Tuesday, August 14, 2018

RealDoll - The Future of Love & Romance?


RealDoll is a talking, emoting(?) human-size, life-like sex toy. They are pretty amazing.

I first saw the RealDolls on a Facebook post and had to learn more…like if they made male models.  I dropped that idea like a lava rock when I found out the price is a modest $10,000.  Not this week.
Abyss Creations is making Love For Sale—very reminiscent of my book of the same name.  Love For Sale was published in 2015, but the story goes way back to the 90s.  It began as a short story, won an award, and I thought ‘why not a novel?’

I digress.

One of the dolls, the one shown in the ads, is named Harmony.  A columnist from the Engadget visited Abyss’ facility and met Harmony. He said, “Harmony’s eyes are a window to an uncertain future.”

I am intrigued by AI used as loving companions—not so much as pleasure bots, but the RealDolls have their place.  There are a lot of lonely people, for one reason or another. Some are just not socially adept. Some are deformed or consider themselves unattractive and unable to find a companion.  Coming home to their doll may be a bit weird, but it’s better than coming home alone, if you crave company.

"A lot of the people who buy the dolls can be shy or socially intimidated by real social situations," McMullen of Abyss says. "And so, they get the dolls and a lot of times it — it does something magical for them. You know, it gives them a feeling of not being alone, not being a loner. And so, it's the companionship that I think, more than anything else, appeals to those people in particular."

“Harmony can hold a conversation, but she's far from a perfect. When McMullen gave me a spin with a beta version of Harmony AI, I ramped up a series of random personality traits to their highest levels, including "annoying," "sexual" and "insecure." It's like a scene out of West World, but Harmony is no Maeve Millay.” Quoting the Engadget article called ‘Computer Love’.

Guile Lindroth is the Brazilian AI engineer and the brains behind Harmony's brain. He has worked for more than 15 years on the project. He manually programs her knowledge base. This permits him to control the conversation without having to access too much of a end user's data.

The term – the Uncanny Valley—was coined by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in a 1970 paper about human reactions to lifelike robots and describes that eerie feeling one gets when encountering an artificial human that comes close to but doesn't quite measure up to "being human". 
Sex bot aside, if you met Harmony, would you find her creepy?  I asked this question on another post about human-like robots earlier talking about the Japanese models.  I’m very interested because of Love For Sale, which is about sentient, human-like androids built to sell as companions, but in the end that was not their purpose.



Monday, August 13, 2018

The MacGuffin by Diane Burton



"In crook stories it is almost always the necklace, 
and in spy stories it is most always the papers."


I’m working on the fourth book to my Outer Rim series, The Spy. The bad guy—introduced in book 1, The Pilot—has his fingers in government, industry, religion, everywhere. They call Hallart a galactic gangster. Through his minions, he’s into every aspect of life. Yet, citizens go about their everyday business, oblivious to how he’s changing their lives. And not for the better.

One brave man infiltrated Hallart’s organization. In the five years, he’s been undercover, Quin worked up through the ranks until he’s as close as he’s going to get to the gangster, the inner circle. His time is coming to an end. He’d better get out before he’s exposed. But he has one more task. One that will bring down the organization and expose all who work for the gangster.

All he has to do is find . . .

Here’s my frustration. I don’t know what he’s searching for. If the story took place in present time, I’d guess a code book, a ledger, incriminating pictures, something like that. But this is science fiction, and the story takes place in the future. I’ve used terms like plexi-sheet instead of paper, an electronic reader instead of books. Where would a gangster keep his records?

Or is that really what Quin needs to expose him?

No one knows what he looks like, except his trusted inner circle. You’d think that a picture or holo-vid would expose him. Here’s the kicker I introduced in book 1: he’s a shape-shifter. And not just one shape. He can shift into anyone. I guess I should have thought more about that when I invented him six years ago. LOL

In the movie Casablanca, everyone wanted letters of transit, something resistance fighters (and just about anyone) needed to get away from the Nazis. The interesting thing is, in the 1940s, there was no such thing. It was a gimmick for the film. In Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, it was the plans for a silent plane engine. In Pulp Fiction, it was a briefcase. Movie goers didn’t know what was in the briefcase. That wasn’t important. In Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV), R2-D2 is the object. In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy and the Nazis had to find the Holy Grail, the chalice Jesus supposedly used at the Last Supper.

