Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Not a Superhero

Image by Igor Morski

I didn’t start out some kind of superhero, bent on protecting New LA. My relationship with this city is love/hate. I’m definitely not her minder. But I do look after my friends. That’s what kick-fired this whole damn story. One night. A new job. And, looking after Cate.

The Blood in the Beginning - An Ava Sykes Novel

. . . by the time I was working on round two of the best mushroom pesto linguine in the universe, Cate, my newly single BFF,  had purged. She even moved from victim mode to outrage, (all directed at the ass hat Joey) and that was a step up on the emotional scale, in my book anyway. I took a third serving and smiled. With a lifestyle like mine, which included martial arts training on my nights off, I loaded up on carbs when I could. Yum!
After doing the dishes – Cate wasn’t one to leave a spoon out of place – I had a quick shower, leaving enough hot water for her. While she dressed in her ‘uniform,’ which consisted of very little other than glitter and coconut shells, I opened the gun safe and slipped my Ruger .9 mm into my calf holster and smoothed down my jeans. I was licensed to carry, and I always did at work, more for the trip there and back, than anything else. New LA wasn’t really a city of angels, not good ones anyway. Cate threw on a light coat and we headed for the bus. I looked up and down the street, frowning. Something prickled my skin. 
            ‘Joey won’t come here, if that’s what you’re thinking. He’s scared of you,’ Cate said.
            'Good. The dirtbag should be afraid.' I was going for reassurance. 
            She changed the subject. 'Any news on Daina?’ 

Speaking of scared. Daina was our mutual acquaintance, the most recent missing coeds in a wave of unexplained murders, at least that’s what the press called them. Not all the bodies had been found.
            Cate sighed. ‘Nothing.’ The bus pulled up as we arrived at the stop. ‘Do you think she’s still alive?’
            I shrugged. ‘Can’t see how, but we can hope.’
Yeah, that’s how the night began. Off to work at Club Poseidon.

Innocent enough . . . but by midnight, not so much. I was in the elevator, on my way up, I thought, ready to take over the door, but that’s not what happened.

… In the elevator, my fingers hovered over the console. There was a dark smudge on the button below UP that hadn’t been there before. Without thinking, I swiped it, bringing my finger to my nose. Blood? As I did, the elevator kicked in. It took me a second to realise it was heading down. What the hell? I hadn’t even pressed the damn thing. I hit the UP button several times, but nothing happened. I was definitely going down.

The lights went from white to deep-green as the elevator descended. A moment later, it stopped. The bell dinged and the doors slid open. Noise hit like a tidal wave. The visuals were a blur, my senses bombarded. I stood, stock-still, as the undeniable smell of blood, laced with fear and aggression rushed up my nose. A gasp forced its way out of my throat and I slammed my hand over the UP button, hard enough to crack the console.
The doors remained open. I flattened myself against the side of the wall, unable to blink, or tear my eyes away. It was a ghoul’s carnival, a page right out of Hieronymus Bosch. Run! The command coursed through my body, but there was nowhere to go. I jabbed the UP button again. Nothing.
The music bounced off the walls. Amid blue lights and flashing strobes, naked bodies danced, gyrating to the rhythmic beats, but that’s where any similarity with upstairs ended. People’s faces were streaked, dark liquid dripping down their chins, and throats. Around the walls, victims hung from chains. People? Mannequins? I saw some move, struggling against the restraint. The far wall was taken up entirely with the floor to ceiling aquarium. It must run right up to the club level, but ... this was different. The unearthly waters teemed with sharks, in a wild frenzy as they fed on chunks of flesh and bone. What were they feeding them? The bodies on the wall? Some of the chained victims looked dead, some not; all dripped blood. It flowed down their limbs into crystal goblets.

My heart pounded, a sledgehammer in
my chest. As the doors slowly closed enough to block most of my view, I thought I would escape unnoticed. Then a man’s head turned, eyes looking straight at mine …

Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel. Find this novel in a store near you.

You can also learn more about Kim atAvaSykes.com, the 11th House Blog, and onFaceBook and Twitter.  She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month and runs Save the Day Writer's Community on Facebook. All Welcome.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The "Once upon a time" Weapon

Year of the Like: Neuroscience and Anthropology!

