Monday, March 27, 2017

"Daughter Of Blood" -- Meet the Characters!

US cover
A few weeks back I shared right here that Daughter of Blood (The Wall Of Night Book Three) has been longlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award for Best Fantasy Novel — which is very exciting news.

It's been awesome, too, to have such wonderful Supernatural Underground support as the voting is on for the shortlist. What a great community the authors and readers here are!

I'm sure you all agree that one of the most important things that "makes" a book is the characters. So with Daughter of Blood getting the Legend Award longlist nod, if you havena already stepped between the covers to meet the characters I thought you might enjoy an opportunity for the main characters to step out and meet you.

So without further ado, please meet some key players from Daughter of Blood:

UK cover
Malian, the Heir of the warrior House of Night:

'[The facestealer] drew the axe and swung in one swift, fluid movement. If Malian had not been expecting an attack, the blade would have split her skull. Yet even as he moved, her mind was burrowing into the wooden handle, splintering it to shards as the weapon cleaved the air. A voice screamed as her opponent cursed and snatched at his sword, which Malian’s power told her was warded against magic. She threw the dagger from her wrist sheath, and the facestealer’s smile was contemptuous as he deflected it with the sword. He was fast, she gave him that, but so was she, and his contempt slipped as she drew the frost-fire sword before he could counter-strike. The blades clashed together—and his sheared off below the hilt.'

Kalan, Malian's closest friend and ally

'Outside, the
Halcyon’s gangway thudded down onto the Grayharbor dock and someone came up it, whistling. Time to move, Kalan thought—but he still took care over his armor, paying attention to every buckle and binding. In Emer, a knight learned how to arm himself, but it felt odd to be so doing without any of the comrades he had lived and fought alongside for the past five years. Kalan slid the longsword and scabbard with the hydra device onto his belt and buckled it on, realizing that it was almost the first time since he had fled the Keep of Winds with Malian—six years ago now—that he could recall being alone. Yet the most disconcerting step was donning the crimson cuirass of Blood, the House that had expelled him as soon as his old powers manifested at seven years of age.

“What are you, boy? Who? …None of our family ever had such powers!” Kalan heard his father’s voice again, from that long ago day when he had been banished from family, Hold, and House. “You are no more son of mine.” '

Myr, also known as the Lady Mouse (and the Daughter of Blood of the title)

'Noise broke over Myr like a physical wave as she approached the arena known as the Field of Blood. She stopped, almost reeling from its force, while the curtains to the Earl's box stirred before her. Her brother's retinue and Blood’s guests would be waiting on the other side—and from the roar of sound, every tier that ringed the great amphitheater must be full. Myr took a deep breath, summoning resolve, while her attendants whispered and the guards stood like statues, blank faced. A Daughter of Blood must not show fear, Myr told herself...'

Faro, a Grayharbor street kid

' “You will take us there,” the stranger said.

Not for nothing, I won’t, Faro thought. The nearer of the other two strangers turned as though overhearing his thought and held up a copper coin between black-gloved fingers. Faro hesitated, aware of the sharpness within his stomach and that an Ijiri penny would buy him both a meat pie and an unblemished apple at the market. “Well?” the first man demanded, and Faro nodded reluctantly, snatching the coin out of the air when the second stranger flipped it to him...Once they set out, the cobbles still dark with rain, the two strangers walked to either side of him, with their companion in the moving hood immediately behind. Silently, Faro cursed himself for having given in to the coin’s temptation.'

Asantir, the Commander of Night

'Shortly afterward, as the warrior flowed seamlessly from one form into another, Myr realized she was seeing a variant of the Derai-dan. Patterns at ground level spun into airborne, acrobatic leaps, and she barely breathed as the blades continued to inscribe their flawless, fatal parabolas around the warrior at the heart of the gyre. This is the true Derai-dan, she thought: not the flashes of it we’ve seen in the arena, or the fragments incorporated into Blood's drills. ... Below them, the flow of the Derai-dan slowed and then ceased altogether. Myr held her breath and waited: for someone to move or strike a brighter light, or for the warrior's face to lift and turn so she could put a name to it...

 "Commander of Night." Parannis was almost purring with satisfaction. "I hoped I would find you here." 

"Lord Parannis." Asantir remained poised between darkness and shadow, her voice impossible to interpret. '

Raven (whom reader Kristen Blount describes as an "international man of mystery") 

'An owl called again from almost overhead and the second bird answered, a mournful echo from the wood. Emuun’s wolf smile thinned as he studied Malian. “Yes, whatever you are may be too dangerous to take chances with. I should just kill you and have done.”

