Thursday, July 29, 2010

Explaining the unreal

Thanks to everyone who commented. The winner of a signed copy of Song of Scarabaeus is Barbara E! Barbara, please contact me at with your postal address.

As writers and readers, how do we define the difference between the science fiction and paranormal genres? Both are “unreal” (in that they are fictional) and “speculative” (in that they extrapolate from existing ideas). The paranormal by definition breaks the laws of physics, but science fiction often does too (warp speed, anyone?).

I think the difference comes in what each genre needs to explain. For example, classic vampires can’t be exposed to sunlight without terrible consequences. Readers of paranormal fiction know this fact about vampires. If the writer chooses to contradict the convention by having her vampires run around the sunny beaches of Santa Barbara, readers expect a (paranormal) explanation: that old sunlight thing is a myth, the vampire has a magic ring, or this is a tribe of new improved vampires.

On the other hand, readers of science fiction base their expectations on the natural world. If a certain creature explodes into flames in sunlight, which contradicts what we know about the natural world, the writer needs to provide a (natural) explanation: the “vampire” has a medical condition such as a total lack of melanin, or, more exotically, the vamp’s unstable atoms are prone to decay when exposed to photons of a particular wavelength.

As readers we bring a stack of wonderful knowledge with us, drawn from mythology and the real world, saving the writer from having to describe and explain everything. But when a story contradicts that knowledge, often for interesting reasons of course, we want to know why!

In the paranormal stories you’ve enjoyed, did the writer deviate from standard mythology or stick with the tried and true? Could the vampires cross running water? Did the ghosts fall through the floor? Did the werewolves eat off silverware? As for science fiction, how convinced were you by the scientific explanations for events that seemed to contradict the laws of physics? Post your thoughts and I'll enter you into a draw to win a signed copy of my debut novel, Song of Scarabaeus. Contest ends Sunday 1st August at midnight and the winner will be listed at the top of this post.

- Sara Creasy

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Paranormal? Let's get real

The giveaway is over! The winner is JUDY. Please contact me at dakota @ to claim your prize of a signed copy of Sacrifice, a bookmark, and a pen.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful comments! - Dakota

I attended ThrillerFest, a great conference in NYC, earlier this month. I kinda have to, because I'm a board member of International Thriller Writers, the group that puts it on (shameless plug for ITW!). At the Awards Banquet, I was at a table of other board members and after a couple of glasses of wine the subject turned to the paranormal. Not the kind I write about, but the real stuff like ghosts, prescience, and remote viewing. The guy two seats over asked me if I was a believer. I was pinned. Even though the table was round, I was backed into a corner. I came up with this lame answer: "I'm not a disbeliever."

Can you imagine? A wimpy double negative in austere company? Fortunately, he was ahead of me in glasses of wine and nodded at my answer. Then he launched into a rambling story of a haunted house in England. He was an enthusiastic believer. Sandwiched between the two of us was an author who said, "There's certainly things we don't have explanations for," proving that wine causes authors to turn into grammar dummies. Still, I wish I'd thought of his answer.

 I've hesitated to say what I feel about paranormal events because I didn't want to be tossed into the group wearing aluminum hats so the aliens can't read their thoughts. But this seems like a perfect spot for a chat. Let me set the scene. We're in a snug cabin in the woods, a fresh snowfall outside. it's the middle of the night, and we're sitting around a crackling fire. I'm in a chair near the fireplace, a blanket across my lap and a cup of cocoa in my hand (marshmallows, of course). I'm totally relaxed and ready for anything.

 Join me?

 I believe in ghosts and I've seen several. The night my father died, I was forty miles away. I was awakened at night by a soft, familiar voice calling my name. Sitting up, I saw my father in a nearby chair. He didn't have a solid appearance, but it was easy to tell who he was. We talked for a long time, during which he said some things that were new to me. I later found out that my father had died of a heart attack at the time he first appeared to me. When I asked my mother to confirm the things I'd learned, she said they were true and that they were secrets the two of them had kept from us children. This wasn't my first, or my only, direct experience with ghosts. But it was the most meaningful.

Part of my childhood was spent in a remodeled 19th century funeral parlor. There I heard things at night, bumping, rustling of curtains, footsteps traveling across the floor. In the basement of the house, which used to be the embalming room, I saw the same ghost several times, a well-dressed man sitting on the floor in the corner, overcome with grief. When I approached him, he disappeared. I always imagined that he'd accidentally killed someone, and deeply regretted it.

 I'm a cat lover and have had quite a few kitties in my life, and they tend to live long lives, 20 years or more. When one of them dies, our bond doesn't go away immediately. I'll get a glimpse of the cat walking down the hallway, lying curled up in her favorite spot, even feel the cat in my lap. What tips the experiences from a grief reaction to paranormal is that I can pet the cat in my lap, feel her fur, hear her purring, and once had an over the top experience: my tears were licked from my cheeks. Some may say that cats don't have spirits, but you can tell I'm not among them.

How about another cup of cocoa? I'm getting one for myself.

 I've also experienced times when I knew what was going to happen. It's not a controllable thing, so no lottery winnings for me. I'll be driving home and suddenly see a mental image of a deer crossing the road just ahead, usually accompanied by a stab of nausea. I slow down or stop if the road permits, and when I get to the spot, I see the deer's alert white tail disappearing into the woods.Both the deer and I have made it through safely. Most of the time, I don't have any idea how far into the future I'm seeing, though--it could be years. I haven't said anything scary yet, but these experiences are not all benign. I'll talk about only one event. I was in a bathroom stall at a rest stop on Interstate 70. I was about ready to leave when a spray of blood appeared on the door in front of me, then a couple of bloody hand prints, and a pool of blood formed at my feet.

Clutching that cocoa a bit tightly, aren't you?

 I have never written about or revealed any of this before. It was hard to do here, but once I got started the words just poured out of me. I do not wear an aluminum hat. These are my experiences, I swear, and I've left out some.

 I invite you to tell me your paranormal stories. I'll listen and I won't doubt you--how could I? Think I'm nuts? That's okay too! Maybe you'll meet me halfway and come to think, as my dinner companion did, that "There's certainly things we don't have explanations for."

I'm having a giveaway of a signed copy of my new release in the Mortal Path series, Sacrifice, along with a bookmark and pen. The book comes out August 31st, so I won't be able to mail the winner a copy until that time. Just leave a comment. The contest runs until midnight July 31st, and I'll mail internationally. The winner will be listed at the top of this post after the deadline, so if you enter, please come back to check if you've won.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What Would You Do...?

I swear that I had a blog topic in mind that had more to do with things like reading, writing, romance, and other such pertinent readbytes, but then this happened. And I just couldn't write about anything else.

So instead of blogging about my wordcount (currently: 0—but I'm ahead of schedule, and don'tjudgeme) or about my eventual debut novel release (Blood of the Wicked, just in case you were, you know, curious), or about the various ways I like my heroes (much like I like my coffee: stuffed into a sack and slung over the back of a donkey by Juan Valdez). Instead, I'm opening the shutters, beating away the dust bunnies—but not the dustbun, as that would be cruel—and offering you lovely voyeurs a peek into my home.

