Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Excerpt from STAR CRUISE STOWAWAY #Petsinspace SALE!

Posted by: Veronica Scott
Veronica sez: The Library Journal Best Books of 2016 pick Pets In Space anthology is reduced to $.99 for January 17 through 22 only! Don't miss your chance to pick up this fun assortment of stories featuring scifi romance and heroic pets. Here's an excerpt from my story in the volume. (Slightly edited from the published version.) The Sectors Criminal Investigation Agency has now boarded the ship to talk to the stowaway.

“SCIA has boarded the ship,” Maeve said on the senior officer link. “On their way to the wardroom.”
The special agent in charge wasn‘t the stern bureaucrat with a badge and a blaster Owen had expected, but a drop-dead gorgeous woman in a well-fitted suit, with a mane of curling red hair and a sultry deep voice. She threw him off for a moment, which he realized was probably one of her most effective tactics.
“I’m Special Agent Anjali Paterson, these are my associates Ben Fredricks, Al Vorson and Emund Osto.” Having introduced herself and her team, Anjali honed in on Tyrelle, sitting between Owen and Jake. “You must be the stowaway?”
“I’m Captain Fleming, and Miss Tyrelle is an inadvertent passenger,” Fleming said, his voice firm. “The CLC Line has no complaint against her.”
“Should she have a lawyer present?” Owen asked.
“And you are?” Anjali’s voice was cold as she eyed him.
            “Cargo Master Owen Embersson, Miss Tyrelle’s advocate on this ship under ICC regulations.” He made his voice just as icy. She didn’t scare him, except of course when the issue was her authority over Tyrelle.
            The agent closed her eyes for a moment and rubbed her forehead. “I sense we’re getting off on the wrong foot here. Miss Tyrelle isn’t being charged with anything. She’s not under arrest, and she doesn’t even have to talk to me…although, of course, I hope she will. She’s free to go if you choose to shuttle her to the surface, Captain.”
            Tyrelle clutched Owen’s arm. “Where would I go? What would I do? I have no credits, no papers. They – they’d find me again—”
            He was given no chance to reassure her.
            “Exactly. And none of us want such an outcome, do we?” A pleased, almost secretive expression on her expertly made-up face, Anjali seated herself in the central chair across the table from Captain Fleming. “Let’s start over again. Can you please introduce yourselves?”
            The group went around the table, providing names and ranks, with Maeve chiming in at the end.
            “All right, I can understand the Ship’s Security Officer being involved, and I’m willing to accept the advocate’s presence, rather than waste time arguing. Let me tell you what I’m here for.” She took charge of the meeting smoothly. “For a long time the SCIA has been trying to penetrate the Amarotu Combine operations in this arm of the Sectors. Finding this stowaway represents our first major break in the case. I’m prepared to offer Miss Tyrelle a deal, a substantial deal, in return for her assistance.” Speaking directly to her, Anjali said, “We’d give you a new identity, more than enough credits to begin a new life and relocation to a frontier Sector world far from here where your nonTerrestial origins would draw less attention. I can offer you several choices of new home.”
            “After I help you.”
            “Well, yes. First I want to hear your story.” Anjali held up one elegant, well-manicured hand. “After which I’ll tell you what we know and what we want.”
            Tyrelle told her story much as she’d recited it to Owen in the secret garden a few days prior.
Owen was glad she’d been through it once with him already, because she sounded calmer and more controlled today.
            Tapping her fingers on the Zulairian mahogany conference table, Anjali nodded. “Yes, we’ve known for some time now the Combine has a standing order with the Shemdylann for slaves with psychic powers or any other unusual attributes. They pay an extra bounty for such sentients. Your world, your people and abilities are previously unknown to us, Miss Tyrelle, so your home solar system is probably deep in enemy Mawreg territory.”
            “Mawreg?” Eyebrows raised, she sought enlightenment from Owen.
             “I’ll tell you later,” he said, remembering she didn’t even know about the Shemdylann pirates who’d originally captured her.
            “The Sectors government is concerned about the increasing link between the pirates and the Combine,” Anjali explained. “We’re not sure if the connection represents a new strategy for creating chaos in the Sectors on the part of the Mawreg overlords, or if the Shemdylann are becoming more independent. Those are among the facts we’re hoping to glean during this investigation. We also have a Mellurean Mind attached to this task force as a consultant, at their request, due to the Combine’s concentration on sentients with special abilities.”
            Owen liked the sound of the Mellurean involvement, which might benefit Tyrelle, if the all-powerful ancient race took an interest. The aliens kept themselves apart but anytime Sectors Command could persuade them to assist was counted as a victory. The Mellureans had unparalleled mental powers so might be extra sympathetic to a woman with similar abilities.
            “Our understanding is the Combine has several teams of captives working as assassins, influencers, what have you under the control of what they not-so-humorously call ring masters,” Anjali said, waving one hand in a circle. “Like old-fashioned circuses? The ringmasters send out their captives under the close eye of a subordinate handler, who usually travels on the same ship with the assassin concealed in an illicit cryo sleep container such as the one you found. The handler has the tech to activate the explosive collar if needed.”
            “Yes.” Tyrelle nodded, agreeing with the agent’s assessment. “You understand the system well.”
            “Thank you for the confirmation. The Combine provides services on a contract basis to others and also uses these unfortunate prisoners for executions and coercive actions serving the Combine’s purposes. We believe Miss Tyrelle was separated from her handler due to the freight forwarding situation you encountered two stops ago. He or she—”
            Tyrelle shivered in her chair. “He. Cosimil.”
            Owen could feel her fear, and he took a deep breath to subdue his anger. He had to concentrate on the agent’s discussion.
            “He’ll try to reacquire her when you arrive at Devir Six in a few days. Since you kept the incident so quiet, for which I congratulate and thank you, Captain Fleming, we believe the Combine has no idea she’s been exposed. We want to preserve our advantage.” Focusing directly on Tyrelle, she said, “We want you to go undercover as our operative.”

