Monday, February 28, 2011

Chrystalla Thoma: Satyrs, Silenes and Other Forces of Nature

Today I am SUPER excited to have Chrystalla Thoma on to talk about Greek mythology. I met her on Critique Circle and was quickly charmed by her spunk and constant positive energy. For those who don't know her, she lives in Greece and is a wonderful writer. I hope you all enjoy her post today.

Hi dear Amber! Thank you for hosting me today.

Greeks have a love-and-hate relation with their history and mythology. Lucky for me, I am a lover of such things, so I had a happy time at school learning about ancient history and Homer.

Therefore it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I like writing about Greek myths and legends. My upcoming novella, to be released by MuseItUp Publishing next month, is called Dioscuri. It is a retelling of the ancient myth of the twin brothers Kastor and Polydeukes, Zeus’ sons with Leda, one of whom is mortal and the other immortal. The story is set in modern-day Athens where the ancient gods have woken again, and there is war. The two brothers fight against the monsters. When the mortal brother, Kastor, dies in battle, his immortal sibling Polydeukes takes things in his own hands and makes a dark deal with the Underworld. A deal Zeus will sooner or later discover and all hell will break loose.

In this war against the monsters crawling out of the underground passages and the construction sites, and the complicated games of the higher gods of Olympus, certain lesser immortals take the mortals’ side: nature sprites, the satyrs, silenes, nymphs and the griffins, aid Kastor and Polydeukes not only in hand to hand battle, but also in figuring out the mystery of Kastor’s return to life and the deal his brother made with Hades.

In my post for Six Sentence Sunday (a project where each Sunday authors post on their blogs six sentence from a published or unpublished story they wrote), I have an excerpt with the Satyr of the Temple. He is an authoritative figure in the story, and demands to know of Kastor what the heck is going on:

“Listen, Satyr, I appreciate the time you’re taking for me, but I’ve got to meet
someone, I—”

“Because it cannot be someone playing games with the Underworld, can it?” The Satyr leaned closer, his long, flat face driving fear like a dagger into Kast, nailing him to his seat, driving his breath out.
“That would cause the wrath of the higher immortals; call them down to punish us all. One doesn’t toy with the boundaries between the dead and the living.”

Kast drew back, the hairs on the back of his neck rising.

Much has been said about the Greek gods’ anthropomorphism, which simply means that their gods look and behave just like us mere mortals. Oh they do have powers, but their human appearance and petty quarrels don’t differ much from ours. This is taken to be an advance on, say, the grotesque gods of other ancient cultures like the Babylonian and the Egyptian, composites of men and animals. The Greek gods left behind their animalistic side.

But did they, really?

Among ancient Greek findings, we encounter statuettes of bird-headed goddesses and horse-bodied men (perhaps centaurs, i.e. impressions of the first appearance of men riding horses in Greece). But then what happened?

The concept seems to start with the taboo and the totem: the animals either needed for food or labor, and the animals feared, would be worshipped and with sympathetic magic made benevolent to the hunters. These animals evolved into the early gods, and probably merged with the worship of the spirits of the ancestors – an adoration born perhaps of the fear of the unknown beyond the grave.

The animals associated with a god or goddess were at first merged with human parts to represent the divine nature: an owl goddess would have the head of an owl, a stag god would have the head of a stag, maybe also its antlers and tail. The shamans and priests who worshipped these divinities could imitate them, wearing masks and pelts and using musical instruments to imitate their voices – even dancing steps that reminded their mode of movement. The priest became the animal, became the god, and through this ritual propitiated the higher powers.

In later times, with the societies more organized, less fear and more knowledge, man tried for more rationality. Of course, the gods were not animals – gods were the perfect mirror images of man. So the animal parts were mostly separated from them. But they didn’t disappear, because ritual and religion is strong. The animals were relegated either to the gods’ offspring, to symbols they carried about or animals that followed them, or even certain gods, older gods tightly connected to nature, were made into monsters to be feared and hated (but still in some cases worshipped as gods – like the dragons, monstrous snakes whose temples were often taken over by the new gods, like Apollo).

