Thursday, December 31, 2015

Starting Again-- A Ravensblood Snippet

Posted by: Shawna Reppert
One thing I've been having fun with lately is writing little snippets in the Ravensblood universe. There's lots of little scenes readers have asked to see that don't fit into any larger story.  So this is for everyone out there who was disappointed that I skipped writing about the two-ish years between the occurrences of  Ravensblood and Raven's Wing, and wanted to watch Raven and Cassandra rebuild their romantic relationship.

It was fun for me to write, because I love taking characters who are usually confident and competen, and putting them in situations where they feel less sure of themselves.

This was also written on the fly, due to RL pressures, so please forgive if there are any typos.




Raven hadn’t had first-date nerves in a long time. Ever, really—one of the few advantages of having been so unpopular in high school. He had skipped awkward adolescent dating, and by the time he lost his virginity, shortly before his twentieth birthday to a mage in her early twenties, he was well-placed enough in William’s favor that any of William’s followers would have considered him a catch, even if he hadn’t finally filled out his gawky frame and grown into the nose he had inherited, along with a familial history of dark magic, from his father.
It seemed ridiculous to be nervous about a dinner date with a woman who had been his apprentice, a woman with whom with whom he’d shared a previous intimate relationship.
Only that was the problem. So much shared history. So much of it bad. So much of that his fault. 
What were they going to talk about, anyway? The normal first date small talk was out. He knew what she did for a living, what her favorite color was, her favorite music. (Guardian International Investigations, all the colors in the sunset, and eclectic, respectively.)  Hello, dear, and how was your day? Too domestic. Sorry again about your cousin’s death, but William would have killed him anyway, and me as well, had I not slit his throat and fed on his death?

This whole thing was a bad idea. How had he talked himself into it in the first place?
Oh, yes. Because Cassandra was the only woman he had ever loved. The only one that he could imagine wanting in his life for as long as he could persuade her to stay.

It was time to leave. Too late to back out now. He may have been a dark mage until recently, but he had never been less than a gentleman.

He teleported to a sidewalk in front of an elegant little French restaurant in the uptown shopping district not too far from his house. Close enough, in fact, that he might have walked, had he not procrastinated until the very last minute. 

As soon as he entered Robert the maĆ®tre d greeted him. “Mr. Ravenscroft, welcome. I have your usual table waiting. The reservation was for two. Will someone be joining you?” The man’s subtle European accent might be false, but if so he used it so consistently and so well that Raven could not be sure.

“Yes. A young woman. Black hair, green eyes.”

Robert’s polite smile widened with genuine warmth. “Ah, yes. The brave and lovely Guardian of the news stories, yes?”

“Yes,” Raven agreed hiding his wince. He didn’t think he’d ever get used to his life being laid out in print for all the world to see.

At least this time it wasn’t the tabloids.

Cassandra had always been as lackadaisical about promptness, as much as he was habitually punctual. No reason to fret that she wasn’t here yet. Even if she’d come to her senses, she would tell him so, not just stand him up. She was neither cruel nor cowardly.

“Would you like to order the wine while you wait?” Robert suggested.

Raven hesitated.  While he’d never been sexist enough to order dinner for any date, he had often enjoyed introducing Cassandra to new vintages and varietals. But that was three years ago. Would she still appreciate the gesture, or would she feel that he was treating her like an apprentice, disrespecting the experienced she had gained?

Gods, if he kept second-guessing everything, he might as well give up now. He glanced at the wine list.  “A bottle of the 2005 Argyle Brut, please.”

Cassandra liked sparkling wine and was an advocate of the shop-local movement, and Argyle Brut could give French champagne a run for its money.

Cassandra arrived before the wine did.  He stood, pulled out her chair for her, helped her off with her jacket. By her smile, she still seemed to enjoy the small courtesies.  So far, so good. The waiter cane with the wine and filled their glasses, which spared Raven for a few moments. Perusal and discussion of the menu took a few more minutes only—neither of them were the type to dither and debate with themselves endlessly over meal choices.

“So,” he said after she laid her folded menu on top of his on the side of the table.

“So,” she repeated, with a smile for his nervousness. 

A fond smile, not a mocking one, and yet he tensed up further. With the spy game over, did they have anything to talk about? Were they both fools to think that anything could be built on top of the rubble of a relationship that had had deception as its very foundation?

