Tuesday, July 31, 2018

GUEST: Katherine Gilbert - Urban Fantasy

Please welcome our guest, Katherine Gilbert.

Urban Fantasy

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

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

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

Protecting the Dead
by Katherine Gilbert

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

Buy Links:

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

Where to Find Katherine:


Monday, July 30, 2018

It was so exciting I decided to do it again!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's da info, my peeps:

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

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

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

Another bewitching story from Magic, New Mexico.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

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

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

Saturday, July 28, 2018

#cover By reservation Only from Barbara Edwards

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

The publication date is undecided, but will be soon.

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

I’m looking forward to reading all of them.

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

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

Friday, July 27, 2018

Warrior Woman: Ng Mui by L. A. Kelley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

When Inspiration Strikes by Nancy Gideon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be prepared.

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

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

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Descriptions are Fun to Write?

As a paranormal romance writer, vivid descriptions are a must. All writers have to describe their world to a certain extent so that the readers are grounded in it. But paranormal romance requires figuring out all the rules and details that make that world unique. 

For example, I have a new dragon shifter series coming out in September (Fire's Edge... more info coming next month!). I've spent countless hours digging into what makes that world tick in a unique way that sets the right tone for my stories and lends to the conflict for my characters. 

I'll be honest... This is a love it/hate it thing for me. A writer can easily get bogged down in the details until they stop writing and are only making notes. They can also put so much description of their world in the book that they lose the reader. At the same time, it's easy to go too light and the reader either can't picture it or doesn't understand what's going on.

With that in mind, I thought I'd share some of the tricks I use when writing and self-editing to help me with the descriptions....

When writing, you want to make sure you get the descriptions in there in the first place. Many writers don't set a scene or characters have no clothes (I do this all the time). You also want to get the description right. By right, I mean, they convey good information and build your world, but at the same time don't drag down the pacing of your book or are appropriate for your genre. Here are some things to look at when writing/editing.

Your Character's Lens (Deep POV)
Ask yourself if the description is coming from your POV character's lens. If you walked into a new room or met someone new, what you notice will differ from what someone else would notice. Why? Because you have different interests, history, backgrounds, preconceptions, goals, etc. Or if the description is about the character (clothing, personality, physical characteristics), make sure it matches who your character is.

Are your descriptions generic, or do they reveal something about your character?

How is what you are describing affected by the context? For example, would a character's frame of mind impact how they see something? What about the plot? What about the genre?

Look & Feel - Add Emotion
Don't just describe how something appears. Get the emotional impact in there. What does the character feel about that description. Does it resonate? Impact their emotions? Help or hinder?

5 Senses
You want to incorporate more than sight into your descriptions. Use all 5 senses (sight, touch, taste, sound, and smell).

Some editors say to incorporate all 5 senses into every page. I find that overkill (and often impossible, unless he/she is a snake shifter tasting the air every 30 seconds). My rule of thumb is a sense per page and all 5 senses per scene or chapter.

If you really want to go crazy, check out the other "senses". Many scientists have classified additional senses to the traditional 5. Not all agree on the lists or classifications yet, but check out the ones they do agree on most. Try incorporating these in!

  • Temperature – Hold/Cold
  • Balance
  • Pain
  • Sense of where your limbs and body parts are
  • Thirst
  • Hunger
  • Time

Telling vs. Showing
The key with descriptions is to help the reader experience that thing--the setting, meeting another character, going through an experience, etc.

Description Length
Look at the length of your description. Is it too short? Not conveying enough information? Is it too long and pacing is suffering? Do you REALLY need all those details right at that moment? Consider what/who it is you are describing and why? Does the description impact the plot or character?

Spread It Out/Break It Up
Spread out descriptions. Whether you are describing characters, settings, the character observing a scene in action, the actual action, etc., it helps to break it up. Don't just dump it all in one long paragraph. Try to sprinkle the descriptions throughout.

What About You?
Fellow PNR authors, I'd LOVE to hear your tricks and tips. What is your process when it comes to descriptions and building your world? Readers, what do you prefer to see in descriptions?

