Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Science of Faeries (Part III)

In The Science of Faeries Parts I and II I discussed the historical background of the science of faeries, recounted a fairy sighting of my own, and listed a number of theories about what faeries really are, be they hoaxes, folk memories of long-lost tribes, or real creatures.

In this final part, I will discuss what Evans-Wentz called the "Psychological Theory", and what I prefer to call the "Psychic Theory" to avoid confusion with theories that discuss the subconscious mind.  At the time "The Fairy Faith of Celtic Countries" was written, the words "psychic" and "psychological" were often synonymous.

Evans-Wentz spent many years traveling the Celtic countries and cataloging their beliefs and fairy sightings.  He noted the similarities between them all, and concluded that there is another world, a forth dimension.  Beings who exist in that world cannot be seen with physical eyes, but can be seen with psychical eyes.  Seers, those who practice the art of seeing, or who have a natural talent for it, can easily see these forms.  Non-seers, in the presence of such a being, may sense it in some way, beyond sight.  Seeking some explanations for this, our imaginations will go to work.  Our minds will offer up some vision, based on our context, our cultural frame of reference, and thus we will "see" a fairy without truly seeing it.  According to Evans-Wentz:
The visualization of the non-seer is a makeshift, a psycho-physical reaction to a purely psychical stimulus.
It is that all such apparitional appearances ... are equally due to a telepathic force exerted by an agency independent of the percipent.  This outside force to whom it is thus transmitted, and causes him to project out of some part of his own consciousness (which part may have passed over into the subconsciousness) a visualized image already impressed there.  The image has natural affinity or correspondence with the outside stimulus which arouses it.
Thus the creature you see will be based in large part upon the culture of the region you were raised, but may also have something to do with the nature of the creature itself.  While looking at the same fairy, a Scottsman would see a redcap.  A troll for the Norwegians.  The Welsh would see a coblynau, and in Brittany (an area of northern France) would rank higher in corrigan sightings.  Leaving the Celtic countries, an Arab might see a djinn, an Inuit may see an ijiraq, and in Japan, they would see a kappa.

All of these creatures, and many hundreds more, look and act very different from one another, and yet ofttimes their behaviors are described as the same: Capricious, likely to steal away children and replace them with one of their own, likely to mess with your sense of time, equally able to curse or bless you on a whim, and so on.

In some cases, Evans-Wentz concludes that these are nature's memories, an energy residue of some past event, that can be re-witnessed or sensed and seen in our own way.  But he is quick to point out that most fairy sightings seem to be of autonomous beings.  On this, he states:
Fairies exist, because in all essentials they appear to be the same as the intelligent forces now recognized by psychical researchers, be they thus collective units of consciousness like what William James has called 'soul-stuff', or more individual units.
And given the ubiquitous fairyland stories, he concludes that "fairyland exists as a super-normal state of consciousness into which men and women may enter temporarily in dreams, trances, or in various ecstatic conditions."  Our eye for dreams and religious experiences is thus the same as our eye for fairies.

I began this series by stating that I am a skeptic.  I still am.  It is more likely that fairies are a folk-memory of a long forgotten tribe that is sometimes perpetuated by hoaxes and hallucination.  I am as willing to believe that my own fairy-sighting was the product of an overactive imagination as it was a projection of my mind onto a being of energy to explain what I could sense but could not see.

Nevertheless, the latter explanation holds a certain magic, a meaning that goes beyond the happy accident that is evolved human life.  Part of me wants to believe... Do you?

Luna Lindsey 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Part 2 of chapter 1 preview

Here's part two of my current project, chapter 1 still.

Tonight, however, angels were not what I hunted. There was something less pure than that walked the streets below me. A group of men dressed in sweats, colored completely in red. I had been following them for the last twenty minutes. Six of them walked as one down the side of the street. I knew they were armed as I watched them emerge from a car several miles back, hiding pistols under their shirts as they did so.

Trouble is what they sought, and like me, they were on the hunt. Predators looking for prey. I couldn't help but notice in the back of my mind the similarities the men shared with me. I could almost understand their desires, their drives. It was a part of me that I submersed and refused to acknowledge its existence. It was that part that I hated and despised, the part that drew me to them.

I followed as close as I dared, my path leading me above them along the empty roof tops. I paused and waited for them to catch up to me whenever I pulled too far ahead of them. My dead heart pumped in anticipation when I caught sight of the group's quarry. A lone man, maybe in his forties had his car's hood lifted up as he himself poked and prodded at the thing's innards. He wasn't aware of his danger until it was too late. The first one to confront the man posed as if he were there to help him.

The lone man was startled at first, and the smell of his fear rose up to my perch as I watched, drawing the hunger and the need to hunt just that much more out of control. Yet the time was not right, at least not yet. Soon it would be, but not now.

The man's apprehension did not entirely pass away at the sight of the other's obvious gang colors, but the one who first approached him had a way with words, and quickly got him off his guard as he leaned into the cars maw and began to poke around as well. I wondered how much longer they would keep this charade up. It wouldn't be long, I knew. Even now several of the youth were looking up and down the street, verifying that the coast was clear. Their victim, not realizing his danger or refusing to believe it even existed, began to accept the lie, and leaned into the car's engine compartment to poke around with the first youth.

A part of me felt a bit amused at the victim's shock when the other gang members struck. They were quick and efficient. A few quick blows targeting soft and vulnerable parts of the man’s body sent him reeling to the ground, defenseless and easy pickings. They drug him quickly out of sight into a nearby alley where they could take their time with him. I really had no idea what their plans for him were. Perhaps they intended on just robbing him and maybe having just a little bit of sport with him. The desires and the doings of mortals have slowly slipped away from my psyche. Sure, I remember the mechanics, of course. I just don't quite understand the motivations anymore. As time goes by, these things seem to slip away, little by little.

The stronger ones I can still understand, at least I think I can, and the ones that go along with my nature. Those I have found a new understanding of, an enlightening that I doubt any human could possibly understand. A depth of illumination that scares me and at times sickens me. The others, like love, and loyalty, I struggle almost daily to persevere and protect from the darkness.

What I fear above all else is the loss of everything that I once was.

