Monday, March 30, 2015

April 1 Is Nigh...

No, that's not giving anything away -- but a few of us here on Supernatural Underground do feel a bit of April Foolery could be in order...

Not only that, but we thought we'd throw in a good old SU Giveaway as well.

Check back in on Wednesday to find out what's a-foot...

Monday, March 16, 2015

Genre and the Zodiac

Fantasy Books WallpapersWA

What kind of reading personality are you?

Most of us have a preference for certain kinds of books that fall into multiple genres. We also have a style of reading - eclectic, focused, serial, exacting, flitting, browsing. Whatever our approach, it changes over time, representing healthy evolution.

Can these preferences be related to the zodiac?

Test it for yourself and see!

AriesARIES: An independent reader. You like to browse for something that spontaneously lights your fire. Who cares what the critics think? This is all about your desires. No need to hold the thrills, chills and spills. Adventure and conflict a must. Action, SF, Romantic Thriller, War, Page Turners.

TaurusTAURUS: A slower pace isn't an issue, as long as there is sensuality and pleasure. Woven into the pages is a true alpha hero and a powerful, high libido female. HEA is probably a must. Finds delight in Romance, Erotica, Memoir, Historical Fiction, Alternate History Fantasy.

 GeminiGEMINI: Must capture interest in the first sentence. No slow starts. Must also be intelligent. sharp and fresh. Bestsellers are excellent for conversations/social gatherings. Loves a good "whodunnit", Medical or SF Romance, Urban Fantasy, Crime-procedural, Self-Help, Literary Fiction.

CancerCANCER: Loves tales of the past, historical, classical, haute sensibilities - Jane Austin! But not afraid of the darker side of fiction. Must engage the emotions. Will tolerate almost anything as long as there is a non-contrived HEA. Cook Books, Vampire, Mystery, Paranormal. Of course Romance!

LeoLEO: It does matter what the critics are saying and you may use reviews to guide your choices, but you'll make up your own mind in the end! A focused reader with more traditional preferences: High Fantasy, Classical, Supernatural, YA and Children's Books, Hero's Journey, Time Travel.

VirgoVIRGO: Most likely has a TBR list and sticks to it! You're a serial reader who also makes a  great reviewer. Non-Fiction can be as enjoyable as fiction, especially Self-Help or exploring your favorite research topic. SF, Dystopia, YA, Paranormal Romance, Magical Realism, Steam Punk!

 LibraLIBRA: You love to read what your friends are reading. It's as fun to discuss as it is to immerse in the pages. Prefer a certain level of refinement and sophistication. Not too hard core. HEA important. Chick Lit, Classical, Memoir, Romantic Suspense, Faery Tale, Space Opera, Trad Fantasy.

ScorpioSCORPIO: Here we have the sign that not only enjoys a trip to the underworld, it is required reading. A focused and eclectic reader, drawn to stories with extreme emotions and experiences. Horror, Gothic, Dark Fantasy, War, Urban Fantasy, Hard SF, SF Thriller, Erotica.

SagittariusSAGITTARIUS: The explorer into the unknown. Does like to keep up with trends and read current bestsellers (so, like Gemini, can discuss in social situations!) Not afraid of avant guarde. All forms of SF including Alt History, Zombies, Comic Fantasy, YA, Short Stories, Philosophy, Adventure.

CapricornCAPRICORN: One of the most pragmatic and accomplishment oriented signs in the zodiac. Loves academic or business/finances . . . but, there is a whole imaginative and creative side here too! Drawn to Historical Fantasy/Romance, Hard SF, Drama, History, Religious/Spiritual, Vampire.

AquariusAQUARIUS: The most quirky and unpredictable of the signs. The read must be fast pace, full of twists and turns. You don't want to see the end coming! Reads traditionally for knowledge, and non-traditionally for pleasure. New Weird Fiction, Slip Stream, Erotic Romance, SF and Fantasy Thriller.

piscesPISCES: This is the "everything, everywhere, all the time" reader who would probably list all genres known to human kind as a preference. Does love a good Magical Mystery Tour! Faery Tales and Classical Murder Mysteries, Romantic Mystery, Shape-Shifter, SciFi Fantasy, Poetry, genre blenders.

Do any of these ring true for you? I'd love to hear what your favorite genre is, and your sign in the zodiac.

For example, I'm a Gemini and love Urban Fantasy!

Comments are always welcome!

