Guest Blogger Lori Handeland- The Eternal Appeal of the Shapeshifter

April 30, 2009 at 8:44 am (Author Interviews, General)

SSR Blog would like to welcome Lori Handeland, the author of the Nightcreature Novels, and now introducing her new series, the Phoenix Chronicles. Here Lori delves into Urban Fantasy, mixing her talent for shifters with Doomsday on the horizon!  I can’t wait to read Doomsday Can Wait!

Any Given DoomsdayShapeshifter legends have been around as long as the art of storytelling. In fact, many historians believe the first written account of a werewolf can be found in the Book of Daniel, when King Nebuchadnezzar exhibited symptoms of werewolfism for four years.

Tales of lycanthropy also abound in Greek and Roman myth, continue throughout the Middle Ages and into present times. Most Native American cultures tell a version of both good and evil beings who can become something other than human. Sure, most experts believe that superstition and psychosis have led to such stories, but others know differently.

I’ve always been fascinated by shapeshifter legends and have made use of them in both my paranormal romance series, The Nightcreature Novels and my urban fantasy series, The Phoenix Chronicles.

While there are a lot of werewolf legends—and I love them—I’ve also written in the Nightcreature Novels about wereleopards (Midnight Moon), the lougaro—a images-1Haitian shapeshifter that can become anything it desires (Rising Moon) and the Raven Mocker—a Cherokee witch that can become a raven (Thunder Moon).

In my new series, The Phoenix Chronicles, I’ve been having a great time sending all sorts of shifters against my heroine, Liz Phoenix. In the first book, ANY GIVEN DOOMSDAY (Nov. 2008) Liz met Beserkers (Norse bear shifters), Boudas (African hyena shifters), Skinwalkers (Navajo witches that can become just about imagesanything) as well as the more “common” werewolves and vampires and other assorted creepy things.

In the second book, DOOMSDAY CAN WAIT, which just came out on April 28, we have even more fun. Liz is confronted by Luceres (Roman werewolves that have no tails), Barbas/Marbas (lion shifters-a lion that becomes a man, or a man that becomes a lion), Fairies (fallen angels who practice glamour, a type of shapeshifting to make them more attractive), Gargoyles (animals that can turn to stone at will, they become more human and less animal gthe more they protect the weak and Doomsday Can Waitunwary from demon attack.

In the next two books of the series, APOCALYPSE HAPPENS (Nov. 2009) and CHAOS BITES (May, 2010) there will be many more shifters for Liz to either kill or welcome into her own personal Doomsday fighting army known as The Federation.

But I’m curious—Why does the myth of the shapeshifter seem to be eternal? What’s the appeal?

Personally, I believe the idea of having the power to become anything, or anyone, we desire is seductive. Hey, if I could shapeshift, I’d have a body like Angelina Jolie and a face like Jennifer Aniston.

What do you think? Why is the shapeshifter myth so popular? What do you like about it?

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BOM: Eternal Moon, Rebecca York, Part 2

April 29, 2009 at 9:00 am (Book of the Month Club, General, New Releases, Rebecca York, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Sorry for the delay on this posting – for some reason the date didn’t update like we thought it had.

ETERNAL MOON (ISBN: 978-0425227008, Berkley Sensation, April 2009) Good and evil clash down through the ages in a struggle for supremacy. Renata Cordona is the reincarnation of an ancient goddess. Jacob Marshall is a werewolf, a dog whisperer, and her true consort.They have met countless times through the centuries in different lives. And each time, a demon steps into the equation to keep them from fulfilling their destiny. They’ve never been strong enough to fight the ancient evil. But can a werewolf change the equation? Or will they repeat the pattern of destruction and doom humanity along with themselves?

So what did you think, exciting wasn’t it?  Wow!  Did you guess who was on the side of evil in this story?  Now’s the time to give us your opinons, because one lucky person will win a copy of a book from our next monthly focus author, which is Jennifer St. Giles.

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Taming The Fire Hits The Shelves!

April 28, 2009 at 7:15 am (Larissa Ione, New Releases)

tamingnoborder

I’m so excited! This is Sydney Croft’s (my pen name with Stephanie Tyler) fourth ACRO book, but it’s our first shapeshifter romance!

Now, if you’re familiar with the Croft books, you know they are extremely erotic and full of over-the-top science fiction and paranormal adventure…and Taming is no exception. Our shapeshifter is an escapee from an evil agency called Itor, which is the company that created her.

