Archive for the ‘Urban Fantasy’ Category
I’m so excited! Today is a release day for me. The third book in the Draven’s Crossing series is out. *Grins* I hope you like it. I have another book or two planned for this series.
Excerpt: Meeting With Draven
Out Now at Purple Sword Publications
Draven’s Crossing: Hidden Diversions
With so many distractions, can they catch a killer before someone else dies?
Their passion may be the death of them…
Werewolf Chief of Police, Torger, is running into walls while tracking the Draven’s Crossing serial killer. No matter what he tries to do, he can’t find the clues needed to stop the terror that stalks the streets of his city. Things aren’t helped by his attraction to dragon shifter, Draven City News Reporter, Isadora Jones. With political pressure and bodies mounting, can he get through all these distractions to the truth before it’s too late?
Reporter, Isadora Jones wants to help with the investigation into the serial killer but Torger refuses to let her. She decides to do it on her own, but her world goes upside down when the killer sets his sights on her. Under Torger’s protection, they start to put the pieces together but will it be too late for them?
Things go from bad to worse when another killer appears. Draven’s Crossing just got a whole lot more dangerous.
Purple Sword Publications:
Torger tossed and turned in his bed. He could smell her on his covers. Her scent drifted around the room like an enticing trail he wanted to follow. His skin burned as his muscles contracted. Blood flowed straight to his cock, thickening the shaft. His balls hardened and throbbed with the need for release. With a groan, he rolled onto his stomach. His mind was split into two parts: one half didn’t think it was right to want sex much less have it with so many bodies piling up, and the other didn’t give a shit and needed to feel something good in a world full of crap. He didn’t want to think about anything. He had the All Packs meeting that was coming up after the full moon. His mind was abuzz with thoughts and lists. There were things he had to do and things he had to discuss. Torger hadn’t met with his Beta yet, nor had he met the new leader of the Branson pack after the old one had been ousted. Then he had to make sure that Draven would get the old ones to meet with him about the killer. There was Evanson to deal with, and he didn’t want to think about the shit storm that could come out of accusing him of anything, especially not with the man’s wife dead. Whether he had anything to do with it or not, the public wouldn’t be happy. Muffy Evanson was a beloved figure in the community. If the Representative had anything to do with her death, there would be chaos. He needed to be sure, to dig deeper. Torger knew he’d have to ask Isy to dive into the archives and see what she came up with.
The sweetest perfume drifted under his door. He snorted and sat up. She was near. His eyes had already adjusted to the darkness. He saw a shadow move in front of his door but it didn’t go to the guest room across the hall. He waited; the seconds ticked by. Each moment like a drip of water on his face, it seemed to last forever and there was no end in sight. He swallowed. His lips became dry as his heartbeat sped up. The jangle of a hand on the door handle rang in his ears. The delicate shells prickled at the musical sound. He waited. His heart stuttered and then crashed against his ribcage in a heavy drum beat. His body heat spiked as his wolf waited. Need coiled in the pit of his stomach. He licked his lips again, hoping, praying for what, he didn’t know. All he saw was that if she didn’t do something soon, he would. And then there would be no turning back. Everything would change for them, and he wasn’t sure how everyone would react or how everything would land.
As the seconds ticked by, her shadow remained at the door. The hand had stopped jiggling. Opening up his senses, he allowed her emotions to wash over him. He tasted the tang of hesitation with the sweetness of eagerness. All of it was tinged with the bright spice of lust. Underneath it all, there was Isy’s own unique natural scent. Not wanting to let the torture for both of them continue, he called out, “Isy, you can come in.”
There was a moment and then the door knob turned. Her perfume and emotions rushed into the room, driving away the stale trail she’d made before. It was as if someone had turned on the sun in his room. Heat poured over him in waves as she advanced into the space and shut the door behind her. Both of them were covered in darkness and yet he knew she stood between the door and his bed. So close and yet so far away as the cliché went. His fingers ached to hold her, to feel the silken warmth of her skin and bury his face in her neck and inhale deeply. Torger’s lips tingled with the need to kiss her, to feel her lips against his and slide his tongue into her mouth and taste her. He wondered what he’d find there. He didn’t want to think about it anymore.
“Isy? What’s wrong?” Torger knew what was wrong but didn’t want to come out and say it. His wolf on the other hand wanted him to get up off the bed, strip off her clothes, bury his face between her thighs and eat her out until she came. His cock jerked at that urge. Heat flared along his skin, flushing through is cheeks, down his throat, and crashing into his chest. Prickles danced along his flesh as his nerve endings came alive. His sense sharpened as his wolf came into play, pushing at its restraints, demanding that they finally get what they’d longed for after so much denial. And he couldn’t move. Frozen by his guilt as his responsibility pushed forward to the forefront of his mind. Pack. Duty. Draven’s Crossing. Those words screamed in his head, and he felt a tinge of shame.
No shame! His wolf cried out and growled at its master’s retreating libido. His skin cooled as his heart went back to its normal rhythm.
“Torger. Shut up. Stop thinking.” Isy’s voice came out as a low, husky command. Just like that, the fire inside burst to life. It went from simmer to all out firestorm as Isy advanced toward his bed. How she knew about the war going on in his head he didn’t know. Do dragons smell things the way other shifters do? The question pushed back some of his doubts.
The bed dipped under her weight, which served to shove back more of the pressure on his mind.
