Tuesday, October 31, 2017

GUEST: Alexis Glynn Latner

Haunted Nebula
Alexis Glynn Latner

My story in the science fiction romance anthology Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 is set in a very strange part of interstellar space called the Starcross Nebula. It’s modeled on the Trifid Nebula [https://www.noao.edu/image_gallery/html/im0587.html], with dust lanes that divide it into four parts from a certain astronomical point of view. There’s real space science in how I’ve conceived the Starcross Nebula. Bluish emission nebulosity, pink reflection nebulosity, a massive O-class blue star driving a strong cosmic wind, and a planetary core all figure into Mascot. In a departure from space science, though, some aspects of the Starcross Nebula are paranormal or downright scary!

The heroine of Mascot explains, “When there was a major starjump point here, it gave access to the strangest place in all of known space. That way.” She indicated a thick knot of dark dust and bright blue and pink nebular gas. “In the midst of that lurked a brown dwarf star surrounded by a cluster of terminal points, also called star pits. These were points that could be arrived at by starjump, but not departed from. The dead space around the brown dwarf star was called Star Pitfall. It was a place of shipwreck and stranding, full of the wrecks of a thousand dead civilizations’ worth of ships. It was infested with monsters that feasted on the infallen ships and their unlucky crews.”

It’s like a Bermuda Triangle in space—half as old as time. 

Mascot fits into my science fiction series called Aeon’s Legacy. The Starcross Nebula is the setting for two books so far, Star Crossing and Helldive. In Helldive (coming out in late 2017), which is set two thousand years earlier than Mascot, a mission to rescue castaways in Star Pitfall goes in fully aware that they’re doing something alarmingly like diving into Hell. 

But like Halloween shading in to All Saints’ Day, the scary stuff isn’t all there is. As it turns out, a rather angelic, telepathic intelligence is piecing itself together after its own shipwreck in Star Pitfall. The heroine of Helldive dares to communicate with it, and it gives her a valuable clue about where the starlost castaways are.  By the time of Mascot, Star Pitfall has been mined and the monsters have been genetically unraveled back to their original form as smaller creatures that usefully clean up orbital debris. The rumor of the evil heart of the Starcross Nebula no longer strikes terror into star travelers.    

Does that mean that there are no more dire secrets in the Starcross Nebula?

Not at all. The Starcross Nebula has terrors, wonders, and secret ways still. :-)

Mascot – aAeon’s Legacy novella in Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2
Twelve authors spin tales of science fiction romance with adventurous heroines and heroes – and their cute or mischievous or devoted or heroic pets! 
In Mascot, a mysterious alien pet becomes the unlikely defender of a remote mining station, while the station manager and an interstellar auditor try to work out their mutual attraction – and stay out of the casualty count.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Halloween Festivities and the Pass of Time...Plus Vampires with @MeganSlayer #vampires #novella #gayromance #halloween

Halloween is sort of a bittersweet time of year for me. It's the changing of the season. The leaves are starting to fall, the temps are cooler and I can break out the comforter again. It's when the decorations start coming out and everything looks festive...if not a little creepy. I love it.

I'm a cool weather kid. Not COLD weather, but cool. I like when I can snuggle up. I'd rather be chilled than sweating any day.

But this time of year is bittersweet, like I said. The sports season my family takes part in, cross country, is mainly over by Halloween. The weather is a tad too chilly for running, although they still do get out there. But it's the end of the season. Another year done. One year closer to when I don't have an athlete in the house. Boo.

Then there's the change in attitude. We used to carve pumpkins and trick or treat. Pumpkin carving should still take place, but I'm the one usually doing it. No one else wants to handle the muck. Ha ha. But the trick or treating... I never thought there was a time when you were too old to T-or-T. As long as you're not causing trouble and you're having fun... I don't see an issue. But there are rules restricting the age of some T-or-T-ers around where I live. So my family doesn't T-orT any longer. Nope. I buy a chunk of fudge, usually peanut butter fudge for the manchildren to devour and maybe a box of chocolate covered strawberries for me and that's it. Kind of sad. No candy to last forever. No candy-fest the night of Halloween.

So what do we do instead? A Halloween run, of course. I'm not much of a runner. My knees can't handle it. I used to dance in high school and one too many connections with the concrete floor did more damage than I'd like to admit. But I try to run. I get out there. My family, though, they are the runners.

