Monday, April 30, 2012

Make Like the Hulk—And Shift

Guest post by Poppy Dennison

One of the most fun—and most challenging—aspects of writing paranormal fiction is world building. Before you can even begin writing, you have to answer some key questions about the world you’re creating. It’s all in the details. Even the most minor decision can impact how your story unfolds.

Take shifters, for example. There are a ton of tropes that exist for shapeshifters of all kinds, and werewolves in particular. Are they impacted by silver? Can they only shift at the full moon? Do they become slobbering beasts or is their human side still in control?

All are important questions to answer before you start writing. In my novel Mind Magic, one of those “minor decisions” I made early on affected several scenes later in the novel. The question I had to answer: What happens to their clothes when they shift?

Seems silly, but it’s one of those details that readers notice and question. If their clothes are never mentioned, but simply disappear, readers will want to know how and why. If their clothes are left in a shredded pile, readers will want to know about the practicality of them roaming around naked once they return to their shifted form.

Minor details—great impact!

When making my plan for the shifters in Mind Magic, I kept thinking about The Incredible Hulk. Now, I’m probably dating myself a little to admit that I used to watch the television show back in the late 70’s. “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” I love that line.

It always cracked me up seeing The Hulk in David Banner’s clothes. There was a lot of shirt ripping going on in that show. (Kinda sexy, don’t you think? Or is that just me?) I loved the scenes with Hulk’s biceps tore apart the seams of the prim and proper dress shirts worn by the good doctor.

And don’t get me going on the jeans that suddenly became capri pants when worn by the big green guy.

By watching that show, and reading scores of other shifter books, I figured out that having my wolves wandering around in shredded clothes wasn’t practical. But I didn’t want them to just disappear into the magical mist. And having them take the time to take off all of their clothes before they shifted just wouldn’t work for some of the action scenes I had planned.

I had to take the time to think about the magic of shifting, and what it would entail for my shifters. As much as I wanted to see my alpha, Gray, roaming around in a ripped up shirt (rawr!), I knew I would need a different solution to the clothes dilemma.

In my world, the ability to shapeshift is a magical one, so the solution to the clothes also became magical in nature. It worked for all the details I needed to take care of as the story progressed, and by planning in advance, I wasn’t stuck with a continuity problem later in the novel.

When working in a paranormal world, understanding even the smallest details of how your characters are impacted by their supernatural abilities is extremely important. Take the time to ask questions before you dive into the novel. Who knows, maybe shredded Hulk shirts will fit into your world.

Magical species must never mix. According to the rules, Simon Osborne should ignore the children’s cries for help. After all, they’re werewolf cubs, and he’s an apprentice mage. But for once in his life, Simon breaks the rules and rescues the cubs, saving them from a demon intent on draining them of their magic.

Of course, all actions have consequences, and Simon’s bold move earns him the displeasure of his peers and the attention of the cubs’ alpha, a man named Gray Townsend.

The last thing Gray needs is a mage in his life, but Simon did save his son. Since Simon is now a friend of the pack, Gray doesn’t have much choice about it—or the forbidden attraction that goes along with it. Unfortunately for the alpha, he needs Simon’s help to track down the demon behind the kidnappings—before it strikes again. Simon and Gray must join forces to protect the pack, even as they struggle to resist the temptation that threatens to destroy them both.

Available now from Dreamspinner Press.

A sassy southern lady, Poppy Dennison developed an obsession with things that go bump in the night in her early years after a barn door flew off its hinges and nearly squashed her. Convinced it was a ghost trying to get her attention, she started looking for other strange and mysterious happenings around her. Not satisfied with what she found, Poppy has traveled to Greece, Malaysia and England to find inspiration for the burly bears and silver foxes that melt her butter. Her love of paranormal continues to flourish nearly thirty years later, and she writes steamy love stories about the very things that used to keep her up all night. If her childhood ghost is lucky, maybe one day she’ll give him his own happily ever after.

Visit her on her web site:,

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Messages From the Other Side

I wasn’t intending to do another post on ghostly matters, but here I am.  I seem to have ghosts on the brain while I wait for news about my ghost story submission.  Patience is not one of my strengths.  That’s not the only reason that ghosts have been on my brain lately.  Throughout my life, when someone in my family has passed there have been times that I swore I felt their presence again, passing me along a message.

One of the most memorable and the time that I felt it the strongest was just before my wedding.  I was going through a recipe box that my friends and family had put together with their personal favorites and missing my Granny, wishing she could be there to see me on my wedding day, when I came across a recipe card in her handwriting that my dad had slipped in there.  I swear I felt her hand on my shoulder at that moment.  The feeling was so strong that I burst into tears.  And I knew without her saying a word that she would be there with me on my big day.

My father-in-law passed in March suddenly and it’s been a huge shock to the entire family.  He was such a kind, gentle man.  He touched so many lives and I can’t express how much I’ll miss him.  The rest of the family has been holding it together for my mother-in-law who is devastated.  They were incredibly close. 

One night last week, my husband woke up crying.  He’d had a dream about his dad and asked him why he left us.  And he said that his dad just smiled at him.  When he told me, I knew the exact smile he was talking about.  It was that smile of his that said, stop worrying, everything is going to work its way out.  I knew then that Dad was okay and I shared that with my husband and he said that he felt it too.

