Archive for October, 2011

Happy Halloween! Forevermore Is Out!

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Hello everyone and Happy Halloween!

In the spirit of my favorite holiday, I’m giving away a two prizes. Yep, that’s right. I’m giving away the bling, the sparkle of Kirk’s Folly. A very witchy pin, and a sparkly bracelet. First things first. I’m also celebrating the reissue of Forevermore, a paranormal romance that was published almost ten years ago and has been out of the public eye since ’06. I’m delighted to bring it back to you with a beautiful new cover. If you’re a subscriber to my newsletter before the November 1 issue comes out, you’ll receive a coupon code for 40 percent off the book. How cool is that?

What is Forevermore about?

Sometimes one lifetime is not enough…

American Mae Sutton travels to Scotland to investigate tormenting dreams that have plagued her since childhood. Once in the shadowy, misty land, she discovers a brooding Highlander—and a secret that threatens her very existence.

A dark castle ruin haunts her nightmares…

Mae discovers Moor Castle is the same ruin in her nightmares, and knows she must learn why she’s been drawn to Scotland and the crumbling castle that whispers her name. She experiences an intense and immediate attraction to Aidan Ramsay, conservator of the evil castle. She’s shocked to find out she is the spitting image of a Ramsay ancestor, and that maybe her nightmares are past-life memories.

Mae and Aidan have lived before, and the dark legacy that destroyed them once, may destroy them again…

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If you like reincarnation romances, I hope you’ll pick up a copy from Amazon or Smashwords.

As for today’s contest, I’m making this an ask me anything day. Ask me a question that’s about paranormal investigation, my writing process, you name it. I’ll answer at my discretion, of course.

At the end of the day I’ll pick the two winners.

Also, I wanted to thank all the wonderful authors who have blogged with me this month. I very much appreciate you.

Have a wonderful, fun, safe Halloween everyone. I plan on digging into some seriously scary movies and reading.

Guest Author: Lynn Emery

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Welcome to my guest blogger Lynn Emery. Today she’s talking about voodoo and hoodoo and Louisiana’s dark and mysterious atmosphere. Sit back and enjoy, and be sure to comment so you’re entered in the contest!

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Just Your Everyday Hoodoo Ritual,

No Biggie

Growing up in south Louisiana, different culture from the northern part of the state, talk of “hoodoo” was common.  In portions of the south the term “hoodoo” is interchangeable with the more familiar “voodoo”. Anyway, as a kid my babysitter routinely did things that for me were just part of life. She cleaned the hair out of her brushes and combs then burned it. She made sure to sweep her steps thoroughly on a regular basis, looking for any kind of “special dust”. It was quite common for women to say things like, “Child, somebody must be burning candles on me” when things weren’t going right. These were part of my culture, so I was surprised and amused to find that people outside Louisiana thought this extraordinary. So let me explain these glimpses into my childhood, courtesy of a group of classic Louisiana Creole ladies of color. My babysitter, Miss Olevia, was the quintessential Creole who grew up in turn of the century New Orleans. Ms. Louise Legarde and others came from rural Creole communities.

Burning hair – as you may know, using personal items to work a mojo are essential ingredients. Hair and fingernails are the most powerful. When I was about ten Miss Olevia matter-of-factly explained that I should burn my hair so no one could gather it for gris-gris. Also, mice would use the hair to build a nest, and that would give you headaches until you could find the nest and burn the hair.

Special dust – one way to “put something on” another person is to sprinkle various kinds of dust, commonly a mixture of dirt from a graveyard, on the steps leading into their homes. So, in addition to being good housekeepers, these ladies kept an eye out for goofer dust.

Burning Candles – another way of casting a spell, for good or bad, was to burn candles. Different color candles were used by “hoodoo women” for different purposes. Generally black candles were burned part of rituals to bring ill fortune to someone, or exact revenge.

Louisiana is a very religious state, part of the Bible belt. What some find strange is that people who consider themselves good church folks believe in gris-gris and other hoodoo practices. We don’t see this as contradictory in the least. After all, the Bible talks about spirits, demons, witches and sorcerers.

If you want a nice dose of Louisiana, pick up a copy of

A Darker Shade of Midnight

When LaShaun Rousselle returns home to Beau Chene, Louisiana all hell breaks loose.