“Can you…” The question caught around a lump in his throat. It had formed when he wasn’t looking. A nervous sweat began on his forehead. He felt large and unsure of himself, like a teenager during his first experience. “Your stress and frustration reeks. It’s time to put an end to that. Your doubts and concerns won’t save the people of Draven’s Crossing and it sure as hell won’t help you catch the killer. Now didn’t I tell you to shut up?” Her hands closed around his ankles. He felt them slide up his legs. The cloth abraded his skin. Even though it was smooth cotton, it felt a thousand times rougher than before. He swallowed again, not used to this side of Isy. Rather than ask, he did as she said and stayed quiet. He didn’t move or even dare to breathe without her say so. His thoughts drifted away with her touch. She ran her hands over his thighs. The scrape of her nails over the cotton intensified his sense of touch. The blunted pain only enhanced his need. Desire crawled through his body as blood thickened in his veins. Her unique aroma became his air. Each gulp sent his head spinning and his mind drifting. He was lightheaded with her nearness.
“You’re going to let me take care of you. I’ll be handling your pleasure tonight. You do what I say and want without a single word, understand?” She placed a butterfly kiss on his stomach, so light it could have been the brush of the wind for all he knew. Her humid breath told him otherwise.
Torger nodded his acquiescence. He let out a yelp when he felt her teeth sink into one ridge of his abdominals. “No. Let me hear you say it. Tell me, yes, Isy, I understand.” She lapped at the pained flesh with quick licks of her tongue. Each lap pulled a soft groan from his throat as the pain turned to pleasure.
“Yes, Isy, I understand. Please.” He reached for her, wanting to bury his hands in her hair and pull her close but did nothing until told to. His alpha male self went to war over giving power to Isy. It had nothing to do with her being a woman or even a dragon. Everything in him was designed to take care of people, solve problems, and yet he was rescinding control to her. He was allowing her to take care of his problem, solve it for him and take care of him. He wasn’t sure how to respond so he did nothing. Curiosity peeked out from the wolf. It wondered how this would go, not in the least bothered by the shift in power.
Heroes are always a complex subject, especially in fiction and particularly in romantic fiction. On the surface of it, they seem simple. The hero is the good guy with the perfect moral compass, who always does what’s right and gets the girl. Right?
Yeah, I suppose. But, being honest? That’s the sort of hero who bores me to tears. I don’t like reading them and I sure as eggs is eggs don’t like writing them. A writer has to like his or her hero, and even fall in love with them a little themselves, otherwise how can we do their story any justice or even write a story that is credible?
My heroes are usually deeply conflicted, not perfect, and even sometimes can be considered down-right bastards. But deep within, there is something there that is redeemable. Something about them which is just waiting for the right circumstance, and the right woman to come along to make them shine, or show them the way to being the man they want to be, and of course, the hero I want to write about.
Let me share with you my thoughts on one of my favourite heroes. I make no secret of the fact I am a Jensen Ackles fan. I’ve been hooked since watching him play on Dark Angel with Jessica Alba. But my favourite role of his has to be Dean Winchester.
Like my heroes, on the surface Dean isn’t hero material. He’s rough, violent, has questionable morals when it comes to women (okay, the lad’s got the morals of an alley cat at times) and has a more meaningful link with his car than most people. He’s a liar, a conman and for a good portion of the series’es (how the hell do you make series plural anyway?) he’s wanted for murder.
If we dig a little deeper though, there is something compelling and actually heart-rending about the character. He lost his mother at a very young age, but not young enough that he doesn’t remember her like his brother, and grew up dealing with his Dad’s one-man war against everything that goes bump in the night.
He didn’t have a normal childhood, instead moved from pillar to post as John Winchester hunted, and being responsible for his little brother for large periods of time. Both boys were brought up with the knowledge that the monster under the bed isn’t a story, but is real, and how to kill it in a variety of bloody and brutal ways.
As the story progresses, we see different facets of Dean’s character revealed like little gems. His ability to kill can’t be questioned, and he’d rather take that on himself than let his brother do it and suffer agony over it. He spent time in hell and started the apocalypse, but he fights harder than anyone to put that right.
The sweetest episodes for me are the ones were we see what Dean actually wants. Far from the gung-ho, action-driven lifestyle he has, and which most men would kill for in their dreams, he wants a home and family. He wants to be normal.
However, when the shit hits the fan, and the world is about to end…even though he can’t do anything and the very attempt will probably kill him…he doesn’t back down. He faces down the devil himself to try and save his brother.
Violent, egotistical, arrogant…determined to do right, unbelievably noble and sweet as all hell. That’s why Dean Winchester is one of my favourite heroes.
Mina Carter Bio:
Mina Carter was born and raised in Middle Earth (otherwise known as the Midlands, England). After a slew of careers ranging from logistics to land-surveying she can now be found in the wilds of Leicestershire with her husband and young daughter…the true boss of the family.
Suffering the curse of eternal curiosity Mina never tires of learning new skills which has led to Aromatherapy, Corsetry, Chain-maille making, Welding, Canoeing, Shooting, and pole-dancing to name but a few. A veteran Star Trek RPGer, she’s run both games and groups of games but now finds her home in Bravo Fleet, one of the internet’s oldest Star Trek simm groups.
She juggles being a mum, working full time and writing, tossing another ball in the air with her cover artwork. For Mina, writing time is the wee hours of the morning before anyone wakes up and starts making demands, or any spare minute that can be begged, bought or conned.
Her first stories were penned at age 11, when she used a stationery set meant for Christmas thank you letters to write stories instead. More recently, she wrote for her own amusement and to save on outrageous monthly book bills. Now she’s totally addicted and needs her daily writing fix or heads roll!
