Saturday, May 31, 2014

Guest Author Pamela Turner & Her New Book: Exterminating Angel

VS sez: It's my pleasure today to welcome our guest Pamela Turner, here to share an excerpt from her exciting new paranormal novel EXTERMINATING ANGEL. 

The story:
Making a deal with the Devil is the least of his problems.

Zaphkiel, a chain-smoking, hard-drinking archangel, never intended to unleash the sun demon upon the city. Bad enough his boss wants him dead, and this recent crime is the perfect excuse. The timing couldn’t be worse. Somehow, Zaphkiel’s executed lover,

Caliel, is alive and reincarnated as Sean. Zaphkiel is thrilled to be reunited with Caliel again, but will his lover feel the same when he learns Zaphkiel’s darkest secret?
Hired by Lucifer, Sean wants nothing more than to fit in. But how can he compete when the Devil’s friends include archangels and a Tarot reader, and he was born without special abilities? Or so he believes. The Tarot hints there may be more to him than he realizes.

Recruited by the Devil to find the two pentacles sun demon Sorath plans to use to destroy the universe, Zaphkiel and Sean find themselves pawns in a game of power and control. If the archangel gives his boss the pentacles, Ophaniel will overlook his crime. But Zaphkiel knows he can’t trust either Ophaniel or Sorath, and the deal he’s made with the Devil could cost him not only his life, but also the lover he believed gone forever.

M/M sexual practices, occult themes, some violence, graphic descriptions.

Today's Excerpt:
Raziel stood before Lucifer’s office window and watched cars stream across the Kennedy Bridge. Last night, the fireball had headed toward Indiana, the southern part of the state visible across the Ohio River. “Did you see it last night?”

“The fireball?” Lucifer pulled a book on contracts from his mahogany bookcase. “Yes.”

Raziel faced him. “Any idea what it is?”

Lucifer thumbed through pages before snapping the hardcover shut. “If it’s what I think, we’re in trouble.”

Something in the devil’s eyes took Raziel aback. Lucifer’s expression seemed uncharacteristically strained.

“Do you think Zaphkiel will be okay?” Raziel asked.

“Worried about him?”

“Yes.”

“That’s why I asked you to watch over him. Although I’m sure my agenda differs from Ophaniel’s, even if we asked the same thing.” Lucifer scribbled a few notes on a yellow Post-it pad. He tore off the note and stuck it to a file folder. “I can’t tell you what’ll happen to Zaphkiel, but I’ll do everything possible to ensure his and Sean’s safety.”

Raziel didn’t doubt it. “When do you plan to tell Sean who he is?”

Lucifer narrowed his sapphire-blue eyes. “Don’t get any ideas.”

He’d touched a nerve. “Of course not. But he has a right to know.”

The devil rolled the pen across his desk. “Sean’s angelic memory is sealed. At this point, it’s for the best.”

Raziel debated asking why, but Lucifer’s frown indicated he’d better wait. Did Sean’s appearance have anything to do with Sorath?

“I have my reasons.” Lucifer shook open the Courier-Journal and propped his feet on the desk, black Italian shoes polished to a sheen.

He’d learned arguing with the devil proved pointless. Something was going on, and he intended to find out what.

Buy Links:

Author Bio:
Pamela Turner drinks too much coffee, and wishes she could write perfect first drafts. Publications include the paranormal short novels Death Sword and Exterminating Angel, both from Kensington Publishing Corp.’s Lyrical Press imprint, and the paranormal historical mystery The Ripper’s Daughter(BlackWyrm Publishing). Her short, dark suspense story “Family Tradition” (MuseItUp Publishing) was a finalist in the EPIC 2014 EBook Awards, and Death Sword is a finalist in the Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards 2013. She’s a member of RWA, Sisters in Crime, EPIC, and a supporting member of HWA. Besides coffee, she likes cats, cemeteries, and old abandoned buildings. You can find her at http://pamelaturner.net


Social Media Links:
Twitter @PamelaTurner

Friday, May 30, 2014

Which One Do I Love The Most?

Not talking about men in my life--who has the energy for more than one, anyway? Or children--mine annoy me equally! Nope, I am thinking about speculative romances sub-genres.

I admit it. I am in an open relationship with speculative romance. I am incapable of being faithful to one, no matter how much I love and/or obsess about a shiny sub-genre at the time. In fact, I look forward to the natural ebbing of interest in one sub-genre, followed by a new, thrilling love of another. I always know that special high won't last, but I maintain my affection for former loves, even while chasing another like a heat seeking missile.

If you are scratching your heads wondering what sub-genres I'm referring to, here is a quick rundown.

FantasyMagical elements and magical rules in a magical world.The Narnia Series, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter

Sci-fi: Scientific elements, rules, in the past, present or future world. Starship Troopers, Dune, popular movies like Star Wars.

Paranormal: Magical and supernatural elements in our real world. Buffy, Ghost, JR Ward's Black Dagger books, so many others!

What I read or watch eventually influences what I write. My first published short story, Faunication, reflected all the many years I spent in Narnia and Middle Earth. I'm returning to that world with a romance, The Moon Fairy Bride in late 2014, the first in a high fantasy romance series. i know Narnia, fairy tales and Hogwarts all influenced this latest concoction.

My sci-fi romance series Diaspora Worlds will continue in book 4, Neon Orchid, this summer. I chatted with Jean recently about what an influence Andre Norton was! She wrote such fearless, speculative stories. I also loved the old TV show Lost in Space, and there is  a lot of family in this series. (I planned to marry Will Robinson. I was a romantic even in grade school!)

