Monday, April 25, 2011

Highlights of ConGlomeration

Okay, am I allowed a "squee" moment here? :-) Actually two.

This past weekend I attended ConGlomeration, a local sci-fi/fantasy convention. One of the workshops was "A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words" in which artists and authors swapped projects. The author would write a story based on the artist's work and the artist would sketch a picture based on the author's writing.

Christine Griffin and I were paired off. This is what Christine drew for me: a portrait of Xariel, my hero from Death Sword.

Copyright Christine Griffin, 2011
This is the first time an artist has ever drawn a character from my stories. So I'm stoked. LOL

In return, I wrote a short piece based on the digital print below. The story follows.

Copyright & Credit: Christine Griffin & Fantasy Flight Games

“A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words”
(ConGlomeration 2011)

Story by Pamela Turner
Art by Christine Griffin
© Fantasy Flight Games

 (Author’s Note: This past weekend, April 22-24, 2011, I participated in the workshop “A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words” at ConGlomeration, a local sci-fi/fantasy convention. The idea was for artists and authors to swap creations. The artist would draw something from the author’s writing and the author would write a story based on the artist’s picture.

The above digital painting “Jon and Ghost” was originally created for Fantasy Flight Games’ A Game of Thrones and is being used solely to illustrate the accompanying story it inspired. No copyright infringement is intended or implied. I make no money from this narrative which is available free.)
Three days journey across frozen terrain and temperaments were as frigid as the sleet pelting Odin’s face and cloak. They needed to find Skuld. The encroaching blizzard and constant bickering between his raven, Munin, and Skuld’s white wolf, Varg, only impeded matters.  
“I can’t believe you lost her,” Munin sneered. The raven  ruffled  shaggy black feathers against the bracing wind.

“Shut up, carrion eater,” Varg snapped, fangs bared. The wolf’s crimson eyes gleamed. “I didn’t lose Skuld, as you so eloquently put it. Loki kidnapped her.”

“That’s enough. Both of you.” Odin’s breath condensed in the air. His hand curled around the pommel of his sword. Damn his impetuous raven. Varg was agitated enough. He had good reason to be. A Valkyrie and wolf were bonded to each other. Whatever fate befell one affected the other. Even death.

Both god and wolf looked out over the icy landscape. Blue-gray sky met snow-packed white mountains. Here the land was austere, uninhabitable. This was her realm.

An ordinary man would have frozen to death by now. But they couldn’t turn back. To do so would be dishonorable.

“I wouldn’t have lost my Valkyrie.” Munin squawked and flew skyward as Varg reeled, snarling. The wolf started to launch himself at the raven only to be stopped by Odin’s upraised hand.

“I understand you’re upset, Varg. But if you can’t control yourself, I’ll send you back to Asgard.”

The wolf growled low in his throat as he backed down. “Understood.” He glared at the raven who landed on Odin’s shoulder. “But if he says one more word…” He snapped his fangs at empty air. “Raven dinner.”

Odin glanced at Munin. The raven averted his head but finally nodded after a moment’s hesitation.

“I can’t believe Loki kidnapped her.” Varg’s eyes narrowed. “When I see him…”

“I’ll deal with Loki,” Odin promised. He brushed strands of dark hair from his cheek as a sudden breeze sliced across the barren landscape.

Munin squawked again. “I don’t like this. She won’t be happy, Odin.”

Odin nodded. “I know.” As if confirming his suspicion, the temperature plummeted several degrees. Icy pellets stung Odin’s face and even Munin crawled closer to his master, dipping his head under the god’s hair for shelter. Varg squinted against the frozen onslaught, shaking his shaggy coat free of the crystals melting against his body heat.  

The wolf stopped short, hackles raised, head lowered, ears back. His body tensed. “Can you feel it?”

Odin nodded. A sense of deep despair mingled with the cold, making it seem more oppressive.

Ahead of them a chasm yawned in the mountain, its dark interior leading to passages unknown.

Varg looked back at them. “Welcome to Hel.”

