Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Book of the Week: KHYBORS: IN THE BEGINNING


A Commonwealth Universe novel
A Khybors story


Go far back in Commonwealth history, before the Downfall of First Civ, when the galaxy-spanning civilization called itself the Central Allied Worlds. 


Three novellas in one volume explore the birth of the Khybors, whose descendants will impact the Downfall, the rebirth of civilization, the return to the stars, and the Commonwealth far into the future.

Kerin survived a brutal lab accident and discovered the benefits and dangers of
khrystal, which fused with her genetics and made her the first Khybor.

Her twins should never have been born, and broke new ground in understanding khrystal.

Her great-great-granddaughter led the way in battling for the survival of the new race.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: SOMETHING BORROWED, Jim Butcher

I needed a Harry Dresden fix.

I read the first Dresden Files book a while ago, STORM FRONT, by Jim Butcher, and I've been trying to find the next book, FOOL MOON. (without paying full price -- I want to get it used, because that's the only way I can justify buying a book when I have about 90-some sitting in my to-be-read bookrack) I have 2 Dresden books that I found in hardback for the unbelievable price of $2 each (see my previous parenthetical), but doggone it, they're both about 10 books further along in the series. I like to read books in the order they're written, so I can follow the character development.

So ... I cheated a little. SOMETHING BORROWED is actually a short story, in an anthology called MY BIG FAT SUPERNATURAL WEDDING. If it sounds like a movie by a similar title, you're right. Can you guess the themes tying all the stories together? I thought you could!

I'm learning the joys of borrowing books from the library in e-book version. Especially when I can download an anthology, read just the story I want to read -- although I must go back someday and read the stories by other favorite authors -- and then "return" the book within half an hour.

Fun stuff. Harry Dresden standard fare, dealing with the unfriendly supernatural with some uncomfortable, slightly messy/disgusting, "I can't believe this stuff always happens to me" tone of narrative voice that I came to love in the first book. Harry has to pinch hit as best man at the wedding of two werewolf friends. The stepmother of the bride has a bridezilla attitude -- and the bride is missing. Seems there's this really nasty faerie with a grudge against the werewolves, and a wedding is the perfect time to get some revenge. Enter: one wizard, aided by a tough lady cop, and the chorus of "Get me to the church on time" silently playing at the back of his mind.

Fun. Of course.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Fan Fiction: FLAME FROM ANOTHER FIRE, Phoenix fan fiction

Now available on Wattpad, a trip very far back in my writing roots in fan fiction: The Phoenix.


FLAME FROM ANOTHER FIRE is another story where I test-drove characters that would someday appear in my own published books.


The knock on the door came a few minutes after the shower stopped running. Frazier smiled at the good timing and got up to answer the door. He dug in his pocket for his wallet, to tip room service, as he opened the door.

"Hello, Doctor," Preminger said, his voice more dry than usual, in contrast to the renewed showers. Two agents with drawn guns stood behind him. "May we come in?" the man said, when Frazier could only stand and stare open-mouthed at him.

"Bennu isn't here." Frazier winced as the bathroom door creaked.

"We know that." He stepped around the doctor and into the cabin. "My men saw him come in, but didn't see him leave -- but what they did see was very interesting."

Frazier felt the blood leave his face. Someone saw Rhea start the fire.


"Rhea," he called, trying to keep his voice steady. "We have company." Frazier managed a grin when Preminger's eyes blazed with anger.

"What's going --" Rhea stepped out of the bathroom. She had toweled her hair dry and was barefoot, dressed in threadbare, gray sweats. "Who are you?"

"Agent Justin Preminger." He smiled, a hungry look. "I'm very pleased to meet you -- Mira."

"Who?" She met Frazier's eyes, then looked over the three agents again. "My name is Rhea, not Mira."

"Giving her an alias was a good try." Preminger drew his gun out of his coat. "Why don't we just forget the charades and get going?"

