Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sometimes You Don't Need Words

I'm going to share this video for the sheer joy it's been giving me this past week, ever since fellow PNRomantic Beth Matthews shared it with me. The montage has every science fiction love of mine from Forbidden Planet to Farscape to Firefly, with Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and Wall-E thrown in, plus more. (There are a few mild words in the Nicky Minaj song - sorry, just look at the lovely starships.)

Oh and I have a new science fiction romance out, Mission to Mahjundar, but I'll talk about that next time!
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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Are You Ready?

Summer is ending here in Wyoming. We are having night temperatures drop down into the forties, trees are starting to get yellow leaves, the garden is producing cantaloupes and bushels of tomatoes and summer squash. It rains a little in the night so I find small puddles near my car. Soon I will be driving to work before sunrise. My early morning coworkers and I talked about the buddy system for those dark mornings, so no one has to walk past the decorative shrubs that might hide mad scientists all by ourselves.

Yesterday the elevator door at work started closing slowly, so slowly. The thought came-- What if a vampire or werewolf was after me, I might not make a get away on the elevator. Good thing I have my brass colored aluminum cane! Maybe that awful elevator is working with Evil!

Too bad my cane doesn't have a button to deploy a razor sharp knife out the rubber grip on the end.

The supernatural season is upon us, the season of wet leaves, full moons, footsteps sounding behind you on a empty sidewalk. There's a Stephen King movie marathon.

I am in the mood for vampires. Maybe I'll reread JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood, or better yet, spend some time browsing new paranormal romances with vampires. Or shifters, love those too. Any suggestions?

My writing time is haphazard right now, but I have this mind video...A young woman drives home at night on deserted streets. She waits for a left turn signal while stopped under an overpass (like the one just by my house!) and a figure drops from above and lands, crouching, just in front of her car...It begs to be written.

The Season of Darkness approaches

--are you ready?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Cat Shifters...Normal...Black Cat Shifters...HOT STUFF

I like shifters. I do. I like that they can be two things. I especially like cats. I'm probably in the early stages of being a crazy cat lady. Hey. It happens. To celebrate my love of cats, cat shifters and hot guys, I wrote the Stray Cats series. This particular book, Cat Groove, has an episode from my life. Okay, so I didn't have a cat actually turn into a hot guy reminiscent of Colin O'Donahue from Once Upon A Time, but I've had to chase cats down for flea baths. Read on!

Stray Cats -- Book 3: Cat Groove  

Megan Slayer
Changeling Press

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.

©Megan Slayer, 2014, all rights reserved
“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.”

* * * * * *
When she's not writing the stories in her head, Megan Slayer can be found luxuriating in her hot tub with her two vampire Cabana boys, Luke and Jeremy. She has the tendency to run a tad too far with her muse, so she has to hide in the head of her alter ego, but the boys don't seem to mind.
When she’s not obsessing over her whip collection, she can be found picking up her kidlet from school. She enjoys writing in all genres, but writing about men in love suits her fancy best. The cabana boys are willing to serve, unless she needs them. She always need them. So be nice to Javier or he will bite--on command.
She also masquerades under the name Wendi Zwaduk and is published through Ellora’s Cave, Changeling Press, Decadent Publishing , Liquid Silver Books, MLR Press, Resplendence Publishing, and Total-E-Bound Publishing.
Megan’s Fan page!
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wednesday's Whimsical Thought Vintage French Perfume Labels

Over on my own blog I do a Wednesday Whimsy feature, usually with some of my Victorian era trade cards. (Today's is Muses, Graces and Xanadu, if you want to go check it out.) I thought since we have an open day here, I'd share some lovely vintage 1920's and 1930's French perfume labels that I picked up recently.

"A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future," said the famous Coco Chanel.

I think perfume has its own magic (which qualifies the topic for here at PNR Romantics LOL). A whiff of the right scent can transport you in time and place....