A case in point is the famous Minotaur, who is in fact nothing else but one of the forms of god Poseidon or Zeus – a bull but also a sea god, a god of fertility and also a god of the dead (eating humans inside the Labyrinth, the maze of death). In his more advanced form, Zeus transforms into a bull to abduct Europa, but then turns back into his handsome human form. Yet in other stories Zeus becomes a swan (which is how he had Beautiful Helen and the Dioscuri with Leda), or an eagle (which is how he kidnaps Ganymedes). Zeus is the bull, and the eagle, and the swan – but also the lightning, the storm, and the sky.

The Satyrs survived as composite gods – but they were pushed into the realm of lesser divinities or spirits of the forest. Yet the one Satyr’s real name is “Pan” – god of everything, perhaps, surely an older god of beer and wine, mischievous and a trickster, a god of fertility and the wilderness. The silenes are similar to the satyrs, and like the satyrs were later made followers of Dionysus who took on their real role of reveler god, god of drinking and divine madness and reproduction. The nymphs, goddesses of springs and forests and valleys, all but disappeared from mythology.

The older gods are dead. Long live the older gods! Thanks again for having me here.

About the Author:
Chrystalla Thoma is permanent resident of fantasy land, complete with angels and demons, elves, vampires and werewolves. A Greek Cypriot, she lives in Cyprus with her husband and her vast herd of books. When not reading or writing, she works as a linguistics lecturer at a private university and as a freelance translator.

You can find Chrystalla’s novella Dioscuri at MuseItUp Publishing, here:

Visit Chrystalla’s blog to read more about her writing and ramblings about mythology:

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Techie Monologue

Hi Blogger Buddies!

I'm over at fellow SFRer Stephanie Burkhart's blog talking about my opinions of the technie monologue in SF works.

Please stop by if you have a chance and tell me how you really feel...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Author Interview: Sandra Sookoo

Hi Bloggie Friends! Today I have Sandra Sookoo on to talk about herself and her book Remembering Andy.

Welcome Sandra, first tell us a little about yourself, including one thing people might not know about you.
I’ve been a writer since the age of 10. Nothing makes me happier than telling stories in a unique and different way, but I’ve only been an author for the past 3 years.

Something people might not know about me? Hmm. I like to brew coffee for the smell but don’t like to drink it. Really don’t care for the taste.

Really? That's so weird, I love the smell of coffee but not the taste too! What or who inspires you to write?
First of all, life inspires me. There’s so much to take in, from Nature, people’s interactions with each other, places, sounds, sights, but second, there is my husband. If I’m stuck on a plot, he’s there to bounce ideas off or he’ll help me with other problems. He’s one of my biggest supporters. Lastly, I write because it’s what I do. I write for me because it’s fun.

Great inspirations. So, why do you write romance specifically then?
For the promise of a happily ever after, of course! Well, I’m good with a happily for now scenario, too. I also like writing romance because the dynamics between two people in love change the conflict in a story so much.

That's an excellent reason. Tell us a little about your upcoming release, "Remembering Andy".
Remembering Andy
came about for an open call for a funny April Fool’s anthology with one of my publishers. As time went on, it became readily apparent this story would only have humorous elements instead of being overtly slap-stick funny. It actually became a very poignant love story. Here’s the blurb:

Devastated after her fiancé dies in Iraq, Claudia Foster packed up her life and moved to the city of Indianapolis. She wants to lose herself in the noise, sights and sounds of a place so foreign from her upbringing, nothing could possibly remind her of her guilt surrounding Andy’s death. But fate has other plans.

Daniel Sorenson has put all thoughts of his brother Andy’s death from his mind just to get through the day yet running into Claudia again stirs up all the hidden feelings he has struggled so hard to hide. How can you love the girl who was supposed to marry your dead brother?
As the two share their grief, they also share something deeper: laughter. But is it enough? Or will they spend their whole lives simply remembering Andy and never embrace the love that could be theirs if only they could have the courage to reach for it.
Heat level—2 (sensual)

Sounds interesting. How did you come up with it?
I knew I wanted a military element in it, but I also knew that one of the principal players would be dead. This is a straight up contemporary romance, no paranormal elements or anything. It’s the story of two people, remembering a very dear person in their lives, as they rediscover the most important thing of life—love.

