Saturday, February 28, 2015

LOVE IN A TIME OF PERIL

Posted by: Regan Summers

Fair warning, I'm going to be getting a little sappy on the blog today. My favorite love story comes from a James Cameron movie.

Hey, where are you going? Come back! I’m not talking about Titanic.

I’m talking about The Abyss. The 1989 science fiction movie is best known for the water effects and for how parts of it were filmed in a 7,000,000 (that’s right, seven meeeeellion) gallon tank at an unfinished nuclear power plant. And that is remarkable.

But the heart of the story is Virgil “Bud” Brigman, played by he-of-the-piercing-blue-eyes, Ed Harris. He’s a gruff foreman running an experimental deep sea oil rig. And Virgil’s heart, in turn, is in the hands of the abrasive Dr. Lindsay Brigman, played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Do you see where I’m going with this?

They come from disparate backgrounds. He’s a roughneck and she has a PhD. He gets all greasy fixing the machines on the rig. She designed the rig. They married for convenience, truly fell in love, but then combusted and separated. Fate, aliens and the U.S. military throw them together thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean in a veritable pressure cooker, and they fall in love again. They’re both competent, intelligent, passionate people who will do anything for the other person. And I do mean anything.

Twenty-three years is long enough, right? I’m not going to spoil this for anyone? Okay, if you haven’t seen this movie, skip the remainder of this, and the next two paragraphs. Otherwise…the big sacrifice, the one that influences the aliens to spare humankind, is delivered softly. It’s Bud, relaying a poorly-typed message saying that, when he went out to try to defuse a bomb, he knew it was a one-way trip. He reassured Lindsay and the crew when he left, but he understood he wasn’t coming back. It’s a great moment, really, but the two scenes that made my heart grow three sizes were these:

One: When Bud hears that Lindsay’s coming down to his ship after months (or years) apart, he pulls off his wedding band and throws it into the toilet. Then he realizes that, no matter how much she frustrates and angers him, he loves her. He retrieves the ring and, since the toilets are specialized, they’re full of neon blue water. His hand is stained blue, a larger, more noticeable exhibit of his love than the ring. Awwww.

Two: Bud and Lindsay are trapped in a failing mini-sub, which is rapidly filling with frigid water, far from the rig. They’ve only got one survival suit. Lindsay calculates the oxygen, water temperature and their relative strength, and determines that one of two things will happen. Either they’ll both die, or she has to die so that Bud – the stronger swimmer – can drag her back to the rig. It’s the only chance for at least one of them to survive, and it’s an intense scene. The sub’s tiny, so Bud’s right there, holding her as she drowns, not knowing if he can bring her back.

*blows whistle* Okay, all you people who’ve been meaning to watch a movie for TWENTY-THREE years but haven’t gotten around to it, come on back. This is the love story that made me believe in love stories. It’s probably why I’m addicted to paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Situations are highest possible stakes intense. Differences between love interests can be vast. We’re talking different species or millenium-old enemies. It’s fantastic.

Love has to find a way through massive odds, threats of violence and magically-induced divisions. When it’s tested, it’s put way past the red line. In the Night Runner series, Sydney Kildare and Malcolm Kelly are, for everything going on around them, taking things slowly. As a vampire, Mal has all the time in the world. As a human in a vampire world, Sydney's every breath could be her last. And, in Falling from the Light, a single moment will change everything.


About the Author

Regan Summers lives in Anchorage, Alaska with her husband and alien-monkey hybrid of a child. She is a huge fan of the low profile. She likes books, ottomans with concealed storage, small plate dining, libraries, Corporal Hicks, some aspects of pre-revolutionary France, most aspects of current Italy, and books.

Her Night Runner series, including Don’t Bite the Messenger, Running in the Dark, and Falling from the Light is available wherever e-books are sold.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Living the Dream

Posted by: Veronica Scott
The Party Poster! Like the hair?
So today was my last at the "day job"! Been planning this for two years now, ever since I got more than two books out there, discovered I had a growing audience of readers - for whom I'm incredibly grateful!!! - and began to think "What if I took early EARLY retirement and wrote full time?"

Don't get me wrong - I loved working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab all these years. I was on the business side of the house (no head for science or math), doing subcontracts for flight projects and also cross functional process improvement projects and Lean Six Sigma and a host of other, related things...yes, I loved having career milestones like being the first woman group supervisor in the Acquisition Division and the first woman to do contracts for construction (this was wayyy back in the day of course - many many highly qualified women doing complex subcontracts and in management now - YAY!)....but....but...writing was and always will be my first love. I live, I breathe, I write. The idea of doing that FULL TIME.....yup, the Dream.