Alfred Hitchcock called such an object a MacGuffin. It’s something everyone wants and is searching for. In the film, or book, the importance is how the object impacts/influences the characters. Finding the object is the motivation for the characters. It’s not important what the object is.

Back to my story, I’m a third of the way through. I know where it’s going. I know how it will end. But because I don’t have a name for the object of Quin’s search thing, I’ve been using the infamous “xxx.” It’s not important what I call it, but I do have to give it a name. Hence, my frustration. Maybe I should call it “the MacGuffin.”

Suggestions?

In your stories, have you ever used a MacGuffin? What was it?


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Hot off the Presses! Release Day for KINDLING THE DARKNESS by Jane Kindred


Today is a bittersweet release day: Kindling the Darkness is the last in my Sisters in Sin series from Harlequin Nocturne, which closed in early 2017. The three half sisters of the Carlisles—Laurel, Rowan, and Rosemary—were destined to take things to their conclusion—and possibly change the world. Maybe at some point in the future, I’ll decide to revisit their stories, but for now, I’m happy to have the series finale tell the story of Lucy Smok—twin sister of Lucien Smok, aka the Prince of Darkness.

Lucy may be one of my most difficult heroines. I won’t be surprised if some readers don’t care for her. She’s prickly and conflicted, and she’s super hard on herself. But she’s also one of my favorite heroines, for those same reasons.

From a young age, she’s had to take on too much responsibility, taking the brunt of her father’s authoritarian abuse while Lucien played the irresponsible rake. At only 25, already having spent years managing the family’s paranormal consulting business and now the head of Smok Pharmaceutical in the wake of her father’s death, she finds it impossible to make human connections. Lucy is used to having one-night stands for practicality’s sake—scratch the itch when it’s needed so she can get back to concentrating on business. Feeling betrayed by her father and abandoned by her mother—and left holding the bag when Lucien descended to Hell’s throne—she’s resorted to dangerous coping mechanisms, including projecting a cold, caustic personality. Her one pleasure is hunting down Hell’s escapees—and choosing her favorite gun to do it. Frankly, she’s a mess. And I can totally relate to her.

Oliver Connery, on the other hand, is probably one of the most grounded heroes I’ve written. He’s older than my usual hero, and he’s had time to work out what he believes in and what’s important to him. He brings his groundedness and calm to Lucy as a stabilizing force—even when she resists that stability—and, more importantly, he doesn’t try to take the lead—in business or in love. As young as Lucy is, Oliver quickly recognizes that she’s as experienced as she claims to be in tracking paranormal fugitives—and can not only hold her own against monsters but can kick Oliver’s ass if she needs to.

Oliver, of course, isn’t without his own problems. He’s spent years blindly following orders—first in the Marines and later in a secret paramilitary organization whose mission was tracking and capturing paranormal creatures for experimentation. It was the death of his wife and fireteam partner that finally made him take stock of what he was doing and what he wanted out of life. Now he’s happily hiding out in the small mountain town—and thriving “ghost town”—of Jerome, Arizona, acting as the unofficial protector of Jerome’s paranormal community. That is, until Lucy shows up, shooting first and asking questions later.

While we’re on the subject of Oliver, I need to say something about the cover. Oliver is half Navajo and half Welsh, with cinnamon-brown eyes and skin to match, and his hair is a heavily salted dark brown. As you can see, the Oliver on the cover is blond and blue-eyed with light skin. The design process didn’t permit me to see the cover until it was final, so although I tried to get it changed, there wasn’t really anything they could do at that point. Harlequin has done a wonderful job with my covers, and this is the first time they’ve missed the mark, but I just wanted to acknowledge that this is not representative of Oliver.



Kindling the Darkness (Sisters in Sin, #5)


He Wants Redemption... She Only Knows Damnation
Oliver Connery left a secret paramilitary group because he couldn't stand the thought of torturing supernatural beings. Lucy Smok's mission is to send infernal creatures back where they came from. When Lucy learns that Oliver has been harboring hellhounds, she wants to think of him as an enemy—and Oliver wants to think the same of her. But their feelings for each other are another story...