What did you discover about one or more of your characters you didn't expect while writing Remembering Andy?

That they were interesting people in their own right and that it is possible to get that second chance so many of us want.

Can you tell us more about your other published works?
Oh, it seems like I’m a jack of all trades when it comes to writing. I create stories across all genres and in all heat levels. So, if you’re looking for something from sweet romance to really spicy, I’ve got it. This year, I’m writing in the historical and sci-fi genres—at least for the 1st half of the year. In June, there are a couple of projects which will probably land in the contemporary and paranormal categories. I think it’s important to mix it up as a writer so the brain doesn’t get worn out and it gives your readers a wide variety to choose from.

I agree. So, with all your mixed interested, any upcoming projects?
There’s always an upcoming project! Right now I’m trying to finish a contemporary/paranormal novella. After that, I’ll work on a spicy historical then write a sequel to a sci-fi piece I did last year. Busy, busy!

Where can we find you on the web?
You can pop over to my website . From there you can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook or my Believing is Seeing blog. I often run contests and giveaways so I hope to see you on one of these social networking sites!

Please enjoy an excerpt from "Remembering Andy":
Claudia sighed, glad to let go of the fake chipper attitude. What was so wrong with wanting to stay wrapped in the grief and loneliness for awhile longer? Yes, she’d moved to Indianapolis shortly after Andy was buried in an effort to distance herself from the life she’d had with him, but the sad fact was she couldn’t shake the memories and that bothered her more than anything else.

I don’t want to remember. I don’t want to get involved with someone else and open myself up to more pain and hurt. Because trapped within the memories was the specter of the life she’d always thought she’d have. A perfect marriage like her parents. Two perfect kids—a boy and a girl. A perfect dog and cat. The perfect house and environmentally friendly cars. A perfect husband who loved to laugh and never took anything too seriously.

Now, thanks to one stupid incident of terror, she would have none of those things, and that saddened her more than merely missing Andy.
She mourned for her dreams, too.
By the time Claudia had reached the backside of the crowd, the mayor’s speech had begun. Muffled, and at times garbled, she followed the gist of it by the crowd’s reaction. Patriotism still ran high, but it had dimmed since the ‘so-called’ war began years ago. Quite possibly, these people were here because they had family members overseas and not because they supported the decisions in Washington. When it came down to brass tacks, family was more important than policy.

The crowd shifted, pushing backward. She stumbled a few steps, jolting slightly as the backs of her calves connected with the concrete lip of a fountain. A green garden-type hose ran from the fountain across the grass and vanished under a bunch of landscaping equipment. Inside the fountain, a shallow amount of water glistened in the morning sun. Obviously, the workers were getting a jump on beautifying the city.

An excited murmur rippled through the attendees. Claudia stepped on the fountain’s ledge to get a glimpse of what the mayor held up. Gleaming in the sunshine, a huge key was presented to a woman who had three small children clustered around her. Ah, the wife of a recently killed serviceman was getting the ‘key to the city’ for the day and she could park anywhere she wanted while the city picked up the tab.

Yeah, because saving twelve bucks would make up for not having the man back home.
Coming out here was a dumb idea. It’s too soon, too much. As she glanced around, she couldn’t exactly climb down from her perch without crashing into at least three people, one of whom had a tattoo of a snake on the back of his neck. Taking a few steps away from him, her feet seemed to freeze, preventing her escape as a very familiar scent assailed her.

Fresh and clean like a recent snowfall with a tiny hint of pine, her stomach clenched in sudden panic while her heartbeat accelerated. That was what Andy had smelled like. Sure, probably dozens of other men in the city used the same cologne but to her it would forever call up memories of him. Quiet summer nights on the porch swing at his farmhouse or bundled under quilts watching movies in the dead of winter.

Even though she knew it was impossible, she craned her neck, searching for a glimpse of Andy. The crowd shifted once more, pressing in on her vantage point. Claudia lost her balance and clutched at the first set of shoulders she came to—the guy who stood next to the tattooed man.