One of my paranormal romance books, Her Accidental Angel, is set mainly in our modern world, but they also travel to the Angellic Overland, a place that is way too perfect. I've thought about adding some chaos there, and some romance.

So many great worlds to read and write about. Sometime I wonder what the Next! Big! Thing! will be in speculative romance. I am not so great at predicting the future, but I know I will like it.

www.melisseaires.com

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cat Style and How Cats Made it Into My Writing

Authors love to bring their daily life into their work. I'm no exception. If I'm watching a show about ghosts, more than likely a ghost story will pop into my head. Same thing with my pets. They tend to creep into my work, too. 

The Stray Cats series is based on my cat. Yep. The little punk wormed his way into my writing. I wondered one day what would happen if he could shift and what kind of person would he shift into. He's a very laid back kind of guy. He rolls with things...unless there's a bit of catnip involved. Then he's a pill. 

I kept looking at him and thought, if he came from a litter of all black cats (he didn't. there were orange ones and a couple of calicoes in his group) and they could shift...what would happen. Stray Cats is my version of what could happen. Each cat has a different personality and a different name given to him by his human. Would they be crazy? Silly? I decided to find out and write the series. 

I hope you enjoy these short stories. 

Here's a little bit about the latest in the series, Cat Groove.

* * * * *
Stray Cats -- Book 3: Cat Groove 

Megan Slayer
Changeling Press
Novella
M/F



He’s found his mate and his groove, but he’s got to convince her they belong together.

Watching his woman with another man just about killed Roman. His heart beat for Jessa. His ability to switch over to his human form has allowed him to show her his other side, but will he scare her away? He’s willing to work his grove in order to win the heart of the woman he loves.

EXCERPT:

“Damn it, Roman, get back here. I’m not very in love with you right now.” Jessa tossed the towel onto the floor, then raced after her black cat. “Whoever said he was calm should’ve had to bathe him.” With him speeding ahead of her, she sprinted down the hallway.
“Come back here.” Her hair flew in her eyes and her chest hurt from the scratches inflicted moments earlier when she’d first introduced him to the water.
Roman backed himself into a corner and hissed, his gold eyes blazing.
“Don’t make me have to tackle you.” Jessa crouched and took her best offensive stance. She counted to three, then lunged. An earth-shattering screech echoed in the room, but she managed to grab him. When she looked down into her curled arms, the cat struggled, but couldn’t free himself.
“You are a brat -- cute, but a brat.” She kept him tight in her grasp and marched back to the bathroom. “If you weren’t one gigantic flea, this wouldn’t be necessary.”
Upon entering the bathroom, she kicked the door shut. “Now try and get away.” She glanced around for where the cat shampoo had landed. “This won’t take long.”
The cat scampered from her arms and skidded on the rug. He collided with the bathroom door. When he fell back, instead of a black cat, a man -- a naked man -- lay sprawled in his place.
Jessa dropped the towel she’d picked up and sat down hard on the edge of the tub. “What the hell just happened?” She knew what she’d seen... her cat had morphed into a man.
The guy shook his head, his dark hair ruffling with each shake, then glanced over his shoulder. “Now do you see why I don’t need a flea bath?”
“I don’t understand what I’m seeing.” Jessa balled her fists. What the hell was she supposed to do? Locked in a bathroom with a strange man. “What’s going on here?”
“I’ve got a knot on my head from the door.” The guy turned around and rested against the wooden door. “Remind me not to run full blast away from you.” He rubbed his forehead. “But I’m kind of glad this happened. I was tired of being a cat.”


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

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Guest Author Nina Mason & THE QUEEN OF SWORDS

VS sez: Today it's my pleasure to introduce our guest Nina Mason, here to talk about her new book  THE QUEEN OF SWORDS.


Q. Please tell us about your book.
A. The Queen of Swords tells the story of a bookish white witch who returns every century to reunite with her earthbound soul mate. He’s a Scottish earl turned vampire by a dark wizard’s curse back in the Regency era on the eve of their wedding. She came back once before in the Edwardian era only to be killed by his maker in the same manner as before. He believes he has no soul, so can’t understand why she keeps coming back. She believes he does have a soul and that she comes back to free him from the curse. The story follows their journey as they try to work out who’s right and how they can stop history from repeating.

Q. After this, what's your next project?
A. My current work-in-progress is book two in The Knights of Avalon series. After that, I haven’t decided. Probably another paranormal romance/urban fantasy. I’ve got a stalled manuscript about an oil company spokeswoman who gets involved with a merman during an oil spill in the Hebrides. Might get back to that one, or write one featuring Benedict and Avery, the secondary couple in The Queen of Swords. I’d also like to maybe write a sequel to The Tin Man, my political thriller releasing in August. It tells of two journalists thrown together to solve a series of murders tied to a global conspiracy to take over the media.

Q. What inspires you to write what you do?
A. All of my paranormal stories are inspired by my love of  the history and mythology of Scotland, my interest in the unknowable, and my belief in the redemptive power of love.

Q. When did you start writing?
A. About as soon as I could write the alphabet. When I was a kid, I won an essay contest sponsored by the local library (I was an avid reader and always did the summer reading challenge). Back in the days of typewriters, I wrote a romance novel about a couple of ballet dancers, but never did anything with it. Didn’t try my hand at fiction again until five or six years ago, when I started what is now The Queen of Swords.

