bookstore. But you can always ask you favorite bookseller to order it for you. Or you can order it online at places like Amazon or B& or the Avon website at

I recently completed revisions on book 14 in the Love at Stake series, The Vampire with the Dragon Tattoo, starring Dougal Kincaid. Those of you who follow my online newsletter or Facebook page have seen the cover and stepback. Dougal is sooooo hot!!! His book will release Aug. 27th.  In his honor, today I'm giving away a signed copy of Be Still My Vampire Heart, which featured Angus MacKay and started our love affair with those hunky Scottish vampires.

And that's not all!  I'm also giving away a signed copy of Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs. Lily's not just any mermaid, but a mermaid princess! Tera's one of my favorite Young Adult authors-- always witty and entertaining!  So one lucky winner will receive Be Still My Vampire Heart and Forgive My Fins. To enter, just leave a comment, telling me which Scottish vampire is your favorite. International entries are welcome.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Why Do People Like to Read Scary Stories?

By Merrie Destefano

The sun goes down, the sounds of the city grow quiet, and the rest of the family nestles, safe and sound in a world of incandescent light. Meanwhile, one person huddles alone in a darkened room, face turned toward a screen, eerie blue light carving shadows on her face while her fingers slowly tap out a message, letter by letter.

A writer is writing.

October winds blow outside her window, leaves gather in shadowed corners of the yard and nearby trees sway, branches creaking.

The writer is writing a scary story.

Why do some writers always return to the dark side of literature, spinning out tales that make readers sit on the edge of their seat? Perhaps an even better question, and one that I’d like to discuss here, is why do some people love to read scary stories?

While, I can’t answer this question definitively, I can offer some suggestions.

This is my favorite answer, although many of the others are just as good. We read scary stories so we can experience artificial situations of “fight or flight.” These scenarios, whether real or imagined, get your body ready for action by giving you an extra dose of adrenaline. Your heart beat speeds up, your breathing increases and your blood pressure increases—in other words, it’s like an instant dose of caffeine combined with heavy exercise. You’re ready to leap over tall buildings in a single bound, although you may be screaming “Mommy!” all the way.

You’ve been here before and you liked it. You’ve been reading scary stories for years, you have a list of favorite authors and you’re waiting in line, with sweaty palms, when his/her next book releases. You stay up late (reading these stories is always better at midnight, right?), turning pages while everyone else is asleep. But the truth of the matter is you can’t sleep, can you? Not until you know what happens next…

The desire to feel something strongly—no matter what the emotion is—can drive readers to these books. Detailed descriptions of eviscerated body parts in zombie stories may not get you excited, but there are plenty of readers out there who live for this stuff.

Similar to the answer above, books that put you on the edge remind you that you are alive. You’re not watching some soap opera at lunch time; you’re hunched over a novel wondering if the heroine is really strong and smart enough to survive that demon horde that’s been chasing her for the last twenty pages.

We all have our demons, things we’re afraid of but don’t want to admit. Things like clowns (It), menacing dolls (Chucky), the end of the world (The Stand), rampant pestilence (Contagion), rabid dogs (Cujo), vampires (Interview with a Vampire) and serial killers (Darkly Dreaming Dexter). By vicariously facing your fears in a novel, you’re able to tame them, or at least, imagine that you’ve tamed them. Until they show up the next night, waiting for you in the closet.

There are boundless supernatural realms, where wonder and horror walk side by side—realms where people rise from the dead or where someone learns the future in their dreams or where someone is giving an extraordinary power. There’s just enough enchantment and mystery to make you want to know more, and just enough danger to make you glad this is fiction.

Anger—hatred—fear—love—surprise—terror—repulsion—empathy…Scary stories have all these emotions and more trapped between the pages, just waiting for an innocent reader to come along and release them. Before you know it, you’re experiencing the same emotions. Again, this is similar to Number Three, but I felt that it needed to stated again. (It is my list, no?)

Isn’t that what it’s all about? You’re secretly taking notes, so if X, Y or Z ever really happens, you’re ready. Doesn’t everyone know what to do in a zombie/alien apocalypse by now? And if so, why? Because you’ve all been making a list and checking it twice while watching The Walking Dead or Falling Skies.

There’s an unbelievably sweet moment when the heroine finally plunges a stake through the heart of the last vampire—almost instantly, your muscles relax, you slump backward in your chair and then breathe a well-deserved long sigh because, without realizing it, you’ve been holding your breath and sitting on the edge of your seat, ready to run.