"A woman's perfume tells more about her than her hand writing," said Christian Dior. Well, my hand writing is pure scribbles so you won't get much about me from that. I started out wearing dribs and drabs of my mother's various perfumes and I seem to recall liking Lily of the Valley at one point. The first one I became absolutely loyal to was Toujours moi. I wore that for years and it was definitely my signature scent.  Then I switched to Tresor and more recently also loved Michael Kors Hollywood. Which of course he's now discontinued. Bummer. But I've moved on to a new love - Acqua di Gioa from Armani. The scent just seems to fresh to me, reminds me of the woods and a stream and peaceful times...

The biggest factor for me about perfume is whether it gives me a migraine or not. There have been some I
adored, but absolutely couldn't wear, not even for five minutes. So when I do find a scent that I like, which doesn't give me a migraine, I'm happy. Such finds are few and far between, sadly.

I LOVE that Sephora lets you pick tiny perfume testers as freebies when you do an online order, because then I can sample new scents at home and wash them off right away if I can feel the headache coming on.

"Music at times is more like perfume than mathematics," said French philosopher and existentialist Gabriel Marcel. (Scratches head.) I have next to no idea what he meant - maybe he'd inhaled too much perfume! But it's a cool quote.

I'll leave you with this one, from Arthur Symons, a British poet: As perfume doth remain In the folds where it hath lain, So the thought of you, remaining Deeply folded in my brain, Will not leave me: all things leave me: You remain.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Confessions of an Indie Virgin . . .

I’m approaching the release of my first self-published book. (October 13! Mark your calendar!) After 25 plus years in the business, I didn’t think there were many ‘firsts’ left! I’ve survived the first rejection, first CALL, first publisher revisions, first book signing, first data processor, first press interview, first computer, first Editor from Hell, first collapse of the mid-list (and second!), first death of the paranormal romance (and second!), first foray into social media, first career resurrection (and second), first e-book, first return of rights and reissues . . . the list goes on and on. But something about this first step into Indie waters has me unusually anxious (well, usually I’m anxious about everything, but this time, more so!). I guess I was afraid I was just too old to learn new and scary tricks.

But then I looked around and saw I was not alone. As writers, we are first and foremost survivors. And to survive, we adapt. We may not like it, but we do it. And when we do it, hey, we just might like it.

I’m a control freak (yes, sadly it’s true!). I love to oversee every little nook and comma of my career, and Indie pubbing just might be my new love. Where the degree of author input varies within the big houses in NY, when you’re at the helm of your Indie ship, you’re the captain. You’re in charge of what fills your sails and what stars you follow. And of who crews for you (more on that in later posts!).

REMEMBERED BY MOONLIGHT, the 9th book in my “By Moonlight” series and first to be piloted by my hand, will debut on October 13, 2014. If those who’ve ventured upon those uncharted waters have any advice that will lead to smoother sailing, it would be greatly appreciated!

“By Moonlight” Book 9
By Nancy Gideon
October 13, 2014

Because the road to . . .

Clever, cool and preternaturally lethal, Max Savoie is leader of a secretive shape-shifter clan, heir to a mobster’s legacy, and the love of New Orleans’ top cop . . . but he can’t remember any of them. The only way to recover his past, and his rightful place in the arms of the woman who risked all to save him, is to surrender to a mysterious visitor who could use him as a weapon against all he’d loved.

Happily-Ever-After . . .

After rescuing her mate from his ruthless captors in the north, hard-hitting Detective Charlotte Caissie is now painfully vulnerable—a stranger in his eyes . . . and in their bed. The key to his memories is locked in a tortuous past. To reclaim the strength of their passionate bond, Max must learn to trust her enough to face that darkness at her side before the threat it hides exposes the secret Cee Cee carries.

Is never smooth.

When an investigation into grisly deaths in an underground Shifter fight club points to more than just dangerous clan rivalries, Cee Cee enlists Max’s help to find a traitor in their midst while there’s still time to turn a deadly invading tide. But the cost of saving their treasured future may mean sacrificing his past. Especially when the enemy they pursue . . . might be Max, himself.

Catch up on the “By Moonlight” series at my Website or join in the fun with my Nancy Gideon “By Moonlight” Goodreads Group as they count down to the new release.

