Review Excerpts


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cover Reveal - Flight of the Dragon Queen

Here it is, the cover for Flight of the Dragon Queen!



This is pretty much exactly what I was envisioning, except for one big difference: I thought the heroine would be on the cover, not the hero. But that's okay! I'm certainly not going to turn down a good-looking guy in some sexy glasses* for any of my covers, nope.

Also: dragons automatically make everything more awesome. Truth.

(*Secret confession: On my list of "super hot men I have encountered at work", #2 had glasses a lot like these. I, uh, may or may not have a novella mentally planned out where the hero may or may not be loosely be based on him. May or may not, of course.)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Quick Update

Flight of the Dragon Queen is set to release on January 18th. This time around, I was actually on top of my game and exercised good communication skills, so a month-long blog tour also kicks off on the same day! The cover isn't 100% done yet, but I saw the first mock-up and it's pretty darn good.

Mark your calendars and save your holiday gift cards!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Promo - Seducing the Darkness, Book 1, by Shiela Stewart


Today on the blog, we're sidestepping over just a bit from sci-fi and fantasy to bring you some paranormal romance! Readers love vampires, and this excerpt from Shiela Stewart's Seducing the Darkness doesn't disappoint. Snap this one up quickly, because Book 2 is on its way!

Blurb:
An outcast by her kind, Trinity Ford has learned to live on her own..not an easy thing to do when you’re a vampire.
 

Trinity was once a fragile girl. Being taken by a powerful vampire prince changed her, Discovering gin in the arms of another woman changed destiny. Alone, she’s earned fast how to be tough, how to survive, and how to protect the people of her city from the evil that lurks in the dark. She was managing just fine, until Basil walked back into her life.
 

Basil Hawthorn has been the reigning prince of vampires since banishing his father to the Realm of Dark Mystics decades earlier, When a perfect dream makes him realize Trinity is at risk, he decides the only way to save her is to push her away. Doing so is not easy. Trinity is the only woman he has ever loved, ever will long and he can’t seem to let her go.
 

When rumors arise of a place to raise the king ad blot out the sun, both Trinity and Basil know they must do everything to stop it. Even if it means working together. Despite the betrayal and the threat, they find themselves drawn to each other. Love has no boundaries, especially in the face of danger. But will they be able to stop the ritual before it's too late?
 

Or will the darkness capture them both.

Excerpt:
Trinity stood in the shadows and watched as a group of humans exited a local hangout called Buckeye’s Bar. It was a known pick-off for her kind. Most of the humans that came and went from the bar tended to leave through the back entrance which led to the alley. Then bam! You were vamp food.

People were so stupid. Why did they think they had their faculties in order when they plied themselves with alcohol? The brain was sluggish after several drinks and thus impaired their thought process.

So of course, stupid and drunk, they stumbled through the alley thinking themselves impervious to harm.

When would they learn?

Considering the past few weeks, it seemed as though the vampires were out in full force. Okay, so people didn’t want to believe there could actually be such a thing as a blood sucking half dead creature taking up residence in their city. But come on, one look in the newspapers and you had to at least be worried about all the dead bodies being found lately.

Still, people never believed it could happen to them. Until they end up dead.

She watched a group of young girls—and if they were of legal age, she would eat her shoes—stumble from the bar. They separated and two went off towards the street while the last wandered drunkenly down the dark alley.

Oh yeah, like this was going to end well.

“Five, four, three, two, one. Bam!” She shot her hand out just as a vampire jumped from out of the shadows and right beside the stupid young girl. Shaking her head, Trinity moved towards the screaming girl. Idiot.

“I don’t think you want to be doing that.”

The tall, gangly, greasy haired vampire jerked and spun around to face Trinity. His teeth were primed for the kill, his yellow eyes glaring at Trinity as if she were his next meal. The poor girl in his arms was wailing something awful.

Now you regret going through the dark alley.

“Yeah, says who?”

Trinity lifted a brow, cocked her body to one side and rested her hand on her hip. “Jesus, could you have said anything more lame?

Let the girl go and no one has to get hurt.” Okay, so that wasn’t completely the truth. He would be more than hurt when this was over.

He would be dust.

