Monday, June 25, 2012

Reviews on Hiatus

Please note: We're taking a brief hiatus from review requests, so we can catch up on our backlog, and enjoy our summer vacations. We will accept review requests starting September 1, 2012. Thank you for your understanding, and we hope you have a great summer!
~ The ParaYourNormal Review Team

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Interview with Ranae Rose, Author of Haunted Passions

Please welcome Ranae Rose, author of Haunted Passions. Be sure to join us on BlogTalkRadio this Wednesday at 3:30 PM PDT because we'll be chatting with her live then!

What can you tell us about you that we wouldn’t already know from your other interviews?

Since this is a paranormal-themed site, I’ll tell you something about me that I usually don’t have a good reason to mention: I have an obsession with paranormal, cryptozoological and extraterrestrial documentaries. I love those things. I don’t usually watch TV, but if I can spare the time, I can pass hours in complete bliss lying on the couch and learning about things like ghosts, Nessie and moth man. No amount of teasing has been able to cure me of this habit, and I will happily own up to my dorky love of all things mysterious.

Speed Answer Challenge:

Chocolate or Vanilla: Chocolate! Mmm…

Favorite color: Purple

Astrological sign: Scorpio

Favorite season: Fall

Sports car or All Terrain Vehicle: Sports car… I’m a good driver (of cars), but I’m not to be trusted with an all-terrain vehicle. Last time I rode one at a speed of more than a few miles per hour, I destroyed it and tumbled down a mountain in the process, breaking my wrist. I prefer a horse, which, unlike a motorized ride, can think for itself, and hopefully will have enough sense not to crash into a bank if I direct it to.

Watch TV or Go for a hike: Go for a hike! Who knows, I might even sight Sasquatch (a dorky dream of mine)… LOL!

Favorite animal: Horse, though I’m also a dog-lover.

Tell us a bit about your book.

Haunted Passions is my own unique version of the Sleepy Hollow legend. In my Sleepy Hollow, Brom and John (that’s what I call my ‘Ichabod’ character, who is significantly sexier in my world than in the original Legend of Sleepy Hollow) are lovers instead of rivals, and are both enamored with Katrina Van Tassel – it’s a historical M/M/F ménage a trois. They face the headless horseman, along with other problems, together.

What inspired Haunted Passions? And what’s the driving force behind the rest of the series?

This might sound a little strange, but it was a song that inspired Haunted Passions – ‘Closure’, by Chevelle. I guess that for me, inspiration can be just about anything. And I’ve always loved The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Though the paranormal aspects of the story are prominent – and I’m told chilling – the characters’ love for each other is what truly drives the series.

What is it about the paranormal that fascinates you?

Everything. I love a sense of mystery, a feeling that the world is bigger and deeper and stranger than most people like to pretend it is. I’m a strong believer in the paranormal in real life, though in my stories, it’s exaggerated or embellished. (I mean, of course I’ve never encountered any headless horsemen, werewolves, vampires or banshees in reality, though I’ve written about all those things.)

What draws you to steamy romance?

When it comes to reading and writing, I’m most drawn to the relationships between characters – especially romantic ones. With steamy books, which don’t skip out on intimate scenes, I’m not missing out on emotionally powerful content (aka, sex). Plus, why would I not want to know what goes on between two (or three!) sexy characters? ;)

What can you tell us about the rest of the series?

The other Sleepy Hollow book, Whiskey Dreams, tells the story of how Brom and John (both Revolutionary War veterans), originally fell in love – by the time Haunted Passions happens, they’ve already been in a relationship for several months. As you can imagine, it was not easy for two men to be together at that period in history. Whiskey Dreams is also currently free at major ebook retailers such as Amazon, the Apple ibooks store, Smashwords, etc… So if you’re curious about the series, you can begin it risk-free. ;)

Where can readers purchase your book? 

Haunted Passions and Whiskey Dreams are currently available from most major ebook retailers, including Amazon, Smashwords and the Apple ibooks store. And again, Whiskey Dreams is free at all those places. Here are some links for Haunted Passions:

Amazon (US)

Apple ibook Store


All Romance

May we read an excerpt from the book and can you provide it here?

Of course. Here’s the very beginning of Haunted Passions – as is probably made evident by the opening, it’s an emotionally-charged read:

John had never thought that his heart could be ripped out by just a few simple words, and yet, that was exactly how he felt. “We’ll be announcing our engagement tonight…” Brom’s voice echoed in his memory. “I wanted to let you know myself.”

“God damn you, Brom,” John said, wiping dampness from his forehead with his sleeve. The curse was a distraction, a failed manifestation of some emotion he didn’t know how to express – he didn’t really mean it. A part of him broiled with anger, but it was a small part; mostly, he felt dreadfully sick. He pressed a hand to his stomach, conscious of the leaden weight that had settled there when Brom had laid his hand on his shoulder, just before he’d delivered the news.

John had known that something was wrong as soon as Brom had touched him. Brom’s touch had been tense, his hand stiff and awkward as it closed ineffectually on John’s shoulder. Brom Bones had never touched anyone like that before, and likely never would again. He was a man who always knew what he wanted, a man who laid hands on a body with confidence, already sure of what he intended to do. John knew that, perhaps better than anyone. But Brom’s hand had nearly slipped off of John’s shoulder as he’d told him of his engagement to Katrina. “God damn you…” John rasped, his stomach contracting around its burden as he touched his shoulder, seeking some trace of heat, some proof that Brom’s fingers had really rested there so recently.

There was none. Only the rough fabric of his coat and the autumn chill that hung in the air and had worked its way into every stitch of his clothing, every fiber of his being. He felt as if he were already dead. Soon, he would be.