This is life in the trenches, folks. Real gritty stuff. (Not really, but hey, life can be its own trench, right?)

I dare you to read this, to look at these pictures, and then tell me what you would have done...

Some background.

I hav—ahem, had three cats. From top to bottom, youngest to oldest, we had Lucian (the Princeling), Olivia (Princess Pantaloons), and Kabriel (the Tank).

Let me take a brief detour and describe to you these animals...

Kabriel—easily the largest of the three. Easily larger than two and three put together. The cat weighs about 25 pounds of solid freaking muscle. He's a tomcat all the way (and don't get me started on how adorable he was when he was just a baby ball of white dryer lint).

He's also a scaredy cat. Classic. He's so afraid of life that he spends all day hiding under the bed, and only comes out in the earliest morning to hunker in bed with us, or out in the evening. (At night, he stalks the halls like some predatory beast of prehistoric ages past...)

He's so afraid that when a car door slams out in the parking lot, he growls and flees to the safety of the bed. That's my guard cat.

Olivia—truly the princess of the lot. She's the most catlike of all our cats... well, except for the fact that she plays fetch and stares at the door all day until her man comes home. She's affectionate (when she wants to be) and sweet (when she wants something). Otherwise, hands off, please.

She won't have much to do with me, mind.

Lucian—It's so hard to be a little black cat. This princeling lounges all day, until he's decided that he's had enough and wants attention right bloody now. At which point, he jumps into the nearest lap and hunkers down for an extended stay.

The catch: If one of us is home alone, we're so not worth his time. But the instant someone else comes home, he comes to visit. Apparently, this one needs an audience of at least two to feel appreciated.

Then, we add Juno, our rabbit, and we've a full house. Plenty of furry love to go around, right?


Apparently not.

The mancandy is, shall we say, a bit of a soft touch. He can't turn away critters in need. We rescued Olivia from a horrendous situation, and picked up the two boys from cages at our vets' office. That said, the very last thing I expected when he got home from work yesterday were the following words...

"Don't be mad at me!"

...Followed closely by, "This is Charlotte."

Um... Excuse me?

I turn around, and there's this little white... thing in the mancandy's arms. I call it a thing because, let's face it, when one is dreading the result of looking too closely at a Tiny White Ball of Cute, one hesitates to name things.

Except he already did.

Apparently, this little girl was being dragged through the mall by several unpleasant kids. I'm not sure of the exact details—all I know is that I took one look into those soulful blue eyes (erm, the mancandy's, not hers), and I knew it was too late for me to decide anything.

She'd stolen his heart.

Well, that part of it that hadn't already been neatly claimed by the other four animals.


What else could I do? I became a Field Marshal. A drill sergeant. With the speed of thought that would make any battle commander proud, I marshaled the troops (i.e. his attention), and laid down a battle plan. First, a bath. Then, a trip to the store for some emergency flea medication for all the animals—this little girl was crawling with them.

Then, a house cleaning session.

"But, but..."

The mancandy's pleas for mercy availed him nothing but my laughter and scorn! Ha ha ha ha! There would be no mercy for the weak of heart!

Well, what I actually mean to say is... No rest for the strong of compassion. We owed it to this little girl to give her a good home, a cleaned home, and one free of any fleas she carried in.

Oh, and her name really isn't Charlotte. She doesn't look like a Charlotte, and while we always name our animals after romance book characters, we couldn't agree on a name that suited. Until the mancandy suggested, "Hey. What about Naomi?"

It stuck. She's a Naomi.

So you tell me: could you have looked into these sweet blue eyes, hearing her purr so happily, watch her as she inched across the carpet to rest her chin trustingly in your palm, and made any other decision?

... I'm such a sucker.

Do you have pets? Can you imagine life without them once they've taken over your heart and home? And what do you name them? (Worth pointing out: Xaphod Beeblebrox was jokingly offered as a name, but I was afraid that she'd grow a second head just to spite us if we did...)

Oh, dear. Four cats and a rabbit? I'm her... I'm the Crazy Cat Lady.

Is this where I put on a funny hat and start laughing maniacally?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Am I Cursed or Lucky?

Congratulations to Virginia C at for winning the signed copy of Secret Life a Vampire. Please contact me, Virginia, at, so I can get your prize mailed to you.

The answer: it depends on whether you enjoy short bursts of sheer terror.

We're packing at the Sparks house, getting ready to drive to Orlando for the Romance Writers of America conference and some fun (or sheer terror) at Disney World. This will be our fourth trip to Disney World. The last time we were there was at Christmas time. And that was when I realized we were trapped in a definite pattern. I call it a curse, but my daughter calls it lucky. She enjoys short bursts of sheer terror.

When we arrived last Christmas, we headed immediately to the Animal Kingdom park to ride the Mt.Everest rollercoaster. We had never ridden it before because it was under construction on our previous visit. While we waited in line, I prayed that it wouldn't be too scary. You see, I'm deathly afraid of heights and really hate the sensation of falling (aka plummeting to my demise with a noisy splat). Finally it was our turn to board the rollercoaster and as the eternally happy attendants directed my daughter and I to the front row seat on the front car, I thought 'not again!' And that's when I realized how truly cursed I was. During our last visit, my daughter and I were given front row seats over and over again (for Splash Mt, Thunder Mt., Rockin' Roller Coaster, you name it-- we were on the front row).

The curse had followed me back to Disney World. Front row on the Mt Everest rollercoaster. My daughter was delighted. I was terrified. My husband sat behind us, snickering. The ride from hell commenced. I steeled my nerves, determined to remain calm and cool. Within seconds, I was screaming my head off. At the end of the ride, I was shaking so badly, the eternally happy attendant had to help me out of the car (and he was chuckling, damn him). I was hoarse for the rest of the day.

The curse continued. Front row on Splash Mt and Thunder Mt. Then we went to the Hollywood Studios park for the true test of the curse-- the infamous Rockin' Roller Coaster ride. This sadistic journey into the dark pit of hell starts off by accelerating from zero to sixty in about two seconds. Then it loops you upside down a few times completely in the dark. Its only saving grace is the total darkness. You can't see the loop coming, and by the time you realize you're upside down, you're already right side up-- it happens so fast. This form of torture is so popular that kids would sell their parents in order to get the front row seat. And wouldn't you know-- my daughter and I were directed to the front row seat. Again! Now I ask you, what are the odds of going on that ride three times and getting the front row seat all three times!?!

It's a curse!!!

Now this trip, I'll be spending most of my time at the RWA conference, so my husband and daughter will be off doing the Mt Everest ride and Rockin' Roller Coaster without me. I'm very curious to see if the curse will continue. Does the curse lie with me...or with my daughter? Will they get the front row seat without me there?

