Friday, July 31, 2015

He Said, She Said

Posted by: CobraMisfit

That’s how many times the word “said” appears in the first draft of my latest book.

Sweet baby rays, that’s a lot of repetition. Granted, this is still the rough draft and my editor and I are in the early stages of de-suckifying things, but still. 530.


By comparison, the next closest offender in Paranormal Chaos is “turn”, which pops up a whopping 262 times. “Nod” is used 186 times and “look” 179 times.

What’s interesting is that my use of the Mega Offending Word is actually an improvement. The first book in the Shifter Chronicles, Undead Chaos, clocked in with 748 “said”s. So Paranormal Chaos is a significant improvement by comparison.

Mathematically, however, both numbers shouldn’t be a big deal. At the moment, Paranormal Chaos is a little over 97,000 words, of which 530 are “said”. That means that 96,470 words aren’t. That’s a decent number of sentences, paragraphs, and chapters.

Yet “said” still reads repetitive.

By all standards, I like to think of myself as a fairly imaginative guy. An author almost has to be to write in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre and all its many sub-genres. You’d think that, by now, I’d have learned new and exciting ways to say “said” without actually saying it.

On the other hand, if I start using semi-synonyms like “counter-postulated”, my writing will sound ludicrous.

So, what’s a writer to do?

To answer this dilemma, I turned to the principles learned from my chorus. There is a surprising amount of repetition in singing because many folks believe that to make a song more interesting, more exciting, you need more notes. What we’ve learned over the last 67 years, however, is that, at certain levels, it’s not about adding elements, it’s about removing distractions. You don’t need more 7th chords or bigger dance moves, you need a beautifully streamlined song that ebbs and flows with emotion.

Writing is no different. Many writers feel the need to toss in a lot of “stuff” to make a story. Sub-plots, backstory, metaphors, you name it. But sometimes what’s called for is less distraction. Sometimes we simply need to trim words so the plot flows.

A first draft isn’t the place where that normally happens. First drafts are where we toss in the over-emotions, the pages of backstory, the epic monologues. It’s getting words on paper so that we have a completed product ready for the chopping block.

And that, gang, is the beauty and agony of editing. It’s taking something in a raw, unpasteurized state and refining it over and over again. It’s smoothing the rough edges and removing the repetition. It's molding a square box into something sleek and aerodynamic. Because in the end, it’s not a question of he said, she said, it’s a question of whether or not those 530 “saids” help or distract from the story.

You know mine, so what are your Mega Offending Words?


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.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Jody Wallace Is Back In The Maelstrom with TRAITOR!

Posted by: Veronica Scott
Author Jody Wallace just released her new book TRAITOR (MAELSTROM CHRONICLES BOOK 2) from the Entangled Select Otherworld line. I had the pelasure of interviewing her on my blog this week and here's what she had to say about her influences:
Veronica: What was your biggest influence in writing this book?  
Jody: My recliner. It really shaped me during the book-writing process.
In more intellectual areas, I wanted to take the relatively common trope in paranormals and science fiction romances where a hero or heroine has some chemical, biological or other reason that they simply MUST have the sex and wring it out like a wet washrag. I also became intrigued by the idea of a sentient space ship considering its crew as its charges and how that type of personality might develop. And of course there is always a fascination with what would happen on our planet and how our people would behave if aliens invaded.
(For the rest of our interview you can hop over to my blog....)
The Story for TRAITOR:
Captain Nikolas EstherVorn is a traitor. Or so it was decreed after Niko disobeyed protocol while trying to save Earth from other-dimensional creatures. Stuck in a prison cell, the last thing he needs is to be in close proximity to sexy-as-sin Dr. Sarah CallenJoseph. Not with him damn near ready to break out just to get to her.
Niko’s desire isn’t quite his own…and Sarah can prove it. He—along with the other soldiers on the disastrous mission—were drugged with some kind of toxin. Niko has no clue how the drug got into his body or why, but Sarah suspects there’s a link between the toxin and the fertility crisis of Shipborn humans.
To investigate is forbidden. But as lust becomes something deeper, binding them together in a way neither expected, Niko and Sarah must battle time—and their superiors—to uncover the secret that could save humanity…or destroy it.
Nook      Amazon     Kobo     iTunes      Goodreads
Jody’s website with the whole first chapter —

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

RWA 2015 Round Up

Posted by: Jax Garren
I had the joy of spending a week in New York City at the 2015 Romance Writers of America conference. I love the annual RWA con. It's a great time to catch up with friends I only see once a year (including my annual roommate, the amazing Jessica Scott--if you like military romance you must read her stuff!). This year, as always, I had the greatest intention of attending a zillion workshops and learning SO MUCH. And, like always, I totally started out doing that...and slowly morphed into hanging out with people I only see once a year and, this time anyway, wandering around the amazing city that is New York.