"The heck I will." Rhea backed up a step and pivoted on one leg for a roundhouse kick to the agent who leaped at her. She dodged and rolled out of the grasp of the other man and managed to swing an arm around and punch Preminger in the back, just above his kidneys.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Book of the Week: STARBLUE

"By the void," Danil snarled.

Blue turned to look where he and Keegan were both staring.

Neona knelt on a softly undulating, murky black surface, surrounded by a swirling cloud of that same odd blue-but-not-blue. She smiled, looking perfectly at ease. As Keegan continued to shout, struggling to move forward, reaching for her, Neona tipped her head back, looking up at the sky, and laughed. The not-blue cloud thickened. A thin stream of sparks tinged blackish green, the color that Blue had always imagined pain would be, shot out from the center of that cloud.

Keegan choked and went to his knees. The sparks became a semi-transparent cable. As it rippled, struggling like a live thing, it grew more opaque, filling with sparks of that blackish green, and stretched out... to attach to Keegan.

"Danil, do you see--"

"It's their bond." Danil shifted his grip on Keegan and pushed him forward, toward the cloud enfolding Neona. She continued to laugh, her mouth open and shoulders shaking, though now they couldn't hear her.

Blue saw the cord between the twins growing thinner, even as the blackish green sparks thickened, turning almost completely black. She joined in pushing Keegan toward his sister. Maybe if he touched the cloud surrounding Neona, he could break through to her.

"Neona!" Keegan convulsed as the cord vanished in an explosion of black sparks that shot through Blue's chest like a fishing spear.

She grabbed hold of him, even as he twisted and fell, and for a moment they were almost nose-to-nose. Keegan's eyes widened and she knew he saw her. Blue sparks wrapped around them, then he convulsed again and vanished from her grip.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Book of the Week: STARBLUE

Excerpt:

"How long a delay?" Keegan asked. He glanced at Blue before meeting Loris' gaze.

"No telling until they start mop-up operations."

"Then I say we evacuate." His voice was calm, thin, almost unfeeling.

Blue caught her breath. Not from the shock of hearing him so easily decide to abandon his sister -- because it wasn't easy. The force of the pain and fury that swept through him hit her in the chest with near-physical intensity. She reached for Keegan's hand under the table. His fingers wrapped around hers tight enough to make her bones ache.

"Fifteen of them -- but fifteen Shades controlling them, possibly accessing all their knowledge of Rover weaponry and equipment and tactics." Loris sighed and nodded slowly. "And security codes. Communication codes. Everything they need to infiltrate... but if we abandon them, set up an interdiction so no one can land and give them a way off the planet, maybe keep their creators from coming back for them, what can they do? Both ships have been running full-array sensor scans of the planet's surface and surrounding space, and there is nothing anywhere within hailing distance, nothing hidden underground. The Shades are effectively stranded here, once we leave."

"What happens to our people when the Shades realize they're stuck here?" Katha said.

"Do they even want to get off the planet?" Aryl said.

"Wouldn't you?" Keegan's voice said he didn't care. Blue could feel how much he cared, the battle in his heart, just through his tight grip on her hand.

"It makes sense that their next step after taking over our people is to get off this planet, move through the galaxy... but they haven't done anything yet."

"Everything changed when Danil and his team left," Blue said. "They were all resistant to whatever the Shades might have been trying to do to them. It took the arrival of less experienced Rovers, younger minds, and..." She shivered, feeling she had come close to understanding, but unable to put it into words

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The War Room

Today, it's all about Odessa.

Odessa Fremont, that is.

As in Book 1 of the Guardians of the Time Stream series.


First, you have 2 weeks left to get a free ebook download of the The Blue Lotus Society, Sanctuary, and -- coming out in October -- the fourth and final book, Music in the Night.
book.

WHY would I be giving away a free copy? Well, in hopes you'll write a review, and yeah, the totally mercenary hope you'll want to know what happens next to Odessa and the friends and allies she picks up along the way in this Steampunk adventure, and you'll look for the other books:

If this sounds like a tip of the hat to Phantom of the Opera ... hmm, you might be right.

