Tuesday, December 6, 2016

2017 on the Horizon

Posted by: Jenny Schwartz
2016 has been an eventful year. I'm not writing it off yet - I still have a book release on December 27 - but I am thinking of 2017. For everyone who knows and loves the Sandra Bullock movie, Miss Congeniality, I'm hoping for "world peace". I seriously am.

I have a lot planned for 2017. I'm setting up my writing and publishing schedule. I know life will try to play havoc with it, but I'm determined! 2017 is the year I go Old School! This is my new series of paranormal romance thrillers - secrets, seduction and sorcery!

December 2016 - Phoenix Blood

February 2017 - Fantastical Island

April 2017 - Storm Road

June 2017 - Fire Fall

August 2017 - Desert Devil

October 2017 - Amaranthine Kiss

December 2017 - Shangri-la Spell

I hope that Phoenix Blood kicks things off in a big way. Marcus's story is haunting. I've wanted to write a wounded hero story for a very long time, but even I had no idea it would be this intense. Wounds of the spirit go deep.

Phoenix Blood is available for pre-order at 99c. Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Phoenix-Blood-Old-School-Book-ebook/dp/B01M0DLOKL/

paranormal romance, kindle unlimited, Jenny Schwartz

Kindle Unlimited

Now that Kindle Unlimited, Amazon's lending library, is finally available to Australian readers, I'm on a reading binge. I've been enjoying Lindsay Buroker's sci fi series, Fallen Empire. Also Helen Harper's Highland Magic series. I'm looking forward to reading more in 2017. 2016 kind of overwhelmed me, and some of the time I stole was from my reading time.

All of my paranormal romance series, The Collegium, is in Kindle Unlimited.

Eating Healthy

Going hand in hand with my writing goals for 2017 is my determination to eat healthy. A woman needs the right fuel to imagine new worlds! Since I'm Australian, my year starts with the heat of summer, so eating healthy right now means salads. Yummy!

I'm experimenting with a few salads. This is my chickpea curry salad. The recipe, simple as it is, is in my newsletter.

Your Plans

Do you have plans for 2017? Are they more exciting than mine? I'm so focused on my writing, I haven't even scheduled in a holiday! Where do you go to relax or are you a stay-cationer like me?

Then again, with places like this near me, why would I go anywhere else?

The Swan River, 10 minutes from home

Monday, December 5, 2016

Here Be News

Posted by: Veronica Scott
New Releases:
For God and Mars by Shona Husk: For God And Mars is inspired by Takamo, a science fiction game created in the early 1980s, and Takamo Universe, the massive multiplayer online (MMO) version now under development. The Takamo Universe back story is based on the writings of Randall Ritnour, game play events that occurred in Takamo, and the creative contributions of a host of Takamo players and fans.

Other News:
The Library Journal announced their Best Books of 2016 last week and two Here Be Magic authors were among those featured:

Jeffe Kennedy (and Grace Draven) for their duology For Crown and Kingdom

Veronica Scott (and eight other authors) for the Pets In Space anthology
iBooks    Amazon    ARe     Nook      GooglePlay     Kobo

The "City on the Edge of Forever" Star Trek audiobook, in which Veronica Scott has seven words of dialog as an Enterprise Crew Member (yes, she got to be a genuine Red Shirt) was named as one of  2016's Best by AudioFile Magazine. Congratulations to Harlan Ellison, SkyBoat Media and the all star cast of actors. Veronica sez: I was thrilled to be a tiny part of this once in a lifetime experience!

At Skyboat Media earlier in 2016, recording my part

Available where audiobooks are sold online

Saturday, December 3, 2016

My Yuletide Gift to You--A Sneak Peak at Raven's Vow

Posted by: Shawna Reppert
I've been racking my brain to come up with a holiday season gift for blog readers. I finally decided to go out on a limb and present the very-first-ever sneak peak at the working draft of  Raven's Vow, the fourth book in my award-winning urban fantasy Ravensblood series. I am a bit behind on my original projected deadline, so look for Raven's Vow in the spring of 2017.

For those familiar with the series, Raven's Vow picks up a bit over a year after the end of Raven's Heart.  Anyone who wants to know what happened in that year can search this blog and the one one my website for vignettes from that time period, which I promise someday to put all in one place on my website for your reading pleasure.


Raven took a sip of his coffee and grimaced. He never understood Cassandra’s love of the vile substance.  It was, however, more effective than tea.

The coffee in Raven’s hand should have been enough to warn anyone familiar with his habits that he was not in a mood to be crossed. Rafe Ramirez knew him well enough to know better, but apparently he liked to live dangerously.

