Monday, April 13, 2015

World Building: Who's In Charge?

I’m continuing my thoughts on building the world your characters inhabit. Although this blogsite is geared toward paranormal romance, which includes science fiction romance, all of our stories are set in a certain world. Whether your story takes place in the past, the present, or the future, you will build a world. If your story is set in the Regency time period, you’ll need to consider the politics and customs of the time. Same with a story set in a post-apocalyptic era. Who is governing? Is anyone in charge?

I am a plantser—a combo pantser and plotter. Mostly I write by the seat of my pants, but I do (eventually) have to plot. Since I just plunge in and start writing, I don’t even think about government. But, like plotting, eventually I have to. While writing my Outer Rim series, I had to consider who maintains the peace on out the Frontier. My stories take place far from the “civilized” planets. Some things I had to consider are: is there a sheriff in the settlements? A mayor? Or does chaos reign? Is it survival of the toughest? Or has the central government sent out security forces to maintain law and order? If so, why?

Usually, we start out thinking about the microcosm surrounding our characters. If the bad guys beat up the hero, is there a recourse or does he have to resort to revenge? Are there authorities he can go to who will arrest the baddies? Are the authorities reliable or corrupt? Are there laws in place to protect the innocent? Who made the laws? All things we take for granted in the present day. Considering the stories in the news, we have much to think about that could influence our stories.

In science fiction, we tend to think broader than just the outpost, village, or city where our characters live. What type of government exists on the planet? Or is it like Earth today with multiple governing bodies of differing types? Is the government a representative type, a monarchy, a dictatorship, a confederation? Think the United Federation of Planets (Star Trek) or the Empire (Star Wars). How does that world impact our stories?

Just like with the background of the characters, you need to know everything about your world. The reader doesn’t. If you’re writing a series or a group of stories loosely connected, that world may evolve. In the majority of the Star Trek television shows and movies, we know a bunch of planets have joined together into a confederation. Knowing how this came about isn’t necessary for the episodes or movies. It’s just there. The exception is in the series “Enterprise,” which focused on the early days of space exploration and the formation of the Federation.

In your story, you get to decide what to focus on. And how much the reader needs to know. Like salt in food, use a light hand.

Diane Burton writes science fiction romance, as well as romantic suspense and mysteries. From a resort town on Lake Michigan to the Frontier of space, her characters occupy a variety of worlds. She’s currently writing the third book in her Outer Rim series. FMI, visit her website:

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Discover the #Wolves of Willow Bend! Bayou Wolf is here


The rise of so many lone wolves into a prospective sixth pack brings the Alphas of all the North American packs to Willow Bend for a summit. Having so many powerful dominants in one place invites challenges and hazards. No protocol can be ignored and none feels the strain more than Lincoln Buckley. He’s been charged by his Alpha to act as liaison for the Delta Crescent Alpha—the fierce and wildly beautiful Serafina Andre.

Serafina stands apart from her ‘fellow’ Alphas. As the only female to hold sway over a North American pack, she only has Delta Crescent’s interests in mind. She expects challenges from the other male Alphas, dominants all, due to their need to protect females. It doesn’t surprise her in the least to find out the wolf assigned as her liaison has also been tasked with her protection. What does startle her is the depth of her interest in him.

An Alpha doesn’t submit, no matter how much the woman in her might crave him. Her pack must come first, especially since what Willow Bend proposes is insanity…

Read the first chapter!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Why I love flashing! I mean writing flash fiction...

Spring time has me thinking of new beginnings. When I started to focus on my writing I wrote a lot of Flash Fiction. Writing a tight, complete story in about 500 words is a great way to practice honing your craft...and fun! 
With the warmer weather approaching, my thoughts also drift to the gardens my father and father in law plant and my favorite thing- garden tomatoes. 
Speaking of spring, tomatoes and stories, here's an old flash fiction story of mine that I thought I'd share. 

