Thursday, September 30, 2010

Paranormal Heroines vs. Paranormal Heroes

The following blog is by Sophie Jordan!!!

Hello, everyone! Glad to be here with you again! As we slip into fall and near Halloween, nothing excites me more than talking about the paranormal!

Recently on tour for my latest novel, FIRELIGHT, a reader brought to my attention the fact that my heroine in FIRELIGHT is the paranormal “figure” in my book -- not the hero as is the usual case. Yes, I know this, of course, but I hadn’t really considered it very hard. Before now (see me tilting my head thoughtfully here).

I started mentally checking off a lot of paranormal books – many favorites of mine – and realized the observation in point is rather true. I’m not saying there aren’t books with paranormal females in them, but so many books feature the male figure as the paranormal figure while the heroine is simply human. Why is that? I’m not saying one is better than the other … but I’m interested in your opinion today. Do we, as readers, simply want our male heroes more feral? More dangerous? Does making our heroes into a paranormal creature accomplish that? What does that say?

In Firelight, my heroine Jacinda is a draki, which is a species that has evolved from dragons. She’s the only one of her kind that can still breathe fire. She’s a very strong female, and being so “unique” opens up a world of conflict for her. And what would a book be without conflict? Jacinda is constantly surrounded by danger because of what she is. Since I wrote the book solely from her POV, I had fun with this. It wouldn’t have been nearly as fun to write had she been the human and Will, her love interest, the draki. But that’s just my take. What’s your take?

What do you like to read in your books? A paranormal female? A paranormal male? And of course, there’s a third alternative here: they can both be paranormal!


Happy Reading,
Sophie Jordan

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Let's eat!

We read to enter new worlds. Moving to another country, which I did last week, is like moving to another world. Even though Australia is probably the country most like America, the differences stand out (not so much for me, as I lived here most of my adult life, but my husband is having to adjust). The food alone is enough to make you think you're on another planet. There is no A1 steak sauce. There are, blessedly, no Twinkies or Ding Dongs. But there are Tim Tams and lamingtons and iced vo-vo's. Restaurants here don't serve iced tea and the waiter probably won't bring you water unless you ask for it, but you can get dry ginger instead of that sickly sweet "ginger ale", and fruit yogurt actually tastes sharp. Vanilla icecream tastes... different. Not better or worse, just different.

Last night my husband ate what he declared to be his worst ever restaurant meal (chicken parmigiana at a local bistro). My worst ever meal was some sort of flat noodle and white "gravy" and soggy green bean concoction at a Cracker Barrel in Pennsylvania. It was, in fact, supernaturally bad. Still, on the whole I got used to American food and I'm sure he'll get used to Aussie fare. Our daughter will be a Happy Little Vegemite, growing up on Milo and Nutrigrain instead of Minute Maid and Cheerios.

I like to imagine what we'll eat in the future. I don't believe for a minute we'll all be chowing down on protein shakes and vitamin pills. Humans live by their taste buds and we'll never stand for anything less than real food.'

For a bit of fun, tell me about the worst meal you ever ate. Or the most unusual. Or the most out-of-this-world. For me, nothing beats Cadbury Creme Eggs - available on both sides of the globe, but unfortunately only at Easter.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

December 21, 2012 - Will the world end?



********* DRAWING IS CLOSED ********

Melissa is the lucky winner. Please get in touch with me via the
contact page of my website to claim your copy of Sacrifice!

****************************************

I wish I knew if the world was coming to an end on December 21, 2012, as some believe. A catastrophic end time, throwing the world into utter chaos. For one thing, I'd pay only the minimum amount on my credit card bills. Probably max them out, too. It'd be just my luck that all the doom and gloom people were wrong, and on December 22, 2012, my credit record would be shot. Maybe we could just not have a winter solstice that year and skip the whole controversy.


I'll say up front that I'm a skeptic about all the 2012 prophecies, but I have to admit to being a tad concerned about the end of the Mayan calendar. Those guys really knew what they were doing about astronomy and making calendars, and they say that after 2012, time will no longer have the same pattern as it does today. That's why the calendar ends--because they had no system for measuring the new time flow beyond that point. What does that mean? It could mean that the Earth would be thrown off its axis, changing the speed of the day and year dramatically. Life on Earth is adapted to a 24 hour mix of sunlight and darkness, according to season and lattitude. Imagine what it would do to plants and animals if that day shifted to 6 hours! (It would have the same effect, an astronomer told me, as if the moon suddenly vanished.)

Sumerian alien carving?
I'm going to add one more thing to this discussion before saying how I came up with it in the first place. Some celebrities, among them Mel Gibson, Jesse Ventura, Montel Williams, Woody Harrelson, Shirley Maclain, and Dan Akroyd, have listed themselves as 2012 believers (http://www.december212012.com), and Tom Cruise, too. Is this grabbing onto a hot trend for publicity or a sincere understanding of what they're putting their name to? You be the judge.

In the Mortal Path series that I write, the world-building is based on Sumerian myths. That's what started me thinking about the 2012 thing. The Sumerian people believed their gods came from outer space about 450,000 years ago. Eventually the major gods got around to creating humans as their servants when the lesser gods and demons refused to do the dreary work of maintaining a world. The gods all left Earth to return to space 12,500 years ago by hopping a ride on their home planet, Nibiru.

This creation myth correlates with today's search for Planet X, also known as Nibiru, the supposed home planet of those gods. This is a huge topic with many mind-boggling theories, dubious speculations, and NO scientific backup. Such as: Planet X collided with Earth and created the moon; Planet X's huge elliptical orbit brings it close to Earth every 3,600 years (like a comet, but it's an occupied planet); the planet will return in December 2012 and is described in the Book of Revelation as the prophecy of the sixth seal; previous close passages of Planet X caused the Great Flood in Noah's time and the sinking of Atlantis. Google Planet X and you'll see what I mean. Because of the lack of astronomical evidence for Planet X, all these things are tough for me to swallow in real life, but do a fine job spicing up the mythology!