What? Scary stories can give you hope? To quote someone more knowledgeable on this subject than me: “Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”― G.K. Chesterton. Watching a character deal with the monster in the closet can give you the courage to face up to your own monsters. Yes, tales of terror can actually be uplifting, when written with that purpose in mind.

Which of these categories do you think you fall into? And what book did read recently that made you feel this way?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Warm Bodies

, ,
in Warm Bodies Feb 2013
Why I thought zombies made rotten lovers . . .

Lao Tzu said character is destiny and it holds true in fiction as well as ‘real’ life. How characters think, what informed their past, what hopes excite them, as well as their physicality, combine to create the next twist or turn in the story. So how can a mindless, flesh eating zombie EVER be a love interest? Paranomal hero can, but zombies NO!

That's what I used to think. I said in interviews that it was impossible to write a ‘zombie romance’. I even stated something along the lines of  You’ll never see a zombie romance! It could never work.


No matter how brilliant the plot or true the love, characters have to have a potency of their own, and it's got to be driving, charismatic. They must grow, change, exhibit emotions (or repress them), have likes and dislikes, flaws and attributes. Basically, they have to be ‘real’ people that the reader, or the viewer, can relate to. If they don’t feel alive they might as well be, you guessed it, zombies, and that’s not going to make anyone’s’ heart throb, or so I thought.

Then I picked up Warm Bodies.

How in the world does one bring a zombie to life?
Isaac Marion has the answer. You give them heart, or at least, a vestige of one. Once that awakens, a whole new world unfolds, where even a zombie can fall in love. Warm Bodies, a paranormal romance/horror/thriller, is the living proof. zombies don’t always make rotten lovers.

Warm Bodies by
Isaac Marion
It might also be proof of a shift in our collective unconscious. I've talked before about vampires and other paranormal ‘monsters’ as 'expression of the collective shadow', and how our shifting relationship to these ‘demons’ in film and literature reflects a shift in our consciousness as we form a new relationship to that ‘shadow.’  (see Evolution of the Vampire Revisited) Falling for a zombie is definitely taking up a lot of new file space in my research. This thesis just keeps expanding! Bottom line, as a species, we are opening up, connecting with our dark side and transforming it through love.

Whether this book and film are new trend in paranormal romance, (is that possible?) or a statement about evolving human consciousness, Warm Bodies is a fun read! It’s a story about R, a young man in a state of existential crisis because he’s not alive, and not really dead. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic USA where R has no memories, until he eats someone's. His growth arc is huge!

When the memories in one of his victim’s brains affect him, he finds himself attracted to, rescuing, befriending and eventually falling in love with the dead boy’s still living-girlfriend. Julie (Australia’s own Teresa Palmer) is a blast of colour in the dreary and grey landscape that is the “life” of the un-living. Their tense, awkward and strangely sweet relationship develops into something that will not only transform R, but his fellow zombies . . .  Warm Bodies the film 2013

It appears love is infectious after all!

Has anyone seen the film? Read the book? Let’s compare notes!

Kim Falconer is a Supernatural Underground author writing paranormal romance, urban fantasy, YA and epic science fantasy novels.

You can find out more about Kim at or on The 11th House Blog. She posts here at the SuperntrlUnderg on the 16th of every month. Her latest release is Supernatural Underground: Vampires Gone Wild.

Friday, February 15, 2013

January 2013 News

Vampires Gone Wild 
by Kerrelyn Sparks, Pamela Palmer, Amanda Arista and Kim Falconer
February 12, 2013

Vampires Gone Wild brings together four paranormal romance novellas by Kerrelyn Sparks, Pamela Palmer, Amanda Arista, and Kim Falconer, authors and bloggers at Supernatural Underground.

Kerrelyn Sparks's demure Pamela and sexy vampire sidekick battle the Malcontents in "V is for Vampwoman." Kim Falconer's aqueous San Francisco vampires in "Blood and Water" want nothing from "landers" -- unless it's dinner, but that's until Stellan meets Angelina. Pamela Palmer carries readers to Vamp City in "A Forever Love" where trapped Lukas pines for his lost love. When she appears, Lukas will fight to keep her alive. It's been a hundred years since Valiance has dated; all is great until they're attacked, but quiet Esme will shock Valiance in Amanda Arista's "First Dates Are from Hell."