The blurb for Pets In Space:
Even an alien needs a pet…
Join the adventure as nine pet loving sci-fi romance authors take you out of this world and pull you into their action-packed stories filled with suspense, laughter, and romance. The alien pets have an agenda that will capture the hearts of those they touch. Follow along as they work side by side to help stop a genetically-engineered creature from destroying the Earth to finding a lost dragon; life is never the same after their pets decide to get involved. Can the animals win the day or will the stars shine just a little less brightly?
New York Times, USA TODAY, Award Winning, and Best selling authors have eight original, never-released stories and one expanded story giving readers eight amazing new adventures  and one expanded story that will capture your imagination. Come join us as we take you on nine amazing adventures that will change the way you look at your pet!

moby_and_midorri_pets_in-space_artwork_nyssa_juneauAnd the blurb for Star Cruise: Stowaway:
Cargo Master Owen Embersson is shocked when the Nebula Zephyr’s ship’s cat and her alien sidekick, Midorri, alert him to the presence of a stowaway. He has no idea of the dangerous complications to come – nor does he anticipate falling hard for the woman whose life he now holds in his hands. Life aboard the Nebula Zephyr has just become more interesting – and deadly.

Buy Links:
iBooks    Amazon    Nook      GooglePlay     Kobo

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Child's-eye View of Victorian Winter

Posted by: Shawna Reppert




 Photo credit: Lisa Oliphant Brown. Used with permission.

 

Maybe it was my mother’s fault.  Long before I had any clue of what the Victorian era was or where it fit into history, she bought me a ‘punch-out book’ of people and buildings, basically everything you needed to make a Victorian town in winter. (Do they even make punch-out books anymore? For the initiated, a punch-out book is made of pages of stiff card-stock, and you very carefully punch out along the scored edges and fold where it tells you to fold and insert taps into holes according to instruction and you end up with little figures, buildings, et cetera that you can arrange and make up stories about. I’m not as old as this makes me sound. Really.)

 



The punch-out book was from a catalogue, or maybe one of those Scholastic Books order forms that you bring home from school.  The thing is, I can’t really remember wanting it when I first saw it listed. I think we were ordering some other books I wanted and my mother asked if I thought I would like that, too, and I kind of said ‘sure’. But I remember when I got it and had it set up, it seemed like the coolest thing ever. All these interesting houses, like nothing I’d seen in our neighborhood, and all covered in snow, with cheery lights in the windows. Men with tall, elegant hats and women wearing strange clothes with bustles and muffs. (New words my mother taught me when explaining that people dressed like that back in the olden days)

 



I can’t even tell you how old I was when I got the punch-outs, or whatever became of them. But it was the first time I can recall brushing against the magical world of Victorian England.



