Tuesday, July 30, 2019

51 Ways to Laugh

By now most of you must have heard about the call to storm Area 51 in September. If you haven’t, here’s the Reader’s Digest version: A few weeks ago, the FB event “Storm Area 51 – They can’t stop all of us” was set up…and the crowd went viral! At the time of writing this blog, 1.9 million people have indicated they will be going to help free all the aliens allegedly being held captive at Area 51. (I couldn’t help but notice that some of those signed up are FB friends of mine. You know who you are.)

On many levels, this is the most awesome—and hilarious—event ever in the history of events. I mean, who doesn’t want to know what’s really at Area 51? And the plan of attack is genius. Attendees will be divided into attack waves: The Kyles, Anti-vaxxers, Guys from Florida, Minecrafters, and Karens, just to name a few. I have no idea what group an anti-vaxxer from Florida named Kyle will be in, but hey, if you’re that guy, let us know what happens in the comments. 

Needless to say, my family has gotten a bunch of yuks out of this, and some of my nerd herd has been practicing Naruto running. Before this event, I had never even heard of Naruto running, but supposedly running low with your arms streaming out behind you enables you to outrun bullets. Seriously. My youngest swears it’s true. <insert mom eyeball roll here>

A-n-y-w-a-y, as you can imagine, the US military has stated very clearly that trespassers will be shot persecuted to the fullest extent of the law. [Hint: “They can’t stop all of us.” Um, yes, they can.] And the state of Nevada has quickly pointed out there is no way their roads can support the influx of two million people. Heck, even the dedicated alien hunters aren’t attending this thing—and that more than anything should tell people something.

And here’s a thought: What if this whole thing is actually a government conspiracy to feed the aliens? Betcha didn’t think of that one, did ya?

Yet and still, there are people—including celebrities I’ve never heard of—who say that they’re going, which leads me to wonder how many people will actually show up? I think Trevor Noah of The Daily Show sums up what’s going to happen very succinctly here.

So, what are your plans? To go, or not to go? As for me, I’ve paid up my cable bill and stocked up on Costco popcorn. Nom, nom, nom.

Video by Refik Mehmeti purely for fun


USA Today Bestselling Author, Lea Kirk, loves to transport her readers to other worlds with her sci-fi romances. When she’s not busy writing about the blue and green aliens of her Prophecy series, or reading about dragons, she’s hanging out with her hubby, five kids (the nerd herd), and spoiled Dobie mix puppy.

She is currently working on two short stories and the fourth book in her series.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Faeries and Demons, Oh My! with @meganslayer #pnr #faeries #romance #hot #love

Faeries... I'm a sucker for faeries. I like stories that feature some sort of faerie creature - flora, fauna, love, etc. I love them. So when I was given the opportunity by the characters to write a faerie, I jumped on it.

Faeries allow the author to write the character how they want. I know, aren't all characters like that? Not really. There are constraints with human characters. They can't fly unassisted, can't change form...can't regenerate, stuff like that. But paranormals can. That's why I like them.

I also love putting characters together that shouldn't work. For my book, Jessica, I put a faerie and a demon together. It shouldn't work. They should cancel each other out. But what if the faerie isn't a sweet, innocent lovey-dovey kind of faerie? What if the demon isn't all bad? It might work.

Want to know more? Then check out Jessica!

Jessica by Megan Slayer 

Faeries Wear Boots
An After Dark Novella, Book 4
Contemporary, Paranormal Erotic Romance
 An After Dark NovellaCan a faerie running from trouble and a demon full of it make love work?Jessica's never been the favorite faerie in the family. She's rough around the edges and runs with a dangerous crowd. She wants to be loved, but who wants the daughter of the head faerie? She's got secrets that could be deal breakers. Guys don't want to date faeries and she's tired of dead ends. Isn't there one good man interested in being with a dark faerie?Although Lane plays a mage on television, it's just a role. No one cares that he's a demon—not even Jessica. He senses the darkness within her, but there's something else. She's not like the others he's met before. He wants to save her, even if only from herself. Will she accept the love of a demon, or run away before he has a chance to prove he's worthy of a faerie? Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/bP0rBlAmazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SPR6P9M/Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/jessica-51BN: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/jessica-megan-slayer/1131936672?ean=2940156592609&st=AFF&2sid=Draft2Digital_7968444_NA&sourceId=AFFDraft2DigitaliTunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/jessica/id1466734841?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4 ©Megan Slayer, 2019, All Rights Reserved

Saturday, July 27, 2019

New Release and Rimrider Free on Amazon for Limited Time Only

Rimrider Adventures Book 1

by L. A. Kelley

Free on Amazon Through July 28

Orphan, pirate, spy.