His wife’s partner in Guardian International Investigations shook his head in mock-disapproval of Raven’s state. “It’s nearly noon. You still keeping a dark mage’s hours, my friend?”

“No. A new parent’s. At least William had the decency to let me sleep in after keeping me up all hours.”

Ramirez chuckled. “When he’s old enough to understand, Uncle Rafe will make sure little Ransley Zachary Ravenscroft knows that his father compared him unfavorably to the most notorious dark mage of our generation.”

“I’m sure you will,” Raven said into his coffee.  Actually, he was fairly sure Ramirez wouldn’t. “Do you have any idea why we’re here?”

Ramirez shook his head. “Just that Sherlock said it was urgent.  And that she sounded pretty shaken up.”

Raven took another sip of the gods-awful coffee. He’d received an identical message on his message crystal at home, and he agreed with Ramirez’ assessment.  Anything bad enough to shake Sherlock had to be bad indeed. Cassandra’s boss was usually as unflappable as the literary figure from whom she’d derived her nickname.

They were in the office Cassandra shared with Ramirez. Except Cassandra was home on maternity leave.  Raven, a GII consultant, had no official hours and therefore no official leave.  It felt strange to be sitting here at Cassandra’s desk while Cassandra was home with a baby.  Their son.

Sherlock walked in through the open door wearing her impeccable tweeds. Her hair was pulled up in an smooth, efficient up-do. He could almost believe that he’d imagined the fear in her voice over the message crystal—until he looked into her eyes.

“Raven, thank you for coming in.  How’s Cass and the baby?” Sherlock’s tone was light, conversational, and entirely false, although he doubted that anyone who didn’t know her well could tell the difference.

“Good. Cassandra is a bit tired, and I think our son may have a place in opera when he gets older.  He certainly has the projection, but only time will tell about the pitch and the range.”

Sherlock smiled, but it was clearly reflexive.

“What’s going on?” he asked her.

She took a deep breath.  “There was a break in, and vandalism. Someone wrote the past is not forgotten across the third-floor landing of the back stairwell. In blood.”

A chill ran down Raven’s spine.  There were very few mages he knew of that could, with sufficient preparation and a whole lot of effort, conceivably breach the wards of the GII building. One he shared a bed with. Two he trusted with his life.  One he’d killed and seen buried. An unknown talent with that level of ability presented an incalculable danger.

That particular stairwell led to the hall that ran past two of the smaller conference rooms, Sherlock’s office, and the one that Cassandra shared with Ramirez, the office he, too, frequented when he was consulting.  It didn’t have to be one of his own enemies.  It could be a cohort or relative of someone Cassandra had put away, or one of Sherlock’s old cases that had done his time and was out and looking for revenge. Even Ramirez, who had been with GII for a relatively short time, could have racked up his share of enemies in his work with the local Guardians.

“They tested the blood,” Sherlock said.  “It was pig’s blood, not human, thank the gods. Treated with some sort of chemical to keep it liquid, so it might not have been a recent kill. I’m having Holly check around with the local slaughterhouses, even so.”

Strange. Most of his former comrades wouldn’t have scrupled.   In fact, many of them would consider animal blood to be gauche.  “The wards,” he said. “Did they smash though them, dismantle them, or—”

“The slipped through them and left them intact.” Sherlock said.

Ramirez gave a low whistle.

Their mystery mage had skill, training, and a level of patient determination that bordered on obsession.  They might not, however, be facing someone with a lot of raw power, Although it would be a mistake to take that as given. He himself preferred to finesse wards where he could. 

“I was wondering if you could check the wards, see if there’s any traces of the intruder’s magical signature,” she asked.  “There’s probably too much time passed, but maybe with the—maybe you can find something anyway.”

Even with just the three of them in the room, none of them would mention the Ravensblood aloud in GII headquarters. Raven had, perforce, brought her into the little conspiracy of those who knew he had the artefact in his possession once more. He appreciated the trust, and the risk, it took for her to conceal that fact after the crisis had passed.

He nodded.  “I can do that now, if I’m not going to startle anyone.”

The wards would be keyed to a few select mages whose job it was to monitor them for interference.

She smiled. “I’ve let them know to expect it.  In fact, the head of security asked if you’d have a look at the wards themselves while you’re at it. See if you can spot any weaknesses.”

“I’ll do what I can,” he said.  “I’m no wardmaster.”

“Says the man whose wards kept the Guardians out of his house on the hill for the years that he was in hiding,” Ramirez said. 

“Much of that protection was put in place by my ancestors,” Raven said.  “I merely touched it up a bit.”

