What If the Apple from the Garden of Eden Survived?

garden of eden legend, paradise fruit,The legend of the Paradise fruit is only briefly mentioned in my novel, Desert Devil. It’s not explored in the book, but the tale fascinates me. I can imagine it being told for millennia over campfires in the desert wilderness, in isolated military outposts, and in bustling bazaars between sips of sweet mint tea.

A good story never grows old, and it raises as many questions as it answers.

How did Eve smuggle three fruits from the Garden of Eden? How small were the apples if she wove them into her hair, as one tale has it?

To whom did Eve give the fruits of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Were they the reason Cain and Abel fought, and Abel died?

Did Solomon really eat one of the fruits, and then, command the army of the djinn? Did Alexander the Great die in trying to eat one of the fruits?

And finally, is it true that the wizard who created the hidden valley of Shangri-la planted one pip from a Paradise fruit, and the tree that grew from it hides the entrance to the valley to this day?

Unfortunately, as far as I know, the legend of the Paradise fruits being smuggled out of Eden is one I made up. So, the good and bad bit of that is that we’re free to make up our own answers to these questions.

Making up legends is one of my favourite parts of writing speculative fiction. I start with a real world topic that fascinates me – like the history of the Silk Roads – then I start imagining the possibilities.

Do you have a favourite legend or fairytale? Is there a legend that you think ought to exist?

Desert Devil is out August 10, 2017

The Seven Tropes of Paranormal Romance

I read a LOT of paranormal romance. I also write it. So I’m sitting here at the keyboard trying to boil it down into seven tropes: the seven things that aren’t so much over-used as instantly recognisable and definitive of the subgenre. Or to put it another way: what do I like to see in a paranormal romance novel?

Kick Ass Heroine

Right from the start, even if she’s in a Cinderella role, I want to see strength in the heroine. What does she believe in? What will she fight for?

Magic Won’t Solve the Problem

The fun of paranormal romance is, in a large part, the imaginative worlds authors create. How does some form of magic or “otherness” make the world of the book different to our everyday lives? However, as mind-boggling as the magical world is, magic can’t solve all problems. Human resourcefulness and the heroine’s emotional journey must contribute to saving the day.

A Man of Mystery

Part of the heroine’s (and reader’s) journey of discovery must include the hero. Who is he really? What secret is he hiding? Why can’t we guess what he’ll do next?

Who Has the Map?

We’re all going on a quest. It might be to solve a murder or to save the day, but there’s a quest underway. There’ll be setbacks and, hopefully, unforeseen twists. The stakes get progressively higher.

Don’t Die Laughing

Humour lurks in paranormal romance. Sometimes it’s subtle and rueful. Other times it is loud and snarky. As the tension ratchets up, someone crack a joke!

Find the Touchstone

The worlds of paranormal romance are many and varied, but as we quest here and there, we have to stumble over a touchstone or two. Somewhere in the thickets of magic is the truth. As readers, we recognise some soul truth. So does our heroine, and it changes her. It goes back to the first kick ass question: what (or who) is worth fighting for?

And We All Live Happily Ever After

Whatever happens in a paranormal romance novel, it is a ROMANCE. There has to be a happy ending, or a happy for now ending. Better make it believable, too. The world may be magical, but human hearts remain the same, and we want our hero and heroine to have a solid chance at happiness.

You see, at their core, paranormal romance novels are about fighting impossible odds in incredible settings with unusual sidekicks out of the hope that somehow we (like the heroine) can make a difference in life.

What do you expect to see in a paranormal romance novel?

 

phoenix blood, jenny schwartz, pnr, paranormal romance, kindle unlimited,

Phoenix Blood is 99c or free in Kindle Unlimited. Magic condemned him, but before he dies, he’ll save the woman whose heart he broke. Magic, mystery, a fledgling phoenix and a once-in-a-lifetime road trip.

Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Phoenix-Blood-Old-School-Book-ebook/dp/B01M0DLOKL/ 

Dreaming of Unicorns

CONTEST CLOSED!! Winner is KateS who’d love to meet Pegasus! I wish I could arrange it for you 🙂 I’m sending you an email to arrange the giftcard delivery.

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest. I wish we could all meet our favourite mythological creatures. I really enjoyed reading your varied responses – dragons, unicorns and all the rest.

