Thursday, November 30, 2017

The New Kid on the Block

Howdy, everyone! My name is Lea Kirk and I’m a new kid on the block, so I thought I’d do a little self-intro and answer some questions about me that you might not even realize you want to ask.

Why “Lea”, and how is it pronounced? Lea is my middle name and it’s pronounced “Lee”, not “Leah”. I was born in the days when Leah was still spelled with an “h” (yeah, I’m that old). Also, that’s the way my mom says it, and I’m not arguing with her. Mom’s always right, you know, and I happen to love the way my name is pronounced. However, if you call me Leah I’ll still respond. I have to because the priest who baptized me pronounced my middle name “Leah”, which means I need to be on my toes so the Pearly Gates don’t close before I get there!

And what about Kirk”? Now, I know what some of you are thinking: No brainer. She’s a Star Trek fan. Duh. And you'd be right. But, I did not choose Kirk because of Capt. James T. No, seriously! Kirk really is a family name…my paternal grandmother’s maiden name, in fact. My grandmother was one of my greatest influences to become a writer. She was an avid reader, loved writing (never published anything), and was a school teacher. We shared a mutual love of reading, and at some point she planted the seed that I should pursue writing. One day we were talking and I told her when I did become a published author, I would use my middle name, Lea, and her maiden name, Kirk as my pseudonym. I can still picture the way her entire face lit up.

Would my grandma read my sci-fi romances, or my one paranormal romance? I'd like to believe so, especially since I dedicated my first book to her memory!

Why sci-fi romance? We’ll blame my dad for this one. He got me hooked on the original Star Trek at the tender age of six. At the time, I had a two-piece red knit jumpsuit—a tunic-like sweater and bell-bottom pants.  I also had a pair of groovy white go-go boots. (Don’t judge me, it was the 70’s!) I used to wear those boots and the top, which just covered my butt, and run around the house pretending to be Lt. Uhura and having the most amazing adventures in space. I’d love to meet Nichelle Nichols just to tell her that story. She was a profound inspiration to my six-year-old self. After Star Trek came Star Wars, Close Encounters, Battlestar Galactica, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, TNG, Voyager, every Star Trek and Star Wars movie ever made, The Orville, every rocket/shuttle launch by NASA, etc., etc., etc. So, you see, my fate was pretty much sealed the day my dad sat me in front of the rabbit-eared T.V.

What have I written? My first SFR book is Prophecy, and it’s the first book in the Prophecy Series. Book two in the series is Salvation. I am currently working on Collision, book three, and hope to have it out sometime in 2018. Also, All of Me is a short story that happens between Prophecy and Salvation. All of these books are (or will be) available on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, and Kobo.

This past September I released my first PNR novella, Made for Her. It’s a vampire romance and part of S.E. Smith’s Magic, New Mexico Kindle World—which means it’s only available on U.S. Amazon. (And now on KU, too!)

In October of this year I was part of the Other Worlds boxed set, which features a collection of SFR and PNR romances. My contribution, Touch the Stars, is a novella-length SFR that will eventually be reworked into a full-length novel and become book one in a new series I have percolating in my brain. Other Worlds is available on Amazon, B&N, GooglePlay, iBooks, and Kobo.

What’s the best way to follow or contact me? First, let me say thank you for still being with me here! My readers are why I do what I do, and I love hearing from you. You can connect with me on Facebook and Twitter. I also have a newsletter, which comes out on the 6th of each month…the next one is less than a week away and is chock full of holiday goodness. (Hint, hint.) Also, you can check out my website.

And there you have it, a little bit about me. If you have any other questions, just leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer. I look forward to "seeing" you all here on Paranormal Romantics next month!

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Author Bio

USA Today Bestselling Author, Lea Kirk, loves to transport her readers to other worlds with her science fiction romance and paranormal romance stories. In 2016 she released Prophecy and Salvation, books one and two of her Prophecy Series, as well as All of Me, a short story set in the same universe. Grave Tells Blog named her Debut Author of the Year for 2016. In 2017, she released her first vampire paranormal, Made for Her, and a new story for the Other Worlds boxed set—Touch the Stars. Her third book in the Prophecy series, Collision, is on track to release in 2018.

