Guest Blog Post by Cat Adams and Giveaway

11195945I’m glad to announce that today author Cat Adams comes to visit my blog with a guest post about writing urban fantasy. This is one of the most intriguing guest posts I’ve read so far, and I hope you enjoy reading it as well. Cat Adams is the author of the Blood Singer series, and is now touring blogs for the release of her latest novel, The Isis Collar.

You can visit Cat Adams’ website, purchase the book on the publisher’s website, Amazon or on B&N.

At the bottom of this post, you can also participate in a giveaway and win an autographed copy of The Isis Collar.

Writing Urban Fantasy

Urban fantasy is one of those genres that you only recognize once you’ve read it. It’s not paranormal romance, it’s not dark fantasy, it’s not horror. It’s all of them, plus a little extra. So how did it come about and what is it really?

Urban fantasy has become the darling of the shelves. It’s an enticing blend of horror, fantasy and romance, marked by the imposition of the paranormal or supernatural world into the “real world.” Mundane existence of one or more primary characters (as well as readers) is turned into a wild joyride of fear, exhilaration, and adrenaline.

The interesting thing is that “urban fantasy” doesn’t actually exist as a shelving classification or category in most bookstores. Even though books with all the qualifications of urban fantasy have existed as far back as the 1943 classic “Conjure Wife” by Fritz Leiber, editors have had only the shelves of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Romance to select from. Where a book was shelved sometimes depended on the sole discretion of the sales team at a publishing house, meaning that books with similar elements were often in entirely different areas of the store. Charles de Lint, Emma Bull and Mercedes Lackey are all considered to be among the “founders” of the genre, yet de Lint’s 1991 novel “Yarrow,” and Bull’s 1987 classic “War for the Oaks” are shelved in fantasy, while Lackey’s “Burning Water” (first in the Diana Tregarde urban fantasy series) is shelved in horror. And when Tor re-issued “Conjure Wife,” it appeared in the science fiction section of the bookstore.

Some claim paranormal romance is just another offshoot of the current urban fantasy trend, with authors trying to “force” a romance into an otherwise fantasy novel just to reach the larger market demographic of romance. But that’s not true. While there is romance in urban fantasy, it’s not A romance—meaning there’s usually no “happily ever after” that pairs up a couple, who fall in love and remain together.

But how then do you write urban fantasy? Well, a lot of it is about worldbuilding. Since you’re taking the existing world and blending in the paranormal elements, you have to treat the world as it is now. People will ask questions, people will fear the unknown and will be smart. Writing urban fantasy is all about asking the logical questions in the supernatural and letting the characters be intelligent and clever. Stupid people need not apply to live in an UF novel! So, if you create an urban fantasy where people don’t know about the supernatural, how do you keep them from finding out? If werewolves turn on the full moon, won’t people notice if Bob isn’t at work EVERY SINGLE full moon? You can get away with it for a while, but eventually people will scratch their head. So . . . family owned businesses! And annoyed family members because they never get to work where they really want because of this damned shapeshifter thing!

I’m actually working on a manuscript now with a new reality. I was writing merrily along and hit a logic wall. If there really were portals that allowed humans to move between Earth and a demon dimension, how in the heck would you protect the both realities while the portals are in use? Someone is bound to sneak through or capture the area for their own use. Sigh… Back to the drawing board. I had to change my portal concept because the logic just wouldn’t make it work. Now they’re going to be random, like lightning flashes or thunderstorms. You can spot when one’s about to happen but can’t really control the event. That’s better for the book, because unpredictability and danger is exciting to the reader. Every encounter with a portal may be the hero’s last. Yay!

In urban fantasy, calm control of the paranormal is boring. Yes, there have to be rules, which have to be logical and real to the characters, but the element of danger has to be constant. Otherwise the plot will fail.

Speaking of the element of danger in urban fantasy plots, our new book, THE ISIS COLLAR, hits the shelf this month! There are vampires, ghosts, witches, modern technology and mysterious zombie plagues! That’s right, a plague! Want to read a little more? Of course you do! Here’s an exclusive excerpt of the book to whet your appetite for loss of control in the paranormal! What happens when you discover your dead little sister has decided to come back to life?

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

I recognized the voice. It had literally haunted me for more than a decade. I felt my legs collapse and it was only Baker’s quick action that kept me from crashing to the floor in shock. The pigtails were just as I remembered, and she was wearing a striped tee-shirt and blue jeans. Just like the last time I saw her.

Mom dropped to both knees so fast that Natura couldn’t catch her. “Ivy? Baby? Is that you?” She held out her free arm, her anger gone like a switch had been flicked. “Come to mama, baby.”

