Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Story Behind The Story: Introducing Dark Heirloom

Before I was a writer, I was a reader. I’ve had my nose stuck in books for as long as I can remember; starting out with Dr. Seuss and the Berenstain Bears.

It didn’t take long for me to turn to paranormal. Even at eight years old I had a soft spot in my heart for all things dark and misunderstood, magical and a little dangerous. I loved the night, the stars, and the moon. I knew in my heart my Prince Charming was a prince of darkness that would ride on a black nightmare instead of a white stallion. I dabbled in witch craft just to get closer to these elements. Oh yes, I was an odd child that danced to the beat of her own drum. I kept Mom on her toes and gave her plenty of gray hairs.

Combine this with my love for mythology and folklore and I guess it was only a matter of time before I wrote my own. There were several occasions during my life when I thought I could write a book. But I never gave it any serious consideration until one day a certain novel whose title I won’t mention got me thinking.

This instance was about three years ago. By then I was a die-hard fan of paranormal. But I realized there was something I wanted to read about that I wasn’t getting from other authors at the time – and that was a story told from the point of view of the heroine after she became a vampire and joined the undead ranks.

More often than not, the stories are told from the human hero or heroine’s point of view. The paranormal characters are secondary and the plot often ends once the hero/heroine decides to join them.

This always left me frustrated. I wanted to know what happened after that. I wanted to experience life through the vampire/werewolf/witch’s point of view. What was their culture like? Surely it couldn’t be like ours when they often lived in secret and with such super-human abilities. The paranormal hardly ever follow human laws and customs, so they must have some of their own. They must have their own traditions and history and government. Otherwise what was stopping them from decorating their homes with human heads?

Those were things I wanted to read about and experience. But I wasn’t getting it from authors of the time. So I took matters into my own hands and set out to write my own vampire novel.

In Dark Heirloom the readers live vivaciously through Ema Marx, a young woman who is turned into a vampire by Chapter Two. I can only think of one other character in the story that is human and that person plays a very minor role. The rest of the cast and the story itself are entirely of the paranormal caravan.

I knew right from the beginning that I wanted my readers to get up close and personal with my vampire characters and experience the culture of an underground society first hand – as if they were an exchange student in a foreign land.

Because Ema is newly turned, she still clings to human habits, keeping the reader comfortable with relatable – and witty – main character.

In the following scene, Ema is helping a female vampire named Leena cast a spell to open the gates to the underworld. As you’ll notice, Leena ends up doing most of the work…

“Why are we in the dungeon?”

“It is easier to open the gate to the underworld when you are technically already underground.” She spoke matter-of-factly as she laid Jalmari’s paralyzed body on the floor in the center of the dungeon. She pulled out the tiny red candles from the knapsack and placed them in a perfect circle around Jalmari’s body.

“Don’t just stand there.” She tossed a lighter at me. “We only have a few hours before the nightshade wears off.”

I started lighting candles. “Won’t a few hours be long enough?”
“How should I know? I’ve never been to the underworld before, have you?”
I rolled my eyes and ignored her sarcasm.
She unpacked more things from the knapsack and set them down near Jalmari’s feet. “Here, put this on.” She tossed a bright cherry-colored shawl at me. I hadn’t seen a shawl since the last time I saw my grandmother. I frowned at the ugly thing. “What for?”
“You have to wear red to enter the underworld.” She produced a sporty red jacket for herself, looking much more hip than I did with my granny shawl.
Leena took the small pot of red and yellow face paint and smeared some across her cheeks and forehead. She held the pot out and motioned for me to do the same. “For the same reason as the shawl,” she explained.
After I smeared the paint across my face, she handed me a red apple. “Hold this. Guard it with your life. We will need it in the underworld, unless you want this entire effort to be a failure.”
I swallowed and hugged the apple to my chest.
She took out the skein of wool and tied one end securely around Jalmari’s ankle. She put the rest of the wool down and opened her spell book. I watched in silence, in doubt, in disbelief, in a million other pessimistic ways, as Leena chanted words in a language I never heard before.
She moved her arms through the air in a rhythmical way as she danced around Jalmari and the candles. Her hips swayed slowly arching her back as her torso rolled in fluid, drawn-out motions. She looked very graceful and sure of herself.
Then, her pace quickened. She chanted faster. The movements became wild and rigid. She slashed at the air. She jumped and whooped and made all sorts of screeching sounds. Coal-black hair puffed in frizzes about her triangular face and her eyes glowed like green fire. Her lips moved quickly as she chanted faster and faster until her ringing voice became a sharp buzz of consonants and vowels.
I clung to the apple. I clung to the apple good.

* * * *

Now Available…
By J.D. Brown

“You’re a vampire” is so not what Ema Marx wants to hear when she wakes from a two-day coma in a cryptic yet exquisite castle in northern Finland. Unfortunately, it explains a lot. Like why she’s able to see in the dark and walk through solid objects. What she doesn’t understand is why the other vampires expect her to have all the answers. It’s their fault she turned into one of them…right?

