Monday, July 13, 2009

Guest Blogger: Donna Lea Simpson

Ladies and Gentlemen, please enjoy this second guest blog, contributed by guest blogger and paranormal writer Donna Lea Simpson. This is a great introspection into the process of writing, and more specifically of creating new and exciting paranormal worlds. Whether you are an aspiring author yourself, or simply enjoy reading the creations of these creative individuals, you can learn a thing or two about the process in this enlightening guest post. So, read, learn and enjoy. And be on the lookout for my review of Eve of Chaos, the third book in S.J. Day's Marked series, coming later this week!!

(And, I am excited to say, I was lucky enough to score a review copy of Donna Lea Simpson's upcoming novel Lady Anne and the Ghost's Revenge a while back, and that review will also be posted in the relatively near future!!)

Writing the Paranormal – The Difficulties of World-Building

Guest Column for Patricia Ramirez

By: Donna Lea Simpson

My first foray into writing paranormal romances (Awaiting the Moon – Berkley – February 2006) came when I responded to market pressure. I wanted desperately to move from the traditional Regency romances I had written for Zebra/Kensington into longer historical romance novels. I chose, among all the possible paranormal avenues, to write werewolf romances because I could understand, at least, the appeal of werewolf males, where vampires leave me, pardon the expression, cold.

But when I moved into werewolf romances I did not realize that by the second book (Awaiting the Night – Berkley – November 2006) I would have begun to include witchcraft and then… well, it seems that once you begin with paranormal elements, it’s kind of like potato chips, you can’t stop at just one! In planning Book 3, Awaiting the Fire (Berkley – September 2007) I found myself intrigued with the idea of an earthbound werewolf becoming involved with a spiritual, virginal angel. Except that the virginal angel (ancestor of one of the Fallen Angels) was the man and the experienced werewolf the woman. A little odd in a historical, perhaps.
And now I am trying to finish #4, Awaiting the Magic, just to be able to cap off and finish the series for my supremely patient readers who still, two years later, want to know what happens to long-suffering Christoff von Wolfram. It’s not easy while I’m writing another series, planning three more, and attending to other duties, but I’m more than halfway through.

However… how do you know when enough is enough, when it comes to paranormal elements? How do you stay true to your world, and go your own way as a writer? How do you tie all the threads together in a logical fashion? I read a lot of message boards on which romance readers express their dissatisfaction with how weird an author has made their once-straightforward paranormal world. I am trying to be true to the world I created in Awaiting the Moon, and that involves bringing to a natural conclusion a storyline inspired by an original concept.

As I wrote about werewolves, and about Christoff, in particular, who is going through a difficult time without knowing that he is a werewolf (really, I put him through hell, poor guy, one reason I feel compelled to give him the happy ending he deserves), I began to wonder if there would be some who would resist the ‘change’, that moment when the werewolfism kicks in, some time around puberty, in my werewolf world creation. To resist such an elemental part of yourself would warp everything, and so it did for Christoff, whose ‘change’ was delayed by things he wasn’t even aware of, among them being drugged by the villain in the first book. So, in my paranormal world I created the concept of being an ‘unchanged’ or ‘unveraenderte’ (my butchered German); being an ‘unchanged’ has dire consequences of which werewolves superstitiously do not speak. To be one of the ‘unchanged’, having resisted the werewolf change that is a natural part of his soul, means that his physical being will gradually fade until he walks the earth invisible, unable to communicate with anyone.

It’s a horrible thought but it’s a metaphor, my expression of what I feel happens to people when we aren’t true to ourselves, or don’t express our inner selves openly; we fade, until we are just a ghost of our true selves. As Awaiting the Magic is intended to be the final book of the Awaiting series, I have to deal with the consequences of creating that concept, and take it to its natural conclusion for a character I introduced in book #2, Awaiting the Night, and I have to find a way to do that without damaging the integrity of the world I’ve created.
It’s a fine line, for a writer, being true to ourselves and our characters, and yet writing fulfilling, entertaining novels.