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday Guest Post: Kathryn Scannell

Today I’m offering readers here a free sample. If you’d like to read a short story set in the same universe as my new release, Embracing the Dragon, drop me an email ( and I’ll send you a copy.  The title is Leap of Faith. It takes place about a year before the events in Embracing the Dragon, and features two minor characters who appear in Embracing the Dragon. It’s a M/M romance, and includes an explicit M/M sex scene with knife play and BDSM, so if those things would make you uncomfortable, you should not read this story.  Embracing the Dragon does not include any BDSM scenes – Danny is depressingly vanilla.

Danny O’Riordan, the main character of Embracing the Dragon, is near and dear to my heart. I’ve grown very fond of him, but one of my beta readers made a comment while I was working on this book that made me stop and think. He commented, based on this book and on some other stories involving this character that haven’t seen publication yet, that he would not want Danny to live next door to him because he decided far too easily to solve problems by killing someone. I see it a little differently – I wouldn’t be worried about having him as a next door neighbor (other than the possibility of getting caught in the line of fire when someone tried to shoot at him). 

Yes, he kills when he needs to. But it’s never without looking at whether there are other options. Killing is not something he wants to do, but he sees a lot of situations where that’s the only acceptable option.  This story is an interlude of a few weeks snatched from the middle of a war. He’s been through enough that he takes a very professional attitude toward violence – once you’ve decided you need to do it, you do it as efficiently and with as little risk to yourself, your people, and bystanders as you can manage. That’s an attitude that puts him outside most people’s comfort zone. There are times when he sets aside a lot of our fundamental rules for dealing with other human beings, and that scares people when they run into someone who does it.

At the same time, he has what I see as redeeming features that balance that violence. He’s tremendously loyal to his friends. When he takes responsibility for leading people, he cares deeply about their interests. He loves his family.  It doesn’t come into play in a large way in the book, but he has a huge soft spot for kids. Outside those situations where violence is required, he’s really a pretty nice guy.

But that leaves me with a question.  Lots of romance readers like a darker hero. We love out bad boys.  But how dark is too dark? Do you draw a line somewhere? Is there a magic number where the body count is just too high to find a hero appealing anymore? If he gets into a situation where he needs information to keep his friends safe and gets it by beating it out of someone, is that crossing the line? Or does it not matter as long as the author doesn’t describe it too graphically?

Is that line different depending on the subgenre? Is a body count for the hero acceptable if it’s a historical romance, but not if it’s a contemporary?

Finally, does the ending matter in answering that question? Is it okay for the hero to have done unacceptable things in his past, or even at the beginning of the book, as long as he’s redeemed by the love of a good woman/man and intends not to do those things again? What if he *isn’t* changed by the relationship? How dark is it OK for him to be at the end of the book?  And, since hero is an ambiguous term when you’re talking about M/M romance, what about the love interest?

These are serious questions for me, and for Danny, because not only is Danny fairly dark by many standards, but Emperor Mordellir, one of the people in the story who wants him as a lover, is a far darker character. Mordellir is pretty far beyond the pale in terms of both his past and what he’s likely to do in the future. This is one of the issues Danny has to wrestle with – how can you justify to yourself loving someone who commits terrible acts, even if they are committed in the name of the greater good? What’s your answer?

Embracing the Dragon is available in various electronic formats from Torquere Press: 


Danny O’Riordan’s life was complicated before he had the vision of a past life that forced him to admit to himself that he was bisexual. There’s a war going on, and being Liegeman to Aran, the Elven King of Avalon puts Danny squarely in the middle of the politics of two worlds, Earth and Avalon. Adding a romantic relationship to the mix could be explosive.

His lover from that previous life has been reborn as Mordellir, the ruler of the Tengri Empire. The Dragon of Heaven is the most powerful person in his world. Will he want Danny back once he knows he’s been reborn? If he does, how far will he go to get his way?

Danny knows it isn’t smart to get involved with the Dragon of Heaven. Aran hates the Tengri. Following his heart and renewing that old relationship with Mordellir will leave him torn between his commitment to Aran and those old feelings which are still frighteningly strong. If he yields to temptation, can he balance his love for both men? 