“So how was your day?” He cringed as soon as the words left his mouth.

She shrugged. “The usual.”

The waiter came to take their orders. Which bought some more time, but meant that there would be no escape for an hour or so.

“Oh, there was the one thing that happened,” Cassandra said after the waiter had left.

“Oh?”  Thank the gods, something.

“We had this guy up from the local Guardians,” she said. “Interdepartmental cooperation and all that. “Was going on and on about my analysis of the time of crime based on the fading of the magical signatures had to be wrong because his instructor at the Academy said. . .blah, blah, blah.”

He hid his smile behind the champagne glass. Cass never reacted well to being told that she was wrong.To be fair, she seldom was.

“So I explained to him about the influence of ambient magic, such as you find in craft lands or in a laboratory that’s been used for years for magical work.” She paused to sip at her wine. “This is good,” she commented, and turned the bottle to read the label.

“You were saying?” he prompted.

“Oh, the jerk,” she said. “He implied that I couldn’t possibly know more about forensic magic than he did.  Made a snide remark about ‘women’s intuition’ and heavily implied that I was only there because of affirmative action.”

“Oh, no.” 

He didn’t call her Firecat for nothing. He could almost feel sorry the man. . .if he didn’t so richly deserve everything he got.

Cassandra’s eyes sparkled. “So I told him that I hadn’t been aware that affirmative action extended to hiring blithering idiots, but his presence proved me wrong.”

“What happened?” 

She loved her new job; he hoped she hadn’t just blown it.

“He made some comment about PMS and threatened to tell my boss. So I showed him the way to Sherlock’s office.”

“So what did he say? Your boss?”

Cassandra grinned. “Cave-boy apparently wasn’t aware that Sherlock was just a nickname, and my boss’s given name is Abigail Andrews. He practically fell over his feet trying to backpedal. Unsuccessfully, I might add.”

Their food came, and they talked the rest of the evening about the fading of magical signatures and the tracing of teleport trails, until Robert regretfully told them he would have to lock up soon. Raven only then realized that the restaurant had officially closed an hour ago. 

He walked her to the sidewalk, his whole being buzzing with her presence. Too early, by far, to ask if she would like to come back with him for a nightcap. But she tilted her face up to him as they fed their farewell, and the kiss they shared promised a future he could almost let himself believe in.

Visit the author's website!



Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Magic of Conspiring

Posted by: Steve Vera
So I'm in a restaurant, talking shop with one of my closest friends and we're going over a synopsis I'd just gotten back from the editor. "Revise and re-submit" is what it came down to. They loved the synop, loved the third chapter (I'd submitted the first three) but wanted some work done on the first two chapters before they committed. That was fine with me, that was exactly how it went down for my first trilogy. At least they were interested.

As I'm talking to my buddy, he says out of nowhere, "Too bad you can't blend the two worlds you know the most about, the restaurant business (it's in my DNA) and the realm of fantasy." Also in my DNA.

The thought honestly had never crossed my mind. In fact, I didn't even have the slightest clue of what a book like that would look like but before I know it, we're hammering out a story over a couple of Yuenglings. Two hours later we had outlined a KICKASS story concept. It was almost too good to be true. In fact, we were both so excited about it, when we got back to his apartment in Tribeca, we just kept going, each idea more exciting than the last.

Here's the thing though, I was supposed to be writing about the other one! It wasn't as if I didn't love the other concept, that one was kick-ass too and both my agent and editor dug it. Still...this new idea, this new concept, I felt as if we'd just about created a new genre! What was I to do?

After a twenty-four hour pause (it's amazing at how things look differently in the morning minus the Yuenglings) I made my decision.

I was going all in. With the new concept. Not only did it look just as awesome as it had the previous night, it looked even better. And after all, it wasn't as if the original project was going anywhere. Both my agent and editor told me to take my time so...I would. :) In fact, I submitted the new synopsis to my agent just the other day; this whole blog post will be news to her--doh!

At the end of the day, all I could think about was how utterly effortless the process had been with this idea and how working with the right partner changes everything. I can honestly say I wouldn't have come up with the idea had not been for my buddy. Excited doesn't even begin to cover it.

