Thursday, April 25, 2019

Take A Hike! by Nancy Gideon

Another holiday weekend with table groaning under the weight of awesome food. Not that I’m complaining about that 11-lb brown sugar ham I baked (and the month of ham sliders it will provide!) or the decadent designer cupcakes from our local Bake ‘n Cakes and bags of Eastro naughtiness wrapped in foil the cats will be chasing under the furniture for the next two years, because this year we were additionally blessed with fabulous weather – 70-degree loveliness that coaxed us out onto the sidewalk with our senior dog to tour the neighborhood in the long and enjoyable walk that settled the meal and made for a more uplifting (and comfortable) remainder of the day. My Fitbit thought it had been stolen!

At my new job, I put in mega-daily miles running up and down stairs and from front to back of our huge office for copies and scanning. Exhausting but surprisingly also invigorating to get that desk chair butt up and moving multiple times an hour. The benefits of this short hike (or rather frantic sprint most of the time) you might ask, one butt-in-chair writer/office assistant to another? Let me tell you . . .

Here are some ways to squeeze more active moments into a busy day – painlessly (c/o Fitbit blog):
  1. Use the bathroom on the other side of the building or on a different floor.
  2. Park farther away from the door.
  3. Take stairs instead of elevator or escalator (easy in our office since the ancient elevator is a death trap!)
  4. Take a brisk bike in addition/instead of a hike to enjoy that spring weather.
  5. Think of your purse or bags as dumbbells and work those biceps as you walk (your Fitbit will love you for it!).
  6. Walk and talk (think West Wing!). My boss does all her conference calls pacing her office space (and she has great calves, btw!).
  7. Listen to an audio book as you book around the neighborhood! (My first published book, SWEET TEMPEST, a Regency-set historical w/a Lauren Giddings, has been reissued on audio! Just saying . . .).
And here are some of the benefits:
  1. Positive brain changes to reduce stress, prevent early dementia and provide low-impact aerobic exercise!
  2. Improves eyesight (and what computer-screen dependent writer doesn’t need that!?) by relieving eye pressure (and may even fight glaucoma!)
  3. Helps prevent heart diseases or stroke by lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol and improving blood circulation!
  4. Increases lung capacity and oxygen flow (and helps with bodily eliminations – bonus!)
  5. Oh, my pancreas! Walking more effective in combating diabetes than running!
  6. Digest this – 30 minutes of walking could not only lower the risk of colon cancer but improves digestion and constipation.
  7. Toned muscles and strong bones. 10,000 daily steps a day counts as a work out in a gym and is low-impact. No sore muscles and reduces pain in joints and inflammation as well as back relief due to increased blood circulation within the spine.
  8. Calms the mind. Enough said there!
To increase the heart rate even more, I’ve got two deals through the end of the month under two different pen names/genres. Both titles feature walks in nature that didn’t exactly end well – but certainly got the cardio going!!

Having fought to meet his upscale family’s expectations, working class city girl Bethany follows her absent husband into the wilderness where a leaky tent, a surly dog and a dangerous situation prove how far she’ll go to keep him. Just $.99!! 

A myth-buster struggling with the nightmares of her past and a hunter tracking an ancient vampire for the government – She doesn’t believe in monsters, he doesn’t trust in fate. Both are about to face death. Just $.99!!

Run, don’t walk to grab up these deals!

Happy Spring reading. And take a hike!

Nancy Gideon on the Web

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Rookie | A New Release from Abigail Owen

Hey Paranormal Romantics!!! I am so excited to share a new book with you. The Rookie is book #2 in my Fire's Edge series featuring dragon shifter enforcers. Check out the excerpt and info below. This book does standalone with its own HEA. But feel free to check out the FREE prequel, The Mate, and book #1, The Boss, as well. :)


Playing with dragons with only get you burned.
To escape exile, Aidan Paytah has had to prove himself worthy. Every second of every damn day. He fought with everything he had to earn his precarious place on the Hurac├ín team of dragon shifter enforcers. He can’t fail or afford distractions, no matter how temptingly sweet. Total loyalty to the clans and dedication to his team is the only way.

Sera Morrison lost her parents and her husband in short order, leaving her a single mother running her family winery alone. Nothing could ever have prepared her for the discovery that she’s a destined dragon mate. But once she finds out, there’s only one man she wants—the one who walks away.

