And so it begins…

MystiConWell, Con season is upon me once again.  That magical time when myself and author Tally Johnson take off to make our public appearances in the hopes of winning friends and influencing people.  Our convention year always begins with my personal favorite southeast convention– MystiCon in Roanoke, VA.  It started out as a reboot of a smaller convention the first year we went but has now grown to monumental proportions.  As in, if you don’t have your tickets yet– too bad.  They’re already sold out for the weekend.

MystiCon is pretty special to me.  The first time I applied, I was super-excited to get accepted because Roanoke, VA has familial connections for me.  My mother was from Salem which is about 15 miles outside of Roanoke.  We used to visit my grandmother there at least once a month when I was a child.  Whenever we went to the mall Christmas shopping or out to dinner– we usually drove into Roanoke.  In fact, the hotel where the convention is held– we drove past it countless times.  The mall where we would always go shopping with my gran is less than a block down the road.  Some of my best memories were made there in Roanoke.  So that’s why I’ll always be faithful to MystiCon.  It’s like going home.

Another reason to go is the people.  Tally and I have made so many amazing friends through the con circuit and we don’t get to see them too often.  So MystiCon is just this big party where we get to hang with our friends we never see.  Mark Davis, Gail Z. Martin, Christina Stiles, Andy Deane and the Bella Morte gang, and countless others will be on hand not just to share their knowledge on panels or sell their wares– they’ll be there to reconnect with friends and make new ones.  That’s the best part of convention season.

So, if you’re in the area and are planning on coming to MystiCon this year, stop over and see me.  I’d love to say hi, hang out and have a write-in or just have a drink.  And of course, I will have books for sale.  Here is my schedule:

Friday, 2/27:     10pm:  Iron Author

Saturday, 2/28:   10am: The Weird South

                             7pm: Author Readings (sexy edition)

10pm: Broad Universe Rapid Fire Readings (horror edition)

Sunday, 3/1:        11am: How to Get Rejected (I’m expert at this one.)

                              1pm: Say What???

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The Return of Badass Vamps: A Review of All the Darkness in the World by Andy Deane

I’m writing this review today as a former lover of all things vampiric.  As a kid, I was a whore for anything that had to do with vampires. Books, movies—I drew pictures. The biggest fight that I ever had with my mother was over going to see The Lost Boys at the tender age of 12.  But lately I’ve been disheartened with the whole vampire genre.  And though I’m notorious for blaming Twilight,  of course it didn’t start there.  Twilight was just an inevitable  end that was started by Anne Rice,  “Forever Knight,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and “Angel.”  Of course pop culture has never had trouble making vampires sympathetic characters.  They’re sexy and tortured, what’s not to love?  But lately we’ve taken it to the next level.  The kinder, gentler vamp has wormed his way into the mainstream and frankly… it pisses me off.  Who the hell decided that vampires didn’t actually need to drink blood?  Or that they weren’t ruthless hunters with a knack for seduction?  Or that they didn’t really have fangs?  Or—the worst of all insults—sparkled in the sun?  We have essentially cut their balls off. 

Enter Andy Deane.

 Some of you may know Andy as the frontman of the Goth band, Bella Morte.  That’s how I knew him until last summer.  We were supposed to attend a Sci-Fi Con together and I of course read his bio on the website.  Come to find out, he had started writing some horror fiction and immediately I was excited.  I read his first book, The Sticks and loved it.  I thought that the first chapter was truly one of the best first chapters I’d ever read.  So naturally, when I heard that his next novel, All the Darkness in the World, was coming out AND it was a vampire novel—I was completely psyched!  I forced myself to wait and buy a hard copy for myself directly from, for lack of a better term, the horse’s mouth.  I bought my copy from Andy and even scored an autograph.  My inner Goth chick was all gooey inside.  Then my outer critic tapped me on the shoulder and said, “What if it sucks?  After all, it’s a vampire novel.”  And after reading the book, I can tell my outer critic to shut the fuck up.  I won’t keep you in suspense—I loved it.  All the Darkness in the World has renewed my faith in the vampire genre.  Finally, a slew of badass vamps to wreak havoc for a good 200 pages.  No sparkling. No brooding. No remorse of any kind.  And it’s fabulous!