Yesterday my co-workers and colleagues and managers threw me the best, most purple, blingiest (I had a tiara, people, and I wore it!), chocolatiest going away party a person could possibly have in the workplace. It was perfect....

Today I did all the final bureaucratic things one does - turned in the badge and the parking pass, gave up my keys.....handed in the cell phone and the iPad.....

Hugs, more hugs, signed books (loved that part), signed my author photo that a lovely lady named
Gloria had made into a movie star-like 8X10, with my book covers as the border.....

Walked to my car...

And I drove slowly around the buildings toward the gate, trying to take in and really feel the fact that I was leaving this place where I'd been so long...long enough that my daughter who attended the retirement party yesterday was in some of the earliest photos, if you count the baby shower thrown for me before she was born...and now she works at JPL. My late husband was still very much alive when I started there...the JPL family helped me get through his sudden and tragic death in a bicycle accident much too young...so leaving all that behind now was end of an era stuff for me, you know? (Although we all pledged most solemnly to Stay In Touch and I believe we will. Thank you, social media LOL.)

As I waited in line to exit the gate, I had a moment of panic. "I'm unemployed after all these years!" Then the line moved, the car edged over the boundary between JPL and La Canada-Flintridge and I couldn't go back even if I wanted to...and I said in a more confident, happier voice, "No, now I'm self employed."

As I drove up the little hill to the main road, I cried a tiny bit but I also felt physically lighter somehow, as if I'd shed - not a burden, because I truly love JPL and the work they do with Mars rovers and Europa and SMAP and all the rest of the Missions - but maybe a cocoon? Maybe now the writer in me feels truly free?

I don't know, but I'm so excited about having all day every day to write the best stories I can....who knows what will happen, but I can't WAIT.

The Dream became the Reality today.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Study in Pigheadedness...er, Perseverance

Posted by: Jane Kindred
Seventeen years ago, I wrote a doorstop of a fantasy novel, titled Anamnesis. After several rounds of edits and a few beta reads, I thought it was ready to be published.

Back in the Dark Ages, there was no QueryTracker, so I bought a copy of Writer's Market and did my research the hard way. There wasn't a lot of information there besides addresses (often without the agents' names), and if you were lucky, maybe something about the genres they represented. The other way to find an agent was to look in the fronts of books you loved, and books that were like yours, and see if the authors credited their agents. I compiled my tiny list, and though almost no agents accepted queries by email at the time, I found a few who did, and started with those, moving on to the snail-mail queries after that first handful of rejections. (My query, by the way, was atrocious. There was also no Twitter full of helpful writers to turn to for a quick query critique. And none of the few writers I knew had any knowledge of querying.)

I sent those early queries out one at a time because their listings in Writer's Market insisted "no simultaneous submissions." It took a few years to exhaust my small supply of agents, because after sending off a snail query, you had to wait several months for rejection.

After five years of slow rejections, I started attending novel writing workshops and trying to form critique groups with the writers there. (Those always lasted about one novel—usually theirs. Either they didn't care for my critique or they just didn't feel like reciprocating. But I did manage to find a few good ones.) Around that time, Writer's Digest had also begun offering online courses. For the first time, I had someone to tell me my query was crap, and just why it was crap.

Six years in, I managed to get two requests for partials out of my growing list of agents. (There were now online newsletters and websites that compiled lists of agents, including Writer's Digest and Publisher's Weekly—though you had to pay to get them—so my rejections came faster and many allowed simultaneous submissions. But still almost no email queries.)

When I'd exhausted that list, I decided to write a novella based in the same world, thinking it might get published in a speculative fiction magazine and earn me some publishing chops to put in my next round of queries. What resulted was The Devil's Garden. What I found out next was that there were almost no SFF magazines left in print, and those few that remained had great disdain for any romantic elements.

At last, I gave up on Anamnesis, and in 2006 I began research for a new book, which would become The House of Arkhangel'sk trilogy. By the time I stopped procrastinating with research and wrote the trilogy in 2009, I looked up and found there was a whole new world of publishing. There were these things called "ebooks," and this place called "Twitter," which was overflowing with writers and agents and publishers, and people wanted to help each other in this process. It was mind-blowing. And through Twitter, I discovered that ebook publishers were actually acquiring novellas.

In 2010, I sold my first work of fiction longer than a short story, and The Devil's Garden was published by Carina in 2011.