Jalmari’s hatred for his old-man intensifies when he’s ordered to bring that troublesome girl to their castle. He has a clan to run, there’s no time for babysitting newborn vampires no matter how they were converted to their culture. But when a two-thousand-year-old premonition threatens to take the crown and his life, Jalmari sees no other choice than to take out the catalyst. Ema Marx. Fortunately for Ema, she could also be the clan’s only savior.

The race to figure out her vampiric origins is on. And maybe she’ll get the hang of the blood-drinking gig along the way…

* * * *

Dark Heirloom has teamed up with for a month-long virtual tour! Please join us all April to celebrate the release of this highly-anticipated series ~ and don't forget to wish J.D. a happy birthday on the 23rd.  :-)
For a complete list of dates and tour stops, please go to

You can also follow J.D. Brown and all her events on Face book

Friday, March 30, 2012

Poltergeist Hauntings

In my post on March 28th, I mentioned how I believe in the poltergeist phenomenon. Here's some ghost stories to go with that.

-One of the most spectacular poltergeist hauntings took place in Enfield, north London in August 1977. Peggy Hodgson and her four children had just moved into their new home. Strange things began to happen - beds shook, furniture moved by itself and loud knockings were heard.The activity seemed to be centred around Janet Hodgson, then aged eleven. Her mother of course, thought that Janet was playing pranks. However, things began to get worse and it soon became evident that none of the children, or anybody else for that matter, could be responsible for the strange events that were beginning to unfold.

Toys and ornaments flew through the air, beds levitated, heavy furniture moved, objects became hot to touch. Many people, including police officers, witnessed this bizarre activity. A journalist was hit on the head with a frying pan, wielded by an invisible hand. Janet Hodgson was even flung across her bedroom by some unknown energy. Eventually this poltergeist gradually calmed down and left the poor Hodgson family in peace.

-The most recent case is the South Shields poltergeist which looks set to become one of the most famous hauntings ever. This particular poltergeist is in a different league to a relatively harmless stone thrower.Some truly terrifying events happened to a young family living in an ordinary house in the small town of South Shields. Apart from the usual loud knocks and flying objects, this poltergeist liked to arrange children's toys in sinister displays of violence. A fluffy rabbit was poised holding a knife to the throat of a toy duck. A teddy bear was hanged by its neck from a shelf.The young couple received obscene text messages from phones that were not in working order. Other messages were scrawled on a child's doodle board. One said 'just go now'; another message introduced their tormentor as 'Sammy'. The couple were physically attacked, large red scratches appearing on their bodies.Their three year old son would suddenly disappear, only to be found seconds later locked in a closet, tightly bound in a blanket. Again, this activity died down, without any explanation found.

Don't these stories give you a delicious chill down your spine? Makes me want to write some ghost stories of my own!

Trials of a Lonely Specter
MuseItUp Publishing
October 14, 2011

There’s been an accident. Quinn believes he’s dead, though Liam insists otherwise. But if that is the case, why does Quinn see the two of them as ghosts? And why does Liam play along? Exposed to Mediums and apparitions, Quinn has to make a decision: either accept his fate or risk everything to trust Liam one more time.

Dianne Hartsock

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Paranormal Fashion Is Nothing New

By Anne E. Johnson, author of Ebenezer's Locker
Tween paranormal mystery novel due out in June from MuseItUp


A hundred years ago, Corbin Elementary School's building housed Dr. Ebenezer Corbin's School for Psychical Research. It seems that a couple of old spirits are still wandering the halls. It's up to Rhonda Zymler to find out what they want.

Ebenezer's Locker follows the adventures of Rhonda, a sassy sixth-grader who's having trouble finding her place and identity. Getting to know these spirits becomes Rhonda's quest. The more she digs, the more perilous her task becomes, and to complete it she must take two trips back in time. This story blends the realities of an economically-challenged modern American town with supernatural elements. What Rhonda finds not only gives her life a sense of purpose, but changes the fortunes of her entire town.

*   *   *

Movies, TV dramas, reality shows, novels, non-fiction... Every type of media seems obsessed with the paranormal. But, while this might seem like a new phenomenon, it's only the latest of many times this craze has hit. When I was doing research for Ebenezer's Locker, I learned a lot about a previous period of spectral fascination.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, America was loony for specters. The ghost fans, called the Spiritualists, sought connections with the dead in the parlors of mediums. These were men and women (and even children, sometimes) who seemed or claimed to have the ability to talk to the Summerland, the world beyond this life.

In Ebenzer's Locker, Tallulah Radley is an older lady in the neighborhood who happens to be a psychic medium. The kids go to her for help when they realize that they're facing ghosts.

I had a wonderful time doing research about the old days of American Spiritualism. I filled Tallulah's home with the sort of equipment that would have been used at the turn of the century, as if she might have inherited it from a psychic ancestor. Most important for her is a planchette, a wooden device with a pen in it. Through the planchette, a spirit can write a message for the living.

Although American Spiritualism started because people believed in the afterlife and wanted to communicate with it, it blossomed because of its economic potential. People made a ton of money looking into the future or the past for clients. And, not surprisingly, the industry was rife with cheats. My research uncovered many faked, theatrical ways the so-called mediums made their connections with the other world seem more spectacular.