Even with my irresponsible behavior, I did pick up on quite a few things that are buzzing about the industry, and I thought I'd share three of the most interesting panels I attended.

One panel I found particularly cool was on diversity in romance, and not just diversity on the page, but diversity in authors. One thing that that that was pointed out is that authors of color are still being relegated to a separate section inside bookstores. Another amazing author, Farrah Rochon (who's also a lovely lady in person) called it a remaining bastion of segregation. She's tired of being shelved in the "black" section and wants to see her books where they belong, right along side all the other romances. Next time I'm in a bookstore, I'm going to look and see how they're shelving things and point it out to management if they're segregating by race. The whole panel was an eye-opening experience, and I only made it to one of the three diversity panels RWA hosted!

I went to another fascinating panel on writing with ADHD. I've never been diagnosed with it--I've never talked to a doctor in an attempt to be diagnosed--but I share a lot of traits with the ADHD brain, like fidgeting, easy distractability, finding large tasks overwhelming, and trouble making decisions and setting priorities (I've nearly broken down crying in the grocery store over which can of tuna to buy; it's pretty hilarious to watch me shop). But regardless of my condition or lack thereof, the suggestions were super helpful. My favorites were (1) write a Post-It note of whatever you're (supposed to be) working on at the moment, so that when you get distracted you know what to get back to (2) create transition plans for changing activities so that your brain doesn't have to quick-switch from one thing to the next and (3) break larger tasks down into miniature goals so each success gives you a burst of serotonin, the happy hormone, making it more likely you'll accomplish more.

Finally, I made it to a panel in romance trends. Contemporary still seems to be ruling the market, particularly sports heroes and motorcycle clubs. Billionaires as still big but possibly on the downslide. They think Romantic Suspense is coming back, at least somewhat. In e-books, novellas are gaining popularity as more people are looking for quick reads. They mentioned that diversity is on the rise, but not like a trend, more like more people are getting a voice, which made a nice dovetail with the first panel I went to.

Overall, it was a great conference and I had a wonderful time! Do you think they were right on current trends? Did any of you go to RWA and pick up any other interesting nuggets?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Here Be News

Posted by: Unknown

FF&P announced the winners for the 2015 Prism Contest for Published Authors during the Prism Awards Ceremony on July 23, 2015. 

Congratulations to Here Be Magic members Cindy Spencer Pape and Jeffe Kennedy! 

Full list below.

* indicates FF&P Members

Best of the Best - The Guild of Assassins by Anna Kashina
Best First Book - Mind Sweeper by AE Jones

Prism Award - Andromeda’s Fall (Shadowcat Nation) by Abigail Owen*
Second Place - Kissed By A Demon Spy by Sharon Kay*
Third Place - East of Ecstasy by Laura Kaye

Prism Award - Sea Change by Cindy Spencer Pape
Second Place - Hero Rising by Anna Alexander
Third Place - Morningstar by Robyn Bachar*

Prism Award - The Guild of Assassins by Anna Kashina
Second Place -The Stones of Kaldaar (Song of the Swords Book One) by Tameri Etherton*
Third Place - Mark of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy*

Prism Award - On a Rogue Planet by Anna Hackett
Prism Award - The Cat Star Chronicles: Rebel by Cheryl Brooks*
Second Place - Heart Fire by Robin D. Owens*
Third Place - Temporal Shift by Nina Croft

Prism Award - Mind Sweeper by AE Jones*
Second Place - Shifter Wars by AE Jones*
Third Place - Blind Faith by Rebecca Zanetti*

Prism Award - Archangel by Misa Buckley
Second Place - Night Angel by Lisa Kessler*
Third Place - The Shucker’s Booktique by J.C. McKenzie

Prism Award - Win the Rings by K.D. Van Brunt     
Second Place - Going Down in Flames by Chris Cannon   
Third Place - Eventide (Iron Falls #1) by Christine Allen-Riley  

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Author Confession

Posted by: R.L. Naquin
This is Oatmeal. He has trouble finishing what he starts, too.
When people who know me read my Monster Haven books, they laugh and say they hear my voice coming from Zoey. She often says things I would say and in a way I would say them. I laugh and reassure them I am not Zoey.

