Thursday, July 30, 2020

Did you know...?






Hello again everyone! Only one more day before we level up in our seemingly endless 2020 Jumanji game. In my determination to keep things light (because we all need a break, don’t we?), today I’m sharing some fun, little know, trivia about my books.







Last year I was pounding away at the keyboard writing the most recent novella in my Prophecy series. The working title was “Maggie’s Story.” How’s that for creativity? Ahem, yeah. I was also working on the fourth book in my Prophecy series, entitled…wait for it… “Lost.”

The Three-syllable Series

I know, I know.

I put my husband to work thinking up suggestions that might jar loose some ideas in my head. A while later he asked, “Did you know the titles in your series have three syllables?” Well, no. No, I didn’t. So mentally went through them: Prophecy, Salvation, Collision. Yep, all the novels did have three syllables. Huh.








So, what about my series short stories and novellas in this series? Blue Christmas, Space Ranger, All of Me. Well, look at that, also three syllables. What a weird coincidence. So, the gold standard for titles in this series has now been set. Three syllables. No more, no less. And no pressure, right?









The good news is that Maggie’s Story was released last year as Skylar’s Gift.*. (Three syllables, yay!) And Lost is now Paradox**. Go on, count ’em, there's three. Boom!

(Side note: I’m still working on Paradox. It’s a complicated story because it’s an SFR time travel and has lots of layers, as you can imagine. And because the hero, Juan—the son of the H&H from Prophecy—seems to enjoy tormenting me.) 



Moving right along! One of my current projects is writing three books for the Intergalactic Dating Agency. The Silverstar Mates series releases in September, October, and November, and there is a subtle something about these books too. No, these books do not follow the three-syllable standard, so what’s so quirky about them? It’s not that the heroes all have wings and other bird of prey like features, or that all the protagonists are 50+…although, it is fun to write about people in my age group.

The neat little thing I added to this series is that all the heroines have “bird” names. Robyn, Meryl, and Nixy. Nixy? How is that a bird name? I’ll give you a clue: it’s short for something. Can you guess what it is? (One of the blurbs will give you the answer.)

Speaking of my new series, check out the covers. All three books are available for preorder now.
Above the Storm * Wing and a Prayer * Trial by Fire

A few other exciting tidbits for you:

This SFR first-in-series sale ends tomorrow, 7-31-20.


 My ebook version of Prophecy is on sale also through 7-31-20.



Sign up for my monthly newsletter and receive a copy of my short story, Space Ranger, for free.

That’s all for this month. Tune in on August 30th for more fun stuff from me!

XOXO
~Lea

*Special thanks to my awesome friend Rosalie Redd for brainstorming this title with me. If you haven’t read her books yet, check ’em out. They are a-maz-ing!

** Hugs and kisses to Mr. Kirk who did manage to jar loose this title. 


~*~*~*~*~


USA Today Bestselling Author, Lea Kirk, loves to transport her readers to other worlds with her sci-fi romances. 

When she’s not busy writing about the blue and green aliens of her Prophecy series, she’s hanging out with her hubby, five kids (the nerd herd), and a spoiled Dobie mix pup.

She is currently working on the fourth book in her Prophecy series, and three new books for her Silverstar Mates series featuring age 50+ protagonists coming this fall. (Part of the Intergalactic Dating Agency)


For more on Lea's books (past, present, & future), check out her:

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Soft Bronze by @meganslayer #gay #gayromance @evernightpub #romance #hotread #celestialmates

Soft Bronze by Megan Slayer 

Book 2 in the Celestial Mates series

Contemporary Paranormal Gay Romance

M/M, Anal Sex, Masturbation

Short Story

From Evernight Publishing

Art by Jay Aheer

 

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

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

Available now from Evernight Publishing: http://www.evernightpublishing.com/soft-bronze-by-megan-slayer/

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/3J0Nje

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CHYFY8Y/

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07CHYFY8Y/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07CHYFY8Y/

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07CHYFY8Y/

Amazon DE: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B07CHYFY8Y/

Amazon FR: https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B07CHYFY8Y/

Amazon IT: https://www.amazon.it/dp/B07CHYFY8Y/

Amazon MEX: https://www.amazon.com.mx/dp/B07CHYFY8Y/

Amazon JP: https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B07CHYFY8Y/

BN.com: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/soft-bronze-megan-slayer/1121341548

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/soft-bronze-1

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Megan_Slayer_Soft_Bronze?id=1Q1WDwAAQBAJ

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/soft-bronze/id1374107625?mt=11

 

Excerpt:

©Megan Slayer, 2018, All Rights Reserved

 

Zelus placed his hands on the lid of the box. They couldn’t cover him. They couldn’t sell him. He was real. His heart hammered. This bastard couldn’t steal him or make money from him. No way.

