Friday, December 30, 2016

Goodbye 2016 (and Good Riddance!)

Posted by: Cindy Spencer Pape
Yesterday's post mourned Carrie Fisher, the iconic Princess Leia/General Organa who gave little girls someone to believe in--a princess who could rescue herself and hold her own with the men in her life. But this year we also lost the Goblin King (David Bowie) and Alan Rickman who entertained us in Galaxy Quest and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, among so many others.

It's been a rough year for geeks in the entertainment field, and a tough year for most writers I know. One of my major publishers has closed its doors, leaving me with my rights, but minus a year's worth of royalties. A couple days ago, the notice came in that All Romance e-books is closing, paying authors and publishers pennies on the dollars owed and leaving customers who had pre-ordered books in the lurch. Many publishers are willing to honor those pre-orders, as are many independent authors, so if you're in that position, contact the publisher or author.

Meanwhile, those of us who once wrote stories for a living are scrambling for other ways to put roofs over our heads and food on our tables, or at least other venues for publishing. It's a rough time to be in this business, but for writers, it's also nearly impossible not to write.

So do I have resolutions for 2017? Nope. I'm not that brave. I have hopes. I'd like to see some light in the darkness that is the publishing industry. I'd like to get my personal writing back on track after a couple rough years. I've even got some personal and familial difficulties that can go away any damn time now and stay gone.

So for all of us here at HBM, and all of you who read our books and support our work, may 2017 be a better year. Maybe I do have a New Year's Resolution after all--to just keep on going, despite it all. Sometimes that's the only thing we can do.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

RIP Carrie Fisher 1956-2016

Posted by: Angela Korra'ti
2016 has been a very rough year for a lot of us, for a great variety of reasons. Quite a few of those in particular have applied to me, to be sure. But this week 2016 just had to get in one last punch—one that hits home hard for me—because this is the week we’ve lost Carrie Fisher.

I have a post up on my own site about this, over here. But in this post I want to expound a bit upon what Ms. Fisher as Leia Organa has meant for me, not only as a female fan of science fiction and fantasy, but also as a female writer of same.

Certainly if you’ve seen my prior posts here on Here Be Magic, you know I’ve posted about my love of Star Wars before. Last month, in fact, I posted about what I was looking forward to with Rogue One (and, if you want to see my review of that movie now that I’ve actually seen it, go check this post on my site). One of the things I touched on in my review of that movie was how it brought everything I loved about Star Wars roaring back to life.

And with Carrie Fisher’s passing, that resurgence in me has taken on a bittersweet tang.

Like a lot of women my age in SF/F fandom, Leia Organa was iconic. She was the very first woman I can remember rooting for in a science fiction setting. As Star Wars is the first movie I can remember seeing in a theater, Leia is the first woman I remember being able to identify with. I have memories of wanting the Leia action figure, when my brothers and I got hold of Star Wars toys, wanting to be as cool as the Luke and Han figures were.

It took a while for other women to measure up. The closest I got was perhaps Marion in Raiders of the Lost Ark, four years later. As I got older and started devouring books and other SF/F things like cartoons, I kept wanting to identify with the women: Sheba, Serena, Cassiopeia, and Athena in the original Battlestar Galactica. Princess in Battle of the Planets. Lisa Hayes in Robotech. Cheetara in Thundercats. Judy in Lost in Space.

Then I got a little older and discovered Laura Holt of Remington Steele, and Nikki Carter, the one awesome female character in MacGyver.

In books, it was all about Lessa in The Dragonriders of Pern, Brin Ohmsford in The Wishsong of Shannara, and of course Eowyn in The Lord of the Rings. And once I hit high school and discovered the novels of Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters, I started meeting so many wonderful heroines in her works.

And I could of course write many, many posts on all the female characters in Elfquest who have meant so much to me, both as a reader and as a writer.

All of these characters have been wonderful in their own ways, have brought joy to me as a reader, and have influenced my own sensibilities on how I should write my own female characters.

But every last one of them owes a debt to Princess Leia. She was the first. She was the one who showed me that even if you had to put up with being imprisoned by the Empire and waiting for a big-eyed farmboy to come break you out of your cell, that didn’t mean you had to be meek and shy about it. You had every right to grab a blaster and shoot Stormtroopers just like the guys.

And under no circumstances did you have to take any shit from smart-mouthed, disreputable smugglers. (Even if they were maddeningly hot.)

In The Force Awakens last year, we saw that very same Princess become a General. And now that I’m older, I have a whole new wave of feelings about that—because this Leia, this older, wiser woman who has suffered heartbreak and loss and who has never once stepped back from her ongoing quest to safeguard the galaxy, is every bit as much of a role model as her younger self. General Organa shows us all that yes, women can be generals. Women can lead a Rebellion that becomes a Resistance. Women have a place in the story even when they’re no longer conventionally pretty, or thin, or young. That message is just as valuable to almost-48-year-old me as the message of the young Leia was to me at age 8.

I love both Leias. And when Episode VIII comes out next year and I see General Organa on screen for the last time, I’m sure I’m going to cry for then as I am now.

RIP, General. Thank you for the joy you’ve brought so many women who came to SF/F because of you.

May the Force be with you always.

--
Angela writes as both Angela Highland and Angela Korra'ti, and as ought to be obvious by now, is also a gigantic Star Wars nerd. Come geek out with her about Rogue One on angelahighland.com, or her Facebook page, or her Twitter!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Favorite books of 2016.