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Traveling Death Mask by Francesca Quarto

The Traveling Death Mask by Francesca Quarto

"Aunty's dead, I tell ye!  She took ta sittin' up 'n fell off 'n 'er bed. Silly ol' witch!" he was shouting to me.

I stopped by Healer Charlotte's cottage to see to her needs. As a Healer myself, in my Lord's employ, I had to be certain this was not the beginning of another red scourge among the peasants on his lands.

The door was flung wide by the wild-eyed nephew and I determined the truth of his statement. 

Martin, Charlotte's nephew, was in a near fit with anger and what looked like a touch of remorse.  I'm guessing, anger, because his elderly relative, had inconveniently passed out of this realm and remorse, because he had wasted precious time caring for the old biddy and she died before he could uncover her secrets.

Her story was thusly told me by Martin, after I calmed his head with a cup of strong ale from the local tavern.

Charlotte had earned great renown in her seventy and six years, as a healer of extraordinary talent.  Her village of Locknear Cove, had dozens of folk wandering its lanes, who owed the old woman their fair health.

When there was a tooth to be pulled, a baby to be birthed, or a scourge, ravishing the country round them, Charlotte always had a cure, or method to safeguard all.

Her nephew, Martin,  wanted to take her place as Healer and earn the same fine fees that kept Charlotte and him, her only kin, living comfortably in the small cottage.

When she finally succumbed to the heavy hand of Father Time, Martin stayed by her wizened head, waiting for her to reveal her secret healing methods to him.  He tended her day and night for nearly a fortnight. According to his tale, he even prayed to the gods, old and new, to bring her round enough to speak her secrets.. 

"I did all her necessaries for the ol' hag 'n even fed 'er like a babe!  She only looked me in t'eye en smiled in 'er evil way."

I remonstrated against such strong words in describing the kindly old woman.

"She had devoted her long life to others," I protested to his bleary eyed face.

He was not to be swayed from his twisted anger at her death.  Into his second mug of the stiff brew, he shared a family tale about Charlotte, one that traced her Healer's gifts to her own great-grandmother.

"Er name were Midge. She were famous round 'ere, fer 'avin' ta power ta look death in ta face, and scare 'im away like mornin' does ta moon shadows.  Charlotte sed Midge 'ad a fearsome face ta behold.  Wit eyes, dark as pitch, a great nose like a huntin' hawk, 'er face, creased like a dried mud bog.  Even 'er 'air were ugly, lookin' all wild, an stuck out like twigs from a squirrel's nest! She scared the children from 'er path wit a look o' dem black eyes."

I listened attentively as I could, though I found the man dreary as company and the day was going dark.

"Listen ta me when I tell ye dis tale.  Charlotte, me blood kin, were hidin' a "Travelin' Death Mask", give her by dat witch grandmutter!  It were made from ta face o' a powerful witch what died near hundred- year ago.

Ta Travelin' Mask were passed down en outright stole, by lots 'o other witches what know 'bout it. It held all dat ancient witch's powers, en' after Charlotte got it from Midge, It give 'er ta power ta heal, and she did lots 'o profit from it, I can tell ye!   When she went ta attend one 'o the village folk, she'd wrap ta mask inside 'er shawl, afore she took 'erself off.  I seen it only the single time, when I followed 'er down ta  Widow Morley's, as she were dyin'.  She opened 'er shawl an put somethin' on 'er face. When she turned to where I hid meself, I seen ta face o' ta witch, Midge, just as Aunt told it ta me."

It was now full dark outside the scruffy tavern. I became anxious to return to the safety of the Lord's Manor and a warm bowl of stew from the kitchens.  I couldn't dissuade the bumpkin that no such thing existed as a Traveling Death Mask with powerful properties to heal the sick or dying.  I payed the barkeep for one more ale for the grieving nephew and took myself off.

Down the road a long time later, my wagon being pulled by a single bay horse, I spied some sort of movement at the side of the lonely road.  The horse became nervous, whinnying and snorting, his flaring nostrils making long vapors appear in the chilled air of the night.

