Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Hot Thriller for Cold Nights

Winners of the Deliverance Giveaway:
Erica and Barbara!

Ready for a 


For Fantasy
I'm giving away two copies of Deliverance, the most recent book in the Mortal Path series. Choose a signed paperback (USA only) or an authorgraphed e-book. Leave a comment below with your email in an altered form. Two winners will be randomly chosen. The last day to enter is Monday, February 3rd.

The Story: A demon's assassin for centuries, Maliha Crayne has gone rogue, determined to save a life for every one she's destroyed in order to free herself from an eternity of enslavement, damnation, and excruciating torment. But as the powers that sustained her in the past fade, she is wary of trusting those closest to her-especially her lover, Jake. Should Maliha listen to her heart or the alarms going off in her head? Then her closest friends begin to disappear, one by one. Amid her anger, suspicion, and sorrow, she feels her life spiraling out of control.

"DELIVERANCE is wonderfully unpredictable, full of breathlessly exciting action scenes. Readers will be hooked till the very last page, and then will rush to pick up the others in the Mortal Path series." - RT Book Reviews

"DELIVERANCE is filled with action, suspense, raw honesty, and great drama. It is definitely the most high-stakes installment in the series yet and I could not put it down. Dakota has done a marvelous job of creating an untenable situation and forcing Maliha to deal with it." - Tynga's Reviews

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Surviving the Cold!

Congratulations to Mary of Wisconsin for winning this month's contest! Thank you all for leaving comments. I really enjoy reading them!  Stay safe and warm (or cool for those Down Under or in the tropics).  Please come back next month when I return to give away more books!

Here in Texas, we're huddling inside our houses because of the cold weather (yes, we consider anything below 40 degrees cold).  I know many of you are dealing with much, much colder temperatures, as well as ice and snow.  I hope you all stay warm and safe!  And while you're stuck indoors, what's the best way to pass the time?  A good book!!  And a hot book will really warm you up!

So I have two hot books to give away today.  One is The Vampire with the Dragon Tattoo.  What's hotter than a vampire with a tattoo?  A vampire with a tattoo, wearing a kilt! And the second prize is a hot New Adult book by the fabulous Sophie Jordan, titled Foreplay. Prepare yourself for some scorching hot scenes! To enter, just leave a comment telling me what the weather is like where you live. International entries are welcome.  One winner will
be chosen at random and receive both books.  If you enter, please check back in a day or two to see if you've won.  If I have no email address for you, I will announce your win at the top of this blog post. Good luck and keep warm!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Returning from paradise

From time to time, you get to live the dream and that's how 2014 has begun for me. I've just got back from a two week writing retreat with some of my favourite people in the world. Two weeks of writing during the day, and then chatting, eating, drinking during the night.

It's such a wonderful environment. Everything else gets put away - responsibilities, work, even doing the housework - in order to indulge fully in being a writer.

You can think about writing, spend hours staring out the window, and no one minds. You can disappear from a conversation to furiously write something down and everyone understands. You can stop in the middle of a piece and cry your frustration to the sky and someone will have a chat and help you work it out.

Everything is about story, and the industry, and dreams and aspirations and fears and worries.

It's wonderful, but like paradise, there's the snake. You can become so caught up in this world that you lose touch with reality and when you return, it's a real downer. You can also put on copious amounts of weight, but I'd prefer not to focus on that :)

So even when you're in paradise, it's about finding balance. Keeping yourself centred and secure, so you can keep going when paradise inevitably fades away.

It's the same with the darkness that so many of us are drawn to in our reading and writing. You need the balance of light to keep yourself even.

I've crashed back down to earth with my first day back at work and I'm already knee deep in reality. Somehow, I need to keep that joy going as well, because that's what helps fuel you as a writer - the joy you find from sitting and playing with story, with characters, with words.

I already know 2014 is going to be a big year (can't make any public announcements yet but BOY) so now more than ever, I need to find balance. Maintain a sense of reality, but recognise and celebrate the moments of paradise when they come.

What do you do to find balance in your life? I'd love to hear your ideas.

The beautiful Snowy Mountains in Australia, where I've just spent the past two weeks writing.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sacred Tattoos

Tattoos on Pinterest
A tattoo is a permanent affirmation that should be taken in a serious and sacred way, said my tattoo artist. Whether you know it or not, it will influence your path the rest of your life.

For all its recent popularity, a tattoo is more than an adornment or a fashion statement. The entire process—the idea, designing, placement and receiving—is an initiation.

Something is evoked.

When approached with clear intention and reverence, one can’t help but be transformed.

Tattoos on Pinterest
From the Inuit peoples of Alaska to the Mayans of South America, from thousands of men and women gathering at temples in Thailand to the current mainstream renaissance, tattooing has always carried a powerful message.

Historically, the it seems the Egyptians developed the technique and spread it to Crete, Greece, Persia, and Arabia. Four thousand years ago, tattooing followed the Silk Road to China and Japan. In 1991 a 5,200 year old mummy was found between Austria and Italy with over 57 tattoos—lines and dots thought to be used for healing as their placement corresponded to acupuncture meridians. The ‘Ice Maiden’ discovered in the Altai Mountains in 1993 is 2,400 years old. She has tattoos of mythical creatures including elk with twisting horns that turn into flowers.

Tattoos have multiple meanings both symbolic and literal. They can indicate rank, expertise in battle craft or sport, membership to a group or a connection to the divine. They can carry healing or protective spells—the tattoo artist channeling the energy of the animal or symbol into the person as it is given.