Ten years ago LaShaun left for Los Angeles to get away from a scandalous past, which included being a suspect in a vicious killing. With whispers about voodoo and how she got away with murder, LaShaun decides to wipe the slate clean and start a new life. She leaves behind the Rousselle family legacy, and her infamous grandmother, Odette, who taught her too well how to use her psychic powers.

Now LaShaun is back in Beau Chene. Monmon Odette is dying, and LaShaun comes home to make peace with her grandmother and the past. She has to fight off greedy relatives out to get Monmon Odette’s considerable estate, hostile town folk, and a nasty little demon determined to rule her world. She faces down all challengers with help from sexy deputy Chase Broussard, who puts his reputation on the line because he knows she’s not a murderer.

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Today’s contest: authentic Mardi Gras beads (yes, caught at a parade in New Orleans) and a copy of A Darker Shade of Midnight.

Lynn Emery

www.lynnemery.com

Guest Author: Cassie L. Knight

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

A big welcome to fellow Samhain Publishing author Cassie L. Knight. Today she’s chatting about what inspired her Relic Defender series.

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I don’t remember when, exactly, I found my fascination with the paranormal.

However, ever since I can remember, it began with a passion for mythology.

Before I knew better, I thought Greek and Roman mythology with some Viking thrown in was the only mythology that existed. As a teenager, I think I’ve read every story and knew all of the major Gods and Goddesses and a lot of the minor ones. So, when paranormal started to take wing, I knew I’d found a place I could indulge in my love of mythology.

When I first conceived the idea of my Relic Defender series, I knew I wanted to work in some kind of mythology with paranormal elements but I didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing (meaning no vampires or werewolves and demons/angels hadn’t taken off by then).

During my research into that elusive “something different”, I discovered the mythology surrounding King Solomon. I was raised on the Bible and knew all about Solomon. Or, I thought I did. I was so intrigued with the notion that he was supposed to be a magic user and had a ring given to him by God that allowed Solomon to control and compel demons. And his temple? The stories say it was built by these same demons. Key of Solomon just took off from there. And I loved writing the scene where he is compelling the demons into the bronze jar.

The above illustrates why paranormal is so fascinating to me. Because in my day-to-day grind of real life, having this whole other world out there, is an exercise in the something different. Something to take me away from house-cleaning, paying bills and the day job. I’m sure contemporary and historical authors feel the same way. But for me, those are still too grounded in reality. I want the extra-ordinary.

How about you? Do you find paranormal fascinating and if so, what makes it fascinating to you?

Cassie’s having a contest today! She’s giving away a copy of her book and a $5.00 gift certificate to Samhain Publishing

 

 

Discount coupon for Forevermore!

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Hey all, I wanted to let you know that newsletter subscribers will receive a coupon number in the November newsletter for a discount price on Forevermore through Smashwords! So if you aren’t signed up for my newsletter, what are ya waiting for?  This coupon will only be available to newsletter subscribers.

Guest Author: Beverly Rae

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Welcome to my guest author today, Beverly Rae. She’s got a great blog for us and it is spooky, so read on!

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I’ve told my story a few times. First, to my family and then years later to a few select friends. Every so often I might mention something to those who read my blog or check my Yahoo posts. I don’t like to talk about what happened, but sometimes like now, I will.

In the late 90’s, my family and I moved into a new home. Not just new to us, but a completely new built-to-our-specifications home. I was ecstatic.

Or at least I was for the first two months of living in our house. That’s when The Dark Man first appeared.

My daughter (age seven at the time) was the first to see him. She repeatedly told us (Jerry, my husband, and I) that she’d seen someone in her room at night. Oh, sure, we did the usual things like looking under her bed and in her closet along with a quick check to make sure all the doors and windows were locked. Finding nothing, we dismissed her concerns as the product of a nervous child getting to know her new surroundings. But then insomnia struck me. Or so I thought.

Every night I’d wake up, always around three a.m., to the sensation of something─or someone─watching Jerry and I sleep. Every night I’d lie in bed, listening for sounds and glancing at the red light on the panel box that meant the security system was activated. Yet, although I waited for hours, I never saw anything. But I could feel it.

After several more weeks, I woke up, again at three a.m., choking for air. An invisible hand clamped over my face, covering my nose and mouth, blocking my air. I tried to struggle, wanting to fight back, but I was frozen, incapable of moving or screaming. Just as I was beginning to give up, the hand was gone.

