Thursday, March 22, 2007


Osmosis Psychic = Your Next Heroine?

A grown-up indigo child and psychic now offers a psychic activation service, using a process she terms "osmosis" to enhance everyone's natural psychic abilities.

Okay, in our reality that sounds a little odd, but in your paranormal near future…who's to say? She's got an endorsement letter from an Iraq-deployed soldier in her press release. The possibilities are wide and varied.

Ultimate Two Birder

Researchers hope to use the example of plant photosynthesis to break the carbon-oxygen bonds of CO2 and use excess carbon dioxide as a fuel source.

Now that would be a spiffy future!

Asexual Species Diversify, Too!

Scientists have discovered that tiny aquatic creatures who reproduce asexually have diversified in response to environmental pressures -- something they thought only the sexual reproducers could do. Says one admiring scientists of the celibate microscopic beasties: "These really are amazing creatures, whose very existence calls into question scientific understanding, because it is generally thought that asexual creatures die out quickly, but these have been around for millions of years."

Silly scientists, of course asexual creatures don't die out. They join the Republican Party. (HA! Go ahead, flame me. I couldn't resist. Get a sense of humor, or get your own blog and make fun of Democrats.) Seriously, though, how would love relationships develop and how would emotions be expressed by aliens who reproduce asexually? Don't tell me they wouldn't form bonds of some kind, and don't tell me they would not actively seek pleasure, either. Be creative!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Fess Up Monday!

Did you write? Did you sell? How many words? Tell, tell tell!

The Global Existential Threat Level remains at GUARDED.

Today's question: Why do we do this? Why, when we know the odds are against us meeting our ultimate goals, do we keep writing?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Website Update!

All new at Speculative Romance Online:

  • Candice Vetter, our own astronomy diva, helps you decide how to deal with that pesky light speed barried in DISTANCE, SPEED AND TIME.

  • Specrom Speaks with PAULA GURAN of JUNO BOOKS.

  • New Member News.

  • New Market News.

  • New Review: THE STRANGELING by Saskia Walker

  • New Review: KING OF DRAGONS, KING OF MEN by Emily Veinglory


  • Also, check this out:

    OBCNFE (overworked but committed non-fiction editor) seeks plural professional relationship with other like minds. Ideal partners might be thirsting to make industry contacts by interviewing them for the newsletter, have an overwhelming passion for coordinating contests, be interested in becoming our liaison to the speculative erotic romance community or have a great off-the-wall idea for a recurring column. I'm flexible and easygoing, remember, so everyone interested in contributing is encouraged to reply. Not looking for a monthly hook-up: bi-monthly and quarterly involvement is fine, too. Creativity and a good sense of humor a must. Payment is experience and a great way to network in the community. Direct replies to joyce (at) with the subject line "Specrom Sounds Hot, Let's Hookup."

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    Fess Up Monday!

    Did you write? Did you sell? How many words? Tell, tell tell!

    The Global Existential Threat Level remains at GUARDED.

    Okay, more like Fess Up Monday on Tuesday. I'm blaming the time change.

    Today's question: Have you ever returned a book because it did not satisfy?

    Personally, I think the practice of unhappy readers returning books is, to say the least, odd. Especially if the reason is because the ending wasn't happy, or, even more strange, the book featured people outside your ethnic group (as noted on Karen Scott's blog, comments section.)

    I wonder if this is a practice for romance readers only, or if unsatisfied science fiction or mystery fans demand their money back for the offending book? Presumably the fan read the book, because otherwise how could they know the story didn't make them happy?

    Do you ask for your money back because the wine doesn't have the smooth finish you expected? Do you ask for your money back because the pizza gives you gas? I've read some books so unsatisfying I felt I should be able to sue the author for damages afterwards, but come on.

    This world. It disenchants me on ocassion. How about you?

    Monday, March 12, 2007


    Joyce Ellen Armond loves sappy love songs and face-eating monsters with equal enthusiasm. Her personal passion is melding the genres of romance and horror. From her home base in rural Pennsylvania, waiting for the zombie apocalypse, she edits the Speculative Romance Online website and newsletter.

    You can read more of her short romantic speculative fiction at Quantum Kiss ( and her debut novel BONDS OF DARKNESS at Liquid Silver Books ( You can visit her website at

    Armond's contribution to SUM3 is the contemporary paranormal....or is it an urban fantasy....or science fiction story entitled "Attraction of Otherness”, wherein the vampire legend is revised in a very extraterrestrial way. For the story behind this story, visit Joyce's note to readers here. For an excerpt click here.

