Friday, May 22, 2015

Robots are Paranormal, Right?

By Stephanie Beck

I was a reader long before I was a writer, and I find that even now, my reading taste--while usually very predictable--can also be quite eclectic when my curiosity is heightened.


Some themes I've picked up lately, that aren't usually my thing:

Fairy Tales. Yes, I wrote one for the Decadent Beyond Fairy Tales, but now I've been reading them. I pull out my phone (Kindle App) and enjoy as often as I can.

Robots. This one surprised me, but what's a girl to do when she's in the mood for emotionless gears and...okay, I'm not going to try to justify it. I'm just glad there are fun and super sexy options out there.

Gangsters. Not exactly paranormal, but the historical vibe on a very over the top lifestyle is pretty fantastic. Ginger Ring has a gangster theme going that I really dig.

What's your guilty pleasure? Some sub-genre of oddness that refreshes your reading pallet?

All the Best,
Stephanie Beck
BF word search tour banner

PS--HUGE Fairy Tale Blog Hop for Decadent Publishing starts this weekend at Ana Vitasky's blog. Big prizes, including a Kindle reader.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

World Building - Daily Life

I’m continuing my mini-series on world building. Like my books, I didn’t plan a series. It just sort of happened.

Let’s concentrate on daily life. Think about your own. What do you do each day? Your routines. Now think about the world in your story. What routines does your main character go through first thing in the morning?

Not to be indelicate, but where do they go to the toilet? An outhouse, a garderobe, a fancy en suite bathroom?

Next think about clothes. Everyday wear along with special event clothing. The character’s job would impact his/her attire. In my science fiction romance The Chameleon, Jileena wears frilly, floaty dresses that make her seem inconsequential, a real bubble-head—the image her father wants her to project as his spy. Away from his influence, her clothing reflects her serious side, precisely the image she wants the hero to see. As she changes, so do her clothes. In my WIP, The Protector, my heroine owns a tavern in an old-west style colony on the Outer Rim. She wears what’s common out on the frontier, unisex rugged shirt and trousers, sturdy shoes.

What does your character call meals? Breakfast, lunch, dinner? Second breakfast? Tea? What about food? If your story takes place on Earth, the foods would probably have names the reader is familiar with. In her St. Helen’s series (Amaryllis, Orchid, Zinnia), Jayne Castle’s inhabitants’ ancestors originally came from Earth. She combines the names of Earth-based foods to approximate the taste of native foods, like pear-berry pie.

But what if your story takes place in a completely alien environment? Using made-up names alone can confuse readers unless you give them clues. For example, mashed plantens or scrambled spherix eggs. You could have your character slicing enfils and selba then arranging the crisp vegetables on a plate as I did in The Chameleon.

Occupation. Does your character leave home for work or work from home? How does he get to work? Public transportation or private vehicle? Or is he so wealthy he doesn’t need to work? If so, what does he do all day? Play sports, cards, hang out with friends?

I’ve read that writers build their world in basically two ways: top down or bottom up. I tend to do the latter. Since I’m a pantser (as opposed to someone who plots first), I build my world as I need it—usually by asking myself why. As my characters develop and the story progresses, my world starts to evolve. Writers who plot first have all their ducks in a row before beginning to write. That is, they imagine the big picture first then narrow down the focus to the character. Whichever type of writer you are sort of determines how you will build your world.

As always, you know much more than the reader needs to. You can (probably should) have tons of notes on how everything in your world works—especially if your story turns into a series. I have a separate file on all the details of my world. If I didn’t, I’d forget those pesky little details. When I learn how to use Scrivener, I’m sure keeping details handy will be much easier.

Here are a couple of sites with a lot more information on world building. The first one is courtesy of author Greta van der Rol. This is a great, little (6.25 minutes) video.

The next one is courtesy of my critique partner Jolana Malkston who found it when I couldn’t.

Have fun in your world. If you do, I’ll bet your readers will enjoy it, too.