Now, however, is the time to let that beast out. Not completely, lest I lose myself and never find my way back, yet, as much as I hate what I have become, the need to feed must have its time. The choice of locale for the robbery was perfect for me. The darkness was deep, and with my help it became much deeper. The first guard died under my hands, his neck bones splintering as I twisted his head

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Clip preview from my up coming book

Well today's my birthday and I actually forgot that I had a blog to do today. Bad me. So I'm going to take the easy way out and just give you a preview clip from my up coming book. Here's part of chapter one.

How many years has it been since my days became nights and my nights became days? More than three, but less than eight I would guess. Time was different for me since I changed. Nothing had escaped that horrid night that seemed so long ago, and yet the memory was as fresh as if it had been the night before. I often wonder what my life would be like had I stayed at home rather than wandering the town in search of entertainment. Pointless the thought, yet very much important to me. It was a piece of my humanity that still clung on in the face of a dark immortality. A piece that I myself found necessary if I were to survive, and the thing I had become were to remain in check.

Tonight like every night since the first one, it was dark. It befitted someone like me, a creature of the night and a man in utter torment. I would have happily stayed in hiding, avoiding the nightly hunt that plagued me with an endless stream of memories. With faces that were no more thanks to an endless thirst that seemed to fill me and drive me ever outward when the sun would set. Tonight was no different than all the others.

I sought to end my existence at the start. The idea of a noble death to finish what I had become had ended as quickly as it had come into existence. A makeshift stake driven into my beating heart only found that what I thought would be an end, only became more agony. The stake failed to do anything but cause me the second most agonizing pain I had ever felt. The most agonizing was my second attempt. I trapped myself in an area I thought I could not escape and watched as the morning sun rose into the sky.

Both attempts ended in exactly the same way. The pain became more than I could bear, and then I lost my awareness. When it returned in both instances, a fresh corpse sat at my feet, drained completely of its life blood. My injuries were gone and what was left of my sanity was restored. Somehow my body refused to die, and in the process took another. The shame I felt at both of those failures was only dwarfed by repulsion at what I became. A vampire, sure and true.

How it had happened, even I was not sure. One moment I was human, lost in revelry and wine. The next was darkness and the cold that only the dead can feel. I awoke several days later, sprawled out in the back alley of an unknown place, the full moon at its zenith. The shine of it had just touched my weakened form, and smoke and pain erupted where the moon's kiss touched. To say I had been confused that night was an understatement. An aggressive dog had saved me that night from the rays of the moon, its blood giving me the strength to resist the sun's reflection off that great orb in the sky.

Without its donation, I'm sure that night would have been my last. The weakness of that new birth was too much without the aid of fresh blood. I found that I could never go without it for very long, or madness would take me. A madness I feared I would never wake up from.

So it was this fear that brought me out tonight, as it did every night. To hunt while I still had the choice. So long as I was in control and not the hunger, then it was my choice who would live and who would die. Vampire I may have become, yet the evils that name held I refuse to become.

Los Angeles. The city of angels, or so it was called. In the years that I wandered its streets searching for what I needed to keep me whole, I never ran into one of these. Perhaps they existed, after all, I did. If something so foul as what I became were here, then why not something so pure? It seemed reasonable to me, at least partly so. The logic was sound. Who knew what existed in this world if vampires were real? Anything could be possible.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Banned Book Week

Banned Book Week!

The week of September 25th - October 2nd has been announced by The American Library Association as being Banned Book week! In which they are encouraging readers to read banned books as an expression of freedom in reading. There are a ton of books on the banned books list, along with the reasons that they were banned. Some of the reasons are down right ridiculous. For example P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast's House of Night books have been banned in Texas for sexual content... That's not the part that grinds my gears, its the fact that they have banned all of their future books, without knowing what they are about or what they contain. Its narrow mindedness like this that is beginning to dictate what we can and cannot read! I personally don't want my reading range to be dictated by someone who has A: never read the books and B: can't open their minds to new things.

      I was also noticing that some of our most loved classics are being banned as well, books that I was required to read in school, is no longer acceptable reading material in some places. Like Lord of The Flies... Yes I see its thematic plot, but the reason it was banned is because it makes man look like animals. Well some people are animals, and being put in the same situation as those boys are, I am sure we would probably adapt the same way that William Golding wrote it.

   The American Library Association are promoting that you read these banned books and many more, so that people can't tell you want you can and cannot read. So that people will realize that these books, once deemed to be classic literature, aren't accepted everywhere.And that we are lucky that we have the freedom to choose which books we wish to read, banned or not. This week I will be picking up some of these titles named unfit to read, because no one is going to tell me which books I am ALLOWED to read. What will you be reading this week?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Urban Fantasy Versus Paranormal Romance, Cont.

During my last post, I explored the differences between Urban Fantasy (UF) and Paranormal Romance (PR) as these two genres are often mistaken to be one in the same. While researching this topic, I thought of the people I know who like to read from both genres and decided to get their opinion with two purposes in mind: 1) What is it about these genres that appeals to them and 2) What suggestions would they like to share with the writers?

I interviewed two friends, one teenager and one adult. Both are avid readers and have experience with UF and PR. Although I provided them with structured questions, each provided additional information that could be helpful not only to any reader new to these genres, but to the writers themselves.

1) Do you prefer urban fantasy or paranormal romance over the other? If so, what makes you more drawn to the genre of your choice?
Adult: Distinguishing the difference between paranormal romance and urban fantasy was a little difficult for me, being that an urban fantasy book could also be considered a paranormal romance. However, to answer this question I am drawn more toward the urban fantasy genre than the paranormal romance. The reason is that I consider a paranormal romance to focus strongly on the romantic aspects of the story. Although the romance involvement of any story is almost a must for me, I prefer focus on other elements as well.
Teen: I really like them both. There are things I like about the Twilight Saga (by Stephanie Meyer) and things I like about the Mortal Instruments series (by Cassandra Clare), and then I like the similarities. I like the fact that both are not just about "normal" people, but pull in different creatures to mix in "normal". I like the romance of Twilight with a hint of action. With the Mortal Instruments, I loved how the author pulled in all types of mythical creatures and created for each one a unique world.

