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         On Writing Paranormal
                      by Michele Drier
, guest author

Last fall, Janet Evanovich blew into town.

She was the guest of the local newspaper’s Book Club, which hosted her appearance.

The auditorium (holds about 2,200), was packed and the free tickets were gone within three hours of the announcement in the paper.

I went with my critique group, evenly divided into Morellis and Rangers.

She was great...funny, flip, everything you think Stephanie Plum would be, and we all had take-aways.

Mine was her talking abut the world of Stephanie Plum.

It’s based on Evanovich’s own family, with just enough of a spin to make them irresistible.

And Evanovich is so crazy about them, she can hardly wait to wake up in the morning and get back to Stephanie’s world.

That’s when I realized that I’m not the only one who lives in fantasy land.

But mine stretches the fantasy a little. Instead of pulling stories and characters from my own past, I’ve created a family that’s complete fantasy. A fantasy of five hundred year old Hungarian vampires.

I’ve boxed myself in. The Kandeskys are uber rich, sophisticated, live in a style that heads of small nations would envy. They travel in their own planes and Mercedes limos driven by their bodyguard, a corps of demons who’ve been with the family for centuries.

The Baron, head of the family, lives in a Hungarian castle. Family members have estates in Kiev. Others live in lavish apartments in Paris, London, Rio.

The family owns enough L.A. homes, condos and commercial real estate to make a Southern California developer drool.

And the vampires themselves. Pen, the Baron’s wife, was a celebrity for years, until she decided to retire because people were beginning to ask how she looked the same for better than fifty years.

Jean-Louis is tall, lean, with dark hair and eyes that range from navy blue to deep violet to black and he’s perfected the ability to glimmer—producing a glow that attracts and calms regulars.

Nik is light to Jean-Louis’ dark, with streaked blond hair and eyes that shift from hazel to brown and when the two of them appear at parties, women give themselves whiplash from looking.

Who wouldn’t want to hang around this family?

There’s one wrinkle. I’d much rather be with them than my “other” life. They don’t cook, clean, pay bills, drive across town to find the cheapest gas, live in fear of stepping on the scale or put up with an elderly cat who stands on a head at night and says, “feed me.”  And this urge to be with the Kadeskys means that all those “other” chores mostly don’t get done.

After I finish book eight, SNAP: All That Jazz, later this spring, I’m going to have to wrench myself back to my “other” life. My daughter’s threatening to call the Hoarders show on me.

For now, back to Kiev!

Book Blurb: White Nights (book seven)

Nik, the third-in-command of the Hungarian Kandesky vampire family, has been handling the family's interests in Czech munition factories for upwards of four hundred years. He's been a contented bachelor, throwing himself into business until Jazz strolls into his life. Jazz is Maxie Gwenoch's successor as the managing editor for SNAP, the international celeb gossip magazine, another Kandesky company. Maxie, Nik, Jazz and Jean-Louis, the Kandesky second-in-command, are headed to Moscow to assess the business potential for a SNAP Russian bureau, until an old enemy shows up. Set against the tensions between Ukraine and Russia, the short Russian nights teach Maxie to cherish her time with Jean-Louis while Jazz faces her own questions about loving a vampire.

Barnes and Noble

Others in the series:  SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, is available in ebook, paperback and audible at ebook retailers. All have received “must read” reviews from the Paranormal Romance Guild. SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story and Danube: A Tale of Murder are available singly and in a boxed set at Amazon, B&N and Kobo. The fifth book, SNAP: Love for Blood, rated 5 stars, and sixth, SNAP: Happily Ever After? are also available.

About the author:

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home.  During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.

SNAP: White Nights, the seventh book of her paranormal romance series, The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, was published March 20. She’s working on the eighth book in the series, SNAP: All That Jazz, scheduled for publication in late spring 2014.

She also writes the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Edited for Death and Labeled for Death. A third book, Delta for Death, is coming in 2014.

Visit her website:
facebook page:
Amazon author page:

Have a great day! Visit again soon!