Finally, he had his heart back. If he screamed, they’d know the curse had been broken, or at least they’d have him sent away from his guard. He’d have to bide his time and wait until someone opened the lid. He wasn’t sticking around for Gus to use him. Even if it took magic or begging his father, he’d get out of Gus’s clutches, then he’d find Camden.

He couldn’t believe his luck. He had finally found the person to break the curse, but now he was stuck in a crate, headed for a store’s window display.

What a time to not have his powers!

He’d wait. There wasn’t much else he could do. Zelus closed his eyes. Camden broke the spell once. With another kiss and a declaration of love, he could destroy the curse forever.

All Zelus had to do was hold on.

 

 

 

NOTE: Book One in the Celestial Mates Series is Soft Marble: http://www.evernightpublishing.com/soft-marble-by-megan-slayer/

 


Monday, July 27, 2020

What's' your Favorite Mondegreen? by L. A. Kelley (Then scroll down for a 99 cent Christmas in July sale)


What's your Favorite Mondegreen?

(Then scroll down for a 99 cent Christmas in July sale)

I’ve been listening to a lot of audio books lately and it drives me a little bat nuts when I hear a mispronounced word. (Note to narrator of my current listen: The word ‘chassis’ is pronounced CHASS-see and not CHASS-sis, and the term is duded up not dudded up.) I have a tendency to yell at my tablet. I also have a tendency to yell at music I’m listening to when the singer mumbles and I can’t quite figure the words. “Enunciate and spit it out, you dolt.” That’s when my brain, of its own accord, reaches for a mondegreen.


What’s that, you say? You all know them and may even have a favorite. A mondegreen is an error resulting from a listener mishearing something in a song, poem, or phrase. Since the listener can’t determine the correct words, the brain substitutes something else that sorta makes sense, but leads to a lot of head scratching.


The word mondegreen first appeared in 1954 in an article in Harper’s Magazine. It was invented by American author and editor Sylvia Wright. As a child, she heard the Scottish ballad The Bonnie Earl O' Moray: It had the line, “They have slain the Earl O’Moray and Lady Mondegreen.” It always made her feel sad and puzzled since Lady Mondegreen was never mentioned again. Who was this mysterious woman? The earl’s lover? An innocent bystander? Why was she murdered? It wasn’t until years later when, as an adult, she saw the poem in print and discovered to her surprise the line was actually, “They have slain the Earl O’Moray and laid him on the green.” Ms. Wright coined the term mondegreen and stated they were often better than the original. I tend to agree.


The first mondegreen many children hear is probably from the Pledge of Allegiance as generations have pondered the vow to Richard Stands. The mondegreens I recall fondly are generally associated with music. One of my favorites is Killing Me Softly With his Song, sung by Roberta Flack. She obviously dug the guy in the song, but I never could figure out why since he kept “strumming her face with his fingers.” How annoying to have someone constantly poking you in the eye. I’d have smacked him. Oh, he’s “strumming her pain”, you say. Well, that makes a bit more sense. I probably wouldn’t have hit him for that.

One song that drove me nuts for years was I’d Really Love to See you Tonight by England Dan and John Ford Coley where the young man, desperate for a date, is whining that “He’s not talking about the linen.” What linen? Did he leave a mess in her bathroom? Steal her good sheets? That would certainly have put him on my ex-boyfriend list. Maybe if he bought her a set of nice percales or Egyptian cotton towels, she’d let him back in…oh, he’s not talking about the linen, but “moving in.” Okay, I can see that, but frankly, the linen has a more interesting backstory.