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 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, March 14, 2015

Urban Fantasy: Modern Day Faery Tales Drawn From Fantasy and Folklore

As an author with an all-too-vivid imagination, I've never had a whole lot of trouble with “suspension of disbelief”. Ghosts, near-death experiences, haunted houses - anything that frightens or intrigues me is very likely to end up in one of my books.

I write Urban Fantasy, which is basically fiction that’s set in the real world, yet contains aspects of the supernatural or fantastic. Urban Fantasy was first defined as an acknowledged sub-genre in the late 1980’s and early ‘90s, but in my opinion, “Urban Fantasy” has always been around, from the earliest days when spooky stories were first told around warm fires on cold nights. Ancient gods and goddesses, elves, witches, faeries and werewolves. Dragons, trolls, giants. By the standards of the era (whether it be Classical, the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, the Victorian, etc.) any of these stories could be considered Urban Fantasy, for they all involved a mixture of the real and the fantastic. Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Robert Lewis Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde – these are all fictional tales that were based in the real world, yet include elements of the supernatural.

In Urban Fantasy, the supernatural elements are limited only by the author’s imagination, but certain themes, however, remain constant. These “literary tropes” are at the heart of every good fantasy novel, whether it’s Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi Fantasy (Star Wars, Star Trek), Historical Fantasy (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones), or Young Adult Fantasy (Harry Potter).

1) First comes the over-arching theme of Good vs. Evil. The stakes can be as high as the fate of the world, or as simple as saving the life of one individual, but there is always a goal that serves the greater good. Whether the protagonist is a supernatural bounty-hunter who keeps demons from taking over the world, or a single mom who finds out her neighbor is a vampire, moral dilemmas—and the consequences of them—are a mainstay of Urban Fantasy.

2) Second is the journey of the self – protagonists often start out ill-equipped, or even unwilling, to deal with the situations they find themselves in, but through character development (which the author shows by their ongoing actions and insights), find within themselves the strength to meet ever-increasing challenges.

3) Third is A Major Secret – one that puts the protagonist outside the realm of “normal”, but forces them to behave as though they were just like you and me. By placing the protagonist in an urban, “everyday” setting, the author creates a sense of kinship with the reader, fostering the much-needed suspension of disbelief.

If literary history is any judge, we, as humans,are drawn to the unexplained, the fantastic, the out-of-ordinary. I, for one, am proud to continue the storytelling tradition that began around those long ago fires. I am a writer, yes, but first and foremost, I am a storyteller, and I write Urban Fantasy.

Terri Garey is a Supernatural Underground author who writes award-winning and critically-acclaimed Urban Fantasy. Even though she's a big scaredy-cat who can't watch horror movies or visit haunted houses, she loves moonlit graveyards, moss-covered headstones and the idea that life goes on even after it's over. Her latest release is WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD, and you can visit her on the web at, or friend her on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What if you don't have time to write?

I'm sure there are writers out there who have plenty of time to write. Their houses never get dirty, their dogs don't need baths, their children don't need help with their homework and their husbands/wives don't expect dinner. On top of that, these lovely writers look amazing all the time. They don't gain weight from too many hours spent in front of a computer and they never have problems paying their bills, because everything they write becomes a best-seller.

These writers, bless their hearts, are myths.

If you are fortunate enough to make a living writing, there's a good chance that you're writing more than fiction and that you have a significant other who helps pay the bills.

The Real World
I currently juggle magazine editorial work with novel writing. Between working as the editor on a variety of publications like Vintage Gardens magazine, American Farmhouse Style magazine, Victorian Homes magazine and Zombies magazine (you knew there had to be something weird and slightly supernatural in that mix, right?), I write fiction.

But, it's not easy to find time to write the stories I love, because at this point in my career, those stories don't pay the bills.

[Cue a heavy sigh here]

Giving Up
I almost gave up on writing because of this. I almost gave up something I love—just because I was only looking at the "end goal," without realizing that the best part of this journey is the journey itself. I love writing even more than I love being published. Once I realized that, I discovered that getting a book published was no longer my end goal.

Writing the absolute best book that I can is my goal. And I want to write as many books as I can in the amount of time I have left on earth.

My New End Goal
But even when I came to this conclusion, I still didn't know how to accomplish my new "end goal." I still had to find time to write when my schedule was full. Like every other person who works full time, I have a spouse who wants to spend time with me, dogs who need to be walked, friends who need to be nurtured, and a house that refuses to stay clean no matter how often I threaten it.

I finally realized I was going to have to steal time from my day if I wanted to write. I was going to have to be super efficient with that stolen time. And I was going to need a community to support me. I would never be able to do this alone. Finding the right community for this endeavor was my first step.