Available now from the following retailers:

Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | BAM! | Booktopia | iBooks | Kobo


Excerpt

Climbing back up to the car took a monumental effort. Lucy leaned back in the driver’s seat and closed her eyes just for a moment. When she opened them, the stars visible through the windshield had shifted significantly. The clock on the dash read two in the morning. Her muscles ached, and her shoulder was killing her. She touched her fingers to the torn cloth over the bite; it was soaked with blood. There was no way she was going to make it home like this. And she knew the address of exactly one person in Jerome. He’d said he lived in the building his shop was in, which meant the upstairs must be his residence.

Lucy drove back to Main Street in Jerome and managed to find parking in front of Delectably Bookish once more. Her head swam, and the ground dipped and swayed as she got out of the car. Lucy gripped the post beside the entrance of the shop to steady herself and pounded on the door.
A light came on above, followed by the lights in the shop a moment later. Oliver Connery appeared, shirtless, salty hair askew and glaring furiously out of those cinnamon-brown eyes as he unlocked the door.

“What the hell is—?” He stopped, staring openmouthed as he took in her appearance. “Jesus. What happened? Come inside.” Oliver put an arm under hers and led her in to sit on one of the couches. “The werewolf?”

“I’m even more sure now that it’s not a werewolf.” Lucy rubbed her brow with the back of her wrist. “It’s incredibly fast and resilient—and strong—and it shifts with the wind, like it just decides when it wants to be human.”

Oliver had gone to the café counter to grab some towels, and he returned with them, shaking his head as he pressed one to the shredded shoulder. “I knew this was a bad idea.”

“I assure you, I’m perfectly capable of handling this thing now that I know what I’m up against.” She was sure of no such thing, but she wasn’t about to listen to more of his criticism of her age and experience. Or implicit criticism of her sex.

“So you didn’t kill it.”

Lucy grabbed the towel from his hand. “It wasn’t for lack of trying. You need to get over this idea that all lycanthropes are misunderstood people who need to be given a chance. This thing is a monster.”

“That isn’t what I meant.” Oliver frowned down at her. “You’re going to have to take that suit off. We need to disinfect the bite, and you’re probably going to need stitches.” He held out his hand. “Come with me.”

Lucy bit back another retort about being fine and not needing any help and instead took his hand to let him pull her up from the couch. Because as much as she hated to admit it, right now, she was not fine.

Upstairs in the bathroom of Oliver’s apartment, Lucy peeled off the torn suit and blood-soaked white shirt—both of them ruined by her transformation before the creature’s teeth had even sunk in—and sat begrudgingly on the covered toilet to let Oliver clean the wound and sew her up. “I can do that myself,” she complained between gritted teeth. “I know how to stitch up a wound.”

“Oh, for God’s sake, stop trying to impress me. I get it. You’re experienced. You’re tough as nails. You’re a total badass.”

“I’m not trying to—”

“That wasn’t sarcasm.” Oliver glanced up, his cinnamon eyes dark with concern. “I am impressed. I’m also very worried about this bite. If it’s a werewolf—”

“It’s not a werewolf. And…I happen to be immune.”

Oliver’s dark brows drew together. “Immune?”

“One of the perks of owning a biotech firm that specializes in parapharmacology.”

“I see. I don’t suppose that particular pharmaceutical is on the market for ordinary folk?”

“It’s part of a limited trial.”

Oliver’s jaw tightened, but he said nothing else.

As he tied off the stitches in her shoulder, Lucy became acutely aware of the fact that she was sitting here in his bathroom in her bra and underwear while he was wearing nothing but a pair of flannel pajama bottoms. One of the other aspects of her heightened senses at this point in her cycle was unusually intensified sexual desire.

After putting the first aid kit away, Oliver glanced up and seemed to realize her state of undress as well. “Let me get you a robe.” He slipped out of the bathroom and returned with one in blue-and-black flannel that matched his pants.

“Thanks.” Lucy rose and attempted to slip her left arm gingerly into the sleeve and nearly pitched forward into him.