Diane Burton writes science fiction romance. She's currently working on the third book in her Outer Rim series, The Protector.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

10 Paranormal TV Shows I Can't Get Enough Of

Lately, I've been binge-watching The X-Files and loving it all over again. Maybe not the most romantic of the paranormal options I can think of, but I always had a crush on Scully, so it worked for me. It got me thinking about the other paranormal shows I've watched and loved in recent years, and about the sad fact that most of them have ended. Of the first ten that came to mind, only two are still on the air. (Although some, like The X-Files, had respectably long runs.)

Here's my list in roughly chronological order of first air date:
  1. The X-Files
  2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  3. Charmed
  4. Angel
  5. Supernatural
  6. Hex
  7. Ghost Whisperer
  8. Medium
  9. Fringe
  10. Lost Girl
A few others deserve honorable mention: The Secret Circle, a CW show that only lasted a season—it wasn't fantastic, but I thought it had promise—and The Fades. Technically a zombie story, The Fades has a supernatural element, so I'm calling it paranormal. Like Hex, The Fades was a BBC show that ended prematurely, after only six episodes.

The two shows that are still going are Lost Girl, in its fifth season, and the apparently immortal Supernatural, finishing up Season 10 and reportedly coming back in the fall for Season 11. Though Supernatural is the only one on the list with no romantic element, it has epic bromance. Sure, sure; they're brothers. But we've all seen the fanfic. ;)

Two others that are (maybe) both still on the air that I've been enjoying are Haven (SyFy) and Hemlock Grove (Netflix). Hemlock Grove is a weird one, but it's got romance...and bromance. Since I write weird, I can't throw stones. I'd like to blame all this television watching on my weird bent, but I think it goes back a little too far to make that claim

There's one last show I have to mention: Dracula. That cancellation still has me so mad I can't see straight.

And I just realized I forgot two other current shows: Grimm and Sleepy Hollow. So, yay, there are still some paranormal options out there, and probably others that are currently slipping my mind. Which ones are your favorites? Any I missed?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Okay, I scheduled a post for April 5 that didn't post and I keep telling myself to leave that schedule thingy alone because it never works for me...don't know what I do wrong but anyway I posted it for today and the dang thing posted and slid itself into the April 5 date--and I had added to the post a Happy Cinco de Mayo wish!! Sometime in the future, far, far away, someone will look at the post and wonder what lunatic roams the Paranormal Romantics blog--it's me!

Working on some new things, signed a contract for Phantom Lure - Driver, a new series with Changeling Press and I'm working on Vald's story, fourth in the Dirty Rotten Vampire series. You can find a free read titled Not The Garden of Eden at Changeling's Encounters to whet your appetite for the vampire of vampires. And, yes, Adam does make a rather naughtly appearance! Finalized the edits for Repent in Love coming May 20th from Ellora's Cave, and have another book, Grind, slated for July, hmm...need to check that out for sure. But here's a snippet of Grind.

Ten o’clock and traffic in and out of the front entrance slowed. The bartender leaned over and asked, “You good, Raider?”
“You know I only have one.” He’d spent more nights here than any other bar in the city waiting for something that would never come. Waiting for something that would never come. There wasn’t a person in the world special enough to put up with his bullshit.
“Let me know if you want anything.” Saucy bastard winked at him, emphasizing anything.
“You’re out of my league.” Rumor was Eggie wielded the stallion-sized cock between his legs like a pro. Combine that with his Latin good looks and he could pretty much walk out tonight with any man he wanted.
“You can handle me.”
Raider had considered bedding the powerfully built man a few times and there was a day he’d have enjoyed taming his ass. “Question is can you handle me?” Eggie became one of the few he called friend and Raider confided more than he should have to the fun-loving bartender.
“Stop being angry at every...”
“You need to tend to your customers.”
He swiped a cloth across the counter and eyed Raider. “Be a lot easier to find what you’re looking for.”
“I do okay.”
“Do you even see what looks back at you in the mirror?”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Loneliness, man.”
Between Davis telling him to get laid, and now Eggie’s bullshit, Raider was ready to snap like a used rubber band. “I got everything I need.”
“And how warm is that camera at night?”
“Kiss my ass.”
“I’m trying.” The bartender smiled. “Am I white enough for you?”
“Careful, Eggie.”
The man had opened a raw nerve. Coming from nothing, Raider possessed two things: an eye for color and the love of photography. He’d scraped and clawed his way up the ladder in a field overflowing with mediocrity. He had been kicked aside, stepped on, and kissed a lot of white ass on his way to the top. Now the industry kissed his.