When edits were finished on Garden, I did a major overhaul of Anamnesis, breaking it into a trilogy and adding additional material. Ultimately, Carina passed on the novel, but a mere 17 years after this adventure began, I'm thrilled to announce that the first installment of what began as Anamnesis has finally been released into the wild: Idol of Bone, Book 1 in the Looking Glass Gods series, was released in ebook and trade paperback on Tuesday.

The moral of this story? Don't give up on your baby if you believe in it—even if it takes 17 years for that baby to grow up.

One stranger seeks to claim her heart…another is destined to destroy her.

Ra. Just two letters. Barely a breath. When she stumbles into the frozen Haethfalt highlands, her name is all she has—the last remnant of a past she’s managed to keep hidden, even from herself. Her magic, however, isn’t so easy to conceal—magic that’s the province of the Meer, an illicit race to which she can’t possibly belong.

The eccentric carpenter who takes her in provides a welcome distraction from the puzzle of herself. Though Jak refuses to identify as either male or female, the unmistakable spark of desire between them leaves Ra determined to find out what lies beneath the enigmatic exterior.

But more dangerous secrets are brewing underneath the wintry moors. Jak’s closest friend, Ahr, is haunted by his own unspeakable past. Bounty hunters seeking fugitive Meer refuse to leave him in peace.

Harboring feelings for both Ra and Ahr, Jak nonetheless struggles to keep them apart. Because like the sun and the moon coming together, their inevitable reunion has the potential to destroy Jak’s whole world.

Available now from Samhain Publishing and the following retailers:
Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Asleep on the Job

Posted by: PG Forte
Authors get asked fairly often where they get their ideas. It's a question that doesn't always have an easy answer. Story ideas come from a variety of sources and most of the time you're just given a clue, something that piques your interest. It could be almost anything--a picture you see online, a single sentence that you hear in your head, an offhand remark you overhear in a restaurant, or any random scene you might happen to witness as you move about in the world--like a motorcycle cop, carrying a big red-and-white stuffed dog, striding through an airport lobby. Then comes the hard work of hunting down the rest of the story, or building an entire world in which to place it, piece by piece.

Every once in awhile, however, the fates smile upon you and you find yourself gifted with an entire story, and pretty much all you have to do is write it all down.

Apparently, I get some of my best ideas while I'm asleep. I think it's probably pretty common to wake from a vivid dream with the germ of a story idea rattling around in your head, but I've actually had the experience of dreaming up entire stories, from start to finish, often with character names included.

And although it's true that, a lot of the time, dream stories don't work out the way you want them to, it's always an amazing feeling to wake up with a new idea in your head, to lie in bed and go over the story--both to cement the idea in your mind, and to search for flaws in its logic that will prevent you from bringing it to fruition without a lot of adjustments.

One dream story that worked out pretty well for me was my book Finders Keepers. It was science fiction, set in a future where age-altering technology not only existed, but proved to be an important plot point. It also served to explain away the seeming age-discrepancy that would have made no sense at all in a contemporary romance.

The other day I woke up with a fabulous idea in my head. It was set in the early 1980s and followed the adventures of a  trio of street musicians who emigrate from Ireland to NYC in hopes of making it big, only to meet with tragedy in the form of a ferry boat accident in the East River that claims the life of at least one of the main characters.

That part is all fine. Where I ran into trouble was when my dead girl came back as an angel (well, sort of an angel, anyway) in order to save the life of the last remaining member of the trio, who was having a hard time dealing with survivor guilt.

Do you see the problem yet?

The beginning is set thirty years ago, which makes perfect sense from an economic/political standpoint. And if I have my heroine die in the '80s and come back "now" I get to play around with all the ways the world has changed in the past thirty years--which is a lot of fun. But if my hero has managed to make it through those same thirty years, why would he suddenly need an angel now--never mind one who appears so much younger than he is?  

I keep thinking that all I really need to resolve this is a time machine...but I suspect only Douglas Adams could get away with combining ghosts and time machines in the same story.

Ah, well. It might not be ready to write, but it was still an entertaining dream, and I still believe it has potential. I have the image of my ghost girl burned in my mind. She's wearing a flowery dress and doc martens as she emerges from the subway and looks around Times Square for the first time in three decades. I can't wait to figure out the rest of her story.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What Does a Writer Do When She's Not Writing?

Posted by: Jax Garren
It’s been almost two years since How Beauty Loved the Beast, my last full length novel, was released into the wild. Two years…where did the time go? So what’s a writer doing when she’s not publishing? Here are a few things that kept me busy…

1) Being a (foster) mom

2) Publishing shorter works


3) My cat ate my book.



4) Going to the doctor



5) Learning to weld



6) Cutting my hair



7) Figuring out what to do with short hair.



