Monday, November 29, 2010

Guest - Frances Pauli

Good morning, everyone! Today's guest is Frances Pauli, who will be discussing Science Fiction and Romance.

Despite a tragic predilection to paint, Frances finally discovered her calling as a writer sometime in her mid thirties. As a lifetime reader of Science Fiction and Fantasy, the stories that clamber for her attention inevitably fall into the Speculative Fiction category.

She currently resides in Washington State with her husband, two small children, and a host of unusual and exotic pets.

Frances eats far too much chocolate, drinks far too little wine and does her best to get the stories out and on paper before they drive her completely insane.

More info on Frances and her writing as well as free reads and links to her books can be found at:
Science Fiction and Romance: a match made in the heavens.

I grew up with the classics of science fiction. I watched Captain Kirk battle alien reptiles every Sunday evening. I played with the neighbor’s toy Battlestar Galactica ships that actually shot little red missiles across the room. I saw the original Star Wars at the drive-in, lying on sleeping bags in the back of the family station wagon. The original--the first time around original. I fell in love with Buck Rogers.

I had a privileged childhood, from a Sci-fi perspective. I also read voraciously, and in hind-sight, primarily on the romantic end of the spectrum. I loved Norton, and McCaffrey and Lee. I devoured McHillip and Wrede. I didn’t know I was a romance reader, even though it seems obvious now. There was no such thing as Science Fiction romance, you see. I simply had a pension for women authors. Ahem.

Imagine my surprise, many years later, to find an entire sub-genre overflowing with the best parts of my early interests. Imagine my bliss. Today, not only can I ask for a little sci-fi in my romance—or romance in my sci-fi, take your pick—I can publically announce that I found the Han and Leia thing to be the best part of Star Wars. I did. I have no shame.

 It’s a brave new world, genre speaking. The romantic sub-plots may have been “sub-plots,” but they made the whole phenomena magical from my romance-junkie perspective. And now, heaven help me, now the
reading universe if filled to the brim with stories tailor made for folks like me--people who gave their full attention to the Troi/Riker, Troi/Worf, Worf/Dax saga regardless of the larger plot picture.

You know who you are. Thankfully, we’re not alone any longer. Point me at the SFR buffet. I have a lot of catching up to do.


Lords of Oak and Holly
Releasing Dec. 15
from Devine Destinies

When her interpretation of a traditional holiday scene loses Maris the annual ice sculpting competition, her favorite season takes a turn toward dismal. The rent is due, and her landlady won’t accept a fourth place ribbon. So when the enigmatic, Lord Brayce, arrives with a last minute commission, Maris jumps at the chance.

And as her host’s icy exterior begins to melt away, Maris finds there is far more to him than meets the eye, and his attentions leave her wishing this particular job could last forever.

But when Brayce’s family arrives for the holiday, Maris is plunged head over heels into a world of secrets and an age old conflict between brothers.

Can an ordinary girl survive at the center of a battle straight out of myth? And if her impossible suspicions are correct, what are the odds that Maris can win her prince?


Dimensional Shift
releasing Nov. 24
from Awe-Struck e-books

Chloe came to the Three Lakes area for the peace and quiet. She happily abandoned the world of retail management, suits and promotions to work as a hotel maid catering to the local tourists. Until Andrew
Paige showed up—a suit of the worst kind, the kind that makes her knees tremble.

When Andrew offers her a job at his hotel, Chloe is hell bent on resisting, but the Dimensional Shift is no ordinary hotel, and Chloe is immediately tossed into the world of inter-dimensional tourists, their odd accommodations, and a string of thefts that threaten to ruin her chances at romance.

While learning the ropes, dealing with the Shift’s unusual guests, and trying to determine if the boss’ interest in her is strictly professional, Chloe uncovers a plot to steal the hotel’s dimensional keys. With the help of the town gossip, her alien abductee neighbor, and her new invisible best friend, Chloe confronts an inter-dimensional crime ring and a host of complications that make romancing the boss look like the least of her troubles.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Guest - Lydia Dare

Good afternoon everyone! Today we have that great writing duo known as Lydia Dare. Sourcebooks has offered a giveaway so read all the way through to find out how to win.

We began our journey across Scotland in book two, Tall, Dark and Wolfish, where we met Elspeth Campbell, our heroine.  She just happened to be a fabled healer and part of a mystical coven called the Coig.  If you read the book, you know that Benjamin Westfield set off to find that fabled healer, expecting to find a crooked-nosed old woman. Instead, he found her fiery daughter, who had inherited her powers.  He also found four other witches.  

Thankfully, we get to write the stories of each of the witches, so we thought we’d take moment to introduce you to them and their varied powers.

Caitrin is the seer. She can see events that haven’t happened yet, and she is often plagued by those visions of the unknown.  Until she meets Dashiel Thorpe, the Earl of Brimsworth, that is. Dash makes her world go quiet when he touches her, but that’s about all that goes quiet. While the futures of others may cease to overpower her, his touch does just the opposite.  We hope you like meeting Cait, seeing her struggles with Dash, her mad flight back to Edinburgh with him in pursuit, and all the havoc her coven-sisters can create when they are of a mind to make mischief.  The Taming of the Wolf is our newest release and is on the shelves now.

