Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Guest Post: John B. Rosenman

I’m a Normal Person—Really I Am!
by John B. Rosenman

First, let me convince you I’m safe and normal.  I’ve been married forty-five years to Jane, the exact same woman.  We have two children who are normal in most ways.  If we put them in their coffins and close the lids at the crack of dawn, most of our problems are solved for the rest of the day.

Hmm, perhaps I’m not helping my case.

Anyway, unless I’m mistaken, the title of this site, Darkling Delights, suggests both Dark Delights and Delight in Darkness.  Well, recently, I revised one of my darkest stories whose title I hesitate to repeat in polite company.  Are you ready?  The story is “Wet Dreams,” and it is one of seven works of fiction—three novels and four stories—I have published with MuseItUp Publishing.  It explores the darkness and potential depravity of the human heart, the sadistic and sexual evil it is capable of.  In addition, it explores how little we sometimes know about each other as well as about ourselves.  Below is the cover, by Nika Dixon, which I believe captures much of the story’s disturbing flavor.

The truth is, many of us are drawn to darkness and evil, perhaps even hooked on it.  K.R. Morrison, who wrote the previous blog, is fascinated by vampires, which traditionally steal our souls and doom us to eternal damnation.  What, I ask you, could be darker and more terrifying than that?  I myself have written and published my share of vampire tales.  One major reason we write dark fiction is to try to get a handle on and conquer all the forces that cause us pain and rob our lives of hope and meaning.

I’ve published over 300 short stories and 20 novels and books of short fiction.  Not all, of course, are tales of Darkling Delights.  My novels, though, most often, tell stories of cosmic, transcendent Gods or evils—hostile alien invaders, seemingly invincible enemies of one kind or another—who invade Humanity’s Home and seek to destroy or conquer us.  To name a few, this is the case in Beyond Those Distant Stars (Mundania Press), and Inspector of the Cross and Dark Wizard (MuseItUp Publishing).  Sometimes, as with my African Science-Fiction Novel, A Senseless Act of Beauty, available both as an eBook from Crossroad Press and as an audiobook from, the heartless invaders are humans themselves, seeking to repeat Europe’s brutal colonization of Africa. 

Perhaps that is the ultimate Dark Delight, the realization that in the final analysis, the worst monster of all is ourselves.  This brings me back to the vampire myths, for aren’t vampires in all their incarnations derived from us?  Talk about lost innocence and perverse cravings!

PAM, Thanks so much for having me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday Guest Post: Kathy Ree/K.R. Morrison

Who Are You, and What Have You Done With…Me?

My daughter labels me as “weird”.  My Dad’s friends know me as “the vampire daughter”.  People tell me I scare them.

Where did this come from?  Not too many years ago, I considered myself very much a “plain-Jane” person.  T-shirts, jeans, school mom, working mom, all the things you expect from someone with two grown kids and a couple of college tuitions to pay.  The paranormal never really entered into my world.  I read regular mysteries, human interest stories, the newspaper for heaven’s sake…

Then I had the nightmare, which spawned my first book.

Over the next year or so, as I wrote and re-wrote, edited, found a publisher (publish-on-demand—not the best deal to go with, by the way), and started to get some interest started in my “baby”, I found myself changing in ways that I still don’t understand.  Maybe I never will.  But they are not bad changes. Just…different.

The T-shirts and jeans:  Well, the jeans are still worn when I can fit into them, but the shirts have become tops with lots of frill and flounce to them.  The lacier the better, which is what my daughter has called “weird”.  And dresses!  Skirts!  Me, who could be counted on to wear a dress on Easter Sunday and maybe to a wedding.  My “style”, if you will, tends toward a Stevie Nicks/Mina Harker-meets-Edward-Gorey kind of mix—Edwardian with a funereal flair, with a lot of lace.  Edwardian Goth without the attitude—of either.  I love a low-cut but long-sleeved dress draped in beads and folds.  Almost 1920s, but not quite.  It’s the way I think proper female vampires should look.

Which is weird, because I am terrified of the concept of vampires.  It makes me shudder to write the word.  Would it surprise you to know that I can’t even read my first book?  Yet this is what is coming to the forefront of my personality.

When at a restaurant, and the server asks me what doneness I want in my dinner, I suggest that he/she bring the beastie out and let me chase it down.  There seems to be a lot of cannibalistic/blood-oriented references in my language.  Not that I’d go that direction!  Too many blood-borne illnesses.  Just get me a bat or something... 

Whoops, there I go again.