All the Darkness in the World is told from the first person point of view of our hero, Jace.  By the way, a horror novel told in first person POV is unusual and hard as hell to write.  The story begins when Jace is a frustrated teenager just praying for the day he can get out of his abusive parents’ house.  On a fateful night Jace witnesses two vampires attacking a lone female and he steps in to assist.   Confirming his role as the heroic shit-kicker, Jace lays waste to one of the creatures and ignites the rage of head-vampire, Vaughn.  Vaughn swears revenge on the skinny kid and thus the story gets rolling. 

Let me begin by saying that Deane is a master of characterization.  It’s really important in any sort of horror story to make the reader feel a connection to the hero.  Otherwise, you really won’t give a shit if the zombies are eating his or her brains.  From the first chapter, I had a really good idea of who Jace was and where he was coming from.  A lot of time was spent examining Jace’s relationship with his parents and at first I found it a little tiresome.  Then I realized—Jace’s folks are the real monsters of the story.  And if he can deal with them, a few vampires shouldn’t be much of a problem.  All that backstory makes it believable that when the shit hits the fan, Jace will be able to deliver and survive.  My only criticism of Deane’s storytelling would be that none of his other characters are as developed as Jace.  I found myself wanting to know more about Vaughn.  Why was he so bent on avenging the mindless drone that Jace took care of?  He goes to great lengths to destroy the world of a punk kid.  Why?  I wanted a bit more motivation on that front. 

I’ve been an avid reader since age five and one thing I’ve learned in the last thirty years is that some books are for boys and some are for girls.  Don’t laugh—it’s true.  Women tend to like books with deep characters and intricate plots that deal mostly with those characters.  Boys say to Hell with that emotional shit—get to the hack and slash.  For example, Lord of the Rings is a boy book.  Wuthering Heights is a girl book.  I won’t elaborate—go read them yourself.   All the Darkness in the World is definitely a boy book.  There’s a lot of action and violence.  The last fourth of the book is so bloody that for a moment I thought I might need a sterile towel to mop it up.  Luckily, I love the violence.  After all, I’ve always been a weird girl.  My personal favorite scene is near the end of the book when one of the drone vampires finds himself separated from the rest of the gang and is unluckily on the receiving end of Jace’s rage.  The way in which our hero disposes of the bloodsucker is both creative and sadistic.  So much so that I have made a point never to get on Deane’s bad side.  That being said, I was kind of missing a final mano a mano deathmatch at the end between Jace and Vaughn.  It’s there, but it wasn’t the epic fight to the death I was hoping for. 

It goes without saying that this horror aficionado loved All the Darkness in the World.  I think Voltaire (Goth musician and artist, not the witty writer/ historian/philosopher from the 1700s) summed it up best in his forward to the book when he wrote that reading Andy’s books are like listening to Andy tell a story.  It’s true.  His voice shines through in the narration and it’s endearing.  It makes you interested in what he has to say and therefore, you keep reading.  And that, of course, is the mark of a true horror writer.  To completely scare the shit out of you so that you want to put the book in the freezer, but at the same time make you so curious as to what happens next that you keep reading.  Andy is a true horror writer.  I can only hope that my own horror fiction can someday float around in the same echelon.

I don’t really have much of a rating system, so for those of you that need stars…

****

 

LIVE from MystiCon 2012

So here I am, this fabulous Con going on downstairs, and I’m sitting at the desk in my hotel room, penning a blog post.  So I better make it good, right?  So far it has been a great weekend!  As I said before, the big fun for me is seeing old friends and making new ones.  I moderated a great panel last night on what the next big monster in fiction will be.  We determined that zombies are here to stay and that we’d be looking to lesser known mythological characters for new ideas.  I also had a great time doing readings with authors Marcia Colette and Sapphire Phelan.  We managed to run some poor guy out of the room, but I got a chance to use innocents as guinea pigs for my vampire story.

Today’s activities include:

6pm Signing– I always feel strange doing signings.  First off, I write eBooks, so I don’t have much in the way of physical things to sign.  Though I think I’m going to do a little impromptu contest to give away an eBook or two.  I’m just never really sure what to do at those things.  So if anyone at the Con is reading this– drop by and talk to me!!

10pm Romance vs. Erotica, How much is too much?– I think y’all know my take on this.  There’s no such thing as too much as long as it’s pretty.

11pm Taboos and Societal Bans– I found myself on this panel because my good friend, Bethany Halle couldn’t be here.  It’s going to be a no holds barred discussion of BDSM, alternative lifestyles and the like.  It should be fun, though I don’t consider myself an expert by any means.

