Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Shifter Short Story

Posted by: Annie Nicholas

Awe and Isnay


Annie Nicholas

Orange and pink light haloed the mountain peaks as the sun rose in the sky. Awe followed the river winding through the lush green Apisi valley, toward the bend where it created the border between his pack’s and Ohneka land. Claws digging into the dirt, he ran with a loping wolf’s gait that ate distance but not energy.

In feral form, he ran faster than if he stayed in his civil man shape. Unlike his wolf cousin, Awe still walked on two legs. Shifters appeared like a blend of animal and man in feral form. The only thing that didn’t change was his eyes. They stayed amber like his animal cousin in either form.

Awe carried a backpack with clothes and sweet honey cake taken from the kitchen. He hoped Isnay had a sweet tooth since he wished to lure her close enough for a possible kiss. If he hurried, he would be in position before the omegas from the other pack arrived to do their laundry. Every six days. This was their schedule and it had taken over his life. He’d even taken two of Vendu’s guard duty spots so the other wolf shifter would work for him today.

All for a pretty face who flirted with him over the river currents. His alpha, Sorin, refused to negotiate for a cross-pack mating when there were eligible females to mate within the Apisi, but Sorin wouldn’t stop Awe from seeing Isnay on his own time.

Whatever the consequences, he just needed to stay on the Apisi side of the river. The Ohneka hunters couldn’t challenge him for watching.

He trotted along a narrow path, leading away from the edge of the river’s bank into the dense vegetation of the forest. The pack slipped easily off his back and onto the ground. Shifting shape to civil form was painless. He used his trigger memory and watched as his silver fur retreated into his skin. Joints popped and muscles realigned until his civil shape was completely restored. It was dangerous to travel in the forest as a man. He wasn’t as fast or as strong, but he wanted Isnay to see this form. All the other times she’d flirted, he’d stayed in feral since he’d been so close to the border.

Smoothing his long black hair from his face, he braided it with experienced ease and tied it with a thong. He pulled his worn leather kilt from the bag and adjusted it around his waist. The late spring air was warm enough for no shirt.

The river widened here and the currents slowed to a crawl. Smooth stones lined each side and made it a good place for washing in general. Traditionally, the packs didn’t use the site at the same time. Too many fights.

The young branches of the birch trees that lined the other bank bent to the side as Isnay stepped out of the forest in civil form. Her chestnut hair was parted in the middle with two braids that fell to her waist. For an omega, she was very shy. It had taken him many moons to finally get her to acknowledge his existence. She raised her face to the wind with a smile and set her basket of laundry by the river.

His heart raced. She could smell he was close. He stepped out from his hiding spot with the backpack. “You’re early.” He searched the area around her with both eyes and nose. The other omegas and their hunter guards were near but still out of sight.

She narrowed her eyes and slowed her steps. “Awe?”   With shaky hands, she smoothed away the wrinkles from her dress.

“It’s me.” He preened as her gaze wandered from his head to his toes then back again. At least she didn’t scream in horror. One never knew what a shifter’s civil form would look like when you met them as feral. Even from this distance he could see the blush blooming on her cheeks.

“You’re earlier.” She lowered her gaze. Isnay didn’t act as promiscuous as the Apisi omegas. Her bashfulness only made Awe want to mark her as his even more. Omegas were the packs’ easy lovers, artists, and caregivers. They eased tension, especially in the more high strung hunters. A pack would fall to in fighting without omegas around to distract from dominance games and pack politics. She glanced over her shoulder. “The others will be here soon.”

He opened his bag. “I have a present for you.” Pulling out the wrapped honey cake, he stepped into the river and crossed until the water reached his mid-thigh. He couldn’t go further or he’d be trespassing on Ohneka land, and their hunters were close. Getting his ass beaten wasn’t part of his plan.

His alphas had new pups to care for and their tempers were on short leashes. They would use his pelt as a pack room rug if he was caught by the Ohneka. Bad enough Peder, one their omegas, was taken hostage by the Payami last summer. The Apisi couldn’t afford to pay a ransom for members who were stupid enough to get caught by another pack. Awe had to play by the rules. For now.

Isnay took a step forward then glanced over her shoulder again. A visible shiver ran through her body.

He’d never been able to tempt her into the water. If an omega crossed territories it wasn’t considered much of an offense. Pack wars weren’t fought over their gentler brethren. The rules would be different for Awe. As a pack hunter, he was considered a weapon. He understood Isnay’s hesitation. There were stories of omegas being stolen throughout history. Look at what happened to Peder. How could he convince her of his honest intentions?

