Sunday, August 31, 2014

Lazy Days

Posted by: Joshua Roots
When I was a kid, a Saturday without plans drove me nuts. Or a Wednesday afternoon. Or any down time, for that matter. To keep my need for entertainment sated, I played sports, joined the band, and participated in all sorts of after school activities that I’m sure drove my parents bonkers.

Because they had to drive me.

As I’ve grown older, my involvement in “afterschool fun” hasn’t slowed down. If anything, it’s picked up. Work, beekeeping, writing, socializing with friends, etc, keeps the midnight oil burning at both ends. Which is great for making days clip by. Wake up on Monday morning and the next thing I know, it’s Thursday night. A glass of wine and I’m ready to barrel into a weekend full of errands.

That said, I’ve come to appreciate an empty calendar so much more these days. Last weekend, my wife and I found ourselves without plans which was both awkward and delicious. With nothing to do, we kicked our feet up and promptly fell asleep.

Young Me would NEVER have considered dozing off for fours hours. I’d have been antsy to get out into the world and do something. Anything. But now a-days I find that a lazy Saturday is so infrequent that I can’t help but relish the slow passage of time. No TV, minimal Internet. Just let the world spool down for a little while.

What I’ve found is that Lazy Days are one of the most useful tools for me as a writer. Sure, there are all sorts of demands from needing to complete a synopsis to meeting deadlines or simply putting words to paper. Social Media is filled with memes stating you should be writing. Daily word counts hang over our heads like the Sword of Damocles. And while I fully believe in meeting or beating deadlines, there’s something to be said for giving yourself a break.

But here’s the thing, when I remove all the outside pressures, the writing itch begins clawing at me in short order. Without distractions, my mind begins to wander through plots, expanding outlines, and generally wondering what trouble my characters can get into.  Lo and behold, I soon find myself hammering out pages where previously I was grinding through a scene.

Lazy Days may not work for everyone, but for me, they’re a necessity. The chance to mentally detox from the noise the world throws at us is sometimes all it takes to recharge, refresh, and re-engage.

What about you? What helps you keep on keeping on?

-Josh





AUTHOR BIO: 

Joshua Roots is a former Marine, car collector, and beekeeper. He enjoys singing with his a cappella chorus, playing video games, and reading comic books. He is still waiting for his acceptance letter to Hogwarts and Rogue Squadron. He and his wife will talk your ear off about their bees if you let them.



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Friday, August 29, 2014

Getting ready to go IN THE VOID!

Posted by: Sheryl Nantus
When IN THE BLACK came out earlier this year readers were eager to come on board the Bonnie Belle and meet the courtesans, including the enigmatic Captain Samantha Keller and Marshal Daniel LeClair.

You haven't visited the Belle? Why not?
It's available NOW at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Carina Press!