Posted by: Janni Nell
Rather than looking back at the events of 2016, I thought it would be more fun to look at books. I read close to a hundred this year. Some were published in 2016, others a while ago. Here are some of my favorites. 

In the fantasy genre, the Blackthorn and Grim series by Juliet Marillier is awesome. Book 2, Tower of Thorns, was a big, beautiful fairy tale. Even better than book 1! I love first person point of view, and these books have multiple first person so I'm a happy camper. The characters of Blackthorn and Grim have such different voices, you always know exactly which of them is telling the tale. I'm so looking forward to reading book 3, Den of Wolves, which is currently on my e-reader. Right now I'm just enjoying the anticipation of reading it.

I just loved Tara Brown’s post-apocalyptic Born Trilogy. Breathtaking action and the best kickass heroine since Katniss. 

The Empress of Rome series by Kate Quinn has been around for a while, but I only started reading it this year. Mistress of Rome (the first book in the series) is a huge, gorgeous historical featuring a hot gladiator, a female slave, a crazy emperor and a host of Romans behaving badly—and nobody does bad behavior better than the Ancient Romans. I had a ball reading this and absolutely loved the romantic element.

I'm loving the Capt Lacey regency mysteries by Ashley Gardner. Capt Lacey is a lovely character--a man who is flawed yet fabulous, and awesome at solving mysteries. But he's not the only reason to enjoy this series. I have to confess, I have a soft spot for James Dennis. I know I shouldn't because he's a bad, bad boy, but there it is. This year I read book 11, The Alexandria Affair. I'm eagerly looking forward to book 12 in 2017.

So what books did you enjoy reading in 2016?

****

Janni Nell writes the Bolde & Baulsey paranormal mystery series. Book 1 Dead Monk Walking available now.

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Book 2, Dead Lady Vanishing, coming Feb 2017. 


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Becoming the Heroine I Want to Be in the World

Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy
As I settle into cleaning up the detritus from celebrating Christmas with my family, and turn my thoughts to clearing the mental decks for the new year, it’s interesting to see THE EDGE OF THE BLADE release today.

It’s unusual to have a book release so late in the year—kind of a vagary of traditional publishing schedules—but that’s not what’s on my mind so much. No, instead I’m thinking about the year ahead and the challenges it poses.

Usually my new year’s resolutions are all about me. What I want and need to change in my own life. The inevitable paring down of the diet to include fewer cookies, less wine and ... well, less food, full stop. There’s always my setting of writing and reading goals. This year I hope to wrestle some of the finances into obedience. 

But this year, I’m thinking about the larger world, too. One of the outcomes of the U.S. Presidential election is that I’ve had more conversations about politics in the last two months than I remember *ever* having. What’s going on here reflects what’s going on in the larger world, with frightening destruction by terrorist and totalitarian regimes—and the election of ultra-conservative governments in response to that fear.

A lot of my thoughts about what I want and need from the coming year have to do with how I will handle what may come.

So, it’s interesting to have Jepp’s book release right now.

Jepp isn’t a hero. Not exactly. She does what she needs to do in the moment. She is essentially fearless, has depthless confidence in her ability to fight off the worst to come at her—and she stands up for what is right. What she values most is simple and straightforward: the freedom to be who you are and do what you want to with your own life.

She’s a person who fights without hesitation for herself and for others.

It turns out to be fitting, then, that she’s essentially launching this new year for me. I want to recapture what living in her head was like. Having her courage, her confidence, yes, but also her fierce lust for life. She finds everyone beautiful. She enjoys every moment to the utmost. She loves, deeply and without shame or regret.

Maybe she is the hero I’d like to be. Wishing you all a peaceful and enriching end to the year. More, I’m wishing you all courage, fortitude and joy to carry into the new year.


  THE EDGE OF THE BLADE

A HAWK’S PLEDGE 

The Twelve Kingdoms rest uneasy under their new High Queen, reeling from civil war and unchecked magics. Few remember that other powers once tested their borders—until a troop of foreign warriors emerges with a challenge . . . 

 Jepp has been the heart of the queen’s elite guard, her Hawks, since long before war split her homeland. But the ease and grace that come to her naturally in fighting leathers disappears when battles turn to politics. When a scouting party arrives from far-away Dasnaria, bearing veiled threats and subtle bluffs, Jepp is happy to let her queen puzzle them out while she samples the pleasures of their prince’s bed.

But the cultural norms allow that a Dasnarian woman may be wife or bed-slave, never her own leader—and Jepp’s light use of Prince Kral has sparked a diplomatic crisis. Banished from court, she soon becomes the only envoy to Kral’s strange and dangerous country, with little to rely on but her wits, her knives—and the smolder of anger and attraction that burns between her and him . . .

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Monday, December 26, 2016

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases

Out tomorrow, December 27, 2016!!!

THE EDGE OF THE BLADE

A HAWK’S PLEDGE 

The Twelve Kingdoms rest uneasy under their new High Queen, reeling from civil war and unchecked magics. Few remember that other powers once tested their borders—until a troop of foreign warriors emerges with a challenge . . . 