He drew a pistol from beneath his coat, caressing the barrel. There was promise in every inch of the cold steel – the promise of oblivion. It called to him, the temptation carried on the biting night breeze. He glanced over his shoulder, promising himself that it would be for the last time. His heart jolted and sped at the sight of the large farmhouse looming in the distance, its windows glowing with candlelight. The spry, shadowy forms of dancers darted back and forth behind the glass. Everyone was making merry, celebrating a good harvest, and perhaps Brom and Katrina’s engagement – had they announced it yet?

No. He wouldn’t dwell on it any longer – not the engagement, anyway. Brom and Katrina themselves, however, were different matters altogether. He turned resolutely, forcing himself to face the dark forest that stretched at the edge of the Van Tassel farmlands. Under any other circumstances, the sight of it at this time of night would have sent a chill down his spine. But what did it matter now? If there were wild beasts afoot, they could do no greater harm to him than his own hand, and if there were spirits lurking… Well, he was about to join them.

Squeezing his eyes shut, he committed his thoughts to Brom. The man’s face formed perfectly in front of his mind’s eye, complete with the oh-so-familiar strong jaw, dark eyes and even darker hair. It curled a bit at his temples and at the nape of his neck. And it felt like silk, slid easily between one’s fingers, like sweet spring grass after the rain… John inhaled, smelling not the autumn night, but the spring afternoon during which he’d first met Brom seven months ago. The memory was a double-edged sword, sweet and bitter at once. His entire body tingled, hot despite his thin clothing and the bitter wind. “Brom…” The man’s name was a whisper on his lips and was quickly swallowed up by a rushing breeze that tore several locks of his hair loose from their ribbon and whipped them across his face. They tickled his mouth, teasing, like the memory of Brom’s lips.

Katrina had lovely lips, as well. A mouth like a rosebud, in fact, and cheeks that were just as pink. He’d tasted those perfect lips just once, and had perhaps taken the experience too seriously. A wry bark of a laugh escaped him, and his thoughts spiraled rapidly toward the dark place inside him that Brom had opened up with his words. Struggling for control over his unruly emotions, he thought of Katrina’s eyes. Blue and sparkling, they were more brilliant than the brightest summer sky. Framed with golden ringlets, her face was just as perfect as Brom’s. Picturing them together was both the most beautiful and most excruciating thing he could imagine. Shoving the image from his mind, he thought finally of himself.

Though his eyes were still closed, he had no trouble seeing himself as he was: a slender figure against the dark wilderness, clad in threadbare clothes that whipped around him as a particularly violent gust of wind howled by, causing the hair on the back of his neck to stand up. He was young, and more than a little afraid of death, when he really thought about it. If anyone had been there with him, they probably would have been able to see that, would have been able to read his face like a book. But he was alone, and morbidly aware of that fact. Another vicious breeze tore his ribbon loose and carried it away. His hair flew with it, each strand stinging his face. He relished the petty pain for what little distraction it provided from his greater suffering.

The wind stilled, leaving him alone with the knowledge of all his inadequacies. He hadn’t decided to take his own life because he was angry with Brom or Katrina. In all honesty, he wished them well. He was going to end his existence because he wasn’t worthy of a man like Brom, or a woman like Katrina. When he’d found out that his chances – however flimsy they’d been in the first place – of ever having lasting happiness with either of them were nonexistent, he’d realized that they were all he really cared about. At some point since he’d arrived in Sleepy Hollow, his world had shifted on its axis and begun to revolve around Brom and Katrina, his two secret loves. And now his world was over. Swallowing the last of his inhibitions, he pressed the barrel of the gun firmly to the side of his head. “Christ – Brom, Katrina… I love you both, but neither of you will ever belong to me, and it’s more than I can bear.”

His heart beat hard and fast, his pulse thrumming in his ears so that he almost didn’t hear the faint sound of hoofbeats coming from somewhere in the distance. Was someone riding through the wood, about to discover him? He didn’t have time to wonder who it might be – not if he was going to pull this off before being seen and losing his nerve. He squeezed the trigger and something rushed unseen out of the darkness and gripped his arm so hard he thought the bones would snap.
The explosive boom of the discharging pistol threw him off balance, and he fell, ears ringing. All the breath was knocked out of him when he hit the ground, and the earth seemed to sway and pitch beneath him, like a ship on a storm-tossed sea. The pressure was still there on his arm – could it be the angel of death?

“God damn it, John!” A deep voice growled from above, shockingly familiar. “What do you think you’re doing?”

It never occurred to John to answer. Instead, he lay flat on his back, staring up at the huge figure looming against the night sky. A clunk rang out loud and clear as Brom threw the pistol, and it bounced off of a tree, falling uselessly to the ground.

As a little breath worked its way back into John’s lungs, it became clear that he hadn’t, in fact, succeeded in shooting himself. The knowledge that he’d failed in even that simple endeavor was infuriating. He ground his teeth as Brom crouched over him, leering.
Brom’s breath buffeted John’s face in hot blasts that cut straight through the cold air.

“You look like a madman,” John said, meeting Brom’s narrowed eyes.
Brom snorted and seized John by his arms, jerking him into a sitting position. “You have a lot of nerve, saying that to me.”

John could feel his flesh bruising beneath Brom’s grip, but he said nothing. He couldn’t speak – there seemed to be a blockage of some sort in his throat. He wanted to shout at Brom, to tell him that he had a lot of fucking nerve, interfering like that. But he couldn’t, so he just breathed, letting the cold air chill his insides, which had rapidly begun to heat as soon as he’d heard Brom’s voice.

