Thursday, August 29, 2013


Download the first 4 chapters of Colleen Gleason's new YA Steampunk The Clockwork Scarab for FREE from Amazon or! (BN) (Amazon)

You can share the following tweet via Twitter for chance to win a signed first edition of the WHOLE hardcover book:

Sherlock's niece & Bram's sister? First 4 chapters of THE CLOCKWORK SCARAB by @colleengleason #stokerandholmes FREE

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Take a break! Who, me?

We're writing this month about things we use or need to free the creative writing spirit. For me, that's taking a break from one type of writing and switching to another. Doesn't seem like that would work - it's still writing - but it's refreshing to work with different concepts, different time periods, and different word choices.

Lately I've been focusing on stretching my writer's wings with Young Adult and Middle Grade books. It's such a different mindset, yet the core of it is the same as writing for adults: tell the absolute best story you can in the absolute best way you can. The quality of available YA and MG books out there is awesome! It's a challenge to write for these ages after years of writing for adults (as Dakota Banks and Shirley Kennett), and that's what's so exciting about it. :-) A new frontier.

As a writer, I get a special kick out of knowing that I'm doing something to enhance literacy and spread the love of reading to young people. After all, I'm helping to develop the reading audience of the future for my urban fantasies, and for the books of all the other Supernatural Underground authors!

Honor's JourneyMy YA sci-fi trilogy is with my agent, awaiting placement with a publisher. Catch that note of confidence? Think only positive thoughts!! (

In the meantime, I just published a Middle Grade adventure, Honor's Journey, (, and I'm giving away FREE review copies. Just follow the link to request yours, free for Kindle, Nook, PDF, or trade paperback format! I'm proofing the print version now. It'll be hot off the presses in about a week. I'm eager for feedback on this book. Really. Eager.

And I haven't forgotten about the fourth book in the Mortal Path series - I've been contacted by so many wonderful fans wanting to know when it will come out! Thanks for your interest, everybody. My crystal ball says early next year for Mortal Path Book 4, Bloodletting.

Everyone out there, writer or not: what do you do to recharge your batteries? Music? Vacation? Read? Dance naked on the bar? <g> Please share in a comment below.

DB ♥

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

An Upcoming Release, Complete with Coffins!

To all who've written to ask me what I'm working on these days, I'm thrilled and happy to finally be able to show you. Take a look at the cover for HAPPILY NEVER AFTER, book number #5 in the Nicki Styx series!

I took a break from this award-winning paranormal series for a while to write about hot devils and steamy angels, but I just couldn't seem to let Nicki Styx die. :) I never gave Nicki and her fiancé, Joe Bascombe, their happily ever after, and neither character was willing to just quietly go away and rest in peace. (Ha!) Neither was Evan, or Grandma Bijou, or the myriad of spirits that need Nicki's help to cross over.

I'd hoped to release HAPPILY NEVER AFTER earlier this year, but what started out as a short novella centered around Joe and Nicki's wedding has blossomed into a full-length murder mystery. The troublesome spirit of an elderly soap opera star has decided that Nicki can't have her happily ever after until she gets hers, which forces Nicki to mingle with the strange yet moneyed members of the Atlanta-area country club set. Since a novel obviously takes longer to write than a novella, I hope you'll be patient. (Look for this one in early 2014.) In the meantime, I just couldn't wait any longer to show you the gorgeous new cover, and let you know that I'm working on a new Nicki Styx book! :)

Since I can't give you any pre-order links yet, I've got some early Halloween goodies to give away instead. (Oh, c'mon - you knew there would be goodies!) The most delightful night of the year is barely two months away, and I've already started my preparations! My annual Halloween bash includes a trip through "Madame Zelda's Haunted Graveyard", and I have lots of ghouls and goblins who stop by for candy and giggles -- I have to stay on top of new ways to tickle a few funny bones while sending a chill down their spines!