    A few people have commented on my vision of vampire in "Attraction of Otherness," employing descriptors like creative, new or different. Truth is, it isn't anything new at all. I just gathered interesting, otherwise unrelated items and tidbits and scrambled them together. That's why it feels new and different, and that's what creativity is. It's scrambling unrelated ideas into a personal vision.

    Speculative fiction authors feel undue pressure to come up with "new" ideas. This fear of doing what's already been done haunted me for years. I hated to finish one project, because I feared I'd never have an idea good enough again. The books I loved would mock me: you'll never be this creative, give up, be an accountant!

    Now I know that such fears are just so much self-defeating bullshit. I don't have to experience a startlingly new Eureka moment, pulling an entirely new concept from the air like Athena out of Zeus's head. (It was Athena, right? Minerva? Athena? The chick with the owl. You get the point.)

    Creativity isn't really creation, as in poof abracadabra from darkness comes light. Creativity is synergy: taking unrelated ideas and scrambling them into a personal vision. So all I need, to be creative, is to gather lots of interesting tidbits and facts and opinion and, well, stuff, and know my personal vision.

    That's what the News 2 Use feature in the blog and newsletter is about: tidbit gathering. Idea grazing. In this instance, gluttony is a virtue. (Too bad it can't translate to potato chips.)

    Knowing personal vision, that's a little more difficult. I fear that a large swath of humans on the planet today can't stand being alone in the room without the television on. How can they perform the introspective, sometimes creepy, sometimes humbling task of getting to know what makes them tick well enough to translate it into storytelling decisions? But…that feels like another blog topic.

    In "Attraction of Otherness," I poured a vampire concept I read in a book about monster-hunting, the pervasive cultural conviction of a government alien cover-up, my constant creative coveting of the Clarice Starling-Hannibal Lechter relationship and erotic kissing into the idea blender. The resulting purée I poured through the cheesecloth of my personal vision (creepiness, suspense, distrust of authority, challenging relationships, and loving evil), and voila: a tasty vampire smoothie that feels new and different.

    Do you fear hitting the bottom of your idea well? Then I pose two important questions. If you answer no to either or both, I'd suggest that's your problem(s).

    Do you gather tidbits and graze ideas? If no, go to the Specrom website. On the News 2 Use page, I've compiled a buffet of links. Feed often.

    Do you know your personal vision? If no, shut off American Idol (that shit will rot your brain, anyway) and shake hands with your expectations, your prejudices, your dreams and your dark sides.

    I am of course a fan of your dark sides. Because that's my personal vision.

    -Joyce Ellen Armond

    SUM3 at Amazon

    SUM3 at Fictionwise

    SUM3 Website Extravaganza

    Sunday, March 11, 2007


    JODY WALLACE, also the editor of SUM3, swears she didn't crowbar her own story into the anthology; JOYCE ELLEN ARMOND of the Speculative Romance Newsletter and LIZ BURTON of Zumaya Publishing approved it first. Ms. Wallace's resume includes college English instructor, technical documents editor, market analyst, web designer, and general all around pain in the butt. One of her alter egos is "The Grammar Wench", which should give you an indication of her character. Aside from this anthology, she is published in small press erotic romance under the pen name Ellie Marvel and has several novellas with Red Sage Publishing in their line of Secrets anthologies. You can find out more at

    Wallace's contribution to SUM3 is "Cooley's Panther”, which skews the contemporary world to paranormal in this suburban fantasy. For an excerpt click here.

    Can You Turn It Off?

    Or will it rule your leisure time? No, I'm not talking about the TV, I'm talking about my internal editor, that bitch on wheels who is doing her best to sour the thing I used to love most in the world -- reading for pleasure.

    It feels like she's always worn me out, but I can recall younger, glowier days of reading books with an uncritical eye. (Ok, let's get real...a LESS critical eye.) When I was a kid, I would devour the giant stack of library books within days of bringing them home and then, of course, have nothing to read until Mom took us back to the library. Once I was older, I used to hole up all week-end instead of socializing and stick my nose in someone else's imagination.

