Midnight Enchantments: Mary Abshire

Midnight Enchantments is a celebration of books, authors, and characters who add a touch of magic to our lives

I’m really pleased to introduce you to Mary Abshire, whose latest release is LOVE CONQUERS ALL EVIL. Mary was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions, and share excerpts from the book with us:

Devon Ellington: LOVE CONQUERS ALL EVIL is the fourth novel in your series. What inspired the series? Can they be read out of order, or do they have to be read in order?

Mary Abshire: Well, I suppose inspiration came from books I read. I wanted a strong, yet very conflicted female as my protagonist. I love vampires, but I didn’t want to write solely about them. So I thought about what I could write that would be different. I hadn’t read any books about half-demons with special abilities. Good start, I thought. The whole good vs. evil topic is one of my favorites. So as I considered how to incorporate good vs. evil in my books and what kind of special trait to give my protagonist, I came up with the idea she could send souls to hell. She thinks she’s destined to go there because of her demon blood, and it will take someone special to convince her otherwise.

Can they be read out of order? Yes. I’ve had a few reviewers read them out of order and said they were fine. I try to write them as stand alones, or at least mention parts so the reader doesn’t feel as if they’ve totally missed something.

DE: I love that Alaska has “no vampires.” What made you choose that direction? Does that make things easier or harder for Drake?

MA: I chose Alaska because 1. They are on the run; and 2. It was the least likely place vampires would look for her. Vamps don’t like the cold because, well, they are cold. Naturally, Drake has a difficult time with the climate, but he has his honey to warm up to.

DE: How do you find your “life by day” feeds into your writing life? Do you get inspiration from working frustrations that you then play with and expand into paranormal, or do you use the writing as a complete escape?

MA: Writing is a complete escape for me. I work for the government and it’s pretty stressful. I did use part of my job responsibilities from a previous position and incorporate them into Jessie’s job, or rather, the human job she had in Indianapolis.

DE: Do you have a regular writing process/schedule to stay on track that you’re willing to share with us?

MA: The last month has been very different for me. Previously, I did have a routine schedule. I’d write in the evenings and on the weekends. Lately, I haven’t had time to write much. I’m hoping my schedule will return to nights and weekends in November. As for the process, I make up chapters in my head as the story develops. I always have the basic plot. Then slowly, I work out the details.

DE: What is your favorite thing about the writing life? The most frustrating?

MA: My favorite thing about writing is writing. I love to just write and get the ideas out of my head and flowing into words on the screen. I have so many ideas. What’s frustrating is the lack of time to write, and the editing process. Yes, I’m grateful when it’s over because the books are always better. But the editing process is usually down to the wire and trying to decide what to do that is best can be frustrating. Should this be cut? Do I need to rewrite this scene or chapter? Do I add to improve clarity? Do I change this in three places within the book? Always things to think about. But edits are necessary and do improve the quality of the book. It’s good to have an editor’s insight.

Thanks, Mary! And now, an excerpt from LOVE CONQUOERS ALL EVIL:

“So now that I’m here, what will you have me do?” I asked.

“That is a good question. What shall I do with you?”

I glanced over my shoulder at him. In Jeremy’s image, I could look at him and
not feel any emotion. When he appeared as Drake, my heart ached.

“I could keep you here as my personal slave, which intrigues me, or I could
send you back,” he said.

My lower lip quivered. Both options made me want to vomit. Bottom line, I’d
never see Drake again. I didn’t care what happened to me anymore. Stripped of hope
and the man I loved, nothing could cheer me up.

“I admit, you are a valuable asset to me in the living world. However, the longer
I stare at your beautiful body, the more I want to keep you for myself.”

“I don’t care what you do with me. Just decide,” I said, staring at the tranquil
sea. Decide and let me move on.

He chuckled. “Jessie, you are one of my favorites. I can sense the fight still
within you. I like that.”

A dark shadow loomed from above, drawing my attention away from the
conversation. Shielding my eyes from the bright sun, I glanced up and found a massive
pair of wings in the sky. I peered closer. The wings connected to a man’s body. Holy

The winged man dropped like a cannonball from the sky to the beach. He
smacked the ground hard, creating a tremor that made my teeth chatter. The glasses on
the counter shook, spilling tea over the rim of one of them.

“What the . . . .” I said softly.

“Indeed,” the devil said. He passed me and headed for the winged man.