Now it's time to see how far IN THE VOID someone would go for love...
(slight spoilers for IN THE BLACK, so be warned!)
*****
“Stimulation of the erogenous zones is essential.”
Sean Harrison groaned and turned the page.
“Make sure to maintain eye contact and inform your partner that they’re special.”
He put down the tablet and rubbed his eyes, feeling a headache starting.
Some people thought being a Guild courtesan was all about sex.
It was mostly true.
But whoever had written this paper on how to sexually satisfy women had to be either a eunuch or Sean’s girlfriend from the sixth grade, who’d thought kissing immediately led to pregnancy.
He swam over to the bathroom sink and pulled a moist cloth out of the dispenser. He looked in the mirror and spotted a few new wrinkles around his eyes.
It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.
And he was getting tired of stomping on the gas pedal.
Rubbing the hot fabric over his face helped push the pain away, not so much the annoyance.
He’d had to pay for this report as he had to pay for almost everything from the Guild. The rules and regulations dictated everything from exactly how much he could charge for his services to the cost of a hot shower. It was a constant juggling effort for the courtesans to coax tips from their customers to stay ahead and not end up chained to the Guild beyond their five-year contracts.
In exchange the Guild provided excellent training and let them travel the universe, visiting distant mining bases to bring civilized conversation to lonely men and women.
Along with great sex, of course.
Sean pushed the damp towel into the disposal chute and paddled back to the receiving area where the tablet still spun in zero gravity, waiting for his return.
“Crap,” he announced to the room. “Crappity crap crap.”
A knock came at the hatch.
“It’s open.” He never bothered to lock the door between landfalls.
Harry Lafayette bounced through the hatch and smacked his legs on the table as he flailed to stop himself.
“Hey.” He nodded to Sean. “You seen this new report? Man, if I had this in high school I would have scored big time with the ladies.”
Sean closed his eyes in an attempt to call up that inner peace April kept talking about.
Had he been this annoying on his first tour?
Had he ever been that young?
Sean resisted the urge to check the mirror again.
“It’s just a guidebook,” he said, trying to sound as kind as he could. “It’s put together by experts,” he paused, almost hearing the air quotes around the word experts, “who claim to know what women want. It’s not gospel.”
The bare-chested man floated around the receiving room, the smallest of the three-room suite each courtesan occupied on the Bonnie Belle. “But the trainers said they’d tell us everything we needed, teach us what we needed to keep our customers happy.”
Sean smiled. “Some things only come via life experience.” He resisted the urge to rub the invisible wedding ring on his left hand. “The Guild is good but you’ll pick up things during your first tour that they can’t teach. Don't be afraid to ask for help from the rest of the crew.”
Harry chuckled. “You mean April, Kendra and Bianca, right? ’Cause I don’t think I’m going to get much from Jenny and Sam.”
Sean shrugged as he reached out for the tablet hovering between them. “Jenny’s the best mechanic out here. And Sam, well—she’s a damned good captain. This is my second tour and I’d have no one else in the cockpit.”
Harry nodded. “I’ll take your word for it. Any word on when we’re getting another courtesan?”
“No.” Sean tapped the screen and sent the report away. “We’re still running one short. You got Dane’s cabin and we’re still waiting for Halley’s replacement.”
“I’m sorry about all that.” Harry looked down. “I know you were buddies with them both.”
“Not so much buddies, but work associates.” Sean wasn’t sure how to explain it to the rookie. “You can be on the same ship for months, years and never be friends with anyone else. Halley—” He choked up, thinking of the dead courtesan.
They hadn’t been friends but they sure as hell hadn’t been enemies. If Sean had been the one to find her dead in her cabin with her throat cut—
“Dane Morris was an asshole,” Sean growled. “He killed one of our own and tried to kill the captain. He was no friend of mine.”
Harry nodded. “Understood.”
Sean released the tablet and rubbed his face with both hands. “I’m sorry. I’m a wee bit on edge.”
“No problem,” Harry replied. “I guess this gets boring to an old pro like yourself after a while.”
Old?
Sean was in the middle of composing an answer when the alarm went off.
“All personnel immediately report to the galley.” Belle’s calm voice was in contrast to the blaring siren. “Please report to the galley.”
Harry flailed in zero gravity until Sean got hold of his arm and helped him to the hatch.
“Is it bad?” Harry asked as they opened the door and swam out into the hall.
Sean wasn’t in a mood to sugarcoat his response. “Probably.”
Kendra drifted into the hall, her movements graceful even in weightlessness. She eyed the two men.
“Trouble.”

It wasn’t a question.
*****
IN THE VOID
Book two of Tales from the Edge
Catherine Rodgers doesn’t like Mercy spaceships, or the courtesans who work on them—not after her husband left her for a Mercy woman. But after her luxurious transport ship gets blown up to prevent her from cracking the lid off a corporate scam that’s left hundreds dead and a few people very rich, the only vessel around to save her is the Bonnie Belle.
Sean Harrison has worked as one of the Belle’s courtesans for years, bringing happiness to countless women along the space lanes. When he’s asked to look after Catherine while the Belle brings her to safety, it should be just another job. Somehow it’s anything but.
Sean is captivated by Catherine’s sense of justice and responsibility. And Catherine finds a softer, more emotionally intelligent man in Sean than she expected. Drawn together in darkness under the threat of death, they find the beginning of something lasting. But with pirates after the Belle and a price on Catherine’s head, that beginning might be all they get.
Coming out October 6th from Carina Press!
Pre-order from Amazon and Barnes & Noble today!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Hollows Series: The End of an Era

Posted by: Jax Garren
In less than two weeks, Kim Harrison's Hollows series (also knows as the Rachel Morgan series) will release it's last book. It's book thirteen in a series that started back in 2004--a decade of adventures for my favorite witch.

I'm both thrilled and sad to know that in two weeks I'll know how it all ends. 

For those unfamiliar, the series follows Rachel Morgan, a witch who's like a female Capt. Mal Reynolds (from Firefly). She's got a good heart, even if she rarely follows the rules. And things never run smooth around her. With vampire Ivy and pixie Jenks, her partners in solving supernatural crime, she takes on the biggest baddies of Cincinnati--and later the USA--with sarcasm, streetsmarts, and grit.