Instead of a big bag of candy, they'll get yet another drawstring bag, but also the thrill of accomplishing a run. The thrill of making great time and having fun while sweating in costume. I'll be there, dressed as Wendy from Peter Pan and cheering. Why not? It'll be a good time.

But that's why this season is bittersweet. We've gone from costumes and T-or-T to running. The scare factor is still there, but it's also included with thumping shoes and getting up at the butt crack of dawn to hustle. Could be worse. Could be no Halloween at my house at all. I'm okay with the change. I'm getting used to it. We'll watch scary movies, a few not so scary ones and the Garfield Halloween Special. I'll do their makeup for the run and we'll do a lot of laughing. It'll be worth it.

Besides, I still have my black cat decorations all over and my scary vampire obsession. Speaking of vampires...

Here's a little bit about my latest novella, Biting Love. It's part of the series I wrote as a crossover to Madison Sevier's Rosie Peaks series. Check it out!!

Biting Love By Megan Slayer A Rosie Peaks Crossover Novella
Megan Slayer Publications
M/M, Anal Sex
Contemporary, Paranormal

 Mix one vampire with one human who doesn’t believe in the paranormal and add some sizzle.

Anson wasn’t looking for a partner when he spotted the handsome human, but he’s not about to argue when the mood strikes. He’s got to bring a date to the Halloween bash and Parker fits his bill exactly. Now all he needs to do is convince Parker that vampires truly exist.

Parker is practical, intelligent and a little on the geeky side. He can’t believe his eyes—a handsome man has not only hit on him, but asked him out…to a masquerade ball. He doesn’t believe in vampires, but Anson wears his Dracula costume a bit too well.

Can these two find love and trust after all or will the sparks only last until the dawn?

Link: https://www.books2read.com/u/3nOWlBAmazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075MHSXYL/Amazon JP: https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B075MHSXYL/Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B075MHSXYL/Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B075MHSXYL/Amazon DE: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B075MHSXYL/Amazon FR: https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B075MHSXYL/Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B075MHSXYL/

Megan Slayer - It's Always Fun to Squirm

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

My only ghost story by Barbara Edwards

Ghosts are appropriate for Halloween and I do have a ghost story. Recently  I’ve been writing about my paranormal Rhodes End series, but my Christmas novella features the ghost of a dog who doesn’t want to leave her mistress alone. It is based on memories of my Dixie who sent her days keeping me from becoming a hermit. She’d demand a walk. Taking me out of my house to enjoy the fresh air and get some exercise. She’d sleep on my feet, keeping them warm while I wrote. 

I didn’t really think about my companion passing away and when she was diagnosed with cancer, it broke my heart. She was in terrible pain, but I didn’t want to let her go. It took me a week but I finally made the wrenching decision to send her over the rainbow bridge.
In Dixie's memory, I wrote Dixie's Gift.

Dixie’s Gift
Digital ISBN 978-1-5092- 

Author: Barbara Edwards

Blurb: Ellen Carter deeply grieves for her husband Dan, but at least she still has Dixie, her beloved Malinois. However, soon Dixie leaves her too. But the faithful dog cannot rest easy in heaven while her mistress is unhappy. Dixie pleads with the Archangel Michael to let her send help, and intercedes for Ellen in the only way she can. But will Ellen get the message, and more importantly, will she accept Dixie's gift?
Sexy newcomer Michael Burke can barely take enough time from his successful restaurant for a decent night's sleep, let alone romance. Still, he is intrigued by the beautiful widow and can't resist entering her shop. Sparks fly, and when Ellen has an accident in a snowstorm, he comes to her rescue. Trapped by a blizzard and aided by Dixie's Gift, Ellen and Michael find more than shelter--they find love.

Cover artist: Debbie Taylor 

He brushed a wisp of her hair from her cheek. It clung like spider silk to his fingers.
He rubbed the strand and his heart raced. When her lips parted, he bent forward to taste their soft curve.
Sweet, so sweet, he thought as her mouth melded with his. His hands slowly slid from her slender shoulders to her waist. Soft as a feather, she sighed. Her curves fit against his hard chest like matching puzzle pieces.
The lights blinked, dimmed, and then flared back on.

Dixie's Gift tugs at your heart, and though the snow threatens, you can't help but be warmed by this sweet story. A must read! -- Kara O'Neal, Author

"Dog lovers, do not read this book . . . without a box of tissues nearby. A touching story of love and compassion." - Diane Burton, author of the Outer Rim series.