Sumerian cylinder seal with solar system
Supposedly the Sumerian gods and goddesses are coming close to Earth again after a 3,600 year absence, and they may not like what humans have done with the world since their last visit. Hence, forecasts of doom. The Sumerian gods made us once; they can throw us away and start anew. So the myth goes.

Look at the famous Sumerian cylinder seal to the left. A cylinder seal is a carving that went totally around a cylinder of clay. The cylinder was then dipped in ink and rolled onto parchment like a rolling pin, leaving a 360 degree impression of the whole scene. Sumerian big shots used them as signatures. More than you wanted to know. Anyway, this particular cylinder is famous because it contains what is thought to be a drawing of the solar system. Keep in mind the Sumerians didn't have any telescopes, so how did they know about the solar system in the first place? The drawing in the upper left contains the sun, Earth and its moon, and nine other planets, counting Neptune and Pluto (both invisible to the naked eye). To add to the mystery of this drawing, there are ten planets total, one of them being Nibiru. Hmm ...

Although I don't use this aspect of Sumerian mythology in my series, I'm wondering if I should catch the wave and plan a special book for the 2012 release. Maliha single-handedly fixes the Earth's rotation, or something like that.

Sacrifice Badge
My current release, Sacrifice: Mortal Path Book 2, has just been out about a month and is getting great reviews. I'm running a drawing for the opportunity to put yourself into the next Mortal Path book as a named character, plus a subscription to the series or a manuscript critique by yours truly. Click the green button on the right that says "Put YOURSELF in the next Mortal Path book" to enter. Hurry! The opportunity ends December 1, 2010.

I'd also like to give away here a signed copy of Sacrifice, a pen, and a bookmark, separately from the character-naming on my website. To enter to win, please post a comment below. You can earn points by:
50 page preview!

+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
+2 Posting a comment on Mortal Blog, my personal blog.
+2 Following Mortal Blog, my personal blog.

Note: You are not entering the character-naming drawing by doing any of this! That's separate and requires a submission form on my website. Click the green badge, above right.

Just post the total number of points (maximum 8) that you’ve earned in your comment. The winner will be announced in this post Saturday, October 2nd. Contest ends Friday, October 1st, at midnight! Please note that if I don’t hear from the winner within 3 days after the contest closes, I will select another winner.

To get started with comments, how do you feel about the 2012 controversy? A skeptic? Believer? 100%-it's-all-nonsense unbeliever? What do you think about celebrities advocating the end of the world? Is it all just PR?

Happy supernatural thoughts,
Dakota

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wish I could tell you I'm a better guy...

...love is all around and only real men cry. But all I wanna do is jump your bones; slam dance all night to the music of your moans.
All right. Take a minute, get some tea. Coffee. You know, something wet. Possibly alcoholic. A martini. Let's be classy. Let's be honest. Put on some lipstick and your best serious glasses (although dear gentlemen, you may choose one, if you prefer) and let's have a chat.

I have a confession. And I suspect I'm not the only one.

You say you want my love...

...well, my love tastes of salt.
Sometimes, the best heroes are those who know what they want. And what they bloody well want is her.

Come on, think about it. sit back, cross your legs most ladylike at the knee (or most dashingly, if you so choose) and purse your mouth thoughtfully. You may, if you wish, make a noise, such as, "Hmm." Or, if you prefer, "Ah..." Let me pose to you a question to answer:

Is there anything that makes a woman feel more special, more attractive, more turned on than simply being wanted?

Not because we hold the key to some artifact of power, not because something in our genetics speaks out to a creature of the night. Not because we're rich, or because we've fallen in his lap and need to be saved. Nor is it because we—as is far more likely, ladies—saved him.

Wanted because something about us speaks to him. Wanted because he took one look and thought, "I have to taste her." Wanted, my dear friends, because he is male and thinking with every masculine chromosome he possess from the neck down.

Am I right?

If there's a deeper meaning that you're trying to find...

...it's in your head, you'd better treat it kind.
Now, I hear you—But Karina, you shout, waving the olive-adorned toothpick from your martini between two fingers, that would make a very short book!

I agree, and I certainly wouldn't want to shortchange any of my favorite books. As you may have realized by now, I'm an avid fan of murder, mayhem, mystery and magic. And, likely, other words beginning with 'm'. A little blood brings out the best in everyone.

And certainly, an alpha werewolf, sexy vampire or adrenaline-junkie monster hunter will have his own problems, tasks and goals in mind. I won't begrudge any of them this. Just because a hero has things on his mind doesn't mean he can't fall in lust at first sight.

Conversely, just because he falls in lust at first sight doesn't mean he can't have other things to tend to.

All too often in paranormal romance, I find that heroes are so wrapped up in their lives, their goals, their murders and life-threatening events that the conflict between hero and heroine invariably stems from the usuals—he needs to hunt her, she wants to kill him, he needs to protect her from the monsters and falls for her in close quarters, hate at first sight, competition at first sight, and so forth.

I wonder, are there any paranormal romance books out there where the hero—or the heroine—simply decides from the start that he wants the woman who isn't at all part of the plot, the community he's protecting, or even related at all to the subject at hand? Or that she is going to land herself the hunky man at the bar for the kind of late-night getting-to-know-you that leaves her humming in the morning?

Sure, such an event would likely draw the other into the plot, but that's life, isn't it? A chance encounter that rocks your world, and changes it...

And in the best of worlds you are the same as me...