“Perceptive.” Raven detached himself from the gap where the roan was tethered. He had resumed the hedge knight’s amulets and shabby armor, and his visor was raised as he halted a few paces clear of Malian. “But as for the rest…Not this time, Emuun.”

Emuun was staring, the last remnant of his wolf’s smile wiped away. “It’s not possible,” he said slowly, as though struggling to accept the evidence of his senses. “You’re dead. You all died in the void.”

“Yet here I am.” Raven was ironic. “You broke your own rule, Emuun. Didn’t you always say that you only accepted a death when you saw the body?” '

Tirael, an Envoy of the House of Stars  

'The envoy turned out to be not only one of his House’s ruling kin, but the Countess of Stars’ second child. His silk and jewels, as well as the silver-chased armor of his company, thirty in number, made the dress uniforms of Adamant’s warrior-priests look drab. “Popinjays,” a sentry muttered.

Her watch partner rolled his eyes. “How much’d you bet against every one of them having a name longer than my arm?” 

The first sentry shook her head, because the envoy might have introduced himself as Tirael, but any Son of Stars’ full name would have at least five syllables. “Too long for everyday use,” Tirael had said, smiling as he dismounted with a swirl of his blue-black cloak.'

Although not all the characters, these are most of the story's key players. I hope you've enjoyed meeting them here on Supernatural Underground.

So You Want To Vote For the Award?

If you want to vote for the Gemmell Awards shortlist, voting is still open until Friday 31 (UK time.) Just follow the following link to get to the voting page:

Gemmell Award Voting Page

Then: Scroll down the list of titles until you reach the book you wish to vote for: for example, “Daughter of Blood by Helen Lowe") and click in the circle to the left of the title;

To complete, go to the end of the list of titles and click “Vote.”

You can also vote for the Morningstar Award for Best Fantasy Newcomer and the Ravenheart Award for Best Cover Art (Daughter Of Blood's UK cover is in the running for that, as well!)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Building Fantasy Worlds

Image by Surreal Artist Jacek Yerka
Hi Everyone,

I chatted with the Sup authors last week about how they created their worlds. So revealing! Here's what they had to say:

"The idea of a dark or twilit world was inspired initially by the swift nightfalls of Singapore, when I lived there as a child." Helen Lowe

"I always try to weave as much fact into my fiction as I can ..." Rachel A. Marks

"I didn't have to build from scratch, just point out what was different about Para-Dallas." - Amanda Arista

"I like to explore how environment shapes my characters, politics, beliefs, and then I let my imagination go wild." Kim Falconer

And then, there's George R. R. Martin -  [who] "... enjoys being surprised by his own work. He thinks of himself as a “gardener”—he has a rough idea of where he’s going but improvises along the way. He sometimes fleshes out only as much of his imaginary world as he needs to make a workable setting for the story.

Tolkien was what Martin calls an “architect.” Tolkien created entire languages, mythologies, and histories for Middle-earth long before he wrote the novels set there. Martin told me that many of his fans assume that he is as meticulous a world-builder as Tolkien was.

They write to say, ‘I’m fascinated by the languages. I would like to do a study of High Valyrian'—an ancient tongue. ‘Could you send me a glossary and a dictionary and the syntax?’

I have to write back and say, ‘I’ve invented seven words of High Valyrian.''” —Laura Miller, in The New Yorker

Why is world-building so important? 

The environment our heroes and villains live in is a major character of every book. It may be silent, behinds the scenes, shaping outcomes without the reader noticing, but it must exist or there's nowhere to for the story to unfold. And it must become real.

Some authors say that readers will believe in anything as long as it’s plausible, but I think Orson Welles proved that wrong when he read The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells, over the radio, causing mass panic. No, Martians weren't landing.

Fantasy readers don’t expect a world to adhere to Natural Law, but they do want it to adhere to its own laws. Ursula Le Guin reinforces this saying inner coherence, not plausibility, holds the reader enthralled

So let's look at how some of the Sup authors build worlds, and make them plausible, to us.

The Dark Cycle Series

Rachel A. Marks - The Dark Cycle Series

"When thinking about how to begin building my story world, I always try to weave as much fact into my fiction as I can. In my mind, this creates a more vivid reality for my characters to populate. The best part of imagining Aidan's world when writing DARKNESS BRUTAL was being able to take the gritty reality of LA where I've grown up, play it up by overlaying urban legends I've been hearing since I was a kid, and then enrich the rules with supernatural mythos. And then make sure that the only one who can see this invisible world of demons, angels, and ghosts, is the main character, Aidan. So, part of the conflict the main character has in his journey is also a conflict in the world itself. 