I halted the beast in the traces, not wanting to proceed until I could identify what manner of night walker was about.  That's when I heard a raspy woman's voice, halloing me from beside the road ahead.

"If ye be fearful o' me, know I'm only en old woman, returnin' from a dear friend's bedside, I am. No need ta be afeared o' me."

I snapped the reigns slightly, to rouse the bay to her task and she stepped smartly forward toward the stranger. She continued to snort as if smelling something foul riding the breezes.

"Good evening, Mother.  I would offer a ride to your door, but my direction is forward, while yours, behind."

"Ach, no worries. I'd be delighted fer yer company, en can make me bed in any direction of me choosen."

With that, she leapt up as spry as a ten year old girl, snagging her long black dress into a bunch with her gnarled fingers, settling down beside me.

While the night was indeed very dark, there was a sliver of a moon and I strained my eyes to peer over from time to time at my new companion as we moved on. For all her garrulous greeting, she had become very quiet.  I waited for a cloud to pass across the tiny strip of moon to catch a glimpse of the crone.

I clearly saw a beak of a nose, wiry hair bushed out around a long, narrow face. She must have felt my look as she turned slowly in my direction.  She wore a sly look around her mouth and her eyes were two pieces of obsidian, cold and hard.

"So, here we sit, me lookin' at a fit, young man, whilst I be in need o' jest sech.  I know ye been wit that daft nephew o' Charlotte's en he tellin' tales bout a Travelin' Death Mask he were.  What ye need ta know is only this."

And so the old hag explained the workings of the Traveling Death Mask, explaining it was worn for good, but only after taking the life spirit from a living being.  Who ever donned the hideous thing was able to suck off the life force of others in tiny amounts, leaving them weak, but alive.  These were given to the ill, so they could be cured of any malady.

I was relieved to know no one died under the power of the Mask, because I now understood, I was to be its next victim.  I knew I couldn't escape as the woman's power was already drawing upon the life surging through my body.  She became very rigid as she watched my body go limp.

 I must have become unconscious, for when I roused myself, I lay supine upon the bench seat, the horse, grazing among the weeds beside the road. The sun was beginning to rise with determination and it would soon be full day.

I whipped the horse to gain its cooperation and moved forward toward the Lord's Manor. When I arrived at the front entry I was handled roughly and told , "Get yer ugly face offin' ' is Lordship's  property!  Yer kind ain't welcome 'ere"

I ran back to the cart and it and the horse were gone to the stables.  When I arrived to fetch my rig, I happened to pass the water trough for the beasts.  Looking down I saw the face of the Traveling Death Mask.

My mind was undone and to this day, I am searching out the old hag who now wears my face and lives in my youthful body.  I do some healing from time to time during my search of the villages and towns.  I keep body and soul together with the pittance I can charge.  But it matters little.  After all, this is not my body.  This is not my soul as long as I wear the Mask I must keep moving.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

What Genre is This? Paranormal VS Urban Fantasy by Elizabeth Alsobrooks

Many writers have a difficult time labeling their work or fitting it into specific categories or genres. In today’s popular cross-genre norm, this makes sense. Novels still need to be labeled for marketability, so I want to examine the differences and common traits of two popular modern genres that are often confused: Urban Fantasy and Paranormal.

I read somewhere that the difference between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal is that Paranormal is Urban Fantasy in which the main characters have sex. At first, I thought this was funny. Then I thought about it and decided it’s not as silly a statement as it seems. The description does, however, require a bit more elaboration to be considered anything more than an oversimplified characterization.

First, let’s start by examining the genres individually. Urban Fantasy was once considered to be a subgenre of Fantasy in which the story took place in a major city or town. Nowadays, it’s considered Urban Fantasy if it takes place in a contemporary setting (VS say High Fantasy which often takes place in ancient or medieval times or magical locales). The everyday world is far from “normal” however.  It involves magic or characters with supernatural powers or characteristics, though they still interact with everyday mortals—you know, Muggles. Urban Fantasy often has fantastical creatures, too, even those usually found in paranormal novels. The main character(s) are usually battling against supernatural beings, even if they have some supernatural powers of their own.