...You think of life and love and morals separately. You don't expect a promise to last longer than the words themselves.
The aspect of this I love the most is the sheer, unadulterated passion that draws these two together. It's not mired in mystery, or in politics, or in ulterior motives.

I once started writing a book—which, to my everlasting shame, was lost in a hard drive crash—involving a human hero and a Fae-cursed heroine. She wanted nothing to do with him, mostly due to her own issues, but he took one look at her and thought to himself, Sean, buddy, you've got to nail that before you go home.

Was it classy? Nope.

Was it honest? Skippy. Honest to the to the bone.

And because he single-mindedly pursued her, he ended up sucked into a world far beyond his knowledge. But the wanting came first. The acting on that want came before anything else, and I'd be lying if I said that Mairi wasn't more than a little turned on by that attention. He didn't want her magic, or her secrets. Hell, he didn't even know she was anything more than the proprietor of a Bed & Breakfast. He simply... wanted her. And that got his foot in the door, unwitting though it was.

My point, ladies and gentlemen, is such: plot is juicy. Plot makes the world go 'round, it changes people, develops them. Plot is the bread and butter of books. However, I submit that not everything has to do with plot.

Sometimes, two people just desperately want to shag.

Furthermore, I submit that there is something raw, something unparalleled... dare I say it? Something unspoilt about two people who are attracted to one another without the meddling fingers of plot to force the attraction in some way or another.

Plot will have the rest of the book to yo-yo them around.

Give me a man who is honest about his wants. The woman who responds to that raw honesty is bound to find her life changed forever.

... Or waking up the next morning with tangled sheets and a hazy memory of a guy whose name might have been Fred. You know, it can go either way. In romance books, the morning after can be one hell of a start.

Karina Cooper is a paranormal romance author for Avon. Her debut novel, Blood of the Wicked—an urban romance set in a world torn apart by a war between the accused and the hunters sworn to kill them—will be released in 2011. She's not actually advocating that people run off and sleep with the first person who says, "I want you," but does challenge everyone to keep a mental note of how many pick-up artists actually try that line instead something cheesy. You know, for science.

All lyrics in headers and following quotes come from Fiction Plane's It's a Lie, only one of her most favorite songs ever.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Carlos, Man of Love!

Congratulations to the winner, Katie Dalton!! Please contact me at kerrelyn@earthlink.net so I can get your address. Many thanks to everyone for the comments! A big were-panther hug to you all!

TEN THINGS WE KNOW ABOUT CARLOS:
  1. He's a powerful were-panther from Brazil. In previous books, we have seen Carlos shift whenever he needs to. He doesn't have to wait for a full moon like other were-panthers. How did he get so powerful? Find out in three days when Eat Prey Love goes on sale!
  2. He let his friends think he was gay. Why would he do that? Find out in three days!
  3. He's a rascal! He used to watch his friend Toni get dressed. How will she react when she finds out he's not gay? See Carlos get what he deserves in three days!
  4. He likes to drive fast cars, especially black Jaguars.
  5. He likes to dance, especially the Samba.
  6. He likes to fight. He taught Toni martial arts, and we've seen him practice with Robby.
  7. He likes to win, and he can be sly and stealthy about it. See his sparring scene with Robby in The Vampire and the Virgin.
  8. He's a loyal friend. Even though he likes to tease his friends, he will charge to the rescue and risk his life if they're in trouble.
  9. He likes romance. He played matchmaker to spur Robby's romance forward. How will he react to romance in his own life? Find out in three days when Eat Prey Love goes on sale!
  10. He's a true hero. He rescued five were-panther children when their villages were razed to the ground. What heroic feats will he do in Eat Prey Love? Find out in three days!
In case you haven't noticed, the next book in the Love at Stake series, Eat Prey Love, goes on sale in THREE days!! I wasn't too obvious, was I? Leave a comment about Carlos, and one lucky commentor will receive a signed copy of The Vampire and the Virgin plus a signed spiral notebook featuring the cover of Eat Prey Love.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

SMART CHICKS Make Great Tour Buddies!

You may have heard of it: The Smart Chicks Kick-It Tour. Brainchild of three uber-fab YA authors Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong, and Alyson Noel. (And, by the way, Melissa and Kelley are also fellow Supernatural Undergrounders!) Basically, what started out as a 6-city, author funded tour, quickly exploded into 12 stops, with Melissa, Kelley, and Alyson being joined by 15 other YA authors who alternated events with them. I was fortunate enough to be included among those lucky 15…And. It. Was. Epic!

In (110 degree) Scottsdale, it was Melissa, Kelley, Alyson, Holly Black, Sarah Rees Brennan, and me:


There were cookies (Get it? Boots because we were “Kicking-It”!)...


...sparkly tattoos...



...and Sarah Rees Brennan showing off her fencing moves (yes, in her skirt and high heels) to a crowd of almost 300!





In Menlo Park, we lost Holly Black and Sarah Rees Brennan…but we picked up Melissa de la Cruz, Margaret Stohl, and Kami Garcia:



Backstage, we showed off our jewelry and our shoes.














And then we were on:

I'm not sure what Alyson was talking about, but I LOVE the picture!!!


And I just have to say that group tours are incredible, but touring with some of the Smartest Chicks in YA literature was absolutely mind blowing!!!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Joss Ware Lockdown Contest Winners

Thanks for playing yesterday, sharing your thoughts on your favorite classics! Many of the ones you mentioned are my own favorites.

The two winners of copies of Bespelling Jane Austen and The Rest Falls Away are:

Sullivan McPig
van_pham

I will attempt to contact you via your comment, but my email is joss at josswarebooks dot com if you like!

CS Lewis taught me all I know

I love talking about kids' books and what we read when we were kids. What's fascinating too is how what you read comes back to you and how it creeps into your own work as a sort of cross-pollination.