What is it with Elton John? He speaks like a regular Brit, but when he opens his mouth to sing, all this weird stuff falls out. His Rocket Man has the neighbors up in arms because he’s “burning up the trees off every lawn.” The HOA will hear about this. No wait, he’s actually, “burning out his fuse up here alone.” Then there’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Even if you hear the right words, they don’t make sense. “There’s a dark cloud inside of the house.” (“The dogs of society howl.”)  “You can’t land me in the henhouse.” (“You can’t plant me in the penthouse.”) I guess he needs to go there because of the dark clouds in the house, but I wonder if the chickens will ever accept him as an equal. Finally, he just gives up and goes back to Howard and Al in the woods. That’s nice. His two best friends have missed him, until you realize it’s actually “back to the howling owl in the woods.” Okay, but, frankly, I think the owl is of the same mind as the chickens and couldn’t care less. He should look up Howard and Al and join them at the pub for a pint. He’d feel better after a nice chat.

Do you have a favorite mondegreen? Or are the ants your friends, blowing in the wind. (“The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.”)

 Christmas in July Sale

Amazon Buy Link
The Naughty List is on Sale for 99 Cents until July 31. Free on Kindle Unlimited.

This isn’t a typical yuletide tale.

Murder, mystical artifacts, an invisible demon with anger management issues, and an overbearing cupid—not what Rosalie Thatcher wished for on her Christmas list

The holidays had always been a magical time for Rosalie, but not this year. Her new manager at Penrose’s Department Store is determined to make this season the most profitable in the store’s history, even if it sucks the life out of every employee. Introducing arbitrary rules and stealing the affections of the cute temp Santa were bad enough, but forcing Rosalie into the stupid elf hat was the worst. The worst, that is, until she meets a real E.L.F. (Elemental Life Form) named David and gets lassoed into a desperate hunt for the stolen Naughty and Nice List. Now all Rosalie and David must do is dodge a murderous invisible demon and recover the missing artifact before hellhounds track them down. The couple race against time for without the magical guidance of the Naughty and Nice List, the world will tumble toward eternal chaos.

EXCERPT
She pulled a battered cardboard box from the closet and ran her hand lovingly over the dusty surface. Rosalie’s Christmas Box—her mother’s handwriting clearly visible even after many years. She set up the bedraggled artificial tree and wrapped around the lights. A boxful of handmade ornaments, a few strands of garland and voilรข! Rosalie stood back to admire the results. The top of the tree canted lazily to one side, most of the glitter had fallen off the macaroni wreath, and the craft stick reindeer lacked one googly eye. To her mind, the tree never looked better.

Rosalie placed one final ornament near the top, a bright pink snowflake always hung last. Her father bought the ugly hunk of plastic before he passed away. She loved every garish bit. Austin always ribbed her about the little tradition to jumpstart the holidays. Now he was gone, too. Off to a new job with a new girlfriend in California.

“At least we have each other, Snowflake.”

She slipped into pajamas and made a PB&J. Snuggling under the comforter on the sofa, Rosalie watched TV while she ate. The twinkly glow of the tree lights cast patchy shadows on the wall.

“Life isn’t so bad, Snowflake. The holidays are almost here. Penrose’s always shines during the holidays. Plus, I’ll get my employee bonus soon.”
The thought was enough to perk up Rosalie. Maybe the extra money would keep her a few car payments ahead of the game. She shivered as an errant chill sent a ripple of goosebumps up her arm. Suddenly nervous, she glanced around. The lights didn’t seem so bright anymore, intensifying the drab interior.

Except for one.

The little pink snowflake cast a blood red reflection on the wall as if flashing a warning. She blinked. The image vanished. Rosalie chuckled to herself. Oh brother, I’m really tired. She turned off the TV and staggered into the bedroom. Five minutes after her head hit the pillow, she was asleep.
* * * *
David stood on top of General Robert E. Lee’s head and surveyed the surroundings. The lake at the foot of Stone Mountain, Georgia, was far below surrounded by a mixture of wooded areas and green open fields. As dusk settled, Atlanta’s lights twinkled in the distance. Any other time he would linger over the breathtaking view, but he wasn’t there to sightsee. He closed his eyes and let his senses drift. For a few horrible moments the thread eluded his grasp. Did the connection sever already?

Oh please, not yet.

With undisguised relief, he latched on to the sharp unmistakable pull. The Book was south this time—definitely south. At least, he headed in the right direction. He realized his hands shook and grinned wryly.

You’re not dead yet. Keep ahead of the hellhounds and you’ll be fine.

David’s sharp eyes pinpointed an open spot down on the valley floor over eight hundred feet below. The light was strong enough for him to get a good fix; no cars, no people, nothing to impede a soft landing. He casually stepped off General Lee’s head, and dashed-away in a puff of wind.