                                                   Secret Garden

“More lemonade, Grams?” LuAnn plucked up the glass and rolled its cool condensation across her temple. “Whew, what a scorcher.”
Grams pushed her bifocals up the slick bridge of her nose. “Good for the tomatoes.”
LuAnn glanced at the new sign above the door advertising Grams Pasta Sauce, and smiled. “You’ve had a good season.” She kissed Grams weathered cheek. “I’ve been worried about you, without Grandpa.”
“The Lord provides.” Grams fanned herself, then smiled a toothless grin while biting into a tomato with gusto. Rivulets of juice streamed down her chin. 
LuAnn eyed the jars lining the table. “Will you ever tell me your new secret ingredient?”
 “Some secrets are best kept buried.” Grams swatted a mosquito. “Besides, sauce is in our blood, child.”
The screen door ushered LuAnn into the house, slamming her behind as she carried the glasses in. The whirling ceiling fan moved the stagnant air. LuAnn squinted out the window at the rows of tomatoes. Again, the sunlight glinted on something.
“Hey Gram, whatcha’ got in the garden? Something to scare off the rabbits?” LuAnn went out the back and was engulfed in the thick air, filled with the cicadas’ songs and the babbling of the creek. Squatting down, she dug into the moist dirt. 
“What is that, a coin?” LuAnn’s hand brushed against the offending item. She shielded her eyes from the glare as the sun struck it. 
“They say time heals all wounds,” Grams said. 
LuAnn startled and fell onto her buttocks, dislodging a mound of dirt.
“Now, I don’t necessarily believe that’s true.” Grams lowered onto the wooden stool near the garden and rolled her knee high stocking down.
LuAnn’s mouth gaped at Grams exposed leg, which sported a plethora of scars.  “What—”
Grams dropped the skirt and clutched a hoe to hoist herself up. “Oh that’s nothin’.” She waved her hand at LuAnn. “Don’t you worry yourself, child. I told ya, the Lord provides.” Nodding, she ran her hand along the hoe. “He provided me with this hoe and this bountiful garden.”
“Every time I got a lashing, I just planted me another tomato plant, um-hmm.”  Grams turned and hobbled back to the house.
LuAnn started to push herself up, and then saw it. Amongst the green stalks, a decomposing finger erupted from the earth. The gold wedding band encircled the bone.
LuAnn’s eyes widened and she scuttled back on all fours. “Grandpa,” she whispered. A black beetle scurried across the band, tiny tentacles twitching.
LuAnn suppressed her rising nausea with her palm while stumbling to her feet.  Frantically, she brushed off the clinging dirt. She cringed as a crow cawed, following its’ flight path across the vast acres of tomato plants.
Her breathing slowed. Her muscles relaxed.
“Here’s your lemonade, Grams,” LuAnn said, settling into a rocker. 
“Still wanna know the secret ingredient?” Grams rocking slowed.

“Nah.” LuAnn met Grams gaze. “Like you said, sauce is in our blood.”

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Penning stories boasting laughter, light suspense and something magical in the hope of sharing  her love of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary world.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Statues...They aren't just for museums anymore

"London. Hyde Park Corner" by Lars (Lon) Olsson -
Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via
Wikimedia Commons -
When I sat down to write the follow up to my short story, Soft Marble, I knew I had gods to worry about. I did. In Soft Bronze, the main character is a god entombed in bronze. He's not much different than the statues I've chosen on this page. Well, maybe a little different. He's a guy and the ones below are girls, but you get the idea. 

Now I said in the title that statues weren't for museums any longer. None of the statues I chose were from museums. They're from parks and churches. But I meant my statue and that bronze coming to life. It's crazy. Statues coming to life? Really?

I didn't think it could be possible. Well, other than the living statues like the ones in New York and Las Vegas. I don't know how those people can hold still that long, let alone in some of those crazy poses. I couldn't do it, but those who know me know I can't sit still at all. 

If you could be a statue, which would you be? A David? A woman in a fantastic gown? A fairy? Gnome? I'd love to know. Me? I'd be one of those sleeping statues, the kind that's in wet drapery, buxom and sleeping near a park or grave. I don't know what it is about those, but I think they're beautiful. Guess I'm odd. Or I'm looking at them as to how I can work them into a story. Grin. 
"Scuola senese, vergine annunciata, 1410 ca."
by Sienese School - Own work Sailko Taken on 11 October 2013.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

"Aurora-Summer Garden-Saint Petersburg" by Giovanni Bonazza -
Own work, Yair Haklai, 2008-08-23. Licensed under
CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
Check out a little bit about my latest paranormal story, Soft Bronze. Out now where ebooks are sold. 