Yet there was still a bad taste in his mouth.

Go forth, enjoy the great weather and drink lots of tequila to celebrate! I am.

Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out.-jhalisteele

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Revisiting Old Friends. . .

by Nancy Gideon

There’s nothing like an old friend. No matter how much time has passed since the last time you saw them, the minute you reconnect it’s like it was just yesterday. This April, I’ve enjoyed two reunions – one in Arizona and one on my laptop.

I just got back from a much needed vacay in Tucson (it’s a dry heat!) with critique partner Elizabeth Fortin Hinds (who also writes awesome Egyptian mythology based adventure romance as Elizabeth Alsobrooks) sightseeing to get back in the mood for reissuing my Dana Ransom western series and soaking up the sun – only to return to snow in Michigan! I never knew a week could go by so fast – especially when you spend so much of it in four airports!

I also started proofreading the scans of the first book in my “Midnight” vampire romance series from back in the ‘90s, MIDNIGHT KISS, which will be reissued by BelleBooks’ ImaJinn imprint in July. How I loved that story! That whole series! I remembered how much when I began reading the first page. Just like yesterday. Here’s a taste to sink your teeth into:

Arabella heard the front door open. With a soft cry of relief, she tossed aside the book she’d been pretending to read for the past two hours and scrambled from the bed. Thin white nightgown fluttering about her, she ran out into the hall to the top of the stairs.


The first floor was dark. A strange phosphorescent light spilled in from the open door, and with it, a thick, roiling mist. A wintery chill seeped up through the house until her quick breaths plumed visibly. She hugged herself as a tremor of alarm swept through her along with that prickling cold. She was about to turn and call for Takeo when the mist began to churn and change, yielding up the shape of a man.

“Bella, my love.”

His words tingled within her. Truly afraid, yet compelled by his voice to move forward, Arabella eased down two of the steps.


He was standing at the foot of the stairs, face uplifted. His features were bathed in an odd blue-silver light that was not quite moonlight, not quite natural. It etched his cheekbones with bold, sharp strokes and his mouth with delicate sensual lines. And from out of that eerie, ethereal light, his eyes glowed hot and golden.

“Louis, I was so worried . . .” She clung to the railing for balance. Something about his stare dragged upon her consciousness with an insistent sleepiness. Her limbs were unresponsive, heavy, tired. But beneath that seeping weariness, panic flickered like a resistant flame.

“I told you not to worry, Bella. I told you I would never leave you.”

There was something in the quality of his voice—it was bigger, echoing, coming from all around and within her.

He started up the stairs, the mist rising with him, cloaking his feet so it seemed that he moved them not at all, but merely rose without effort. Confused by this trick of light, Arabella retreated, backing up the steps to the landing. Her heart pounded with an unexplained fright. Her eyes told her it was her husband coming up to her, but her senses decried it, warning with every frantic pulse that she was in dreadful danger.

He stood at the landing before her, his stillness mesmerizing. He was so—beautiful. She stared and lost herself in the looking. His magnetism surrounded and seduced her. His eyes were so deep they went on forever. Then he took a step and she took one away, her breath coming in soft little gasps.

“Don’t be afraid,” came that smooth, glassy voice, and terror surged within her only to be blanketed by his warm, stifling will. She couldn’t move, could barely breathe as he closed the distance between them. His hand reached out to her and she shrank back but couldn’t avoid it.

His fingers slid caressingly along her cheek and the solidity of that touch broke Arabella’s fearful trance. She exhaled in a rush.

“Oh, Louis, it is you!”

His neck was quickly circled by her arms and his curled lightly about her, drawing her up against him. She hugged him while desperate shivers drove out the last of her tension. She stroked her hand through his hair and kissed his neck, his cheek, and finally his mouth with a reassuring urgency. Then she simply clung.

“I did not mean to frighten you,” he whispered without inflection.

She gave a nervous little laugh. “It was silly—I don’t know what came over me. You seemed so strange, and I—it doesn’t matter now. You’re here, and that’s all that matters. Are you all right?”