“How ‘bout I keep her and you wait against the wall until I’m done?” He jerked the girl towards him, yanking her head back to expose her neck. He was just about to bite down when Trinity placed a hand on his shoulder. He looked up and his face froze.

“How ‘bout I don’t.” Trinity bared her fanged teeth to show him she was not going to back off. “Beat it kid.” She clamped her hand on the vampire's shoulder, her nails digging into his flesh as she jerked her head at the girl. As she’d suspected, the guy was a wimp.

He released the girl who immediately ran off screaming.

“Now, you wanna take off, or am I going to have to mess up that pretty face of yours?” she asked sarcastically as she glared down at him.

“You couldn’t handle me, bitch.” He slapped her hand free, then curling his fingers in a fist, threw a punch at her face.

She was ready and ducked out of the way. Slicing her hand up, she chopped him in the neck, sending him crumbling on the ground. “You don’t want to mess with me, jerk,” she advised as she planted a booted foot on his jugular. The razor blades she had attached to the toe drew a small amount of dull gray, deoxygenated blood as she pressed it just below his chin.

“Go ahead and dust him, he’s useless.”

Trinity glared over her shoulder at the man she had once been destined for and felt her heart ache. She couldn’t stop herself from admiring the beauty of the man before her. His long dark hair floated in the light breeze sweeping away from a face sculpted of fine bone and delicate skin. He looked so dark and dangerous in that long, black leather coat he always wore. One look into his translucent blue eyes turned her heart to mush.

Then she reminded herself how much she detested him.

To show she wasn’t a push over, Trinity pressed her foot harder, the razor blades cutting into the vampire’s neck. His arms flailed out, trying to yank her foot away from his neck. His legs kicked wildly, but

Trinity had a good ten pounds on the scrawny vamp. Tilting her toe downward, she sliced deep into his neck, finally cutting his head off.

In a whoosh he disintegrated into a pile of dust, his last breaths used to scream his way to death.

She took a deep breath, shook the remnants of a useless life from her boot then turned. “Basil.”

“Trinity.” They stalked each other like the predators they were, neither taking their eyes off the other. “You’re looking good.”

Her breath always caught in her throat when she looked into those icy blue eyes of his. Unlike the rest of her race that had yellow eyes,he had the color of his heritage. He was royal. “So are you, but you already know that.” She circled him, her eyes never leaving his. She knew how quick he could be, and she was prepared. “Was he one of yours?”

“Would I have cared if you dusted him if he was one of mine?” His hand slid to his pocket and he pulled the pack of cigarettes from his pocket. “How have you been?”

She rolled her shoulders, the itch still irritating her. “Better now that I left you.” And wasn’t it odd how acrid a lie could taste?

“I noticed you’ve had your belongings gathered from our home.”

“Your home,” she corrected, keeping her distance from him. She knew perfectly well being close to him would have dire repercussions.

“Have you settled into your apartment, then?”

He was being so nice, so civil. She didn’t like it. “Why are you here, Basil?”

“I might ask the same of you, Trinity.” He lit the cigarette smoothly and the flame showed a devastatingly handsome face, with curves and lines and strength.

“I’m protecting the humans,” she remarked with an edge in her voice. “Always the warrior, my fiery princess.” He smiled sweetly as he drew long and hard on his cigarette, then smartly blew a ring of circles in the air. All without taking his eyes from hers.

“Don’t call me that.” She hated when he called her that. Okay, once upon a time hearing him call her that made her hot, but that was then.

This was now.

“It’s what you are and always will be to me.”

“Yeah, I was such a treasure, that’s why you decided to fuck another woman. Leave me alone, Basil.”

In a quick shift that surprised her, he was in front of her, his hand clamped on her chin as he tilted her face to meet his. “Despite my indiscretion, I will always love you.” He dropped his cigarette and ground it out beneath his boot.

She jerked her chin free, snarling, “You have a funny way of showing it.”

Grabbing her chin again, this time he held a little tighter. “Love has many sides to it, my sweet.” He sealed his words with a sharp kiss, his teeth scraping her bottom lip right before he vanished into the night.

Cursing, Trinity spat on the ground, wanting to eliminate his flavour from her tongue. Bastard thought he could come back and act as if nothing had happened. Fuck him! She still remembered all too clearly what it had felt like to walk in on him and the woman crawling over his naked body.

