Tag Archives: vampires

War of Shadows Is Now In Stores!

Blaine McFadden is back, and the bad guys are badder than ever! Broken magic. Power-hungry vampires. Evil mages. Battling warlords. War of Shadows is now in stores and online in trade paper and ebook—my darkest and grittiest adventure ever!

War of Shadows

War of Shadows

War of Shadows is Book 3 in Blaine McFadden’s Ascendant Kingdom’s Saga. Here’s the recap: Blaine “Mick” McFaden has scored a victory and restored the magic, but new threats rise from the wreckage of the kingdom of Donderath. While the magic remains brittle and undependable, warlords both mortal and undead vie for power, fighting for control of the ruined Continent. McFadden and his unlikely band of convict heroes must choose their allies wisely as renegade talishte take long- awaited vengeance and powerful mages seek to control Donderath’s next king. Blaine McFadden must protect those loyal to him against the coming storm, and find a way to bind magic to the will of mortals before it destroys him, because time is running out …

And since a picture says a thousand words, this is the book video

There are a few days left on the Goodreads giveaway

You can find an excerpt plus links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, Chapter/Indigo, Waterstones and Kobo here: https://www.ascendantkingdoms.com/books/the-ascendant-kingdoms-saga/war-of-shadows/

What Reviewers are saying about War of Shadows

If you are an epic fantasy lover, then this is a series you should try!—Exploding Spaceship Reviews

Packed with action, politics, magic, and monsters, this is epic fantasy writ large—Barnes & Noble

“War of Shadows is a rousing adventure full of action, intrigue, danger, and suspense. It’s epic fantasy at its best, filled with vivid magic but grounded by real human emotion.”
—Aaron Rosenberg, author of the bestselling Adventures of DuckBob Spinowitz series

“This book kept me reading long past my bed time. As always, Gail Z. Martin delivers Epic Fantasy as it was meant to be read: gripping, action packed, and larger than life. A delight for any fan of the genre!”—Rachel Aaron, author of The Spirit Thief

“A vivid, engrossing tapestry woven from epic heroism, post apocalypse struggles, perilous magic and darkest fantasy. A distinct and distinctive achievement”.
–Juliet McKenna, author of The Tales of Einarinn

“Which of these things are on your epic fantasy checklist: Intense action in the first few pages which then carries right through to the last? Vivid battle scenes? Characters that combine the best of classic archetypes with fresh new twists? Snappy dialogue? Exciting world building? If you’ve checked even half of these items, then you owe it to yourself to check out Gail Z. Martin’s War of Shadows. It’s heroic adventure at it’s rollicking finest.”
–Charles E. Gannon, author of Fire With Fire

“With a large cast of satisfying characters, Gail Z. Martin masterfully presents an epic struggle between the forces of life and the forces of death in a world of broken magic.”
—James Maxey, author of Greatshadow on War of Shadows

“High mage magic, thrilling battles and heart-thudding adventure – yet another superb fantasy tale from Gail Z. Martin!”
– Andy Remic, author of The Iron Wolves on War of Shadows

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The Clan Andriescu

Whenever I begin a blog, I feel as if I’m at an AA or some other rehabilitative meeting, that I should stand up and say, “Bon Jour, everyone…my name is Tony-Paul and I like vampires.  Not only like them but I write about them also.”  At this point, everyone would mutter, “Hello Tony-Paul,” but…instead of launching into a story of my addictions and failures, we’d proceed to delving into the nosferatu psyche and how our literary efforts can make them more exciting and interesting because…believe it or not…we of the vampire-author persuasion don’t want to be cured!

Nope…sorry…unrepentant and all that…we love our winged, fanged nightwalkers…otherwise we wouldn’t write about them. (Did you ever believe otherwise?  Truly?)  Each of us in this very esoteric and close little circle (close and esoteric compared to other genres) has his own favorite type of Undead, and if the characteristics don’t exactly fit, why we’ll just use that good ol’ literary license and invent some which do.  I know one writer who allows her vamps to be able to utter the Holy Name without injury, and they actually have images in mirrors.  Another gave her nos the ability to conjure up an image in a mirror but only for a moment.  Some are repelled by garlic, others by various herbs and spices such as basil and oregano.  There days, the vampyre can be as varied as the humans on the planet, and it’s a very rare one indeed who hasn’t allowed himself to change with the times and avail himself—to some extent—of the technologies now present.  Hey, the vampire hunters are certainly taking advantage of the Internet, etc., so why shouldn’t the vampires, also?