She sniffed. “Do I smell honey?”

He nodded and unwrapped the cake.

She removed her moccasins and gathered her skirts above her knees before stepping into the slow-moving river. This time of the year honey was a scarce commodity. The Apisi had saved some to celebrate the birth of Sorin’s and Susan’s pups.

He couldn’t keep from grinning. “It is. The bakers were up late last night making honey cake.”

She didn’t meet his gaze like a hunter might. There was no domination in the way she held her shoulders. Her presence eased him, let him relax like he couldn’t among the pack. Not many hunters would have had the courage to step into the river with a stranger from another pack though. Maybe her trust in him should be considered foolish, but who was the fool standing on the border of pack land holding honey cake? lol

“You stole from your pack?” The glance she tossed him held a sharper edge of intelligence than most hunters’ teeth.

He blinked. Dog shit, he was messing this up. What sort of shifter stole from his pack? His role was to provide, and he was proving otherwise. “Um…I won’t have any when it’s served.” He took a step closer, offering her the sweet again. “This is my piece.”

Lifting her chin, she finally met his stare with the bluest eyes he’d ever seen. Clearer than the sky above them and brighter than the sun. She took a piece and savored the bite, pressing her lips together and closing her eyes. “I haven’t had a sweet all winter.” She plucked another large piece, but didn’t eat it. Instead, she held it to his lips.

His heart swelled as he took the bite, purposely licking the sticky honey from her fingers.

She sighed.

“Isnay!” A male voice shouted from the forest.

Both of them startled, and Awe almost dropped the cake. In his obsession with Isnay, he’d forgotten the approaching Ohneka hunters. He grabbed her wrist as she darted back to shore.

Her eyes went wide with fear.

He placed the cake in her hand and released her so she could retreat to her side of the river safely.

Two hunters stormed out of the forest in feral form and raced into the river. A crowd of omegas, both female and male, followed. Isnay stood apart from them, cake forgotten in her hand and concern painted on her face.

Before the hunters reached him, Awe leaped back to his side of the river. They most likely wished to only chase him away from the border since they couldn’t know if he was alone or not.

Awe returned to the thick brush where he’d first hid and sat to wait.

The Ohneka hunters settled on the other bank, guarding the omegas as they did their chores. To his relief, no one chastised Isnay. They’d probably leave that for their alpha when the hunters reported the incident.

She sat by her basket, eating her cake and didn’t appear worried. She shared a few bites with friends. When she finally looked in the direction of his hiding place, he rose to his feet. Smiling, she blew him a kiss.

Fading back into the wilderness before he caused her anymore trouble, he sat out of view and watched Isnay. His alpha might not want to negotiate a mating with the Ohneka, but Awe wouldn’t give up on Isnay yet.

This story is based in the series Chronicles of Eorthe, book one is Scent of Salvation. The continuation of Awe and Isnay's romance can be found in the Alphas on the Prowl boxset, releasing April 28th.

Alpha shifters are on the prowl, and they're used to getting what they want. But there's more to claiming a destined mate than raw power, and they'll have to prove themselves worthy – in more ways than one.
Alphas on the Prowl is page after page of passion and pleasure in this box set featuring eleven tantalizing shapeshifter tales from NY Times and USA Today best selling authors.

Annie Nicholas writes paranormal romance with a twist. She has courted vampires, hunted with shifters, and slain a dragon’s ego all with the might of her pen. Riding the wind of her imagination, she travels beyond the restraints of reality and shares them with anyone wanting to read her stories. Mother, daughter, and wife are some of the other hats she wears while hiking through the hills and dales of her adopted state of Vermont.
Annie writes for Samhain Publishing, Carina Press, and Kensington Publishing.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Critical Mass

Posted by: Shona Husk
In May I will have been published for five years. It’s hard to believe because it feels both longer and shorter. How can five years have zipped by? And yet everything that has happened in that time seems incredible. From the sale of my first novella (An Elemental Tail) to selling my first novel (The Goblin King) gaining an agent, losing an agent, losing editors, publishers, dipping my toes into self-publishing.

The one thing that has stayed constant in all of that is my ability to write. Okay sometimes it was hard, really hard when things weren’t going well. Sometimes my favorite stories (you know the ones you secretly love just a little bit more than the others but that you’d never admit to because you shouldn’t pick favorites) were the ones that sold the least. Or the hero I wasn’t sure people would like they loved. Maybe I’m not a good judge and when I love a story I should realize no one else will. 