As he jerked and turned around, an apology sprang to her lips. Sapphire blue eyes sparkled in the sun. Andy’s eyes! With a surprised squeak, she released him as if he was on fire. She lost her balance, arms wind milling before finally half-stumbling, half-falling into the fountain’s pool.

It couldn’t be… As the few inches of cold water seeped through her jeans, she stared up at all six-feet of broad shoulders, fit body hidden by a designer suit and dark, sandy-blond hair cut trendy short. Stunned when he reached out a hand, a small smile lifting one corner of his mouth, she gawked even more. There was only one person with a grin like that. “Daniel?” She had no idea he’d be at the rally let alone in this part of the city.

Warmth invaded her body, centering low in her belly as she stared into the face of the man who’d been the first guy to kiss her, the first guy to break her heart, the first guy she’d ever loved—her dead fiancé’s brother.

Remembering Andy will release the 2nd week of March from Eirelander Publishing. Keep an eye on my website for an exact date and other information!

We will Sandra! Thank you so much for stopping by!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Hi all! I had to miss last Sunday do to some unforeseen events. But I'm back! Something new I've started with my sentences this week is putting up an image that represents them.

This week, I was working on my current WIP, the last book in the Telomere Trilogy, Ending Eternity, and this fragment caught my attention as maybe a good one for this week.

"No, you just died emotionally to be rebirthed anew. Embrace your resurrection and allow your evolution to embrace you."

Luna looked back at the pool again, and the fish still playing with bubbles. The waterfall rumbled in the background and the wind whispered kisses along her skin. She could not thrive away from this, from them, from her way of life. She was heading to her end.

Hope you liked this week's sentences. Make sure to stop by the Six Sentence Sunday site and check out the other participating author's sentences. It's always a good bit of weekend fun.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Free Read

Hi all!

I've got a new free read up. To the Meadow's Edge was originally published in Bewildering Stories. Here's the link of that publication notice back in the day. But now that the rights have reverted back to me I thought I'd slap it up at Smashwords for easy access.

For those of you who don't remember, or who are new friends, To the Meadow's Edge started life as a dream and follows Georgia through a surreal walk. The original version of it appeared in a long ago contest on a writing forum no longer in existence.

And feel free to check out my Free Read section for a couple other stories I got up there.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Krista Ball on Aboriginal Natives in Writing - Not Just in America

Hello blogger friends! As you all know, I love Native American stories. I grew up in Colorado and was raised with a healthy learning of their history. I've even written based on the oral stories passed down. My friend and fellow author, Krista Ball, brought up a great point about a big gap in the United State's understanding of the WHOLE story. So, today's she's stopped by to teach us about the Aboriginal people above the lower 48. I know it was a big eye opener for me, as I'd truthfully never thought about them outside the US.

Take it away, Krista!


I love reading. I’m not loyal to any genre; I just want a good story and ever better characters. I love to read stories from space and from imaginary worlds.

When I wrote Harvest Moon, a couple of my beta readers were confused that I wrote an aboriginal tale that wasn’t set in the US. It really made me aware that the vast majority of “Native American” stories are American-setting, i.e. United States.

For those of us outside the US, we want to see our culture, history, and attitudes also shared in literature. The First Nations people that I worked with at my previous job loved the idea that I was incorporating their history into literature, when they are so often ignored. Add to that I included a bisexual character and it suddenly the story has a different twist to things.

I’ve encountered a lot of resistance to the terms “aboriginal”, “Inuit,” and “First Nations” I used to describe the novella. In Canada, that’s what our first peoples call themselves. I admit that it frustrated me at first, though I came to realize that it was simply a product of having only ever been exposed to one version of the story of our lives and history – and not the many other versions of the same story. This conflict gave me the courage to continue adding my own perspective of the world into my fiction.

Road to Hell is my upcoming science fiction military thriller that has a Canadian feel to it. I based the skin colours and cultures of the characters based on my own office at work. My office is multicultural; why shouldn’t my novel? The main character is a female commander of a major space port who has a wife, because I come from a country that officially allowed gays in the military nearly two decades with little debate or fanfare and where gay couples use terms like “wife” and “husband” and “married” to describe each other.