* * * * *

Nancy Gideon is the award winning author of over 55 romances ranging from historical, regency and series contemporary suspense to paranormal, with a couple of horror screenplays tossed into the mix. She works full time as a legal assistant, and when not at the keyboard, feeds a Netflix addiction along with all things fur, fin and fowl. She also writes under the pen names Dana Ransom and Rosalyn West.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Getting ready to go IN THE VOID!

When IN THE BLACK came out earlier this year readers were eager to come on board the Bonnie Belle and meet the courtesans, including the enigmatic Captain Samantha Keller and Marshal Daniel LeClair.

You haven't visited the Belle? Why not?
It's available NOW at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Carina Press!

Now it's time to see how far IN THE VOID someone would go for love...
(slight spoilers for IN THE BLACK, so be warned!)
“Stimulation of the erogenous zones is essential.”
Sean Harrison groaned and turned the page.
“Make sure to maintain eye contact and inform your partner that they’re special.”
He put down the tablet and rubbed his eyes, feeling a headache starting.
Some people thought being a Guild courtesan was all about sex.
It was mostly true.
But whoever had written this paper on how to sexually satisfy women had to be either a eunuch or Sean’s girlfriend from the sixth grade, who’d thought kissing immediately led to pregnancy.
He swam over to the bathroom sink and pulled a moist cloth out of the dispenser. He looked in the mirror and spotted a few new wrinkles around his eyes.
It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.
And he was getting tired of stomping on the gas pedal.
Rubbing the hot fabric over his face helped push the pain away, not so much the annoyance.
He’d had to pay for this report as he had to pay for almost everything from the Guild. The rules and regulations dictated everything from exactly how much he could charge for his services to the cost of a hot shower. It was a constant juggling effort for the courtesans to coax tips from their customers to stay ahead and not end up chained to the Guild beyond their five-year contracts.
In exchange the Guild provided excellent training and let them travel the universe, visiting distant mining bases to bring civilized conversation to lonely men and women.
Along with great sex, of course.
Sean pushed the damp towel into the disposal chute and paddled back to the receiving area where the tablet still spun in zero gravity, waiting for his return.
“Crap,” he announced to the room. “Crappity crap crap.”
A knock came at the hatch.
“It’s open.” He never bothered to lock the door between landfalls.
Harry Lafayette bounced through the hatch and smacked his legs on the table as he flailed to stop himself.
“Hey.” He nodded to Sean. “You seen this new report? Man, if I had this in high school I would have scored big time with the ladies.”
Sean closed his eyes in an attempt to call up that inner peace April kept talking about.
Had he been this annoying on his first tour?
Had he ever been that young?
Sean resisted the urge to check the mirror again.
“It’s just a guidebook,” he said, trying to sound as kind as he could. “It’s put together by experts,” he paused, almost hearing the air quotes around the word experts, “who claim to know what women want. It’s not gospel.”
The bare-chested man floated around the receiving room, the smallest of the three-room suite each courtesan occupied on the Bonnie Belle. “But the trainers said they’d tell us everything we needed, teach us what we needed to keep our customers happy.”
Sean smiled. “Some things only come via life experience.” He resisted the urge to rub the invisible wedding ring on his left hand. “The Guild is good but you’ll pick up things during your first tour that they can’t teach. Don't be afraid to ask for help from the rest of the crew.”
Harry chuckled. “You mean April, Kendra and Bianca, right? ’Cause I don’t think I’m going to get much from Jenny and Sam.”
Sean shrugged as he reached out for the tablet hovering between them. “Jenny’s the best mechanic out here. And Sam, well—she’s a damned good captain. This is my second tour and I’d have no one else in the cockpit.”
Harry nodded. “I’ll take your word for it. Any word on when we’re getting another courtesan?”
“No.” Sean tapped the screen and sent the report away. “We’re still running one short. You got Dane’s cabin and we’re still waiting for Halley’s replacement.”
“I’m sorry about all that.” Harry looked down. “I know you were buddies with them both.”
“Not so much buddies, but work associates.” Sean wasn’t sure how to explain it to the rookie. “You can be on the same ship for months, years and never be friends with anyone else. Halley—” He choked up, thinking of the dead courtesan.
They hadn’t been friends but they sure as hell hadn’t been enemies. If Sean had been the one to find her dead in her cabin with her throat cut—
“Dane Morris was an asshole,” Sean growled. “He killed one of our own and tried to kill the captain. He was no friend of mine.”
Harry nodded. “Understood.”
Sean released the tablet and rubbed his face with both hands. “I’m sorry. I’m a wee bit on edge.”
“No problem,” Harry replied. “I guess this gets boring to an old pro like yourself after a while.”
Sean was in the middle of composing an answer when the alarm went off.
“All personnel immediately report to the galley.” Belle’s calm voice was in contrast to the blaring siren. “Please report to the galley.”
Harry flailed in zero gravity until Sean got hold of his arm and helped him to the hatch.
“Is it bad?” Harry asked as they opened the door and swam out into the hall.
Sean wasn’t in a mood to sugarcoat his response. “Probably.”
Kendra drifted into the hall, her movements graceful even in weightlessness. She eyed the two men.