How about you? Do you enjoy thrill rides? Or are you like me, and you ride them even though they scare you to death? Or do you do the sensible thing and stay off them. (Note: why don't I do the sensible thing? Do I need therapy? oops, don't answer that). Leave a comment and I'll pick a winner at random to receive a signed copy of Secret Life of a Vampire (which just won the Award of Excellence for Best Paranormal Romance of 2009). Good luck!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Love Triangles are Wrecktangles

First off, I was a bad blogger last month and forgot to introduce myself. So here goes... *waves awkwardly* Hi! I'm Leah Clifford and I write YA Urban Fantasy. My first novel, A Touch Mortal is coming out with GreenWillow on February 22, 2011. And, um, it's got a hot boy with wings, Siders who spread Touch to the mortals and seedy New York City clubs with devilishly good bands. You should check it out here:

And onto the post! (/awkward)

Girl meets Boy. Girl is sure Boy is her forever and everything is going to turn out sappily every after. And then, just before a. boy asks out girl "officially" b. they're able to run away together from an evil goverment facility or c. Girl tosses aside her mortal life for Boy, she meets... Other Boy. And suddenly things have gone from the warm glow of happily ever after to a raging inferno of jealousy, passion and the knowledge that one of these Romeo's will end this book (or the book's sequel...or the third if it's a trilogy) with a broken heart.

Oh love triangles! You give stories tension (Who will she CHOOSE?!!), give characters depth (and WHY?!!), give fans rivalries and Team t-shirts.

To see what team you are, please answer this simple question. Who is Bella standing between?

A. Edward. There is no one else in the picture. (You are team Edward.)

B. Taylor Lautner's abs (happy sigh) and that creepy guy who watches her sleep (grr face). (Team Jacob!)

C. Cedric Diggory and... oh my gawd is that Shark Boy?! (You've been in a coma. Even if you don't like Twilight? You. Choose. A. Team. It's like presidential elections.)

Now, if I'm reading your book and you've done your job as a writer, by this point there's some plot going on, stakes are high and I'm making myself the One More Chapter And Then I'll Write promise...for the sixth chapter. I care about these three characters. I care about Boy 1 and Boy 2 that Girl is forced to choose between and I care about Girl and her terrible choice. I care about all of them.

And then things change. Maybe Boy 2 saves her (or she saves him!) from certain death. Maybe Boy 1 stops off at work with her favorite flowers just cuz and the hopeless romantic inside me swoons and *BAM* I've chosen a Team. Shortly after, we see Girl herself begin to lean.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the death rattle of a love triangle.

Once I've chosen and I'm pretty sure that she's chosen, your triangle isn't so much a triangle anymore. It's a Couple with an Awkward.

I don't want my guy to be an Awkward.

See, I usually root for the underdog (pun intended Team Jacob) and so I've fallen in love with this guy who I know will be crushed by her decision. The second she's just dragging Unchosen along because she doesn't want his feelings hurt, I'm gonna start to hate Girl a bit. But I don't want my guy left hanging. It's not fair! It's wrong! It's keeping him away from me! *ahem* The more she strings him along, the madder I get. The madder I get, the less I care about whether Girl lives or dies, or if she has sequels! Love triangles are a lot like burning a candle at both ends--sure, it gives a lovely light. Just make sure one of those sides burns out fast.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Why YA?

One of the questions I’m often asked is: Why do you write Young Adult?

My smart-assed answer is: Because I’m immature for my age. But, seriously, that’s not it. I mean, not that I’m not immature, it’s just not the real reason I love writing for teens.

When I first started out, I wrote a full-on adult horror novel called ONE OF THEM. It was graphic, filled with steamy sex, filthy language, and heavy on the gore. Cuz that’s how I roll.

(Okay, yeah, there’s my immaturity showing again!)

But here’s the thing about YA, what draws me to the genre in general: I love remembering what it was like to be a teen. How raw every emotion felt, how they always seemed to simmer just beneath the surface, how mixed up each emotion was until they were impossible to tell apart: love, hate, humiliation, joy, anger, jealousy. When everything you experienced was new and how that very moment was the single most important moment of your entire life. There were so many out-of-control emotions packed into every “first” you experienced. Your first crush, your first date, your first kiss. Your first heartache.

I get to see and experience these things everyday with my own kids, watching them pass through these tough and wonderful stages just as I did. My oldest daughter’s first real break-up nearly broke my heart. Taking my son to get his driver’s license…well, let’s just say my heart might not be broken, but it’s definitely lodged in my throat. He, on the other hand, is practically quivering with excitement for this monumental first!

As adults, we’ve lived, we’ve experienced, and now we’re, what…jaded? Cynical? And even if we’re not jaded, we sometimes forget how quickly that rush of butterflies could jam us up, making coherent speech impossible…sometimes making us forget our own names. But try, just for a moment, to remember the feelings behind them—those butterflies—think about that anticipatory breath right before that first kiss, when your eyes locked and you realized: This might be it! This is really going to happen!!!

In YA I get to write about these moments, in all their shiny newness, their raw intensity and jumbled emotions.

Because I remember my first kiss, the feel of his lips against mine, his hands awkwardly trying to find a place on my hips. And don’t try to tell me you don’t remember yours…I bet you even remember his name!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lessons learned from characters

Okay, it’s confession time – I’m a control freak. I hate having to give up responsibility for things (which actually made me a perfect first child). So the position I’m in now – not being able to control what happens with Secret Ones, having to rely on complete strangers enjoying it for it to sell – is a difficult thing for me to face.

I think that this is one of the drawcards for urban fantasy for me. I spoke in my first post about how wonderful it is that we have strong female characters in UF. Well, the stories often put these women through all sorts of hellish situations, times where they don’t have a lot of control, and often the key to surviving is giving up their control and letting someone else handle things.

A case in point is my newest obsession – Vicki Pettersson’s Zodiac series (hi Vicki!). I’ve only read the first two books, but I immediately then ordered the next three and they’ve just arrived, so I can dive back in.

To me, Joanna Archer is a classic control freak. She doesn’t want to let go of anything. If she can’t do it herself, then it doesn’t need to be done. However, she’s now in a situation where she can’t achieve what she needs to alone. In fact, by being a control freak, she’s often making the job harder for everyone.

Slowly but surely, she’s having to let go. To accept that there’s some things she just can’t do alone. To accept that there’s some things she has no impact on whatsoever. Stuff will happen – to her, to her friends, her loved ones – and there’s not a damn thing she can do about it.

Watching someone like Joanna having to relax her relentless hold on her life and everything about it is cathartic. Even though she’s fictional, Joanna is teaching me that yes it’s hard to let go, yes it’s hard to just focus on the things you actually can do, but it’s also liberating. You have time to see the world around you, to appreciate things you didn’t previously. You can also be more effective, because you’re doing the things you are focussed on BETTER.

Have you found yourself getting life lessons from the men and women of urban fantasy? I’d love to know.

Guy Things That Girls Do.

Had a big party at Chez Ware-Gleason last Friday night. Am still recovering.

When my husband, aka Music Man, has a party, it always includes live music. In this case, he knew a couple guys who were putting together a new bluesy cover band and invited them to "try out" their new set at our house last Friday. We have a big yard on a lake, and the band was set up on the deck from our ranch's walkout.

Music Man is a piano player, so he moved a piano out onto the deck, and the guys brought a full drum set, amps, mixing board, guitars, mikes, etc., etc.