I sat up, gasping for air, and turned toward the door to my bathroom. There, standing in the doorway was a man. Although I couldn’t make out his facial features, I could tell that he was dressed in old fashioned clothing including a flowing cape that billowed around him even though there was no breeze. Red eyes glared at me from a darkened face and my heart pounded. I couldn’t move or speak. Instead I just sat there, terrified of what might happen next.

Then he─it?─blinked and vanished.

At last I found my voice and I screamed, waking my husband and daughter. After telling my husband what I’d seen, we spent the rest of the night sleeping on air mattresses in the downstairs living room.

I wanted to leave the house and never moved back in. But my husband─the most supportive and loving man I’ve ever known─didn’t believe me. So we stayed.

The next night a different apparition appeared. The Lady, dressed in the similar old fashioned clothing as The Dark Man, appeared at three a.m. and stood by my bedside, staring down at me. Strange as it may seem, I never feared The Lady. Instead, I felt a comforting presence from her, almost as though she was standing guard over us, keeping The Dark Man away. Whether that was her purpose or not, The Dark Man never came again.

We lived in our home for six years. And for six years, The Lady would show up every night at the same time to watch over us. I saw her at other times around the home, but those times were few and far between.

When we finally moved, I felt an odd sense of loss. By then, The Lady had become a part of my life, and although I was glad to be free of the nightly visits, part of me missed her.

 

About CLAWED (Wild Things, Book 3) ~

Chloe Long has cleaned up her last mess where her now ex-boyfriend is concerned. Desperate to clear her mind of her last images of him—in her bed with another woman, then with his hand around her throat—she heads for the mountains. The one place that refreshes her spirit.

Conan Cahill’s sojourn in the North Carolina mountains was supposed to be a break from the demands of his bear-shifter people…and the smell of humans. When he discovers a human female secretly sketching his naked body, though, his reaction catches him off guard. Not only does her scent rouse an aching need to touch and taste, her stubborn refusal to give up the drawing makes his body twitch in some very pleasurable ways.

Trapped with Conan in her tent during a storm, all thoughts of sleeping alone fly out of Chloe’s mind. She can’t help but grab something more than forty winks in her sleeping bag. They come together like thunder and lightning, but there’s danger beyond the rain. And the stirring of a love that may not survive their differences.

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Check out Beverly’s links!

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Guest Author: N. J. Walters

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Welcome to N. J. Walters. I’ve known N. J. for quite some time and thoroughly enjoyed all her books. Sit back and listen to her Halloween tales!

What is it about the paranormal that calls to so many of us? It’s a question I’ve pondered most of my life. For me, I’ve always accepted that there is something more out there, something beyond what we can see, hear, touch, taste and touch, at least most days.

I had my first encounter with ghosts when I was around five or six. We were thinking about moving and were looking at a house. I don’t remember what I saw in the basement bedroom closet, I just remember being frightened and running back up the stairs. I never told anyone about it until I was in my teens and my family was sitting around the table talking about that time. I mentioned that I’d “seen” something in the basement and my father looked straight at me and said we never bought the house because he knew there was something negative there. He’d felt it too.

Since then, I’ve had several more encounters with the other side. I’ve lived in the caretaker’s house in a cemetery (a very quiet and calm place), I’ve lived with a ghost (not so quiet or pleasant) and I love watching Ghost Hunter on television.

In my writing, I get to explore the darker aspects of the paranormal without the risk. I’ve delved into the realm of vampires, shapeshifters, werewolves and magick. It’s fascinating to dive into these worlds and see where the darkness takes me.

Vampires are mythical creatures, conjured from our fears of death and the dying. These immortal creatures need blood to survive. They are mostly solitary, cunning creatures, sometimes evil, sometimes not. That is entirely up to the writer. The idea of living forever, of having to drink from humans in order to survive both attracts and repels us. And I couldn’t help but draw on the classic Dracula by Bram Stoker as the basis for the first book in my Dalakis Passion vampire series—Harker’s Journey.

Since then, I’ve written more vampire novels and I’ve also delved into the world of the werewolf in my Legacy series. Loyalty and strength mark these amazing creatures and they make wonderful alpha heroes. My Shadow Ryders series has allowed me to explore other shapeshifters such as the raven, the panther and the horse, each one unique and interesting in their own way.