[This excerpt is several chapters into the story.  Danny has just found himself needing to entertain Emperor Mordellir very unexpectedly. His reactions are complicated by the fact that he’s an empath, and thus he knows more of what Mordellir is feeling than is reasonable.]

Looking at him now, in this mood it was easy to see the resemblance to Demeth. Certainly there were differences. Demeth had been only part Tengri. He'd been shorter and a bit heavier built. Demeth's hair had reddish highlights, which hinted at demon in his family somewhere. But there was still something in the body language, and the aura which reminded Danny achingly of those memories of Demeth. It wouldn't be hard to put this man in place of the image of Demeth in those memories...

Thinking that had not been a good idea. Danny realized his mistake when he felt his cock start to swell. Just remembering the damned dreams he'd been having was enough to get him hard again, and the bathrobe he was wearing was not going to hide it. He could see a telltale bulge already. He shifted to cross his legs, hoping to keep things under control, but it just didn't work.

Mordellir had noticed, too. His gaze followed that moving bulge, and he gave off a mix of amusement and interest. All the extra blood that wasn't already in Danny's cock rose promptly to his face as he realized that.

Mordellir grew even more amused as Danny turned bright red. "I didn't think you were interested, Daniel. It's certainly nothing to be embarrassed about. You're a handsome young man. I'm not intimate with all my Favorites, but it's certainly an option."

Danny cursed inwardly. This was rapidly becoming a disaster. "No! I'm not-- I mean I don't-- Oh Hell." He ground to a halt. Doing anything would be stupid, and guaranteed to make settling the problem of those old memories worse, not better, but how did he say no without insulting the Emperor? Especially when his cock was obviously saying yes.

"Slowly, Daniel," Mordellir said gently. "If I read that wrong, I'm sorry. Will you tell me why you’re so confused and embarrassed? It can't be just having an erection in front of someone else, not after living among the Elves and the Kennakriz. What is it?" He looked probingly at Danny out of his good eye.

Danny took a deep breath to try to calm himself. "No. This isn't simple to explain. You didn't misread my reaction, but it would be a terrible idea to act on it."

"Why?" Mordellir sounded genuinely puzzled.

"Because you're the Emperor of the Tengri, and I'm the senior Liegeman to the King of Avalon, who happens to hate Tengri in general, and you in particular. That gives whole new levels of meaning to conflict of interest," Danny said, wondering why he was explaining the obvious to someone this experienced in politics.

"So?" Mordellir felt perplexed. "Is this an Earth thing? A little sex hardly constitutes anything important. It's not as if there was a commitment involved. There isn't even a chance of children to worry about negotiating."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday Guest Post: Danica Avet

I have a secret: I love bad boys. What? You’re not shocked? Okay, so I don’t think I’ve ever made my adoration of the bad boy a secret. How could I? They’re just so…bad and dangerous!

When I started writing the Veil series, I needed a bad guy and I just knew for sure he was Malachi Cromwell. Then as I got to know Malachi through Ruby: Uncut and on the Loose, I realized he wasn’t a bad guy. Okay, well he is, but he’s a redeemable bad guy. I fell a little in love with him because he was charming, witty, and smexy. What’s not to love? Sure, he’s a top general in an evil army, but he has a reason for his profession!

Oops, doth the writer protest too much?

Maybe I am, but I can’t help it. In Succubus-in-Waiting, the second book of the series, he shows that he’s not the bad guy I thought he was in the first book. I found myself oddly interested in what made him the way he was and where he would end up. It can’t be easy to go from being one of the most hated men in the Veil to trying to redeem yourself and that’s where I sprang upon the idea for his love story.

He’s had some tough breaks. I’m going to try not to give too many clues about his past so you can explore them yourselves, but trust me; he has his reasons for what he’s done. The most important part about his story is he’s trying to change his ways and earn the respect of his family and the other Veilerians. That isn’t easy; not when you’ve been the boogeyman of the Veil for centuries.

