Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Where Do You Write? + NIGHTSPELL giveaway

The giveaway has ended, and the winner is DonnaS, who has been emailed! Congratulations, & thanks everyone for entering.

For the record, most of you like to write or read at home on a couch or other form of comfortable chair. There were also a large number who like to read outdoors on a deck, in a coffeeshop or variation (a public place where they will serve you food and/or drinks), or in bed.

Where do you like to write? For some writers, there is one place only that will do; for others, anywhere they have access to pen and paper is a good spot for spilling out words. I count myself lucky to be in the latter category, but there were five spots in particular where a lot of Nightspell took shape:

[1] The playground

When I started writing Nightspell, I was a teenager; by the time I turned the final draft in to my editor, I had two kids. (Not because of teen pregnancy, but because of a first draft that took a drastically wrong turn and made me give up on the story for many years.) The revision that led to that final draft were written in the moments while my kids were either sleeping or occupied, and there was no better way to get them occupied than to take them to the playground. I became an antisocial mom who pushed the swing while reading manuscript pages and established rules like, “I’ll help you across the monkey bars one time, then you have to go do something you can do by yourself.” Only time will tell whether my kids will end up in therapy or simply become very self-sufficient.

[2] Barnes & Noble

There used to be a Barnes & Noble a few blocks from my home. In a corner near the teen section was a cluster of chairs – several wooden ones and one unbelievably comfortable plush armchair. Walking through the YA stacks would inspire me with the thought that one day I’d have a book up there, and if I got the comfortable chair… bliss. I’d hang out and write for hours. Of course, if anyone else had the comfortable chair first, I’d sit on one of the wooden chairs and periodically glare at him/her for taking up the seat for so long.

Note that I say “used to”; the Barnes & Nobles is now a gym. I’d say unfortunately, but there was an independent bookstore just down the block… and they’re still there. Which makes me happy, even if their chairs are not quite as comfortable.

[3] Jamaica Pond

My #1 biking destination, and a fabulous place to write. I can just let a picture do the explaining for me here:

[4] My living room

Even though I like writing in longhand, there comes a time when I have to sit down in front of a computer, type in what I’ve written, and whip it into some semblance of order (usually with the assistance of outlines, which is why my computer desktop was once scattered with documents called “Nightspell outline,” “first part Nightspell outline,” “new Nightspell outline,” etc.) I actually have a desk in my bedroom, but it faces a wall; even before I had kids, I liked being in the living room better. And now that I do have kids, there’s always the hope that they’ll play in the living room while I get to work. Sometimes that even happens, if by “play” you mean “destroy the resale value of our home”.

[no pic. I kept waiting for a “good time” to take a picture, i.e. a day when the living room was actually clean. It never came.]

[5] JP Licks

A fabulous ice-cream store where I put together the final first draft of Nightspell. I had hired a babysitter for two hours, and my plan for those two hours was: get the manuscript into shape for my critique group. I looked at the space where I had written a vague outline for more stuff happening, and thought, “You know what? Nothing actually has to happen here. We can move right to the coronation.” Deleted and done, and the first draft was complete. I have no proof, but I suspect JP Lick’s red velvet ice-cream had something to do with the epiphany.

What about you – where do you like to write (or read, if you’re not a writer?) Let us know in the comments, and be entered to win a signed, personalized copy of NIGHTSPELL. Contest ends October 5 and is open internationally.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Delight in Dragons? Adore Angels? Welcome Guest Author, Deborah Cooke!

Congratulations to Jess (selwyn_jp at hotmail dot com) for winning a copy of DARKFIRE KISS, and JenM (jen at delux dot com) for winning a copy of FALLEN!  Thanks to everyone who came out and left a comment!

Some of These Things Belong Together

By Deborah Cooke (also writing as Claire Delacroix)

When Terri and I agreed to swap blog posts today, just for fun, we also agreed to write about paranormal romance – since that’s what both of us are writing and publishing right now. I’ve written a lot of blog posts about both of my paranormal romance series so thought I’d write about assumptions.