I ran to catch up, staying off to the side of the devil. My feet slipped in the sand
and I flung out my arms, trying to keep from falling. A few feet ahead, the man kneeled
on one knee with his head down. His large brown wings contracted toward his body.
Where on Earth, er—hell, did such a creature come from?

The winged man slowly lifted his head and rose. He had short, blond hair shining
in the sun. Muscles graced his bare arms and chest. A pair of tight pants covered his
lower extremities and legs. I marveled at his large size. Even without his wings spread,
he was a robust creature, and well over six feet in height. Something else I noticed
about him. He had a soft sheen around him, a glow that magnified his beauty.

Buy Links:
Noble Romance Publishing Website

Amazon Kindle ASIN# B005HZKEK4

All Romance Ebooks

By day, Mary is a government employee. At night, she’s a Paranormal
Romance and Urban Fantasy Author. She lives in Indianapolis with her
loving husband, witty daughter, and ridiculous cat.

Her interest in dark, mysterious, and dangerous creatures started in her
youth. Sci-fi and horror shows were her favorite. During her teenage years,
she read every Anne Rice book available, had a plethora of pen-pals she
wrote to, and enjoyed 80’s new wave music. In her early twenties, she
dabbled with writing, but never pursued it as a career. Fifteen years later,
she decided to write again. After writing a few full-length novels, she came
to the realization that she couldn’t stop. What started as an interest grew
into love, and is now an addiction.

She is a Pro Member of the RWA, a member of ESPAN (Electronic Small
Press Authors’ Network), Savvy, and the Paranormal Romance Guild. She
enjoys reading, writing, and chatting with others who have similar passions.
On occasion, you can find her at a trance club.

Love Conquers All Evil is the fourth novel in the Soul Catcher series.
Mary’s urban fantasy novel, The Awakening, is scheduled for release
January 2012 from Lyrical Press.

Where to find Mary Abshire:

Midnight Enchantments: Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Character: Death

Midnight Enchantments is a celebration of authors, books, and characters we love, those who fill our lives with magic.

Midnight Enchantments: Terry Pratchett’s Death
by Devon Ellington

I adore Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. Not only do they fill me with true delight, I think he’s one of the most brilliant social satirists we have. He takes his alternate, well-built universe, makes it reflect enough familiarities so we’re not entirely lost, and then shows us the absurdities of many of our assumptions and prejudices. He uses humor to make us pay attention.

A friend from a writing class gave me MORT for my birthday one year. She couldn’t believe I’d never read Terry Pratchett. In MORT, a kid named Mort who never really fit in, becomes Death’s apprentice. I was next guided to WYRD SISTERS, which gets some of its inspiration from MACBETH, and from there to MASKERADE. MASKERADE makes fun of many things, including taking digs at PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, CATS, and MISS SAIGON. I read it backstage between cues when I was working on MISS SAIGON, and I laughed so hard and so loud they were ready to drive me to Bellevue when the curtain went down! And from there, I just read whatever Discworld novels I could get my hands on, as fast as I could get my hands on them.

One of the most persistent characters in the Discworld novels (and in all our lives), is Death. Death is quite a character — thoughtful, resourceful, intelligent, kind when appropriate, gets the job done. AND HE ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. One of my favorite novels in the series is HOGFATHER, where Death steps in to take over when the Hogfather (a Discworld variation on our Father Christmas) disappears. His genuine puzzlement when he sits down and takes small children on his lap to hear their wishes for Hogfather Night and how that does not go well, is both touching and hilarious.

Death is logical. Death knows when our time is up. Death likes a good conversation as much as the next fellow. Death does not suffer fools gladly. Death is practical. Death has a sense of humor, albeit a (ahem) deadly one.

Personifying Death the way Pratchett does makes the inevitable more palatable, somehow. The method of your personal death may not be particularly pleasant, but Death is there to give you a hand up to your next destination. The destination is determined by the way you’ve lived your life, and what you BELIEVE you deserve, but you are not alone. And so many of us don’t want to die alone.

Death will always win. But sometimes he likes to put his feet up by the fire and have a cuppa, just like anybody else.

Find out more information on Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels here.

–Devon Ellington is a full-time writer, publishing under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction. Her latest release, under the Annabel Aidan name, is the romantic suspense, ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, available in print and digital versions from Champagne Books.

Midnight Enchantments: Diana Bishop & The Family Homestead

Midnight Enchantments is a celebration of books, authors, and characters we love, whose lives are filled with magic.