 I know, what does science have to do with story telling. Turns out, a whole bunch.

The hubster and I had a discussion about six months ago about why we tell stories. I knew it had to be more than just entertainment. So I read a lot of books and, turns out, it is very important.

Storytelling might have been one of the skills successful tribes used to survive. I know it sounds far fetched, but these ancient societies might have used the brains own need for pattern and meaning as a way to teach lessons like WOLVES EAT PEOPLE and DON'T GO OUT AT NIGHT.

The brain processes so much information in a minute, that it would make your head spin if you actually had to remember everything. So instead, it filters out all the information that is not relevant to the moment or meaningful based on a previously determined pattern.

As I have gone over with my language from the hero's journey and others have discussed with three-act structures and five-beat story parts, there is a pattern to storytelling that we are ALL innately familiar with. When we see something start with a girl faced with a decision, we automatically see the beginning of a story. And our brains are focused on this because for eons, these stories have been teaching us to survive. We listened to our grandmothers tell us scary stories of gluttonous children and disobedient girls with red hoods.

Our ability to pass along information in meaningful ways that stuck with generation after generation is a weapon against a very cruel and predatory world, but also allows the future to adapt faster because they have a baseline knowledge of how the world works and can become better, faster, and stronger because of it.

Even now when the world is more social predators than scary things that go bump in the night, story becomes our way of learning how to adapt and overcome. Our children are stronger for the stories that we tell them.

So after all this research, I am really focused on teaching a survival skill with my story. What lesson or skill can I pass along to my readers that will help them survive. Can I help with empathy or understanding or justice so that they make it through the world with a little less heartache and a little more empathy. 

So Thumbs up to Neuroscience and understanding the survival skills of the human race. I really recommend a little look inside the human brain (and body) every now and then to remind us how awesome humans have the potential to be. 

Amanda Arista

Monday, August 1, 2016

Why hello, August... A brief reflection on kindness, laughter, & cake

This time last month I was eagerly awaiting the release of Kim Falconer's new book The Blood in the Beginning -- and particularly looking forward to my Twitter interview with Kim re the book and her heroine-of-awesome, Ava Sykes.

Together, we had some fun with that and I hope you did, too. If you missed the event, you can still check it out via the Twitter hashtag #thebloodinthebeginning Since we also shared in the big cover reveal for Merrie Destefano's forthcoming book, Lost Girls, that makes July a pretty tough Supernatural Underground act to follow -- so I decided I wouldn't even try. ;-)

Coffee cake
Instead, I thought I'd like to share this fun and cool thought from one of my favourite calendars: Leigh Standley's The World According To Curly Girl (they're great, so do check them out!):

"A great many things can be resolved with kindness (hear, hear!)
even more with laughter (true dat)
but there are some things that just require cake."

Lemon cake
Ah, now you're talking my language...so here are a few of my favorite cake pics to make the point, even if no further emphasis is really required.

You could, dear Supernatural Undergrounders, just enjoy some virtual cake via the images. :)

Or you could, if you feel so inclined, let me know (via the comments) some of the circumstances that you feel "just require cake"...

Date & walnut torte
Chocolate (Intense) cake
And last but never least...

Orange cake.

Mmmmm, delicious...

Monday, July 18, 2016

LOST GIRLS Cover Reveal & Giveaway

I’m so excited that I can finally reveal the cover of my upcoming YA psychological thriller novel, LOST GIRLS. Published by Entangled, the book releases on Jan. 3, 2017. Yay! The very cool thing is you can pre-order the book now. Plus, I’m doing a Rafflecopter giveaway (below) for a $25 Amazon gift card. So the winner can buy some BOOKS! (We all want more books, right?)

First things first, here's the cover:

(So pretty, right?)

The LOST GIRLS synopsis is below, and my favorite line is ‘The only rule is: There are no rules.’

Book Synopsis:
Yesterday, Rachel went to sleep listening to Taylor Swift, curled up in her grandma’s afghan, worrying about geometry. Today, she woke up in a ditch, bloodied, bruised, and missing a year of her life.