Which conveniently segues into mention of my newest release, The Clan Andriescu.  I’ve done what I consider a pretty nervy thing with this novel…I’ve made myself a character in it.

In the foreward and also in the first chapter, readers will learn how a smart-ass adolescent named Tony-Paul happens, just by chance to meet three sightseeing tourists on a Savannsh beach.  They’re looking for something that doesn’t exist. He’s looking for…well, to tell the truth, at that stage of his life, TP didn’t know what he was looking for.  The tourists, however, did help him find a goal in his as yet undetermined life.

Things get off to a bumpy start, but get better as it goes along.

If the following blurb/excerpt piques our interest (Oui, I know how to both spell and use that word properly) here’s the BUY LINK: https://www.classactbooks.com/index.php/general-fiction/horror/the-clan-andriescu-pdf-3482013-05-14-03-37-13-detail

BLURB, The Clan Andriescu

Marius, head of the Clan… Exiled for stealing one too many women from his prince…He can’t understand why the woman he loved in 1968 doesn’t want to renew their affair in 2013..

Valerius, the baby brother… ordered to marry, he selects the one girl who’s off limits because she’s human…all right to bite but not to wed…

Timon, the cousin… Being married to the most famous writer of vampire novels since Anne Rice can be fun, until she writes an exposé proving vampires are real…

When the sun sets on Savannah Beach, they meet a smart ass adolesdcent named Tony-Paul de Vissage…they entrust their life story to him…

Twenty years later, it becomes a novel…


“Back, foul fiend!” TP crossed one forefinger over the other, holding his hands in front of him.

“What the Hell are you doing?” The one called Val demanded, jumping back with a hiss.

Timon reached out, knocking TP’s hands apart. “That won’t help you,” he snarled. “We’re Jewish!”

“Don’t believe him.” Val recovered, leaning forward to whisper rather earnestly, “We’re Russian Orthodox. Really.”

“Back foul fiend?” Marius started laughing when TP spoke and now got himself under control. “I haven’t heard that phrase in at least a century. Where’d you dig up that?”

“I-I heard it in a Dracula movie the other night.” TP looked a little disappointed at their reaction.

“Dracula.” Marius looked disgruntled. “The best example of bad press, if ever there was. He should’ve sued his publicist.”

“If you’re through dissing Dracula, would you tell me…W-where am I?” wavered TP. “What have you done to me?”

“Done to you?” They looked at each other and back at him. “Nothing.”

“Don’t lie. I know what you are. Exactly.”

“Okay.” Timon walked over to the fainting couch and slouched on it, legs crossed, hands behind his head. “I’ll bite.” He looked as if he’d like to do just that. “What are we? Exactly?”


“Vam…” He began to laugh, displaying those overlong eyeteeth. “You’ve got a sense of humor, kid, I’ll give you that.”

URL: https://www.tony-paul.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tonypaul.devissage?ref=tn_tnmn

MySpace: https://www.myspace.com/505918625

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5117438.Tony_Paul_de_Vissage

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007BDHDZY

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/tonypauldev

Twitter: @tpvissage


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Vampires and Chocolate!

FWoC started as a blog post about how the vampires in my Void City series can’t eat and how that has driven them to participate in a sort of voyeuristic eating where they make humans dine on what they, the vampires, crave but cannot have. At the end of the post, I asked readers what food they’d miss the most if they became a vampire. Chocolate won hands down… which, given that I don’t really like chocolate, intrigued me.

Around the same time, I was invited to do a reading (I won’t say where) and *after* I accepted, the person in charge asked if I would please make sure to keep it clean. We’ve since laughed about it, but it seemed like a very odd (almost cruel) request at the time. My first novel, Staked, was the only book I had out, and to be frank, the main character is a veteran who runs a strip club and his language is… peppery at best. So, the week before the reading, I wrote the first draft of “For Want of Chocolate” as a vehicle for introducing the way my vampires work, with a fair dose of the humor folks have come (hopefully) to expect from the novels, but without the colorful expletives.