"Delightful. . .Barbara Edwards weaves a heartwarming holiday tale of rediscovering love after the death of a spouse and the loss of a beloved pet. It's a refreshing story with a theme of joy and peace and filled with engaging characters. And who can resist a romantic winter setting with lots and lots of snow?" ~ Judy Ann Davis, Author and Educator

Dixie’s Gift by Barbara Edwards is a gift of a read. Sweet, romantic, poignant, and touching, it will bring a lump to your throat and satisfaction to your heart. If you don't shed a tear, you're a robot." ~ Award winning author Alicia Dean

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

Friday, October 27, 2017

Go to Hell. Don't Mind if I Do by L. A. Kelley

All Soul’s Day is fast upon us when the veil between dimensions stretches thin. Before you pop over to the other side for a cold brewski, you might want to consider which hell is the right one for you. Depictions of an afterlife, particularly one for naughty folk, have been part of religious beliefs from the beginning. After this word ends, any person who says the right prayers and acts according to the dictates of those in charge gets a fast-pass to the next. A common belief is the journey; good go up to the light, bad go down to a darker realm. No surprise there. Night was scary for our ancestors. With no understanding of modern science, demons in the dark were blamed for every bad thing that happened when the sun went down. Best stay indoors and huddle around the fire.  

Greeks even had a special word katabasis, meaning descent or downward to describe a journey to Hades. For the Greeks, it wasn’t always a one-way trip; sometimes the road to Hell resembled a superhighway. Although a place of fiery desolation, Odysseus managed to drop in for a nice chat with his mom. Hercules went there to rescue Theseus. Theseus was only trapped there because the dope muffed an attempt to spring Persephone. For the Greeks, the trip to Hades could have an upside. There was always the chance of snagging some mystical device, or at the very least, coming back wiser and more insightful. A quest to Hell was often a part of the hero’s journey.

The version of Hell in Judaism can be summed up in one word: meh. Little mention is made in Judaic texts other than references to a place called Sheol that is dark and deep (naturally.)  In general, there are no fixed notions of particular judgments or punishments. Another place in Judaic texts is Gehinnom, but again the views are mixed. Some scholars view it as a place of punishment and retribution, others more of a section of the afterlife set aside for introspection to review mistakes committed in life and then repent them. You didn't repent enough? Something bad is bound to happen, but details are murky. 

In Christian mythos, heaven and hell are ethereal planes that can’t be reached or seen by the common folk until after death.  They are always characterized as “up” or “down” in no uncertain terms as if AAA designed a TripTik. The route never detours; heaven is up, hell is down, and it’s definitely one-way. Christians had no doubts about punishment. They adopted earlier pagan beliefs that Hell was a place of burning and eternal punishment reserved for the wicked. The term ‘wicked’ has relaxed over the years. Many notions of Hell can be trace to the 14th century and Dante Alighieri’s epic poem. In the section of The Divine Comedy called The Inferno, Dante described nine circles of Hell; limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery. Today, being consigned to hell because you snagged the last piece of double fudge chocolate cake seems unduly harsh, but gluttony meant more to folks in the Renaissance. Scarf down all the gruel first and the rest of the household starved to death.

While not all religions have an actual Hell, the up/down movement of the soul after death is often present. In the case of Hinduism, it is an ascending/descending judgment. After death the best of the best rise up and are led by divine beings to the highest, immortal heaven of Brahman. Those who led virtuous lives, but haven’t quite reached the top tier can be reincarnated according to previous actions. You can come back (down) as a person and try to live a more virtuous life. Those that reveled in sinful ways don’t end up in Hell, but do descend to a lower life form, often one that lives underground such as an insect. Tibetan Buddhism has a similar outlook. After 49 days in a limbo-type place called Bardo the soul either ascends to enlightenment or, if the soul doesn’t make the cut, it’s back down to a rebirth on Earth to try again.

The Rules for Lying
In my fantasy Big Easy Shaman series, I incorporate a mix of beliefs. Very bad people end up in the Lower Worlds. Yes, there are more than one, but keeping with tradition, they’re all fairly miserable places inhabited by demons, evil spirits, and all sorts of general nastiness. Terrible places to visit and you definitely don’t want to live in any of them. So the next time someone tells you to go to hell smile broadly, thank them for the fine suggestion, and politely ask which one. 