While I’ve been a published author paranormal has been huge, slumped and might be coming back, sci-fi romance is there and digging in for the long haul like an intergalactic barnacle on a space freighter, fantasy romance never quite broke out the way I had hoped it would (I grew up reading fantasy). Contemporary romance is hot.

Last year during the paranormal slump I wrote some contemporary romance. The thing with being a writer is that you need to write (I generally have the fingers crossed on one hand that it will sell while I’m typing).

I have thought about writing for myself and no longer chasing being published.

But then I think I’ve written it and someone might want to read it so I polish the story up and send it off. I no longer hold my breath and compulsively check the emails while I wait.

Do I still want to hit the NYT best seller list? You bet. But I can’t control that any more than I can control the market or even the weather. 

So I write. I figure that at some point my body of work will hit critical mass and it will explode into something awesome…or goop…hopefully not goop. 

My latest release was something I wrote without any plans on ever seeing it published. It was an experiment for me to stretch my writing muscles and the first contemporary I ever wrote (but not the first published). But after it had languished for a year I decided to send it off into the world. The publisher loved it and asked for a series. All four Face the Music books will be out this year. 

Yes, I have my fingers crossed.

Out of Rhythm
They might be one of the hottest up-and-coming bands in Australia, but the members of Selling the Sun have a lot to learn about life, love, sex, and each other.

Praise for OUT OF RHYTHM:
With fun, authentic characters, sexual tension that leaves you on tenterhooks, and wonderful world building, Shona Husk is an awesomely talented Australian writer and it's fantastic to read rock star romances set here at home. - Kylie Scott, author of the Stage Dive series


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Reading by Gender

Posted by: Nicole Luiken

I hate it when other people try to dictate what I should read.  I'm tired of people telling me I should be ashamed of reading YA because I'm an adult, or turning up their nose at romance or dismissing SF/fantasy as "rocket ships" and "elves". So earlier this year when I saw an article going around Facebook called I Challenge You to Stop Reading Straight White Cis Males Authors for One Year my first kneejerk reaction was anger. No, I darn well will not stop reading some of my favourite authors just because they're men.

[NOTE: Most of my anger comes from the title of the article rather than the content. If the article had been called Challenge Yourself to Read more Fiction by People of Colour and LGBT I would have been intrigued instead.]

Then I got curious. The title of the article implies that ‘everybody’ is reading ‘too much’ fiction by men. How much of my reading was written by women and how much by men? (I’m leaving the ‘straight and white’ part out of the equation, because I often don’t know the race and gender orientation of the writer. In fact, some of the names could be men writing as women and women writing as men for all I know. Certainly, someone reading Robert Galbraith’s bio can be excused for not guessing that J.K. Rowling was the author.)

So far in 2015 I have read 27 books by 17 men:  Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, Tony Abbott (5), Stephen King, Kelly McCullogh, Brandon Sanderson, David Weber, Jim Hines, Lemony Snicket (4), Jim Butcher (3), Rich Burlew, Brent Weeks (2), Ben Aaronovitch, Alex Bledsoe, Dave Duncan, Joe Abercrombie and Robert Rankin.

Does that seem like a lot or too much? Does it seem unbalanced?

It’s not. I am a voracious reader. I also read 53 books by 42 women this year: Diana Pharaoh Francis, Tanya Huff, Jayne Castle (2), Mary Pope Osbourne (5), Carrie Vaughn, Jody Wallace, Kristin Cashore, Shawna Reppert (2), Jenny Schwartz, J.R. Ward, Meljean Brook, Annie Nicholas, Cassandra Clare, Jeffe Kennedy, Nalini Singh (2), Regan Summer, Suzanne & Melanie Brockmann, Anne Bishop, Rebecca Zanetti, Mary Robinette Kowal, Gini Koch (5), Judith Graves & Dawn Dalton, Angela Korra’ti, Eleri Stone (2), Patricia Briggs, Shelly Laurenston, Seanan Macguire, Shannon K. Butcher, Veronica Scott, Marcella Burnard, Catherine Asaro, Jo Walton, Sharon Lynn Fisher, Catherine Jinks, N.K. Jemison, R.L Naquin, Katherine Addison, Faith Hunter, C.J. Cherryh and Leigh Evans. Which firmly tips the balance the other way.