Awakened by her father, teenager Jane Benedict is ordered to memorize a mysterious code. Hours later, Mathias Benedict is dead and Jane and her brother, Will, are wards of United Earth Corporation. To evade the company’s murderous clutches and uncover the meaning of her father’s last message, Jane leads Will on a desperate escape across the galaxy aboard the Freetrader smuggler ship, Solar Vortex. After swearing allegiance and joining the crew’s fight for freedom, Jane saves the life of young smuggler, Mac Sawyer, and learns her father’s code identifies a secret cargo shipment. The trail leads to the planet Rimrock and the massive prison complex of Golgotha. Undercover as a spy, Jane stumbles into a conspiracy that can spell doom for the entire Freetrader cause and the extinction of an alien race. Can she escape the prison confines and deliver a warning before it’s too late?

Piracy, intrigue, romance, space battles, and a daring rebellion from Earth wait on the galactic rim. Will Jane answer the call to adventure or is death for high treason her fate?
Rimrider is the first book in the Rimrider Adventures Series. It's an old fashioned space opera. Expect action, sweet romance, and some sassy humor, but no whining. I hate that.

New Release
3.99 on Amazon

Big Easy Shaman Book 4

“Life always has the possibility of bloody death. One simply must learn to duck.”
Shaman Clovis Landry

It’s Christmastime in the Big Easy and all budding shaman, Peter Whistler, wants is to find the perfect gift for Amelie, but a distraction arrives in the form of a mysterious stranger bringing a threat from abroad. What connection does this new evil have with a hideous painting that falls into Peter’s possession? And why is something that ugly so desperately sought by local criminal, Blinky the Dip? Meanwhile, the New Years’ first full moon means trouble in Bayou St. Gerard. A creature prowls the swamp with unknown designs on one of the Benoits.

Réveillon, rougarous, and ghostly voices from the past. Will the Law of the Claw make peace between ancient enemies or only hasten the destruction of Peter and his friends?

Thursday, July 25, 2019

We Never Talk Anymore . . . by Nancy Gideon

If you’re in the ‘real’ world and hear voices in your head, you see a therapist and go on meds, but it’s perfectly normal to hear the continual conversations of those who don’t exist if you’re a writer. When you’re driving to work, when you’re watching your kid play Little League, and especially when you’re trying to get to sleep – yammer, yammer, yammer – and usually never when you’re near paper and pencil. Talkative characters are a writer’s best friend, telling you who they are, how they feel, filling in your word count to make every sit down at the keyboard a little easier. Giving you direction and CONTENT. Sometimes, you just wish they’d shut up and let you work (or sleep!).

But what happens when they fall silent.

I don’t know what happened. I don’t remember an argument. Was it something I said or did? Suddenly, I stopped hearing those snippets of conversation that had me rushing (but not speeding!) to the office to scribble down those pithy quips. It was unnerving, that absolute lack of inspiration. I’d sit at the keyboard and nothing would come to me. I’d lie awake to the sound of the cat snoring. The drives to work were filled with traffic noise. It’s not like I had nothing to write about. I was chapters deep in the final book of 15 in a series. I had plotlines to tie up, characters to revisit and enjoy. Where did everyone go?

Moody and frustrated, I started filling in those hours between 4:30 and 7:30 a.m. scrolling social media and binge-watching TV series (Riverdale, Castle Rock, Bosch and Luther – highly recommend!), and the conversations I heard at night were from other authors’ characters. Mine had nothing to say. Never in my 30-year career had I felt so . . . alone. Did I still want to write? Maybe it was time to put that childhood dream away. I had plenty to do with a high-stress new job, the approach of Medicare years and retirement, TV series to watch, books to read, family to take care of. The Golden Years. Why beat myself up struggling to find an audience amongst the hoard of indie authors who slapped up new titles every month without a single edit? After over 70 manuscripts, maybe the word well had gone dry.

I stopped going to writer meetings, quit engaging on my media sites, started sleeping in, began labeling myself as a legal assistant instead of a published author. I became one of those people I’d never understood – an author who had nothing more to say and voluntarily walked away.

But I’m not a quitter. I’ll never go quietly into that good night. I wanted my voices back, my passion back from wherever it was hiding. I had to flush the suckers out. But how? Give it no place to hide.