8) Hanging with TheScott



9) Traveling to the Arctic



10) Writing a new series!


Okay, so MOST of the time was taken up with #1. It’s been a wild two years, and I’m so glad to be back to publishing. And I'm SUPER excited about my new paranormal M/M Stripped with the Vampire, coming out on March 11!

What’s the most interesting or fun thing you’ve done in the past two years?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases

He once controlled her fate; now she holds his heart--and his body--in her hands...

Living in a humble village at the edge of the Sarian Empire, Kailey is a gifted but untrained mage with an affinity for stone. She believes herself well beyond the reach of the guild that controls all magic within the empire until Benim, an unwilling guild soldier, appears at her door. She's part of his quest to assemble gifted citizens for entrance to University.

As Kailey struggles to navigate the strange society of the Sarian upper class, she's tasked by a guild master to create a masterpiece for the emperor. And when Benim is commissioned as her model, Kailey comes to crave the hard-bodied soldier she spends her days sculpting inch by intimate inch.

Benim cannot resist the warmth of Kailey's spirit nor the comforts found within her body, though he knows that a poor soldier has no place in a mage's world. But he and Kailey will have to overcome more than just class differences in order to remain together. For someone has made Kailey a pawn in her mentor's ambitious play for power...

Book two of the Spellcraft series

Buy Links:
Kobo 



England's infant heir has been kidnapped, and there's only 
one man who can find him.

Luke Ballard has dedicated his talents--and his life--to protecting the throne. As Henry IX's Privy Inquirer and Dominus Elemancer, his loyalty is no longer in question. But when Queen Madeline's coronation is interrupted with the news that Arthur, the baby Prince of Wales, has been abducted, Luke is given an ultimatum: retrieve the royal heir and prevent future threats to the royal family or lose his head.

That the young prince has been taken by dark forces is clear. The evil sorcerers of Custodes Tenebris will not rest until they hold power in England with Catholic Mary as a puppet Queen. Luke has bested them before, but he's never needed to defeat evil while falling in love--Arthur's nursemaid, the beautiful Blanche Oliver, has won him over with her seductive charms.

As Luke's investigation leads into the dark recesses of his own family's past, Blanche's hold on him deepens. With the fate of the Tudors hanging in the balance, Luke will need to draw upon untested strength and sort truth from feminine fiction...for the enemy's reach is long and time is running out.


Book three of The Tudor Enigma

Get it today!



The Tenth Life of Vicki Torres by Shona Husk


A Court of Annwyn short story

Is he saving the cat or is the cat saving him?
Seth expected the world to end in wars and bombings, not in a plague. When he obeys his dying father and heads for their secret cabin in the mountains as arranged, he gets lonely so fast that he's willing to share his meager food with the stray that appears in the woods. But is the cat what she appears to be or is she something else entirely?

This story takes place during the plagues that happen in To Love a King (Court of Annwyn 3)


Buy links:
Barnes and Noble 
Amazon





Other News

Dear Author Reviews 2013 SFR Galaxy Award Winner WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM by Veronica Scott

Jayne at DA sez: “...I was 4 chapters into this story when it dawned on me that I was lost in it and totally concentrating on this created world….The details of the doomed Titanic’s fate are cleverly re imagined in a space voyage…the tension builds, then recedes just a little, then increases, then is countered just a bit, then smacks the reader around some more before smacking the characters even worse. And then when I think this must be it, they’re safe, right? they aren’t. Safe that is….”


To read the rest of the review, here's the link: http://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/overall-b-reviews/b-reviews/review-wreck-of-the-nebula-dream-by-veronica-scott/







Raven's Wing Month-iversary Special!





In celebration of the one-month anniversary of the release of the urban fantasy Raven's Wing by award-winning author Shawna Reppert, the e-book will be available for 1 week only at a special sale price of $1.99!  (Sale starts at roughly 8 AM pacific time 2/23/15)  Buy Raven's Wing on Amazon

Sunday, February 22, 2015

From the Archives: Author Sandy James & The Reluctant Amazon Excerpt

Posted by: Sandy James

Veronica Scott here: Author Sandy James was one of our comrades on Here Be Magic for quite a while. Her family is going through a tough time right now due to her husband of 32 years battling Stage 4 colon cancer (which she has discussed and tweeted about, so I'm not giving TMI here). I thought we'd rerun this post from her, on the first book in her Amazon series from 2012, show our support for our friend, and encourage anyone who's been thinking about reading this or any other of  Sandy's wonderful novels to go ahead and take the plunge!

Post edited a tiny bit to update the publication information. The following is what Sandy wrote in 2012:

The prologue. 