We had a keg, made dogs and brats on the grill, and attendees brought sides and stuff to share. Plenty o'food.

I can't sing, but I did. (Heh.) Sat myself next to Music Man during a lull (even though the new band was playing, it was also open-mike night for any attending musicians to sit in or join in), and I asked him to play "Baby I'm Amazed" and we sang it together. How sweet.

Well, it would have been sweet if I can sing. It was more like Linda and Paul McCartney than...hmmmm...Sonny & Cher? But I had fun, and since I couldn't hear myself, all was well!

Anyway, as I mentioned, I'm still recovering from the party.

But this brings me to the point of the blog. During the course of the evening, I was standing with a group of friends talking, and a few minutes into the conversation, one of the guys looked at me and said, "That's the second time you've dropped the F-bomb."

(I'm sure it's a shock to all of you that I would do such a thing. But, it's true. I did.)

Anyway, the friend, Ted, was more shocked-slash-admiring than anything. Maybe it's 'cause I know him from church, but it's not as if he's a sheltered kind of guy. Not in the least.

So, yeah. I use the F-word. I love the F-word. It's earthy, it's strong, it's satisfying...and it's a guy thing. It's a man's word.

That's why I love it.

And I personally don't find the word itself offensive--whereas there are other words/phrases that bother me (the C-bomb for one), this one is just a great, solid word.

So I got to thinking about guy things that girls do. Using the F-word is one.

Drinking a beer. (and enjoying it)

Driving a stick shift. (and preferring it)

I happen to do all three.

What other guy things do girls do? Which ones do you do, girls? Guys, do you see it this way? Or am I all effed up?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Book Trailers

Today's post will be short as I am neck deep in working on a workshop that I am giving at the Australian National RWA conference, the biggest part of which covers book trailers.

In the last few years, trailers have become increasingly popular. I know I have seen some really good ones, and I have also seen some not so good. The worst are the boring ones. I think if trailer is that boring, then what is the book like.

But one of the best ones I have seen is the trailer is Sense, Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

It was one of the reasons I wanted to make my own for Night’s Cold Kiss.

I had fun doing it. The creative process is not unlike writing a story.  I liked hunting for the right pictures and the right music. But I’m a little worried. Do they make a difference? Do they entice people to buy the book or at least give it a second look?

So tell me... Do you like book trailers? If yes – what do you like and if no – why?
And if you have seen a memorable trailer – what was it and what did you like or hate about it.

There are many awesome book trailers by a Supernatural Underground authors right here

Friday, July 16, 2010

Blame it on the Wizard

By Merrie Destefano


The WINNER is "C", who posted at 8:22 a.m. CONGRATULATIONS! C, there are two ways you can get me your contact info. One: Friend me on Twitter, I'll friend you back, then you can DM me your address and e-mail. Or you could post your e-mail address in the comments section like this: name [at] address. Let me know if you want me to delete that comment after I get your info.

Thanks so much to everyone who read this post and commented. I loved reading all of your answers! I wish I could have given an ARC to all of you. Just an FYI, I ran everything through a randomizer program to find the winner.

I’ve loved imaginary people for a very long time. Ever since I was a little girl. The youngest in a family of eight, I grew up with brothers and sisters who towered over me like giants. So when it came time to play, I invented my own best friend. Okay, he was a bubble, but he was way cool. Before long, I had all the other neighborhood kids wanting a bubble for a best friend too. I also went through a long period of time when I wouldn’t answer to any other name but Glinda.

I’m blaming it all on the Wizard of Oz.

The bottom line is, books and movies really do affect our lives. That movie got me walking down the path toward the Emerald City, and honestly I’ve never looked back. I’m a sci-fi and fantasy girl, always will be. Granted, I’ve taken a few turns along the way, indulging myself occasionally in tales of horror or mystery. Still nothing satisfies me like a good speculative fiction story.

Today, I still love imaginary people. I spend a good part of my day torturing—I mean, hanging out with—the characters in my books. Imaginary people, yes, but to me they’re as real as my next door neighbors. I cry when one of my characters dies, I feel stressed when they’re in trouble, I worry about them when I’m trying to fall asleep at night.

Likewise, they torment me—having long conversations in my head when I don’t have a pen, refusing to respond when I’m trying to get them to reveal their secrets, taking a right turn at Albuquerque when we all know they’re supposed to turn left.

Imaginary people can be just as troublesome as the flesh-and-blood variety.

So, my question today is this: Did you have an imaginary friend when you were little? If so, who or what was it? And if not, who would you pick today?

To get our conversation rolling, I’m giving away a signed, advance reader copy of my debut novel, Afterlife: The Resurrection Chronicles. [Due out on Sept. 28, by the way.]

To enter to win, please make a comment about your imaginary friend—even if you have to make him up! You can earn points by:

+1 Posting in the comments section
+1 Linking to this post on Twitter
+1 Linking to this post on Facebook
+1 Linking to the Supernatural Underground blog on your own blog/website

Just post the total number of points that you’ve earned in your comment. Winner to be announced in this post tomorrow. Contest ends tonight at midnight!

Also, if any of you are going to Comic Con in San Diego, I hope you’ll stop by the author panel where I’ll be speaking and say hi! I’d love to meet you!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hands-on Research

I'm not one of those writers who loves research. I regard it as a necessary evil, a sometime pleasure, but above all something that should not intrude on the page. And when you write paranormal-historical-speculative-whatever as I do, you have to weave in historical details with the world you've imagined, and get a smooth balance between the two.

A couple of days ago I visited Chawton, in Hampshire, where Jane Austen lived for the last nine years of her life. She and her mother and sisters settled there after her brother Edward became heir to the Knight fortune and provided them a permanent home in a cottage on his estate. Chawton Museum is now visited by people from all over the world. It's carefully restored but I tried to imagine what it would be like for Jane Austen to look out of the window and see ... a vampire?
Yes, a vampire. Because Edward's property, Chawton House, the beautiful Elizabethan-Jacobean house a few minutes away, was leased to vampires whose presence lent a sinister attitude to the peaceful green countryside and I'll be writing about them and Jane Austen in my next book.

I hope you enjoy these pics I took on my visit to England and which suggested to me the possibility of mystery and immortality.

This yew tree is over 900 years and stands outside Steventon church, where Jane Austen's father was minister and which she attended. Her brother James took over the parish when her father retired. Many members of the Austen family are buried there.

Gravestones and a cut back growth of ivy in St. Elphege's Church, Greenwich. The RNA Conference (the UK equivalent of RWA) was held in Greenwich, a world heritage site in London which includes the Royal Maritime Museum and the Royal Naval College where the conference was held. I'm blogging about that today at the Risky Regencies.

Gargoyles at Salisbury Cathedral, one of the most amazingly beautiful places in the world.

The mysterious, ancient cloisters of Salisbury Cathedral (and most mysterious and amazing, not another tourist in sight...)

What places have you visited where the atmosphere has got your imagination working?