“Right,” Ramirez’s tone spoke eloquently of his disbelief. 

No point in trying to convince him.  Most of the time, Raven appreciated how much faith  the Guardians and the GII put in his abilities, even though the time had long past when he felt he needed them to be cautious of him for his own safety. But every now and then, he wished they had a little less confidence. One day, he might reach his limits and fail them spectacularly.

“Do we know where he came in?” Raven asked.

“Not for certain, but the back entrance is most likely,” Sherlock answered. 

“I’ll start with the wards there, then.”

On his way to the stairs, he passed the blood-scrawled wall.  He paused a moment to stare at it, even though the scent of blood brought a torrent of unwanted memories.  The past is not forgotten. No, but sometimes it was forgiven, and among those who had taught him that were the men and women who worked in this building. All adept at protecting themselves, and still he felt not only rage at the profaning of this place but a deep sense of protectiveness toward the people who worked here.

“Raven?  Are you all right?” Sherlock asked from behind him.

He took a deep breath. “Yes, Fine.”

At the bottom of the stairs, he stopped and closed his eyes, reaching out his awareness to feel the invisible wards.  Smooth and still, as though they had never been disturbed.  It took a rare talent for a mage to cross wards not keyed to him without leaving a sign. He followed each intricate, twining thread of the ward, looking for any loose ends, slackness, inconsistencies.  

 Nothing. Could their suspect be someone who worked here, someone the wards recognized and let past? It had happened once before, and the surety with which both he and the GII discounted the possibility had nearly cost both his life and the life of the opera singer Madeline Love.  The strength of his desire that it not be a GII agent again surprised him. Since when had his faith in the institution become so important to him? Since when had he possessed any faith in the institution to begin with?

Still, it was with a ridiculous amount of relief that he found a single knot that had been retied in a slightly different style than the rest of the ward. He felt for a signature—on something like a ward, meant to be a permanent working, the signature could linger for days. There it was, and it was no one he recognized. Nor did it carry the subtle shadow of William carried in the signatures of all of William’s students.  Lingered in his own signature, a dark reminder of who and what he had once been.  

Still it carried a familiar feel.  His mind flew back to the Love case, but this seemed different. Not like he had encountered it briefly before, but like it reminded him of another signature, the way another Anglan he met might remind him of Sherlock by the similarity in their accents.
He opened his eyes and took a deep breath to bring himself back to normal consciousness. Then he told Sherlock and Ramirez what he had discovered.

“Are you sure?” Sherlock asked.  “Much as I hate to think that one of our people could have done this. . .”

It would be better than knowing that there was an unidentified mage out there with the skill to break in to GII headquarters.

Raven shook his head. “The place that the ward was breached and re-closed was so small and subtle that I almost doubted what I saw, and the signature was barely there.”

Another problem with an enemy that relied on skill over power.  The more power behind a work, the stronger the magical signature. Like the fingerprints that Mundane law enforcement obsessed over, the magical signature was only useful for positive identification if one had a match for comparison.  But unlike fingerprints, the signature could tell an expert a little about the mage who had left it. Where they had studied and, if their teacher had been particularly distinctive, who they had studied under. 

“The guy is good, no doubt about it,” Ramirez said. “But not all that ambitious, if that,” he nodded toward the stairs, “is all he can think to do with it.  Maybe he won’t go any farther.”

“And maybe he’s just toying with us before he gets down to business.” Raven said.

From Sherlock’s frown, he could tell which she thought more likely.

Shawna Reppert is an award-winning author of fantasy and steampunk. Find her books on Amazon, friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and visit her website at www.Shawna-Reppert.com

Friday, December 2, 2016

ARCHIVE:New Release STAR SURVIVOR Exclusive Excerpt

Posted by: Veronica Scott
Veronica Scott: I’ve finally written the long awaited sequel to Wreck of the Nebula Dream and I’m sharing an exclusive excerpt from my new release today.

The story:

The survivors of a terrible wreck meet again—but this time only one can survive.

They survived an iconic spaceship wreck together. She never expected to see him again … especially not armed to kill her.

Twilka Zabour is an interstellar celebrity. She built on her notoriety as a carefree Socialite who survived the terrible wreck of the Nebula Dream, and launched a successful design house. But now the man who gave meaning to her life, then left her, is back–this time for the worst of reasons. Will he kill her … or help her survive?

D’nvannae Brother Khevan survived the Nebula Dream in the company of a lovely, warm woman, only to be pulled away from her, back into his solitary life in the service of the Red Lady.  Now Twilka’s within his reach again–for all the wrong reasons. Khevan will do everything within his power to discover why Twilka has been targeted for assassination, and to save her.