Or maybe it was the fault of my sisters, who insisted on watching some version or other of A Christmas Carol on television each year, with all the lovely language and fine sentiments and (again) those strange and elegant clothes.

 



Or you could blame Albert, who brought what most of the English-speaking world now thinks of as Christmas traditions to Victorian England, where they spread like wildfire, becoming synonymous with the biggest winter celebration in the culture I grew up with.

 



For whatever reason, no matter what I know about the darker realities of the Victorian era, winter always makes me nostalgic for a time I never knew, a time of horse-drawn sleighs with harnesses a-jingle, holly and caroling and snow softly falling on gaslit cobblestones.

 



What about you? What associations do you have with this time of year?

 

 

Shawna Reppert is an award-winning author of fantasy and steampunk. You can find out more about her at www.Shawna-Reppert.com 

Her Amazon best-selling novel,  A Hunt by Moonlight, is free for Kindle through 1/19/16!

 

 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases

The Devil of Bourbon Street by Cindy Spencer Pape, originally released as part of the Here Be Magic anthology, is now available as a solo novella on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited, with a hot new cover by HBM's own Angela Campbell! Also, Cindy has the rights back to nearly half her backlist, so look for another re-release every week or two, along with some new fiction to come out in 2017.

Three years after his wife’s death, Quinn Carling has finally come to peace with himself and the detective returns to New Orleans to visit her grave and say goodbye. Darcy Jefferson is a street performer who can see auras and refuses to let her abusive past bring her down.

When this unlikely pair meets, the sparks begin to fly. When they witness a murder together, Quinn resolves to protect Darcy. With help—and interference—from Quinn’s former in-laws, the local police who want Quinn back, a mutt named Olaf and a powerful voodoo priestess, the two of them help search for the murderer, so he doesn’t find them first. Quinn never expected to fall in love again, but he hadn’t counted on the magic of New Orleans.



Other News


This steampunk Victorian detective novel by an award-winning author has been described as 'Sherlock Holmes with werewolves'.  It currently sits at #2 in Amazon's steampunk for Kindle category and it's free through 1/19/16. Snap up your copy here!

More about the book:

Something more deadly than werewolves is stalking the gaslit streets of London. Inspector Royston Jones, unacknowledged bastard of a high-born family, is determined to track the killer before more young women fall to his knife. But his investigation puts him in the way of a lord who is a clandestine werewolf and the man’s fiancée , a woman alchemist with attitude and a secret of her own.  Will they destroy Royston to protect their covert identities, or will they join with him to hunt the hunter?

*************************************


Pets In Space, A Library Journal Pick for Best Books of 2016     Sale!
The Pets In space scifi romance anthology is on sale for $.99 for one week only, starting tomorrow!

Join the adventure as nine pet loving sci-fi romance authors take you out of this world and pull you into their action-packed stories filled with suspense, laughter, and romance. The alien pets have an agenda that will capture the hearts of those they touch. Follow along as they work side by side to help stop a genetically-engineered creature from destroying the Earth to finding a lost dragon; life is never the same after their pets decide to get involved. Can the animals win the day or will the stars shine just a little less brightly?

Buy Links:



 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

2017 - the Year of the Fire Rooster!

Posted by: Dani Harper, AUTHOR
Graphic designed by Dani Harper
using purchased Image from Bigstock.com
When hubs and I lived in Alaska, our favorite little restaurant featured placemats printed with the traditional Chinese zodiac. 

The signs in order are:  Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar

We used to speculate on whether family and friends – or each other – matched up with the detailed characteristics of their signs. It was always a lot of fun but (lover of ancient trivia that I am) I just had to find out more!

Turns out that this fascinating system of 12 animal symbols in a recurring 12-year cycle is called the Sheng Xiao, and it’s been in use in China for over 4,000 years. This predates the roots of our Western zodiac by well over a thousand years.  