Midnight Enchantments: Diana Bishop & The Family Homestead
by Devon Ellington

There are so many wonderful elements in Deborah Harkness’s A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES it would be hard to pick my favorite. I love that Diana is a scholar, and she’s immersed in research and searching for a lost manuscript. All elements that book lovers everywhere fantasize about. It felt like the best bits of POSSESSION (a novel I adore) beautifully melded with urban fantasy.

Diana is smart, resourceful, witty, caring. All the things we want and need in heroines we admire. She’s put aside her magic because she wants to earn her place with her non-magical abilities. She wants what she achieves to be her achievements, and not “just magic.” Yet it is only as she accepts that she is the magic and the magic is her — there’s no separation, she has to accept her whole persona — that she truly blossoms. It’s not JUST that she falls in love with Matthew, a man worthy of her, in spite of the whole complication with him being a vampire and all. It’s that she accepts the power within as part of her, not separate from her, and then she can truly grow.

My favorite part of the book, however, is the Bishop house. The family homestead that adds and subtracts rooms in preparation for guests. The house that LIVES, along with certain spirits residing within it. The house is its own entity. It is a character, not just a location. It is humanized, personified, a character in its own right. What better way to truly demonstrate the effect that environment has on character?

It gives a whole new meaning to a term I often use in class, “emotional geography.” The house thinks, feels, intuits, acts, much like a person does. Yet it is a house. We talk about the “vibe” or the “feeling” of a house or a home — this house take it to an even more tangible and extreme level.

Diana is wonderful and inspirational, and I can’t wait to see what she and Matthew do next. But the HOUSE is my favorite character in the book!

You can find out more about Deborah Harkness and the book on her website.

–Devon Ellington is a full-time writer, publishing under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction. Her latest paranormal suspense, ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, is available under the Annabel Aidan name from Champagne Books.

Midnight Enchantments: ENTANGLED

Midnight Enchantments is a celebration of books, authors, and characters we love in the urban fantasy/paranormal/magical genres.

My good friend Michelle Miles joins us today, talking about an anthology one of her stories appears in, and why she loves paranormal fiction:

I grew up on science fiction and fantasy (books, movies). There’s something about getting lost in a book that has elements not of this world. Something about stepping into a story with compelling characters who you love, feel for, and can’t stop reading because you have to know what’s going to happen next. I love these books because it brings alive those things I dream about (faraway places, long lost loves full of magic and creatures who should exist but don’t). I love all those fantastic elements!

And by the way, I just finished a new paranormal futuristic type story (tentatively titled Pleasures Unbound). I hope to get it to my EC editor soon *fingers crossed* she’ll buy it.

Thanks for letting me come by. 🙂

Ghosts, vampires, demons, and more! Entangled includes ten paranormal short stories from authors Cynthia Eden, Jennifer Estep, Edie Ramer, Lori Brighton, Michelle Diener, Misty Evans, Nancy Haddock, Liz Kreger, Dale Mayer, and Michelle Miles, plus a Seven Deadly Sins novella by Allison Brennan.

Stacia Kane contributed the foreword. All proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Michelle Miles’s contribution is SINFULLY SWEET –When Chloe bakes a little magic into her pastries, she attracts the attention of Edward, the sexy half-demon, half-witch, who’s come to warn her those who murdered her sister are now after her.

Available at:

BN: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/books/e/2940013022317
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/3ueyekp
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/87661
All Romance Ebooks: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-entangledaparanormalanthology-600298-140.html

Michelle Miles found her love of writing buried in the fantasy books of Patricia A. McKillip and the beautiful romances of Victoria Holt. It wasn’t until her high school years she decided to take up the pen and try her hand at writing. She created faraway lands, space adventures, and even princesses who just wanted to be saved. Never learning to plot, she always believed that jumping in feet first was the way to go and has since become a self-proclaimed Pantser, writing contemporary, paranormal and fantasy romance. Her latest release is ONE KNIGHT ONLY, available from Ellora’s Cave.

A Native Texan, she loves hockey, football, baseball, drinking coffee, cross-stitching, and shopping for shoes and Coach handbags. Visit her website at http://www.michellemiles.net to sign up for her monthly newsletter and read her daily blog, Ye Olde Inkwell.
Website: http://www.michellemiles.net

Midnight Enchantments: Harry Dresden

Midnight Enchantments is a celebration of paranormal authors and characters, leading up to Samhain.