But Khevan is not Twilka’s only pursuer. Will allies Nick and Mara Jameson arrive in time to aid the couple, or will Khevan and Twilka’s ingenuity be all that stands between them and death?

The excerpt:

The dreams she couldn’t escape for long were especially bad tonight. Twilka tossed and turned on the huge bed in the city’s most luxurious hotel, more than a little afraid to seek more sleep. She’d clawed her way out of the nightmare where she was surrounded by laughing, faceless drunks, intent on living their last few hours of life aboard the Nebula Dream by passing her around among themselves. In the dream, there was no help coming, no rescue, and she woke screaming. Heart pounding, she lay still for a moment before reaching for the glass of water at the bedside. Should she take the meds her doctor had given her to suppress the memories?

No, the prescription stuff made her into a robot who’d sleepwalk through tomorrow’s activities, and she needed all her wits about her in the negotiations. Taking the glass, she kicked her way free of the covers and strolled barefoot to the private terrace, high above the planet’s surface. Inhaling a deep breath of the flower-scented air, she took one tentative step onto the balcony, clutching the door handle with her free hand. Acrophobia was a bitch. As she sipped the water, she reflected on the irony that she, of all people, was reluctant to take a drug to quell the nightmares. “A legal one no less,” she muttered to herself. After years of enjoying all the feelgoods all the time with no regard for consequences.

The view of the city was breathtaking, all colorful twinkly lights at this hour. Raising her eyes to the plateau, she took a deep breath. The Red Lady’s oversize temple dominated the horizon, glowing ruby like a baleful eye. Shivering, wishing she’d put on her robe, Twilka pivoted to re-enter the room. With a stifled scream, she saw a dark shadow standing beside the bed. Breaking the water glass on the door frame and holding the jagged base fragment as a weapon, she said, “I’ve activated my personal panic button. The hotel’s security detail will be here in a minute. Leave now and I won’t press charges.”

He stepped into the moonlight. “We need to talk. Cancel the alarm.”

Khevan. She sagged against the balcony door, allowing the broken glass to roll from her hand onto the carpet. “I told you, we have nothing left to discuss. Anything between us died a long time ago.”

There was pounding on the door. “Miss Zabour?”

He didn’t even glance at the portal, intent on her. “Send them away.”

“The hotel has orders to check on me in person if the alarm is triggered.”

“Make it fast.” There was a flicker and she couldn’t see him any longer. If she squinted, the air shimmered with a faint distortion where he’d been.

Another D’nvannae trick. Giving the spot where he presumably stood a wide berth, she went to the door and opened it. Blaster in hand, the security chief scanned the room behind her. “Are you all right, Miss Zabour?”

“I’m fine. I had a nightmare and I was confused when I first awakened.” She lied with ease. There had been such incidents before.

“I’ll have to check the room.”

Stepping aside, she invited him to enter with a wave of her hand. “I broke my water glass, so watch out for the fragments.”

“I’ll have housekeeping send a robo to clean up the mess,” he said, moving through her suite with efficient speed. He scanned every possible spot a person could hide.

“In the morning will be fine. I need my sleep.” Twilka forced herself to fake an elaborate yawn.

The second man remained outside in the hall while his team lead finished the quick search of the room, closets included. Twilka stood by silently, occasionally glancing at the minor visual distortion where Khevan lurked. “Thank you for answering so promptly,” she said, as she escorted the officer to the door. For a moment, she was tempted to step outside with him and escape the conversation Khevan was determined to have, but she was angry he’d pursued her. And dangerously intrigued.
Get this over with now.

He’d gone visible again as she walked into the sleeping area. Hands on her hips, she said, “You do that often?”

He shrugged, face impassive. “A gift from the Lady. At certain levels of the Brotherhood, new abilities are earned.”

“And I’m sure you’re at a stratospheric level nowadays. I hope the goodies were worth it. How did you get in anyway?”

“The locks and other security measures in a place like this offer no challenge. And stealth is a basic skill for the D’nvannae.”

“I’m aware.” Leaning against the door, she studied him. Part of her wished she’d taken a feelgood. Being alone with him was sending shivers through her and it was hard to concentrate. Hard to breathe. Twilka reached for the anger over how he’d treated her and the emotion drove the tremors from her nerves. Have to get control of this meeting. “Hand me my robe, would you?” Taking it from his hand, she slid the soft garment onto her body and strolled to the plush armchair. Sinking onto the cushions gracefully, crossing her legs, she said, “Your Lady isn’t going to visit me too, is she?”