 Jepp has been the heart of the queen’s elite guard, her Hawks, since long before war split her homeland. But the ease and grace that come to her naturally in fighting leathers disappears when battles turn to politics. When a scouting party arrives from far-away Dasnaria, bearing veiled threats and subtle bluffs, Jepp is happy to let her queen puzzle them out while she samples the pleasures of their prince’s bed.

But the cultural norms allow that a Dasnarian woman may be wife or bed-slave, never her own leader—and Jepp’s light use of Prince Kral has sparked a diplomatic crisis. Banished from court, she soon becomes the only envoy to Kral’s strange and dangerous country, with little to rely on but her wits, her knives—and the smolder of anger and attraction that burns between her and him . . .

Amazon
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iBooks
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Read More...
“Kennedy’s THE EDGE OF THE BLADE is sure to please those who love fantasy and romance.”
~Make Kay on Goodreads




Friday, December 23, 2016

Lost Traditions

Posted by: PG Forte
When it comes to holiday traditions, there are two types of people. Those for whom it’s not a holiday unless the traditions are strictly adhered to, and those who are always on the lookout for the shiny and new.

I’m pretty firmly in the second category, but for some reason I like to think of myself as a traditionalist. Denial. Still not just a river.

When I was a child, my mother made the mistake (that’s her opinion, btw—not mine) of adding coconut meringues to her usual array of Christmas cookies. They were amazing. I was instantly enamored. Here was a shiny, new tradition I could happily get on board with. But have you ever made meringues? They tie up the oven for hours. So it’s not surprising that my mother opted never to make them for Christmas again. And yet, despite the Christmas-we-had-meringues having occurred many decades ago, I’ve never forgotten it.

I've made meringues myself over the years, but never at Christmas--mostly because no one else in my family really likes them as much as I do. I find traditions tend to lose a little of their luster when you're the only one indulging.

When my son was in kindergarten, his best friend’s grandmother was visiting for the holidays. She made Cuban-style rice pudding—flavored with cardamom—that was a revelation. It was one of only two dishes I’ve ever eaten that tasted like Christmas. And, no, I have no idea what Peking Duck and Cuban rice pudding could possibly have in common.

I ate that rice pudding for breakfast Christmas morning and immediately decided that would be my new tradition. You know what might have helped to make that a reality? A recipe. I tried several times to duplicate it, but never came close. Both our families moved away after that school year ended. We lost track of each other and I lost another incipient tradition.
    
I think the longest tradition I’ve managed was the silver-and-white tree. I kept that one for seven years—a good chunk of my kids’ childhoods, which might explain why they’re much better about this whole tradition thing than I am. Then my ornaments got lost in a move and I expressed my displeasure—and channeled my inner Elvis—by doing a Blue Christmas tree for the next two years. That was about all I could stand of that particular tradition. It was entirely too depressing.

So what about you? Are you Team Tradition? Or Team Shiny-new?  What are some of your favorite holiday memories?

I have two free Holiday-themed short stories (This Winter Night and Counting on Christmas) available on my blog: http://rhymeswithforeplay.blogspot.com/p/free-reads.html


I'd like to wish you all the happiest of holidays. And may 2017 be...well, not 2016. I figure that’s already a good start.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

What Do You Get For Someone Who Has Everything?

Posted by: Veronica Scott
Veronica sez: Our guest author today is Maureen Bonatch and she has some answers just in time!

Maureen: It’s that time of year again. We spend agonizing hours scouring the stores and/or the internet for the perfect gift for that special someone. Unfortunately, there are some people left for last. Only because they seem to have everything. It feels as if there is no gift that will adequately display how much you care for them.

Especially if that someone happens to be a witch, warlock or other paranormal creature that can already bend the rules of the universe and doesn’t place the same value on material things. 

Got Magic? 

A few months before the holiday season began, I was wrapping up the draft of book 3 of The Enchantlings (Hope Less). The story ends with the Christmas season. I realized I needed to find the perfect gift for Hope to give her man. So, what does she give to a man who has enough magic, money and power to get whatever he wants already?

This took some thought, and I’m not going to give away the ending of Hope Less by sharing just what gift she ended up choosing, but I will share some ideas for you. 

Avoid the Chore of The Store 

As an introvert by nature, and reluctant to consider potential jail time for losing my patience over long lines, and short tempers—no matter how many shopping days are left, I try to avoid the hustle and bustle.

Maybe You Already Have that Last- Minute Gift & Don’t Even Realize It.

·        Do something they’ve always wanted to do as your gift. Maybe they love sports/symphony/museums and you don’t—offer to go without complaint. Tell them you’re happy to go because it makes them happy.
·        Fulfill a promise: Quit smoking, plan how to lose weight for your health, de-clutter your home by giving some of your things to someone who will appreciate them.
·        Give something heartfelt- a homemade card, a long overdue apology, write a poem, write a story about when you first met- the list is endless.
·         If you’re a crafty person, there are a plethora of ideas on Pinterest for DIY gifts. Never fear my family & friends- I wouldn’t dare try to pass off my horrific crafting attempts on you.
·        The gift of time. Do a task they detest, or something you excel at, make them a meal to freeze, or give of your time for a family movie or game night. FYI: I’m still waiting for my girls or hubby to fulfill my request of cleaning the house as a gift= the gift of more writing time.
·        Give something that holds a sentimental value for you and that they may have admired.
·        Donate your time (or money) to a charity in their name
·         A special memory captured in a photograph. Frame one or make an album of the two of you. Organize their big box of old photos. Idea: My hubby loves to cook, for Father’s Day, my girls took a binder and organized all his, and their, favorite recipes and made a photo collage for the cover. 