Paranormal novels contain supernatural beings, such as vampires, werewolves or other shapeshifters. They can take place in any time or locale. The main characters may or may not have actual intercourse, but they have a personal relationship of some kind around which the events and plot revolve.

Urban Fantasy’s main characters may well have a relationship, sexual or otherwise, but if their relationship were removed, the plot and events would still occur. There will be a story present even if the main characters have no personal relationship, whereas in Paranormal novels the story is about the main characters’ relationship and its development.

So, is Paranormal just Urban Fantasy in which the characters have sex? Sort of. Perhaps that’s why most Paranormal is labeled Paranormal Romance…

Monday, July 16, 2018

GUEST: Susan Kelley - EXILE'S SAVAGE LADY #Apocalypse

Where Would You Want to Spend the Apocalypse?

My latest novel, Exile’s Savage Lady: Book #3 of Survivors of the Apocalypse, wraps up this futuristic three book series in which two distinct groups of people must work together or watch mankind spiral into extinction.

Thousands of people have survived the pandemic inside a sealed biodome. A much smaller and scattered group of people survived the deadly illness that swept the globe three hundred years before. Both sets of people face particular challenges due to their environment.

Let’s look at the essentials. Water is the leading necessity to life. Outside the dome, there is abundant fresh water. They have no shortages for drinking, cooking or bathing. In the sealed biodome, all their water is recycled and has been for three hundred years. It’s not tasty and is rationed like everything else.

Second need is food. Once again, the people living outside have large resources of food, both plant and animal. They can hunt wild animals and have domesticated livestock as well as growing their own crops. Inside the dome, the soil has grown poorer with centuries or use despite attempts to fertilize it. The dome itself has grayed and darkened so less sunlight gets in for the plants. Food is rationed to near starvation levels.

Third in our hierarchy of needs is safety and shelter. Those on the outside have plentiful wood to build homes and can scrounge other materials from old ruins. The city was fully constructed before the pandemic. Its buildings are well build along with real streets and indoor plumbing. For safety, the city has a fully realized police force. There is little violence and since no one has anything to steal, little theft. The outside couldn’t be more different. The few people are scattered and live in extended family forts. Roaming through the wilderness are ruthless gangs who take what they want from those weaker than themselves. It’s a dangerous world for anyone not protected by a strong family.

In terms of comforts, the city doesn’t have to face dangerous weather situations like tornadoes or blizzards. The city has solar powered electricity. The outsiders know how to live through the changing seasons, but it’s a dangerous time. Without modern technology to warn them of incoming bad weather, they’re in constant danger from the elements.

Transportation in the city is mostly by foot, though there are some railcars. The outsiders use horses. Those stuck on the outside use oil for lighting and have harnessed the wind to draw water from wells. Though their lives are filled with hard work, the outsiders are healthy and happy.

Education in the city is similar to our modern world though children are directed toward certain area of studies based on early testing. The school system has professional teachers, and there is a university system where doctors, engineers, and other professions are educated. The outsiders have only homeschooling and only then if the parents bother. The only people they have as doctors are people who have learned what they can about medicine from old books scavenged from civilization’s ruins. Medicine itself is nothing more than herbal remedies. It’s a very frontier life on the outside. Those inside the city have medicines though like everything else, it is carefully rationed.

What do the outsiders need that the biodome does have?  People. The outsiders are few and scattered. What does the biodome need that the outsiders have in abundance? Resources of food, water, and freedom.

