Saturday, November 29, 2014

Once in a Blue Moon by @MeganSlayer ~ #paranormal #ghosts #mmromance #LGBT

I have always wanted to write a story that featured ghosts, demons and angels. I've got the ghost and a particularly pesky demon. The angel comes in later.

It's kind of funny. When I started the book, Blue Moon, I had no idea it would be part of a series. It's a short series (three books), but still. I envisioned a short story about two guys, one who is dead and one who hasn't gotten over the death. The story line came out of a conversation with someone about dealing with the loss of a dear friend. I've had some friends come and go, but I haven't lost anyone super close to me (fingers crossed, knocking wood, etc). But I've helped others through this particular crushing time.

During a recent event where a close friend of mine dealt with the death of a beloved pet, I had the characters of Tristan and Paul come to mind. Paul was very, very sad. He had his black cat, Snowflake, to help him grieve, but even she didn't help him deal with losing his partner and best friend, Tristan. All of this didn't come out right away. Paul had to go through the grieving process.

When he first showed up, he was angry and denying his partner had been killed. He'd only talked to Snowflake at the time. Then he moved on to bargaining and depression. If only Tristan would come back, things would get better. The bargaining didn't last long, but the depression did. Blue Moon is his way of accepting and possibly moving forward.

Sounds like it would be a depressing as hell story, doesn't it? I'm not going to lie. Having the conversations with Paul in my head were...heavy. I went through a bout of malaise at the time. Nothing seemed to gel and I was rough. But I got into his headspace and understood where he was coming from. This was tough stuff. The man he loved had died...on Halloween and wearing a cheesy devil costume.

Are you wondering what happened next? Well, there is a demon, a bargain and some hot sex involved. The order of those events, well, you'll have to read the book to find out. I don't want to give too much away.

Blue Moon by Megan Slayer  

Part of the Scare This collection
MLR Press
M/M, Anal Sex, Masturbation
Contemporary, Paranormal, Ghosts
Short Story

The ghost at my door claims to be my ex-boyfriend, back from the dead. Yeah, right.
Ghosts don’t exist. I know they don’t. Why? I’ve never seen one. I’ve seen everything elsefrom Sasquatch to hell hounds and more…even vampires, but I’ve never laid eyes on a ghost.
Go figure. It’s Halloween. All sorts of stuff happens on the spookiest night of the year. There will be plenty of people out having a good time, scaring each other and begging for candy. They’ll try to get me involved, but I know better.
Have I mentioned I hate Halloween? Two years ago on October 31st, my world fell apart and I know it’ll never be fixed. No ghost can ease my broken heart and bring my boyfriend back to me. None.

Available here:

©Megan Slayer, 2014, all rights reserved
“Bitter isn’t a good color on you.”
Paul tapped the remote, silencing the television. He could’ve sworn he heard someone besides the people on the screen talking. The voice sounded like Tristan, but that was impossible. Tristan Evans had died two years ago.
“Come on, Paul. Hasn’t it been long enough?”
Damn it. That had to be Tristan’s voice, but from where? He glanced around the room. With the exception of the cat, he was alone. He’d locked the front and back doors and checked the house to ensure everything was safe. Right after Tristan had died, he could’ve sworn he’d heard Tristan talking to him. The shrink dismissed the voice as being a figment of Paul’s imagination and longing. Paranoia, the shrink called it. Paul only lasted the rest of the session before finding a new psychiatrist.
Hearing Tristan had to be a figment of Paul’s imaginationagain.
“If you won’t properly speak to me, I’ll stop coming to you.”
Paul squeezed his eyes shut. In his mind he saw Tristan leaning against the bedroom doorframe. He wore his favorite ratty, body –hugging blue jeans, no socks or shoes and the old Flashes shirt he loved. The muscles in his arms bulged and his dark hair flopped over his forehead. His blue eyes blazed as he tipped his head to the side. Even as a memory, he sent warm shivers through Paul’s system.
“You’ve got to stop hating the holiday we both loved. Hate won’t bring me back.” Tristan strode towards him and hooks his thumbs in his front pockets. “Cheer up. Please?”
Tears slipped down Paul’s cheeks. The hurt he’d bottled up for the better part of the last two years came back in a rush. “I know I should, but I can’t. I lost you and seeing all of the Halloween decorations makes that loss so fresh and raw. I can’t do it. I love you, but I can’t keep ripping myself open.”
“Then keep loving me.”
Paul wiped his face and opened his eyes. He needed to get his shit together. Talking to a figment of his imagination wasn’t going to help his situation. Still, the words poured out of him. “How? How do I forget the man I love?”
Tristan sat opposite him on the bed. “You keep my memory alive, thus keeping me alive.”
Paul blinked. He’d opened his eyes. There was no way Tristan could be on the bed with him. No way. He’d buried his lover. “You’re a ghost. Ghosts don’t exist. What the fuck is going on?” He scrambled off the mattress and landed on the floor with a thud. One of the pillows flopped over onto him and he shoved it away. His mind had to be playing tricks on him. “No. Ghost do not exist.”
“Technically I’m not a ghost, but you’d be surprised.” Tristanor what sure as hell lookedlike Tristansighed and stood. He turned his back on Paul. “It all comes down to rules and you know how much I hate rules.” He glanced over his shoulder and smiled. “I found a way around the rules.”
Paul rounded the bed and placed himself between Tristan’s ghost and the cat. No one hurt Milonot even a crazy ghost who claimed to be Paul’s ex-boyfriend. “I don’t know who you are or why you’re doing this, but the joke is over. You had your fun and old Paul looks like a moron. You won, now get the hell out of my house.”
“Aww, honey, I’m not trying to dupe you.” The man strolled across the room to the bed. “Paul, I’m here.”

