Sunday, January 25, 2015

Upcoming Events!

Congratulations to Amanda of Arizona for winning this month's prize! Thank you all for leaving such lovely comments. And many thanks for your support over the years of the Love at Stake series!

I'm running late this month getting my post done, but for a good reason. I just returned from Dallas, where I did a workshop for the Dallas chapter of RWA (DARA) and a booksigning at the B&N in Garland. My thanks to all of you who attended those events!

Coming up next weekend on January 31, I'll be at KissCon in Sarasota, Florida. These events are hosted by Avon Books and they sound like great fun. Avon brings in about a dozen authors, offers appetizers and wine, and everyone parties! If you're anywhere close to Sarasota, FL, I hope you'll come. I'll be there with other authors like Jeaniene Frost, Julia Quinn, Maya Banks, and more! You'll have some time to hang out with the authors, and then a book signing will follow.

February 20th I'll be speaking at a library event in Birmingham, Alabama. Then March 28th, I'll be at the next KissCon in the St. Louis, MO area. For more information about these events, please check the Appearances page on my website at or the Events tab on my Facebook page at I'll be signing at both events.

I can't thank you all enough for your support of the Love at Stake series. Thanks to you, Crouching Tiger Forbidden Vampire hit #14 on the New York Times bestseller list! To show some of my gratitude, I'm doing a special contest today. One lucky winner will receive this roomy tote bag from the 2014 RWA conference, plus a copy of Chloe Niell's House Rules and a signed copy of How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire! International entries are welcome. To enter, simply leave a comment. If you choose to leave your email address, it makes
it easier for me to find you in case you win. If you choose not to leave an email address, then be sure to check back in a few days to see if I'm looking for you. Good luck!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Whistling Past the Graveyard (and the return of Nicki Styx!)

It's been a while since my last book was out. After two successful series, six novels and various novellas, I started to find myself a victim of creative burnout -- not because I'd run out of ideas, but because I had too MANY ideas, and the writing track that I was on began to feel too narrow.  I wanted to go back and finish out my first paranormal/urban fantasy series with the ending it deserved, by finishing Book #5 in the Nicki Styx series, HAPPILY NEVER AFTER. I wanted to work on a spooky Victorian mystery idea that had been burbling around in my head, and polish to a high shine an earlier series of historical/paranormal novels set in ancient Rome and early Britain that I'd already written. To my surprise, I found that with the pressure of series deadlines eased, ideas began to flow even faster, so much so that I started putting some of those ideas down in short story form. So to those of you who have written to me asking, "When is the next book going to be out?" I'm thrilled to be able to answer, "Now. Right now!"  :)

WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD contains an original, never-before-published Nicki Styx novella entitled "Personal Demons", as well as a collection of supernatural short stories about ghosts, demons, zombies, vampires, witches and werewolves. Some of the stories are spooky, some are funny, and some (like the Nicki Styx series itself) are spooky and funny at the same time.  :)

In "Personal Demons", Nicki Styx proves that she's willing to go to Hell and back to save a lost soul, even when the soul doesn't feel like she needs saving! A reluctant spirit has lingered too long in "Mrs. Beaumont's Room", and it's Fae vs. Brownie in "A Little Morning Magic". The practical issues of undead relationships are the focus of "Zombie Love", and a teenage witch comes into her own in "Does This Broomstick Make Me Look Fat?". Tempted to break out that Ouija board and play some parlor games? You might want to read what happens in "Ouija Wanna Have Fun". If ancient Celtic rituals are your thing, experience Samhain night the way it was meant to be in "Druid Moon". Meet some smokin' hot vampires in "Dead Sexy", and a lonely Lycan in "Lie Down With Dogs". Modern day witches wipe an unhappy woman's slate clean in "Tabula Rasa", and the mystery of a haunted house is solved in "Possession Is Nine Tenths". Not enough spookiness for you? Try "The Watcher", "All That Remains" or "The Eyes Have It".