A paranormal romance, first of all, is the story of the romance between a man and a woman, at least one of whom has mythical or magical powers. It begins as close as possible to their initial meeting and ends soon after they make a commitment to each other. The middle bit of the book involves their solving all of their various conflicts, the external ones that are often the reason they meet, and the internal ones which keep them personally from falling in love and/or making a commitment. This is all the familiar ground of romance – in a way, these are the elements that belong together in a romance novel of any subgenre or setting.

But a paranormal romance has the distinction of a parallel world. The protagonist with “something special” comes from another species or realm than we do. Whether that protagonist is a demon, an angel, a vampire, a werewolf, a were-dragon, or whatever, he or she must be part of a developed universe. And how each specific writer builds that alternate reality not only is what distinguishes the various author series from each other but is shaped by that author’s assumptions.

It’s shaped by the author’s ideas of what belongs together. What’s interesting is how different our assumptions are.

For example, my Dragonfire series ( by Deborah Cooke features heroes who are dragon shape shifters – or were-dragons in proper fantasy lingo. There are some basic dragon qualities that come from my understanding of dragons as a species:
• they are long-lived, not immortal
• they are passionate
• they breathe fire
• they gather hoard, so have financial security
• they live in secured lairs
• where there are dragons, there must be dragon slayers. In the world of Dragonfire, the Slayers are not human – they are dragons who turned bad and want to eliminate not only the good dragons but humans too.
• where there are dragons, there is treasure. I decided that my dragons would believe that the earth itself was their treasure and their responsibility to defend.
From my own affection for medieval stories (and my conviction that dragons really came into their own in the Middle Ages) comes another suite of details:
• they breathe dragonsmoke as a boundary mark. Dragonsmoke is invisible to humans
• they coexisted openly with us until the Middle Ages, when we nearly hunted them to extinction (we were obsessed with “cures” that included dragon’s blood and dragon’s bone). Now they keep their powers secret from most of us. They are also scattered and fewer in number than was once the case.
• in dragon form, they looked like jeweled sculptures. Each has scales the color of a gemstone and those gemstones are edged in what looks like a precious metal. Ebony and pewter. Lapis lazuli and silver. Garnet and gold.

What else goes with dragons? Because these are romances, I had to think about the women who would partner with these guys.
• popular stories about dragons say that they have an affection for princesses, virgins and damsels in distress. I have to admit that I’ve relied mostly upon damsels in distress for the roles of my heroines – and that many of them have been quite certain they could handle their current situation alone, thank you very much. I like that these heroines aren’t inclined to faint or wait to be rescued.
• in the world of Dragonfire, the meeting of each dragon dude with the woman who can bear his son is marked by a firestorm. Sparks literally fly between them and their lust for each other multiplies until they conceive that son. As you might imagine, this is pretty inconvenient and requires some fast talking on the part of the dragon guy. Slayers can sense the firestorm and are drawn to it, so usually the dragon guy is also defending his destined mate while trying to seduce her.
• each of my dragon shifter heroes has an affinity with two elements. This comes from Chinese dragon lore, in which dragons are masters of individual elements – the water dragon, for example, controls rain and flooding. So, my guys each have an affinity with two elements and their mates have an affinity for the other two. Their union then brings all four elements together, and is greater of the sum of the parts.
• there are a lot of old stories about the significance of a dragon losing a scale. In the world of Dragonfire, a dragon dude loses a scale when he falls in love. It’s a physical manifestation of his emotional vulnerability. Only the mate can heal the hole in his armor, which is an idea I like a lot.

You can see how the world of Dragonfire was shaped by my assumptions about dragons and also my interest in medieval stories.