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What This Author Is Thankful For . . . by Nancy Gideon

It’s that time of year—time to make lists of what we’re grateful to have before they turn to the frantic scramble of giving and receiving. I’m tremendously thankful for . . .

My family. Having my Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night with my grandson at my elbow all day to help prepare. The scent of turkey roasting, the anticipation of stuffing (my favorite!), my once a year gravy indulgence, pumpkin pie, traditional casseroles, laughter around the table . . . sigh. Now that’s fulfilling!

My critique group. Wonderful, creative women who’ve stood by me (and behind me when I needed a swift kick!) for two decades! Their support, enthusiasm, truthfulness, empathy, individuality, assistance, gift of the ridiculous, and tolerance is what’s kept me going, both professionally and personally.

The gift of words. I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I didn’t have stories chasing around inside my head (in a good way!). I’ve never taken that ability to spin plots, build worlds, craft unique characters and commit them to paper for granted. It all comes down to two moments: rereading a passage and being surprised at how beautiful the words flow together, and having readers tell me how those magical words I can’t take credit for touched them.

Fans. That handful of vibrant, greedy (in a VERY good way!), gushing, eager readers who push me to give them MORE! Who talk about my characters as if they’re real. Who light up my social media sites with their excitement. Who push my books upon reluctant friends. Who make me strive to be better, work harder, get up at 5:00 a.m. and not retire to the couch to watch Netflix. I love you guys!

Changes in the publishing industry. After three decades of bending to the rules of the Big Six (or is that Four now?), it’s wonderfully freeing to be able to work on those projects of the heart and pass them on to readers who’ll enjoy them through small and indie presses and by self-publishing. I’m tremendously grateful to my publishers and have learned volumes from my fab editors, and now can take that experience to explore brave new worlds as well as the ones they’ve so generously provided.

Health. Getting older ain’t for sissies! Things start to creak and groan, brilliant thoughts flicker and fade before they’re captured, burning that midnight oil gets extinguished at 10:00. Writing isn’t for sissies. We punish our bodies and minds, hunched over the keyboards for endless hours, stressing over lack of time and money, working when others are relaxing, pounding keys when others are sleeping, struggling to stay relevant and unique as the pressures to produce crowd in. Our fingers and shoulders complain, our brain groans with fatigue . . . but there’s always one more blog to write, one more chapter to finish, one more deadline to meet. And the strange thing is, those things that so abuse us are the ones that give us so much joy. We all want to be Barbara Cartland, still putting it out there at 99, so we need to take care of what we’ve got so we can keep going!