Shaking herself free of him, Trinity walked away. The last thing she needed was the memory of Basil’s kiss or the feel of his touch on her skin. What she needed was a vicious kill. If only she could find one.


Buy Links:




About the Author:
Raised on a rural farm in Saskatchewan, Canada, Shiela Stewart relied on her vivid imagination to fill her days. Never did she realize that her need to tell a story would someday lead to becoming a published author.
 

In the fall of two thousand and six, Shiela published her very first book and she hasn’t stopped since.
 

When not writing, Shiela spends time with the love of her life and biggest supporter, William. She enjoys doting on her children and granddaughter. She has a strong affection for animals which is evident in the five cats, one dog, plenty of fish and one turtle she owns.
 

Some of her other passions are home d├ęcor, crocheting and knitting.

Website: www.shielasbooks.ca

Facebook: www.facebook.com/shiela.stewart
Twitter: www.twitter.com/shielasue

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Plop!

Almost a month since my last post? How'd that happen?

At least I can report that Out of Orbit is underway. I'm not going to lie and say I have an astronomical word count I can brag about, but it's coming along. Really.

It's been quite some time since I've done serious sci-fi and the extensive world-building that goes along with it. (And to be fair, The Fall of the Midnight Scorpions is a sequel, so when I was writing that, I was working within an established universe.) In the beginning of this book, I'm facing the expected challenge: walking the fine line between world-building and info dumping.

It's not easy, and since I'm still in the early stages, I don't even know yet if I've been successful. I'm going with my usual technique of "assume the reader already knows everything and doesn't need to be spoonfed all the information, and it'll eventually make sense". I've got all my notes on the way things work in this world, and they'll come out when necessary. Even so, I'm still stressing about the pacing in the first couple chapters.

I'm confident everything will eventually come together. If I have to cut later on, so be it. I feel strongly about this project, enough that it bumped several other ideas that have been bouncing around for a while down the to-do list. I just need to make sure readers will love the story as much as I do and not get bogged down in all the details.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

That Expected Post About Title Woes

First, a friendly PSA: There is a nasty strain of strep going around, which is resistant to some antibiotics. ASK ME HOW I KNOW. Also, I never, ever had a sore throat with it; I just thought I had a bad cold that wasn't going away, and I didn't seek medical attention until it had spread to my eyes. (Yes, that is a thing. A gross thing.) So if you're feeling a bit under the weather and it doesn't seem to be getting better, go to the doctor! Don't be like me!

So now that I'm finally feeling better after about a month of feeling like I got hit by a truck, it's time to get back to writing and blogging. In my last post, I wrote about how I was ready to start my new project, even though not all of the details were set in stone. Among those details was the title. As I said, I've started writing before without a title in place and it all worked out, so this shouldn't have been a big deal, right?

Hahaha nope. It was gnawing at me. Keeping me awake at night (when I really should have been sleeping, considering how sick I was and I still had two infants to care for). Somewhere, there was perfect title, and I was determined to think of it, even if it killed me before the untreated strep did. When I thought of something I considered pretty good, I turned to Google.

And since there's nothing new under the sun, that title had been used for other works already. Specifically, a non-fiction book that came out a few years ago, a play, and a dystopian series whose third installment comes out this month. Well, boo.

I don't know why it bugged me so much. I mean, these days, it's probably extremely difficult to find a title that hasn't been used for anything before. Goodness knows there were plenty of works of fiction called Elysium before mine came out. Same with Disintegration. And when I did have books come out that had unique titles, it's not like they suddenly propelled me into superstardom and made me a world famous author. (Unfortunately.)

Cue more sleepless nights and a lack of motivation. I created a folder so I could store some research I'd done, and gave it a silly name just to have something in place. I eventually made THE document for the actual manuscript and gave it the same placeholder file name. And I even got started and knocked out a few paragraphs.

Finally, I decided that the lack of originality isn't going to hold me back. What I came up with is the title for this book, and I'm not going to fight it anymore. I like the sound of it, it fits the storyline, and I'm just going to go with my gut feeling and accept it. To commemorate this decision, I'm even going to make a tag for it here. (Because that makes it official!)