It wasn’t a question.
Book two of Tales from the Edge
Catherine Rodgers doesn’t like Mercy spaceships, or the courtesans who work on them—not after her husband left her for a Mercy woman. But after her luxurious transport ship gets blown up to prevent her from cracking the lid off a corporate scam that’s left hundreds dead and a few people very rich, the only vessel around to save her is the Bonnie Belle.
Sean Harrison has worked as one of the Belle’s courtesans for years, bringing happiness to countless women along the space lanes. When he’s asked to look after Catherine while the Belle brings her to safety, it should be just another job. Somehow it’s anything but.
Sean is captivated by Catherine’s sense of justice and responsibility. And Catherine finds a softer, more emotionally intelligent man in Sean than she expected. Drawn together in darkness under the threat of death, they find the beginning of something lasting. But with pirates after the Belle and a price on Catherine’s head, that beginning might be all they get.
Coming out October 6th from Carina Press!
Pre-order from Amazon and Barnes & Noble today!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Mermaids of Duluthie

I learned something about myself this summer....I like mermaids. Sure, I haven't met one, but I really do think they are the bees knees. And I'm not talking about the creepy ones on the Discovery Channel. Nope. I like my mermaids standard fiction style with long flowing hair and a habit of breaking out in song.

I happily indulged this new love by writing 'Undersea Sweets' for the fantastic "Cookie Club Romance" series. The series includes the stories of 5 young witches who keep in touch by sending each other cookies and other treats. My story is about Milly, who didn't know she was meant to be a mermaid.

Milly Mystic is starting again. For a decade she was a trophy wife to a powerful wizard, and now that he's dead, she's reinventing herself. Who is the real Milly? The nice witch who sends cookies to her best pals? The carefree jet-setter? The only person she knows how to be now is the loaner sitting on her houseboat floating on Lake Superior. But maybe that's as close to the real Milly she's ever been. A fantastic opportunity is about to come her way, and one thing Milly has never been is afraid to try something new.

Prince Baldwin loves being a merman. He travels the world, eats lots of fish, and on occasion catches glimpses of the beautiful humans who intrigue him so much. When a mer-angel lands in his lap, Baldwin does the only thing he can think to do--kiss her. But catching Milly and keeping her are two entirely different things.

Buy it Now on Amazon!

This new affection for mermaids has made my summer better. What about you? Do you have a thing for the mythical beings under the sea?

All the Best,
Stephanie Beck

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What's Hot, What's Not.

So the dog days of summer are here, and it’s hot.