Reviled or praised? 

It seems that authors and editors simply can’t come to a consensus on whether a book should have a prologue.
I’ve used prologues before. In fact, I love writing them! Perhaps that’s because I also love reading them. To me, they’re like a movie trailer with scenes of an upcoming story. A prologue sets the tone of the book and can provide vital information from a character’s past to understand everything that comes next.
On the other hand, prologues can be nothing but unnecessary backstory—a litany of things the reader really doesn’t need to know.
 
The Reluctant Amazon, the first book in the Alliance of the Amazon series, released from Carina Press yesterday. If you read it, you won’t find a prologue. I wrote one, but in discussion with my editor, we figured we needed to start this story with Rebecca rather than an Amazon you would only see once—Maria. 

So…just for kicks and giggles, I’m going to let you all read the prologue for The Reluctant Amazon.


***

Prologue

How damn ironic. The Guardian had let her guard down.

Taking slow, careful steps to the window, Maria calculated the time to reach the fire escape, climb down and run like the wind she used to command. 

She’d never make it.

She wanted to scream in frustration, wanted to slam her fist into a wall. How could she have allowed herself to forget? How could she have allowed herself to think evil would ever remain at bay for long? It was a wish, born of blind hope that the next generation wouldn’t have to be summoned. Without her, the three who remained wouldn’t be enough to fight this new threat.

Maria’s stomach tightened into a painful knot as she sensed them inside her apartment now. The hunters—the revenants. Cold and predatory. She wouldn’t even give them a good fight, her skills rusty from being idle for far too long. Almost nine decades since her heyday. Ninety years since she had wielded the power of the skies. Scolding herself for her lack of discipline in keeping up with her training wouldn’t do any good. Her bones creaked like the ancient woman she should be. Her physical and mental discipline had fallen out of practice. She’d let the damned revenants sneak in without immediately feeling their presence.

Reaching out with her senses, hoping they would miraculously return to the level Maria had enjoyed when she was young, she tried to count the revenants and anticipate their movements. How many were seeking her? 

Too many

She had the advantage—she knew they were hunting her. The revenants had arrived in stealth rather than charging about like the mindless minions they were. 

If they’d been certain she was there, she’d already be dead.

Slowly sliding the window up, she crawled through, trying to keep her movements slow and praying to the Ancients that the fire escape wouldn’t make a sound as she eased onto it. The Ancients weren’t listening, or else they simply didn’t think her humble life was worth an intervention. The betraying metal creaked and groaned as it accepted her weight.

The revenants knew she was there now—she felt them surging toward her. The stench of the creatures assaulted her nostrils, making the bile rise in the back of her throat. The smell was too similar to the subways she rode almost daily. Piss and decay. 

They came through her apartment, and she sensed more of them working up the ladder from ten stories below. In her heyday, the jump would have been easy. If not easy, at least not fatal. But this wasn’t her era, and she was good and trapped.

Two options. Death by their hands or death by her own. And being murdered by a revenant wasn’t…pleasant. Nor would it serve as a fitting end for one of her kind.

Well, to Hades with that! She was an Amazon—one of the chosen—and the Guardian of the others, no less. She had lived as a warrior, and she was damn well going to die like one. 

Beckoning all of her remaining power from the skies, she sent a warning on the wind to the three who remained. This Guardian was going to die, but not before she summoned another to take her place. The dawn of the next incarnation had come.

May the next have more discipline and power.

The vile creatures piled together, trying to push through the window as one. More crept up the fire escape.
“You’re too late.” Maria gave them a smug smile. “Your master will be displeased.” 

Then she jumped.

***

SO...what do you think? Prologue or no prologue?

Buy Links: Amazon    Barnes & Noble   Carina Press

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A quirky heroine, pet sidekicks and a paranormal mystery

Posted by: Angela Campbell
I didn't have time to come up with a new post today, so I went back through the Here Be Magic archives and pulled this one. Thanks for tolerating the shameless promo. - Angela

***
So, I'm really excited because the third book in my psychic detectives series has released, and shhh, just between you and me, it's probably my favorite so far. I loved writing the characters in this one so much. So what is Spirited Away about?

Here's the blurb:

Socially awkward Emma “Spider” Fisher prefers her laptop to people, so she’s more than happy to oblige her boss when he asks her to pet- and housesit while he honeymoons in London.

It doesn’t take long for accident-prone Spider to lose a dog, get locked out of the house, and set off the house alarm. Thankfully, her hot new neighbour is more than happy to come to her rescue.