A Damned Good Contest
is still running on my site. Check it out!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Paranormal Goodies and Pics from RomCon2010

***WINNER ALERT*** Thanks so much for sharing your good times with me!  Despite some hilarious pleas and funny stories, the Randomizer has determined the winner of the RomCon goodies in this post to be SWEET RACHEL! (Post #30).  Rachel, send your mailing info to, and I'll get them in the mail to you on Monday, you lucky duck!  Have a great weekend, everyone!

I've already talked about this over on my personal blog, but I wanted to share some of the highlights (and some of the goodies!) from the fun, fabulous weekend I just had with Jeaniene Frost in Denver, CO, where we attended the first annual RomCon Conference, hosted by Borders Books.  It was a whirlwind two days of non-stop talking, laughing, workshops, games and booksignings!

Spending time with Jeaniene was an absolute treat, as she is one of the most genuine, down-to-earth people you'll ever meet, and kept me in absolute stitches with her honesty and spontaneity (meaning you'll never know what's about to come out of her mouth)!  Despite numerous panels, workshops, meals and fan gatherings, she never lost her patience or her smile, and I came home feeling as though we'd been best buds for years.  (Miss you already, Jeaniene!)
Here we are with our editor, Erika Tsang, who is the woman responsible for bringing you Jeaniene's Night Huntress series, as well as my Nicki Styx series.  Erika is also the one to thank for my upcoming Devil's Bargain series, featuring the character of Sammy (Satan) Divine, and many other great books you'll find on today's bookshelves  The woman knows her paranormals, and better yet, she knows how to take a good book and make the right editing suggestions to make it even better!
The three of us had a fabulous time hanging out together, particularly when we stumbled upon some life-size cutouts of a few "classic" romance novel poses, and took some ridiculous pictures of ourselves.  My favorite one is unfortunately on Jeaniene's camera (it was TOO funny!), but this one on the left also cracked me up.  Do I look swept away by passion, or what?

Another fun event was the Masquerade Ball, during which people were invited to dress as they pleased.  Debut paranormal author Meagan Hatfield proved to be a ghoul after my own heart when she showed up in 19th century mourning clothes with her adorable baby, Zombie Zack.  (A puppet, incredibly lifelike and creepy!)

The paranormal authors of the romance industry were out in full force, as Jeaniene and I participated in a panel on Dark, Desirable and Deadly heroes, a Q&A Chat with Futuristic, Fantasy & Paranormal Authors, a Paranormal Authors Tea, Monsters & More Semi-Charades, Were-Squares, Speed Date an Author and Intimate Chats with industry biggies like Christine Feehan and Nalini Singh. (Here we are on the right at the Saturday Book Fair.) I came home with more free books, bookmarks, candy and other goodies than were probably healthy for me (my suitcase was bursting at the seams, but it was hard to choose what to leave behind!), and wanted to share some with you! 

So, in honor of the great time I had with Jeaniene and Erika, I'm giving away a signed copy of Jeaniene's latest Night Huntress book, DESTINED FOR AN EARLY GRAVE, a signed copy of my latest Nicki Styx book, SILENT NIGHT, HAUNTED NIGHT, and an assortment of bookmarks from Supernatural Underground authors Melissa Marr, Pamela Palmer and Leah Cypess.

You can enter by leaving a comment about a good time or a favorite memory you have, preferably one you shared with friends.  Doesn't matter when, where or what - what's the first "good time" thought that pops into your head?

Hope you enjoyed this peek into my weekend, and don't forget - you can join in the fun next year at RomCon2011, which is open to anyone who loves a good book!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Art Inspires Life -- Bucket Lists

by Pamela Palmer

First of all, can I just say I hate the term 'bucket list'? It's such a negative term for such a brilliant idea. If you're not familiar with them, a bucket list is a list of all the things you want to do before you 'kick the bucket'. These don't have to be big save-the-world kinds of items. In fact, usually they're not. They're things like take a hot air balloon ride or learn to knit. In my case, they're things like learn to fight or shoot a gun.

Which is where the art inspiring life comes in. A lot of the things on my own bucket list actually fall more into the column of research. Not the necessary kind of research, like knowing what the Potomac River looks like from the rocks high above, where the Feral Warriors perform some of their most important rituals. I don't need to know how to fight in order to write battle scenes any more than I need to know what it feels like to shift into an animal in order to write about it. I can imagine both very well. But that doesn't mean I'm not curious.

Delaney Randall, the heroine of Obsession Untamed, book 2 in my Feral Warriors series, is a human FBI agent and a crack shot. Olivia, the Therian heroine of Rapture Untamed, book 4, is an expert at hand-to-hand combat. The only fighting I've ever done was with my little brother when we were kids. What would it be like to possess Delaney's or Olivia's skills? I'm not going to join the FBI to find out. (Sorry Feds, but I'm on deadline.) Nor am I ever going to be immortal. But it occurred to me that I can still get a glimpse into my characters' worlds.

Actually my thinking about a bucket list started last fall when my twelve-year-old niece earned her black belt in Tae Kwon Do. My first thought? Cool! My second thought? I want one! I decided why not. I'd give it a try just as soon as I got the book done. But then I had another book due. And another. You get the picture.

Which is where the bucket list comes in. Instead of writing a list of New Years resolutions this year, I sat down and made a list of all the things I'm currently inspired to do and see. Everything I could think of. Try Tae Kwon Do. Learn to shoot a gun. See Iceland. Some are research-related, others are just things that sound like fun. But the point is, I want to experience them. Someday. But someday has a way of never coming. So I made myself a promise that I'd focus on one item a year. Just one. And suddenly the impossible doesn't seem so impossible after all.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for Tae Kwon Do and I've already earned my first belt. Okay, it was the white belt, but it's a start. I'm learning to kick, to punch, and I've even broken a couple of legit boards with my fist, which was seriously cool. Will I eventually earn a black belt? Maybe, maybe not, but the point is, I finally made 'someday' happen.

Think about the things you'd put on your own list. What interests you? Excites you? Inspires you? What one thing could you commit to doing/trying/investigating this year? These aren't things you have to tell anyone but yourself, but if you'd like to share something from your own list, I'd love to hear it!

And if you have a better, more positive sounding name than Bucket List, I'd love to hear that, too!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Imagination of Youth

On the scale of the world in general (ranging from data entry clerks and accountants to artists and poets) I feel like a fairly creative and imaginative person. I create characters and worlds and stories and put them down on paper and people pay for them!

But some days I long for the unfettered imagination of my childhood. As a kid, anything was possible. My cousin and I made a slide out of my grandmother's bathtub (with the help of generous amounts of baby oil). My friends and I used to pretend that the railing overlooking the run-off ditch on our school playground was Starlite from the Rainbow Brite cartoon.

My bathtub turned into a mermaid swimming pool when I had my Sea Wees, and I could play for hours pretending I was the queen of their underwater kingdom. (Do we see the first spark of what would become Forgive My Fins?)

Or, one of my favorites, a bathtub could literally turn into a swimming pool, or a bed into playground. Wish World Kids had a very limited life, but they were remarkable. Normal, everyday objects (like televisions and refrigerators) could turn into amazing things (like game shows and ice cream parlors). If only real life objects could do the same!