12pm BELLA MORTE! — Yes folks, I’ll be shakin’ my groove thang into the wee hours of the morning and rockin’ it out with one of my favorite Goth bands of all time.  This weekend I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet frontman Andy Deane (who is also a very talented horror writer) and I’m so glad to go out and support them.

So I guess I should get off this thing and go down to participate.  The husband has some panels this afternoon that I don’t want to miss.  If you’re in the Roanoke area, you should come on down and see us.  We only bite if you ask.

Off to MystiCon 2012!!

And we’re off!  The husband and I are on our way, even as we speak, to MystiCon 2012.  Our goal is to get there by around 3pm.  Last year we barely made it through Windacolypse, so we didn’t have time to eat before our panels started.  I think we had some chips after.  But hopefully we’ll get there in time to grab a bite to eat (anyone wanna join us?)

I did manage to find my schedule tonight and I think my first panel is perhaps 10pm Friday.  I should have plenty of time to explore the wine list before then.  Did I mention that I’m moderating my first panel as well???  What the hell does a moderator do?  I hope its not to keep everyone in line… I can’t even do that for myself.  Beyond that, I know I’ll be at the Bella Morte concert on Saturday night, shakin’ my groove thang.

So the point is– those of you in the Roanoke area– come hang with me!  Have a glass of wine!

Gearing Up for Con Season 2012

Well kids, it’s that time of year again.  Time for my daily posts leading up to MystiCon 2012 in Roanoke, VA.  I’m so excited this year, as I’ve learned so much and grown so much as an author.  I’ll be seeing old friends and making new ones.  This Con is also close to my heart because my family is from the area and it’s a chance to reconnect with some of my best childhood memories.  If I disappear during the day (as most of my panels are at night this time), I can probably be seen going to some old stomping grounds and snapping photos.

Last year this time, I was so nervous at the prospect of doing my first panel. Would I say the right thing? Would people wonder what the hell I was doing there?  I mean, at that point I had only published one eBook.  Who was I to speak about writing?  And then, apparently by Divine Intervention, the first person I met was Bethany Halle.  I had agreed to be a guest on her podcast and I was so damn nervous.  But she immediately put me at ease and after a few minutes, it was like I’d been doing this forever.  I realized that I wasn’t going to make an absolute fool of myself.  I’ve never forgotten Bethany’s generosity that night.  Since then we’ve attended other Cons together and become fast friends.

This year I’m not so much nervous as excited.  And it’s a great feeling!  There are many

The Real Me... exciting isn't it...

things I’m looking forward to:  my first adventure in moderating (considering I never do anything in moderation…), meeting Sherrilyn Kenyon (I’m such a fan!), dancing my curvaceous Southern ass off at the Bella Morte show, the road trip up (PLAYLIST!)– but most of all, seeing friends I rarely get to be with.

And of course, assaulting new ones….

What’s On Your List?

Since we’re talking about sexy today, I figured it was only fitting for me to do a post about what I find most sexy– the right music.  The senses are God’s little gifts to our sex lives.  Some people are very visual (men, to put a finer point on it) and they like to see the naked chick goin’ down on the hero.  Others are more susceptible to touch.  Just a brush of lips on the back of the neck can be enough to send them over the edge.  And some of us are very audial.  By “us” I really mean “me.”  I have to hear things.  Talking, whispers, little groans– I find it all very sensual.  And one of the things that really gets me going is the right music.  It’s true– I have a list of songs that are sure to get me in bed.  And I’ve noticed that many of these songs have found their way onto various playlists for various stories.  Yes– I make soundtracks for my stories.  Shoot me an email and I’ll be glad to ennumerate…LOL. Alright… to the list (in no particular order).

1.  Wreath of Barbs by :wumpscut:– I admit it, I’m a closeted rivethead.  I love industrial music.  Especially when writing a really intense erotic scene.  And this song, though it’s got the pounding grind of the Industrial sound, the melody is haunting and sensual.  There’s about a billion different remixes of it and it has become an Industrial anthem.  I can’t be responsible for my actions when I hear it….

2.  Hollow by Epsilon Zero– I first heard about Epsilon Zero from a friend back when they were just a local band playing dives and (I’m not kidding) haunted houses.  She fell in love with frontman Jamison Boaz’s incredible vocals and insisted that we all take a listen.  And I’m so glad I did.  This song is just sad and sexy and everything you could want in a dark romantic track.  It makes me very happy in ma pants, as my friend Sky would say.