But Noah West is a mystery to Spider—and one she intends to solve. Because either the man is seriously living in a haunted house, or he’s a serial killer. Either way, he’s a total hottie, so Spider will have to guard her heart while she and the animals sniff out the truth.


And because I'm feeling generous, here's an excerpt:

***

Oh yeah. She was gonna kill that mutt when she got her hands on him. And the cat too, just because.

Emma “Spider” Fisher rattled the locked doorknob one more time and glared at the animals watching her from the other side of the front window. Costello, the dog, panted happily and gave her a tongue-lolling, open-mouthed grin. Abbott, the cat, stood in the bay window beside him, watching her with disinterested, narrowed eyes as if she were the stupidest human he’d ever met.

Which was a distinct possibility.

“Ugh!” She rattled the front doorknob again and slapped the doorframe. Yeah, as if that would make it open.

It was the morning after her first night of house-sitting for Zach and Hannah, and she’d already locked herself out. Correction. One of the dogs had escaped the fence, she’d given chase in her jammies, and when she’d ran back to call for help after not being able to catch Charlie, Costello had bumped shut the door she’d left open.

Locking her out. Without a key. Without a phone.

Without a hope of not being killed by her boss when he returned from his honeymoon.

His beloved blind dog had disappeared after she’d chased him into some trees on the other side of the street. No telling where Charlie was now. God forbid, he could be lying dead on the highway. Might have fallen down a well somewhere. Joined a gang. Who knew?

In fact, who knew a blind dog could run so darn fast to begin with? She’d bet that dog had some cheetah in his genes.

Heaving a half laugh, half sob, she turned and slid down the door until her bottom met the cold concrete of the front doorstep. A quick scan of the other houses and manicured lawns lining the quiet subdivision was no comfort. Well, maybe it was. No one seemed to peek out of curtains or be aware of her humiliating predicament, although she’d have to start pounding on doors soon to see if someone would let her use their phone.

Who would she call? One of the so-hot-they-could-melt-her-panties-off guys she worked with? She groaned.

This could not be happening to her.

A flash of brown movement to her left caught Spider’s attention and sent her heart thumping wildly against her ribcage again.

Charlie was sniffing the grass and following an invisible trail beside the sidewalk in front of the house. Near the freaking road! Uttering a squeak, Spider sprang to her bare feet and hurried down the driveway, muttering “owww” and “ouch” every time she stepped on a rock or something sharp in the grass.

She had a hard and fast policy against swearing, but she was seriously reconsidering that rule this morning.

“Charlie!” Her voice carried down the street. She clicked her tongue. “Com’ere boy!”

The dog lifted his head but kept prancing forward as a car came around the curve toward him. Panic seized her chest, releasing its grip only when the vehicle slowed and turned down a side street. The too-smart-for-his-own-good canine perked his ears up and looked in that direction. Ohmygosh, he was blind and following sounds. She had to catch him. Shehad to. If he got out of the subdivision and found a main road--

She whistled and jumped up and down, hoping the noise would divert his attention. “Charlie!”

He turned and took three slow steps toward her.

“Good boy!” She whistled again and patted the front of her thighs.

The long-legged retriever mix lowered his head, wiggled his raised butt, barked, and darted in the opposite direction.

“No, no, no!” Spider gave chase. “Charlie!”

He thought they were playing a game. Oh, for the love of—!

At least he was running in circles, not straying outside the neighborhood. She had no idea how long they ran up and down the suburban street lined with a mixture of classic Georgian, English cottage and modern houses. It was mid-morning, and no one had come outside to see what she was causing a ruckus about. Geez. She didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. What kind of neighbors were these?

“Char…Char…Charlie!” Winded, she had to slow down until she was barely moving at all. Hands on her thighs, leaning over, she watched helpless as Charlie plowed headfirst into a neighbor’s bushes. Startled, he hunched low and took slow, careful steps around the hedge. His tongue dangled out of his mouth but, otherwise, he looked ready to resume his marathon sprint. What the heck did Hannah feed that dog? Crack cocaine?

One step. Two steps. Spider inched closer. Charlie turned, and she used all of her reserves to leap toward him.

Yes! Their bodies collided, and she rolled with him onto the grass, the forty-pound dog using her as his personal cushion, not that she cared. Not as long as she had a tight grip on him.

She laughed in triumph and then groaned when a wet tongue found her mouth. Ewww. Disgusting. Doggy slobber. So gross.

It took a few more minutes of her wrangling him on the neighbor’s lawn to get into a position where she actually could pick him up. New rule. The dogs were going to wear their leashes twenty-four seven while they were under her watch.

She’d once thought she might like to have a dog, but uh uh. Not anymore. Cats were so much easier than dogs.