Now I have a new series out. Wynter says a lot of things I would say, too. I am not Wynter.

But here’s a confession: I was Wynter, not too long ago.

Wynter starts a lot of things—relationships, jobs, craft projects—and she never finishes them. She’s stuck in a life she doesn’t like with no hope of ever changing it because she can’t follow through to change herself.

I never patterned Zoey after anyone but the character I made up in my head. Wynter, however, was born from the memory of what I once was.

Depending on how you count, I’ve been engaged four or five times. I have credits from six different universities, but never finished the degree. (Don’t ask. I moved a lot.) I have bags and bags of half-finished cross stitch, polymer clay, crochet hooks, knitting needles, and yarn.

And up until four years ago, a hard drive full of unfinished short stories and novels.

Despite being, technically, in my senior year, it would take me at least two years full-time to complete a degree at this point. I’ve let it go. I’m 47 and doing what I love. (The P.E. and math classes I still have to take won’t make me a better writer.) My eyes aren’t as sharp as they used to be, so cross stitch is probably done for good. My hands hurt from typing all day, so crochet and knitting attempts are over. I’m married to the man of my dreams, so I won’t hightail it out of here like a runaway bride and restart my entire life—again.

Last week, I published my seventh full-length novel in less than four years. So, no. I am not my character, Wynter. But I was, not so long ago.

And maybe by the time her whole story is told, she will be more like me. After all, aren't we all works in progress?

Unfinished Muse (Mt. Olympus Employment Agency #1)

Wynter Greene is a chronic quitter—in work, in life, and in love. When she quits a job, a boyfriend, and a seemingly minor craft project all in one day, the dormant deity blood in her veins triggers a Welcome Package from the gods. A talking—and singing—houseplant named Phyllis bullies Wynter into taking a job at the Mt. Olympus Employment Agency.

Stuck with a job in the Muse department, Wynter discovers that helping others finish what they start isn’t easy, especially for someone who can’t seem to finish anything of her own. And how is Wynter supposed to focus on anything when that guy from the Dreams and Nightmares department keeps distracting her with his rippling muscles and magnetic stare?

Wynter needs to figure her job out soon. Each failure is a tick mark on her record, and if she continues to miss her deadlines, she’ll be reassigned to the Underworld as a dog walker.

And scooping poop for a giant three-headed dog is nobody’s ideal career.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Kobo * iBooks

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Day in the Life of a Writer

Posted by: Jane Kindred
Just in case you’ve ever wondered what it’s like in the glamorous world of writing, I’m here to spill my secrets.

Today I was awoken by a beeping back-up indicator on a truck outside my window, interrupting a dream in which I’d received a sudden, unexpectedly large check from my publisher (triple digits) and was having an important talk with my agent at a writing conference. Both things seemed like they were about to change my life, and then that damn truck. I’ve had prophetic dreams about rejections before, so I was hoping maybe this check thing would pan out similarly, but alas, no.

So I got up and went into my office, where I do the day job—editing for a global consulting firm. Answered emails, reviewed copy on a couple of layouts, then took a break to have coffee and a breakfast sandwich, after which I updated some project management records, finalized some copy after receiving approval for an ad from a happy client (yay!), and sent the copy for layout.

Then it was time for an hour of therapeutic yoga at my neighborhood studio to try to manage the pain from the pinched nerve I got a year and a half ago from a herniated disc in my neck from hunching over a laptop writing for 20 years. The pain sucks, but the yoga break is always nice.

Back to the “office,” where I reviewed some more layouts, worked on a PowerPoint presentation, and then a “lunch” break to watch my daily episode of X-Files—along with hundreds (dozens?) of other nerds like me going through all nine seasons leading up to the release of the new series in January.

Then more layouts and emails and edits, and finally, it’s time for me to go “home,” which means heading into my bedroom to read some Facebook posts and tweets and answer personal business email before dinner.