 

To celebrate the release of my latest paranormal romance, Fantastical Island (99c for a short time, FREE in Kindle Unlimited), I’m offering a $100 Amazon (.com) giftcard for one lucky winner. For your chance to win, simply comment on this post with the name of the mythological creature you’d like to meet. It can be something sexy like a werewolf (well, I think they’re sexy) or unique like a baku (there’s a baku in Fantastical Island). Have fun!

Random.org will be used to select a winner. The contest runs February 21-28, 2017. Good luck!

fantastical island, jenny schwartz, kindle unlimited, paranormal romance,

Someone is hunting the fantastical creatures of Catalina Island.

When a magical amulet gives marine biologist Naomi Twain the power to see through glamours it plunges her into a world of danger and intrigue. Fantastical creatures are everywhere, but hidden, on Catalina Island—and someone is hunting them, putting at risk a unique, magical ecosystem.

Corey Madrigal is bathing a behemi, a flying miniature pig, when Naomi crashes into his life. With a natural talent for seeing through glamours, he feels a responsibility to the creatures of his island home, creatures who were the friends of his childhood. Now, he’s a Hollywood special effects artist, and he’s going to be an amazing ally for Naomi in her quest to capture the hunters of the island’s fantastical creatures.

But the hunters have their own agenda.

And then, there’s the ghost…

Intense danger, wild storms, and passionate loyalties put to the test. Fantastical Island is a stand-alone adventure in the Old School series.

Fantastical Island is 99c for a short time, or FREE to read in Kindle Unlimited. Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Fantastical-Island-Old-School-Book-ebook/dp/B01N56RZ7Z/

Good luck in the contest! I’m genuinely curious which fantastical creatures people want to meet.

New Release – Alchemy Shift

Alchemy Shift, jenny Schwartz, paranormal romance, bear shifter, kindle unlimitedI’m releasing Alchemy Shift a tad earlier than the intended date of October 27 because I just couldn’t wait! Jet Walsh is an adorable hero. The action is fast and intense, and the emotions … sigh. Such an enjoyable book to write. Delphi and her family made me want to move to Queens!

Alchemy Shift will be 99c for a couple of weeks, so grab your copy today and tell your friends 🙂 As always, reviews are HUGELY appreciated. I’m never sure whether it’s polite or rude to thank people individually for their reviews, so I tend not to for fear of being intrusive. But I do thank you. Sincerely.

You’ll find the blurb and an excerpt from Alchemy Shift below. Also, I had a technical hiccup putting this newsletter together. I think you may have seen the draft of a different newsletter by mistake – does “The Crocodile Virgin” ring any bells? Yeah. That was meant to be a surprise. I’m such a klutz with technical things. The Alchemy Shift excerpt in that newsletter is the one that I’ve copied below. Just so you know and don’t wonder if you’re having a deja vu moment.

Blurb

A woman, her sword, and the bear-shifter who’ll steal her heart.

Delphi Cosmatos is an alchemist. She investigates the strange and magical objects that find their way to Collegium headquarters in New York. She has magic—and a big Greek family, all ready to “help” her (they mean, interfere). When Jet Walsh moves in next door with no family except the two young orphaned cousins he’s responsible for, it’s a situation of opposites attracting, especially since Jet is a bear-shifter.

But Jet can’t pursue a romantic relationship. He’s tracking the rogue mage who tortured and killed his cousins’ mom. Banned spells are being trafficked across the world and the center of the trade is New York.

Delphi knew her city was dangerous, but now her heart is in danger, too. Jet doesn’t have magic, yet he’s tangling with a powerful, ruthless mage. If she wants to save her man, she’ll need all the help she can get. No! Not from her family. Stashed in the evidence bunker at Collegium headquarters is the legendary sword Excalibur, and Delphi is just the woman to wield it. Maybe.

Excerpt from Alchemy Shift

Jet got home about 11 p.m. and he was too tired, and too heartsick, to notice that he thought of Delphi’s house as home. All he knew was that he needed to see Tony and Grace, to see for himself that they were safe, and that the thought of Delphi was a welcome one.

He let himself in quietly, using the front door since it seemed less of an intrusion than the back one. Lights were on in the living room and he heard the low babble of a television. “It’s just me,” he called.