“John!” The third voice was something like the sound of a bell, and it cut through John’s heart, stopping it as effectively as a bullet.


Where can your readers connect with you on the web? 

My website, where you can find anything and everything about all of my books, including excerpts, is:  or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

7 Twitter Tips for Indie Authors by Kirsten Weiss

Most authors would rather spend their time writing books than marketing them. But if you’re an indie author and actually want to sell what you write, then you’re going to have to do some marketing. Today I’ll be blogging about Twitter, just one of many platforms you can use to promote your books. But it isn’t enough to tweet, one must tweet well.

1) 140 characters is too much. Sure, a tweet is 140 characters in length. But if you want to be retweeted, then you need to keep your tweets under 125 characters. Why? When someone hits the retweet button, “RT @YourName” will automatically be added to your tweet. On average, this will eat up 15 characters – more if you’ve got a long Twitter handle. Mine is 13 characters – @RigaHayworth. Add three more characters for the RT and the space, and this means I shouldn’t tweet more than 124 characters. So check your Twitter handle’s word count and add 3 characters. Subtract the total from 140 to find your optimal tweet length.

2) Link shorteners, please! Links can get long and ugly. Save some space for content and make your tweets more readable by using a link shortener such as Tip: Links positioned about a quarter to a third of the way through a tweet tend to get the most click-throughs.

3) Please retweet? If you want something, ask. Weirdly, statistics show that adding the words “please retweet” actually does increase the odds of being retweeted. “Plz RT” works too, but isn’t quite as effective.

4) Be smart about hashtags. Hashtags are used to make your tweets more searchable. So if you write a paranormal romance, you might, for example use #paranormal, #romance, #lovestory, #ghost, #haunted, #Kindle, #eBook, etc. towards the end of your tweets, or placing hashtags before key words in the body of your tweets. For example: A Midsummer Night's Dream? The Alchemical Detective will be #free for the #Kindle 6/21! #eBook

If you’re not sure which hashtags to use, head on over to for ideas.

5) Build relationships with other writers. The real leverage from Twitter comes through meeting people on line, building positive relationships and supporting each other. If you’re unsure how to do this, a good way to start is by retweeting and commenting on others' tweets, and thanking them when they do the same for you.

However, a quick, “Thanks for the RT” doesn’t exactly build relationships. If someone retweets or mentions you, take the extra two minutes to check out their Twitter profile, see what they write, and comment on it in your thank you to them. E.g.: @RigaHayworth Thanks for the RT! I love the cover of your #eBook, The Alchemical Detective #Spooky! If someone did that for me, I’d definitely take the time to check them out, and try to promote them in turn. Wouldn’t you?

6) Keep it positive. Don’t, don’t, don’t rant or complain online. You may be totally justified, the other person might be an irrational jerk. But nine times out of ten, snarky tweets will just make you look like someone to avoid. Like grandma said, if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all. Or: Never tweet in anger.

7) It’s about your readers – not you. A constant stream of ads for your book is… spam. So try to provide content that’s of interest to your readers. Tweet about other writers in your genre, great quotes from authors you admire, and articles you’ve read that have inspired your paranormal writing. Writing about fairies? Tweet about your research into the world of the fae. (And in case you’re wondering, this explains the recent spate of fairy tweets you may have seen on @ParaYourNormal – I’ve got stacks of fairy reference material on my desk).

Kirsten Weiss is the Twitter Coordinator for @ParaYourNormal, and the author of two paranormal mysteries available on the Kindle: the urban fantasy, The Metaphysical Detective, and The Alchemical Detective. She is also hard at work on the third book in the Riga Hayworth series, The Shamanic Detective, due Halloween 2012. Follow her on Twitter @RigaHayworth, check out her paranormal world boards on Pinterest, or read her paranormal author blog at:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Review of Demon of Mine by Ranae Rose

Demon of Mine by Ranae Rose
Review by Gabryyl Pierce
4 1/2 of 5 stars
Twelve year-old Elsie was the only survivor of the fire that destroyed her home and killed her family. Taken in by the Remingtons and trained as a housemaid, Elsie spends the next seven years pining for Damon, heir to the Remington textile empire.
Damon Remington, one of London's most notorious bachelors, is accused of murder.  Elsie’s testimony could save him...if she can bring herself to confess to Damon and the world that she was hidden in his bedroom on the night of the crime. And why.
A strange illness has overcome Elsie. All hopes of a future with anyone, least of all Damon, are dashed by a dire prognosis with no cure. 
But Damon has secrets of his own, preternatural secrets that can save Elsie’s life -- at a price.
Demon of Mine is billed as an erotic Regency vampire romance but it’s more than that. While the sex is steamy, it’s the characters and their intimacy that drives the story. The historical details are accurate and draw you in to the time. This is book one of a series I look forward to reading more of.
About Ranae
Ranae Rose lives on the U.S. East Coast and is an avid reader and writer who can’t resist a good love story, and the hotter the better. You can learn more about Ranae and her books at:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review of Blood and Fire by Carrie Clevenger and Nerine Dorman

Blood and Fire by Carrie Clevenger & Nerine Dorman

Review by Gabryyl Pierce

5 of 5 stars

Blood and Fire is the new novella collaboration between authors Carrie Clevenger and Nerine Dorman, following 2011’s Just My Blood Type.

Clevenger's character, Xan Marcelles, is a vampire and bass player in Crooked Fang, a rock band who play in a bar in Colarado. Dorman’s Ashton Kennedy is an Inkarna (a body thief) who was a woman in his past life. Ash and Xan are soon teaming up to defeat a cult of Egyptian sorcerers.