After that is when I start writing. I have a standing desk now so I don’t keep messing up my spine, and I keep the standing desk in my bedroom. It keeps the day job and the writing separate, and gets my butt out of the chair for a few hours. (I also have a treadmill under the standing desk, but am I using it? No. I’m standing on it.)

Normally, I write at least 1,000 words each evening, but tonight I remembered I had this blog post due; hence, my boring you with my day. When I’m finished, I have some giveaway prizes I need to box up and address to take to the post office tomorrow before the winners start to suspect that I’m a big, fat liar who just made up this giveaway. Then, hopefully, I’ll finally have time to write. Usually, writing wraps up around 1am, followed by decaf tea and a little snack (animal cookies) while I unwind with some television before bed.

Add in several breaks to feed cats (and clean up cat puke) and pet a demanding 19-year-old calico, and that’s it. That’s my life. Pretty much every day, except that on weekends, I don’t do the day job, so I have longer to write. Strangely, this usually does not amount to significantly more words.

Believe it or not, most of this—except for the neck pain, the cat puke, and the marketing—is actually how I prefer to spend my time. I like creating worlds and characters who have far more active lives than I do. Though I wouldn’t mind traveling more to some of the places I write about.

Some years I do a few conferences (many of my fellow writers are off in New York this week for the annual RWA), but I couldn’t afford any this year, which goes nicely with my social aversion and agoraphobia. Thus, here I am, sharing my oh-so-exciting day with you.

Was it everything you thought it would be?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Funny Thing Happened...

Posted by: PG Forte
...on the way to writing this blog post. A couple of things, actually. First of all, it occurred to me that I just had a book release this week. I never thought I'd become quite so bláse (not to mention forgetful!) about something that's really quite exciting. But, in my defense, this is the paperback release of Fallen Embers, a book that came out in digital format in April.'s not like I haven't been talking about it already for the last three months. 

The print version is absolutely stunning, however. Seriously, it's on sale right now and I'd buy it just for the gorgeous cover. 

Another reason that the release slipped my mind is that I've been so preoccupied with finishing the next book in the series. I had a deadline. I missed it. 

However, I did finally finish. I turned it in last week and immediately started plotting the next book, what was supposed to be the last book in the series. Much as I hate saying good-bye to characters I've come to love, all good things must come to an end--right? And I have to admit to a small bit of excitement at the idea of moving on to something new. 

Yeah, that was the second funny thing that happened. The Neverending Series Syndrome struck again. Midway through my outlining, I realized I wasn't looking at one story, I was looking at two separate storylines and a fairly important subplot. What that ultimately meant was that the series that I thought would be a trilogy when I first started writing it, and which then mysteriously turned into five books...and then six books...has now become eight. 

At this point I will not be taking any bets against there being a ninth book lurking somewhere in my future. Anything is possible. And, like I said, I really do hate saying good-bye, so I'm not too broken up about getting to spend a little while longer in this particular world, but it is frustrating when you're stuck between a series that doesn't want to quit and readers who say they won't start reading it until all the books are done. 

I was shocked when I first heard that this whole waiting-to-start-until-you-can-read-it-all concept was an actual thing. Some of my fondest book-buying memories involve hanging out with my daughter in Barnes & Noble or Borders (oh, Borders, how I miss you!) on the night before each new Harry Potter book was released. I wouldn't have missed that for anything.

So I'm curious to know how prevalent this is. Do you wait until the final volume is released before you start reading a series?  Or do you rush out to grab each one as soon as they're available? 

There's a thin line between blood and madness.

Early Twelfth Century. When the half-civilized Conrad Quintano stumbles upon a stacked battle on an isolated beach, his first instinct is to walk away. What does he care if a bunch of worthless vampires kill each other? But a dying ember of chivalry compels him to rescue the pretty female vampire in distress-radically altering the course of his already cursed life.

Present Day. Marc Fischer continues his desperate search for Elise, while his newly single twin sister, Julie, is hooking up with everything that moves-at least that's how it looks to a jealous Armand. As the twins' unusual abilities grow stronger, Marc makes the mistake of trying to protect Julie from what he's learned about their true nature.

Meanwhile, Conrad's relationship with Georgia-the vampire he saved centuries ago-is about to alter yet again. They've each been keeping dangerous secrets. Secrets with the power to destroy the entire clan. Now, with Julie's life threatened, the Fischer-Quintano vampires will learn the most painful truth of all. No lie lies hidden forever.