“I am full of the night’s chill. I need your warmth to sustain me.”
I can’t wait to get to the next two books which have also been long out of print. ImaJinn is rereleasing the entire nine book series, one per month, all with new covers, beginning with MIDNIGHT KISS, MIDNIGHT TEMPTATION and MIDNIGHT SURRENDER (finally resurrected!) in July, August and September. I can’t WAIT to see the new packaging.

What kind of covers do you like on your vampire romances? Manscaped male torso? The clenching couple? Moody broody atmospheric? I need to get my art sheet done and would love some suggestions.

In the meantime, get back together with your old friends and enjoy the rediscovery!

Nancy Gideon on the Web

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

22 Day Break

by Stephanie Beck

You know what's nearly impossible to pull off? Take 22 days off of work. I know what you might be thinking--22 days off as a writer? didn't write for 22 days? But really, that's not the case. We undertook the task of remodeling our kitchen--such a mess. I thought we'd be fine and work relatively well around it, but our whole schedule and routine was blasted out of the water in deference to the kitchen. What. A. Mess.

Last night we returned the appliances to their places and all I can see is the project after project that came up since doing the kitchen. Every room touching the kitchen now needs paint, there's dust every where, and my shiny new kitchen needs the rest of the kitchen paraphernalia put in place. Ahhh. Projects.

And to top it all off, I have been writing. I have! I'm almost done with a novel I've been working on since November. What I haven't done is any sort of promotion or friend perking or visiting with readers. Bad Steph. I almost forgot to blog here. Why? Because I was able to put cookies in my oven.

I know. I'll move my computer to the kitchen. It is my happy place at the moment.

Happy Wednesday, all!! I hope you can take a break from real life, but yours involves more reading and less dust!

All the best,
Stephanie Beck

Monday, April 13, 2015

World Building: Who's In Charge?

I’m continuing my thoughts on building the world your characters inhabit. Although this blogsite is geared toward paranormal romance, which includes science fiction romance, all of our stories are set in a certain world. Whether your story takes place in the past, the present, or the future, you will build a world. If your story is set in the Regency time period, you’ll need to consider the politics and customs of the time. Same with a story set in a post-apocalyptic era. Who is governing? Is anyone in charge?

I am a plantser—a combo pantser and plotter. Mostly I write by the seat of my pants, but I do (eventually) have to plot. Since I just plunge in and start writing, I don’t even think about government. But, like plotting, eventually I have to. While writing my Outer Rim series, I had to consider who maintains the peace on out the Frontier. My stories take place far from the “civilized” planets. Some things I had to consider are: is there a sheriff in the settlements? A mayor? Or does chaos reign? Is it survival of the toughest? Or has the central government sent out security forces to maintain law and order? If so, why?

Usually, we start out thinking about the microcosm surrounding our characters. If the bad guys beat up the hero, is there a recourse or does he have to resort to revenge? Are there authorities he can go to who will arrest the baddies? Are the authorities reliable or corrupt? Are there laws in place to protect the innocent? Who made the laws? All things we take for granted in the present day. Considering the stories in the news, we have much to think about that could influence our stories.

In science fiction, we tend to think broader than just the outpost, village, or city where our characters live. What type of government exists on the planet? Or is it like Earth today with multiple governing bodies of differing types? Is the government a representative type, a monarchy, a dictatorship, a confederation? Think the United Federation of Planets (Star Trek) or the Empire (Star Wars). How does that world impact our stories?

Just like with the background of the characters, you need to know everything about your world. The reader doesn’t. If you’re writing a series or a group of stories loosely connected, that world may evolve. In the majority of the Star Trek television shows and movies, we know a bunch of planets have joined together into a confederation. Knowing how this came about isn’t necessary for the episodes or movies. It’s just there. The exception is in the series “Enterprise,” which focused on the early days of space exploration and the formation of the Federation.

In your story, you get to decide what to focus on. And how much the reader needs to know. Like salt in food, use a light hand.

Diane Burton writes science fiction romance, as well as romantic suspense and mysteries. From a resort town on Lake Michigan to the Frontier of space, her characters occupy a variety of worlds. She’s currently writing the third book in her Outer Rim series. FMI, visit her website:


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