Things weren’t happening at my home office so I took my laptop on the road – to a critique group weekend, a former co-worker’s lake house, and finally to a king suite in a hotel. I reread and outlined the chapters I’d already written. I ignored blog posts in favor of impromptu three to four-page scenes from later in my W.I.P. And words appeared on the screen, a few painfully wrung out sentences at first and then a steady stream. But the minute I was back in my day-to-day, they dried up. Time to change that forced time at the keyboard to a little self-discovery of motive (Hey, I do it with characters all the time!) What was keeping me from my writing? I narrowed it down and confronted those things head-on.

I made my writing time sacred again. I faced the fact that while I loved the income and benefits, the setting, and the people, I really, really disliked that dream job I’d had for eight months. I was a people person trapped in data entry hell. I checked job search sites – and there it was – that opening I wanted in a field I understood where I’d be dealing with clients. I interviewed. And while driving home on that same road I’d traveled for three years just down the street from the last small firm I loved, I heard whispering in my head. Dialogue. I start the new job June 5th. A ton of tension dropped off my shoulders. I got back into daily mini-meditations. I went to a day-long Write In and created not just words but pages of them!!

I’m baaaack!

Don’t let roadblocks stop you! Identify what’s in your way. Look for alternate routes. Make repairs and continue on. If you’re characters aren’t talking, maybe it’s because you’re not listening.

What advice or tricks can you share on how to deal with that sudden wall of silence?

Nancy Gideon on the Web

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Love's Trap by Francesca Quarto

Thom Love was an unusually clever twenty-five-year old.  Even as a young boy on the fast and furious streets of Brooklyn, in 1911, he was considered a sharp kid.  He had a reputation for always besting the local gang of bullies.  After years as the avenging angel for his baby brother, Albert, he had plenty of time to perfect his tactics.
The fates were unkind to Albert.  He came into the seething cauldron of  poverty and ignorance, generally known as The Devil's Parlor, blanched as white as a rich man's sheets.  Seeing the tears leaking from Albert's pink eyes, moved Thom to greater schemes to protect him from the brutes that targeted him endlessly for his difference.  
Albert enjoyed little in his pale life.  Bunty Park, a patch of scraggly trees fighting for light under the shadows of the tenements, was his favorite place.  Women, hanging laundry on endless rope lines, set like fluttering islands between the buildings, saw everything. They often spotted Thom, his hand wrapped protectively around Albert's, making the painfully slow journey over four city-blocks, to this green Mecca. Watching the sturdy ten-year old and his spindly, freakishly, white brother, brought some of these life-hardened wives to tears. To others, it made them raise a thumb and forefinger in their ignorance, to ward off the devil.
Thom found ingenious ways to foil attempts to harm, or tease his Albino sibling.  He became astute at reading the signs of planned ambush along their walk to the park.  Some of the gang members shadowing them, would grow bored with their pursuit, or frustrated with Thom's ingenuity in avoiding their traps.  With little to occupy immature, cretin minds, others persisted in their efforts to fool young Thom, in hopes of tormenting the ghostly looking brother.
Thom prevailed in these bouts between brains and brawn.  After years of protecting the milky-white Albert from harm, he became something of a folk hero, using his unique talents to protect other social misfits up and down the street car line that was the demarcation of his neighborhood turf. Thom became a copper.
Called "Lovey" on the street when he was in short pants, as a man wearing a police uniform, his incredible sleuthing talents soon transcended his nickname.  He rose quickly in the ranks to become a highly decorated Detective, earning a new name on the streets. The Ghost.  His area of expertise was organized crime. To Thom, that still meant gangs.
He'd already scarred, maimed and terrified several of the notorious criminals roaming the gritty streets like war-lords.  Many were well-known to him as the thugs from his childhood days.  What The Ghost didn't reveal, was his stealthy revenge on any of these men, guilty of harassing Albert, and casting long shadows over his short, tortured life. 
After several years on the force, Thom managed to ferret out any man from the old neighborhood, who had been part of Albert's years of misery as a freakish target.  The ring-leader of those local urchins, passed from street bully, into politics.  A seamless transition in Thom's mind. Thom watched as this man now wielded his thuggish powers over his neighbors, from behind the Mayor's desk. 
Thom was obsessed with bringing his revenge to the man who orchestrated the slow killing of Albert's spirits, eventually making him so desperate, he took his own life in the fast-moving waters under the Brooklyn Bridge.  The Ghost would complete his revenge by luring the Mayor into his own trap, an ambush he'd never survive.
A letter found its way onto the Mayor's desk, listing the political cover-ups and crimes he was engaged in for his own profit.  The letter was clearly an attempt at blackmailing the politician, asking for ten-thousand-dollars in small bills and directing him to arrive at two the next morning, at the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. 
Thom waited behind a small wall, below the street-level approach to the bridge. The Mayor's sleek, black Packard, slid out of a haze of street lights and onto the darkened entrance to the bridge. rolling to a stop.  He wasn't alone, as Thom had predicted.  The burly figure that exited the vehicle, was quick to melt into the shadows. All went according to Thom's plan.  
The portly Mayor walked slowly to the side of the bridge where the money was to be left on the high railing.  One hand carried the brown bag with the money, the other kept close to his side, held a small revolver.  The Mayor was prepared to kill his blackmailer, again, as Thom predicted.
Thom waited until he saw the bag placed on the ledge.  Knowing the bodyguard was watching for him to make a move toward it, he put the next phase of his trap into play.  Holding two flashlights as far apart as possible, he pierced the gloom where the thug hid.  He surprised both the bodyguard and the Mayor, who reacted by lumbering toward the car. 
Thom arrived earlier to disable the the few lights leading onto the bridge, so the area was filled with deep shadows.  He switched off his lights, quietly moving toward the large car.  The Mayor jumped into the front seat and started the engine, ready to abandon his thug to his own fate.  As he drove forward, the tires of the heavy Packard were ripped to shreds on a long plank of nine-inch nails, laid by Thom, anticipating the coward would make a run for it. 
The Mayor threw open the car door, getting out and screaming for the lurking bodyguard to help him.  Thom heard the big man panting as he ran like a dog to his master. Thom grabbed the huge bucket he now carried and came up behind he Mayor as his man was removing the spike strip from the road, dumbly pulling the nails out of the ripped tires. 
Thom poured the thick, white paint, weather proofed to be used on the bridgework, over the sputtering Mayor's head.
"Remember the albino?  You made his life a living hell until he ended it here. Care to join him?'
Without another sound, the Ghost shoved the blinded, starkly-white figure toward the edge of the bridge and told him to walk forward.  The thug stopped his futile efforts when he saw the ghostly apparition approaching, moans and gurgled words coming from it. 
The shots from his gun filled the night. The apparition tumbled into the waters below.  Love's trap was sprung. The Ghost faded back into the night smiling at the sound of a heavy splash.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Rogue King - New Release Excerpt