Blaire is born to battle.  She’s stronger than the average woman, spends all of her time with broadswords and isn’t afraid to use her quick wits when the situation calls for it.  As a battle-born witch, she carries the torch as a protector of those she loves and takes her job seriously.  

Rhiannon is weather-borne, which means she can control the weather with a single thought in her mind. She can also control it with her emotions, much to her dismay. While it’s fun to shock a werewolf who’s not expecting the blow, it’s not as much fun to cause destruction in the middle of a crowded ballroom, which has been known to happen.  On occasion, her emotions can rule the weather choices she unconsciously makes.  She can fill a retiring room with clouds if she gets misty-eyed, and she can blow the buttons off a man’s waist coat at fifty paces.  

Sorcha is born of the earth, which means that the plants do her bidding. We got a taste of her power in Tall, Dark and Wolfish, when she charmed her vines into manacling Benjamin’s wrists when he got a little too amorous with Elspeth. With all of Sorcha’s flowers, one might think she’s too kind to be as ruthless as the rest of the witches.  They would be wrong.  If Sorcha was to greet you, she would probably encourage a flower to bloom just for you.  But if you cross her, she’s just as liable to tie you up with her vines as she is to let you walk all over her.

We had a lot of fun creating each of these varied personalities and their powers, and we’re really happy to say that each of the witches will get their own stories, which will be released in 2011.  

A fresh and imaginative world of noble werewolves, each of whom encounters nearly insurmountable problems in his quest to live a normal life among England’s Regency society.

Dashiel Thorpe has grown up with the sobriquet “The monster of Eynsford.” Each full moon, when he turns into a wild beast, he has been chained to the wall to protect those around him. He has never before encountered a creature like himself, until he goes to visit his university friend and encounters a family of Lycans living just next door.

When the full moon turns the pack of them into wolves, Dashiel’s feral ways bring him to near-disaster, and when he bites Caitrin McLeod he unknowingly sets off a chain of events that could lead to his ultimate destruction.

Banished to Scotland to find a mentor and get trained in how to be a proper werewolf, Dashiel must also find Caitrin and persuade her that she’s his only chance for salvation…

About the Author
Lydia Dare is the writing team of Tammy Falkner and Jodie Pearson. Both Tammy and Jodie are active members of the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers and live near Raleigh, North Carolina. They are working together on their next paranormal historical trilogy as Lydia Dare, which will be released by Sourcebooks Casablanca in 2011! For more information, please visit 

-- Lynda Again

Sourcebooks has generously offered to give1 full set of the Lydia Dare Books (A Certain Wolfish Charm, Tall Dark and Wolfish and The Wolf Next Door) to one 1 winner, US and Canada only. To qualify, please leave a comment AND send an email to me ( ) with Taming of the Wolf in the Subject and your name and address in the body. I'll have my alien kitten, Wookie, draw a name early Friday morning and announce it here. Good luck to all of you!

You can also see my review of The Taming of the Wolf at
And to our USA readers, have a safe and wonderfully delicious Thanksgiving!

Review - The Taming of the Wolf

The Taming of the Wolf
Lydia Dare

Sourcebooks, Casablanca
November 2010

Caitrin Macleod accepts the fact her friend and sister in witchery has married one of them but that doesn't mean she particularly likes Lycans. In her opinion, they're overbearing, arrogant and sure to pose a hindrance, if not a danger, to her witchy circle. And with the married couples off doing whatever it is that Lycans and their mates do in the fullness of the moon, she feels safe enough to slip down to the library for something to read. Unfortunately, there's someone else in the library when she arrives. A tall, handsome man, a blond Adonis, whose mere touch makes her forget all her inhibitions and warnings. Until he bites her, that is. Good sense and not a little outrage sends her to her room where she orders her carriage prepared for immediate departure. She wants nothing - much - to do with the mysterious man whose kisses make her lose her mind.

That man, Dashiel Thorpe, Earl of Brimsworth, is a Lycan but until recently he simply thought he was a monster. With each full moon, he'd lock himself away so that he wouldn't hurt anyone while his body changed and his urges grew wild. But the beautiful blonde maiden he meets in the Duke of Blackmoor's library entices him like no other woman ever has. All he knows is that she's Scottish and that, for whatever reason, he's bitten her. When he learns that he's claimed the beauty with his bite, he still doesn't understand. He needs mentoring, training, so that he can live with his Lycaness...and to entice the lovely blonde to fall in love with him. Before he does anything else untoward, he sets out for the Scottish mentor who'll teach him how to control his Lycan half.

Through the cold, dark night, he fancies he can still smell the girl, Caitrin Macleod. He eventually realizes her scent is on the wind and his Lycan abilities are allowing him to catch her scent as she, too, travels to Scotland. Putting his plan to charm Caitrin into falling for him into action, he catches up with her at a coaching inn. Incredibly, the girl acts as though she hates him though she responds wonderfully to his every touch. What follows are moments of laugh out loud amusement, human angst, and growing love between the two protagonists.