Soft Bronze by Megan Slayer  

Short Story (Quickie)
Paranormal, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
M/M, Anal Sex
Ellora’s Cave

Sequel to Soft Marble

Zelus, the god of jealousy, has been imprisoned in solid bronze for the last two millennia. A simple kiss can break the spell and free him from the metal—if his lover is willing to believe.

Camden Crowe isn’t a specialist in ancient artifacts, but he does know how to guard them. He spends his days working as a security guard in charge of keeping the bronze statue of Zelus safe. He can’t contain his attraction to the nude god. What will happen when the security geek finds out he’s stronger than he ever believed and can harness the power of the gods?

Reader Advisory: This story has graphic sexual language and scenes—no closed bedroom doors (or other rooms) here!

A Romantica® male/male erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave


©Megan Slayer, 2015, All Rights Reserved

“What a shame. They should pack you in something better than straw. You should have the best. Respect.” He touched Zelus’ cheek. The bronze had taken on a dark patina over the years and hid the metal’s natural beauty. He knew better than to expect the statue to come to life. Fairy tales and magic only happened in books. Life wasn’t a book. Still, he wondered what the god might have looked like if he were a real man. Dark hair with a bit of curl and body…sparkling eyes—blue maybe…or would they be brown? He figured the real man would have a brilliant smile guaranteed to make everyone melt to his will. He longed to run his fingers through the statue’s expertly sculpted hair and over every muscle of the man’s body until he came to Zelus’ cock. He sucked in a long breath. The man was packing. Most ancient statues weren’t so endowed. Either the artist really liked Zelus or he’d fashioned the dick after someone he knew. Each ridge and vein were expertly defined. The cock looked so realistic. Kudos to the artist for his work.
Camden chuckled. He had to be out of his mind, fantasizing about a statue. Maybe old Gus was right. He was screwed up. Actually, it didn’t matter if he was a little different. He didn’t care. He liked the statue and he wasn’t ready to let it go.
“I’ll visit you.” He touched his lips, then the lips of the statue. A wild idea popped into his head. The next time he’d see the statue, it would be on display surrounded by palm trees or even worse, dressed in crappy touristy clothes. If he kissed the bronze, no one would know or probably care. He leaned into the crate and pressed his mouth to the mouth of the statue. His entire body warmed. The erection from before came back stronger. He moaned, then broke the kiss. A lip-lock with the statue turned him on. The metal didn’t taste like metal…more like the salty sweat of a hardworking man. Even the texture wasn’t right. The lips felt softer, like an actual person, and seemed to be kissing him back. Christ, he needed to get out more and stop allowing his imagination to get away from him.

“I wish you were real.” Camden smiled, then left the statue. He knew better than to expect his dreams to come true, but his soul yearned for a man like the one portrayed in the bronze. He’d fallen in love with the statue.

* * * * *
Megan Slayer - It's Always Fun to Squirm

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hitting Your Stride in that Race to the Finish(ed Book)

by Nancy Gideon

When I was in high school, I used to time laps for the boys track team after school (cute guys in shorty shorts – a dirty job . . .). The goal was to keep the pace steady for the long haul and finish strong. The long distance runners in the mile and two mile would establish a ‘zone’ where external distractions fell away (things like crowd noise and fatigue), where nothing existed except their own internal rhythm that would carry them to the finish line. Yeah, writing is like that, too.

Don’t you love it when the W-I-P that you’ve been fighting with suddenly hits its stride?

After false starts, shin splints and stumbles, I’ve finally hit my stride in my W-I-P UNLEASHED BY SHADOWS, the 10th book in my “By Moonlight” dark paranormal series. Instead of moaning and groaning each morning as I turn on the computer, I’ve stretched and shaken it out and am ready to run at the first blink of the cursor. My only wish is that I had time for a long distance run each morning before work instead of just a quick dash.

Here’s a sneak peek . . .