Before they captured her, she belonged to a peaceful clan of therianthropes, which, in her case, means that her people had animal souls but didn’t actually shift. Not until Itor got hold of her, anyway.

They brutalized her and her people in labs, experimenting on them to create the perfect weapon — a human who can shift into an animal — but in doing so, they killed every one of her people but her. After using her as a killer on a leash, they deemed her a failed experiment, and after she escaped, they intended to hunt her down and kill her.

She has gone into hiding, but her problem is the beast inside her — it is enraged, hating humans to murderous extent. In order for Ulrika to control her inner beast, she must go to extremes, dominating them sexually in extreme BDSM pleasure houses.

Enter our hero, Trance, who is an agent for the good guys — ACRO. He’s a former Dom, well acquainted with the lifestyle he must covertly enter, and perfect for the job of capturing Rik before Itor gets her.

So anyway, this is our shifter story. I’ll paste the blurb and link for more information below!

POWER. PLEASURE. DANGER. IT DOESN’T GET ANY HOTTER THAN THIS.

He came to the underground London club for a night of extreme sex play with the enigmatic “Mistress Rik”. But the Special Agent known as Trance is really on a search-and-rescue mission to keep her alive. Part predator, Ulrika “Rik” Jaegar possesses feral powers that make her a danger to others – and to herself. That’s why the Agency for Covert Rare Operatives (ACRO) wants to recruit her to their side. To do so, Trance will have to pull off the impossible: capture and control Rik, both woman and beast.

On the run from the deadly agency that changed her into a pleasure-seeking shape shifter, Rik uses sex to rein in her own raging desires. Operating on pure instinct, she trusts no one – especially the magnificent alpha male with the power to seduce her into submission. An undercover agent with unique hypnotic gifts, Trance is surprised by his instinct to hold Rik and keep her safe – but he has a job to do. And as he hunts her down, as Rik and Trance are thrust into the ultimate game of domination and submission, they’ll enter a place where surrender is their sole hope of survival – and the only thing that can tame the wild beast in both of them?

For an excerpt and more information, click here!

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The Incredible, Shape-Shifting Romance Author

April 26, 2009 at 3:53 pm (General, Meagan Hatfield)

Okay, I don’t know about you guys.  But while writing my shape-shifters, I’ve always wondered if changing form is a physically painful experience for them.  Well based on my own experiences, I’m going with a loud and resounding, YES!

 

I know as a mere human, changing from an out of shape author who spends most of the day in a desk chair, to a lean mean fighting machine, is…well, painful.  My calf muscles burn, it hurts to lift my arms higher than my shoulders and today I’m gimping around like I had one of my legs mauled by a dog.  But with the prospect of my first ever National conference looming mere months away and newly found singlehood, I couldn’t think of a better time to kick my bootie in gear, suck up the pain and let the incredible shape-shifting begin. 

 

As some of you know, and many of you don’t – I work 5am – noon M-F at a gym.  Now before I decided to shape-shift, the thought of coming back to the club to work out after spending the day there was just – Ugh!  But for the past few weeks, I’ve been taking three Tae-Bo classes a night, and I’ve just started a Pump Up weight training class on another.  And, yesterday I completed my first ever 8K run!  A group from our fitness center ran in the annual Crazy Legs Classic here in downtown Madison, Wisconsin.  It stormed the entire time, complete with thunder and lightening.  We were all drenched to the bone.  I’m not in this picture, (I did bring my camera phone, but it got water logged and broke) however it shows just how bad the rains were during the race. 

 

crazy-legs-1

 My shoes made a squishing sound with each step and it felt like my clothes weighed 500 pounds.  (A friend actually weighed her shirt when she got home and it came in at 7 pounds!)  Now, I haven’t run since PE in high school, nor did I train for the event at all.  However, I finished!  Jogged into Camp Randall Stadium and crossed the 50 yard finish line with my hands in the air like Rocky.  Sure, walking sort of sucks today – I’m really stiff and my shoulders are tight.  But hey – that’s the price you pay to shape-shift, right?me-and-billy

 

I’m going to share a picture taken of Billy and I after an advanced video taping at NBC Studios in 2000.  Nine years, one move to the Midwest and one kid ago.  I have it framed on my wall, along with his motivation message “Keep Kicking” to help me get my butt out of the chair when I don’t feel like working out.