I am so excited to announce my (coming in 10 days) new release--The Rogue King! The first book in my Inferno Rising series features dragon shifters kings and clans. This is a crossover from my Fire's Edge series, but they don't' have to be read in order, so jump right in!
This is also my first book in mass market paperback. You can preorder both print and eBook now!
Kasia Amon is a master at hiding. Who—and what—she is makes her a mark for the entire supernatural world. Especially dragon shifters. To them, she’s treasure to be taken and claimed. A golden ticket to their highest throne. But she can’t stop bursting into flames, and there’s a sexy dragon shifter in town hunting for her…
As a rogue dragon, Brand Astarot has spent his life in the dark, shunned by his own kind, concealing his true identity. Only his dangerous reputation ensures his survival. Delivering a phoenix to the feared Blood King will bring him one step closer to the revenge he’s waited centuries to take. No way is he letting the feisty beauty get away.
But when Kasia sparks a white-hot need in him that’s impossible to ignore, Brand begins to form a new plan: claim her for himself…and take back his birthright.
Brand crossed his arms. “Are you going to run again?”
No. The thought punched through her. Kasia paused, trying to figure out why her gut reaction would be adamantly against leaving this man when logic told her she should run at the first opportunity. Not that she’d tell him that.
“I haven’t decided,” she murmured instead.
If he could find her, so could others. Possibly others who’d be worse.
“Why’s that?” he asked.
She gave him a direct look. “I’d rather the devil I know than the devil I don’t.” Did he flinch? Before he could comment, Kasia kept going. “I have mixed feelings about it. Some tell me to trust you, and some tell me not to.”
“Trust me?”
She almost laughed at the deep doubt in those two words, not that she blamed him. “Yes.”
“Word to the wise…”
She felt that gaze again, almost like a caress, and her skin prickled. What was wrong with her?
“Don’t give your trust too easily in this world. More often than not, people like me are out to harm you or use you.”
“Aren’t you trying to stop me from running away?” she pointed out. “You might want to work on your sales pitch.”
Brand frowned, and she got the distinct impression he’d surprised himself with his honesty, and not in a good way. Interesting.
Kasia leaned back on her hands and swung her feet, even while she watched him closely. “I do know some things about you.” She stood, intending to make her point, though now she was uncomfortably aware of how close that move brought her to him in the tiny room. Why’d they make this room so small? “You want to know what you were doing in every vision I’ve had of you?”
His shoulders stiffened, his biceps stretching out his T-shirt a little more. “What?”
“Protecting. Sometimes me, sometimes others. Big ways. Small ways. But always protecting.”
Brand jerked, though his expression didn’t change one iota.
Kasia kept pushing. “Look at how you handled our first meeting. Your instinct was to help me.”
Now he scowled. “My first instinct was to claim you.”
They both froze, gazes locked, as his harsh words lingered in the air between them. If he’d meant to shock her, prove her wrong, all he’d managed to do was give her ideas. Ones that aligned way too closely with those fantasies she’d indulged in about him all year long.
Wrong, wrong, wrong ideas, but her body tingled in all the right places. However, he’d also hit on the fact that confused her the most. He was a dragon shifter, a creature she had to avoid, someone she shouldn’t put her trust in regardless of the visions.
After a long, uncomfortable stretch of silence, she realized how carefully he was holding himself. From touching her? She cleared her throat.
“You won’t hurt me,” she insisted.
“You’re right. I’m going to take you to the king, then you’re no longer my problem.”