Warning: Proceed with caution. Storm warnings and small craft advisory are in effect as romantic alliances form and re-form at random. Expect to encounter any or all of the following: old hippies, new friends, erroneous conclusions prematurely jumped to, and best-laid plans gone seriously awry-thanks in no small part to the actions of a certain impetuous Spaniard.

The print version of Fallen Embers is currently on sale at Samhain Publishing.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What I learned as a writer from this year's Comic Con

Posted by: Angela Campbell
First of all, let me clarify I didn't actually go to Comic Con International, but thanks to Youtube and Entertainment Weekly and social media, I was able to keep up with my various fandoms, such as Doctor Who, Batman v. Superman, Supernatural, The Hunger Games, The Walking Dead, and Star Wars.

Please note: If you're a fan of the CW show Supernatural but haven't seen the last few episodes of the last season, the following will contain spoilers, so read ahead at your own risk.

My favorite moment from this year's Comic Con probably came from seeing the all-male panel from Supernatural being called out by a fan during the Q&A for its less-than-stellar treatment of female characters and their reacting to the question with nothing short of uncomfortable awkwardness. By the way, I call showrunner Jeremy Carver out for giving a complete b.s. answer as to why Charlie's death was necessary. Because this was his reply: "When we’re in the writers’ room, we have to go where the story takes us.”

You can watch for yourself below. The question happens around the 35-minute mark. For those who don't watch the show, Charlie Bradbury (played by Felicia Day) has been one of the show's only recurring female characters for years. She's a computer hacker who got the Winchester brothers (a pair of hot demon-hunting brothers) to binge watch Game of Thrones, became a demon hunter herself, and oh, she also happened to be a lesbian.

I actually thought long and hard about Jeremy's Carver's answer — "When we’re in the writers’ room, we have to go where the story takes us" — since, you know, I'm a writer myself. On one hand, yes, I totally get what he's trying to say. Sometimes when you're writing, you end up writing scenes and characters you didn't anticipate writing — they just happened somehow along the way, and by golly, they work, so you run with it.

On the other hand, I find it hard to believe in this instance that someone in that writer's room, or in that cast, didn't hold up their hands and say, "Whoa, guys. Is it really a good idea to kill a fan favorite female character who also happens to be the only substantial LGBTQ character in our show's history? I mean, she's really the only recurring female character on our show now, and you know, this scene has a very, very, very simple solution to avoid her death?"

For those of you who don't watch the show or need a refresher, Charlie was being chased by some really bad guys who wanted something she had and who would gladly kill her to retrieve it. The Winchester boys put her under the watch of Castiel, who happens to be an angel. That's right. AN ANGEL. Up to this point, Charlie was doing a kickass job of keeping herself safe, but for whatever reason, suddenly she needed the show's male heroes to step in and protect her. I mean, OK, if you must. *grumble, grumble*

But wait. It gets worse.

Charlie is a computer hacker who has generally been portrayed until this point as an intelligent woman, yet knowing her life is in grave danger, she ditched Castiel for some alone time at a very unsafe-looking motel and (gasp!) seemed shocked when those bad guys found her. Now, Charlie knows Castiel is an angel with all kinds of angel powers. In the show's history, Dean or Sam have prayed to Castiel when they needed help and, poof! He appeared to save them with his angelic superpowers. When that final scene with Charlie played live on television, all of the Supernatural fan base on Twitter lit up with "For the love of all that is holy, why isn't Charlie praying for Castiel's help right now?!?!?" Because she didn't. And she ended up brutally murdered and her body left in a bathtub for the show's heroes to find.

So, what I learned from this year's Comic Con wasn't really a new revelation. It was more of a reinforcement that I'm incredibly grateful to my critique partners and beta readers for keeping me from making stupid choices like that. Thank God for my editor because I know she, at least, would have slapped that manuscript back to me and said, "No. Hell, no, and FIX THIS. Thank you." Only a lot nicer, probably, because she's British.

Here's the thing. Anyone who is a fan of Supernatural with half a brain saw Charlie's death coming a season away. Her death was the one thing that would push Dean Winchester over the edge, and it became pretty clear mid-season that's where the writers were headed. Fans of the show are used to its bad treatment of women, but Charlie's death, for whatever reason, seems to be the last straw for many.