For you die-hard Nicki Styx fans, I'm still working on the next full-length book in the Nicki Styx series, HAPPILY EVER AFTER, which will be available this summer.  In the meantime, take a little walk through the graveyard, and don't forget to whistle!  ;)

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(p.s. - If you should happen to read and enjoy WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD, or any other book I've written, please take a moment and leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads.  Favorable word of mouth is the greatest gift a reader can give an author!)

Ghosts, demons, zombies, vampires, witches and werewolves, all in one collection.  Hey, you wouldn't be reading this blog on the Supernatural Underground unless you were into the spooky stuff, right?  :)  Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

And so 2015 is underway

I don't know about you, but it's only three weeks old and already 2015 is hammering my butt!

Some years are like that - there's so much to do, right from the start, that you look at the 12 months ahead and just feel exhausted. There are other years that start quietly, hiding from you all that's going to befall you over the course of the 52 weeks.

I've got three (probably four) books coming out this year. I've got two (probably three) books coming out next year and they all need to be written. This year's motto - 'Churning out the words'.

How is 2015 looking for you? Hopefully whether it's jam packed already, or still lithe and ripe with possibilities, it's going to be a year of making dreams come true for everyone!

I'm hoping that I'll be able to catch up with you all more - the Supernatural Undergound crowd are fantastic!

Tomorrow sees the release of 'Winning the King', book two in my science fiction romance trilogy (although depending on where you are in the world when you read this, it could already be out!) I had such fun writing science fiction romance last year - love being able to do relationships, and loves, and hope, amongst cool geegaws and thingummies.

Blue eyes, golden curls, a body songs are composed about, and part of one of the most powerful families in the colonies, Diana Wiltmore is not used to ever hearing the word ‘no’. So when she sets her sights on a fling with the gorgeous, potent and single King of Angonia, Gareth, she is shocked when he turns her down flat. In an effort to put the rejection behind her, she agrees to her sister’s plan to gain some political leverage by cosying up to a rival planetary ruler.

Gareth has responsibilities and no time for a woman like Diana. She is all temptation and distraction, but Gareth wants more from a woman than decoration. But it is Diana standing by his side as his beloved home of Angonia is attacked and he starts to see that underneath the surface is a strong woman even more beautiful than her picture-perfect exterior.

Gareth’s people need him and to be there for them, he needs Diana. But has he ruined every chance he has of winning her heart?

You can pre-order or buy Winning the King here: All Romance ebooks  / iTunes / Amazon US /  Amazon UK /Google Play / Kobo / Nook / Amazon Aus

Friday, January 16, 2015

Categories of Contrast

O-ssak-han yeon-ae a film with contrast.
Have you heard friends and family complain about post-holiday ‘contrast’? The phrase is often used to sugarcoat what resembles a trip through the nearest hell dimension. It’s challenging, but also a little ironic the way these moments 'lacking harmony’ are actually the most interesting to retell.

We wouldn’t have a good story without them.

Contrast, AKA conflict, is essential to any book or film, but because we tend to avoid the edgy situations in real life, it can be hard to express on the pages or screen.

Again, the irony. We want to experience peace, but nobody wants to read, or watch, a story where everyone and everything is harmonious.

“Chase your characters up trees and throw rocks at them” is a long upheld adage. But doing it in a way that lends anticipation and promise of some level of satisfaction at the end is the crux. The measure of these ingredients, especially the resolution factor, will depend on genre, author and readership.

For example, Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries gave us a resolution at the end of each book that promised something new. But when it came to the last book, not everyone agreed. There was certainly a lot of controversy on how the entire series wrapped up!

Then there are dystopian books like The Forest of Hands and Teeth where author Carrie Ryan leaves us more uncomfortable in the end than when we started. The series is bleak, but given it's a dystopia, we were forewarned.

Resolution of the contrast can vary widely, even within genres, but is contrast always about conflict? The two aren't exactly the same.

Conflict can be categorized by relationship. For example in LOTR, conflict is interpersonal between Gandolf the Gray and Saurman, intra-personal within Smeagol himself, intra-group with Boromir and Frodo, and inter-group between the orcs and the Riders of Rohan.