I was reminded of this when I was writing an erotic romance for another publisher (oh, okay, if you insist: Tell Me More, Harlequin Spice, Aug. 2011. In small letters so as not to offend HarperCollins). I had a scene where a character was exploring a mysterious house and I immediately remembered a scene in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, where Lucy Pevensey has to explore such a house to find a magic spell. I haven't read this in years but I immediately remembered how Lucy caught a sight of her reflection in a mirror that was framed with a beard and thought a stranger was peering out at her... creepy!

And then soon after that, my heroine had to hide in a closet. With coats hanging in it. And another couple came into the closet, and ... well, it became rather un-CS Lewis-like after that point. But what sparked all of this off was yet another book I'd just read, The Magicians by Lev Grossman, an amazing, astonishing, scary read that starts off, very deceptively, like a Harry Potter for adults, progresses to a grown-up sort of Narnia, and then turns into something much more dark and menacing.

I enjoyed CS Lewis's books a lot when I was a kid and occasionally re-read them as an adult. The Christianity in them never bothered me, although I found the hammer-it-home platonic theory of The Last Battle (not to mention all the dead people) a bit hard to handle and I've never read that one again. The rest, I love.

But, like so many other books I once loved, I now find myself reading CS Lewis with a critical eye. Even as a kid I wondered how, in a land where it is forever winter, there was any food at all, let alone tea, buttered toast, and sardines (yum! It's an English thing--that's Mr. Tumnus's high tea in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and here's a gratuitous pic of James MacEvoy whom I find alarmingly attractive even when he's a pale, freckly goatboy). I also found the "boys taking charge" thing a bit much, now and then.

I admire the way CS Lewis tied some of his loose ends up when he wrote The Magician's Nephew: he explains the origin of the wardrobe and why there's a lamp post in the middle of the Narnian woods, and where that danged White Witch came from anyway. (Okay, this is a safe place. Raise your hand if you, too, have a massive girl crush on Tilda.) That's something I love to see happen in my own writing, when something pops into my brain and onto the page and although I may not know it at the time, there's a reason and a story behind it.

In a burst of self promotion, I must remind you that there are only a few days left to enter the Goodreads contest for a free copy of Jane and the Damned (released 9/28/10), and there is yet another contest, for a $25 gift certificate if you "like" my newly-launched Facebook author page. I also have a book trailer, and here it is. Enjoy!



Did you read CS Lewis? Or any another author of children's books who sparked your imagination?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Joss in Lockdown Mode=Special Giveaway Day

CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED! WINNERS POSTED SHORTLY.


Happy Tuesday everyone! It's sun-shiney here and it's going to be a lovely Indian Summer day here in Michigan. How about where you are?

I'm in writing lockdown on multiple deadlines, and preparing to head to Italy (I know! I know!!) for a mini book tour two weeks from today, so this is going to be a short but sweet post with a juicy little giveaway today. How's that?

Most of you probably know I also write a female vampire hunter series as Colleen Gleason (The Gardella Vampire Chronicles), and a week from today the world of the Gardellas will be featured in a new anthology called Bespelling Jane Austen.

Included in the anthology are Mary Balogh, myself, Susan Krinard and our own Supernatural Underground's Janet Mullany. Each of us has taken a Jane Austen novel and bespelled it--ie, given it a paranormal twist.

How much fun is that? So of course, I'm going to share the wealth with our Supernatural Underground readers and give away a copy of this lovely trade paperback anthology and the first book in my Gardella Vampire Chronicles series to two lucky winners.

That's right. Two winners. Two books each. Didn't I tell you it was gonna be juicy?

All you have to do to enter is comment below and tell me what your favorite classic novel is, and whether you'd like to see it "tweaked" or redone with a paranormal or erotic or contemporary twist...or whether you like it just the way it is.

Please share on FB and Twitter, too...you don't get extra credit for it, but we appreciate our readers helping to spread the word!

I'll draw winners tomorrow in hopes of getting the books out before the actual release date.

And by the way...if you like classic novels redone with an erotic twist, you might want to check out Colette Gale's versions of The Phantom of the Opera, The Count of Monte Cristo, and the Robin Hood love triangle. *wink wink, nudge nudge*

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fighting for the alpha male

So as Tracey mentioned, she and I (and other Supernatural Undergrounders Carrie Vaughn and Helen Lowe) went to Worldcon a couple of weeks ago. I do love a convention – the camaraderie, the inspiration, the education.

Sometimes the education is a personal one, in that you find out some people have some rather particular views of the world. An example of this occurred on the panel that Tracey and I did together – Girl meets boy meets dragon: fantasy and romance. A comment was made by one of the other panellists (can’t recall whom) in response to the question of why paranormal romance has become so popular – because it’s become politically incorrect to have alpha heroes in romance and with the beasties in paranormal romance we can indulge in the forbidden desire to be ruled by an alpha.

Tracey answered it well. I couldn’t formulate my answer then, but I know my mental “Noooooooo” was FULL of anguish.

Two weeks later, I’ve finally figured out my answer (yeah, I know, my brain needs time to mull things over). I have two issues with the statement. A) the assumption that there aren’t alpha males in romance any more and b) that we want a certain type of alpha male.

Back in the 70s and 80s, romance was ruled by a certain type of man. Many labelled him alpha male. I label him a jerk. This man was a leader – calm, poised, intelligent, determined, lethal (if required) – okay, fine, alpha. Except he also ruled his women with force. It wasn’t uncommon in these books for women to be kidnapped, raped, forced into marriage, blackmailed and so on.

The woman’s response generally went along the lines of “he’s handsome and rich and strong and he could have any woman he wanted and he’s chosen me so a) I must be in love and b) that makes everything he does OK.”