When she not busy writing, she’s hanging out with her wonderful hubby of twenty-seven years, their five kids (aka, the nerd herd), and a large Doberman mix who thinks she’s one of the “kids”.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Writing the Magic of Christmas with @MeganSlayer #christmas #shortstory #gayromance #erotic #bdsm

There is something about the magic of the season that's fun for authors. It is. Authors have the thrill and romance of
Christmas as inspiration for stories. I love it. There's something about the snow, the chill, the sparkles and the nostalgia that gets to me. I'm a sucker for the movies. Doesn't matter what channel, I'll find a Christmas movie and indulge. I don't care if it's mundane, if the ending is silly or if I've seen the movie a hundred times, I'll watch.


Getting immersed in the spirit of the holidays helps me to write. Once one idea starts flowing, the rest follow. This year, one of my Christmas stories involved a box. Now, I know what you're thinking. Um, there are a lot of boxes that have to do with Christmas. Hello, Christmas gifts come in boxes. I put a new spin on the gift idea.

Here's the blurb for my short story, Christmas Box:

Hayes Carter knows what he wants out of life -- to be the best lawyer he can, to balance his work and home life and to please his Sir. This Christmas, he wants to belong to Sir for good.
Ford Rogan loves his boy, Hayes, but Ford's not sure he's relationship material. Hayes, though, makes him think otherwise. Then there's that naughty Santa at the club... Submit and your wish will come true 
Can Santa, even a naughty one, grant their wishes? Will the magic of the season be enough, or will they end up with nothing more than a lump of coal?

See? Not the standard here's a gift and I hope you like it fare. A person in the box? Now, don't get wonky on me. This isn't a creeper story. I like feel good Christmas tales. Everything works out in the right way at the end. There's magic, mayhem and a spanking or two. Gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

What about you? What's your favorite thing about Christmas? I'd love to know!! 

Want to know more about Christmas Box? Then check it out at Changeling Press! Out now and on sale!! Gotta love a sale!

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Megan Slayer - It's Always Fun to Squirm
Subscribe to our newsletter ~ 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Christmas Ghost 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.

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

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Amazon Author’s Page

Monday, November 27, 2017

Zombie 101

You Think You Know Zombies?
Ha, you say. Of course you do. A zombie is a reanimated corpse. You may even know the word zombie originated from the Kongo word nzambi which means spirit of a dead person. It was later altered to zonbi in Haitian Creole by descendants of African slaves, and eventually became zombie. How is a person zombified? Well, that’s easy. The innocent victim is infected by a pathogen. The origin can be natural or manmade, but begins with Patient Zero. The infection spreads with a bite and then the victim develops an insatiable appetite for human flesh, particularly tasty brains.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. That’s only the short history of zombies and like many myths, this one has some basis in fact.

Early Zombie Lore 
Fear that the dead won’t stay buried is common in folklore. Many Stone Age burial sites in the Middle East had corpses interred beneath large stones. In an ancient site in Syria dating back 10,000 years, the dead were not just weighed down with heavy weights, but also decapitated—an early link to modern zombie lore.  Although piles of rocks discouraged animals from digging up remains, removing grandpa’s noggin also kept him from a moonlight stroll.

Ancient Greeks were equally careful with their corpses. Archeologists working in Sicily unearthed a Greek necropolis called Passo Marinaro dating from 800 BC. The entombed, children as well as adults, were found in a variety of positions; staked, tied, or again weighed down by stones. According to the Greeks, certain deceased were more prone to walk among the living. These included victims of murder, a plague, or a curse. Greeks also piled on the extra big rocks for those born on unlucky days. Bad enough being killed by a plague or curse, now you had to spend eternity with a boulder on your head.