The sense of writing community. No other profession can boast of what we have as writers. That generous spirit that lets us see potential rivals as comrades. That has us donating time and talent to others. That close-knit fabric of sharing and rejoicing and commiserating. I’d never met another writer until after I’d published my first three books back in the ‘80s. I was isolated, alone, with no one who understood those creative demons that hounded me. Now I’m surrounded by an inspiring, encouraging sister-(and brother-)hood of like-minded souls whom I can depend upon, lean on, learn from and support. (Group hug!)

The New Year! It’s fabulous to look ahead and see seeds already planted, and have more ready to sow. I’ve got the first three long out of print books in my “Midnight” vampire romance series being reissued by ImaJinn Books in an exciting campaign that repackages and re-releases the entire series together for the first time, one book per month, starting in March, 2015. That’s nine months and I’ve already gone through the labor! I’ve got a completed romantic suspense ready to publish, and the next book in my “By Moonlight” shape-shifter series already plotted. And two western romance series to self-pub with outlines for concluding books in both of them. I’ve got author friends with wonderful things in the works that I can’t wait to support and fangirl.

The Paranormal Romantics. I’m so grateful to have been invited into this fun and talented group. I’ve enjoyed discovering new books and new worlds. I’m tremendously grateful for our retiring moderator who has worked so tirelessly to put everything together for us. May we continue to support and encourage one another and provide our genre with delights and adventurers!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!

And even though it’s not out-of-this-world, here’s a little something to add to your literary table—my new contemporary romance release w/a Dana Ransom:

Can two broken hearts make a perfect match?

Widowed on her honeymoon, Robyn Lee pours all her unfulfilled dreams of a happily-ever-after into her wedding planner business, hiding her own heartbreak by making perfect memories for couples beginning the loving future she was denied. The last thing she needs is the brother of her dream client—whose endorsement will guarantee Robyn’s success—to rock the boat…and her regimented world.

Through the lens of his camera, photojournalist Kyle Travers has witnessed all the ugliness life can offer. Still reeling from the death of his news partner in the field, he sees the frilly job of photographer at his sister’s wedding as an annoyance—until he meets the steely organizer who protects her broken spirit almost as fiercely as he does his own—making him wonder if two fractured halves can make a stronger whole.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

We are never getting back together

by Stephanie Beck
The Case of the Old Flame

When I was in high school in a small town in Minnesota, the drama of two of the older siblings trickled down to my senior class. One older brother and another's older sister had married and had two kids and were now struggling.

This meant, as it often does in small towns, that the younger siblings of the couple were now mortal enemies. Sides were picked. Things were said. Cars were egged.

And then the feuding couple got back together again. Fast forward almost fifteen years and for all outside purposes they look to be very happy together. And the two younger siblings still hate each other.

If I'm writing a shorter story, I do like to look to past relationships as a possible start point, because there is already a history there, and I think history and time play big factors in love (not always, but for the most part I think this is true).

In Super Love, Myles and Dinah were lovers who burned hot and then burned out when she hit a rough spot. I knew they weren't done, though, not these two. I'm glad they gave themselves a second shot, even an imperfect one. Maybe that's what the second and third go-round for couples can do--allow them to approach the other with fewer perfection tainted expectations.

Super Love

Super Love is part of Beachwalk Press's Series Spectacular Event (where all 1st books in series from Beachwalk are FREE at all retailors). Get yours now, and start the Justice Fraternity Chronicles.

Super Love
Reuniting to save the world.

Dinah just wanted to save the world. That didn't pan out, so she turned to social work, only to find herself miserable. When she's given the option of returning to the Justice Fraternity and her life as Dinah-Go, super fast superhero, she hesitates because going back means working side by side with her former lover Myles Steele, aka Man of Wonder.

To save their city from gargoyles, Man of Wonder needs Dinah-Go back in fighting shape. But Myles wants more than just his fighting partner at his side, he wants the lover and friend he lost two years earlier. Getting her will take more than even his super strength.




All the best,
Stephanie Beck

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Guest Author Jillian Jacobs Talks Elementals and WATER'S THRESHOLD

I'm pleased to introduce our guest today - Jillian Jacobs!

Here’s a little about Jillian: In the spring of 2013, Jillian Jacobs changed her career path and became a romance writer. After reading for years, she figured writing a romance would be quick and easy. Nope! With the guidance of the Indiana Romance Writers of America chapter, she’s learned there are many "rules" to writing a proper romance. Being re-schooled has been an interesting journey, and she hopes the best trails are yet to be traveled.

