Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Doctors Mason

Posted by: Seleste deLaney/Julie Particka
It's only appropriate that the last stops on my Clockwork Mafia blog tour are here and the Carina Press blog. The only bad part? I'm on my way to the Romantic Times Booklovers' Convention today, so I'll be a little hit or miss. In the meantime, I wanted to share a little taste of Henrietta's past...

The Doctors Mason

Henrietta clutched the piece of paper to her chest. Such a little thing, but it was going to change her world. No more pretending. No more pats on the head.

Blowing out the breath she'd been holding since she exited the steam carriage, she pushed open the heavy door in front of her. The hinges groaned like they hadn't seen use in years. Odd. Her father worked here every day. "Father?" she called into the depths of the lab.

The only answer was the ghost of her own voice echoing back at her. When her attempts to ignite the gaslamps failed, she stepped into the gloom. Where was he? She'd already checked the hospital. She rested a hand on the nearest bench and narrowed her eyes at the apparatus before her. In the darkness, she couldn't tell, but it looked as if it had been abandoned mid-experiment, the fluids inside congealing.

She shook her head. Preposterous. Her father was merely taking a much needed day off. Uncommon to be sure, but not unheard of.

Squaring her shoulders, she returned to the street, shutting the door tight behind her. A steam carriage pulled up almost as soon as she raised her hand to hail it. She climbed inside and gave her address to the driver as he closed the door. As the carriage lurched away, she gripped the door, only letting go once they were rolling smoothly along the road. And now the fingers of her glove were coated with dust. Wonderful. The one day she tried to present herself as pristinely as possible and a filthy carriage door did her in.

She plucked the fingers of the gloves until she was able to pull them off. If she'd carried a bag, she would have tucked them inside, but there was nothing for it. She'd just have to carry them along with her precious slip of paper. Surely he wouldn't notice the gloves. He noticed so little about her these days. But all that would change now. She sucked in a breath so full and deep it made her shudder with anticipation.

The driver let her out in front of the big house she shared with her father. Not so long ago, her mother had lived here too. A painful lump formed in Henrietta's throat as she remembered her mother's long and painful battle. Her death had been tragic in many ways, but it had also been a blessing in that she'd finally been free from the agony. If she'd only known how her husband would change after her passing, Louisa Mason might have held on longer. Might have lived forever, in fact. But that was a child's dream. Henrietta lived with both feet firmly planted on the ground of reality.

The front door swung open at her approach, their maid grinning as she swept Henrietta inside. "Welcome home, Miss Mason, or is it--"

"Until I speak to my father, nothing has changed. Is he in the study?"

"Understood, miss. But no, your father hasn't been home since early this morning."

Strange. He hadn't been at the lab or the hospital. Where could he be? "Thank you. I'll wait for him there. Please let him know when he returns home."

"Of course, miss."

Henrietta crossed the foyer, her books clicking on the marble tiles as she rounded the staircase and stepped into her father's study. Old lab equipment and books on all matter of science lined the mahogany cases along the wall, framing the massive desk in the middle of the room. Sucking in the scent of books and knowledge, Henrietta settled into the armchair near the window and waited.

A noise startled her awake, and the sun that had shone bright in the sky outside had disappeared, replaced by its pale reflection on the surface of the moon. She blinked. Her father hadn't come for her?

Suddenly the door swept open and he hurried in, gaslamps sputtering to life. "What is so important you spent all evening in here?"

No hello. No how are you. Only admonishment veiled in concern--lightly veiled at that. Henrietta stood, smoothing her skirt, and picked up the sheet of paper from the table next to her.

When she held it out to her father, he didn't spare it a glance. "Child, go to bed. This isn't anything that can't wait for morning. I've been at my laboratory all day and I'm exhausted."

What? "Firstly, Father, I'm not a child. I haven't been for some time, but this piece of paper you dismissed places me as your equal."

"Impossible." Now he snatched the medical license from her fingers, brows knitting together as he read it.

"Not impossible. I told you I wanted to be a doctor. Now I am. I did what everyone said couldn't be done. You didn't need a son, Daddy, I can be just like you." But as he continued to frown, his other words nagged at her. "And why did you say you were at the lab? I stopped there. It was dark and empty."

His eyes shot to her for a second before returning to her license. "I have a new laboratory I'm working from much of the time. That's not your concern. As for this--" He waved her license. "--the timing couldn't be more ideal. I've recently secured another trading ship and they have need of a medical officer. It will be the perfect place for you to hone your skills." He looked up at her at last, blue eyes so like her own glowing in the light of the gaslamps.

"A trading dirigible? But, Father, I--"

"I'll hear no more of it. If you want your own practice some day, you need experience. This is the perfect answer. Good night, child, and congratulations." He handed her license over to Henrietta's limp fingers and strode to the door. As he left, he doused the lights, cloaking her in darkness and the despair of a daughter who could never be what her father wanted...could never be a son.


