Archive for October, 2010

What’s In A Name: Contest

Naming characters is one of the first jobs I have as a writer, and you can blame it on Paulo Freire, but I think the act of naming is a powerful one.  If the characters could name themselves I would let them, but since they can’t I have to take that job very seriously.  That is to say, I take it very seriously with my main characters.  My romantic leads always have something strong that ties them to their names.  Ash was so named because she was the remnants of something that once burned brightly, but was now reduced to going through the motions.  Parker was named because she had the looks and wit of Mary Louise Parker. Beth was named for a beloved librarian who was killed by a drunk driver.  Rory/Raine used her names to designate the split sides of her identity. I put tons of thought into my principle characters’ names, and to be honest with you it can be a lot of work, so by the time I work my way down to naming the side characters I just don’t have much energy left to be quite so clever.

I’ve heard all the tricks other authors use for names, and I’ve tried a few of them, i.e. movie credits, obituaries, baby name books, but it gets tedious to sift through all those things every time your character goes to a meeting or runs into a neighbor at the store.  So this time I decided to do something more fun. I picked a common theme, something near and dear to my heart, and I tied all of the secondary characters to that thing.  In fact, I got everyone associated with that thing named inThe Long Way Home one way or another.  What is that thing?  Well, I’m going to ask you!

Can you find the commonality among my side characters’ names?  I’m going to give you all one week to give me your most complete answer to this question.  Whoever gives me the best answer will win a free autographed copy of any one of my books.  If more than one person gives me a completely perfect answer (i.e. lists who everyone is named for and what they have in common) I’ll draw one name out of a hat.

Here’s a few hints,

1) This doesn’t come out of nowhere if you know me even a little bit.

2) Almost every proper name in the books (with 3 exceptions) is tied to this commonality by either the first or last name, and sometimes both.

3) If you figure out the commonality, you should be able to find every name for that thing listed somewhere in the book.

And if you still need a copy of The Long Way Home you can get it here.,-The-%252d-by-Rachel-Spangler

Happy Hunting!  I’ll announce the winner on Sunday, October 31st.


Ready. Aim. Shots Fired.

Bold Strokes Books Author M.J. Williamz has an impressive portfolio of short stories, but her all time personal favorite work is her novel, Shots Fired. Tune in to hear what M.J. has to say about her current and future work.

The Good, the Queer, and the Undead

            Good day, gentle readers: we’re Nell Stark and Trinity Tam, and we’re in the process of writing a four-book paranormal romance series. The first book of the series, everafter, came out in October 2009. Book two, nevermore, was just released a few days ago. Today, we’d like to discuss with you why we believe that paranormal sub-genres have “taken off” over the past decade, and how this kind of book can help the LGBT community to articulate its struggle for equality.

            Much has been made of the renaissance of vampires and werewolves in literature and film, but we believe that this trend is more a re-imagining of the role of paranormal characters than a true resurgence of interest in the supernatural. Vampires and Weres (since it has become popular in recent fiction to “were” a variety of creatures) used to be the ultimate villains. Consider Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), in which the eponymous vampire’s sole raison d’etre was to seduce women away from their “proper” roles as wives and mothers. By contrast, Stephanie Meyer’s immensely popular Twilight series (2005)  features a family of heroic vampires and a tribe of wolf shape-shifters who protect humanity from the evil members of their own species. Over the course of a century, then, the vampire or werewolf villain has become the heroic “boy next door”–now a suitable romantic partner for a female lead rather than a demonic Don Juan determined to make her one of the undead.

            This trend has also taken hold in queer literature, as evidenced by the paranormal novels recently published by Bold Strokes: L.L. Raand’s The Midnight Hunt, Gill McKnight’s Goldenseal (and sequels), Winter Pennington’s Witch Wolf (and sequels) and our everafter series. These authors enjoy crafting stories that feature paranormal protagonists, and many BSB readers enjoy learning about the exploits of our Vampires and Weres. To what might we attribute this late twentieth and early twenty-first century re-imagining of the paranormal character from villain to heroine?

            Vampires and werewolves have traditionally lurked at the borders of literature. Mysterious and threatening yet also alluring, they are fundamentally queer. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, for example, they epitomized the objects of Western xenophobia against Eastern Europeans. In the 1980s, Anne Rice’s vampires came to symbolize the fear of an HIV epidemic. In the late 1990s, however, the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer diverged from this trend by introducing both vampires and werewolves who fought on the side of the “good guys.” Thereafter, vampires and werewolves began to move from the fringes to the limelight. We don’t think it’s any coincidence that this trend parallels the rise of the contemporary LGBT civil rights movement.

            Currently, television shows like True Blood and mainstream paranormals like Kim Harrison’s Hollows series feature Vampires and Weres who are seeking equality with the humans around them. Many of the BSB paranormal releases (most notably The Midnight Hunt and Witch Wolf) also take up this theme, and we plan to treat it extensively in the fourth book of the everafter series, titled sunfall. In our books, and in the paranormals written by many of our colleagues, the predominant form of “queerness” is not sexuality, but species. Writing a paranormal romance, mystery, or thriller allows us as queer authors to craft thought experiments about the present and future of our community’s battles, even as we simultaneously invite readers of all identities to pause and reflect on what it means to be queer.

            Fundamentally, paranormal stories are about community-formation, identity politics, and the struggle to come out—to emerge from the shadows and be recognized as separate but equal. We invite you all, whether you’ve never read a vampire story or you dress like one each Halloween, to join us as we explore these themes that rest at the very heart of the LGBT individual’s daily struggles.

It Gets Better

Bold Strokes Books authors Lee Lynch, Nell Stark, and Kim Baldwin each have a message for GLBTQ youth:



It Takes a Village: Behind the Scenes at BSB

It indeed takes a ton of folks to produce the quality books you’ve come to expect from Bold Strokes Books. Meet one of the villagers: the amazing, hard-working Connie Ward, BSB publicist.

Quad Shot: Lea Santos and the Four Book Triology

This summer brought four hot new romances from Bold Strokes Books author Lea Santos: Little White Lie, Under Her Skin, Picture Imperfect, and Playing the Player. Tune in to get the inside scoop on these captivating romances.

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