My other paranormal romance series is the Prometheus Project by Claire Delacroix. (

This series is set in a dystopian future society, which is post-nuclear but pre-Apocalyptic. I liked the idea of angels and their luminous beauty in contrast to a very gritty urban reality – and I liked the idea that they could literally bring the light into the lives of the humans condemned to live in that society. What were my assumptions about angels?
• Angels are other-worldly. I wanted my angels to have their feet on the ground – that meant they had to be fallen angels. I decided that my angels would be volunteers in the battle to save humanity from ourselves, and that they would sacrifice their wings in order to take flesh. FALLEN begins with Montgomery losing his wings.
• Angels sing. When the angelic host appears, often to collect the volunteer at the end of his mission, their arrival is heralded by singing and brilliant light. This light can blind humans.
• where there are angels, there should be demons. Since my angels are fallen angels, I decided that the demon of choice would be Lucifer, the most powerful of the fallen angels and the one who did not volunteer. Lucifer was cast out of heaven for his pride – in this series, he tempts each angel hero when everything seems to be going completely wrong.
• it is written in the Book of Enoch that angels chose to help men, once men were cast out of the Garden of Eden. Each of the fallen angels listed there taught humans a specific ability – I used this with my angels, like Baruch (in REBEL) sharing his ability to see God’s will in the stars.

Again, these are romances, so we needed a little extra on the question of love:
• it is also written that the fallen angels remained on earth because they were tempted by the daughters of men. I decided that my fallen angel heroes would each be tempted by a specific woman, that they would fall in love and decide to remain among us instead of returning to heaven once their assignment was completed.
• As beings of light or thought, angels would have no sensory experience. In taking flesh, a whole realm of sensory reality is revealed to them, one that they knew about intellectually but hadn’t experienced. This is startling to them – and gives them a character arc that they wouldn’t have otherwise. Perfect beings have nothing to learn. Perfect beings who forget what they know because they are overwhelmed have plenty to learn! I really liked the idea of physical experience being overwhelming to the fallen angels.

We see just how traumatic it is in Montgomery’s loss of his wings at the beginning of FALLEN, but later, he is focused on getting his job done and ignoring the distraction of the sensory world. Lilia ensures that he can’t quite ignore the pleasures of the flesh.

GUARDIAN’s Rafe, in contrast, revels in sensory experience. He is the party animal who can’t get enough – and who pretty much forgets his mission as a result. Delilia’s experience in its complete lack of joy and pleasure is probably the only thing that could really get to him.

REBEL’s Armand is disgusted with humans and our pursuit of pleasure. He can’t wait to get his job done and get back where he belongs – until he meets Theodora, who is just as unhappy with the world but determined to use her abilities to change it. Her conviction also changes Armand.

So, there we have two different paranormal romance series, with two different sets of assumptions shaping the fictional world.

What are your assumptions about dragons? About fallen angels? Share your thoughts and we’ll pick two winners from the comments – one for a copy of the latest Dragonfire novel, DARKFIRE KISS, ( and one for a copy of the first book in the Prometheus Project, FALLEN (

Sunday, September 25, 2011

All About Gregori

Congratulations to Joni of Oregon for winning the Be Still my Vampire Heart T-shirt and signed book! Thank you all for leaving comments. Come again October 25th for my next giveaway!

I'm so excited that in just two days, Gregori's book, Sexiest Vampire Alive, will go on sale! To celebrate, I've been going down memory lane with Gregori, checking out his dialogue in each book of the Love at Stake series, and posting some of the more memorable quotes on Twitter and Facebook. I have discovered that he talks a lot about 'hot babes,' and from the beginning, he called women 'sweetcakes' and 'Toots.' Everywhere he goes, whether it's DVN or Vanda's nightclub, the women know him and try to get his attention. His reputation as a playboy is certainly well-deserved. No wonder his book is titled Sexiest Vampire Alive! And oh my goodness, those of you with e-readers could be waking up Tuesday morning with a vampire playboy in your arms!