What Do You Get for the Writer in Your Life? 

Here’s a few gift ideas for writers you can check out: http://www.sophiakimble.com/blog/2014/10/14/maureen-bonatch-writing-tip


What’s the best gift you ever got, or gave?

Here’s a little about my first book in The Enchantlings Series- Destiny Calling

When the woman who raised Hope is murdered by something not human, Hope loses the only family she knows and discovers one she might wish she never met. With a touch that can make the desperate hopeful, Hope is the answer. The only question is if she can deal with sibling rivalry, accept that entities feeding off despair exist, and determine if Griffith is the man of her dreams, or not at all what he seems.  

About Maureen
Maureen writes stories in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania that boast laughter, light suspense and something magical in the hope of sharing her love of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary world. She writes Paranormal Romance and Fantasy.

Find Me:
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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Have Yourself a Horrific Little Christmas

Posted by: Linda Mooney
For those of you who like a little paranormal horror with your Christmas eggnog, check out Silent Night, Final Night, written under my pen name of Gail Smith. And enjoy this little excerpt:
***
When she emerged from the bedroom, Kem found her husband standing near the window overlooking the front yard. Going over to him, she drew her arms about his waist and pressed her cheek against his back.
            
“Maybe we should have told her Santa Claus doesn’t exist,” Armand murmured.
           
“It would have destroyed every last chance she has at having any sort of childhood.”
            
“You know in the morning she’s expecting to see a wrapped gift or toy beneath that umbrella tree.”
            
“Maybe there’s something in the garage,” Kem suggested. Armand cast her a dubious eye and snorted. “Hey, I haven’t checked all the closets yet,” she argued softly. “Maybe there’s wrapping paper hidden somewhere and we just haven’t found it yet.”
            
He took her arms and turned around to pull her into his embrace. Kem waited for his kiss, needing this rare private moment to reaffirm their love for each other. It had been months since they’d had sex. She wondered if they ever would again.
            
He nuzzled her hairline, sighed, and pulled her closer. “Kem?”
            
The tears rose in her eyes. She didn’t try to fight them. Neither did she try to keep the sobs from choking her.
            
“We can’t stay here, but we can’t leave. There’s nothing out there but death. But if we stay here, sooner or later we’re going to run out of food. And the weather’s only going to get worse. We have no future, Armand. Teela will not be able to grow up.” Pulling away slightly, she looked up into his concerned gaze. “If something happens to us, I dread to think what will happen to her. What kind of horrors is she going to have to face when we’re no longer there to protect her?”
            
Armand guided her over to the sofa and had her sit beside him. “It’s time we talked,” he announced, deliberately keeping his voice low. “Kem, we need to make a decision. I agree with you. There is no longer any future for us or for anyone else. Eventually everyone will either starve to death, or they’ll turn to cannibalism, which will only accelerate the decimation of humanity. The plague will take over all of us, one way or another. If something happens to us, you and I both know Teela won’t last five more minutes.” He pressed her thigh against his. “I have nightmares about being forced to watch our little girl being tortured and killed before our eyes.”
            
Kem shuddered. “I have, too. Armand, what are we going to do?”
            
He gave her another squeeze. “Kem, I think we’ve come to the end of the line. I think this is the end of us. We were damn lucky to find this place. I think we’ve been pressing our luck these past couple of months, but it won’t last. It can’t last. Sooner or later, we’re gonna hit that big brick wall that is the end of the road. Honey, if this is the end of us, I want it to be at our hands. I don’t want an infected or, God forbid, someone like Kreek taking our lives.”
            
More tears fell. Her face felt hot. Reaching up, she wiped the wetness from her cheeks, but more warm drops rolled across her fingers. “H-how?” she finally managed to ask. “How will we end ourselves?”
            
Armand took a deep breath. “It will be done as painlessly as possible.”
            
She nodded but remained silent and waited for him to continue.
            
He dug into his jeans pocket and pulled out a prescription bottle. “I found these in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. They’re sleeping pills.”
            
Kem sat up and gave him a surprised look. Armand quickly shook his head. “No, I didn’t give her any. Not yet. I wanted to talk with you first.”
            
She peered at the bottle. “There’s not that many.”
            
“It’s all right. I will give her a couple to knock her out. While she’s asleep, I’ll put a pillow over her face. She’ll never be aware of what’s happening to her.”
            
Kem pressed her face against his shoulder to muffle her sobs. Armand continued.
            
“I can do the same for you. You won’t suffer.”
            
“I kn-know. What about you?”
            
He took a shaky breath. “I’ll slit my wrists. I hear bleeding to death is very painless. I’ve heard it’s a lot like going to sleep.”
            
Clutching his shirt, she buried her face in the cotton fleece. “When?” she finally managed to ask.
            
“I was thinking tonight would be as good a time as any. That way, Teela won’t wake up in the morning and lose what’s left of her childhood. That way we won’t have to wonder how much longer we can remain here and try to decide where to go next. That way we—”
            
A thump sounded against the front door. Armand leaped forward to shutter the lantern, throwing the room into darkness, and took a stance against the wall. Kem went to stand behind him, flattening her back into the corner as they strained their ears. After another long minute, she thought she heard more movement coming from outside. She debated whether to sneak into the bedroom to awaken Teela when someone knocked on the door. They both jumped at the sound.
            