And that, folks, is the magic of conspiring. It's out there. Lurking. And when you find it, pounce on it! Who knows, it could lead to a bestseller. :) I'll let you know how it goes.

Steve out.






Afflicted with wanderlust as a teenager, Steve has lived in eight states, served briefly in the U.S. Air Force as a Pararescue Trainee, and has a profound aversion to mint chocolate ice cream. He currently lives in Sunnyside, Queens.
Conspiring.
















Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Gifts We Give Our Children

Posted by: Joshua Roots
Books have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Growing up, no bedtime was complete without a proper tucking in followed by stories that ranged from Dick and Jane’s adventures to Dr. Seuss to Peanuts and Garfield. My folks were good about mixing things up, but like all kids, I had my favorite. Anytime they allowed me to choose, my go-to was Roger’s Umbrella. Mom and Dad wore out the binding, and likely their patience, yet I never tired of hearing the same tale over and over again.

To this day, few stories have stayed with me like Roger’s Umbrella. Granted, my tastes have changed over the years and new books became my obsession. I cracked the spine on The Indian in the Cupboard, re-read Who is Bugs Potter? more times than I could count, and even now pull Dave Barry’s Big Trouble off the shelf at least once a year. Yet Roger’s Umbrella resides in a special place in my heart. Partially because it's a sweet tale of a “boy” and his increasingly disobedient umbrella, but mostly because it was the first book to ignite my passion for reading.

And that’s a gift I can’t wait to pass down.

My wife and I have enjoyed the holidays, not only because it was some much-needed time off, but also because of all the attention that goes along with being expecting parents. In six months, we’ll say hello to our first child and we've been dealing with the euphoria (and sheer terror) that goes along with it. We’re asking questions that new parents have asked for generations and sharing similar worries. But we’re also excited and impatient to meet our daughter. We can’t wait to show our June Bug this planet and all its wonders, to spend the days watching her grown and learn.

And spend the nights reading her to sleep.

There are few treasures as precious as a book. They stir the imagination and allow the reader to experience worlds filled with wondrous people and places. Sometimes they make us laugh, sometimes they make us cry, and sometimes they leave us questioning ourselves or those around us. They are portals to other dimensions that we can access anytime we wish and revisit as often as we like.

All we need to do is open the cover.

Mom and Dad gave me the gift of Roger’s Umbrella and through it, sparked a love for reading. In the years to come, I hope pass that gift on to my daughter. With any luck, she'll become enthralled with the written word and begin a journey of constant discovery.

And who knows, maybe one day she, too, will find herself tucking her own daughter into bed and reading from the same worn, dog-eared book that my parents gave to me.



So, what books sparked your passion growing up?






Bio:




Joshua Roots is a car collector, beekeeper, and storyteller. He enjoys singing with his a cappella chorus, golf, and all facets of Sci-Fi/Fantasy. He's still waiting for his acceptance letter to Hogwarts and Rogue Squadron. He and his wife will talk your ear off about their bees if you let them.

Paranormal Chaos, the final book in The Shifter Chronicles, is available for pre-order wherever digital books are sold.





Monday, December 28, 2015

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

Hoping everyone is having an excellent holiday season! Best wishes from Here Be Magic...

Other Member News:

Veronica Scott's roundtable discussion on SFR audiobooks is in the latest issue of the free online magazine SFR Quarterly. Veronica compared notes with best-selling authors S. E. Smith, Pauline B. Jones and Deborah A. Bailey. The article can be found here http://www.scifiromancequarterly.org/2015/12/the-a-to-sfr-of-audiobooks-part-1/  

Details on Veronica's audiobooks, including audio clips, can be found at https://veronicascott.wordpress.com/audiobooks/ 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

My Formal List of Demands for 2016

Posted by: R.L. Naquin
They've had enough of 2015, too.
On my last post here, I talked about the good things that happened in 2015, in spite of it being a difficult year. Now I’m back to tell you about how 2016 is going to go. Because make no mistake, I’m going into 2016 as the one in control this time. I will not allow two years in a row to push me around.