The well-dressed crowd pushed as close as they dared, high on the adrenalin thrill and raw violence. Anticipation electrified the air, a pheromone compliment to the blood already shed. Even knowing what they were about to see, having experienced the jolt, the shock, the wild intoxication of it during the first two rounds, the concept was still unique enough to spike feverish excitement. The illegal factor brought some. The chance of watching mortal combat enticed others. But the whisper, just the glimmer of possibility that what they were seeing wasn’t staged reeled them and their fat wallets in and held them captive.

Lights in the dressage ring went dim, bringing those in the bleachers to their feet so they could see over the mob straining against the fence. A deafening cry rose from the spectators as spotlights swirled and finally fixed upon two massive figures loping out into the center of the ring. Breaths caught in amazement as light glinted off the feral red of their eyes and glittered in the strings of drool threading off ferocious fangs. The hunched shoulders, thick with muscle, matted with bristling hair, claw-tipped hands curled and ready to shred anything within reach belonged in a Sy-Fy movie or circus freak show. Animals, monstrous and dangerous . . . at first glance. Until amazed eyes traveled down those heaving chests to Wrangler jeans and work boots still mudded from the docks.

Not animals. But not men, either.

Was it just amazing theater presented for the exclusive few? The audience didn’t care. The carnage was genuine. The chance to wager and win big real.

The pair paused instead rushing forward to lock in battle. Waiting. The arena grew quiet as shaggy heads lifted to test the thick air as if the heavy breeze conveyed an unsettling message. They began to growl and weave warily, not liking what they scented. The spectators stained to see.

But the figure striding boldly into the ring to meet the two behemoths wasn’t fierce or frightening in look or attitude. The cocky strut, the taunting grin, the sleek gleam of tanned flesh on brawny arms. Just a man?

The beasts drew back in confusion, looking toward handlers who stood in the shadows, not sure what to do when confronted with such a vulnerable opponent. But the slight figure showed no hesitation as he flung fists high as the first hard rocking chords of “Fire Your Guns” shattered the humid air.

Chanting started small and built like a squall out on the Gulf, rolling in louder and louder.

“Gunslinger! Gunslinger!”

The fighter responded to their cries with a sudden echoing roar. His hands gripped the front of his tee shirt as his head fell back, and he was lost within a flash of dazzling light. And when blinking eyes adjusted, they went wide to see standing in the small human’s stead a creature covered in a thick red-gold pelt, lupine features lifted in a savage howl.

Right. Before. Their. Eyes.

Same clothing. Same black armband. Same widely planted stance. As if he’d transformed from man to beast right in front of them!

And the audience went wild.

UNLEASHED BY SHADOWS picks up where REMEMBERED BY MOONLIGHT left off, right in the middle of the action. If I keep up my pace, I should have it ready to read in late summer. Though it can be read on its own, its more exciting as part of a relay race with the books that come before it. If you start now, you should be able to hand off the baton to a book that’s ready to run strong and finish hot.

Happy reading and enjoy the race!!

Nancy Gideon on the Web

Sunday, March 22, 2015

It's spring! JK LOLOL

By Stephanie Beck

Last week we had a day in the 60' was magical. I put away the family snow pants and boots, and reduced the hat and mitten selection to the lighter styles, perfect for the cool mornings when the kids walked to school. We opened the windows, turned off the heat, and let the outside air in!

What the heck was I thinking?

My family lives in Minnesota. I know better than to put things away before April. Heck, we've even had snow into May--for real. It was terrible, and the following week we had the sprinkler on and kids in swimming suits.

So why did I jump at the first sign of spring? Because I wanted to. Because I need to after the long, cold winter. I think most people living in the northern states would agree with me. There's something special about that first big breath of fresh air that doesn't hurt when you breathe it in. It goes straight to your head. I know it did for me. And tomorrow it is supposed to snow. Blurg. Snow. Accumulating snow at that.

Oh wells. We'll survive just fine. And the sunshine and spring will come for real one of these first days, and when it does, me and my ultra white legs are going to be out to enjoy it.

All the best,
Stephanie Beck

Stuck inside? Grab a book! Starlight Cowboy is out of this world!

From the storybook of the stars.
A groundbreaking mission to the moons of Jupiter should have been Annalina's big ticket for advancement, but instead of captaining her own ship, she's second fiddle to Shields Albright.