Dashiel was a mysterious, dark antagonist in the preceding book of this series but in much of The Taming of the Wolf, he's depicted as more of an untried youth as he attempts to both learn and cope with his dual nature. He's been conditioned all his life to consider himself a monster. His main concern is that on the full moon, he may hurt Caitrin and he's desperate to find a way to control himself so that he doesn't. His mentor's best advice is to accept and celebrate his wildness but Dashiel has a hard time accepting it.With the warning that unless Cait falls in love with him, Dashiel will be doomed to a cold and lonely life, he's quite desperate. One of his less than honorable acts is to seduce Cait before they're wed, but his growing desire to do the honorable thing stops him. Once they are married, their romance turns fabulously hot. While Dashiel isn't perfect, there's enough goodness in him to shine through and we readers fall in love with him too.

Caitrin, too, comes across as less emotionally mature than she did in the previous book though given this is during a more regimented time in society, it's perhaps more acceptable. However, she does come across as headstrong and somewhat arrogant herself and she makes choices that aren't always honorable herself. But by the end of the story, she has redeemed herself and become someone all of us would admire.

While the plot is the basic boy chases girl, there was enough variation in it to bring freshness to any reader. For me, this was a quick read, a real page turner. Then I went back and read it again to savor each word and emotion.

With heartwarming romance, engaging characters and engrossing plot twists, Lydia Dare and her Lycan books are fast becoming 'must buy' books. I recommend them all.

FYI Sourcebooks is offering a giveaway of Lydia Dare books, go to to find out how you might win a copy of the set.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Star Light, Star Bright...Interstellar Interview with Carolyn Hart

Carolyn Hart writes the Death on Demand series set in a South Carolinian mystery bookstore, the Henrie O series featuring a retired newspaperwoman, and the Bailey Ruth Raeburn series starring a redheaded ghostly sleuth.

Carolyn Hart wrote her first fiction story about Oklahoma, her home state, in "Spooked". More recently, if you've seen the name Carolyn G. Hart, that's Carolyn too. When she changed publishers, her new one decided to help the art department by dropping the G.

If you think "meet sweets" only happen in novels, then Carolyn could prove you wrong. She met her husband Phil on a college trip to Europe during her junior year. She graduated with a degree in journalism and they're still enjoying a great journey...along with charming Cat-A-Thomas and the imperiously beautiful Sophie.

Carolyn was one of 10 mystery authors featured at the National Book Festival on the Mall in Washington, DC in 2003 for LETTER FROM HOME and again in 2007 for SET SAIL FOR MURDER. She has been nominated 9 times for the Agatha Award for Best Novel (and won 3 times)!

What/who inspired Bailey Ruth Raeburn and her series? What prompted you to make her a ghost, in lieu of a regular living heroine?

I grew up enjoying the Topper books by Thorne Smith. I always loved ghostly movies that were fun or cheerful. I still laugh aloud when I see a performance of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit. And I always wanted to write about a ghost. Since the ghosts I enjoy are cheerful spirits, I decided a spectral sleuth would be both fun and challenging and I was delighted when Bailey Ruth swung around a heavenly cloud and said, "Come along with me. We'll have fun together."

Did you fashion Bailey as a sleuth (and a member of Heaven's Department of Good Intentions) because of your love for mysteries?

I've written 45 books that have been published. All are either suspense novels or mysteries. (A complete list of the books is available at my website -- Those are the books I enjoy reading and the books I enjoy writing. When Bailey Ruth returns to earth to help people in trouble, she has to figure out what has happened to them and that provides the mystery.

What is the most telling clue you've dropped about yourself in one of Bailey's books?

When I decided to write about a ghost, I realized I must decide who she was and where she came from and immediately my mind popped to Heaven. Bailey Ruth's heavenly origin clearly reveals that I believe in a Heaven which is always and ever cognizant of its creatures on earth.

If you could do one good deed with Bailey's ghostly stealth what would it be?
Imbue each and every person with a confidence that God knows and loves them.

Like every sleuth needs a method to crack mysteries, most authors have their own personal process. How do you create such wonderful and memorable books?

I am a what if writer. I begin with a protagonist and I imagine where they live and why and what matters to them and what dangers they face. One of those dangers will create the background for a mystery.

Out of all your experiences as an author, is there one that remains unforgettable?

When DEATH ON DEMAND received the Agatha Award for the Best Mystery Novel of the year in 1987. I was a struggling unknown author who had had very little success and that moment changed my writing life.

Do you have any appearances/new fans need to know about?

I will be the keynote speaker at the Eighteenth Annual Festival of Women Authors on Saturday, May 7, 2011, at the Irvine Marriott Hotel in Irvine, CA. My forthcoming novel, DEAD BY MIDNIGHT, the 21st in the Death on Demand Series, comes out in April 2011.

Remember if you post a question for Carolyn or a comment about her series', then you'll be entered in a drawing for a copy of GHOST AT WORK, the first novel in the Bailey Ruth Raeburn series! Please include your e-mail address so we can contact you in case you win!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Yes, Fictional Characters Need Friendship Too

I spent the other day with my girlfriend, D. It was invigorating and refreshing and something I always look forward to.