Obviously, the story became more than that… the characters became real and made their own choices and decisions, which is what I’m always shooting for when I write.

Haley, the main character in “For Want of Chocolate” is a newly turned vampire coming to the realization that she can’t eat chocolate anymore. Having her realize that simple fact while standing in front of a Godiva store is my little jab at the chocolate lovers out there and an attempt to awaken in chocolate lovers that craving which never completely goes away. The first time I read the story, people went out and bought chocolate. The second time I read it (at a convention) it was as part of a group reading and two of my fellow authors threatened to kill me if I ever again read the story in their presence when no chocolate was available… threats which made me glow inside, because that is exactly the reaction I wanted. Could the guy who doesn’t really like chocolate make people who do like it crave it? You tell me. 🙂

For Want of Chocolate

A Void City Short Story

© J. F. Lewis

Nobody warned me about chocolate, which is why I was standing in the mall right outside Godiva, and to be honest, I thought I was going to go berserk. The luxurious bitter scent of dark chocolate mixed with other odors that I’d never noticed before: a spicy flair, a fruity bouquet…

When I was human, those odors never sang to me the way they did now that my olfactory senses had received a mystical boost. Of course, no matter how good it smelled, I knew I couldn’t have any. Vampires can’t eat… and I’d known that. Hell, I’d been dating one, for over a year. But in the moment, when I got the news about mom’s illness and Jason made his offer, I hadn’t been thinking about food, my job…anything.

My boyfriend Jason laughed at me. He leaned over the fourth floor balcony rail, by the DVD store next to the escalators. His long black hair cascaded past his hard muscled shoulders, and he tossed it back as he laughed. He whispered his words, but I heard him clearly. “What? You forgot vampires can’t eat?”

An older woman brushed past me, purchase made. She didn’t wait until she was out of the mall to open her chocolate. She discarded the bag, removing the multi-colored ribbon from the matte gold box. I felt like that rat in the Pixar movie, the one that can cook, because when she opened the box, the world faded away and the scent canceled out everything else. The nearby food court, the woman’s own body odor, even the siren call of blood itself, were replaced by this cornucopia of rich, dark wonder.

I’d always laughed at Jason for the way he’d stared at me whenever I ate a bag of Cheetos. He’d focused on every nuance of what was such a simple action, eyes locked in on each individual Cheeto as it went into my mouth. Now I knew how he’d felt. The sensation was overwhelming, like hang-gliding… or really good sex.

Jason laughed again as I began to stagger, but I didn’t look up at him. My eyes were on the chocolate. I recognized each piece, from the Coffee Feather to the Raspberry Caramel Duet. My fangs came out, tearing through my gums. It was only the second time they’d ripped free of their hidden sheaths; already the pain was more tolerable.

“Careful.” Jason was next to me in a blink, right hand on the back of my neck. He forced me back against the glass of the shop, left hand on my abdomen. “Just watch.”

I’d have gone for the Dark Ganache Heart, the Pecan Crunch, or the Dark Mint Medallion, but she didn’t. She sat at an abandoned table at the edge of the deserted food court, the metal chair’s creak inaudible to humans, but loud as the clatter of high heels on tile to me and to Jason. She lifted a brown square, the 72% Dark Demitasse, and unwrapped it with blasphemous abandon.

I wanted her to break it in half to savor it, but she chewed it recklessly, without thought, without care.

“She’s not even tasting it,” I said with a snarl of outrage.

The woman glared up at me with a scowl, her lips drawn up into a look of porcine self-importance. What must I have looked like to her? A skinny little bitch,dressed in black? Did she envy my hair, my pale perfect skin? Or did she look at the blue lipstick, the eyeliner, the tiny gold stud in my nostril and dismiss me as trash? Jason laughed again, a gentle laugh, a pitying laugh, and I could see it in the woman’s eyes… she thought he was laughing at her.