That’s a word that can be taken all sorts of ways. This time last year I’d just finished teaching summer school, and my room hadn’t been air conditioned. With the tarmac outside, quite the opposite; M19 hovers around ten degrees above the outside temperature. If you’d asked me what hot brought to mind then, I’d have probably said something like this…

Of course, that’s not what most people think of when they say ‘Hot!’ While every person in the world has their own foibles and fantasies, around half of them are thinking of something like this…

And the other half are thinking of something like this…

Now, a lot of folks will talk about how ‘hot’ is more than just bodies, and I’ll agree, a knowing smile can be hotter than any amount of skin; either of the following for example… 

Of course, I have one of my students to thank for a completely different, yet surprisingly accurate illustration of what I think ‘hot’ is. As the Anime and Science Fiction club staff sponsor, I tend to take the last day or days of the year and show an episode or two of something. This year, however, one of my students asked that we not watch anything animated. He’s at that age where no matter the subject matter or treatment, if it’s not adequately ‘real’, he feels like it’s childish.

So I went digging in my video library and came up with something which kept him enthralled, yet wasn’t anything he would have picked up on his own: The Warrior’s Way. If you haven’t seen it… go do so. I’ll wait.

No. Seriously. I'll wait. It's that good.

At any rate, as I watched it I realized it shows all different kinds of hot, as well as clearly showing what’s not hot. It shows the pragmatic definition of hot, since it’s set in a desert. It shows things that are typically ‘hot’, like a woman in a fancy, maybe even a little slutty dress or a ripped, shy guy with his shirt off, but in the situation they’re not; the woman is only wearing the dress to get revenge, and the guy hides his chest to hide his scars. All that aside, there’s a scene, and a moment in that scene, that has got to be one of the hottest kisses I’ve seen in a movie. Ever.

For those of you who followed instructions and watched it, it’s the desert knife fight between Lynn and Skinny, with the panoramic three sixty starscape shot in the background. For those of you who didn’t watch it…

WHY NOT? It’s right over here on Netflix. Keep your eyes open around thirty six minutes in, from thirty six to around thirty eight. You can even fast forward to there, but you’ll be missing out. It’s a heck of a movie.

At any rate, as I watched it I realized it’s one of the most beautifully shot scenes and one of the hottest on-screen kisses I’d ever seen. A strong, independent woman, an equally strong, stoic man, both attracted to the other, but neither able to show it openly up until that moment under the desert sky.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Exclusive Excerpt from New SFR Mission to Mahjundar!

Sharing an exclusive excerpt from my newly released science fiction romance Mission to Mahjundar!