Q. What inspired you to write the book?
A. I started the first draft after reading Twilight. While I liked the saga, I also found myself frustrated by the lack of sex and Edward’s lack of history. In literature, vampires originally personified uncaged sexuality, so a chaste vampire seemed counter-intuitive to me. Plus, I felt writing an immortal creature provided fantastic opportunities to build an interesting backstory. What had he/she seen and experienced over the centuries? How was he/she affected by it? My immortal characters all have a history tied to the world and what they’ve seen and experienced has colored them in some way.

Q. Are you a careful planner or do you let the story guide you?
A. I do a bit of both. I work out the characters and their motivations, setting, and where I want the story to go. I also tend to do index cards for each scene or major plot point from start to finish. Once I begin to write, it can go completely off the rails, depending on where the characters want to take it. As long as they’re reaching the touchstones, I let them do what they want. If they go too far off track, I either re-plot the novel or rein them in, depending on which direction seems better at the time.

Q. Who is your favorite among your characters?

A. I love them all, of course. Graham, the hero in The Queen of Swords, is both noble and funny. Callum, the hero in The Knight of Wands, is a good-hearted romantic. Leith, the hero of my WIP, is a bit on the dark side, but still well-intentioned. If pressed to pick just one, I’d have to go with Alex Buchanan, the journalist hero in The Tin Man. He’s very complex and has lots of demons to overcome, but also is a really good guy.

The story:
When Graham Logan draws the Queen of Swords, he knows he’s about to meet the love of his life. For the third time. But surrendering his heart will mean risking her life…or making her what he is--two things his beliefs won’t allow him to do. Graham rages at God: Why give her back only to take her again? 

Cat Fingal, the third incarnation of Graham’s other half, won’t let him slip away so easily. A white witch, she casts a spell to summon him—for answers, among other things. 
Graham has other problems, too. Like the seductress who wants him for herself and the dark wizard who cursed him and killed Cat the first two times. 
Will she find a way to save him this time around? 

**For Mature Readers Only** 


Excerpt:
12th May. Visited Caitriona tonight for the first time since becoming a monster. She slept, unaware of my presence, & for a time, I was content simply to observe. As the hours passed, I began to wonder what might happen if she awoke to find me in her room. Would she think me a wraith? Would she think it a dream? Desiring to know, & to get closer, I sat down on the corner of the bed, alert for any stirrings. Seeing none, I crawled up the bed until I reached her side. Still she did not stir. Ever so carefully, I set my head upon the pillow next to hers. She slept on. Drinking in her scent, I felt contentment for the first time since fate & Fitzgerald tore us apart. I closed my eyes & must have drifted off, because next I knew, her arm fell across my chest. Startled awake, I found her blinking at me in disbelief.

I lay there, still as death, waiting for her to react. Her hand moved up my chest to my face. She dragged her fingers across my jaw, pressed them against my lips, touched the end of my nose, my eyebrows, my forehead. As she combed back my hair, she whispered: “This must be a dream. But you feel so real, so alive. I don’t ken how such a thing is possible; nor do I care. I only pray I shall never awaken.”

I kept still. I could hear her heartbeat, smell her blood, but her blood was not what I craved. She set her head on my chest & started to sob.

“Am I dreaming?” she asked, soft & low.

“Aye.”

She raised herself up, came over me & pressed her mouth against mine.

“Can we make love in my dream?”

“Aye.”

When it was over, I collapsed beside her, feeling so elated, so profoundly moved, I very nearly wept.

She set her head against my chest. “Will you promise me something?”

“Anything, m’aingael.”

“Always come to me like this in my dreams.”

About Nina Mason:

 Nina Mason is a hopeful romantic with strong affinities for history, mythology, and the metaphysical. She strives to write the same kind of books she loves to read: those that entertain, edify, educate, and enlighten. Three of her books will be published in 2014: The Queen of Swords, an urban fantasy/paranormal romance; The Knight of Wands, book one in the Knights of Avalon Series; and The Tin Man, a political thriller about the dangers posed by media monopolies.  She is currently at work on Book Two of the Knights of Avalon series and is itching to get back to a book she started a while back about a merman who falls for an oil company spokeswoman after a phantom tanker capsizes on the coast of the Hebrides islands. When not writing, Nina works as a communications consultant, doll maker, and home stager. Born and raised in Southern California, she now lives in Woodstock, Georgia, with her husband, teenage daughter, two rescue cats, and a Westie named Robert.

Social-media links:

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ninamasonauthor (@ninamasonauthor)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Guest Author Inez Kelley Talks Vikings and THE BASTARD

VS sez: Today it's my pleasure to introduce our Guest, Author Inez Kelley, and her latest novel, THE BASTARD. Take it away Inez!