I’ve tapped the mystique of the tarot cards for Three Swords, One Heart. I’ve used magick in A Touch of Magick. I’ve explored astral travel in Dreams of Seduction. And I’ve looked at the possibility of reincarnation in my latest Samhain Publishing release—Love in Flames.

LOVE IN FLAMES BLURB:

When Esther goes along with her friend’s candle-magick spell, it’s not because she wants a lover. But a good old-fashioned one-night stand could be just what she needs to get her mind off Ryan Jameson. Having lost her father in the line of duty, she has no plans to lose her heart to a firefighter.

Not that Ryan doesn’t heat up her nightly dreams. Those erotic fantasies invariably end in deadly flames—a still-smoking echo of her ancestral namesake, whose wedding day ended in the fiery loss of her husband. A man whose dying breath was a promise to one day find his beloved.

All his life, Ryan’s dreams have taken him backward in time. As he matured, so did those dreams—erotic fantasies of a woman he loves but has yet to meet. Then he finds her in Burnt Cove. But she’s not only holding him at arm’s length, she refuses to acknowledge their time-proof bond.

On a magical Samhain night, undeniable desire is stronger than the walls around her heart. But time has one last test for them—one that will meld them into one, or drive them apart forever.

Be sure to check out Love in Flames. Read an excerpt.

N.J. has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

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Guest Author: Phoebe Conn

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Welcome to guest author Phoebe Conn. She has some truly spine-tingling experiences to tell us about, so don’t go away!

 

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I still love to dress up to pass out candy to neighborhood children.  I made a terrific mummy costume out of a lightweight white robe I found at a thrift store. I drew lines on with a marker to look like strips of cloth. I spiral cut a couple of white T-shirts to make long strips to wrap around my arms and draped a white scarf over my head. It was a wonderfully spooky success, if I do say so myself.

There’s an enormous difference between Halloween fun and a real paranormal experience, however. I lived in Georgia for a year and went to see the National Cemetery at Andersonville. It was a Confederate prison camp during the Civil War. Built to house 10,000 Union POWs, by August of 1864, it held 33,000. During the prison camp’s 15 month operation, 13,000 Union soldiers died there of malnutrition, exposure and disease.

The National Cemetery encloses the area where these soldiers were buried. There are trees and a beautiful expanse of green grass. The cemetery looks like such a peaceful place, but that’s not how it feels. The soldiers who died there aren’t resting in peace. Walking near the graves, I was overcome with an eerie sensation. It was as though I could hear their screams. There wasn’t a sound except for the breeze in the trees, but I could still hear them inside my head, and it wasn’t a pleasant sensation.

When I lived in Munich, Germany, I visited Dachau, a Nazi concentration camp built in 1933 to hold Hitler’s political enemies. During WWII, 200,000 were imprisoned there. 31,951 died from malnutrition, disease, suicide and many Russian POWs were executed by firing squad. Obviously, it was a horrible place to be. It is now a memorial to those dear souls who suffered there and again, it is an overwhelmingly creepy place to visit. Again I felt the silent screams, it was nearly a physical shove urging me to leave. It’s not a place I’ll ever forget.

My latest paranormal book is DRINK MY BLOOD, an unusual vampire novel that begins with Dave Olsen, who hopes to write a bestselling paranormal book. He comes up with an astonishing plot, but is soon murdered for it. Dave’s best friend, Eric Collins, is an art professor, not a detective, but he’s determined to find Dave’s killer. The new woman in his life, Mae Lambeau, volunteers what proves to be extraordinary help. As Eric works to solve the confounding mystery, what he discovers about Mae and the killer change his life forever, and I do mean forever.

Phoebe Conn

Backlist Ebooks

I’ll give an ebook version of DRINK MY BLOOD as a prize, or a paperback copy of MANGO SUMMER, it’s your choice.

 

 

Guest Author: Lynda Hilburn

Monday, October 24th, 2011

 

A hearty welcome to Lynda Hilburn! Come in, lock the doors and windows, and enjoy a spooky time. I love her cover, by the way!

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Thanks so much to Denise for having me on her blog for the Halloween festivities!

Halloween is my favorite holiday (followed closely by Thanksgiving because eating is one of my best skills). I’ve always been fascinated by the dark and spooky.

I believe I come by my paranormal orientation honestly, because my family originally came from the Smoky Mountains and the women communicated with the dead.