Here are some of my favorite Gregori lines--
From book 1, How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire: "I'm too sexy for my cape, too sexy for my fangs." "Sweet little VANNA. Come to Papa."

From book 3, Be Still My Vampire Heart: "We're a bunch of mutants! Just like the Ninja Turtles." And to Angus, when he had Phineas in a choke-hold-- "Whoa! Easy, Mongo."

From book 5, All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire: "Are we lining up to do the bunny hop?" To Ian-- "You might try smiling. You know the ladies love a guy with a sense of humor."

From book 9, Eat Prey Love: To Caitlyn, attempting to make Carlos jealous-- "Don't look. He's glaring at us with laser-strength eyeballs. The heat alone would melt your skin off." "I'm heartbroken, naturally, that I can't have you for myself. Let's go dancing, Toots!"

From book 10, Vampire Mine: To Marielle, the angel of death-- "How does that work? I mean, do you just go down a line, saying 'Eenie meenie mynie moe, sorry, dude, you gotta go'?"

What crazy things will Gregori say in Sexiest Vampire Alive? And what kind of woman will finally capture the heart of that rascally playboy? You can find out Tuesday! Meanwhile, if you leave a comment here about Gregori, you'll have a chance to win a signed copy of Be Still my Vampire Heart, plus a slightly-worn but clean T-shirt showing the cover of Be Still my Vampire Heart! A winner will be chosen at random. International entries welcome. And please check out the Appearances page on my website,, to see if I'll be signing Sexiest Vampire Alive in your neighborhood!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

To alternate or not to alternate?

I’ve just started working on a brand new urban fantasy idea. It’s a great time – there’s all sorts of possibilities and you can be as outlandish as you like, because at the moment there’s no restrictions.

Slowly and surely, as the ideas come together and start to link, the restrictions that make conflict interesting in any new world start to form.

One of those possible restrictions in urban fantasy is the question – do humans know or not?

It’s an important question because it sets up a lot of rules. In my gadda world, I didn’t want humans to know so then I had to work out how do the gadda exist in this world regardless, why don’t humans know, what would happen if they did.

If humans do know, then you need to decide if you’ve got an explanation for this or not. For example, the invention of TrueBlood in Charlaine Harris’ Southern Gothic series, which lead to the vampires outing themselves and living openly.

If you don’t want to have an explanation, then you’re getting into presenting an alternate reality. It looks like our real world. There are humans, and they are living normal human lives. Only, there’s also – well, whatever non-humans you want to have. Like the Harry Potter world, for example.

I’m not entirely sure how to go with my new world. In the past, I’ve always preferred an explanation (not that I didn’t love the Harry Potter books, but that idea of some humans knowing the wizards were real always sat a bit weirdly in my psyche). But it seems that what I’m developing will work better as an alternative reality.

Maybe I should step all the way over, and not set it on Earth as well but create an entirely new world. Only – the few scenes that I’ve got playing over in my head are set in Sydney, and I’m loving them.

There’s a saying in writing – “sometimes you have to kill your babies”. This love I’m feeling for an urban fantasy set in Sydney may be one of the babies I have to kill, in order to make this new world work.

What do you prefer? Humans to know or not know? And if they do know, do you want an explanation or do you just float away in the alternate Earth?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

london calling

i was very lucky in that i got to spend
my birthday at the end of august in my
favorite city, london! i traveled quite a lot
before i had the bubs, and have visited over
a dozen countries, but london always holds
a special place in my heart because i fell in
for the first time there. then i married him. 8)
and here we are... sixteen years later.

since the hub's family is in england, we visit
annually. i've stopped taking as many fotos
of the sights and my favorite places to visit, shop
and eat. but i thought i'd share some fotos of
a previous winter trip there. enjoy!