The two of them lumbered back to the house and collapsed together inside the fenced yard. Oh, thank heaven. Now she just had to figure out how to get back inside the locked home she was supposed to be protecting.

Chest heaving, she sprawled on the grass for a few minutes, thinking about it.

Man, she had to pee.

Pushing herself up on her elbows, she considered each of the windows. She’d already checked most of them. Her gaze fell on one. The bathroom. Had she locked it back after cracking it open last night when someone whose name rhymed with Costello had pooped mushy stuff all over the floor?

Remind her to never give him part of her burrito again. Ever.

Struggling to her feet, she glared at Charlie as she made her way to that side of the house. He was happily prancing about the yard again as if the past hour had never happened. Insane dog.

Spider nearly burst into tears when she saw through the pane that the window wasn’t latched. Yes! She pushed it up as far as she could, lifted herself up, and…

A pulsating siren startled her so much she squealed and fell backwards, landing flat on her butt in the grass.

“Oh, no, no, no.” The house’s high-tech smart alarm system was programmed to automatically arm itself after fifteen minutes if the doors and windows remained inactive. Zach had warned her about it at least a dozen times. It was a new system he was testing for clients of his private security firm.

It took Spider a few tries to pull herself up so her waist was aligned with the windowsill. A pair of almond-shaped eyes were there waiting for her when she did. Perched on the sink, Abbott’s black and white feline body was drawn back and ready to spring as he stared at the opening in the window.

“No!” Spider yelled at him as she grappled to lift her left leg up. “Don’t even think about it, mister.”

With a growl, the cat took a leap in the opposite direction and darted through the bathroom doorway as she managed to get her leg over the windowsill. She was half in and half out. Basically. Almost. Her foot was inside the bathroom anyway. That was progress.

“Hello?” a man’s deep voice called from not too far away. “Everything okay back there?”

Oh, for the love of Pete.

Straddling the window, Spider wiggled, trying to swing her other leg over and into the bathroom. Much harder to do than she’d expected. Her left side was pressed to the pane of glass on the outside of the house. No matter how hard she pushed, she couldn’t get the window to raise high enough to let her maneuver inside.

The house phone began ringing and seconds later, the alarm stopped. Well, that was something at least.

Furry legs grabbed onto Spider’s calf inside the house.

“Hello?” the man called again.

“Uh, yeah! We’re okay.” Still trying to shove the window up, she glanced down and saw Costello humping away at her leg.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

She tried to jostle the dog off, which only managed to get her stuck in a more awkward position. Uh. She was wedged in there pretty good now.

The back fence moved inward. Spider reached a hand out and screamed, “Don’t let the dog out!”

A man she didn’t recognize grabbed Charlie’s collar just as the dog ran toward the gate. That mutt must have some superpower for detecting openings he couldn’t see. She’d swear her life on it. Her body sagged against the window frame on a loud sigh of relief that he hadn’t escaped again.

The stranger snapped the gate shut behind him and gave Charlie a generous rub on both ears. Spider snorted when Charlie lapped the man’s face with his tongue. Some guard dog he was.

“Are you sure you don’t need help?”

Seriously? He wanted to help her now?

The guy lifted his delicious green gaze, which widened when it found her. He swore. “Are you stuck in the window?”

She stifled a groan. He would have to be a total hottie, wouldn’t he?

Please, someone shoot me now.

***

Spirited Away is book three in the Psychic Detectives Series but can be read as a standalone. It can be purchased from any of the following retailers:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | HarperImpulse | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play

~ Learn more about Angela Campbell and her books at www.AngelaCampbellOnline.com.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Made for TV

Posted by: Joely Sue Burkhart
I suppose with the success of Game of Thrones, it was inevitable that there would be "copycat" attempts to bring epic fantasy to TV.  Obviously there's a market for it!

But it's sooooo hard to capture the sprawling epic wonder of fantasy without making it look... cheesy.

Very cheesy.

Case in point:  Did you catch the pilot of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time TV adaptation, Winter Dragon?  Evidently there's a huge mess behind the scenes that lead to this atrocity.  I can't even begin to comprehend how upset Harriet (she was her husband's editor on all the books) must be.

To lose him before the series was finished....and then have this happen.

It's not just the low-budget set, ridiculous costumes (did they even TRY to find clothes that made sense?!?), and stiff cardboard acting.  All of that is horrible.  But there's no understanding or love for the story or the genre as a whole.  They treated it like a joke - just enough to try and keep the rights before they expired.  It's enough to make a decades-long fan weep and gnash her teeth.