Malachi started the series out as a villain and ended up a lovable, honorable hero. Yes, I’m still in love with him. My sister is, too. I have to admire him. Other than the people who consider him family, he’s distrusted by everyone on both sides of the good and evil fence. The Veilerians are scared of him and what he might do. The Eturians (the faction of the Veil that wants to take over the human world) want him dead for betraying them. He’s caught between a rock and a hard place and he handles it with grace.

At least until his heroine comes along. Did I mention she’s an assassin given the task of killing him in the most gruesome manner possible? Yeah, this is when Malachi’s charm and yearning to redeem himself saved his cute butt. Our heroine, Noelani Fayard, has her work cut out for her because what Malachi wants, he gets. And he wants Lani. Even though he’s working on the whole redemption thing, he still has that streak of bad boy-itis and he’ll make sure Lani can’t resist him.

Now for the question I’m eager to learn…Who is your favorite anti-hero ever? Do you have more than one? Inquiring minds want to know and if you leave a comment, I’ll have a random drawing to pick a winner of a hand-painted Mardi Gras mask and a set of Romance Trading Cards ( for the entire series.

You can Danica at these fine interweb locations:

It isn’t every day a fairy gets an assignment with only one outcome: her death. As an assassin with the Eturian army, Noelani “Shade” Fayard has killed more than her share of traitors, but for the first time in centuries, she hesitates to take out her target. The Halfling marked for death makes her wonder what life would be like if it weren’t for the blood staining her hands and soul. He makes her feel for the first time in centuries.
Malachi Cromwell, a former Eturian general, wants to reclaim his place in The Veil, not fall in lust or love. He knows better than to let his heart take the lead, especially when he discovers Lani was sent to kill him, just like she’d killed the very people who held his fate in their hands.
Can they overcome their distrust and bitter pasts to forge a future together?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Repost: A Short Paranormal Story


Why had I let Emily drag me to a wine tasting party in Eastern Cemetery in the middle of the night?

She moved easily among the gravestones as if blessed with cat eyes. Even her Goth apparel, a long pleather skirt topped with a ruffled white blouse, burgundy frock coat, and black platform boots, failed to deter her.

I, on the other hand, struggled to keep my long velveteen dark purple skirt from dragging along the ground or getting caught on the edge of a jagged tombstone. All this walking – in Doc Martens, no less – had me struggling for breath in a too-tight corset Emily had insisted I wear.

Emily claimed Goth citizenship. I carried a green card.

“Hurry up, Anna!” Emily called over her shoulder.

I glared at her.

“We’re almost there!” Emily pointed toward a small bend in the road. Ahead of us loomed a statue of a headless woman, the white marble shadowed gray in the moonlight.

Personally, I saw no appeal in holding a wine tasting party in a graveyard with a tragic past. Nor was I eager about the possibility of getting arrested. But Emily had insisted I join her, assuring me no problems were anticipated and I could leave if I became too uncomfortable.

Our destination was the chapel at the far end of Eastern. Except for the sound of our shoes on the pavement, all was quiet.

The silence was disconcerting.

Surely we couldn’t be the only ones attending. I glanced at my watch. Fifteen minutes before midnight. Had everyone already arrived? I looked out over the expanse of tombstones but they stood silent and unyielding. Whatever secrets the dead had taken with them stayed buried.

The stone chapel loomed ahead, austere, silent and dark. No cars lined the oval drive.

We drew closer to our destination. An iron gate barred the front entrance, secured by a chain and padlock. Two panels of the nine-panel stain glass window above the doorway were broken out. I’d read about the vandalism which necessitated the security measures.   

The side entrance was also closed off but Emily squeezed through the gap between the gate and doorway. I followed, silently grumbling at how the corset constricted my rib cage. Why had I let Emily talk me into wearing it?

We entered the dark interior. Emily’s fingers gripped my arm, her touch cool.

“Where is everyone?” I whispered. Part of me wondered if Emily were playing a practical joke or if she had more sinister motives.

To be honest, I didn’t know Emily very well. She wasn’t a friend, more of an acquaintance. We’d met in a life drawing class at college. One evening, while glancing through a yearbook dating back to the 1930s, I came across a photograph of a young woman who looked as if she could be Emily’s twin. The resemblance was uncanny.