As if to spite me, she grabbed the Pecan Crunch and stuffed it in, staring me in the eyes. I willed her to stop, screamed it in my head. To my surprise, she froze, gaze locked with mine and I felt our minds touch. She was a petty little thing. Her thoughts thrashed against mine, but there was no real fight in her, no spark.

“Did you just lock minds with her?” There was wonder in his voice, tinged with fear.

“She does not get to hork down the Pecan Crunch without even tasting it.”

Jason’s eyes narrowed. “Is it possible you’re a Master? Most Soldiers can’t instinctively lock minds with a human.”

There are four levels of vampire, and Jason is only a Soldier, second from the bottom. If I turned out to be a Master, I’d be more powerful than him. But I didn’t care about that; I cared about the woman and the woman’s chocolate. Her green eyes were still locked with my brown eyes. I smiled.

“If she eats the chocolate and then I drink her blood…?” I let the question hang.

“It doesn’t work that way.” Jason released me and I took one step toward the lady with the chocolate. “I tried it with Cheetos and this homeless dude outside my old apartment. Even after I made the guy eat eleven big bags, I couldn’t taste a thing.”

“Damn it!”

But there’s more to chocolate than the taste right? I told myself.

Layers of chocolate melted in the woman’s mouth, revealing the pecan pieces within, the nuggets of crisped rice, and I watched as a bead of brown drool escaped the edge of her mouth and slid down her chin. An urge to leap upon her and lick the drool from her face roared up from deep inside me and I looked away.

In that instant, she was in control again and she threw herself away from me with such force that she fell out of the chair. I wanted to walk across the dull tile and lift her over my head, break her, smash her, because she could have what I craved and she didn’t even have the decency to savor it. As if stuffing her face with fine chocolate was acceptable.

Jason was restraining me again, but not for long. I elbowed him hard and he went flying, arms and legs stretched out in front of him, his face a comical mask of surprise as he hurtled toward the glass window of the Godiva store behind me like an umbrella caught in the wind.

I’m strong.

He caught himself at the last possible second, hands flat against the marble above the window. Using the momentum of my blow, he rolled backwards up the wall, caught the iron rail behind his head, and hung there for an instant before dropping back to the ground. The funny thing was, no one noticed it happened except for me, Jason, and possibly the woman. It had all happened that quickly. Vampire speed.

Whether she’d seen Jason’s vampire-acrobatics or not, the woman was preparing to make a break for the parking deck. And taking her chocolate with her. There must have been forty bucks or more of Godiva’s finest, and she wasn’t just going to leave it behind. As she looked toward the escalator, I tested my own speed, appearing before her in a blur, head cocked to one side. Our eyes met and before she could look away, I had her again.

Sit. Back. Down. I thought at her. She followed the order. Again the metal of the chair creaked beneath her weight. I looked beyond the extra pounds, beyond my own casual, judgmental assessment, and really saw her. She was pretty in her way. Her make-up was inexpertly applied, but she was trying. With a better dye-job and a few make-up tips she’d be cute.

“What are you doing, Haley?” Jason whispered.

“I just want her to do it right,” I hissed.

My name is Haley, I thought at her. Say it. Say hello.

“Hello, Haley?” she asked in a weak, frightened, yet pleasant voice.

I’m not going to hurt you, I thought at her again. Not if you follow my instructions.

“Can you do that?” I asked aloud.

She nodded, and I crossed the space between us and sat in one of the two unoccupied chairs at the food court table, resting my leather-jacketed elbows on the smooth, whitish surface.

“How can you do this?”

“I’m a vampire,” I told her. My fangs were still out, and she started to draw away from me. I caught her wrist in a grip stronger than Mike, my trainer at the company gym, had ever had.

The company gym. I went to work on Friday, still human. Today is Saturday and I’m undead now. What do I do about a job? I work mornings! Who has time to worry about chocolate?

I did.

Nothing was more important to me right now than chocolate. I couldn’t even muster the effort to lie to myself about it. Nothing, not Jason, not the woman across from me, not my mother in the hospital bed back home in Utah. Nothing was more important than the chocolate!