So, welcome to my new writing project: Out of Orbit

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ducks in a Row

It's that time. My writing fingers are getting itchy and I think I'm ready to start a new project. It's an exciting moment - opening up MS Word, seeing that beautiful blank page, and going to "Save As". But am I really ready?

I don't have a formal checklist of tasks I need to complete before I decide that an idea is developed enough to become its own story. However, some things I need to have in place before I'm willing to start. Here's a random list in no particular order:

Character Names: The main characters MUST have first names picked out before I will even write the first word. Names can say a lot about a character right off the bat, and I want to make sure they're a good fit. Last names, though, I'm willing to be flexible on. They don't come up as often, and as such, I've used placeholders before if I just want to get down to it. And actually, when I finished the first draft of Elysium, I decided to change the male lead's surname for various reasons. (Thanks, search & replace!) I'll usually run a google search on the name combinations to make sure I'm not inadvertently naming a character after someone well-known.

Place Names: UGH. I HATE coming up with fictional place names for sci-fi/fantasy. Haaaaaate. Again, I've used placeholders here before just so I'm not sitting here, staring at the screen for an hour trying to find a name that doesn't sound stupid.

Title: Ha. Hahahahaha. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. The issues I've sometimes had in the past with coming up with the perfect title have already been well-documented on this blog, so I'm just gonna leave that there.

Plot: Since I primarily write romance, 99% of the time the endgame is going to be "happily ever after", so that's taken care of. Getting there is, of course, a much different story. In thinking it over, I guess I don't really have any hard and fast rules here for what needs to be in place before I start writing. Although I write in order, sometimes I get going and realize that where I've decided to start the story is not the best place, and changes have to be made. Other times I think I've reached the end, only to learn that nope, there's more story in there somewhere. I usually have a basic framework in mind, but any outlines I make don't take a firm shape until I get started.

So where am I now? My two leads have first names. When I first started composing this post, my heroine didn't have a surname, but as I was climbing into bed last night to go to sleep, the perfect name popped into my mind, so yay? (Google has confirmed it is a good choice.) I don't have a name for the fictional planet most of the story will take place on. I know how I want to start the story, I know what the climax will be, but I haven't quite figured out the denouement. Bits and pieces of the middle are fleshed out, and I have some specific scenes and character development in mind. I think I'm good to go.

The title, though? Ha. Hahahahaha. Watch this space in a couple months for the usual freakout about how NOTHING SOUNDS RIGHT. I suppose I'll have to name that new Word document something vague.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Guest Post and Giveaway! - Love for Sale, by Linda Nightingale



Today we've got a really great guest post and giveaway by Linda Nightingale. She's here to talk about Japanese lifelike robots and how they relate to her new book, Love for Sale. We all know how much I love my android/cyborg romances, so I'm thrilled to be hosting her here.

And! Plus! Also! Linda is also being EXTREMELY kind and generous and is giving away a pair of citrine earrings to one lucky commenter. The earrings can only go out to someone in the US, but if you're outside the US, you can win your choice of one of her e-books instead. Check out this gorgeous jewelry:



Now that we're done ogling, let's actually get to these robots. Take it away, Linda!



This may seem to fly off the pages of science fiction, but it’s a hot new research field and making rapid progress.
At the Toshiba booth at the Consumer Electronics show, Chihira Aico, a life-sized robot in a pink party dress with pearls, stood like a mannequin, perfectly still—at first. Suddenly, the android began to gesture wildly.
 “I can be a news reader, consultant or cheerleader!” She threw her arms up and squealed, “I can get excited!”
Chihira is a new concept for a life-like android. Her creators intend to make her seem even more expressive when interacting with humans. By adding additional motors to her joints, engineers are refining her movements to make them appear fluid while programmers work on her language processing, improving her communications skills and responsiveness.  The ultimate goal is for the robot to read human behaviors and emotions, then mimic them, thereby appearing human herself.
This complicated piece of hardware has over 40 motors in her joints to coordinate her body’s movements. Fifteen tiny air pumps on her fact control the blinking of her eyes and the opening of her mouth as she speaks. Toshiba developed Chihira under the direction of Hitoshi Tokuda, the project leader. Osaka University performed the muscle research, building on previous work on prosthetic limbs.
On-lookers thought Chihira was creepy. What do you think?
A hi-tech hotel in Japan, Nagasaki prefecture's Henn-na Hotel, opening in July will employ ten robots at the check-in counter as receptionists. If you think these humanoid androids are creepy, you might think twice about visiting this hotel. They can establish eye contact and respond to body language.
In my sci-fi romance, Love For Sale, which will be released by The Wild Rose Press on June 10, my androids are completely indistinguishable from human and are sold as companions… programmed to love. When I wrote Love For Sale, I didn’t know about the Japanese life-like robots. I don’t find them creepy but extremely interesting. I’d love to interact with a human-like android.
A recent Pew report entitled, “A.I., Robotics, and the Future of Jobs,” suggests that while it might be some time before we see a robot takeover of our workforce, we’ll be having sex with them sooner than we think. Hum. Interesting. Would you find a sentient being programmed to love you disturbing?
Thanks for having me on your blog!  I enjoyed my visit.