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Will Acute Sedentary Disorder Kill You? by Elizabeth Alsobrooks

Do You Suffer from Acute Sedentary Disorder?

I know I do.  But did you know that sitting too long can actually kill you?

Most of us know that sitting too long is bad for our health. Writers are especially prone to what I like to call acute sedentary disorder.

While no two writers work the same, almost all of them write sitting down. If you’re one of those few who have a treadmill desk, good for you! Literally.  But most of us sit at desks or on the couch with a computer on our lap.

Let’s face it, we already know that when we sit we use less energy and burn fewer calories. But did you know that multiple medical studies have linked sitting for long periods of time with obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, diabetes, excess body fat around the waist (a sign of increased heart attack potential) and abnormal cholesterol levels, which make up metabolic syndrome. It’s even been linked to increasing the risk of death by cardiovascular disease and cancer. Yes, cancer.

Any extended sitting can be harmful, and writers, due to the nature of their work, tend to do it more than others. The Mayo Clinic did an analysis of 13 studies on sitting time and activity levels and found that those who sat for 8 or more hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking. However, a study of over 1 million people found that 60 to 75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a day countered the effects of too much sitting. Keep in mind that that’s ‘daily’ activity. So it sounds to me that writers HAVE to exercise in order to counter the negative health risks of sitting.

What you should note though is that just sitting wasn’t the culprit. It’s the length of time you sit. You know those Fitbit and other exercise-minded watches and devices that have become so popular? You might want to think about getting one. Or use a stop watch. At least once an hour (better would be every 30 minutes), GET UP and move.  Even if it’s just to walk to the rest room. The key is to sit less and move more.  Some studies have suggested that 10,000 steps a day is how much movement you need to keep from having a sedentary lifestyle. That’s why those devices track your steps. 

When you keep the electrical activity charged up in your muscles, it also keeps the electrical activity in your brain moving, so boosts your creativity. A win-win for a writer!

I don't know about you, but as I've aged I noticed that all those broken bones, bumps scrapes, and other youthful foolishness injuries I encountered in my life have settled into my bones. If I sit for too long, it's actually painful to get up. That's because I don't keep the electrical energy in my muscles charged. I have started jogging again, and I admit to feeling much more energetic and productive. My joints don't ache as much, and I'm actually getting fewer migraines. Perhaps my 'personal' study isn't very scientific, but it seems to verify the studies that have been done professionally.

So stand up, go for a run, or just walk around, sit back down, change positions and MOVE.

Write on!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Arawak Indians of Xaymaca

Have you ever heard of the Arawak Indians?  When I read about them somewhere (my memory fails me now, but it was long ago), their story stuck in the back of my mind and when I had the idea of a witch and a powerful spirit from another dimension who was worshiped as a god, I included them in that story, The Summoning.

The Arawaks are indigenous peoples of South America and the Caribbean. At various times, the term Arawak has been used for the Lokono of South America and the Taino of the Caribbean, all of whom spoke related Arawakan languages.

In the Summoning, protected and guided by Eyrael, the God of Wind and Sea, the Arawak tribe treks from South America to Jamaica,. This amazing feat actually occurred 2,500 years ago, and the Arawaks are credited with being the initial inhabitants, naming Jamaica ‘the land of wood and water’ – Xaymaca.

Michael Heckenberger, an anthropologist at the University of Florida who helped found the Central Amazon Project, and his team found elaborate pottery, ringed villages, raised fields, large mounds, and evidence for regional trade networks that are all indicators of a complex culture. There is also evidence that they modified the soil using various techniques such as deliberate burning of vegetation to transform it into black earth, which even today is famed for its agricultural productivity.