Here's the story:
An attempted assassination left Princess Shalira blind as a child and, now that she’s of marriageable age, her prospects are not good because of her disability. She’s resigned herself to an arranged marriage rather than face life under the thumb of her cold stepmother. But then she meets Mike Varone, a Sectors Special Forces officer sent to Mahjundar by the intergalactic government to retrieve a ship lost in her planet’s mountains. After Mike saves Shalira from another assassination attempt, she arranges for him to escort her across the planet to her future husband. She’s already falling hard for the deadly offworlder and knows she should deny herself the temptation he represents, but taking Mike along to protect her is the only way she’ll live long enough to escape her ruthless stepmother.
But what should have been an easy trek through Mahjundar’s peaceful lands swiftly turns into an ambush with danger around every turn. Shalira’s marriage begins to seem less like an arranged union and more like yet another planned assassination. The more they work together to survive, the harder it becomes to stop themselves from falling in love. Caught in a race against time, can they escape the hostile forces hunting them and make it off the planet?
The excerpt is from a scene early in the journey, when Shalira demands the caravan halt at a small shrine to her patron goddess.
Taking a swift glance at the small area of greenery and ruins under discussion, Mike didn’t see any reason not to let the lady have a few minutes to worship, if doing so meant that much to her. “Look,” he said, “The horses could use a break.  If visiting this shrine is so important to Her Highness, why not take advantage of the pond and the shade for a few minutes?” He touched her arm. “You weren’t planning on a long stop here, were you?”
“No, I suppose not. I only want to offer a quick prayer,” she said. “Will you escort me?”
“I’d be honored,” he said, ignoring Johnny’s smothered curse.
A few moments later he was walking beside her, guiding toward the tumbledown ruin set in the midst of seriously overgrown trees, next to a small pond and a gurgling stream. The rest of the column had remained behind, on the fringe of the oasis, per Shalira’s request.
He felt a cool breeze, the first one of the day.
Shalira stumbled over an exposed tree root and he cursed himself for inattention even as he kept her upright. “I’m sorry, I’m not a very good guide. You’d probably have been better off with Saium.”
“I wanted you to see this,” she said. “No apologies needed.”
“Why? Why did you want me to come here in particular?”
“I think you don’t really want to be on our planet, nor riding along with me in a slow caravan. I’ve heard you didn’t like the crowded capital or the palace,” she said. “I was hoping this place might give you a different idea of Mahjundar, to take with you, when you leave.” Her lips curved in a mischievous smile. “And I liked the idea of a few moments alone, out of the saddle. Do you object?”
“Not at all. I apologize if I’ve been taking my impatient mood out on you. Nothing personal, Your Highness.” He helped her climb a few crumbling stairs and they stepped into a pavilion, open to the sky. Lush grass grew up between the cracked flagstones and flowering vines wound around the pillars. “It’s quite beautiful. Would you like me to step aside while you worship?”
“Very kind of you. I need to be standing in the exact center, please.”
He led her to the round mosaic in the middle of the platform, colors still bright. As they stepped onto the slightly upraised pattern, there was a sudden trill of musical notes and a brightly colored creature fluttered around his head. Automatically he recoiled, free hand going to his gun.
No doubt feeling him tense, Shalira crowded closer. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
“Are we likely to be in any danger from a bird-butterfly kind of thing?” Focusing on the tiny, brilliantly-hued creature as it fluttered around him, Mike felt a little silly. But there were deadly predators on other worlds that seemed just as harmless at first glance and it wasn’t his nature to take chances.
“I’m sorry, a what?” Her forehead wrinkled as she puzzled over the term he’d used in Basic.
“I don’t know what to call it in your language. They weren’t mentioned in our briefing. Some kind of flying warbler?” The creature set down on his shoulder for an instant, fuzzy antennae vibrating, and then launched itself into the air with another trill of bell-like notes that seemed too loud to be coming from such a tiny being.
“A myrdima of  Pavmiraia! Do you really see such a marvel?” She turned her head left to right. “I thought I heard music.”
“It’s flown off now, to the trees. It was pink and purple and red, with furry white antenna. About the size of your fist.”
“We’d be blessed indeed, to be serenaded by Pavmiraia’s songbird. None has been seen in this area of Mahjundar for centuries. They withdraw, as the old gods withdraw, because the people’s faith wanes.” She shook her hand free of his, not rudely. Arms outstretched, she twirled, dancing, humming under her breath. She made graceful hand movements in time to her tune as she swirled. Pausing for a moment, she said, “I feel so free here, momentary though the sensation may be. I haven’t felt so unencumbered since I was ten and my world fell apart.”
Not knowing what to say to her personal revelation, but feeling pleased she was happy, Mike leaned on the nearest pillar, scanning the ground for snakes or any other menace. He hoped Vreely would let Shalira enjoy her brief excursion for a bit longer. The man had been impatience personified since they’d left the capital city.
“Uh oh, look out, the whatever-you-called-it is back, with a friend,” he said. “Stand still and maybe it’ll land on your hand.”
She closed her eyes and extended one hand, giggling a moment later as the little creature settled on her outstretched fingertips. “That tickles.”
“They have tiny, fuzzy feet,” he told her. “Gave me goosebumps.”
A green-and-blue companion followed suit, touching down on her other hand. Shalira began to sing in a lovely, high soprano and after a moment the myrdima joined in with their crystalline three notes. Mike thought he’d never heard anything so beautiful, on any world. As Shalira continued to sing, in a language he didn’t understand, more of the tiny warblers arrived, in a rainbow of colors, each adding its own three notes to the performance. They placed themselves on the princess’s hair like jeweled ornaments, and more hovered around her in a cloud. Entranced, Mike thought there must be several hundred in all. A few even floated over to where he stood, although none landed on him. The colors ornamenting the wings shone in the sunshine, particularly vibrant against the drab, dusty landscape.
          If they’re waiting for me to sing, they’ve got nothing but disappointment coming
Copyright Veronica Scott 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer Settings

As a writer, I love getting out of my normal, day-to-day environment to experience new sights, sounds, sensations, or smells, and hopefully translate it all in my writing. Summer getaways are a perfect opportunity to recharge the creative mind. This summer my family and I went to Florida with a stop-over in New Orleans, giving me an opportunity to visit some old haunts and spend time with my family in Orlando.