“We know someone’s in there. We saw the light, so you gotta be human like us! Those goddamn things ain’t got the brains anymore to do that.” It was a male voice, his words muffled but legible. There came another pounding knock. “There’s just the two of us. Please let us in. We’re freezing our asses off out here!”

SILENT NIGHT, FINAL NIGHT
A Christmas Horror Story
by Linda Mooney writing as Gail Smith
Word Count:  20.3K
$1.99 e
/ $6.99 p


A family on the run, searching for food, shelter, and others not infected.

A plague is wiping out the population, stealing the humanity from people and turning them into monsters. Kem and Armand are willing to do whatever it takes to protect their daughter and survive. Nothing is promised, not life, not their next meal, not even a decent night’s rest.


The quality of life is quickly diminishing. How much is too much? How long until the fight for survival is no longer worth it, and it’s time for a dignified end rather than a slow, painful death?

Excerpt and buy links: http://lindamooney.com/SilentNight.htm 


And don't forget to follow my blog to take part in The 12 Giveaway Days of Christmas, now through the 24th!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Jamie Gets a Story of His Own

Posted by: Ruth A Casie
Writing a story is a very personal experience. The writer probes into the psyche of the characters to understand what makes him/her tick. Delving deep makes it easier to anticipate their reaction to words, situations, the environment around them. We fill our pages with heroes, heroines, villains and support characters.
You know who the support characters are, the shadowy people who appear and disappear without much notice and the characters with the heftier roll, side kick, best friend, older parent figure. Their sole purpose is to interact or engage the hero/ine and give the reader a clearer view of the story and add depth to your hero/ine through comment and story development
The supporting character can be minor players who simply make the story more interesting or they’re supporting players who are essential to the plot. These players are key to the story, unmasking facets of the hero/ine’s personality, motivation and backstory that are concealed.
I created a supporting character, Jamie Maxwell Collins in The Guardian’s Witch, the first book in The Stelton Legacy. Jamie is married to the heroine’s sister. I loved writing this character. He was cheeky, irreverent, smart and trustworthy. The friendship between him and the hero came to life and grew on the pages. By the end of the story each man was dedicated to the other and life-long friends. Jamie became such a personality that my editor, as well as my readers asked for his story.
The Highlander’s English Woman is Jamie and Laura’s love story. It is the second novel in The Stelton Legacy.
Laura Reynolds and long-time friend of Jamie Maxwell Collins are in love. She adores his playful sense of humor, caring nature as well as his strong sense of honor. They have known each other from the time Jamie trained with her older brother at their home on the English side of Scottish border. Jamie has become an excellent soldier except he insists on remaining a farmer. He won’t fight and while she knows him well, she has no idea why.
Jamie Maxwell Collins lives on the Scottish side of the border. Carefree and open, he loves Laura but hides a dark secret so powerful it could destroy his family and those he cares for. He can’t involve Laura in this deception. He mustn’t give her hope for a future together. Instead, he ends their relationship.

While visiting Jamie’s uncle, Laura stumbles upon Jamie’s secret, but has nowhere to turn. The only person who can help, her brother is gone, killed on a Welsh battlefield. In her heart of hearts she knows Jamie is innocent. Their relationship in tatters and with no hope of reconciliation, she plays a deadly game to find a way to exonerate Jamie even though it means agreeing to a political marriage. She has no idea the entire game has been orchestrated by her future husband, Jamie’s greatest enemy.
The Highlander's English Woman is now available
Other books in The Stelton Legacy

Monday, December 19, 2016

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases

Complex: Hungry Touch by Shona Husk
The small population of Incubi in the Complex is clinging to old traditions and shunning contact with other species. Each year, the Incubi fight for the privilege to lead and mate. Only one can win. Kearn Layk never planned on winning, only doing better than last year’s previous dismal result that left him at the bottom of the pack. A year’s worth of secretly training more than paid off. He shocks everyone and wins. In the process, he makes an enemy of the man who was leader. Now filled with the burning desire to find a mate, he goes in search of a woman.
Phoebe Evans came to the Complex to reinvent herself. Being surrounded by the Metas is as strange as it is fascinating, but she hasn’t had the courage to date one yet. Then she meets Kearn. He’s smart and interesting and most definitely not Human.
Incubi traditions and Humans desires clash, and as new ideas are tested, old enemies rise up and threaten lives. Not everyone wants to see the Complex succeed.
Amazon      iBooks

Other News
Love faeries? During December, STORM WARNED by Dani Harper, is just $0.99 for the Kindle ebook version.


Passionate musicians Caris and Liam grew up centuries apart. When their fates collide, they must learn to trust each other and work together to stop a dark force from seizing both Fae and human worlds. 



Storm Warned is Book 3 in the Grim Series, but every story is designed to stand alone, says Dani. "You won't get lost, I promise!" 




>>>>>>>>>> <<<<<<<<<<<


Jeffe Kennedy's THE PAGES OF THE MIND was picked as one of Heroes and Heartbreakers Best Romances of 2016!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Guest Author Diane Burton Talks Holidays in Stories

Posted by: Veronica Scott

Thanks for having me back on this lovely blog.