 

Now, I don’t expect to get back into a size 4, where I was in the picture.  Nor do I think I’ll be kicking ass and taking names by National’s in July.  But hopefully by the time I have my first book signings next year, I’ll be feeling strong, closer to where I used to be and able to beat my CrazyLegs time next year.  Sure, my muscles may hurt and I sometimes dread the next class, but I guess I should be lucky I’m only changing my body and not shifting bones and ligaments to shift into a were or a dragon.  *smiles*

So, authors and readers alike – let me know what you do to stay in shape!  Is anyone else out there on a “shape-shifting” mission? Do you have a favorite routine, class or goals you’re trying to achieve?  How about nutrition – any healthy recipes you’d care to share?   

Until next time ~  Meagan

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My Convention Schedule Has Arrived

April 23, 2009 at 6:00 am (General, Marcia Colette)

This is a reprint from my personal blog, but I thought this was a good discussion to open up here too.

Unless you’re attending RavenCon this weekend, this might not make any sense.  Nevertheless, I’m completely stoked!  This is what my convention schedule looks like… 

Twice-Told Tales                  Friday        5:00 PM      Potomac
Urban Fantasy 101              Friday       10:00 PM    Potomac
OMG! Worst Book Evar!!     Saturday   9:00 AM     Rappahanock
Love at First Bite                  Saturday  10:00 PM    Potomac

I almost did back flips across my couch when I saw Urban Fantasy 101 on my schedule.  It was my number one pick, so it was nice to get it.  What is UF?  How does it differ from horror?  I have my own theories about this, so I’m crossing my fingers that everyone is receptive.  Nothing controversial or anything, but just 30 years of watching horror movies and an early reader/lover of Laurell K. Hamilton (among others), I’ve seen this genre mold itself into something new and different with every new UF writer out there.  That’s a good thing.  🙂 

Twice-Told Tales will be fun too.  It’s about pretty much what all books are today.  Retold tales.  How many vampire stories are out there?  Werewolves?  That’s what this panel is about. 

OMG! Worst Book Evah!!  I could speak a long time about this topic, so had better arrive with only a few titles and why those books didn’t work for me.  Let’s just hope the authors of some of my least favorite books aren’t sitting in the audience.  People don’t respond well to “I love you, but I don’t love your work.”  😉

Love at First Bite is probably a no-brainer.  Vampires, baby.  We’re going to be talking about True Blood, Twilight, and hopefully Moonlight.  I’ll bring up Moonlight, if nobody else does.  And what about Kindred: The Embraced?  Anyone remember that one?  Anyway, this panel is going to rock.

This is one conference I’m seriously thinking about returning to next year if RT is out of my price again.  Speaking of which, if you’re headed to or are at the Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention this week, say hello to my co-bloggers who I know will be attending.  We’ll all have to compare notes when we get back. 😉

So if you were going to be on a convention/conference panel–as a reader or writer makes no difference–what would you want to talk about?

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April 21, 2009 at 1:00 am (General)

vamplist10th1If you didn’t know, when I’m not staring at the screen, creating vampire and werewolf heroes, or scrubbing toilets and folding laundry, or even cooking up a mean roast beef and potatoes, I’m indulging in one of my quirks—making lists.  

I don’t make a lot of lists, but the ones I do make, tend to grow long.  I’ve been keeping The Ultimate VampList for well over a decade now.  Started it in 1995, with a list of about 100 vampire book titles.  It was a means to keep track of some of my research for the vampire books I was writing at the time, but it became an obsession.

Fast forward to 2009, and The Ultimate VampList is over 4000 titles long.  I’ve got titles divided into various categories, such as Romance, Horror, Mystery, Manga, Young Adult, Movies,  Action/Adventure, etc.  It’s not meant to be a thorough bibliography, but rather a list a reader can use to find vampire fiction.  Take a gander at it; you may be surprised how many vampire stories you’ve yet to read.  😉

Every few years, I take a look at the ROMANCE section of the VampList.  It is the fastest growing category of vampire books.  But we all knew that, didn’t we?  I started counting in 1997 when there were less than a dozen vampire romances published in the entire year (and the year my Dark Rapture came out).  Slim pickings for the vamp lover, eh?  But as the years have passed the vampires have taken over romance.  