Hero, Villain – or the Guy You Simply Want to Throttle?
There are good guys, and there are bad guys. And then there are the guys who are spend so much time doing the right thing by other people, that they’ve got nothing to spare for the rest of their lives. Little details, like sleep, or vacations, or family. Heaven forbid he should spend time relaxing – gasp! – with the heroine.
He’s still a hero: strong, resourceful, protective, willing to give his life for those in his care. Exactly who you want in your life, right?
Wrong. That’s who you want to throttle, if he spends all his energy elsewhere. Where’s the time for a little relationship forming, let alone romance?
Jake, the hero of THE SHADOW GUARD, is just such a workaholic. He’s a homicide cop, the head of his city’s squad. If somebody gets murdered, Jake’s the lucky fellow who gets called out in the middle of the night. The victims’ families call him up at any hour to ask how the investigation’s going. If the judge grants him a short break from testifying in a courtroom, he’ll rush to chase a lead on another case. He hasn’t taken a week’s vacation in years. His only hobby is online gaming, a pastime that permits enjoyment at very strange hours.
Online gaming is also where he first met Astrid, THE SHADOW GUARD’s heroine. Unfortunately for his usual love-‘em-and-leave-‘em style, she’s the widow of a man who adored her. If he wants any kind of long-term relationship with her – even as a fellow guildie to game with – he’ll have to pay attention to her.
Enough that she won’t throttle him.
Excerpt from THE SHADOW GUARD by Diane Whiteside, ©2011
“Can you make it to the station by eleven A.M. tomorrow morning, Astrid?” Jake asked.
“What?” Astrid rolled onto one elbow and stared at him. The bedclothes were still jumbled around their ankles, thanks to the last round of sex. Her sweat-streaked, naked body gleamed like an offering to Argos’s gods under the nightlight’s distant glow. Glowing like a pearl, her skin was touched with rose and amethyst from his nibbles. She didn’t look entirely real except for the growing fire in her emerald eyes.
Had they ever flashed at him before? Truly flashed, like fireworks or an old-fashioned gun, which needed fire to set off the gunpowder?
No, that had to be impossible, just like the golden lights he’d seen spinning around him when they had sex.
“Why are you asking me right now about eleven A.M. tomorrow?” Astrid said carefully, clipping her words as if she were handloading a shotgun.
Jake refused to wince. “That will will give me a few hours to clear my desk, then go through my files, and figure out the best place to utilize your services.”
“Utilize my services?” Her breasts heaved, bringing her nipples up toward his mouth.
He kept his gaze steady on her face. If he looked down, he might remember just how responsive they’d been an hour ago and how she’d pulled his head closer to encourage his attentions.
“Jake, it isn’t even one A.M.,” she pointed out. She jerked her thumb at his high-tech alarm clock, which blazed the time brightly enough to compete with the sun and monitored every governmental radio channel, to boot.
“Murder investigations are damn important,” he shot back. Umbrage pushed heat toward his skin and into his voice but he beat it back. He needed to make Astrid, more than anybody else, understand. “Murders happen every hour of the day and night. They need to be solved fast before the killer escapes.”
“Jake.” Astrid laughed as if she couldn’t find words, the sound sharp as water erupting from a hot skillet. “Jake, when was the last time you went for twelve hours without thinking about your job?”
“What does that have to do with this?” He gaped at her, genuinely astonished.
“Come on, Jake, you can tell me.” Her voice softened to an irresistible lure.
“Not since I became a homicide cop. So what?” He’d never admitted this much to the departmental shrink.
“It’s the middle of the night, you have a naked woman in your bed who’s very willing to have sex with you–and you want to talk about your job?” She ran her fingers lightly up his thigh and rested her hand on the old bullet wound in his hip. “Does this strike you as maybe a little odd?”
“Not really.” He shrugged but kept watching her, torn between irritation and the urge to claim her. Better not mention how often the other sergeants teased him about always being online to the station.
Comment to win a copy of one book (the winner’s choice) from Diane’s backlist.
By day, Diane Whiteside builds and designs computer systems for the federal government. By night, she escapes into a world of alpha males and the unique women who turn their lives upside down, whether the setting is historical, contemporary, or time traveling somewhere in between. Diane is thrilled and grateful readers enjoy these escapades as much as she does. She invites fans to visit her website at www.dianewhiteside.com, where they can also contact her.
I Do Stuff!
Hi, all! And thank you to Selena for the opportunity to take part in this fun blog marathon.
I decided to write about sidekicks, mostly because they’re some of my favorite secondaries to develop. Yes, villains are meaty and dangerous, and without a protagonist, there’s no hope for the world. But sidekicks… Ah, sidekicks bring great balance to a story because they can be the heart, humor, and a breath of welcome relief between all the moments of conflict and intensity.
Consider what the movie Aliens would have been without Hudson, the wisecracking, rude, panicky marine who falls under the command of Ripley. On one hand, we have those aliens—perfect killers—screeching around killing everyone. On the other, we’ve got a perfect heroine—a mainly straight-to-business placeholder for the audience as she uses brain and brawn to battle the enemy. Hudson straddles the middle of this movie, making the viewers laugh when we need to the most, and actually even acting just like most of us would if we were to find ourselves in the same horrific situation: slightly hysterical and flailing in utter disbelief. (“Why don’t you put HER in charge?”) Even though Ripley saves the world, Hudson is the one who saves the audience’s sanity and soothes their nerves with his outbursts and comic asides.