I packed all of these devices into a single, breathless speech by Tallulah, who would never do any of these disreputable things. In this scene, two of the girls are in a seance with Tallulah, trying to communicate with the ghost of Ebenezer:

            Mica walked over to one of the two floor lamps in the room. “I should turn these off, right?”
            “Whatever for?” said the medium. “We won’t be able to see.” She patted the back of the chair Mica was to sit in.
            Mica didn’t budge, though. “Séances are supposed to be in the dark,” she said stubbornly, “or maybe with just one candle.”
            I was glad she’d brought that up, since I’d been thinking the same thing. But Tallulah was not pleased. She didn’t sound like a cookie-baking grandma now. “Young lady, sit down this instant.”
            Mica, looking as stunned as I was, followed the order.
            “Dark-room séances are the last refuge of charlatans,” Tallulah said.
            I didn’t get it. “The last what?”
            She sighed sharply. “I’ll say it in simple modern words for you young people. Only phonies have to turn out the lights at séances, so they can cheat.”
            “What kind of cheating?” asked Mica in a tiny voice.
            Tallulah stood, her voice full of emotion. “Some cheaters have an assistant hide in a cabinet and tap on the wood, pretending to be a spirit communicating.” She drew her hands above her head in a circling motion. “Some have wire puppets draped in sheets that float across the ceiling.”
I thought she was done, but no.  She seemed near tears. “I’ve seen phonies keep objects in hidden drawers under the table.”
“Why?” whispered Mica.
“So they can sneak them out as if a spirit made them appear. Some will hold a client’s sealed letter to their head and heart and pretend to absorb its meaning.” Tallulah mimed pressing an envelope to her forehead, eyes closed, very dramatic. Then she opened her eyes wide and shouted, “But actually, they drip rubbing alcohol on it so they can read through the envelope. And you know what some fakers do to make it seem like a spirit has appeared in a darkened room?”
            We shook our heads, afraid to speak.
            “Well, I’ll tell you. They dip gauzy white cloth in glow-in-the-dark paint. And they hide the cloth…” She gasped, as if amazed at her own story. “Well, they hide it in their underwear, children! I will not be compared to these razzle-dazzle snake-oil salesmen.” She plopped down in her chair, limp and exhausted.

Don't forget to watch for Ebenezer's Locker, coming in June from MuseItUp!
For more information about Anne E. Johnson's publications and appearances, please visit her website.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Lonely Specters

We have a ghost haunting the gift store where I work. Faucets will turn on when no one’s near them. Things will fall off shelves. A co-worker says a pair of scissors flew off a table and landed in the middle of the room in front of her eyes. I know she seemed shaken up when she came running over to tell me about it. Actually, I would consider this to be the work of a poltergeist, but since we don’t have an angst-ridden teenager working with us, it’s unlikely.

Now, do I really believe we’re being haunted? Probably not, but isn’t it fun to think so? Doesn’t it give you the shivers to imagine a specter creeping around the store trying to convey some sort of message? To me, the paranormal adds that spice of the unknown and thrill of danger to life.

And really, who can resist those romantic as hell vampires, werewolves and shifters? Not me! In and out of a book, I like to think they roam the darker edges of the world.

But more than these, I’m fascinated with poltergeists. In German, poltergeist literally means "noisy ghost." Indeed, poltergeist experiences are often noisy --- knockings, and objects moving about as if under their own power. Not surprisingly, the majority of reported poltergeist cases involve adolescent children (the age range is from 12 or 13 to early 20s).

The disturbances often appear as metaphors to the causes of stress. For example, anger towards a certain person may be released by the agent causing items belonging to the target person to break.
Other very rare poltergeist cases have involved sightings of apparition-like forms and may even look like a "monster." As frightening as they may appear, these mental projections are harmless and are simply a reflection of the child’s inner psychological "monsters or demons." As with the physical activity, they are often a metaphor for the mental and emotional stress the person is experiencing.

Do I believe in poltergeists? Most definitely! The power of the mind is an incredible thing. But today, for this wonderfully scary month, I want to leave you with an excerpt from my more light-hearted and fun haunting ‘Trials of a Lonely Specter’. Here, we find a ghost who has trouble believing he’s not really dead.

Trials of a Lonely Specter
MuseItUp Publishing
October 14, 2011

There’s been an accident. Quinn believes he’s dead, though Liam insists otherwise. But if that is the case, why does Quinn see the two of them as ghosts? And why does Liam play along? Exposed to Mediums and apparitions, Quinn has to make a decision: either accept his fate or risk everything to trust Liam one more time.


Quinn kept his attention on his shoes, afraid to see the truth in Liam’s eyes. “I’m not real, am I? I think I’m a dream of yours.”

Liam was still. Then he lowered his head, and his kiss burned the corner of Quinn’s mouth. “Not at all. Now come inside and let me show you.” He clasped Quinn’s hand, drawing him irresistibly up the steps and through the closed doors. Quinn yelped as his cells squeezed around the atoms making up the wooden barrier.