AMAZON BUY LINK  Free for Kindle Unlimited


L. A. Kelley writes sci-fantasy adventures with humor, romance, and a touch of sass. Her life story only makes sense as a mondegreen.




Saturday, July 25, 2020

RISE BY MOONLIGHT – Now Available by Nancy Gideon


It’s so hard to say good-bye to the friends, family and a city who’ve shared your 4:30 mornings at the keyboard and late nights sleeplessly plotting for over a decade. But all good things must end and RISE BY MOONLIGHT completes that 15-book love affair with it’s release on August 3rd. What started out as a paranormal submission for a category romance line quickly grew out of control with characters larger than life and a dark plotline bursting at the seams needing four full length novels to even begin to contain the courtship of the two main characters. And then there were all those multifaceted secondary characters demanding equal time. What’s an author to do but write their stories? Could I go on indefinitely? Yes! Should I? Not right now. I’m itching to do something new, something different, but first, my New Orleans clan needs one heck of a sendoff, Mardi Gras Style (beads optional)!


Hope you’ll join in the celebration by shouting out loud and sharing.

♚♚♚♚♚



Max and Charlotte return for the explosive conclusion of the “By Moonlight” series . . .

and the stakes have never been higher!


He’s the Promised One

A Mobster’s attack dog turned legitimate business powerhouse, Max Savoie is the reluctant leader of New Orleans’ shapeshifter clan. They’ve kept to anonymous shadows, working and living unnoticed by the human world until their new Shifter King’s past draws dangerous outsiders who threaten all.

She’s the Protector

A fiercely determined NOPD detective, Charlotte Caissie has sworn to defend her beloved city and her unborn child from both criminals and otherworldly factions at war.While standing boldly at the side of her mate/husband, secrets from the past return to shake the foundation of her beliefs.

They have a Problem

Walking a marital tight rope between opposite worlds,Max and Cee Cee’s paths place truth and trust at odds when outside threats force enemies to become allies.The time to take a stand for their family and their future is at hand. Time to rise together for the survival of all they love!

“Every delicious word on the page exhilarates with a sensuous ferocity. Hopelessly addicted.” – NYT bestselling author, Darynda Jones
๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Watch for Blog Tour details if you’d like to be part of the festivities or just ask if you’d like me as a guest. I’m very tidy.

What’s next? Not sure yet. A return to my historical westerns as Dana Ransom? A Regency romp as Lauren Giddings? Contemporary romantic Suspense? What do you think? Maybe a next gen “By Moonlight?”

For now, Laissez les bon temps rouler!


♚♚♚♚♚
Nancy Gideon on the Web


Sunday, July 19, 2020

Exercise During Covid-19 by Elizabeth Alsobrooks




Writers already know how important exercise is, but with so many folks now working from home, those affected by sedentary existence has skyrocketed. On top of which, exercise is even more important during the Covid Pandemic. Why? Because it reduces stress, helps prevent unwanted weight gain, boosts the immune system (hello!), and improves sleep.

You would have to live in a cave (literally, not just Covid isolation from all but virtual reality) not to notice civil unrest or political tension right now. Many people are dealing with stress from anxiety, financial concerns, isolation, or depression. Stress reduction sounds lifesaving.



Some people fight to gain weight, but many are either happy with their current weight or would like to drop some. Spending more time at home means increased inactivity, watching television, and snacking, snacking, snacking. People are cooking at home and stress baking or making comfort food is an easy habit to form. Exercise lifts mood and helps burn calories.

Boosting the immune system is always a good idea, but right now it too can be a lifesaver. So cooking at home can also  be healthier, without so many added preservatives, sugars, and other unhealthy additives. 


Since stress interferes with sleep, reducing it through exercise will improve sleep that also boosts your immune system and overall wellbeing.

So exercise is definitely good for you during Covid. But wait. Many of us are dealing with gym closings, fitness classes canceled, running or walking groups canceled and even park closures. How do you exercise during shutdowns?

One way is to walk, hike or jog by yourself or with a family member if you live in a safe area. For some that’s just not a very smart option right now. If you have room and are lucky enough to still have a job, you can buy exercise equipment.



Some can't really afford the expense right now though. Luckily, we can still rely on the essential service of internet and/or cable and satellite communications, on computers, tv, or phones. You can find plenty of free or highly affordable fit from home exercise groups or videos to work out with. Extraordinarily little room is needed to do simple floor or standing exercises. Many use no equipment at all. 