2) What about your favorite genre draws you in (or both if you don't have a favorite) as opposed to say, general fiction stories?
Adult: I enjoy a good book that has plenty of action, twists and turns throughout the plot, sex, and romance. On the flip side of the coin, if a read in either genre has too much detail of a scene I will put the book down. There are many authors that write in this genre, or any genre for that matter, that put so much detail to set up a scene that it becomes boring to me. Although, there has to be enough detail included to set up the scene, it is not necessary to go overboard and I see this mistake often. When I read a book and find myself holding my breath waiting to see how the scene is going to end just to find out that I am clenching my teeth in the next scene, then I know it is a great book. However, when I finish a book or series that is truly intense, it is nice to relax with a slower paced more romantic book with a little less thrill.
Teen: I like that they are NOT normal. When I read, I want to be somewhere NOT in the norm. I like to picture mythical places and creatures in my mind.

3) What do you relate to the most in these stories?
Adult: It may be sad to say, but I do not relate too much in any of the stories. Some of the characters have traits that I would like to possess; but my purpose in reading them is to escape my own reality.
Teen: In the series that I have read, both of the main characters are teenage girls that are, in a way, finding out who they are and what they are supposed to be in their world. I don't have to fight demons, or run from vampires, but I do have to face challenges in my life, and hopefully, like the heroines in the books, when I overcome them, I will have a better understanding of who I am in this word.

4) Do you prefer stories where there are many creatures, or just a few?
Adult: In a series, I prefer to have many creatures because there is time to build characters and explain the paranormal aspects of each creature. However, it seems that in a single issue book it would be better to limit the number of characters and creatures. In past experience, I found that too many types of creatures in a single issue book become clutter with explanations and the plot thins.
Teen: I like the Shadow Hunters (from the Mortal Instrument series) best. To me, they are the perfect mix of human and mythical! They are able to have all human experiences, but with a greater sense of awareness of what is going on around them.

5) Are there any stories that you would like to see written, but haven’t come across yet, or some that you would like to see more of? If so, why?
Adult: There have been so many types of paranormal creatures that I have read about that it is difficult to determine what I have missed or what I would like to see more of. I have read of vampires, witches, succubus, faeries, weres, demons, angels, and zombies; I am not sure what is left. I have enjoyed the police investigative approach in some of the urban fantasy along with a more political approach in the same genre. One thing I would like to see more of in the genre is equality with the male and female (or female and female) characters. Many tend to create a strong male character, however the male character doesn’t ever really do anything fantastic and often the heroine is saving the so called “strong” male character. I would prefer to see the two to save each other and work closely together as they work through the complications set out before them.
Teen: I don't have any original ideas, but both of my series could use MORE books!

Thank you, J. and M. for your well thought out answers! For my writer friends of these two genres, I hope you found this interesting, and maybe even helpful. I know there is some rumor that these types of stories could just be a modern fad; however, their level of popularity does not seem to be waning in the least. There is still a wide audience, both new and seasoned, waiting to snatch up your stories!

Friday, September 17, 2010

You Mean, Guys Can Read Paranormal Romance?

Hi, I'm Chris Kelly. And I'm going to be blogging here every second Friday, starting today. Obviously. If you know me on-line, cool. If you don't know me, don't worry. It's a temporary thing. Pretty soon you'll be thinking like you new me forever and acting like I'm your best mate. I'm like that, I get under your skin. Like psoriasis.

And there's no cure. :)

I'm a writer, and soon to be an indie publisher. But I'm approaching this blog from a reader's perspective. I love reading urban fantasy, and fantasy in general.

Today I'm blogging about Paranormal Romances, which are sort of like urban fantasy, and kind of not. But I'm working on the assumption you already know what it is.

I'm a guy who reads paranormal romance. I'm a straight guy, full of testosterone, masculine and all that. Here me roar! Aah.

I've been thinking hard about this post, I've been trying to work out why I like paranormal romance.

In the beginning...
Yes, this is an indie blog, but I'm not going to pretend to have only ever read indie books. I've been reading paranormal romance since before it was popular. In the beginning, I picked up a cool book that was about werewolves (I love werewolves). It was Kelley Armstrong's Bitten.

That was my first taste of paranormal romance, my only taste for several years, and the thing that attracted it to me in the first place was that it was a book about werewolves. Not werewolves fighting vampires, not someone hunting a werewolf that was killing innocents. Just werewolves, having lives.

(Like the Waltons with Werewolves. OMG how cool would that be?)

So that was the beginning.

And after the beginning, Paranormal Romance Got Ridiculously Popular.

Actually, sitting here now thinking it over, I read The Vampires Diaries when I was in High School, probably about fifteen years ago. (That makes me sound old. I was an advanced reader, I'd only just started high school).

But, back to the point. Lots of people nowadays think Stephenie Myers made Paranormal Romance popular. Well, she didn't. Paranormal Romance made Twilight popular. It was already a boom genre. (Maybe on another post I might look at why. Maybe not. I'm not so big on plans. :) )

Anyway, there were suddenly paranormal romances everywhere. And some were awesome. And some were basically written porn (I guarantee if you've read her books, you'll know who I mean). And some might have been good, but I could never get into them, because someone somewhere had decided to call the heroine Sookie Stackhouse. (Why would you do that? Why? Why?)

And at the same time, urban fantasy died.

It died a little bit, anyway. I don't know if bookshops gave urban fantasy shelf space to paranormal romance writers, or if urban fantasy writers started putting sex and descriptions of muscles, and heroines with no control over their sexual appetite's (that will be another post. It seems like "I'm a sex fairy, I must have 300 boyfriends" has became the excuse for these characters sleeping with hundreds of men. What happened to "I'm a modern woman and I'll bed who I want?" Personally, I think it's because publishers are Men. Old-fashioned men. I could be wrong, though.)

So, yeah, the death of urban fantasy. In the passed decade, the only steadily published urban fantasy series I've been aware of is The Dresden Files. Good books, actually. I've also recently became aware of Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar, but I don't know how new that is.

So, in conclusion,

I read lots of Paranormal Romance. And I tend to skip over the sex bits some of the time (I don't mind it - I read erotica - but sometimes I want to get back to exciting things like monsters quicker). Some of it is good, some of it is bad, but all of it has the things I'm interested in... vampires, werewolves, and so on... and it has it without the things I'm not interested in (horror. There are plenty of vampire horror novels, but that's not what I want to read).