Liam flashed him a grin. “I forgot how dense you are.”

Quinn decided to let that one go, though his face warmed at Liam’s low laugh.

The foyer of the great house was caked with dust and the tattered lace of ancient cobwebs. Quinn peered at the chandelier far overhead and shivered as an unpleasant tingle ran up his spine. He was reminded of a haunted house in a theme park he’d once visited. He’d felt unsettled there, as well. He could almost see a body swinging…

He reigned in his imagination; it was dangerous in a house like this. The room darkened as Liam walked through an archway on the left, and he hurried to follow him. He would have liked to take some time to examine the furnishing and tapestries of the parlor, but Liam pressed on. Quinn finally caught him at the far end of the room.

“Where’re we going?”

“To find Betterford’s body reposing in the highest room of the tallest tower.”
Quinn gave him a wry look. “Wasn’t that for the ‘Sleeping Beauty’?”

“So I’ve heard,” Liam purred, looking like he was about to eat the canary.

Quinn didn’t like the eager way he swept through the kitchen to the servants’ staircase.
He tramped up the dark stairs in the apparition’s wake. Liam’s aura had shrunk to a mere flicker around his hand, casting eerie shadows on the close walls. Quinn was huffing by the time they reached the third flight, and Liam stopped to let him catch his breath.


He looked up at the fond tone. Liam stood several steps above, curiously watching him. “You’re a ghost, my beloved. You ought to be gliding up these stairs.”

Quinn’s mouth fell open. “I forgot,” he confessed. His eyes dropped, waiting for Liam’s mocking laughter. It never came. Instead, the man descended the stairs until he stood level with him. Quinn held his breath as the luminescent hand touched his cheek lightly.

“You give me hope,” Liam said surprisingly. “Here, let me help you.” He slipped his arm through Quinn’s.

They fairly flew up the steps after that. Quinn laughed with the exhilaration that raced through him. He’d never felt so free. He wanted to burst through the roof and fly straight into the night. Liam beamed, sharing his joy in the sensation of weightlessness and speed.

All too soon they burst into the hallway far above. Their laughter died abruptly at the grimness of the shadowy corridor. Quinn winced when Liam suddenly grabbed his hand. The spirit’s eyes glowed with anticipation.

He leaned close. “Trust me, Quinn.” His voice was shaking and the man cleared his throat. “Whatever you think of me after this, please remember that I want the best for you. For us.”

“I don’t understand.”

Liam shook his head, clearly disappointed by his answer. Tugging on his hand, he led him to a door in the middle of the corridor.

Quinn stared at the closed door, reluctant to open it. “Betterford’s in there?”

Liam made a noncommittal sound. They stood side-by-side looking at the door until a smile lifted the corner of Liam’s mobile mouth. “Are you going to open it, or are we staying out here all night?”

Dianne Hartsock

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Paranormal Interlude...Talking to Tallowbrand...

Hi, my name is Rosalie Skinner.  On 16th March Book Four in the Chronicles of Caleath was released!

*** For a Limited Time Only Buy Book Four... get BOOK ONE 
EXILED: Autumn's Peril as a BONUS!!! 

WELCOME... Now, please allow me to introduce our guest, the shade of the dread lord Tallowbrand...
 My name is Tallowbrand. Many years ago, too many for mortals to count, I inspired dread with my wizardly powers.

These were curtailed by one of my acolytes, Azriel. The she devil tricked me.

Now I am trapped within Dragonslair Island, waiting for the Deathbringer to free me.

Being trapped for a millenia gives me time to chat. So, settle back, what can I tell you about?

Ahh, the Chronicles of Caleath... A mix of science fiction and fantasy, dragons, shapechangers, magic,  swords, tallships, starships, and swashbuckling adventure.

I beg your pardon... you would like to meet a few of the characters?

Very well.. don't say I didn't warn you.

You have already met Caleath, surely. He's on the covers of the books. Don't get me started. He already has enough of a fan club.

Where's mine? I could tell you more interesting tales... I have been around far longer and through darker times... Let me tell you about the time I...

What? Merkaat, greatest of all dragons, what are you implying? Tsk tsk... of course these good people want to hear about my life. Why wouldn't they?

You? What are you suggesting? 
Since you are able to make my life most unpleasant, I will aquiese to your suggestion.

Merkaat, now the magificent creature you see depicted in these feeble sketches, once faced my nemesis Azriel too. The dragon, then only a hatchling, was cruelly blinded by the witch. 

Azriel's lust for power drove her to  betray her mentor.  Me.
Frustrated by my refusal to succumb to her beauty, passion, and talent, when she realised her magic could not  entrap me she turned to a more potent source.

 While humans and mages expended all their energies battling dragons,  the devious sorceress searched for a means to trap me. 

She discovered a means to use the curse of dragon's blood. Should an unsuspecting human have the vile stuff come into contact with their flesh, the victim is consumed by a lethal lust for dragon's gold. Unless protected by Lathraine's Pledge of course. 

Sadly the ring wasn't in my posession.