Now, I write an urban fantasy series called Vampire Babylon, and I have my own sidekicks who serve just as much of a purpose as Hudson did. During the course of six books, one novella, and most recently, a short story (see below for details), my sidekicks have not only helped my heroine, Dawn Madison, save the world—they’ve helped to save her sanity in a variety of ways.
First, there’s Breisi Montoya. We meet her in Night Rising (book one) as a lab nerd—a kick-ass one at that. She’s the logistical brains behind the vampire hunting team that sets out to conquer a Hollywood underground lair. She’s a woman of few words, but when she says them, they have some impact on Dawn, who’s been in sore need of a female mentor ever since her mother, a silver-screen legend, suffered a brutal and very public death years ago. Breisi is a soulful sidekick—an Obi-Wan Kenobi of sorts. Instead of humor, she cuts the tension by placing Dawn firmly back in reality just as she’s about to go off the edge.
Then there’s Kiko Daniels, the team’s psychic and resident cut-up. As a “little person” thespian, he tends to “ACT!” quite a bit during the underground hunts. However, Kiko is no mere comic relief. The guy can use a revolver and any number of vampire-hunting weapons, and he can interview a suspect like no one’s business. And as for his “ACTING!”? He’s pretty good at using that skill, too, when it’s time to thrown a suspect mentally off balance. In many ways, Kiko is the younger brother Dawn never had, and the two of them have a deep, easy, goofy relationship that Dawn has never found outside of this vamp hunting circle.
All in all, while finding tragedy in life, Dawn actually finds a family in this group, and that’s an important point about sidekicks, I think. We love them for what they contribute to our heroes (or villains)–we love them because they add something our bigger stars are missing.
But, most of all, we love them because, in all the craziness, they make us, the readers, feel better, as well.
March release: A Vampire Babylon short story in the horror anthology Those Who Fight Monsters. Chris’s entry is entitled “Soul Stains” and it takes place after the events of Deep in the Woods, Vampire Babylon, Book Six.
Dawn Madison, ex vampire hunter, has been lured out of retirement by the sighting of an old, presumed-dead Hollywood starlet in a decrepit Vegas showroom. But is this entity merely a ghost? Or is it one of the escaped, mortalized Hollywood Underground vampires Dawn vowed to wipe off the face of the earth, even at the threat of returning her own soul to darkness?
Author’s bio: Chris Marie Green is the author of the Vampire Babylon series, which includes Night Rising and A Drop of Red. In 2011, Ace will publish her new post-apocalyptic urban fantasy western noir Bloodlands series under the name Christine Cody. You can check in with her on Twitter (http://twitter.com/ChrisMarieGreen ), Facebook(http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Marie-Green/1051327765 ), MySpace (myspace.com/vampirebabylon), or her blog (http://crystal-green.blogspot.com/ ).
Contest: Comment to be entered to win a signed copy of Book 6, Deep in the Woods in the Vampire Babylon series. Good Luck!
Ah, Villains. My favorite. They add tension, conflict, danger, and suspense to any story. And in the case of The Zero Dog War, they bring the humor by the busload.
Yes, I just finished writing a comedy Urban Fantasy. It stars a heroine who is a mercenary captain trying to save her team from bankruptcy and save her heart from a potential rival—Green Beret Jake Sanders. But the craziness really ramps up when the villain strolls onto the scene. Meet Jeremiah Hansen, capitalist necromancer whose business plan involves using the zombies he controls to work in a factory that produces powdered gelatin. The Zero Dog mercenaries are ordered to stop him, and wild zombie-fighting mayhem ensues.
And if that scenario wasn’t wacky enough, Evil Overlord Jeremiah has a few odd personality quirks that sometimes hinder, sometimes advance his plot for world domination.
1) Jeremiah is a necromancer overlord and entrepreneur who hates golf. Hates it. He’s horrible at it. And despite the golf course being the “green boardroom,” he still can’t get a handle on the game. When he rules the world, golf will be banned.
2) He transports his zombie hordes around in a yellow school bus. This is by necessity, and not a stylistic choice, as school buses generally score low on the Villain Cool Scale.
3) He robs banks. With zombies. Enough said.
4) He has a crush on the heroine. And I think we can all guess this can only end badly.
5) Keeping zombies in line is a thankless, 24 hour a day task. Yes, when your employees are largely hungry mindless undead, it can be a struggle dealing with HR issues, productivity challenges, and manufacturing safety. If a few zombies end up in the powered gelatin mix, he’ll never be able to get the factory ISO 9000 certified—not to mention it throws off the color and taste of the lime flavor product.
6) All this and more! Seriously, there’s a ton more jokes/humor/comedy in this book. Everything from nudist-inclined werewolves to mages who can summon alien ferrets and demonic kittens.
Also includes: Action, romance, more action, forklift accidents, dark elves, and fire.
Here’s the blurb:
The first bullet is always free. After that, you gotta pay.
Zero Dog Missions, Book 1
After accidentally blowing up both a client facility and a cushy city contract in the same day, pyromancer and mercenary captain Andrea Walker is scrambling to save her Zero Dogs. A team including (but not limited to) a sexually repressed succubus, a werewolf with a thing for health food, a sarcastic tank driver/aspiring romance novelist, a three-hundred-pound calico cat, and a massive demon who really loves to blow stuff up.
With the bankruptcy vultures circling, Homeland Security throws her a high-paying, short-term contract even the Zero Dogs can’t screw up: destroy a capitalist necromancer bent on dominating the gelatin industry with an all-zombie workforce. The catch? She has to take on Special Forces Captain Jake Sanders, a man who threatens both the existence of the team and Andrea’s deliberate avoidance of romantic entanglements.