And the most wonderful and magical part of all of this imagination was that we believed it. I really could ride a horse across a rainbow or swim with mermaids or play on a swingset when I went to bed.

I have to wonder if some of the popularity of fantasy/paranormal fiction is an attempt to recapture that youthful belief in the impossible. Through books, we really can swim with mermaids and soar with dragons and live forever as vampires. Without looking silly for playing with dolls and toys.

By the way, I totally miss the 80s. Best. Toys. Ever.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Who doesn't love a quickie?

I write one book a year, and while that’s a speed both my readers and I would love to hasten, so far it has worked well, allowing me time to seek some sort of balance between my writerly and personal lives. However, I’ve also found that short stories are a great way to give readers of my Zodiac series a little somethin’-somethin’ between novels, as well as a way to keep me creatively fresh and inspired. So far I’ve done one per year, and all, save one, have been related to my main series.

Now, I realize not everybody likes short stories. There was a time when I could only consume full-length novels, and the longer the better. (Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER series, anyone?) There’s nothing I love more than allowing a good storyteller to take me by the hand and lead me into a world I’d never have imagined - and fully disappear for hours at that. Yet times and tastes change, and while I still love to get lost in someone else’s mind, the shorts belonging to authors I love have also begun battling for space on my bookshelves. They’re like appetizers instead of full course meals, line drawings instead of oil paintings, and a medium that should be considered separate from its longer fictional counterpart, because it is, both in form and function.

However the strange thing for me as a writer has been my inability to write a short from the point of view of my series protagonist, Joanna Archer. Maybe it’s because the Zodiac series belongs so wholly to her, maybe I know her too well, and maybe I need a creative break in between our time together. But I’ve found that shorts are a great way to explore side characters I love, and find out what they’ve been doing both before and while Joanna is off on her risky adventures. So far I’ve written of her mother, Zoe, in HOLIDAYS ARE HELL. I’ve written of her lover, Hunter, in UNBOUND. And in this month’s DARK AND STORMY KNIGHTS (July 20) of her once-foe, Skamar, explaining and exploring many of that character's actions and choices in last month’s release, CHEAT THE GRAVE.

Still, in every case, my interest in these side characters and stories are all Joanna-related. The shorts address their hows and whys in relation to her, which is important because at the end of the day - battles and paranormal setting and superheroes aside - I write about relationships, both interpersonal and in relation to our world … whatever world that might be.

So what about you all? What’s your relationship and interest in short stories, if any? Have shorts ever made you want to pick up a main series, or follow a new character into a more fully developed world? And, if so, who are your favorites and why?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday Musings

Hey Everyone! Happy Weekend! We've gone from extreme heat here in Canuk land to rain. I won't complain 'cause my grass and flowers sure needed some!

I am deep in deadline hell at the moment and revisions arrived yesterday for book 3 in my jaguar warrior series. So yeah, I'm stressing a little bit. But I shall get it done! But my post today will be short and sweet. Next month I will be holding a contest for ARC's for my second book, HIS DARKEST EMBRACE It's due out October 26th and I'm super excited about it! Just click the title and you'll be able to read the blurb and an excerpt of the first chapter!

If you want to see what I'm up to with my latest, Declan's book, I've got some visual inspiration posted as well as some little snippets! Just click HERE.

Because I'm stressed as all heck I ususally try to find a bit of time to relax. This weekend I'm taking my daughter and her friend to see Eclipse. I thought the first two movies were just okay. The acting left something to be desired but seriously, my daughter loved it and I'm loving the fact she is into paranormal. When my revisions arrived this week my editor sent along the first 4 books in the Vampire girl is devouring them! Woot!

But when it comes to movies they have to be really well done for me to truly enjoy. I loved Coppola's version of Drakula. Gary Oldman was supurb, I totally crushed on him huge after seeing it. I also like movies that show a different take on an old theme. Just watched Legion last week and thought it was really well done.

so, my question today is, what is your fave paranormal movie? Any reccomends for me as I dive into the rest of my deadline hell? Cause I'll have to come up for air....eventually!

Until next time,


Thursday, July 8, 2010

three YA trends. and my Fury cover!

we talk a lot about trends within
the young adult genre. whether its
as a writer, wondering what the next
"hot" new thing is or as a reader. vampires
seem to remain strong (i admit anne
rice had me at lestat on this one) as
well as dystopian novels thanks to
The Hunger Games success.

below are three young adult trends.
what would you like to read more about
within paranormal books? be it young adult
or adult? what paranormals have you read
lately that seems trendy and you enjoyed?

mermaids :

fallen angels :

faeries :

and last but not least, i'm thrilled to reveal my Fury of the Phoenix cover with a small blurb from the harpercollins catalog!

Cindy Pon’s debut novel Silver Phoenix was called “fluid and exhilarating” in a starred review from Booklist, and Meg Cabot called it “an addictive gem.” In this companion novel, seventeen-year-old Ai Ling—her powers stronger than ever—stows away aboard a cargo ship in order to protect devastatingly handsome Chen Yong during his quest to locate his father. Masquerading as brother and sister, Ai Ling and Chen Yong face demonic predators on the ocean voyage, but their biggest threat comes from the kingdom of the dead. Part supernatural page-turner, part love story, and altogether stirring, Fury of the Phoenix further heralds the arrival of Cindy Pon as a stellar author of paranormal romance and fantasy.

Fury is out 3/29/2011 and i'm working hard
on revisions now. i'm very excited!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Guardians of My Lair

Many writers have a lair in which they write. A Fortress of Solitude. A Bat Cave. A secret (maybe they just wish it was secret) place where they can hunker down and get lost in the world of their creation. The crafting of the secret lair usually takes years of collecting the most critical of items so that your writing mojo is not only protected but enhanced by the space in which you work.

Today, I've decided to grant readers a special tour of my secret lair in which I work. But be forewarned: there are things here that may frighten you into turning back before the tour is over. Don't worry. I will protect you ... this time.

First off, to greet any visitors that enter my lair is a white ceramic mask of a shrieking Jack Skellington. This was a Christmas gift from my younger brother several years ago and has always resided by the door to my office. This mask is used to immediately scare away any negative vibes that might be trying to enter the office and attack me from behind as I work. The mask has done an excellent job so far.

Next, we come to my work space itself. I love my large desk, which is a hand-me-down from my parents when they decided they no longer needed such a large area to work at. I was more than happy to take it off their hands as it now houses a large collection of my most important research materials AND can hold two computers comfortably. Yes, there are days when I will find myself working at two different computers at the same time. Those are usually not good days. Directly beside my large monitor are my essential reference guides: dictionary, thesaurus, quotation book, Chicago Manual of Style, and my Character Naming Sourcebook. Despite having two computers at my disposal, I also keep at least one legal pad and pen handy. Sometime, I just need the feel of paper beneath my hand or something easy to capture that quick, random thought before it flutters away.

Directly above my monitor is my second layer of guardians: my gargoyles. This is the gang, with Fred as they leader in the center. They watch over me as I work, protecting me against self-doubt and occasionally writer's block. They also keep the positive mojo flowing as they work in tandem with Jack at the door. As a way of saying "thank you," I am working on a way to fit them into a book as a biker gang of gargoyles, but don't tell them. It's still a surprise.