A woman can be close to her husband or children. She could be close to her mother. But being close to a girlfriend is different. Let me explain why. D and I have been friends since we were freshmen in high school. We've done weekend visits, gone to church outings, stood up at each other's weddings. I wouldn't even consider anyone else to be my daughter's godmother. We've both worked and worked hard at our jobs, offered comfort for family losses and joy at personal successes.

But that isn't all. We can talk about our failures or disappointments, our hopes or dreams and we can do it without fear of ridicule or of being a disappointment to someone important to us. I won't say that we've never gotten irritated with each other or that our relationship has always been roses and light although for the most part it has. I know no hurt has been intentional between us even if it has sometimes occurred.

The same happens with men although a man's relationship with his friends will be described perhaps in more manly terms and events.

The reason I'm bring all this up though is that so often we authors don't always utilize friendships in our writings. We create a character who is alone and we seem to think that when they find their true love, they'll be whole. Complete.

But I have to disagree. If a character can't form friendships, s/he won't be able to form a lasting, loving relationship. Why? Because they won't know how.

Friendship helps us learn how to trust. It gives us confidence in ourselves and our relationships with those around us. When we create a character who has no friends or has never had a friend, we have to show  how they learn to open up, how they can extend their trust. It may be hard for them but it's something they must do before they can open themselves to love.

In my novel, Heartstone, Keriam the female lead, can't touch anyone without becoming hyper-aware. But she still managed to have friends and when she falls in love with Eric, the handsome shapeshifter who steals her away from her normal life, it starts with her beginning to admire things like his humor or tenacity or protectiveness. And the same happens with Eric. Neither of them lock eyes the first time they meet and decide S/He is The One. In fact, the first time they meet with Eric in his human form is...memorable. 

So...the next time you read about a character who is friendless, always been friendless but still falls in love, check out how they manage to do it. Look for the signs of a budding friendship before the love bomb falls on them :-)

As for me and my day with D...
Lunch With Friend $10
Shopping With Friend $50

Time Spent With Friend...Priceless

She appeared unhurt, thank the Stones. Her breathing was
steady. He pried her mouth open. It didn’t appear the Gawan-spawn
had had time to Infest her. He hoped it hadn’t.

Hearing a noise, his head whipped around. His entire body
tensed, poised on the brink of shapeshifting. The wind whispered
through the clearing. A curious tree-rodent scampered higher among
the branches of its tree home. Near the stream, a small, hornless herbivore
cautiously dipped its head toward the burbling water. From a
farther distance, he heard a dog bark, then fall silent.

After a moment he relaxed, satisfied there was no immediate
danger. The Gawan threat on Earth would have to be seen to but, for
now, his duty lay with the Stonebearer.

Quickly standing, he surveyed the trees, found the one he wanted
and scrambled up. His clothes dropped to the ground. A moment later,

he dropped too, holding his sheathed sword and the Gatefold Key.
Instinctively, he glanced at the Stonebearer still prone on the ground.

He had almost lost her.

He might still lose her if she was Infested.

He looped the Key’s chain around his neck. The incubation period
varied. He had seen battlemates succumb to the Gawan embrace
and within seconds—change. Others suffered a longer incubation, a
time spent in anguished terror. Often they chose Enogch, the mercy
death, rather than become a danger to their friends and family. More
than once, he had been asked to deliver the stroke.

Could he do less for the Stonebearer?

Eric clamped down, hard, on the sudden pain centered near
his heart. He shook his head, negating that line of thought. With
the Gawan on Earth, there was no time to waste. Clearly they knew,
or suspected, her vital role in his mission. He had to get her out of
their reach. He had to find the Heartstone.

Standing, he jerked his trousers on. The Gawan-spawn had fled
rather than continue the fight. That bothered him. While he could
not be Infested in his alter-forms, neither could he successfully battle
a Gawan-spawn’s greater strength. His sword would have equalized
them, but with Keriam—the Stonebearer—so close... Well, he could
not risk her.

Slipping an arm into the sleeve of his shirt, Eric heard a soft
moan and turned. Her hand fluttered. With a gasp, she sat up, eyes
wide and scanning the area. When she saw him, she scrambled to
her feet. “Stay away from me.”

His gut squeezed into a hard knot. Did she fear him because she
was Infested? Or was it an aftermath of her fight with the Gawanspawn?
He shoved his other arm into its sleeve and held his hands
out in a gesture of peace. “I won’t hurt you.”

“Damn straight,” she agreed and spun around, already in a dead
run. Directly to the Gatefold. Astounded, Eric watched as she tried to
stop but she was too close. She yelped as she passed through the glowing
circle, then tumbled in an ungraceful sprawl on the other side.

Well, she had gone where he wanted to take her and he was
willing to take advantage of the situation. Grabbing his boots and
his sword, he followed.

Eric compensated for the disorienting effects of the Gatefold
as he stepped through. As the Stonebearer surged to her feet,
hishunter’s instinct made him lunge forward. Grabbing her hand,
he whipped her against his chest before she could dash away. Her frenzied
resistance staggered him. His back crashed into the rough bole
of a calanti tree, loosening his grip.