Thankfully, this jerk isn’t seen in romance any more but does that mean we don’t see alpha males? Absolutely not. So far this year I’ve read five non-paranormal romances. The heroes included a lord (love me a good Regency), a Nascar driver, a doctor, a paramedic and a fire-fighter. Everyone one of them was ruggedly good-looking, strong, hard-working, respected, admired, unwilling to give up at the first hurdle, a leader – in short, every one of them was an alpha male.

However, not one of them was a jerk.

So, having definitively proven that there are still alpha males in romance, let’s move to the idea that paranormal romance contains the old-style alpha male aka the jerk.

Now, I’m the first to admit that at times, those werewolves, vampires, shape-shifters, angels and the like leave a little to be desired in the social skill stakes. However, in my reading of paranormal romance (and I freely admit I’m not as widely read as most of you all here) I’ve never come across an alpha male who won the girl by being a jerk (and if he tried, then your typical PR heroine would kick him in the crotch and we’d all cheer).

The latest I read was Lord Conall Maccon, in Gail Carriger’s Soulless (I’ve only read this book – please don’t ruin the others for me). Maccon is one of the most alpha males I’ve read in a long time – he’s rough and gruff and so into his alpha status in the local pack that he even tries to woo Alexia as if she were a werewolf (loved those conversations – sorry sir, but that’s not how a man woos a lady in Victorian England). Even when you first see them together and he’s annoyed at all heck because this women just won’t show him the respect an alpha wolf deserves and growls his teeth off at her it’s just that – growling. There’s still beneath it all a grudging sense of – respect? Admiration? Lust?

He’s bad tempered, and finds the whole ‘why won’t she respect me, I’m an alpha?’ thing hard to handle, but Maccon isn’t a jerk. In fact, as the book goes on, the level of respect he has for Alexia becomes crystal clear and THAT’S why she falls for him (and also cause he’s hot).

So that’s my argument for why it’s so wrong to say that we read paranormal romance because we secretly still want the old-school alpha male. A – we don’t and b – we read paranormal romance for reasons other than wanting hot alpha males cause we get those in regular romance too.

So, what to you think folks? Do you think paranormal romance is the last bastion of the old-school alpha and do you think in 2010 we’re interested in reading them?

AussieCon 4 or the 68TH Annual Science Fiction Convention

This year WorldCon came to Australia. I almost missed it, but in the end I made it. And I am so glad that I did.

I arrived early in Melbourne on the Thursday--the day WorldCon started. I went down to the Crown Plaza (Party Central) to meet up with fellow Supernatural Undergrounders Carrie Vaughn and Nicole Murphy. We’d arranged a book signing for Nicole and Carrie at the local independent bookstore Rendezvous Romance. Mirna from the store greeted us and we chatted with some of the customers before heading off to lunch as a lovely little cafĂ©.

After lunch we went down to register for the con. The convention centre was huge. Nicole had left early as she had a reading to go to, but Carrie and I registered and got our bag of goodies. There were a few things to have a look at while I waited for Erica Hayes, my roomie for the weekend, to arrive. She was to give a reading that evening which turned out to be quite interesting to say the least. While I waited I ran into another of the Supernatural Underground, Helen Lowe. It was great to meet the SU girls in person.

The weekend was a fabulous whir of panels, readings and socialising. The dealer room had lots of goodies for sale and art to view. I got to catch up with some old friends such as Sofia and Mark from Galaxy Books in Sydney and met several new booksellers as well. Australia is a big country in size, but a small one in population and I was surprised by how many people I knew as I walked around.

One person I was really looking forward to meeting was fantasy legend, George RR Martin. The first time I saw him, I got complete overcome with fan girlishness that I could not even speak. Carrie had given me permission to drop her name should I run into him, given that they live close. I finally got the chance to meet him at the Voyager party on the Friday night.  He was very nice and I held my hand – I was thrilled and refrained from asking THE question (those of you who follow the Song of Ice and Fire know what that question is). It was announce at the party that Voyager UK and Voyager Aus/NZ was teaming up with Eos Books to form a global imprint – Harper Voyager. An exciting piece of news which will be very interesting to watch.

There were a few of “purist” that thought any vampire other than Dracula is was fluffy and rubbish and the only urban fantasy is the type written by Charles De Lindt. And there seemed to be no distinction between urban fantasy and paranormal romance – it was all put in the PR basket unless of cause it was written by De Lindt. But on the whole it was a fabulous and positive experience and most people I met were friendly and open. So check out some on the pics from the con below.

Storm Trooper Alert

My fabulous editor Diana Gill and moi

Me with Jack Dann (center) and friend

Helen Lowe, Me and Erica Hayes

OMG - me and Geroge R.R. Martin

a Panel on Romance and Fantasy - L to R me, Nicole Murphy, Darlene Marshall and Fiona McIntosh
Nightmare Ball costumes- me, Erica Hayes, Helen, Eleni and Alison

Carrie Vaughn, me and Nicole Murphy

Sofia and Mark of Galaxy Books - packing up to go home.

Past Hugo Award statues

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Countdown to Launch

By Merrie Destefano

CONTEST WINNERS:

CONTEST IS CLOSED!

First, thank you to everyone who participated! I really enjoyed reading all of your comments and getting to know each of you. I hope you stop back! Now, for the winners:

Supernatural Underground:
Daniell: Winner of a signed copy of AFTERLIFE
Natasha17: Winner of a signed copy of AFTERLIFE
BaileytheBookWorm: Winner of a signed copy of HOW TO DRAW ZOMBIES
Donnas15: Winner of a signed copy of HOW TO DRAW VAMPIRES

Winners: Please note that you have 3 days to contact me or the prizes/books will be awarded to another commenter. Just an FYI, I ran everything through a randomizer program to find the winner. You can either leave me your e-mail address in the comments of this blog post or you can drop me an e-mail at: merrie [dot] destefano [at] yahoo [dot] com.