Clockwork Mafia:
Inventor Henrietta Mason is retiring from airships and adventuring to return home to Philadelphia. Determined to erase all trails leading to her late father's duplicity, she dismantles his lab and removes all records of the Badlands gold. While in the city, she can't resist the lure of a charity gala but winds up regretting the whole experience. Well, everything except a heart-racing dance with a certain U.S. Marshal.
His career and vengeance on the line, Carson Alexander must prove a connection between Senator Mason and the mafia. He lucked out happening across Mason's strikingly beautiful daughter, only to have her slip through his fingers. On a desperate hunt to track her down, he never expects his search to take him into the brutal Badlands.
With a mechanically enhanced enforcer after them, only Carson knows the extent of the danger they face. He'll have to win over Henrietta's trust, and her heart, before it's too late...
Buy at:

If you aren’t going to be able to see her next week at the Romantic Times Booklovers’ Convention—or even if you are—you can also find Seleste around the internet:



Monday, April 29, 2013

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone
Our new releases this week


Inventor Henrietta Mason is retiring from airships and adventuring to return home to Philadelphia. Determined to erase all trails leading to her late father's duplicity, she dismantles his lab and removes all records of the Badlands gold. While in the city, she can't resist the lure of a charity gala but winds up regretting the whole experience. Well, everything except a heart-racing dance with a certain U.S. Marshal.

His career and vengeance on the line, Carson Alexander must prove a connection between Senator Mason and the mafia. He lucked out happening across Mason's strikingly beautiful daughter, only to have her slip through his fingers. On a desperate hunt to track her down, he never expects his search to take him into the brutal Badlands.

With a mechanically enhanced enforcer after them, only Carson knows the extent of the danger they face. He'll have to win over Henrietta's trust, and her heart, before it's too late...

Sequel to Badlands.

Buy


Just another typical week in the life of a paranormal investigator.

I had barely arrived in Ireland to investigate a pooka terrorizing the villagers of Dingaleen when I got called to ride the fairy horse myself. When a pooka calls, you answer--and hold on for dear life.

Unfortunately, the beast tossed me into a bog. Fortunately, my gorgeous guardian angel fished me out. Just barely.

You see, Casper is still weak from tangling with an evil spirit on our last case. So he's not even much help to me in the land o' the green. The powers-that-be are even hinting at retirement...

But I won't lose Casper. Not now. Not ever. As luck would have it, I have a chance, albeit a slim one, to save him and get the answers I need to solve the pooka case--if I just take a wee trip through Fairyland. Except angels aren't welcome there, humans can't eat, drink or sleep there, and time is running out.

An Allegra Fairweather Mystery

Buy

Links of Interest

Thor! The Dark World trailer.

And lots of discussion about Loki's hair.

Dan Blank talks about Anxiety and the Creative Process.

Convention season is coming up. Here's a great survival guide from Seleste deLaney.

Here Be Magic Group Announcements

Jeffe Kennedy’s ORO, the fourth book in the Facets of Passion series, will appear in Carina Press Erotic Holiday anthology, coming out November 2013. More details here: http://carinapress.com/blog/2013/04/announcing-the-2013-holiday-anthology-lineup/

In case you missed it, last week we did an experiment in flash fiction starting with the prompt, "There is a rocking chair in the middle of the forest. How did it get there?" See our answers here and here.

Coming up soon....
The Here Be Magic authors write in a variety of speculative fiction subgenres from epic fantasy to steampunk to paranormal romance and we wanted to take some time to spotlight each of these. Up first is Fantasy Week starting May 3rd!


Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Seed... Part Two

Posted by: Shawna Thomas
Recently, I challenged my fellow writers to come up with a short story based on a single image: a rocking chair in the middle of the forest.

Today is a continuation of yesterday's stories. If you missed them, they're all here.

****
Jody Wallace


The waiting was the hardest part.

Clara rocked mechanically in the creaky glider. As soon as her feet hit the leafy ground, she pushed off with her toes. Back, forth, back, forth. The night creatures chirped and rustled around her, an eerie counterpoint to the horrible song jangling through her head.

If she kept this up, she was going to get seasick. Either from Tom Petty’s musical stylings or her nervous rocking. But she’d been here eighteen nights in a row, and she only had three left before it would be too late. It was getting to her.

The waiting was the hardest part.

The ring of mushrooms gleamed in the moonlight like river rocks. Perfectly symmetrical. Clearly not of the human realm. Sliced and sautéed with butter and a splash of red wine, they’d be more useful at this point. Except for the fact they were deadly poisonous.

Perhaps she could trick Furlicht into eating them, and it would solve her problem without the waiting.

Unfortunately, he only ate what his own hands prepared.

Clara forced herself to stop anxiously rocking and pressed a hand to her roiling stomach. She should have taken the meal he’d offered before he’d dismissed her from the day’s training—food his own hands had prepared—but she’d been so anxious to get here that she’d run.