    Those days are over. Now that I'm a writer and editor, I can barely get through a book without noticing typos, clunky POV shifts, weaknesses in characterization, cliched plotting, you name it. There are things that don't bother me which would bother someone else, and I know not everyone is the Grammar Wench I am, but nevertheless, it does interfere with my good time.

    The rare book or story can sweep me away from all that, and I long for those moments. I treasure authors able to do that for me and track down everything they've written. Sometimes I reread old favorites for the glorious submersion I know is there, and sometimes old favorites pall in the glare of the dreaded internal editor. Such a disappointment when that happens. There are books I refuse to read again so I can remember them with nothing but fondness.

    Eventually, I tried escaping to a different medium to get my fix -- television -- but the internal editor followed me there, too. After I watch my shows, I drive my husband nuts discussing and critiquing the just-viewed episode. If it struck me as particularly egregious (SMALLVILLE, I'm looking at YOU), the poor guy has to hear about it for days afterwards.

    This makes it sound as if I've lost a valued possession, but I don't regret my transition from pure reader to analyst. The more I read (which has always been a lot), the more I became bent this way whether I wanted to or not. It's The way I view television and movies is further proof--I am of a mind to pick stories apart. To deconstruct them, examine them, and consider them from all angles. And in truth, I find stories of almost any sort interesting and worthwhile, whether I'm swept away by the wonderful worldbuilding or confused by stylistic oddities. It's always educational for a writer/editor to read (and arguably to watch television
    and movies), and one hopes it helps me hone my abilities.

    If I have one wish for SUM3, it's that the stories within provide an enjoyable experience for readers and silence the internal editors of those who are plagued by them.


    SUM3 at Amazon

    SUM3 at Fictionwise

    SUM3 Website Extravaganza

    Friday, March 09, 2007

    SUM3 WEEK!

    C. MITCHELL O'NEAL lives and writes in Ann Arbor, MI. His speculative work has appeared in Paradox magazine, Revelation, Dead Letters, and Insidious Reflections e-zine. He received an honorable mention in the Best Fantasy and Horror of 2004 for his short story "The Moon Shone on my Slumbers." His story in this collection won first place in the Zircon Awards of 2005 and is dedicated to his own southern princess. (Editor note: this melts my damn heart every time I read it, the story and the dedication.)

    For other examples of O’Neal’s work see Paradox magazine ( and Revelation magazine (

    O'Neal's contribution to SUM3 is "The Farmer's Boy and the Southern Princess”, which explains the truth behind a myth in a lyrical voice sure to captivate readers. He likes to hear from readers at coneal (at)

    Writing The Farmer’s Boy and the Southern Princess was a literal labor of love; please forgive the cliché, but it’s appropriate. My family has this horrid tradition of homemade Secret Santa gifts at Christmas, and a couple years ago, I drew my wife, Victoria. Since writing is the one skill that I have any confidence in, she was destined to get a story in her stocking. You can read the whole story behind the story here, at the SUM3 website:

    When people read the story behind the story, two reactions inevitably arise. Women tend to get this rosy and far away look on their face and make a sound somewhere between ‘oooh’ and ‘awww.’ Men tend to get this slight smirk, which grows into gleeful grinning, followed by various comments questioning my manhood. Which raises the obvious (though certainly not new) question, can a man write romance?

    The answer is, of course, yes. I’m a man, and this is clearly a romantic story, even if it doesn’t fall into the stereotypical genre of heaving bosoms and throbbing what-have-yous. In my mind, good, readable fiction is almost always about the protagonist’s struggle to get what they want. Romance is simply the most familiar version of that. We’ve all lusted, we’ve all loved, and we’ve all wanted someone else to love us back to the point that we were willing to struggle to make it happen. This experience is shared by both sexes. In writing The Farmer’s Boy, I was never faced with a character who’s emotions I didn’t understand. I was always writing what I knew, so to speak.

    Perhaps the more interesting question is, what does a man offer to a genre in which most of the authors are women, and most (though not all) of the readers are women? That’s a tough one. I do not think that I “write men” any better than my female peers. I do not think that I even added anything to this genre that hasn’t been added before; I wrote a fairy tale, essentially, the oldest version of the romance and therefore nothing new. Even so, I do recognize that there is something slightly unique in my story and my writing of it. I think it may simply be the oddity, like the first time we saw female sports announcers on the sidelines of Monday Night Football and went, “that’s new.” Challenging expectations of who should write what does lead to new ways of reading and seeing a story, and I suspect that my gender gives me some privileges in the field of romance fiction simply because people want to “see what the guy wrote.” That seems patently unfair to me, but I’ll take any edge I can get.