My third and final guardian is my loving cat Demona, who spends most of her time prowling or just laying on a corner of my desk. She just patrols the are to make sure that everything is proceeding as it should. She is also my keeper, making sure that I am staying on task and not goofing off on the Internet too often. I have a second cat named Harley, who will occasionally patrol the floor and curl up beside the desk, checking for anything that might attack from below.

And finally, one of my favorite little spots is in the far corner of my lair is a picture that I picked up at Disney World a few years ago. The saying below is by Walt Disney and states: "It's kind of fun to do the impossible." Accurate statement.

So, what's necessary for your work space? Do you have any guardians of your realm protecting you as you work? Is there anything that you can't live without when you sit at your desk or in your private spot to work?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

“What if?” Folklore as a Source

“What if?” Folklore as Source

One of the questions every writer hears regularly is “where do you get your ideas?” Answers to this one range from quips to “everything” to very specific “this story came from ___.” All of these are true answers (or, they can be. . . writers being writers, there are inevitably truth-bendings going on sometime. Frex, a friend & I concocted a “how did you meet story” that involved broken hearts & an octopus, but that’s another topic).
Every story I have started begins with a “what if” or a “what next.” Moreover, every one of those is connected to folklore or/and fairy tales in some way.
Lore & life in my texts

My first novel, Wicked Lovely, utilizes a few fairy tale tropes--in part for the purpose of defying them. There's a curse that can only be broken by finding the "fated love" . . . of course, the fated love doesn't quite want to be found, and the cursed faery is already in love with someone he hoped was his fated love, but wasn't . . . sorta, maybe. I had good fun playing with questions of volition and power here, the idea of what happily-ever-after means, and other fairy tale tidbits like a "woken with a kiss" scene wherein being "woken" is an awakening (i.e. epiphany rather than literally awakening). That novel is also very rooted in a folklore, specifically tales of Cailleach Bheur and of the King of Summer.

I used some of the same lore and fairy tale tropes in a short story in Cricket in 2007. It derives, in part, from my on-going love of Cailleach Bheur, but in it the protag is a girl who carries "Winter's Kiss" and feels it a burden rather than a joy. I added this to a world in which global warming is a problem, and threw in my childhood dream of traveling with an ice-bear (polar bear) that is a result of a fairy tale, & well, it became a story about a girl who carries winter and boy who is also a bear.
The second novel (Ink Exchange) was playing with the Unseelie Court, my fondness for tattoos (I have a lot of ink tucked away under my clothes), & my own experience of being a rape survivor.
. . . and so forth and so on.
Fragile Eternity plays with the “don’t eat the food of Faerie” (which is also in the Hades/Persephone tale). Radiant Shadows is a result of my interest in the Wild Hunt. Similarly, my short stories have played with drug dealing and Haitian zombie powder (“Two Lines” in Unbound) inversion of the selchies entrapping men trope (“Love Struck” in Love is Hell), vampires and the power of crossroads (“Transitions” in Teeth).
My forthcoming adult novel (Graveminder ) sparked from a bit of lore on “minding the dead” and a family tradition of visiting cemeteries a lot.
Why write from folklore?

I didn’t intend to write these things. In many ways, writing is a bit of an accident for me. I grew up with these sorts of stories, the supernatural wasn’t just the stuff in my books, it was/is real in my family. I’ve been told not to go places because of the various creatures lurking out there; I’ve also been sent out to “catch” a faery that was lurking around the woodpile. I’m passing that tradition on to my children as best I can.
When my son was a preschooler, we read about trolls. (Spouse is of Scandinavian descent, so I had to incorporate that body of lore and myth into my Irish & Scottish.) Son developed a fixation on “catching” trolls, so he explained the problem to my mother—who promptly went to her neighbor and asked to build a troll trap. We ran into only one snag:
Mum: Suze can build a trap, but she needs to know how big the trolls you have are. We might have a different species here than you do in California.
Me: Hmm. I’ll ask.
Son: Cat sized, maybe rabbit sized.
It didn’t occur to any of us that there was much odd about the question. Trolls do come in various sizes. Faeries do too. Wales has Ellylon, tiny little fey things, but Scotland has some mortal and some monstrous sized fey. Scandinavia has skogsra (women with hollow backs). Luckily, we had the answer we needed, so Suze built a sturdy wooden troll trap (with a good leather hinge) and shipped it to California.
How do I learn this stuff?

It’s really a case of write what I know. After a folklore saturated childhood, I grew up and became a lit major and after that a lit teacher at university. My focus areas were Romantic, Victorians, & the American South. Mmmm. Ghosts, Byronic heroes, Frankenstein, Dracula, the “Mortal Immortal,” Southern Gothic! Oh yes, literature is riddled with some weird stuff. Delicious, macabre, and addictive. Stir the lit into the lore, and I was on my way to being where I am now.
Somewhere in there, I also discovered scholarly journals . . . FOLKLORE and THE LION AND THE UNICORN and MARVELS AND TALES (among others). I still curl up with these. In my stack as I write are, "The Trouble with Ghost-Seeing: Vision, Ideology, and Genre in the Victorian Ghost Story” (Smijac), “Bedding the Nightmare” (Blecourt), and “Purity and Danger: Dracula, the Urban Gothic, and the Late Victorian Degeneracy Crisis” (Spencer) . . and get this—all of this fun reading is justified because it’s work.


Yeah, I get to read what interests me, drown in it, and I know that somewhere along the line, I’ll get that moment where I say, “oooooh, what if . . .”
What about you? What interests do YOU have that you can tap for stories . . . or just because they're fun? Tell me something interesting--about anything at all--and one reader/responder to this blog wins a copy of UNBOUND (the adult anthology I did with some of my co-bloggers here: Jeaniene Frost, Vicki Patterrson, & Joce Drake) OR LOVE IS HELL (the YA Antho).*
Winner announced next month (on August 4th by Jeaniene bc I'll be leaving for Scotland August 2nd).


signed copy of RADIANT SHADOWS to a US resident: PROJECTANIME
signed copy of RADIANT SHADOWS to an international reader: MOUNTIE9
signed copy of WICKED LOVELY to a US resident: NYMFAUX
signed copy of WICKED LOVELY to an international reader: RENATA
signed copy of any of my books to a library collection (must be requested by a librarian!)*: SUSIE SHARP LIBRARIAN
second signed copy of any of my books to a library collection (must be requested by a librarian!)* BRELEMON

Winners, please email with your user name, address, & to whom you want/if you want the book personalized.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Faith and Fantasy

Happy 4th of July to all my fellow American peeps! I’m guessing very few of you will be reading this post today due to the usual outdoor festivities, but this is my day to blog, even if I will end up mostly talking to myself, lol. I was going to do a post talking about holidays and the choice to include them in novels, but I just didn’t have too many thoughts about that, as it turned out. So, if you don’t happen to be outside at a barbeque like most of the US today, consider yourself invited to pull up a chair and weigh in on your thoughts about faith in fantasy.