L. A. Kelley writes fantasy and scify adventure novels with humor, romance, and a touch of sass. You can all go to hell with her as she would enjoy the company. Check out The Rules for Lying

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Happy Paranormal New Release Birthday! By Nancy Gideon

Planning and hosting a birthday party is exhausting work. Once an agreeable to all involved date is set (and don't get me started on the timing logistics of that!), there's the budgeting, the scouting location sites, the enlisting of trusted helpers, the guest list, party food and favors, the entertainment suitable for all in attendance. The invites go out and you think you'll get a breather, but then whatever can go wrong, usually does. Plans fall through, attendees cancel, and the birthday boy is giving you fits of moody temper and threatens not to show up for his own party. But the Gods of Celebration smile. Miraculously, everything falls into place at the last possible second and all goes off as if that squeaking, clog-slipping machine was well-oiled all along. Everybody parties . . . except the hostess who is still busy scrambling, checking, rechecking to make sure everything is in place, that everyone is enjoying themselves and that the guest of honor is behaving. When all is said and done, the drained and cranky hostess vows "Never again." At least until the next time.

I wish I could say the release of PRINCE OF FOOLS went flawlessly, but all things considered, and some best laid plans abandoned, it was survived with a lesser degree of panic and hair pulling than usual thanks to my posse of behind the scenes helpers and my relentless OCD. PRINCE OF FOOLS, my 64th book (not counting re-releases!) is out in ALL venues for purchase, and though it's still too early to take off my party shoes and put my feet up, at least I can breathe a sigh of relief.

A dark prince to her Cinderella barmaid . . .

Rico . . . Prince in the shapeshifter House of Terriot

Reckless, hotheaded Rico Terriot seeks purpose and a sense of pride training the resentful guardians of New Orleans to defend a city besieged by a deadly outside force. Torn between his desire for his brother’s mate and the woman tied to the child of another, protecting their future happiness means denying his own on a dangerous path to redemption.

One night of stolen pleasure he didn’t remember and she couldn’t forget…

Amber . . . a single mother hiding a terrible past

Rico Terriot was the stuff of dreams . . . lately all of hers. But there’s no happily-ever-after for someone living in the shadows, protecting dangerous secrets that threaten her and her daughter. Dare she believe in a fairytale prince when he comes to her rescue, not knowing the price he’ll pay for making her troubles his own? From world’s so far apart, is love strong enough to hold them together . . . and keep them alive?
“5 Captivating Stars (or Hearts)! A stunningly raw, heart racing story that held me in a trance from cover to cover! Intense and seductive paranormal romance/suspense at its best – PRINCE OF FOOLS is another Page Burning, Must Read by an author that delivers every single time!” – Cross My Heart Reviews
Any tips to share on avoiding (or at least reducing) those last minute issues that always seem to crop up? Any Release Day horror stories to tell?

I'll be letting my hair down tonight with Bewitching Book Tours Halloween Spooktacular Facebook Party between 8-9 EST. Drop by to say "Hey!" and maybe win a prize!

Happy Halloween!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Nancy Gideon on the Web

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Necromancer's Lament,  by Francesca Quarto