Exile’s Savage Lady: Book #3 of Survivors of the Apocalypse, is the final story in this saga of an America after a pandemic has nearly wiped out mankind. Robin Linden was saved by the Gibbs family when he was exiled from the domed city. He can’t enjoy his new life in the outside while those inside the city are slowly starving. Kerry Gibbs has finally found her match in the strong, quiet city man. When he decides to sneak back into the city and rescue his people, Kerry can’t allow him to go alone. Once inside the decaying metropolis, Kerry realizes the man she’s grown to love intends to save the poor city folks even if it means sacrificing himself. She’s not willing to let him, but the power-hungry city leaders might take the decision out of her hands. Is her love enough to keep Robin at her side? Find this book on Amazon.

Susan Kelley lives in a large, country home in Pennsylvania where she and her husband raised six children. She has been a fulltime writer for years after retiring from teaching high school. This is her nineteenth published romance.

You can find Susan:

On her blog:  Susan Says

Where would you want to spend the apocalypse? In the biodome, or would you rather take your chances among the dangers of the outside? Thanks for spending some time learning out the world I created for Survivors of the Apocalypse.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Earthman's Bride by Icy Snow Blackstone

Our guest today is Icy Snow Blackstone, multi-pubbed author. She's talking about her novel. So, welcome, Icy Snow!

Earthman’s Bride started out as a short story which ran away with my imagination.  I knew what I wanted to say, but the story had been told many times before with many variations:  a young woman given to a conqueror as part of a peace agreement...he desires her...she fears him,...eventually they fall in love... Okay, so far so good, but how to make it different?  How to keep it from being a rehash of every book ever written with the same theme?  Would changing the setting help?  Making it medieval...paranormal...futuristic?  And the conqueror?  Would he be a warrior...a beast...a supernatural entity?  An older man, inured to the cruelty of war...or a much younger one, still able to find some tenderness in his life?

There are too many science fiction stories of invaders from other planets coming to Earth a la War of the Worlds, but all of them are told from the Earth’s point of view.  That settled it for me.

I wasn’t going that route.  Not this little writer.  I’d make my story tell the other side of the coin.  I’d make the Earthmen the conquerors, barging into another a galaxy like barbarians, attacking and conquering. 

My Earthmen aren’t very nice people.  Having depleted their own natural resources, they head to the stars looking for planets having the elements they lack.  Using force, they “accept” these worlds into the Federation, placing them under their “protection” and then haul their natural resources back to Terra.  Since most of the planets are less developed than theirs, it’s easy to subdue them with superior firepower and take what they want.

The planet Tusteya is different. 

They received the Terrans in peace but within 30 minutes of their meeting, peaceful intentions go flying out the window.  Though not as technologically advanced, the Tusteyans knew of space travel and traded with other planets and weren’t about to allow themselves to be enslaved by aliens.  The resulting war, one in which the Tusteyans put up steady but futile resistance, ended in only one small tribe, the Elius, remaining free while all others were enslaved by the Federation’s representative, now called the Governor of Tusteya, Lieutenant Philip Hamilcar.  Ordered to stay behind with his men to keep the natives under control, Hamilcar was, in fact stranded on the planet as punishment for voicing his disapproval of the way the Tusteyans were treated. 

At the opening of the story, thirty years have passed, Hamilcar has died, and his son, another Philip—a young man barely twenty—has taken his place.  Alcin Spearman, leader of the Elius, asks for a truce, and to show the sincerity of his intentions, offers his 17-year-old daughter Rebeka to the new Governor to cement the peace.  Alcin is certain the young Earthman will want Rebeka, and once he meets her, Philip—being young and male—definitely does.  What he doesn’t know is that his bride-to-be has an agenda other than simply being a peace offering. 

Once Rebeka has gained his trust, she’s to kill him, and during the chaos of his death, her father and his men will storm the palace and end the Terran tyranny once and for all.

Rebeka goes into the marriage willingly, hoping against hope that some miracle will occur to prevent her from killing her new husband.  Nevertheless, everything appears to be going just as her father wishes...Philip is fascinated by Rebeka, eagerly agreeing to the peace.  The wedding takes place, and Rebeka is left in the palace her father used to rule, married to an alien whom she’s expected to bed and then kill.  She is completely alone except for the presence of Darius, a Terran android who has been re-programmed to protect her.  Unknown even to Rebeka, however, Darius has his own agenda.  He is capable of human emotion and has fallen in love with the woman whom he has been ordered to protect while she kills his former pupil. 

