Saturday, June 30, 2012

Interview with Fantasy Author S.A. Hunter

The spirit of the forest, Elanraigh, speaks to a young girl, whose own spirit rides the wind in the body of a Sea Hawk.  Oh, I love the magic in that image.   I enjoyed reading this new YA Fantasy, Elanraigh – The Vow and getting to know the author, S. A. Hunter.  Please note, Sandy is also presenting to one lucky commenter an ebook of Elanraigh.

Cover Art: Amanda Kelsey

Welcome Sandy to the Salon,

Elizabeth, thank you so much for this opportunity to present Elanraigh to your blog members and fans. I was so delighted to find your site, and meet some more great folks who are fans of fantasy.   

How long have you been writing? What was the spark that started you to take up writing seriously?  

I’ve always had an imagination working in overdrive. That being said, I was in my late 30’s before I finally submitted anything to a publisher. I was taking a creative writing class at Douglas College and at the instructor’s suggestion submitted a science fiction short story to On Spec, where it was accepted. Since then I’ve had other fantasy short fiction and poetry published, Elanraigh, however, is my first novel 

 Elanraigh was six years plus to write in its original form (I later adapted my first  manuscript to YA). I was working full time with lots of night meetings, so Sunday was only available time to write. I’d usually try to get a least four straight hours in. I’m very grateful that in those days I belonged to a fantasy writers group, we met once a month and I was determined to submit chapters each meeting. Published authors all, their critiques were always of value--the meetings kept me highly motivated.  

What was the inspiration for this book? 

In 1995 I read an intriguing article in the Vancouver Sun, titled “Lumber firm wails the blues over “singing forest”. Apparently a local tree planter had a spiritual experience in a forest near Tenise Creek; she says, ‘something akin to the voice of angels rose from the landscape.” I tucked the thought provoking article away and some years later, was sorting through my tattered old file full of various newspaper and magazine articles, the “Story Idea File” and read the “singing forest” article again. I began to type and wrote, “The Elanraigh quivered with deep unease. Forest-mind sifted the westerly wind and breathed its warning.” And so a sentient forest came to be both a major character and the setting for my YA fantasy.                      

 What was the most difficult part of writing this book? How did you get through it? 

Do you know, the majority of the writing was a joy—I was a ‘seat of the pants” writer and the story and my characters carried me along with them. I’d get in a mind-space where things flowed…sometimes how it all came together amazed me. What was difficult was adapting the original 120, 000 wd. story to an 80,000 wd., so as to be more suited to a Y.A. market. Cutting whole scenes hurt and certain characters just had to go. However, I had to get through it and get it copy edited in time for Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Contest, so I got ‘er done. I didn’t win the category for the contest but I had a polished manuscript ready to submit queries on. 

 Was getting the language for this time period difficult? How did you go about getting it down for the book? Can you describe what it felt like during that period of writing? 

I’ve read a lot of fantasy that has had “historical” settings, particularly a medieval feel…perhaps you absorb a feel for the cadence of appropriate speech…I found it easy to write. With the “common folk” I allowed more of a ‘dialect” to be present, however, on the advice of an astute beta reader, I did delete the “thee’s” and “thou’s” in my original manuscript. As my beta reader pointed out, very few people truly know how to properly use those today—best to leave them alone. I’m very grateful for her advice. I do have a great affection for Mary Stewart’s Arthurian novels, especially “The Crystal Cave” and “The Sword in the Stone.” I’ve read those books many times, and much admire the writing. 

 What was the most important stage of writing this book? Can you describe what it felt like during that period of writing? 

I believe I’d say it was the final third of the book…from the critical battle off shore, and on. Now is when the threads must be gathered to weave the final pattern…the battle scene was vivid in my mind as I wrote and the elements came together well, however, two new characters, Duke Ambraud and the Besteri Mage came into being and I found myself fascinated with them… I knew I must either play them down, or a sequel would be in order. I enjoyed writing them so much (villains are such fun to write, aren’t they?); I decided I would indeed carry the story on in a second book. 

 What do you like about your characters? Are they like anyone you know? Anything like you? 

 Thera, my protagonist embodies many of the qualities I would love to meet in a person, well seasoned, however, with human flaws that have the potential to become strengths. It was critical to the story that Thera have both the ability, and grace, to learn from those around her. I like her; I hope my readers will too J  

I must admit I was an only child blessed with wonderful parents--my father exemplified to me all that was best in a good man;  Thera shares some “only child” traits (some good, some not)  and in my characterization of Duke ArNaronne, the Duke shares some characteristics of my father.  

That being said, there are many of my secondary characters I became extremely attached to, and had great fun with, and I’ve been thinking of delving more into their back stories. 

How did you come up with the names of your characters? 