I ran through the howling night, battered by a piercing sleet, tripping on slick rocks along the river's edge.  She can't be gone...She can't be gone
Thunder boomed around me, a few heart beats later, streaking bolts of lightning lacerated the inky blackness that seemed to tether me to the earth. 
I stumbled onward, toward the last place I held my darling Corine.  Her beautiful face, luminous eyes closed to me.  Her delicate ears, deaf to my outpouring of my everlasting love.  Her hair, each strand glowing like spun gold, cascading down my arms.  
   Arriving at the graveyard, I wended my way through the ancient burial grounds; dark angels, arms outstretched as if to embrace my living body, peered down as I passed.  Gentle doves followed my movements with beady, stone eyes.  I wiped the wet away with my sleeve, now as sodden as the earth beneath my feet.
   I paused, waiting for celestial illumination.  A finger of lightning scratched a path to ground, showing me clearly, where my beloved was held in death's sway.
 I arrived at the crypt, determined that this was not to be our ending; this death would not severe our bond.  Ours was now  a connection forged in the devil's own fires. I had pledged my oath to the Soul-Taker to make it so on this very night; this Hallowed Night, the Eve of All Saints Day.
   I went up the three steps, standing  uncertainly in front of the heavy door.  There was a deep, red light slipping under and around the door's frame. I stared in disbelief.  I left my darling girl lying in the cool, dry place, without the benefit of candle or flame.  This subtle glow, seeping out into the fury of the night, brought me much alarm and disquiet.
   Just as I was about to enter the tomb, there came a soft, rustling sound behind me.  I spun round.  Leering up at me was Soul Taker himself, standing like a half goat on hairy bent legs, ending sharply in polished cloven hooves.
   "Why are you come?" I asked with alarm gripping my throat like two strong hands.
   "Have you already forgotten your solemn vow to my service, mortal?  You will become one of my own; gathering the dead and with my help, raising them into a new existence.  You have promised me an army of servants to my ungodly cause.  This, in exchange for new life for your fallen lover."
   He stopped speaking. That's when I realized he had ascended the three stone steps and now stood so close I could feel his fetid, hot breath on my face.
   "Shall we enter and see to your beloved, Corine, mortal?"
I moved aside and using his hand like a fan, he drew the immensely heavy door open as if it was a sheet of parchment paper.
   The eerie crimson light was diffused throughout the small chamber.  I inhaled deeply, as if in shock,  upon seeing my love.  She stood as if just rising from the awful slab she was laid upon, her back turned to me.  Her white burial gown flowed around her body as if little flesh existed beneath.  The glorious mass of golden hair, reflected the blood red of the strange glow.
   The light abruptly changed color, the moment Soul Taker entered the crypt.  From the garish red, it  morphed into something akin to a dazzling sun. 
   The tomb was awash in an unnatural brightness, scouring the shadows from their corners and searing my eyeballs with unfiltered heat.  The Soul Taker had moved to stand beside Corine. She was gazing raptly at an array of dead flowers and small mementos of our life together; placed there many months earlier, before I struck on my plan to save her.
   Reaching, he took one slim hand into his scaly, clawed one, turning her ever so slowly to show herself to me at last.
   There was a horrible, blood chilling scream reverberating around the chamber, bouncing off the cold stone walls.  It seemed like it would never end.  I covered my ears with my hands.
When it finally stopped, they were both staring at me; the Soul Taker smiling like a King cobra and Corine, laughing softly, until bloody tears ran down her cheeks.
   It was I, who shattered the quiet of the crypt, screeching my very guts out upon seeing my beloved in the hot light of reality.  She was putrefying even as I watched, standing statue like, while pieces of her sloughed off onto the stone floor.  
   She moved toward me, as fluid as a shadow over the face of a pond.  When she was near, I smelled the cloying sweetness of rot and death.
   "You have served my Master well, and now, we will serve him together as we gather others to his cause.  Do not look so distraught dear one, you have been granted your soul's desire. 
You are now the Necromancer who sleeps with death." 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Guest Veronica Scott: Pets in Space 2

Please welcome our friend Veronica Scott.

Thanks for having me as your guest today to talk about Embrace the Romance: Pets In Space 2! It’s so lovely to be back on Paranormal Romantics.

Although the anthology is scifi romance, as we all know, the paranormal and the scifi sometimes intersect and speaking for myself, I’m a voracious reader of both. Normally in my scifi novels I try to consciously inject some mysticism and uncanny elements that my tough military heroes can’t really explain. But they’ve seen enough in their travels around the galaxy to accept that reality can encompass a lot of stuff that can’t be dissected with science.

In my novella for this USA Today Best Selling anthology, I didn’t have a whole lot of time in terms of word length to develop a separate mythology, versus just getting on with the action. I did give my hero, Grant, what I hope is an interesting back story in terms of the planet he’s from and the alien eagle warbird, Valkyr, that is his ‘pet’.

First the blurb for Star Cruise: Songbird:
Grant Barton, a Security Officer on the Nebula Zephyr, is less than thrilled with his current assignment to guard an Interstellar singing sensation while she’s on board the ship. It doesn’t help that he and his military war bird Valkyr are dealing with their recent separation from the Sectors Special Forces and uncertainty over their future, with their own planet in ruins.

Karissa Dawnstar is on top of the charts and seemingly has it all – talent, fame, fortune and devoted fans, but behind her brave smile and upbeat lyrics she hides an aching heart. When a publicity stunt goes wrong, Karissa finds herself in the arms of the security officer assigned to protect her – and discovers a mutual attraction she can’t ignore.

Trouble continues to plague the pair, driving a wedge between them and leaving Grant certain that Karissa is in more danger than she realizes, from overzealous fans and her own management. Grant is determined to protect Karissa whether she wants his help or not. Can he discover the truth behind what’s going on before he loses Karissa or is there someone else plotting to keep them apart – permanently?