You can also do some calorie burning chores. You know you want to clean out that closet or shed, the garage, the basement, or other calorie burning chore you finally have time for.

Even getting up and doing some stretches every hour or so will ramp up your metabolism, but for the optimum of fat-burning and stress reduction it’s best to do some quick-change sets for at least 15-20 minutes. No matter what your age or fitness level, there’s sure to be some online inspiration. For motivation, look for some fb or other like-minded groups. Just don’t push yourself more than you feel comfortable and stop if you feel any pain. If you have any serious injuries or disabilities, consult with your physician before adding any new activities to your routine.

Here are a few resources I've run across, including 3 unusual exercise machines I love and find them easy and helpful for someone with bad knees (like me of no more marathons!). They work great and make me actually have fun working out. I in no way 'endorse' or 'sponsor' them, but I do give them all 5 star reviews in my personal opinion. Everyone is different in their needs, tastes, and preferences. 

The first is a unique INCLINE full motion rower. I just love it. Time to work on those underarms! it takes up very little space and has wheels on the back for easy moving. The incline feature involves many more muscle groups. This works so well that you have to keep at it even on the first resistence setting in order to do 3 sets--which tells me it works! As you pull on the handles, the seat 'rises' beneath you. It literally uses your own body weight for resistence, and has 5 levels of resistence to add to that! Now don't think you won't be able to use this as a beginner. You use your legs too, and can certainly get it going. I can't lift myself even once on a total gym, but this machine lets my legs aid my arms so that I can use it without giving up. Fairly affordable. I got mine for under $200.


The next is a RECUMBENT elliptical. Finally! I HATE regular ellipticals and stationary bikes bore me to tears! Also, this machine has no full rotation of your feet that puts stess on knees or ankles like a recumbent BIKE, and the seat reclines so that you can focus glutes! This is a mid-range machine price-wise. I got mine for under $1000. They do have some cheaper versions, (even an earlier model of this machine, though I opted for the upgraded one), but I have not found one that lets the seat back recline in order to focus on glutes like this one does. There are also some that have swivel seats. These are often used in physical therapy clinics, so are perfect for healthy adults of any age as well as seniors or those with injuries or bad knees like me. Full body workout while you watch TV! What could be easier, right? This also has a small footprint, especially for an elliptical, and has wheels on the back for easy moving.






Finally, want to give some more focused attention to your core (abs!)? Who doesn't right?  I love this unique ab machine for ab work as well as leaning back and getting a great stretch through my entire back. I got mine for under $100. This machine can really isolate your abs.



So now you've seen my entire home gym. I should be in fantastic shape, right? Well, getting there. I just got this equipment together during Covid-19 after a lot of research, and I'm already seeing progress! But you certainly don't need to spend this much money to see and feel real benefits from exercise. The important thing is to get some exercise you actually enjoy on a regular basis.

Don't want to spend any money? No problem. Here's some free videos: 

Video Resources:
For Beginners: Low impact, no equipment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0c-4nZjIWQ

Beginner Cardio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHyGqsPOUHs        
                                                                                   
Beginner low impact fat burning 30 minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gC_L9qAHVJ8         
                                                                                   
50 free online exercise videos with all levels and types of exercise included seated exercise! https://makeyourbodywork.com/how-to-exercise-at-home/



Thursday, July 16, 2020

Writing Strong Characters


Are you more of a plot-driven storyteller or a character-based one? For me, it's always about the characters. What motivates them? Are they believable? What are they up against? I want someone to cheer for, and someone to despise in the novel-verse. I pick up a book already wanting to care about what happens to our heroine. Why? Because it's fun to live in someone else's shoes for a bit. So what makes a strong character?

The Flaw: Internal and External

Every person I know has one, and so should your character. Why? Have you ever read a story/watched a movie where the characters were just plain flat? They didn't have any sense of depth to them. They smiled waaaaaaay too much and never seemed to lose their cool? People aren't perfect, and when characters are they come across as boring. So, really put some thought into your character's flaw. Keep in mind that you should have an internal flaw (or secret) and an external flaw preventing our protagonist from crossing the finish line. Make the flaws meaningful so that when your character figures out what they want, their flaw prevents them from getting it too easily. 

The Quirk:

Just like the flaw, people are full of quirky things that make them interesting. Your characters should have them too. What do they do when no one is looking? What do they do that embarrasses them? These are the details that help your MC (main character) worm their way into our hearts. Think about the things that real-life people do that you find endearing, then attach it to a character and see if it works.