Look at these adorably awesome little Coffin Keepsake Boxes, which I couldn't resist filling with appropriately ghoulish treasure: a bottle of deliciously tart Decayed Bone Powder, a skull bracelet, skull and crossbones necklace, dark jewels, and a miniature skull. :) Each of these coffins has a glittery skull painted on the lid: one red, one purple, one green and one silver. They're the perfect little gift for the Halloween fiend in your life, especially if the fiend is YOU! I'm going to give three of these to three lucky readers, via drawing on Sunday, September 1, 2013. I'm keeping the silver one for myself, but if you'd like to win one of the other three, you need to answer a Nicki Styx wedding-related question. (Hey, no tricks, no treats!) :)

Go back to the day that Nicki and Joe got engaged in SILENT NIGHT, HAUNTED NIGHT (Book #4 in the series), and tell me what Nicki's engagement ring looks like. There will be an email link to enter the contest at the end of the excerpt. Good luck, ghoulfriends, and happy reading!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Countdown: TWO days!!!

Congratulations to Mindy of Pennsylvania for winning this month's prize!  Thank you all for the great comments and for continuing to come back every month!  I hope you all enjoy Dougal's book! Thanks for the support!  See you next month!

Are you ready to wake up with Dougal Tuesday morning?  The Vampire with the Dragon Tattoo releases in
two days, so Tuesday is officially Happy Dougal Day!!  No fair peeking under Dougal's kilt! There might be another wee dragon!

If you would like a signed copy of The Vampire with the Dragon Tattoo, just contact Katy Budget Books. Dougal's launch party will be there Tuesday night, along with a cake with the cover art on the icing-- so we will all be taking a bite out of Dougal's glorious chest! I'll be signing The Vampire with the Dragon Tattoo plus the historical romance, Less than a Gentleman. Here's the link to the event--

You can contact Katy Budget Books by calling 281-578-7770 or emailing to let them know you'd like to order a signed book. You can even request that I sign it a certain way. International orders are welcome.

Have you seen the Red Carpet Premiere to celebrate Dougal's book?  You can watch the video here--

 And you don't want to miss Dougal's interview over at I Smell Sheep!  He barely got out of there with his kilt intact!

 To celebrate Happy Dougal Day, I'm giving away a signed copy of the anthology Vampires Gone Wild! It contains the novella, V is for Vampwoman-- the story of Mikhail and Lady Pamela! International entries are welcome. To enter, just leave a comment and tell me what you think Dougal is wearing (or not wearing) underneath his kilt!  Happy Dougal Day!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Taking a break from it all.

There's been lots of ideas coming from the Supernatural hivemind on things we do to get creative. Kim makes space - I've gotten into that a bit more as well, ensuring that nothing else is going on except me and the words. Terri reads (I can read when I'm editing, or between books, but when I'm drafting - no can do). Pamela and Jocelynn both listen to music (I need complete silence). Amanda uses images - the real estate website is a great idea and I know other people who are made for images but that doesn't work for me. Helen's three pages in the morning sound wonderful.

For me, however, the thing that really works is taking a break.

It probably sounds counter-intuitive - that taking time off the computer helps me when I'm on it. But the thing is, I find I dry up if I spend too long at it. I can pound out some great wordage, sure, but then my brain gets overloaded. Push it too far, and it will come to a standstill.

But taking a break doesn't mean a break from the story. Far from it - it's a break from that act of sitting and fingers moving on keyboard, but I'm still working, things ticking away in the background.

I walk so much the soles are wearing off!
Sometimes, it will involve taking a walk. In fact, I try to make a walk a regular part of my routine, and certainly on writing retreats every morning starts with a walk. But if I get stuck, I will find that a meander around the block will help unclog whatever got stuck.

The shower is a brilliant break tool. I've lost count of the number of times I've had a great idea in the shower. The bath really doesn't work as well. Baths are for reading while drinking a fabulous red wine. Something about the water falling on your head shakes things loose.

Sometimes, a big break is called for and that's when I nap. In fact, when I'm drafting, I sleep A LOT. My brain isn't used to working so hard ;) But often I'll wake up and know exactly what I need to do next in the story.