They grew cassava, sweet potatoes, maize (corn), fruits, vegetables, cotton and tobacco. Tobacco was grown on a large scale as smoking was their most popular pastime. They built their villages all over the island but most of them settled on the coasts and near rivers as they fished to get food. Fish was also a major part of their diet.
By nature, the Arawaks were a mild and simple people. Physically, they were light brown in color, short and well-shaped with coarse, black hair. Their faces were broad and their noses flat.
The Arawaks led quiet and peaceful lives until they were destroyed by the Spaniards some years after Christopher Columbus discovered the island in 1494.


Excerpt – Chapter 1 – The Summoning:

Wet hair flailed her eyes. Unblinkingly, she stared into the wind as she battled every step. Finally, she ducked her head against the gale. Around her ankles, the sea foamed. The drums beat louder, their wild rhythm echoing in her veins. Sweet and strong as Jamaican rum, the growing storm flagged the homespun robe behind her. She fingered the rough material, not remembering when or where she’d put on the long brown garment.

Deeper, Heather. The pain will soon be over. The Whisperers’ exotic voices urged her to plunge deeper and sink beneath the waves. Death was the only way to silence the agony devouring her alive—and to banish the insistent whispers from her mind. If she surrendered to the sea, she’d be with Ariel, her infant son who’d lived only a month.
Remember Jahill. You’ve shed no tears for your husband? They accused in her mind, never aloud. As always, she’d no answer to offer them. She had wept for Jahill until she learned he was not alone in the car crash. A quiet despondency gripped her, her empty stomach cramping as it had since the Georgia highway patrol brought her news of the accident.  How many times had that scene played in her memory? A fresh-faced young man telling her Jahill and Ariel were dead. He’d held her up when her knees buckled. If he hadn’t, she’d have fallen, sobbing at his feet.
Heart thudding dully, Heather studied the demarcation line between heaven and earth, seeking a reason to go on living, but any sense of self had long ago vanished in the Whisperers’ seductive promises. Two weeks after her husband’s death, they took possession of her life.
The old despair rose within her. She threw back her head, screaming her pain to the uncaring universe. The silent cry burned her parched throat. On the beach behind her, the chants throbbed—men’s voices thundering with the sea; women’s voices keening with the wind. Above her, pinpoint stars, diamond-bright, pierced the black sky. At night, the blue topaz Caribbean was Coke-bottle green.
The sea threw its arms around her shoulders, its embrace warm and inviting. The wind kissed her feverish face. As if a star had fallen, one of her diamond earrings—a Christmas gift from her husband—splashed into the dark water.
“Jahill.” She reached for the pointless token as it drifted out of sight. “Why did you hurt me so? Take the only thing I had left to love? My Ariel.”
A wave slapped her face. She stumbled. The sand shifted beneath her feet, and she fell. As the water closed over her head, Heather screamed her dead son’s, name, “Ariel!”
Flailing her arms and legs, she battled to the surface. The deafening silence shocked her. The drums and the chants had died. Her thoughts cleared. She was neck deep in the ocean, her toes skimming the bottom, but instead of the waves beating at her, the sea lay down and licked her fingers. Relief washed her knees weak, but respite was short-lived. A massive wave rose on the horizon, gaining speed and height as it rolled toward her. The wind stopped singing. The warm ocean chilled. In utter panic, Heather spun, tripping over her robe as she struggled toward the safety of the beach.
He comes for you. Meet your fate.
Heather clamped her hands over her ears, but escape was impossible. The Whisperers’ litany robbed her of thought. The outbound tide washed the sand from beneath her feet. She crashed onto her back. Gasping for air, she surfaced, running, getting nowhere. With death staring her in the eyes, she’d never been more alive. I don’t want to die. Tears and salty spray trickled down her cheeks. She glanced over her shoulder.
The monstrous wave stretched, white fingers brushing the sky. Heather watched helplessly as the ocean crouched, ready to spring. The little waves woke up, tugging at her as they fled the oncoming giant. Panic knifed through her. Hands splayed over her mouth, she murmured “Jahill, Ariel,” until the two names merged, inseparable.
Lightning speared the ocean. Thunder rumbled, shaking the night. The wave reared higher. The shrieking wind churned water into a gigantic human shape.
In The Summoning, Eyrael, the hero, can shape-shift. In one scene, he shifts to a beautiful winged black stallion with a long mane and tail. I pictured a Friesian, something like this:

I self-published The Summoning, and it is a part of Kindle Unlimited, as well as available in print. Buy Link.

 Enjoy your Sunday everyone! ~ Linda

Friday, July 12, 2019

NASA's Artemis Program by Diane Burton

This month, we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of putting men on the moon. That’s right. Fifty years ago, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped foot on the lunar surface. They arrived via the Apollo XI spaceship then the lunar landing vehicle.