We stepped into what I assumed to be an antechamber converted into an office. Torn cemetery records littered the floor. The air smelled dank and damp.

A chill gripped me as I looked around the room. Filled with a sense of foreboding, I shivered, cold despite the short black jacket I’d insisted on wearing.  

A doorway led to a large circular chamber where the funeral services must have been held. The walls were strewn with graffiti, messages warning us to stay away. Closed doors led to unknown rooms, perhaps chambers where the living could grieve in private.

The sound of clinking glasses seemed to echo in the chamber. I looked around, again wondering if this was a good idea. We were trespassing. As long as we didn't make too much noise, no one might notice. Part of me thrilled at the notion of doing something against the law while my more pragmatic side insisted the sooner I left, the better.

Emily said something behind me.

I turned to ask her to repeat herself. The words fell off my tongue to join my jaw already on the floor.

She had vanished.

The logical part of my brain insisted she couldn’t have disappeared. Nor had she time to return the way we’d come in. People didn’t vanish into proverbial thin air, no matter how convincing illusionists made it seem.  

Shaken, I started toward the exit.

A hand clamped down on my shoulder.

I yelped, jumping about a foot in the air. Whirling, I glared at my assailant, fists clenched and ready.

Again, I was struck speechless.

I couldn’t say he was handsome. Intense, yes. His brows were drawn together and he frowned as he studied me with dark, almost black eyes. By contrast, his hair was white, falling to his shoulders. Unlike Emily and me, he didn’t dress Goth but wore a black tuxedo. One hand held a crystal glass of dark red wine.

The stranger bowed. “Perhaps I should introduce myself. I’m Nathaniel.” He lifted the back of my hand to his lips. Like Emily, his touch was cool. “You must be Anna.”

“Emily brought me here for a wine tasting.” I gestured about the empty room. “But it seems she ditched me. If you don’t mind, I’ll see myself out.”

Nathaniel shook his head. “I would hate for you to come here and not partake of one glass.”

I shrugged. While I didn’t appreciate Emily leaving me, I couldn’t trust Nathaniel either. What if he’d doped the wine?

“I’d rather pour my own glass, thank you.”

The corners of Nathaniel’s mouth turned up in a smile. “Of course. I understand you don’t trust me. Would it help if I said Emily recommended you?” He extended the glass. “I can assure you the wine is free of any tampering.”

I wasn’t naive. Nor did my intuition dance around waving red flags. Granted, this wine tasting was unorthodox but I didn’t have to drink the alcohol. A sip first. Any unusual taste and I’d stop right there.

My fingers curled around the delicate stem. Lifting the glass, I took a small sip. A sweet if slightly bitter taste with a hint of cloves lingered on my tongue.   

Nothing seemed unusual. Nathaniel watched as I tilted the glass and swallowed a mouthful.

Ever eaten one of those candies that starts out sweet then turns sour? The wine changed, became more coppery. Even stranger, images of young men and women played across my mind like a silent slide show.

The flavor was familiar yet strange. Why couldn’t I place it?

Suddenly alarms and whistles clamored inside my head and I hurled the glass to the cement floor. The crystal shattered, spraying shards.

Blood. I’d drunk blood.

Repulsed, my hands flew to my mouth as I tried to wipe away traces of another’s life essence. Eyes wide, I could only shake my head and back away from Nathaniel to press against an unyielding wall. Despite the expanse of the room, the air seemed stifling, rank with decay.

Nathaniel shook his head as he glanced at the broken glass. “What a waste. Good blood is hard to obtain.”

“How many of those people did you kill?” I glared at Nathaniel, daring him to challenge my assumption. I’d never had any desire to drink blood or even engage in a vampire role playing game. The only vampire-related book I’d read was Dracula, the only movie I saw was the one with Gary Oldman. Other than that,  the world of bloodsuckers meant little to me.

I bit my lower lip. Emily had known. She’d dragged me here under false pretenses. My fists clenched again. Damn it. When I saw her...