Azriel used the blood shed when Merkaat lost her eyes for the dastardly purpose of ruining me. After battling and defeating the dragon lord Sharyac in those dragon wars, I succumbed to her evil scheme.

 Hence I became the long term resident of Dragonlair Island. I have lived in more comfortable places. Let me assure you. spectral locations could be worse.

Hmm. No.. I can feel my tongue turning black. I yearn for my freedom.

Even the shades of deceased dread lords have pride. 
Being cooped up here among the brimestone, gold and dragon sorcery is torture. 
After a thousand wretched years I made a  plea to the local diety, the One. I swore to serve the Deathbringer, if one would come and free me from this accursed prison.

Too often heroes arrive, only to fall prey to the dragon lord's warped magic, their accursed gold or their displays of power. I cannot give up hope. One day he will arrive and I will enjoy a new lease on freedom.

The Deathbringer can't get here soon enough for me.

 If you share Tallowbrand's impatience, don't despair. You can find out how he fares in the Chronicles of Caleath. 
Book Four is available on March 16th from Museitup Publishing. If you haven't yet enjoyed the previous books, visit

Thanks for dropping in.  

Look for Books Five through to Eight.. the new adventures...coming very soon From Museitup Publishing...  

PHOTOS Courtesy of FOTOLIA.COM and all photos from the EXILED photoshoot are copyright to RACHEL LEWIS PHOTOGRAPHY. Thanks to Matt Bryant for becoming Caleath. :)

Monday, March 26, 2012


Fantasy is the topic, and my daughter Kat Holmes is the author, but I, L.J. Holmes, her Mom popped in to pinch hit for her, so please do not blame her for any of the mistakes I am bound to make.

Before I continue, please let me explain the need for me to pinch-hit. Kat is dealing with her second kidney stone jaggedly and very painfully working its way through her body. Sitting still and concentrating when you are in that much pain would require more of a miracle than OTC Tylenol can manage, so here I am typing in Kat's posting because she does not like letting others down unless it truly cannot be excepted. For me, I look at her this way...if she's got to go through this much pain to pass a rock why couldn't it be made of least then all her work and agony would not be for some alien piece of bloody junk.

But I am ranting and I promised her I would behave... on to the topic...WHAT DOES KAT LIKE ABOUT WRITING FANTASY AND WHY DOES SHE WRITE IT?

Writing fantasy gives me the power to create my own worlds, my own people, back drops rules, time frames, challenges. In my first Artica Lights Series,

FROZEN, I created the thriving frozen land of

 Artica existing on a parallel plane but in a medieval time frame. No phones, no Reality TV stars, no ozone depleting automobiles.

I created a land of perpetual winter, were the people thrived, thanks to their god Tichi and his human-goddess daughter, their queen Awni, miracles happened.

I loved creating this living world of ice, snow, and dramatic wind carved creations, I adored creating Awni, beautiful, impervious to the cold, but her touch so frigidly bitter to the others, her sentence for acts against Artica is a touch from her and instant death.

I loved bringing Tichi, this god standing at his easel deftly creating the palette his Artica becomes.

Writing such worlds lets me choose how Tichi will paint upon his easel and how the citizenry of Artica will respond to what he paints. is not real...maybe...until my words are formed on paper, or computerese. Awni, Tichi, Elric, Brent now live in a place of perpetual snow, ice, and intrigue.

Developing new cultures of people based on my hopes, desires, wishes, loves, and purpose, brings my fantasies to life most vividly, and, this is probably the part most authors aren't going to admit, but being L.J.'s daughter, means I'm not like most authors...I have her Grandmother Nonnie, in my blood, and she was QUITE the storyteller.

Writing fantasies allows me to be Awni, the Ice Queen, Rachel, the brand new owner of a lighthouse, Hera, Queen of all the Greek Goddesses now living a very human existence here on Earth as nothing more elaborate than a midwife. Hey, I can even be Poseidon without having a sex change.

Writing fantasy lets me be everyone of my heroes and heroines and give them the stories I would wanted to live. How cool is that?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Paranormal Professor Speaks Out!

In 1975 I acquired a collection of antique, but damaged manuscripts after a mysterious fire beguiled the dim British authorities for four years.  Somewhere along the frontier between England and Wales, in a crumbled vault beneath a burned mansion; dozens of leather bound journals, diaries, and books were rescued.  Their contents were fantastical: histories, ages of vampiric accounts, coven wars, and abstract chronicles. The police, of course, uneducated in such matters of the occult or the unexplained, found the material rubbish against their modern case in need of evidence and forensics.

Fortunately, in my subsequent studies and adventures, I have found that truth is indeed stranger than fiction. You must forgive me the cliché, but my analysis and preservation of these personal antiquities has brought me to new heights of bizarrity, both on the page and in the flesh.  I thought I was a wise, aware professor knowing beyond the day-to-day world before I came to read of this twisted Vampire Family.   My pride was in err.