Finding a Community

I found part of my community on Twitter and part of it at a writer's conference. If you want to discover other writers, you have to go where they go. There are all sorts of groups out there, on and on Twitter and Facebook, and I'm sure there are other places to find like minds. NaNoWriMo is another place to meet writers. Once you find a good group, stick with it. These are the people who will support you and cheer you on throughout your career, just as you support them.

Making a Commitment
Once I found a good mix of writers, I discovered we liked to "work together." We did word sprints together, we plotted together, we set goals together. We made each other accountable. And believe it or not, this really helped. You don't have to be best friends with someone to work together and help one another, but you do have to treat each other with respect. You have to care about their goals as much as your own.

Finding Time to Write
So how did all of this help me find time to write? I realized that when I worked within the confines of a community, I was driven to write more, to write faster, and to write better. Sometimes we'd challenge each other to a word sprint on Twitter, sometimes there would be an hour-long sprint mentioned on Facebook, sometimes we'd start a writing sprint through an e-mail prompt. We would give each other a time limit, then come back and state how many words we got. We made ourselves accountable, right there in the midst of social media, in front of God and the world. Maybe nobody was listening but us. It didn't matter. We were listening and we were getting our stories written. Together.

Using this method and having the support of my community, I finished one book and got half way through another, within a few months.

First Draft in Three Months

When I was writing, I would give myself about an hour a day to write. Even on my busiest of work days, I would take an hour for lunch and that was when I would write. When I got back to my computer (for work purposes), I would eat lunch at my desk. Since I worked at home and made my own hours, I could sometimes write for longer than an hour, as long as I got my other work done.

If I followed this method, I could usually finish a first draft of a manuscript within three or four months. This included time for me to get lost and confused, time to throw pages away and to rework the plot. It also allowed me time to fully immerse myself in the story, to the point that it flowed without very much thought. If I was writing almost every day, the story would come alive—it would live and breathe inside me and it would flow onto the page.

I had to be careful not to criticize my first draft. In fact, sometimes what I did during my one-hour writing sprint was just throw down a rather detailed outline of the next scene. Later, if I had more time to write in the evening or on the weekend, I would go back over that draft and discover it held not one scene, but almost ten pages of story material and three scenes.

This is a method that I still use. It doesn't solve all my problems. For instance, I found time to write, but I still haven't found time to edit. I'm working on carving out some weekend blocks of time to do that. It's still hard when I'm in the midst of magazine deadlines to do that, but I know I have to be patient. I don't want to rush the final step in creating a book, so perhaps my editing cycle will have to wait until my work schedule lightens up a bit.

What about you? What tips or techniques have you discovered along the way that have you become a better writer? Do you have trouble finding time to write? Let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear from you!


Merrie Destefano is the author of Afterlife, Feast and Fathom and you can learn more about her work by visiting her website,

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Writing in 2015: Some Old and Some New

2014 was not the productive year that I had hoped it would be.  My husband and I completed a big move from Wisconsin to South Florida, we learned a new place to call home, made new friends, and I navigated my way through a new day job.  Of course, through all of that I was writing.  And writing. And writing.

However, I truly finished only one project in 2014 under the name of Jocelynn Drake -- that was the final Gage book of the Asylum Tales book. It was originally released in three parts: Demon's Fury, Demon's Vow, and Inner Demon.  However, my publisher is releasing it as a single e-book, Demon's Vengeance, on April 14, and then it will come out as a print book a little bit later.

(As a side note, if you've haven’t had a chance to give the final story a try yet, you can download the first part, Demon’s Fury for FREE as an e-book.  Go to Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo, and iBookstore)

But Demon’s Vengeance wasn't the only thing that I worked on in 2014. I sometimes need a break from all the vampires, warlocks, demons, and other magical things that are running a muck.  So, I dabbled in historical romance under the name of Joy Douglass for the fun of it.  As such, I released a novella titled Stolen Kisses at Midnight and a novel titled What a Lady Treasures.

I also started about a half a dozen different projects as my attention wandered from one thing to another all year long. I've found that when I’m not under contract, I have an extremely tiny attention span.  I want to work on everything at the same time, which means that I’m not really finishing many things.

But 2015 is all about finishing projects.  It’s dabbling in some of the old and playing in some new.
First, we begin with the old…

A series is hard to let go of when you finish it.  That’s not to say you’re not happy to let go and try something totally new.  There’s an excitement that can’t be matched when it comes to creating a new world full of new and crazy possibilities.  You’re meeting new characters and taking on new challenges.  But in an old world, those other characters are close friends, maybe even family.  In some cases, you’ve spent years with them. Letting go is hard.