The Motivation:

What, exactly, do they want? Why do they want it? Can you make that motivation more tailored to your MC and their novel-verse? For example, if you're writing about a pirate (and who doesn't love a good pirate?), does he want treasure like every other pirate? If so, how can we tailor the treasure-seeking motivation to our pirate? What if his treasure isn't money, jewels, or gold? What if the treasure this pirate wants, is a person named Treasure? What does he want with this person? Why is he willing to sail the seven seas to find them?

What kind of character traits catch your eye? Tell me in the comments below.

Happy writing.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Sinners' Opera and Love For Sale - Make it So!!

It has been an exciting couple of weeks.  First, Sinners' Opera, a vampire paranormal romance, is now in the Finals for the Raven Award from Uncaged Book Reviews!!  Thanks to each and every one of you who voted for the book in the semi-finals. XX (fingers crossed)





Then, I received an email from my publisher that Life for Sale, a sci-fi romance and sequel to Love For Sale, would be released August 24, 2020!  It will go on preorder on Amazon before that date but when is at Amazon's whim.  Here is a blurb, excerpt, and review snippet. Love For Sale and Life for Sale feature sentient androids, indistinguishable from human.

Love for Sale will be on sale on Amazon, Nook, and iBooks for 99-cents from 7/31 to 8/21. Grab a copy at this special price and Life for Sale, the second in the series, will be available soon.

Blurb:

Mayfair Electronics has created life.

But four of their Special Editions—sentient androids indistinguishable from human—have escaped. Rebel, Christian Aguillard and his owner, March, are on the run, but they have a bigger problem than his creator’s plan to destroy him. They’ve discovered that one of the renegades has suffered a dangerous malfunction, threatening them with more than just exposure. Trapped on a cruise ship in the middle of the Atlantic, March and Christian must stop the insane robot before someone else dies. All the evidence points to March being the killer’s next victim.

Excerpt:



Monica moved closer to Christian, holding his gaze. “You were always your creator’s favorite…it’s rumored.”

Shaking his head, he moved away from her advance. “I didn’t hear that rumor.”

Her brows shot up, but she said nothing. Her steady gaze challenged him to deny her claim.
Was what she said true? Without Damien Wills’ help, their bid for freedom would have failed. They’d have been captured and deactivated on the spot. That scene replayed before his eyes.

“Damien,” he said, urgency lowering his voice. “Do you know why the Special Editions were created and tested among humanity?”

“As companions, as—”

“No. Deactivate the alarm, please.” Christian nodded at the red handle embedded in the wall. “You’re in no danger from us. You are a danger to us. Allow me to tell you what we’ve learned, and I believe you’ll understand where we are going and why.”

His creator stared at him for several precious seconds, considering. Christian felt each beat of time slipping away. Finally, the scientist grabbed the handle and tugged.

Monica’s sensual yet oddly hard voice jerked him back to the ocean liner. He awoke from the memory, gazing over his shoulder at the restless sea.

“Why else would Dr. Wills turn off the alarm, allowing us to escape?” Monica positioned herself in front of Christian. In a bold act, she stroked his cheek. “Did Dr. Wills tell you how perfect you are?” Her shoulders moved ever-so slightly, the gesture carnally arousing. “Every day, Stefan told me how special I was.”

March flung Monica an irritated glance. Now and then, jealousy overcame his wife. Since Monica’s appearance, now more than then. He almost laughed when she captured his hand, staking her claim and warning the sexy android to butt out.

“Looks like we have another Special Edition with an independent streak,” March commented softly—the iron fist in the velvet glove. Monica had better beware.

“I have to be independent. Fending for myself alone.” Monica swept a hand through her hair, the gesture highlighting the pert fullness of her breasts.


At his side, March tensed, a distant look in her eyes. “You don’t have to be single to be alone.”

Why was Monica II acting as if she were the only person never to have found a partner? 

He hated that she’d reminded March of her failed marriage and the long years she felt she’d wasted. They were silent for a long moment, each perhaps considering his or her own quest for love. Christian was relieved when Daniel spoke into the growing darkness.

“Are you that unhappy?” His brother’s voice held compassion, but something else echoed behind his question. He sounded sad as Monica felt—or pretended?

“Let’s just say my life could be fuller.” Monica turned back to the rail, staring at the black sea. “What would happen if we jumped into the ocean? Would we drown?”