I wanted to keep something of a Celtic flavour to names, and in many cases to perhaps give my  reader a hint of that person’s character…Duke Leon (lion); Lady Fideiya (fidelity); Nan (just has a homey feel to it). Of the elementals mentioned, particularly the Elanraigh forest (pronounced Ellen-ray) I wanted something sounding both Celtic and haunting. The little wind elemental, so helpful to Thera, is named Sussara (as susurrus, is the sound of a gentle wind). For the villains of the piece we have Memteth which is more Sanskrit of origin, referring to reptilian-like.  I think naming is a fun component in writing fantasy. 
What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Read everything you can; both the genre you love, and other works, especially the classics—read for enjoyment and what you can learn—how did the author go about engaging you and creating a great story. Write always--if you’re not engaged in creating a work at present, then journal. Personally, I found belonging to writers groups helpful-- a “Fellowship of the Pen”-- and a source of mentors and friends. Critique groups are another matter, and not for everybody. If you have a work completed, or even an outline…and if you can possibly afford it… get to a Writers Conference! The workshops are an invaluable source of information and inspiration. Practice pitching your idea to actual editors/publishers/agents; a sweaty-palmed experience…something akin to walking barefoot over coals; however, after, you’re forever changed. 
Write what you love to read—don’t just pitch to the current commercial trend.

What can we expect new from you?  

A sequel to Elanraigh; The Vow is currently underway.  

Here’s the Book Blurb:

Only Thera of Allenholme hears the voice of forest-mind…and heeds its warning . Thera doesn’t know why the Elanraigh forest-mind chose her, of all the Allenholme folk, to hear its voice and to awaken her gifts of mind and spirit. The Elanraigh sends a warning dream; black sails swooping toward Allenholme from across the western sea—the Memteth, an ancient enemy, armed with blue fire that hungers to consume life. As Thera awakens to her gifts of bonding with raptor birds and reading hearts, the knowing; she also awakens to love. Will she choose Chamakin the young Ttamarini warrior who is a kindred in spirit to her, or the polished young nobleman who covets her beauty even more than her estate? Forest-mind is aware she is yet too young for such power and responsibility. It has no choice—the lives of all Thera’s people and the existence of the Elanraigh Forest itself, depend on Thera fulfilling her destiny. Can she learn what she must of gift, and heart, to survive what comes their way? 

Click on Amazon to buy.

Author Bio:
BR Photography
Sandra attended school in Victoria, B.C. and later graduated from the University of British Columbia with a B.A. in English Literature. After her daughter came along, she chose to work close to home and indulge her love of animals by working for an amiable, if thrifty, veterinarian. She believes in promoting the right of all creatures to live the existence that Nature intended. This value is strongly evoked in her novel.
Sandra’s always lived at the edges of ocean and forest, so it came naturally to have a sentient forest as a major character in Elanraigh: The Vow. She loves kayaking the scenic Island coastline, swimming and walking. She has a ready sense of humor and an optimistic outlook (a good thing when you’re a writer).
Her publications include Dark Fantasy short stories in pro magazines and she is currently working on a sequel to Elanraigh: The Vow.

Follow Sandy here:
Sandy's Blog
Thank you Sandy for the interview and for writing this enchanting book.
Don’t forget the giveaway, one lucky commenter wins a copy of Elanraigh – The Vow, so drop us a line. 
Till next time,

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Crystal Moon Celebration

The July full moon is soon approaching, rising on the 3rd. Its brilliant light will not provide the best firework viewing, but I have discovered some ways to add to the celebration using metaphysical crystals. Fantasy writing research turns up some very interesting finds!

Begin the full moon ritual by cleansing your crystals. Pass them through incense, running water, or in flower petals. Be sure to know what types of cleaning agents your specific crystals can withstand. (see reference link below) Be sure to cleanse your space, a location inside or out under the full moon’s light. Use sage, cedar, incense, floral water or whatever allows you to sense a space clear of negative energies. You may choose to anoint yourself and/or your crystals with certain essential oils. Be sure to use pure essential oils. A little research will help you decide which oils are most appropriate for your intention and your crystal.

Manifest your intention by holding your crystals at heart level. Mentally send them love and honor.  Decide what purpose you will you use them for and state your intention aloud. When you feel your message is programmed into your crystals, lower them from the level of your heart.

Under the light of the full moon, lay your stones on the floor in a pattern. You can choose any geometric pattern that inspires you. It is common practice to lay them around you in a circle and then perform a full moon meditation from that position.

To do the meditation, close your eyes and center your focus within yourself, perhaps placing your attention at the inside of your closed eyelids. Then slowly move your focus slightly up to the Third eye. Once you visualize that spot, focus only on your breathing. Your intention is in your mind’s eye and programmed into your crystals. Slowly bring yourself back. Stand and gather your stones. They should be placed either outside or in a window sill for the moon to embrace them. 

One practice I’m not brave enough to try involves making and consuming a moon tonic. A moon tonic can be made by placing your favorite stone in a glass of water. State your intention. Place clean stones in a glass and fill it with pure, clean water. Place this glass with the stones and water in the light of the full moon. After the second day, pour your tonic into a (dropper) bottle. Take one or two doses of this intention daily for the full moon cycle, from full moon to the next full moon.

You may choose to expand your crystal moon celebration more safely by creating a moon journal. Record your intention and your process. Over the next 28 days, add entries about how you are feeling, if you sense anything changing, and any words of empowerment or positive thoughts. Even if your intentions are not met by the next full moon, this only means that the Universe is working on HER time, not yours. This is not a sign of failure…. it is a sign of faith.

Reference for additional information about cleaning and charging crystals, website of Andrew Pacholyk MS,L.Ac. 

~ ~ ~
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous epic fantasy romance: Book One, SEEKING A SCRIBE, and Book Two, HERITAGE AVENGED. She has also authored the Ciel's Legacy series, with fast action mermaid/pirate storylines: TEARS ON A TRANQUIL LAKE and TORTUGA TREASURE.  For a FREE ebook download, read her historic fantasy, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Urban Fantasy Perspectives: Luna Lindsey

I had a great time interviewing author Luna Lindsey for this installment of Urban Fantasy Perspectives. Pick up her new title, Emerald City Dreamer, and look out for future books in the Dreams By Streetlight series.

Welcome Luna!

Hi Ella. Thank you for this interview.

What drew you to write urban fantasy, and do you have any favorite books or authors in the genre?

The genre is about much more than vampires and werewolves and sexy detectives. It’s about viewing modern life through the lenses of metaphor and exaggeration. For example, many people feel like they don’t fit in. Monsters of myth don’t fit in here, either. We can explore what that means by reading and writing fiction.

My favorite urban fantasy tends to be the older works, before it became a whole genre to itself. Like Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice and Agyar by Steven Brust. The genre seemed to be less fluff and more stuff back then. I also tend to like urban fantasy with faeries; also anything with new interpretations of angels and demons. I think of Brom’s Child Thief and Mark Ferrari’s Joby, as well as books by Neil Gaiman and TV shows like Supernatural.

What’s your process like when you begin a novel? Does the premise or characters come first?

Usually the premise. My favorite part is worldbuilding. I’m in the process of building several worlds – One I’ve worked on for years started with the premise: What if Carl Jung’s ideas in psychology had won over Sigmund Freud, and history was altered forever? I still have no characters for that one. As I think up the rules for the world, the characters come along and want to play by those rules.

Do you have any world-building advice for anyone interested in writing urban fantasy?

Start with a premise. The best place for ideas I find is science, especially biology. Folklore is also extremely rich with stories and ideas. Many cultures and ancient stories are completely untapped.

Start with the premise and answer questions to flesh out the world. For example, “What if the cannibalistic Wendigo were real?” Research the myths. Then ask lots of tough questions. Why have scientists not discovered the Wendigo? How does it survive? If it eats people, why aren’t there more missing people and murder investigations? What are its motives and goals? Is there just one, or many? How does it reproduce? The answers to each question will spawn new ideas and tougher questions – maybe Wendigoism is caused by a virus or a genetic mutation, but their blood contains the cure for cancer. These are all opportunities to develop a richer, deeper world that will feel believable. It will also generate conflicts that will be seeds for your plot.

Your Dreams by Streetlight series puts a unique spin on faeries as urban fantasy creatures. Please tell us a little bit about the fae in your books.

Faeries to me represent dreams and stories: the essences of creativity. They are distilled extracts from our own subconscious minds. Be they dreams or nightmares, they have one thing in common: They are irrational, following rules that only they can understand. There are seelie and unseelie (good and evil fae), but even these lines are blurry to the human understanding of morality.

Nykks are faerie spirits with no bodies. The rational human mind will resist “seeing” them, so they can be sensed only partly with the eye – the rest is seen with the mind, so can easily be passed off as a hallucination.

The faeborn are nykks who choose to be born into human bodies. These pass as human. Their fae natures are even more difficult to sense than nykks.

There are a lot of types of faeries, from little brownies and sprites, to giants and trolls; from the beautiful to the grotesque to the horrifying.

What are dreamers, and what do they provide to the fae?

The fae were born of dreams. They need dreams to survive. Dreamers are humans with exceptional talents in the arts.

Think of flowers producing nectar, and bees turning that into honey. Every time a dreamer writes a story or paints or composes a new song, she gives off a type of energy called toradh (“tor-ah”, a Celtic word). The fae consume toradh. Glamour is a byproduct which can be used by humans and the fae for magic.

Can you give us a little background on your heroines, Jina and Sandy? Why did they become faerie hunters, and how have they learned to fight them?

There is a prequel to Emerald City Dreamer called Make Willing the Prey. It’s more of a horror story than urban fantasy. In that, Sandy and Jina are lured into a deadly game by an imp named Haun. They manage to escape, but so does Haun. Emerald City Dreamer starts several years later, and Sandy has vowed to fight Haun and all his kind. She is the studious type, and at the beginning of the novel, the most she’s really done is research and experiment.

Jina lets Sandy lead the secret society, and helps recruit other hunters. But it seems like all Sandy ever does is talk and prepare, until Jina begins to question Sandy’s leadership skills.

The story contrasts how the two women have dealt with their trauma, and how ready they are when it comes time to get their hands dirty.

Who is your favorite bad guy/gal in Emerald City Dreamer and why?

Jett. For the exact same reasons why I hesitate to call her a bad guy. Jett is a protagonist acting antagonistically… or is she an antagonist acting protagonistically? Either way, she’s a faerie, and as such, her actions and motives are unpredictable.

How does your version of Seattle differ from the real thing, and why did you choose that location?

I love Seattle. It’s another reason why I decided to write urban fantasy, because I wanted to share my excitement for this place with others. In some ways, I wrote Seattle herself as a character, living constantly in the background, breathing her own life into each scene. I wrote about real places, and often kept their names or changed them only slightly. Emerald City Dreamer could easily have happened in May of 2009, while the rest of us were busy obliviously living our own lives.

Any hints about what we can expect for the rest of the series?

I’m doing the first round of revisions on Emerald City Hunter now. Sandy’s nemesis, Haun, will continue to haunt and evade her. Sandy and Jina will continue to grow. Jett has grand designs. Expect intrigue to get a bit more political over the next couple of books as Jett chases her goals. You will definitely see more fae. And after Emerald City Hunter, we just may see an older faerie hunting society show up and try to throw their weight around…

Are there any types of stories or characters that you’d like to see more of in speculative genres?

More strong women, minorities, and sexual minorities. Fewer tropes and more trope-twisting. I like stories to surprise me. Especially in urban fantasy, I’d like to see more “idea stories”, more intricacy in the worlds, and more depth to the stories.

What do you feel are the advantages and/or disadvantages of self-publishing these days?

It’s hard to say what the publishing industry will look like in ten years, but I love being part of the process. The advantages are clear: It allows more experimentation and more niches. It gives more authors voice, and allows readers to be a larger part of the selection process for what succeeds and fails.

The disadvantage is that some writers may not shoot for a minimum level of quality in their work. It takes lots of “bad writing” for most authors to gain skill. Many authors publish the first things they write, which floods the market with unprofessional work.

I think that will all sort itself out soon. A local group here called the Northwest Independent Writer’s Association has a few ideas for setting minimum standards of professional behavior and quality writing, including a Seal of Quality program they’ve just started. Other organizations are gaining traction as well, like the Association of Independent Authors.

Do you have any predictions for urban fantasy trends we might see in the future?

It will likely be influenced by its sister genres. Like any good story, the popularity of genres themselves seem to follow patterns of emotional ups and downs… Dystopian fiction may cause a backlash and we may want something more upbeat for a while. We may see a short period of increasingly dark themes in UF, followed by increasingly bright and optimistic themes. Perhaps we’ll see less about fighting monsters in the real world, and more about magic’s power to uplift the human condition. The upside of writing about faeries is there is plenty of material for both.

Emerald City Dreamer
Dreams by Streetlight Book One
By Luna Lindsey

Book Details
Word count: 124,000
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Amazon Kindle Price: $3.99
Available from,

Here's the blurb:
Jina and Sandy survived the unthinkable. Now they've set up a secret Order in Seattle to fight the impossible - fairytale creatures born of human nightmares and nourished on dreams. Their tools: iron, lore, science, glamour, and support groups. As beginners, without access to the ancient societies of faerie hunters, they must rediscover how to protect themselves. And in order to fight the fiends of the world, Sandy must take control her inner ghosts.

As a dreamer in a rock band, Jina unknowingly feeds the fae and attracts unseen enemies at every turn. Now, they're finally on the tail of at least one dark monster bent on evil. She is a dreamer, so she must follow her heart - but which way does it lead?

Jett is an elf who only wants to protect her hodge-podge clan of faeries from the encroaching world of science and religion - which have systematically slaughtered her kind and the beliefs that gave birth to her people. True dreamers are rare beings, and when she finds them, she does everything she can to protect them and claim them as her own.

Ezra is a teenager who never feels comfortable in his own skin. Most people like him well enough, but when he looks in the mirror, he sees a demon. He has been taken in by the Garbage Eaters, who expect obedience and purity. Before long, he suffers a crisis of faith that may lead him into real danger.

Delve into this deeply developed, internally consistent world of the fae, and meet beings who are simultaneously alien, elegant, and terrifying, fueled by dreams and the creative energy of artists. Glimpse the secret world of Tir Nan Og through the eyes of fully fledged four-dimensional characters living in a Seattle that is just a bit weirder than you think.

This is a story with psychological depth, a page-turner with unexpected twists and turns.

When prey hunts, who will lead the chase, and who will run?

Buy at Amazon:

YouTube Video Author Reading of short story Right After Feeding Time:

Luna is an indie author located in Seattle, WA. Her first story (about a hippopotamus) crawled out of her head at the early age of 4. Her mom had to write it down for her. After running out of things to say about hippopotami, she switched genres to sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. During a ten-year break from fiction, she primarily wrote non-fiction and became an accidental expert on mind control, computers, and faeries. After returning to fiction in 2010, she now publishes ebooks and seeks publication in short story markets. She has written over thirty short stories and three novels.

Website and Blog:

Facebook Author Link:

Amazon Author Link:   

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Courage and Power of Imagination

It takes a lot of courage to burn books.  It takes more imagination to persuade people that you are doing it for all the right reasons.

There is power in imagination.  How have you exercised yours today?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Villains To Die For

Crazy as I am, I like my villains deliciously evil.   I personally like them; insanely crazy, driven, sexy, a beauty or a beast, overly intelligent, powerful, and deeply wounded.  It’s a villain I loooove to hate and never want to meet personally, but one I want the hero to take down and blow away.
I was thinking about which villains stood out in mind for the sole purpose of how to model them for the villain in my story.
Here are the ones that I came up with:
Mattie Walker in Body Heat
Delores Umbridge in Harry Potter
Annie Wilkes in Misery
Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction
Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs
Norman Bates in Psycho
Lord Voldermort in Harry Potter
Palpatine in Star Wars
The Evil Queen in Snow White and the Huntsman
I thought the character of Mattie Walker in Body Heat was such a great villain because I didn’t expect her to be.  But, right from the start she knew what she wanted and would do anything to get it.  Anything.  She manipulated the hero using her strength against his weakness spinning a web he couldn’t resist or get out of.  Yummy

We all know the story of Snow White, but never was there an evil queen as portrayed by Charlize Theron in the new Snow White movie. 

What I come away with in this brief study is the best villains are not just dark and scary, but intrinsically layered with deep desires, a complete disregard for others,  creating an attraction and loathing towards them from the viewer/reader.  Oh, and by the way, my villain is a woman.
What are your all-time favorite villains? 
Till next time,

Friday, June 22, 2012

Give Fantasy Romance a Chance!

             The Salon is proud to welcome Mysti Parker!

Picture this: you’re browsing through Amazon or your local bookstore, looking for something new. You stumble upon a cover that features a shirtless man and leather-clad woman holding their bows at ready. Flames ignite the entire background and...

You look closer.

Pointed ears? Oh, it’s fantasy! But, it’s in the romance section. What do you do?

All right, I’ll come clean. The book cover I described belongs to the first title in my fantasy romance series, A Ranger’s Tale. And, yep, I’ve had more than a few readers who were not convinced they’d like the crazy combination of fantasy and romance. And if you’re in that hesitant group, perhaps these comments from reviewers of A Ranger’s Tale will put your mind at ease.

“When reading this genre of books I often skip over the boring details of family lineage that stretches for chapters and the entire history of the planet you’re reading about. Mysti was able to bring out a great story and not drag out the history of the characters to a point of boredom. She got straight to the meat of the story.”

“This story made me a fan of fantasy romance!”

“Before I read "A Ranger's Tale" I was not a great fan of the fantasy genre. I would bypass it at the bookstore and head straight for the romance aisle. But the talent of Mysti Parker has changed that with her brilliant mixture of both genres in this new exciting and touching novel.”

Still not convinced, huh? What do I have to do, people—bribe you with chocolate?! Sorry, any quality chocolate in a five-mile radius is all mine. Whether you’re a staunch fantasy or romance fan, I’ll try to sway you with a few reasons why YOU should like fantasy romance:
  1.   Fantasy Flora & Fauna. From dragons to unicorns, man-eating vines to singing flowers, you’ll find a wide assortment of fictional organisms for your reading enjoyment. Authors, being the inventive sort they are, will often create their very own species for you to discover. A few of mine by name: eleteens, flitters, tygers, jabbafish, inkwell plants, ebonwood trees, willowvine, evynfruit.
  2. Magic. Unless you’re a stickler for conventional, real-world, everyday fiction, the magic in fantasy romance will tickle your imagination. It might come in the form of a kick-ass fire mage like Caliphany in A Ranger’s Tale or the luxium powder used by secret agent Jayden Ravenwing to track down some wicked beasts in Serenya’s Song. Either way, magic takes your usual plot to a whole new, and fun, level!
  3.   Action! Somewhere in the midst of the spell-casting and woman-wooing, you’ll see swashbuckling sword fights and battles between fire mages. The heroes and heroines will face off with goblins, trolls, demons…maybe even dragons! You don’t get THAT in a regency romance, and is likely the reason I have several guys who are fans of my series. 
  4. Details. I think this one is what romance readers fear the most. High fantasy tends to be heavy on detail and world-building. In fantasy romance, you’ll find the details a bit lighter and the world-building equally as important to the story as the romance between the hero and heroine. Even though they may have pointed ears and live to be 1,000 years old, I wager that you can still relate to them and their struggles, especially with the characters in Tallenmere.
Maybe I’ve changed your mind by now, but if not, how about a gift from me to you?

**For one lucky commenter, I’ll give you a PDF or Kindle copy of both A Ranger’s Tale AND Serenya’s Song so you can decide whether you’re on the fantasy romance team or not. All winners to be drawn at the end of the tour (July 9)**

Just answer this question:  If you could live to be 1,000 years old, and not a day over, would you?

Serenya’s Song
Tallenmere Book Two
by Mysti Parker


In the fantasy world of Tallenmere, no one ever said love was easy... 

Serenya Crowe may be a half-elf commoner, but she's no ordinary woman. With the ability to interpret dreams, and a birth defect that forces her to wear gloves, she’s endured small-town gossip and the cruelty of her husband, Sebastian, The Earl of Summerwind. All she's ever wanted is to live a quiet life and raise a family. When she meets the new stranger in town, her world and her heart, are turned upside down. 

Wood-elf Jayden Ravenwing is an ex-secret agent who wants nothing more than to forget matters of the heart. He left the bustle of Leogard and his failed marriage to make a fresh start in Summerwind. He never planned to fall in love again, especially with the enchanting Serenya Crowe. 

When a strange portal opens on the Crowe property at the edge of town, Jayden is thrown into an investigation, knowing that if he fails, Serenya and everyone in Summerwind may die. 

Together, he and Serenya must overcome an ancient evil, and their own inner demons, to save Summerwind and find the love they've always dreamed of.

Author Bio:

Mysti Parker is a full time wife, mother of three, and a writer. Her first novel, A Ranger’s Tale was published in January, 2011 by Melange Books, and is the first in a fantasy romance series. She is also the proud writer of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award.


Twitter: @MystiParker 

Serenya’s Song: Melange Books

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Re-emergence of Pulp Fiction by H. David Blalock

We're pleased to welcome H. David Blalock into the Salon today. Follow the links below to check out his genre-bending new title, Angelkiller. 

Hello. My name is David and I write fiction. All kinds of fiction, but mostly the type that makes the reader scratch their head and wonder what the heck I was thinking. Typical of this is my latest novel Angelkiller (Seventh Star Press, 2011), which answers the question "Why do bad things happen to good people?" with the simple answer: because in the war between the Angels of Light and Darkness, the Darkness won and has convinced mankind ever since they are the good guys.

My novel is called urban fantasy because it doesn't fit into any other category. I like to make people think, because we don't do enough of that any more. Our children are not taught how to think in school, they are told what to think. Our news outlets don't tell us what happened, they tell us what that supposedly meant. Our fiction, in literature and movies, is filled with messages sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant, about the current social and political agendas. We are no longer encouraged to make our own decisions, no longer taught there really is a difference between right and wrong. We are allowed, and allow, shades of gray then wonder why crime is on the rise and wars continue.

Today we look back on the 1930s and call it campy and kitch. It seems this generation is beginning to argue that point. Pulp fiction, the pre-WWII equivalent of today's Syfy, Chiller, and Cloo Channels, is being resurrected by a growing community of lovable miscreants dissatisfied with the pablum dished out by television.

Ever hear of The Shadow? Doc Savage? The Whisperer? Captain Zero? Their grandchildren are appearing now in New Pulp comics and stories from such publishers as Pro Se Productions, Dark Horse, and Airship 27. The steampunk movement is just one of several branches of new pulp, one that has received the most attention but certainly not the only branch active. From mens' adventure to occult stories, weird horror to dark mystery, even resurrections of some of the best known pulp stars like Conan the Barbarian, can be found in their pages.

Personally, I heartily welcome this. The heroes of that age stood up for what was good and right, a definite code of ethic that seems to be missing from fiction today. In a society that lusts after sparkling vampires and eagerly anticipates a zombie apocalypse there is little room for heroes. I prefer to think the resurgence of pulp fiction is a rediscovery of the difference between right and wrong and the definition of how that difference can be recognized.

I hope this new pulp movement continues to grow and gains the recognition it deserves. I will certainly be lending what talent I have to that effort, so look for me in those ranks in future. Meanwhile, follow me as I continue to push the limits of urban fantasy with my forthcoming novel from Seventh Star Press, Traitor Angel.

H. David Blalock has been a writer for print and the internet in  speculative fiction for more than 35 years. Inspired by the science fiction and horror writers of the early and middle 20th century, he continues to try to bring that sense of wonder and awe he felt at that reading to his audience through his stories and novels. For more information about David and his work, check out his website at

David's contacts are:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Happy Midsummer everyone!

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, today is the day that the sun will reach it's highest point of the year. It's also a significant holiday for all our neo-pagan friends out there who will be celebrating in whatever manner suits them. Even though I don't practice paganism, I still can't help taking some time to reflect on the day that was an annual milestone for many of our ancestors.

Here's a clip from a solstice gathering last year at Stonehenge which illustrates how some modern pagans enjoy the holiday:

Today is a great day to light a candle and meditate, or share a meal with friends and family, or have a proper wild party in honor of the season. If you celebrate the solstice, I'd love to hear your plans for today.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Speculating on Dracula by Marie Treanor

Whoo hoo!  I get to introduce one of our blog tour writers, Marie Treanor.  As a fan of characters based on history, and transformed over time, Dracula (in all his configurations) is one of the better known ones.  Here is Marie sharing her investigations into the legend.  Then, stay tuned for an excerpt from her new series opener, Blood Guilt.

Welcome, Marie!

I know I’m not the only person fascinated by vampire mythology – legends recently boosted by the discovery in Bulgaria of several medieval bodies buried with iron stakes through their chests. People really did believe in vampires, and in the last hundred years or so vampire mythologies have abounded, not so much through folk beliefs as through fantasy literature!

It’s mostly down to Bram Stoker, of course, although even he was influenced by John Polidori’s earlier tale, The Vampyre. Whatever the influences, we soak up vampire stories like sponges, and the explosion of vampire romance in more recent years has only fed the compulsion, with each author coming up with his or her own world of the undead.

As a writer of vampire romance (most recently, Blood Guilt, the start of a new series!), I find this field of the imagination very fertile! I love vampire stories and always have, ever since reading Dracula as a child and watching old late night horror films with my Dad.

Dracula is a fantastic villain: evil, sexually mesmerizing, powerful, ruthless, and yet in his living past he was a brave hero. As most people know, Bram Stoker based Dracula loosely on the fifteenth century Wallachian prince, Vlad the Impaler, a ruthless and yet heroic ruler who lived on in folk tales.

So, as both a writer and a lover of vampire tales, I’ve spent some time researching the enigmatic Vlad Dracula. I’ve found a few facts, and speculated on a few more J. Here are my FAQ’s.

1. Was he a vampire?

No! He was the ruling prince of Wallachia, now part of modern Romania. Bram Stoker took his nickname and some of his history for his own creation, Count Dracula. Before then, no one had ever accused him of vampirism!

2. When was he born and when did he die?

He was born around 1431, and died in 1476.

3. Did he really have a connection with Transylvania?

Yes. Although it belonged to Hungary at the time, the princes of Wallachia traditionally owned several towns there. However, he was never ruler of Transylvania.

4. When did he rule?

He had three turbulent reigns: the first in 1448 when he was a teenager - with Ottoman help, he seized the throne and lost it again within weeks. In 1556, he returned, killed the previous incumbent who was responsible for the murder of his father and brother, and ruled until the Ottoman invasion of 1462 replaced him with his younger brother, an Ottoman puppet. His final reign was in 1476, until he was killed within months by a rival claimant to the throne.

5. Why was he given the nickname, Dracula?

"Dracul" can mean "Devil" in Romanian, and some say he earned the title through the atrocities he committed. However "dracul" can also mean "dragon"; so Vlad's nickname is more probably to do with the chivalric Order of the Dragon bestowed by the Holy Roman Emperor on his father (also a Vlad) who was thereafter known as Vlad Dracul.  Young Vlad also received the honour and was known as Vlad Dracula, Son of the Dragon. It was clearly a name he was proud of since he signed several documents “Vlad Dracula”.

6. Why was he called the Imapler?

This was a nickname given him by the Turks - "Lord Impaler" - because of his penchant for this form of punishment. The worst case in terms of numbers was when he displayed a "forest" of the impaled" outside his capital city of Tirgoviste, which scared the Sultan's invading army into retreat.

Impalement, vile as it is, was not a particularly rare form of execution in this period or in this area, being practiced by both Christians and Ottomans.

7. Was he the cruel, psychotic tyrant of legend?

According to many pamphlets and books of the time, yes he was. But according to the folk memory of his own people, he was a hero who defended his country from Turkish invasion, and prevented the Sultan's forces stealing Wallachian children to become janissaries.

In fact, the worst of the horror stories - which are clearly exaggerated as to numbers if nothing else - came from the German towns of Transylvania which rebelled against him and paid the price, and from the Hungarians who imprisoned him on false charges for twelve years.

So... a gentle man? Probably not!

A tyrant? Probably! It was more or less expected of princes of the period, but he always ruled with the agreement of his "boyars" (noblemen).

Cruel and psychotic? I doubt he was crueler than other rulers of a period when Machiavelli advised that it was better for a prince to be feared than loved. He seems to have been rigid and strict in dispensing justice; but a psycho hell-bent on torture and killing at the expense of the prosperity of his country? It doesn't fit with the way the people rallied to him to fight the Turks, and helped him escape when the war was lost. Or with the economic improvements he made to his country. Or the fact that no one assassinated him when he was at his weakest. Like king Macbeth in Scotland, another character who lives on in literature, I very much doubt that Vlad Dracula was a hated man in his own country.

Anyway, it seems to me Bram Stoker captured this hero/tyrant contradiction in his Dracula, and it’s at least partly this duel nature of vampires that’s so fascinating and keeps us reading – and writing! – more. If you’re a fan of vampire stories, what is it about them that draws you in?

Here's more about Marie's book. 

(Blood Hunters, Book 1)
By Marie Treanor
eBook coming 5th June 2012

The first of a new vampire romance series, a sequel to the Awakened by Blood trilogy.

Natural enemies, deadly attraction…

Mihaela, a fearless vampire hunter secretly haunted by loneliness and childhood tragedy, finds it difficult to adjust to the new world order where vampires are not always the bad guys. She's taking a much needed vacation in Scotland when she sees a little boy being chased through the streets of Edinburgh. Rescuing him brings bigger problems - two vampires from her past: Gavril, who killed her family; and the reclusive and troubled Maximilian, gifted Renaissance artist and one-time overlord of the most powerful undead community in the world. Maximilian once saved her life and now needs that favor returned.

The earth moves for Mihaela in more ways than one. From Scotland to Budapest and Malta, she  races against time to prevent a disastrous, vampire-induced earthquake and save an innocent yet powerful child – all while fighting a dreadful attraction to Maximilian, her only ally, whom she can’t afford to trust. For Maximilian, the hunter becomes a symbol of renewed existence, as he struggles to accept his past and rediscovers his appetite for blood and sex - and maybe even happiness.