Playboy, adventurer, immature.
Shields has been called it all, but really, he just wants to fly and hasn’t spent a lot of time on his social skills. Mutual attraction grows as the walls of the space ship close in, and they come to an arrangement that satisfies them both, while allowing them professional distance. The distance doesn’t last, not as they grow to understand themselves…and each other as someone who just fits.

Not all is as it should be among the stars.
Their ship is attacked, and the moons of Jupiter are not exactly untouched when they finally arrive. The little world they’ve built high above terra firma is about to smack down in the middle of a dangerous, maybe even deadly, reality. If Shields didn't attract trouble like fireflies on a bug zapper, the two might have an actual shot at true love.

Buy Now: Amazon


Friday, March 13, 2015

World Building: Religion in Science Fiction

by Diane Burton

This is the third time I’ve blogged here about smaller aspects of world building. Previously, I wrote about transportation and aliens.

I learned a long time ago that there are two subjects to avoid in social settings if you value peace—religion and politics. However, both have a place in world building, especially in science fiction. I’m tackling religion today. If you all don’t tar and feather me and run me out of town, I’ll be back next month to talk about politics.

Here on Earth, many inhabitants recognize a supreme being and a place of reward or punishment after we die. It’s evident in our speech, often as exclamations. Oh, God. Heavens! By God. Hell. So it will be in our stories. Think about your characters and the world they inhabit. Did their ancestors come from Earth? If so, their speech will contain many common expressions. If their origins are from somewhere else in the universe, think about how religion plays into their speech. Even more so, their lives.

I’ve been watching episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. One group of people, the Bajorans, revere The Prophets who play a large part in their lives. They believe The Prophets speak to them through others, guide them, even influence their political leaders. Consequently, the conflict between religion and duty to the Federation has played heavily in several episodes. In your world, what part does religion play, if any?

Something else to consider is whether everyone in the world you created believes the same. We don’t here on Earth so why should the inhabitants of a single planet? Unless there’s a “state” religion. Does everyone truly believe or are there dissidents who rebel against a forced state religion? Remember the Pilgrims?

Consider if your characters come from different planets, like the world I’ve built in my Outer Rim series. Since my characters either come from different planets or their immediate ancestors did, their religion-based exclamations aren’t be the same. (It sure would be easier if they were.) In The Pilot, my main characters grew up on three different planets with three different types of religion. I had to develop substitutes for “By God” (for instance) for all three. I used “By the Divine One” for the hero; “By the Matriarch’s left tit” for his buddy; and “By the Spirits” for the heroine. Those exclamations tell you a bit about who or what they worship or revere. The hero’s planet believes in a single supreme being they call the Divine One. No gender implied. On the heroine’s planet, the people revere the spirits of their ancestors. Then there’s the buddy with his irreverent exclamation. (Normally the expression is “By the Matriarch” but he was in crisis mode dodging asteroids.) On his homeworld, a female entity is venerated. Since I stay away from discussion of religious differences in my own social world, I don’t get on a soapbox in my writing either. I try to use a light touch.

Obviously, how the characters speak is a minor aspect of world building. But it was one thing my first editor impressed on me. They’re aliens, she said. They wouldn’t speak as we do. I learned my lesson. Maybe too well.
Available at Amazon ~ B&N ~ iTunes ~ Kobo

There’s no place like home . . . and he just confiscated hers.

Sparks fly around the Outer Rim when rule-bound Administrator Trevarr Jovano clashes with free-spirited space pilot Celara d'Enfaden. She must deliver her cargo or lose her ship to a loanshark. Having lost her last shipment to pirates masquerading as Coalition Inspectors, Celara refuses to be duped again. Determined to make an example of those who flaunt the law, Trevarr seizes her ship. Yet, they must work together to rescue her brother and find his wife's murderer.

Diane Burton is the author of two science fiction romance series, Switched and The Outer Rim. Currently she is working on the third book in The Outer Rim series about strong women on the frontier of space. Diane is a regular contributor here on the 13th of the month, on The Roses of Prose on the 8th and 30th, and every Monday on her own blog:


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