The Stonebearer swung her fist, connecting just above his ear.
Stars exploded in his vision.

Rottinghell! What was wrong with the woman? Sweat trickled
down his temples as he struggled to contain her. Her heel slammed
down on his bare foot, drawing a loud curse as he sucked in air. Her
knee slammed into his thigh, too close to a very sensitive part of his
anatomy. “Stop! I don’t want to hurt you!”

Men did not strike females. Ever. Eric was beginning to wonder
why that was as the Stonebearer wriggled, twisted, and bucked
against him. She jerked free, turned to run and he kicked her feet
out from under her. She fell face first onto the ground. Eric followed,
straddling her hips. Though the fall knocked the air out of her, she
continued to struggle.

He threw his full weight on her, plastering her to the ground.
She heaved, wriggling her firm backside against his loins. He groaned
as his flesh hardened. That was all he needed, he thought caustically.
This was ridiculous. He was a seasoned warrior. He ought to be able
to subdue one small woman.

Her elbow jabbed backwards toward him. He caught it in a viselike
grip and reached for her other hand as she groped for a rock.
Lifting suddenly, her head banged sharply against his nose. “OW!”

Enough, he thought and snared her hands. Roughly, he whipped
them together tight enough to elicit a sharp gasp from the little ryka.
With one hand free, he groped in his belt pouch for a length of dursilk.
Irritation, and a strong sense of self-preservation, made him pull
her hands behind her back and bind them tightly.

Sitting on her buttocks, he gingerly dabbed his nose, not surprised
when his hand came away bloody. The ryka lay panting, the
side of her face pressed to the soil while he lifted the Key from his
neck. Activating it with his breath, he aimed it the way he would a
hand blaster. His thumb followed the silver maze around the stone.

The shimmering Gatefold vanished.

Eric sighed. He looked down at the woman. Now what?

Friday, November 12, 2010


Most romance writers, and some writers in general, think having their books hit shelves during hte holidays is the kiss of death, unless of course the book has a Thanksgiving or Christmas theme. In reality I believe it's one of the most marketable times. You can suggest your book as a gift, do PR as much as you want since you really will be in competition with big retailers for the perfect gift. It might be a downer to spend part of your holiday season doing an event or signing, but think of all the people in the malls! You're sure to snag some attention as long as your placement is spot on. And signing stock is smart...which would you choose for a gift--a plain old average copy or one that has the author's John Hancock?

In other holiday end musings, do you believe the business side of books is killing your favorite authors? Are they in too much of a rush to crank out a bestseller or meet end of year schedules? Believe me, I understand the process, and that the novel goes through many hands until it hits shelves...but a lot happens in that last month by the writer and that first pass by the editor. Of late, I've often wondered if friends' book have not been edited because they were that good at all the key elements of writing or if the timing forced the finished WIP onward to the next step to get the book out on time.

Do you think novels are becoming cookie cutter? I mean they will always have similarities, but I don't think it's just me...when I see so many authors with the same kind of character or hooks. Are the editors just buying the same work? Just like with toy manufacturers, it makes you think. With a small pool of book editors, are they playing close to the chest or really looking for the next thing to wow everyone? Is that gem in the rough hiding in the slush pile, but no one wants to dig it out because of the year in crunch?

I don't know anything more awesome than an author getting "the call" for Christmas...that would make him or her really think miracles come true! And at Thanksgiving he or she would have some mighty big thanks to give :0)

Monday, November 08, 2010

Guest - Jane Toombs

Good morning, everyone! Today we have the talented and prolific author, Jane Toombs visiting us with an article about writing historical paranormal. Enjoy!

“The past is a foreign country to which no one living has ever traveled,” is a famous quote.  To that I’ll add I’ll add that no one has ever met the inhabitants of that foreign country of the past, either.  This gives those of us who write about historical times considerable leeway.  We not only can introduce our own fictitious characters into any past period, but also creatures who may or may not ever have existed, then or now.

Another plus is that many people living in olden times truly did believe in not only witches, vampires and werewolves, but also fairies, leprechauns, trolls, gnomes.  Those living by the sea believed in mermaids, kelpies and  sea monsters. That dragons existed was also a common belief--not only in China, but Europe as well. As for ghosts--every castle and great house had at least one.

Many fantasy and science-fiction readers can quickly spot   inaccuracies of flora, fauna, climate, and so on in a made-up world.  But if writers get the dates right and avoid anachronisms, the past of our world doesn’t require the scientific knowledge needed for accurate world creation.

So have I used the past when writing fantasies?  You betcha, as Sarah Palin would say.   My Moonrunner Trilogy actually is an historical paranormal  suspense with romantic elements. Since it never does come up to the present day.  The first book, Under The Shadow, begins in gold rush California.  Why?  Because this was a era of great upheaval in the USA as men rushed from almost every state to search for gold..  And, since my hero. Sergei had washed up naked onto a beach in Southern California with no idea of how he got there or who he was, he therefore had  no notion of what he was either.  And in this sparsely settled countryside he able to pass as an ordinary human until the first full moon when he shifted into a beast.  Even then he was able to go on posing as a normal  human after he discovered  the truth of what he was.