Vikings.
Big. Blond. Dirty. Horned hats. Brutal. Rape. Pillage. Repeat.
That is pretty much everything the common person knows. Well, that and the series on The History Channel is as enthralling as it is incorrect historically. But it has lovely eye-candy. But fiction isn’t real by definition and in some cases, it is really, really WRONG.
It’s not that true Vikings (from Old Norse vĂ­kingr meaning seafarer) didn’t leave us archeological clues. They did. Many of the scientific discoveries completely dispel what we thought we knew about the daring seafarers. Let’s take each of those words and look at them again.
BIG- This one is true. Viking men, Norwegians in particular, grew far taller than those around them. Reliable historical data commonly records Vikings towering over their English counterpoints. Recently a mass grave was discovered full of very tall, robust men. The burial site held between 34 and 38 remains of Viking males between 16-30 years, in prime physical condition, who had a diet largely of fish and shellfish. However, only a few Viking graves have yielded skeletons of six-feet or more. Were they tall? Yes, but then, in general all humankind was shorter.
BLOND – Not all. Many are described, in fact ‘named’, for their black hair or dark skin(Eric the Red, Bjorn the Black, etc. They stereotypical golden blond hair wasn’t rare but it was just as common to find a Viking with brown, black, red or gray hair.
DIRTY – Not at all. In fact, one of the reasons Vikings were called pagans was their propensity for bathing despite the cold weather. They bathed often, far more than their British contemporaries and used the sauna, a place deemed sinful to the Christian mindset. Archeological evidence of many Norse grooming kits have been discovered which include combs, brushes, tweezers, razors, a tiny ‘spoon’ designed to clean out the ears, and nail cleaning tools.  
HORNED HATS – This is pure opera-invention. Logically, going into battle with a hat sporting massive animal horns is rather stupid. One blow to the head would spin the hat, blocking one’s vision. Plus it would have been top heavy and not conducive to the athletic skill needed for battle. Viking helmets were made of leather or fleece-lined metal and were almost conical shaped. They fitted closely to the head. No horns. Period.
BRUTAL. RAPE. PILLAGE - While there is no denying or sugarcoating Vikings did invade and conquer, they didn’t make off like thieves in the night afterwards. The truest Viking trait is adaptability. They absorbed much of the culture they invade and flavored what was there with their own. The familiar Celtic Knot that is so fashionable today in tattoo designs and in Celtic Art is historically Norse. The right side of a boat, the starboard side? Comes from the Norse terms steor meaning rudder or steering paddle and bord meaning a ship's side. 
The figure now known as the swastika originally was a Norse twirl. Some scholars theorize that the Christian idea of Christ’s crucifixion stemmed from the Norse God Odin being speared and hung on a tree.
Look at some of the most fearsome names in history: Thorfinn Skull-splitter, Sweyn Forkbeard, Eric Bloodaxe. These were not choirboys. But at that time, neither was anyone else. Most nations were run like organized crime families, using muscle, extortion, and threats of violence to gather riches. The Vikings were just far better at the game than anyone else. That expertise has cemented them in history as the original bad boys.
Is it any wonder why I chose one of the biggest, baddest Vikings in History for the first book in my new series?

The story:

In the battle between good and evil, humans have never been more than collateral damage. Now they are prey. Mankind doesn’t need a hero. It needs a sinner. 
Corrupt. Wicked. Nefarious. Contemptible.... 

The Baddest Boys in History are back! 

You read about them in school. Now learn the truth. Real men. No vampires, no werewolves, no magic. Just down and dirty raw power —sin to sin, evil to evil, bad to bad. They fight for humanity. It was that or eternal damnation. 
They agreed to risk their souls. No one told them they would lose their hearts. 

THE BASTARD 
Vike died in blood, in battle, in betrayal. His ruthlessness was second only to his brutality. Now one woman makes his blood sing and he’ll stop at nothing to save her. He only has to face half of Hell to do it. 
Lacy is unknowingly descended from an ancient Holy line. Someone is slowly destroying her life and wants her dead. A fierce Viking comes to her rescue, and in his arms, she finds more than safety. 
If Vike can’t protect Lacy, he’ll have to kill her. And for a bastard, what’s one woman worth when the entire world is in jeopardy? 


INEZ KELLEY was born and bred in the mountains of West Virginia. She currently resides there with her lumberjack husband, their teenage drama queen, Spawnetta, and the Demolition Duo – Damien and his twin, the Omen.


Signup for Inez’s newsletter to get sneak peeks and contest entries. You can visit her at her website http://inezkelley.com/  Follow Inez on twitter at @Inez_Kelley or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/InezKelleyPage?ref=hl

Friday, May 23, 2014

Why not go "In the Black"?

I'm pleased to announce Carina Press has just released "In the Black", the first book in my new series, "Tales from the Edge". It's a rip-roaring science fiction romance/adventure series with I like to explain as "Firefly" meets "Best Little Whorehouse"… but why not read an excerpt and you can judge for yourself?

***


This was the worst part of the job, the toughest thing for any captain who ran a Mercy Ship. When she’d taken over the Bonnie Belle six months ago, it’d seemed amusing— starting off the landfall with a bang, as it were. Then back to signing off on maintenance reports and reading mystery novels until the Belle was ready to head out for the next stop on their cycle.

Now this ceremony was like a hangnail catching on anything and everything without relief in sight.

Performed once a month.

For another four and a half years.

Samantha Keller stood in front of the double doors, waiting for her cue. A low beep in her ear from the transmitter signaled her to proceed. She pasted a huge smile on her face and pushed her way through the swinging double doors, making a note to swing her hips and slow the hell down.

She couldn’t run down the aisle, no matter how much she wanted to get this over with.

The black leather straps cut into the back of her heels as she strode down the center aisle. She made a mental note to toss the shoes into the garbage bin as soon as she got back to the Belle.

She’d have worn her old jump boots but Jenny insisted on her buying the stilettos on their first stop at Land’s End base, saying they matched the brand-new leather jumpsuit and that it’d be unseemly for her to make the announcements in “ragged, old, stinky” military boots.

Sam had lived and almost died in those boots and if they were good enough for that, they’d be good enough for this. The words had been on her tongue when she’d spotted the eagerness in the mechanic’s eyes.

In the end she’d bought the bloody shoes, the ones now gouging raw spots on her heels. Six months and they were nowhere near broken in.