And then...Rebeka discovers Philip isn’t the cruel monster she has been told but simply a young man caught in a fate he didn’t ask for—much the same as she—and everything changes...


For thirty years, Rebeka’s people have fought the Earthmen who invaded their planet.

Now, Rebeka’s father has devised a plan to bring about peace: offer the Earthmen a cease-fire, and cement it by giving his daughter as their leader’s bride. At first skeptical, Governor Philip Hamilcar is swept away by lust but he soon finds he has a rival for his wife’s affections in Darius Marx. An android possessing the ability to experience human emotion, Darius has also fallen in love with the Earthman’s bride.

Rebeka doesn’t want an alien husband and she certainly doesn’t want to kill anyone, but she’s given no choice. Once married to Philip, she discovers her husband more than empathetic to her people’s plight. Soon the two are in love, and Rebeka has to make a choice…

Will she make herself a widow or give up her own happiness for her people’s freedom?


Dressing in the wedding gown that had been packed in the little trunk the guard  brought from the gate, Rebeka had put on her makeup and done her hair and laid out the wedding veils on the bed so they would be nearby when she was called.  Her father had said he would see her married before he returned to the village with the treaty. 
            “Do you think I look all right?” she asked suddenly, and her voice sounded so loud she almost jumped.  “Will the Governor like it?”
            Darius studied her a moment, those blue eyes critical and serious.  Then, for the first time, he smiled.
            She walks in beauty, like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that’s best of dark and bright meet in her aspect and her eyes.”  He spoiled the compliment by adding,  “Hamilcar will go to his death willingly!”
            She turned away, closing her eyes. 
            A mind at peace with all below, a heart whose love is innocent,” he went on, cruelly. 
            “Don’t say that!” she ordered, angry that there were tears in her voice.
            “How long will your mind be at peace or your love innocent if you use it to kill?” he asked.
            “Why are you doing this?”  Rebeka flung at him.  “You know it has to be done.  It’s the only way.  Why didn’t you say something sooner if you disagreed?”
            “Because I can’t actually disagree.  Because your father and Master Martin were set on this course.  I’m only an android, Rebeka, a machine, and I may hold more intelligence than all the men on this planet in my databanks, but if they don’t want to listen to it, they won’t.  So I’ve kept silent.”
            “But you think I’ll listen?”
            He nodded.
            “Then you’re mistaken, Darius.  Because I agree with my father.  Philip Hamilcar must die, and I plan to kill him.”
            There was silence for a few moments.
            “He could actually love you, you know,” Darius persisted.  “I turned him away from your door three times today.”
            “Yes, I heard,” she retorted, and now her smile was sardonic.  “And your excuses were a little lame.  Really, Darius, sleeping all night and all day?  It’s a wonder he didn’t think me ill and call a physician!  You should have thought that out a little more.”
            “It worked, didn’t it?”  His smile matched hers in its cruelty.  “Kept him from seeing you, whetted his appetite.  I thought you were going to be the lamb who was slaughtered, Rebeka, but after the way the Governor’s acting, I realize that he’s the lamb in this story!”

The Earthman’s Bride is available in paperback from the publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/cat-romance/the-earthman-s-bride-41-detail

Friday, July 13, 2018

What’s a #Hero? by Diane Burton

With all the recent movies about super heroes, we have to wonder what makes them a hero. Superman, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Black Panther. Captain America. What qualities do they all possess? Leadership, courage, selflessness, bravery in the face of danger.

We call the characters in our novels heroes—non-gender heroes. My female characters have the same qualities as super heroes. In my newest release NUMBERS NEVER LIE, a romantic suspense, Maggie Sinclair needs to know if her brother Jack’s fatal car crash was an accident or something nefarious. She’s determined and plunges ahead even when confronted by danger.