Dorman and Clevenger have done an amazing job with this novella, integrating their respective characters and worlds while staying true to their own voices. The story is fast-paced and well written and is a welcome addition to my library. Both characters will be reappearing soon in their own novels: Clevenger's Crooked Fang and Dorman's Inkarna.

Where to buy Blood and Fire

About Carrie

Carrie Clevenger landed in the urban fantasy genre when she couldn't decide between horror and humor. When not writing she enjoys listening to music, hanging out with musicians, attending local venues, catching her favorite bands on tour, and obsessing over The Next Big Album release. Carrie resides in Austin, Texas with her family, two cats and one turtle.

About Nerine

An editor and multi-published author, Nerine Dorman currently resides in Cape Town, South Africa, with her visual artist husband. Some of the publishers with whom she works include Lyrical Press, Dark Continents Publishing and eKhaya (an imprint of Random House Struik). She has been involved in the media industry for more than a decade, with a background in magazine and newspaper publishing, commercial fiction, and print production management within a below-the-line marketing environment. Her book reviews, as well as travel, entertainment and lifestyle editorial regularly appear in national newspapers. A few of her interests include music, travel, history (with emphasis on Egypt), psychology, philosophy, magic and the natural world.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Review of Chocolate-Covered Eyes by Lori R. Lopez

Review by Gabryyl Pierce
3 of 5 stars
Chocolate-Covered Eyes: A Sampler of Horror is a collection of poetry and short stories by Lori R. Lopez. Each story has been rated individually below and averaged for an overall rating:
Chocolate-Covered Eyes  1 of 5 stars
An attempt at horror poetry that fell flat for me.

Heartbeat   4 of 5 stars
A fun zombie story from a young boy’s perspective. Good characters and tight plotting make this a good addition to the zombie sub-genre.

Nuance  2 of 5 stars
Another short story but one I could not get into. This one had the guts of a good story strangled by dozens ten-dollar words.

Unleashed: Tail One  5 of 5 stars
Absolutely my favorite and worth the read. The point of view switches between the family dog, a devilish cat and a detective, with wondrous results. I’d love to see more of this!

Beyond The Stump  2 of 5 stars
The story of a tree and its part in the narrator’s life. Again, an interesting premise buried under tons of unnecessary “literary” prose.

Bedeviled  4 of 5 stars
A good story and fast read. My second favorite in the collection. Warning: contains insects! *shudder*

Macabre  2 of 5 stars
An okay entry, a bit over-long. The central character never grabbed my attention.

All in all, the author’s attempts at literary prose are overstuffed and unnecessary – Lopez has a good voice, when she lets it breathe, but Chocolate-Covered Eyes does contain a few stories worth the read.

Interview with Tamela Buhrke, Author of Angel Unraveled

What is your favorite paranormal creature and why?

I LOVE Pixies! They are tiny, fly and get into mischief. My favorite use of pixies is in The Dresden Files when Harry bribes them with pizza and endears himself to them so much that they start cleaning his house. Pixies that clean my house! That’s what I’m talking about.

Kim Harrison also has a great pixie named Jenks who is very handy for detective work and small pilfering.

We may be seeing some pixies in book three of my Watcher Series.

When was the last time you read something you wrote early on? LOL! I did about a year ago. Man! That was…horrible! LMAO!

Last year, I moved. As I was packing I ran across files of stories I wrote in high school. Some of it held promise, but one was a trashy historical romance based in Greece. Every other page held sighs, longing glances and flowing hair.

I considered throwing it away, but was afraid someone would find it and it would come back to haunt me later. The ghost of scary-manuscript past.

What was the last book that you read that just made you go WOW?

The first two books of Game of Thrones rocked my world. I aspire to be that good—only more humorous.

In the Paranormal genre, any of Karen Moning’s Fever books blow your hair back. She can really take you down the rabbit hole and back again. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but be prepared for the worst. Any author that has to put a disclaimer at the end of a book, to reassure her fans that everything will be okay has done an epic job of creating tension. Karen Moning is a goddess.

Which book are we talking about today and what is it about?

The first book of my series is Angel Unraveled. It’s about a reluctant psychic who stumbles on street drug that temporarily turns users into vampires. Worse, a sassy she-demon threatens to unleash the drug as a virus—converting the human race into monsters.

What inspired this book?

Honestly, I was getting bored with strong female characters that always knew exactly how to handle things when they were introduced to the paranormal world. I knew that if I ever met a real vampire, I’d act like an idiot. There would be gibbering.

Who are these woman that could meet fairies, shapeshifters or vampires and not blink an eye?

I wanted to create a character who’d have a real response (a.k.a. gibbering), but still be smart and strong. Someone who doesn’t have it all together. She might wear the wrong things, or trip over her own feet, but had the inner strength to both face the task of saving the world and the harder journey of discovering who she really is.

And I wanted it to be funny. I’d like to think that I put the funny in urban fantasy. Hmm....

*Writes that down as a possible slogan.*

Tell us something about your characters that we wouldn’t be able to figure out by reading the book.

Andi is a closet Justin Beiber fan. Vampire Esteban runs an advice blog for the lovelorn preternatural. Johnny just wants to be a rock star. But that last one we already knew.

Ethel and Macy are both hiding some very big secrets. We’ll find out more about both of their secrets in book two. Let’s just say that there’s more behind why Ethel avoids her training responsibilities and constantly leaves Andi in the dark. And there is a reason for why Macy and Andi are friends. One that goes far beyond just being college roommates.

They aren’t as different as they appear.

But that’s as much as I’m willing to tell.

Is the next book in the works? Can you tell us a bit about it?

The next book is out! Yay!