The excerpt – Karissa and Grant have taken Valkyr the eagle to a planet’s surface for exercise:

“Why are you so sure Valkyr won’t want to stay here? I mean, mountains, right?” She waved her hand in the direction of the ravine.

“Not our mountains though. It’s not home.” Leaning back, Grant finished his juice and said, “Qaazamir eagles bond at birth with their handler. That’s how we have our mental link. Actually, Valkyr bonded with my great grandfather.”

Mouth open in shock, she asked, “How old is he?”

“Two hundred or so. It was common for the birds to be passed down in the same family line. As long as the DNA of the descendants contained certain dominant markers, the bird treated each the same as his original partner. He only bonds to one human at a time, so the new handler must be present at the death of the previous owner, or very close. Of course sometimes birds were stolen by upstarts the elders hadn’t selected. Clan wars were fought over good nesting areas. An egg was the most desired dowry.” Grant smiled. “There was an entire indigenous culture on Qaazamir, rich traditions.”

“What happened?”

“The Sectors happened. Qaazamir was colonized early on, before many of the laws and protections were developed. If the planet was discovered for the first time now, there’d be no colonization because the planet had inhabitants and the birds would still exist. My people would still exist.” He stared at the horizon. These were matters of which he normally never spoke. “But the colonists pushed the rightful owners of the planet aside, mined the rich ores, polluted the water and the ground…it’s a toxic hellhole now. In fact, what happened on Qaazamir was the primary reason the Sectors established safeguards. But by then it was too late for us. We had a dying planet. My ancestors refused to accept reality for a long time. They thought having won their case at the Sectors Supreme Court meant everything would be fine. But the corporate colonists left and the poisons remained.”

“You—you were the upstart who took the bird? Took Valkyr?”

He nodded. “I could see the way the extinction trend was going. Valkyr had passed to my great aunt and then my father. I was already in the Special Forces when he was dying of amphbagan fever, a wasting disease caused by the poisons leaching from the ground, but I got compassionate leave and made it home in time. I took Valkyr with my father’s blessing, if not that of the elders. I tried to find a female so he could mate, but by then there were no more females. The last few clutches of eggs were deformed and never hatched.  I was banished in absentia for stealing Valkyr from my cousin.”

He turned his gaze on Karissa, who was leaning forward, chin resting on her hand, apparently mesmerized by his story. “My father and I felt that as long as one Qaazamir eagle flew free somewhere in the galaxy, our people, our traditions would not have perished. There are no birds and hardly any people left on Qaazamir. It’s a wasteland. The military was happy to accept Valkyr and me into the Z Command, to carry out unique missions behind enemy lines.”


I’ll add one more thing – I wrote my hero Grant as a little bit of a tribute to Hosteen Storm, the wonderful hero in Andre Norton’s Beast Master, who you may remember had an African eagle as part of his fighting team. Two different guys, two different galaxies…but I like to think they’d have gotten along well.

Blurb for Embrace the Romance: Pets In Space 2:

The pets are back! Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2, featuring twelve of today’s leading Science Fiction Romance authors brings you a dozen original stories written just for you! Join in the fun, from the Dragon Lords of Valdier to a trip aboard award-winning author, Veronica Scott’s Nebula Zephyr to journeying back to Luda where Grim is King, for stories that will take you out of this world! Join New York Times, USA TODAY, and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, M.K. Eidem, Susan Grant, Michelle Howard, Cara Bristol, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Laurie A. Green, Sabine Priestley, Jessica E. Subject, Carol Van Natta, and Alexis Glynn Latner as they share stories and help out Hero-Dogs.org, a charity that supports our veterans!

10% of the first months profits go to Hero-Dogs.org. Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence.

Buy Links:   Amazon   iBooks   Kobo   B&N 

Author Bio:
USA Today Best Selling author, and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happy Ever After blog, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.

Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances! She recently was honored to read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”

Friday, October 20, 2017

Halloween Monsters: Witches

Every year around this time I do a little research on a different traditional Halloween monster. This year, I'm taking a quick look at the evolution of witches.

Most of the traditional Halloween monsters--vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein, mummies, zombies--are considered monsters for the main reason that people believed they would harm them. But each of those monsters, more than witches, also come with a physical indication of what/who they are--fangs, rags, bolts, fur, rotting skin, etc. Witches, on the other hand, do not necessarily have a physical means of identification.