How do you get the book? Go to Story Cartel, and they'll take it from there.

Second ... my incredible cover artist, Gwen Phifer at Desert Breeze Publishing is up for a Rone Award, presented by In D'Tales magazine, for doing such an incredible job with the cover art for Odessa Fremont.

In fact, Gwen is up for TWO Rone Awards -- for my book, and for my friend, Tamera Kraft's novel, Resurrection of Hope. Doesn't she do incredible work?

Here's hoping you get your well-deserved recognition, Gwen!


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book of the Week: STARBLUE, SF Romance

This week's Book of the Week is the sequel to last week's: BLUE FIRE.

It's the story of Rhianni and Petroc's daughter, Starblue, who helped to save their starspanning civilization from aliens long before she was born. So she has a lot of expectations to live up to.

STARBLUE

Published by Desert Breeze Publishing.

Starblue Ash swore never to do two things: join the Rovers and
leave Mallachrom. Commander Day of the Rover Corps didn't care -- she was the last of their family and her heritage was the Rovers. 

When Rover Pilot Neona Creed needed rescuing from creatures that mimicked the Shadows of Mallachrom, Blue's psionic bond with Neona and her twin brother, Keegan, was their best chance of breaking her free. Blue teamed with Keegan and a ship full of Rovers to chase the kidnappers across the galaxy. 

The long journey deepened their bonds and changed their friendship to love. If they survived this crisis, they might change the universe.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: FIFTY MACHINES THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF HISTORY, Eric Chaline

Another book I found on the discount shelf that struck me as a good resource book. Honestly, what is wrong with these stores that don't realize the great value of these books they mark down to 1/3 their original price? However, I'm not going to complain too much, because yeah, it benefits me! I'm on a tight budget these days ...

FIFTY MACHINES THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF HISTORY kind of builds on each machine that came before it, moving up through history and the developments in technology. It's fascinating, giving just a taste of what the machine does, a little of the history that led to its invention, something about the inventor, even the personal life, the cultural changes and politics, that sort of thing.

The title page of each chapter offers a lot of info in a glance: designer, manufacturer, a picture of the gizmo, and then the category it belongs in -- industry, agriculture, transport, science, computing, energy, and home. There are quotes from the inventors, a thumbnail sketch of the gizmo in question, and timeline of similar devices. Very useful.

Looms, lathe, engines, early computers, sewing machine, ships, bicycle, telephone, etc. This could be the kind of book you just read for fun, learning bits and pieces that come in handy while watching Jeopardy or trying to get on Jeopardy to compete, or like I do, use it for research in writing, creating new worlds and figuring out what level of technology an alien or fantasy civilization has, that sort of thing. Try it. You might be surprised what you learn.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fan Fiction: FLAME FROM ANOTHER FIRE, Phoenix fan fiction

Now available on Wattpad, a trip very far back in my writing roots in fan fiction: The Phoenix.


FLAME FROM ANOTHER FIRE is another story where I test-drove characters that would someday appear in my own published books.


Frazier returned with an odd feeling of warning traveling up his back. He moved quietly and paused in the doorway. The stranger knelt in front of the fireplace and pressed both hands against the logs waiting for a match. She frowned, her lips thinning into a line.

The logs burst into flames with a muffled thump -- echoed by the heavy, cold jolt of Frazier's heart.

Anna burst out in delighted laughter and nearly fell from her chair in her hurry to get closer to the flames. Rainbows flickered around her fingers, reflected in the sparks from the fire. The young woman caught her by her arms and gently pushed her back into the seat.


"Remember what I told you already? We can't let people see we're special."

Anna chuckled and looked at her hands, where the rainbows still danced. She wiggled her fingers and the colors vanished.