In Angel Unprepared Andi goes on her first official assignment. She’s sent to the Fairy realm to solve the murder of several fairies. As a result, she not only finds herself traipsing through a strange new world, but gets bobbed about through time as well. Ooh... and her love life takes a turn for the much more interesting.

Where can readers purchase your book?

Angel Unraveled -

Angel Unprepared -

May we read an excerpt from the book? 

“Hand it over.”

I reached into my back pocket and pulled out the card with the address on it. Ethel put it up to her nose to smell it. She rolled her eyes and murmured a little prayer. Ethel patted my legs to get me to sit up, and sat down next to me. I was still hugging the pillow.

“My poor girl.” She crooned, brushing a stray hair out of my eyes. “What in the world made you think that it would be safe to search out a demon?”

My eyes widened. Tucker sat down in the chair across from us.

Ethel laughed. “You think I wouldn’t know? Why do you think I’m back? Hmm?”

She held the card out in front of my face. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it as she moved it back and forth. I needed to know more about the demon. The card would give me access to her. If Ethel would just let me go, I wouldn’t even get out of the car.

“The card has a spell on it,” she said, then mumbled a few strange words. To my amazement, the paper started to smoke and in moments it was nothing but ash floating through the air.

“It was luring you to the demon.” She walked into the kitchen and deposited the remains in the sink, then came back and sat next to me, taking my hand. I was shaking the fuzz out of my head. My need to get in the car had disappeared. I could see the idiocy of the plan and how perilously close I had been to driving right into danger.

“This is my fault, really,” she admonished herself with an angry shake of the head. “I should have taught you more.”

She reached forward and squeezed my face in her hands, jiggling my whole head back and forth.

“But you were just so stubborn! I knew you hated all of this.” She waved her hands around the room. “So I put some precautions in place and hoped that your need to hide from the world would keep you safe. I knew one day you’d come around, and then we could finish your training. I just didn’t expect her to show up so soon.”

What in the hell was she talking about?

I was about to ask when there was a knock at the door. Lola strolled into the apartment. He was dressed in his Marilyn outfit. A long, pale, yellow halter dress with a large black belt and three-inch patent leather heels.

“Ethel! Darling! You’re back,” Lola called, giving her a simpering smile

Ethel patted my hand and stood up to talk to Lola. She walked over and, to my amazement, smacked Lola full across the face, causing his blond wig to fly across the room. The nearly bald man scrambled, in his flowing yellow dress, like a crab across the floor to regain his hair. While he was down, Ethel grabbed Lola’s ear and twisted. Lola shrieked in pain.

“When did Councilman Rogers buy you, Lola?” She yelled. “Hmm? How long have you been betraying me and putting our sweet Andi in danger?”

To my surprise, Lola began begging.

“The councilman threatened to shut us down if I didn’t help him,” he sniveled. “Up until today he had just asked me to watch and report things to him. I never thought he would actually harm her. I just didn’t want my girls to go to jail.”

Ethel snorted, letting go of Lola’s ear and patted Lola on his bald head.

“Get your hair and go home,” she ordered. “I’ll be over later to get a full report.”

Lola put the hair back on his head a bit crooked. The tears had magically disappeared. He smoothed out his skirt and stood up straight. I detected a glint of rage as he strode gracefully out the door, slamming it behind him.

“Why did I ever quit smoking?” Ethel yelled, waving her hands around.

Where can your readers connect with you on the web?

About Tamela

I started young. Sneaking reads at night, flashlight under the covers. On the outside, I was a normal kid. Reading kept me quiet and out of trouble. On the inside, my imagination swelled like an alien fetus in an unwary human host. Sweaty hands gripped pages filled with adventure, peril and heroism. Pages were turned. Gasps were uttered. The stranger the tale, the greater the journey, the bigger the monsters... the more intoxicated I became. I was hooked on fantasy.

Growing up in suburban Chicago, I used reading as an escape the mundane realities of life. In high school, reading turned to writing. It took a long time and moves to many parts of the country before I'd start taking my writing seriously. Currently, I'm working on book three of my Watcher series. Now I've got a mermaid splashing around in my head, waiting her turn to tell her story. As of next month, I'll be living on the beaches of Mexico and releasing the mermaid from the confines of my mind and into the wide world of print. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Does an MFA Make Sense for a Paranormal Writer? by Barbara Jolie

Does an MFA Make Sense for a Paranormal Writer?

by Barbara Jolie
Paranormal books are thriving, not only as a commercial genre but also as a devoted subculture. This fan world has always existed but now benefits from online opportunities for publishing and distribution that could only have been dreamed of even a decade ago. 

Meanwhile, the mainstream has been conquered, with the reading habits of an entire generation having been formed around franchises with paranormal themes, the most far-reaching being the Harry Potter series, of course, but also Twilight, which crossed over into the romance market and revolutionized it overnight. Scads of imitators soon flooded the market, until now it seems like you'd be hard pressed to find anything without a glossy cover photo of some shirtless boy-creature on a YA shelf.

At the same time, the highbrow world of literature has never been more institutionalized. Writers who command serious critical attention nearly always come through the feeder system of writer's workshops and MFA programs (and though the MFA was for years considered the terminal degree in creative writing, now there's even a kind of degree inflation taking place, with PhD programs popping up all over). This state of affairs would have been entirely alien to Henry James or Mark Twain 100 years ago, but it's now pretty much expected.

This huge divergence between mass-market tastes and the academically trained elite is not as impermeable as it sounds; genre fiction is more accepted than ever in the ivory tower, as both a subject for serious study and, increasingly, a legitimate artistic pursuit. A hardcore old guard of literary purists does exist, but generationally, most of the people in these programs at this point have grown up with sci-fi, comic books, magic realism, and unclassifiable cult writers like Kurt Vonnegut. Nerd culture is now everyone's culture, like it or not.