Dead Silence
by Kimberly Derting
April 16, 2013

Sometimes the Dead Can't Be Silenced.

Violet thought she had made peace with her unique ability to sense the echoes of the dead and the imprints that cling to their killers . . . until she acquired an imprint of her own. Forced to carry a reminder of the horrible events of her kidnapping, Violet is more determined than ever to lead a normal life. However, the people who run the special investigative team she works for have no intention of letting her go.

Violet will do whatever it takes to keep her loved ones safe—even if it means lying to her boyfriend, Jay. But when an echo calls to her, she stumbles upon a murder scene unlike anything she's ever witnessed. The murders are frenzied and twisted, and the killer left a disturbing calling card for all to see—a brimstone cross sketched in blood on the wall. And Violet finds herself pulled into a deadly hunt for a vicious madman with an army of devoted followers.

Violet has survived dangerous situations before, but she quickly discovers that protecting those closest to her is far more difficult than protecting herself.

The End of Darkness
by Jaime Rush
January 13, 2013

The dark energy that infects Magnus McLeod's soul draws him to an Arizona town in crisis—and a woman with a dangerous ability of her own. Erica Evrard isn't afraid of much, but suddenly she has much to fear. Like Magnus, whose noble heart brings her to life even as his Darkness could kill her. And the group of supernatural humans whose evil plans threaten an entire town.

Night Resurrected
by Joss Ware
February 26, 2012

The world they knew is ashes. The world that remains is in peril. These extraordinary survivors are humankind's last, best hope.

His family lost forever in The Change, Wyatt is a man with nothing left to lose. But just when he thought he'd never feel anything again, Remington Truth came into his life. Knowing the bold beauty would face unimaginable dangers on her quest to safeguard the mysterious crystal in her possession, he joins her on her journey, never expecting her to find a way past the wall he's built. Remy's a woman with everything at stake. While protecting the powerful crystal that is her family's secret legacy, she dares not trust anyone. Yet once she recognizes the ravished heart beneath Wyatt's stony façade, she's willing to risk it all. Together they battle the forces of darkness, their very survival at stake. Until Remy is forced to make a terrible decision that could destroy them . . . and the rest of the world.

Blood and Water by Kim Falconer in Vampires Gone Wild

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Supernatural Soul Mates

Today is a magical day. 
[posted at midnight on 13th Feb 2013]

It's Valentine's Eve... that special time of year when Hope & Appreciation for Love burns hardest and brightest in our hearts. It's time for us to pause and consider love in all its forms, not just for our soul mates, if we're lucky enough to have found them yet, but also for our dearest friends who fill our hearts and lives in ways that only *they* can.

You know who I mean...

For me, it's my husband, who is many thousands of miles away for the whole week on business, and yet still manages to be with me in spirit and make me feel special, even when I don't really deserve it.

It's also the day I pause to share a thought and a hug for my friends whose soul mates have already crossed the final threshold and are waiting for them on the other side. My heart aches for them.

But it's also the day when not even death or distance can keep us from feeling the most powerful emotion of all for our loved ones.

And it's the day I love to raise a glass to all those strive towards keeping love alive, against all odds.
They're the real heroes and heroines.

Please feel welcome to share in my toast;

To Lovers who've felt the Sting of Love and 
still Strive to Nurture it every day!

-by AA Bell, author of the multi-Award Winning Diamond Eyes Trilogy #SheSeesThruTime

Buy Now with Discounts from Amazon and Fishpond

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Vampires Gone Wild Release Day!

The very first Supernatural Underground anthology, VAMPIRES GONE WILD, is on sale today! Published by Avon Impulse, the anthology features stories by Kerrelyn Sparks, Amanda Arista, Kim Falconer, and me. And, yep, they're about vampires.

My story, A Forever Love, is set in Vamp City, the world I created for my Vamp City series, which began with A BLOOD SEDUCTION, but stars a new couple--Lukas, a centuries-old vampire, and Elizabeth, a school teacher. Two years ago, Elizabeth's boyfriend, Lukas, disappeared from her life without a trace. Though they'd only dated eight months, she'd been head over heels in love with him and had thought he felt the same. She has no idea he's a vampire, no idea he's trapped in the dark vampire otherworld of Vamp City. When she accidentally stumbles into that world and finds him, she thinks everything she believed about Lukas was a lie. But Lukas has pined for the beauty who stole his heart. And now it will take every ounce of cunning he possesses to keep Elizabeth alive.