    I enjoyed writing this story, and though it’s not my typical inclination, I enjoyed writing the romance part of it a lot. Without the romance it would have been a weaker story, or maybe not even a story at all. Will I write more romance in the future? Probably not, but I do think that everything you write breathes a little bit of itself into everything else, so the lessons of the Farmer’s Boy and his true love won’t be forgotten.

    C. Mitchell O’Neal

    SUM3 at Amazon

    SUM3 at Fictionwise

    SUM3 Website Extravaganza

    Thursday, March 08, 2007

    SUM3 WEEK!

    FRANCES ROBERTSON has been an avid lover of fantasy ever since she read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at a tender age. Romance followed somewhat later, and when it did, it seemed like a perfect complement to spaceships and dragons. Frances recently sold her first story to Tales of the Talisman magazine. She lives with her husband in the desert Southwest, and has a backyard full of bunnies, lizards, quail, the occasional bobcat and a gopher named Rasputin.

    Robertson's contribution to SUM3 is the historical short story, "With Heart to Hear”, definitely the spiciest entry in the anthology. In Robertson's story, the troll under the bridge is converted into a romantic hero. For an excerpt click here.

    “Love makes the world go ‘round.”

    Well, not really. That honor probably goes to money. But I’ll wager that love is number two.

    There are a lot of different kinds of love. Parental. Filial. Fraternal. Patriotic. Romantic. Love can drive men and women to heights of bravery and self-sacrifice. And unlike money, love makes us better people.

    That’s why I like to write about love. I grew up reading fantasy tales of heroic deeds done by people who loved. Loved their ideals, their people, their country. And if there was a little romantic love thrown in too, all the better. :-) Later, I discovered romance, first in my personal life, and later on the printed page.

    Yes, romance fiction is fantasy too. The relationships evolve too fast, and the tortured soul (usually the man) is redeemed by love; all his flaws are eliminated through the love of a good woman. In real life, the woman probably would (or should) run away from this damaged character. But the kernel of truth in that story is more important than what’s on the surface. Love redeems us. It makes us aspire to be better. To be our best selves.

    It was that truth that made me want to write “With Heart to Hear.”

    The word “love” is easily spoken, but not so easily demonstrated, unless the feeling is truly there. When we’re in the throes of infatuation, it’s easy to confuse desire with love. It’s really only by our actions that we show what it is that’s in our hearts to those who can hear.

    Frances Robertson

    SUM3 at Amazon

    SUM3 at Fictionwise

    SUM3 Website Extravaganza

    Tuesday, March 06, 2007

    SUM3 WEEK!

    ISABO KELLY is the award-winning author of numerous science fiction, fantasy and paranormal romance novels, short stories and novellas. After finishing her Ph.D. in Zoology in Ireland, she buckled down to concentrate on writing. Isabo currently lives in New York City with her brilliant Irish husband and her mad dog Eddie Monster. You can visit Isabo at her website or email her at isabo (at) She loves hearing from readers.

    Kelly's contribution to SUM3 is “The Last Guardian”, which mixes unrequited love and demonic threats into a suspenseful fantasy adventure.

    When I first heard about the Zircon Short Story Awards, I got so excited. I’ve been writing speculative romance for years and publishing since 1999. But it’s nearly impossible to find a home for short stories, and I love writing them. There’s something so satisfying about being able to finish writing an entire story, beginning to end, in a day or two. Lot less daunting than a full length novel!

    Then in a matter of two months, I was invited by a small web-newsletter to submit a short story for publication (any genre—yay!), and I read that my favorite speculative romance newsletter was hosting a short story contest. Yay again! So I decided to think of a story to submit to the Zircons.

    As a side note, I wrote a story for that other newsletter, too. The newsletter is now defunct (very sad), but the story is up on my website. It’s called Kellyn’s Sacrifice—a fantasy romance. And a related novella, The Heron’s Call, was just released by Samhain Publishing (

    When I started mulling over ideas for the Zircons, the first thing that came to mind was the opening scene of The Last Guardian. I could practically feel the exhaustion and fear running through Neeka’s body as she stumbled through the dark forest trying to escape…something. I had to figure out the something later. But I did know she was running toward the only man she thought could help her. And that man just happened to be in love with her. At that point, I figured I had a decent idea, so I started writing.