Mind you, she only wore them for a few minutes once a month. Maybe she should have Jenny stomp around and soften them up.

The damned jumpsuit still rode up, tempting her to make some very unladylike gestures.

Sam missed her old soft, olive drab uniform.

Along with the weapons that went with it.

There was something about having a pistol at her side that made certain situations more bearable.

Like this one.

She spotted Huckness, the security chief, standing off to one side with two of his men, his attention not on her but on the two hundred miners spread out in front of them in the main meeting hall. He was looking for signs of trouble.

She was about to deliver it.

The second step was her undoing. Her damned shoe missed the metal strip, landing on bare wood. Her left ankle twisted outward, almost sending her crashing down the steps. Her right hand shot out and grabbed the podium’s faux wood edge.

As far as she was concerned this near-fall added one more point toward tossing the damned shoes into the incinerator as soon as she got off this stage.

A curse dangled on her lips before being pulled back and twisted into a grin, primarily because of the live mike only inches from her face.

With this crowd, it’d probably be considered foreplay.

Wolf whistles followed her every move. Two hundred hungry men waiting for her. Wanting her to deliver the goods they’d been promised.

Another dozen or so women were watching from an office somewhere. The women assigned to Branson Prime worked the administrative positions, keeping the ink flowing to keep the base alive. Only a smattering but they were potential customers and the Guild prepared for every eventuality.

They were already segregated from the men in the work areas and it continued for this presentation, allowing them to watch the show without commentary from the male staff. It wasn’t just out of politeness—it was good business. Let them see the wares without judging or being judged by their male associates.

Another day, another show.

Andrew Trainer, the foreman, stepped away from the podium. A minute later and he was in the front row of eager spectators, dressed in the same drab grey clothing as the rest of the miners. The only thing showing his rank was a black stripe on one sleeve. He wiped the sweat from his forehead on his sleeve even though the room was cool, the air-conditioning roaring over the crowd.

Sam gave him a wink, causing the dark-haired man to rock back and forth on the metal bench.

Inside she laughed. If she could get a rise out of the old guard with nothing more than a wink, she might have a damned riot on her hands by the end of the presentation.

Her lips twitched once, and then curved into a smile.

She’d enjoy a riot. It’d been a long time since she got in a good old-fashioned brawl, two landfalls ago when some idiot thought he’d jump the line when she was walking through the landing bay on the way to trade some books with the base library. If she hadn’t gotten to him first he might have not survived the rough justice being handed out by his fellow miners.

It’d been a pleasure to kick his ass. Almost as good as sex.

Speaking of—

“Hello, Branson Prime,” she purred into the microphone, grimacing as her vocal cords protested at going so low and slow. It was a necessary evil; her command voice wasn’t going to work here.

The resounding cheer was deafening. She withdrew a small data chip from her pocket and inserted it into the waiting slot on the console. The yelling subsided when she waved them down, but a low murmur continued to run through the crowd, a delicious anticipation of what was to come.

“I’m Sam Keller, Captain of the Bonnie Belle—that sweet little Mercy ship that docked with your fine manufacturing facility an hour ago. And I’m here to declare that we are—” she paused for three heartbeats, seeing the hungry eyes, “—open for business!”

The two hundred-plus miners jumped to their feet as one, stomping their booted feet in a deafening chorus. Given the sparse decorations they looked more like prisoners than potential customers. But they were buyers and she was here to sell a product.

She pointed at the large screens set around the mess hall as they flashed to life, the bright pictures drawing yells from the workers. Usually they displayed boring litanies of production quotas and the occasional sports competition piped in from the inner planets. Now they rotated through the images of the six courtesans, expertly posed and photographed to provide the most titillation for the money. No outright nudity, just a flash of skin here and a wink there. More than enough material to fuel a man’s or woman’s fantasies for those long, dark, lonely nights out here on the edge of colonized space.

“Two hundred credits an hour and you can do anything you want.” She leaned over the podium and pressed her lips to the microphone, letting the zipper on the jumpsuit “accidentally” slide down just enough to exaggerate her cleavage.

It’d taken Jenny a week of oil and sweat to loosen the zipper enough to get it to come down on cue. But it was well worth it, every time.

“Anything.” She exhaled over the black nub, drawing the word out as long as she could.

***

As you can guess the Bonnie Belle's stay doesn't go as planned… but why not plan a visit to the Belle for yourself? Why not come on board and see what all the fuss is about!

When Sam Keller left the military, she ran to the far end of the galaxy. Now she captains the Bonnie Belle, a spaceship full of courtesans who bring a little pleasure to hard-up men on mining colonies. When one of her girls turns up dead, it’s  Sam’s job to find out who killed her, fast.

Marshal Daniel LeClair is as tough as steel and quick on the draw. But when his vacation gets replaced by an assignment to help find the killer, he can’t help angling for a little action with the saucy, hard-charging Sam. She’s  got brains, attitude and a body he wouldn't  mind investigating.

Sam, six months lonely, might just indulge him. But the Guild that owns the Belle wants the case closed yesterday. With pressure coming from all quadrants, Sam and her marshal clash over false leads and who’s on top. But when the killer threatens the Belle again, romance will have to wait. It’s a captain’s job to save her crew, no matter the cost.

Order "In the Black" from Carina PressAmazonB&NiBooks and Google Play!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bring me the weekend. Now.

By Stephanie Beck


It has been said I have a more controlling personality. It would have surprised me, but I was busy setting up a party and leading a class...so....yeah. I do prefer when things are done my way, but I am also an adult and understand I don't always get what I want, even when I work for it and try my best.