As a child, I recall listening to my mother talk to someone who wasn’t there as she washed clothes by hand in a sink in the basement. I never thought it was unusual. She often knew things she had no way of knowing.

My earliest memory of my own paranormal experiences is of sitting on the floor of a closet with the door closed, talking to my invisible friends. During elementary school, teachers often told my mother I daydreamed a lot in class and talked out loud to nobody in particular. This, of course, was considered a problem. Over time it was suggested that I might be possessed. I never did learn to conform!

When I was a teenager, I pursued my interest in all things occult and began giving unsolicited psychic readings to friends. Since the more we utilize our psychic/intuitive abilities, the stronger they get, I was able to build quite a formidable skill. I’m not sure I ever actually saw the dead with my physical eyes. I think I simply sensed/felt them, as I do now. And, a lot of inter-dimensional communication happened in the outer world through things such as lights flicking on and off according to suggested patterns, candles relighting repeatedly after I blew them out, doors opening and closing when I was alone, books “falling” off the shelves, etc. All those things were very exciting.

I had a favorite aunt who died when I was in my 20s and she stayed with me for years.

Well, now that I think about it, I do recall a specific time when the dead appeared in the physical. I was living with my husband J.R. and several of the members of our rock band in a wonderfully creepy house in Detroit. The basement was so energetically negative to me, I could never go down there. One night J.R. and I were sleeping and I heard a noise at the foot of the bed. I opened my eyes and sat up. A vaguely familiar male stood, staring at me. It took a few seconds to realize the man was J.R.’s father, who had died in a boating accident when my husband was small (I’d seen photographs). I could see the man moving his mouth, as if he was speaking, but I couldn’t hear anything. I quickly woke J.R., but he didn’t see anything (and told me I was dreaming). I knew it wasn’t a dream because it had the same feeling vibe as my other experiences with the unseen.

Another thing that happened when I was a kid was my discovery of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. That led to my obsession with vampires and other supernatural creatures. I’ve been a rabid vampire reader/writer ever since.

Here’s the blurb for the first novel in my Kismet Knight, Vampire Psychologist series, The Vampire Shrink. The expanded/revised book was released September 1, 2011 in the UK by Quercus Books and will be published in the USA, April 3, 2012, by Sterling Publishing/Silver Oak. The main female character is an idealized version of me. We share a career and some strange abilities.

Denver Psychologist Kismet Knight just wants a little excitement in her life. A little publishing fame and fortune. She doesn’t believe in the paranormal. Especially not comic book children of the night. But when a new client pulls Kismet into the vampire underworld, and introduces her to gorgeous Devereux — who claims to be an 800-year-old vampire — Kismet finds herself up to her neck in the undead. Not to mention all the other bizarre creatures crawling out of Denver’s supernatural Pandora’s Box. And if being attracted to a man who thinks he’s an ancient bloodsucker isn’t bad enough, someone — or something — is leaving a trail of blood-drained dead bodies. Enter handsome FBI profiler Alan Stevens, who warns her that vampires are very real and that one is a murderer. A murderer who is after her. In the midst of it all, Kismet realizes she has feelings for both the vampire and the profiler. But though she cares for each of the men, the reality that vampires exist is enough of a challenge . . . for now.

Lynda Hilburn writes paranormal fiction. More specifically, she writes vampire books. After a childhood filled with invisible friends, sightings of dead relatives and a fascination with the occult, turning to the paranormal was a no-brainer. In her other reality, she makes her living as a licensed psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, professional psychic/tarot reader, university instructor and workshop presenter. Her first novel, “The Vampire Shrink”  — which introduced us to Denver Psychologist Kismet Knight and a hidden vampire underworld — was first released in 2007 and is being re-released (the rewritten, expanded version) by Quercus Books in 2011 and Sterling Publishing/Silver Oak in 2012. Several more books are planned. “Undead in the City,” an erotic paranormal novella, and “Diary of a Narcissistic Bloodsucker,” a satire/parody, are now available in e-form from Amazon.com. Her short story, “Blood Song,” is part of the Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance anthology, April, 2009.

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Lynda is giving away a copy of The Vampire Shrink in hardcover and the winner can choose one of her guided hypnosis found at CDs.