*if you've read my novels, you'll guess
pretty easily that i love food! and i love me
a good english breakfast. (except the bacon.
i just don't like bacon--and english bacon is
scarier than american!) grilled tomatoes,
fried mushrooms, eggs, beans, sausages,
bacon and hash browns (english version).

*we were lucky enough to stay in my best
friend's flat in the primrose area. such a
beautiful neighborhood.

*a market on the tiny high street
selling cheeses, etc.

*open air markets are an absolute
favorite of mine and i try to visit them
in every country i go to! this one was
selling breads and pastries. yum!

*a cold morning and long lines after
christmas outside the london natural history

*we always do a proper afternoon
english tea as well. finger sandwiches,
cakes, and scones with jam and clotted
cream. (that's the small cup you see filled
with what looks like butter. i love the stuff.)

i hope you enjoyed these london fotos i've shared!

finally, congratulations to kate (kayko) for winning
a signed paperback of Silver Phoenix. thanks to all
those who entered the giveaway last month.

until next time, undies! =D

Monday, September 19, 2011

Top Secret Inside Gossip for Friends & Fans; Shhhhh.....

Nearly fell off my chair to see a super-famous Hollywood name in my inbox!!!

(One of my all time favourite character actor/directors writing for more information on Diamond Eyes with a view to adapting it into a movie!!!  Yayyy!!!!!!!! I’m so excited I’m still shaking!!!!!!!!!!!!!... and using far too many exclamation marks than is healthy for anybody!!! LOL)

Hint: Don’t want to Rush anything or jinx it,
but it’s already been a Shine-ing moment for me!

So now, how the heck am I supposed to concentrate on editing Leopard Dreaming this month? I’ve totally used up my annual allowance of exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!
And half of next years too, teehee!!

Yet the movie industry can be such a savage beast, so please cross fingers for me, or kiss crosses, lick garlic, say a prayer or maybe even stab a few voodoo dolls for all those who said I should stick to writing non-fiction!
<insert evil laughter>

Perhaps I'm not so thought as they dumb I was... coz this week I also figured out how to turn my powerpoint slideshows into movies. Only took me eleven years: Hallowed be Powerpoint Mark2010!... So no more software/hardware conflicts when I go to author events! Yayyyy!

Check the Evidence...
<How else can we spell evil laughter?>

p.s. And watch that eye; coz somehow I fluked the animation
so it twinkles in time with the theme song! YAYYY!
(Gosh, I sure hope my luck holds until I put in my lotto entry this week!)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Interview with a Witch

Got a question? Ask a witch tonight!

I had the chance to catch up with one of my favourite people from the Quantum Enchantment series, Kreshkali Richter. She’s not an easy woman to pin down so I took the opportunity, with her consent, to record our conversation.

KIM Kreshkali, it’s an honour to have you here in my home.

KRESHKALI Not a problem. You checked out.

KIM *clears throat* Many of our readers have asked me about your relationship to the Earth’s underground. In the first three books, you seem to be a loner, yet . . .

KRESHKALI *interrupting* It’s all about illusion. A glamour. To ASSIST, I look like a streetwise whore, scratching out a living on the edge of a ruined city. That’s the mask. After the underground was infiltrated by ASSIST, our leaders were killed. It was up to me. Pecking order, you know? I was next in line.

KIM And you’ve held it together very well indeed. But what about the magic? Did you really learn that on your own? From your mother’s grimoire?

KRESHKALI Not alone. I had Nell with me. Most of the time as kids, we studied together. Then there was the night in the sewer. Things went dark for sometime after that. But between Nell, and my mother’s books, ya, I learned the craft.

KIM And now you teach, of course. Can I ask who’s been your most challenging student?

KRESHKALI *chuckles* That would be Teg.

KIM Can you tell us a bit about him?

KRESHKALI Teg’s a Lupin. You know the term? Of course you do. He’s got wolf DNA merged with his own. A powerful shape-shifter, as all Lupins are, but Teg’s got something else. He’s a brilliant student. Drives me crazy sometimes . . .