However, the Alliance Council has its own agenda. They want to use her as a political pawn and force a mating that could ultimately kill her to save the High King. Aidan has no choice but to kidnap her, even if it means their close proximity reinforces their own mating bond. And mating with him could end up being a far worse fate for Sera...

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Dead Mail by Francesca Quarto

There's no turning back, not now, not ever.  My training kicked in, as this mantra  pounded through my head, jarring me as badly as the impact of my boots on the hard-packed dirt. I'd already come more than half-way and if the pack of feral dogs, hadn't stopped me, what waited at the end of this road was just another pain in the ass to me.
It didn't start out to be this race against time.  I thought I had plenty of that, when I picked up the heavy duffel bag at three this morning.  It was so dark, I had to use my flashlight to locate the stuffed, canvas bag.  I hated wasting the battery on the search, but I took the opportunity to count how many I had left.  Three.  Only three and my work here would be done!
The building was as quiet as a tomb as the saying goes.  Never was one for using quaint euphemisms.  Thought my command of the language was sufficient to describe something.  But, then again, how do you describe the end of the world?  How can you draw a verbal picture of the demise of civilization?
Yeah, well, that's why I'm doing what I do.  To restore even this small bit of a lost society.  What else can I do in this god-forsaken place. 
The people died in their millions around the globe, some from the all-out insanity of men with itchy fingers, sending nukes sailing off like fallen heroes to Valhalla. The aftermath was probably worse than the explosive concussions the planet took when those speeding crematoriums smacked into Mother Earth.  The poison rains, the permanent winter, a breakdown in all civilized behavior and so on and so on...into plagues, starvation and the loss of hope, in a world suffocating under a radioactive dust cloud.
I woke up from my month-long hibernation, jolted awake when the life-support system shut down. This was to be a test of my ability to sleep in this state, during long journeys to far off planets.  Instead,  I found myself  reborn into the last chapter of this hellish world, fully expecting to find family, friends, colleagues. The bunker-lab was void of all, save me, in my hermetically sealed chamber.
I took the designated elevator to the surface, counting the floors slipping by, until I reached the egress point, one and a half miles later.  When I stepped through the camouflaged exit, I thought it must be midnight.  The world around me looked shattered under the stark glow of my halogen flashlight. The heavy growth ,old forest surrounding the lab, was reduced to charred sticks.  The mountain I was standing on, was devoid of vegetation and I supposed, any life.
I eventually made my way down that dead pile of rock and wandered for months through towns and neighborhoods, empty of any people, living off canned goods I found in cupboards and drinking any bottled water I could scrounge. 
That's when I found the old Post Office in what was once a  thriving city outside of Phoenix.  That's also when I began this, my last career in life, my last profession.  Mail Carrier.
Why not?  It gave me something to do and a purpose in life, what was left of it.  I dedicated my days to studying maps and locating addresses in the surrounding areas.  The pledge of mail carriers, back to the Pony Express Riders, was to overcome all elements and impediments and deliver the mail!  
When I was sufficiently schooled in the layout of the town, I took up my first canvas bag, proud of the US Mail logo emblazoned on the front. It took me a long month to find all the homes and businesses before I emptied that bag. And now, here I am, nearly two years later and there are only three bags to go.  I figure when I finish here, I'll move to the next big town and continue my work as a mailman.  I can't allow this civilized communication lapse. It's the last form of human contact I have, in all this bleak world.  
As a trusted servant of the government, my mail will be delivered and not be consigned to the Dead Mail containers like the people who sent them.
Now to face what lies in wait down this road. From here, they seem to be standing on two legs.  Zoo apes perhaps?

Monday, April 22, 2019

SONG OF THE NILE New Paranormal Romance Release from Veronica Scott

It’s been a while since I was here to talk about ancient Egypt instead of scifi romance! Thanks for having me as your guest once more to share an excerpt from Song of the Nile!

I generally try to write one Egyptian paranormal romance novel per year but 2018 got too and before I knew it we were here in 2019 and I was determined not to lose any more time. (I did release quite a few scifi romances in that time though.)

I’ve been fascinated by ancient Egypt since I was in elementary school and read Mara, Daughter of the Nile, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. At the time it was quite a revelation to me that an author could write a novel set thousands of years ago and make the vanished world so vivid and the people so real. I of course wanted more romance and more magic, which is why I make sure to have the gods directly involved in the plots of my own books.