I can’t get enough of vampire stories.  When I learned that “Dark Shadows” was being made into a movie, I counted down the more-than-365 days until it was released to the theatres.  Novels by Hannah Jayne and the like have joined the rest of the books on my shelf.  I still pass over the more bloody passages with one eye closed (don’t look—look—oh no don’t look).

I’m known as the “vampire daughter” because my dad has spent a lot of time and money passing my book out to his friends and acquaintances.  He’s been my number-one support.  It was kind of funny to be addressed that way.  Fifteen seconds of fame.  But every little positive encouragement gives me more reason to keep writing. 

I’m “scary” because of the way I talk about how I would handle anyone who got up in my face.  Blood and tears ain’t the half of it.  I know I would become fairly rabid if this sort of thing happened.  And I don’t mind being graphic.

And this was not the way I was all that long ago.  As I finish my second book, it will be interesting to see how much further I evolve.  Will it be good?  Will people run away?  Time will tell.

Have you written anything that has changed you?  How’d that turn out?  I’m open to answers to these questions, plus questions from anyone out there who has stopped by to read.  Thanks to Pamela for the chance to blog, and thank you for taking the time to visit.

K.R. Morrison
Author, Be Not Afraid and Resurgence:  The Rise of Judas
Second book available, hopefully, towards the end of 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Guest Post: Madeleine McLaughlin

Growing up in a small city, I was always interested in places smaller. What did people find to amuse themselves in towns where there was only one cafe? That led me to my main character's interest in his community jail. And also his love of his father. I think we have all heard about how everyone in small places knows one another. People must really need to be tolerant of others and accept those who wouldn't have a place in a bigger place simply because they don't need them. Up north, they need each other to help survive the winter months.

Kevin's relationship to Lorne and Chester is not like that of a big city where bums are set apart and ridiculed. He talks to them as equals and also listens to them.

I based my fictional town on Stewart, BC. Before personal computers and the internet, I used to be fascinated by maps and the places on them. This is where I found Stewart, BC, a little town right across the border from Hyder, Alaska. It's isolation fascinated me. What must people do in an emergency? They must have to take matters into their own hands or wait for a plane to fly in and rescue whoever needs it. In my fictional town the people gather and look into things themselves.

I liked the fact that Stewart was cut off and imagined a town even more cut off, without the town of Hyder right across the border. I put my town right in the mountains, in the midst of them for more isolation. I wanted no RCMP to come to the rescue. I wanted my characters to work out for themselves what they would do. I give you here an excerpt to get a flavor of the story:
I tap my head and wonder how could jail have been so much fun when I was a child? Back then, I remember noticing only good things behind the solid stone walls where my dad worked. Those idyllic times in our small North BC community shine with magic in my mind. Not like the vast, evil prisons I visit in the metropolises I now live in. Following Dad's path into prison guarding, I still learn from experience how criminals take advantage of each other's inadequacies and how much violence resounds through the walls.
Yet I'll never forget those years I spent with my dad in his jail, having a ball. If I close my eyes, I can still feel the cool stone walls against my hands...
The jail was a great refuge in June, but even in the winter, I found it pleasant to play in. There was so much fun imagining the structure when it was full, back in the gold rush. I could almost hear the walls and floors resounding to the voices of the thousands of lawless men that lived back then. In the large, empty vastness of our jail, I loved pretending I needed to find escape routes.
One day after tromping through the halls for an hour, I found a locked door.
Why is it shut tight? What is behind that door?

Madeleine McLaughlin

MuseItUp Publishing Bookstore



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Guest Post: Do Vampires Like Chocolate?

I was staring at my screen, trying to decide what to say about…anything, thinking about the two books I most recently have out, and I wondered…do vampires like chocolate?

It reminded me of the exercise I use when I’m stuck. I doodle write a lot…I think through my fingers, and when I get stuck sometimes I’ll just type anything. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t…an interview between two oddball characters of mine from different books, a list of things that they like or don’t like, a Q&A session between me and the character. (The Q&A session usually starts with “And really, what is your problem?”)

OK, then. What can I do with “Do vampires like chocolate?” The thought came about because I was trying to say something entertaining about Unbalanced, my modern day paranormal romance, and The Chocolatier’s Wife, my recently re-released mystery set in a fantasy world that feels more regency than medieval.