Maybe you've taken some writing classes, whether it's an online correspondence course or even an in-person workshop for hobbyists, and you're wondering: should I take it to the next level? Will my work be accepted for what it is? What will I even get out of this expensive, difficult experience?
Well, you would become a better writer, is just about the only reason to do it. You would want to immediately start diversifying your portfolio – and I'm not talking about stocks here. If you were to apply with all-paranormal material, it'd be a really tough sell. Try writing a few short stories in a strict realist mode. Not to say that you couldn't also include some genre stuff, but they'll want to know you can do more. 

Should you be lucky enough to find yourself accepted, you'll need to maintain that balanced attitude: don't feel bad about what you love to write, but be prepared to be open-minded and have your limits tested. Not all of your colleagues and teachers will be into the same stuff. Many of them will have an outright antipathy for fantasy. Roll with it. You will probably have moments (in classes, while writing, or even just over your morning cup of coffee) where you break down and question your own most deeply held dreams. But you'll be stronger for having gone through the struggle, the lessons you learn will be worth it, and you will be able to bring them back into your paranormal world.

Barbara Jolie is a full time freelance writer and blogger in the Houston area. She enjoys writing about education and the advantages of online classes for all students. If you have any questions email Barbara at barbara.jolie876 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Review of Foreshadow by Brea Essex

Foreshadow by Brea Essex

Review by Gabryyl Pierce

4 of 5 stars

What do you when your delicious new boyfriend is out to kill you—and the class pain turns out to literally be your guardian angel?

Following the death of her mother Raena Davenport has gone to live with family friends. New boyfriend, Andrei, is helping her cope — until she finds out he wants to kill her. Andrei is a devil, a fallen angel who wants to use her sacrifice to get back into Heaven. Then there’s Logan, her guardian angel. He’s done nothing but annoy her, but now he’s got to save her.

Foreshadow is the first book in the Shadow Imperium Series by Brea Essex. Overall the story is intriguing, the characters interesting and the plot works fairly well, though the ending feels a bit rushed. Definitely an enjoyable YA read.

About Brea
Brea Essex was born in Gilroy, California, called the "Garlic Capital of the World." She graduated college with a degree in Medical Assisting. She lives near San Jose, California with her husband, their dog, three cats, and enough books to start a library.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Interview with A.K. Taylor, Author of Neiko's Five Land Adventure

What can you tell us about you that we wouldn’t already know from your site?

Hmm, let’s see, I am still a big kid at heart. I don’t really like to write stories for grown ups (tough audience). I love science and creativity and can squish them together. I am addicted to chocolate, action, and reptiles. I am an amateur reptile wrangler (local wildlife or pet store exotics). Amateur in that I don’t have my own TV or live show. I haven’t done alligators, but who is to not say someday? I want to hold snakes just as much as puppies and kittens. I am gamer still, and I have played on the most ancient of gaming systems like Atari and NES. As a reader I love just about anything except for romance. A total nature fanatic. I was in the woods long before school!

Speed Answer Challenge:

Hunting or fishing:  Both
Archery or shooting:  Both
Favorite Natural Science: Chemistry
Astrological sign:  Virgo
Pencil or pen:  Pencil
Ocean beach or Mountain:  Both
Favorite flower: tie between iris and orchid

Tell us a bit about your book. 

Neiko’s Five Land Adventure is the first book of the Neiko’s Adventure saga. It is like the world builder within the story and it will eventually have two prequels as well. It is aimed toward upper middle grade and young adult audiences—I guess we can add in the adults who are kids at heart to the plot. The hidden Indian land of Hawote is in a deadlock of war between the Seven Tribes and the Crackedskulls, a cursed tribe. In order to win, Raven the Crackedskull king and his son must find a way to disengage Neiko, the Chosen One. However, as the plan unfolds, they open a doorway to another universe and an otherwordly and greater evil enters into the war. Neiko is stolen away into this other universe and trapped there and must make her way back home. Can she?

What inspired this story? And what’s the driving force behind the rest of the series?

My own adventures in the backyard and the woods were my inspiration. What drives the rest of the series are the struggles between good and evil and what trouble Neiko, the MC can get into next. Trouble finds her; she doesn’t have to look for it!

How did you get into writing?

I’ve loved creative writing as far back as I can remember. I started writing novels at 16 as a personal challenge and as an escape from high school social life. I didn’t really have one. It sucked and I was bullied most of the time. So, instead of thinking about how lonely I am and how much life sucks, I did something creative and loved it! Things didn’t end at writing. I also began drawing maps, characters, talismans, and other insignia.
Do you have someone who pushed you or inspired you?

Well, I was pretty much on my own in this department. I pushed myself and inspired myself from my own stuff and some of the things around me that I could pull in and alter.

What can you tell us about your next book?

The next book is Escape from Ancient Egypt and it will be out later this year. After the aftermath of Neiko’s Five Land Adventure the exposed mole Francesco sends Neiko back in time to ancient Egypt during the reign of Ramesses II the Great. She solved the mystery of what happened to four of her friends upon arrival, but they must somehow get back home. Things go haywire once they cross paths with Pharaoh and when he gets involved…

Where can readers purchase your book? 


May we read an excerpt from the book and can you provide it here?

C h a p t e r   2

While the car was leaving, Raven and Bloodhawk watched from the woods.

“What’s going on?” asked Bloodhawk.

“It looks like Neiko is missing another meeting,” replied Raven, his

“That’s good, but why is she missing so many?” he asked.