In 2018 I was able to view the current traveling collection of selected pieces from King Tutankhamun’s tomb and as he lived about 200 years after the time where my novels are set, it was very inspiring. I’ll share some of my photos from the collection here.

The blurb:
Merneith, a harpist of rare talents, blessed by the goddess Hathor, has recently arrived in Thebes and joined Pharaoh’s court, but must hide secrets from her past. As she settles into her new life in the palace, the one man she can’t forget and followed to Thebes is unaccountably absent.

Nikare, a Medjai police officer serving under Pharaoh’s direct orders, is now deep undercover investigating high crimes against Egypt and forbidden to contact Merneith. Masquerading as a priest to deceive the plotters, he watches over her from afar and longs for the day he can approach her openly.
When an unscrupulous noble ensnares Merneith in the web of evil Nikare is pledged to bring down, the two must stand together against earthly and magical forces to save their own lives and protect Egypt.

How much help will the gods provide? Will the pair survive the final showdown between Pharaoh and the conspirators and find the happy future together they desire?

This is a standalone novel but is also a direct sequel to Lady of the Nile, which is where Merneith and Nikare were first encountered as supporting characters. Now they move front and center in the fight to protect Egypt from a new threat. Mild spoilers for Lady of the Nile.

The excerpt: Merneith meets another harpist who’s been assigned to mentor her in her first days at the palace:
“I’m to be your guiding light for your first month with us. I’ll tell you everything and, if I don’t, be sure to ask.” She sat on the bed and tilted her head, pointing at the clothing lying on top of the baskets. “Quite the wardrobe for a girl from a remote village.”

Blushing, Merneith hastily folded the fine linen sheath she’d been examining, admiring the exquisite embroidery at the hem, which was a pattern of lotus flowers and birds, and stuffed it hastily in the basket. Smoothing down the plain dress she was wearing, she said, “It was a gift. I’ll probably won’t need such fancy garb.”

“Yes, you will, I guarantee it. Musicians at the palace—especially those who are young and comely—receive many invitations.” Isetemkheb fluffed the braids on her wig and winked. Her makeup was intricate and bold, and her demeanor made it clear she spoke from experience.

“From who?” Merneith quailed at yet another complication in her new life. Couldn’t she simply play music and be allowed to enjoy using her talents? She sighed.

“Nobles, army officers, priests…any man who enjoys music and those who make it.” Now the woman examined her short fingernails, frowning, and studied a large gold and turquoise scarab ring on the same hand. “They can be most generous as well.”

“I—really—I’m just here to play the harp, learn new songs, earn my room and board.” A wave of vertigo swept over Merneith as she wondered what kind of life she’d fallen into.

“You have a man already? Back home perhaps?” Isetemkheb’s eyes narrowed and her expression sharpened. “A noble sponsor who helped bring you to the queen’s attention?”

Surprised by the questions, Merneith blinked. “No.” Anxious to put a stop to the direction the conversation was taking, she said, “I’m to go to the supply room and get wax for the harp I was assigned. New strings too. If you don’t mind showing me where the room might be.”

The other woman waved a hand. “Plenty of time for the drudgery of routine tasks. You’re going to need fittings for your performance dress as well. Luckily, Pharaoh and the queen don’t stint when it comes to what we wear.” She studied Merneith, as if measuring her for the aforementioned dress. "Is it true the Great Royal Wife herself appointed you to our group?”

“I came highly recommended.” Merneith made her answer short. The series of guesses and inquiries was becoming annoying and too inquisitive.

Isetemkheb’s eyes widened, disrupting the smooth flow of the malachite framing them on her lovely face. “Ooh, tell me more, because how does someone from a rural province even come to the attention of the Great Ones in Thebes?”

“Hathor blessed me. And I can’t discuss it beyond her generosity.” Merneith walked toward the door. “Can we go to the storage rooms now? I need to get my harp serviceable so I can practice properly before the Master calls on me to participate actively in rehearsals.”

As she’d hoped, the other harpist rose from the bed and followed her into the corridor. “Well, welcome to the troupe in any case. I rather like the fact you embody so many mysteries. It’ll be quite interesting to watch your career with us.”