I started reading this series Christmas break 1993.  I was late to the series - at least two books were already out, maybe three.  I went with my grad school friend to the bookstore at the mall and was appalled that she paid hardcover prices for a book.  I mean, we were starving teaching assistants making $10K a year.  Why on earth would she waste $20+ on a hardcover when she could wait a few months or so and buy it cheaper?

After she lent me her first two books, I understood.

And I bought all of the rest of the series in hardcover, stalking bookstores and calling regularly (this was in the days before Amazon) for months on end until I got my greedy little hands on the next book.

That's the kind of fans this series has inspired.

I wish this series could have gotten the attention and work it deserved.

"And it came to pass in those days, as it had come before and would come again, that the Dark lay heavy on the land and weighed down the hearts of men, and the green things failed, and hope died." ~ The Eye of the World.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Future is Here

Posted by: Caitlin Sinead
One of the first scifi movies I remember seeing in a theater is Back to the Future II, when they time travel to 2015. I was just old enough to enjoy it, but way too young to get all the jokes. Still, the whole premise gobbled me up whole and to this day the Back to the Future trilogy is my favorite movie trilogy.

I’ve seen the movies several times, but I remember specifically watching it in 2001 with my brother and realizing that we were closer to the future (2015) than we were the “present” (1985)! My brother and I had another movie objective in 2001, to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey, but somehow couldn’t find the time in 365 days. (And I still haven’t found the time 14 years later…I know, shame on me).

Anywho, back to the future. So, as 2015 approached, I got pretty excited. And on January 1 of this year, my husband (who also loves the trilogy, because, well, if he didn’t that might be a deal breaker) and I watched BTTF II. (Note to any fellow diehard fans, don’t worry, we’ll also be watching it on October 21, 2015, obviously!) While it was really fun oohing and awing over what they got right (like large flat screen TVs, voice instruction, and glasses that can perform tasks), and giggling at what they got wrong (like their quaint over-reliance on paper newspapers, flying cars, and hover boards), those observations are actually missing the point.

The thing is, the speculative 2015 in BTTF is less about what it might actually be to live right now than it is a distorted mirror to 1985. I don’t believe the writers were actually trying to predict things. That wasn’t the point. They used the “future” to say things about the American culture they were living in then, one where paper newspapers were still very much in use, the most prominent inventions were cars and TVs, not handheld communication devices.

So, I try to remember that speculative elements can’t just be fun and imaginative (what would the future really be like?), they need to say something in and of themselves (what does our vision of the future say about us now?). Speculative elements, no matter how fantastical, should still shed light on our readers’ current, real world. 

Given this, what do you think a fictional 2045 would look like?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases

 Quinn is looking forward to her senior year at Poe University. She has big plans to hang out with her best friend, flirt with a certain boy genius, party at her favorite dive bar and figure out what she's going to do after graduation with her not-so-useful art major. But that's before she meets Luke, a hot townie who's moved back home to help take care of his dying sister. And it's before a weird epidemic sweeps across campus, mysteriously turning people's eyes purple.

Is it an odd side effect from a new party drug?

Is it a rogue virus developed in a campus lab?

Is it the mark of the devil?

Soon the town starts blaming the university and the student religious group becomes frighteningly aggressive in their on-campus accusations. Quinn and Luke are caught in the middle—until a tragic accident forces Luke to reveal the one part of himself he's kept carefully hidden. That he's so much more than the happy-go-lucky boy next door Quinn had believed him to be isn't a surprise…but this truth might be too dangerous for her to handle.


Buy Now

QITIRIN 

Sensuous Paranormal Fantasy Romance
Music And Press
ISBN 978-1-941321-39-3
Word Count:  33.2K

$2.99


Scarred and traumatized, ex-Marine Sergeant Joshua Cobb can no longer function amid normal civilization. He's retreated to the mountains of Alaska to live in solitude, where he can battle his personal demons in peace.



Life is harsh in the untamed wild, especially when he has to face other creatures who are also trying to survive. But the bears and wolves and other dangerous animals are no match for the two-legged variety who see Joshua as easy prey.


He has no idea that the injured wolf he rescues will become more than a companion. It will also save his life, and show him a love he only believed was possible in fairy tales.


Because the wolf, Qitirin, is more human than anyone could imagine.


Warning! Contains ill-fitting clothes, inhumane traps, actionable threats, banishment, pissed-off bears, and a way of life that demands both undying love and the ultimate sacrifice.

Excerpt and buy links.

Other News



MILESTONES:


Nicole Luiken's YA SF novel Violet Eyes has reached 1000 ratings on Goodreads!
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