She doesn’t recognize the person she’s become: she’s popular. She wears nothing but black.

Black to cover the blood.

And she can fight.

Tell no one.

She’s not the only girl to go missing within the last year…but she’s the only girl to come back. She desperately wants to unravel what happened to her, to try and recover the rest of the Lost Girls.

But the more she discovers, the more her memories return. And as much as her new life scares her, it calls to her. Seductively. The good girl gone bad, sex, drugs, and raves, and something darker…something she still craves—the rush of the fight, the thrill of the win—something she can’t resist, that might still get her killed…

The only rule is: There are no rules.


Where You Can Find The Book:
Goodreads Book Link:
Amazon Buy Link:
Barnes & Noble Buy Link:
Kobo Buy Link:
Entangled Publishing:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Bio:
Born in the Midwest, former magazine editor Merrie Destefano currently lives in Southern California with her husband, two German shepherds, a Siamese cat, and the occasional wandering possum. Her favorite hobbies are reading speculative fiction and watching old Star Trek episodes, and her incurable addiction is writing. She loves to camp in the mountains, walk on the beach, watch old movies, and listen to alternative music—although rarely all at the same time. Author Website Here.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Dressed to Kill

Hi Everyone!
To celebrate the release of The Blood in the Beginning, I'm giving away two SYKED Tees. Just pop in the comments your favorite character's (film, TV or book) get up to be in the draw!  

The two winners have been drawn! They are 1) Suzanne and 2) Sarvah! Congratulations, and please email me: enchantmentATkimfalconerDOTCOM. I'll need you postal addy, and size. 


When it comes to revealing character attributes, an often overlooked technique is attire. What heroes and villains wear, as well as how they wear it, speaks volumes. A writer can also hint at complex states of mind in how characters go about the act of getting dressed, their approach to wardrobe, laundry etc. It delivers to readers information about who the character is.

For example: Are they rich and flaunting it? Ripped and want the world to see? Not giving a flip what others think? Too depressed to care? OCD?

From profession to personality, culture and period, the character's relationship to her clothing reveals much without having to spell anything out.

In my latest release, The Blood in the Beginning, Ava Sykes's clothing is part of who she is.  From her layered tees, black jeans and steel-toed Tims to her Jujitsu gi, MMA gloves and UCLA pre-med lab coat, her get up reveals deeper levels of personality - even strata of soul!

"We automatically categorise people based on their clothing whether we realise it or not. In fact, it takes no more than a description of their clothing to build a variety of pictures of a person in our heads." -- Bridget McNutly

Attire also serves to set the scene. From page 134 of The Blood in the Beginning:

Krysten Ritter is Jessica Jones
     I emerged from the elevator at street level in my black jeans, Poseidon tee and boots. Headset switched on and ready for work.
     ‘Ava!’ Billy punched my shoulder as I took over for him at the door. ‘I liked you better in the dress.’
     ‘Skirt, but settle down. Nothing to see here.’
And page 180, at the martial arts academy:

‘Rourke didn’t show,’ was all Dom said. Then he eyed my uniform. ‘This is a no gi class. In the cage today.’
     ‘I only brought my gi.’
     ‘You can wear your pants and sports top. Let’s go.’
     Yeah, summary dismissal. I took off my belt, gi top and tank, and folded them on the bench, then got back in line.
The brand of shoes our heroes pick for the day can reveal in a single word or two, more about a character than pages of narrative. It's a handy tool, one definitely worthy of remembering.
Again, to celebrate the release of The Blood in the Beginning, I'm giving away two SYKED Tees. Just pop in the comments a favorite character's get up to be in the draw! From film, tv or book!
http://avasykes.com/ Kim Falconer is a Supernatural Underground author with her latest release out now - The Blood in the Beginning - an Ava Sykes Novel.

Kim posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month and runs Save the Day Writer's Community on Facebook and GoodVibeAstrology.com

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Casting down the Words: a List of Ingredients

Year of the Like: How to make 'the magic'

I am just about to scamper blissfully away from life, the Internet, and all things that remotely look like adult responsibility. I am going half way across the country on a writers retreat with my writing tribe. Five days in Taos where all I have to do is write.