There's only two things you should take forward from here.
  1. if you're a guy who loves urban fantasy, but can't find enough, give paranormal romance a chance
  2. urban fantasies haven't been getting published (or put in book shops), so you're traditionally published options are low. Give indies a chance
And that's it. Wait, no, there's one more thing.

I got an e-reader for my birthday last week. And I downloaded a novel about a woman lawyer who starts dating a guy cop.

It's a romance, and there's not a werewolf or vampire in sight. These romances, they kind of grow on you.

I'll be back in a fortnight, but in the meantime, share your thoughts: should guys read paranormal romance?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Science of Faeries (Part II)

In The Science of Faeries Part I, I discussed the historical background of the study of fairies and fairy lore.  As promised, I will now discuss the major theories and schools of thought about what faeries are.  

But first, I will recount the time I saw a fairy.  It was the magical summer of 1997, the best time of my life, and the worst time of my life.  I was going through a number of hardships, but I also had a great set of friends.  We had well-developed imaginations, and even though we all came from different religious backgrounds and had different beliefs, each of us passionately believed in the unseen.  My most unexplainable experiences (both positive and scary) happened that year.

We were adventuring in Eastern Washington, north of our home town, and decided to visit Palouse Falls.  We hiked above the falls, where the small river has carved a beautiful canyon.  The very rocks seemed to cry out in joy at our presence. We saw hornets as long as my index finger, and one of the boys cut his hand on basalt shale, but that didn't stop us from trekking along the railroad tracks, down the long slope, and into the canyon.

Here the river broke into several smaller streams, forming a microcosm of mini-canyons and tiny waterfalls.  I stood at the bottom of one of these tiny falls, and that's when I saw it: a tiny bridge spanning the gap over the water, and a 2 inch winged fairy sitting on the arch.

How I saw it is difficult to explain.  I only half saw it with my eyes.  The other part of me knew it wasn't there, and that I merely imagined it.  It was as it my mind projected it outward until it existed.  Another way to put it is that it seemed as if something was there, but the only way I could perceive it was with my imagination.  It was not light that hit my eyes, but some other form of energy that I both sensed and created in a feedback loop of viewer/creator. 

Sound crazy?  When I read Evans-Wentz's "The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries", that is exactly how many others described it, 100 years ago. I also saw similar descriptions of modern-day fairy sightings in the documentary The Fairy Faith (2000).

Does that mean I believe in faeries?  Maybe.  I'm not sure.  I am a skeptic, after all.  But I do know that something important happened that day.  Even if it was all in my head, that's meaningful.

Which leads us to the theories.  Some of these are scientific, some pseudo-scientific, and some flat out religious.  Listed in reverse order of Occam's Razor (which states that the simplest explanation fitting the facts is most-likely to be true):

The Materialist Theory - Fairies are physically real beings that live under hills or in forests.

The Theological or Hades Theory - In the context of Christianity, fairies are real, and they are are demons, fallen angels or the unjudged souls of the dead.

The Psychic or "Psychological" Theory - Evans-Wentz's favorite.  Fairies are some form of energy-beings that we can sense but not "see", so we perceive them by projecting our expectations.  An Irishman would see a selkie.  An Arab would see a djinn.  Someone from India may see a deva.

The Pygmy Theory - Fairies are a folk-memory of an undiscovered prehistoric diminutive race that were driven out of Celtic lands by invading European Homo Sapiens.

The Mythological/Druid Theories - Fairies are a folk-memory of the Celtic pagan gods or the Druids.  They are a way of talking about subjects otherwise censored by the encroaching culture of Christianity.

The Animistic/Naturalistic Theory - Fairies are a cultural remnant of pre-monotheistic beliefs in animistic spirits as a way to explain the world, and/or a subconscious projection of animistic symbols a la Carl Jung.

The Pathological Theory - Fairies are entirely imagined, hallucinated, a result of misfiring neurons or diseased minds.

The Delusion and Imposture (Fraud) Theory - As with mediums and psychics, those who claim to see fairies are out to hoax us for fun and profit.

Evans-Wentz does not discuss all of these (not all had been postulated in his time), but he does rule out several: The Pygmy Theory, The Mythological and Druid Theories, Naturalistic Theory, and Delusion/Imposture Theory.  He favors what he called the "Psychological Theory", which I call the "Psychic Theory" to avoid any confusion with Jung's Archetypes and Collective Unconscious.

He spends a good deal of time discussing this theory, so I'd like to spend more time on that.  Stay tuned for the Science of Faeries Part III in two weeks!

Luna Lindsey 

Interview with Amanda Hocking!

HP: Hi Everyone! I'm H.P. Mallory and today, I have the honor of interviewing the lovely and talented Amanda Hocking! Amanda, thank you for being here!

AH: Thank you for having me. It’s my pleasure.

HP: This marks our second indie author interview at! Okay, so getting down to business, here are some questions that come to mind for you, Amanda. You are really one of the biggest indie authors in the genre of paranormal fiction. Can you tell us how you started? What made you decide to go indie?

AH: I’ve always been writing books, and I actually had written around 12 or 13 before I decided to go indie. I just wasn’t getting anywhere with mainstream publishing. I kept getting the same line from agents – they liked it, but they just weren’t passionate enough about it to represent it.

I heard about Amazon, and I thought I’d try it. I wasn’t willing to cross out any avenue, and going indie has actually been the best thing I’ve ever done.

HP: Your success is really encouraging to all of us who are just getting started. Do you have any advice for other indies out there?

AH: Research everything before you jump in. Make sure you know the pros and cons of what you’re doing. Also, I think it really helps to have a backlist. Write 2 or 3 or more books before you even publish one. And edit more. I can’t stress that enough.

HP: Okay, moving on to your books. Which of your characters are you most like and why?

AH: Probably Bobby, in the My Blood Approve series, especially in Wisdom. I’m definitely more of a goofy sidekick.

HP: Which of your male characters do you think is the sexiest and why?

AH: Finn in Switched. I love his level of restraint. There’s also another guy I’m currently swooning over, but it’s too soon to talk about him.

HP: Okay, have to butt in here—Finn is my son’s name! LOL OK back to interview…What are you reading right now?

AH: I just finished The Long Halloween, a Batman graphic novel by Jeph Loeb, but I don’t know what’s up next on my reading list. I have about a hundred books that I need to get to.