“What’s your name?”

“Liz,” she said. Her eyes were locked on my painted blue fingernails, which dug into the skin at her wrist. I let go.

“Liz.” I rolled the word around in my mouth, feeling the strangeness of the fangs there, listening to odd way they affected my voice. “That’s a pretty name.” A bit of red spittle hit her cheek as the fangs slurred my sibilant. I wiped it away.

“Sorry, Liz.” I handled the sibilants more carefully that time, speaking the words in a slow measured cadence. “Blood is the only fluid I have now and I’m not used to speaking around the fangs, yet.”

“You’re really a vampire?”


“I don’t believe you. This is some kind of trick.”

Believe me, I thought at her, catching her eyes with my stare again. Her panic almost forced me out, but my personality, my will, was stronger than hers. You’d think a vampire would win a mental contest automatically, but we don’t. Jason had once described it as the undead version of the old Jedi Mind Trick: it’s only one hundred percent effective on the weak-minded. After a second, after my mind had forced hers to submit, she believed me.

“Are you going to eat me?” She blinked back tears.

“Oh, come on,” Jason whispered, the soul of impatience. “I thought you might want to go to the mall, buy some new boots or something. Eat a tween. I didn’t think we were going to get stuck here all night messing around with some middle-aged office chick. I still want to see what kind of animal you can turn into.”

In the presence of the chocolate, the idea of turning into a bat lost its appeal. I wanted to fly, true, loved the idea of soaring on wings of my own. It had even been part of Jason’s pitch. And it had hit home at the time, bringing back memories of hang gliding with my dad, out at The Point back in Utah. Flying had been the only thing the two of us had ever really done as a father-daughter activity. It had been years, but I could still close my eyes and feel the freedom of gliding through the air. The idea that of doing that, flying, without gear — truly soaring — was a dream come true. But the chocolate… to give that up to be a squeaky little bat? I had serious buyer’s remorse, and undeath came with no right of rescission.

“So go eat a tween,” I told him.

He cursed, threw his hands up in the air. I could smell his frustration, but he wasn’t angry.

“Just hurry it up, okay?”

“I’ll make it up to you,” I told him and he softened, grinning the grin that make him look like a dark angel, the grin that had talked me into joining him in undeath when I got the word about mom last night.

“Cool,” he said. “We’ve got about thirty minutes before the mall closes. I think I’ll go check out the video games or maybe the roleplaying game store.” He’d gone from upset to realizing he could go to all the places I thought were a waste of time. He walked away, whistling the theme to The Andy Griffith Show like a True Nerd.

“What do you want from me?” Liz asked.

“I want you to eat a piece of chocolate.” Her eyebrows raised and she opened her mouth to interrupt. But something stopped her. The fangs or the angry look in my eye, I don’t know which. I said, “I want you to eat it properly. Enjoy it. Savor it.”

“And then?”

I laughed. “And then, I give you some make-up tips and I let you go.”

She laughed with only the slightest touch of hysteria, trying to roll with it, to keep calm. Liz had a pretty laugh, a high pitched but pleasant titter. She wasn’t a snorter like me. “Don’t get me wrong, Haley, but you and I don’t exactly have the same fashion possibilities. You’re gorgeous. You look like that Trinity woman from the Matrix movies, but with better hair and nicer features.”

“I also used to work the make-up counter at Macy’s.”

“Really?” Her eyes brightened and her voice only cracked a little when she spoke.

I nodded. “Yes. So please, do this for me. Take a piece of chocolate.” Her hand moved toward one of the Dark Mint Medallions and I realized that I’d kill her if I had to watch her enjoy that particular piece.

“No!” I batted her hand away with such force that it brought tears to her eyes. “Sorry.” I took her hand. Pressed my cold hand against her warm one. The warmth of her body was like a beacon. If I hadn’t eaten before the mall, I’d have been at her throat. “Please. Let me pick.”