But if you do this, you’ll wind up researching far more than if you set your story in modern times.  I  quickly learned this when I found myself having to research Russia’s  Kamchatka Peninsula in the 1840’s--because this is where Sergei originally came from.  Hey, you can’t write about what you don’t know.              

As the book goes on,  Sergei had to flee California.  Eventually, a still young man, he winds up in Lower Michigan  because he has to meet George  Armstrong Custer as a boy called Autie.  Why?  Because, you guessed it, he’s going to fight with him in the Civil War.

This meant I had to research Custer.  And Gettysburg.  Would you believe the final battle took place, finishing up on the night of a full moon?  Lucky for the book I was writing.

You just can’t write about the past off the top of your head. 

This is not the article I planned to write, but that’s because the paranormal book I was expecting  to discuss hasn’t even been edited yet. In other words, the egg I was counting on to have hatched, hasn’t even been laid by the chicken yet.   

The second book in my Moonrunner Trilogy, Gathering Darkness, comes after Sergei discovers who he is in the first book and makes a drip back to Russia where he now knows he came from.  So now I had to research not only Russia in that period, but the native Kamchadal tribe that lived on the Kamchatka Peninsula, because, though Sergei is in the second book, the hero is actually his grandson, Wolf, who he rescues over there.  Wolf can’t shift, but he carries the trait, so his children can.  This is the time John Muir roamed the Sierras.  More research.

Then the third book, Dark Sunrise, brings us up to Dillinger’s gangster era in Chicago and, yes, one of Sergei’s  descendants is in that famous battle in the North Woods between Dillinger’s gang and the G-Men.  This was the hardest of the three books to write because I had to reach a satisfying conclusion for the reader. 

Since then, because of the immense amount of research  I did for that trilogy,  I’ve used it in at least ten other books.  One of the latest, a novella called Midnight’s Door, just released from DiskUs, 

So be warned--a paranormal historical can take a load of research.  On the other hand--once you’ve done it, the research can be reused a number of times.                

A few words about  Midnight’s Door.  This is a modern paranormal suspense with romantic elements.  The setting is in the ruins of the old house from the Moonrunner Series in California’s San Joaquin Valley.  And, it seems,  all of Sergei’s descendants are not yet dead…
Dara Castaneda returns to the ruins of Volek House , not knowing she’sactually a descendant of that line.  She’s with a group whose leader plans to create a occult ceremony that will open Midnight’s Door.  Because of this he’s picked up a red-haired biker to make them thirteen, the number they need for the ceremony.  But Nick, the biker, has his own reasons for coming along, reasons that may prove fatal to Dara…
Dara Castaneda stared through the windshield down the twisting curves of the Grapevine where the Golden State Freeway dropped into the San Joaquin Valley.  The pavement undulated, not a road at all but a giant snake, she could feel the gray SUV being lifted in its coils, in a moment they'd be crushed

She screamed, clutching at Jo-Jo.

The SUV swerved; he cursed.  "Damn near hit a truck.  Get her out of the front."

Dara struggled with a red-bearded man, a stranger, who reached  from the back and hauled her over the seat.  "Take it easy," he drawled.  "Nothing's after you."

His voice calmed her a little and she let him put her down next to Cindy.  He sat on her other side.  "Eric the Red," she said.  "Who are you?"

"My name's Nick Owens.  Been with you since Castaic."

"Yeah," Cindy put in.  "Don't you remember saying we needed thirteen?  That's when Jo-Jo spotted this biker at the gas stop.  His hog's on the trailer back there."

Dara didn't remember.

"Jo-Jo said redheads were the devil's own and he'd bring us luck,"  Cindy added.

Dara took a deep breath.  She'd forgotten.  On purpose.  Because of where they were going.  Her fault.  She never should have mentioned Wolf House to Jo-Jo, who was into Satanism and who knew what else.  The ruins were too bloody close to where she'd grown up.  Now the twelve of them—no, thirteen with Nick—were crammed into this SUV and there was no way in hell she'd be able to convince Jo-Jo to change his mind about camping out in the ruins of Wolf house and doing his thing.  Ritual, he called it.  All too soon they'd be passing Vida's grave.  Dara shuddered. 

Take another upper?  She started to reach for her jacket, on the floor in a pile with other clothes.  Cindy's black cat, Dido, sleeping atop the pile, opened green eyes and gave her an enigmatic look.

A yes or a no look?  Dara caught sight of herself in the long narrow mirror affixed to the side of the vehicle.  Dark-circled hazel eyes, long, tangled dark hair, high cheek bones.  She looked wasted, reminding herself of  Vida and grimaced.  Her dead twin was the last thing in the world she wanted to think about, but her thoughts clustered around Vida like blow flies.  Her twin, identical except for her twisted body and mind, had died at thirteen.  Dara wondered if that's why she'd told Jo-Jo they needed to be thirteen.