Water’s Threshold, the first in Jillian’s Elementals series, was a finalist in Chicago-North’s 2014 Fire and Ice contest in the Women’s Fiction category.

Jillian is a: Tea Guzzler, Polish Pottery Hoarder, and lover of all things Moose.
The genres she writes under are: Paranormal and Contemporary with suspenseful elements. 
Spotlight Book Title: Water’s Threshold
Series Name: The Elementals Series, Book: 1

Blurb: What happens when a lonely water-girl finally finds her shore?
In a tourist town at the base of the Tetons, Maya Conway, a mythical being known as an Elemental, stands at a crossroads. On her current path, she is content using her life force—water—to protect humans and the environment. Her direction is altered when Mother Nature taps her to guide Terran Forrester, an analytical scientist, on his journey to become the next Elemental—Earth. If Maya crosses into his world, will her lonely heart find a partner or will his rational mind reject her otherworldly existence? When an ancient evil evolved from dark matter shadows their steps, which path will they choose—logic or love?

Short Excerpt:
A low beat of classic rock came from the backyard as Maya stood on Terran's front porch. Always one to forge her own trail, she fought the notion that this pull toward him was predestined. Hadn't she, so many years ago, left behind her birthplace to begin a new life? At eighteen, she had traveled across America by train to California. Forever frozen at age twenty-one, she fought the notion this relationship was chosen for her. Fate did not have her at Terran's doorstep-hope did.
At the door's threshold, indecision raced through her mind. Should she cross into his life and get release for this pent-up need, or should she walk away? If she left, could she keep him safe and ignore the pull attempting to anchor her in place? Could she stand still, neither in, nor out?

Veronica: What prompted you to start writing?
Jillian: Honestly, I needed an addition to my current career. I love, love, love to read, and as I mentioned in my bio, I thought writing would be easy. I quickly discovered being an author is very challenging. I’ve spent the past year and a half learning craft from some very wonderful fellow authors. My goal now is to create work that I enjoy reading. I hope others will enjoy, as well.

Veronica: Which five people would you invite to dinner and why?
Jillian: Elvis, because he’s Elvis.
My grandmother, because I’d like her to meet my son.
Freddy Mercury, because I love his music, and I’d like to hear the truth of his life.
Lastly, a panel of women throughout time, how did they ever make it? Specifically a few brave gals who survived on their own while their loved ones fought in the Civil War. Women who fought for our right to vote. Women who fought for our health care. A glimpse into their strength and persistence would be fascinating.

Veronica: That would make for an interesting and wide ranging discussion. Which word or phrase do you most overuse in a manuscript?
Jillian: Super easy—THEN.

Must watch TV show: Justified- aka that show with Timothy Olyphant
Cats or Dogs: Cats
Favorite Flower: Yellow roses
Tea or Coffee: Tea
Book or books I reread most often: Until You by Judith McNaught and To Tame A Highland Warrior by Karen Marie Moning. I could go on and on.

Veronica: How do you celebrate when you finish writing a book?
Jillian: I don’t really celebrate, because there is still so much to do. I imagine I will celebrate when I get my first royalty check. I’ll probably tell my immediate family, and then get my writing pals together for a mani/pedi.

Veronica: What are you working on next?
Jillian: I’m in final edits for Ember’s Center, the first in my Contemporary series, The O-line. The hero is a professional football player, and NO, he’s not the quarterback. I wrote this series because I feel like all the other players on the team deserve a story. We hear enough about quarterbacks, don’t we?

I’m also in the final chapters of the second in this Elementals series, which will be Flint and Violet’s story. Fire’s Field is the working title.

Where can your readers find you online?

Buy Links for book:
Amazon   Barnes & Noble  All Romance eBooks   KOBO

Jilian: Thanks, for this opportunity to reveal a little more about my story and myself. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Using Horror to Inspire Setting

Surprisingly, or not, my writing is greatly influenced by horror writers, from Ray Bradbury and H.P. Lovecraft to Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. I study them to write tense, scary scenes because my book involves zombies and demons from another dimension, and while I try to incorporate humor, zombies are scary!