After several lengthy years of study and a very slow restoration process on the oldest documents, I succumbed to an offer of assistance from a student named Theodore Plunkett.  A scholar of ancient languages, Theodore’s detailed list of degrees and credentials were too numerous for his youthful appearance.  His intelligence was vast; yet he was a personal master at comprehending and restoring the fantastic tales of Antonio Welshire and his mad family’s descent into the dark world of vampirism.  From patriarch Antonio’s brutal human days to the coven’s near destruction by the rival Lilithan vampires and the ambiguous Mestiphles’ meddling appearances and disappearances; this Vampire Family’s history is very well documented through some centuries and bare and bleak in others. Some journals are utterly disturbing in their tales of blood and mayhem while other diaries are strangely heartfelt, bittersweet, and uncomfortably endearing.  

The fire that brought these texts into my possession was education blessing enough-the lifetime epitome of Tut and Troy to most scholars.  Some library men would be content to sit behind their musky parchments and read the decades away.  I, however, have had the unique privilege of authenticating these documents as truth.  Of course, that wasn’t until many years later; when Theodore arrived at my office door looking as young as the day we first met.  On the plane to Philadelphia, I never suspected I would arrive at the doorstep of sisters Samantha and Victoria Welshire.  I had read over five hundred years of their tall tales; yet here the startling beauties were, living and breathing before me fangs and all.  Only then did I begin to realize the full extent of this familial coven. 

The academic community may disagree with my claims; but this dark, sensational and unbelievable underground lifestyle has afforded me considerable gains.  Today I live a quiet life among the Welshires, and their vast knowledge of history and the world has blessed me intellectually as well as financially.  In this simple, ignorant time obsessed with youthfulness and beauty, I’ve seen immortal creatures age, know love, feel pain-even die and regain their humanity.  I myself have been able to change; embracing surgeries and procedures I would not have considered before coming to know the Welshires.  With no evil or nefarious means, this vampire knowledge and power has made me a new man inside out.  It’s something I could never have fathomed before these burned books first came my way.....  

Forward by Professor A. James, Fate and Fangs: Tales from the Vampire Family Books 1-7 On Sale now with Muse It Up Publishing.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Science Fiction Thriller

Monday March 19th

Yet Another Subgenre of Science Fiction…

The Science Fiction Thriller

It’s double the fun at the Muse blog today with two entries. When I read Rochelle’s blog about science fiction romance, I thought how perfectly our blogs complement each other. Science fiction is truly a genre that lends itself to subgenres—whether it’s romance or thriller, as in the case of MuseItUp novels, Spectra and the soon to be released sequel, Entity.

The subgenre classification of science fiction arises from the broad definition of science fiction. Stories are often classified as science fiction as a result of the setting, which can be real or imaginary, on earth or in space. The story line can also take place in any time period, the future being quite common to the genre. Certainly, science might enter into the plot. If the science is accurate the novel is classified as hard sci-fi. Soft science fiction delves into what is thought of as impossible, such as warp drive. When a novel has any of these aspects, it is considered science fiction. But what about the other plot elements—mystery, romance, suspense…the list goes on.

Thrillers are adrenaline-rush novels, packed full of action and suspense. The reader will find themselves at the edge of their seat with the uncertainty and anxiety that comes from plot twists and cliff hangers. The plot typically focuses on an unscrupulous villain, who creates impossible obstacles for the hero to overcome.

Combine elements of science fiction with that of a thriller and the science fiction thriller genre is born. Many authors have their brand, and my brand is the science fiction thriller. Spectra, is a story about the discovery of an energy-based life form. Those exposed to the life forms become temporarily gifted with extraordinary intelligence. After a rogue group of scientists continue to expose themselves to the entities, they quickly learn that the line between genius and insanity is quite fragile. Entity picks up where Spectra finishes off and is arguably a darker novel. Spectra is currently available through the MuseItUp Publishing website and other major vendors, and for those interested, you can check out the reviews at RT Book Reviews Magazine rated it Top Pick!

Joanne Elder

twitter @JoanneElder

Sci-Fi Romance? Really?

Like my colleague, Amy McCorkle mentioned, people are incredulous at the thought of combining romance with science fiction.  Whoever heard of sci-fi with a romantic relationship and a “happily ever after” or even a “happily for now” ending?  Hmmm… I could name a few.  Ben Caxton and Lazarus Long each get more than one woman at the ends of Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land and Time Enough for Love respectively.  He's considered to be one of the masters of modern science fiction.  In fact, pretty much all of his adult books have a hero and a heroine who end up together.  They’re all human and human beings need to connect with another person or other persons in a loving way.  Maybe what keeps sci-fi fans from calling it romance is that the couple faces the danger/conflict in the book together and don’t seem to have the kind of misunderstandings or challenges between each other that mark the strictly romance genre.  Although, I can name a few instances in Heinlein books where couples separate due to some romantic spat and finally end up together.  So, the concept isn’t new.  Acknowledging it is.

In my first book Rock Bound, which I self-published, the couple has both types of conflict going on.  My heroine is newly widowed and not ready for a relationship when she finds herself enslaved on the moon with the hero.  Together they have to learn to survive in an unforgiving environment and build a life inside first a shelter and then a mountain.  And he has to wait for her to heal from her loss.