Christian stiffened. “No, but don’t test it. The immersion in water might cause a short circuit that would destroy you—”

“But it didn’t—” Daniel broke off when Christian raised a warning hand.

“Why do you ask such a question?” He was concerned, angry, and more than a little worried about Monica.

Daniel joined her at the rail, placing his hands on her shoulders from behind. “We both need someone to love; someone to love us.”

“Let’s change the subject,” March’s expression showed sympathy not pique. “Do we need to change for the big Welcome Party?”

“There’s plenty of time.” Daniel pulled Monica to him and hugged her. “I’m sorry things didn’t work out for you and the pilot. You’ll find someone else.”

She patted his back. “Thanks, Daniel, but it won’t work. I’ve tried.”

March smiled. “Okay, team, our mission is to find Monica’s Mr. Right.”

“I’m in,” Christian said, and Daniel raised a hand.

Monica’s expression hardened. “I don’t think it’s possible.”

Christian shivered, remembering the pilot all too clearly.  A severed head in a box in their backyard. The disgust he’d felt then possessed him now, his heart clenching. His feelings must have shown on his face. March squeezed his hand and whispered, “Don’t go there. We must forget.”
And they had much to forget.


  
Review snippet:

“Nightingale has seamlessly made the unbelievable believable for the reader with a totally unexpected but thoroughly satisfying ending…” S.H.

~*~

So, as Captain Jean-Luc Picard would say, "Make it so."

Have a marvelous Tuesday.-- Linda


Friday, July 10, 2020

THE OXYMORON OF SCIFI ROMANCE


By Keri Kruspe

“Author of Otherworldly Romantic Adventures”



A long time ago, on a planet we call home, lived a shy, red-headed girl with spectacles who only wanted to spend her day reading. Immersed in heroines of old, she vicariously read every comic book she could get her hands on; from Supergirl to Archie to The Avengers.
Having a mother that lived for really old scary movies, the girl watched Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Peter Cushing “B” movies that showed on late night TV. The poor child never saw a Disney movie until she had children of her own.
When she entered the uncharted life of a pre-teen, she discovered science fiction novels. Now Heinlein, Asimov, and McCaffrey were her new best friends. Old reruns of Star Trek along with its “sequel” The Next Generation combined with Quantum Leap fueled her imagination.
Then, in her late teens, she discovered the love of her life—romance novels. Now she vicariously read the likes of Jude Deveraux, Kathleen Woodiwiss, and Johanna Lindsey. These were mostly historical romances, but an occasional contemporary love story would find its way into her eager hands.
To her everlasting sorrow, the saying “and nary the twain shall meet” held true about her two loves, Romance and Science Fiction. Until that one glorious day when the two genres bravely joined and began a lifelong journey of harmony and bliss.
After that happened, the young girl’s lifelong fantasy to become a published author finally found life in the universe.
I’m sure by now you guessed that hapless girl was me.

Once the genre of “SciFi Romance” was born, I worried that it wouldn’t survive. After all, the two separate genres attract two distinct types of readers. Science fiction mostly explores concepts and ideas that change our lives. Romance explores the inner, emotional parts of ourselves that strive for a quest of community. SF is great at “what if” while Romance creates memorable characters we fall in love with.
While I’m being general here (there are always exceptions), I firmly believe when the two tropes merge it creates an ideal canvas to work from. After all, where one is weak, the other is strong.
Too bad it’s hard to convince hard-core SF readers to read Romance, and many romance readers shudder and avoid science fiction. But what I’d like folks to understand is the opportunities in combining both genres to create near limitless avenues of love, adventure, and heart-pounding action. 
Kit Rocha (author of Gideon’s Riders series) explains the appeal:
“Speculative (sci-fi/dystopian/steampunk/etc.) … combines all my favorite things—the chance to build new worlds and new cultures, or the chance to take ours and break it down and put it back together with slightly different pieces. When you get to redefine the rules of what love is and how people express it, you get a lot of opportunities to explore new themes—or old themes from a new perspective.”
One of my favorite authors (ever!) is Sherrilyn Kenyon. When asked what about the genre (paranormal) did she like, she put it this way:
“Blood, guts, goats, ghosts, zombies, vampires, shapeshifters... Everything. I’ve never been the kind of person who liked to color inside the lines or who wanted to play by other people’s rules. With the paranormal and science fiction and fantasy, the only limitation I have is my imagination. I can do anything and go any place (as long as it makes sense and follows the rules of the worlds I’ve set up). I love the freedom of it all.”
Sigh—what’s not to love?