The elaborate tattoos of the Polynesian cultures are an initiation and feature geometric designs, curves and dots which can cover the whole body. Following James

Tom Hardy
Cook’s expedition to Tahiti in 1769, the islanders’ term ‘tattau,’ (to hit or strike), or possibly ‘tatu’ (to make a mark) gave us the western term ‘tattoo.’ The art then became fashionable among Europeans, (after being banned by Pope Adrian I in the 6th century AD) particularly so with sailors and coal-miners, occupations carrying high risk. Their tattoos of anchors and miner’s lamps were considered to have amulet-like protection.

After going underground for almost a century, the art of tattooing has reemerged in mainstream western culture. More and more people are getting ‘ink’ for personal reasons. For me, each tattoo represents a change in my life, an expansion of awareness, a shifting perspective. They are expressions of reverence for the images and ideals associated with them.

As my artist says, Getting a tattoo is a discipline involving physical, psychological and spiritual awareness. If any one of these elements is taken out of context, then the wholeness and true quality of the image is lost.

I've translated this idea not only into my own life but to that of the characters in my Quantum Enchantment Series where tattoos are the key to not only identity and clan, but the unraveling of worlds. SuperNaturalUnderground author Jaime Rush has used the notion of the tattoo in extraordinary ways in The Hidden series. Have you read her books yet?  Talk about a Dragon tattoo!

Does anyone have a tattoo story or image to share? Best ink on a character, or star? We'd love to hear them!

Kim Falconer is a Supernatural Underground author writing paranormal romance, urban fantasy, YA and epic science fantasy novels. She also co-directs Good Vibe Astrology, an online astrology and law of attraction gathering.

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

Friday, January 3, 2014

A time for everything and every thing in its time

I was working at a coffee shop recently with a fellow writer. A young man, who was trying to flirt with my fellow writer, asked what we were working on that morning and the conversation lead to us being romance writers. And he said something, between the overt attempts to get my friend to pay attention to him, like wouldn’t it be nice if romances happen like that in the real world. And I, being the curious one, asked why can't they? What is stopping us from making the grand gesture that we love to read about in books? 

He, of course, looked at me like I was crazy and hid back behind his laptop. This guy wasn’t ready to make the gesture and didn’t ask my fellow writer for her number.

But why not? Because he was scared of rejection? Because he was way too busy listening to his Pandora rock mix? Nope. He probably just wasn’t ready to be a hero yet.

Last month in her blog post, Pamela Palmer got me thinking about heroes when she said that “the true mark of character is revealed in how a person lives their life every single day.” She also pointed out that every-day people are presented a choice, and its that choice that creates a hero. In a romance novel, our heroes and heroines usually have to overcome some internal or external fear in order to be even considered heroic when they make their choice. Doing something (making that choice) in the face of fear is courage and courage makes a hero.

But there is also a notion of timing. I like the cookie dough theory from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. People are ready to make the big choices when they are ready, not a moment before and not a moment after. Think: Would Mr. Darcy have been able to brood his way into Elizabeth Bennett’s heart if he was still in university? Nope. (Bet he was still pretty cute though)

So to be a hero, you need to be the right person to make the right choice at the right time. 

I like to think the young man in the coffee shop was still a little cookie dough and not quite ready to take on the mantle of hero. I believe romantic heroes are out there in the real world just waiting for their moment to ask the right girl in the right coffee shop for her number at the right time.

My New Year's Resolution: Be more Heroic. Get over my fears and make the choices, the ones that really matter, to me and to other people. If nothing else, I need to set an example for the new Little Bean in my life. 


Amanda Arista
Author of Diaries of an Urban Panther

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Year In Retrospect: A Few Significant Moments From 2013

UK edition
Last year I looked forward in my Jauuary 1 post and talked about hope and aspiration in relation to 2013. This year I thought I'd look back and share some of the significant moments from my wriitng year.

First up, the UK mass market edition of The Gathering Of The Lost (The Wall Of Night series, Book Two) came out on February 21, and I celebrated with  a guest post on the series' UK publisher, Orbit's blog:

"Use of Weapons: The Armoury of Epic Fantasy"

UK edition
Very shortly afterward, in March, I also had the very good news that The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night, Book One) was being reprinted in the UK: the very best news for any book since it means that readers must be finding something to like. :)

US edition
The 'highlight of the year' though, was when The Gathering Of The Lost was shortlisted for the David Gemmell Legend Award for Best Fantasy Novel on August 11 – and later I got to do an 'official' finalist's interview, which you can read on the Legend Awards' site:

Legend Award Interview – Helen Lowe

Shifting to my poet's hat, I was thrilled to have two poems featured by fellow poets this year -- UK poet and biographer, Kathleen Jones, featured "All Over" to commemorate the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, while London-based poet, Elizabeth Welsh, featured "North" on her Small Marks blog in October. To read the poems, just click on the titles below:

All Over


And with my interviewer's hat on, I was thrilled earlier this year when my 2012 interview with Kristin Cashore, for her novel Bitterblue, was translated into Chinese and used to support the release of Bitterblue into the Chinese market. You can "read all about it" here – or just go straight to the interview, here: An Interview With  Kristin Cashore

On a sadder note, in April of this year I also got to post an obituary for my friend-in-poetry, Sarah Broom, who died far too young. But more positively, on 17 December I was also able to feature her poem "One story and the other", from her posthumous collection, Gleam, on the Tuesday Poem Hub. It's a beautiful poem and I would love it if you felt able to go there and read it: 

One story and the other

So there it is, just a little from my year in books and the writing life. What were your major moments of 2013? Conversely, what are you looking forward to in 2014?