Escaping the Phoenix summer heat is what many Phoenicians try to do. Granted, surviving the four or so months of excruciating heat is often worth the blissful weather we get the rest of the year, but I don’t buy the argument that dry heat is somehow better than the humidity. I guess it’s what you’re used to, but I find the urban heat in Phoenix rather monotonous, a heavy weight dragging me down. I once went to see Pearl Jam play an outdoor concert in the summer and Eddie Vedder compared singing in the heat to someone sticking a hairdryer down your throat. Only the rain brings a sweet relief, when it chooses to bless the desert.

Our first stop, New Orleans is certainly the warm, wet blanket draped over you, but for whatever reason, unlike other humid places, that blanket is sultry. It hugs you, caresses you, lulls you to sleep with a sweet lullaby. Maybe it’s the smells wafting off the Mississippi, the Magnolias draping over rooftops, the Southern charm blended with old European sophistication, or maybe I just watched The Big Easy with Ellen Barkin and Dennis Quaid too many times. Whatever that indefinable quality that is New Orleans, I bathe in it every time I visit. And every time I visit, I stop by the Lafayette cemetery to wrap myself in the mystery and spooky charm brought to life in Anne Rice’s Lestat books. Maybe I’m just hoping to glimpse something crawling out of a masoleum J Here’s a picture we took while navigating the narrow, overgrown paths between the bodies laid to rest.

However, it was our final destination of Florida and it’s coastlines that had my anticipation running amuck. I love my Florida: its beaches, with fine, bleached sand, perfect ocean water temperatures; her back wood rivers stained tea-brown by the over-flowing Cypress trees; clouds so thick and bulbous, and green, green, lushness all around. I grew up in Florida and I forget after living in the desert just how much of a swamp the Sunshine State really is. When you’re there, the atmosphere, the greenery practically grabs you in its velvet embrace (especially the bugs, but I don’t mind it so much). It is like living in a greenhouse, but the evenings are sweet and cool, especially after a fast, hard afternoon shower. It feels so alive to me. The sounds of cicadas, the crunch of the thick green grass under your bare feet, even the textures, like this picture of barnacles on a sea tree branch.

Not to say I don’t appreciate the quiet subtlety of the desert flora and fauna, almost respectful in its cohabitation. I love nature in all its shapes and sizes, which seems so alive in the summer, so vibrant, but I have a bias. I am a child of the salt water, the currents, and the wet sand flowing through my fingers. I grew up digging for clams, dipping for shrimp, undulating with the ocean currents. These are the sights, sounds, and sensations I love the most. Speaking of sounds—with meaning, one day we took off for a small island in one of the channel rivers on the coast on my brother’s boat. The moment we arrived, we heard thrashing in one of the small trees, finding a black bird stuck in the fronds, its foot caught on a fishing line. Fishing runs in the soul blood of all Floridians and some fisher people are more responsible than others. I like to think that my family is one of the responsible ones. We never tossed used fishing line in the environment and proof positive of our care was in finding the poor trapped bird that day. It was a joy, maybe serendipitous, that we happened upon the bird that day. The boys rigged a knife on a long branch and cut the line, freeing the bird. A great start to a perfect summer day.

Mimi Sebastian

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sneak Peek at the Prequel to The Twelve Kingdoms

It's been really exciting, seeing my Twelve Kingdoms series take off. Last month on Paranormal Romantics, I talked about how much it meant to me for book one in the trilogy, The Mark of the Tala, to receive RT Magazine's June Seal of Excellence for a book that "stands out from all the others reviewed that month."