Another aspect of writing SciFi Romance is a biggie for me: it empowers women.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the "bodice rippers" (so coined by the then emerging novelist, Danielle Steel, from the Syracuse Herald Journal, 1983), they focused on the virginal young thing confronted by a powerful, older man. The virgin resists, until the lust between her and the hero become too much to deny. Of course, marriage was the undeniable ending. 
I thank the stars above that the women in today’s romance story isn’t afraid to be in charge. Their needs and desires are tended to, and as with any romance, it has a happy ending. Marriage optional.
That’s important to me, especially now. Times are tough for women. When we feel like we have no control over our crazy lives, we want to read stories not only about romance, but about the feeling of being in charge of an adventure. Add to that the promise of finding that certain someone who gets us. I find it’s even better if that person turns out to be a studly, sexier-than-humanly allowed alien.
To embrace my chosen genre, I drafted my author tagline to be: “Author of Otherworldly Romantic Adventures”. Immediately after that I have the following statement that explains who I am and what I passionately write about: “Stores about feisty heroines who aren’t afraid to take a chance on life… or love.”
What a perfect way for that gangly, red-headed girl in glasses to realize and live her dream.



Monday, July 6, 2020

World Building: Government by Diane Burton





Did you have a good weekend? Did you celebrate Independence Day (July 4th) or Canada Day (July 1st)? 

credit: Shutterstock
I grew up in a Detroit suburb, so Canada didn’t seem like a separate country. They spoke English, the signs were in English. (Only later, the signs were in French, too.) We easily drove across the Ambassador Bridge or through the tunnel where we were asked a few questions, like how long are you staying, where are you going? (This was all pre-9/11.) My sisters and I often went shopping for the day. In fact, I got my wedding crystal in a china shop there.

This time of year, our family often drove over to Windsor for the fireworks that took place on the Detroit River as a joint celebration. 

As a youngster, I assumed our governments were the same. Until the day Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip came to Windsor. Maybe that’s when I realized our governments were different. We had a president and they had a queen, along with a prime minister.


In writing science fiction stories, I need to figure out how the worlds in which my characters lived are governed. I’m sort of a pantser. I get an idea, and I start writing. I keep writing until something stops me, and I have to plot or need to do research or figure out where in the universe I am. 

When I wrote the first book in the Outer Rim series, The Pilot, I had a lot to figure out: where does the story take place; if it’s a planet, where is that planet in relation to others; are those planets connected by a government; what type, etc. How important is that? Does it affect the characters? Once I worked all that out for the first book, the others came much easier—one of the reasons I love writing series.


The author usually knows much more than s/he puts in the book. Think of an iceberg. The story only contains that which appears above the waterline, whereas the author knows everything.

In the Outer Rim series, the stories take place, mostly, out on the frontier of space. This is what I write at the beginning of each book in the series:

The Rim is the home of stout-hearted individuals. Pioneers eager to make their fortunes. Nonconformists who want to be left alone. Escapees from the establishment or from the law. People who reinvent themselves with new names and life histories. From primitive settlements to established colonies to cities, the Rim is the place of fantasies and dreams.

So, if these people wanted to escape the establishment, I needed to figure out what that establishment was. I decided there would be a central government that ruled a Coalition of Planets. I thought of concentric circles spreading out from the main planet where the central government was located.



As the writer, I needed to know how that government worked. My readers only needed to know what affected the characters. In The Pilot, the male protagonist’s (Trevarr) mother is the president of the Coalition of Planets. When that fact is revealed, I didn’t need to give a history lesson on the Central Government. Readers know what a president is. That was enough, at that time in the story. Later, I alluded to the fact that his father had been Chief Representative. That tells the reader the Coalition of Planets were ruled by a representative government with a president. Again, that was enough.

I knew more, of course, but I try to be scarce with details that smart readers can figure out. As the occasion warrants, I dribble out enough details so my readers aren’t lost, and not too much that their eyes glaze over.

In an ironic twist to what I just wrote, my middle grade science fiction adventure, Rescuing Mara's Father, begins in school with a lecture on different forms of government. The female protagonist, Mara, is bored out of her mind and shows it. ๐Ÿ˜Š

A government is only one small part of world building. Have fun developing your world.