Early hints at the development of modern zombie lore can be found in places other than the Middle East. Norse mythology contains tales of the draugr or “again walker” who like to munch on locals. They pass on their curse by biting a victim (sound familiar?), but can also have supernatural powers such as shape-shifting or entering a person’s dreams.  Romania has its own native zombies with strigoi, a combination zombie/vampire. They drink blood and rise from the dead to stalk the living, generally a relative.  To stop them the grave must be dug up and the head and heart removed. One way to turn into a strigoi is to die single, so some communities marry off the corpse as a preventive measure. Take that, eHarmony.

Modern Zombies
Present day zombie lore has two types (three if you count the mixed drink made with rum and fruit juices.) The first is the “not quite dead” created by voodoo magic. This one has a practical social application. A family or community decides a certain individual is an annoying pain in the rear.  They hire a bokur, a voodoo priest specializing in black magic. The bokur uses spells, incantations and a liberal dose of coup padre, a powder made from the poison, tetrodoxin. It slows heart rate, respiration, and drops body temperature. Thinking the victim perished, the body is buried and then later removed by the bokur. The new zombie is in an addled state with memory erased and transformed into a mindless drone. All in all, an efficient method for removing undesirables from society and a win-win for both the community and the bokur. An annoying pain in the rear is gone and the bokur receives a docile servant. This type of zombie doesn’t consume flesh and is relatively harmless. He might even be happier. Leave him be.

The second type of zombie is a strictly Hollywood creation from screenwriters in La La Land. Patient Zero is infected by either a natural or manmade entity. Death is the result, but the corpse is reanimated by a mysterious biological process and develops an insatiable craving for human flesh. One bite from a zombie spreads the infection and chaos reigns. Although fictional, some folks take the threat of the zombie apocalypse seriously, like the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. The CDC is tasked with investigating dangerous pathogens and their scientists are apparently endowed with a cheeky sense of humor. People don’t like to think ahead and prepare for emergencies. The CDC realized the steps to slow the spread of a dangerous viral outbreak would be the same as needed to combat a zombie apocalypse, and people might pay more attention to the latter. Official zombie apocalypse guidelines are now posted on the CDC website. They include such things as items to keep in an emergency kit and how to make a disaster plan. The site went over like gangbusters and crashed the day it went live.
Check it out at You can even join the CDC Zombie Task Force. Proceeds go to disaster relief efforts and health programs. Now, go prepare your own kit and keep your mitts off my tasty brains.

L. A. Kelley writes scify and fantasy adventures with humor, romance, and a touch of sass. You can find links to her book on L. A. Kelley’s Amazon Author Page. Her zombie killing name is The Big Freak.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Getting Your Creative Mojo Back

Other writers may have a project that they stick to until the very end. I felt the same way. I had to pick a project and work until it was finished.

This time it didn’t work for me. I was working on a time travel project. I changed every scenario, re-did the outline 5 or 6 hundred times, I even changed the names of my characters hoping I would feel the vibe. It just wasn’t happening. I started to dread going to my computer and ask myself again, what next? The cursor was my enemy, accusing me of not trying hard enough.

Then, of course the procrastination started. It was always, I’ll get back to it tomorrow. No, that didn’t happen, tomorrow turned into next week, and then more time passed, and I felt guilty for not getting back to it. Thus, the vicious cycle

I talked to my friends about the book, and they gave me great ideas, and new directions. I would feel motivated for about a week, then the ideas dried up, and I was back to staring at the computer, watching the cursor blink like it was expecting something to happen.

Then one day I was looking through my computer files and the title of an old project peeked my curiosity. I wondered what my mind set was when I started it. I put it aside because I had this other book to finish. It was my obligation.

When I opened the file, it was like opening a door that glowed on the other side, waiting for me. It was a fantasy about a crystal city. As I read a few paragraphs the ideas flew into my head. An outline was created in one night. In a week I wrote 20,000 words. My fingers couldn’t type fast enough. For the last few weeks I have been getting up early to work on this new and wonderful project until my granddaughter arrived in the morning for daycare

At night I’d think about what I was going to do the next day, and what new adventure would my characters have. This is an amazing experience. I don’t think I have been this excited about a project since I started writing my first book. It has great possibilities, and my imagination is limitless.