I let my hands linger on the pieces, caressing the molded chocolate shell of the Open Oyster, the rich brown profile of the Dark Lion of Belgium, the sinuous curves of the Midnight Swirl, before settling on the 50% Dark Demitasse. That, I could bear to watch, I thought. I removed the light brown wrapper and held the hard square of chocolate between my thumb and forefinger, its shiny gloss smooth beneath my fingers. A scent like toasted bread wafted up to me. Unable to resist, I put pressure on the chocolate and it broke clean with a crystal-clear snap.

Liz was mesmerized. “You’re serious about chocolate.”

I handed her the larger of the two pieces. “Smell it.”

She did.

“Put it in your mouth, but don’t chew it. Let it melt.” Liz did as I commanded. Her eyes closed, but mine widened, watching her for every little twitch.

“Wow,” she said after several seconds had passed, “And you gave this up?”

“Don’t push me, Liz.”

I slipped the other half into the pocket of my jeans and we headed to Macy’s to give Liz the tips I’d promised. I stumbled slightly as we walked and leaned against her for support, my legs trembling in the same way they might after flying, or sex. The only thing missing was the racing of my pulse, the pounding of my heart… which no longer beat.

Changing Liz’s look took no time at all. She’d been using the wrong foundation and concealer for half a lifetime. That by itself made a huge difference. I said goodbye to Liz and went back to the Godiva store, feeling empty. I watched through the window as the employee counted down the till. When Jason caught up with me, he was swinging a GameStop bag in his hand.

“They had the new…”

I kissed him, stopping the flow of words. I didn’t care what new video game they had, even if it was one that I’d want to play, too. I didn’t care. I was hungry. I wanted food. I had a sliver of chocolate in my pocket and it wasn’t melting because my body wasn’t warm enough, and I knew that if I put it in my mouth not only would I not be able to taste it, but it would make me sick, very sick, and have me vomiting blood all over the tile floor of the mall.

“You said we can turn into animals,” I said, breaking the kiss. “How? What kind?”

Please let it be more than bats, cats, dogs, and rats.

“Well. Drones can’t turn into anything and Soldiers usually only get one. Masters and Vlads can do several…”

“I don’t care about all that, Jason.” I squeezed his arm. “Just what kind and how do I do it?”

“You concentrate, picture yourself as the animal, but be careful. I think you’re a Master, but if you’re a Soldier, then the first one you pick might be the only one you ever get to choose.” His eyes crinkled in amusement. “There’s a stripper I heard of who can only turn into a frog.”

“I didn’t know vampires could turn into frogs.”

“Oh, yeah, we can turn into anything pretty much. But choose wisely,” he said the last part with an accent, trying to mimic the grail knight from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

The mall was closing, but I didn’t care. I was going to turn into something with feathers. It didn’t matter if the bird was sensible for a nocturnal predator or not. I just needed something, a guilty pleasure to replace the ones I’d lost. I perched on the metal rail of the balcony and pictured myself as a hawk, a bird of prey. I might not be free to eat, but I would be free to fly. Flight would be a consolation.

The transformation hurt, like I was being forced into a tiny rubber ball as my bones twisted in on themselves, poking my insides, but then I had feathers rising out of my skin. The pain stopped and I fell. I was a red-tailed hawk and I flew, my cry echoing through the mall.

Gliding to the top of the five-story atrium and down again to brush my wingtips against one of the mall’s fountains, I re-evaluated my choice: I didn’t give up chocolate to be a vampire. I can’t think of it that way. I gave it up for wings — real wings, with rich brown feathers streaked with tan; tail feathers a deep rich red, dotted with dark black bars. That trade I can deal with. It still hurts, but with every wing beat, I know that it’s enough.

Barely, but it’s enough.

If you dug that, be sure to like my fan page on Facebook to keep you up to date, or check out me out on Twitter @JF_Lewis. Heck, you could even try out one of my books. 🙂

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Favorite Character

Crymsyn Hart

Who is your favorite character? What actor would you see playing that favorite character? What makes one of your characters so endearing to you that you always mention them or write about them? Who, as a reader, do you love in your favorite book?

Those are questions I’ve gotten in regards to some of the characters who keep popping up in my books. I’ve always asked other authors those as well. My favorite character is my Angel of Death, Azrael. He started off being a fly by angel and then demanded being a central angel. Then he makes guest appearances in other series and some random standalones I have.