KIM Because . . . ?

KRESHKALI *Surprised* If you met him, you wouldn’t have to ask! It’s like there’s no air in the room when he looks my way. Those eyes . . . He’s my apprentice though, so I keep it together.

KIM How do you cope with that?

KRESHKALI We train hard, fight dirty, study, debate, elude, detect and travel the many-worlds at the speed of light. It keeps me focused on the task at hand.

KIM Which is?

KRESHKALI Saving Earth and Gaela, what else?

KIM Ah yes, Gaela. How did you feel when you first woke up there?

KRESHKALI #%^@ing blown away! You can’t appreciate it, because your Earth is still healthy, but for me, waking up to see the sun shine, to see stars overhead at night and not a muddy vault, to drink water fresh from a stream and walk among trees was like opening my eyes for the first time. Fresh air that doesn’t smell like death, rain that doesn’t sting like demon’s piss, people who live and train and practice magic in the open . . . seeing that did it for me. I knew then and there. . .

KIM Knew what, Kali?

KRESHKALI I would do anything to bring Earth back to life.

KIM Beautiful. Thank you. *looks at the wall clock* Do you have time to take some questions from our readers?

KRESHKALI *winks* I thought you knew by now. I’ve got all the time in the world. Let me get my tarot cards . . .

Yo can read more about Kreshkali in the third book of Quantum Encryption, Journey by Night. Meanwhile, feel free to ask any questions here! She’s an astrologer, tarot reader and psychic, so go ahead. Want to know about $$, career, love? See what your future holds!

Kim Falconer is a Supernatural Underground author writing epic science fantasy novels. Kim’s latest series is Quantum Encryption. You can find out more about her at She posts on the 16th of every month.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

But What Happened Before . . . . Writing the Prequel

When we started writing the novella, I did a little research on blogs to see people’s opinions of the prequel, and novellas in general. What’s the main thing I discovered? That readers have a love/hate relationship with the novella/prequel. There are those readers out there who hate the prequel story because it’s not a complete story. Others who love prequels but hate that it’s billed as a novella when it’s an introduction to what’s already happened. Still others don’t care what it’s called as long as they can get their hands or e-reader on it.

What is the difference between a novella and a prequel? From what I’ve read, the novella is a short, complete story that provides the happily-ever-after that readers love. While the prequel is more of a teaser of the series that it’s related to, that’s designed to make the reader want more of the series. I must admit, this confused me a little. You see, I thought that all novellas, or prequels in novella form, or even prequels in full-length book form, were supposed to make the reader want more or to give them more of the series they've fallen in love with.

So, that brings me to Before The Fall. Is it a prequel or a novella?

First, the teaser:
Zach was once the Order of Ancients' most feared warrior, beating back the hounds of hell to protect the unsuspecting human race. But since he left the Order ten years ago, he'd been living as a mortal...until now. The gates of the underworld are breaking open, and Zach is needed once again in the fight. But before he can answer his summons, there's one person he refuses to leave behind. Shanna may think Zach has a screw loose, spouting all this "hounds of hell" nonsense, but he has to get her to safety. The journey to the Order's headquarters is a dangerous one, and even a warrior like Zach might not be strong enough to keep the darkness at bay.

Novella or Prequel?

Well, if you follow the definitions, it’s a prequel because the story comes before Ascension, the first in the Dark Breed Novels. However, it also gives you a happily-ever-after ending—at least where Zach and Shanna are concerned—so that makes it a novella, right? I don’t know, but I believe if you go by our definition—a story that makes you want more of a series you’ve fallen in love with—you’ll find Before The Fall everything you’re looking for no matter what you call it.

Now, my question to you: Do you call it a prequel or novella or even care as long as you don't have to wait too long for the chance to read it? One lucky commenter will win a signed cover flat of our December release, Bedeviled, book 2 in the Dark Breed Novels.