In honor of the series, I'm going to relate my top ten moments. You may notice a theme...I'm a diehard fan of sexy, brilliant, semi-evil, elf on a mission, Trent Kalamack.

10) Trent caging Rachel when she was a mink and keeping her as a pet. Yes it was awful. But it was hilarious!

9) Vampires line dancing to "Living Dead Girl" on Rachel's date with Kisten (ah...Kisten. *sniff*)

8) Rachel making Jenks human-sized and realizing how hot he is. (I <3 Jenks so much.)

7) Rynn Cormell's gambling bloat blowing up--with Rachel and Trent on it. The way they saved each other was, for me anyway, the turning point when Trent went from evil to interesting. And the morning after with Trent's cold-hearted fiancee had me snorting with laughter in public. *embarassing!*

6) Realizing the terrifying demon Algaliarept was broke. It gave Al such humanity to know that he was striving to make ends meet in the Ever After (the demon realm).

5) Rachel staying awake with Quen (Trent's bodyguard and best friend), willing him to live and trying to convince Trent to believe in good, even when it's terribly unlikely to happen.

4) Ivy giving Rachel the vampire dating guide so Rachel can use it as a manual of what NOT to do!

3) Jenks and Trent's budding friendship after they liberate Lucy. (I prefer "liberate" to "kidnap".)

2) Rachel arresting Trent at the alter during his wedding. Priceless!

1) Trent using magic to help Rachel bake cookies...then rescuing her with a kiss.

This was harder than I expected!! I didn't even mention the road trip, Trent's silly spelling cap, Jenks' colorful vocabulary, ringing the tower bells with magic...I could go on and on! I'm seriously smitten with this series. Can I reread 12 books before the final one comes out?? I may have to find out!

Have you read the Hollows? What awesome moments did I leave out?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Win-A-Book Wednesday with Veronica Scott

Posted by: Veronica Scott

Veronica Scott

Best Selling Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance author and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog,  Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.

Mission to Mahjundar

Celebrating the recent release of this new science fiction romance!

The Story:
An attempted assassination left Princess Shalira blind as a child and, now that she’s of marriageable age, her prospects are not good because of her disability. She’s resigned herself to an arranged marriage rather than face life under the thumb of her cold stepmother. But then she meets Mike Varone, a Sectors Special Forces officer sent to Mahjundar by the intergalactic government to retrieve a ship lost in her planet’s mountains. After Mike saves Shalira from another assassination attempt, she arranges for him to escort her across the planet to her future husband. She’s already falling hard for the deadly offworlder and knows she should deny herself the temptation he represents, but taking Mike along to protect her is the only way she’ll live long enough to escape her ruthless stepmother.
But what should have been an easy trek through Mahjundar’s peaceful lands swiftly turns into an ambush with danger around every turn. Shalira’s marriage begins to seem less like an arranged union and more like yet another planned assassination. The more they work together to survive, the harder it becomes to stop themselves from falling in love. Caught in a race against time, can they escape the hostile forces hunting them and make it off the planet?


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Launching a new sci-fi series!

Posted by: Shona Husk
On Thursday 28 August the first three books in the ES Siren series are released!

Set aboard the Earth Ship Siren the series explore the lives and loves of the crew, the prisoners (because someone has to do the hard labour of setting up the colony)and the civilians on board.

What made Battlestar Galactica and Farscape great was the human (or alien) drama and the way the big plots affected the people on board. It was that space opera feel that Mel, Denise and I were aiming for. We hope you enjoy the drama on ES Siren :)

Here's a little tease of Yours to Command:

The noise swelled, and echoed off the metal before she even hit deck 1. Then a hush took hold of the crowd. From the stairs Sienna could see half of the ring marked out on the floor. During the fight there was near-silence, as the crowd watched, enthralled.

Prisoners were kneeling on the floor, while Army and Air Force ship crew stood around the outside. There were maybe sixty spectators in all, including over a dozen women in blue or sandy brown. Did the female prisoners have such fights? Probably not. But it was interesting that so many women were here watching, unconcerned about being surrounded by men. Sienna pressed down on the bubble of panic. She would not let it take hold. Zane didn’t have that power over her. Once again she wished that he was a million miles away from her and still on Earth. 