    I’m a real write by the seat-of-my-pants kind of author. All I need is an opening and I’m away. I figure the rest out as I go. The “something” chasing Neeka came to me as I was writing the opening scene for the first time. But I was a third of the way through the story before I realized why she was being chased. And even then, I had a few…things I needed to clarify. Eventually, with multiple edits, the story came together. In a week, I had my submission ready. All I needed was a title.

    At this point, I have to give a special thanks to my friend Dr. Claire Cave. She was kind enough to read this story for me and help me with a title. The Last Guardian was her suggestion and it worked perfectly. So many thanks Claire!

    I wanted the Zircons to be successful and continue for years to come, and I knew they’d need plenty of submissions for this to happen. I wrote my story with the intention really of supporting a wonderful contest. I never expected to final. When I won, I got so excited I had to do a happy dance with my dog.

    Speculative Romance is my genre. It’s what I write and what I read. And I love it. I particularly love stories that take risks and cross genres in unusual ways. So I was honored to be included in the SUM3 collection with so many excellent examples of cross-genre writing. Roll on Speculative Romance!

    Isabo Kelly

    SUM3 at Amazon

    SUM3 at Fictionwise

    SUM3 Website Extravaganza

    Monday, March 05, 2007

    Fess Up Monday!

    Did you write? Did you sell? How many words? Tell, tell tell!

    The Global Existential Threat Level remains at GUARDED.

    We officially declare this week to be....(wild trumpet fanare)


    SUM3: The Zircon Anthology of Speculative Romance is now available in both paperback and electronic formats. Yippee!

    Through the two Zircon contests hosted by SpecRom, we collected short speculative romances that highlight all the facets of our subgenre. Like futuristics? We got em. Like fantasy: mythic, high or historical? We got em. Contemporary paranormal with a little humor? Contemporary paranornal with a bit of an edge? We got those, too!

    I've invited the SUM3 authors (including my humble self) to share the motivations and meanings behind their stories here at the blog. Stay tuned this week!

    SUM3 at Amazon

    SUM3 at Fictionwise

    SUM3 Website Extravaganza

    Thursday, March 01, 2007


    New feature! New feature!

    Who knows what lurks in the hearts and minds of SpecRom members? We'll pierce the veil by asking….The Ten Twiggy Questions.

    First to step out of the shadows: Specrom Jody. She lurks through specromlandia under a plethora of disguises, including the dreaded Grammar Wench. Watch out: the sharp edge of her humor is classified as a deadly weapon. Also watch out: she just made a sale! Mwah ha ha!

    The Essentials:

    Can you reveal your name?
    Jody Wallace, and I also write under the penname Ellie Marvel. Or the cat does. Yeah, it's the cat.

    Where do you call home?
    The recliner in the living room

    Why the heck are you a member of Speculative Romance Online?
    Joyce said I wasn't allowed to leave her when she took over.
    (Editor note: true story)

    The Stories:

    What three speculative romance novels/series must be on your shelf at all times to avoid interdimensional Armageddon?
    Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series, Swendson's Katie Chandler series, Briggs'Mercedes Thompson series

    What three other books/series of any genre, fiction or non-fiction, must be there, too?
    Clyde Edgerton's Walking Across Egypt, Jennifer Crusie's entire list, and something I haven't read before that looks really, really good, so there's always hope in my heart

    In three simple sentences (beginning-middle-end), describe the plot of the Perfect Speculative Romance.
    I can't answer this question. There are too many perfect plots and not enough time for me to write them. That's three sentences, anyway.

    The Scoop:

    What movie do you find (speculatively or otherwise) romantic?
    Right now a favorite is the BBC Pride and Prejudice.

    What speculative romance would you most like to see made into a movie?
    I would love to see Susan Grant's CONTACT made into a movie. I won't go so far as to cast the roles, but I think it's very powerful and cinematic.

    What is your favorite purple prose sexual euphemism?
    Is rumpy pumpy purple prose? Because that phrase always makes me laugh.

    The Secret:

    Tell us a secret. (Feel free to use initials to disguise identities and to embellish wildly!)
    I went to a therapist exactly two times until I made her cry, and then I figured I was healed.