As Andrea strains to hold her dysfunctional team together long enough to derail the corporate zombie apocalypse, the prospect of getting her heart run over by a tank tread is the least of her worries. The government never does anything without an ulterior motive. Jake could be the key to success…or just another bad day at the office for the Zeroes.
Contains explicit language, intense action and violence, rampaging zombie hordes, a heroine with an attitude and flamethrower, Special Forces commandos, ninjas, apocalyptic necromancer capitalist machinations, absurd parody and mayhem, self-deluded humor, irreverence, geek humor, mutant cats, low-brow comedy, and banana-kiwi-flavored gelatin.
Get it here! Samhain Publishing
And Get it Here! ARe
And Don’t Forget Here! Kindle
Or Here! Nook
How about Here! Borders
Urban Fantasy Week
What a great idea this is!? With vamps, weres, and zombies flying around the Internet like viral videos, I wish we could all dress up like our favorite monsters and drink bubbling hot chocolate out of honest-to-goodness cauldrons while we do this deal.? Hang on, lemme get my fangs?
And no, that?s not the reason some form of the word ?bite? appears in every title of the books in the Jaz Parks series.? Nothing fake about the canines on my vampires.? Especially my hero, a nearly three hundred-year-old Rom (that?s the don?t-punch-me word for gypsy) named Vayl, who?s decided the only way he can tolerate his own company in the 21st century is to blend.? Rub shoulders with humans, even work with them day-to-day as if he doesn?t constantly crave their rich, red blood.? How?s he pull it off?
That?s part of what you learn as you move through the series with him and his partner, Jaz.? Yeah, they?ve got a bigger agenda.? As assassins for the CIA?? Huge.
In my latest book,?Bite Marks, the goal is as monumental as ever.? Eliminate the person who wants to destroy NASA?s Australian based eye-to-the-sky?without knowing his or her identity.? Or why the gnomes who?ve orchestrated the whole event don?t recognize the shaman yanking their puppet strings.
I?ll tell you this about Vayl.? If somebody had been jerking him around, he?d have frozen those strings like icicles and turned the marionette master into an ice sculpture.? Because he?s cool like that.? Until he lays his smoldering green eyes on you and then it?s all hot breath and whispered promises from dusk until dawn.? Wanna meet him?? Here?s your chance!
Bite Marks?officially releasing October 29, 2009
Author of the Jaz Parks Series
Come Visit Me On the Web!
Paranormal Gets Real
Shirin Dubbin 10/17/09
I’m sitting on a flight pondering what makes the paranormal feel real. Which is tough ’cause my whole body itches like the dickens. Wait! Before you run screaming with visions of internet communicable disease allow me to explain. Twenty-four hours ago I stood on a gorgeous Tybee Island beach and bore witness as my good friend married her big ole teddy bear of a honey.
Such a beautiful wedding. Such vicious bugs.
We were swarmed by biting gnats who left my skin scored with dozens of itchy red bumps, in places as varied as my right armpit (strapless dresses) and lower left buttock (and here I thought ‘kiss my ass’ was just a figure of speech.) Things got so bad the writer in me began to envision the bugs were zombies sent to infect the bridal party?[Ow. Swat. Smack. Smile for the camera] by a vengeful undead queen?named?ooh I know, Faye Tality, who was once in love with the Groom. Heh. Can’t you see it?
- [cue melodramatic music] Four bridesmaids sway down the beach in tea length gowns of silk taffeta; though every step is punctuated with stinging they demurely use bouquets and shoulder shrugs to displace the swarm’s vicious attack. White sand stretches before them and the sky is full of cotton candy clouds. The maid-of-honor nods at the guests. A smile plays across her perfectly glossed mouth. The moment would be perfect if she didn’t have gnats up her skirt nibbling on her ‘cookies.’ Oh well, the show must go on.
- The Bride appears, resplendent in a one-shoulder column of handmade lace, the sash at her waist chosen to match her maids. The Groom’s heart stops. Then begins again in a happy rush.
- The make-up artist has painted the Bride’s face in the manner of an Egyptian Queen and she will not break the illusion no matter how many gnats get trapped between the lace and the underskirt of her gown, ?Ow.? Swat. Smile for the camera.
- The Groom extends a hand to his bride. She stops short, a puzzled look on her face. Her lips part. He waits. Entranced.
- ?Uungh,? she says, ?Brainnnzzz.?
- Her eyes glow bright red before she shambles past the Groom, leaps and wraps her entire body around the good Reverend. Pandemonium breaks out as wedding guest go running, pell-mell, down the beach only to be picked off by voracious bridesmaids. The Bride smiles then bites into the Reverend’s head like an apple. The only thing that saves him is the metal plate in his skull–a souvenir from his days at war?
Could you see it? As much as I’d like to take credit and tell you it’s because I’m a great writer. It’s not. It’s because most of that story is true, or because you’ve been there in some capacity. You’ve attended a wedding or have been a bridesmaid. Maybe bugs have attacked you or perhaps birds. Or you’ve been so bored you found yourself hoping a gathering of people would be attacked by zombies (you know, just to spice things up a bit.) Either way you can relate.
It is the marriage of real and fantasy that makes paranormal fiction work. When the author imbues a story with elements the reader can identify with, or has experienced, it makes the fantasy elements all the more real. That’s especially true of Urban Fantasy where metropolitan grit meets fae glamour and I believe it is what makes the sub-genre so popular.