She scanned the crowd once more, looking for the horribly familiar face, but didn’t see him. She relaxed a fraction, and turned her attention to the fight.

After about thirty seconds she understood why women came to watch. Muscles were on display, and in this otherwise stark and cold environment there was emotion and heat and tension. She tried not to think about what each landed punch meant for the body that wore it, and instead tried to admire the way each guy absorbed it, and hit back.

Sienna drew in a breath at the physicality and glanced around at the rapt expressions of the crowd. It was so much better that this came out in the Rounds and wasn’t left to boil over. There’d only been a few brawls so far—but there was still plenty of time for things to go wrong. Tensions were always running high. 

One of the fighters, a tall skinny guy, landed a punch that dropped the other man to his knees. He looked solidly winded. Everyone started counting down, and then it was over. Skinny guy collected his token and kissed it with bloodied lips, then grabbed his crotch with his other hand. His words were drowned out by the buzz of the crowd, but there was no prize for guessing how he was going to spend the token.

Sienna suppressed a shudder, even though she knew someone would happily take the token and give him what he wanted. The Rounds enabled male prisoners to buy some time with a hopefully willing female prisoner. She was sure that was where all the fighters spent their tokens. Her stomach turned. Was Alex any different? For a heartbeat she stood still and almost turned to run back to the safety of the med station. But she was only here to watch, nothing more. She could push aside reality for a few minutes and admire … couldn’t she? 

In the short break between fights she moved down the last three stairs and edged along the wall to get a better view. A sergeant moved aside for her without batting an eyelid. Bets were being taken. 1789 versus 0363.