VS Note: and of course Merneith isn’t going to tell her nosy new friend about Nikare, the Medjai police officer she really longs to see again…

Buy Links: Amazon     Apple Books     Nook     Kobo     Google

Author Bio and Links:
USA Today Best Selling Author
 Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.
Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances!
 She read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the official audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Fiction Reviews: What They Are, How to Write Them by Elizabeth Alsobrooks

Unless it’s a book about politics, a book review is not the place to grind your political agenda and convert the world to whatever your current persuasion or social opinion might be. If that’s what you want to write about, you’re not really reviewing a book, you are either attacking a person, the author, a group of people who don’t’ think as you do, or preaching, in which case it’s all about you and still has little to do with the actual book. Readers know what news channel to turn to in order to hear their opinions echoed back at them, and it’s a shame that some reviewers think in a political shaming environment book reviews is just another venue for spreading their own hatred.

What a book review should be is a brief description of the plot in order to gain the reader’s attention, and then the reviewer’s opinion of the story and its elements.  Remember that reviews are an opinion, but one that should be explained. Following is a brief explanation of how a good review is constructed.


Readers don’t need an opinion of a book that doesn’t interest them, so the first thing you should do is offer a short description without spoilers. Think back of book kind of info, so the reader knows if it’s the sort of book they enjoy reading in general. But keep this even shorter than the blurb. Too many reviews bore readers with long, drawn out explanations of every single character and what amounts to a plot outline. If you tell too much about the story, why do they need to bother reading it themselves? They’re not looking for Cliff Notes, they just want a recommendation.

Pick Up or Forget

Next, let the reader know right away if it’s a thumb’s up or down. You can have a catchy first sentence that uses words that urge the reader to get the book or forget it before you even go into the intro. Use it as your hook. You will explain why later. Amazon demonstrates this by not letting you post a review without posting a catch-their-attention opening line.

Your Opinion

Remember that this is just your opinion, and everyone has one. Be as clear and concise as you can. What worked and/or what didn’t? This includes characters, events (without spoilers, using things like, what such-and-such did seemed out of character, or the middle sagged and you skipped entire pages, etc.).


Use ratings, such as stars or scales. Almost all online reviewing opportunities provide you with a rating system. This helps readers immediately understand your overall opinion (so don’t give a glowing review and pair it with a mediocre rating, which only confuses readers). Most readers already know what a five star review is and how it works, but if you use some unique rating system, be sure to explain how it works.

Read Examples

Just like anything else, if you want to learn how it’s done, look at an example. Writers are avid readers for a reason.  Read reviews and see how they are constructed. Examine one you like and deconstruct it by asking yourself questions such as:  How did they begin? How did they let me know if they liked and recommend it or whether I should give it a pass? What examples did they use? Did they explain their opinions without using spoilers? How did they do that? Some of the best reviewers, the most followed bloggers, do this extremely well. Not only do they have followers who like to read what they are reviewing, but those who like their reviewing style and voice. Find your own voice, but include some of the same elements in your own reviews, whether it’s great quotes, humor, or a friendly almost conversational tone. Find what works for you.

Pros and Cons

What was it grandma used to say? “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.” Well, that doesn’t always work when writing a review. However, you really can find something good to say about a book. So even though you are giving your opinion, remember to be kind and review the work, not the writer. Even if you’re a psychologist, it’s not your place to critique the person. You don’t even know them. Remember, even the worst books have some element that is praise worthy, whether it’s a great character, a heartfelt theme, or a smooth narration. Don’t be rude. If you think a book is boring, don’t say that. Explain why it didn’t hold your attention. Be mindful. Many reviewers simply refuse to review books they can’t at least give three stars to, as they aren’t trying to ruin anyone’s livelihood, just recommend good reads. If it’s at least three stars, they can give an overview, their opinions and let readers decide for themselves—which they will ultimately do. Whatever you include, include an explanation. Tell the reader why you thought something was good or bad. They need to understand your point in order to help them decide for themselves. If you recommend a book, don’t forget to include who you would recommend it to. What kind of reader will enjoy the book? That’s part of being thorough.


Just like any other writer, you have to reread, edit and proofread your writing. Your opinion will carry more weight if your reader perceives you as professional.

So now you know how to thank your favorite authors and aid fellow readers in choosing a good book, or avoiding one they may not enjoy as much as others. Write a review and become the next great blogger, or just share your love of reading with a short, well-constructed critique.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

You are a Mutant!

I write vampire novels...with a slight twist.