"That's good." The stranger sat back on the hearth and wiped damp strands of hair out of her face. Suddenly, all her energy left and she looked too pale and thin to sit up by herself. A wave of pity washed over Frazier. He understood her situation, knew the strain she felt.

"You're safe here," Frazier said softly, coming into the room the rest of the way.

"I'm not sure I know what you mean." She stood and reached for her discarded coat.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Book of the Week: BLUE FIRE

Two days later, Rhianni landed at the spaceport on the edge of Core, the main city of the colony, in a Rover Corps shuttle. The official story said she was on medical leave from the Rovers.

It was the truth. Just not the whole truth. Her father had died ridding a Gen-Tek operation on the other side of the galactic axis. As a Rover, Rhianni was entitled to one Standard year of rest and recuperation leave.

That didn't mean the Corps would let her take it.

She accepted this job for her father's sake. He had lived for years believing he had abandoned Mallachrom when his adopted home needed him most. Military documentation said otherwise, but as her father would say, when did bureaucracy override the heart?

"Is it possible to borrow a two‑man sled for the morning?" Rhianni asked the field security team that met her at the shuttle hatch.

"No, Captain. The sleds are for official business only. Sorry," the leader of the team hurried to add, with a nod of deference to the Rover Corps knife-and-flame emblem, scarlet and black on her green fatigues jacket.

"Oh. Could I send a message, then?"

"Until you clear security, no private communications. Verbal?" The leader held out a recording wand.

Rhianni nodded and frowned to fight a grin. She refused to let these brainless drones know they had aided her strategy. She nodded for the man to press the recording button.

"To Mistress Shoreel of the Council," she said, speaking slowly and louder than necessary. "Grandmother, this is Rhianni. The Colonel -- my Dad -- is dead. I'm home on medical leave. When I've completed an errand, I would like to visit you. I should be back in Core by this afternoon."


Silence. The field team barely hid their panic. They had said no to the granddaughter of a Council member -- forget her status as a Rover Corps medic. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Book of the Week: BLUE FIRE

Excerpt 1:

Rhianni Day went to sleep with the planet Mallachrom staring at her from the screen in her cabin on board the Rover ship, Star Sword.

For the last nineteen years, since the Talroqi invaded the planet of her birth, she had sworn she would never return. She didn't want to see the devastation caused by the hive creatures, didn't want to see the mass graves and the memorials erected after the Talroqi had finally been driven out. Her father, then-Rover Captain Joras Day, had left Mallachrom reluctantly upon the military's insistence that the colony world was too far from the battle lines to ever be invaded.

They were wrong, and Rhianni's father had carried a burden of guilt for nineteen years. Now he was dead, and Rhianni had come home to pay his debt -- if possible.

So she wasn't surprised when the dreams began almost before the image of Mallachrom, the rich colors of life dulled by the ship's sensors, faded from behind her closed eyelids.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The War Room

Lots of new developments.

Keeping very busy!

Right now I have over 70K words on the 1st draft of book 1 of the fantasy series that right now has the working title of "Magic to Spare." The first book is called "Magic and Thorns," and details how a princess with a lot of magical potential gets ... sabotaged. Turned into a spoiled brat. She ends up marrying a wicked king, and then spends the second book, currently titled, "The Kindness Curse," being forcibly reformed.

At least, that's the plan.

NEWSLETTER!
Want to sign up for my newsletter?
Please?
The plan is to do a newsletter twice a month, featuring news on upcoming Book of the Week titles, sneak peeks at cover art, the 1st chapter of the next book coming out, links to free reads before anyone hears about them, inside news on booksignings and books on sale, maybe some contests. I might just be asking for your input on titles, story ideas, and maybe handing out ARCs in exchange for reviews on Amazon and other sites.

Sound like a plan?





You'll hear from Vertical Response, which provides my newsletter software and service, to confirm that you really did want to sign up.

Thanks!