3.  I Put a Spell on You by Creedence Clearwater Revival– This is mine and my husband’s song.  The first time I heard it I was a teenager staying up late to watch soft core porn on Showtime.  It was featured in a particularly  hot scene in the  movie “Knight Moves” with Christopher Lambert.  Now, I think only me, Christopher Lambert and maybe his mom have ever seen this movie, but the song stuck with me.  So years later when I met my husband, a man who really makes my liver quiver, it seemed only natural that we would adopt this as our song.  That and the fact that he believes to this day that I put a love hoodoo on him.  Absurd isn’t it…..

4.  One by U2– This song is perhaps the most perfect song ever recorded.  Poetic lyrics that pierce straight through, smooth melodies that are dark, but singable and Bono’s growly vocals make this song one of my favorites of all time.  Though it’s more about love between all of us as the human race, it’s a sexy tune that takes my breath away every time.

5.  My Heart Will Go On by Bella Morte– I got no idea why I find this song so sexy.  Perhaps it’s because it’s so different from the Celine Dion version.  Maybe it’s the sentiment of unconditional love pulling at my heartstrings.  Or maybe it’s frontman Andy Deane’s mohawk– I’m not sure.  All I know is, this song makes me want to dance in the dark, then slide down the wall and make passionate love on the concrete floor.

Are there others?  Of course.  Closer by Nine Inch Nails (cliche– I know), Para-Noir by Marilyn Manson and So Far Away by Dire Straits just missed the cut for this post.  But I was already up to 600 words and I still need to stick an excerpt from “Masquerade” at the bottom.  I know… it’s the only reason you read this far………..

So in this scene, Blythe has some momentary doubts.  Silly girl…

*****************************

Blythe closed her eyes, allowing this masked stranger to pull her close. His hands slid lower,

Available 12/17 @ BN.com, Bookstrand, and AllRomance eBooks

cupping the fleshy part of her ass and using it as leverage to press her center against his. He pushed against her teasingly, obviously wanting her to feel his arousal. She whimpered, wanting to grind against him with abandon, but propriety getting the best of her.

“I shouldn’t be doing this,” she sighed, nuzzling into him.

“Of course you should,” Apollo purred. “You’re safe here. No one will ever know.”

“But I will.”

“There is always risk. But with no risk, life becomes stagnant and meaningless.” The music swelled as if on cue and he twirled her roughly until he had her pinned against the wall, away from everyone. “You’re dripping with life, love. I can smell it on you just as sure as I can smell that French perfume.” He inhaled deeply, his breath so hot against her skin it seemed to sizzle. “If you keep it all inside, I promise it will fester like a disease until it’s painful and the light goes out.”

Blythe groaned softly, brushing her lips against the line of his cheekbone, feeling his words down to the well of desire building in her belly. He was right. If she didn’t let herself have this…if she didn’t let it go, then it would grow into resentment towards Will, then hate. It would destroy them.

“Yes,” she sighed as his tongue found its way into the cuff of her ear.

He chuckled softly, a gravelly sound that made her insides roll with excitement. “I thought you’d see it my way,” he whispered, sliding his hand down her thigh to pull her leg over his hip.

********************

To stay up to date on my ramblings and debauchery:

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And don’t forget to hop around and see the other contributing authors!! They have hot contests going on for commentors!

Fandom Fest Playlist!

So I really can’t think of anything to write about except the abject terror I’m having right now.  But y’all have heard about that all week.  So when all else fails, do a random music post!!!  Yes, ladies and germs, the following is among the HUGE playlist I’ve been working on for my iPod for the ride to Louisville, KY.  Sorry, Tally Darling….  And btw—I post the youtube links so you can listen to the song and then download it from iTunes or Amazon (in other words, don’t pirate the muzak).

Ava Adore– The Smashing Pumpkins  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dwXYAqy-HI

The Time– The Black Eyed Peas  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Xt7Z_64dHE

This is What Rock N Roll Looks Like– Porcelain Black  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFgdOgWUwOg

Raise Your Glass– Pink  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIyHpWmna9U

Winterborn– The Cruxshadows  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuLASvt3s5k

Cinnamon Girl– Type O Negative  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cTU0Q4Uw4I

Get Your Body Beat– Combichrist  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXGc2geyYyI

Electronaut– VNV Nation  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjJk3bbE87c

Find Forever Gone– Bella Morte  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdYdaiwCs3E&feature=relmfu

Christfuck– :wumpscut:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zr_Nk6kRJ70

Happy Listening!!!