Oliver steadied her, instinctively avoiding her arm and shoulder, instead catching her about the waist. His hands nearly circled her. Lucy looked up into his intense russet eyes. There were similar-colored highlights in the salt-and-pepper hair, and what she’d thought of as a tan was a matching cinnamon-bark undertone in his skin, evenly warm…everywhere.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

What Will They Say About You?

Last month I went on vacation with my family to Key West, Florida. This wasn’t our first visit there, but it was the first time we toured the Ernest Hemingway Home and MuseumAs a writer, I knew
about Ernest Hemingway, but most of it was regarding his writing, screenplays and many of his quotes
 (I do love quotes and more quotes!).

Yet the people in town who encouraged us to visit mostly discussed the multitude of six-toed cats that resided in the home. The tour guide discussed Ernest Hemingway's marriages and personal life with enthusiasm and at length.

I understand how many people desire to get to know an author’s personal story, but it made me wonder. Most authors can ramble on behind a keyboard, but tend to be more private about our personal life. 

So, just what impression will we leave behind?

The Man Behind the Typewriter


It was interesting to learn more about the man behind the typewriter. His love of cats and belief that the six-toed cat brought good luck, his turbulent marriages and personal journey through life. But I wondered how much information was precise and what was assumed from the stories people told,
assumed, or gathered from the remnants he’d left behind in his life. 

Kind of like how authors might encourage people to hold judgement on the browser history while researching a novel. Otherwise, all kinds of incorrect assumptions could be made about the author when the information was only specific to a fiction story.

Because most people aren’t preparing to be included in history, or to have their home become a museum for others to tour and create a vision of their life. 

The Heart of a Writer 


Once we finished the tour of the house, we were told that Ernest Hemingway’s writing room was a small, separate structure and that we could go view it if we choose to—heck yeah this was where the magic happens!

Now this is what I truly came for. Unlike the other rooms in the house, that the public could walk throughout, the writing room was restricted. 

I climbed the external stairway to stand in a small area that could only fit a few people at a time. This writing space could be viewed through a small area as we envisioned him crafting his stories in this little hideaway. 

It looked like an ordinary room to most, but I knew that it held the heart of the writer where Ernest Hemingway sprinkled secrets of his life between the pages that were only known to him alone.

(I apologize that the pictures are a little dark, but the lighting wasn't the best. Note the cat that has taken residence in the chair.)




What We Leave Behind


I like to think we’re leaving an impression behind us every day, and not just after we’re gone. That what we do, and how we treat others, will be how we’re remembered. Authors might have a little of an advantage in that we can leave a little bit of ourselves in our stories, or share some of our personal journey through life on our blogs, although this depends on just how much we want to share with our readers.

This tour reminded me to be mindful of how routine interactions each day could leave a lifelong impression. Of how our stories, both in reality and fiction, can live on in other’s lives. 

I don’t anticipate people wanting to tromp through my home one day and discuss the mundane details of my life, or peer into my writing room and try to make sense of my mind from the material articles I’ve left behind. But I can only hope that by being true to my heart and passions, and good to those around me, that the impression I leave is a good one and that perhaps one day I’ll inspire others to follow their dreams too.

What Do You Hope People Will Say About You?


P.S. There’s still time to try to make your dream of winning a Kindle Fire or an Echo Dot come true if you enter the contest right here.

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

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Witchmageddon Giveaway--Zoraida Grey Book Launch by Sorchia DuBois


Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen—Book 2 in my Gothic Fantasy Romance trilogy—officially hit the virtual stands on August 1. I’ll be celebrating the new book with a plethora of playful promotions. Here are a few:

  • Are you a good witch or a bad witch? Compare your sign of the Zodiac with my Zoraida Grey characters. Go to my Witchmageddon Page to see all the links. 
  • Enter to win a unique handmade birthstone pendant, signed print copies of ZG1 AND ZG2, e-copies of Zg1 and 2, Tarot Readings by yours truly, a bundle of books by award winning authors. Entry Form Below. 
  • 99¢ SALE on the first book in the series, Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones, until AUGUST 3. Go HERE to grab your 99¢ copy. 


This week is the big book launch of Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen. As the second book in the series, I think it’s pretty good but it was a witch to write. My publisher wants all books to stand alone so I had to sum up book 1 in the beginning without being too boring and leave the ending open-- since there is one more book to come—but not too open.