“I don’t know, but I’m sure Francesco will have the honor in telling

“When is he going to come? I’m getting sick of waiting on that poor excuse for a man—I’m ready to plan and take action now!”

“Patience, my son. You’ll get the chance. Besides, we need to know their plans, and the meeting has just started,” said Raven, smiling at hisimpatient son.

“You’re right. But I’m so tired of watching Neiko go free. I’m so anxious to get her, bring her to the castle, and make her my queen. I would love the opportunity of kidnapping her myself.”

“Of course you do, but you couldn’t possibly sneak into that neighborhood without being seen or causing panic among the neighbors. Then the Seven Tribes would be on you like flies on day old carrion. You wouldn’t want that would you?”

“No, I could just shanghai her from her cousin’s house tonight when it’s dark, when she is sleeping.”

“Now, you know that won’t work either because you can’t fit in that house, you would be seen, panic will spread, and you may be caught and made into a circus attraction. Besides, you don’t know how long she will stay up. She stayed up just about all night once, remember? Bloodhawk, use your head like I taught you. You must not let your heart overpower your head. Just think, in a matter of months she will be in college and then getting her will be a snap. No one will know what happened, and it will be too late. College will separate her from everyone, and you can find the opportunity, and she will be yours.”

“Well maybe, but then she may be even more of a nuisance if she has too much time on her hands when college starts. So if I grab her now, then that’ll be all she wrote. Then she would be out of the way and be mine at the same time.”

“Very good, that’s the way. Both have their drawbacks and advantages, and you nailed them both, I’m proud. You know, you’re right. We do need to get her out of the way so we can conquer the Seven Tribes, but she needs to be safe; not in our custody till after we win. But at the same time
be where she will be easy to retrieve, and be out of the way. But I have no idea how to do all of those at the same time.”

“Father, I don’t believe we can do all of them at the same time; we may have to give a little, but we can think of something that can put her out of commission. Her safety will be assured, but if we do decide to take her, then she won’t be too badly missed.”

Raven cocked his head in a questioning manner, looked at him blankly, and asked, “What are you getting at?”

“Well, like, um, if we made her look like a traitor, then her friends won’t miss her if she disappears suddenly. And they will think she ran away because she couldn’t stand the heat. Only we will know she is innocent, and we don’t have to worry about any suspicions or rescues; she will be out of the way, safe, and our helpless prisoner. When we win, they will never see her again and never know what happened or what hit them.”

Raven rubbed his hands together and smiled devilishly. “Oh, I get it. Try to ruin her reputation so that no one will believe her if something happens or if she finds out one of our secrets, and at the right time, get her. Good thinking, but there are a few problems with this.”

“Like what?” he asked frustrated.

“First, there will be few to believe that she would be capable of treachery; for those who are convinced, these believers will meddle, find the truth, and clear her name. Second, if we do take her, then her parents will be missing her. Also, people will discover that we are responsible and make a war to rescue her. You have the right idea of making tension between Neiko and her friends, but we need to take it a step further. We need to think of something to make tension with everybody. This includes her parents as well.”

“How will we make her guilty of treason in front of her parents? Eighteen-year-olds don’t sell important documents to enemy countries of the U.S.”

Raven laughed. “No, no. Not treason. We need to make a different approach.”

“Like what?! Treason is the most terrible crime I could think of. Should we try murder?”

“No. There is no need for a crime. All we need is something small and simple, but at the same time extremely damaging to reputation, mood, and friendships.”

“What are you suggesting?”

“I’m not sure yet, but it will come to me, and when it does, we will start to plan.”

“Goodie, I can’t wait,” laughed Bloodhawk cruelly.

Then suddenly Francesco came in running and complaining. “Crazy bunch of heathens! I can’t believe they didn’t plan anything. Who needs that wretch anyway?” he said moodily. “I’m terribly sorry your majesties, but the meeting ran late thanks to Monganata and his stupid wife.”

Ignoring the rest, Bloodhawk and Raven thought of the same idea and pointed at each other and said in unison, “Crazy, that’s it!”

Francesco didn’t have a clue and asked, “What is it?”

Raven chuckled and looked at him and said, “Francesco, you’re a genius!”

“I still don’t understand. What’s so great about a crazy bunch of heathens?” he asked frustrated.

Francesco was a slender man, not very tall, with black hair and blue eyes. He was the Grand High Mohican, and he was wearing the traditional headdress of falcon feathers and a robe of rabbit fur. He always had a weakling appearance and an annoying high-pitched voice. His weakness was one hundred times more obvious when he was lined up with the massive monarchs.

Raven stood nine feet from head to toe, and had an enormous build. His armor was titanium scale mail made from professional Crackedskull craftsmanship. His breastplate was made from silver—and gold-colored titanium discs that overlapped each other to form a solid surface. The armor on his arms and legs was made of gold-colored titanium. His helmet was the most exquisite. The part in the back was gold titanium fixed with eagle feathers. The part around his eyes had outstretched wings of a bird of prey in a swoop that was elaborately colored in gold, silver, and white titanium. The part covering his nose was the hooked titanium beak that was colored as the beak of an eagle, and the remainder of his face was bare. His hands were bare, except at the end of his fingers, where there were gold titanium finger guards that had retractable gold titanium claws.

Bloodhawk was much larger than his father, standing at eleven feet and having a build four times larger than his father was; he was also the largest in his entire bloodline. His armor was made exactly like Raven’s except it was colored black and silver. These two were not like any normal men; they were mostly human, but partly bird. Both had feet of eagles complete with talons that remained unarmored. Their eyes were like an eagle’s in looks; they could see like an eagle in the day and like an owl at night. Both of them possessed a pair of wings. Raven had a wingspan of fifteen and a half feet and colored with beautiful white plumage. Bloodhawk had solid black wing plumage and an eighteen and three quarter foot wingspan.