"Seventeen-year-old Aidan can see demons, smell emotions, and feel the past in his skin, but will it be enough to save his little sister from the deal his mom made with a powerful demon all those years ago? "
The Wall of Night Series

Helen Lowe - The Wall of Night Series

"The Wall of Night world was with me for many years and the idea of a dark or twilit world was inspired initially by the swift nightfalls of Singapore, when I lived there as a child, then developed further when I spent a winter in Sweden with its "endless nights". 

The Norse myths with the "twilight of the gods" was also a considerable influence on the development of the world. As the story and the world expanded away from the Wall of Night to the Southern Realms of Haarth, influences from other landscapes played their part, from the khlongs of Bangkok influencing the River City of Ij, to the Nelson region of New Zealand shaping the physical character of the Duchy of Emer."

"The Wall of Night: fortresses of shadow and decay and an ancient war reigniting in a world where everyone could be an enemy and no-one is what they seem. Lost powers, undiscovered secrets, and a society divided by prejudice, suspicion, and fear -- and Malian, heir to the warrior House of Night and a promise that has endured down centuries: that she will not stand alone." - Good Reads: Daughter of Blood

Diaries of an Urban Panther

Amanda Arista - Urban Panther Series

"I live in Dallas and not too many books I had read captured the true urbanite quality of the city. It’s got everything that NY and Vegas with more cars and less smog. Drive 10 minutes and be in a vibrant down town or drive 30 minutes and be out in open land with cows. So I started there with my world-building, and just smoothed a layer of paranormal over the top of that. 

I was looking at the normal weird stuff and explaining it with paranormal things, like graffiti is actually protection spells and sounds in a dark alley that are actually were-creatures. I didn't have to build from scratch, just point out what was different about Para-Dallas. So my main character Violet could ease into the magical along with the reader. She still got her coffee, I still got to write about magic and things that blow up."

When Violet Jordan becomes a midnight snack for a werepanther, his infectious bite invokes the first element of her destiny to become the leader of the Dallas Wanderers. But if push comes to claws, can Violet make a fatal strike against the men threatening her new family, her new home and her first boyfriend in ages?

The Ava Sykes Novel Series

Kim Falconer - The Ava Sykes Novel Series

"The Aftermath. What a mess. The initial repair efforts deserved a medal. Having relief funding in the trillions helped. Who couldn’t make things as good as new, with that kind of backing? But fifteen years later and the funding isn’t so generous. It dried up completely in Anaheim, for example. There’s nothing there anymore but capped fracking wells and an abandoned amusement park. Kinda sad. I’d heard Disney Land was amazing, back in the day. Earthquakes will do that to a place, if earthquake it really was. There were all kinds of conspiracy theories, and then, there's the sea . . ."

"Undergraduate by day, bouncer by night, Ava Sykes works hard to build her life in New LA, a city experiencing the Aftermath of a seismic disaster. Her prospects improve until she stumbles upon an evil no sane person would want to confront. Suddenly, her life, her city and everyone she cares about is in danger. Pushed to the edge, Ava taps a power she never knew she had . . . and uses it."

What are some of your favorite worlds in books, or films? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel. Find this novel in a store near you.

You can also learn more about Kim at, the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter.  Or on

She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month and runs Save the Day Writer's Community on Facebook. Check out her daily Astro-LOA Flash horoscopes on Facebook

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Favorite Romantic Quotes

UF vs. PNR
Hi Everyone,

Ever wonder what makes one romantic scene work and another fail?

There are guidelines for writing great romantic dialog, no matter what the genre. They include evoking strong emotions other than love, setting a unique background, keeping characters true to themselves, not going 'purple' with excessively flowery prose, and most importantly, the writing romance that isn't gratuitous but propels the story forward.

Even with all that, you still need great lines.

I've made a list of some of my favourite. Which light you up? Turn you off?

Memorable Romantic Moments

Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears. "After all this time?"
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

He drew me into his arms. It was like the pull of the sea. Kind. Irresistible. Swimming …
― Tanith Lee, The Silver Metal Lover

Her pragmatic preternatural self assessed the situation and realized that she could definitely learn to love the taste of him …
―  Gail Carriger, Souless

“So you do believe in... true love?" she whispered.
I took a deep breath, "I think I have to," I said, blinking back tears. "Without it, we're all going nowhere.”
― Juliet Marillier, Wildwood Dancing

He gave me that lazy smile that had always had the power to make my heart beat faster. I was dismayed to see that it still worked.”
― Patricia Briggs, Moon Called