In my mythos, my vampires never died to be resurrected corpses.  They are mutants, a virus having altered their mortal DNA into immortals with powers greater than their original human selves.  Interestingly enough, I found the information below on the internet.  My viral mutations are actually possible (maybe not to the extent in my books yet still within reason):

Image result for DNA ladder jpg freeDate:  January 8, 2010
Source:  University of Texas at Arlington


 “About eight percent of human genetic material comes from a virus and not from our ancestors, according to a new study. The research shows that the genomes of humans and other mammals contain DNA derived from the insertion of bornaviruses, RNA viruses whose replication and transcription takes place in the nucleus.”
In the 2000s, a scientist at the University of Michigan studied people with HIV and found other viruses in the blood of these subjects.  Surprisingly, these viruses came from within the patients’ own DNA.

Retroviruses, including HIV, share three common genes:  gag, which gives rise to the inner shell that stores the virus’s genes; env makes knobs on the outer surface of the virus, allowing it to adhere to the cells and invade them; and finally pol.  The latter makes an enzyme which introduces the virus’s genes into the host cell’s DNA.

Actually, the human genome contains segments of DNA matching pol, env, and gag.  Scientists have found sizeable quantity of retrovirus DNA in our genes, in fact, as stated above, eight percent of the human genome.  Both in human and other species, studies of these endogenous retroviruses reveal that they have genetically merged with the human DNA.  Retroviruses regularly infected our ancestors, but rarely infected sperm or an egg, but when they did, they managed to permeate an embryo, new cells in the embryo inheriting the retrovirus DNA.  When the child grew into an adult and produced offspring, the DNA of the virus was transmitted as well.

COMING SOON from The Wild Rose Press is Sinners' Opera, a book about Morgan D'Arcy and his life's love Isabeau. Morgan is a classical pianist, an English lord...and a vampire.  This book applies my vampire mythos. Please watch out for it!

So, Morgan, Lucien, and the Vampyre could possibly exist. Watch your back!

Happy Sunday!  You have viral altered DNA.  J

Saturday, April 13, 2019

BFFs, Buddies, & Pals by Diane Burton #Giveaway

I love "buddy" movies. Lethal Weapon, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Top Gun. The camaraderie between friends makes a story so much better. Even under life and death circumstances, buddies lighten the scene with humor.

Early in my writing career, I learned about Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, based on Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey. The steps were sort of what I was doing subconsciously. One of steps the hero takes on her quest is having a buddy (or buddies) to go along on the journey.

My favorite quote in the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is when Sam says to Frodo, “I can't carry it (the ring) for you... but I can carry you!” That’s what friends do—whatever it takes to help his/her friend.

When I wrote Rescuing Mara’s Father, I knew Mara needed help on her quest to find her father. She gets it from her mentor, Basco, an old, spaceport mechanic. But mentors don’t go the whole way with the hero. Friends do. Mara’s BFF is Jako, an 11-year-old boy. Though he’s four years younger than her, he’s a faithful friend. He declares he’s going with her, even when his older brother, Lukus, demands he stay with him. When he can’t convince Jako to stay, Lukus goes along, too. Lukus has his own reason to accompany Mara, but it isn’t to save her father.

Together, the three friends embark on the journey. Mara’s always been jealous of the way her father favors Lukus, the perfect student. Gradually, she sees a different side of him. She understands why he has to learn as much as he can; why he takes care of Jako. By the end of the story, their friendship is strong. Steadfast Jako never wavers in his loyalty to Mara.

Friends are important in our lives. My husband has known his best friend since eighth grade. My son’s best friends were made in high school. My friendships don’t go back that far. But I do remember my best friend in high school and how much fun we had writing stories. In that period of emotional highs and lows (middle and high school), having a friend you can tell everything to makes it easier.

As I (sort of) plotted this story, I knew Mara would have friends. They start out the journey with her and are there with her at the end. 

What do you remember about friendships in middle and high school?

A Middle Grade Science Fiction Adventure

3 friends, a hidden starship, a quest


Her father is gone! Taken by the Queen of Compara’s agents. Mara has to rescue him before the Queen tortures and kills him.
Instead of the kind, loving father she’s always known, he’s become demanding, critical, with impossible expectations—not just as Father but also as the only teacher in their frontier outpost. Mara would rather scoop zircan poop than listen to another boring lecture about governments on Central Planets. Give her a starship engine to take apart or, better yet, fly, and she’s happy. Now, he’s gone.
Never mind, they’ve had a rocky road lately.
Never mind, Father promised she could go off planet to Tech Institute next month when she turns fifteen, where she’ll learn to fly starships.
Never mind, she ran away because she’s furious with him because he reneged on that promise. Father is her only parent. She has to save him.
Along with her best friend, eleven-year-old Jako, and his brother 15-year-old Lukus, Mara sets off to find her father. Her mentor, old spaceport mechanic, seems to know why the Queen captured Father. In fact, he seems to know her father well. But, does he tell her everything? Of course not. He dribbles out info like a mush-eating baby. Worse, he indicates he’ll be leaving them soon. And Lukus can’t wait to get off their planet. Mara’s afraid they will all leave, and she’ll be on her own. Despite her fears, Mara has to rescue her father.