I first realized this after the release of my book, Keeper of the Way. Every time I learn someone has read it I get excited and end up asking what part they liked best. To my surprise most folks chose a scene I’d think least likely to show up on a list of faves. While riding in a limousine my main character, Nia’Mora, is confronted by her parents. She will sooner or later experience The Twinning, her race’s method of choosing a mate, and they want her to face facts. The scene is simple, depicting a woman as she struggles to reconcile her parents’ wishes with her own:
Excerpt from Keeper of the Way
?Nii,? Tul’Leah said in an infamous ‘this is disappointing but I’m sure we can correct it’ Mama tone. ?Why do you persist in wearing those sunglasses both sun and moonrise??
Nia’Mora sighed and slipped the sunglasses off her face. She couldn’t be angry. It was a reasonable question. Her spring-green eyes found her mother’s lavender ones. ?Mima, I need a little more time. I don’t want to be bound yet. I don’t?I don’t know. I’m just not ready for a bond-mate.?
Her father, Ramender, harrumphed, the sound so comical Nii and her mother burst out laughing.
Truth was, she knew exactly why she didn’t want a mate. Only she couldn’t say it out loud. Deep-rooted fear held her back. Fear that once her mate got into her head–knew her more intimately than one could know their own flesh–he would denounce her as the biggest freak ever; refuse to live with her; spin her around and boot her right out the front door. That would destroy her.
She shuddered. A visceral memory of the male in the dry cleaners suddenly rode her body the way she wished she could ride him. Each of her pleasure points pulsed with need. The precautions she’d taken not to meet his gaze hadn’t spared her receiving psychic impressions of his power and prowess. Closing her eyes, she forced him out of her head in sections. He didn’t go easily. Something in the masculine scent, the sense of comfort, and the need he evoked within her lingered at the periphery of her consciousness, as if some part of him had taken root there. This could get tricky. Hopefully she’d never see him again.
So what if her fears were irrational? She had been the weird one her entire life–born with the very human ability of foresight. Elves didn’t deal in premonition. As immortals, they believed in the now and relished the lessons of the past. Her sense of humor added to her Aftermath Cleaner skills made popularity possible. Foresight would have nixed it. Not that it ever made her lonely or an outcast. She had loads of friends who loved her to bits, but even those closest had a hard time figuring her out. She was an odd bird. Like a dodo amongst phoenix. Phoenixes? Either way?
?Sunray.? Her father’s voice drew her gaze. He looked the part of a Bollywood hero, his raw silk sherwani tunic switching from maroon to blue each time the Jaguar passed beneath a streetlight. The Indian-style suit fit him like a dream.
Strange, at almost two centuries, her father was considered a youngster among their people. The years didn’t age the Amaranthine. It refined them. Her mother was over six hundred summers but would give any thirty-year-old mortal woman fits.
?Sunray, the path you take to avert your destiny will lead you to it,? her father continued. ?Soul meets soul when eyes meet eyes. When your bond-mate shows up, those sunshades won’t make a pixie’s shrug of difference.?
Though Nia’Mora is an elf and over 88 years-old many people could identify. One reader, Nicole, said if a kick-ass heroine like Nii dealt with the same day-to-day trails she did maybe she could be a fabulous leading lady too. Very cool.
This revelation stuck with me and I began to notice the everyday life details my favorite authors build into their stories. Allergies, taste in music, candy addictions combined with golem mechanics, boys raised in cemeteries or reformed gangster vampires.
As I finish revisions on my latest book, codenamed Dreams, I’ve kept this in mind. In the excerpt below I worked to give the griffons similar qualities to a family pet, named the bar inside a library after a well-known book (I know but I’m weird), and invoke thunderstorm imagery. It is my hope details like these make my brand of Paranormal Urban Fantasy Romance all more real for you–but you’ll have to let me know.
Stop by and visit me on my web site http://fan-fatale.com/
And if you’d like, and I hope you would, pick up a copy of Keeper of the Way
Red Rose Publishing? (link: http://redrosepublishing.com/bookstore/product_info.php?cPath=23_70&products_id=447)
Excerpt from my upcoming WIP, Dreams:
- The end of that thought brought him to stop at the stones steps leading into the big ass library in question. The Libros Arcanum, every library in existence or had ever existed–all and none simultaneously. The pair of griffons standing guard sprang to life and bounded circles around Keoni. Their heads dipped beneath his hands and lifted forcing him to pet them. The Hawaiian patted their feathered heads and furred flanks heartily. One jumped up and laid its front paws on his shoulders.
- ?Easy,? he said grinning at their antics and impatiently swishing tales. He knew what they wanted and materialized the comic books from memory. Flipping one to each, he chuckled as the pair gulped their treats down in single snaps of their beaks?
- Keoni left the griffons behind and took the steps two at a time. Before he reached the top the studded bronze doors swung open in anticipation of his arrival. He stared into the nothingness. Churning clouds of raw Dreaming flickered before him, internally lit by bursts of lightening. You had to know where you were going when dealing with the Libros Arcanum. Otherwise you’d step off the stone entry, drop into unformed imagination and never stop falling.
- ?For Whom the Tale Tolls,? he told the library and it leapt to his request. The clouds became modular and began to fold and flip into new shapes. Its movements reminded Keoni of a grid that decided to become a cube and then, just as suddenly, the interior of a bar.
- With the basic structure of the library’s pub in place the lines softened into the curving backs of chairs and archways. Iridescent building blocks took on wood tones and grain or thinned into glass. The hum of bar patrons rose as they faded into view and solidified.