Now, this is not a scientific system at all.  I know I don’t have ALL the vampire books ever published listed (but I’m pretty close).  And I miss a lot of the small press stuff, simply because I don’t have time to search for all the titles.  But here’s an approximate count, by year, of how many vampire romances were out:

1997 – 11

1998 – 7

1999 – 8

2000 – 16

2001 – 19

2002 – 50

2003 – 70

2004 – 87

2005 – 108

2006 – 131

2007 – 158

2008 – 145

2009 – 72 (so far)

So what do you think of those numbers?  Look at 2001, and then 2002.  What an increase!  And it just keeps getting better and better for we fans of vampires.  

So do you think vampire romance will ever wane?  When will readers say “That’s enough for now”?  What paranormal creature do you think will steal the vampire’s crown?  (I’m voting for werewolves). How many vampire romances have you read over the past year?  The past decade?

I’m currently holding a contest looking for new titles for my VampList over at my blog.  Stop by for the details.

You can find The Ultimate VampList at http://www.vampire-books.com. The first page is not the only page! Use the drop-down menu at the top to peruse all the categories of vampire deliciousness.
Michele

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Fantasy vs Reality

April 16, 2009 at 3:51 am (General)

ETERNAL MOONBack in the early 20th century, Sigmund Freud asked his famous question, “What do women want?”

Judging from my spam folder, I think guys are still trying to figure that out.

Penis enlargement is the–um–big thing.  All you need is a super-sized tool, and the women will fall all over themselves to go to bed with you.  Of course, I keep wondering how you’re supposed to reveal this piece of equipment to get her interested in going on a date.  Flash her at the office or on a bus?

Guys are preoccupied with size.  And volume, apparently.  How about THIS ad?

“Did you know that a recent survey showed that 85% of women actually get aroused by a man who produces ‘above average’ semen amounts? With our pills, she’ll be speechless… and definitely coming back for more…”

Yeah, she’ll be speechless, all right–when he floods her out of the bed.

Okay, I realize I’m getting a little gross here. And I also realize these ads play to male fantasies and vulnerabilities. It’s easy to satisfy your sweetie. You don’t have to be good at conversation, dancing or foreplay.  Flowers, candy, and Champagne?  A tender show of emotion?

Forget all that.  You’ve got everything you need right in your magic wand.  The bigger the better.
If only it were that easy, I wouldn’t have to think about the characterizations of my werewolves.  I’d just direct them to my spam folder.

Of course, there’s a whole lot more to man-woman relationships.  Which is why I spend so much time developing the characters of the heroes of my books.  Take Jacob Marshall, the hero of ETERNAL MOON, for example.  He’s a dog whisperer.  He can talk to animals, and he has a driving need to save canines whom others are chomping at the bit to put down.  At the same time, he’s a werewolf with all the violence and recklessness of his kind.  And he’s a lover who understands how to please a woman.  Like most of his breed, he hates the idea of settling down, so when he meets Renata Cordona, the woman who’s his life mate, he fights the relationship–even when he’s trying to save her from the enemy he discovered is stalking her.

There’s a scene in ETERNAL MOON that I loved writing.  The bad guy has planted evidence in Jacob’s house, making it look like he’s the serial killer Renata had been tracking.  She finds the evidence and calls the police.  As she holds a gun on him, Jacob knows that he has to get away before the cops come.  And the only way he can do it is to change to werewolf form–right in front of Renata.  She might be so shocked that she shoots him.  But at the moment he doesn’t care, because he knows that if they can’t straighten their relationship out, he might as well be dead.

It’s a turning point in the book.  It could go either way.  Since I write romances, it’s going to work out the way the reader and I both want it too.  But not without some serious business between Jacob and Renata.

Which is what makes their relationship interesting.  Not the physical equipment of my hero.  The emotional turmoil they must deal with.

Since I write romantic thrillers, I know my plot is going to drag my hero and heroine to hell and back. But I also know I’m going to reward them with a long, happy life together. And a fantastic sexual relationship is always part of the package.

All of my Marshall werewolf heroes enjoy sex on a very basic, very animal level. But when each of them finds his life mate, the sex between them is mind-blowing–and a strong part of the bond they forge.

Sex is always integral to my stories. But sex in the context of a relationship where each partner takes pleasure in pleasing the other.

That’s what I’d like any guys who read my books  to take away from my work.  It’s the not the size of your equipment or how much semen you produce.  It’s how much you care about your partner and how much you want to share yourself with her.