That's because in her final minutes, they made Charlie ridiculously stupid AND made it obvious her death was nothing more than a plot device since it could have so easily been avoided. That's what made me so mad about her departure. It wasn't so much that they killed off Charlie that angered me as a longtime fan of the show (I'm still more pained about Bobby and Kevin, to be honest), it's how they did it. And yes, I know, she will probably come back somehow — this is Supernatural, after all — but that's not the point.

I think a lot of genre fiction writers can probably sympathize with Jeremy Carver and his room full of writers. After all, Supernatural has been on TV for 10 years and counting. After a point, it's got to be hard to keep stories flowing. This situation highlights another possible dilemma for writers, especially of genre fiction. At what point do you make decisions based on the popularity of your characters over what you personally feel their story arcs should be? I haven't yet faced this dilemma in my writing, but I'm sure plenty of writers have.

So I ask the writers out there — if you had a popular series, would you write a scene for a character if you felt it moved the story along yet would probably anger your readers? We'll even pretend it would be a lot smarter than the Supernatural example shown above.

And I'd love for readers of genre books to weigh in, too. Have you ever read a book series that at some point angered you enough to curse the author? We've all been there, right?

With that said, I'll leave you with a link to my favorite panel from Comic Con — Women Who Kick Ass! Because female characters can and do kick ass on a daily basis, especially when they're written well.

Angela Campbell is the author of the psychic detectives series from Harper Impulse. Learn more about her and her books at

Monday, July 20, 2015

Here Be News

Posted by: Unknown

New Releases

Unfinished Muse (Mt. Olympus Employment Agency #1)

Wynter Greene is a chronic quitter—in work, in life, and in love. When she quits a job, a boyfriend, and a seemingly minor craft project all in one day, the dormant deity blood in her veins triggers a Welcome Package from the gods. A talking—and singing—houseplant named Phyllis bullies Wynter into taking a job at the Mt. Olympus Employment Agency.

Stuck with a job in the Muse department, Wynter discovers that helping others finish what they start isn’t easy, especially for someone who can’t seem to finish anything of her own. And how is Wynter supposed to focus on anything when that guy from the Dreams and Nightmares department keeps distracting her with his rippling muscles and magnetic stare?

Wynter needs to figure her job out soon. Each failure is a tick mark on her record, and if she continues to miss her deadlines, she’ll be reassigned to the Underworld as a dog walker.

And scooping poop for a giant three-headed dog is nobody’s ideal career.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Smashwords

Ether & Elephants (Gaslight Chronicles #8)

Sir Thomas Devere and Eleanor Hadrian have loved each other most of their lives—but sometimes love doesn't conquer all.

Their chance at happiness was ruined by Tom's hasty marriage to someone else. Heartbroken, Nell left home, finding a new life as a teacher at a school for the blind. But when one of her supernaturally gifted students, Charlie, is kidnapped, Tom reappears and her worlds collide.

Tom claims he hasn't seen his wife since the day of their marriage…yet he fears the missing student could be his son.

The deeper they dig, the more Tom and Nell discover: a deadly alchemist, more missing gifted children and long-suppressed feelings neither of them is ready for. A race on airship across England and India may lead them to answers—including a second chance at love—but only if all of British Society isn't destroyed first.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Carina Press

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Science Fiction Adventure Star Cruise Marooned Book Trailer

Posted by: Veronica Scott
This is just fresh off an exclusive reveal at USA Today Happily Ever After....Circle of Seven Productions did a wonderful job, I thought!


The story: Meg Antille works long hours on the charter cruise ship Far Horizon so she can send credits home to her family. Working hard to earn a promotion to a better post (and better pay), Meg has no time for romance.

 Former Special Forces soldier Red Thomsill only took the berth on the Far Horizon in hopes of getting to know Meg better, but so far she’s kept him at a polite distance. A scheduled stopover on the idyllic beach of a nature preserve planet may be his last chance to impress the girl.

 But when one of the passengers is attacked by a wild animal it becomes clear that conditions on the lushly forested Dantaralon aren’t as advertised – the ranger station is deserted, the defensive perimeter is down…and then the Far Horizon’s shuttle abruptly leaves without any of them. Marooned on the dangerous outback world, romance is the least of their concerns, and yet Meg and Red cannot help being drawn to each other once they see how well they work together. But can they survive long enough to see their romance through? Or will the wild alien planet defeat them, ending their romance and their lives before anything can really begin?