ORIGINAL POST:
Time is no longer my friend. She constantly betrays me with little things like crow’s feet and widening hips and lowered energy. She teases me with memories of loved ones who live far away, and she laughs when minutes drag into hours as I wait for a special event.


Right now she’s laughing, all right. Sounds like the cackle of a wizened madwoman. This time she’s thrilled because I’ve suddenly realized that there aren’t enough hours in the day.

The launch for my first novel—Afterlife: The Resurrection Chronicles—swiftly approaches on Sept. 28, followed immediately by the deadline for my second novel rewrites. After that, my month-of-promotional-events begins, some of which are online, some are in person, and some are probably just in my mind.

The mind of a writer can be a terrible thing.


I’ve been forgetting things like what day it is and writer’s group meetings. I almost forgot my husband’s birthday and I’m pretty sure I could forget how to get home from the mall, unless you lured me there with a pint of taro frozen yogurt. In a frantic attempt to keep up with deadlines, I’ve cancelled vet appointments, dentist appointments, and lunches with dear friends. Right now I just remembered that I haven’t gotten back to a friend who wants to interview me for her radio program.

And yet, in the midst of the madness, I’m excited beyond belief.

My first book is coming out in a couple of weeks. And that’s a dream I’ve had for more than 20 years. I stopped a few times along the way, but then got really serious about my publishing dream about 10 years ago. Since then I became the publisher of a national multi-media broadcasting and publishing company, and the editor of a national magazine.

All this without finishing my college degree. [Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone!]

I guess my motto is, don’t give up on your dreams. Ever. Don’t let anyone tell you, “You can’t do it.” Don’t let anyone stand in your way. Work hard, work when you’re exhausted, work when your friends are going to parties (ouch, that one really hurts!), work until you can tell that your dream is just a little bit closer. And then work some more.

I want to thank everyone who helped me achieve my dream, from my agent, Kimberley Cameron, to my editor, Diana Gill, to my husband, Tom. And a big cyber hug to all those awesome book bloggers who have reviewed Afterlife—you guys rock! [You can read snippets of their reviews here.]

My question for you, dear blog readers, is this: Is there a dream you almost gave up on? If so, please share what it was in the comment section. Also, if there was someone who encouraged you along the way, please share their name as well.

To get this party started, and to help celebrate my upcoming book launch, I have a few prizes.

1. I’ll be giving away 2 signed copies of Afterlife.


2. I’ll also give away 1 signed copy of How to Draw Vampires.


3. And I’ll give away 1 signed copy of How to Draw Zombies.


To enter to win, please post a comment below. 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
+ 3 Posting a comment on my other blog here.
+5 Linking to my website here.
+ 10 Following my other blog here.

Just post the total number of points that you’ve earned in your comment. Winners to be announced in this post Thursday, Sept. 28. Contest ends Wednesday, Sept. 27, at midnight! Please note that if I don’t hear from the winners within 3 days after the contest closes, I will select another winner.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Who is Sable Grace Anyway?

Since this is our first blog, and our book isn't due out for another eight months, we thought we'd take this opportunity to introduce ourselves, answer a few of the questions we've been asked, and talk a bit about our new series.

So, you're reading this blog filled with so many fantastic, best selling authors and you see one name and think, hmm, who the hell is that? Sable WHO? Who is this Sable Grace person and why is she listed on Supernatural Underground? Well, Sable Grace isn't just one who. It's two. The writing team of Heather Waters and Laura Barone. We're long-time friends and critique partners who started writing together because of a simple, and odd, challenge: I'll write one sentence, you write the next. This was supposed to be an exercise to spark our creativity so we could work on our own projects, but two hours and a chapter later, Sable Grace was created.

Are you two alike? No, not really. We are as different in our writing styles as we are in real life. Heather's blond. I'm brunette. She writes historical. I write steamy contemporary. She likes to explore the world we've built. I like to see more action. She's organized. I'm so totally not. But, we do have a lot in common that made us friends, and allow us to work together without killing each other. We both have a thing for Jon Bon Jovi, both adore Johnny Depp, and both want out of Florida so bad that we dream about it daily. Our tastes in music, books, and movies tend to run the gambit--we'll both listen to anything, read anything, and watch anything. Okay, I have an issue with 'Chick Flicks" only because nothings getting blown up or shot at, but if you swear to me it's good and can convince me something shocking is going to happen in the first ten minutes, I'll give it a try.

How do we write? Well, we've tried several different ways. We'd rent a hotel room for the weekend and spend the time busting out a couple chapters at a time. We've played a game of toss--lined up numbers cards and whatever number it lands on is how many sentences you have to write. And thrown dice--same deal as the toss. Fun, yes, but not always cool because Heather's much luckier than I am and always finds the ones and twos. Due to family obligations, we're not always able to get together for the weekend, so we had to try something else. Since Heather is so organized, she came up with a spreadsheet detailing how many words/pages we had to write to meet our deadline. One of us writes in the morning and emails it to the other who finishes before bedtime and mails it back. We edit each others work as we go and add our new pages. No, we don't always write an entire scene or chapter--it's been known to happen, but normally this isn't the case. Wherever one leaves off, the other picks up. No, it's not as aggravating as it may seem. We've been surprised more than once because the way one saw the scene going when she emailed it to the other, isn't how it was finished, but 99% of the time, we like the direction it took so all is good.