Many writers pen novels celebrating a holiday. Valentine’s Day is perfect for romance writers, Halloween for those who write paranormal. Readers especially enjoy Christmas or holiday stories. I live in western Michigan, along the lake of the same name. We get LOTS of snow. Three years ago, over 159 inches of the white stuff fell in our area. It would have covered our mailbox if Hubs hadn’t kept it clear. Since we’re both retired, we don’t need to leave the house for anything urgent—like a job. Perfect time to curl up with a feel-good story.

I have yet to write a Christmas novel. On The Roses of Prose blog, each year the contributors write holiday short stories serialized throughout December (this year mine will appear from the 26th to the 28th). Until three years ago, I hadn’t written a short story since high school. My novels tend to run from 80-100 thousand words. I fretted about how to pare down a story to 3,000 words. Finally, I followed Nike’s advice and just did it. The result was “Christmas in Space” about astronauts who arrived on an unexplored planet on December 25th. That story stayed with me so much that I expanded it into a novella, published this year.

In Mission to New Earth, which starts in 2172, three teams of astronauts represent three regions of Earth: the United Americas, Euro-Africa, and Asia. Each team will explore a different planet. The team in my story represent the United Americas. Even that far into the future, the people of Earth may have united all the space agencies, but they haven’t united all the religions. While I’m Christian, not everyone is now or in the future, so I felt it was important to include references to many end-of-the-year celebrations—Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Mawlid an-Nabī, Dhanu Sankranti, Bodhi Day, and Omisoka. And even a nod to those who don’t follow any religion. In my efforts to be inclusive, I’m sure I’ve left out other religious observances, for which I apologize to those practitioners.

While we prepare to celebrate during this month, we don’t just sing about “good will to all” we show it by our actions . . . and in our stories.

However you celebrate, I wish the happiest of holidays to you and your families.

Mission to New Earth blurb:

Would you go on a one-way trip to explore a new planet? Would you do it to save humankind?

In 2172, Earth’s overpopulation and dwindling resources force the United Earth Space Agency to expedite exploration of new planets for a possible new home. When new crises ensue—a giant tsunami and the threat of nuclear winter—the timeline changes. Eight years of training crammed into four.

Sara Grenard and her team prepare for launch, but are they ready for the one-way trip? Will the Goldilocks planet prove just right for Earth’s inhabitants? Before time runs out.


About the Author:

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mystery series. She is also a contributor to two anthologies: Portals, Volume 2 and How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and three grandchildren.
For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com

Goodreads: Diane Burton Author  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2902110.Diane_Burton
Amazon author page: http://amzn.com/e/B00683MH5E

Sign up for Diane’s newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bdHtYf

Friday, December 16, 2016

Hidden Holidays: A Monster Haven Short Story

Posted by: R.L. Naquin
A couple of years ago, I wrote a holiday story for the characters in my Monster Haven world. Next month, the first book in my spinoff Djinn Haven series, To Catch a Stolen Soul, comes out. I'm super excited about that, but I do miss my original cast of crazy characters and decided to share the holiday short story here today.

The whole thing is a bit over six thousand words, which is too long for a blog post. BUT! The entire story is available for free in all the online stores if you want to download it after you catch the beginning here. I've also put it on my website so you can read it without downloading. The links are at the bottom so you can go straight to it.

Have a wonderful holiday season, however you celebrate, and may next year be filled with joy, laughter, good fortune, and love!

