Thursday, June 25, 2015

Paranormal Love Wednesdays Blog-Hop Sign-Up for July 1

Writing the Paranormal with A. R. Draeger

Writing the Paranormal: A quick discussion with A.R. Draeger

Author of Of Ocean and Ash ~ Available for $0.99 on Amazon here:

**Part of the Paranormal Love Wednesday Blog Hop! Click HERE for more neat blogs diving into the paranormal. :)**

I’m not a scholar by any stretch of the imagination (see Margo Bond Collins for that), so don’t quote me on this – but – from my general observations when strolling the bookstore aisles (or clicking through Amazon) looking for my next read, I’m willing to bet that the larger portion of genre fiction written these days is…well…


From vampires to psychics to shapeshifters to you-name-it-we-are-writing-about-it.

As a reader and *major* fan of anything paranormal, I am absolutely thrilled by this. As a writer, I am absolutely horrified. Why? Good luck generating fresh ideas in a market where something new is being churned out every five minutes.

Wanna write about vampires? Great! What’s your twist? 


Okay. Well, let’s try something else. Werewolves! They’re super sexy and feral. What’s your take that’s different from all 5 billion plus and rapidly counting being released?

*more crickets, followed by the sound of a writer’s heart breaking*

Yeah, it sucks. But you know what? It’s still do-able. You just have to think outside the box a little. Easier said than done, sure….but still can be done. Here was my process on how I came up with my take, my ‘twist’ on my mermaid shapeshifter.

Finding a New Twist:

Step One: Take a look at history. All these beautiful, interesting, terrifying things are worshiped, revered, killed, etc., in legends and folktales by multiple cultures across the world. For my mermaid world, I combined mermaids with sirens. Why? Made sense (to me) that different cultures would have different perspectives. Different humans will have different experiences.  One human might be saved by a dolphin. Another might be assaulted. (See King of the Hill – Dolphin Encounter Episode. I’m too lazy to google it. Look it up.)

Step Two: A new world. Werewolves in SPAAAAACCCEEEE! (© 2015 Amber Draeger)  Sexy. They can burst out of their formfitting space suits all muscle-y. Don’t steal it. My idea. 

Anyways, I stranded my mermaid on a plantation on an island in the middle of slavery. Yep. I’m nice to my characters. Stick your characters where they do not belong. Think of the worst place your character could be, where either the paranormal would do them *NO* good or where being normal would be incredibly *BAD* and throw them there. 

Again, consider history. History is a great source of inspiration. (See George R.R. Martin, although I kinda want to throw him from a tower after this past season’s finale.)

Step Three: Read anything but paranormal. Non-fiction…and *ahem* HISTORY is a good start for gleaming bits of things that can inspire you.

Step Four: Back away from the usual. There are some things (some characters, even) in the paranormal world that have been used so much over the years that they have become…un-paranormal. 

Example: Dracula. He’s not fun to throw in a story anymore. Unless you have an outrageous twist on him (drag queen in Vegas, perhaps?).

Step Five: When all else fails, just throw things into a blender and see what comes out. Most of the time, it’ll be useless, but every now and then, you’ll find something absolutely delicious. 

Example:  Child predator + vampire + psychic = Doctor Sleep. (Okay, that was a gross generalization, but it works for this example. Run with it.)

Step Six: Don’t wait to write. Write every day. Find your favorite creature, and create until you stumble on something ingenious. I have a bad habit of forming my best twists and takes when I’m writing something completely different. The more you write, the stronger you become.

Hope this helps! Writing the paranormal is not as easy as it seems. Writing the paranormal from a new, inventive angle is even more difficult, but with time, patience, and lots of writing/brainstorming/wine/crying, you can do it.  And when you do, let me know. I’d love to read your book. <3 

 Love and Happy Reading/Writing,

Amber (A.R.) Draeger
*Who just received her first ONE STAR review.* Ouch. Off to go cry, get deliriously drunk if I can sneak away from my in-laws, and then off to write some more. A whole lot more.