Statistically, one-third of my reading is written by male authors and two-thirds by women. As I said, I read mostly SF/fantasy and romance (and prefer books with both elements). Romance is primarily written by women (the exception being m/m romance, which is written by both men and women). My SF/fantasy reading is split more evenly between the sexes. So is my YA/MG reading.

Based on a much smaller sample size, my husband’s reading seems to fall out at about 70% men, 30% women. I would guesstimate that my mother’s reading is 95% women authors. Should my husband read more women authors? Should I, and my mother, read more books by men?

After some reflection, I’ve decided that I’m okay with my reading choices. I am not going to boycott male authors, but neither am I going to go out of my way to read 50-50 down the gender divide.

Bottom line: I believe people should read books that they enjoy. By all means, sample widely, try all the genres, read books by people of every colour, gender and orientation, then, once you discover storytellers you like—read them.

How do your reading tastes fall out?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Friends and Lovers

Posted by: PG Forte
One of the fun aspects of writing a big, sprawling vampire family saga, is the ability to explore my characters' changing relationships. Psychologists might tell us that any friendship that lasts longer than seven years isn't going anywhere, but my vampires beg to differ.

Yes, we're all creatures of habit (that goes for humans and vampires--lol!) and there will always be a lot of things in our lives that remain at least partially stable, but when you live forever there's gonna be some changes from time to time.

Fallen Embers (book five in the children of Night series) released this week and it was so much fun to finally delve into the complicated relationship between Conrad and Georgia, and even to hint at some of the reasons for the huge animosity that exists between Georgia and Damian. 

Georgia is Conrad's oldest friend. And, out of all the relationships in the series, theirs is the one that has changed the most over the, decades...make that centuries. They went from friends to lovers to strangers to...whatever they have now. 

The story of Conrad and Georgia is one of timing--both epically good and tragically bad. It's a tale of regrets, missed chances and divided loyalties. Up until now, Georgia has appeared to be at least partially villainous--don't expect that to change. These are still vampires, after all. They're never going to be squeaky clean. They're also not gonna sparkle, but let's not go there!

Let's just say that, in Fallen Embers, we get to see a few more facets of Georgia's personality. It's been fun letting her shine. 

Here's a brief excerpt. Georgia's secret is getting harder to keep. In this scene with Conrad, she almost breaks down and reveals the truth:

“Wait.” As Georgia moved to pass him, Conrad put out a hand to stop her. “Don’t go yet. Come and sit with me for a while. I wish to talk with you.”

“Talk?” Georgia’s eyes widened in alarm. She glanced around in surprise. “What—here?”
Conrad’s gaze followed Georgia’s. There were a handful of wrought-iron benches scattered around the property—mostly holdovers from those days when he had been in the habit of throwing elaborate house parties. They made for convenient dining areas, but were only semi-secluded, not quite what he was looking for tonight.

“Let’s go inside. There’s less chance of being overheard and, if you’re hungry, I can have the servants bring us some food. Come,” he repeated, smiling expectantly. He crooked his arm and waited for her to take it.

Georgia cast another long look around her. “Oh, very well. If you insist.”

Conrad studied her more closely. Was she pouting? Her expression was definitely not happy as she slipped her arm in his. And the sigh she heaved was so unexpectedly mournful, so in-tune with his own feeling of unrest, that it prompted Conrad to reach for her hand where it lay upon his arm He squeezed it gently, offering what comfort he could. “You feel it too?”

Georgia stilled. “Feel what?”

Conrad shrugged. “I hardly know how to describe it. A vague malaise. The rush of time flying past us, perhaps?”

“Ah, that.” Georgia’s mouth tightened. “In truth, I feel it more than you know.”

“Now then,” Conrad said after they’d settled themselves, drinks in hand, in the salon—he on the sofa, she on one of the armchairs facing it. “Talk to me, ciccia. Tell me what’s been bothering you.”
Georgia dropped her gaze to stare into the goblet in her hand. “I don’t know what you mean. What makes you think there’s anything bothering me?”

“Because it’s written all over your face.”

She took a small sip and then replied, “As I told you, I spent the day following up on pointless leads. What you’re seeing in my face is exhaustion. It will pass.”

“Somehow I doubt that’s all it is.”

“Well, I’ve no idea what else you want me to tell you.”

“Tell me the truth.”

“I have just done so!”