I packed it as full of adventure and a specific quest for the main character to complete within the confines of the one book as possible. It still ends with a cliffhanger some readers may not like. Personally, I love books that end on cliffhangers—as long as the next book is coming soon. Heck, I’ve waited years for the next Outlander book and the wait does not spoil the enjoyment in any way.

As it happens, I have the last book in the series nearly ready to go to the editor, so I hope to have the series complete and published by late 2018 or early 2019. In the middle of fall, I have an anthology of short stories about the Zoraida Grey characters to while away time between big book launches. Then I’ll be on to something else—several stand-alone books before I start a new series, I think.

While I’m anxious to start something new, I’m going to miss these characters. I’ve spent the last three years getting to know them. I already feel as if I’ve just wished bon voyage to one of my kids.

Tell me your stand on cliffhanger endings. Are you for ‘em or agin ‘em?


Here is the blurb and a little excerpt from Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen. Don't forget to scroll down to enter the Witchmageddon Giveaway.


Magic may save Zoraida’s skin, but what about her heart?

Zoraida Grey needs help. With the witchy Logan clan holding her best friend hostage in a haunted Scottish castle, she can’t trust anyone—certainly not beguiling but dangerous Shea Logan. And Al, her overprotective boyfriend, doesn’t believe in magic.

Only one creature strikes fear in the blackened hearts of the Logan witches. Trouble is Jock disappeared five centuries ago leaving a trail of destruction across the Gulf of Mexico. Now he’s stepped into a steaming pile of Voodoo.

Can Zoraida drag wayward Jock back to Scotland? And what’s she supposed to do with two men who promise completely different futures?

A Scottish wizard, stripped naked and painted blue—a Voodoo priestess bent on immortality—a yacht-load of Caribbean pirates. What can possibly go wrong?



Buy Links (a universal link that hooks up with several different book sellers):


https://books2read.com/ZoraidaGrey2



Excerpt:


Sun-bleached gravel crunches as we step from the soft bracken of the path onto the rocky river bank. Translucent waves of heat rise from the simmering sand. A cobalt blue sky and looming gray bluffs reflect in the rippling, slow moving stream. From his perch on a locust tree beside the stream, a kingfisher surveys us with a bright black eye. Shea kneels by the stream’s edge, splashing his neck and arms.

Eddies in the stream play with leaves and twigs, swirling around stones and water lilies. I jog past Shea and wade straight out into the creek, clothes and all. My hair billows into a wispy cloud as I sink through the spring-cold waters toward the rocky streambed. If only the current could wash away the damned fog that settled over me as soon as I caught sight of Castle Logan—or was it when I caught sight of Shea Logan? But the cold water can’t perform miracles. My lungs scream for air, and I resurface no better off than before.
Shea crouches on the creek bank like a woodland satyr—Pan himself, maybe. He squeezes water from his black hair and shakes it loose against the dusky skin of his shoulders. The hint of a smile tugs the corners of his lips, and I lapse into a dream of kissing them until they are swollen. But Zhu’s life depends on what I do next, and Shea Logan remains an unknown quantity. 


Giveaway--Win a handcrafted natural stone pendant, a tarot reading, or books. 






a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

GUEST: Katherine Gilbert - Urban Fantasy

Please welcome our guest, Katherine Gilbert.

Urban Fantasy


            I love urban fantasy because of my interest in the weird and gothic. It wasn't hard to acquire. I grew up in a house so creepy many people refused to enter it. My mother--who was the one who insisted we live there--would not go into or allow anyone else near the attic. Really, the crumbling antebellum outbuildings were just gothic set pieces to what went on inside the house.
            Ever since then, I've been drawn to the stranger side of life--and, since a good sense of humor is the only way to survive an uncertain childhood, I've always been drawn to any author who puts a comic spin on the paranormal. 