         The hoofbeats of another horse caught her attention.
         “Hold!” The voice, not the youth’s, called from a short distance. A voice that sounded wonderfully, achingly familiar, as if she’d conjured it up in this desperate moment.
         A tiny flare of hope had her head snapping up as the fourth horse and horseman approached, deep in the twilight shadows. All she could make out was a form big enough and broad-shouldered enough to be Lukas’s. As he drew closer, she could tell the hair was a little longer, in need of a haircut. Logic told her it wasn’t him, it couldn’t be. Her agitated mind was merely attempting to overlay his image on the male who approached, the image of a savior. A hero.
         It wasn’t Lukas.
         But as he drew closer and she finally saw the strong jaw and high cheekbones of the face that had haunted her for two years, her knees gave way.
         “Lukas,” she gasped.
         How was this possible?
         He was dressed in a black shirt and tan pants, the same as the other pair, two swords strapped to his back, their hilts rising from behind his shoulders like wings.
         The man she loved pulled his horse to a stop beside the male with the pierced face and stared at her with an expression she’d never seen, his mouth hard, his eyes at once cool as frost and angry as hell.
         Her heart began to shatter.
         “I’ve been searching for you, Elizabeth,” he snapped.
         Her eyes narrowed with confusion. “What? Here?
         “No way,” the male as her back exclaimed, tightening his hold on her until she cried out with the pain shooting through her chest and shoulders. “You’re not claiming her, Lukas. She came in on the sunbeam, and don’t try to deny it—she’s got Starbucks. She didn’t get that in Vamp City.”
         “She was my slave in the real world,” Lukas said smoothly. Slave? “I expected her to find her way to me before this.”
         “She’s not your slave.”
         “She knows my name, doesn’t she?” His expression was so hard. Cold blue eyes pinned her. “Are you mine?”
         She stared at him, her heart thundering. Yes, she’d been his. The old Lukas’s. She did not know this man.
         “You left me.” The words came out unbidden, as raw as the pain in her heart.
         For a swift second, she thought she saw that pain mirrored in his eyes, but a moment later he stared at her once more through hard, blue crystals.
         “Are you mine?
         “Yes, master,” he snapped.
         This was not the man she knew. Yet at the very first sight of him, her heart had begun, very slowly, to unfurl, to blossom, and it continued to do so. Her heart was an idiot.
         “I saw her first,” the pierced male grumbled. “I should at least get a taste of her.”
         Lukas swung down off of his horse far slower than the bearded man had, his movements deliberate, threatening. And she didn’t think the show was for her.
         “Release her.” Lukas’s gaze pinned the man at her back. “No one touches what is mine.”
         In the blink of an eye, the arm across her shoulders disappeared. In the blink of another, Lukas was beside her, his hand gripping her upper arm. Too fast. Either she was suffering some kind of head trauma or they were moving too damned fast.
          Her head felt suddenly full of helium and she began to sway. Lukas swept her up as if she weighed nothing, and she grabbed at her purse as it slipped off her shoulder. He strode to his horse, deposited her onto its back, and swung up behind her.
         As his arm slipped around her waist, as he pulled her back against the chest she’d once loved so much, she finally found herself in the one place she’d longed to be for two years. Once more in Lukas’s arms.
         But instead of the joyous reunion she’d imagined, she was shaking with shock. And fear. Lukas Olsson was not the man she’d thought he was.
         She wasn’t certain he was a man at all.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Short Stories are Hell

I was joking with a writer friend of mine (and there is a distinction between writer friends and other types of friends, trust me) about how the publishing world came up with short stories just to taunt novel writers. The two of us are epic story line people. We think in universes. It makes for interesting conversations.

But short stories aren’t about the universe; they are about moments within that universe. So writing a shorter piece for the Vampires Gone Wild anthology was a serious challenge for me (out Feb 12th- shameless plug, I know). I’m a subscriber to Vogler’s Hero’s Journey, all twelve epic steps of it. I like finding a structure to figure out if I’m torturing the characters enough. I’m dark; we all know this.

The switch I had to flip in my head was that short stories still have that journey, but it is the work of a moment. Its boiling a crisis down to the actual thought the character has that takes them from man to hero, from woman to Amazon. There were SEVERAL guides online about the structure of a short story, so I frankensteined this structure from about three of them.