2017 will be the Year of the Rooster. Will be, because Chinese New Year is determined by the lunar calendar. This means it lands on a different day each year, and in 2017, it doesn't begin until January 28th.

Original image purchased from Bigstock.com
The Rooster rules until Feb. 15, 2018, and his natural characteristics will be in play until then. This is actually really good news for all of us who are still recovering from the incredibly turbulent Year of the Monkey! 

A Rooster is said to be highly social, loyal, hardworking, confident, and likeable. He’s independent, bossy, blunt, and stubborn too – spurred on by the fact that his instincts are usually right. All in all, this is a pretty good description of Earl, the rooster currently in charge of my flock of chickens, LOL.

However, every year is ALSO influenced by one of five elements: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, or Earth. And in 2017, our bird will be a Fire Rooster.

With this kind of mascot, 2017 is predicted by many to be a powerful year, full of passion and creativity. It’s generally considered an auspicious time for relationships and marriages. Long term business ventures, particularly solitary endeavors, may bear fruit this year. (That sounds promising for authors! Writing tends to be a solitary business...) Naturally, there are MANY more predictions, but as with Western astrology, opinions vary.

Some cautions exist: Avoid getting carried away and taking on more than you can handle. And don’t make any risky investments. Of course that's pretty good advice for any year!

Whatever you do, however, don’t wear red. With a fire rooster in charge, it’s considered by most to be an unlucky color! (No one ever says what will happen. Do you spontaneously combust?) Earthen tones like terra cotta, brown, gold, etc. are said to be best because they balance the fire element while retaining its warmth. To really calm things down, wear purple or lavender!

Meanwhile, some people have noticed a bit of a similarity between the incoming Rooster and the president-elect. Check out the video, as reported HERE by USA TODAY:

https://youtu.be/7ZFkYKkxZ_s 


So, are YOU a Rooster? Your animal sign is determined not by your birth month, but by your birth YEAR. Past Rooster years include 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, and 2005. Most astrologers seem to agree that Roosters should be somewhat cautious in 2017. While other signs will benefit from this flamboyant year, it could prove to be too much of a good thing for you! 

Maybe wear a lot of purple?
Original image purchased from Bigstock.com
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

I grew up on Celtic faery stories. Not the ones where faeries are tiny with delicate wings, and as sweet-natured as they are pretty. Nope, I teethed on the ones where faeries come in every shape and size. Dark or light, terrifying or beautiful, sensual or cold, indifferent or cruel ... all are dangerous!

My Grim Series is based on one of my very favorite fae legends:  The Grim is also known as the Black Dog, and his role is to act as a herald of death and misfortune. 
But how did he get a job like that? And what if he doesn't want it?

Check Amazon for STORM WARRIOR, STORM BOUND, and STORM WARNED


Watch for STORM CROSSED, Book 4 of the Grim Series, later this year.

Friday, January 13, 2017

FREE SciFi Romance ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE Veronica Shares an Excerpt

Posted by: Veronica Scott
I've made my award winning science fiction romance Escape From Zulaire free at all major ebook retailers. This best selling novel won a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award and an SFR Galaxy Award!

Here's 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.