Here's a taste of my own novel, where Lydia attempts to understands the type of people who apply to live at the Roanoke:

          Lydia blinked, staring at the previous applications, wondering about her current visitor. CP… CP… She picked up a pen, ignoring the fact that she was probably just being nosy, and began to ponder the possibilities. Her pen tapped against the sheets, until the woman looked up and Lydia smiled, forcing herself to at least be snoopy in a quieter way. Most of the rest of the tenant abbreviations were of one word. She started to scribble:
          Captain.
          Uh-huh. Of what, stupid? Undead European cheerleading? She glanced up at Irena and felt even more ridiculous, before trying again.
          Chaplain.
          She almost laughed, imagining. Our Lady of the Weirdoes, we beseech thee… Um, no.
          Culpepper.
          That’s a name, idiot.
          Cupholder.
          Now, she was just getting ridiculous. She tried not to tap the pen again, letting her mind roam. She didn’t notice Irena finishing the application, holding it out to her.
          “Cat Person.” There was a moment before Lydia realized she’d said it out loud. Then, it was her turn to blush.
          Irena was staring at her, understandably, her beautiful, dark eyes wide. Lydia wanted to pound herself repeatedly on the head. It took a lot of will to take the papers from her, even more to speak. “I’m sorry. I’m new.”
          She saw Irena blush and felt even worse. Who the hell was she to judge somebody else? She was clueless, useless, and probably demon bait. “And I’m unbelievably rude.”
          To her surprise, she heard a laugh, warm and amused. Irena was shaking with repressed mirth. “Sorry,” she managed finally. “I’m just not used to anyone saying it without a pitchfork.”
          It didn’t seem a likely way to form a bond, but it worked, mostly, Lydia decided, because of the cat person’s humor. Any further conversation between the pair was temporarily interrupted by Geoffrey. To her relief, he was standing in his office doorway, arms crossed over himself, smiling. “Lydia’s new to this world,” he informed the possible tenant. He said it with enough warmth that she could tell he wasn’t angry with her. When he moved forward to collect the applications, the warmth deepened. “There are a lot of God’s creatures for her to meet.”





Protecting the Dead
by Katherine Gilbert

Blurb:
After a childhood filled with demons and her devil-worshiping parents, Lydia longs for a quiet, normal life, a safe haven somewhere blissfully dull. Being the manager at the Roanoke Apartments seems to fit that bill. But Lydia soon learns that you can't leave the past behind so easily. She finds herself faced with unclogging drains for werewolves, conducting nightly vampire counseling sessions, and caring for two talkative cats. Then there's the distraction of Geoffrey, the hottest, and most angelic, boss anyone ever dreamed of.  As if that isn't enough, the demon who nearly killed her shows up to finish the job. So much for a peaceful, simple life...

Buy Links:




Author:
Katherine Gilbert was born at house number 1313 and then transplanted to a crumbling antebellum ruin so gothic that The Munsters would have run from it.  She has since gained several ridiculously-impractical degrees in English, Religious Studies, and Women's Studies. She now teaches at a South Carolina community college, where all her students think, correctly, that she is very, very strange, indeed.

Where to Find Katherine:
Goodreads:

Bookbub:

Monday, July 30, 2018

It was so exciting I decided to do it again!

Remember last month I told you about the release of the third book in my Prophecy series? Well, on July 24th I released another book. Or, re-released it, that is. My one and only PNR romance was part of Amazon's Kindle Worlds and therefore available only through Amazon US.

That's it. Not even international Amazon users could buy it. It was a sad time for many of my readers.

But then, glory be! Amazon decided to close Kindle Worlds and give authors the rights to their books back!

What does that mean? It means Made for Her, my vampire romance set in S.E. Smith's Magic, New Mexico, isn't just for Amazon US anymore. If you use B&N, iTunes, Kobo, or Amazon International, you can finally buy a copy of this book.

And, bonus, the print copy will be be available in time for the holidays (or sooner, if I can swing it.)

But wait! There's more! Many other Magic, NM series books also re-released and are available wide. Yay! <tosses confetti>

Here's da info, my peeps:


Vampires and faeries and snake-shifters. Oh, my!

Donnie McAllister’s dream job turns into a nightmare when she discovers her boss isn’t as human as he seems. Racing against time to return a legendary dagger to the land of the Fae, she must rely on a dangerously sexy vampire to navigate a world she never knew existed. Because if she doesn’t deliver, it’ll cost Donnie her life and leave the ancient weapon of untold power in the hands of her corrupt, venomous boss.