Was the grimoire wrong? She’d found it in his library, covered in dust. Not one he’d notice gone, she hoped. When she’d performed the ritual, it had hurt like being burned alive.

Had she sacrificed her soul for nothing? Had the tribute had been deemed insufficient? She was only half elf, after all.

The waiting was the hardest part.

That’s why she’d stolen the chair. She wasn’t sure it made the waiting easier, but the padded cushion in the seat was sure easier on her ass.

A panther yowled deep in the woods, close to the feyland veil. The noise shivered through her, reminding here there were creatures in these woods a lot more dangerous than a panther. That one, she could control. If only Furlicht were as simple.

If only Furlicht hadn’t noticed her ears.

If only she’d ignored him when he had.

If only that pale glow in the ring was something besides the full moon.

Clara rubbed her sleepy eyes. A bright spark puffed in the center of the ring. Another. Five. Ten. Their tiny explosions highlighted the mist rising throughout the clearing.

Holy crap. Holy crap. She jumped out of the chair and stumbled toward the mushrooms. The sparks combined until she had to shield her eyes from the glare. A wind whipped up, tangling her hair, swirling debris so hard it stung when it hit her.

A figure materialized in the center of the ring. Large, red, radiant. Horned.

Uh-oh. That was no elf.

***

Furlicht returned to human form when he reached the clearing. Clever halfling. She’d hidden her tracks well, proving how right he’d been to choose her. But now this nonsense would end. In two more days, they’d be joined, and she’d devote herself to...

He sniffed. Sniffed again.

Sulfur? Here?

That’s when he noticed the precise ring of scorch marks in the center of the clearing and the old rocking chair beside it.

The dark grimoire—the one he’d thought lost—under it.

Furlicht wasn’t the demonstrative sort, but when he finished bashing the chair to splinters, he realized an unpleasant thing. Because of who and what he was, he was superb at playing the villain. It suited him. His powers, his ugly face, his suspicious nature.

What woman would have him, what feyling would apprentice to him, if not forced?

Clara. Oh, bright Clara, whom he’d prayed would come to understand. It wasn’t as if he could go amongst the humans himself, not with their cellphone cameras and disbelief in the old ways. Meeting Clara had seemed fated. Had he been such a villain that she would give up her soul to escape?

Now he was going to have to be her hero, and she’d probably never forgive him for it.





****

The berries Olivia had gathered tumbled forgotten from her hands. A tremor touched her lips while the vision slammed behind her eyes. She didn’t doubt the vision’s truth. Sometimes a bright light, warm and comforting, accompanied the vision; other times the wind howled, cold and disturbing. Today, panic clearly filled the air.

She spun around trying to pinpoint a direction and abruptly stopped. Facing east, she licked her lips nervously and tasted the sweetness of the river. Her head snapped west and she watched the sun begin to dip behind the mountain and she ran. As she careened down the narrow trail, the outstretched branches tugged at her dress, pulled off her shawl and clawed at her face and arms. She took no notice. The cadence of her footfalls beat out a mantra, not yet, not yet, not yet. She rushed on faster, mumbling enchanted words under her breath.

She exploded out of the forest and stood on the wide riverbank. She scanned the area closely looking for signs. The old chair was under the canopy of trees, the boundary of her clan’s territory. She had dragged the chair there the day Colin left. How many days, weeks, months, ah yes, years ago? She came every evening and sat in the rocking chair to watch for him, to pray for him, to cry herself to sleep for him.

“Thank goodness,” she murmured and let loose a heavy sigh. She strained to make out the shadows in the darkening forest. The last red gold ray of sun was slipping behind the mountain. “Oh, Colin, you promised you’d come back to me in the red gold of sunset. How you promised to come back to me.” She gathered her strength. “How I love you.”

“Aye Lass, that you did and I didna tell you a tale.” Colin got up from the chair and turned toward her.

She looked at the warrior who was gone these two score years. “Colin?”

He said not a word only looked deeply into her eyes with a passion that made her heart skip a beat.

“I’ve waited Colin,” her eyes misted over.

“Yes, Livy. Come to me my love,” his hand reached for her.

She looked up the rise to the house noisy with family. A moment of fear ran through her and she quickly turned back to Colin relieved to see him still there. Her eyes slowly traced from his outstretched arm, up his broad strong chest but it was his eyes. “Oh,” she signed. She closed her eyes, how she loved those piercing gray eyes, how she had longed to see them again.

She took tentative steps towards him and suddenly turned and rushed back to the planted flowerbed in front of the rocking chair. On her knees she dug until she pulled out a small package wrapped in a swatch of tartan. She got up, sat in the rocking chair, and fumbled to remove the contents. At last a gold band spilt into her lap. She slipped it onto her withered finger. “Forever with you, my love,” she whispered seeing the passion in his eyes. She went willingly into his arms feeling light and young again.