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Guest Author: Flo Fitzpatrick

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Welcome to author Flo Fitzpatrick! Boy does she have a great ghost story for you. And today she’s offering a copy of “It’s a Marvelous Night for a Moondance” – either print – or a ‘coupon’ for free copy at either Smashwords, Amazon or Barnes & Noble (winners’ choice!)

My first ghost ‘experience’: It’s clichéd but true; people do ask writers where they get their ideas.  What’s also true for most of us – we get them from life. Little events that are funny at the time or strike us as odd or eerie or even tragic.  We take those events and play “what if?”  and turn them into books.  I write a blend of mystery and romance and I’m very happy to announce that I’ve never run up against a serial killer or tracked down a murderer but my imagination can take a simple ‘real’ event and add mysterious elements.

Which leads me to my first novel, Ghost of a Chance – and my first ghost experience.  I used do a lot of acting and choreographing for the Waco Civic Theatre, where I had the privilege of performing with a charming, funny, smart, kind, honest, marvelous actor named Bob Schmidt.  (I probably should pass over any choreography reference here – Bob was one of the best actors I’ve ever known but dancing was not his forte!)  Bob played a variety of roles over the years, but his signature character was the villain in the melodrama WCT held every summer.  His costume consisted of the traditional black stovepipe hat, black long tuxedo coat, white shirt with black string tie, black baggy pants – and white sneakers.  A pasted-on moustache that twirled up at the ends completed the ensemble.  Bob even had a classic villainous stance – a wide-legged squat with feet turned out, one hand slightly in front of his chest to ward off barrages of popcorn and paper wads from enthusiastic audience members.  In the mid-90s, after a long illness, Bob passed away.  The melodramas continued for a year or two, but no one could really fill his “sneakers” so the theatre quit producing them up until a few years ago.

In 1998, the WCT was hosting a children’s theatre camp, run by Linda, a good friend of mine.  I taught dance on stage since the only mirrored room at the theatre had been designated for costume and make-up classes. Which was fine with me – the kids were always more comfortable learning to dance in the space where they’d end up performing.  I was in the middle of teaching a shuffle ball-change or something equally exciting to a group of six and seven-year olds, when three of them began pointing to the balcony of the theatre.  “Problem?” I asked. “There’s a man up there,” was the answer.  I looked up.  I saw nothing. “There’s no one there.” “No!” was the insistent response.  “See him?  Right there on the rail.”  I looked up again.  I saw nothing. “There’s no one there.  Are you looking into the light booth?  Do you see a shadow?” The leader of the group was clearly exasperated with me.  She described the man by the railing of the balcony.  “Miss Flo, are you blind?  He’s wearing black.  A really long black coat and black pants and he’s got this funny tall, black hat on his head and he’s got a giant moustache that curls up.  He put his foot on the railing a minute ago and he has on big white shoes.”  I grabbed one of the techies who happened to be wandering through the theatre house at the time and asked him to take another techie and make sure no pervert had sneaked inside, stolen a melodrama costume then made his way to the balcony to spy.  Nothing.  The report was no one was there.  No costume was on the floor. Nothing.  I tracked down Linda during a break and told her what the kids had seen.  She was quite serene. “Oh, yeah – that’s Bob.” “Bob?  As in Schmidt?  Are you saying . . .?  Wait.  Could those kids have seen his picture somewhere?” “No.  All the pictures are down because they’re redoing the lobby, remember?  All the photos from the wall have been stored away for at least six months and these kids are too young to have seen them before.” “So you’re telling me Bob Schmidt is . . . ?” “Haunting the theatre.  Yep. Loves watching your dance classes.  Always loved your dancing, you know.”

I was ticked that I personally didn’t get to see my friend, but I filed the incident away in my head and a few years later turned it into Ghost of a Chance, plopping Bob into the book as the ghost who haunts a Dallas theatre.  (I ‘murdered’ that character but I knew Bob would have been delighted with twisting the truth for dramatic effect!) My heroine described that moment when Linda told me about Bob this way –  “My best friend was a lunatic.  I’d always suspected it.”