Midnight Enchantments: Harry Dresden
By Devon Ellington<strongi

I’d heard about this JIm Butcher series for years. It was one of those I figured I’d “get around to” reading “someday.” Sort of like a round tuit, those potholder like things we used to give each other back in the 80’s and 90’s, when someone would say they were too busy and would “get around to it.”

Then, one of my students recommended the series, telling me she enjoyed it and thought I would, too. The next time I went to the bookstore, I picked up STORM FRONT. My student was right!

What makes Harry Dresden such a terrific character? He’s unique, he’s memorable, and he’s a good guy. Sure, he’s unusual — a paranormal detective who’s also a licensed wizard. He’s even in the phone book — a great detail. The guy has skills. He’s got talent, too, but he doesn’t do things by half-measures. He’s good at what he does because he puts in the work. He’s also got a wry sense of humor, a strong sense of loyalty, and doesn’t hesitate to do what needs to be done when those around him flinch. He’s someone you could just as easily sit and have a beer and burger with in the local bar, or go demon hunting with, should the need arise.

Chicago, the setting of the books, is also an additional character. It’s a slightly alt-Chicago, but the streets are both familiar and strange, and the geography sings. His father was a stage magician, so not only does Harry use magic in his work, he also knows how to weave in illusion when necessary. The way Butcher uses the two systems in tandem rather than in opposition makes for lively action. His mother was a wizard, but we don’t have much information about her in the early books. As with most wizards, he’s got an arsenal of tools at his disposal, as well as drawing on the elements. He seems to trust the tools, more at this point, although I hope that will be one of his areas of growth in the series (I’m just a few books in). He’s under the watchful eye of the White Council — who’d be more than happy to kill him if he steps out of bounds.

His relationship with Karrin Murphy, a cop and his sometimes partner on cases, is fascinating and unconventional. There’s a lot of deep emotion there, but neither seems willing to take a risk on the other. Considering how often they’re nearly killed together, it’s understandable. I don’t really understand why he’s involved with Susan Rodriguez other than she’s a fun sexual partner– I find her more annoying than alluring or feisty — but I’m willing to stick with the books to see how it unfolds. Harry may not always understand the women around him, but he likes and respect women, and that keeps the stories from falling into gender cliches.

Butcher is great at melding the natural world with the paranormal, telling us unique, unusual stories, driven by sparkling dialogue and memorable characters. Strong, intelligent female protagonists have been on the rise in this genre over the past few years. Every once in awhile, it’s nice to also focus on a male protagonist who’s also strong and quirky and intelligent and fun.

–Devon Ellington publishes under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction. She will present her Dialogue Workshop at the Write Angles Conference on the Mt. Holyoke Campus on October 22. Visit her website at www.devonellingtonwork.com

Midnight Enchantments: Lily Ivory

Midnight Enchantments is a series featuring essays on the genre, books, and characters we love in paranormal fiction/urban fantasy, et al.

Midnight Enchantments: Lily Ivory
by Cerridwen Iris Shea

Lily Ivory, hereditary witch, the is primary protagonist in Juliet Blackwell’s delightful Witchcraft mysteries: SECONDHAND SPIRITS, A CAST OFF COVEN, HEXES AND HEMLINES, and the upcoming IN A WITCH’S WARDROBE (scheduled for July 2012).

Lily’s spent a good deal of her life on the move. Now, that she’s settled in San Francisco, running a vintage clothing store, she finds that she WANTS to put down roots. She WANTS to have friends. It’s not always easy to make friends when you’re used to being on your own, and it’s not always easy to find your place in a diverse magical community, which San Francisco supports. But Lily is a woman of intelligence, ingenuity, AND magic, and she learns from her mistakes.

She’s also got Oscar, the familiar given to her by the sexy, mysterious Aidan, a powerful local witch. She grows fond of the odd little fellow, who morphs into a pig around civilians, adds power to her spells, and, oh yeah, spies on her for Aidan.

Lily’s magic is hereditary. She was also trained, by her grandmother, and there’s some sort of secret about her father connected to magic, tidbits of which are revealed in each book. She’s got the family grimoire, and is trained in its use. You couldn’t find the spells she uses in a book at Barnes & Noble — and wouldn’t want to. Her spells are for the well-trained practitioner. And yet, she also knows how to align her magic with others in the community: her friend Bronwyn, who’s Wiccan, and Bronwyn’s coven; Aidan, upon occasion; the voudoun priest Herve LeMansac. She’s not a “my way is the only way” kind of witch, nor is she a “if we all envision white light, the nasties go away.” She’s practical (most of the time) and knows how to marshal resources.