~ About the Author ~

Author Amber (A.R.) Draeger specializes in macabre, fantastical fiction, spreading her interest across multiple genres including horror, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, and thriller.  Her debut romance novella, Of Ocean and Ash, to be published in the Blazing Indie Collective’s Falling in Deep Collection, will be released June 9th, 2015. Her debut horror/thriller/sci-fi novella, Daughters of Men, to be published in association with Bathory Gate Press, will follow in Summer 2015.  She resides in rural Texas with her husband and son.
Contact / Connect:
Special Thanks to Bokerah at for helping me come up with this blog topic. <3 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Paranormal Love Wednesday Blog Hop Sign-Up for June 24

Cocktails and Characters

Authors often like to figure out as much about their characters as possible before launching a book out into the world. One way to do that is to figure out what a character drinks--even if he or she never lifts a glass in the book, knowing a character's favorite cocktail can give some insight into that character.

So welcome to Paranormal Love's first installment of:

Cocktails and Characters

By Melanie Karsak for “The Harvesting”

Layla, Ian, and Jaime. In “The Harvesting,” one finds a real and complex (and I hope, not annoying) semi love triangle. “The Harvesting” is a novel that begins with a pandemic sweeping the globe. My protagonist, Layla, soon finds herself dealing with the undead, supernatural creatures, and her past. It is on her past, rather than the newly zombified world, on which we will focus today. Here is the low-down. Layla and Ian were high school sweethearts. They fought. He cheated. The cheat-ee got pregnant. Ian married the cheat-ee. Layla thought she left her past behind. As luck would have it, Ian survives the apocalypse (he guns down his zombie wife) and tries to rekindle the spark with recently-returned Layla. Now older and wiser, Layla is not sure how she feels about Ian while also noticing a little spark between herself and Jamie, Ian’s older brother. Now it is up to Layla to decide what is best for her. While there are so many other problems at play in “The Harvesting,” I want to take a moment to consider my little triangle and the beverages they might turn to in order to sort out some answers:

Layla Petrovich’s Cocktail: Vodka

Layla is Russian descended. As such, she knows that when it is time to drink, you drink like you mean it. Now that the undead are lurking everywhere, there is only one spirit of choice: vodka, straight up. No twist. No rocks. No olive. Just vodka and a clean glass.


Top-shelf vodka
How to make this drink?
Pour top-shelf vodka into a small, shot-sized glass.
Smell deeply.
Drink, swirling a bit to capture the flavor.

Before z-day, however, Layla liked her vodka with a little flair. How about a Winter Wonderland?


1.5 oz. spice-infused (infuse with 1 chai tea bag) vodka

1/2 oz. premium white crème de menthe

2 1/2 oz. pear nectar

1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice

5 sage leaves

1/2 oz. black currant syrup

Crush leaves then mix all ingredients. Shake hard for 10 seconds. Pour currant syrup into the middle of the drink. Garnish.

Ian Campbell’s Cocktail of Choice: Capital (Hunch) Punch

Ian is a country boy. He knows his guns, has done hard physical labor, and can live off the land. Every country boy knows how to drink, and many know how to get creative with beer. Ian knows how to liven up a crowd. From time to time, he likes his brew with a fruity twist. For Ian, it’s Capital (Hunch) Punch:


4 frozen limeades

4 frozen Lemonades

 1 fifth of vodka

1 case of beer

1 gallon of fruit punch (or enough grenadine syrup to make it red!)

Ice/sliced fruit

It’s easy! All your ingredients can be mixed right in a clean cooler. It should be served, naturally, in a red Solo cup.

Jaime Campbell’s Cocktail of Choice: The Old Fashioned

Some men just exude chivalry. There is something comforting about their strength, stability, and intelligence. Modern men have canned all the chauvinism—going about saving damsels in distress who can save their own damned selves, thank you—that used to be part of the chivalric package, yet still maintain classic charm. Jaime Campbell is one of those rare gems. He deserves a classic drink. For Jaime, it’s an Old Fashioned:


 1 sugar cube or sugar syrup (grind sugar cubes down with water)

3 dashes Angostura bitters

2 ounces bourbon

Marishino cherry and orange slice (muddled)


Splash water/club soda

Here is a link for a YouTube video on how to put it together:

"The world, it seemed, had gone silent. It was something we knew but did not talk about. We were alone."