Historically some witches practice spells and call upon spirits to affect change in some way. Some were/are simply natural healers. The origin of witches in historical context is unknown. One of the first references in the Bible in 1st Samuel referring to the Witch of Endor. Of the various Halloween monsters, witches are one of the few (possibly the only one) to be called out in the Bible by name as something to condemn.

In early literature, witches appear in many famous works including Circe in the Odyssey and Morgan Le Fay in the Arthurian legends. Shakespeare included several most notably the Weird Sisters in MacBeth. Notice that most of these witches are monstrous creatures to be feared. 

Meanwhile, the fear of witches by society his it's zenith in the late middle ages and early modern age. Over the years, women believed to be witches have been persecuted over and over. Between the years 1500 and 1660 in Europe it's believed over 80,000 women suspected of witchcraft were put to death. Witch trials hopped the pond in the 1690s resulting in the infamous Salem Witch Trials. By the 1730s laws were passed to protect people from wrongful accusation, and witch hysteria died down.

Witches continued to be a mainstay in the societal consciousness of monsters however, as Halloween became a more popular holiday, witches made the list of traditional creatures to fear and eventually dress up as. 

In earlier 1900s literature, we got such witches as the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda in the Wizard of Oz and the White Witch from The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe. 

Unlike the other monsters, witches have a modern-day incarnation. One which is not monstrous. According to the History Channel, practitioners of Wicca "avoid evil and the appearance of evil at all costs. They’re motto is to “harm none,” and they strive to live a peaceful, tolerant and balanced life in tune with nature and humanity." 

Witches in stories are a combination of evil creatures to fear--Lamia in Stardust, Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter--and good witches to admire--Harry Potter/Hermione Granger/Ron Weasley/etc from Harry Potter. And don't even get me started about the variations on witches in media--Hocus Pocus, Maleficent, Harry Potter, Sabrina the Teenaged Witch, Bewitched, Charmed, and witches on various shows/movies that are not primarily witch related including True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, and Buffy.

Like with the other monsters--yes, even zombies--modern Halloween goers have sexified the witch finding power and sex appeal in the figure (as long as their powers are used for good). Personally, I love this more dynamic vision of this traditional Halloween monster.

What about you? Are witches one of your favorite paranormals these days? Do you love to dress up as a witch for Halloween?

Obviously I love them because of all the fun things you can do with magic in literature. I'm limited by only my imagination. If you're a fan of witches in paranormal romance, check out Bait N' Witch!

Here are my previous articles on Halloween Monsters:

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Spooky (and True) Story by C.J. Burright

Since Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, I wanted to share a spooky and totally true personal story. If some of you have already read it in a post of yore, my apologies, but it still creeps me out and I haven't shared it at Paranormal Romantics before.

So onto my story...

Why is Halloween one of my favorite holidays? It might be the change in season, the falling leaves and crisp winds whispering of things to come. It could be the perfectly valid opportunity to dress up and scare kids and eat all that leftover candy. Or maybe it’s just the pumpkins, skeletons, and ghosties and goblins on every corner.
Personally, I think it has more to do with my Celtic roots, Samhain, and the thinning veil between the living and spirit worlds. There are just too many spooky stories surrounding Samhain to completely discount the possibility of visiting phantoms, and I have a few family tales, too weird to be explained away. Want to hear one? I thought you might. :)

It was a dark and stormy night. Kidding. It was night, and it was dark, but I don’t remember any storm happening. A quick C.J. history lesson—I grew up in the boonies. Miles from town, boxed in on two sides by endless acres of government-owned forestland, the closest neighbor a run-across-the-field away. On a good day, we got two television channels, and HBO wasn’t one of them. We lived in a double-wide mobile home with an attached garage, and the long driveway led straight into the garage. Any headlights shone right into the living room windows, so when visitors showed up, you knew it.

This particular night was the parental units’ romantic Saturday evening (aka bowling league) and my older sister was at a friend’s house, so it was just me and my younger sister, Cathy. We were hanging in the living room, watching whatever questionable television show our antennae would pick up, Hee-Haw, I think…did I mention this was long, long ago? Headlights reflected in the windows, and as it was about time for mom and dad’s return, we didn’t think much of it. The motor’s rumble echoed from the garage and cut out. The back door leading from garage to house clicked open and shut softly.

But no one came into the living room.

It took a couple minutes for my curiosity to kick in. What was taking mom and dad so long to come into the living room and why was it so quiet? Dad loved to prank us, and even though mom never played along, I suspected foul play. I strolled from the living room to the kitchen, fully prepared to foil his plans.

No one was there.