“For eternity,” he whispered in the wind.





Friday, April 26, 2013

A Seed...

Posted by: Shawna Thomas

One of the questions writers are asked the most is where do you get your ideas. The answer to that question depends a lot on the writer. My answer is everywhere and sometimes that everywhere starts with a single concept or even image, and usually, a question will follow. A conversation I “overheard” on the treadmill inspired Altered Destiny.  My epic fantasy series began with a dream and a name, Ilythra.

I was discussing this with my husband—who is not a writer...or even a reader. He likes movies—and he commented that a writer’s brain fascinated him for this reason. We started talking about how a writer, depending on their choice of genre, could take the same image or concept and write a very different story.

Which leads to this blog. (Glad I was going somewhere with this, aren’t you?_ ; )

I asked our Here Be Magic writers if they’d like to have some fun with an experiment. Many of them did. I gave them an image and asked if they’d write a short story. Now obviously we all write some subgenre of science fiction/fantasy but the differences in each story are astounding!

So here is our writing image: There is a rocking chair in the middle of the forest. How did it get there?


*****


   "Zane! Zane! Come see! I just teleported something!"
   Zane stared at the empty spot on the patio for a long moment before venturing, "Am I supposed to be seeing something?"
   "It's what isn't there," his cousin Jed said triumphantly.  "I teleported a chair to another place."
   Zane blinked, coming fully awake for the first time.  "A chair?  Do you mean Katie's special rocking chair? The one she dragged me into four baby furniture stores to find?"
   Jed frowned, his glasses slipping down his nose.  "I think you're focusing on the wrong thing.  I. Just. Teleported. Something. Scientific breakthrough? Eureka?"
   Zane stared at him without an ounce of humour.  "Bring it back."
   "Zane!"
   "The baby has colic. Katie and I hadn't slept in three weeks until she got that chair.  Now bring it back.  You do know where you sent it, right?"
   "Of course." Jed looked offended.  "I used GPS co-ordinates."
   Zane relaxed.  "Okay, good, that's good.  Let's drive out there and collect the rocking chair before Katie and the baby get back from her Mom's."
   Jed flushed.  "Well, uh, there's one small problem.  See, I didn't want to risk hurting anyone so I set the co-ordinates for the middle of the national Forest.  There, uh, aren't any roads."
   Zane took a step forward; Jed shrank back.  The sound of wheels on gravel brought them both to a halt.
   Zane exhaled sharply.  "Jed, you're my cousin and I'm fond of Aunt Margie, so I'm going to give you a word of advice.  That's Katie now in the driveway.  Start running.  Now."


****

Cautiously, his big feet barely disturbing the pine needles and dry leaves of the forest floor, he approached the chair. It was too clean, too perfect to have been dumped here, to new to be the remains of some long-crumbled cabin. So how…

A song in the distance swirled through the clearing. He caught his breath, easing back behind the nearest large tree as a woman wafted toward the chair. She was beautiful, inhumanly so, her hair sparkling gold in the dappled sunlight that filtered through the branches. She carried a wrapped bundle in her arms as she moved toward the chair, crooning in a voice that was too beautiful to be real. She seated herself, hugged the bundle—it had to be a child—to her chest and began to rock.

He blinked, almost shocked to see the vision didn’t go away. Had he hit his head? Fallen somehow and now become delirious with exposure? He was a man of science. He didn’t believe in fairies or ghosts, or…

She stilled, turned to look at him, as though she’d heard his thoughts. Piercing eyes of the deepest forest green narrowed as she held his gaze. Whoever she was, whatever she was, now she knew he was here, and she wasn’t pleased at the intrusion. She tipped her chin in an imperious gesture, drawing him closer. He complied, almost as if pulled by an invisible string.

She pulled back the blanket covering the baby’s face. He made himself look. A vision of his future? The past he couldn’t recall? He focused his eyes on the child.

And then he screamed.



****
Shawna Thomas


He stared at the old rocking chair. At times he’d hated that chair. It reminded him of the life his wife had forsaken to marry him, of the things he could no longer give her. It was a finely made chair, the kind passed down from one generation to another. Quality. Like Serene.

The wood had paled to gold where loving hands had rested, but elsewhere the chair shone deep mahogany in the filtered light. The sun had crested the trees, but here, under the thick canopy of new leaves, the air held on to winter’s chill. He shivered. Rays of dusty light pierced the darkness, highlighting the bracken-littered forest floor. Old ivy and the occasional fern grew thick near the trunks of the ancient trees, but here, in the clearing, only thin grasses grew from the rich soil. Grasses he imagined would bear flowers later in the spring. He almost smiled. Serene would like this place. He could almost see her there, rocking in the chair, their babe in arms, her dark eyes flashing with mirth. Even weary Serene had a ready smile.

If he strained, he could almost hear a faint melody as though the mahogany wood had absorbed her songs. Many nights he’d drifted to sleep to the faint creak of the runners against their rough wooden floor playing accompaniment to her sweet voice.