HP: Let’s talk about your series, My Blood Approves. How many books do you imagine will be in this series?

AH: Five total, not including a side novella I’m putting out around Christmas. It’s not really in the continuity of the rest of the series, and I just wanted to give Peter some screen time to explore his past a bit.

HP: How did you come up with the title, My Blood Approves?

AH: My Blood Approves, along with the titles of other books in the series come from “since feeling is first,” a poem by e e cumming. “my blood approves,/and kisses are a better fate/than wisdom/lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry/—the best gesture of my brain is less than/your eyelids' flutter which says/we are for each other”

HP: So, when I was interviewing Zoe Winters, I asked her a bunch of zany questions and I’m afraid I’m going to have to do the same with you. Zany question number one: what would you rather be, a vampire or a werewolf?

AH: Vampire. I don’t know if I really want to live forever, but I’ve never liked the idea of shapeshifting.

HP: Let’s talk about your book, Switched. How did you come up with the idea for it and how many books do you propose to have in that series?

AH: I was actually reading stuff up about the new sequel for Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal that’s supposedly in the works. I got off track reading about Brian Froud, and I found two lines about old Scandinavian folklore. I never did find much more than those two lines, but the idea kept running through my mind, and that’s how Switched came out.

HP: So, I’ve read your first book, My Blood Approves, and I loved it. I really loved the character of Milo. Can you tell us a bit about him? Also, are any of your characters based on real life people?

AH: Milo always tries to do the right thing, and he gets to be an interesting character because he’s the younger brother, but he’s also the more mature one. I love that he’s so innocent and naive, but also responsible and protective. Mae is based a lot on my gramma, but I think the rest of the characters of combinations of people.

HP: Zany question #2: What’s the grossest thing you’ve ever eaten?

AH: Probably cuddlefish. I love calamari, but something about the cuddlefish tentacles being so small and cold, I don’t know. I thought it was going to come alive in my belly like that thing in Alien.

HP: Okay, let’s talk zombies. Tell us about your new series.

AH: With Hollowland, I wanted to write something with a lot of zombies, a lot of action, and a female lead that kicked a lot of butt. It’s fun, but it’s definitely dark. I had a crisis in writing it where I had to decide between the slow, lumbering George Romero zombies and the wicked fast 28 Days Later ones. So I combined them. You get all kinds of zombies, along with marauders, crazed cult leaders, and Bon Jovi.

HP: Love it! Zombies and Bon Jovi. LOL Have you ever seen a ghost? If not, do you believe in ghosts?

AH: I don’t know that I’ve visibly seen a ghost, but I got locked in a room once. My friends and I were playing around with an Ouija board and taping white noise after we saw that horrible Michael Keaton film White Noise. The Ouija board told us to “open the door” and the white noise screamed at us “Get out!” when we played it back. But when we tried to leave, the door wouldn’t budge. We were trapped in there for like 6 hours before somebody finally had to unscrew the door handle to get us out.

HP: OK note to readers, avoid Ouija boards!!!! Are you a True Blood fan?

AH: Definitely. But I still have the last half of the newest season on my DVR. I made a pact to watch with a friend of mine, but she’s been busy with a new baby, so we haven’t made it very far yet.

HP: What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

AH: The best? Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut or Watchmen by Alan Moore, maybe. I also love 1984 by George Orwell and Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead.

HP: If you could travel back in time, what time period would you travel back to and why?

AH: The 1980’s. I know it’s not very exciting, especially since I was alive then, but I just love the 80’s.

HP: Okay, sorry for all the questions. One final question…is there anything you’d like to say to all those people out in cyber space, and especially your fans?

AH: Thank you to everyone that’s supported me and given me a chance. This whole industry can be brutal, but I’ve been met with so much kindness, it’s really incredible, and I am sooo grateful for every minute of it.

HP: Thanks so much for taking the time to visit with us, Amanda. I wish you continued luck! I’m very excited to read the next book in the My Blood Approves series as well as the Switched series and your newest! Before we sign off, can you let everyone know where they can find you online? Thanks again!!

AH: You can find me lots of places!,, , and ! Thanks for having me!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

When to write a sequel?

I think that’s an interesting question, and one I'm going to explore today. I used to think that one should write a sequel to any book you feel the story isn't finished for. Sometimes if a book is popular enough, I think a sequel is just begging to be written. I think both of these reasons are valid. After all, I'm sure there are other reasons that I could explore and maybe later or on another day I can try to explore them. For now lets start with just these two.

The first one seems like a very valid one. After all, if the story isn't finished shouldn't we continue to write it? I thought that way with my first book. Storytellers. It's about three youths in an alternate reality where magic is the norm. One of the main characters, Targ, is from a version of our world. Meaning the 21st century earth. We catch up to him and two native apprentices for what pass as wizards in their world on the run for their lives. They are pursued by a malevolent entity simply known as Them.

Now this may not sound like anything different from any other typical fantasy book. But I thought that I stumbled upon a unique story system. I came up with countries, tons of extra characters and a rich history. To top it off, the magic system was unique, or at least I thought it was. My wizards were actually called Sages. They didn't believe in magic, yet they each possessed the ability to summon story characters from books they read into existence in their world. So, for example, if something bad was about to happen to one of our readers, you could use your 'Talent” as they liked to call it and summon say Edward Cullen or Eric Northman to your side to protect you.

I felt this was a wonderful idea, and something that hadn't really been explored as of yet. To make things more interesting, I decided to throw Targ into the world. My main character. He was a Literature major in school, and possessed story's from our world, that were new and unique to his environment. I topped that with his sudden loss of memory and the unconscious use of his Talent, and I thought I had a real winner. I envisioned 5 maybe 6 books as Targ learned to control his ability and discover the wealth of story's he possessed to rescue his new friends and new home.

So off I went and wrote the first story. When I finished it I immediately began writing the second one, Storytellers: Adept, hoping to make a best seller. Now, why am I talking about this? Because Storytellers was not wildly popular as I had hoped. In fact, maybe it was because it was standard fantasy, or maybe because it was the first work I had ever done, so my skills were not what they should have been, or perhaps it was just the story, but the end result was, my sequel did not sell very well. I thought because the story still needed to be finished, that I needed to write a sequel. The reality was, no I didn't.