- ?What’s up big man? You’re late,? Jay said leaning back into one of the square leather couches and throwing his feet up on the matching ottoman.
- Keoni flopped down into the armchair near his reclining friend, ?I’m never late, always right on time.?
Excerpts of Keeper of the Way and Dreams copyright ? 2009 Shirin Dubbin. All Rights Reserved.
One of my favorite aspects of the Urban Fantasy genre is the rise of the smart mouthed kick-ass heroine who is vulnerable and strong; emotional and tough; and can fight bad guys wearing stylish heels. (This is where I reveal that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my personal hero.)
Another aspect that I often enjoy is the tortured male hero, one who is torn between light and shadow, and who often falls in love with the one destined to kill his kind. (Angel/Spike ? pick your faves here).
Urban Fantasy allows both writers and readers to explore hyper-realistic worlds grounded in a familiar reality, and while super strength may combat super evil, real human emotions are still at the core of every conflict. And of course, there?s the ass-kicking of bad guys. My favorite part.
I?d like to share a few ass-kicking passages from my? Urban Legend Collection released by Changeling Press last year. This is my take on the classic ?chosen to save humanity? super heroines and the tortured heroes who loves them.
From Urban Myth:
She?d die before they turned her.
The vamp grunted as she fisted the dark slimy threads of his hair in her hand and pulled with enough force for his neck to snap. Metal pierced his throat. His blood spilled on her just as another claimed his place. She rolled with him; managed to keep her throat away from his fangs, managed to rip through her tee shirt and wraparound so the black material hung open, the poison pellets sewn into the tatters close enough, if she could just reach down.
The vamp was on her. She couldn?t buck off his leering grin and crushing weight. This was it. She ripped at a pellet with one hand, her other arm weakening by the second from holding off his face from hers. His weight pressed between her legs in a sick parody of sex, his eyes dark and — There. The poison was in her hand as her arm gripping a?sai was pressed between their bodies, useless now. She shoved the pill into her mouth and watched his fangs descend onto her.
Then he was limp as something wet spilled on her belly. Above him, she saw a sword and Rayan. Death was in her mouth. She looked at him, pissed and dangerous, as he pushed the dead vampyre off her. Vamp blood soaking her clothes, she spat out the poison before launching herself at Rayan, plastering her mouth to his, kissing him. She couldn?t stop kissing him.
From Urban Fantasy:
He could not harm her. The scar that had been burned onto his face was testament to his own weakness. Now, as she stared at him with cool, distrusting eyes while her arousal scented the air, Jake wondered if he would have the strength to do what he could not a century ago.
He took in more of her scent, and ignored the growing bulge between his legs. His sword in his hand, Jake faced her, took his stance, and pointed the blade at the delicate hollow of her throat. Her face had smoothed of all emotion. She sunk low into a back stance, and brought her sword across her body so he would have to reach for her.
Clever. Her sword was longer, giving her an advantage. Making him reach for her, she set him up to lose his balance, leaving him open for a cut or throw. The Hanako he knew didn?t bother much with strategy, counting instead on speed, strength and balance.
Now she waited.
He raised an eyebrow, motioned for her to start. She stood death-still. His sword was cold and heavy in his palms as he leapt forward, silent, swift. Steel sang as their blades slid on each other?s edges.
He?d cut her. On the shoulder, just a small shallow nick. He was surprised that she allowed it. The scent of cherry blossoms mixed with blood, teasing his focus with sharp fingernails.
His next move forward was blocked by her sword cutting into his; he parried right before it sliced his ribs. The sting from it was like a lover?s bite. Her eyes shone silver as she attacked again, slipping under his blade, and nearly gave him a matching scar under his eye. Her sword was lightning swift in those small hands.
They were both bleeding now, the scent of her arousal and her blood thickening his cock to an almost painful ache. Keeping steel fists over his raging blood, Jake watched for openings while they danced for death. There was no fear in her eyes, and yet the small pulse in her neck beat wildly almost as if begging for his mouth. There were no sounds save for singing steel and measured breathing.
With control like icy water in his lungs, careful not to cut her skin, Jake slid the flat of his blade over her nipple. She froze for one small moment, looked down as if expecting blood. He watched the leather of her top strain over heaving breasts. Under it, he could see her nipples beading.
iona Jayde is a space pilot, a ninth degree black belt in three styles of martial arts, a computer hacker, a mountain climber, a jazz singer, a weight lifter, a superspy with a talent for languages, and an evil genius.
All in her own head.
In life, she is an author of kickass, action packed romances, possesses a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do and blue belt in Aikido, a web developer, scared to death of heights, loves jazz piano, can bench-press about 20 pounds — with effort, speaks English and Russian fluently, and when not plotting murder and mayhem enjoys steamy romance novels, sexy spy thrillers, murky mysteries and movies where things frequently blow up.
She can be contacted through her website at www.fionajayde.com
We Don?t See Enough of These In Urban Fantasy Nowadays
Ah, Urban Fantasy. Chock full of vampires, werewolves, demons, angels, witches, fae, among other things. Yet, there are a few UF character possibilities we do not see often enough?
Hi, I?m Keith Melton and I?ll be your degenerate Urban Fantasy tour guide of a few disenfranchised non-human entities.