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Holiday Shenanigans

Posted by: Cindy Spencer Pape
What to get your favorite writer for the holidays? Here are a few suggestions:

1) All the lovely t-shirts and hoodies, and fingerless gloves with book text or other writerly stuff printed on them.

2) Pens. Paper. Pretty inks. Almost every writer I know uses a computer but is a closet stationery junkie.

3) Your voice. Talk about her books. (Buy her books!) Most importantly, leave a review of her books!

Wishing each and every one of you a magical holiday season. BTW, Keep an eye on my page. I've got a whole lot of rights reverting soon, so a whole bunch of new editions will be hitting the virtual shelves. Today's treat is this yummy knight, the hero of Beltane Lion: a medieval fantasy romance based on the story of Tam Lin. this lickable new cover is by Carey Abbott of Safari Heat. The yummy new ending is by yours truly!

by Cindy Spencer Pape

Rhodri of Llyan has returned from the Crusades a cursed man. On the way home to Wales, a young friend is sorely injured. Rhodri seeks the aid of Selene, whose gift for healing is as uncanny as her beauty.

Selene’s magic can cure wounds, but she isn’t sure she can break the curse or heal the wounds on Rhodri’s heart? He offers a favor, but Selene is determined to use that to help them both, and maybe bring about the future filled with love that they both dream of

Star Wars for Christmas? Why yes I WILL have some

Posted by: Angela Korra'ti
Between the election and the start of the holiday season, we’ve been stresspuppies in my household. So given that our blog is fond of romance and SF/F and often the two of them together, I clearly need to divert myself from both of those contentious topics by sounding off about space opera for a bit.

And by space opera, I mean Star Wars!

Christmas means a lot of things to a lot of people, of course—but to me and my beloved, it’s one of the quieter holidays of the year. Since I live a great distance from my family and air travel is not really an option for me these days, my wife and I usually spend that particular holiday on dinner and a movie. Last year, the movie was The Force Awakens (and if you’re one of the five people on the planet who hasn’t actually seen this movie yet, fair warning, my post I’m linking to IS chock fulla spoilers).

This year, I’ll say right out, I’m looking forward to yet another Star Wars movie to enjoy. I’ve been trying very, very hard to avoid too many news items and spoilers and even trailers about Rogue One, as I want to go in as unbiased as possible. Because it ain’t like I’m not going to see the film—so I figured it’d be nice to be as surprised as possible when I get there.

Still, though, this is a Star Wars movie we’re talking about here, so avoiding tidbits about it is nigh impossible. I have picked up on some small number of things. So first, here are a couple of said things that make me a little twitchy about the movie:

  1. Wait WHAT John Williams isn’t doing the score? WHAT MADNESS IS THIS? Okay, I’ll be grudgingly willing to buy this if Williams is busy working on scoring Episode VIII… but it’s going to be weird watching a Star Wars film that doesn’t have his music involved.
  2. There’s no opening title crawl?! That’ll be almost as weird!

(Source for these two items: this article over on The Mary Sue.)

But really, these two items are outnumbered by what does have my interest, namely:

  1. Jyn Erso! Another female-led Star Wars story! Looking forward to getting to know this heroine!
  2. Alan Tudyk, best known to all Browncoats as Wash, voicing the droid K-2SO.
  3. The return of Darth Vader.
  4. Getting to see Bail Organa on camera, and appreciating the continuity of having the same actor that played him in the prequel trilogy. I’m going to be VERY curious as to whether this’ll mean we might get a glimpse of Young Leia.
  5. Ditto for Mon Mothma! Due to my history as a roleplayer on Star Wars MUSH and another Star Wars-themed game called Galaxy, I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for this character as an established female leader of the Rebellion, and later of the New Republic.
  6. What promises to be a nice mix of diverse faces in the cast, in addition to a female lead role.
  7. Seeing more of what the new canon timeline is going to fill in between Episodes 1-3 and Episodes 4-6. While I know a lot of Star Wars fandom was very upset about the relegating of the Expanded Universe to non-canon status, and while I myself am a bit sad about that, I’m still quite intrigued both as an author and as a fan to see what new possibilities are going to unfold with the new tales to come!

What about the rest of you out there? Any other Star Wars fans in the house? Who’ll be seeing Rogue One over the December holidays and what are you looking forward to about the movie? Sound off in the comments!

Angela, in addition to being a giant Star Wars nerd, writes as both Angela Highland and Angela Korra’ti. Come say hi to her (and geek out about Star Wars if you like) on angelahighland.com, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter!
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