I should have waited to see how the book was received before I ever started a second one of that series. It would have saved my time and energy to work on something that people wanted to read. So I have set up a new rule. Wait until you see how well your book is received before writing a sequel. Now I use an arbitrary number of units sold to determine if a series is worth writing more of. So far, based on Adepts sales, it doesn't look as if there will ever come a time for the next three books to be written. Which is a shame really, as I rather liked the characters in it and some of the plots and twists that have yet to be written. Sigh. What can you do.

Adept taught me one thing. Make sure people like or want to read a book that you wrote. After that I decided to forget about sequels for now. I was just going to begin writing books I had in my head and just enjoy myself. If I didn't finish a story and it required a sequel, then I wouldn't worry about it. After all, I didn't want another Adept on my hands. So off I went on my merry little way writing two more books. Both of them were easily capable of allowing the story to go on after the final page was written, but like I said before, no sequels until the books proved themselves. So off I went to write my next book, another Vampire story, one I'm currently working on right now, only to find a new situation arise. Fans. Yes, fans... Not of course for Storytellers, but for my other two vampire novels. Which leads me to point number two. You do remember my two points at the beginning of this don’t you?

To my surprise my two new books have spawned fans. Something I hadn't seen before! :) Something that is forcing me to change my opinion on when to write a sequel. Both of my new books are not selling all that well. Sure, they out sell Storytellers, but what doesn't! So, now I’m faced with a new dilemma. Do I continue with my totally arbitrary rules on when to write a sequel, or do I bow to the will of people who like my stories? In the end, I don't think it's a hard question to answer. As a writer, unless you're just writing only for yourself, then I think the fact is your readers are all important. They are what breathe life into your stories. They make them real as they explore the worlds you create, meeting the people you have brought into life, making friends with them, and then bringing them into this world as they share them with others.

Now I think you know my answer. I guess my next dilemma now is how quickly can I finish the book I’m already working on to get to the sequels that my fans need. Hopefully soon.

When do you write a sequel? In my opinion, when your fans demand it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

All about vampires

So, I'm nearly finished with Tina Folsom's book, Samson's Lovely Mortal, which is about a super hot vamp and his mortal lady love. I'm really enjoying the book and it made me think about our fascination with everything vampire.

Thinking of that got me interested in where the myth (or truth, depending on your take) of the vampire eventuated so (drum roll) here it is!

First off, the idea of the vampire may go back to prehistoric times according to Wikipedia but the term "vampire" dates to the 18th century and came from Eastern Europe. The word "vampire" first shows up in English in 1734, taken from the German which was taken from the Serbian.

Although Bram Stoker's, Dracula, really encapsulates our modern understanding of the vampire, in history the vampire really gained attention with Polidori's book, The Vampyre, circa 1819. This work influenced Stoker in his creation of Dracula. Dracula, though not the first book on vampires, is considered the foremost book relating to vampires and really led to the consummation of everything vampire.

From Wikipedia:

The notion of vampirism has existed for millennia; cultures such as the Mesopotamians, Hebrews, Ancient Greeks, and Romans had tales of demons and spirits which are considered precursors to modern vampires. However, despite the occurrence of vampire-like creatures in these ancient civilizations, the folklore for the entity we know today as the vampire originates almost exclusively from early 18th century Southeastern Europe,when verbal traditions of many ethnic groups of the region were recorded and published. In most cases, vampires are revenants of evil beings, suicide victims, or witches, but they can also be created by a malevolent spirit possessing a corpse or by being bitten by a vampire. Belief in such legends became so pervasive that in some areas it caused mass hysteria and even public executions of people believed to be vampires.

So, why did people think other people were vampires? Following is a test to deduce if you might be a vampire:

a. You were buried prematurely. People would report sounds coming from graves and when they unearthed the recently buried, they might find blood on the fingers and mouths of the 'dead' from attempting to claw and bite their way out of the coffin. Ick!

b. A bunch of people kicked it for no apparent reason: If there were an outbreak of some mysterious disease that killed a group of people, vampirism could be to blame. This was especially the case with tuberculosis.

c. If you're foaming at the mouth, you just might be a vampire: Rabies was also associated with vampirism. The susceptibility to light and garlic in one with rabies might have attributed to the notion of the vampire liking neither of these in common mythology today.

So, there's a short and sweet history lesson on vampires. Gotta love 'em!

Friday, September 10, 2010


Since I was five, I've wanted to write a story about unicorns. Unicorns are awesome.

Despite their incredible awesomeness, I don't see unicorns utilized a lot in urban fantasy or paranormal romance.  Even when they are, they tend to be peripheral characters that add little to the story. There are notable exceptions, of course. ( The Killer Unicorns series by Diana Peterfreund and Zombies vs Unicorns come to mind.)

I just think that it's odd that with the urban fantasy genre more popular than ever, the mainstays include vampires, shifters, fae, and zombies, but not a lot of unicorns. 

I've been theoretically working on a graphic novel about unicorns for about 6 months, and I hope that it eventually sees the light of day. But even if it doesn't, I'm making a call to all you lovely UF writers out there. We need more unicorns! Or even a watercorn or two.

And to the UF readers and aficionados, demand more unicorns!  

If you guys know of any good unicorn fiction out there, point me in that direction. Or good unicorn films. The only movie I can think of that has awesome unicorns and not lame ones is Legend

-Amanda Hocking, author of YA paranormal romance My Blood Approves series and Trylle Trilogy  that has yet to include unicorns

Thursday, September 9, 2010

So Sorry

Hey Everyone,
I just wanted to add a little note. Today is not my blog day. I just wanted you all to know that I am not meaning to neglect the blog lately, I have been unbelievably busy. I have been given a TON of deadlines to meet as of lately, and I am having a hard time juggling everything at the moment. I will try and keep up with my weekly blog posts, but I wanted to make sure and let you all know that if I am not able to post (My blog day is on Tuesdays) I promise there is a good reason why. Again I am so so sorry about the lack of posts in the last couple of weeks... I am going to aim for a great post on the upcoming Tuesday :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Why is it that Werewolves never get a fair shake? Almost every movie you stop and watch, the Werewolf is always the underling or, pardon the pun, he's the underdog? Do they ever get the girl? I didn't start out my life liking Vampires. As a kid, I was always more into werewolves. Maybe I thought they were cooler, I'm not sure. After all, back in the 60s there were no hero Vampires. All we had was Bela Lugosi as Dracula. You couldn't watch him and think he was a good guy. Sure, Lon Chaney was scary when he turned into the wolf man, but before that you felt sorry for him. He didn't choose to be what he was, and usually he hated it.