If you recall the spaceships that carried more than two people were all named Apollo after the Roman and Greek god of the sun. It’s rare that in mythology, the Roman and Greek names are the same. Apollo’s twin sister was Artemis (in Greek) and Diana (in Roman myths), goddess of the hunt.

Artemis is also the goddess of the moon.

This isn’t a lesson in mythology, even though I find it interesting. NASA’s program to place men on the moon and develop an on-going presence there is called Artemis. With that little mythology lesson, it makes sense why. Apollo program put a man on the moon. Artemis will send a woman there. Is that cool or what?

We hear a lot about inclusion and diversity. According to NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine, the new name for the program represents the goal of including women, more importantly to land a woman on the moon. Soon. Like 2024.

I have two granddaughters. Like their mothers, they’ve been taught that girls can do anything. It took many years before women were allowed into the space program and then into space. What a marvelous experience for today’s girls to see women step foot on the moon and work there.

When I read about the new programs, my first thought is how are they going to do it. They will put something like a space station, called the Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway, that will orbit the moon. The astronauts, a four-person crew, will use it as their home-away-from-home. From there, using the Lunar Lander, they will make trips down to the moon’s surface then back again doing research, gathering data, and conducting scientific experiments. They will spend thirty to ninety days on Gateway before returning to Earth.

If you want to read more about the Artemis program, here are a couple of links.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Paranormal Romanticus Interruptus by Jane Kindred

I’ve been in yet another writing slump this year. Neo, the cat that I’ve mentioned on the blog before—the elderly one with dementia who yowled constantly—died in April. He was the second of the two who had been my constant companions for more than two decades; Urd, my calico girl, left me at age 21 two summers ago. Still having Neo after Urd’s death kind of delayed the mourning process. There was still a cat in the house. Urd’s things were still mostly Neo’s things, so I didn’t get rid of anything. But when Neo was gone, I kind of lost it. My anxiety went into overdrive, and I had such severe panic attacks every night that I was sure I was having a heart attack and almost went to the emergency room several times. It was my GP who put the two together when I had a phone consultation with her—that grief could be the trigger.

I decided I had to get away from my cat-empty apartment and took a trip up the coast from San Francisco to Mendocino, where I could sit and watch the waves pound against the rocks and soak in a hot tub in my room watching Underworld: Awakening and not have to do anything else. It was heavenly. But I still couldn’t stop thinking about how empty my house was without cats. As soon as I came back, I started looking at rescue kittens. And on Memorial Day weekend, I brought home Sophie.

Sophie is the best medicine. She’s a ridiculous brat, and I love her.

At any rate, that’s why I’ve been AWOL from the blog for a few months. The words were just not there. And when I can’t seem to focus on words, I binge TV. Which is how I discovered my new favorite show (that I somehow only just now realized the awesomeness of): Lucifer.

When the show was cancelled on Fox and the outcry of loyal fans got it picked up again by Netflix, I figured it was time to give it a try. This show is a-MAZE-ing. (See what I did there, Lucifer fans?) For the uninitiated, Maze, short for Mazikeen, is one of the characters on the show, a demoness who leaves Hell with Lucifer Morningstar and tends bar at his nightclub in Los Angeles. And also kicks a lot of ass. She’s just one of several unfairly sexy characters in this ensemble cast that includes the marvelously snarky and blithely narcissistic—as well as unapologetically kinky and bisexual—Lucifer Morningstar; Lucifer’s uptight brother, the angel Amenadiel (played by a moody, conflicted D.B. Woodside, just to kill me); Detective Chloe Decker, who takes Lucifer on as a “consulting” sidekick in solving homicides; Chloe’s ex-husband Dan, another homicide detective with secrets; Lucifer’s therapist, Linda, who has a sexy librarian-in-glasses thing going on; and Lucifer’s mom, the Goddess of All Creation, played by none other than Tricia Helfer. And I haven’t even mentioned the adorkably perky forensic scientist Ella Lopez yet or the surprising character arc of Smallville’s Tom Welling that I won’t give away here. And then when Eve shows up after escaping a boring Adam in boring Heaven…

Well, I think you get the picture. This show is chock full of really well-written characters with a lot of unexpected emotional vulnerability—the kind of characters I strive to create in my writing. (I’d be lucky if I could do it half as well.) I understand that Netflix has renewed the show for one more season, but Season 5 will be its last.