Do you have book ideas filed away in your library? Project you once set aside. I bet you do. If you get bogged down with a project, take a look and see if there is anything else that inspires you.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

‘Tis The Season . . . Don’t Let It Pass You By! by Nancy Gideon

Is anyone else suffering from a post-holiday hangover? Dirty dishes, loads of leftovers, pants that groan at the seams while snoozing in front of parades, reruns and football games, the manic penny-saving rush that comes with Black Friday . . . you know, the joys of the season! And it's just getting started!!

Despite the frenzy and the disruption of my dogmatic routine, I reeeeeally love the holidays between Halloween and Christmas because I LOVE to decorate and hostess. They give me an excuse to come out of my hermitude without guilt. I should be writing. I should be doing PR on that new release. I should (I really should!) be putting together a newsletter. Sometimes, shouldn't we just reacquaint with the joy of connecting with friends and family, filling our homes with sinful scents (calories have a delicious odor!), turn our everyday staid surroundings into Party City and give ourselves a break? I can hear those who know me groaning, "Yeah, right. You? Ms. OCD Squared, take a day off?" It could happen . . . and it does happen (though I confess to still feeling a bit guilty!). Community recharges batteries that can overheat under continuous use (or abuse!). We sometimes pull ourselves so deeply into our imaginative caves that we forget there's a real world beyond the fiction we create, that time is flying by. If I'm not careful, I could be that Rip VanWinkle, squinting out into the daylight behind my office door to discover my pre-teen grandson has started college! How the hours, days and years fly by!

But because I can’t go cold turkey (Sorry, couldn’t resist!), I’ll slip in a few seconds of work then go on to enjoy the rest of my loooong weekend. I’ve got my second “Midnight to Moonlight” blog tour sale going on with the first book in my “Touched by Midnight” vampire romance series only $.99 (!) and a shout out for my newest release, Book 3 in my 4-book “House of Terriot” shapeshifter series, complete with giveaway. My late Black Friday offering . . .

With the realization that by this time next month, I’ll be recovering from my second knee replacement (Same surgery, different knee. I’ll be bionic!), don’t wait until the last minute (or until you’re trying to sleep flat on your back on good drugs with your knee above the level of your heart for three weeks) to get out and enjoy some of the fun and excitement the season offers.

Happy writing, Happy reading and Happy Holidays!!

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Nancy Gideon on the Web

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Holly King & Krampus Two

by Sandy Wright

ONCE upon a time, when all lies were true….

The Oak King and the Holly King were twins. Every year at the winter and summer solstices, the two brothers fought for dominance.

The Holly King ruled the waning, dark part of the year, from Midsummer to Yule. The Oak King ruled the waxing, brightening part of the year, from Yule to Midsummer.

The Holly King represents darkness, decay and destruction. Our earth during winter.

He’s often associated with the Underworld gods Pluto or Hades, or the Celtic Underworld god, Cernunnos. He often appears in red winter clothing, wearing the antlers of a stag, or goat horns, sometimes even with cloven hooves and a beard. Sometime during the medieval age, his image was merges with the Christian devil.

In many countries worldwide, the twin figures of the Oak and Holly Kings have remained separate, and it is the Oak King who has been assigned the “good” role of the rewarder/gift giver, while the Holy King has been assigned the “wicked” role of punisher/depriver.

Here in the US, the modern Santa Claus has become a melting pot of the two pagan gods. The Oak and Holly kings reunited as one dual-faced entity. For Santa Claus is both the rewarder and the depriver, marking children as naughty or nice. Giving them presents. Or sticks and coal.

From house to house he travels in his sleigh, drawn by the beasts sacred to Cernunnos, the Stag Lord. Eight reindeers pull the sled over rooftops, the number of men required to heft the Daghda’s might club, and the number of legs boasted by the Scandinavian god Odin’s horse, Sleipnir.

And, just as the spirits of the dead were believed to do, Santa enters the houses he visits via their chimneys. The Celts shoved whole trees in the hearth, trunk first, and burned it for several days, to keep spirits out. We stay up and wait for him, with cookies.