When the king had offered free land to anyone willing to settle in the new lands, he’d jumped on the chance. A man could work all his life for another man and never accomplish anything. But living by your sweat and blood? That was living. At least that’s what he told Serene. He’d finally be able to get ahead, give her the life she deserved. She’d kissed him, told him he was silly, but packed up and put everything they could on the old wagon. It was a good land, full of promise, except for the small problem of the Svistra to the north. The king had assured them they’d be safe. There was even a fort nearby.

He stared at the chair again. Had it moved? No, that was just the wind dancing through the thick foliage overhead, caressing the old wood with shadows.

He’d tried to talk her out of bringing it. Told her there was no room for the awkward chair. He’d make her another once they arrived, but she wouldn’t hear of it. Her grandfather had made it for her grandmother, back when they lived far south of here where the sun shone and the air was sweet with the scent of ripening fruit. He’d managed to carry it north with them. She insisted they would to the same.

Once Serene had made up her mind, there really wasn’t anything you could do. So he tied it to the top of the wagon, nestled between the baby’s bedding and their clothes. He had to admit, it made a nice shelter for the babe at night as they slept under the stars.

Like with most things, he eventually had to admit that Serene was right. The rocking chair belonged with her.

He glanced around the clearing. It was a sacred place, he could feel it in his bones, but the gods would forgive him.  And if they didn’t, what more could they do?

It had happened so fast. One moment she was laughing... the next... 

He stared at the chair once more, watched the shadows play and wished so hard, he thought his heart would press out of his chest. And then he turned, walking away from the clearing, leaving the old rocking chair to stand guard over the two freshly dug graves underneath.




****



Eolynd was fascinated by The Rocking Chair in the woods, from the age of five, which is when first she saw it. She and her brothers and sisters were berry picking with their mother and other village children.

            “Look, someone’s left a new chair here in the clearing,” Eolynd said, tugging on her older sister Mairea’s hand. “I want to rock in it!”

            “No, little one, you can’t sit in that chair.” Her older sister’s voice was hushed.

            “Why not?”

            “Twas left here by the Elf King himself.” Mairea glanced around uneasily. “it’s a trick, an enticement for the unwary.”

            “Truly?” Eolynd retreated a step, chewing her lip and thinking this over.

            Her sister made the sign of the evil eye. “See how there’s a ring of moss around it and nothing else grows within five feet?”

            “If you sit in the chair, the Elf King takes you to his hidden realm and you’re never seen again,” said one of the older boys from the village, grabbing Eolynd and swinging her high in the air. He was the red headed one who liked to keep company with Mairea.

            “What happens to you there?” Eolynd wanted to know as he set her down.

            “We need to be picking berries, not standing here gawking at the Elf King’s chair,” her mother said. “Just you listen to your elders and stay away from that thing.”

            “But – “

            “Enough, girl. There’s work to be done.”

            As she grew older, Eolynd  often went to the little clearing in the pines to admire the chair. It seemed rooted in the mossy earth, like a tree perhaps, although it was clearly meant to be a rocking chair. Had it been there so long the earth was swallowing it  up? The center of the chair’s back was a beautifully carved woodlands scene, with a proud stag filling most of the center. At a certain time of day a shaft of golden sunlight poured directly on the mysterious item, revealing intricate flowers and leaves carved into the arms and the rockers.  The Chair never aged, its wood always gleaming and shiny, no matter how much snow had fallen in the winter or how hard the summer sun baked the forest.

            Years passed. Mairea married her red headed suitor and started a family which soon grew to five children. Eolynd’s other siblings became adults, those who didn’t die in the Great Sickness, which also carried off Mairea and both of Eolynd’s parents.

            The world became a darker place, with rumors of a war raging between the lord Eolynd’s clan owed alliegance to and invaders from beyond the seas. Most of the men in the village went off to serve as soldiers in the war, leaving the women to keep life going as best they could. Only a few elderly men and younger boys remained and that wasn’t enough the day a marauding band of the enemy fell upon the village, slaughtering everyone they encountered.

            Taking Mairea’s youngest girl in her arms, Eolynd fled the carnage and the violence, running headlong into the woods with no clear idea of where she was going. Behind her she heard the screams of the dying mixed with the harsh war cries of the enemy.

            And then she heard the baying of the hounds that ran in a fearsome pack with the invaders and her blood ran cold. They’re hunting down the survivors. They’re hunting me!

            Now she fled like a terrified doe, the toddler clinging to her silently, but the sound of the dogs came closer and closer. Without clear thought Eolynd ran to the clearing and slid to a halt beside the Chair, silent and beautiful as always.

            “I can’t run any more,” she said to the child in between panting breaths.

            “They’re coming, Auntie.” The tiny girl hid her face in Eolynd’s skirts. “I’m scared.”