The girl raced forward, her braided hair bouncing on her shoulders, and threw herself against my mother’s chest, arms wrapped around her neck. “Mom!”

It couldn’t be. I looked down at my hands. I was still the same. I hadn’t suddenly become twelve again. But I couldn’t seem to talk. It was just too much, too soon.

Mom was sobbing now, her hand continually touching Ivy’s hair, her back. Her face showed the incredulousness I felt. Natura had let her arm go so she could hold her child. I couldn’t help but smile at the sheer joy of the scene.

Until the child turned her head.

I felt my heart skip a beat . . . for I recognized the girl’s face. It wasn’t my sister. “Julie?” I whispered it but she looked up and met my eyes with a happy smile.

“I know. Isn’t it fun?”

Fun? My Mother held her at arm’s length for a long moment and stared at Julie’s face. But she was too drunk—all she could see was the daughter she’d lost so many years ago. “I love you so much, Ivy. I’ve missed you.”

Julie/Ivy smiled and then kissed Mom’s cheek before hugging her again. “Missed you too, Mommy. But I’m back now and we’ll be together.”

My stomach lurched and my skin grew ice cold. Oh my dear god in heaven. My sister was possessing the body of Julie Murphy and she didn’t want to give it up. I knew Julie was a spirit channeler. But her father, Mick, had told me she hadn’t had an episode of contact since her grandmother had died when she was three or four. I didn’t want to frighten her but possession is a big deal. That’s taking channeling to a new level. I’d seen Vicki do it—twice—but she was an adult. She knew the dangers and was careful not to take it too far. But I wasn’t sure either the girl or the ghost would know how to sever the tie between them. “Ivy? I know it’s wonderful to be able to talk to us, but you have to leave Julie now. Okay?”

I heard a bicycle slide to a stop on the gravel outside and then clatter to the cement as an older, dark-haired girl entered the room. “Julie! Why did you race away from me like that and why are you in a bar?” She stuttered to a stop when she saw her sister in the arms of a woman she didn’t know. Spotting me, she turned a confused face my way. “Celia? What’s happening?”

“Beverly, we need to talk. Let’s go outside for a second.” I got to my feet, dusted off my pants, and put an arm around her shoulders. She trusted me but turned back more than once to watch her sister hugging the drunk woman.

“Okay, but Mom will get mad if we aren’t home soon. I don’t know why Julie ran off like that. I nearly lost her in the traffic. She’s never done anything like that before.”

Traffic? I closed my eyes, feeling my heart drop. That was just what Ivy used to do and it used to drive me nuts. I guided Beverly out into the bright sunlight. When I stepped outside, the spell over the other patrons apparently broke and all but the bartender stampeded out of the bar and scattered. Beverly and I sat down on the stoop in what was left of the shade. “We’ve got a problem. If you were any other kid, I wouldn’t tell you this, but I think you can handle it. There’s a spirit possessing your sister right now. It’s my dead sister, Ivy.”

“Ivy? She’s mentioned that name before. She told me just last week that she and Ivy made cookies with Mom, but later when I asked Mom about Julie’s new friend, she didn’t know what I was talking about.”

I closed my eyes. If this wasn’t the first time, that was even worse. Ivy used to love baking when Gran came over to the house. I had no idea she had the ability to do something like that.“Have you ever heard of overshadowing?”

She nodded. “Sure. That’s when a ghost takes control. . .” Her eyes went wide. “You don’t mean that Ivy wants to stay inside my sister? Won’t that erase Julie eventually?”

“It could. I think we need to talk to your parents about this.”

“But what about Julie? We can’t just leave her like that.” She looked back inside the darkened bar fearfully. I shared the fear but I didn’t know what I could do about it at this precise moment.

“Beverly, this is the first time Ivy has hugged her real mother since she died.”

Her face grew troubled and I saw something close to anger in her eyes. “So to make your sister happy, you’re going to sacrifice mine? That’s not . . . Celia, you can’t do that.”

“No.” I said very strongly. “That’s not what I mean. But if I go in there and order her to leave, she might get stubborn and stay just to spite me. And my Mother has been distraught for so long I’m afraid she’d break out of jail again and come and steal her.”

Now she went still. “Oh. That’s . . . well, that’s not so good.”

I sighed. “And the guards aren’t going to wait much longer. I’m going to have to think of something.”