And it was crazy fun being at the RWA National Conference in San Antonio and having some of those same reviewers come find me and gush about the book. One of them, after the award was announced, told me this tweet had been about my books.
She was talking about the first chapter excerpt from The Tears of the Rose, which comes out November 25 and is up for pre-order now.

SUCH  a huge relief to hear that.

I think this is a common writer neurosis - or human neurosis, maybe - that you worry that what you do NEXT will be a failure. It's like this terrible flip side to success. A book you write is celebrated and immediately you start thinking, what if they all hate the next one?? What if I've peaked with that book?



Did I mention it's a neurosis?

At any rate, early readers are telling me they like book 2 even better and people are being lovely and wonderful by turning around and ordering The Tears of the Rose right after finishing The Mark of the Tala. Which is great, because it makes my publisher happy to see that. And right now they're making noises about taking the series to Frankfurt to maybe sell to foreign editors and that I can maybe do three more books after this.

So I can obsess about those, too. :-)

In the meantime, I'm starting up a newsletter that you can sign up for here. The first issue will include a prequel story to The Twelve Kingdoms trilogy, that previously was only available in an anthology. Here's a little sneak peek of that story, Negotiation. If you've read The Mark of the Tala, you might very well recognize these characters.

          Salena didn’t need to smell the blood to know the warrior was wounded.
          It showed in the sag of his body, the way he cradled his side, curling over it with that animal instinct to present the ridged spine to the cruel world, protecting the soft underbelly. 
          Nothing he did would protect him from her.
          She hung back in the shadowy grove, letting the snowfall muffle her scent and the stark lines of the forest disguise her shape. After so much watching and waiting, the moment was finally upon her.
          The man swayed in the saddle, barely conscious. His will, however, penetrated his fevered mind to keep him clinging to his horse while the stallion carried him to the one place Salena could never allow him to go.
          None of this surprised her.
          Very little did, really. Which could be both good and bad.
          In this case, only one real question remained. Which would this be?
          She’d seen this moment coming for most of her life. This pivot point for so many fates arrowing in from the beyond, like a meteor set in motion eons ago, just now hurtling into physical view. From her dome under the sea, her sacred seat of power, the images had played out for her, all the futures equally possible until the moment of decision, when the pattern of events became inevitable.
          For years she’d examined the outcomes, unable to discern which of her actions would trigger each. Now the moment was upon her. The next choices would set the course for her beloved land of Annfwn, for the larger world and, not incidentally, her own fate.
          Nothing would stop this meteor of destiny and the resulting destruction. All any of them could do was choose the point of impact. And by any of them, that meant Salena, because she was the only one who knew.
          She’d made her first choice already, just by being here. The warrior must not be allowed to enter Annfwn.
          The stallion nickered nervously, rolling an eye in her direction. Not seeing her yet, but catching her scent perhaps. Or just sensing the presence of death, the predator in the forest. She padded nearer, the horse dancing aside, into the deeper snow off the path.
          The warrior grunted, pain jouncing him into greater awareness, his hand going even now to his sword hilt, as if he could swing it. He would be easy to kill. In her wolf form, she could overmatch the weakened man. His blood would run hot and sweet in her mouth and so many things would never happen. Especially for her. Her life would be reasonably good if he died now, alone in this forest he should never have entered. A short-term solution, oh so tempting in its simplicity. More, the outcome beckoned—Salena would live out her days in Annfwn, perhaps not happily, but not in misery.
          It galled her to see past the short-term, to the chaos of civil war, the death, disease and starvation that would grow so large that the festering would eat into Annfwn itself. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Probably not even in her lifetime. Another woman would have pretended not to see it, would have turned her face away and enjoyed the now for what it was.
          Salena herself would have done it, before her baby died. Before Tosin took the coward’s way out and killed himself.
          Grief taught you things.
          Salena would never again ignore the portents, never again place blind faith in joy.
          She slunk closer, letting the horse sense her now, the glimpse of a fang in the shadows, not too much. Just a hint of canine musk, of danger. Not this path. That way, towards the only choice she could make—saving the man who would be her slow destruction.