But contrast can also be about juxtaposition where the author plays with things like time, ideologies and voice.

Anne McCaffrey in her Dragonriders of Pern shows a people united through the contrast of their own survival against the threat of the Red Star.

In The Diary of Pelly D, L J Adlington uses an unearthed diary to contrast the present day dystopian world with a more beautiful pre-acpocolytic one.

Intra-personal contrast can be shown through diaries as well, seen in L J Smith's The Vampire Diaries, and our own Amanda Arista's Diary of an Urban Panther. In my Quantum Encryption Series, major ideologies are explored through the discovery of a long lost diary.

Time can also be a powerful marker for contrast used in the form of flashbacks, flash-forwards and time travel. These techniques are seen in books like The Time Traveler's Wife, my own Arrows of Time and Isabelle Carmody's Obernewtyn Series.

Spark any ideas? Feel free to share your examples, or favorite bit of contrast in a story or film, in the comments.

Namaste all!
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, and on FaceBook and Twitter. She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month. Her latest release is"Blood and Water" in Supernatural Underground: Vampires Gone Wild.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Be excellent to yourself-- thank you Bill and Ted

I sit here typing while I watch Lord of the Rings and wait for a dozen cupcakes to finish baking in the oven. It is something that I haven't done in a very long time.

2014 was a very long year for me. I was getting adjusted to being a mom, maintaining a full-time job, and still trying to write a marketable book. I fell like I was always trying to be something, like the entire year I was constantly juggling hats. I like hats, but this was more dress up than accessorizing.

So in 2015, I don't want to play dress up anymore. I just want to be me. Me as a mom. Me as a worker. Me as a writer. I think i'm okay with not having everything my kid eats be organic and homemade. I think I'm okay with not checking my emails on the weekends. And I am really ready to write the book that has been speaking to me for the past few months. Something funny, something scary and something completely off the wall.

Last year these posts were about the journey, were about writing heroes and living heroically. So this year, I think this year is going to be about authenticity. Authentic to ourselves, authentic to our characters. We are going to get down to the nitty, gritty, truth of it all and be better us's, uses, us-s. And maybe learn some grammar.

Sound like a plan?

Here's to an authentic new year,
Amanda Arista

Amanda Arista

Thursday, January 1, 2015

"Bird Of Passage" Part 1 – Swinging Into 2015 With Story!

Credit: B Miller
 Happy New Year, dear Supernatural Undergrounders!

 I thought I should start the new year the way I mean to go on – with story. This is the first half of a two-parter: the second (and final) half will post next month.

If you like, I may post more stories as 2015 progresses, so do let me know. All commenters over the two parts of this story will go in a "Tuckerization" draw (via Random), i.e. the winner's name will be used for a character in a future short story.

Meanwhile: Enjoy!