One has vampires. One has a chocolate shop. Before I get distracted by entertaining myself imagining how William and Tasmin, the couple who own the shop, would deal with Prince Sevrin, my head vampire (William and Tasmin are pretty proper.  Sevrin is formal, but has a silly streak that most people don’t get to see…) I guess I better logic it out. In my made up reality, vampires are made so by a parasite that is built up in the body after years of being ingested, when the person dies, if they are not too damaged the parasite takes over and reforms their body. So, does this parasite make it impossible for vampires to digest chocolate?  I would assume so…if you are on a diet of blood, and blood has all you need to survive, then your body would probably no longer have the ability to run things through. So I don’t think they would bother.  I know that some stories have vampires throwing things up, but that’s kind of…well, gross. Sevrin would never be so inelegant.

So, I guess not. Which is kind of sad, since I’ve always loved the image of Angel (I’ve been re-watching the TV series off Netflix recently) and his delight when, briefly human, he tastes chocolate for the first time. But perhaps that is why that scene is special? But, this conversation (hopefully not completely one sided) has made me wonder something else. Vampires have extraordinary senses, (usually) right? Perhaps smell, in their world, fulfills the same needs as taste does in ours. Now I have an image of a vampire just breathing in a tin of chocolates. That could be an interesting thing…a piece of a puzzle to characterize a vampire better, to make
that character more round, more real. Because really, it’s all about the pieces in the background, the things we fill in that the reader may only pay a second’s attention to, those details help make the story feel more real.

I’ve doodled a little, and now my vision of vampires has changed a little. It’s a vision that has been developing since I was in college (Unbalanced was the first book I finished, and it took ages to get it right.) mumperty-mump years ago.  But I think that’s one of the joys of writing. Things are constantly changing.


So…do you doodle with words? How do you go about it? Do you scribble scenes? Ask questions?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Guest Post: Tmonique Stephens

Interview with Roman Nicolis

After weeks of begging for an interview, Roman Nicolis agreed to meet at a restaurant one block away from his Park Avenue townhouse. I was calm, cool and collected until Roman walked in. 6’7” and muscular with wavy dark hair and intense blue eyes, I swallowed the drool forming and nearly fanned myself. I had to stay focused. I wasn’t here to drool over the man. I had questions that needed to be answered.

His hand swallowed mine when he shook it. He sat opposite me and ordered a scotch neat.

“Would you like something Ms. Stephens?” he asked while the waitress waited.

Yes, but a fruity drink wouldn’t steady my nerves. “Water, please.” As the waitress walked away Roman’s full attention landed on me. “I don’t have much time so let’s get this over with.”

Thanks for the prodding. I whipped the tape recorder from my purse. We already agreed I could record the interview so I didn’t expect him to balk. He scowled, but said nothing. I pressed record and began.

“Hi this is Tmonique Stephens, I’m here interviewing Roman Nicolis, CEO of Nicolis Security. Formerly, one of the most eligible bachelors in New York City who has finally agreed to sit down and talk to me.

“Sir, you’ve been missing from your company and the city for two months. Why the disappearing act?”

Roman Nicolis. “I’ve been on an extended vacation.”

TMS: “To where. There’s no record of you leaving the country.”

RN: “Are you stalking me, Ms. Stephens?” (a smile tweaked the corner of his mouth)

TMS: “Yes, I am. Mr. Nicolis, there has been some speculation on how you’ve made most of your personal fortune. Some say your company is just a cover for illegal activity overseas. Care to comment?”

Roman Nicolis: “I don’t comment on speculation.”

TMS: “So you're not issuing a denial?”

RN: “There’s nothing to deny or confirm.”

TMS: “O.K.” (shuffles through some papers) “How’s the wedding preparations coming along with your lovely fiancĂ©e, Bianca Maylor?”

RN: (his face becomes shuttered) “I’m no longer engaged.”

TMS: “Really, the wedding was three months away. Is it because of houseguest, Miss Stella Walker that you're no longer engaged?”

RN: “My personal life isn’t up for discussion.”

 (The waitress returns with his scotch and my water. He downs his in a single gulp while I try not to choke on mine. His lips are compressed into a thin angry line)

TMS: “Okay, next question. You have a very interesting family. Can you tell us more about them?

RN: “There is not much to tell. I have 6 brothers. Thane, E.J., Avery, Tyrone, Brayden and Quin. Oh, and Hector, my butler.”

TMS: “Yes, but they’re not really your brothers. Not biologically.”

RN: “Blood couldn’t make us any closer. Many are descendants of my sister Aria. They were orphaned and adopted by me.”

TMS: “Wait, descendants of you sister? Just how old are you?”

RN: (His smile turned and wasn’t warm or welcoming)

TMS: “You look surprisingly youthful for someone who adopted several young boys who are now adult men. What’s your secret?”