In my Necromancer Books, necromancers played a large part in how demons initially made contact with humans, which led to disastrous consequences and which is part of what Ruby, my necromancer heroine, is dealing with in the books. Ruby travels to the demon realm quite a bit throughout the series. Those scenes were fun to write, but also challenging in how to make that world unique and interesting without copying every other fantasy realm already imagined. I drew upon ancient cultures like the Sumerians to imagine my architecture (in the mythology, the demons actually influenced Sumerian architecture) and added some descriptions influenced by both H.P. Lovecraft and Clive Barker.

Below is an excerpt from The Necromancer's Betrayal, a scene in the demon realm, illustrating how the above-mentioned horror writers and a particular experience I had when I lived in Brazil, inspired my demon realm. The description of the bottles containing various creepy crawlies is actually true and based on a bar my Brazilian friend and I visited. The bar was tiny and served shots of cachaca from bottles containing the very same creepy crawlies described in my demon realm! (I apologize for the fluctuating fonts and sizes. This is blogger being difficult.)

Tivor turned down a less crowded, narrower passage, and if I’d hadn’t known better, I’d have said we’d entered a red light district of sorts, with demons stumbling about as if drunk. I raised an eyebrow at Ewan, and he just smiled and waved me onward. Tivor ducked into an opening in the rock. Damon had to bend almost ninety degrees to clear the entrance to what could only be a bar packed into a small cave, as dark and musty as an aged British pub. Stone benches lined the walls circling a stone pillar in the center out of which an enormous, multi-eyed, octopus-like creature served up drinks with his tentacles. I clasped Ewan’s arm. “Why is Cthulhu the bartender?”

He laughed. “Ah, Cthulhu, as you call him, won’t hurt you,” he reassured me, but I wasn’t—reassured. “I guess he does look pretty Lovecraft-inspired, but don’t tell him that. I think he much prefers Poe. Damn good bartender though.”
I stuck close to Ewan as we squeezed our way past the patrons to one of the benches. Rock shelves rimmed the stone pillar, displaying a collection of bottles in various sizes and shapes, all filled with a clear liquid. But it was the items contained in the bottles and jars that caught my attention—things that resembled crabs, snakes, spiders, herbs, snails and anything else that crawled, wiggled, bit, or scraped. There were no large mixed drinks poked with an umbrella and sipped over nachos or onion rings here.
Ewan pointed at the bottles. “Locals swear the ingredients carry medicinal properties. This stuff will cure you of shaky bones, swollen joints, heartache, even financial woes.”
“Until you wake up the next morning with a pounding headache,” Damon said with a wry grin.
Ewan ordered something in demon, and we sat across from Damon and Tivor on benches jammed into a corner of the cave. Cthulhu unwound his tentacles, gripping shot cups carved from garnet-colored crystals. I plucked mine from the outstretched appendage, and it curled back to its owner. Ewan and Damon raised the cups, dipped a finger in the alcohol, and rubbed it on their foreheads before knocking back the drink.
“What’s with the forehead thing?” I asked, still holding my drink in front of me, not quite sure I’d survive the demon concoction.
“It’s our toast. May the drink lighten our hearts and balance our minds.”
I snorted. “I’d say.” I eyed the cup. Well, I was part demon.
“Here goes nothing.” I raised my shot and hesitated when I caught the devious glint in Damon’s eye. That didn’t bode well. I took a small sip and immediately sputtered the alcohol out in a spray. I coughed while the demons laughed. I swore I heard a weird gurgle coming from Cthulhu. “What is this, lighter fluid?” Just the tiny drops that soaked my tongue had sent my head spinning.
I met Ewan’s smile and had to smile myself, enjoying seeing his face lit by amusement instead of tension and anger. “You know, you once told me that human alcohol didn’t make demons drunk, but what about this?” I asked.
He laughed and cocked an eyebrow. “Would you like to find out?” He stood and shouted for more drinks in a display of inebriated braggadocio. Tivor frowned in obvious disapproval while Damon slapped a hand on the Chronicler’s knee. “Tivor, my friend, you remain much too cloistered. How long has it been since you bedded a female?”
I widened my eyes, but Tivor appeared unperturbed. He carefully lifted Damon’s large hand and responded in the demon tongue without blinking. Whatever he said made Damon frown and sent Ewan into a fit of unadulterated laughter. I smiled at his carefree display. Tentacles delivered another round, and Ewan and Damon tossed it down while I respectfully declined, causing said appendages to quiver in disapproval.
Ewan’s eyes flashed, and a wicked, unapologetic grin curled his lip. Already, I sensed an air of mischief about him I’d never experienced before. I’d have loved to discover what a drunken Ewan dared. As if reading my mind, he moved closer, trapping me between his heat and the cold stone wall. He leaned over, and I smelled his breath, hot and spiced from the alcohol. He growled. “I sense his touch on you.”
I closed my eyes, my entire body coiled, ready to spring. My breath escaped in shallow gasps. Ewan continued to surprise me with the many facets to his personality, but I’d never seen this insouciance. The alcohol and seedy location had stripped away the barriers holding him back. He ignored Tivor and Damon, too involved in nipping my neck, as if trying to bite away Ly’s touch, holding the skin in his teeth for a brief devastating moment before letting go.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Pinterest Story Boards