**********

If you’re intrigued (and you know you are) go out and buy THE ISIS COLLAR by Cat Adams right away! And if you’ve never heard of Celia Graves’ earlier adventures in BLOOD SONG, SIREN SONG and DEMON SONG, they’re on sale until the release of ISIS! It’s a really good sale, too: only $2.99 for any format ebook download. Heck, that’s three for the price of one! If you’re a print fanatic, they’re also on sale at Amazon on a 4-for-3 special. But lots of other retailers have them on sale too, so go to our publisher’s website, scroll all the way to the bottom and choose your favorite store.

Giveaway


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InkSpell Publishing Launch Party

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Drumrolls. Trumpets. Confetti. Flowers. We have launched!
This is a very momentous time for all of us at Inkspell Publishing. We’re very excited about this year as we embark on a journey that promises to be memorable. With a lot of enthusiasm, we are out in search of enchanting books that will spell bind you, our readers. Each story we bring to you is nurtured with care and made of the same stuff as dreams. We sincerely hope you enjoy reading them.
We plan to publish 20 books this year, each with its own flavor. Our first two books, Always You by Shilpa Mudiganti and Truly.Madly.Deeply.You by Cecilia Robert release in March, 2012

Check us out on:
Facebook: www.Facebook.com/inkspellpublishing
Twitter: www.twitter.com/inkspellpublish
But, where’s a party without some fun? To celebrate we are having a “Be Enchanted” contest starting today until 10-Jan, 2012.
Fill out the form below and enter to win free Amazon gift cards! And wait, there’s more…the first three winners will win enchanting Inkspell swag too. See it here! – Click Me!
The rules are simple.
Use the following 3 words in one sentence: Ink, Spell and Enchant (in any form). Ex – The ink cast an enchanting spell on us.
Like our FB Page (+1)
Follow us on Twitter (+1)
Mention us on Twitter (+1)
That’s it!
And the prizes are:
1st Winner: 25$ Amazon gift card, and an Inkspell Swag
2nd Winner: 15$ Amazon Gift card, Inkspell Swag
3rd Winner: 10$ Amazon Gift card, Inkspell Swag
4th Winner: 10$ Amazon Gift card
5th Winner: 10$ Amazon Gift card
6th Winner: 10$ Amazon Gift card
7th Winner: 10$ Amazon Gift card
8th Winner: 10$ Amazon Gift card

So, what are you waiting for? Visit InkSpell Publishing and fill out the form to win one of these prizes!

Email Subscribers Only Contest – January

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Welcome to the new Monthly Contest feature on I Heart Reading, the Email Subscribers Only contest. As the title suggests, this contest is only open to email subscribers. But, fear not! You can still participate in the contest by becoming an email subscriber now. All you have to do is enter your email address below the tag ‘Newsletter’ in the left sidebar. All prizes are books that will be reviewed at some point during this month.

Disclaimer: You will receive an email every time I Heart Reading is updated, with a maximum of one email a day. You will also receive a weekly digest email focusing on all posts from the last week. Another upside of becoming an email subscriber is that some special promotions are only mentioned through email, for instance, author spotlight spots and/or guest post slots.

Monthly Prizes

A random winner will be drawn from all the participants. The winner can choose one of these books:

This contest is open internationally. Books will be shipped from the Book Depository.

Participate in the Contest

To participate, all you have to do is fill in your email address in the Rafflecopter widget below. Please make sure that it’s the same address you used to sign up with I Heart Reading.

Attention: Simply subscribing by email isn’t enough. Subscribers are not automatically entered in this contest. You have to manually submit your email address in the Rafflecopter widget below. The winner will be announced on January 31st on the blog, and of course, in the newsletter. I will also contact the winner personally through email.

THIS CONTEST IS OVER. THE WINNER HAS BEEN CHOSEN.

Top Commentators Contest – January

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Welcome to the new monthly feature on I Heart Reading, the Top Commentators Contest. I think discussion and communication is extremely important, especially on a book review blog. I love it when people have something to say about my reviews, my memes, etc. Hence I thought it was time I tried to enhance discussion on my blog by providing a contest and a matching prize for every month’s top commentator on I Heart Reading. All prizes are books that will be reviewed at some point during this month.

I will keep track of each month’s comments by using the Top Contributors plugin for WordPress. As of january 1st 2012, you can keep track of this month’s top commentators in the sidebar.

Disclaimer: It’s important that, every time you comment, you use the same email address and username, since this plugin registers both of these to calculate the top contributor. Spam comments are, obviously, not allowed. You do not have to enter your information anywhere else to participate in this contest. By commenting on I Heart Reading during this month, you are automatically participating in this contest. At the start of each new month, the number of comments will be put to ‘zero’ again.

Monthly Prizes

The winner can choose one of these books:

This contest is open internationally. All of these prizes are eBook copies. The winner will be announced on January 31st. I will contact the winner through email.