My only real instructions from the coordinator for this event was, "Bring what makes the magic happen."

Vague much?

So after the obligatory underwear and toothbrush list that really didn't have much to do with 'the magic' and more with just human survival, I really thought about what I needed to get the creative juices flowing and stay flowing, be comfortable in a place that is not my house, and try to assuage the ease of being away from my Bean for five days.

How was I going to make the magic happen?

Below is the final list of the items needed to make 'the magic' for this writer.

Coffee- Yes, I am bringing my own kettle so I can make myself coffee and tea every minute of every day. Nothing triggers the muse like a steam cup of  Joe or Earl Grey.

My Wonder Woman mug- nothing delivers that kick ass coffee like a kick ass woman reminding me to be kick ass.

Snacks- After many years of writing, I have found that snacking is a key for keeping the words flowing. A handful of Cheerios for a handful of words.

My Keyboard- because there is nothing quite like five days of writing to give you carpal tunnel (also packed- wrists braces to sleep in). And I can type faster on this baby.

Post-its, highlighters, notebooks, markers, and folders of research- There is still something very real about writing out new ideas before typing them into the computer. Especially ones that you need to go back and add/fix/emphasize because you have had some brilliant breakthrough in writing.

Heavy blanket stitched with the first lines of famous novels- I'm a wuss and am always cold. Might as well be surrounded by great words while trying to write great words.

Chocolate- will be purchased on the way to the retreat. I only had so much space in my checked luggage.

So this is what is takes to bait and trap a muse into a room for five days. Sugar, sugar, and caffeine.

But the real hero in this process isn't even going with me.  This month's thumbs up goes out to a husband who lets me work my magic with devoted time to my craft. Who lets me traipse across the country with my artistic scarves floating behind me. Who never judges the sheer volume of coffee that I can consume in one weekend. Who for the past eleven years has dealt with this crazy, witchy, writer and her words.
The Beckett to my Castle.
The Cream in my Coffee.
The Hans to my Leia.

Give a thumbs up to your support system this month!

Amanda Arista

Friday, July 1, 2016

These Supernatural Underground Gals Are Gonna Have Fun!

Yep, that's right -- next week on Tuesday 5 July at 7 pm (EST) I'm gonna be on Twitter and having some interview fun with Kim Falconer, checking out all the angles on her new paranormal urban fantasy, THE BLOOD IN THE BEGINNING.

Well, maybe only some of the angles, but I can already tell you that Kim has created a "take-no-prisoners" yet sympathetic heroine, an atmospheric, post-catastrophe world with a fresh take on the paranormal elements, and some fast-paced action.

Plenty of material for some fun Helen'n'Kim Q&A!

Here are all the details so you don't miss out on this event of awesome. ;-)


Tuesday 5, USA/Canada/UK et al;

Note: That will be Wednesday 6 July for those in Southern Hemisphere parts like NZ and Australia. 


US EST: 7 pm 

Australia EST: 9 am (Wednesday 6)
NZ: 11.00 am 


On Twitter! 

How To Find Us: 

I will be asking questions from @helenl0we
Kim will be answering on @KimFalconer

The https://twitter.com/superntrlUnderg may also be part of the fun. :)

BUT you don’t have to be on Twitter yourself to find us because we will be using a hashtag:


So just search on #thebloodinthebeginning, click on “Live” and you will be up with the play. 

How To Participate:

However, you will have to be on Twitter to chip in with your own question for Kim, or contribute a comment.

We’d love it if you do — but are equally happy if you prefer to just follow the hashtag.


See you on the 6th!


The Interviewee:

Kim Falconer is  a Supernatural Underground author writing urban fantasy, paranormal romance, YA and epic science fantasy novels.
You can find out more about Kim at AvaSykes.com, the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter.

She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month and runs Save the Day Writer's Community on Facebook and GoodVibeAstrology.com.

The Interviewer:

Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, interviewer and blogger whose first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. Her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night, Book Three) was published on January 26, 2016. 

Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blogand is also on Twitter: @helenl0we