Pros/Cons of working with someone else? As you can imagine, the biggest Con is control. It's not easy to give up the control of a story idea and trust it to someone else. Waiting for the other one to complete a task or acknowledge they received the pages or to discover if you wrote four pages of crap that have to be redone is a bit stressful, too. But the high notes are way up on the list. We get surprised and explore new areas and ideas we hadn't thought of because we stopped in the middle of the scene to let the other one finish. We live two hours away so the fear of getting hit with flying objects are minimal (Although I am always expecting her to smack me in the back of the head every time we do see each other). There's always someone to share the workload and tasks with so you're not overwhelmed as much. And the best thing of all--If you write yourself into a corner, most times you'll realize it's happened at the point you reached your pages/words for the day and the other one gets to figure out how to get the characters out of the mess you dumped them into. (Okay, I'm famous for this one which is why I'm usually expecting that smack to the head.)

How do we take two distinctly different voices and make them read as one? Darn good question. Our typical answer is a glance at each other, a duel shrug, and one of us mumbles, "I don't know" (as one confused word, to which our editor says whatever you do, keeping doing it because it's working.) Honestly, though, we don't know how we do it. Maybe it's because we do have a lot of things in common. Or maybe it's because we're so different. Or perhaps it's because we've been reading/editing each other for years. Or even because we edit the other before we start our pages for the day. I really don't know, but we've decided if it's not broke, we aren't going to try to over analyze it.

Alright, now that we know a little about Sable Grace, what's the series about? It's a post-apocalyptic series set in St. Augustine, FL. The world has been destroyed when the gates of Hell are breeched, spilling Dark Breeds into the human world. The Order of Ancients, the gods of old who have been given the duty of keeping the balance of good and evil, and preventing the humans from knowing about all the things that really do go bump in the night, are losing their powers and are unable to restore order. With their Chosen replacements being slaughtered, they must rely on an unlikely ally to save them all. The first book, Ascension: A Dark Breed Novel, is due out in May 2011.

If you'd like to keep up to date on what we're doing, you can find us at http://www.sablegrace.com/ and come join us at www.facebook.com/sable.grace www.twitter.com/sablegrace or www.myspace.com/sablegrace


So, did we miss anything? What else would you like to know about Sable Grace?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Zombie Lovin': What Is Up With The Undead?

When did zombies become the new black? Zombies are everywhere these days, including zombie romance. When I first heard the concept, I was baffled; how could love, sex and romance work if you (or your partner) were one of the undead? What if you kissed and your lips fell off? (Just kidding! Kinda.)

Anyway, one day last year, just for fun, I took a moment to imagine how in the world one could mix love with lividity, and came up with this short little pre-Halloween, tongue-in-cheek tale I'd like to share with you.  I must warn you, if you haven't read my books yet, you're about to find out that I have a slightly weird sense of humor. :-) But if, like me, you don't mind a giggle or two at the expense of the undead, read away, and enjoy:

LOVE STINKS, AND SO DOES YOUR BREATH by Terri Garey

“Is that a femur in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”

Donna snuggled in closer to Derek, brushing the dark hair from his eyes with one hand. Unfortunately, a clump of it remained in her fingers, and she knew this particular boy toy’s time was limited. That was the problem with zombies—their shelf life was much too short, the pesky problem of decomposition being one she hadn’t solved yet.

Even embalming didn’t help, and she didn’t care for waxy buildup on her fingers any more than she did her floors.

“Brought you a present,” Derek murmured, with a lopsided grin, “for our two-week anniversary.” His breath reeked of blood and sausages, which made sense considering his job at the local meat packing plant. With a flourish, he whipped a hand from behind his back, and offered her his prize.

“How sweet,” Donna squealed. “It’s a heart!”

“Yeah, baby,” he answered smugly, blood dripping between his fingers. “A fresh one. Nothing but the best for my girl.”

“Awww,” Donna said, “I got you a present, too.” She let go of him long enough snatch her purse up from the bed. Digging inside, she brought up an object about three inches long. Picking off a piece of lint before handing it to him, she announced, “I usually wait at least a month before giving my boyfriend the finger!”

Derek and Donna both died laughing, which was long overdue, considering Donna had been dead for two centuries, and Derek for two weeks.

She eyed him with regret as she giggled, knowing his laughter would soon be a thing of the past, much like Horatio’s, the guy who’d gotten her into this fix. It had been Horatio’s idea to visit the cemetery in Edinburgh that night two hundred years ago. Bodysnatching had been a good way to earn some quick cash back then, unless your body happened to be the one that got snatched, of course.

Poor Horatio, she’d known him well, until that shovel had come out of nowhere, and smashed his head in. The doctor who’d done it hadn’t hit her hard enough, though, and she’d woken up in his laboratory to find him on top of her. After that, what was a ghoul to do except defend herself? It was only after she’d killed the doc with his own dirt-encrusted shovel that she’d found the secret book lying on his desk, in plain sight, and learned the ancient grimoire’s secrets about how to reanimate the dead.

“Hey, baby,” Derek said, interrupting her musings. “I got a perfectly good boner going to waste here.” He grabbed her hips and pulled her close again. “What say we get naked and put it to good use, hm?”

Donna smiled. She’d learned a few secrets about herself that night, too, including how her brush with death and her newfound ability to reanimate dead flesh left her with a taste for more of it. Immortality had cost her soul, but she was pretty sure she didn’t need it where she was going.

“Absolutely,” she answered, with a smile that revealed her own teeth, pearly white and perfect. Her eyes glowed red as she began to tug his shirt from his pants. “No use letting a good piece of meat go to waste."