The next day I shared that story with my mother-in-law and she said that she dreamt of him too.  She was at the hospital and couldn’t find him and was frantic when he came up behind her, hugged her and said that he was okay. 

I was pretty sure that Dad was trying to send us a message.  What really clinched it for me was when my sweet little three year old niece said to her, “Nana, Poppi’s sleeping.  Poppi’s sleeping and woke up.  He smiled.  Poppi’s okay.”

Out of the mouths of babes. 

Please share with me any experiences you might’ve had with your own loved ones.  I hope they gave you the sense of peace that mine did.

- Marguerite Labbe

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th
By: Embry-the unlucky-Carlysle

Friday the 13th, that magical, mystifying day. Some say its evil; some say it’s lucky I say it’s cursed. Well today, it certainly is for me.

I got up this morning just like I do every weekday morning by hitting the snooze button on my alarm clock every 9 minutes (which I’ve never understood why it’s 9 minutes and not 10) anyway after the 4th time I decided I should get up for work.

Things went strangely well for me, bed made-check, shower taken-check, clothes on-check, makeup on-check….

Squirt of perfume onto neck-uh uncheck. More like squirt of perfume straight into the eyes causing massive pain and mascara to run all over face-check.

So after spending twenty more minutes I cannot spare to replace said makeup I am now running really close to maybe possible being late to my job that is forty minutes away from where I live. Not so good.

So finally I’m ready to leave for work so I get into my car and start it and it makes this God-awful sound, like a steel door going through a wood chipper. Uh yeah not so good considering I just shelled a butt load of money yesterday for a new a/c compressor. (I live in Texas, soooo can’t live down here without an a/c in the car, house, office, restaurant, store…well you get the picture.) Anyway now where was I? Oh yeah the noise. Well I decide to let it run for a few minutes hoping the sound would stop and luckily it does. I back out of the garage and look for the remote for the opener only it’s not where it’s supposed to be. (20 year old darling daughter was last to use my car, it’s probably in her purse, because, hey all 20 something’s carry them in their purse) uh huh.

So, too continue I get out of my car, go back into the garage and hit the button on the wall, then I have to leave quickly to get out before the garage door comes down on me, of course why would I ever think this was the end of all my back luck. I trip out of my sandals landing on my derriere on the driveway in a dirty spot and yes you guessed it I’m wearing white pants.

Shock: We down south wear white before Memorial Day---scandalous…..LOL

So another 10 minutes later I’m changed and finally thank the Gods I’m on the road. I have now called work to tell them I am running late.

So I’m driving along and lo and behold the check engine light comes on…..Oh for the love of carbs. Are ya freaking kidding me???? (Of course I use that much more explicit adjective, but I’ll keep this PG).  Someone seriously hates me today….So I pull my car over to the side of the road and bang my head on the steering wheel and say that word like a mantra…

Suddenly it dawns on me, remember me saying that my 20 year old had the car last? Could it be that yet again she put gas in but forgot to turn the cap until it clicks several times? Can I possibly catch a break maybe?  I bravely get out of the car in rush hour traffic to check and thank the Gods who cursed me earlier it wasn’t on tight. I take this and the 18 wheelers who honk at me as a sign my day will get better. (by the way thanks Budweiser man you were cute too ;) )

Finally, blessedly I make my way to work and I’m only ten minutes late (thanks to the cops who are normally out for being at the donut shop and not clocking traffic)

I have to sit back and wonder why on earth all this happened today to me, could it really be because it’s Friday the 13th? Maybe. More than likely it’s because I laughed my proverbial ass off at my bestest friend NJ Nielsen when she told me about her superstitions.

Turns out she will never walk under a ladder (which is a smart thing) because one time the entire paint can fell on her, and if that wasn’t enough she did it again another time and the ladder fell on her. Maybe she had a bad day like mine, or maybe she’s just klutzy (I go with the latter) who knows.

But I can promise you for the rest of this day I will avoid, ladders, black cats, wee fairy folk (hey they could be here) and any other superstitious things I can think of. I will also keep salt with me to ward off evil spirits, of course with my luck I’ll just throw it in my eyes.

Here’s hoping you all have a much better Friday the 13th then I did.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Top Secret Project Revealed

Stumbling around the interwebs, going places where I don't belong, I ran across this government report. Most of it was redacted but what was available is amazing!

...a high-ranking official, speaking under the condition of anonymity, had this to say about the project: "What we did to those volunteers was horrifying. The screams, the victims we had to provide in order to stave off their bloodlust.... I'll never..."
Details are on a need-to-know basis, but the project has proven blood and tissue samples harvested from the New Mexico crash site will interact with human cells to provide super-human powers. Increased strength, cognitive skills, and healing capability will give our soldiers the edge in any future conflicts.
Breeding of these newly improved humans is already underway. Accelerated incubation periods has produced incredible results. Continued funding to monitor and train these offspring is essential to our security.

The implications are astounding. And terrifying.


P.S. Yes, this is an April Fools post. But the just the possibility is frightening, no?