And an excerpt for you:
The Sectors Special Forces captain awaiting Andi in the library stood with his back to the door, hands on his hips, staring at one of Lord Tonkiln’s prized abstract paintings. Well over six feet of hard warrior, he’d rolled his camouflage uniform sleeves up, revealing muscular arms matching the rest of his physique. Andi glimpsed the hint of an intriguing tattoo, a black sword wreathed in comets, on one bicep. His hair was sandy brown, a bit shaggy for military correctness. He tapped the toe of his boot against the expensive mahogany floor. The captain’s whole attitude suggested a man poised for decisive action at a moment’s notice, reinforced by the way he wheeled at the sound of the door opening. 
          “Finally.” His glance at the military chrono on his tanned wrist was an unconscious gesture of annoyance at time forever lost.
           Green eyes in a tanned, ruggedly handsome face. Andi’s knees went a little wobbly for a moment. My particular weakness in a man. Classic square jaw, straight nose, high forehead with a small scar on his cheek.
His eyebrows drew together in a frown. “Miss Markriss?”
          “Why are you here?” Andi snapped out of her fascination with his features, feeling her cheeks grow hot. Wow, was I blatantly staring or what? “Has something happened to Dave Flintmay? The Loxton planetary agent?”
          Flashing very white teeth in that tanned face, he smiled at her, but the too-easy grin didn’t reach his tired eyes. “Don’t you people get the news out here? Comlinks broken?”
          She blinked, trying to follow this unexpected conversation starter. “What?”
Lady Tonkiln received a stack of messages each morning, from either her husband or friends in the capital. Lysanda also had many messages, filled with inconsequential social gossip. Nothing for Andi, but then, everyone knew she was on an extended vacation from the office. The Loxton operation was on its summer hiatus along with most of Zulaire. “Of course we get news. What does that have to do with anything? Captain, what are you doing here?”
          Glancing at Iraku, the officer’s lips tightened as if he bit back some hasty comment. Unabashedly eavesdropping, the Naranti servant remained by the open door. “Thank you, I think the lady and I can manage.”
          Andi stifled a laugh. The gardener’s assistant had been right—the captain’s accent was pretty bad, soft on the consonants and missing the required prefixes. His hypnotraining must have been a rush job.
          Iraku stared at the outworlder, who glared back, jaw clenched, one hand resting on the butt of his blaster.
I never tried outright dismissal on the old dictator. Avoiding him sure doesn’t work. Breaking the silence, Andi tried for a gracious note. “Thanks for escorting me, Iraku. Can you do me a favor and inform Lady Tonkiln I’ve returned to the house, since she was concerned?” Blinking at last, the servant bowed low. He left without another word but drew the door closed behind him in a leisurely fashion calculated to infuriate the impatient captain.
          As Andi watched in disbelief, Deverane crossed to the door. Opening it a few inches, he checked to be sure Iraku hadn’t lingered within earshot, before shutting the door again.
          Offering no explanation to Andi for the cautious maneuver, he gestured toward the overstuffed chairs grouped in front of the fireplace. “Would you like to sit?”
          “No, thank you, I want to know what’s going on.” She took a deep breath, trying to calm her frayed nerves. Is all this mystery necessary?
          “Captain Tom Deverane, Sectors Special Forces.” He walked to the chairs himself. To be polite,  she joined him, shaking his proffered hand before seating herself. “Excuse my dust,” he said. “But I’ve been in the Western Plains and the Abujan mountain range for quite some time now.”
“Why don’t you try telling me something relevant about why you’re here?” Many a slow-moving clerk at the Loxton offices had jumped at that peremptory tone from her.  
          “I forget you’ve been out of the loop.” Sitting down, Deverane leaned forward, putting his hands on his knees and taking a deep breath. “Two days ago I got urgent orders, relayed from Sector Command, diverting me from my primary mission. The new priority was to come five hundred miles out of our way to extract you for a safe return to the capital city.” From the dry tone in his voice, Andi guessed how little he’d appreciated the change. “Now, if you could get your things together, I’d like to be on our way before dark.”
          She blinked. Today? He wants me to leave now? Andi shifted back into the chair’s embrace, crossing her legs. “Get my things—what are you talking about? I’m the guest of Lord Tonkiln’s family, and I’m expected to present a significant gift from Loxton at the reception tonight with due ceremony. I can’t ride off with you on literally a moment’s notice without some compelling reason. Why is your Command issuing orders concerning me anyway?”
          The captain got up in one smooth motion, like a great cat uncurling, paced to the fireplace and back, then half sat on the edge of a sturdy table. I bet he’s a person in constant motion—discussing anything in patient detail doesn’t appear to be his style. Well, I’m not one of his soldiers and I don’t take orders from him, so he’d better explain himself.
          “Miss Markriss—”
          “Call me Andi.” And let’s get this discussion on a less military, more personal level so you stop trying to give me orders.
          The quick, meaningless smile crossed his handsome face again, never reaching his eyes. “Andi. In case you haven’t heard, this entire planet is about to be embroiled in a devastating Clan war.”

Here's the USA Today Happy Ever After Blog recommended trailer for the book: 

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