Watching and getting caught up in this series made me think of other paranormal TV series that were prematurely cancelled: Dracula, with its titular character played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, was obscenely cancelled (again by Fox) after one amazing season. Sleepy Hollow was cancelled after the disastrous decision by (checks notes)—uh, Fox—to kill off the female lead, played by Nicole Behaire. Tom Mison and his eyebrow were amazing, but Behaire was crucial to that show’s success. I didn’t even bother watching Season 4, and I wasn’t surprised when I heard it wasn’t coming back. Then there was Penny Dreadful on Showtime (hey, not your fault this time, Fox!) that had amazing actors and boasted such fabulous characters as Frankenstein and his monster, Dr. Jekyll, Dorian Grey, and Dracula, among others, but was apparently too expensive to be worth continuing with for the ratings it was getting. It was cancelled at the end of Season 3.

Paranormal television series, of course, aren’t the only ones that suffer this fate, but when they do, it always feels like the networks didn’t quite get their audience—or maybe didn’t respect it. Though sometimes, like with NBC’s Grimm and Fox’s Fringe, the shows just seem to have run their course. Thankfully, in those latter cases, they ended with what I consider to be two of the most satisfying conclusions in paranormal television history. It’s worth mentioning that none of these shows were actually billed as romances (because when was the last time romance got any respect on television outside of the Hallmark Channel?), but there are some lovely romantic elements in all of them.

As with television series, it often seems that paranormal book series have a tendency to get prematurely cancelled. (As all of Harlequin’s Nocturne authors sadly can attest.) I hope to one day have a chance to write Laurel’s, Rosemary’s, and Rowan’s stories to finish up the Sisters in Sin series, but right now I’m just starting to get back to work on some other projects that have been languishing—my out-of-print House of Arkhangel’sk and Demons of Elysium series, which I’m hoping to get back into print someday, as well as a paranormal romantic suspense series I set aside back in 2014 to do Sisters. Over the past few days, I’ve been able to keep up my old daily word count of 1K per day. Here’s hoping that will continue. (Even if playing with Sophie instead is really, really tempting.)

Are there any television or book series whose cancellations you still pine over? Let us know in the comments so we can check them out and be sad together. ;)

Monday, July 1, 2019

NASA's Mission to Titan by Diane Burton

When I read that NASA has a new mission, and it's to Titan, Saturn's moon, I did a happy dance. (I'm sure you heard the thudding.) I am still geeked about this. I wrote a novella, Mission to New Earth, that starts on Titan. Two years later, Liza O'Connor wrote Destination: Titan, Book 1 of her Leaving Earth series. I researched so much about Titan to write my book that I thought I knew a lot about Saturn's largest moon. Then, Liza wrote many blog posts about that place. Wow. I didn't know as much as I thought.

Thank goodness for NASA and all its pictures.

Anyway, I feel like I have a special affinity for the newest of NASA's future explorations. Scientists think that Titan is now what Earth was billions of years ago. By researching this moon, they believe it will "revolutionize what we know about life in the universe."

You know how NASA sent Rover (a land-based robotic vehicle) to Mars, its job to scoop up dirt and analyze it? The mission to Titan will be fantastically different. Dragonfly is a rotocraft, and it will fly to dozens of locations, picking up surface materials and taking off again to fly to the next location. 

What's so special about Titan? 

If you saw the 2009 movie Star Trek (J.J. Abrams' reboot of the ST franchise), you'll remember that spectacular sequence when the Enterprise comes out of warp in Titan's atmosphere. Was that cool or what?

Dragonfly will use 13 years of data gathered by the Cassini spacecraft. Titan has clouds, rain, rivers, lakes, and oceans of methane and ethane, (Guess we won't be swimming there.) It also has sand dunes and mountains.  It's the second largest moon in our solar system and bigger than Mercury. Titan has a nitrogen-based atmosphere, like Earth. The most important reason to find out more about Titan is that it's filled with such a variety of organic compounds that it could tell us more about the building blocks of life.

I hope I live long enough to see Dragonfly do its thing. It will leave Earth in 2026 and won't get to Titan until 2034. But if I'm still around, you'll find me glued to the TV, just like when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

Now for a commercial break. 

Mission to New Earth, a science fiction novella

Earth’s overpopulation and dwindling resources force the United Earth Space Agency to expedite exploration of new planets for a possible new home. When new crises ensue—a giant tsunami and the threat of nuclear winter—the timeline changes. Eight years of training crammed into four. Sara Grenard and her team prepare for launch, but are they ready for the one-way trip? Will the Goldilocks planet prove just right for Earth’s inhabitants? Before time runs out.

If you want to read more about the Dragonfly Mission and Titan, go to  https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/moons/saturn-moons/titan/overview