Welcome to this week's book talk on the Coffee Chat! My guest today is Amber Foxx, a writer of paranormal with the woo-woo factor!

Good Morning, Amber! How do you take your coffee?

AMBER:  Black, no sugar.

Ally: An excellent choice and very easy to do. I'll pour if you show readers your bio, plus that something extra that is unique to you.

Bio:  Amber Foxx has worked as a personal trainer, fitness director, and yoga teacher and as a college professor in health sciences. She has lived in Maine, Virginia, North Carolina and New Mexico. While she currently divides her time between the Southeast and the Southwest, she calls Truth or Consequences New Mexico home.

And something unique:  I had my first short story published when I was twelve. I’d forgotten about it until about six years ago. My sister and I were sorting through a box of family papers and pictures our father had left us—and there was that story, as well as one I’d written for a high school English class. After this encounter with the family archives, I got serious about writing. I’ve had several events in my life when I felt as if my father’s spirit was giving me a nudge to do something. This was one of them. He was strong believer in following your bliss.


Ally:  Describe your series according to genre and subgenre. You've called them murderless mysteries, so what kind of problems does your protag solve?

AMBER:  I’ve wanted to invent a new genre, the way some chefs like to experiment with recipes, putting together ingredients that aren’t normally combined in ways that end up tasting wonderful. The books are mysteries in the sense that there are puzzles to be solved, and paranormal because my protagonist is a psychic and energy healer, while the overall feel of the books is like general fiction. They are realistic novels with paranormal elements. Shamans’ Blues has some elements of romance, as well, with an unconventional twist.

The mysteries are about missing people, secrets, or unusual spiritual phenomena. In The Calling, the first book in the series, Mae Martin tries to understand mysteries in her own life—why her father disappeared and the mystery of her own unasked for gift. In Shaman's Blues, the second book, the mystery starts with requests for Mae to find two missing people, but these people themselves end up being a greater mystery than their whereabouts. They have layers of secrets. A ghost plays a part in this plot, as well. In the third book (not yet released) a missing pet will end up being a key part of a much more tangled mystery. I’ve got four books more in various stages of progress, and the mysteries range from how a group of healers and psychics lose their gifts, to an attempt to undo an apparent voodoo curse. 

Ally:  Tell us about Mae’s unusual talent. Do her psychic experiences spring solely from your imagination or have you or someone you've known had similar experiences?

AMBER:  I’ve had some psychic experiences but they are not like Mae’s. I dream the future, which seems to be, in my reading and in my encounters with people who are willing to talk about this kind of thing, the most common type of psychic ability. My gift is random—I’ve only been able to dream the future on purpose once. It was 100% accurate, but I don’t know if I could achieve that again.
The inspiration for Mae’s gift came from someone with a more unusual ability, a woman who could read something of your past or present by holding an object that you had handled a lot. She had a vision from holding something of mine that was surprisingly personal and important to me, when I had just met her that evening and she knew next to nothing about me. This ability was perfect for my books. It gives Mae both insights and limits. She can’t see the future, only the past and the present, and she has to access an object for its vibration that connects it to a person. I didn’t want being psychic to be too easy, but I wanted it to be something she could control with skill and discipline.
Ally:  What is your writing process? Pantser or plotter?

AMBER:  I’m a pantser, but I also plan a lot once I get started. As I write, new characters show up, and plot ideas occur to me. It’s like improv acting, playing all of the roles. I’ll improvise a scene, and then scribble some possible next events. Typing on a keyboard and writing by hand seem to access different thinking processes, so I hand write those tentative outlines. Drawing accesses yet another aspect of my mind. I do some plot-tightening with charts and outlines after the first draft or two, to make sure there are no holes or loose ends.

Ally:  When and where do you write?

AMBER:  I have a home office dedicated to writing, and I write for anywhere from an hour to eight hours a day depending on the day of the week, day job demands, and travel. I made a commitment years ago never to let a day pass without writing and I’ve kept it. I don’t set goals that can be measured in words or pages, because sometimes I have to spend a lot of time polishing a tricky transitional paragraph, and other times ideas flow so rapidly that I don’t stop to spell-check or polish. It takes no will power to make myself write. The hard part is making myself stop and go to bed. I’m nocturnal, and my creative flow picks up after dark.