Buy Link: Love For Sale

Author Links:
Website: www.lindanightingale.com
Blog: lindanightingale.wordpress.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LindaNightingaleAuthor
Twitter: www.twitter.com/LNightingale

And lastly, coming soon from Linda—Gambler's Choice from The Wild Rose Press.
 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Book Tour for The Fall of the Midnight Scorpions

The book tour for The Fall of the Midnight Scorpions kicks off today! I'll be commenting and tweeting and sharing and whatnot, but here's the schedule so you can follow along as well for some new excerpts and fun interviews. (Don't be shy about showing some love to the generous tour hosts!)

September 14th: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading
September 14th: Book Excerpt @ Author C.A. Milson’s Blog
September 15th: Book Excerpt @ Indy Book Fairy
September 16th: Book Excerpt @ Solafide Publishing Book Blog
September 17th: Author Interview @ Teatime and Books
September 19th: Book Excerpt @ Books Are Forever
September 21st: Author Interview @ Editor Charlene’s Blog
September 23rd: Promo Post @ Books on Fire
September 24th: Book Review @ I Heart Reading
September 26th: Book Excerpt @ The Single Librarian
September 28th: Character Interview @ Compelling Beasts Blog

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Meet the Team - Ro Bernard

Last one! And my favorite, of course! (from The Fall of the Midnight Scorpions)



Name: Ro Bernard

Role: The Leader

Country of Origin: Palavia

Known associates/affiliations: Former member of The Midnight Scorpions

Greatest accomplishment: Winning a training tournament with other new recruits at the time of her initiation, despite being younger and smaller than most of the competitors

Biggest fear: Never doing anything significant with her life

Additional information: Her full name is Rohalia, but only two people ever called her that. She thinks it's too frilly.

Trivia: After all this time, I still think Ro's my favorite character that I've ever written. I almost feel bad for everything I've put her through, but I know she'll keep getting back up no matter how many times I knock her down.


Anyway, on to real trivia. When writing the original Disintegration, she came very close to being named Rosie (partially due to the song "Cracklin' Rosie"; what can I say, I'm a closeted Neil Diamond fan), and I don't even remember why I changed it at this point. However, it does resurface as a nickname in this book.

Due to my affinity for her, I guess, I've been asked before if Ro is supposed to be me, or an extension of myself, or a projection of how I'd like to be. The answer to that is a big no. Sure, we have some similarities (I assume that's the case with most of the characters I write since, well, I'm writing them), but I assure you, she is not intended to be a self-insert character. We're both a bit snarky and we both hate to cuddle, but that's about it.

And so we come to the end of the "Meet the Team" series. I hope you had as much fun as I did, and don't forget to check out the rest of Boobulon's artwork and show him some love!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Promo/Guest Post - Aquarius Rising Book 2: Blood Tide, by Brian Burt



Today we're in for a real special treat! Award-winning author Brian Burt is here to talk about a new sub-genre of sci-fi, "cli-fi" (or, "climate fiction"). Since the first book in his series, Aquarius Rising: In the Tears of God, won the 2014 EPIC eBook Award for Science Fiction, I'm pretty sure he knows his stuff! Let's learn something!