We decorate our homes with the Holly King’s sacred plants: Fir, spruce, yew, rosemary and holly.

We trim our evergreen tree in Yule colors: Red for the waning Holly King, green for the waxing Oak King, and white for the purity and hope of the light reborn.
When I first started studying the Wheel of the Year, I found the timing of the Holly and Oak King battles a bit confusing. Each king fights to win back the crown when the other is in his full strength.

For example, we have been in the dark, or waning, part of the Wheel of the Year since the day after Midsummer. At Midsummer, or Litha, on June 22, the Oak King was slain, put to bed under the earth, and the Holly King began his rule. 

I don’t know about you, but living in Arizona, there is no way I think about the dark part of the year, or the days getting longer, or the Holly King…in June.
But if you look at it astrologically, the timing makes sense.

EQUINOX in Latin means Equal Night.

And SOLSTICE comes from the Latin SOL (sun) + SISTERE (stop or stand still). For the three days and nights before and after the solstice, the sun appears to stand still in the sky, to rise and set in the same place. That’s because the Earth is tilted on its axis as it rotates around the sun. When the North Pole is tilted as far away from the sun as it ever gets, we are at Winter Solstice. To early astronomers, it appeared that the sun paused, and then changed direction.

Christian scholars don’t know when Jesus was actually born. It was a Roman king who decided to proclaim Dec. 25 as the day of Christ’s birth. I think he mainly wanted to keep it close to the solstice, and auspicious and important time.

When does your inner clock begin to note the shift from the waxing to the waning part of the year? When do you FEEL the darkness settling onto the land? When do you begin to settle in, to nest? When do you find yourself looking inward more, becoming introspective, and reviewing your year and measuring its worth?

For me, it’s somewhere around the end of the school year, right around Mabon at the end of September. 

And then, by Samhain, the dark half of the year is upon me, and the introspection. I love it. Embrace it. Look forward to Yule.

And then, *Poof*…Yule’s here, it finally feels like winter in the desert…and it’s gone!
…And the wheel turns, and turns once again.

One thing I have learned as a witch, and now a witch approaching her Croneage, is that perspective is everything. Your perspective changes your life. Every single thing you do or think, wish for or achieve, is affected by your unique personal perspective.

We have a month before December 22, the Winter Solstice and the shortest day of the year.
Let’s begin now to honor the Holly King, who will soon sacrifice himself to nourish our beautiful earth and renew its growth and bounty.

Embrace his Underworld energy for these days before he dies, and turns the wheel back to light.

Let’s embrace the darkness. The quiet. The shadow side of our lives.

Let’s get introspective. Investigate the darkness, maybe even face down an inner demon and finally put it to rest.

Sandy Wright resides in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, her college student son, a rescued Australian Shepherd named Teak, and two twenty-pound domesticated black panther cats. She fell in love with the southwest desert, including its Native American influences, when she relocated from the Midwest.

Song of the Ancients, the first novel in the Ancient Magic paranormal suspense series, introduces readers to witchcraft and shamanism, seen through the eyes of an ordinary woman.

Readers interested in witchcraft—or just a dark, spooky tale—will enjoy this paranormal suspense, written by a real-life Wiccan High Priestess.

Song of the Ancients was published in May 2015 and is available on Amazon.
Stones of the Ancients, the 2nd book in the Ancient Magic series, will be published in 2018.

Visit Sandy at

Turkey: A Noble Bird by Francesca Quarto

Turkey: A Noble Bird by Francesca Quarto

"Let's talk "turkey"
"He's a real turkey!"