I've heard whispers that include 'bossy' as well, though I reject that one. I try not to tell people to do things, but rather do it with them. My energy level and willingness to do things, however, might be a little higher than others, so what I see as 'let's do this together' they may see as 'good grief does she ever stop?'. Personality flaw...naw, it's just me.


Put these all together and throw us back to today, Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, and I'm feeling both the desire to control and to boss. I want a nice weekend. I want sunshine and 70's, maybe even 80's and I want to be able to walk around my yard without the squish from constant rain.



This has happened to me far too often since 'Spring' has sprung.


That's right. I want to love my weekend. I want to work in my garden a little while, play soccer with my kids, walk down by the river, and read my book in the sunshine. Mother Nature, it's time to make this happen. Now.

Any special weekend plans? I'll be playing and reading The Fault in our Stars which was given to me by one of my teenage friends who swears I will love it (I'm terribly afraid I'm going to cry, but I'll do that for this sweet girl who bought me the book).

Take care, and have a wonderful and safe weekend.
Stephanie Beck



Saturday, May 17, 2014

Armed Forces Day: SF/F Style

Hi all,

So, whilst looking for inspiration for this blog I discovered that today is Armed Forces Day not just in the US but in many countries around the world.

In honor of today and the brave troops who serve their country so faithfully I thought it might be kind of fun to think about some of the great fictional soldiers we've seen in SF/F throughout the years.

5. Wedge Antilles (and all the other brave X-Wing pilots from Star Wars)

Wedge and the other members of Rogue Squadron are the unsung heroes of the Star Wars universe. While Luke and Han were off having grand adventures, taking down shield generators and facing the Evil Emperor himself, Wedge and his pilots were busy doing the really heavy lifting of a major space invasion. 

4. Captain Steven Hiller from Independence Day (Played by a very young Will Smith)
I remember when this film first came out everyone was a little dubious: "The Fresh Prince as a fighter pilot? Really?" But Will Smith earned his leading man chops with this film and created a wonderful military character with Captain Steve Hiller. One of my favorites parts of ID4 is how they portrayed Steve: yes he's goofy and charming but when he's in the air he is all business and the baddest of bad asses in the sky. I enjoyed how the filmmakers showed that the pilots and other military personnel could get the job done but still have engaging and lively personalities in their off-duty hours.

3. Corporal Dwayne Hicks from Aliens (Played by the fabulous Michael Biehn)

I'm a total Hicks/Ripley shipper, so I love him for that, but even apart from he and Ripley together he's just an awesome character (and soldier) in general. Some favorite Hicks moments: In the briefing room when Hudson derails Ripley's with his smart-assing Hicks is the one who slices through all the bravado and shit-talking to cut to the chase: "What are we dealing with here?". Another great moment is when Ripley basically thrusts command at him as he's next in line after the two superior officers are killed and injured; there's this great acting moment where you see Hicks' total reluctance--and yet Hicks accepts the responsibility. Never once after that does he waver in his duty or his bravery. Never once does he shirk that responsibility to his men or the civilians under his care. And, later, when Ripley is nearly hysterical, insisting that Newt the little girl is alive, that they can rescue her, Hicks doesn't argue with Ripley. He agrees, unblinking, to go to the aliens' den to find the innocent little girl. Hicks is brave, loyal, vulnerable, and a totally awesome military hero.

2. Ranger Mako Mori from Pacific Rim (Played by Rinko Kikuchi)
Mako is one of my new favorite military bad asses. Get her in the cockpit of a hi-tech fighter robot and she will not only kick some serious ass--she'll save the world. Mako's inclusion on this list is because of what a wonderful female character she is. Vulnerable without being weak. Strong without being a hard ass. Feminine without being the love interest. I can't wait to see more great ladies like Mako in my SF/F Armed Forces to help represent the many, many brave woman who already serve their countries so well.

1. Captain America/Steve Rogers from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Marvel Comics (Played by the adorakable Chris Evans)
OK, so if we're talking about great soldiers in fantasy stories it's pretty much a given that Steve Rogers will be on the list, especially as portrayed by Chris Evans (who's just fantastic in the role). Because Steve is a great soldier not because of the super serum that makes him into Captain Hunk--I mean, America, Steve is great because he's a good man. I could wax rhapsodic about this character forever but, for now, let's just talk about a few great Steve moments from the movies...

Before the super serum, he's asthmatic, sick with about every disease you can imagine and about a foot shorter than he needs to be to qualify to enlist. So what does this brave, under-sized, sickly little punk do? He goes to a dozen different cities and continually tries to enlist just to see if he can find somewhere that will let him enlist and fight for his country. Later, he throws himself on a grenade to save other people. He crashlands a plane while still inside just so he can save others, even though that's what ends up leaving him a CapSicle swept out of time from everyone he's ever loved.

In his best incarnations, this character embodies not just what we hope for in a good soldier (bravery, strength, self-sacrifice) but what we, as Americans, truly hope for from our country: loyalty, justice, kindness, a sense of service to something greater than ourselves--and the fortitude to fight for those qualities whatever the cost.

Of course, no fictional heroes could ever compete with the real life servicemen and women who are out there, even now, fighting far away for the liberty and safety of their homelands. I just want to offer heartfelt thanks to all former and current soldiers. Thank you all for your bravery, for your sacrifices, for your service.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Paranormal Partying at the RT Booklovers Convention!

The RT Booklovers Convention is always kind of a wild time, regardless. The parties, costumes and general enthusiastic hilarity makes this a week out of time for most of us, far from the rules of the real world.