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     KOBO     Apple iBooks

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Lure of Dragons

Posted by: Linda Mooney

What is it about dragons that appeal to us? Is it the mystique because we have no idea if such creatures actually existed? Or is it because they're mostly associated with the medieval period, which we've come to romanticize these past few decades?

For hundreds of years, we've been enamored of these fire-breathing, flying behemoths. You can find dragons on artifacts, in paintings, and on icons. They're on tapestries and wood carvings, and you can find them on armor.

Hollywood has given us a whole slew of dragon movies in the past, including the more recent How to Train Your Dragon. We collect dragon artwork, jewelry, and clothing. We buy dragon candles, dragon toys, stuffed dragon animals, and all sorts of knick-knacks (like my specially made glass dragon seen here.)

And now, romance authors (yours truly included) have brought them into mainstream fiction.

The most popular way dragons have invaded romance fiction is as shape shifters - man changing into dragon form, and back. There are also stories where the dragons "share" souls with humans.

What is about dragons that appeal to you?

1. What's not to love about something so big and powerful?
2. They can spout fire from their mouths, dude!
3. Hey, if it can fly, can it carry me on its back?
4. Give me a hot guy who can be my personal dragon bodyguard!

* * *
If you like dragon stories, check out the following!

 Her dragon protector. LINK.

 A dragon shifter. LINK.

 A dragon's sacrifice. LINK.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Bring the Heat!

Posted by: Cindy Spencer Pape

Dragons. I love 'em. You can tell, right? The first image was my first logo when I started my writing career. I used Paint to make him out of a piece of free Microsoft clip art, and called him Cedric.

After being told Cedric wasn't adult enough for someone who writes paranormal and sometimes erotic romance, I had him grow up into the next piece of free clip art below. Later, I found the heart-shaped two-dragons kissing image and used that on my business cards and website for a while. I'll admit, I still have a soft spot for old Ced.

I have stuffed dragons and dragon figurines in both my house and office. I occasionally even dress in dragon wings for Renaissance faires.  As for dragons in my books, my second sale was to Ellora's Cave, with the book Dragon in the System. In it, you meet Drake. He's not a shape-shifting dragon, at least not in that book, although somewhere during the sequel, Djinni and the GeekDrake does learn how to shift. I'd planned to write his story, but due to sales issues, never did.

My next dragons are also at Ellora's Cave. Brother and sister shifter half-dragons, Bram and Dana star in Between a Rock and a Hard-On and Stone and Fire, respectively. Over at Totally Bound, I have a historical dragon story, Georgie and the Dragon. I even tried to fit dragons into my steampunk series, The Gaslight Chronicles from Carina Press, but the closest I could come was in Dragons and Dirigibles, where the dragon involved isn't really a dragon.

My most recent book, #8 in the Chronicles, is Ether & Elephants, releasing next Monday, July 20, which unfortunately has nary a dragon in sight. Nonetheless, I hope you'll check it out. There's plenty of other cool paranormal adventure going on.

Here's the blurb: Sir Thomas Devere and Eleanor Hadrian have loved each other most of their lives--but sometimes love doesn't conquer all.

Their chance at happiness was ruined by Tom's hasty marriage to someone else. Heartbroken, Nell left home, finding a new life as a teacher at a school for the blind. But when one of her supernaturally gifted students, Charlie, is kidnapped, Tom reappears and her worlds collide.

Tom claims he hasn't seen his wife since the day of their marriage...yet he fears the missing student could be his son.

The deeper they dig, the more Tom and Nell discover: a deadly alchemist, more missing gifted children and long-suppressed feelings neither of them is ready for. A race on airship across England and India may lead them to answers--including a second chance at love--but only if all of British Society isn't destroyed first.

Finally, I've done a little Flash Fiction with a character named Mordecai (Mort) Gwynn, a white dragon shifter who owns a bar in Detroit. At least one of the Mort's pieces has appeared on this blog before. In honor of Dragon Week, I've added a NEW one, Mort's Birthday. You can read them all on my website.

Have a smoking good weekend!
Cindy Spencer Pape

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Appeal of Dragons - Power and Sentience

Posted by: Nicole Luiken

I love dragons. I mean, immensely powerful beings with the ability to fly, who can fireball their enemy, but are so layered in scaly armor they’re practically unkillable (and often immortal) are already awesome. Add in magic and I’m SO on board.