While Layla Petrovich returns home to rural Hamletville after a desperate call from her psychic grandmother, she never could have anticipated the horror of what Grandma Petrovich has foreseen. The residents of Hamletville will need Layla's cool head, fast blade and itchy trigger finger to survive the undead apocalypse that's upon them. But even that may not be enough. With mankind silenced, it soon becomes apparent that we were never alone. As the beings living on the fringe seek power, Layla must find a way to protect the ones she loves or all humanity may be lost.

Join Layla as she fights for survival in the first book of this unique zombie apocalypse tale. It's all fun and games until someone ends up undead!


Melanie Karsak is the author of the Amazon best-selling steampunk series The Airship Racing Chronicles (Chasing the Star Garden and Chasing the Green Fairy) and the award-winning horror/dark fantasy Harvesting Series. She grew up in rural northwestern Pennsylvania and earned a Master's degree in English from Gannon University. A steampunk connoisseur, white elephant collector, and zombie whisperer, the author currently lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.
Connect with Melanie online:

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Paranormal Love Wednesday Blog Hop Sign-Up for June 17

Not Your Average Mermaid ~ by Blaire Edens

Not all mermaids are European with blonde hair and blue eyes. While many mermaid stories come from Celtic and Scandinavian traditions, mermaids are part of many cultures all around the world. India, Greece, and Japan all have mermaids. So did the Arabs.

When I began my research for An Officer and A Mermaid, I didn’t want my story to be a retelling of perhaps the most famous mermaid story, The Little Mermaid, by Hans Christian Andersen and published in 1837. While I love that story, I wanted something new and different.

I stumbled upon the story of Mami Wata quite by accident but I was hooked immediately.

Because Mami Wata isn’t your average mermaid.  

As the provider of riches, a spiritual and physical healer, her dual nature allows her to be both a nurturing mother and a sexy siren, the keeper of dangers and desires, dreams, hopes and risks. She’s an immortal spirit that personifies polar opposites.

She’s also a snake charmer. Not a bad resume.

She’s the total package. In many ways, Mami Wata is what many modern women strive to be. 

The persona of Mami Wata is an ancient one which began in Africa. Revered and worshiped by the peoples of southeastern Nigeria, she traveled to the Caribbean and the Americas with slaves and traders.  Her name is Pidgin English for Mammy Waters.

She’s usually depicted with a woman’s upper body and the hindquarters of a fish or aquatic snake. Her hair is black, usually curly, and she carries baubles like combs and mirrors. Unlike most African deities, her skin is usually light or medium. A large snake, a symbol of divinity, usually accompanies her, often wrapping itself around her breasts.

The best part? Unlike most European mermaids, she’s isn’t trapped or under a spell. She doesn’t need a man to make her complete. She’s the boss lady. She can appear as a beautiful woman at will, a woman who loves beautiful jewelry and loves to admire herself in the mirror. Mami Wata doesn’t have any self-esteem issues. Isn’t that refreshing? In addition, she’s not shy about her sex drive. In fact, she’s often seen in African markets, walking among the humans, looking for a man to take back into the ocean with her.

A man from whom she might demand fidelity. Very interesting that it wasn’t the other way round, huh?

See why I like her so much?

Even though her spirit is ancient and immortal, she’s one progressive lady. Mermaid. Both.

She’s comfortable. Powerful. Beautiful. In the driver’s seat. Or at the helm. Depends on the day.

It’s so interesting that Mami Wata came to the Americas by way of many people who were enslaved, yet she’s a symbol of power, duality and riches. In many myths, we write our hopes and dreams, as a culture, into our characters.

It can’t be an accident that Mami Wata symbolized material wealth, healing and divinity.

When you think about the history of the Caribbean and the American South in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it’s easy to see how Africans needed a powerful lady, one who looked like them and understood their cultural values to travel alongside them. To protect them, heal them, bless them.

Of course, Mami Wata has complexities that are too intricate to go into in a blog post, but you get the idea.

The main thing I discovered is that my perception of mermaids was pretty shallow.

Pun totally intended.