“There you are!” Jako kneels next to me, his urgent voice and torchlight in my eyes wake me up.
I gasp, my heart racing. I must have fallen asleep. I was dreaming about being chased.
“I’ve been looking all over for you!” He lowers his torch and scoots back.
As I sit up, I shove my hair out of my eyes. My braid came undone while I was sleeping. Automatically, I reach up and use my fingers to comb through my long hair. Jako is breathing hard and heat rises off his small body.
“Why were you looking for me?” I ask as I rebraid my hair.
“I was afraid they got you, too.” He gasps for breath. “I didn’t see you when they took him on board, so I ran back to your house. The Dunpus brothers were laughing about how the goons hauled you away, screaming and crying. I knew they were lying. You wouldn’t cry.” His eyes grow wide. “You should’ve seen their ship, Mara. It was so cool. It was a—”
“Hold on. Took who?”
“Isn’t that why you came up here? To get away from them?”
“Them who?” I might be awake, but my mind is still muzzy. “Slow down. You aren’t making any sense.”
Jako grabs my arm. “Your father, Mara. Coalition goons arrested your father.”


as an ebook:  Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ Kobo ~ B&N ~ Smashwords

in print:  Amazon




Many chances to win.

<a class="rcptr" href="" rel="nofollow" data-raflid="16cf1daf23" data-theme="classic" data-template="" id="rcwidget_fqwsr47g">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>
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Note: you probably notice my name on this book is different. Because I wanted to keep my adult fiction separate from children's fiction, I chose to write under my initials, D.M. Burton.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Excerpt from Veronica Scott's KIERCE A New Badari Warriors Novel

Always fun to return to Paranormal Romantics to talk about books! Thanks for having me over!

Today I’m highlighting Kierce: A Badari Warriors SciFi Romance Novel, which is the seventh book in the Badari timeline. I’m having fun writing an actual scifi romance series (although each book is written to be read standing on its own – you don’t have to read the other books first) and challenging myself to come up with new wrinkles for each successive novel.  And to keep advancing the overall series arc in each book as well.

For readers who might not have read any of my Badari Warriors books, here’s the background:
Genetically engineered soldiers of the far future, the Badari were created by alien enemies to fight humans. But then the scientists kidnapped an entire human colony from the Sectors to use as subjects in twisted experiments…the Badari and the humans made common cause, rebelled and escaped the labs. Now they live side by side in a sanctuary valley protected by a powerful Artificial Intelligence, and wage unceasing war on the aliens.

I started this series in part because I love Laurann Dohner’s New Species and Lora Leigh’s Breeds, both of which have entirely different takes on genetically engineered soldiers, and I wanted to write my own stories using the trope, set in my future universe, the Sectors.

The blurb: Elianna McNamee, spaceship engineer, is far from her home in the human Sectors, kidnapped along with all her shipmates to be used for horrifying experiments conducted on a remote planet by alien scientists. 

Her captors decide to toss her in a cell with a ferocious predator, expecting him to kill her…but Kierce, the Badari warrior in question, has too much honor to mistreat a human woman. The trouble is, he’s trapped in a form drastically different from his own as a result of twisted genetic meddling and hiding dark secrets to save other Badari lives.

Able to become a man again briefly with Elianna‘s help, he and Elianna bond over their mutual hatred for the enemy but when rescuers finally arrive, the pair are separated by well-meaning Badari authorities.

Kierce struggles to overcome flashbacks from the torture and drugs the alien scientists inflicted on him. He and Elianna despair over whether he’ll ever be able to regain his rightful place as a man and a soldier in the pack, much less be ready to claim a mate.

Elianna accepts a risky but essential assignment far away from where Kierce is being held, working with another man who’s more than professionally interested in her. Her heart belongs to Kierce and she can’t forget their two nights of shared passion but will that be enough to lead them to a happy reunion?