So when Stefan from the Dark Days series came to last year with a story to be told, it was really hard to say no.  I’d never really considered Stefan one of my favorite nightwalkers – he was always a pain in the butt, greedy for more power.  But things changed when he met Erin.  So, I am happy to report that in January, I finished a draft of Stefan’s story and I am currently trying to find a home for the book so I can share it with readers. (And yes, Danaus and Mira make an appearance in the Stefan’s book.)

Sticking with the Dark Days series, I am now working on a new book for Nicolai. The werewolf from the series needs his own happy ending.  I never felt like he got what he deserved in the series and I want to fix that.  My goal is to finish his book by the start of summer.  If I do one more Dark Days spin-off book, my hope is to complete Valerio’s story.

Shifting gears to the Asylum Tales, I've gotten a lot of questions from readers about whether there will be more books, because Gage’s ending kind of left you hanging just a little big. While I’ll admit that I haven’t put pen to paper yet on it, I am thinking about one last book that will take place about 20 years after the ending of Demon’s Vengeance.  It will also come from a completely different point of view, but it will answer the major questions that is tearing at readers.  I’ll keep you posted as to what is happening on that front.

Now, onto the new…

I love to flex my writing muscle and the easiest way to learn and grow as a writer is to tackle new genres.  Each genre has its own set of rules and expectations.  Sure it’s great to break those rules and push the boundaries of those expectations, but you can’t do that without understanding what the rules are and why they are there in the first place.

For myself, I am heading in two different directions.

One is contemporary romance.  The super sexy kind.  I’ve got this friend who is a very bad influence.  And by bad influence, I mean a fun, cool influence, who has convinced me to read a wide variety of books that I’ve never tried before.  Luckily, she has some good taste.  These awesome books have spurred me to try some new storylines and plots and relationship dynamics that I’ve never attempted before and I’m having so much fun.  The end result is that I finished a new book in February that I am currently trying to find a home for.  Fingers crossed.  If this book is sold and well received, I might try my hand at some more.

The other genre I have decided to try my hand at is fantasy.  In truth, the first long, heavily plotted original book I ever wrote was a fantasy novel. But then I started writing other things like vampires and such and I got away from fantasy.  Well, pure fantasy.  But then I made these new friends who are also bad influences.  And by bad influences I mean the kind of friends who have convinced me to play Dungeons and Dragons on Sundays.

And playing D&D has introduced me to my sweet Nanni. Nanni is a gnome bard with a playful, adventurous personality that I fell in love with instantly.  Nanni has led me down a rabbit hole of adventure and chaos and heavy writing that just soaks into my soul.  So… I have decided to co-write a fantasy novel with my husband.  And we are nowhere near done.  But maybe we’ll have a rough draft close to completion about this time next year.

2015 hold a little bit of old and a little bit of new for myself and, with any luck, readers. The important lesson I've learned is that you should always listen to your friends, even if they happen to be a “bad influence.”  Sometimes they have really good ideas.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Black Ships by Jo Graham - A Review

I absolutely adore a good historical novel - the older the time period, the better.  Throw in some mythos, weave in some legends, and I am in heaven, which is pretty close to how I felt while reading Black Ships, by Jo Graham.

Black Ships is the Bronze Age story of Gull, a young slave girl who, having been lamed in an accident, is given as an acolyte to the temple of the Lady of the Dead. Her ability to see the future earns her a place as an oracle to her people, and when nine black ships appear, captained by Aeneas, a prince from the fallen city of Troy, she follows her destiny, aiding him in his journey to find the rest of their scattered tribe, and establish not only a new city, but a whole new era.

Based on Virgil's Aenead, the story is a deft blend of fact and fiction, taking the reader on a glorious Mediterranean voyage through the islands and harbors of ancient Greece, into the shadowy temples of Byblos, the watery world of Atlantis, and down the Nile into the mysterious land of Egypt.  I was completely caught up in Gull's journey, very happy to find such a beautifully crafted story set in an age of heroes, and pleasantly surprised by the author's take on what we already know of history.  I've already moved on to reading Graham's next novel, The Hand of Isis, which I'm sure will not disappoint.  5 Stars

Terri Garey is a Supernatural Underground author who writes award-winning and critically-acclaimed urban fantasy. Even though she's a big scaredy-cat who can't watch horror movies or visit haunted houses, she loves moonlit graveyards, moss-covered headstones and the idea that life goes on even after it's over. Her latest release is WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD, and you can visit her on the web at, or friend her on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How I do it: Equal parts Passion, Truth, Love, and Coffee

Year of Living Authentically #2: How I do it, a quick and dirty delve into the mind of one writer and what makes her tick.