Her love life is a bit of a tangle, but that adds spice to the books. She’s not limited by a relationship yet — there are still several interesting possibilities.

One of the things I truly love about the series is the care and detail spent dealing with Lily’s time in her shop. She doesn’t let magic take over her life; magic ENHANCES her life. It truly gives her joy to find a beautiful piece of vintage clothing with a history, and find the right person to give it a new home. She’s good at her job and loves it. How often do we read books where characters seem to have jobs, but we never actually see them work? Since work is such a huge part of most of our daily lives, it influences our characters. To see how Lily’s job reflects and enhances her character is a wonderful thing.

Lily is one of my favorite characters in modern paranormal fiction. She’s the kind of woman I want as my friend, and the kind of witch I want watching my back.

You can find out more about Lily on Juliet Blackwell’s website.

Cerridwen Iris Shea wrote for Llewellyn’s calendars and almanacs for sixteen years. She also writes the Merry’s Dalliance fantasy pirate adventures. She teaches tarot workshops, and is thrilled to finally have her own herb garden and still room. Find her on the web at www.cerridwenscottage.com. This is her busy season.

MIDNIGHT ENCHANTMENTS: The Magic of Paranormal Fiction

Welcome to Midnight Enchantments, a celebration of magical fiction and its appeal. Please welcome today’s guest author, kicking off the celebration, Colin Galbraith.

The Magic of Paranormal Fiction
By Colin Galbraith

What is it about readers of paranormal and magical fiction that keeps them coming back for more? As one of the most steady genres in fiction in terms of output, is there something that sets readers and writers of this particular form of fiction apart?

To answer these questions, I looked at my own reading habits: just what is it about stories with these elements that I find so interesting? Is it simply a genre that’s fun to read, or are there deeper reasons to it?

The first thing I realised is that I enjoy reading this type of fiction for the very same reasons I enjoy writing it, and I suspect, that goes for other writers, too.

It’s the ultimate “what if” fantasy; taking a reader into the unknown, the world of the paranormal where nothing is certain and there are no definite lines of physics or logic, and then manipulating that world to give the reader new and exciting stories.

Paranormal and magical fiction is a way out of every day life to a much more intense degree than, say, literary fiction. Both genres have their exciting moments, of course, but providing it’s done correctly, these forms of fiction allow the writer to create new stories far removed from everyday life, and for the reader to then live them.

One thing that particularly appeals to me with paranormal fiction, is when everyday life situations are enhanced by the specific elements of the genre. In paranormal fiction, the author can investigate new ideas, perhaps mix history and smudge it with what one sees outside the window, thereby bringing to life old and often forgotten tales and breathing new life into them.

Living in Edinburgh gives me a unique angle on this as it’s one of the most haunted cities in the world. Every street, building and pub, especially in the Old Town, has a resident ghost story (sometimes a resident ghost), so as a writer, I’m spoiled for great ideas.

In my debut paranormal book, STELLA, I took fictional characters and threw them into the ring with a satanic demon. Many people were shocked by this, but what I was trying to achieve was to take a more mainstream genre (a spy thriller) and turn into something new.

One of the successes of the Harry Potter series was taking a fictional character that everyone could relate to, and then giving him powers that made him stand out from the crowd.

What kid never dreamt they had a cloak they could hide behind that would make them invisible, or that they could perform magic at the stroke of a wand to wow their friends? JK Rowling created the perfect mix of dreams and magic.

Paranormal and magical fiction isn’t just about entertainment for entertainment’s sake, however, as it can also ask deep and meaningful questions.

Take God and Satan, two of the most well known lead characters in world literature. Do they exist? Are they one in the same? Did they come from the same place? Is there a Heaven and Hell? What happens when we die? All of these questions and more can be asked and explored through paranormal and magical fiction.

When the boundaries are less real, greyed out by what lies between life and death, it opens up whole new realms of possibilities for the reader and the writer. A writer can really go to town with experimentation in the paranormal and magical genres, and it is this, I think, that separates it.

* * *

Colin Galbraith is the author of STELLA, a spy novel with a paranormal twist, as well as several books of poetry. Read more about him here: www.colingalbraith.co.uk