Raven told the Grand High Mohican, who was actually a Crackedskull, about the plot against Neiko.
Francesco’s mood changed. “So that’s the plan and where does ‘crazy’ come in?” he asked perplexed.

“Aaah, that’s the part we build on. If we can ever make Neiko seem she is suffering from lunacy, then most of our plans will go into effect, and the Seven Tribes will fall,” replied Raven.

“So, then what? What happens to Neiko? Even if no one listens to her, she is still a walking time bomb ready to explode and a constant threat even then!” Francesco said in a worried way.

“Don’t get so excited. Once she is having problems with her family and friends and trying to make everyone believe her, then we will step in and remove her. Then we will wage full war on the Tribes, and it will be finally over,” replied Raven.

Francesco smiled evilly and rubbed his hands together. “So you mean you’ll off her? That sounds nice.”

Bloodhawk stood up and glared at him with hate. Francesco scrunched back in fright, and Bloodhawk fanned his fingers and his claws shot out of his finger guards. The already terrified man covered his head with his arms and curled into a ball. Bloodhawk raised his hand ready to swipe, and Raven threw his hand up. “No! Don’t. We have no need for this. We will not harm Neiko; we will take her away, and by then no one will really miss her. She will no longer be a threat to you once we have her. Then we will take care of the rest.”

Francesco uncurled himself, shaking. “Alright, but h-h-how do we take care of her before the opportune time? I mean, she will give me headaches till then, and she will still have access to the army even then! What if she finds something out, like me being a Crackedskull? I mean, if it is proven. Then I will lose my position, and your plans of conquest and my espionage will be shot.”

Raven scratched his chin. “Well, I can’t do anything about the headaches she will give you, but you can handle the rest yourself except the abduction part.”

“But how? How can I deny her from the army? By the way, who will be the kidnappers, and how will you keep it under wraps?” he asked confused.

“Francesco, Francesco. Have you forgotten your power? You have the power to disband her against anyone’s say-so, even Monganata’s. But, you must have full evidence of her phony lunacy so that no one has a just argument. The rest is to be taken care of by you. That’s your job, and keeping us informed of the progress of our plan, and the next strategic moves are your job. As for the kidnapping, I don’t know who will do that job. As for further planning, we will keep you informed of any changes.”

Before Francesco could say anything, Bloodhawk stood up. “I’ll do it! I’ll be the one who will kidnap her! This is a one-shot deal and no room for mistakes. She is no match for me, and I won’t fail. I won’t leave until she is my prisoner! Besides, I’ve been waiting for the chance to get my hands on her!”

Raven rubbed his chin and thought. “Alright, my son. That is a splendid idea, and a very good point. You get your chance. We will have to plan later on when and how you will move in with no problems from anyone, especially that thorn in your side Monchiska—that pain in the butt.” Monchiska was the son of Sigma and Puma from the Scraah tribe and one of Neiko’s best friends.

Bloodhawk bared his teeth menacingly. “If anyone gets in my way from claiming my bride to be, then I will bathe them in their own blood!”

Francesco shuddered and felt a little sorry for anyone who crossed the path of this eleven-foot, angry Crackedskull prince; he hated it when his temper flared up, and when he made death threats. He finally broke the silence saying, “Well, um, uh, sorry to bother you two, but, um, I was thinking, um—,”

“Come on, spit it out, Francesco! Stop doddering!” Raven snapped with a tone that was so sharp and whip-like that he jumped.

“Well, what are we exactly going to use to make Neiko look like a lunatic? I mean, we need something that everyone knows about, especially her parents—and how are we going to find it?” he managed to ask fighting the knot in his throat.

Raven stopped and thought and thought. “I can’t think of anything. What do you have in mind?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t the slightest idea, but there has to be something—,”

“Well, find it. That will be your second job.”

“What if she gets in my hair and—,”

“Do what you have to do to throw her off and get to work—NOW! If you do find something, then contact me as soon as possible. Then we will plan what to do next; in the meantime, be patient. You have a lot of work to do, and try to keep Neiko under control. She will give you many pains, so be prepared.”

Francesco bowed to them and turned to leave, and Bloodhawk called after him in a harsh warning, “Neiko better not be harmed or have even a scratch, or I’ll make you my scratching post!”

He shuddered as he left the woods near the road, hearing the blood curdling warning. Many thoughts went through his mind of all the work that must be done, and all of Bloodhawk’s curses and threats that he had hanging over his head. He knew he must keep his cool and work fast too. He had to keep the world from falling around him, since there was a small strand of string keeping the wrath of the Crackedskull monarchs and the chieftains from the Seven Tribes from consuming him. Neiko was
one of these chieftains, and she was slicing at this strand. Oh, if only I could clap my hands and Neiko be gone and married to Bloodhawk, then this nightmare would be over, or just easier to cope with, he thought. He walked into his home and breathed a long sigh of relief, home sweet home,
he thought, then shuddered because Bloodhawk’s threat began to ring in his ears. “I’m so tired,” he muttered. Without changing out of the robe, he flopped on the bed and fell asleep instantly.

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About A.K. Taylor

A.K. Taylor grew up in the backwoods of Georgia where she learned about nature. She enjoys hunting and fishing, beekeeping, gardening, archery, shooting, hiking, and has various collections. She also has interest in music, Native American history and heritage, Egyptian history, and the natural sciences. A.K. Taylor has been writing and drawing since the age of 17. A.K. Taylor has graduated from the University of Georgia with a biology degree, and she shares an interest in herpetology with her husband.