NEXT NEWS:
I've posted new fan fiction on Wattpad -- "Flame from Another Fire," part of the Phoenix universe, and another story where I "test drove" an original character and storyline. You might enjoy it.

The plan is to post a new piece of fan fiction every month, and then post a snippet from that story every Saturday that month. Up next: "Gizmos," set in the TV series, "Beauty and the Beast."



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Book of the Week: BLUE FIRE

Today starts a new "feature" on the blog.

Each week, you'll get the cover art and some excerpts of one of my published books.

When a NEW book is out, the book will be featured 2 weeks, plus the weeks beforehand will be a lead-in featuring other books either from the same series, or similar. For instance, when a new romance book is released, you'll get samples from other romances. When a new Commonwealth book is released, you'll get some samples from previous Commonwealth books.

So here we go!

BLUE FIRE
Published by Desert Breeze Publishing


Rover captain Rhianni Day returns to Mallachrom, burdened with her father's guilt over abandoning the colony decades ago. She intends to find out the truth about the Taken, survivors of an alien invasion, leave, and never return. Mallachrom is no longer home.

Petroc Ash leads the Taken. His responsibilities to the Taken and their secrets are too great to risk, even for Rhianni. Loving her will bind her to Mallachrom forever -- and could kill her.

The quest to solve the mystery of the Talroqi invasion and protect the Taken from destruction pushes them together, shattering secrets and the barriers around their hearts. As time runs out, they take the risk of love, and become a weapon that has waited generations for completion.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: PROPOSAL, A Mediator Novella, Meg Cabot

The other day I was talking to someone about books, comparing what we'd read, what we liked, making recommendations, and I mentioned Meg Cabot's Mediator series. On a whim, I checked B&N -- because I have a gift card waiting to be spent -- and to my joy I found a new novella and a new novel in the Mediator series. Joy!

Essential points to know: Mediators can see and talk to and fight with the dead. They also have other powers that our heroine, Susannah Simon, learns about as she goes through her various adventures.

She's a Buffy-type tough girl from New York, transplanted to California when her widowed mother remarries. Fish-out-of-water story, with complications and culture shock. The most important element in her story, right from the first, is when she moves into her bedroom in her new home and finds it haunted by a young man who was killed in the 1800s.

I'm not gonna give away their trials and tribulations, vengeful ghosts, psychotic rival Mediators, time travel and other problems, but by the end of the series, they're in love, Jesse is alive again and you'd think -- you'd hope -- the two of them would have earned a happily ever after.

Flash forward to PROPOSAL. Susannah is in college, Jesse is a medical student, there's a really pissed-off ghost who's been falsely accused of murder, and is tearing up the cemetery on a regular basis. The novella is fun, a good segue into the story line after several years' absence. I love Meg Cabot's snarky narrative voice, comments on the stupidity of the TV shows that don't tell the truth of what it's like to be a Mediator-type person, her frustrations of having a secret life, a boyfriend who's too good to be true, and oh yeah, that psychotic other Mediator is threatening to return to her life.

The next full-length Mediator novel is REMEMBRANCE. Will they make it to the altar? Read and find out -- that's what I'm doing. Among other books I have on various devices and in print. Yeah, I read several books at the same time. 1 on my iPhone, 1 on my iPad, 1 print book on my bedside table. Something wrong with that?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Fan Fiction: FLAME FROM ANOTHER FIRE, Phoenix fan fiction

Now available on Wattpad, a trip very far back in my writing roots in fan fiction: The Phoenix.

FLAME FROM ANOTHER FIRE is another story where I test-drove characters that would someday appear in my own published books.

Dr. Frazier leaned against the window frame and looked out at the thundering downpour. The other conference attendees milled around the lobby behind him, complaining about the weather, trying to borrow umbrellas, or settling down to read or play cards. He didn't mind the storm, actually. He rather enjoyed the noise and crowds, the protective wall of people around him. The storm meant some discomfort or inconvenience for Preminger, whom Frazier had seen across the conference hall two nights before. Maybe the agent would help search for the missing child and get lost.