“Hi, me.” Delphi’s voice was soft but cheerful. She muted the television as he walked into the living room, twisting around from where she was curled up on the sofa. On screen, an old black and white movie played.

He could smell hot chocolate. “I should check on the kids.”

“They were asleep by eight. Worn out by the day, I think.”

“That’s good.” He wasn’t used to coming back from a crime scene to a real home. He gestured vaguely at the stairs, and she nodded, turning back to the television. The thought of sitting with her on that cozy sofa teased him as he climbed the stairs. The romantic music of the old movie sang of love and happiness. But that was off the agenda.

The glow of a nightlight shone from the kids’ room. Jet entered silently. The kids, especially Tony, had a tendency to wake at the slightest noise. It was a habit born of fear, of their uncertain lives with Emma.

If he’d realized…

Families drifted apart. He and Emma hadn’t grown up together. They hadn’t been close. Excuses. He scowled at his own dark thoughts. If his mom had been alive, she would have checked on Emma and the two vulnerable children. He couldn’t change the past, but he’d make sure of the kids’ future.

He’d make sure they had a future.

Tony was asleep in the top bunk.

Jet tucked the blankets more securely over the boy’s skinny shoulders.

In the lower bunk, Grace slept deeply, her arm around the orange teddy bear he’d given her at their first meeting. He hoped it would keep the nightmares away for her.

He had his own. New ones after what he’d seen tonight. There’d been no way to slip into the crime scene, but Perez had shown him photos.

Jet scrubbed a hand over his face. The photos had been bad and they’d brought back the memory of seeing Emma’s body. He’d had to put all of that aside and cast around for a scent, for some hint of the man who’d done this; who’d left the boy’s body.

“Two men.” Perez had been able to study the crime scene before the police response trampled it, obliterating scent trails. “One smelled of cloves.”

Cloves. A strong scent to hide the copper stink of blood as he murdered and mutilated? Or, did the killer have toothache? Clove oil was the traditional remedy, numbing tooth pain.

Not that the killer spared his victims pain. Although this time Perez said the child had been killed swiftly, without torture or sacrifice. Unlike Tony and Grace’s mom.

Jet had cast around for the scent of cloves, ignoring the police who watched him, and tracked it a block. One block, then it vanished. The killer must have had a car waiting since the scent vanished utterly. He’d reported the information to Perez who had the power to seize any security camera footage of the street. However, the killer had likely parked where he was unobserved.

That, or the killer had used magic to ensure he was unobserved.

There were spells that obscured technological surveillance and the killer had the magic to use them.

As a were, Jet lacked magic, but he had allies.

Perhaps those allies were a tad reluctant, but they had magic and that was enough for Jet. He’d called and Martin had reluctantly crossed town to check the crime scene.

“Nothing,” had been Martin’s conclusion. “The boy must have died before they could sacrifice him.”

“Can’t you get anything?” Jet had pushed.

“There’s no death magic, here,” Martin had snapped and gone home.

Jet rolled his shoulders. Tomorrow, he’d start again. That’s what investigating required. You followed each path as far as it would go, homing in on the answers. Only, this time he was in danger of being too impatient. Delphi’s mom hadn’t been wrong to warn against involving the personal element. However, one glance at Tony and Grace sleeping in Delphi’s guest room confirmed that he had no choice. The monster he hunted had to be caught.

He joined Delphi in the living room as the credits rolled on the old movie.
She switched off the television and looked across at him as he sat down in an armchair. “Do you want a drink, something to eat?”

“No, thanks.”

“To talk or be silent?”

He smiled then, faintly. “The daughter of a cop.”

“And the sister of one.” She understood. Sometimes the only way to help was to be there.

“Silence.”

“Do you mind the television?”

“No.”

She switched it back on, found a late night chat show, and they listened to its inanities.

Beneath the television’s noise, he could hear her heartbeat. He hadn’t realized that he’d slipped into his were senses. He could smell her scent, feminine and vital, and the tuna casserole she must have made for dinner. He slipped back into human senses, letting that other self fade. It wouldn’t help him to be too aware of her. This house, a haven of normality, wasn’t his, although he’d try to create something like it for Tony and Grace.