What do you think?  Can we get guys to read romances?  Or are they stuck with their own fantasies of the easy way to please a woman?

Rebecca

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Deborah Cooke’s April Newsletter

April 15, 2009 at 7:06 am (Deborah Cooke) (, , , , , )

I’m a bit late with this today, but maybe I’m still ahead of some of you!

My big news this month is that I’ve got a new job. The Toronto Public Library is having a writer in residence this fall for the romance genre, and it’s going to be me. This is the first time they’ve done a residency for romance, so I’m pretty excited about the whole thing.

The residency runs through October and November of this year. The major part of the job is critiquing unpublished romance manuscripts from library patrons and meeting with some of them to discuss their work. But there’s also a blog that is being set up for the residency and I’ll be blogging there three times a week for those eight weeks. I’ve booked in some interesting guests already, and am hoping that lots of other readers and writers check in there. There’s also going to be an online chat one night and several public events – an opening reception and a closing reception with a panel discussion. I’ll post a calendar with links closer to the date, and hope that some of you will be able to participate.

Phew! There’s a lot of work to be done right now in the set-up, so I’m running a bit behind this week.

In other news, FALLEN is a finalist in the Wisconsin RWA’s Write Touch contest for best paranorml romance of 2008 – yippee! – and I posted some covers recently. Here’s the link for the excerpt etc. for WINTER KISS, the next Dragonfire book, and here’s the one for the anthology I’ve contributed to, which is coming out this fall.

Now, I need to get another coffee and get to work!

Deborah Cooke

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Dakota’s Contest Winner

April 14, 2009 at 9:07 am (Contests, General, Winners)

Hey Ladies, and thanks so much for participating in Dakota’s contest! Wow!  That’s alot of comments. 🙂 What an awesome group of comments too!

Using a totally unbiased number choice system, (I asked someone not involved to choose a number), Our winner is CHRIS, who was comment provider #53, who’s blog is Stumbling Over Chaos!  Congrats to Chris!  Please send me an email at desertpetiri@aol.com with your choice of two books from the authors here on SSR, and include your address.  I’ll see to it Dakota gets it!

And again, thanks so much Dakota for joining us on our blog.  We hope you will continue to visit with us!

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SERIAL WRITER

April 10, 2009 at 5:00 am (Rebecca York) (, , , , , , )

eternalmoon-2001As you know, I’ve got a new book out this week.  It’s ETERNAL MOON, the tenth book in my Moon Series.

How do you keep a series going that long?  For me, it’s a matter of finding a theme that works and fitting in stories.  I mean, I don’t have some grand plan like, say, a season of 24.  You don’t have to start at the beginning of the series to get into each book because each of them is a complete story with a beginning, middle and end and a new hero and heroine.

And, in fact, I didn’t even know I was starting a series when I wrote KILLING MOON.  I just had a story I was burning to tell.  About a werewolf who desperately wanted to fit into humanity but felt alienated by his–uh–hairy problem.  Ross Marshall was the first of my Marshall men.  He’s a private detective who uses his werewolf senses to solve crimes.  And he comes back to play a secondary role in all of my other Moon books.

Megan Marshall, his life mate, was my first heroine who had to be strong enough to stand up to a guy who can change from man to wolf.  Since then, I’ve matched each of my Marshall men with a dynamic mate.  This time it’s P.I. Renata Cordona, who lived in Costa Rica when she was young.  And I had a wonderful time working in details from my trip to Costa Rica in 2007.

The story starts with Renata on an undercover assignment to lure out a serial killer who has been murdering female real estate agents.  A vicious pack of dogs is about to attack her when a lone wolf makes them stand down.  Minutes later, Jacob Marshall materializes and, with his electrifying touch, Renata suddenly knows the truth. Jacob is her life mate. Yet Renata is a woman who guards her heart because everyone she has ever loved has died a horrible death.

As Renata and Jacob discover, she’s the reincarnation of an ancient goddess, and he’s her consort.  Down through the ages, they’ve met again and again, only to be destroyed by a malicious demon.   Is werewolf Jacob Marshall the key to breaking the ancient curse that hangs over them?  Or will the evil stalking them through time destroy them both?

What do you want to see in the life mate of a werewolf?   What kind of woman can hope to tame these alpha males who can’t walk away from a good fight–especially with each other?

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