An Officer and a Mermaid opens on a sugar plantation in Haiti in the late eighteenth century. Syrenna, the daughter of a wealthy planter, has no idea how she will come to depend on Mami Wata when she’s transformed into a mermaid in order to save her life.  When a Coast Guard Officer falls into her ocean two centuries later, Syrenna will use the lessons of Mami Wata to find her way out of the sea and into love. On her own terms.


An Officer and A Mermaid
An Officer and a Mermaid will be out July 21. I really hope you like it.
But while you’re waiting for all these fabulous mermaid stories featured in the Falling In Deep Collection, you might want to dig into some of the mermaid legends from the far reaches. There are some wonderful stories that will leave you wondering why you didn’t know about them sooner.
Blaire Edens lives in mountains of North Carolina on a farm that’s been in her family since 1790. When she’s not plotting, she’s busy knitting, running, or listening to the Blues. Blaire loves iced tea with mint, hand-stitched quilts, and yarn stores. She refuses to eat anything that mixes chocolate and peanut butter or apple and cinnamon. She’s generally nice to her mother, tries to remember not to smack her bubble gum, and only speeds when no one’s looking. An Officer and A Mermaid, part of the Falling In Deep Collection, will be available July 21. Her book, Wild About Rachel, is available now.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Paranormal Love Wednesdays Blog Hop Sign Up for June 10


Werewolves have a long history that is rich in lore. The word werewolf, literally means man-wolf. According to lore and legend, they are creatures who aren’t quite human and not quite animal, but something in between. They are creatures capable of shifting their shape from man to wolf and then back again. They also have super-human strength, reflexes and senses.

Some authors write these creatures as monsters who crave human flesh while in their animal form, aware of nothing but the next kill. Others write them as handsome, irresistible heroes with a sense of honor that is unquestionable and a need to help others.

I am one of the latter. I love my alpha male werewolves. They have a sense of honor and duty they live by that leaves every red-blooded shifter-lover panting for more. Each of my shifter worlds has its own set of rules. Some of them are similar and some completely different.

In, It Was Always You, a shifter knows his mate the first time he has sex with her and, if he can’t control his wolf, and he’s not using a condom, the female can find herself bound to her male without consent. 

While I, and my male shifters, realize mating a woman without her express consent is a bad thing, you must admit, the possibility of it happening does lend a certain amount of tension to a story.

Now, the question: Is Candy Jared’s mate, and if she is, can he stop his wolf from claiming her on what they have agreed will only be a one night stand?

It Was Always You

After dreaming of him for months, Candy can’t believe the 1Night Stand dating service has found a man fitting the description of her ideal lover. After all, her dream man is no other than A-list actor, Jared Harwell, and since she’ll never have him, she’ll settle for a close match.

Shapeshifter Jared Harwell is ready to call it quits—his acting career and Hollywood lifestyle—if he can find the mate he’s searching for. But, evidently, his perfect mate is only to be found in his nocturnal dreams and the closest he’ll ever get to her is with the help of Madame Eve’s 1Night Stand service. And even then, it’s only one night with a fantasy lookalike.

Will that be enough time for Candy and Jared to realize dreams truly can come true? 


The loud jangle of the phone ripped Candy from one of the best dreams she’d ever had. She’d dreamt of him again, her favorite actor and fantasy lover rolled into one. After having them for so long, she couldn’t remember when they had started. She only knew they got hotter and hotter.

Her heart raced every time she touched Jared Harwell in her little visions. Her breathing hitched, and her clit throbbed, aching with the need to come. He’d brought her so close to climax this time and then the damned phone had to ring. Tempted to throw the offending object out the second-story window, she rolled over and grabbed the receiver.

“Hello.” Candy didn’t keep her irritation from her voice. She couldn’t. Every damned time, someone, or something, dragged her from the fantasy which could very well make her life complete.

“At least you’re not dead,” her best friend and neighbor, Samantha James said.

“What the heck are you talking about?” Pushing to a sitting position, Candy leaned against the headboard, closed her eyes, and wished she’d unplugged the phone the night before.

“You’ve had a man pounding on your front door for the last ten minutes. Don’t you hear him?”

She canted her head and listened. “I don’t hear anything.”

“The poor guy gave up. He sat down in your rocker with a suitcase in his lap.” Samantha paused. “Do you have a tall, dark, and handsome brother I don’t know about?”