Nathaniel shook his head. “You mustn’t blame Emily. She only did as ordered.”

“As ordered?” Did he mean to excuse her betrayal?

Nathaniel looked past me for several moments, his expression pensive. “There are humans who are vampires but their true natures are hidden so deeply they never realize who they are. Emily is sensitive. She’s able to find these people and bring them to us. If they can survive the wine tasting, they become initiated into our world.”

“And the ones who don’t survive?” I glanced at the droplets of blood glistening on the floor.

Nathaniel gave me a direct look. “They die and their blood is used in the next ritual.” He paused, as if choosing his next words. “Sadly, not everyone can survive the physical and psychological changes. That you have is a miracle. I’d almost given up on finding another.”

My knees nearly gave way and I had to grip the wall to keep from collapsing. Emily had only been friends with me because she thought I was a vampire?

“How long has she been doing this?” My voice cracked.

“A while. To be honest, an initiate is found only every few decades or so.”

I closed my eyes, bringing that yearbook photo to the forefront of my mind. The person in that picture was the same Emily who’d accompanied me to the graveyard chapel.

“Is she a vampire?”

Nathaniel shook his head. “Merely a scout, for lack of a better term.” He strode toward me. I pushed my back tighter against the wall. “You shouldn’t be afraid,” he chided.

I looked away, biting my lower lip. The corset strained against my ribs as I struggled to take a deep breath. I needed air. My chest ached and thin beads of sweat dotted my hairline.

His fingers undid the black silk cords and the corset fell open, revealing a simple white blouse underneath.

Freed from the constraints, I gulped oxygen into my lungs.

“You realize you will never age, never die?” Nathaniel stepped back. His eyes locked with mine and I couldn’t look away. It was as if he’d lifted the sash to the window of my soul to peer inside.

I needed a distraction. “Where’s Emily?”

“She’s asleep until we need her again.”

That familiar chill traced icy fingers down my spine. “Where?”

Nathaniel shrugged. “In a sepulcher.”

“She’s dead?” My stomach roiled and I pressed a hand against my mouth to stave off dry heaves.

“She died, yes. But not before I tried to save her life by making her a vampire.” A flicker of pain and concern crossed Nathaniel’s face. “She was my only daughter and I’d already lost my wife to the typhoid epidemic.” He gave me a rueful smile. “As you can see, my plan didn’t work as I’d hoped.”

“Why do this?” My fingers clutched at my skirt. “Why not leave us alone?” How dare he have the audacity to assume I wanted to be a vampire.   

“If you deny your true nature, you’ll only torment yourself to the point you’ll need to find a way to exorcise your personal demons.” Nathaniel laid a hand on my arm, his touch tentative but also strangely reassuring. “Trust me, this way is much easier.”

I stared at him. Had he sensed the bouts of almost indescribable depression that haunted me? Had he tapped into my memories and seen me standing in the bathroom, wrist held under running water, razor blade at the ready?

The possibility of trading my old existence for a new one sounded enticing. Here was a chance to forgo the pain.

“Will it hurt?”

Nathaniel shook his head. “No, but it won’t be easy at first. We’ll help initiate you into your new life.” His voice softened. “You must understand the decision is already made. Fight it and I guarantee you will only be miserable.”

I closed my eyes. Never again to feel the warmth of the sun or to look up into a cerulean sky. If I said yes my existence would be relegated to the shadows and the night.

“We do venture outside on overcast days. But we don’t sleep in coffins or turn into bats.” He wrinkled his nose.”Can’t believe people think that.” A pause. “Nor do we talk like Bela Lugosi.”

“Who’s that?” I asked innocently.

Nathaniel cocked his head and gave me a bemused smile. “Never mind.” He started toward the entrance, stopped, and turned. He crooked his index finger, beckoning me. “Come.”

Perhaps I would regret it later but this life remained meaningless. Even Emily had a purpose. My other choice was a mundane existence where the only reward was death. Option two wasn’t perfect but if Nathaniel were right, I might regret saying no.

Taking a deep breath, I squared my shoulders and went to join him.