Nor was his attraction to Delphi one he should indulge. Already he felt too comfortable with her. It wasn’t her house or her competence or anything concrete: it was his sense that he belonged with her, that was dangerous.
“Bed for me.” She offered him the television remote.

He shook his head, surprised to see that twenty minutes had passed while he simply relaxed into being with her. “I’ll go up, too.” He needed to sleep. Tomorrow would be an early start and all the days after it. He stretched hugely. “Good night.”

“Good night.” She fussed with the cushions she’d been leaning against and folded up the blanket she’d been curled under.

Belatedly, he realized she was delaying so that they wouldn’t walk up the stairs to bed together. He moved away abruptly, taking the stairs two at a time, and leaving tempting dreams behind.

Alchemy Shift, Jenny Schwartz, paranormal romance thriller, kindle unlimited

Buy Alchemy Shift for 99c – a limited time offer.

 

Superstitions. Modern Magic. Tempting Fate.

Superstitions

I’ve been thinking about superstitions because I’m wondering if one of the heroine’s of my 2017 series, Old School, is going to have some superstitions in her life. It made me question if I have any.

superstitions, kindle unlimited, paranormal romance, Jenny Schwartz,At first, I would have given a definite “no”. I once owned (or was owned by) a black cat. I walk under ladders (or more usually widely around them since I’m a klutz and I don’t want to knock anyone off a ladder). I never throw salt over my shoulder or worry about Friday the thirteenth. But then I remembered … I have superstitions about tempting fate.

If I’m talking about things going well, I tend to either say or do “touch wood”. Or I simply won’t talk about something that’s sailing along (like a story I’m writing that is awesome in its characters and plot twists) for fear of “jinxing” it.

So, while I’m okay opening umbrellas inside and breaking a mirror only annoys me because then I have to clean up the mess, I find that I am superstitious. How about you? Do you have any superstitions in your life?

Modern Magic

I don’t practice magic, so this isn’t literally about magic, but about how magical thinking is adapting to our computer age. When I talk about algos (the algorithms that rule our life – they’re the things that Facebook uses to decide which posts from our friends we see) I could be talking about magic. I have no idea how they work, but I’m superstitiously convinced that they have to be appeased.

For instance, I won’t type the word -s-pa-m- for fear it summons it! Similarly, I have a gizmo-thingie on this website that scores me on how well I’m writing this post. I suspect the score is a load of rubbish, but I still bow down before it in the hopes of magically writing a post that Google searches then show to everyone!

So any time we’re uncertain, magical thinking rushes in to fill the gap. In a world of chaos and change, we try to impose order.

Fighting Fate

I don’t believe our destinies are fixed. I think we have the power to change our lives and others’. For me, superstitions are defensive. We’re cowering before Fate, trying to avoid the worst times.

We need to take the fight to Fate.

And this is why I love reading fiction. Fiction tends to be quest stories where characters charge into battle (real or emotional) and us readers run with them. In the safety of fictional universes we experience the power and price of challenging destiny. I hope that every fictional happy-ever-after makes us a little more willing, or confident, that we can seize happiness, too.

Hats & Magpies
hat, jenny schwartz,
I was going to model it, but my hair is a mess & I have panda eyes from hayfever. Not my best look!

I’ve bought myself a new hat! Isn’t it stylish? Spring is here and I intend to walk around the neighbourhood as the weather warms despite … do you have birds that swoop people where you are? Everyone talks about Australia’s dangerous snakes and spiders, but our Australian magpies can be vicious, too. I’ve had one swoop, strike me, and draw blood – and it’s currently nesting season! Danger!Danger! Hence, the sturdy new hat. (And for those of you who think I’m exaggerating, magpies really are dangerous).

magpies, superstitions, Jenny Schwartz,I’ll leave you with one final superstition, from England, concerning magpies:

One for sorrow,
Two for mirth,
Three for a funeral
And four for birth.  (Wikipedia)

Or as I prefer:

Don’t bother counting, just run!

Wildflowers from Space!

P.S. I’m not sure I believe it, but the exaggerated claim is that the spectacular wildflowers I mentioned a couple of weeks ago are visible from space. Whatever the case, my home state sure knows how to put on a show 🙂