"Dumb as a turkey drowning, while he looks up at the rain."
There are many sayings linking this common bird to the idea of an empty headed, dull-witted character.  I believe, especially at this time of year, that a sharp light needs to be shed on this bald-headed, dull plumed creature.  Hopefully, with the benefit  of historic details, I can restore a modicum of  nobility to old, "Tom Turkey."
The wild turkey is a true Native American and one of only two species of its genus. When the first Europeans stepped foot on our shores, the wild turkey was abundant.  In part, this was  because the resident Native Indian tribes, looked upon the stout bird as "starvation food", fit for hunting, only by children and women.  They certainly didn't object to the Europeans hunting them as well, which may be a clear indication of their regard for the pale settlers.
Due to aggressive forest clearing, and fires set for that purpose, large swaths of land were cleared, creating an ideal habitat for the turkeys, encouraging them to increase their numbers in response.
The Native tribes used these abundant birds as meat, but prized their feathers as spiritual symbols. Accounts mention how the birds were run down and captured alive and stripped of their tail and breast feathers. Most of the eastern tribes saw these as powerful medicine and symbols of wisdom. 
To the turkey's great disadvantage, the Europeans stepped out of the 17th century and into their habitat.  The large birds were seen not as wise, but as a tasty meal.  In early accounts, hunters killed as many as one hundred birds a after day.  They obviously hadn't heard of the concept of "sustainability!"
The great American frontier spread like the vastness of the skies, unknown and boundless, before the settlers.  And their wagons rolled, like ships on a wild sea.  Turkey numbers plummeted, as the birds fed the hungry pioneers on their "westward ho" adventures.
The wild turkey actually disappeared in western Kentucky in the late 1800's, then, in 1910 they vanished from Illinois and southeast Missouri. By the beginning of the 20th century, only a scattering of turkeys remained and that's because they were in inaccessible terrain in Missouri, Arkansas Ozarks, and remote areas of the Appalachians.
In 1958 Illinois reintroduced the elusive turkey, using wild-trapped birds they imported from Missouri and other states. Over the years, with state efforts, wild turkey numbers have increased dramatically from their nearly extinct status. 
The reach of preservation has been meaningful for many species teetering on the brink  of oblivion and none-to-soon for the wild turkey.   Our Thanksgiving meals would look quite differently with, say, roasted piglet with apple stuffed mouth!
There's been a long standing tradition of the White House "pardoning" the turkey selected to feed the President and his guests. Reports of gifting turkeys to the American President go back to the 1870's when a poultry dealer named Horace Vose sent plump birds to the First Families.  Great marketing on his part and the tradition became solidly ingrained each year following.  Though not all the fattened birds were released to pursue their own pecking order in life, many Presidents have opted for mercy.
It is astonishing to some that Ben Franklin actually preferred the Wild Turkey to the Bald Eagle as our National Bird.  He is quoted as saying, "For in truth the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original Native of America... He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on."
Franklin kept his criticism pretty much to himself about the Eagle, and after sitting down to a beautifully roasted turkey this Thanksgiving, I for one am glad he lost that particular argument.
Fast Facts:
A ripe cranberry bounces
Canadians celebrate their own Thanksgiving every October
Abraham Lincoln declared a national day of Thanksgiving in 1863
The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was in 1924

Happy Thanksgiving to all you gobblers and many blessings on this day!
Francesca Quarto

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

GUEST: Veronica Scott Talks Egyptian

Thanks for having me as your guest today to talk about Lady of the Nile.

I love ancient Egypt and have been fascinated by the civilization and the people since I read Mara, Daughter of the Nile as a kid. My mother also had all the old Time-Life picture books about life in the ancient world and I used to pore over those as well. I hadn’t actually tried writing a story set in ancient Egypt until 2011, when Carina Press put out a call for ancient world romance and I decided to go for it. That book, Priestess of the Nile, became my first published book. (I’m more well-known nowadays for my scifi romances but that’s another story…)

I’ve written a total of seven books in my Gods of Egypt connected series now, which all have the same Pharaoh and his court as the touchstone. But, being me, I can’t write straight historical romance because as soon I start the story, I want the gods to be involved and there to be magic and mystery. So I went with paranormal!

A particularly fascinating thing about ancient Egypt was how long the civilization endured, and how unchanging life was for the most part. Pharaohs came and went, there were invaders and wars, but for the ordinary citizen, life stayed pretty much the same. I started thinking about a lady of the court who’d allowed her own life to become as unchanging and realizes almost too late she’s trapped herself and might be missing out on things that are important to her.