            She stroked her hand through the child’s tangled black hair with one hand and leaned on the Chair for support with the other. The wood was satin soft under her hand, cool and faintly scented. The elf king takes you away. That’s what the legend said. “How much worse can it be, to live as a servant of some kind in elfdom?” she said out loud.

            Picking up her niece, she sat took a deep breath and sat in the chair, pulse racing.

            For a moment nothing happened. The shouts of her pursuers grew louder.

            Eolynd scooted back more firmly, holding the girl.  “Please, please, elf king, if you exist, take us away.”

            Thunder rolled overhead in the clear blue sky. The chair rocked under her. Startled, Eolynd made an attempt to rise but her tired legs wouldn’t obey the command.

            “You know the consequences of sitting in my chair,” said a deep voice from the edge of the clearing.

            With a half shriek, Eolynd turned to see a black haired warrior astride a magnificent stag, with two wolves sitting on either side. The man was handsome, with a thin golden crown on his brow and rich green and purple raiment. An uncut emerald glinted dully in the massive ring on his finger.

            “Yes, yes, I do. Please, the enemy soldiers are coming. They’ll kill us as they’ve done to my entire village. Can you – will you, save us?”

            The stag paced forward and the man smiled. “And your name, maiden?”

            “Eolynd. This is my niece Roschae.” She patted the child on the shoulder.

            “Devonn, king of Elfdom, at your service.”   He dismounted, landing beside the Chair. Bowing he, said, “I’ve waited a thousand years for the woman brave enough to sit in my Chair and become my Queen, as the legends foretold.”

            As thunder rumbled through the skies, Devonn handed her up into the saddle, placing the child in front of her and led the stag from the clearing, the two wolves trotting behind.  The trees closed in behind them, creating an impenetrable barrier. Already forgetting the specifics of her ordeal, Eolynd hugged Roschae and looked eagerly ahead, to their shining destination, off in the distance.

            And when the bloodthirsty enemy soldiers burst into the clearing, they saw only an old tree stump, gnarled and bent, hollowed out with age.






(Me again)

Come back tomorrow for more of these awesome stories.








Monday, April 22, 2013

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone
Our new releases this week

THE FINAL PLEASURE
A sensuously erotic sci-fi romance
by Linda Mooney
He fully expected to die, until he met a woman who gave him every reason to live.
Those condemned to death are sent to Doora IV, one of four prison moons in the Doora system. Webb Grace realizes that he has less than a month to roam the moon's tunnels before he's taken above and ejected into the airlessness of space. However, before he's released, he is allowed to spend his last night in pure carnal exploration with a Lady Lay.
Myka Tolbert is a Lady Lay. She is one of the few women on the maximum security prison moon who treats the condemned to their Final Pleasure, a last sexual fling, before they’re executed. In return, her sentence is shortened one week. She hopes she lives long enough to earn her freedom.
A chance meeting between her and Webb gives the con more than a reason to live, but also the belief that he can escape Doora IV and his execution. But first, he has to figure out how, and then he has to find a way to bring along the woman who has managed to touch his heart.
They never foresaw all hell breaking loose before he could act.
Warning! Contains expired food, exploding moons, land squatters, dirty dealings, fraudulent contracts , transparent walls, revenge, cold showers, a death board, pink jumpsuits, and life measured in ten minutes intervals.


ISBN 978-0-9859300-3-5
Word Count: 54,000
Now Available at Amazon
and All Romance eBooks

Links of Interest

Netflix released all 13 episodes of the first season of Hemlock Grove. The critical reviews are...well, not good but I'm on ep 3 now and I really like it so far. Anyone else give it a try?

Defiance kicked off on SyFy. Haven't decided how I feel about this one. It has potential but I feel like I keep getting burned by SciFi series that sound great but fall flat after the first show or two.

Via io9: One of the first religions inspired by the internet "File-sharing isn't just a good way to get the latest episode of your favorite TV show. It's also a religion. Kopimism is an officially-recognized faith in Sweden, and has established a church in the US too. Its credo? Copying information is holy."


Sunday, April 21, 2013

You Know You're Obsessed When...

Posted by: PG Forte

A funny thing happened to me this evening. I was watching TV with my husband and PBS had a special on featuring musicians and singers from the 60s performing their classic hits. My husband was in music heaven, but I found myself getting more and more depressed the longer I watched.

It took me awhile to figure out what was happening. It's not that I didn't love the music. It's not that all these people are getting old and--since this was obviously shot some years ago--some of them are actually dead now. It's not even that I was feeling old. No, I finally realized that these were all songs I'd listened to extensively while I was  writing In the Dark, which is partially set in the late 60s. I was depressed because I was hearing the music from one of my character's point of view, rather than my own, and they were bringing up memories of his lost love.

I think that might be something only people who love fiction beyond reason can understand. And that of course got me thinking about what other odd habits we share...which led to this post. 

You know you might be obsessed with a fictional character when you find yourself living your life--but in someone else's head. 