Sometimes, I admit it isn't easy writing off the grid and doing different things, but I also think it's important that I share my perspective of the world. I enjoy it when others share their different perspectives, too. After all, literature would be pretty boring if it was all the same.

About the Author:

Krista D. Ball was born and raised in Deer Lake, Newfoundland, where she learned how to use a chainsaw, chop wood, and make raspberry jam. After obtaining a B.A. in British History from Mount Allison University, Krista moved to Edmonton, AB where she currently lives with her partner, two crazy but likable step-boys, seven cats, and a very understanding corgi.

Like any good writer, Krista has had an eclectic array of jobs throughout her life, including strawberry picker, pub bathroom cleaner, oil spill cleaner-upper and soup kitchen coordinator. These days, when Krista isn’t software testing, she writes full-time in her messy office.


You can find out more about Krista by stopping by her website, or you can Tweet Her!

Thank you so much, Krista, for stopping by!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hangin' with a Friend

Hi all!

I'm over at JoAnn Carter's blog, just hanging out and revealing all my little secrets (heehee). COme by if you have a chance!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Have a Dream

I have a dream. It's not a complicated dream that involves revolution, changing society, or any such world altering thing. It's simple. So simple. But it's those simple ones that get you. Because they're uncomplicated, they're more tangible. Your brain can envision the success of them easier and it makes the want much much more.

So, back to this simple dream. Want to hear it? Really? Okay, I'll tell you...

I would love to wake up every morning, drink a cup of coffee in my backyard (or inside if it's raining or windy), then walk into my office and sit at the computer. From there, I want to fill up a white screen with words. Lots of words. But not just any words. Words that make people laugh. And make them cry. And maybe, sometimes, make them look at things a little bit differently.

I don't mind if some people wouldn't like my work. Like I said, it's not a big hairy audacious dream. I just want enough people to like my work that all I have to do it sit and fill words on my white screen all day.

Well, there it is. My dream. Nothing glamorous or sexy. Just. One. Simple. Dream.

Unlike some though, I can't just sit and dream. Ask my husband. When I decide I want something I go for it. It's what I call the "Want, Plan, Achieve" method. I find out or discover what I want. I lay it out on paper. List the end point and what it'll take to get there. Oh, and then there's the spreadsheets! Those wonderful, loving spreadsheets where I track my progress. Then I go and reach the milestones one by one. Oh, don't get me wrong, I've fallen. There's physical, mental, and spiritual scars to prove it. But I get up, wipe off the blood, tears, and disappointment and get back to getting what I want.

I've met a lot of goals by this method of "Want, Plan, Achieve". I just can't dream. Dreams are no fun if you're not working to make them real. And the victory of success is not worthy if you have no scars to show for it.

I'm getting this dream of writing my days away. Several milestones are past and more are in the near future and just beyond lays the goal. So close. So tangible.

So what are your dreams? What paths have you taken to get there and what bumps have you overcome to keep going?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Feature: "Daniella" by JoAnn Carter

Hello by bloggie friends!

Today I have author friend JoAnn Carter stopping by to chit chat about her release from White Rose Publishing, titled "Daniella". Thanks so much JoAnn for coming by and sharing this book with us.

This is definitely on my TBR list. Read on and see why...

When Harrison Beckman meets his father’s secretary, Daniella Duncan, she’s shy and self-conscious. Harrison, however, is determined to get to know her better. Before he gets to do that a rival comes along to steal Dani’s heart as quickly and thoroughly as the company’s contracts, which have been disappearing.

As the mystery unfolds, Harrison has to fight for the woman he loves, even though this means crossing swords with his father and his determined adversary. Will Harrison be able to find the love that could await them or will it be too late?

Tidbit about this story:
While in the middle of writing this story, I heard the song MIRROR MIRROR by Barlow Girl on the radio. As I listened to the lyrics, it hit me how many women like Dani, (the heroine in DANIELLA) struggles with self-image.

As the plot develops, and Dani comes to the realization God loves her the way he made her. I had to be honest and ask myself, "Do I believe that?" It’s easy for me to nod my head while I’m writing this, but it’s another story when I’m standing in one of those dinky changing rooms try to find a bathing suit for the summer!