Blurb for Lady of the Nile:
Tuya, a high ranking lady-in-waiting at Pharaoh’s court, lives a life of luxury, pageantry and boredom. Khian, a brave and honorable officer from the provinces temporarily re-assigned to Thebes, catches her eye at a gold of valor ceremony. As the pair are thrown together by circumstances, she finds herself unaccountably attracted to this man so unlike the haughty nobles she’s used to. But a life with Khian would mean leaving the court and giving up all that she’s worked so hard to attain. As she goes about her duties, Tuya struggles with her heart’s desires.

When Tuya is lured into a dangerous part of Thebes by her disgraced half-brother and kidnapped by unknown enemies of Egypt, Khian becomes her only hope. Pharaoh assigns him to bring the lady home.

Aided by the gods, Khian races into the desert on the trail of the elusive kidnappers, hoping to find Tuya before it’s too late. Neither of them has any idea of the dark forces arrayed against them, nor the obstacles to be faced. An ancient evil from the long gone past wants to claim Tuya for its own purposes and won’t relinquish her easily.

Can Khian find her in time? Will he and his uncanny allies be able to prevent her death? And if the couple escapes and reaches safety, what of their fledgling romance?

The excerpt wherein the goddess Mut issues a stark warning about Tuya’s life choices:

She stood on a hill, in the shade of a beautiful palm tree, watching groups of people walk along a path across the river from her. They danced and laughed and kissed and talked amongst themselves, as if going to a wonderful festival or special event. Men and women strolled hand in hand, oblivious to anything but each other. Families traveled in little groups, the babies in adult arms, toddlers and young children skipping and running ahead, only to rejoin their parents.
“How do I get over there?” Shielding her eyes with her hand, she searched for a path leading away from where she stood, or a bridge to cross the river.
“But you positioned yourself here, why do you now want to leave?”
Surprised, Tuya turned to the woman standing beside her whose presence she hadn’t noticed before, being so intent on the parade across the way. She seemed familiar, but no name came to Tuya’s tongue. “I didn’t choose to stand here.”
                “Indeed you did. You worked hard and cleverly to achieve this elevated role. Don’t you remember all the times you chose the path of service over more demanding—and perhaps frightening—opportunities? Opted for the safety of the familiar?”
“I never—”
“You refused numerous offers for your hand, stating you couldn’t leave Ashayet early in her term as Royal Wife, or when she was pregnant or nursing or later as a young mother.”
“I was needed!”
“The Royal Wife has fifty ladies-in-waiting, with dozens more who’d relish the chance for the appointment for a year or two.”
“I also serve the goddess at the temple.”
The woman laughed. “As one of a hundred. Did anyone other than the goddess notice when you stopped singing today? Or started again?”
Feeling a chill, and a bit frightened at her unknown companion’s knowledge, Tuya searched again for a path to the river. A low wall surrounded the spot where she stood, and she got goosebumps when she realized there was no break, no exit. She could step over the rows of nearly laid bricks but fear made her pause.
“Where are they all going?” she asked.
“They travel the road of life,” the woman said. “With all the experiences, good and bad, you’ve chosen to shield yourself from. The highs and the lows of a life lived. Not merely observed, not simply drifted through, like a ship caught in the backwaters of the Nile. You chart a safe course going nowhere except the tomb.”

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Author Bio:
USA Today Best Selling Author Veronica Scott is the “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happy Ever After blog. She 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  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.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

GUEST: Laurie A. Green The Story Behind the Story @AuthorLaurieAGreen

Pets+Space: The Story Behind the Story 

In early 2016, I was asked by Pauline Baird Jones if I wanted to be part of a new science fiction romance anthology, Pets in Space. Wait, what? Pets plus space! Coolest idea ever! Yes! Count me in.

But in spite of my enthusiasm, I was a little unsure what sort of pet I’d write about or what kind of premise I could dream up for a new tale to be part of my Inherited Stars series. It didn’t take long to realize I’d done a bit of musing on the heroine of a future novel having some sort of a starship-friendly pet, possibly a ferret or weasel. When I started to brainstorm on that, I realized it might work as an expanded concept.