I peeked through the kitchen window into the garage.

No car.

Prickles ran down my arms as I tried to connect the empty garage with what my senses told me only minutes ago. A car had come up the driveway. Someone had come in.


Not willing to turn my back on the kitchen or the garage, I backed into the dining room. The large windows looking out into the night didn’t help the cold racing through my veins. The dining room and living room were connected, and Cathy was lounging in a recliner, still watching television. I said, “Mom and dad aren’t here. You saw the headlights, right? Didn’t you hear the car, the door open and shut?”

Thankfully, her disbelieving expression told me if I was going crazy, then so was she. Clinging to each other, we crept back into the kitchen. Nothing had changed, no car, no parents. We agreed we had to check the house because someone had come in. Someone was in our house with us, and there were three bedrooms and two bathrooms they could be hiding in. No way would we sit around, waiting.
Like so many horror movie victims before us, we armed ourselves with kitchen knives and inched down the hallway. My sister’s room was dark, the door open. Shaking, our knives gripped tight, we flipped on the light.

The room was empty. The closet held the usual clothes and shoes, no ax-wielding ghost clowns. But we had more rooms to go.

The bathroom was easy, nowhere to hide other than the shower. We slid further down the hall, to the room we shared. I made Cathy turn on the light, my knife raised right behind her, ready to slash, stab and gouge.

Nothing hid behind my bookcase or beneath our bunkbed. My heart roared, a stampede in my ears.  We looked at each other. Only our parents’ room remained. This was it. The showdown. I could hardly breathe and my fingers ached from holding the knife so tight. Together, we opened the door and hit the light switch.
The bed was made, no red eyes peering from beneath. The bathroom was empty. We both turned to the closed closet door. Final spot. Cathy flung open the door as I yelled and flicked the switch.

Nothing. Nothing in the hanging clothes. Nothing crouched behind shoes boxes. Nothing clinging to the ceiling.

What the hell?

As relieved as I was to not confront some horror that my brain could never erase, it made no sense. We’d both seen the headlights. We’d both heard the car. We’d both acknowledged the door opening and shutting.
My parents came home some time later and didn’t seem to notice the way we huddled together on the couch, every light in the house on. Neither one of us mentioned anything. What could we possibly say?

Now, I can’t blame that weird incident on the thinning of the veil on Samhain, but it was during the autumn season, when life is dying and settling in for winter. Whatever the cause, I have never forgotten it.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE! Do you have any family ghost stories?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Why Does Fear Make Us Happy? by Elizabeth Alsobrooks

If you overheard someone say they had seen a dozen shoppers get hacked to death, their entrails hanging out, their skulls split to expose their brains, and their limbs removed by an axe-wielding maniac in a mall, you would be horrified. If they then went on to explain that they enjoyed it while munching on popcorn, you would think something was terribly wrong with them.  But the truth is that a large segment of the population actually likes to be scared. They enjoy it. The Saw franchise has grossed a billion dollars! We have created a holiday devoted to things that scare us. So what makes thrill-seekers enjoy being scared?

Well, the physical effects provide a reason. We have super-charged strength and power. Mentally, we have heightened senses and intuition as a reaction to fear. This increase in mental and physical capacity is an adrenaline rush, and we all understand what someone means when they say, “Wow, that was a rush.”

The primal fight or flight reaction to fear is an evolved survival instinct. It seems to have served humans well for some time. Though our ancestors needed the superhuman response to a fearful situation, these days those events are, thankfully, less frequent. So while we still get the flight or fight response triggered when we’re scared, our frontal lobe lets us know there is no real danger so we can better appreciate the fright.

Those who need even more thrills take up sky diving or bungee jumping, where there is real danger; but even those adrenaline junkies don’t jump off without the very best equipment and safety precautions. 

Psychiatrists also theorize that some folks who enjoy a good scare like the after-effect more than the fright itself. They like that feeling of having survived, of facing something terrifying and overcoming the fear, making them feel brave. Statistically more men than women love horrific events and thrill-seek, but there are plenty from both genders that enjoy a good rush and laugh after a big scare. As many horror films illustrate, going through a frightening event together can bring people closer. People who like each other bond and develop trust and those who don’t often end up hating each other and fighting about what to do next.

Whatever your fright level, be sure to enjoy the fun to be had this time of year. Pick up a copy of Tell-Tale Publishing’s horror anthology so you can read some horrific tales—including mine--to get your heart pumping. It’s soon to be available in audio too!