Those thirteen years had been long and horrible.  Vida had destroyed her family as surely as the 1954 earthquake had leveled Wolf House, something her grandmother remembered and often recounted. 

"That's when they all left, the Voleks, those that weren't killed, and good riddance 'twas.  We always suspected they were tainted.  Specially their twins."

Tainted could mean anything.  Like Vida.  Dara had left this area when she was eighteen.  Because  in her dreams her twin mind-called her from the grave.  While alive, Vida had never learned to speak,  but dead she whispered to Dara at night.  After Dara woke up one night and found herself in the cemetery with no idea how she'd gotten there, she packed up and left.   For good.  So what was she doing back here only two years later?
BIO: Jane Toombs, the Viking from her past and their calico grandcat, Kinko, live on the south shore of Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula wilderness.  They enjoy refreshing springs, beautiful summers gorgeous falls and tolerate the ghastly winters.  Jane's working her way up to ninety published books and already has over twenty-five novellas to her credit. Though she writes in many genres, her favorite to read and write is paranormal.  

Friday, November 05, 2010

NaNoWriMo in November!

If you're a writer you've likely heard of NaNoWriMo...a month long writing event where you strive to get as many words as possible on the page without editing at all. In effect, creating a rough first draft in a month...or at least getting a good chunk finished.

I hadn't planned on taking part in the event this year, but a writer friend posted on my Facebook wall asking if I was going to take part. In effect, it seemed she was tossing down a gauntlet...though I think she was just looking for a chum to keep her accountable. She has also been out of writing for a little least any novel length fiction. We've both dabbled in other things that have taken center stage in our life (like her move from NC to CA), but I think we're both longing for that moment of creation. We've had our ups and downs, and she even had an agent and been a finalist in national contests...but nothing panned out.

I've told her if my hubby can get my laptop de-virused then I'll give it a shot. I dug out my W plot and notes on the book that keeps popping into my mind as if it's a child wanting attention. Since TWELVE TOKENS is a holiday book, it seems the perfect time to delve in...though I'm sure I'll be biting off alot.

Still I've been pining for getting those words on the page in something more than a letter, e-mail of blog. Of course, I'll likely have to edit heavily, but I think it will be worth it. By not writing (and running) I've felt that I've lost a piece of myself. And the only way to get it back is to do what I love :0)

If you're a reader who has wanted to dabble in writing, why not take the challenge? Who knows where it could lead...though I'm sure your hero and heroine will have a Happily Ever After.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Review - Sparks by Laura Bickle

Laura Bickle
Pocket Books
ISBN 978-1-4391-6768-7

Anya Kalinczyk, an arson investigator for the Detroit Fire Department, is back but this time she’s investigating bizarre cases of spontaneous human combustion. The first such case, that of an elderly collector of supernatural artifacts, Jasper Bernard, leaves Anya puzzled. The fire that killed Jasper barely damaged anything else in his small Detroit home. His body is reduced to ashes…except for a few finger bones and his slipped clad feet. Everything else seems covered in a greasy soot but the burn damage is minimal. When asked by her Captain, she can only surmise the case is one of spontaneous human combustion – something that is so highly unlikely that it’s virtually impossible.

So begins Sparks, the second of Ms Bickle’s urban fantasies located in Detroit, Michigan. As we read Sparks, we meet again some of our favorite characters – her boyfriend Brian, the tech manager for DAGR the ghost hunting group she works with, Jules DAGR’s leader, Max the teenaged gofer-ghost hunter in training, Ciro the supernatural sage and handicapped owner pf the Devil’s Bathtub, a bar, where DAGR is housed, Katie the witch and, of course, Sparky, her fire elemental familiar.

As the story progresses, we learn that someone is capturing spirits after their deaths and before they go into the light and that there is a ‘vessel’ in Detroit capable of holding hundred’s of these spirits. The question is why would anyone want to do this? And Who would want to do it?

Anya’s goal is to answer these questions but as she attempts to do so, she realizes that something is up with Sparky. The familiar is getting plumper even though all he eats is electricity. The answer is a shocking surprise. Sparky is pregnant. Anya knows very little about human pregnancies not to mention nothing about salamander pregnancies. Her friend, Katie the witch, comes to the rescue though and drags a stunned Anya to the nearest baby store.  

Sparky is one of my favorite non-human characters ever and his affinity to anything electronic is terribly amusing (as long as it’s not my electronics, that is) but, imagine dozens of little Sparkies running around nipping at wiring, desk lamps, computers, cell phones. You can imagine the kind of holy terror those little beasties could create.

Imagine, though, the kind of power that Sparky and his brood of baby salamanders can generate. When Anya narrows her focus to Hope Solomon, a celebrity pshycic, as the person behind the spirit kidnapping and the cases of human combustion, she realizes the danger that Sparky and his babies are in. With them and all the missing spirits, Solomon could be unstoppable. Anya’s job now becomes one of how to stop Solomon. Anya won’t let anyone endanger Sparky or his babies.

As before, I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. The sheer amount of research Ms Bickle has done on Detroit and its environs is breathtaking. The vivid descriptions of Detroit show a large urban city on a steady decline. I’ve no idea if the descriptions of Anya’s fire investigation techniques are correct but they sound correct and that’s good enough for me.