– – – 

Bird of Passage: Part 1

© Helen Lowe, 2014

 She was sitting on the lowest step of the fire escape when I got home, accompanied by one of the neighborhood cats that regard the overgrown shrubbery as a kind of no-man's-land, belonging to all their kind and to none. This cat, lean as all the others, was crouched a careful yard, perhaps as much as two, from the steel toes of her boots. You could see though, that in the cat's mind at least, they were together, sharing the speckled sunshine that fell through the overhanging oak. It overshadowed everything that tree, even the two-storey villa with its characteristic, witch's hat gable.
"Do I know you?" I asked, coming down the narrow path beside the house and stopping at the sight of her. The cat was up and away before I had finished speaking.
"You frightened her," she said. She did not seem troubled herself, even though I was scowling, wondering what on earth she was doing in my overgrown excuse for a back garden – who the hell she was.  I had already found the first evidence of her presence at the front of the house: a large, haphazardly stuffed pack, a heavy coil of rope and an ice axe.  She was wearing some kind of velvet hat pulled down over her ears, but her eyes were pale as abalone shell, shifting from blue to green in a round, tanned face.
"I'm Debbie," she said. "Tom's friend, from the Coast.  Aren't you expecting me?"
A number of answers hovered on my lips: the obvious – no, closely followed by the observation that any friend of Tom's should know better than to rely on him to arrange anything.  The third response was that Tom's friendship was not necessarily a passport to mine, especially if this Debbie thought she could emulate his habits and stay for months on end, living hand to mouth and preying shamelessly on my goodwill.  I met her look of friendly inquiry and hesitated, before deciding on a different approach.  "So where is Tom these days?  The last I heard he was going to Australia."
Debbie nodded.  "He changed his mind.  He was up near Westport the last I saw him, and going to the glaciers after that.  That's when he said he'd ring and let you know I was coming through."  She smiled, a slight, wry twist of her lips.  "He said you had plenty of room here, and wouldn't mind if I stayed for a bit."
I regarded her cautiously, taking in the steel capped boots, the velvet hat and the wide, patchwork skirt beneath a black, fisherman's jersey.  I thought of some of the other birds of passage that Tom had sent through, and decided that this Debbie might be one of the odder kind.  "What are you here for?" I asked.  I did not add, and for how long, not yet.  "Surely it's not for climbing?"
She looked puzzled for a moment, then shook her head.  "Not me.  I just brought that gear through for someone else – I'll drop it off tomorrow.  I'm here to do a course at the Polytech."
Uh-oh, I thought.  "How long's the course?"
The smile reappeared, and stayed a little longer this time.  "Don't worry, it's only for two months, at the design school.  I'm kind of a sculptor, and they're having a symposium."
So I let her stay.  I suspected, rightly, that a "kind of a sculptor" would not be well up in funds, which was presumably why Tom had sent her to me in the first place, and that she was relying on living rent-free to get through the two months.  It was a big house, and I usually put visitors downstairs so they didn't get in my way.  But this time, moved by some obscure impulse, I gave Debbie the big, upstairs room with the witch's turret.  I rationalized that it was coming on to winter and would be too cold and dark downstairs, a cold that she would feel after the northern regions of the Coast.  Besides, there would still be half a house between her room, which looked out towards the harbor, and mine, which faced the sun. 
The room I gave Debbie was big and sparsely furnished like all the others in the house, but the view down the harbor was fantastic.  She walked to the window as though drawn by a magnet, and stood there, gazing out.
"I'd love to go there," she said at last, "right to the end of the harbor.  There's something about it that draws you in – or is it on?  It makes me feel there's something mysterious out there, waiting to be discovered."
"It's easy enough to get there," I said.  "You can drive right out to the heads.  There's a beach there, with the remains of an old wreck on it.  You can still see the paddle wheel, standing up in the surf."
"I'd like to see that," she said, so softly that I almost didn't catch it.  Then she gave herself a little shake.  "But I'd better get on top of my course first."

I didn't see a great deal of her, after that.  I had a big project on and was often working late, and Debbie's course seemed to demand early starts and more than a few late nights of her own. 
"Although that's because we just like to hang around, talking about what we're doing, rather than because we have to work late," she confessed, on one of the nights when our paths crossed.  She was cooking, and it was only after we had been talking for some time that I realized she was making enough for me as well.  She had brought a bottle of wine, cheap but cheerful as she put it, and insisted on sharing that, too.  Apparently the course was going well and a few of the local galleries were showing interest in her work – so, as Debbie said, it was all good. 

She certainly looked good, I thought, in a matching crimson hat and jacket, one of her Op shop acquisitions.  She was wearing a vivid carmine lipstick to match.  "Cheap and cheerful," Debbie assured me, with her slow, deep smile. "Like the wine."

The next time I saw her for any length of time was three weeks later, on a Saturday morning when I was trying to get both the mountain bike and myself out of the house.  I asked her, on auto-pilot, how the symposium was going and it was only later, pumping furiously uphill, that her slight hesitation struck me.  There had almost, I thought, changing down a gear, been constraint in her reply.  She had looked tired, too, with noticeable shadows under her eyes. It must be the course, I decided, they seemed to like burning the candle at both ends – and promptly dismissed the matter from my mind.


To read the second and final part of Bird of Passage, posted on February 1, click on: