Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New Munsters and Cute Mermaids

Happy Halloween everyone!

So, the original Munsters show was way before my time, and I honestly didn't pay much attention when I heard they were doing a remake. But when the first episode popped up on Hulu, hubs and I decided to check it out. Mockingbird Lane was a real treat, so I made a clip of one of my favorite scenes.

Turns out the concept was developed by Bryan Fuller, the same guy who created some other great shows, including Dead Like Me (love!). I hope NBC decides to pick this one up and run with it. In the meantime, it's great to watch for Halloween.

Since it's the season and all, I have to show off our little angel's costume this year. Isn't she the cutest mermaid evah! Don't judge us, we don't have kids yet.

Finally, I just want to say good luck to all you writers starting NaNoWriMo tomorrow. I'm right there with you. Rock those 50k words everyone!


Monday, October 29, 2012

Creating Magic by Kate Policani

We're very pleased to welcome today's guest, author Kate Policani! Be sure to head over to her release party for more fun and prizes.

Creating Magic

Making magic in fiction is a tricky endeavor. If you make it too real, it doesn’t feel magical. If you make it too imaginative, you lose believability and you have trouble being consistent. Fortunately there are lots of ways to season your magic with enough reality to give it life. Here’s how I did it.

Don’t Judge a Book By Its Magic begins my first series in which Colleen Underhill has stepped outside the boundaries of normality. She is still attached to the regular life in which she grew up, but she just can’t return to it. With a seemingly harmless introduction to what she thinks is an imaginary world, everything she thought she understood is turned upside-down. Before the day ends, she is dragged into SPRU, a secret university for people with powers like hers. And they won’t let her leave. The magical community is called The Convergence. They are exclusive, secretive, and very protective of their privacy.

I based the supernatural actions of The Convergence series on loose interpretations of physics and String Theory. But I didn’t start out that way. I’m not a big physics buff, but it’s a passion of my hubby’s. Combined with his adoration for comic books, I have a dependable and knowledgeable resource for what to write and what not to write about supernatural forces. In the early stages of writing the first book, I talked with him about my ideas and my concepts sparked a really cool conversation about everything he was learning about physics. With his coaching, I formulated the rules for the magic in my story.

In Don’t Judge a Book By Its Magic, the first book in the series, Colleen plunges into a world of different perception and a hyperawareness of the connections between herself and the world around her. All of the concepts I used are really just my interpretation and then wild flight of fancy based off of what I understood from conversations with my husband and occasional episodes of NOVA.

There are two kinds of energy described in the book: The Tximar is the energy of all living things and the Teimnydd is the energy of those who can wield it, called Teimnydduus. All this energy is interconnected in a universal “tapestry” called the Txenarjuma. The Teimnydduus can perceive the energy and the Txenarjuma and then use it to affect the world around them using individual threads called Txenar. These concepts are based loosely around Quantum Field Theory.

I also included a magical river flowing through the city called the Tximarshu. This was influenced by several different stories I’ve read where characters use ley line energy for magic. I smushed the idea of ley lines and the concept of Tximar together and used it as an element of Colleen’s transformation into a Teimnydduus.

The main character and protagonist, Colleen, reads a stray book that was left in the library and is transformed when its descriptions activate her latent Teimnydd. At a different time in her life, this wouldn’t have been possible, as seen by the fact that her father, the person from whom she inherited the Teimnydd powers, cannot activate them by reading the book.

In addition to the Teimnydd and Tximarshu, Teimnydduus with special training can manipulate “pocket dimensions” which they call Vyxhepiocht. Using this kind of power, Convergence Agents are able to secretly transport Colleen’s gear from her home to her dorm room instantly without arousing the suspicions of the neighborhood with a moving truck. “Pocket Dimensions” and other dimensional concepts come from String Theory also.

More physics-based concepts are represented in the book and I’ve planned more for future volumes in the series. My book isn’t all about the physics, though. There is a lot more involved in changing a person’s whole perception of reality than just the mechanics of the transformation. That’s what I love to write about most. To see how Colleen adjusts to her “magic”, you’ll have to read the book!

Buy Don’t Judge a Book By Its Magic on Amazon

Buy for Kindle

Buy in all ebook formats on Smashwords

About the author:

Even though Kate Policani wasn’t born in Seattle, Washington, she’s a native at heart. She should have been born here, but some bizarre mistake started her out in the Midwest. That error was rectified, though, and she’s spent more than twenty years in the rainy, gloomy, chilly land where she belongs, loving every minute of it. The long dark days and unwelcoming weather make for the perfect environment to stay inside and write.

A mom of three and therefore a coffee addict, she writes her books over a hot mocha in the rainy season (Fall-Winter-Spring) and an iced mocha during the six weeks of summer. That is, she writes when she isn’t shuttling her progeny to school or youth group or playdates. In a pinch, she writes while she waits to pick the kids up from school, and sometimes even in the middle of the night when the ideas wake her.

Kate has found her footing with her writing and is no longer interested in just writing a few books. The list of ideas is long, so she’ll be cranking out the Sci-fi and Fantasy (and maybe some others) for the long haul.

Friday, October 26, 2012

BBC's Merlin

It seems like TV is now filled with new fantasy and sci fi series. But there is one series not much very often mention and has been airing the last few years. The series airs on the BBC and on the SyFy channel in the states.

Colin Morgan as Merlin

Merlin is a retelling of a younger Merlin. From the BBC America site:

“Merlin” is a drama series which updates the story of the infamous sorcerer of Arthurian legend for a new audience.

The mythical city of Camelot is a fantastical realm of legendary beasts and mysterious peoples. It’s a dangerous world in which magic has been banned by the ruthless tyrant, Uther Pendragon.

When Merlin, a young man gifted with extraordinary magical powers, arrives in the kingdom. He quickly makes enemies, including the heir to Uther’s crown, the headstrong Prince Arthur. But guided by Uther’s wise physician,Gaius, Merlin is soon using his talents not just to survive, but also to unlock Camelot’s mystical secrets. As he does so, he discovers that his destiny and that of the kingdom’s young leader in waiting, Arthur are inextricably linked.

Starring Colin Morgan as Merlin, Bradley James as Prince Arthur, Anthony Head as King Uther, Richard Wilson as Gaius, Katie McGrath as Morgana and Angel Coulby as Gwen, Merlin is an imaginative and enthralling new twist on a legend that is as old as time. 

While it is kidish at times I enjoy a non-confident version of Merlin growing into more mature wizard I knew from my childhood. The irony of the series: magic is outlawed and he risks his life every time he uses his powers. He hides behind a veil of a joker in front of everyone except for those he trusts. the secrets he carries can destroy everything he loves but he continues down the path of his 'destiny'. I'm not a fan of destiny but it's hard not to think destiny with the legends. And in some ways this adds inner conflict to Merlin timid personality in the beginning.

No more of my rambling in case of a spoiler. There are currently four complete seasons and the fifth one airing at the moment in the UK. If you want to catch up with the series in the US, Netflix has the first three series to stream and BBC America airs reruns. SyFy does as well. We'll have to wait for the fourth season until January if my sources are right. Hope you enjoy another great fantasy TV show!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Voice of Your World & Characters ~guest post by Shaun Eyles

We're very pleased to have Shaun Eyles here with us today at The Speculative Salon. He's going in-depth on an interesting topic--the voice of your fantasy world. Please check out his latest releases below.


When a writer begins writing fantasy fiction, it is akin to opening a huge birthday gift that you just know contains the best and biggest new toy. Fantasy fiction means imagining what could be, and what could never be, and it is ever so tempting to run wild and forget that what you right is a reflection on the world you are creating.

However, approaching fantasy fiction, or any type of fiction, without considering a more careful approach can lead to trouble. One of the pitfalls that many writers appear to fall into is a belief that fantasy fiction must always be laden with poetic language and that they must describe every place, every object, every person and every emotion in what I refer to as unnecessary flowery terms. In itself, these two elements of writing – poetic language and heavy detail – are not bad writing, but they should suit the novel you are writing and not be used in a way that confuses the voice of your world and characters or disrupts the flow of your work.

Before I continue, let me explain what highlighted the importance of world and character voice to me. One day I decided to listen to an audio version of the Wheel of Time series. It was the first time that I had listened to an audio book, and I immediately noticed one thing. The careful use of detail and voice.Listening to the words spoken out loud emphasized what I believe many writers already understand. Every element of a story, from descriptions of your world and characters to dialogue and all elements in between, are linked to one central world. Something else became apparent to me then. The world you create has a voice. I don’t simply mean the voice of the characters, but also the voice of the overall world in which your story is situated.

Voice is a term that I think many new writers often confuse with another writing term, flow. The flow of a novel is how it read as a while, while the voice of a novel is how well the writer expresses the world and story they have created. Each is important and each depends on the other to some degree in order to be successfully accomplished. If the voice of your novel becomes bogged down with excessive detail or pages of unnecessary flowery language, then the flow will suffer as the reader struggles to work through your work. If the flow of the novel is disrupted by too many unimportant scenes or storylines, then the voice of your novel will suffer as a result. A confused reader will not be receptive to the voice of your world or characters.

Let’s now dive into as aspect of a novel’s voice, one of characterization. As an author, you’re writing in the point of view of somebody else, who exists in a particular place at a particular point of time. The character lives amongst a community, a world, full of customs and commonalities in dress, language and other assorted social norms and nuances. They do not exist in a vacuum. Their voice in not only of who they are, but of how the overall structure of your world deems they behave. For example, you character may be a thief, somebody who is street smart and hardened by life. It does not make sense to write descriptions or dialogue for your thief that includes poetic metaphor or romantic language or imagery. Your thief would not think in that way. It makes more sense to have the character think sharply and see things as they are, without frills and frippery. Conversely, in the same novel, you may have a character raised within money, somebody who had the benefits of education and the opportunity to travel or spend time reading or relaxing in quiet contemplation. This character may see the world through romantic eyes and therefore would speak or describe their surroundings and events in more poetic detail.

How your characters describe their world should depend upon the situation you create for them. For example, your well educated and wealthy character who describes and speaks about your world through a romantic’s eyes may find themselves thrown into peril, stalked by a killer or hunted by sinister beings or magic. How does this change their view of the world? Think about how you would react in a similar situation. Would your mind see things in crisp and sharp detail, or would you continue to see the world as romantic or poetic? When your character’s heart races from fear or anxiety, their perception should shift for they may suddenly become hyper focused on the smallest sounds and flickers of light, or easily startled by new situations or when confronted by other characters. As writers, we need to remember that characters, just like people, are complex and will react to certain situations in different ways. In one moment, your use of poetic language or heavy detail will suit the voice of your world, and then in the next scene you may need to strip out the heavy detail and poetic language to make way for sharp sentences and straight forward descriptions.

In this way, the change in your novel’s voice has also hastened the flow of the novel. Both voice and flow work together to suck the reader into a feeling of urgency or fear.

Writing is hard work and from experience it is all about patience and practice when you are developing your skills. When it comes to the voice of a novel, I think the following holds true. A character that reacts to their world and perceives it differently in different moments in time will appear more real than a character written without a flexible voice. Your novel will have many characters, each with a unique view of life. Throw in some personality, alter the way in which they describe the world or speak when life throws them a curve ball, and your novel will shine.


Shaun Eyles writes novels that twist genres and blur boundaries. The first two novels of his contemporary vampire fantasy series, The Novels of The Second Coming, are available from Amazon and the third volume in the series, Nest, will be released shortly. This series returns the reader to the vampire of old, the vampire that wants to kill humans and not take them to the prom.

Never happy to wear the one hat, Shaun has also finished work on the first “off-shoot” novel in the Novels of the Second Coming world, and has also completed his first zombie themed novel.
When not writing, Shaun tends his gardens and spends time in the online World of Warcraft community.

There are always multiple ideas in the pipelines, so keep an eye out for the next idea to be planted in the garden.

Novels of the Second Coming

Book 1: Rebirth

Book 2: Evolve

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

PNR Promo: Absolution by Susannah Sandlin

We're pleased to feature the next installment of Susannah Sandlin's Penton Legacy. Check out this fantastic series, and be sure to enter the tour giveaway at the end of the post.

The Penton Legacy, Book 2
By Susannah Sandlin

Release date: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Montlake Romance

Book Description:

With the vampire world on the brink of civil war over the scarcity of untainted human blood, battle lines are being drawn between the once peaceful vampire and human enclave of Penton, Alabama, and the powerful Vampire Tribunal. 

A Scottish gallowglass warrior turned vampire in the early 17th century, Mirren Kincaid once served the Tribunal as its most creative and ruthless executioner—a time when he was known as the Slayer. But when assigned a killing he found questionable, Mirren abandoned the Tribunal’s political machinations and disappeared—only to resurface two centuries later as the protector and second-in-command of Penton. Now the Tribunal wants him back on their side—or dead.

To break their rogue agent, they capture Glory Cummings, the descendant of a shaman, and send her to restore Mirren’s bloodthirsty nature. But instead of a monster, Glory sees a man burdened by the weight of his past. Could her magic touch—meant by the tribunal to bring out a violent killer—actually help Mirren break his bonds and discover the love he doesn’t believe he deserves?

It’s a town under siege, a powerful warrior in a battle with his past, and one woman who can make the earth move—literally—as the Penton Legacy continues.

Here's an excerpt:

What was Matthias thinking, throwing a human woman in the cell with a vampire who’d been locked up and starved for over a month?
            Mirren waited on the bench, his back against the wall, his head down. Waited until Matthias climbed the steps, slammed the door, clicked the dead bolt home. Waited until he could get control of the hunger that had begun raging the second the woman stumbled down the stairway. She was unvaccinated, and he wanted nothing more than to take her, blood and body, until there was nothing left.
            If he did that, he’d be no better than the version of Mirren Kincaid he’d tried so hard to leave behind. He’d be the Slayer again. His hands could too easily remember the mindless sweep of the sword, the heavy fall of the battle-ax, the controlled back-thrust of a heavy firearm. If the cold darkness ever fell over him again, he feared he’d embrace it.
            “Mister, you awake?”
            Shit. She would have to be a talker. Mirren hated a talky woman. They always expected you to talk back.
            He raised his head slowly and caught his breath. She was young, maybe mid-twenties, and pretty in a rode-hard kind of way.
            “Your eyes are silver—I’ve seen enough vampires since I was kidnapped to know when your eyes get lighter, it means you’re hungry. But I’ve never seen any like yours. How long has it been since you ate? Umm…Make that how long since you drank?”
            If the stupid woman kept walking toward him, he wouldn’t be held responsible. “Stay where you are.” He narrowed his eyes at her, thinking. How could she help him without sending his need so far over the edge he lost control of it?
            She eeked when he shifted on the bench and turned his back toward her. “Untie me.”
            She stumbled a little when she reached the bench and sat hard. The woman was stoned out of her gourd. He could smell the drugs on her.
“Your wrists are all torn up. That has to hurt.” She sat on the bench behind him, and Mirren breathed in her scent with his eyes closed. Damn, but he wanted to feed so badly his muscles ached.
            She muttered as she worked, her drug-addled fingers slipping off the rope. “You’re so big that I’m surprised this rope could hold you. I should be able to…Let’s see here, it’s too dark. Man, this is funky rope.”
            “Stop yapping, start untying.” She had that broad, soft Southern accent he found sexy, but she used it way too much.
            “Yeah, yeah, okay.” She tugged harder on the ropes, burning his sensitive wrists with each pull. “Sorry, sorry. Why is it burning your skin like that?”
            Mirren growled and spoke through gritted teeth. “It’s laced with silver, and I’m a freaking vampire. Just untie me.” Damn, he had to get himself under control, or he’d scare the woman to death and she wouldn’t finish freeing his arms or feed him either one.
            “Well, you’ve got the funny eyes, but I don’t see any fangs.”
            God help him, he’d show her some fangs. “I said I was a vampire. Now finish untying me.”
            Mirren twisted his wrists and felt the rope give way—the woman had gotten it loose enough that he didn’t need her help.
            “But wait, how do I know you—”
            She gasped as Mirren pulled his wrists apart, popped the rope onto the cell floor, and shifted around to face her.
“Can you…?” She paused and swallowed hard, edging away from him on the bench. Mirren’s gaze dropped to her mouth. “Can you feed without killing me?”
            Mirren nodded slowly. Maybe. Maybe not.

About the Author:

Susannah Sandlin is the author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night. 
A journalist by day, Susannah grew up in Alabama reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch and the horror fantasy of Stephen King. (Um…it is fantasy, right?)
The combination of Howatch and King probably explains a lot. Currently a resident of Auburn, Alabama, Susannah has also lived in Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

An Early Birthday Party!

I will be gone on my birthday and since found the cake and had the song, I thought I'd get you all in the mood. The image?  A cupcake!  The creator, Mike's Amazing Cakes.  I'm sure there are other steampunk styled cakes out there, but Da Vinci is one of my heroes, so, I choose this one.  

As for the music--
I work for a family of musicians.  The parents are both cellists and their daughter is a budding pianist (How do I know she's not just playing around?  She loves to practice!)  For a birthday present one year, I asked for a cello lesson.  I decided that I would learn to play Happy Birthday for myself.  I'm not a rank novice. I played violin as a kid, and guitar, and got a minor degree in music theory.  So, when I say I learned to play this piece in a day, it's not a miracle.  And not even accurate now that I think about it.  It took me about three days to work it out and then a couple of hours to get the bowing right.  That is the hardest part of playing cello. 

Lena (Andaya for those who want to know) told me that she starts her students just bowing open strings, for several lessons.  Once I started doing the practice, I understood why.  It's Hard!  However,  I did it.  

You will hear it twice: The "ok everybody, lets sit down and listen while I play" version and then I just play.  I'm glad I recorded the entire session.  I get to hear how I learned practice. And how I learned that I really don't need to play cello :-)  If you ever have an opportunity to hear either Lena or Ricky Andaya play, go, sit, listen.  They are wonderful musicians and the most amazing friends anyone could have.  

So, without further ado--

Monday, October 22, 2012

Beauty and the Beast...bang or bust?

I blogged a few months ago on how excited I was to see the new lineup of shows that were set to hit the air in the fall, especially Beauty and the Beast. Not only as a child was I obsessed with watching the Disney movie, but instantly I was interested as it has that paranormal romance element that I am hooked on.

Two weeks in and I'm still undecided if I like it enough to watch them or PVR them every week or just watch them if I happen to catch it and nothing else is on television. There are elements that I really enjoy and then other elements that leaving me smacking my hand against my forehead.

Things I liked:
I loved the girl-power between the heroine and her homicide detective partner. They are strong, tough females that rely and trust each other. From Ella's blog post last week, this is a nice heroine-strong show with Cat, the heroine that is not only uber strong, but she's a girl. At the end of the first episode, she even puts on a dress.

The backstory on the "beast", Vincent Keller was really well done. He was a medical resident when his brothers died in 9/11 and enraged he joined the army only to enlist in a top secret project that turned him into the "beast".  This seems realistic and the whole government cover up feels like it "could happen". :) (I have a wild imagination, so bare with me!)

The backstory on "beauty", Cat Chandler is also interesting. I also liked how instead of playing the victim, Cat tries to do something about it and continues to hunt for answers on her mother's murder. She now works as a homicide detective.

Some of the writing is witty, with cute one-liners, especially from Vincent's BFF, J.T. Forbes.

Things I didn't like:
In the first episode, Cat stops doing her job to protect Vincent, which I doubt a cop would actually do. That seemed out of character for her and a cop, so I didn't like that. There were also some little ends that weren't tied up, which makes me a little grumpy.

And although I totally get not taking no for an answer, Cat just keeps bugging Vincent and it's clear that he doesn't want to be bothered.

So all in all, I think that I did enjoy watching Beauty and the Beast, and I will tune in next week. Did you catch any of it? Did you want to watch it? If you did, what did you think?

Thanks for reading!


In case, you've missed it, here is the blurb on the show from the CW:
CW's Guide for Beauty and the Beast
Catherine “Cat” Chandler (Kristin Kreuk, "Smallville,” “Chuck”) is a smart, no-nonsense homicide detective, who is haunted by her own tragic past. When she was a teenager, Cat witnessed the murder of her mother at the hands of two gunmen. Cat would have been killed too, but someone – or something – saved her. No one has ever believed her, but she knows it wasn’t an animal that attacked the assassins…though it was strange and terrifying, it was human.
Years have passed, and although she thinks about her mother every day, Cat is now strong and confident, a capable police detective working with her equally talented partner, Tess Vargas (Nina Lisandrello, “Nurse Jackie”). The two women make a good team, and have become close friends while working on countless homicide cases under the supervision of their tough-but-fair boss, Joe Bishop (Brian White, “The Shield,” “The Cabin in the Woods”). Cat has also become close to another co-worker, the medical examiner Evan Marks (Max Brown, “The Tudors,” “MI-5”), and they’ve developed a fun, flirtatious relationship that could easily turn into something deeper – if Cat would let that happen. However, much to the concern of her younger sister, Heather (Nicole Gale Anderson, "Make It or Break It"), Cat’s romantic inclinations tend toward bad boys.
While investigating a new case Cat and Tess discover fingerprints that lead to a handsome doctor named Vincent Keller (Jay Ryan, “Terra Nova”), who was reportedly killed by enemy fire while serving in Afghanistan in 2002. Digging deeper, Cat learns that Vincent is actually still alive. For mysterious reasons that have forced him to live outside of traditional society, Vincent has been in hiding for the past 10 years. With the help of his childhood friend J.T. Forbes (Austin Basis, “Life Unexpected”), Vincent has been able to guard his terrible secret – when he is enraged, he becomes a terrifying beast, unable to control his super-strength and heightened senses. Cat is stunned when Vincent admits he was the “animal” who saved her the night of her mother’s murder. Vincent doesn’t admit the whole truth – he is emotionally tied to Cat and has been watching over her for years.
Cat agrees to protect Vincent’s identity in return for any insight he may have into her mother’s murder. Thus begins a complex relationship between Cat and Vincent, who understand that their connection is extremely dangerous for both of them. Cat’s secret obsession with Vincent puts a strain on her relationship with everyone around her, and Tess is especially troubled by the feeling that Cat is keeping something from her.
Perhaps the most surprising element of their relationship is that Vincent soon becomes a secret but important part of Cat’s detective work. During the years he spent hiding in the shadows, watching over Cat and other innocents, Vincent learned a lot about the darkest parts of the city and the people who live there. His sharpened instincts, incredible strength and human compassion become invaluable to Cat as she works to bring criminals to justice.
As she slowly comes to terms with Vincent’s monstrous alter-ego, Cat senses she can trust him in ways she hasn’t been able to trust any man before and, despite the obstacles between them, she realizes that she’s safer with him than anywhere else.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Strong vs Feminine in Urban Fantasy

I read an article over at Bastard Books last week written by Sarah from Bookworm Blues that really got me thinking about why certain urban fantasy heroines really turn me off. Sarah hits on the difficulty of relating to characters that are too tough, too sexualized, and just too damn badass to be believed. I get her point, and I can't deny that this type of protagonist can grate on the nerves, especially if they're prone to constant snarkiness or mean-spirited judgments of those they see as less than them.

While we can agree that true strength comes in many forms, not just leather-clad, gun-toting super women, I think it would also be nice to see a more feminine side to these heroines. It may be shallow and unrealistic to portray these women as relying solely on their physical strength in every situation, but to me it's just as troublesome that their lives are devoid of all femininity. Sure, most of them are law enforcement, P.I.'s, or bounty hunters (yawn, yawn, and yawn) who live in that boy's club kind of world. I'm not saying they have to be beauty queens or Barbie dolls, but wearing a dress once in while isn‘t a crime, even if you have an edgier personality.

Having a girlie side was one of the things that made Charmed such an appealing show. These women loved fashion, girl talk, possessed domestic grace, and still whooped ass at their competitive day jobs while vanquishing demons and saving lives on the side. In contrast, I caught the first few episodes of the Witchblade TV show from 2000, where a NYC cop comes to possess a mysterious mystical power and proceeds to stomp various bad guys with it. The lead, Sara Pezzini, is very much a typical UF heroine, and not in a good way. On top of the fact that there's not a single other significant female character (at least in the beginning), Sara has no female friends or any interests that are remotely feminine. I‘m not saying women like that don‘t exist, I just don‘t want to read about them every single time I pick up my favorite genre.

Of course, I'm not the first one to gripe on this trend, but I feel it bears repeating. Thankfully, we are seeing more and more UF heroines avoiding this one-note trap and broadening the scope and appeal of the genre. Nicole Peeler's Jane True, Allison Pang's Abby Sinclair, along with several of Kelley Armstrong's female leads are all great examples of the new UF woman. There's a delightful scene in the first Jane True novel, Tempest Rising, in which Jane spends an afternoon questioning a siren while trying on an assortment of designer clothing in the woman’s boutique. Jane isn't exactly a fashionista, but she doesn't reject the opportunity to indulge herself, nor does she berate herself over not having the perfect body or feel the need to bemoan every flaw.

Bottom line, it's okay to be girlie and strong. Most women are, and having a balance of varied characteristics is what makes a person substantive and interesting. I can enjoy a hero who kicks ass and takes names, but I'm more likely to relate to and care about one who also likes knitting, yoga, scented candles, and finding the perfect nail polish color.

I realize that in these modern times there’s a lot of overlap between the genders, and I’m certainly not trying stereotype anyone or say that women can‘t or shouldn‘t do the same things as men and vice versa. I’d just like to see more girlie girls in urban fantasy, and fewer characters who essentially behave more like a man who happens to have a vagina.

I'd love to hear what you guys think about it, and many thanks to Sarah for starting such a wonderful discussion.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Post Conference Let Down

No!  I was definitely not let down by the conference. Quite the opposite.

Wait. Let's start from the beginning.  I was part of the moderating team of the Muse Online Writer's Conference, held last week.  For all of it being a virtual conference, it is not, I repeat, not a walk in the park. Not unless you are being pulled by a pack of pitbulls, greyhounds, and German shepherds!  Oh and don't forget the squirrels. 

Life does not stop just because you are in a conference room online, so that adds to the chaos. 

Why do it?  Wow...Making new friends.   Meeting like-minded people who have ideas that make your life better in so many ways.  Working with a team of people who don't take themselves so seriously that the hard work gets harder.

As for you all, I get to introduce you to some cool people. Kate Lynd has a new eBook out, Bounty Hunter, on Amazon.  I'm about a third of the way through and will let you know how it goes.  Meanwhile you can get to know her on her award-winning blog, Creative Chatter.  Unless you already know her as her alter  ego, Amy Leigh McCorkle.

Ok. Need to catch up on my sleep, and I will be putting my notes in order: lots of cool stuff to share that may or may not have to do with being a writer.   Next week, though, I'll be serving cake. My birthday is the 25th and I found the most wonderful cake to share with you all.  No candles.

I'd melt the cake. 

Do any of you do virtual conferences?  I know a bunch of you do real ones.  What do you like best about them?  And, do you get that let down out of the sky feeling when they are done?  Inquiring mind wants to know :-)


Monday, October 15, 2012

Chasing a supernatural thriller with an Egyptian Twist ~guest post by Nerine Dorman

We're pleased to have Nerine Dorman here with us today on The Speculative Salon, with an exotic guest post! Be sure to check out her latest release below. 

Chasing a supernatural thriller with an Egyptian Twist
By Nerine Dorman

People’s expressions when I tell them what my most recent release is about are priceless.

“Say what?”

“My book is about a little old lady who’s a member of an ancient Egyptian reincarnation cult, who returns in the wrong body—that of a 21-year-old metal head.”

Then again, nearly any story reduced to a twenty-word sentence sounds pretty far out. Go on. If you’re an author, reduce your novel to the bare bones. Or, if you’re a reader, take your favourite novel or movie.

A young farm boy discovers that his father is the chief henchman of the evil emperor.

A halfling sets out to destroy a magical ring by tossing it into a volcano—thereby bringing about the end of a war.

I’m sure you can think of a few others, and the aforementioned examples are pretty darn obvious. This exercise definitely makes for some amusing fireside banter. But to get back to my novel, Inkarna. What my readers have appreciated was stepping into a story that did away with the expected tropes of vampires and werewolves, angels or demons. Not only that, but I offered a glimpse into a side of my home town, Cape Town, they wouldn’t ordinarily have.

As an author, I’ve always wanted to write what I still affectionately call “the great Egyptian novel”. I recall reading Anne Rice’s The Mummy in my teens, and wishing she’d offered more in a similar theme. After all, she’d finished the book with a few loose ends that could easily be taken up.

So, in a way, Inkarna is my take on the myth of the vengeful mummy, who returns through the ages, only he’s got far more sex appeal and packs plenty of “Jedi mind tricks” if you want to call his powers that. But things aren’t all plain sailing for my dear Lizzie, now affectionately known as Ash, as this short excerpt will reveal:

More streetwalkers lurk in corners, dark-skinned women who don’t quite meet my gaze. Although many are pretty, their expressions are hard and I quicken my pace. The sooner I get through this area, the better. I’m the one who’s the outsider here.

It’s more a prickling at the back of my neck, the sense of being watched, that warns me I’m being followed. A cursory glance over my shoulder reveals two coloured youths falling in step about five metres behind me, their focus very much on me; their arms too loose by their sides. Trouble.

One of them conceals something in his hand. I’m so busy keeping an eye on them that I walk straight into a man approaching from the front.

We collide hard, and we both stumble.

Ooof! I’m sorry!” I hold my hands before me to show I don’t mean him any harm.

He’s skinny, all elbows and knees, and he glares at me through slit eyes. That’s when I note the metallic flash of a blade in his hand. “Gee my jou geld.” When he grins he shows a gap where his front teeth used to be. Scum.

“I’m sorry, I don’t have any money. I don’t want trouble.” I back up into a lamp post.

Wit poes, wat soek jy hie’?”

His friends reach us, the shorter one of the pair circling round to flank me while the other lends support to my toothless friend.

Gee die geld.”

“I don’t have any money! Why don’t you all just fuck off and leave me alone!” Darkness takes hold of me, flaring from within the deepest recesses of my psyche. I want to hurt this unfortunate trio. I lash out with my right arm, even as the other knife-wielding scum takes a stab at me. It doesn’t occur to me that I should fear anything.

How can I describe the outpouring of daimonic energy? It’s like taking a breath, reaching into the core of matter around one, borrowing from the humming wires, from the ground, from every available source, so the world goes a little dim for a few heartbeats. The path I opened earlier during my confrontation with Ashton’s uncle has forced a breach in whatever blocked me until now. My body becomes a conduit for this force and, with a soft implosion, I release. My assailants drop, the glass of the nearest shop front filling with millions of hairline fractures radiating outward from a band of impact at about chest height.

A car alarm starts wailing across the road. A woman screams. That dull throb begins again behind my temples, the small zigzags of visual disturbances wriggling across my field of vision in my left eye. My mouth has gone dry and I swallow reflexively, my arms numb, my legs not quite willing to support me.

Now’s about a good a time as any to get the hell out of here, before I need to pass out from the migraine that will no doubt flatten me soon. Something tickles my left nostril. When I raise the back of my hand to wipe, the skin is stained with dark liquid, blood. Just perfect, I have a nose bleed on top of everything.

It’s only when I’ve stumbled far enough to put a few blocks between me and the incident that it occurs to me I’ve started swearing like a sailor. Lizzie never used to do that.

* * * *

So, there’s a little taster. I had a great time elaborating on the sheer discomfort my protagonist experienced as she (now a he) grew into the second chance at life offered. Readers have pegged my stories as supernatural thrillers that kept them up ’til late or even away from their daily tasks, so feel free to give Inkarna a shot. It’s available in electronic and print formats.

Buy links:

Feel free to stalk me on Twitter @nerinedorman or go check out my website at to find out about my other titles.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Lost Volumes Cover Reveal

The Salon is proud to present our very own Marsha A. Moore!

Everyone at the Salon congratulates Marsha for her continued success and thanks her for letting us reveal her cover from her newest release. 

Before we unveil Marsha's cover, a description of Enchanted Bookstore Legend Three: Lost Volumes:

When Lyra McCauley learns residents of Dragonspeir’s Alliance are suffering with a deadly plague, she doesn’t heed the warnings of her fiancé, wizard Cullen Drake, to remain safe in her human world. After all, she’s the present Scribe—one of five strong women in her ancestry who possessed unique magic, each destined to protect the Alliance against the evil Black Dragon of the Dark Realm. With Cullen dependent upon Alliance power to maintain his immortality, the stakes are doubled for Lyra.

She leaves her college teaching and puts herself at risk for the community afflicted by black magic. To find a cure, she and Cullen travel into the vile, lawless underworld of Terza to strike a bargain with an expert. Their efforts further enrage the Black Dragon, vowing to decimate the Alliance and avenge the murder of his heir.

Lyra must secure the three lost volumes of the Book of Dragonspeir. Written by the three earliest Scribes, each book contains energy. Possession of the entire set will enable overthrow of the Dark Realm. Following clues into dangerous lands, Lyra and Cullen seek those volumes. His assistants, Kenzo the tiger owl and Noba the pseudodragon, prove invaluable aids. Only if they succeed, will the Alliance be safe and Lyra reach closer to the immortality she needs to live a life with Cullen.

*drum roll*

I love her cover and can't wait to read it!!!

Check out Marsha's Page above to find her links and info on all her wonderful titles.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Making of an Indie Fantasy Author ~guest post by James Eggebeen

We're pleased to welcome author James Eggebeen to The Speculative Salon. He's sharing his interesting path that led him to become a fantasy author. Please check out his releases below.

Making of an Indie Fantasy Author

There is a video of Steven King floating around the internet. He says read - read lots - One day you will be reading and you’ll stop and say to yourself ‘I can do better than this.’ In that magical moment a writer is born... In my case it took a little more than that one magic moment.

I was always a reader. You know what I mean. If you’re a reader, you squirrel books away like nuts against the coming winter. I have thousands of them, stacked everywhere, almost enough to make me worry that I might be a hoarder. These books are stuffed full of wonder, and portray worlds that are fascinating and exciting, much more so than the mundane world of computers and programs that I inhabit.

As a kid, it was almost exclusively science fiction for me. Science seemed to be the key to everything. Advances came at a mind boggling rate and everything was getting better, faster, and smarter. Technology had it all, and science fiction captured the imagination of everyone, regardless of his or her background. Bradbury, Heinlein, Asimov, Clark, Herberts, Pohl, Niven, Pournell, I couldn’t get enough. The Science Fiction book club could barely keep me supplied. It was those authors who dominated my bookshelf for years.

As many of the things science fiction only speculated about became real and common place, the frontiers of science fiction seemed to draw closer. No more could we dream about going to the moon or mars, and wondering what it would be like. We knew. Science fiction had lost some of that sense of wonder for me. Not completely, but now nothing seemed that farfetched anymore.

I missed the sense of wonder that I’d found in the early science fiction novels, but I found it back in Fantasy. No, not Tolkien - Madeleine L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time. I read that book long before I was introduced to the Hobbit. There was something captivating about the worlds of Fantasy. Watching the author paint a picture of a world that was not real, one that could never be. It was a wonder to me. I read and re-read my favorite books until the covers fell off, and I had to tape the pages back in. Each time I re-read a book, I saw more fine grain detail, more complexity and richness to the world that I’d missed on the previous pass. It satisfied my hunger for a sense of wonder.

It was about then that I started writing fiction. It wasn’t really my choice. I always hated English in school and avoided it at all costs. That’s probably why I put off the last required English class until it was all that I needed to get my degree. I had to pass an English class, or fail to graduate.

When the books arrived for “Chief Modern Poets of Britain and America”, I ran for the counselor’s office, begging for something else, anything else. I just knew I would never have survived that poetry class. All of the horrors of every painful English class I had ever endured came rushing back. I feared I might not graduate just because of one class.

The only other option available was “Creative Writing”. I figured it would be an easy credit, I could slap together a few papers and pass the class, and that would be it. No longer would I have to worry about grammar or proper paragraph construction. I might yet survive that final English class.

The first day of class, the professor told me that I was going to learn to write stories. I remember her showing me how a story arc worked, how characters were developed, and how to create and control tension. These were things that I recognized but couldn’t put into words. This is what was in all of my favorite books, the ones I’d read and re-read until they fell apart. I realized there was something magical to their writing, something I could learn, and I was hooked. Somehow that idea got inside of me and just never let me go.

I wrote short stories for years, working with other writers on the Internet, back before most people knew what the Internet was. We wrote and traded stories on a cycle. Write for a week, critique for a week, and start again. We kept at it, six or seven of us honing our skills, struggling to get a handle on the craft of writing. We read everything published by the writer’s digest, devouring and applying all that we’d learned, eager to share and grow, to polish our craft. Theme, plot, characterization, dialogue and even manuscript formatting; nothing about the craft of writing escaped our attention.

It was about then that traditional publishing took its first big hit. If you want to know what happened, research “Thor Power Tools and Publishing.” It looked like there was no longer a viable career for any but the best writers in the business. Publishers were cutting inventory and shrinking print runs. Many of my favorite authors slowed down, or left the business, because they could no longer make a living at it. It was sad to realize that any dream I might have harbored about becoming a writer might be only that; a dream. There would be no market clamoring for anything I wrote. Publishers were in trouble, and few writers were being accepted for those precious print runs.

It didn’t matter; I was infected with the author virus. I kept writing and kept honing. I tried several times to write a complete novel, but I just couldn’t get a handle on all the details. I’m inherently disorganized, and it just overwhelmed me. That is until I found a great software package that did all that organization for me. That, and a fabulous online class in How to Write a Novel. Now I could keep track of the timelines, characters, locations, themes, character arcs, and all those things that made up my imaginary world. A world that I did not at first know fully, but one I was creating as I wrote.

My wife went to visit her family overseas for two months and I had the house to myself. A married man left alone and unsupervised can get himself in a lot of trouble. I disconnected the cable TV and started writing. I wrote the kind of story that I’d been reading for years. Fantasy. I wanted to write a great big epic fantasy novel, set in a large world full of strange and wonderful places. I was consumed with it. Now I could keep track of all those details until I had them committed to memory, until my imaginary world was as real to me as my own. I could see it all as it came together and it was no longer an insurmountable task.

As the book took shape, I researched the current state of the publishing industry, and found that it had changed yet again. With the advent of print on demand and eBooks, the inventory valuation problem had vanished. Now a backlist could live forever, but it looked like the traditional publishers were under assault again. Not by the IRS, but by eBooks. The kindle and nook were challenging the demand for print books. It looked like the market for new authors at the traditional publishers was even tighter than it had been before, and getting worse every day.

I spent months polishing my fledgling book. I found a writing group that met in person and joined it. I work-shopped my chapters, recruited beta readers and hired an editor. I revised and re-wrote anything and everything that didn’t make sense, or come across the way I intended it to.

Months crawled by as I polished and refined the manuscript until one day it was ready. In the mean time I had had learned how to format files for Create Space and the Amazon Kindle. I built my web site, created my twitter and FaceBook accounts and got active in the community of writers. I had done everything I could to prepare.

It was time.

Time to push that publish button.

With great trepidation, early one morning, I pushed that button. I was no longer a reader. That one simple click transformed me into an indie author, and there was no turning back. There are more worlds in my head, constantly screaming to be written about. There is a host of characters that clamor for attention, demanding that I write their story. How can I disappoint them? I’m an author. I have to keep writing.

Author Bio:
James Eggebeen is a serial masochist repeatedly taking high tech companies through the growing pains of converting from a garage shop into a sustainable and profitable mature business.

He learned the value of hard work by being raised on a farm in Wisconsin where he learned auto mechanics from his saintly grandfather who patiently tolerated him and his siblings always under foot. His most frequent comment growing up was "Why did you people settle here when there are much warmer places to live?"

He confounded his teachers and most grownups at a young age writing incredibly powerful algorithms for phenomenally underpowered computers at the dawn of the computer age. This is a skill he has employed throughout his professional career and still take great pride in (the confounding part mostly).

At 17 years of age he made a deal with the US Navy "Teach me about airplanes and computers. Take me anywhere it doesn't snow and I'm all yours." They kept the bargain and started him on a world traveling adventure that has continued far beyond his six-year enlistment.

He continued his world traveling adventures as a businessman frequently logging one fourth of his time out of the country. He feels as comfortable abroad as he does at home and has developed an appreciation for a wide range of cultures and cuisines.

He settled in Southern California after his service was complete and studied Engineering, Business and Finance at night while working at a series of start-up firms by day. He claims that growing up on the farm and the Navy has ruined his ability to sleep late and habitually gets up well before the sane portion of population starts their day.

Author Website:

Books by James Eggebeen: 

Foundling Wizard
For over a hundred years the priests of Ran have been killing young wizards to take their power. When Lorit learns that he has the Wizard’s Power he becomes targeted for special attention by the Temple.

Lorit must learn magic in time to save the sister he infused with his own power to save her life. He must find a way to overcome their stolen magic without resorting to their tactics.

Together he and the Sorceress Chihon battle to make the land safe for magicians everywhere. Can they defeat the Temple or will they succumb to the plot that would turn them into the most powerful of their enemies?

Available at Amazon

Wizard's Education
Coming in November~

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