You know you might be obsessed with a fictional character when songs on the radio stir up memories from their life, rather than your own.

You know you might be obsessed with a fictional character when you're tempted to add jobs to your resume that you only imagined having. 

You know you might be obsessed with a fictional character when you visit the real life location that was the basis for your favorite fictional locale...and marvel at how much it's changed since the "last time" you visited, forgetting that you'd never "actually" been there before.

You know you might be obsessed with a fictional character when, while shopping, you stumble across something that would make a perfect gift for so-and-so and you're just about to buy it when you remember: so-and-so isn't real.

You know you might be obsessed with a fictional character when you know more about the tastes and preferences of the made-up people who live in your head than you do those of the actual people who live in your house.  

That's my list. Now, what about yours?










In the Dark, the first book in the Children of Night series, is FREE for the rest of the month at: Amazon, B&NSony or directly from Samhain.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

An Acute Case of Writer Brain

Posted by: Nicole Luiken

I have a morbid imagination.  Not just ‘vivid’, actually ‘morbid’.  Left to itself, my brain loves to come up with worst case scenarios.

Let me give you an example.  After getting home from picking up my middle child from school, I didn’t bother closing the garage door since I knew I had to leave again shortly to pick my husband up from work.  I did a few things inside, then flew out the door, jumped in the car, and started to back up only to realize the back passenger door was open.  I got out, slammed the door shut, climbed back in and resumed my journey.  Twenty blocks later, I felt something pushing on the back on my seat.  My five-year-old daughter does this all the time when she’s in her car seat—except my daughter wasn’t with me that trip.   I was alone in the car.  I told myself I must have imagined it.

A block later, it happened again: definite pushing on my back through the car seat.  I suddenly remembered the open garage and open car door.  All those urban legends about people who drive away without looking in their back seat and are carjacked by axe murderers began to flash through my mind.  My adrenaline spiked, and I froze at the wheel.  My God, I have a stowaway. 

The light turned green, I kept driving.  I looked in the rear-view mirror, but couldn’t espy anybody in the back seat.  I relaxed a little when I realized there was no room for an adult axe murderer.  However, a child could remain out of sight.  My mind started pulling up scenarios of some stupid kid planning to steal my car for a joy-ride and accidentally stowing away.

Another stoplight.  More pushing on the back seat as if the kid was squirming around trying to be comfortable.  I considered announcing in a tough voice, “Okay, stowaway, end of the road.  Get out of the car.”  But I worried.  What if it was a juvenile delinquent with a knife?  Then my brain veered onto a side track:  What if it was an eight or nine year old and he ran away when I stopped the car?  I would feel terrible abandoning an eight-year-old in rush-hour traffic in an industrial area. What’s the etiquette in such a situation?  Should I drive him home or just offer bus fare?

Ten more nerve-wracking blocks.  I pulled into the parking lot at my husband’s place of work and shakily stumbled out of the car, keys clutched in my fist.  The back seat was, of course, empty.

This is not the first time my imagination has done me a disservice, nor will it be the last.

I worry about all the everyday stuff that probably most people do--my kids, finances, the possibility of a car accident on icy roads—plus a lot of more far-fetched stuff.  I cannot go into the bank without the possibility of a bank robbery crossing my mind.  I make plans for what I would do if some disaster happened—aliens invading, zombies, Armageddon, plague. 
 
Turning these worries into stories is quite frankly a self-defense mechanism.  That way the horrible things aren’t happening to me, but rather to characters in my books.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what caused the mysterious pushing-feeling on the back of the car seat, here’s my eventual conclusion:   I shoveled snow earlier in the day, which caused back spasms.
 
Either that or our newly purchased used car is haunted.

Friday, April 19, 2013

If I wasn't a writer, I'd be...

Posted by: Kaily Hart
An interior designer/decorator! Yeah, I was pretty surprised at this realization myself. I’ve already had one successful career in the IT consulting industry and working on my second with my writing. When I renovated my ENTIRE house a few years ago, it was a major undertaking.


That's my living room, BTW, with all the boxes along the right wall the new kitchen cabinets. Shudder, right? It's totally gutted back to the bare bones!

I was excited, apprehensive, and okay a tiny bit terrified. Or perhaps it was a LOT. I designed every aspect of the renovation which ranged from some structural changes to a lot of cosmetic things. I updated/upgraded EVERY SINGLE room in the house. Actually the outside underwent some pretty substantial changes as well. I selected every fixture, fitting, color and finish. I designed every tile layout. I picked the design for each molding and trim we used. I even designed the layout of the kitchen myself from a completely blank slate. I worked with the guys every day on each step of the process and you know what I found? I absolutely LOVED everything about it. I learned I love looking at furnishings catalogs, tile books, paint chips, architectural accents. I loved everything about the process, especially the sense of immense satisfaction I get when I can sit back in any room of my house and think… I did that. So, if I wasn’t a writer I’d definitely be in the design/decorating/home improvement industry.