The paper weight I made at the Canberra Glassworks
Having a new experience is a great way to use a break. Going to a new restaurant and trying a new type of cuisine. Going for a drive to a part of town you've never been before. Learning a new skill or giving something a go (eg we've got a glassworks in town and you can go and do a half-hour session to create your own paper weight - great fun and gets the neurones firing).

And on occasion, I'll take a time out and not write for a few days, a week or two, even a month. It can take time, to trust yourself that you won't lose the habit of writing, that you'll pick it up again.

The big thing to do on a break - write something else. Go to a new world, a new genre. Been focussing on your novel? Bang out a couple of short stories, or vice versa. Go do a writing course.

Taking regular breaks is the best thing for me to ensure that when I'm hard at work, what is coming out is fresh, new, interesting and worth reading.

And now - yawn - I think it's nap time!

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Clearing in the Woods

Hi everyone,

This month we're talking about what it takes to write at our best, the touchstones that awaken the muse and make magic happen. Already there are fabulous rituals listed, everything from longhand to visual imagery, music to stimulating prose. What all these things have in common, is they are way and means in which we call upon the muse.

For me, the must have ingredient for daily creativity, the way I call my muse, is to make room. I clear a space in the woods, and invite my muse to play.

For thousands of years, before the time of Hesiod, writers and artists have honored their muses above all else. These entity embody the wellspring from which our creative inspiration rises. There is an intimate connection between the writer and this 'other worldly force,' one that can be difficult to describe. But I know one thing. If we want to experience the muse, we have to make room for her.

It's like the law of attraction technique of 'making room' for any new thing we want. If it's a new sweetie, for example, before one even shows up, we empty a drawer in the dresser, have extra hangers in the closet, get another nightstand, set another place at the table. Make room, as if they were already here. Same goes for more clients, or work, or dollars in the bank. We fill in the day book, before there are any actual booking, take out a savings account, before there's more than a dollar to put into it, write ya letter of acceptance, before even applying for the new position. The idea is, if we create space for an experience, it's ours.

In my writing, I intentionally clear a space in the woods, every morning, more often than not, before dawn. My first hours of every day are devoted to the writing, before my energy is diluted with phone calls, conversations, daily demands, email, twitter, facebook . . . especially facebook! The phone is off the hook, the cats are fed, the internet is off, the coffee hot. I go to the forest in the depths of my mind, clear a space, and write.

I learned something about 'space clearing' from Stephen King. He said, Some writers in the throws of writer's block think their muses have died, but I don't think that happens often; I think what happens is that the writers themselves sow the edges of their clearing with poison bait to keep their muses away, often without knowing they are doing it (2006).

The antidote is to listen to creative inspiration. Give her soul a body to get around in. And most of all, clear a space, allowing for her presence, eliminating anything that might be seen as a block or hindrance to her joyful participation in the writing process. Three cheers for the muse!

Happy reading and writing! xxxKim

PS If any of you have writing tips or hints to share, or maybe an inspirational book to read, feel free to post in the comments. 

Kim Falconer is a Supernatural Underground author writing paranormal romance, urban fantasy, YA and epic science fantasy novels. She also co-directs Good Vibe Astrology.

You can find out more about Kim at or on the 11th House Blog. She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month. Her latest release is Supernatural Underground: Vampires Gone Wild.   

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What I Need to Write

We're talking about "writing touchstones" this month in the Underground, and you've already seen that different writers need different things in order to stir their creativity:  Helen Lowe needs to write freely and loosely in longhand, Amanda Arista uses visual images, while Jocelyn Drake and Pamela Palmer use music to put them into a writing frame of mind.

What I need to write is pretty simple; I need to READ.  There is nothing I love more than a great story, well-told.  Reading has taught me so much about writing.  It's taught me what works in a story and what doesn't, from simple things like the fact that if I, as a reader, don't care about the characters, then I'm not going to care for the story, and more complex things like pacing, plot development, conflict and resolution.