“I lean forward so my mouth is inches away from the perfect shell of his ear. The smell of him – freshly cut grass and mint – is addictive. …I pull back. Otherwise I won’t be able to stop myself from kissing his neck. I don’t know what’s wrong with me …
― Lauren Oliver, Before I Fall

“You make me want things I can't have.”
― Kendare Blake, Anna Dressed in Blood

Eric & Sookie Fancy in Black by JamieRose89
“Eric was holding my hands, and I was digging my nails into him like we were doing something else. He won't mind, I though, as I realized I'd drawn blood. And sure enough, he didn't. "Let go," he advised me, and I loosened my grip on his hands. "No, not of me," he said smiling. "You can hold on to me as long as you want.”
― Charlaine Harris, Club Dead

“I stood on my toes and stole a soft kiss from his lips. "Surprise attack," I said.
Sam leaned down and kissed me back, his mouth lingering on mine, teeth grazing my lower lip, making me shiver. "Surprise attack back."
"Sneaky," I said, my voice breathier than I intended.”
― Maggie Stiefvater, Shiver

“I’m watching her talk. Watching her jaw move and collecting her words one by one as they spill from her lips. I don’t deserve them. Her warm memories. I’d like to paint them over the bare plaster walls of my soul, but everything I paint seems to peel.”
—Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies

“Do you think I’ll ever get better at this? That my heart might someday stop trying to jump out of my chest whenever you touch me?” Stephenie Meyers – Twilight

“Sleep,” he says. “I'll fight the bad dreams off if they come to get you.”
“With what?”
“My bare hands, obviously.”
― Veronica Roth, Insurgent 

She hugged me a full five seconds longer than my intimacy issues could stand and whispered in my ear. ‘Love you.’
Love you, too. I did, without a doubt, but I couldn’t get the sounds out of my throat for her to hear, so they stayed in my head.
― Kim Falconer, The Blood in the Beginning

"I came back to find you," Akiva said. "I don't know why. Karou. Karou. I don't know why… Just to find you and be in the world that you're in..."
—Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone

"I know you write poetry and I know about the raven on your necklace and I know you love orange soda and your grandma and Milk Duds mixed into your popcorn." For a second, I thought she might smile.
"That's hardly anything," [she said].
"It's a start."
— Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl - Beautiful Creatures

“…I tried not to look in his eyes, at the person deep inside who had revealed so much of himself to me, the person I had fallen in love with when I wasn’t paying attention ... Deeply. Madly. And it was making it hard to breathe.”
— Merrie Destefano, Lost Girls

"Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while."
—William Goldman, Princess Bride

“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
—John Green, The Fault is in our Stars

What are some of your favorite romantic scenes in books, or films? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel. Find this novel in a store near you.

You can also learn more about Kim at, the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter.  Or on

She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month and runs Save the Day Writer's Community on Facebook. Check out her daily Astro-LOA Flash horoscopes on Facebook

Sunday, March 12, 2017

"Daughter Of Blood" Is Longlisted For The Gemmell Legend Award -- & the Voting Is On!

I'm thrilled to share with you all that Daughter of Blood (The Wall Of Night, Book Three) has been longlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award for Best Fantasy Novel!

Not only are the Gemmell Awards international in scope but it is wonderful to be on a list with so many other fabulous author of epic and/or heroic fantasy. The crown of good company, indeed. :)

And because the Gemmell Awards are decided by public vote, the voting is now open -- and on! -- to decide the shortlist.

So if you would like to support a Supernatural Underground author and book on an international stage, you can vote by:

1. Clicking on the following link to the award voting page:

Gemmell Award Voting Page

2. See the heading “Vote for your favorite Legend award nominee (2017 longlist)” and:

i) scroll down the list of titles until you reach the book you wish to vote for: for example, “Daughter of Blood by Helen Lowe"); & then
ii)  click in the circle to the left of the title.

3. Finally, scroll to the end of the list of titles and click “Vote.”

And it's done! 

You can also vote for the Morningstar Award for Best Fantasy Newcomer and the Ravenheart Award for Best Cover Art (Daughter Of Blood's UK cover is in the running for that, as well!)


 A Little More About Daughter Of Blood:

Daughter of Blood was one of Fantasy Literature's Best Books of 2016 -- and here's what a few more readers & reviewers have had to say:

 "...a heady imaginative tale full of Lowe's haunting prose and bold characters, that builds to a startling climax that will leave readers anxious for more." ~ Romantic Times

"Helen Lowe's Daughter of Blood may well be the best ... epic fantasy novel of the year." ~ Rising Shadow

"...[a] transcendent series." ~ Fresh Fiction

"Daughter of Blood remains my favourite and best book read last year...It's the best fantasy, actually best book of any genre, that I've read in a long time." ~ UK reader, via webmail

"My favorite epic fantasy of last year." ~ US reader, via webmail

 Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, interviewer and blogger whose first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. 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. Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night, Book Three) was published this year. Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we

Friday, March 3, 2017

"If the apocalypse comes, beep me."