The traditional image of the dragon as a monster and a powerful foe, razing villages and terrorizing innocent maidens, was badass enough, but where I really get interested is when sentience is added to the sauce. It fires my imagination when the dragon isn’t a dumb beast, though isn’t necessarily human either but rather has its own alien intelligence. In those cases, conversation with the dragon changes everything and can tip the gameboard in interesting ways, upsetting everything the hero/heroine thought they knew.

Here’s an excerpt from Through Fire & Sea of THAT MOMENT when Leah discovers the dragon is more than a ravening beast.

Leah woke in the middle of the night.  Sweating, she plucked at her nightgown’s neckline, trying to cool herself.  Did she have a fever?  But she didn’t feel ill, only hot like—


Her veins throbbed, and she knew he needed her.  Had the dragon hurt him?  Sharp anxiety sent her scrambling out of bed.  The faint glow from the hypocaust guided her down the hall to the stairs.

Once she gained the second floor, she threaded her way to the corner alcove.  Silvery moonlight bounced off the Four Worlds mirror as she squirmed underneath.  

Fear for Gideon's safety spurred her to attempt the ladder climb in the dark.  Her foot slipped once, but she hauled herself over the lip of rock.

Breath laboring, she unbarred the door.  Heat rolled over her when it swung open. 


In the dark she saw the great diamond eyes first, then the gleam of black scales.  Even with its wings folded, it filled the fifteen-foot window.

“Where's Gideon?” she asked.

The dragon tilted its wedge-shaped head and opened its jaws, as if trying to speak.  Wet steam bathed her face.

Madness overcame her.  “Where's Gideon?”  She stabbed a finger at his empty bed.  “Gideon.  Where is he?  If you've hurt him, I’ll kill you,” she vowed.

The huge beast ducked its head as if chastened.  One corner of her mind wondered why it hadn't scorched her already, but she kept on.  “You should be ashamed of yourself.”  She dashed away tears.

The dragon moaned.

Staring into its eyes, Leah had the strangest conviction that it wanted something from her beyond bones to crunch.  

“What is it?” she asked in a more reasonable voice.  “Is something wrong with Gideon?  Do you need my help?”

In answer it touched the base of its long neck with one front claw.

Incredulity filled Leah.  “You want me to ride on your back?”
The dragon stared at her with unblinking eyes, but Leah felt a pulse of heat that seemed to mean, Yes.

Gideon needed her. As if in a dream, she set her hand on the dragon's side. Up close she could see that its scales were overlapping triangles. They felt hard and slippery, but her bare feet found enough friction to ascend its leg to the shoulder. She swung one leg over the knobby ridge of its spine, then adjusted her nightgown in a vain effort to get more comfortable. A dragon wasn't at all like a mule.

She cleared her throat.  “I’m ready.”

With an agile twist the dragon flung itself off the window ledge.  Leah screamed as the ground rushed up—

Then its membraneous wings snapped open, and their fall became a glide.  Three wingbeats took them high into the night sky.  The stars shone crisp and cold.

Frigid air whistled past Leah’s face, contrasting with the dragon's tremendous heat.  

The dragon banked left, and Leah smiled with delight.  Did Gideon do this every night?  Ride the dragon?  

Shivering, she remembered her purpose.  “Take me to Gideon,” she shouted into the wind.

She couldn't be sure the dragon understood, but its wings beat harder, carving a path through the night.  


There is one True World, and then there are the four mirror worlds: fire, water, air, and stone. And each has a magic of its own... 

In the Fire World, seventeen-year-old Leah is the illegitimate daughter of one of the realm's most powerful lords. She's hot-blooded - able to communicate with the tempestuous volcano gods. But she has another gift...the ability to Call her twin "Otherselves" on other worlds.

Holly resides in the Water World - our world. When she's called by Leah from the Fire World, she nearly drowns. Suddenly the world Holly thought she knew is filled with secrets, magic...and deadly peril.
For a malevolent force seeks to destroy the mirror worlds. And as Leah and Holly are swept up in the tides of chaos and danger, they have only one choice to save the mirror worlds - to shatter every rule they've ever known...

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What are your favorite dragon moments?
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