As a reader, my favorite character is Damon from the Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith. I’d love to have him running around in other books that I read. Damon would add a great discourse to Twilight. I can only imagine him trying to win Bella over from Edward. Lol. He is just so sassy with the edge of evil that you can’t let him out of your sight or he’ll do something evil.

If I could choose an actor to play Azrael, I’d probably pick Hugh Jackman. But there are so many possibilities that all make me go yum.

Those characters that become our favorites, whether you are writing or reading about them, have to have that certain thing about them. That small edge that want to make you revisit them over and over again. I reread books just to read about one character because I enjoy their small quirks. How they laugh or how they interact with other characters. Or just in general how they love to kill people because they do it with a sense of humor.
What do you love about the characters you enjoy so much?

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Filed under Books, Crymsyn Hart, Gail Z. Martin, J.F. Lewis, Tina R. McSwain

Mood Music

by Crymsyn Hart

Music is a key thing to get me into the mood for a book.
Heck, I’ve even got so enamored on a song that I’ve concocted a whole story
around just the one song. Once the book is written, I have nothing to do with
that song or artist for a few months because I’ve just over played them. I don’t
particularly plan on who I am going to listen to during the day. I just put my
MP3 player or computer on shuffle and listen to whatever comes my way.

However, if I’m going to be writing dark fantasy, I like to
listen to Ballad Metal, what I call it, with such bands as Nightwish or Kamelot or
even some instrumental collections to bring me into the other world where dark
elves and even vampire fairies exist. If my muses decide they want to focus solely
on vampires, then I break out one of my favorites either Type O Negative or Concrete
.  When I get down and dirty
and into the action scenes or big fights, then I pop in Disturbed or Cradle of Filth
so I can see the battle happening before me in either the guitar riffs or the
screaming of the lead singer.  For other
things it all depends. I shy away from country and rap only because I’m not a
fan of the genres.

What bands help you get into the mood? Some authors post
play lists for their books, is that something you like or would you choose your
own play list if you could?

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Filed under Books, Crymsyn Hart, Gail Z. Martin, J.F. Lewis

Balancing Act

by Crymsyn Hart

The summer is gearing up with conventions that I’ll be heading out to so I can hang out with some other cool authors and meet some great new people. I’ll be headng to Fandom Fest in Kentucky in July and then Authors After Dark in August. There I’ll be chilling with some more paranormal romance authors. I can just imagine that we will be talking about. Getting up together with more than three hundred women will be an interesting experience and who knows if there will be a cat fight or two.

Before all of that, I’ve found that I’ve been confronted with a balancing act of late. Writing for myself and writing for the market place. Not speaking for anyone else, but over the past couple of years I’ve noticed the market place has changed. Vampires used to be huge (not that they aren’t anymore), but zombies seem to be the in thing this year. At first it was okay to write just one couple in a book and the reading population was happy.

Now it appears that menage a trois and multiple partners are the new rage. Trying to follow the market, I’ve dabbled in this genre of the erotic romance, but find it difficult to keep up. I’m more of a one man and one woman kind of girl even though adding in the other characters makes for an interesting twist on the plot. So the question is, how do I balance everything?

I’ve always stuck by the staying that you have to write for you and not for the market. Most of what I write is for me. And I do admit, I bow and have found myself writing more of the erotic and adding in more of the sex than I find necessary, but hey, people love to read about sex. I find that I write more of the multiple partners as a dare to myself. Just to see if I can do it. And if the dare doesn’t work out, well then I guess I have to write more for me and hope that others en

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by Crymsyn Hart

Over the weekend, I was doing a lot of cleaning, getting down and dusty. While I was cleaning, I came across some of the stories that I had written in high school. I took a moment to go through the short tales. It got me to thinking about the people in my life who had been influential in helping me write and encouraged me to do so.

During middle school and through high school, writing was a way for me to cope with the reality of the my chaotic environment. My friends always lent me a kind ear. My teachers always told me I could do what I wanted. My family stood beside me through the years, but it was my grandfather who really encouraged me to keep on going.