Accepting myself is sometimes is a daily struggle. In the same way this story has challenged me, as you experience Dani growth reading this book, it’s my prayer that it will draw you closer to God as well. (If you’d like to hear Mirror Mirror, click onto this link:

Harrison took the folder from her extended hand. Her hand seemed so small, and he had the strangest desire to protect her from whatever inner battle she was fighting. "I’m sorry. I know you’ve been with our advertising firm for quite a while now, but until today, I’ve never met you." He added with a smile, "Forgive me, I’m horrible with names. What’s yours again?"

Her eyes grew wide. With a nervous catch, she said, "Daniella Duncan."

"I like that name. May I call you Daniella?"

She shrugged. "Everybody calls me Dani."

"I think I prefer Daniella." Still studying her face, Harrison added, "Somehow, Dani doesn’t seem to fit you."

"Oh, Dani fits me all right. It sounds short and fat." Her hand clamped over her mouth, and her eyes grew even wider. Harrison’s heart nearly broke when she asked, "Did I really say that out loud?"

It had been drilled into his head since he was a boy never to talk to women about two things: their age and their weight. Now, what should he do with this hanging hot potato? Ignore it. "I didn’t hear anything if you didn’t." He tried to continue with the previous introductions. "Everyone calls my father Mr. Beckman, so I go by Harrison."

"Okay. I’ll try to remember that." Daniella seemed to have reached her limit; she looked like a cat being chased by a mouse, desperate for escape.
"Um, I really need to get back now, so..."

"Sure. Thanks again." Harrison didn’t even know if she heard him as she turned and left with quick steps.

He stood quietly by his door and listened to the clickety-clack sound Daniella’s shoes made on the linoleum fade into a soft pitter-patter as she retreated down the hallway. He shut his door while contemplating the strange woman who was just in his office. Pretty but strange...yes, definitely strange. Finally, he shrugged his shoulders and went back to the tasks at hand.

Free discussion questions here:

Price: $3.50 (Special sale for 25% off of this price if you purchase Smuggler of the Heart. See purchase link below for details.)
Purchase link:

A little bit about JoAnn...
JoAnn Carter lives in Vermont with her wonderful husband of 18 years, four children and Ginger, the best dog in the world. She enjoys being with her family & friends, writing, reading, and cooking.

In the past JoAnn has worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse, an apple orchard guide and as a substitute teacher. She is available for speaking engagements to book clubs, reader groups, library groups, women's ministry events, school events and church retreats.

Her next book, The Floating Palace, will be released July 15th through Desert Breeze Publishing. You can access the book trailer here:

Contact JoAnn here:
Visit JoAnn's Web site
Connect with JoAnn on Facebook

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Going' Old School this Six Sentence Sunday

Yup, the title says it all. This tidbit is from Sorcerer's Carnival, published as one of the contributed stories in the Bloody Carnival Anthology published by Pill Hill Press September 2010. Okay, here it goes...
"Barabin heard the chitter of shadows. Unable to control himself, he looked into the vanity mirror. Behind his reflection they stood. Staring with empty eyes and pained faces. All of them. How they fit, he didn’t know."

Bloody Carnival Anthology: Sorcerer's Carnival

Sorcerer Barabin, trapped for centuries, is working to gain the power to free himself from his dimensional prison...and he's only got two more souls to go. A fun evening at the carnival turns dark and dangerous for Lilia and James when they find out they're Barabin's final selections.

If you'd like to find out more about participating in Six Sentence Sunday or to check out the other participating authors, go to Six Sentence Sunday's blog, here.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Stephanie Burkhart on Location, Location, Location

Today I have a very wonderful guest stopping by, fellow Desert Breeze author Stephanie Burkhart. I read an advanced copy of her book The Count's Lair, Book 2 in the Budapest Moon series and fell in love with the settings she described and how they fit with the mood of the story. So, I asked if she'd come by and talk about the importance of setting and location. I hope you all give her a wonderful welcome and stay tuned to the end because there's an opportunity to win a prize.
Steph, take it away!


I'm excited to be here at Amber's blog. Thanks so much for having me here today.