Four hundred years ago one man destroyed everyone vampire Mikhail Cherneski held dear. Now his nemesis is after Donnie, the human woman whose blood calls to Mikhail like no other. For she means more to him than a simple snack to satisfy his despicable eternal thirst. When Mikhail comes face-to-face with his enemy, he must risk his immortal life or watch Donnie suffer the same fate as his family.

Another bewitching story from Magic, New Mexico.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~



USA Today Bestselling Author Lea Kirk loves to transport her readers to other worlds with her science fiction romance Prophecy series. She's an avid Trekkie, Gryffindor, and wannabe space explorer. She's made one foray into paranormal romance with her Magic, NM vampire novella, Made of Her, and hopes to write more stories in this world. 

When she's not busy writing, she's hanging out with her wonderful hubby of twenty-eight years, their five kids (aka, the nerd herd), and a spoiled Dobie-mix pup.
Social Media Links for Lea Kirk:



Saturday, July 28, 2018

#cover By reservation Only from Barbara Edwards



Celebrate with me! I have my book cover for By Reservation Only with the Wild Rose Press. You might wonder why I’m mentioning a contemporary here, but it fits. The story line has a ghost haunting the Deerbourne Inn.

The publication date is undecided, but will be soon.

By Reservation Only is Book One in the Deerbourne Inn Series, an ongoing saga about the people who visit or live at the Inn. the stories vary from contemporary romance to historical romance, a ghost story and a mystery. and thats only the start.

I’m looking forward to reading all of them.


The Deerbourne Inn is in Vermont. a small town near all the area attractions. Do you ski? Fish? Hike? Like Fall foliage? Hunt antiques? There is something for everyone. 
Plan on visiting. 

Please follow, friend or like me. I love to hear from my readers.
Amazon Author’s Page http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003F6ZK1A


Friday, July 27, 2018

Warrior Woman: Ng Mui by L. A. Kelley


When westerners think of Chinese martial arts, the term kung fu generally comes to mind. The word kung fu is a compound of (gōng) meaning work and (fū) merit, and refers to any skill that is acquired through learning or practice. Kung fu is often misunderstood by outsiders to be a single fighting style. In reality, it is made of several hundred styles or schools, and legend has it one of them was founded by a woman.

Ng Mui was born in a noble household in China in the seventeenth century and her life is a mixture of fact and legend. In some stories she is the daughter of a general in the Ming imperial court, in others a princess, but because of wealth and family influence, she had access to an extensive education and the best kung fu teachers of the time. In her younger years, Ng Mui mastered several Shaolin martial arts and even developed a new training regimen on upturned logs to develop balance and leg strength, a practice she later incorporated into her own fighting style.

Her transformation into a warrior woman began in a bloody coup. The Manchus defeated the Ming dynasty and took over the rule of China. Ng Mui parents, fervent supporters of the Ming, were killed. Fortunately, she was away from home when the purge started. She escaped to Kwangsi Province and took refuge in the White Crane Temple. Due to the Shaolin’s support for the Ming, the monks and nuns faced great danger, so had to remain on alert for attacks.

Ng Mui became a Buddhist nun. Although highly proficient in the existing styles of kung fu, she felt it was possible to devise a more effective fighting method which didn’t rely on brute strength or require years to master. Her story has several versions, but the one I like says one day she watched a fight between a stork and a snake. The stork used its wings and legs to deflect and counter-attack at the same time. Inspiration struck Ng Mui. She adapted the technique to create a unique new martial art that emphasized a delicate but natural self-defense style and transcended size, weight and gender. The movements required little force to block and could strike effectively and efficiently.

At first, her new technique had no name. Then Ng Mui met a beautiful young girl named Yim Wing Chun. Her fiancé was away fighting with a rebel force and a bandit warlord tried to force her into marriage. She refused and he threatened her and her family. Yim Wing Chun feared she’d have to yield to his desires, but Ng Mui convinced the girl to give her six months for training. By the end of six months she mastered the new art of self-defense and then challenged the warlord to combat. She defeated him. Her fiancé returned and was impressed with her new skill. She bested him, too, and he begged her to teach him the fighting style. He named it Wing Chun in her honor. It translates as “everlasting springtime” which sounds pretty soft for one tough cookie.