Conrad sighed. “How long have we known each other now? And through how many dire circumstances? I have seen you when you’re tired, Georgia, but I’ve never seen you look so careworn. Won’t you confide in me?”

“Careworn?” Georgia’s laugh sounded brittle and forced. “Oh dear, has it really come to that?”

“What do you mean?”

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but is not ‘careworn’ a word men most oft employ when they wish to suggest that a woman’s looks are not to their liking? Does my appearance leave so much to be desired then? I do beg my sire’s pardon. Perhaps it’s my choice of hairstyle that he finds unflattering?”

“My dear, don’t talk such nonsense. Your beauty is intoxicating—as it has always been. And, even if it weren’t, I’m certain you are far too wise to be concerned overmuch with my opinion of such things.”

“Perhaps not when it comes to fashion.”

“Exactly. No, my dear, what I’m asking about is something quite different. There is something in your expression. I cannot find the words to describe it.” He looked her over once again, searching for words. “You look…sad.”

“Sad…” Georgia repeated the word thoughtfully. “Yes, well, I suppose there might be some small truth to that.” A shudder worked its way up her frame; it was small, but not so subtle that Conrad could have missed it. She shook her head. “I assure you, it’s nothing with which you need concern yourself.”

“And yet, I am concerned.” He was also growing impatient. They both knew he could compel her to speak—though neither of them would enjoy it. Was that really what she wanted?

“Conrad, please.” She gazed at him entreatingly. “One might be sad for any number of silly or unimportant reasons. Is a little privacy really too much to ask for?”

Conrad frowned. Privacy was all well and good, but his heart told him there was more to it than that. This helpless, hopeless tone was something new. Whatever was troubling her, it was clearly not the ‘nothing’ she would have him believe. “Georgia…”

“Or if you cannot be dissuaded, can we not at least postpone this conversation for another time? Please, my love. I ask you for little enough. Can you not grant me this?”

There’s a thin line between blood and madness.
Children of Night, Book 5
Early Twelfth Century. When the half-civilized Conrad Quintano stumbles upon a stacked battle on an isolated beach, his first instinct is to walk away. What does he care if a bunch of worthless vampires kill each other? But a dying ember of chivalry compels him to rescue the pretty female vampire in distress—radically altering the course of his already cursed life.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases

Out of Rhythm (Face the Music book 1)
They might be one of the hottest up-and-coming bands in Australia, but the members of Selling the Sun have a lot to learn about life, love, sex, and each other.

Coming off a successful Australian tour and prestigious industry award nominations, Gemma Field’s life should be perfect. Instead her parents want her to get a real job, the second album isn’t coming together, and her best friend, Kirsten wants nothing to do with her. Falling for her best friend was never going to make life easy.

After an almost accidental drunken kiss almost six months ago, they aren’t even talking. Gemma can’t even talk about it with anyone – not her family, not her bandmates, not even the one person she used to share everything with. Instead she lives in a space of indecision and pain, and it’s affecting all aspects of her life, including the band.

Kirsten Vincent missed Gemma like crazy, but did she miss her as a friend or as something more? She’s confused and Gemma is hurt, and the consequences of a bad decision will affect more than their personal lives. Will another kiss, a sober kiss, a kiss with intent, do more damage, or could it be the start of something more?

Praise for OUT OF RHYTHM: With fun, authentic characters, sexual tension that leaves you on tenterhooks, and wonderful world building, Shona Husk is an awesomely talented Australian writer and it's fantastic to read rock star romances set here at home. - Kylie Scott, author of the Stage Dive series


There’s a thin line between blood and madness.

Children of Night, Book 5

Early Twelfth Century. When the half-civilized Conrad Quintano stumbles upon a stacked battle on an isolated beach, his first instinct is to walk away. What does he care if a bunch of worthless vampires kill each other? But a dying ember of chivalry compels him to rescue the pretty female vampire in distress—radically altering the course of his already cursed life.

Present Day. Marc Fischer continues his desperate search for Elise, while his newly single twin sister, Julie, is hooking up with everything that moves—at least that’s how it looks to a jealous Armand. As the twins’ unusual abilities grow stronger, Marc makes the mistake of trying to protect Julie from what he’s learned about their true nature.

Meanwhile, Conrad’s relationship with Georgia—the vampire he saved centuries ago—is about to alter yet again. They’ve each been keeping dangerous secrets. Secrets with the power to destroy the entire clan. Now, with Julie’s life threatened, the Fischer-Quintano vampires will learn the most painful truth of all. No lie lies hidden forever.