My second book, Rock Crazy, was published here at The Muse, and takes place much later.  Katie McGowan is bi-polar and her meds are no longer working.  One doctor has perfected a chip that will control the enzymes and hormones that control her mood swings.  He lives on the Moon because the lower gravity makes it possible for him to stand long enough to do the surgery.  But Katie is afraid.  So her husband takes a job on the Moon and divorces her after they get up there, hoping she’ll face her disease and agree to the operation.  Neither of them counts on her getting pregnant just before they leave Earth.  Now the surgery’s too dangerous and she has to go off her meds. So…

Abandoned, pregnant, and bi-polar, Katie’s going crazy on that God-forsaken rock, the Moon!

I did a reading of Rock Bound at a sci-fi con and got raked over the coals for not calculating the trajectory of a boulder that imperils my characters during an asteroid storm.  Unlike many of my sci-fi heroes, I am not a scientist or a mathematician.  Girls were not encouraged to excel in those areas when I was in school.  In fact, when she saw I was having problems in class, my geometry teacher gave me a mercy D and suggested I take sewing instead.  Oh, sure—I save money on clothes, but if I can’t recall the difference between and isosceles triangle and a right triangle, I don’t hold out much hope of calculating the velocity of an asteroid landing on the Moon.

I’m sure I’ll hear about Katie’s surgery being too dangerous since we already have the technology to keep a brain-dead woman alive long enough to let her fetus come to term and deliver a perfectly healthy baby.  But if I wrote it that way, I’d have a three chapter book with no cool mood swings, so give a gal a bit of dramatic license please!

My work-in-progress is a contemporary, because it’s about a morbidly obese woman’s struggle with her weight and I’m sure that by 2063 science will have found the defective gene or whatever and will have a vaccine or something for those of us who blow up to three-hundred pounds and have to completely change our lifestyles to get to a normal weight.  But would living in a world where you can eat anything (chocolate and glutens included) and still be healthy, be sci-fi or fantasy?

After this, though—I’ll probably go back to Rockton.  I like it up there.

Rochelle Weber Author Blog

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Detective Danni Keegan is plunged into a dark, demonic world where survival depends on deciphering the connection between ritual killings, and a demon terrorizing her for a “gift” she wasn’t even aware she possessed. She must unravel her dreams of another woman who lived during ancient times and battled a bloodthirsty demon—the same demon who now hunts Danni. The loss of her body and soul looms imminent as her only chance to destroy the demon depends on changing her new partner’s convictions. He is a sinfully sexy man, who exudes power and self-assurance with the ease of breathing and has an iron-willed determination not to believe in the paranormal.

Danni Keegan pulled back the wispy curtain to peer through the thick rivulets of rain and search the swaying trees and bushes. She put her fingers to the glass and welcomed the chill as it traveled through her body. Maybe the cold would paralyze her tragic thoughts, end the feeling of dread, the vengeful tide that sought to drown her.
Her hand came off the glass and returned to the curtain where her nimble fingers fidgeted with the lace. For weeks now, the doomed feeling had fed on her, no better than raging piranhas hungering for fresh meat. She was the fresh meat. Every day the fear escalated, chewed off more of her flesh; exposed more of her vulnerability.
Get control of yourself. You didn’t make it as a cop by fearing the dark, or letting a feeling rule your head. Yet, her uneasiness gnawed, the cause was elusive, unsupported by evidence. Were Lucy Brighton’s and Chelsea Marlin’s unsolved homicides warping her sanity?
No matter how tough she acted, it was impossible to view ravished remains and not mourn lost lives. Question your own mortality and blame yourself for not stopping the homicides. Was she confusing her edginess with guilt that the killer remained free to hunt new victims?
Her fingers beat the glass in a staccato tempo which matched her heart’s unsettled rhythm.
No. This evil feeling, it was blacker.
More menacing. More...enduring.
She cast a wishful glance at the wide-cushioned sofa and the television. Her bagel and cream cheese lay neglected on the coffee table along with the horror novel she was reading. Anchored to the window, she scanned the looming trees and thick darkness for a shadow that didn’t fit. A forceful wind scraped tree limbs against the condo's roof and the windows wept from the torrential downpour.
She leaned forward and focused, as if she could frisk the shadows with her eyes. The bushes along the sidewalk shook in a way that was at odds with the direction of the wind. A clump of white bolted from tangled branches and frost-burned leaves. Realization dawned and the sight of the familiar lithe body made her smile, partly from relief, mainly from her foolishness.
The porch was clear except for a very drenched, very vexed cat. A stray who sporadically allowed Danni to mother her.
She hurried to the door and twisted the bottom lock, but when it came to the deadbolt she wavered,  her fingers refusing to close over it.
Don’t. Open. The. Door.
A warning slithered through her body, stroked her apprehension and added high-octane fuel to her fears. More like a premonition. Blood. Destruction. Innocence lost. She stared at the top of her fluffy-socked feet and scrunched her toes against the hardwood floor.
"This is stupid. Letting poor Independence drown in this storm because of a feeling."
Flexing her hands, she thought of her gun tucked in the nightstand drawer; thought about getting it. To what, shoot at trees and darkness?
She twisted the lock and stepped out, playing hopscotch with the growing puddles on the small cement porch. Frigid wind and freezing rain pushed at her. She sucked in a breath, pulling her robe tighter. The sensation of standing on solid ice seeped through her socks. Before she could cajole Independence inside, the cat darted to the right, into the heart of the storm.
“I’m not chasing you,” she called out and shoved her hands into her robe’s pockets, shuffling from side to side on cold, wet feet.
Damn. Now she’d have to change her socks and throw her damp robe into the dryer.
A warning sparked from the rustle of dead leaves. Overgrown bushes at her left shook.  Branches snapped. The cautionary spark exploded into a bonfire of fear. Her breath halted. Thoughts seized. Everything froze except time.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Being A Science Fiction Writer