But my ferret-weasel didn’t stay a mustelid for long. It soon evolved into a bio-engineered StarDog. That mental process went something like this…

Fifteen hundred years in the future, animals will most likely be bred for different purposes than they are today. If they’re bred at all. By then, bio-engineering may be commonplace to produce animals that perform specific functions, like being the perfect shipboard mascots on space crafts as well as skilled vermin hunters to keep the vessels “clean.” So to build my pet, I needed an animal well-suited to a closed environment that would also incorporate desirable traits to perform these specific tasks. What might that genetic recipe look like?

Going back to the original idea, I started with a bit of weasel DNA. Weasels are small, agile and terrific vermin hunters in the wild. But my pet wouldn’t be in the wild, so it also needed some user-friendly genetics from domesticated canine and feline genes. Traits that would incorporate the loyalty of dogs with the easy-care attributes of cats. Obviously you can’t walk a pet in space, so the critter needed to have instincts to use a granule box while in flight, much like a housecat.

But my mascot needed something more: Attitude. It had to be fearless enough to take on the worst of starship pests, like snakes, scorpions and their future counterparts. That’s how the natural abilities of the champion of all vermin wranglers—the venom-resistant mongoose—got blended into the mix.

A pet was born—or, incubated—for the first Pets in Space story.

Adding StarDogs to my universe led to a number of series-altering effects. For instance, how does the heroine come by such an exotic animal? Surely they’d be expensive. What was the backstory of my StarDog?

As those ideas began to unfold, the entire series evolved right along with my StarDog. New characters emerged, such as the scientist who created StarDogs and his affiliation with the covert Network, an entity that played an important role in the companion novel, Inherit the Stars. Fresh conflicts sparked; StarDogs were employed as spies on enemy ships. Lurking dangers threatened; those enemies sought to wipe out the StarDog lab. The finished story was one I was truly proud of but that also added some unexpected twists and layers to the whole storytelling arc behind the series and future books.

When I was asked if I’d like to write a new story for a second Pets in Space collection, I was stymied all over again. What pet would I write about this time? Maybe a story about a horse in space? Someday, but this was not that day. Crocodile in space? No, not my idea of a cuddly pet. Guinea pig in space? Hmmm. Very cute, but the idea just didn’t take hold. Nothing seemed to be clicking, until I remembered that Captain Navene Jagger and Ketsia Tayah, two of the original minor characters in Inherit the Stars were meant to have their own adventure post Inherit the Stars…and what if their story involved a StarDog?

And so it does. ;)

Courting Disaster: StarDog 2 picks up where StarDog and Inherit the Stars left off, carrying readers three calendars (years) into a brave, but uncertain new future beyond the close of the novel. Jagger and Ketsia soon learn the galaxy still harbors a dangerous threat, contrary to the HEA everyone had been counting on. This story ended up serving not only as a sequel to the two past stories, but also as a prequel to a future book, Inherit the Vengeance.

Here’s a bonus! If you haven’t yet read StarDog (or even if you have), then I invite you to enter the Inherited Stars Universe as my guest and download a free copy of StarDog—the original Pets in Space storyvia Instafreebie. Here’s the link:

Thanks so much to Paranormal Romantics for hosting me today!

About Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2
Twelve award winning and bestselling Science Fiction Romance authors join forces with twelve original, never released stories in USA TODAY bestselling Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2.

Courting Disaster: StarDog2
A commander of a spaceship faces the toughest decision of his life when he vows to protect the woman and her StarDog that he is escorting through a dangerous section of space.

About the Author

Laurie A. Green is an award winning, USA TODAY bestselling author, a three-time RWA Golden Heart® finalist and a science fiction romance enthusiast who founded the SFR Brigade community of writers, which now totals over 1,000 members.

She confesses to being an Andromeda Galaxy groupie and would someday love to own a vacation home on Mars or Titan. She’s enthused to be a part of this wonderful anthology mash-up of two of her favorite things–pets and space.

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Twitter Handle:           @SFRLaurie