I've been an avid reader since grade school, and I have never, ever stopped.  I read while I'm on the treadmill.  I read while I eat my lunch.  I read while I'm on a plane.  I read while I'm at the beach, or in a waiting room, or at the hair salon.  I read, read, read, and then I take the lessons I've learned from that reading and I try to craft a few great stories, well-told, of my very own, for others to enjoy.  Basically, if I'm not writing, gardening, exercising or sleeping, I'm reading!

In the last three weeks, I've read nine books.  I loved five of them, thought two were okay, and considered one of them a waste of my time.  The point is, I learned something from each and every one of them, including how NOT to write.  :)  The book I'm reading right is absolutely wonderful, GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers.  It's a medieval paranormal about a young girl trained as an assassin in the convent of St. Mortain, God of Death.  I picked it up on a whim, and am happy to find that it's the first in a trilogy - I do not know Ms. LaFevers, but the woman knows how to deliver a great story, well-told!

So basically, what I need to write is inspiration, which I find in great stories that goad me into becoming a better writer.  And speaking of great stories, what was the last one you read that really wowed you?  Go ahead, give me some reading suggestions... I'm always looking for a few more great stories, well-told!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Dancing with My Muse

It took me a few years to figure this out, but my muse loves music. Loves it. I've always known that certain music can stir my emotions and sometimes even spark scene ideas. But I had no idea it could actually help me write. I used to think music would distract me from my work. Turns out, it was just the opposite because my mind is a chatterbox, constantly talking to me, one stream-of-consciousness riff after another. Unless there's music playing. My internal chatterbox is enchanted by music and quiets at the sound of it, allowing my muse unfettered access to my brain. Plus, the right music delights and excites my muse.

I've experimented with a number of different types of music, all instrumentals. I've written to movie soundtracks (Inception, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Last Samurai) and any number of other artists' collections. But I've discovered that my ear and my muse prefer the new age jazz of Keiko Matsui. My friend Lynne turned me on to her when she brought a Matsui CD to exercise class to listen to during cool-down. I loved it and borrowed it, but when I began to listen to it as I wrote, I had to ask our instructor (a good friend) to cool us down to something else. Once it became my writing music, I couldn't listen to it at any other time for fear it would completely foul me up.

When I sit down to write, now, I always turn on Keiko Matsui. If I stop writing for any reason--to check my email, to grab the phone, to refill my glass--I pause the track. If the music is on, I'm writing. Period. And having done this for a number of years, now, my muse is well-trained. The moment the music comes on, I'm back in the zone, my fingers flying over the keyboard. I still experiment with new music from time to time, but my muse is completely in love with Keiko Matsui. So far, I've had no success tempting her with something new. After eighteen books, I can't argue that it's working for us!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Finding the center

There are days when the bills have to be paid, the dog needs to be taken to the vet, the laundry is threatening to overtake the bedroom, and there isn’t a clean dish in the house.  No matter how hard you try, reality keeps dragging you out of the fantasy world of your creation, and keeping words from hitting the page.  I’ve been having this problem a lot recently.  Stress and frustration are disturbing my peace of mind, which is so needed when it comes to creating.

But when I can string together a few undisturbed minutes to hunch over my keyboard or notebook, I have found that music is often the best and quickest way for me to return to the world of my own creation and the characters that I love. 

I was startled recently at how quickly I can be submerged in a world – even one that I haven’t visited in a while.  I turned on my iTunes a few days back and just left it play while I tinkered with other random things before getting to work. I was drawn from my research when the song “Gabriel” by Lamb came on.  I hadn’t listened to it in a long time and I had played it most frequently when I was writing the Dark Days series. 

With the first few haunting strains of music, I was zipped to Mira’s world.  It was like being dropped naked in icy water, the emotional response had been so strong.  In an instant, I could recall the rhythm of Mira’s speech, her know-it-all smirk, and her love of Danaus and Tristan.  I could see her dark world spread before me and all its players, standing frozen as if only waiting for my command.  In that moment, I think I could have picked up writing that series without batting an eye. 