While I know there are some purists out there who would see me as in interloper in the science fiction genre because I write erotic romance as part of the equation. I wish I could say that it doesn't bother me, but snobbery always does, so what can I say, I bruise like banana lol. But here's the reality, I love writing erotic romance. And while I'll admit where I've done the looking down in the past I had the excuse of young and stupid. Here's to hoping those who read this won't have to look down on their fellow writers anymore.

I write about relationships between the humans and aliens and their offspring. And while I don't address the technological side of science fiction very often, I feel like the humanity in science fiction and emotion is a big part of what I bring to the game. It is just as hard sometimes to create the heroes and heroines where you are thinking, what would the cultural differences be? How would a human relate to a half-breed? Would the aliens arrival been friendly?

All of this goes into being a sci-fi writer and while some might be more interested in say what gadget works, and that takes all host of different interests and talents and I'm sure they will be covered here on the Muse blog. But what I specialize in is the emotion. I like for my readers to feel what I am and that is of my characters falling in love. To risk everything for that love. And sometimes the world's future is at stake. Those are the kinds of stories I like to tell when penning a sci-fi erotic romance and I hope you enjoy reading my Kate Lynd titles, my first one, No Ordinary Love tells the tale of two lovers reuniting in a time of war. One is human, the other a half-breed. Check it out in the MuseItUp bookstore.

Until next time happy scribbles.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Grave St. Patrick's Day

A Short Story by: Nic Brown
Genre: Horror Fantasy
Release: March 16, 2012
Cover Designer: Mike Zambrano
Pages: 26
ISBN: 978-1-927361-48-1
Back Cover:
Stuart Boling doesn’t believe in magic or the supernatural. But when a visit to his family’s grave site leads him to stumble upon the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow he starts to change his mind. Now he must face its strange guardian, a malevolent leprechaun.  Stu learns that he’d better be careful what he wishes for as the creature brings him face-to-face with the demons from his past, made into monsters of the flesh.  If Stu doesn’t figure out the leprechaun’s secret he may just join his family in the grave.

Then as abruptly as it started, the wind stopped. Stu dropped his arm just in time to see the leprechaun, suspended in the air about ten feet above him, look down and wink.
At that moment Stu felt a presence. He was no longer alone in the cemetery. There were three figures moving in the darkness of the nearby trees. They ambled slowly up behind the leprechaun as he gently floated back to the ground. It was his family. They were alive and coming toward him.
Kelly!” Stu rushed forward past the leprechaun and grabbed his sister in his arms. She was wearing her favorite purple dress, the one they’d buried her in. She looked confused and didn’t speak. That was okay. After all, she’d been dead.
He set her down and put his hands on her shoulders. “Kelly, it’s me. It’s Stu. You’re alive.”
She bit him.
She grabbed his left arm and sank her teeth into it. Stu screamed and tried to get her loose from his arm but she was locked onto it tight.
“Kelly!” Stu was shocked, but he had been trained to fight and he’d taken to that training like a duck to water. Without even thinking, he smashed out with his right arm, catching his sister squarely in the side of the head with all of his might. Her head snapped back and she stumbled away from him. Blood, dark and black, trickled thinly from her mouth. He’d hit her in the left side of her face and now that cheek hung in bloody tatters. A small part of his mind wondered why she was bleeding, embalming removes the blood from a body, but that tiny, rational thought was lost in a sea of shock and horror. Kelly’s beautiful face was destroyed, her tongue rolling around inside her mouth. Several of her teeth were clearly broken off. Her head lolled to the side and he could hear bones popping and cracking. The jaw hung down loosely, as though no longer fully attached to her head.
Stu grabbed his arm. Despite the pain and the unbelievable strength of the bite, she hadn’t broken his skin, thanks to the denim jacket. Still, it had been close.
“Jesus Christ!” Stu turned to the leprechaun who was lying on his back on the ground, clutching his sides and laughing, as his mother stood swaying slightly off to one side. Stu couldn’t see his old man anywhere.
“What have you done?” Stu shouted and the small figure sat up. The leprechaun was laughing so hard that tears were coming from his eyes.
“I did exactly what you wished for laddy.” He spat between chuckles. “I brought your family back to life. You didn’t say you wanted them to have their souls back though, did you? That costs extra. I just brought them back from the dead.” The leprechaun doubled over in laughter.