She shook her head when they came past her. There was no way she was getting that caught up. She was just here to see Alex fight. He was a magnet she apparently couldn’t resist.
~~~
Yours to Command
He would do anything to protect her, if only she'd let him.

Corporal Sienna Jade wasn't given a choice about joining the mission to Unity. Seen as a troublemaker after reporting an assault by a senior officer, the army wanted her gone. Sienna resents the army for assigning her to Earth Ship Siren, and suspects the fleet's Unity mission will fail. But others would do anything to escape Earth ...

Alex Tariel knew his only chance to get a place on ES Siren was as a prisoner, so he stole water rations. As a former construction foreman, his skills make him a valuable prisoner on board, but still a prisoner unable to control his own life. Instead of keeping his head down, he gets involved in the fights set up for gambling privilege tokens, the only currency aboard ship among the prisoners.

Getting patched up by Corporal Jade might be the best thing that's happened to Alex on the trip so far, but becoming her ship husband puts him between her and the lieutenant who tried to kill her for kicks on Earth. While Sienna tries to keep control of her feelings for Alex, Alex would do anything to protect her, if only she'd let him.

As ES Siren faces its first crisis, a little trust and love goes a long way.

Amazon
Google Play
iTunes

Monday, August 25, 2014

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases


He would do anything to protect her, if only she'd let him.

Corporal Sienna Jade wasn't given a choice about joining the mission to Unity. Seen as a troublemaker after reporting an assault by a senior officer, the army wanted her gone. Sienna resents the army for assigning her to Earth Ship Siren, and suspects the fleet's Unity mission will fail. But others would do anything to escape Earth ...

Alex Tariel knew his only chance to get a place on ES Siren was as a prisoner, so he stole water rations. As a former construction foreman, his skills make him a valuable prisoner on board, but still a prisoner unable to control his own life. Instead of keeping his head down, he gets involved in the fights set up for gambling privilege tokens, the only currency aboard ship among the prisoners.

Getting patched up by Corporal Jade might be the best thing that's happened to Alex on the trip so far, but becoming her ship husband puts him between her and the lieutenant who tried to kill her for kicks on Earth. While Sienna tries to keep control of her feelings for Alex, Alex would do anything to protect her, if only she'd let him.

As ES Siren faces its first crisis, a little trust and love goes a long way.

The ES Siren SFR continuity launches on August 28. You can pre-order now!

Yours to Command by Shona Husk http://www.amazon.com/Yours-Command-ES-Siren-2-ebook/dp/B00LKVFAJY/
https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Shona_Husk_Yours_to_Command_ES_Siren_2?id=n272AwAAQBAJ
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/yours-to-command-es-siren-2/id896503207?mt=11

The other two books released today are:
Yours to Uncover by Mel Teshco http://www.amazon.com/Yours-Uncover-ES-Siren-1-ebook/dp/B00LKVFAKS/
Yours to Desire by Denise Rossetti http://www.amazon.com/Yours-Desire-ES-Siren-3-ebook/dp/B00LKVFAK8/

New audiobook:
Veronica Scott's award winning, best selling science fiction romance ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE has been released in audiobook format.

Narrated by Actors Michael Riffle and Mary Fegreus, the audiobook is available through Amazon and ACX.
The story:

Andi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.

Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.

That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters attack the village and raze it to the ground. Deverane escapes with Andi, and on their hazardous journey through the wilderness, Andi finds herself fighting her uncomfortable attraction to the gallant and courageous captain. But Deverane’s not the type to settle down, and running for one’s life doesn’t leave much time to explore a romance.

Then Andi is captured by the rebel fighters, but Deverane has discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a terrifying alien race’s attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. If he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.


GROUP NEWS

Angela Campbell is featured as the new and noteworthy author on today's episode of PNR Radio. She discusses her psychic detectives series and offers a giveaway. You can find more about the episode and listen to it on the PNR Radio website. You can also download the podcast directly from iTunes, or listen to it on the Stitcher Radio website. In partnership with ILoveVampireNovels.com, author Arial Burnz is the host of the podcast PNRradio.com, where she features entertainment that goes bump in the night. If you love paranormal and fantasy books, TV shows and movies, you’ll love PNR Radio. Guests include bestselling authors (e.g., Nalini Singh, Kami Garcia, Kelley Armstrong, Sharon Hamilton & Patrick Rothfuss) and celebrities (from TV shows like Supernatural and Dracula), and every show has a giveaway.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Slight of Hand

Posted by: Ruth A Casie
Hand writing, cursive, long hand, is a lost art. Because each person's handwriting is unique and handwriting is somewhat stable over time, it can be used as a verification tool. It's used on legal documents all the time. 
So, how did I get involved in handwriting? My work in progress is about a time traveling researcher. She's content after finding her way to the 17th century and her hero. Ah, but she's tricked into returning to the 21st century. In order to find her way back to her hero she must research the answers in the old documents, some penned by him. As she reads his writing, runs her fingers over the words, she is once again close to him.

I drew on those emotions from a card I had kept from my mother. She has been gone a long time but seeing her handwriting brings her back
to me. Her handwriting was unique and somewhat flamboyant. Friends and family were always asking her
to address their special occasion invitations. She thought her handwriting was... nothing special. I always thought it was exotic. (And tough to copy on school documents... but you didn't hear that here.) What I wouldn't give to confess that to her today.


What are the characteristics of handwriting and what do they tell us?
The characteristics of handwriting include:
  • the average size of letters
  • the pressure to the paper
  • they rhythmic repetition of the strokes
  • the slant of the letters
  • the spacing, regular or irregular
  • the roundness or sharpness of the letter's shape
Graphology is the study of handwriting and handwriting analysis. There are over 300 features. Here are some of the basic ones that can be easily understood and provide some interesting information. For a full disclosure, this information was found in a free handwriting analysis tool PDF by Elaine Quigley BA Hons., MBIG (Dip)

Slant -
  • Right slant indicates a response to communication. The writer may wish to be friendly, manipulative, responsive, etc.
  • Upright generally means independence.
  • Left slant shows emotion and reserve.
Size - 
  • Small, under 9mm, can indicate a thinker or an academic.
  • Small and delicate handwriting may indicate this person is not a good communicator and may be introverted.
  • Large, over 9mm, can indicate the person is outgoing, and extrovert or the person acts as if they are confident.
Pressure -
  • Heavy pressure indicates commitment, taking things seriously
  • Excessive pressure could mean the writer gets uptight at times and can react quickly to what they see as criticism. They react first and ask questions afterwards
  • Light pressure indicates sensitivity and empathy.
  • Uneven pressure could translate to a lack of vitality
Zones - There are three zones or cases - middle, upper, and lower
  • Tall upper strokes reach toward goals and ambitions. If they are very extended, they may be reaching toward unrealistic expectations
  • A reasonable proportioned upper loop (l, t, h) may indicate someone who likes to thinks things through and use their imagination
  • Wide upper loops indicate a person who may dream up ideas and mull them over.
  • Up strokes that go up and return on top of itself indicate the writer may be squeezing out imagination and keeping to the basic requirements

The PDF has a lot more information that I'm certain you'll find interesting if not for a message left by your hero or your villain, the suicide note left by the victim or just a card sent from a friend. 
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