-- Rachel


Hidden Holidays

by R.L. Naquin


While I’d been busy at work helping a bride who’d gone over budget, the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future had vomited themselves across my living room. The mess left me nowhere to step without crunching a glass ball underfoot. My head spun from a sensory overload of color, sound, and texture.
I stood on the threshold, wondering if I should go around back and enter through the kitchen door instead. Or maybe get a hotel until Christmas was over and Maurice, my closet-monster roommate, put everything away.
Maurice leaped out of a mound of lights, and the grin on his face was so large it took up half his head, dwarfing his big yellow eyes. “You’re home early! I wanted to surprise you!”
“Surprise.” I gave him a half-hearted smile. “I could leave and come back later.”
Brenda Lee belted from Maurice’s iPod, insisting that everyone should be rocking around the Christmas tree.
He shook his head, and several loops of colored lights slipped to his shoulders. “The tree will be here in a few minutes. You can help me decorate it.” Shuffling his legs through the piles of decorations so he didn’t step on anything, Maurice reached the chair closest to me and cleared it of boxes. “Sit, sit, sit. I’ll get you something to drink.”
I waved my hand at the mess around us. “I’m fine. The living room isn’t. I’m not going to dehydrate and blow away.”
As it stood, I couldn’t imagine where the hell a tree was supposed to go.
The floor had no path to the kitchen or to the hallway. My options were few. Or rather, two—leave through the front door or have a seat. I stepped around a three-foot tall nutcracker in a Santa hat and sank into the chair, clutching my purse to me as if it were a shield. 
A strand of tinsel puffed into the air and floated past my head.
“Maurice, where did you get all of this?” My eyes and face felt as if they’d stretched into an expression of shell-shocked horror. I did my best to force the muscles to relax.
But there was so much of it. Piles of gold and silver and red garland. Boxes of ornaments in individual compartments. Three electric angels sat side by side on the mantle, their wings squeaking open and closed in tandem. Nutcrackers in all sorts of designs and sizes. I counted six nativity scenes around the room in various materials—cornhusk dolls, ceramics, carved wood, and even LEGO bricks. A stack of wreaths covered the coffee table, and the sofa was a mass of tree skirts, stockings, Christmas-themed throws and pillows, and no less than five stuffed Rudolphs.
Maurice, looking satisfied with his haul, put his hands on his hips and winked at me. “I got it all out of the closet.” He flipped a wall switch and the lights trailing around the room all went on at once, nearly blinding me.
Multicolored lights, white lights, strands of all blue, all green, and all yellow. Tube lights. Neon lights. Dripping icicle lights. Old-fashioned outdoor lights with enormous bulbs. Glowing, flashing, twinkling, chasing in every pattern possible. A family of lawn-ornament deer in the far corner came to life, their heads nodding, white lights glowing from their wire frames.
I groaned and closed my eyes. My eyelids were far too thin to block out the bombardment.
My resident closet monster had gone on a closet raid.
“You stole all this stuff?”
Maurice puffed out his chest in indignation. “Borrowed. Only from people who won’t need it this year. I’ll put it back.”
I opened my eyes in alarm and regretted it. “Oh my God, Maurice. Turn those off. Please?”
He flipped the switch, leaving us in blessed early-evening light. “You okay? You don’t look so good.”
“It’s just a lot.” I smoothed my fingertips over the crease that appeared between my eyebrows. “I think I need some air.”
Maurice’s grin downgraded to a bewildered smile. “Yeah. Okay. Go take a walk.” His smile grew an inch. “Iris will be here with the tree soon, and Molly and the kids are coming over to help decorate. We’ll have it all fixed up by the time you get back.”
I pulled myself to my feet. A motion-activated snowman ensemble rang tiny bells and sang Frosty the Snowman. “I’m sorry, Maurice. I don’t mean to bring down the merriment. Christmas hasn’t really been my thing for a long time. I’m a little overwhelmed.”
He reached across the coffee table, knocking a few wreaths aside, and grabbed my hand. “I understand. We’ll save you a few ornaments to hang when you get back.”

To read the rest of the story, you can find it on my website here: Hidden Holidays
Or you can download it for free here: B&N Amazon Kobo iBooks


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 15, 2016

Scary Christmas - the Tradition of Yuletide Ghost Stories

Posted by: Dani Harper, AUTHOR



Our interest in ghosts, ghouls, and goblins doesn't end when we put the Halloween decorations away. With the shortening of daylight hours, something primal in us awakens. It’s not only a time for reindeer and Santa and eggnog and mistletoe – it’s time for the supernatural!

Don’t believe me? Check out the lyrics to a 1960s Christmas song: “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” … among the festivities mentioned are “scary ghost stories”!

To quote one of my friends, “Where the heck did THAT come from?”

Marley's Ghost visits Ebenezer Scrooge,
by Arthur Rackham, 1868, Public Domain
We’re all familiar with the classic “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, written in 1843. It tells of a bitter old man whose life is changed by the visitation of ghosts on Christmas Eve. But Dickens’ tale (just one of several seasonal ghost stories he penned) wasn’t at all unusual for the time. 

The Victorians were very fond of telling ghost stories around the fire during the holiday season  sensational and haunting tales of mystery, murder, and tragedy. Supernatural fiction in the form of periodicals, magazines, novels and “penny dreadfuls” sold well year-round but reached its marketing peak during the Yuletide season!

The popularity of spectral stories was no doubt helped along by the rise of spiritualism at the time, the belief that it was possible to communicate with the dead and receive messages from them. Christmas séances were very much in vogue!

Although dragging out the Ouija board for the holidays may sound strange to us, the Victorian preoccupation with ghosts is not that hard to understand if you consider the very short life span of the era (the average was somewhere between 37 and 41 years). So nearly everyone had someone “on the other side” that they wanted to talk to, especially during the holidays. Even Queen Victoria and Prince Albert met with a number of mediums, and actively participated in séances as early as 1848. 

A ghost in his winding sheet, 1901
illustration by J. Torrence, Public Domain
Ghost stories go hand in hand with Yuletide for another reason too. Since ancient times, the Winter Solstice (which falls around the 20 of December) has been associated with a thinning of the veil between worlds, as the death and rebirth of the sun occurs. Spirits are said to wander freely during this time. Later traditions invest Christmas Eve itself with a unique magic, allowing the departed a chance to settle their unfinished business with the living.

Whatever the original reasons might be, the telling of ghost stories at this festive time of the year is just plain fun, and in keeping with our all-too-human nature. We simply can’t help ourselves. 

Nineteenth-century humorist Jerome K. Jerome, in his book “Told After Supper”, addressed this mortal attribute: “Not only do the ghosts themselves always walk on Christmas Eve, but live people always sit and talk about them… Whenever five or six people meet round a fire on Christmas Eve, they start telling each other ghost stories. It is a genial festive season, and we love to muse upon graves, and dead bodies, and murders, and blood.”

Indeed we do.


……………………………………….


Check out Dani Harper's ghostly Christmas romance, THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT




Leave a comment below answering one of these questions:

What's the most FUN Christmas gift you've ever received OR what's the most fun gift you've given to someone else? 

GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED. 
Congrats to Carol L - she wins a paperback copy of The Holiday Spirit.
Prize will be delivered by Amazon. Open to US, UK, or Canada.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Holidays in Ragnarok

Posted by: Eleri Stone
With the holiday's coming up, I wanted to share a special scene I wrote up for my Norse mythology based series Twilight of the Gods about celebrating Yule time in Ragnarok. Hope you enjoy it!

***

Christian stepped outside of the hall to catch a breath of fresh air. Lois was in charge of preparing the place for the Yule celebration and she took her job very seriously. She’d recruited a dozen men, including him, to move benches and tables. Today, they did the grunt work. Tomorrow, Lois would work her magic, transforming the sprigs of live holly and ivy into vines that would cover the posts and rafters. She’d create an intricate network of glamour to conceal the fact that the clan was gathering in a building that looked more like a VFW than an Æsir hall. By the time she was through, crossing over the threshold would be like stepping into Valhalla, with a Yule log burning in the center pit and the tables bowing beneath the weight of food and drink. As much as Christian hated the preparation, the finished product always made him feel like a child again. Besides, this was his first Yule with Jacey and he wanted it to be perfect.

The metal door swung open behind him and Fen stepped outside. “There you are. I thought you’d made a break for it.”

“I just needed a minute to think.”

Fen leaned back against the brick wall. “About?”

“I haven’t gotten Jacey a gift yet, and she’ll expect one. She grew up celebrating Christmas, and I don’t want her to feel like she’s missing out.”

“Her mom’s coming next week, isn’t she? You can always do the whole Christmas thing then.”

The upcoming visit from Jacey’s mother was another worry, but it was one he could set aside for now. “I still want to give Jacey a gift. Something special. Are you getting anything for Raquel?”

“We’re having our first night alone in the house since we were married. Getting that Vanir witch moved out is the only gift we need.”

“I got the Vanir witch out of your house.”

“And we thank you for that.”  Fen looked at him with a questioning tilt to his head. It reminded Christian of the way Fen moved when he was in his hound form. “Do you have any ideas?”

He pulled a folded slip of paper from his pocket.  “I started a list.”

Fen took the paper and unfolded it. “A new coat? Does she need a new coat?”

“The one she has is gods-awful.”

“I’ve never noticed anything wrong with it.”

“It’s mustard brown and hangs down to her knees. I was thinking leather. William said he could make it if I could get her measurements, but I can’t figure out how to do that without making her suspicious.”

“Oh ye of little imagination.” Fen looked down at the list again. “The reading charm would be nice if you don’t want to see her for the next couple of months.”

Jacey wanted to study the old texts in the vault below the library, especially the ones that’d come over from Asgard. But Fen was right. If he had Raquel work a charm to allow Jacey to read the runes, he wouldn’t see her again ‘til spring. “Maybe I’ll hold off on the charm.”

“She would like the horse,” Fen said.

“But she’d probably rather choose her own.”

Fen’s brows climbed to his hairline when he got to the next item. “A jötunn corpse?”

“She’s been asking me to get her one to dissect. Too practical?”

“Too gross.” Fen’s eyes glittered with amusement. “If you want practical, you’d be better off getting her a vacuum.”

Christian ran a hand through his hair. “I’m thinking too small, aren’t I? She likes magic. I should get her something magical.”

Fen shook his head. “Honestly? I don’t think you need to get her anything at all. She’s happy here, Christian. Anyone can see that. You don’t have to bribe her to stay.”

“That’s not what I’m trying to do.”

“Hard to top the last present you gave her.” Fen slapped the list against Christian’s chest, and he caught it before it fell to the snow-covered asphalt. “You should have started with something smaller. How about an engagement ring? That’s pretty magical. You still have the one you gave Raquel, don’t you?”

“It’s a family heirloom. Of course I have it.”

Christian looked down at the list, the words blurring a bit as he considered the suggestion. It wasn’t like he hadn’t given a lot of thought to the idea already.

The image settled in his mind—him and Jacey under the mistletoe, surrounded by firelight, magic and family. She might think he was moving things along too quickly, but he knew what he wanted. And he knew why he was having trouble picking something from the list. He didn’t just want to give Jacey something. He wanted to give her everything.

A ring would be a good start.

Releasing a breath that frosted in the chill air, Christian dropped the list in the trashcan beside the door. When Fen grinned, Christian scowled at his friend. “You don’t have to look so smug about it.”


***

Witch Bound (RITA-nominated for best paranormal romance in '14) is on sale right now for only $0.99!


Raquel Lindgren knows what her future holds. An arranged marriage. A new home in Ragnarok, Iowa, with another clan of refugees from Asgard. She should be happy. But there’s a mental block preventing her from tapping in to her true abilities as a witch. And she’s more attracted to the best man than she is to the groom…

Fen can’t believe he’s falling for his best friend’s future wife. As a hound, a wolf shifter, his duty lies with the pack. He’s seen too many hounds destroyed by love, and he’s sworn never to take a mate, never to have children of his own. He can’t deny his desire for Raquel, but she deserves more than he can offer her.

Raquel’s been raised to trust in magic, her clan and her destiny. But when a vengeful demon threatens to break out of Asgard and destroy the clan, Raquel learns she must trust in love if she is to take the future into her own hands.


*Story originally published for the Mistletoe Madness bloghop at That's What I'm Talking About... (twimom227.com)   
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