When I was twelve, he set up a small space for me in his office, in the attic, so that I could write during the weekends that I would spend with them. So during the hot summer hours, I’d retreat up there with his electric typewriter and start tapping away at the keys. He would read everything I wrote and kept on encouraging me even though much of my stuff was about vampires. He asked me once when I was twelve, why I loved vampires so much. I shrugged and told him I didn’t know. I just loved them and I would keep writing about them as I got older. He dutifully told me that my likes would change as I got older and I would probably move out of the faze. After I had several works published that he had read, he told me he didn’t mind reading what I was writing, but he just couldn’t stomach any more vampires. That was something I brought up again a few months before he passed away. He chuckled and said that he really wanted me to finish this one piece that I had done when I was in high school. Out of everything it was his favorite. A young adult fantasy novel about a girl who steps into another world and discovers that sorcerers and unicorns are real.

Well, this was the very thing that I had come across when I was cleaning this weekend. Years ago, he had printed out the massive volume and went through and edited it for me hoping that one day it would see the light of day. It was up on my shelf in two huge three ring binders. Before he passed away, it was the one thing he insisted that I really focus on.

So these past few days, I’ve been flipping through the pages he marked and am finally seeing where the story should go from here. It’s been collecting dust for way too many years to count and I pluck at it once and a while. But for him, I’ll finish it and see it done. All because he was the one who was there for me and always encouraged me to keep on writing. Vampires or not.

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Whither the Werewolf?

by Gail Z. Martin

Werewolves are the new hot, hairy heartthrobs.  Whether it’s Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series or the uber-handsome werewolves in MaryJanice Davidson’s Queen Betsy books, or Quentin in Dark Shadows, or even the tragic Remus Lupin in Harry Potter, werewolves are the bad boys you can’t help but love.

In many ways, the werewolf has always depicted the brutal side of male behavior. And the truth is, there’s nothing sexy about domestic violence.  (Read Tanith Lee’s take on the Little Red Riding Hood story in Red as Blood to turn this trope on its head.) Yet today’s werewolves manage to soften that brutality by focusing their aggression outwards against threats to the mate, rather than internally against their family.

So here’s my question—how domesticated can we make werewolves before they become puppy dogs?  Are we reflecting a desire to find a wolf—or a golden retriever?  And if the wolf is a little too scary, is a German shepherd or a pit bull good enough?

Don’t get me wrong—I think there’s room for people to want a broad spectrum of werewolves, from alpha males to Yorkies (well, maybe that’s going a little far).  And perhaps it’s no different than the trend to shift a vampire from being a monster to being a ultimate-warrior male who is tender at home and rips heads off out in the street (it’s business, not personal).

Yet in many ways, werewolves are traditionally more duel natured than vampires, because vampires never cease being undead, while werewolves are just like the rest of us except around the full moon.  I’ve always thought that real violence is more a part of the werewolf mythos than the vampire trope because a vampire can take blood without killing, and even provide an orgasm for the donor.  Getting gnawed on by a wolf, on the other hand, is more of a downer.

Is there a point to this rambling?  Probably not.  Just some random observations and a few unanswered questions.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Myth and Folklore

by Gail Z. Martin

At the last couple of conventions I attended, I was on several panels about myth and folklore.  It was a lot of fun discussing how myth and folklore show up in fantasy, as well as how as writers we use myth and folklore to create our own stories.  We talked about modern myths and how myth influences the real world, both in terms of deliberate mythmaking and pop culture/urban legend terms.  For talking about stories that were thousands of years old, the conversation sometimes got rather heated!

I like to draw inspiration from myth and folklore because I figure that if something about a trope or archetype has captured human imagination for hundreds or thousands of years, it’s good.  So I enjoy adapting and adjusting folkloric and mythic elements to make them my own, and to fit them into the world of the Winter Kingdoms.

Of course the conversation came around to vampires, werewolves and magic, which are intrinsic elements of folklore and mythology.  I mentioned how I still chuckle about the one book reviewer who was very impressed that I had “used urban fantasy tropes like vampires and werewolves” in a medieval, epic fantasy.  Of course, urban fantasy stole the tropes from medieval folklore!

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