Drew Campbell, Jack’s best friend, is a reluctant hero. Though he doesn’t believe the police are wrong, he’ll help Maggie, if only to keep her out of danger. Maggie’s the leader. She buries her grief to find out what really happened to Jack. But when the villains go after Maggie, Drew protects her.

In real life, most of us don’t have opportunities to be heroes, let alone super heroes. Yet, mothers and fathers are heroes everyday. They support their families—financially, emotionally, physically, educationally.

Think about it. By being there, parents give their children time, a commodity more valuable than money or things. Parents are leaders and show their children, by example, how to be leaders. We’re raising the future super heroes.

Maggie Sinclair teaches high school students. Frequently, she chastises parents who don’t give their children time. The reader sees this when she scolds Drew for not spending more time with his daughter. Since his wife died a year ago, he has to be both mother and father. Yet, what Maggie sees is him spending too much time at work, leaving his daughter in the care of their housekeeper or his parents.

What Maggie doesn’t realize is he’s wrapping up his cases so he can leave the law firm or start his own small office. Like many men, he keeps things too close to his vest. He doesn’t share his plans with his daughter until Maggie insists.

Heroes are selfless. They put the needs of others before their own. When Drew’s daughter asks him to chaperone her camping group on a weekend trip, he agrees even though he dislikes camping. The group of fourteen-year-olds know more about the outdoors than he does. He’s definitely a fish out of water. Yet, to please his child, he’ll put aside his own needs to support her. That’s a hero.

A Romantic Suspense
By Diane Burton
Release Date:  July 9, 2018
Length: approx. 80,000 words
Available at Amazon  http://a.co/gUmO9wZ
Free with Kindle Unlimited

 A shocking secret brings danger to Jack Sinclair and his sister Maggie.

As kids, they were the fearless threesome. As adults, Jack's an accountant; Drew, a lawyer; Maggie, a teacher and camping troop leader. Upon returning from a weekend camping trip, Maggie receives horrifying news. She refuses to believe her brother Jack’s fatal car crash was an accident. If the police won’t investigate, she’ll do it herself. Convincing Drew Campbell to help is her only recourse.

Drew Campbell was too busy to return his best friend’s phone call. Too busy to attend a camping meeting important to his teen daughter. Too busy to stay in touch with Jack. Logic and reason indicate Jack’s accident was just that--an accident caused by fatigue and fog. Prodded by guilt, he’ll help Maggie even if he thinks she’s wrong.

A break-in at Jack’s condo convinces Maggie she’s right. Then her home is searched. What did Jack do that puts Maggie in danger?


Maggie clapped her hands. “Girls, break time is over.”
The Drill Sergeant was back. Hup, two, three, four.
Groans from the girls met her announcement. Drew knew exactly how they felt.
His legs ached, a blister—no, make that two blisters—had already formed on both sides of his heels. Ellen had warned him not to wear brand-new hiking boots. But he always wore the appropriate footwear. He had golf shoes, tennis shoes, ski boots, and now hiking boots. A pair of bloody hiking boots.
Damn, he needed to take a leak. He never should have stopped at 7-11 for a Big Gulp of coffee no matter how much caffeine he required to start his engine this morning. Ellen warned him it wasn’t a good idea. He should have listened.
Jack would be laughing his head off if he knew Drew was actually hiking and camping. Both Jack and Maggie had inherited their parents’ enthusiasm for camping. Drew shuddered. Not him. After that disastrous Cub Scout campout, Drew vowed never again to venture into the wild.
Still, when Ellen begged him, he thought a little hike in the woods would be the perfect opportunity for some father-daughter bonding. This trip was not turning out the way he anticipated.
Ellen surrounded herself with her friends, staying as far away from Drew as possible. With the exception of their brief conversation a few minutes ago—and only after he’d pulled her aside to ask about the facilities—she barely talked to him. So much for father-daughter bonding. All he had to show for his efforts was a stitch in his side, a charley horse in his left leg, those bloody blisters, and chafing from his new jeans.

Despite all that, he doesn't quit. Is that a hero or what?