Having it in New Orleans, a city of carnivalesque darkness, sensuality and indulgence?

Even wilder!

The first night of the convention, everyone went off-site to Mardis Gras World. This is an enormous complex where they store the floats for the Mardis Gras parades during the off-season. It's kind of wild, seeing them all stacked up like that, a cacophony of lurid color and unreal images.

I got a purple sash that says "Kensington" and was up on a float, tossing beads with Cynthia Eden, Kimberly Kincaid and Kate Pearce. We all agreed that it was the most fun promo event ever.

We are also now accomplished bead-throwers.

The convention continues through Sunday, so be sure to follow the #RT14 hashtags for more wild pics and stories.

There may also be shopping and a few ill-advised purchases here and there.

I'll have lots of special early copies of The Mark of the Tala, which comes out May 27. I'm really excited to hand those out starting at the Kensington party, into the Pub Crawl and to sign at the big Book Fair.



Let the good times roll!



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Meet Lizzie Marsden

It's still several weeks until the release of Witchlight, the second book in my Magic Born trilogy, but I thought I would go ahead and introduce the heroine.

New Corinth city councilwoman Lizzie Marsden made her first appearance in Trancehack, in a very brief scene where she met that book's hero Nate Perez. Over a year later, the city council is coming under pressure to pass a law that would confine the Magic Born strictly to the zone, known as FreakTown. Lizzie doesn't want to vote for this law and she uses economics as her excuse. Effectively quarantining a significant portion of the population will do damage to the city's economy, she argues.

But that's not the whole truth. As the book's hero, Vadim Bazarov, discovers, Lizzie has a secret that could destroy her life. Thanks to false documentation her wealthy family bought to protect her, she's lived her life as a Normal - but she's really Magic Born. After a lifetime of hiding the truth from the public and running from it in private, Lizzie is now forced to confront it.

Here's a brief excerpt:
Lizzie sat completely still for several minutes. The pressure built slowly, steadily, a heavy fullness in her head and her chest that threatened to spread if she didn’t do something about it. The room was empty, the door closed. Keeping one hand wrapped around the tea mug as if it could provide an anchor, she raised her other hand over the tablet. The skin facing the device immediately warmed. Electricity crackled between her fingertips and the screen, thin blue lines of power that glowed like lightning over the image of rain. 
Quickly, she balled her hand into a fist and held it to her chest, nails pressing hard into her palm. Heart pounding, breath coming in short gasps, she waited for the pressure to ease. Finally it did, replaced with layer upon layer of icy control. The vibration of magic lingered underneath. It always did, no matter how hard she worked to suppress it. 


In 2066, the Magic Born are segregated in urban reservations. The laws do not protect them, or their allies.
  
Councilwoman Elizabeth Marsden is a powerful player in New Corinth politics, but a closely guarded secret could destroy her life—she’s a hidden Magic Born. Her family has gone to great lengths to erase all her magic-related records, until a trancehacking outlaw discovers the last remaining one…

Vadim Bazarov smuggles Magic Borns through the underground railroad and threatens to reveal Elizabeth’s secret unless she helps him access blank ID cards. Elizabeth wants to hate him for having a stranglehold on her life, but can’t help being attracted to someone so sure of who and what he is. 

Vadim initially sees her as a political ice queen, but is intrigued by her suppressed magical abilities. He trains Elizabeth to use her magic, and before long finds himself falling for her. But their newfound love may be shortlived; an anti-magic ordinance forces one of them to make a choice that will change both their lives for good. 

Witchlight is available for pre-order from Carina Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Cara Bristol TERRAN: How To Hide A Hostage With Pink Hair

Today it's my pleasure to have Cara Bristol as my guest talking about her latest sexy science fiction romance novel TERRAN. This is the second book in her  Breeder series. Take it away, Cara!

Because I “pants” my plotting, I sewed myself into a conundrum in my design of alien clothing.

I started writing the first Breeder science fiction romance, before I realized it would be series. So without thought for future books, I designed alien uniforms—shirts for the men and shifts for the women—that cut across the chest leaving an arm and the right side of the chest bare. I also created a secondary character, a woman from Earth, and had fun with her appearance. I bestowed her with pink hair and a full sleeve tattoo on her right arm.

Then I discovered I had series on my hands, and that the earth woman would be the heroine of book two, Terran and that Alpha Commander Marlix (a pseudo villain in book one who loathes Terrans) would be her hero.

And then Marlix surprised me by kidnapping Tara—requiring that he hide her.

How do you hide a woman with bright pink hair and full sleeve tattoo that is bared by the clothing style? No one else on the entire planet looks like that.

See the conundrum?

But I figured it out how to do it.

Terran Blurb
After fleeing heartache on Terra, Tara Diehl has adjusted to male-dominated Parseon better than most vendors until she is kidnapped by Alpha Marlix, a ruling commander. At first her tall, muscled abductor terrifies her, especially when he doesn’t hesitate to quell her struggle for freedom with some force. When her attempts to escape fail, she decides to seduce her way to freedom.
But out of seduction and subterfuge grow a true intimacy that cause Marlix and Tara to take action that drives Parseon to the brink of civil war, threatening not only their relationship, but also their lives.
Terran, the second book in the Breeder sci-fi series, is a “capture” romance involving a domineering but hunky alien, a female with a bad dye job and an even worse attitude, hot sex, and spanking.