“Damian and Conrad truly have an original and unconventional love story that will entertain as well as romance you. Their fledgling parenting attempts are charming and totally endearing” –RT Magazine on Now Comes the Night

“I can't wait for Ms. Forte's next book in this series, and I am definitely firmly in the `Team Conrad' group. I recommend this one for those who know that vampires don't sparkle, and aren't always sweet and gentle lovers.” —Long and Short Reviews on Now Comes the Night

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Busting Cosmic Dust Bunnies

Posted by: Kelly Jensen
In space, no one can hear you sneeze. Of course, I don’t recommend leaning out of the airlock while sweeping dust bunnies into the void. Parts of you might freeze or boil—are we actually clear on what happens when you lean into a vacuum? I just looked it up and…really gross things happen to bodies exposed to a vacuum. Apparently the lack of pressure lowers the boiling point of your blood, so it does that and then explodes out of all the surrounding tissue. Awesome.

That’s not what I wanted to write about.

Have you ever wondered how we’ll go about spring cleaning in space? The ship that your crew has been zipping about in is going to collect a lot of dust, even with all the hatches sealed and locked. Skin particles, hair, whatever the engineer picked out of his nose and flicked behind the power core when he thought no one was looking. The stuffing from that suspiciously Klingon-featured teddy bear that is just a keepsake. Powdered rations spilled and not properly cleaned up. The residue in the pipes leading to the water recycler.

Oh, God. I don’t even want to think about what else is in the water recycler. I bet that engineer pees in the shower, too. Then again, he might as well. All the water in his ship probably funnels to the same place, and the filters on that unit will need a regular cleaning.

I suppose you might land once in a while, throw open all the hatches and get the brooms out. Flush the tanks, take a risk on the local water. But what if your craft isn’t equipped for atmospheric reentry. It’s the bargain model—sleek enough to skip from star to star without too much hassle, not quite robust enough to actually land anywhere. Or…what if spring on Planet Bazooka is the season of the tank crab? Militant buggers the size of a Mini Cooper that like to scuttle through open cargo hatches and have crab babies on your just swept floor?

There’s got to be a better way to bust cosmic dust bunnies.

This is what happens when you let dust bunnies breed
(The Trouble with Tribbles, Star Trek)

I thought about sonic cleaners, but they just loosen the dust and grime. It’s still there, just no longer attached to whatever you were cleaning. It might also be pulverized, but still part of the universe. Ultra violet light can be used to disinfect the dust, but the dust is still there. The fact is, that unless you have a handy, pocket sized black hole, whatever you bring onto your ship is going to stay on your ship until you take it off again. That’s, like, a law of physics or something. So, while we might be able to clean smudges off the shiny bits with newfangled solvents and tech, we still have your nail clippings and sloughed skin to do away with. Eventually, all that dust is going to make the place smell a bit, maybe tickle a sinus or two. And every time you sneeze, more stuff is going to enter your closed and fetid atmosphere—unless you’re leaning out of an airlock at the time.

I have come up with a solution. We could install vacuum ports. Program a sequence, hit a switch and a tidy (short and tidy, we want to be able to breathe afterward) current sucks anything loose toward a vent in the floor, through a duct and into a collection chamber. The chamber can then be vented outside (space dust!) or, for the environmentally conscious, emptied in a responsible manner. Um…incarnated at a station, then turned into space dust? Compacted and…burned? Mixed with the sludge from your water recycling unit and served in the staff cafeteria? Used to stuff upholstery? Ideally, we could find a way to turn it into fuel. Yeah, I like that.

We could compact it, but heroes have nasty habit of
wandering into trash compactors when no one is looking
(Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope)

Small animals (fur emitting, litter busting, flea bags!) should be kept away from vents during operation. Toes, fingers and other delicate naked bits shouldn’t get too close to the vents, ever. You don’t want to lose a testicle if someone accidentally starts the cleaning cycle. Likewise, any keepsakes should be kept strapped down. A blocked vent will not effectively clean a room.

It’s not a perfect system, but I’m open to suggestions. How would you go about spring cleaning in space?


On the Chaos, the crew play poker for pennies and chores. Loser cleans the bathrooms and Felix is the worst poker player in the galaxy. He's also not that dedicated to cleanliness. Probably a good thing they have a doctor on board!