***


I've always loved the way that science fiction as a genre has spread a big tent to welcome many different kinds of writing: hard SF, soft / sociological SF, space opera, alternate history, steampunk, cyberpunk, science fantasy, techno-thriller, you name it. There's something for every taste. Recently, a new sub-genre has emerged, grabbing media headlines and critical attention from sources as diverse as NPR and Wired. It's been called "climate fiction," or "cli-fi" for short. Catchy, eh? So what is this new category of fiction, and why does it matter?


Climate fiction reflects a growing movement among writers in and outside of science fiction who choose to develop their stories around a central theme of "what if global warming really does proceed unchecked?" What will the world look like if weather patterns alter dramatically, the cycle of seasons becomes unrecognizable, coastal mega-cities flood, large swaths of land become arid wastelands, and masses of people are forced to migrate away from their homes in search of less hostile environments? What kind of social and political chaos will result, and how will we cope? Will we try to geo-engineer a solution on a planetary scale, and what if there are unintended consequences? Will humans be forced to tweak their own genetics to adapt to the harsh conditions that constitute Earth's "new normal"?

These speculations provide a lot of grist for the mill of creativity and imagination. In some ways, frankly, that's nothing new. Some brilliant SF writers explored ecological themes long before climate change became a hot topic (pun intended); Frank Herbet's Dune series is a classic example, as are Kim Stanley Robinson's Orange County and Mars trilogies. I still remember getting chills from reading Ursula Le Guin's The Word for World is Forest.

When I finally worked up the courage to move from short fiction to attempting a full-length novel of my own (gulp!), climate fiction became a natural source of inspiration for my debut book in the Aquarius Rising trilogy, In the Tears of God. For SF writers, the age-old advice to "write what you know" becomes a bit tricky (since we're often imagining new worlds that nobody really knows). But I think it's wise to "write what you know you care about." Fiction isn't activism by any means, but infusing a story with themes about which the author is passionate will make it much more enjoyable to read.

And that's why, when I settled down in front of my MacBook to start that first chapter, I developed a bond with Ocypode the Aquarian, a member of the hybrid species of half-human, half-dolphin humanoids who have built thriving reef-cities amidst the wreckage of drowned Human cities. I imagined him floating near a submerged building, its sides now covered in corals, a rainbow of fish darting in and out of the encrusted window frames that provide entry into the dim, cavernous interior. I found his underwater world beautiful, mysterious, and dangerous; I wanted to learn more about it, and about him, and his desperate quest to conceal the secrets that he knows could rip Aquarian society apart. But when enemies above the waves unleash a genocidal war against Aquarius, he's forced to choose between the damage of revealing his secret or the risk that ignorance will destroy his entire race.

It's been a wondrous journey for me as a writer, and it's continued with the recent release of Book 2, Blood Tide. Book 3, The Price of Eden, is in progress. I can't way to see how it all turns out, and I hope you'll consider joining me. Give cli-fi a try. It impassions its practitioners, and you'll feel that energy in every scene!

Blurb
Megalops is an Aquarian from one of the many reef-cities that thrive beneath the waves on an Earth transformed by climate change. Humans clinging to the barren lands blame Aquarius for their plight and unleashed the Medusa Plague that entombed Megalops's wife and daughter in stone.  Tormented by that loss, Megalops swears to avenge his murdered family by unleashing a Vendetta Virus as cruel and lethal as Medusa. Ocypode the Atavism and his allies battle desperate odds to prevent Megalops from igniting global conflict.  War demands sacrifice.  If Mother Earth and Mother Ocean wage war against each other, will anyone survive?

About the Author:

Brian Burt writes both short and novel-length speculative fiction. He has published more than twenty science fiction and fantasy stories in various magazines and anthologies. His short story "The Last Indian War" won the Writers of the Future Gold Award and was anthologized in Writers of the Future Volume VIII. His debut novel, Aquarius Rising Book 1: In the Tears of God, won the 2014 EPIC eBook Award for Science Fiction. Aquarius Rising Book 2: Blood Tide has just been released by Double Dragon Publishing. Brian works as a cybersecurity engineer and lives with his wife, three sons, a corn snake, and an aging white German shepherd in idyllic Plainwell, Michigan. The dog, in particular, remains unimpressed with his literary efforts unless they come with bacon.  You can sample Brian's writing at http://www.briantburt.com.