“Uh, no.” Sam knew better than that. “The fact that I just received a sizeable inheritance from my grandmother’s estate should have told you something.”

“Yeah, well, a girl can hope.” Sam sighed. “He sure is something to look at. And why is he carrying a suitcase?”

“I have no idea.” Candy slid from her bed, donned an old, comfortable bathrobe then sat at her desk.

She moved the mouse, and the computer screen lit up, showing her she had a new email from the 1Night Stand agency.

Her stomach did a flip. She’d taken some of her inheritance money and paid to have the fantasy of a lifetime. She’d described Jared Harwell on her application and thought it possible that having a fling with someone who resembled him would get him out of her system. Pining after some movie star for the rest of her life couldn’t be healthy.

“What are you doing, sitting at your desk?” Sam shouted. “Go answer your door.”

“Why? Whoever the guy is, he’s at the wrong house. He’ll figure that out soon enough. And stop spying on me with that stinking telescope of yours.”

Candy clicked on the subject line and opened her mail. It contained instructions, telling her to meet her date at a hotel in Ottawa during some kind of author/reader event called Romancing the Capital.

April seventeenth! That’s tomorrow. I can’t possibly be in Ottawa tomorrow. Hell, it barely gave her time to make travel arrangements.

“I don’t think he plans to go anywhere any time soon. He just leaned back in the chair and crossed his legs. I think he’s gonna wait you out.”

Candy, always multitasking, read further. Apparently, she should expect a courier, who would hand deliver a plane ticket and the information about her date. The letter also informed her she had one shot at this. Her date could not and would not reschedule. One chance only.

Sighing, she shifted the phone to her other ear. “I have to go, Sam. I’ll call you back as soon as I can.” Setting the phone down, she pushed away from the desk, pulled her robe tighter, and headed for the stairs. She couldn’t screw this up. A friend at work had told her about Madame Eve, the mysterious Frenchwoman and owner of 1Night Stand, who seemed to know who to pair with whom.

Like magic, Madame Eve nearly always managed to put two people together who got along famously. The rumors in Candy’s circle of friends were the woman had some sort of psychic ability, or she used magic—if one believed in such a thing.

Why shouldn’t she believe? After having visualized her ideal lover for the last several months, she’d begun to wonder if the two of them had some sort of real psychic connection. She’d fantasized Jared had somehow been aware of what he did in his sleep, much as she had been. What if he’d also mastered the art of lucid dreaming not long after her nightly visits with him began? Every night she lived her fantasies—if only in her sleep.

“They found someone who matches my description.” She danced toward the stairs, giddy.
Seriously, what were the odds a man who resembled the one she wanted in her life would need the services of the 1Night Stand agency? She’d lay odds Jared Harwell never wanted for female companionship for even one day in his charmed, movie-star life. She had a difficult time imagining anyone matching his description would have a hard time finding dates.

“But, tomorrow?” She bit her lip. It gave her almost no time to prepare. She hoped Madame Eve really had worked everything out.

You have had the last six months to prepare, Candy. Suck it up, otherwise all of this will have been for nothing. Not to mention the fact she would lose her only chance at her fantasy.

Pausing at the front door, she brushed her hair back, smoothed down the front of the oversized robe, and reached for the knob.

A tall, forty-something Adonis with dark hair and sky-blue eyes stood on her front porch, just out of the early-morning spring sunlight. Sam had been right. He was gorgeous, even if he didn’t look like her dream lover. Had Candy not already been in love with Jared Harwell, the guy before her could very well be someone she’d go for. In a heartbeat.

The low-slung sports car parked at the curb didn’t mark him as a commercial courier. If she had to guess, she’d peg him as a successful businessman. Maybe the owner of 1Night Stand had her fingers in a little bit of everything and called in favors as she needed them.

What do I know?

“Yes?” She tried to catch her breath as he handed her an envelope and set a medium-sized suitcase at her feet.

“Candy Williamson?” At her nod, he continued, “My name is Jamie. Your 1Night Stand date sent me to give this to you. It contains instructions, along with your plane ticket. I’ve been told you’re to open and read the first page in my presence. I’m to get affirmation that you understand the rules of the game before I leave."

“Game? I thought this was—”

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