So for me, Vampires were never the good guys. Even the comic books I read always pushed the werewolf as the good guy. Marvel's Werewolf by Night, was basically the incredible Hulk, with fur and fangs. I always loved watching the bad guys get it when the werewolf would show up and kick their super-powered butts. Ah, the good ol' days.

Today, however, you can't turn around without finding the Werewolf either an uncontrollable monster like in the latest movie, The Wolfman, or a slave or servant, as in Van Helsing or Underworld, or even True Blood. Poor Lycans have a seriously bad rap they need to shake off. I'm at a loss as to why a Werewolf would ever be a slave or servant to a Vampire. Vampires are tough and powerful, usually having magic powers of some sort. Werewolves usually have near invulnerability. Only silver can kill them, and even then you have to hit them with a mortal wound if you don't want them to recover.

Do I think they're more powerful than Vampires? No... But neither are Vampires a Werewolf’s master. Someone needs to make a hit book and then movie where the Werewolf Is the good guy. I mean a real hit that everyone remembers. Then maybe Werewolves will finally be rid of their bad rap once and for all.

Until then, I'm just going to have to be a secret admirer of all those abused Lycans out there.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Urban Fantasy Versus Paranormal Romance: What is the difference?

Throughout my life, I have been an avid reader. Once, during my 4th grade summer, a local librarian actually tried to stop me from borrowing my selected books because “there is no way you can read all of those in 2 weeks.” My Mom stepped in and assured her that I would indeed read them all…and I imagine that I did. Growing up, I read what I guess I’ll call “general fiction” (i.e. where the story completely reflects the real world in real time), horror, romance, and even some non-fiction. Despite the sheer number of books I absorbed, only a very few stick out in my mind. A few of the romances (fairly shocking stuff for a 14 year old-- my eagle eyed parents somehow missed those) and the ones that were fantasy in nature.

Why is it that these stories stick out in my mind and the more “general fiction” does not? I personally believe it’s because the genre stories forced my imagination to work. They transported me into other worlds, possibilities, and geared my thoughts to places that would have remained unknown to me otherwise.

My first introduction to the Paranormal Romance (PR) genre came during a writing class about 4 years ago. My teacher, also a PR writer, told us that this genre was the “up and coming” and for us to be watching for the public to really start paying attention to this type of story. However, she did not describe many general characteristics of this genre which left my imagination to wander aimlessly. In my clueless state, I distinctly remember trying to picture a story about a girl falling in love with an alien. I now understand that the “paranormal” aspect generally means that one or more of the main characters is out of the ordinary (beyond the range of science), living in our world, and can consist of whatever creature the author chooses.

I have now been exposed to the PR genre through books such as Sherrilyn Kenyon’s The League Series, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Series, and more recently, Zoe Winter’s novella Kept. I also stumbled upon Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments Series. However, while reading the first novel in The Mortal Instruments, City of Bones, I quickly realized that something was different about this story from the Paranormal Romances I had read. First, it had many, many creatures (e.g. fairies, demons, warlocks, vampires, weres, etc.). Second, there was a romance involved, but it was a subplot only. The focus was primarily on rapid paced action, and quite frankly, was a little scary at times. I realize now, that what I had actually stumbled upon was Urban Fantasy (UF).

Researching these two genres has been both interesting and eye opening. First, I could hardly believe just how many genres (and subgenres) are in existence. This list was one of the more comprehensive and helpful that I found. It also became clear to me that although the writers and readers know the difference between PR and UF, those advertising and critiquing these books may not. Often, when looking through information about a certain series or author, the same set of books would be characterized as PR in one area and UF in another. One example is the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. I have read all of these books and in my opinion they are much more Urban Fantasy than Paranormal Romance.

The bottom line is that these two genres are very different from one another.
Some of the primary differences include:
1) The most obvious: PR is a subgenre of the Romance genre and UF is a subgenre of the Fantasy genre.
2) The level of importance of a romantic relationship. This relationship is much more the focus of a PR novel and is in the backdrop in a UF.
3) Often, but not always, the UF novel is written in first person while PR is written in third person.
4) Urban Fantasy creatures, such as vampires, tend to hold to their more traditional reputations rather than being vegetarian and/or romantic as they are in PR.

This is a fairly hot topic on the web and during my research, I ran into numerous blog posts that debated the differences between these two genres. See here for one of the better ones. Overall, just the fact that people are talking about these types of stories further confirms how popular they have become. Now that I fully understand the difference between these two genres, I am excited to find out just what it is about them that people love. Fortunately, I happen to be in touch with a group of people who are familiar with both genres and are avid readers of each. For my next post, I plan to interview them and find out about not only what keeps them coming back for more but what they would like to see from these genre’s authors in the future.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Science of Faeries (Part I)

The world is not only stranger than we suppose, it is stranger than we can suppose. -- J.B.S. Haldane, evolutionary biologist
The "science of faeries". An oxymoron? 

Not really. 

Don't get me wrong.  I am quite the skeptic, a big fan of James Randi and Christopher Hitchens.  All of this is fantasy, right?  The only scientists who believe in fairies are pseudo-scientists.  

But there was a time in the past when credible scholars did give credence to the possibility of the existence of faeries.

It was the time of rampant mysticism, the revival of the occult, the heyday of séance and mesmerism.  Nikola Tesla performed feats of magic with electricity, letting a million volts arc visibly through his body in public displays.  Science fiction dawned with writings about living monsters being created from dead tissue and explorers finding giants and dinosaurs far beneath the earth.  (Could one argue that Urban Fantasy was the original form of science fiction?)

During this era, almost nothing was known about the realities of our world.  Knowledge we now take for granted was merely conjecture.  The airplane had not been invented.  The nature and composition of the moon and the planets were pure speculation; Venus was thought to be populated by intelligent lifePenicillin had not yet been discovered, nor were there adequate means for storing food long term, nor were phones common, nor did electric appliances exist.  It was a time of discovery and invention.  Wide-eyed scientists left no stone unturned in looking for the next big breakthrough.