Chaos Station (Chaos Station #1) is available now. 

To read the first chapter and learn about the rest of the crew, visit

Friday, April 17, 2015

Harvesting Characters from Real Life

Posted by: Danube Adele

I love people.
We are so wonderfully imperfect with beautiful flaws and confusing inconsistencies that make for the basis of rich, intriguing characters just waiting to be creatively shaped into romantic fiction. Walt Whitman best described the gist of who we are as humans when he wrote “Do I contradict myself? Fine, I contradict myself. (I contain multitudes)” – Song of Myself. We are an amazingly unique species with great capacity for love, kindness and joy, while also knowing what it is to taste betrayal, revenge and despair.

One of the key lessons I learned from my graduate school studies that applies to my life as a writer is that all behavior is communication. Everything we do, even more than what we say, tells others about who we are, what we believe in, what’s important to us and by same process, what we find to be unimportant. Our behavior speaks for us in ways we likely don’t even realize. I love to ask the silent question, “Why? Why are they doing that?” 

Think about the hours of time spent, or not, on personal care. The image we want to project to the world makes us sometimes wake up two hours early in order to shower, blow dry, curl, apply make up, try on different outfits, etc. Think about that friend who loved laughing too loudly at a not so funny joke in a social situation. Did you ever know anyone who was fakely, overly effusive in their “thanks” to such a degree that it made you uncomfortable? I know you’ve seen the guy who walks his dog, lets it poop, looks around quickly to see if anyone noticed before leaving it there for you to step in. What about that mom who was always checking to make sure the kid standing alone by the fence, waiting, had a ride home after soccer practice when every other parent had left without thinking about it? But why? To me, following the trail of “why” is the most fun part of developing characters. A friend of mine complained about a woman who was letting her four kids run around bothering people while waiting in line at a food truck. There are conclusions that can be drawn about this woman. Am I right? We’ve likely all experienced this situation where you want to tell this woman to please control her kids, but likely, she’s feeling completely and totally out of control, and not just with her kids but with her life.

Cecilia “Ceci” Bradford, is a trauma ward doctor in my new book Dreams of a Wild Heart, book three of the Dreamwalkers series. The inspiration I had for her came from real life doctor Tara Margarella who could be seen on a couple of different doctoring shows, one of which was Trauma: Life in the ER. I did as much of a study of her as I could, watched her movements, facial expressions and overall attitude as she interacted with others. She was confident, sure of herself, calming, and able to handle any crisis that came through the double doors. Being able to see the behaviors of this female doctor let me more fully complete who my character was, envision her, and develop a story around her.

Ceci is a twenty-six year old doctor who discovered what it was to lose at a young age. Since birth, she and Carlos had been inseparable, gradually turning into more than friends by the time they were in their late teens, but tragedy took him from her. From that point on, Ceci didn’t want to have time to think or feel. She kept busy. She worked to finish school early, complete her studies in medicine, learn how to do mixed martial arts, dance, rock climb, anything to keep the yawning emptiness at her side from taunting her. Then she meets Tabron, a soldier, dark and brooding, with secrets that are out of this world. Literally. She knows that she feels a spark, for once, after all of these years, and that behind his stony fa├žade are hints of tenderness and need. What she doesn’t know is that she’s about to find herself immersed in intrigue, betrayal, and a people’s desire for a better future on an entirely different planet.

Thanks so much for spending time with me. I’d love to hear from you. Have you ever encountered people with interesting behaviors out in public?
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Blurb/Book Description: Dr. Cecilia—Ceci—Bradford

I dance, rock climb, and have mastered Mixed Martial Arts, because just being a twenty-six-year-old doctor isn't enough. It doesn't keep me from remembering the terrifying night my life changed, the night my first love died. I was nearly seventeen.

Life goes on, but the secret I keep is that I still talk to him in my dreams. That was getting me by until Tabron showed up—or, more specifically, until the six-foot-two brute of a Viking whisked me off to another planet because his leader is dying. And the joy didn't end there. I'm being forced to choose a mate. The Brausa are facing extinction.

Tabron has no need for a mate, himself, and he's told me as much. Multiple times. What he does have are hands and wicked lips that stir feelings I thought lost forever. Choosing him (just to play along until I can find a way home) seems to irk him and I find this surprisingly fun. But surviving a hidden conspiracy and the dangers of this alien place might be more difficult than I could ever imagine…

Book Three of The Dreamwalkers
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