Ng Mui became one of the Five Elders of the Shaolin Temple, the most respected marital artists of the 1700s. Because of the Shaolins’ support of the previous Ming dynasty, the Manchu eventually attacked and destroyed the temple. The elders escaped and scattered in different directions. Ng Mui and her followers supposedly went into hiding in the Himalayan foothills where she became part of a rebel force and continued to teach kung fu.

Wing Chun was reintroduced in the twentieth century by Grandmaster Ip Man, regarded as the greatest and most insightful teacher of Wing Chun. He moved to Hong Kong in 1948 and became the first master to teach the fighting style to the general public and spread the popularity of Wing Chun around the world today.

L. A. Kelley writes science fiction and fantasy with humor, romance and a touch of sass. She also finds your lack of Wing Chun disturbing.


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

When Inspiration Strikes by Nancy Gideon

Where were you the last time it happened? In your car? In line at the grocery store? Just falling asleep? At work? At the kids’ baseball practice? Chances are you never expected, and were unprepared . . . for inspiration to strike.


It would be nice if the creative process was predicable and on command. You’d sit down at the keyboard and there it would be, just pouring from your poetic soul onto the page. Yeah, right. How often does that happen? Writing is mostly hard work, herding those slippery, evasive words into an intelligible format one sentence at a time - kinda like cat wrangling. But ideas, those little buggers, can pop up at any time, lightning across the blank heavens of your thoughts, blinding, illuminating, and gone in a flash.

How to catch them before the sizzle fades, that’s the trick. The biggest trick of our stock and trade as writers.

We all remember exactly what we were doing at some momentous event in our life time. The impressions are still as rich and fresh as they were then. Why can’t inspiration be like that, instead of that spark that fires and fades before we can capture it?

"Be prepared!" That all inclusive Scouting motto serves a writer well. Expect the unexpected. If you get those bolts from the blue at a particular (and inconvenient) time, be ready with that Mason jar to trap them while the light’s still bright. When you’re in bed? Keep a flashlight and a notepad on your night stand. In the car? Use the record app on your phone or keep a small notepad in your console to make notes – at the next stop light! At the kids’ events? Again, carry a notepad with you - At All Times! Or send yourself an e-mail or text message (again, NOT while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle!) so you can refresh your memory later.

Post-It notes are my best friend! They’re my Mason jar of ideas, bits of dialog, topics for that next pesky blog post. And they come in great colors to excite my OCD/ADD soul. The inside of my purse looks like a murder board, with bits and pieces stuck all over it. They’re small, light, re-stickable and your new bestest ever inspirational friend. When plotting, I’ll use the inside of a file folder and begin sticking Post-Its with scenes, characters or dialog along a timeline (you can use a color for each - if you're REALLY OCD!). Nothing fancy and completely portable, giving a visual overview of your mental process as it's ticking happily along. Just tack additions in, move them down the timeline, make adjustments wherever and whenever necessary.

My "favorite" place to get inspired is in the car on the way to work in the morning, during the long open stretches along MSU farmlands from Lansing to Okemos. Peaceful, quiet (except for my CD songtrack for the current WIP) and just enough coffee to stir the ole brain pan. Yesterday, I was driving in, bemoaning the end of the last book in my four-book House of Terriot series that will lead to the last in my 10-book By Moonlight series. Ten years of my life. What to do next . . . I didn’t want to leave these vivid characters behind . . . and there it was. That sudden bolt from beyond, whispering, “Next generation YA/NA . . .” Needless to say, I was scribbling like mad when I got into the office, even before I turned on all the lights! Those Post-Its are in my purse as I type.

Be prepared.

And just in case you're in the mood for a little escape from the barrage of work thoughts, let me offer a getaway . . . the rerelease of my w/a Dana Ransom contemporary, TOTALLY YOURS, is on sale for just $0.99 until month's end. A vacation for the mind if the body and bank account can't afford to take one.

Where were you when that last bolt of inspiration struck? How did you capture it? Share your tricks.
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Nancy Gideon on the Web