RN: “Plenty of water and eight hours of sleep”

TMS: “Who lets a single man adopt young boys?”

RN: “Are you saying I did something illegal?”

TMS: “Did you?”

RN: (He gives a cool chuckle) “No. Next question?”

TMS: “Alright. Is it true there has been a Nicolis in every war since The Revolution?”

RN: “. . .  Possibly.”

TMS: “More than possibly. I’ve done some research and dating back to the 1777 there’s documentation of one a Roman Marius Nicolis. And in each subsequent war I’ve found variations of that name until The Vietnam war. You come from a long line of military men.”

RN: “Is that an insult or a compliment, Mrs. Stephens?”

TMS: “Definitely a compliment. I also discovered some pictures of those men. They all have a striking resemblance to you. Any comment.”

RN: “Strong genes.”

TMS: “Speaking of genes, is there anything you’d like to say about your twin?”

RN: “My twin is dead. There’s nothing more to say. Next question.”

His anger surprised me. Flustered, I shuffled my papers trying to get the interview on track.

TMS: “Now that you're single again the ladies will hang me if I don’t ask you some questions, so here goes. Blonde, brunette or red head?”

RN: “Brunette.”

TMS: “Miss Maylor is blonde while Miss Walker is brunette. Interesting. Petite or statuesque?

RN: “Both.”

TMS: “Athletic or curvaceous?”

RN: (sighs) “This is ridiculous.”

TMS: “I must placate my female reader, please.”

RN: (leans closer) “You want to know what type of woman I’m attracted to? I’ll tell you without the silly questions. I want a woman with a mind of her own. One who knows what she wants and won't stop until she gets it. One who isn’t afraid of life and living. A woman who will love me as much as I love her.

Whoa! I can’t take my eyes off him. His intensity is intoxicating. A drug I would gladly get addicted too. I grab my water and slowly drain the glass. After a deep breath I was ready to continue.

TMS: “Have you already met the next Mrs. Roman Nicolis?”

A wry smile flashed across his face, but his eyes were forlorn.

RN: “I have time for a final question, Ms. Stephens.”

TMS: “What is your biggest regret, Mr. Nicolis?”

RN: “This interview.”

TMS: “Come on. Give me one.”

RN: “. . . I have many regrets. None I care to share with your rapacious readers.”

TMS: “Why did you agree?”

RN: “Lack of good judgment.” (He stood) “Your time is up Ms. Stephens.”

TMS: “One last question. If there was one thing you could change, what would it be?”

RN: (He pauses. For a brief moment his gaze becomes distant, almost wistful. Then his features became guarded) “I’d change nothing. I would live my life as I have, on my own terms with no regrets. (He leaves)

Why did I choose to write about the Egyptian Gods?
          About five years ago, I decided I wanted to write a series. I’ve always loved paranormal romances, vampires, werewolves, the fey, shape shifters, novels about other worlds inhabited with different species. Naturally, I gravitated to what I enjoyed reading, but I was tired of the usual books populating the genre. I considered writing about the Greek Gods, but I had recently started reading a popular series about the Greeks and I felt I had no new ideas to offer.
Then I thought of the Egyptian Gods. Ancient Egypt is one of the most well documented cultures. Although the Egyptian Gods have a wealth of history and folklore, there aren’t many fiction books about them. Their story still remains untold.
Eternity is a story of reincarnation and redemption. Roman Nicolis, a mercenary falls in love with the Elyssian, the wrong woman. He seduces her, taking her virginity and cursing them both. For two thousand years, Roman wanders the earth searching for the only woman he can love. Time and again, Roman finds her, only to lose her horribly. Now, in present day New York City, they meet again. And this is his last chance to get things right.
All romance writers love the heroes they pen into existence. Much like natural born children, we labor diligently over them, polishing and perfecting, adding a bit of this, editing a bit of that. We worry if we’ve mixed the correct character ingredients to make a hero. Is he tall enough, his chin square enough? Do his eyes smolder when he looks at his lover and turn frigid when facing an enemy? Whether loud and boisterous or soft spoken and gruff, he has to be a gentleman. Maybe not quite the type you’d bring home to your mother, but the one you want in your bed.
Roman Nicolis, the hero of my debut novel, has all of those qualities, but that is not why he has endeared himself to me. I started writing the first version of Eternity late in 2007. I had no real plot direction and my characters were one dimensional cardboard cutouts. By early 2008 my personal life had completely fallen apart. Promises weren’t kept and betrayal ran deep. I needed a hero, a man who kept his word, honored his commitment and loved enough for twenty lifetimes.
Roman Nicolis became that man. I infused him with all the qualities I long for in a partner. He’s forthright, dependable, and the sexiest thing on two legs.  He’s also honorable, places the needs of his family ahead of his, and most importantly he’s faithful.  A curse, a demon and two thousand years couldn’t keep him from the woman he loves.
I didn’t make him infallible. He has the usual male handicaps; he’s bossy, arrogant and a bit of a control freak. I chalk that up to being a CEO of a security firm and head of a family with six equally arrogant and bossy men. 
Creating Roman Nicolis and Eternity gave me something to believe in at a time that I needed it most. He will forever have a special place in my heart.