As a paranormal writer, I’ve often been asked how my supernatural creatures differ from others. Take my vampires. One of the things they can do that many others in fiction can’t is walk around in the daylight. Yes, just like in the original Dracula by Bram Stoker, my vampires have no lethal aversion to sunlight. Something else that repels many vampires in modern fiction, but also has no effect on mine, is crosses. I originally decided on that because I couldn't come up with an answer to the question of how a vampire who pre-dated Christianity would cringe away from a cross, and I have some vampires in my novel who are much older than two thousand years.* Therefore, religious objects in my books don’t have any effect on vampires.

That doesn’t mean faith is absent in my stories. In fact, my idea for the origin of vampires came from the Biblical story of Cain. In my retelling of it, God’s “mark” was making Cain into the first vampire, cursed to forever drink blood as punishment for spilling his brother Abel’s (or so the vampires claim. Ghouls in my books have a different version of what Cain was turned into, heh). So right from the beginning, I knew I’d have to deal with the element of faith in my supernatural world.

Still, the idea than an entire species would agree about spiritual beliefs seemed an impossible notion even for a work of supernatural fiction. Therefore, even though I made up a fictitious creationist history for the undead based on the biblical character of Cain, this doesn't make the vampires or ghouls in my book automatically Judeo-Christian. Instead, they represent a wide range of beliefs, including atheists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics, pagans, voodoo, and more. Mencheres, the hero in my upcoming novel, Eternal Kiss of Darkness, still believes in the ancient Egyptian gods (which gave me an excuse to indulge my love of Egyptology with more research about them!)

Paranormal writers, in the process of selecting a species, plotting, and otherwise breathing life into your book, did the question of faith play into your world building? Or did you have to remove all beliefs to make your particular world work, and was that easier or harder to do?

Readers, what’s your take on books that add the element of faith into a supernatural world? Do you prefer paranormal novels to have no belief system in place? Or prefer novels where beliefs are based on dieties the author has made up (like a god named Rawr for shapeshifters, for example ;-) instead of beliefs from any actual faiths?

Friendly reminder: I’m only asking for comments on the presence/absence of faith in paranormal novels because I’m curious how readers and writers think it impacts a story (or doesn’t). Please refrain from any comments espousing the presence/absence of faith in the real world. This isn’t the place for a debate on anyone’s personal spiritual beliefs or lack thereof.

* Note: I've seen authors come up with a perfectly reasonable explanation for this in their novels, even with vampires who predated Christianity. The great thing about paranormal fiction is you can make up your own rules, so there is no one "right way" to write a particular creature.

-Jeaniene Frost

Saturday, July 3, 2010

What's Your Sign?

***WINNER ALERT!***  Congratulations to justinbarnes, who is a Pisces!  Justin has won the full set of Vicki Pettersson's Zodiac series!  In addition, because we had so many enthusiastic entries, we're going to give away two more of Vicki's books as extras:  You Said What Again gets a copy of SCENT OF SHADOWS, and Kaelie gets a copy of CITY OF SOULS.  Justin, Kaelie and You Said, send an email to booksthatgobump@gmail with your mailing info, and we'll get your books in the mail.  Thanks so much for everyone who played along - peace, love and kisses to all, whatever your sign!***

There was a time when the phrase, "Hey, baby, what's your sign?" was a universally acknowledged "pick-up phrase" of men everywhere. The modern day "Age of Aquarius" brings to mind the sixties and seventies, a period of spiritualism and open-mindededness where peace, love, cosmic forces (and evidently a few magic mushrooms!) reigned supreme.

In reality, astrology is believed to have begun with the ancient Babylonians sometime in the 3rd century B.C., and was used as a method to determine the will of the gods.  Man looked to the heavens for answers, because it was the heavens who ruled their lives: the rain that made the crops grow, the breeze that cooled their brow, the sun that beat down on their heads, the damage from storms and floods.  The movement of the sun, moon and stars began to be seen as the activity of the gods themselves, and it was believed that if these movements could be interpreted properly, man could use these patterns to his advantage.

It took several centuries before the art of horoscopic astrology came into existence, led largely by the Greek astronomist Ptolemy, whose teachings on the movements of the planets and their influence over a person's physical birth laid the foundation of astrological teachings for thousands of years afterward.  So today, in the 21st century, there are many, many people who believe that the sign you're born under has a direct influence on who you are as a person (c'mon, admit it... how many of you read your horoscope every day, even if you don't really believe it?) Many prominent rulers through the centuries were said never to make a move without consulting their personal astrologers (as recently as Ronald Reagan!), as the heavens continue to be looked to for answers, even now. 

Most of us take some kind of pride in the sign we were born under, although the actual casting of horoscopes is much more complicated than just what constellation was in the sky at the time of our birth - the place, time and position of the planets all come into play, as do the elements those planets represent.  Details aside, we seem to like the idea that some of our personal traits are given to us at birth - the good traits make us feel good about ourselves, and the bad traits are the perfect excuse for when we're less than perfect, right?  :)

So, as a proud Scorpio (loyal, passionate, independent, resourceful) my question for you today is the good, old-fashioned "What's your sign?".  One person (who if astrology is to be believed, will have been born under a lucky star), will win the ENTIRE set of Vicki Pettersson's Zodiac series!

(Two books, The Touch of Twilight and Cheat the Grave, have been signed by Vicki herself!)

Up your chances of winning by:

+1 Posting in the comments section

+1 Linking to this post on Twitter
+1 Linking to this post on Facebook
+1 Linking to the Supernatural Underground blog on your own blog/website

Post what you did in the comments section.  So c'mon, baby... what's your sign?

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Mish Mash of Sorts.....

Hey everyone! It is Friday and for me, being Canadian, the long weekend has already started. (Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canunks) So far it hasn't turned out the way I'd expected...I was supposed to go up north to spend some time with the family at a friends cottage. On a lake. With a boat. A jet ski. Beer. BUT...I had edits arrive for another publisher and according to my editor, revisions are coming today for my third book in the Jaguar Warriors series, HIS DARKEST SALVATION. So I decided to let the hubby go and have fun with the kids and leave me all myself in this house. FOR THREE WHOLE DAYS.....

So, Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Okay, I do love my family, for reals and I had to try really hard to appear sad at the prospect of missing out on the cottage, but um, I am so happy to have some time alone.

I've already finished my edits on Black Destiny, which is a time travel short story. I loved re-visiting this world. I hope to get my revisions started on Salvation, because I am hard at work on my fourth book which is due in September.

I shall organize my new office, get my covers up on the wall, do some cleaning, take the dog on long walks....and float in the pool! What is everyone else up to? I know my American friends are celebrating July 4th!

Tell me your plans, I'd love to hear. In the mean time, I'm starting to organize promo etc for my fall release, the second book in the Jaguar Warrior series, HIS DARKEST is a teaser of the cover...

What do you think? Ya'll like? I will admit at first when I saw this I thought, oh my, Jagger is nekkid...butt, (pun intended) it's a beautiful cover and Tom the cover god has outdone himself.
So, I will be holding a contest for ARC's for this book in the next little while. In the meantime have a wonderful weekend whatever you are doing!