The main doors banged open as more refugees fled the storm. Frazier looked up and froze at the sight of Bennu helping a little girl across the lobby. Both were dripping, their faces red from the cold lash of the rain. Bennu helped the child into the unoccupied fireplace room and Frazier followed. He knew his face had lost its color and he likely moved like an automaton.


"Stay right here," Bennu said, helping the child into a chair. "I'll get some blankets and -- hello, Ward."

"Hello, Bennu," Frazier said softly.

Bennu turned around and his smile flashed, bright and warm. "I'd like to stay and talk but --"

"Preminger was here two days ago. I don't know if he's still here."

"Take care of Anna for me?"

"You can count on it." Frazier clasped hands with Bennu. Half a moment later, the other man slipped through the door and vanished into the rain.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: MILITARY MACHINES

Subtitle: Combat Vehicles for Land, Sea & Air.

I'm going to get a lot of use out of this book. The title might make you think of just a catalog of fighter jets and battleships and tanks, but this handy little reference book loaded with detailed drawings as well as photos and discussions of how the different vehicles are/were used. There are "cutaway" views of things like siege engines and chariots, pirate ships and bi-planes.

Divided between land, sea and air, there is some history of warfare, as well as diagrams of battles. The back flap of the cover lists all the machines discussed, ranging  from Egypt, Rome, Greece, and Korea, to Italy, Russia, Germany, and the USA. Specs, notable military figures, details of engines, flight patterns. Pretty cool.

I can see role playing gamers using this book, as well as military history buffs and writers of both fantasy and futuristic military novels.

Published by Parragon Books, there were no editors listed. Publication date is 2015. It's a small book, and I bought it at a discount store, but for those who need this kind of information at their fingertips, a book like this could prove to be priceless.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Fan Fiction: FLAME FROM ANOTHER FIRE, Phoenix fan fiction

Now available on Wattpad, a trip very far back in my writing roots in fan fiction: The Phoenix.

You know fandom is really, really strong when there were dozens of fanzines based on a TV show that only have 1 pilot movie and 4 episodes.

FLAME FROM ANOTHER FIRE is another story where I test-drove characters that would someday appear in my own published books.

Enjoy!!

Bennu stopped to indulge in a few hours of quiet thought in a clearing on a forested mountainside, despite his longing to hurry back to Satra and Heru. The morning sun shattered into prisms on the heavy dew, creating a garden of rainbows. Like a favorite childhood spot back home. He found a dry spot and sat, closing his eyes and drinking in the peace and overflowing life energy.

He sensed the mind close by after only a few minutes. A girl-child. Bennu felt her silent laughter as she walked barefoot through the dew, kicking up drops and watching them sparkle. He smiled and let the song of her soul join the life music soothing his mind.

Bennu drifted until a gust of cold, damp wind made him open his eyes. Gray storm clouds moved across the sun. Another spring storm, it would attack and pass quickly.

"All the colors are gone," a soft voice said from the far side of the clearing. She was Amer-Asian, six years old, delicate as a fairy. Her name came to him with a soft touch on her mind -- Anna.

"A storm is coming. Can I help you get home?" He stood and gathered up his bag. Another gust made
him shiver.

She tilted her head back to look up at Bennu. A delighted sparkle lit her eyes. "You can do it too." Anna held out her hands to a dying beam of sunlight. It shifted, warping into rainbows around her fingers. Anna giggled. "I can make pictures, but this is prettier."


"Very pretty." Bennu touched her mind, seeing the parents who had brought her on vacation. Deeper, he saw the beginning of her talent less than a year ago. Anna had looked at her night light and wished she could make the light grow. It had twisted away from its straight path and did whatever she imagined. No one believed her stories, and Anna learned to keep her toy to herself. "It's going to rain any --" He stopped as a fat drop hit the bridge of his nose. "Any second now. Which way home?"