I’m looking the new year square in the eye and putting it on notice. Here’s a list of my demands:
  1. No less than four good hair days a week. Everybody deserves to feel pretty. 
  2. Cold flashes to offset the hot flashes that keep occurring. I’d enjoy some variety. 
  3. Cats that change their own damn litter boxes. Or at least a thank you now and then. 
  4. Seasonally appropriate weather. The world is already complicated enough. 
  5. Less chins on my face. One is enough for anybody, and I don’t want to be greedy. 
  6. No more political material on Facebook. Nothing but kitten videos and food porn from here on out. 
  7. More fancy grilled cheese sandwiches in my life. Cheese is awesome. 
  8. A universal disinterest in hashtags. #tiredofthisnonsense 
  9. Weddings and births instead of hospitals and funerals. Seriously. Let’s get this one right.
  10. A sudden and ginormous uptick in happy readers for my Mt. Olympus series and Monster Haven books. 
I have some expectations for myself, of course. I wouldn’t ask so much of the new year if I weren’t willing to put in some time and effort of my own. I’ll be working hard on writing new books, eating right, and getting plenty of exercise. I have all the things I need in place to hold up my end. I’m ready.

But 2016 better be ready, too. I’ll give it the next week to prepare, then I’m coming for it.

Who’s with me?

Rachel writes stories that drop average people into magical situations filled with heart and quirky humor.

She believes in pixie dust, the power of love, good cheese, lucky socks and putting things off until the last minute. Her home is Disneyland, despite her current location in Kansas. Rachel has one husband, two grown kids and a crazy-catlady starter kit.

Sign up for her newsletter for news, extras, and exclusive stuff: Newsletter
Hang out with her here: Website Blog Facebook Twitter
Buy her books here:  Amazon B&N Carina Press

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays

Posted by: Eleri Stone
video

I'm sharing my Christmas Eve snowstorm with everyone who's celebrating a tropical Christmas this year, and also some great holiday deals!

Sale! 0.99 through 01/01/16
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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Excerpt: To Curse the Darkness

Posted by: PG Forte

I have a new book out today. To Curse the Darkness is the sixth book in my Children of Night series and I've finally figured out what I'm writing about. I know, I'm slow. Don't judge. 

I mean, I always knew I was writing about a vampire family. That was the whole point. But I never really considered how central to the story that family is. Turns out the series isn't just about a single family. It's about what family means, the impact the whole has on the individual members, and all the ways in which the relationships change as parents age or children grow up. 

So, in a way, To Curse the Darkness is a coming of age story. And this is true even though Julie, the character who comes of age in the story, is in her forties. 

But, after all, these are vampires. Given her life expectancy, I don't find that unreasonable at all. 

In the following scene, Julie has reached a decision that Conrad disagrees with. And that doesn't sit well with her sire at all. 

“What are you doing here?” [Conrad] demanded. “How dare you defy me. You are not to endanger yourself. How many times must I say it”

“I don’t—” Julie bit back the angry words she wanted to say. That she didn’t need his permission—or anyone else’s. That it was her life, her choice. “I’m not endangering myself,” she said instead, figuring she didn’t need to add fuel to this particular fire. It appeared to be burning quite nicely all on its own.

But, oh, she really didn’t like the way Christian had distanced himself from her so abruptly. His reaction put her in mind of the time Armand had snuck up on the two of them while they were kissing. Then and now, it left her feeling defensive—as though she’d been caught doing something wrong.

And she didn’t like Conrad’s out-of-control protective streak either. His stubborn determination to stick with a decision that could only lead to unhappiness or everyone involved was nothing short of stupid.

Damn it, she thought she’d have more time. She knew she hadn’t convinced Conrad or completely changed his mind, but she’d been hoping she wouldn’t have to.

When she’d left Conrad and Damian in the salon, in the aftermath of Conrad’s confession, she’d expected they’d want to take some time to sort through their emotions, maybe talk to each other, reassure each other. They certainly needed to! How many hundreds of years had they spent together? And they still hadn’t figured that out?

She’d been hoping the task would keep them busy long enough for her to get through with this. She hadn’t thought it an unreasonable assumption, but apparently it was, because here they both were.

She eyed her parental figures with annoyance, grimly pleased to note that Damian had nothing to say. The drawn, unhappy expression on his face was a pretty good indicator that at least she’d made her point with him. If Damian still had objections, she had no doubt she’d be hearing it. There was no way he’d be holding his tongue. His silence, even more than his strained and anxious expression, convinced her that he understood what she’d been trying to convey and that he agreed with her conclusion that Conrad was unlikely to ever recover from being forced to kill his best friend.