This month I thought I would talk about the question I get most often from mothers: How do you do it? How do you write and have a job and be a mom and still manage to have time for a marriage? 

I didn't have a real answer until recently. I'd joke about my blood stream being equal parts coffee and white wine, but that's just me not wanting to really figure it out, to find out the truth about what makes me tick. 

I was filling out a marriage personality test with my husband when I finally realized HOW I do everything that I do. The scores of the test suggested that I have unnatural combinations of personality traits or that I was double-masked and so distorted by my life choices I didn't know who I was. According to the world, I'm crazy. 

But the truth is: I'm an artist, and an educator, and mother, and a wife. I am The Breakfast Club personified. And here is how my brain works. 

I have a full-time job- I coordinated several student programs at a major university. It is stressful and unpredictable, and I am REALLY good at talking to people, listening to what they need, and helping them. So it increases my confidence. 

I take that confidence and I teach creative writing to adults who have stories brewing in their souls and I get to help them percolate it and I LOVE the light they get in their eyes when it clicks and their story is now out in the world connecting to others. So that increases my passion for storytelling.  

And I take that passion and I write as much as I can because writing is breathing. I have things to say and questions to ask, and pain to experience, and joy to create. I want to know the depth and breadth of love and life, so I write to explore my truth. 

And I take that truth and I express it to my daughter in any way that I can. I know when I smile at her it is out of true happiness, and when I laugh, it is real laughter. When I am with my family, I am with them 100% because I am not longing to be anywhere else but with them. Because I know the work will get done, and the chapter will get written, and it will all still be there tomorrow and who can worry about anything when a block tower must be built. 

There is my circle of life (que Lion King Theme). 

Does it get out of whack: Oh yeah. But now its easier to figure out which wheel needs to be greased. If I'm working too much, I feel it in my QT with the Bean. If I haven't written in a while, I can't concentrate on work. If i don't teach, I end up lecture my husband on Calls to Adventure. 

Does it mean I get less sleep: Oh yeah. But I am happy with my choice. My wheels are greased with coffee and white wine. I'm not denying that. Coffee is the flavor of my soul. But what fuels me is passion, and being true to myself, and family time.

So take that personality test who thinks I don't know who I am- I do. All four of me. 

Authenticity test #2: What fuels your passion? What makes you stay up late at night? When was the last time you treated yourself to it? Don't you think its about time?

Until next time YOLA!!!

Amanda Arista


Sunday, March 1, 2015

The "Immortalization In Fiction" Contest -- We Have A Result! Plus More Getting Fictional!

Victory Beach from "Bird of Passage"
w00t! Over the past two months I've featured a short story, Bird of Passage -- together with an opportunity for commenters to see their name immortalized in fiction.

That is, the winner's name will be used for a character in a future short story to be featured here on the Supernatural Underground during 2015 --because this, as discussed on my own blog today, is my Year Of Living Fictionally!

Because we experienced technical difficulties (for a while, they're all fixed now) with comments here on the Supernatural Underground, last month I also allowed eligible comments to be left on the link post on my own blog. But now, drawing on comments left here, on my January and February posts, as well as on the link post, today we have a result (drawn randomly via

Drum Roll! The commenter whose name will be awarded to a fictional character in a short story featured here (or on my own blog if preferred) is:

Pegasus 358 / Beth

Congratulations, Beth. I am looking forward to seeing your name in print!

(I should have your email via your comment, but if not, email me on contact[at]helenlowe[dot]info to discuss "where to from here.")


More On Getting Fictional

Although the number of comments suggest a certain degree of shyness regarding living fictionally yourselves :-), I've  been really pleased to see how many of you have taken the time to read Bird of Passage over the past two months.

You might also enjoy:

Cold Cass (flash fiction)

The Spit (realism)

The Brother King (legendary history)

Red Earth (eco-SF/future dystopia)

And for those who're fans of the Wall Of Night series, I posted a wee snippet from the edited manuscript last Thursday:

Another Sneak Preview For “Daughter Of Blood, The Wall Of Night Book Three”


Supernatural Underground regular, Helen Lowe, is a novelist, poet and interviewer whose work has been published, broadcast and anthologized in internationally. Her first novel, Thornspell, was published to critical praise in 2008, and her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Helen posts regularly on her Helen Lowe on Anything, Really blog, occasionally on SF Signal, and is also active on Twitter: @helenl0we