What about YOU? What do you think you’d be doing if you could absolutely choose anything you'd like to do, anything at all?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Rebeka's Favorite Recipe

Posted by: Ruth A Casie


This is a favorite recipe of our bookish scholarly heroine, tossed back to the 17th century. Rebeka was ecstatic when she found the ingredients for this recipe on Doward’s wagon (the traveling tradesman). Imagine her surprise when Lord Arik brought home a fine salmon along with a strong appetite. She couldn’t wait to tempt him with her offering(s). Luckily for both of them, this recipe takes less than ten minutes. This is the 21st century version.

PS…Rebeka served the salmon to Arik in the Great Hall. Tantalized, he licked the sticky glaze from his fingers never taking his eyes off of her. But that’s a totally different story that you will find in Knight of Runes.

PPS…My son makes this recipe whenever he wants to impress his roommates, their parents, his current lady friend. With a side of whipped potatoes and a vinaigrette salad, all you need is a decadent chocolate cake to finish off the meal.

Rebeka’s Salmon with Brown Sugar Glaze
Ingredients:
 ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried)
4 (6 ounce) salmon fillets
Salt and Pepper

Instructions: 
1. Preheat the broiler
2. Spray the rack of a broiler pan with nonstick spray
3. Mix the brown sugar, mustard and dill together in a small bowl.
4. Salt and pepper both sides of the salmon and place on the broiler pan and spoon the brown sugar glaze on top. (You will not use all of it – it keeps forever in the fridge)
5. Position the broiler pan about 7 inches from the heat and broil just until its opaque, about 6 minutes

NOTE: Don’t turn the fillet. The glaze works well on chicken and pork.

What are you going to cook tonight?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone
Our new releases this week

The Rook

An assassin hired by vengeful elven rebels to kill the calculating Duke of Shalridan, Julian walks into a trap and barely escapes with his life. Healed by a beautiful captive in the dungeons, he's enthralled and vows to free her from the duke's clutches.

The Hawk

A Knight of the Hawk duty-bound to cleanse elven magic from Adalonia, Kestar has a secret--and heretical--ability to sense the use of magic from afar. He knows something suspicious is happening in the duke's keep, but he has no idea how deep the conspiracy goes.

The Dove

A half-elven healer with no control over her magic, Faanshi is the goddess's to command. She's always been a pawn of the powerful, but after healing two mysterious and very different men, she faces a choice that may decide the fate of the whole kingdom...

Book one in the Rebels of Adalonia

113,000 words

Only $2.69! Buy it here!

Links of Interest

In case you missed it, the Fantasy Cafe is running an excellent series of posts on women in SFF this month.

Erin Morgenstern has an interesting post up on writing and publishing and paths where she talks about her experience with traditional publishing.

This made me happy. I was looking for Something Wicked This Way Comes on ebook just last week. Ray Bradbury Classics Finally Coming as eBooks. April 23!

An interview with Guy Gavriel Kay. His answer to how he writes credible females is really interesting.

In case you were wondering Which centuries are the most popular in today’s historicals? A chart.

Here Be Magic Group Announcements

Cindy Spencer Pape has a new Facebook page just for the Gaslight Chronicles. Check it out here!

Jody Wallace sold a during/post-apocalyptic sf romance novel to Entangled Publishing for release in early 2014. Angeli, hopefully the first in an sf adventure trilogy, involves a mouthy heroine who believes in angels, an AWOL angel hero who isn't an angel at all, and a race to stop the end of the world.

From PG Forte:

For the next two weeks, In the Dark (the first book in my Children of Night series) will be offered for FREE at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Sony.com.  

When you live forever, you’re bound to make a few mistakes.

1969 San Francisco. World-weary Conrad Quintano should have known better than to fall in love with a human—much less Suzanne Fischer, the barely legal, adventure-seeking hippie beauty known as Desert Rose. And the very last thing he should have agreed to do was to raise her babies and protect them with his life. But even twelve-hundred-year-old master vampires can find it hard to reject a deathbed request—especially when issues of love, guilt and blood are involved.

Present day. Raised in virtual isolation, twins Marc and Julie Fischer have always known they are vampires. But they never knew their parentage—or their unique status in the vampire world—until their “uncle” Damian comes to fetch them home. The family reunion, however, isn’t what they expect. They’re thrust into a world for which they’re totally unprepared. And the father they expected to see, Conrad, is missing.

How to find him…and whom to trust? Solving the mystery of betrayal and vampire family values will prove the Beatles had it right. All you need is love…and an occasional side of blood.

Product Warnings
While reading this book you may experience any of the following, an increased desire to wear flowers in your hair, dress in tie-dye or nap during the day. Other symptoms may include an intolerance to sunlight, an aversion to garlic-flavored tofu and a pronounced urge to bake…or get baked.


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