Setup- who is doing what where
Trigger- what is the choice going to be about
Surprise- hero learn interesting information
Choice- moment of choice
Testing the choice- does the hero doubt?
Resolution- what happens because of the choice

This is not the bible of short story writing, just something that helped me make sure that I was focusing on the choice within the story, the moment of change. With a structure, I could go forth and write about Valiance and Esme and both their choices that changed them.

So I proudly present to you the Setup of my contribution to Vampires Gone Wild.

*   *   * 
First Dates are Hell, Or How Valiance Got His Groove Back

            Valiance walked up behind the Prima lounging at her favorite table. Six. There were six ways he could attack her while her back was to the main entrance of the coffee shop.
            He looked around.  The space hummed, pulsed with life. Even under the coffee’s aroma and the espresso-soaked floors, he could smell the life of this place, the life of every person in here. His stomach growled.
            This was a test of some sort. His Prima was famous for them. Pushing everyone that extra step to make them better. Scheduling his monthly meeting here instead of in his own place of business was a test. Her directive to be unarmed was a test. And by the uncomfortable nakedness between his shoulder blades and the pressure of the others energy, he wasn’t going to pass this one.
            But he could at least teach her something. Make her better. 
            Finding the ebb and flow of the life around him, he moved toward her, in sync with the others in the café. Their heavy steps along the wooden floor covered his boots as he slid up behind her. He wasn’t going to ignore the irony of stalking a werepanther.
            Valiance slow knelt down and whispered in her ear, “You could be dead.”
            The tall woman jumped in her seat and turned around almost as fast as he could blink. Then she laughed as she smiled down at him. “You really shouldn’t stalk people like that, Val.”
            “You really shouldn’t sit with your back to the door.”
            Violet pointed to the amulet above the door. “Most powerful charm in existence. Nothing bad is getting through these doors, Val. You’re safe here.”
            He exhaled. Her faith was going to be her downfall, but he would fall with her for the faith she had put in him. “You still shouldn’t make a habit of it.”
            “Lesson learned, solider boy. Sit.”
            Valiance slid into the seat across from her, folding his hands on the table between them. From this vantage point, he could see everything in the shop. At least one of them should be on the offensive, no matter how protected the Prima thought she was. Better a thousand times safe than once dead. 

Amanda Arista
Author, Diaries of an Urban Panther

Friday, February 1, 2013

Happy Birthday "Pride & Prejudice": 200 Years Old This Week!

Yes, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice was first published on 28 January 1813, so Monday this week was it's 200th birthday — and still in print: outstanding huh?

I think most of us will have encountered the story in either book form or one of the very many film and television adaptations, and it can be argued that the romance between Darcy and Elizabeth forms the template for most Romance literature the rich, handsome, but initially ill-mannered hero, and spirited but impetuous heroine who must go through several misunderstandings before realizing they are right for each other...  Plus, Colin Firth as Mr Darcy, Romance with a capital "R", no question of that!

Colin Firth's Mr Darcy
My own first encounter with Pride and Prejudice was when I was given my first, hand-me-down edition at around 9-10 years old. Obviously a great deal of the subtler elements of the story, the irony and social nuances of early 19th century society, were over my head, but I certainly "got" the basic plot: the duel of manners and wit between Darcy and Elizabeth. And I can still recall laughing out loud at Mr Collins' proposal to Elizabeth—even at 9-10 I fully appreciated the ridiculousness of the situation, both the proposal itself and the subsequent roles played by each of Elizabeth's parents.

Elizabeth Garvie's Elizabeth
I have since re-read the book many times, as well as watching all of the major dramatizations that have come out, and find I always get something new out of the story with each reading. Certainly, as I grew up I picked up on the ironic observation of human nature within the story, as well as the illustration of the very narrow range of choices available to women. To me, the ability of a book to reveal something new at each reading is magical writing while all the original elements of the story: the romances of Darcy and Elizabeth, Jane and Mr Bingley, as well as the many layers of humor, continue to delight.

Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth
In terms of the dramatizations, I suspect you've already gathered that my favorite Mr Darcy is Colin Firth in the 1990's television adaptation. My favorite dramatization is the 1980 BBC/ABC production, with the story adapted for screen by Fay Weldon. (She did a great job!) I also love actress Elizabeth Garvie's interpretation of Elizabeth in that production, although Jennifer Ehle was also very good in the 1990's production.

But perhaps because I'm am author and a reader, at the end of the day I have to say it: great as all the dramatizations are, for me they still can't beat reading the book!