Amazon                AmazonUK                    Barnes& Noble

Monday, June 18, 2012

Why just YA?

Over Father's Day dinner last night, my sister-in-law was appalled that I have yet to read at least the book "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins, as even my brother who's reading list consists of car magazines, has read it (it joins the Twilight Saga, that he will never own up to reading to his buddies). I shrugged and said that I was "thinking" about reading it.

When books are the new rave, I tend to stay away from them because I get tired of people constantly talking about them or offering spoilers. The last big series that I remember was the Twilight Saga and I read them about two years after they were popular - on a dare by one of my co-workers. And I have yet to read the Harry Potter series...but that's a whole other blog.

Last night before bed, I did more research into "The Hunger Games" and found that it isn't the only YA book headed to the big screen. There are four other YA best-sellers, all with movies in development.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - movie rights to Warner Brothers
The story is set on the small island of Thisby, where every November young riders compete in a race in which they ride man-eating water horses called "capall uisce".

Two orphans, Puck and Sean, are determined to win this year’s race, which comes with a monetary prize and fame. Both of Puck's parents were eaten by a horse; Sean's father was trampled by one. Sean is the returning champion; Puck is the challenger and the first girl to ever enter the race. A romance ensues even though the two are competitors.

"The Scorpio Races" is also the Speculative Society's book club novel for June/July.

Earthseed by Pamela Sargent - movie rights to Paramount
This 1983 classic is about a group of teenagers — Earth’s last survivors — on a ship traveling through deep space in search of a habitable world.

As the ship approaches its destination, it traps the teens in a section that simulates the wilderness until they prove they can survive on their own. The teens quickly separate into two warring factions, one led by the main character, a 15-year-old girl named Zoheret. As the battle between the factions escalates, secrets emerge, war ensues and both sides endure losses before they arrive at the new planet.

The book is a trio, that also includes "Farseed" and "Seed Seeker".

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs- movie rights to 20th Century Fox/Chernin Entertainment
An abandoned orphanage on a remote island off the coast of Wales might be home to a group of lost children with fantastic powers. After his grandfather’s death, 16-year-old Jacob finds a box of strange photos among his possessions and travels to the island in search of answers.

Riggs is working on a sequel that is scheduled for spring 2013.

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare - movie rights to Columbia/Screen Gems
This four-book series (with two more scheduled in 2012 and 2013) about a teenage girl named Clary Fray who gets drawn into a supernatural war between demons and their opponents called Shadowhunters.

In the series, Clary teams up with vampires, werewolves and faeries, and as they hunt for the three magical mortal instruments given by angels to the original Shadowhunters, she learns surprising secrets from her past.

I also seen the first teaser for "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: by David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith the other day on television so it will be hitting the big screen in the next few months.

All of these YA books being turned into movies, got me thinking about some of my favorite books being turned into movies. And that prompted me into thinking who would play some of the super sexy heroes?

What books would you like turned into movies and who would play the hero or heroine?

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Magic That Is Anime

Miko Yuki - "Bleach"

When watching Anime, (Japanese animation) my child-like wonder is ignited and my eyes might mirror (assuming I can see them) the big saucer eyes of the characters in the animation. Anime is entertaining, but underneath the simple tale lays philosophical and spiritual gems. 
 However, there are no soapboxes here, simply characters dealing with inner demons while fighting off the evil outer demons.  Characters that are in trouble, carrying a deep inner wound, grows and finally triumphs over adversity.  And themes of good defeats evil, redemption of evil, protecting others, personal sacrifice, friendship and love abound in Anime, but are only realized through the characters struggle to become whole.
All of these things, characters growing emotionally, lessons learned, conflicts, and hidden meanings, I expect in any good story.  What intrigues me as a writer is how the supernatural (whether psychic or spiritual) in Anime is weaved like a tightly woven silk kimono into the story.  Perhaps, because the Japanese see the spiritual in all things and therefore seems natural.  Observing Anime, I would say it is a reflection of their culture and Eastern religions comprising of Buddhism, Hinduism and Shintoism.
For example, the elements, air, water, earth and fire are more than just what they name.  They are of the natural world and thus associated with gods and goddesses but they can and often have a magical existence.  Neat, huh?
Mixing the supernatural and the spiritual is not something that happens often in Western entertainment.  It would be like mixing oil with water. But, maybe that’s changing.  Looking at recent Disney animations like the Kung Fu Panda shows an appreciation for the power of the mix. 
Okay, okay, let it be known, I love animation and the magic it bestows on the viewer.  It entertains while juggling your emotions like balls in the air.  Then another set of balls labeled, “a new perspective” and “acceptance not necessary” joins the fun.  When the story ends, the balls fall, except one remains for a brief moment labeled “enlightenment.”  Or, maybe it's a sign with a light bulb on it and it leaves you wearing an inner smile because you had such a sweet time.
One of my favorite Animes,  Avatar, The Last Airbender has a spin off, The Legend Of Korra."  In this clip, Korra is introduced as the new reincarnated Avatar.   It’s a girl! Yeah!

And, just because it’s fun, the trailer for Kung Fu Panda.

What was the last animation that you watched? 
Till next time,

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