There’s a poignant footnote to this story.  My teenage nephew, Karl, battled a very rare form of bone cancer for four years.  He died early the morning of July 17th, 2004.  I’d come down to Alabama to be with family a few days earlier.  But, I hadn’t brought any ‘good’ shoes to wear to Karl’s funeral, so later on the 17th, I headed for a mall. A bookshop happened to be next to the shoe store.  Catnip to a writer, no matter how upset that writer might be. I went in.  I was wandering the romance aisle thinking, “Hmm.  Flo Fitzpatrick.  Okay – Ghost of a Chance should end up somewhere between several of my favorite “F” authors – right about . . . HERE!!!” And there it was – my first published book on the shelf a good four weeks earlier than expected. I immediately thought that Bob had welcomed Karl to the pearly gates and gently told him, “Your Aunt Flo is really upset right now – howsabout we pull some strings and get her book out there today?  That way she’ll always think of you whenever she sees the cover and she’ll think of me – because I’m the most important character in the book!” Both statements are true.  Bob did inspire the character of ghostly Don Mueller in Ghost of a Chance.  And every time I see the cover I think of Karl.  I dedicated my second book, Hot Stuff, to him but I still connect him more with the first book because of that moment in the store.  I’m not sure how important comforting an aunt and a friend is in the scheme of the afterlife, but I felt better believing the two of them engineered an early book release – perhaps with the help of an theatrically-inclined angel?

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“It’s a Marvelous Night for a Moondance” 1997. When choreographer Mac MacKenzie falls for Johnny Chandler the pair begin reliving events that involve a pair of teenage lovers and Texarkana’s Phantom Moonlight Killer. Mac and Johnny learn their Forties counterparts met a violent death fifty years earlier. Events could repeat themselves unless Mac and Johnny find a way to confront the past and embrace the present.

 

Guest Author: Sharon Ashwood

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Welcome to our guest today, Sharon Ashwood. Sharon is ready to thrill and chill us, so don’t leave that chair!

Don’t carry a loaded werewolf unless you mean it.

In my local bookstore, I’ve found novels that I would consider to be paranormal romance shelved in the horror section. As a reader of both genres, this surprised me.  However, as an author, it made me think: How dark did I want my PNR romance stories to become?

Personally, I like a few goosebumps in my read. If the monsters don’t have fangs, what’s the point of making them monsters? Put another way, there is a writing principle sometimes referred to as Chekov’s gun (Chekov the writer, not Chekov from Star Trek).  It basically says, if you’ve got a pistol onstage in act one, then in the following act it must be fired. Otherwise, get rid of it.

You could say the same thing for all these hot paranormal monsters—let’s see some, er, fang onstage. Otherwise, they can go be mad, bad, and dangerous to know in a non-supernatural story (there’s always work for a virile rake someplace). A vampire who won’t bite needs a good therapist, or maybe a dentist. Gumming the silky flesh of the heroine simply won’t do.

So there. Let the monsters be monsters.

But, as an author, it’s not that simple. If your supernatural critters are also the protagonists, they have to have enough humanity that we can relate to them as romantic characters.  They need fangs, but also a fuzzy side.

I had some fun with this in Frostbound: the Dark Forgotten.  The hero, Lore, is a hellhound. The hounds are less acclimatized to living with humans than most of the other species in my world. That’s not to say Lore isn’t a nice guy—he’s fabulous—but his instincts are a bit more, um, raw.  Frontier justice makes perfect sense to him. Where honor, love, and family are concerned, he has a clarity that most humans never achieve. In his case, being a paranormal creature gives Lore the excuse to be an excellent Alpha hero.

But the monster/protagonist clash can also have a serious side. Lore’s love interest, Talia Rostova faces a terrible collision of horror and humanity.  A newly-turned vampire, she has become her own worst nightmare how well she embraces her fate will determine everything in her future.

That, as an author, is the interesting part. The monster’s choice of who they choose to be is eternally fascinating to me. Once they’ve crossed that line that makes them no longer human, they’re not bound by the rules of our society unless they want to be.

So, are they a tortured hero? A villain driven insane by guilt? Do they revel in their infamy or spend eternity atoning for their condition?

If the scary things aren’t really scary, then safety means nothing. This is why I vote for keeping a dash of horror in PNR. It gives the characters something big to confront—whether it’s a dangerous villain or the dark places in their own souls. It keeps the stakes high and the adrenaline pounding.

This is where you get truly conflicted characters and the possibility of real redemption. This is where a writer gets the big emotional payoffs and these are the books that keep readers up all night.

 

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To celebrate the spooky season, I’m giving away one of my Dark Forgotten books to a commenter (winner’s choice)! Visit my website at www.SharonAshwood.com to read excerpts and watch videos for the whole Dark Forgotten series!