The excerpt:  
The beast paced from side to side of the cell, roaring when he turned, and eyeing them with alarming intensity. Elianna was so terrified she could barely stand. She imagined the cat tearing into her with its huge claws, and the massive fangs rending her flesh.

Praying to the Lords of Space to die now, before the agony of being eaten alive, she nonetheless tried to study the cell and the cat, to identify any kind of weapon or space where she might be able to hide from it. She’d heard wild animals had sensitive noses. Should she punch at its snout? Maybe try to gouge at the eyes? Pulling his tail would have as much effect. Play dead? But the cat knew she was alive, and the Khagrish weren’t going to rescue her if they were after a big payday for a gory vid. An old piece of advice came to her mind, to stand tall and act bigger than she really was. Right, because this creature is as tall as I am and probably outweighs me by seven hundred pounds.

As she twisted in the guards’ hold, she wept, unable to handle the terror of what she was about to endure.

The man who’d gone to start the vidcams came running as if he couldn’t wait to watch her die. “All set. I made sure the feed won’t go anywhere other than our private loop. Don’t want to give away the show for free or get ourselves in trouble.”

He and one of the other guards pulled skinny black wands from holsters on their belts and stood ready as the officer went to the control panel for the force barrier. “I’m only going to deactivate a small area, so be prepared to throw her in there fast.”

“I’ll be ready.” Her captor got a better grip on Elianna, picking her up despite her flailing and striking at him.

A portion of the barrier sparked and winked out. The guards with the odd weapons aimed them at the cat, which snarled and retreated, hissing, tail lashing from side to side. Desperate to avoid her grisly fate, Elianna gripped the guard’s uniform and hung on. He attempted to throw her into the cell, but she tugged him off balance, and the Khagrish fell across the threshold in a heap with her.

In the blink of an eye the cat was on the guard, ignoring Elianna. Her first instinct was to crawl from the cell, but the beast and the screaming guard blocked the way. She retreated to the rear of the space, where there was a toilet, a sink, and a shower stall. Evidently, the cell had originally been meant for humanoids. Frantically, she scanned the fixtures, seeing no loose parts to grab for weapons, as the hellish sounds from behind her continued. She flicked a glance at the cat and even in her panic she realized the animal wouldn’t be coming for her yet. Think, do something or you’re going to be next.

Hinges were set into the wall about two feet away from her. A door of some kind had been installed a few feet above the floor. Falling to her knees, she pushed at the panel with all her power. The wood swung open easily, causing her to tumble through.

Stunned, she gaped at her new location in an outdoor enclosure. The yard was fairly large, bounded by sparkling force barriers rising high into the sky, and a spindly tree grew in one corner. Desperate, Elianna ran to the tree and scrambled up the trunk using low hanging branches as handholds. She crouched in the fork of the trunk, about twenty feet from the ground, and tried to control her breathing so she wouldn’t pass out. The barrier walls rose high above her head, leaving no possibility of leaping from the tree to escape.

The beast could probably climb better than she could, being a feline, but in her panic she sought out any chance of prolonging her life even for a few more minutes. She wondered what was happening inside the cell but she wasn’t planning to go find out.

A few minutes later, the flap of the opening lifted, and the cat flowed through the space to stand in the yard. Immediately, he fixed his golden-eyed stare on her, and he padded over to the tree to sit on his haunches and contemplate her.
Like a bird in a tree.

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Author Bio and Links:
USA Today Best Selling Author
 Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.

Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances!

 She read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the official audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”

Thursday, April 4, 2019

April Showers Bring Stories With Flowers

Not the flowers I saw today-
My sister is a great gardener
and takes great photos
I don't mind the winter like I used to. 
I've found some benefits to hibernating. Although I do often miss the sunshine and getting outside to walk and enjoy the beauty of nature. I suppose I'm especially impressed since I can't keep most plants alive.

If you've read any of my stories, you know many are set in the beautiful woods that surround where I live. Walking and bicycling through the areas crafted by nature helps to inspire my stories. 

Spring keeps trying to rear its head here in Pennsylvania, while Mother Nature teases us with a nice day, then another allowing the snow to return. 

Although I brag about my 'black thumb' that doesn't do well with any flowers, I really love to see them starting to push through the frozen earth with such determination to crane toward the sun. (unfortunately many will be disappointed if they arrive early, since the sun may be nowhere to be found.)