To learn more about my novels, visit me at:
Or drop in at my blog, where I have an excerpt of Awaiting the Magic online:

Monday, July 6, 2009

Guest Blogger: "Some Girls Bite" by: Chloe Neill

All of us here at Horror and Fantasy Book Review (ok, it's just me!!) would love to give a big welcome and thanks to Drey over at Drey's Library for contributing the following review for my readers to enjoy! Indeed, Some Girls Bite looks like a great read, and it is one that I am adding to my TRB list! And I would like to encourage all of you who read and enjoy this review to head on over to Drey's Library and look around. Thanks again, Drey!!

drey's thoughts:
Some Girls Bite is one of my birthday presents (yay me!). I ran through it once, and really liked it, but couldn't really put my finger on why. I mean, when you think about it, here's another vampire novel, out of the plethora of vampire novels out there. So I read it again. Good thing I read fast, eh? =)

Merit--she goes by her last name only, and there's no reference to why, other than "it's better than the alternative"--is a newly turned, former graduate student, who lives in the Windy City. In this world, the US vampires are organized into twelve Houses, each with its own Master, each with its own identity. Three of the twelve houses are in Chicago, and Merit now belongs to one of 'em. As far as heroines go, she's not whiny, which is a huge plus in my book. She has strong physical abilities--I'm not sure I like how she's "special" right away, but if it's just one aspect out of the whole Merit picture, I can deal--and gets training in weaponry. From a sorceror who happens to work for her grandfather. Yeah, there are some surprises here.

She's sassy, too, and if you know me, you know I like my heroines sassy. There's nothing better than a healthy dose of sarcasm when confronted with centuries-old vamps who think they know everything, lol! And she has a healthy dose of fear to go along with all this too.

In any case, I like Merit, I want to know what the "alternative" is, and I like the story and characters so far. I want more. =)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

"My Forbidden Desire" by Carolyn Jewel

I was fortunate enough to get a review copy of My Forbidden Desire by Carolyn Jewel and to be invited to participate in the blog tour associated with the book. I have to say that I have been getting some pretty hot review copies lately, and My Forbidden Desire was no exception. The cover alone was a good indication that I was going to be getting into some pretty explicit reading, so I wasn’t surprised when that turned out to be the case (and would likely have been had the reading stayed tame). However, the book didn’t start out with any egregious sex or nudity; indeed, it began with a confrontation between two siblings.

In the opening chapter Harsh (star of the first book in this series, My Wicked Enemy), is having a heated discussion with his little sister, Alexandrine. Harsh is doing his best to protect his sister from an evil mage (who happens to be her father); however, Alexandrine is resisting. She is a witch who is used to taking care of herself. Not to mention the fact that she has believed her older brother to be dead for years, and simply isn’t prepared for him to step back into the role of protector so quickly. Unfortunately, he is older, stronger, and unwilling to take no for an answer, and he leaves Alexandrine little choice but to accept his offer of protection.

Making her brother’s intrusion into her life even harder to swallow is the fact that his idea of protection comes in the guise of a warrior named Xia. While Xia owes loyalty to Harsh, he hates witches with every fiber of his being. And when he discovers the truth of Alexandrine’s parentage, she ranks slightly below slime in his eyes. This is because Xia has personal history with the mage who is Alexandrine’s sire, and though he agrees to protect her, it is not entirely willingly.

On top of this, Alexandrine is in the midst of enduring some pretty strange psychological side effects from a talisman she has been wearing for several months. Indeed, it is much like Golem in The Lord of the Rings. She is unable (or unwilling) to take it off, is strangely possessive of it and doesn’t want anyone else touching it, and, (the kicker) it appears to be awakening new and unpredictable magic inside of her.

All of these variables add up to a fiery and tension-charged romance, which is as unpredictable as it is intense. While attempting to protect her life, Xia must come to terms with the depth of his feeling for Alexandrine. And he struggles to reconcile his adoration for her personally with his soul encompassing hatred for what she is, a witch. And Alexandrine must come to terms with her mysterious beginnings in order to fully harness the true power that burns within her being. There are times that you wonder how the two of them can pull it off and still retain the parts of them that make them who they are. All in all, My Forbidden Desire was an entertaining tale of unexpected love. It wasn’t the best book I have read this summer, but it was far from the worst. 3 ½ stars.