Just a little about me: I was born in Manchester, New Hampshire. After graduating from Central High, I joined the US Army. I spent 11 years in the military, 7 in Germany. While in the military, I earned a BS in Political Science from California Baptist University in Riverside, CA in 1995. I left the Army in 1997 and settled in California, but my favorite football team is still the New England Patriots. I work for LAPD as a 911 dispatcher. I've been married for 19 years. I have two boys, Andrew, 8, and Joseph, 4.

Location, Location, Location

The Count's Lair, Book 2 in the Budapest Moon series is set in Budapest, Hungary during Christmas time in 1901.

So just how important is setting?

Location establishes a mood, a feel, an ambiance, a tone for a novel. It provides the stage for the play your characters are going to perform on. For me, as a writer, location is everything.

The Count's Lair is a paranormal romance. It's set in Budapest for a very deliberate reason – because in Hungary you just might believe a paranormal being like a vampire or a werewolf still exists. Hungary is in Central Europe, the cross roads where East meets West on the continent.

Budapest itself invokes mystery – dark mystery – just by the name. The architecture which grew out of Budapest starting in the 1840's with the Széchenyi Bridge, encompassing the Parliament building, and Fisherman's Bastian also helps to establish a more "haunting," "moodier" setting.

Amelia and Anton's story shines in the light and hope of Christmas, but still, there will always be an element of haunting melancholy to the challenges they face and Budapest captures that mood and wraps the couple in its embrace.

Here's a blurb:

Count Anton Varga is haunted by the curse of the moon. It tugs on his emotions, ravishing his soul. Anton abhors the beast he must learn to tame if he is to find peace. Lady Amelia Andrássy is an accomplished pianist, but her life in Budapest had been filled with heartache. When Amelia faints in the Duma's bookstore, it's Anton's strong arms that cradle her fall. His unusual indigo eyes spark with hers, replacing their individual loneliness with the promise of feral passion. 

After a two month separation, Anton is ready to walk into Amelia's life again, but is Amelia ready to fan the spark they shared into a flame? 

Enjoy this excerpt:

Anton stepped aside so the man could pass. "Amelia, to be honest about my intentions, I want to court you."

"Court me?" She stepped back.

He grabbed her wrist, as if desperate to keep her near him. His eyes impaled her, making her breathless. Was it too soon to think of always and forever with him? Had he really changed? Her heart believed so. Now, she just had to convince her head.

"I have no one to ask for permission, but you. Search your heart. I care for you deeply. I want to explore this, Amelia, but only if you do. I swear I'm ready for this."

Her lips trembled as she stepped forward, moved by the conviction in his voice. Dare she fall in love again? The chance was worth it. "Yes."

"Thank you." He wrapped his arms around her, infusing her with his warmth.

She melted against the length of his body, savoring the contact. It felt right.

He parted from her, placed his hands on her upper arms, and looked at her. "The feelings I have when I'm near you are nothing like I've had before, but--"

"Go on." She prompted when he delayed too long.

"But I have a secret, too -- a secret that chokes me when I think of telling you."

"Anton--" A secret?

He held up his hand. "Let me finish. I promise to tell you, but I can't right now. I can only give you clues."


"You must accept this, Amelia. I know it may be unusual, but it's the only way I can think of to be honest with you."

Taken off guard, she faced him. Anton's full lips and smoldering eyes riveted her to him. In fact, his looks were everything she was attracted to in a man, but it all came down to trust. Could she trust him? If she said yes to him right now, then she was giving him her trust, which included his secret.

"How many clues do you have?"

"Three. Once you know my secret, if you want to break our courtship, you can. I'll understand."

Her body shivered. Was his secret dangerous? Even if it was, did she care? A part of her just wanted to throw herself into his arms and let come what may. Another part of her told her to keep her feet firmly on the ground.


The Count's Lair is avail as ebook for Kindle, B&N Nook, Sony Ereader, and Kobo. You can also download a copy from the Publisher's Website at:

Goodie time: Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win a coffee mug stuffed with goodies of "The Count's Lair" cover. I'll be back later to announce the winner.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Guest Blogging

Hi all!

I'm over at Jillian Chantel's talking about romantic off world settings. Stop by and let me know what you think.