Lest you think I'm overstating the global resurgence of interest in zombies, I'll leave you with this video of the annual "Thrill the World" event, where people all over the globe join together at the same time to dress in zombie costume and dance to Michael Jackson's "Thriller", in an annual attempt to break the Guinness World Record for "largest simultaneous Thriller dance":



In 2009, 22,923 people danced in 278 separated yet coordinated events taking place in 32 different countries, raising over $85,000 USD for 80 charities! This year's event takes place all over the world on October 23rd, 2010.

So what about you? Zombie-lover, or not such a fan? Would you ever participate in an event like "Thrill the World"? Tell me your thoughts for a chance to win a signed copy of my first novel, DEAD GIRLS ARE EASY.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

How Do I Plot Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

Last month I talked about my general plotting process, how I pre-plan the highlights only, keeping the story details open until I get to that point in the book. That said, my pre-planning tends to be a bit more complicated than that blog post indicated. Before I can start on that writing journey there are certain things I absolutely have to know, three of which are main characters--the hero, the heroine, and the primary villain (if there is one). Stories, at least the kinds of stories I write, are ultimately about people. Yes there's action and conflict and plot, but if the characters don't come across as real, no one's going to care about them. Including me.

With a series like the Feral Warriors, at least one of the characters has been in other books and I already know him pretty well. Maybe I don't know why he's the way he is, but I have a pretty good sense of him. Kougar, for example, has always been kind of a scary dude, cold to the point that most of his Feral brothers give him a wide berth, never quite sure what he'll do. I knew that about him when it was time to write his book. What I didn't know was why. And that was the very thing I had to figure out. A lot of that 'why' was tied up in his past. And there was a woman involved. A woman, as it turned out, who wasn't only his past but his future--Ariana, Queen of the Ilinas. I knew from earlier books that a thousand years ago the Ilinas faked the extinction of their race. Again, it was time to understand exactly why.

Much of my plotting takes the form of questions. Years ago, I learned a technique from Carolyn Greene (the Plot Doctor) called the List of 20. Although I never get anywhere near twenty, the process has been immensely helpful. Why is Kougar so cold? Why did the Ilinas fake their extinction? Why are Ariana's deadly minions suddenly interfering in Kougar's life? For each question, I started a List of 20, numbering down the page, then brainstorming ideas until I hit on the one that resonated. I usually find what I want within the first four or five. And like the perfect musical note, I feel it resonate deep inside. Sometimes I don't find the right answer immediately. So I'll go on to the next question, and the next, questioning everything from the villain's goals to the heroine's history to Lyon's plans for the Ferals at that point in time. I go round and round, asking questions, digging up answers, hitting the story from every angle until the answers start singing inside me.

Notice, I haven't even started to find actual plot or scenes at this point. I'm searching for goals and motivations and truths about my characters and their worlds. And it's all about truths--insight, understanding, and empathy. It's through these that I find the emotion and heart of the stories I'm telling. When I was figuring out Rapture Untamed, I knew in my gut that late in the story Jag was going to betray Olivia. He was going to hurt her. I didn't know why or how, but I knew Olivia, that tough little fighter, was going to need some hidden vulnerability. That List of 20 was one of the longest I've done as I wrote down every possible vulnerability I could think of--everything from the mundane (a fear of spiders or an inability to swim) to the truly unique. As I brainstormed, I pulled out everything I knew of the Ferals' world, hit it from every angle, and ultimately came up with Olivia's being draden-kissed, a gift/curse that enables her to steal the life force of others like a draden does. It's a condition that carries a death sentence if anyone finds out. And of course Jag, that bad boy, was going to find out.

So with each new story I dig and dig until I think I have enough, which is hard to know sometimes. Then I'll start figuring out the three or four major plot points or turning points. It's at this stage that I can usually tell if I've dug up enough to tell a full, rich story. If not, I keep digging.

Once I feel like I've thoroughly tilled the soil, I explore each of the story threads--the hero's emotional journey, the heroine's, the arc of the romance, the hero/villain dance (or battle), the external plot, and subplots, etc. Once all these things feel strong, full, and cohesive, I set those plot tent poles and start writing. I may not know exactly what's going to happen, but I'm embarking on the journey well stocked with provisions and ammunition, gas in the tank, a rough road map in my hand, and the characters pulsing with life and emotions and, if I've done my job right, charging ahead, leading the way.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I'm Done and uh, where did the Summer Go?

First off, I can't believe it's September. Can't! Where the hell did the summer go? And Earl???? Glad he blew away since he pretty much ruined our Labour Day weekend with gusty winds and rain....See ya!

The summer of 2010 did indeed slip by and I didn't notice. But I was in the throes of deadline hell. I've written 2 books since March...handed in Julian's book His Darkest Salvation and just finished Declan's--yes, Wicked Road to Hell is finally done. What a freaking relief! Holy Crap but I never want to be on such a tight deadline in the summer again! My only relief? Sunday nights watching True Blood!








Alcide Anyone???? This is my kind of man, dark, ripped and a little rough around the edges!


But the good news is that TV is all shiny and new, starting with tonight~! Weeeeeeeeeeeee!

I Juliana, the cougar, love, love, love The Vampire Diaries. (okay, the chick that plays Elena...um, could you be any more perfect?) my fave vamp being Damon of course.



I love how for me the focus has shifted to the darker brother. The bad boys will get you every single time my friends! They have depths to them that require a lot of digging, but when you finally get "there" I think it is so much more rewarding.






The other show I am looking forward to is Supernatural! It freaking rocks!


Yes, two brothers who've been gifted by the genetic gods of yumminess!
Who's your fave? Sam or Dean?
I don't have a lot of time for television but these two are musts. I did discover Criminal Minds over the last Christmas break.....A&E has marathons on the weekend and I think in the last six months I've seen every single episode.
So, What shows are you guys most anxious to see return? Any you've given up on? (for me this would be Grey's Anatomy and Bones)