I usually don't know what their names are (I have to ask my Mom that), but I love to look at them. There's just something about that splash of color. 
Another one of my sister's pictures

As I walked today and saw more buds straining toward the sun, I was reminded of a flash fiction story I wrote years ago that I thought I'd share today.

The Sun's Kiss

Tanner wobbled forward. The prize lay ahead, swaying in the breeze, leafy arms reaching skyward. Bowls of color dancing like balloons tethered to green strings. Red as a juicy apple. Yellow as a ripe banana.
Plopping unceremoniously into the sea of color, Tanner caused multiple winged yellow and black diners to flee.  
Reaching out, Tanner stroked a soft shell. Pulling one off, he shoved the petal into his mouth.
“Tanner!” His mama squatted down.  Do you like my tulips?” 
Tanner frowned; his tongue already pushing the offender out. It didn’t taste as good as it looked.
His mama laughed. “Not for eating,” she inhaled deeply, “for smelling.” She offered the flower.
He recoiled until he detected the sweet scent, like his mama’s perfume.  
He sniffed, tickling his nose with the center, where he’d seen the bees eating.
Tanner tilted his face up and smiled, accepting the sun’s kiss.   

Do you Have a Favorite Flower? 

Author Bio: Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. Find Maureen on her websiteFacebookTwitter

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Monday, April 1, 2019

Writing Science Fiction by Diane Burton #Giveaway

Andromeda Galaxy - credit: NASA

I write science fiction because I believe in the future. I grew up in the days of Sputnik and the Space Race. President John Kennedy said we were going to the moon in that decade, the 1960s, and, by golly, we did. Back in those days, every launch was televised. So exciting to watch that cloud of smoke as the rocket lifted—oh, so slowly—off the launchpad and into the sky.

We explored the moon several times. Then we backtracked, built the International Space Station, and practiced for missions beyond our moon. Once we do go farther into our solar system, I’m certain we’ll set up colonies. Because that’s what humans do—we send out explorers, followed by adventurers, then we colonize.

My new release, Rescuing Mara’s Father, A Science Fiction Adventure, goes in reverse. The story starts in a colony on the frontier of space, the Outer Rim, then takes the reader to a “civilized” planet, a planet in the throes of a rebellion against an evil ruler. Why? To rescue fifteen-year-old Mara’s father from the queen’s clutches.

While the characters—Mara, her best friend, eleven-year-old Jako, and his brother, sixteen-year-old Lukus—have no idea what they’re up against, Mara’s determination leads them on a quest.

I have no doubt that somewhere, out there, are planets colonized by humans. They found “Goldilocks” planets where everything is “just right” for humans to live and thrive. Will we ever meet those humans? Will we ever travel to those planets? Not in my lifetime. In my grandchildren’s? I hope so. I wrote Rescuing Mara’s Father for those grandchildren that they will believe in the future. Maybe one of them will be an astronaut and “go where no one has gone before.”

3 friends, a hidden starship, a quest

Her father is gone! Taken by the Queen of Compara’s agents. Mara has to rescue him before the Queen tortures and kills him.
Instead of the kind, loving father she’s always known, he’s become demanding, critical, with impossible expectations—not just as Father but also as the only teacher in their frontier outpost. Mara would rather scoop zircan poop than listen to another boring lecture about governments on Central Planets. Give her a starship engine to take apart or, better yet, fly, and she’s happy. Now, he’s gone.
Never mind, they’ve had a rocky road lately.
Never mind, Father promised she could go off planet to Tech Institute next month when she turns fifteen, where she’ll learn to fly starships.
Never mind, she ran away because she’s furious with him because he reneged on that promise. Father is her only parent. She has to save him.

Along with her best friend, eleven-year-old Jako, and his brother 15-year-old Lukus, Mara sets off to find her father. Her mentor, old spaceport mechanic, seems to know why the Queen captured Father. In fact, he seems to know her father well. But, does he tell her everything? Of course not. He dribbles out info like a mush-eating baby. Worse, he indicates he’ll be leaving them soon. And Lukus can’t wait to get off their planet. Mara’s afraid they will all leave, and she’ll be on her own. Despite her fears, Mara has to rescue her father.

Rescuing Mara’s Father, A Science Fiction Adventure, is appropriate for middle grade students (4th grade & up). It's now available at most online vendors.



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