The Things I Carry with me: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Twenty years ago, on March 10th, 1997,  a little show about a girl chosen to fight vampires aired on
TV.  I was in high school at the time and already a fan of the movie that had proceeded it, so I was game for the show.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer became my weekly fix through high school and college. My roommates always thought it was strange that I programed my VCR to record it (wow, dating myself there).

Joss Whedon, creative genius behind Buffy and a million other awesome things, has been quoted as saying that Buffy was meant to be a cross between My So-Called Life and The X-Files. It was meant to be a monster-of-the-week format where the Scoobies would figure out what was attacking their high school/college.

That is the first thing that I carry with me even today as I write and as I absorb storytelling how-to's. Monsters on the outside should be suited to the monsters we have on the inside. Only when you defeat the monster inside can you defeat the monster outside. When Xander was feeling down about being single, up popped a monster who wanted to give boys the Kiss of Death. When the Scoobies found dissonance among them, a monster would pop up who was literally a combination of other monsters, then they would have to come together to fight. I carry this notion with me in everything I write- make the outside mirror the inside.

The other thing that Buffy showed me and I really carry with me is that every one needs to have their own voice. Buffy was the voice of our generation, because she was the VOICE of our generation. She had a lingo that wasn't like all the other things on TV.  I read somewhere once that Whedon and his crew would write the script and then process the lines through a Buffy-filter or a Willow-filter to make sure that the lines sounded like they belonged to the characters. It was a step that the show took that other people didn't take to make their characters sound like teenagers.

Listen to Buffy for years not only changed the way I talked, but that I also carry with me when I write.
Do I know enough about my character to inform how they would speak and describe things? Have I done enough character development that I know exactly what their catch phrase would be? Voice has become my own little soap box and I have Buffy to thank for that.

There are a million other ways that Buffy has shaped my creative side, but character-defined Monsters and Voice are the two that I seem to unpack from my knapsack more often than naught when I am ready to write about things that go bump in the night.

Until next time.

Amanda Arista
Author, Diaries of an Urban Panther

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: A STAR TO STEER HER BY by Beth Anne Miller

Today I'm delighted to welcome Beth Anne Miller to the Supernatural Underground to share the very exciting cover debut for her new novel, the New Adult title, A Star To Steer Her By, which releases on March 20th.

And there's a giveaway as well, for extra fun — but wow, look at this cover!

About A Star To Steer Her By:

I’m scarred. Broken. I’ll never be the same.
But I will take this journey.

Ever since my last dive ended in bloodshed, I’ve been terrified to go back into the water. But the opportunity to spend a semester at sea is too good to pass up. I need to get my life back.

I never expected to love it this much. And I never expected Tristan MacDougall.

Rugged, strong, and with demons of his own, Tristan helps me find the courage I thought I had lost and heals me with every stolen moment we share. But the rules of the ship mean we can't be together.

When a dive excursion goes terribly wrong, our only hope for survival is each other.

Love the sound of it already? You can add it to Good Reads:
Or Preorder: Amazon

But you're Supernatural Undergrounders, so I know you'll want to know moar about Beth Anne, too.

Beth Anne Miller
About Beth Anne Miller:

Beth Anne Miller’s first book, written in elementary school, was bound in pink fabric and was about—what else?—a girl and her horse. She soon began cheating on horses with the sea, becoming an open water scuba diver at age 14. That love of the sea led her to a college semester aboard a schooner. She returned with fond memories of the exhilaration of being on a ship under full sail, less fond memories of hurling over the leeward rail on a daily basis, and a sailing bug she couldn’t quite shake.

In addition to horses and the sea, she has a fascination for all things Scottish (including, but not limited to, men in kilts), which she explored with her first novel, INTO THE SCOTTISH MIST (The Wild Rose Press, 2011), and carried into her new novel, A STAR TO STEER HER BY (Entangled Embrace, March 2017). A native New Yorker, Beth Anne works in the publishing industry and is always looking ahead to her next voyage, whether a short one on a dive boat or whale watch, or, with luck, a longer one on a tall ship.

Connect with Beth Anne Miller:
Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Make sure you sign up for Beth Anne's newsletter & get the 1st sneak-peak at A Star To Steer Her By!

And I did promise you some GIVEAWAY fun!