This was the zeitgeist during which scholars legitimately studied faeries.  

Some of the most credible people of the time, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) participated in fairy investigations, and the now-defunct Fairy Investigation Society had members like Walt Disney.  No one knew and few suspected that the Cottingley Fairies were a hoax.

Anthropologist Walter Evans-Wentz thankfully took the time to travel all the Celtic countries around the turn of the 20th Century.  He gathered the dying and complex lore of a people who genuinely believed in fairies.  They lived their daily lives with superstitions that acknowledged the pervasive and ever-present fae, the way today people operate with knowledge that the internet exists.  Set out the milk, make a sigil before milking the cows, do not refer to them by name lest they hear.  That's the hill where the fair folk keep their fort, and do not disturb that clump of trees.

These were not tales that begin "Once upon a time in a land far away," but rather "I saw the good people and hundreds besides me saw them fighting in the sky" which was said to cause the 1847 famine, and "my husband...often saw the gentry going down the hill to the [sea] strand."

These stories are documented exhaustively in Evans-Wentz's book, "The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries".  They are accompanied by a number of scholarly theories and conclusions drawn from the author's experience and these first-hand accounts.

In Part II of The Science of Faeries, I will describe the major theories and schools of thought that explain the gentle folk.  Some are more scientific than others.  Of course I will detail Evans-Wentz's favored theory, which is my own personal favorite, which I partially base my stories on.  I will also describe my own encounter with a fairy. 

Luna Lindsey 

The Science of Faeries Part II and Part III... 

The Plot Thickens

First, let me introduce myself: I’m Tina Folsom and I am romance author with a background in screenwriting. And that’s exactly where my strengths lie. While other authors can turn beautiful phrases – and I get intensely envious about it – I instead ask myself things like:

·       Where are my turning points?
·       What’s my sequence climax?
·       What’s my inciting incident?
·       Where’s the dark moment?
·       Do I have sex at 60?

Hold it, sex at 60, you’re asking? Trust me, it’s not what you think. Really, it’s not.

Let me explain: it all has to do with the movies. When movies used to be about 2 hours long and there was a break in the middle of it for the projectionist to change the reels (or so I think the story goes – not that I actually remember that – I’m not THAT old!), there had to be a strong significant scene in the middle for people to come back after the break. It’s called the midpoint – and in romance it’s been adapted to “sex at 60”, which means there’s got to be a sex scene at 60 minutes into the movie, or in case of a book at about 200 pages into the book (for a 400 page book).

Try it out for yourself: go to a book store and pick up a romance novel. Open it roughly in the middle, give or take a few pages, and in many cases you’ll find a sex scene there, or at least a very hot emotional or physical scene. But I digress.

Let me tell you more about plotting and why all these things are important even in a book, not just a movie.

Like plays and movies, books inherently have three acts, with Act II being about double as long as Act I, and Act III slightly shorter than Act I. The American public has become so accustomed to the way movies are structured that this expectation has transferred to books. We expect certain things to happen at certain times. We want climaxes, multiple ones at certain intervals.

And that’s how I write my novels: I start with a grid showing me my three acts or eight sequences (2 of Act I, 4 for Act II, and 2 for Act III), and then I pop scene cards into each sequence and plot out my book.

Over the next few months I’ll be giving you more insight into my process of writing a novel, but in the meantime, visit Alexandra Sokoloff’s blog  - she is a great teacher and author, and many of the things I’m talking about today and will talk about in the future, I’ve learned from her. Others she’s refreshed for me, since my studies of screenwriting in LA date back to 2001. Any writer who finds they have difficulties with plotting and structure should definitely read some of Alex’s articles. They are worth their weight in gold.

That’s all, folks! See you in a month!

Tina Folsom
Author of the Scanguards Vampires series

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My addiction

So, what got you interested in paranormal romance? For me, believe it or not, a friend of mine made me watch Interview With a Vampire. I really had no interest in watching it. Well, that’s not entirely truthful. I'm kind of a fan of Tom Cruise. Because he was in it, I was always somewhat interested in seeing it, but I really couldn’t see him as a vampire. I mean, come on. Mr. Top Gun? A vampire? Please. Nevertheless, my friend made it sound so good, and she could not believe I had never seen it before. So, in the end I watched it at home on my computer where most people wouldn't know I did it.

Surprise, surprise. I was intrigued by the movie. So much so, that the next day I was over at my friends house and she asked what I wanted to watch, I volunteered and watched Interview with a vampire one more time. There was just something about the movie that gripped me and called out to me. It was the strangest thing. After watching it that second time, I found I needed more. Where to go to feed my new growing hunger? Because like a vampire, I found myself not just wanting, but actually needing to have more.

I wasn't quite ready to read a book. I had so many books already in line to be read, and I hate having to cut in line. So I began to search for other quick fixes. I found True Blood. I'm assuming if you are reading this, you're familiar at least with the books if not the HBO show. I watched every episode they had out in a couple of days, and when they were gone, I found myself still hungry. What next? Where would I feed my new addiction? The only show I could come up with was one I thought I'd never watch. The Vampire Diaries. There I found my new favorite vampire. Damon. My new hero. I know it's absurd, but I like him. I like his attitude and his character. He was a nice change from all the other TV Vampires.

Needless to say, I watched all the available episodes in a few days as well. After that I felt it was time to actually read a book. I do things backward I know. I watched the first three Harry Potter movies before I ever read the books. I'm like that. I was going to read Twilight first. I got the series ready and everything. Read the first few chapters, when I stumbled upon My Blood Approves. I decided to download that and have a gander, after all it was only 0.99. I fell in love with that book, and with that my need to write such books was ignited. Since then I'm still watching the shows, but I get most of my need taken care of by writing these days. Since I wrote my first novel my hunger had been sedated. I'm happy with that.

If, however, it stops working for me, I'm sure I will find myself perusing all the fine new novels out there. Maybe I will even get back to those Twilight novels I have sitting on the counter gathering dust. Until then, I think I will just be writing, oh and not missing a single episode of True Blood, at least until Vampire Diaries comes back on.