On the plus side, at least she was halfway to her goal. She only had to convince one of them now.

“Come and sit down,” she said, crossing to Conrad and taking one of his hands, “and we’ll talk about it.”

“There’s nothing left to talk about,” Conrad insisted. “My mind is made up.” Still, he let her lead him over to one of the armchairs in the suite’s small sitting area.

Once he was seated, Julie dropped to her knees by his side. The anguished look in his eyes made her want to cry. She hated seeing him like this. When she was a child, he’d seemed invincible. She remembered sitting on his lap after a bad dream or some other childish disaster had brought her to tears. Being with him made her feel safe—in part because she knew he’d always be there to protect her. Now, she just wanted to give a little back. Was that so wrong?

She gazed up at him entreatingly. “Why won’t you let me do this for you?”

“For me?” Conrad stared at her in horror. “Carissima, no. Please don’t say that. Since the day you and your brother were born, seeing to your well-being has been my first priority. Would you burden me now with the guilt of knowing that I was the impetus for this decision—a decision that could very well cost you your life? How has this become something you would do for me, or to further my interests in some fashion? Tell me, please.”

“Georgia saved your life—isn’t that what you told me? That none of us would be here if it weren’t for her?”

Conrad winced as though the reminder was painful. He swallowed hard before nodding. “Yes. It’s true. She saved me from such a state of utter misery that…that I could never have survived without her help. Without her, I would have had to find some way of ending my life long before now. Do you understand what I’m saying? It was torture. I couldn’t bear it.”

“So then why wouldn’t you want to save her life in return? Or how about all those other people who were infected with this disease? The ones you had to kill over the years, to end their suffering. Didn’t you ever wish there were some way to cure them?”

“Yes, child, of course I did. But there wasn’t any other way. I’ve told you that several times now.”

“I know,” Julie agreed. “I understand. Up until now, there was nothing you or anyone else could do to help them. And there’s still no way that you can cure Georgia. But I can. I can save her and Christian too. Just think: if this works, you’ll never have to kill anyone else—not ever again. That’s gotta be worth some risk, right?”

Conrad brushed her arguments aside. “Never is an inconceivably long time. I’m sure there will  be many people who I will deem it necessary to kill. The woman who hurt your brother, for example. Eventually, we will find her. She will pay for what she’s done.”

“That’s not the same thing, and you know it. You want to kill her. It’s not something you’ll be forced to do.”

“I still cannot let you go through with this.” His expression was as determined as ever, but Julie could feel his resolve weakening. “It’s a parent’s job to look after his young, to care for and  protect them,   do for them what they cannot do for themselves—not the other way around.”

Julie couldn’t help but smile. “But it doesn’t have to be that way forever. ” She resisted the impulse to point out that she was no longer that young. It seemed childish to mention it. Given the differences in their respective ages, she doubted it was an argument she’d ever win anyway. “There has to be some point when things change, when the tables turn and you let others care for you. Don’t you agree?”

Conrad shook his head. “I’m not yet so weak that I need to depend on others for support.”

Querido,” Damian interjected suddenly. “Since when is it a weakness to accept help from those who love you? Did you think yourself weak when you sought my help in raising the children?”

Conrad spared him a brief, unhappy look—a look that suggested Damian was an idiot for even asking. “Yes. Of course I did. And so I was. Weak. Desperate. Afraid. Don’t pretend now that you did not resent me for it. That you didn’t hate me for placing your life in jeopardy. I know for a fact that you did.”

Tears glinted in Damian’s eyes as he turned away, muttering angrily to himself. Julie sighed. “Look, when you think about it, doesn’t it make perfect sense? If Georgia hadn’t saved you, you couldn’t have saved us. I don’t think I’m wrong about that, am I? Marc and I wouldn’t be here right now either if it weren’t for you. So why shouldn’t it be my turn now? Let me save her; that way it all balances out and everyone’s happy.”

Conrad shook his head. “No. It’s bad enough that I could not protect your brother from that madwoman who abducted him. Or that I would not have been in time to save you the other night if others had not intervened. I’ve failed you both enough already. Do not ask me to do so again. I will not be the cause of any more pain.”


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