Terran Excerpt
If people gawked, she did not notice. Panic blinded Tara to all but instinct as she tore through the Bazaar. Suck it up. Suck it up. Sobs of relief convulsed in her throat when her feet found their way to her shop. Perched on a counter stool eating lunch, Ramon leaped to his feet as she stumbled in.

“My God, Tara! What the hell happened?” He grabbed a bolt of flannel off its stand and threw it around her, then hugged her to his chest.

Unable to stop crying, she heaved and shuddered as Ramon rocked her and swore under his breath.
“I th-thought it w-would be o-o-okay. I only went out-outside to check.”

Ramon stiffened.

“They grabbed me,” she sobbed.

“They?”

“Th-three males.”

“Fuck,” he swore, his voice laden with concern. He did not need to say I-told-you-so to remind Tara how foolish she’d been. “We need to call Security. The Terran Embassy.”

She shook her head. “No.” The Terrans held little authority and couldn’t do anything. Parseon Security did have power but would do nothing. Nor could she endure an interrogation by males cut from the same cloth as her attackers. Parseon did not consider sexual assault a crime but rather a sport, which was why the treaty attempted to protect its female vendors by insisting they travel with an escort. By venturing into the Market alone, she had disobeyed the rules intended to protect her.

“Yes. My God, Tara, you were attacked.” He dropped his voice to a hoarse whisper. “Did they rape you?”

“No,” she lied. She squeezed her eyes shut against Ramon’s shoulder. She’d been pinned to the ground. They had sodomized her with their fingers—they just hadn’t gotten around to the rest of it, because the Commander had intervened. She recalled his growl, his shadow. The boot on her back had lifted, and her attacker had flown through the air. She’d heard a thud and a snap, and then the pounding of feet as the other two attackers had scrambled away.

Only Alpha remained. Though he’d saved her, the rage and intent to harm that enlarged his already huge body had terrified her, and she’d fled, as much from him as the attack.

“You’re bleeding,” Ramon said, and she became aware of searing pain in her legs, back, and chest. They’d cut her when they had sliced at her clothing and had pummeled her with their fists and feet. “You need medical attention. I’m calling Security.”

“No!” came a gravelly shout.

Ramon started, but Tara did not. Hadn’t she known all along he would follow her?

“I will handle this.” There was no mistaking the threat in the gaze the Alpha cast upon Ramon. “Leave us.”

A brave Ramon shook his head. “No, I’m staying.”

Aggression shimmered off the Commander in waves. Ramon was wiry but little match for most men on Terra, let alone an Alpha. She had little doubt how he would fare in a confrontation. Again, she pictured her attacker sailing through the air as if the Commander had thrown a stuffed toy and not a live adult male.
She opened her mouth to reassure her shop mate she would be okay, but before she could speak, the Commander yanked her out of Ramon’s protective embrace and slung her over his shoulder. The Alpha stalked out of her shop into the Bazaar.

She could hear Ramon yelling.

Shock and fear paralyzed her. Hard sinew and bone shifted beneath her abdomen as the Commander carried her as if her weight posed no burden. She stared at the moving ground. His arm across her thighs immobilized her legs. The flannel with which Ramon had covered her trussed her arms. Tara found her voice. “Let me go! Where are you taking me?” Had he saved her only to rape her himself? Along with amusement and derision, there’d been lust in his eyes during their fabric transaction.

The Commander ignored her.

Tara worked her arms free of the flannel and punched at his legs. “Put me down, now!”

He growled and struck her ass hard three times.

She hit him again.

He retaliated.

 For every blow she landed against him, he tripled with his own.

“Help! Somebody, please help,” she screamed, knowing it was in vain. Not a single person had come to her rescue during the attack by the betas, and no one would oppose an Alpha. Parseons would not, and though shock registered on the faces of her fellow vendors, the Commander moved too swiftly for them to do anything—if they had dared. Her fear rising, Tara began to cry.

Before she knew it, they had exited the Bazaar, left the Market, and boarded the sky tram.


Monday, May 12, 2014

A Paranormal Drink....

Besides being a foodie, I also like to 'dabble' in mix-logy. Last summer my focus was on vodka martinis, this year I decided to experiment in the breezes/hurricanes. My first attempt was this weekend and I called it Pele because of the fruit combination.

In Hawaii mythology the goddess of fire is known as Pele. It is said the villagers would leave different fruits for the goddess. If the fruit wasn't sweet enough, ripe enough, or if enough wasn't offered, Pele would make the volcano's erupt.


Pele Breeze (fire wind)
1/3 cup of coconut vodka
1/3 cup of pineapple vodka
1/3 cup of mango vodka
1 1/2 cups of tropical fruit juice
ice
pineapple chunks for garnish

Mix all ingredients together in a blender except the pineapple chunks. Pulse until it has the consistence of a slush. Pour into glasses and enjoy :)


What are some of your favorite summer drinks?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Romantic Times

I've been stuck in the writing cave for far too long. It's time to break out. Seriously, I wrote FIVE books in the last year and a bit.

So I'm going to Romantic Times. Actually, as you're reading this I'm packing up. I leave on Monday May 12 for NINE days. Five of those nine are traveling back and forth from home to NOLA, but still I'm looking forward to it!

I'm hoping to do a cemetery or ghost tour. Something fun and creepy while I'm down there.

As long as I don't have to deal with gators or snakes or bugs.

*shudder*

If you'll be at Romantic Times, seek me out!

I'll be at Club RT on Wednesday May 14 at 2:30 p.m., and I'll also be at the giant book fair on Saturday!

It's Romantic Times or bust!