Eorthe is an alternate Earth where vampires, werewolves, and other assorted creatures live. They’ve never even heard of a human until Dr. Susan Barlow tumbled into their world. (Book One) In this new installment (book 2), we’re traveling to the vampire colony of New Berg, where my hero and heroine get in way too much trouble.

So you can imagine I had to do some world building. Every author who writes paranormal/fantasy series knows what I mean when I say we all have tricks to remember the small details of previous books. I can’t express how much pain and time it used to take me to remember what so-and-so’s eye color is or how did her bedroom look like?

*bangs head*

There were nights I wanted to hit delete on the whole project because I was fed up with—wait, what was his eye color again?

I know writers who use Scrivener and Onenote. I tried them but it felt like work. I work enough at my evil day job and taking care of my kids. Until I discovered Pinterest and fell down the time suck well. 

At least, it was fun.

Then it dawned on me that most of my boards contained pictures of things I wanted to use in future stories. Well, heck, why not past stories too! I created my storyboards. Now, readers can go there and see how I picture my heros, dragons, castles, caves…etc.

Better yet, when I need to remember so-and-so’s eye color it’s just a click, and at least, ten new pins away.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Comet Landing

Much to my family's dismay, I wait until the last minute to complete projects. Well, if I hadn't waited until the last minute to write this post, I would have missed out reporting on a fantastic event. 

Yesterday the European Space Agency’s Philae lander touched down on the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This is the first soft landing on a comet that is moving more than 60,000 km per hour. They say it's like transferring an object from one speeding bullet to another.  Historic. Exciting.

Anything connected to space intrigues me. I guess that’s why I write science fiction romance. Sputnik went into orbit when I was a kid and I well remember the Space Race with the Soviets. Back in the 1960s, I knew the names of all the astronauts. Every time there was a space launch, I’d be glued to the television. So learning about this ground-breaking event had me trolling the internet and avidly watching the Science Channel.

The Rosetta spacecraft that carried Philae has already had a long journey—ten years and over four billion miles before it caught up to the duck-shaped Comet 67P/C-G. As soon as Philae landed on the comet's head, it immediately drilled down to anchor the lander to the comet. Sure wouldn’t want it to bounce off. Also, immediately the instruments started working and Philae is sending back information about this icy space wanderer.

What do scientists expect to learn? Possibly about the beginning of the solar system.

Since comets are made up of water and dust, scientists theorize that a dry Earth was bombarded by thousands of comets, which left behind water. By analyzing the data from Philae, they hope to determine if that theory is correct. The lander will take pictures of the area around the landing zone. It will take the comet’s temperature on the surface and deep within. The instruments will examine the dust to tell where the comet came from. Analyzing the content inside the comet, they could tell us if it’s the same as the ingredients of Earth, and possibly where life comes from. Pretty good for a lander that’s about as big as a washing machine.

These are exciting times! We’ve had so many years of ho-hum events. I mean, how can you get excited about another trip to the space station with cargo or a change in crew? I’m sure it’s exciting and important for the astronauts. I know so much goes on behind the scenes in preparation for a real event. Philae’s landing yesterday was nearly thirty years in the making.

So what's next? Remember the movie Armageddon? Instead of sending up a team of oil & gas drillers, a project in the works plans to “capture” an asteroid and change its path. NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, scheduled to launch in two years, plans to bring a piece of an asteroid home.

Scientists are only limited by their imaginations. We writers could help out with that, couldn’t we?