Eternity, out this August from Soulmate publishing. You can find Tmonique Stephens on her fan page Author Tmonique Stephens and Like her.  Also stop by for more information on future projects.
Eternity Book trailer on YouTube. 

“Don’t ever run from me again,” Reign ordered inches from Alexis’ lips. And though she nodded, her mind thought of inventive ways to make him kiss her like that again.

“Why did you run?” he asked when they were walking again.

“I didn’t run. I left. I needed some fresh air and what better place than the park?”

“I can’t say I understand what’s going on, Stella. In many ways, I’m as confused as you are to the how’s and why’s, and that is not something I’m in the least bit happy with. In a short span of time, much has happened to you. You’ve handled it as best as you could. Another woman would’ve cracked. Not you. For what it’s worth, I’m proud of you.”

Her chest swelled and her spine straightened a little more. When was the last time someone said that to her. Someone that mattered. And when did Roman, his opinion and approval, matter? And would he still feel the same way if he knew the truth. The truth that wasn’t included in the file he had on her?

She stopped at the edge of the Great Lawn. People still lingered as twilight gathered, but none close by. She sat beneath her tree.

“That was my favorite spot.” She pointed to a nearby hedge. “I spent a few weeks here after I ran away from my last foster home.” A summer spent in the park, hiding herself and the few possessions she managed to gather. A shudder raced through her and she chewed her bottom lip. Memories of cold, hungry nights choked her. Out of everything she could’ve shared, why did she pick one of the most painful?

She cast a fleeting look at him. Thunder engulfed his features turning him into a hulking menace. 

“What happened in foster care?” His voice dropped so low she barely heard him.

“N-nothing,” she looked away. Firm fingers clasped her chin and returned her attention to him. He searched her face, looking for a way to force her to tell him.

Would he hurt me?

With night gathering and no one nearby, he could kill her and dump her body in her old hiding place. No one would find her until she stank. She had to get away.

The fingers gripping her chin stroked her jaw and glided down the column of her throat, stalling her instinct to flee, making her long for something she never had. 

She closed her eyes against that traitorous emotion and tilted her face into the moonlight.

The wind bathed her in a cool breeze, lifting her bang off her face and revealing her scar. Let him look. Let him see exactly how horrible it is. Maybe then he could deal with the scars on the inside, the ones keeping her from moving forward and claiming whatever joy this life had to offer.

Brave thoughts didn’t give her strength to open her eyes. Pity and disgust wasn’t something she wanted to see on his face.

The calloused pad of his thumb stroked her scar and left an aching trail of awareness spreading across nerve endings that—until recently—slumbered blissfully ignorant of passion. Now they roared to life, demanding attention. Fear sliced through her. What if she looked and all she saw was revulsion?

Then you’d know. Her eyes opened.

Love stared back.

Unshed tears blurred her vision.

Roman’s hand dropped to his side. “Don’t cry. I—I won't—”

She leaped into his arms. He caught her, tumbling back onto the grass. She landed on top of his body.

Tears pelted his face. Another man would have flinched from her ghastly display and pushed her away or at the least, shield himself. Roman waited, one hand on the small of her back, the other pushing her tousled hair behind her ears and wiping away the river cascading from her eyes.

“Sweetheart, please, tell me what’s wrong?”

She couldn’t, at least not at this moment. Not when her heart was raw and wide open. With almost no effort, every wall she erected, Roman destroyed. Now the rubble lay at her feet. Instinct told her to rebuild—quickly—before it was too late.

As she looked down into his face, she realized late had passed days ago. Maybe it was the meals he fed her, or how he didn’t balk when she wanted to learn how to defend herself. Maybe it was the nights spent safely sheltered in his arms and the way his gaze caressed her? There was something about him she craved . . . even loved?

Oh God, anything but that!