It has been roughly two years since I last wrote a Dark Days novel, so some of the songs have faded from my mind.  “Gabriel” has a special place in my heart, as well as “I Remember” by Stabbing Westward.  That one has always made me think of Danaus and Mira.

Gage and the Asylum Tales have been a little harder to peg.  Gage’s moods have been a little more mercurial and there are a wide variety of personalities that pass through the tattoo parlor.  For large sections of the series, I’ve relied on Shaman’s Harvest, particularly “Say the Same,” while Pink Floyd tends to invoke Bronx’s personality in my mind.   Gage is also a fan of “Sound of Madness” by Shinedown.  That one always gets me in the mood for a good fight scene.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Feeding the Visual Muse

I’m sure you guys have heard me rant and rave about my coffee addition, how I use Junior Mints or M&M’s as a motivator for word count, or even how addicted to Pinterest I am. All of these have made it into the list of things that I need to write.

 On the Pinterest note, there is a new little resource that I have now found invaluable to my writing process. I am an extremely visual person. As I’m writing, I see people in my head, hear them speak, watch how they walk across a room. Always have. Always will.


One of the things that I find hardest is writing houses, getting the picture of them in my head. Houses can be a character of their own, and like everything else in the story, the setting of a scene says as much about the story as what is going on in it. What is Wuthering heights without its moors? Where else could have Sex in the City taken place?

So when I’m writing a character’s house, I need some visual stimulation to help make it real for me. Enter Vacation Rentals By Owner. (The site isn’t paying me, I promise). Basically, it’s like searching a real estate website, only their search function is awesome, and because it’s about vacation houses, you get some really schmancy places. Lots of picture, good descriptions. And if you find a place that you really like, you can rent it for a week, really get into your characters skin. Or just help you get away for a weekend. Which I did. And it was great.

It might be a little creepy that I’m looking into other people’s houses, but it works, and I think we have already established that writers will do whatever they need to get the story on the page. At least I’m not actually looking into other people’s houses, right?
Amanda Arista
Author of the Diaries of an Urban Panther series

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Longhand Pages: A Writing Touchstone

Our August theme for the Supernatural Underground is writing "touchstones": those artifacts, or processes, accompaniments or spaces we "just can't do without" when the muse is driving us to write, write, write...

To be honest, I don't have many. I listen to music occasionally, but as often don't; I move between locales around the house with my laptop; I don't have a favorite keyboard or chair — but one thing that is essential to my writing process is my longhand pages.

You may have encountered these before as "morning pages", a term used by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way, which I consider a great book, one every artist “should” have. Years ago, I read it through from cover to cover and did most if not all the exercises. But the longhand “morning pages” is one of the creative exercises that really stuck.

Basically, the very first thing you do every day is wake up and write three pages long hand. I do 3 x A5 pages, but I imagine A4 or foolscap would be equally okay. An important part of the exercise is that you try very hard not to consciously think or lift your pen from the page until you’re done. You just write. 

Sometimes what you write is pretty much rubbish—and that’s okay. The really important point is that you write. I’ve done the 3 pages of pretty much blah-blah-blah—but I’ve also written poems, developed characters, created worlds and ended books as part of those 3 little pages. It’s a discipline, sure, but everything about writing is a discipline (so what else is new?)

Right now, I’m writing Daughter Of Blood, The Wall Of Night Book Three, and dealing with issues of plot and character development, continuity and consistency—including threads that go back to the previous two novels, The Heir of Night and The Gathering Of The Lost, but also look forward to the next and final book in the series. 

The longhand or "morning" pages are my invaluable ally in keeping all these diverse balls in the air. Quite literally, they are where my subconscious tells me what it's come up with or resolved while I’ve been sleeping (That’s why it’s important to do the pages soon after, if not as soon as, you wake up.)
I find the process a great start to another day of writing, and seriously, if you haven’t heard about morning pages or tried them already, give them a go. (I'm sure they could work equally well for a whole range of creative endeavors.) They may not end up being for you, but you never know—they just might be, too.