Diane Burton writes science fiction romance, romantic suspense, and mystery. Her most recent sfr novel is The Chameleon (book 2 in the Outer Rim series). Her latest novel is a mystery, The Case of the Bygone Brother. See Diane's website for more info:

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Superheroes and Super Heroes

Something like 30 superhero movies are in the pipeline to be released over the next 5 years. Some people are worried that the film studios are “overdoing it” but over here in Anah&DianneLand, we’re just thrilled.
More superheroes means more super heroes.
No, we’re not being facetious…at least not much. Superhero comics and films are, in general, home to heroes on a grand scale—men and women with larger-than-life personalities, larger-than-life problems, and who find ways to overcome those problems with a larger-than-life obligation to do the right thing. We both love heroes who have an ingrained sense of right and wrong, who are driven to make life better not just for themselves but for those around them, and superheroes almost always fit the bill—even if they’re not always nice while they’re doing it.
And don’t think we’re only talking about male heroes. No way! Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel are high on our lists of favorites, and they’re getting their own movies in the next few years. Black Widow, though she doesn’t have a solo film slated yet, is a huge favorite too. We love her complicated past, and her strong personality…even if we are a little disappointed that the movies haven’t been able to show us her history with Wolverine yet.
We love that shows like Constantine are also being made. Constantine is a classic paranormal comics character from Marvel—though we so wish they’d make a Blade show (or at least another movie). If you’re not familiar with the original John Constantine, you might want to check him out because he’s been toned down for television. 
Original flavor Constantine is an evil-slaughtering, chain-smoking bisexual ne’er-do-well with… not a heart of gold. Gold doesn’t tarnish and Constantine is held together with tarnish and regret. A heart of silver, though, that’s closer to the truth. He may not be a superhero (he’s a super jerk sometimes) but he is a super (anti)hero and we love him for it.
Is the paranormal a place for superheroes? Or super heroes? We like to think so. Werewolves born in back alleys and succubi lurking in penthouses may have a little higher to climb than your average ready-made caped crusader but that just makes it all the more impressive when they reach the heights of heroism. We’re glad to see heroics back in style. 

Until next time,
—Anah & Dianne

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Blasters Don't Solve Every Problem

One of the elements I like to include in my science fiction romances is a strong feeling of the richness of the myth and mystery of the planet where the action is occurs. My most recent science fiction romance MISSION TO MAHJUNDAR is no exception.

I make sure to have science fiction and advanced technology in my novels but I also work in an element of “otherness” to raise questions and open up possibilities. My heroes are Special Forces personnel from the Sectors (the universe where my stories take place).  They’ve learned the hard way on missions all over the galaxy not to be skeptical of powers stemming from sources other than the technology they rely on. Blasters don’t necessarily solve every problem!

For the planet Mahjundar, I envisioned a world where the older beliefs are fading, under assault from new gods favored by the local Empress. The heroine, Princess Shalira, has the knack for channeling the power of the legacy gods, but this ability is no longer respected or needed in the current political situation. The fact that she’s blind further reduces her status in society, to the point where she’s left facing a less-than-desirable arranged marriage.

Over the course of the novel, she and the hero, Major Mike Varone, face a number of challenges, some of which can be resolved by his high tech weapons and gadgets, others which only yield to her connection to the mysteries of Mahjundar’s past.

I always ask myself, What would be really cool to have happen on this planet?

Here’s an excerpt from MISSION TO MAHJUNDAR, illustrating my approach. Shalira has requested a brief stop at an abandoned temple, and asks Mike to escort her to the shrine.

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. He bit his lip, not wanting to make a sound that might interfere with Shalira’s serenade. He wished there was a way to record the scene, or to somehow share it with the princess, who would never know what a beautiful picture she and the magical creatures made. He locked the vision away in his own memory, as one of the most special moments of his life, an unexpected grace note in the midst of a tense and frustrating mission.

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?
This will be my last regular post on Paranormal Romantics. I've enjoyed the experience of blogging here very much and made some wonderful friends, but it's one of those times where an author has to re-evaluate everything she's involved in and make some adjustments...I'll still be posting regularly on my own blog at  and writing my column for USA Today's Happily Ever After page, as well as working on my novels! Best wishes to all the Paranormal Romantics!