Ally:  I'm always interested in how other writers handle revisions. How much do you do on your own before involving your editor?

AMBER:  The number of revisions is uncountable, I revise so constantly. Each scene I write gets revised immediately. Then I move on to the next, and then I go back to the beginning and revise it all before moving on again. I think every chapter may have been revised a minimum of three of four times before it even goes to the first critique partner. Before anyone sees it I print it out and mark it up. I’m brutal with myself as my own critique partner. I revise again and then I start with a partner who’s good with plot and gives detailed feedback, working one chapter at a time. After the first critique, I revise and send the whole book to the next beta reader. Revise again. Next beta reader. Revise again. I like to have three readers before I send it to my editor, and then I still find myself making last minute fixes when I think it’s done. My books take years.

Ally:  What do you do when you're not writing?

AMBER:  I read, of course. I love art, and like to go to museums and galleries. I’m a runner—my barefoot shoes are probably my favorite thing I own. I like to go out dancing, and to go hiking in the desert. And I practice yoga daily.

Ally: Let's try a few quick answer questions:
  • favorite mystery author: it’s a tie between James D. Doss and Nevada Barr
  • high heels or sneakers: Do my Vibram Five Fingers count as sneakers?
  • favorite after five drink: decaf green tea (It would be more fun if I said green chile lager or pumpkin ale, but I’ll leave those to one of my characters to enjoy.)
  • an item on your bucket list: Make a bucket list! Or maybe the following is the answer.
  • your dream vacation would be: retirement. There is so much I want to do traveling around New Mexico, so many events that I miss because I have to work my day job. I want to have the year when I go the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, the burning of Zozobra at the Santa Fe Fiesta,  Santa Fe Indian Market, the Gathering of Nations and the Gallup Intertribal, Route 66 Summerfest, and even the Deming Duck Race and Roswell Alien Chase. The year when I don’t miss a thing!
Ally:  Thanks, Amber, for visiting the Coffee Chat today. I wish you the best of luck with your books.
And speaking of books, here are her current covers and blurbs...

The Calling

A down-to-earth North Carolina country girl, Mae Martin-Ridley is a former high school athlete whose interests run to sports and fitness, not spirituality or mysticism. The last thing she ever expected to be was a psychic or a spiritual healer. Obeying her mother’s warning, Mae has been hiding her gift of “the sight” for years. When events compel her to use it again, the unforeseen consequences spread to affect every aspect of her life—work, marriage, and family. To qualify for a new job Mae takes a class in Norfolk, Virginia, where she meets people who not only accept her abilities but push her to explore them further. She struggles with the shadow side of her gift. Though she wants to use “the sight” to help people, it gives her access to secrets she could regret uncovering. Torn between those around her who encourage her and those who condemn or doubt, Mae has to find her own path.

Buy Links:

Barnes and Noble

Shaman’s Blues
Mae Martin gets a double-edged going-away gift from her job as a psychic and
healer: beautiful music by a man who’s gone missing, and a request to find him.
When she arrives in her new home in New Mexico, aiming to start life over as she
comes to terms with her second divorce, she faces a new challenge in the use of her gift. Her new neighbors are under the influence of an apparently fake psychic who runs the health food restaurant where they work. When Mae questions the skills of the peculiar restaurateur, the woman disappears—either to Santa Fe, or another dimension. The restaurant’s manager asks Mae to discover which it is.
Finding two missing people proves easier than finding out the truth about either of them, or getting one of them, once found, to go away again.
Mystery crosses between the worlds and romance gets turned upside down in Santa Fe, the City Different.

Buy Links:

Barnes and Noble

Thanks for spending this time at my blog. Please come back again!


    Secrets of the Otherworld


    Ally Shields lives in the Midwest close to the setting of her urban fantasy series. Whether she's actually seen vampires, werewolves or witches is something she keeps to herself.


    April 2014


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