Now we all know hippos actually kill and injure more people every year than sharks, librarians, and poison dart frogs?put together. So why is such a majestically huge and dangerous animal so viciously ignored by the Urban Fantasy community? Imagine the possibilities. A main character on the run from psychotic fae after refusing the Fae King?s romantic overtures. The main character sprints out into the dark, rain-drenched street?right into the path of an oncoming MINI Cooper. He or she shapeshifts into a hippopotamus at the last instant, and the car crumples into a crushed soda can with racing stripes. Also, secondary characters can actually ride atop the hippo shifter, which means they can swim the Delaware River pretty much at will (although, who would want to, really?). This is heavy-duty transport, like an amphibious Humvee, with better gas mileage, but not available in yellow or with power steering.
Red Beret Gnomes
The Special Forces arm of Gnome society wears the Red Beret with pride. While all other gnomes must remain content with pointy red hats, Red Berets bring both style and deadly gnome military prowess to the table. Gnomes are often only included in paranormal and UF as comic relief, leading to large amounts of barely suppressed gnome outrage. However, Red Beret Gnome commandoes once saved an entire Toadstool Forest from decimation by inter- dimensional locusts, and off duty they are widely known to put the ?fun? in fungi.
Note: Leading experts agree that making comments about a gnome?s bright red nose, which is a physical sign the gnome has been throwing back a bit too much strawberry-flavored malt liquor, may lead to a socially awkward moment.
A unicorn with a chainsaw on its head instead of a horn. Enough said.
Alas, neither my vampire/mafia Urban Fantasy?Blood Vice nor?Run, Wolf, my werewolf shifter novella, have any of these refugees from the standard UF bestiary. I do plan to rectify this egregious oversight in the future. However, until such time as I can work in a hippo shifter transporting a squad of Red Beret Gnome Commandoes across a raging river while under attack by Chainsaw Unicorns, readers will have to be content with my standard fare: vampire love and war, explosions, werewolf combat, and swordslinging knights fighting to save humanity from the darkness (or from reality television reruns, whichever is worse). However, I might just have a different surprise up my sleeve with my next book. And no, it?s not flamethrowing Chihuahuas?
Although, that might be awesome too.
Urban fantasy.? I guess I started getting hooked, as so many others did, with Buffy.? Ah, Buffy.? With your shiny hair and your high kicks and your one-liners and your really, really hot boyfriends (I just typed boyfiends then. Go figure).? It was the boyfriends that did it for me.? Those sizzling encounters, where even a conversation felt like foreplay.? And everything was forbidden, because of course our Buffy had a habit of falling for the very creatures she was supposed to be slaying.
Would it have sizzled so much if Buffy’s beaux had been human?? If she’d been an ordinary high school girl?? If Sunnydale hadn’t been on the Hellmouth?? Of course not.? And while I’ll take David Boreanaz and James Marsters in any guise, I had to say the fangs did add a layer of hotness.
Always seems to come back to vampires, doesn’t it?? My first ever published story was about vampires (She Who Dares, now part of the Sundown Inc. collection from Changeling).? I’ve written about werewolves too?and werecats, and fae, and incubi, and sirens, and elves, and demons, and…where was I?? Oh yeah.? Vampires.? The beginning of everything else.
The thing is that vampires are so seductive, so predatory, so sexual.? Think about it: the metaphors of penetration, of arousal, of submission.? Where does a vampire bite you?? It’s no coincidence that it’s on your neck, your wrist, and if you’re really lucky, your groin.? Pulse points are erogenous zones.? Vampires are powerful, both mentally and physically, they’re beautiful and elegant, and if their lives are so long then just think about their stamina…
But they’re not the only ones.? We love our vampire romances, and the hotter the better.? But what about werewolves?? A slightly different fantasy, this one of a bestial lover.? An animal in bed.? Running wild, howling at the moon.? But still not human.? The same can be said of elves, fae and all the other urban fantasy creatures we love so much.? The elegant, powerful and terrifying creatures of the otherworld.? They’re not like ordinary men (or women).? A romance with them would never be normal, mundane or boring.? Vampires don’t come home tired from work, or nag you to do the laundry, or leave toenail clippings in the bath.
But with urban fantasy you’ve got one important detail.? There might be sirens and vampires and weres, oh my, but they’re in the real world, a world of cars and phones and computers.? The world we live in.? Buffy Summers fought demons and shagged vampires, but she also had to do her homework, pass her exams, get a job, pay the rent.? Just like the rest of us.? She lived in the real world…with vampires.
I guess that’s what I love about urban fantasy.? I know it doesn’t exist…but I can allow myself to believe it could.
Latest release: Sundown Investigations collection
You’ve never seen this side of New York City before…
Faeries and vampires have been at war for centuries, but in Manhattan an East Side Story plays out as renegade vampire Maria and Unseelie seer Ruarc clash in a blaze of passion.
Fifteen years ago in Australia, a young shapeshifter named Daisy lost her heart to an Alpha werewolf. Now Adam is back in her life and uncovering all her secrets, but can she ever accept his love again?
Lucky always thought she had a normal life — well, as normal as can be in the fashion industry. But when an incubus and his evil twin start haunting her dreams in the hottest way, she begins to wonder what’s hidden in her own past.
Kat thought her dancing career was over when she was bitten by a wild cat on safari in Africa. But every full moon her shape changes, and a terrifying shifter is on her trail. She takes solace in the arms of the gorgeous Wolfe, but now that the mating fever is on her, will he be enough to satisfy her, or will she need to take more than one shifter to her bed?
Sundown Investigations, where we take personal care of all your needs.
This collection contains the previously released novellas in the Sundown Investigations series:?East Side Story,?Drive Me Daisy,?Get Lucky, and?Here Kitty Kitty.
Cat’s upcoming release is Empire: Dawn Rising, out Nov 19.