I’m constantly amazed at the detail Ms Bickle incorporates into her books but more than that I’m delighted with the growth and depth of the characters. These are not static people who’ve been pigeon-holed into specific roles. Some of the personality twists are just as surprising as the plot twists but they’re logical enough that the reader will nod and say yes, I know a guy just like that.

All in all, Sparks is a grab-you-by-the-neck attention getter that you won’t want to put down. If you enjoy urban fantasy, you want to get Sparks. I highly recommend it.

I somehow ended up with two copies of Sparks. I'm keeping one (Embers, the first book in the series, and Sparks are definitely going in my Keeper Shelves) but I'm going to pass the second one on to one of my Star-Crossed readers. To get your name in the drawing, send me an email with SPARKS REVIEW in the subject line and your snail mail addy in the body by Friday, Nov 5. My alien kitten Wookie will help me select the winner.

Guest - Laura Bickle

Good morning, everyone! Laura Bickle, one of my favorite urban fantasy authors, is visiting us again and has an excellent post about her muse.

by Laura Bickle

I've always been envious of people who have good relationships with their muses. There are writers who have healthy relationships with their muses. They take their muses out on coffee dates, have long conversations at the beach while holding hands. Their muses arrive when summoned, sprinkling fairy dust and waving magic wands. They whisper with gossamer voices, reassuring and gentle. Words flow on paper, inspired and brilliant.

This is not my muse.

My muse is a....well, she's difficult. I suspect that she may have been kicked out of Tooth Fairy school for bad behavior and was assigned muse duty as  penance for raiding the cash drawer. She's surly, unpredictable, and wholly unrepentant about being AWOL.

It's not that I've tried. I did all the rituals suggested to make friends with my muse. I have a writing nook set up. I played music. I lit candles. I wrote down statements of intention. Made dream boards. Meditated.

Nada. My muse laughed at my dream board, used the candles to light a cigarette, and complained that the desk was too small. She sat on the edge of the desk in her torn fishnet stockings and bitched about the lighting. And she used all my lipstick.

So I tried to bribe her. I bought her chocolates, made offerings of flowers. I acted like a Shakespearean actor in love, trying to woo her attentions.

She prompty informed me that she didn't like caramel and that my poetry sucked.  I think that she also blew smoke in my face and told me I needed to lose weight.

Eventually, I gave up trying to be nice. I was spending a lot of time and energy courting inspiration, and she didn't want to be courted. I asked the benevolent universe for a new muse, but my request was denied. I was stuck with the surly muse who spent more time teasing her hair and sticking gum under my desk than helping me with my novel.

 So...I decided to wage war on my muse.

"We are going to write this book, whether you want to or not," I told her. "I have a deadline."

"Oh, yeah?" She watched me with narrowed eyes covered in purple eyeliner. "Just try it, Chickie."

I threw a butterfly net over her, tied her to the chair, and sat on her. She yowled like an aggravated cat and got glitter all over the floor.

But her ass was in the chair. And so was mine. Lo and behold, writing occurred. And it was not bad writing.

I realized something...all this chasing inspiration was really meaningless for me. The only key to success was getting my butt in the chair and doing it, whether inspiration had struck me or not. I could be passive about it, and wait for my muse to bless me with insight...or I could just get to work.


Laura Bickle has worked in the unholy trinity of politics, criminology, and technology for several years. She and her chief muse live in the Midwest, owned by four mostly-reformed feral cats. Her short fiction has appeared here and there. Embers, first in this exciting new urban fantasy series, was her debut as novelist. Sparks continues the series. 

Laura also writes as Alayna Williams. Alayna's "debut" was Dark Oracle, Pocket Juno's June 2010 release. More info is available on her website at

Publisher's blurb for SPARKS:

WITHOUT A TRACE Anya Kalinczyk is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern, who holds down a day job as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department–while working 24/7 to exterminate malicious spirits plaguing a city plagued by unemployment and despair. Along with her inseparable salamander familiar, Sparky, Anya has seen, and even survived, all manner of fiery hell–but her newest case sparks suspicions of a bizarre phenomenon that no one but her eccentric team of ghost hunters might believe: spontaneous human combustion.

After fire consumes the home of elderly Jasper Bernard, Anya is stunned to discover his remains– or, more precisely, the lack of them; even the fiercest fires leave some trace of their victims–and she is sure this was no naturally-occurring blaze. Soon she’s unearthed a connection to a celebrity psychic who preys on Detroit’s poor, promising miracles for money. But Hope Solomon wants more–she’s collecting spirits, and in a frantic race against time, Anya will face down an evil adversary who threatens her fragile relationship with her lover, her beloved Sparky’s freshly-hatched newts, and the wandering souls of the entire city

Buy Links:

-- Lynda Again,

Laura is offering one reader a free copy of SPARKS - Leave a comment AND send an email to me with SPARKS in the subject line and your snail mail addy in the body. I'll forward them to Laura who will choose then notify the winner. Good luck!