Thursday, December 28, 2017

New #SciFi Romance Series AYDARR with Excerpt

Posted by: Veronica Scott
Aydarr  (A Badari Warriors Scifi Romance Novel), Sectors New Allies Series Book 1 is the the first book in a new series I’m launching, connected to my scifi world of the Sectors, but with the action taking place elsewhere. I’m excited about writing an actual series with a specific overarching plotline, although of course each individual book has a satisfying Happy for Now ending for the hero and heroine. No cliffhangers! One of the reasons I wrote this book is that I’ve wanted to tackle an actual series for a while now, where each novel has a different couple front and center in the story, but the other characters will be showing up in the story too!

My Sectors SF Romance series is more of a connected series, all being set in the Sectors and with some characters mentioned in more than one book, plus a few direct sequels. But for this New Allies series, I had to come up with a longer running story arc that could stretch over 3 to 5 books before the conflict is resolved, but not do too much detailed plotting, because my Muse balks at telling a story where I’ve already figured out too much in advance. I lose the desire to write it all down then.  It’s a total no go.

I’ve long been a fan of the Lora Leigh Breeds series and the Laurann Dohner New Species series, both centering around genetically engineered soldiers. I can’t ever get enough of those stories! So I decided to challenge myself to write my own novels with genetically enhanced warriors as the heroes (for the most part – there are a few Sectors Special Forces guys appearing in the books already and I think Gabe may get his own book soon. He’d demanding one!).  The heroines in the first two books are Sectors women, Jill and her sister Megan respectively.

And I’ve thrown in a few other elements of my own brand of scifi romance along the way…

I thought the concept of these warriors created by alien scientists lent itself to a series arc I could handle and write some exciting stories for. I also see a lot of potential for ‘sidequels’ about other characters, that might not advance the main series arc, but which would be fun to tell. It’s going to depend if the readers like the books or not! 

The story
Jill Garrison, a maintenance tech at the Sectors Amarcae 7 colony, goes to sleep one night as usual only to wake up in her nightgown stranded in the middle of a forest on an unknown world. There’s no time to think as she’s stalked by carnivorous predators and rescued by genetically engineered warriors calling themselves the Badari. Turns out they and she, along with her whole colony, are now prisoners of the Khagrish, a ruthless race of alien scientists. Working for enemies of the Sectors, the Khagrish have created the Badari to be super soldiers.

Aydarr, the Badari alpha, isn’t sure he can trust Jill but his attraction to her is undeniable. He impulsively claims her as his mate to prevent her death at the hands of the Khagrish.
Can he continue to protect her from the experiments already underway?  Will his claiming her put his pack in jeopardy from their alien masters?

As Jill searches for a way to rescue her fellow humans and get them all to safety, she finds herself falling for Aydarr, despite the secrets he’s keeping. She has a few of her own.
The situation becomes dire when Aydarr and his pack are sent offplanet on a mission, leaving Jill unprotected, prey for the senior scientist. Can she escape the experiments he has in mind for her? Will she be able to thwart the Khagrish plans and liberate humans and Badari alike? How will she and Aydarr reunite?

The excerpt from the start of the book:
                Why am I lying face down on the wet grass in the rain?

                Jill rolled over, putting a hand to her forehead in an attempt to quell a ferocious headache. Opening her eyes gingerly, she blinked at the vividly colored pink, purple and blue leaves on the tree above her, which certainly had never grown on Amarcae 7. She’d been all around her home colony on various repair jobs, and nothing there had riotous leaves in these colors, much less with spikes at the tips. As she watched, one of the leaves snapped into a tight roll to capture a slow moving insect.

              “Thank the Lords of Space I’m too big a bite.” Wary, nauseous, she sat up, swaying a bit, and examined her unfamiliar surroundings. She was in the midst of an old growth forest, with other forms of vegetation besides the carnivorous trees but nothing recognizable.

               A loud roar in the distance gave her the shivers, and she forced herself to stand, staggering a few feet to lean on a less colorful tree’s broad trunk to stay upright. Despite the rain, her mouth was dry, and she had a hard time swallowing. “What the seven hells?”

              Her mind was curiously blank, no memory of how she’d gotten to this place, or what had happened in the last few hours. She guessed it might be late afternoon here, from the glimpse she got of the white sun above the horizon, before the clouds drifted in front of the orb again. She refused to contemplate the fact that the star providing heat and light to her colony was yellow. If the sun here was white hot, the reality of where she stood, lost in the galaxy, was terrifying.

                She remembered eating dinner in her small modular house on the edge of the colony, falling asleep watching an adventure trideo she’d seen a hundred times then…nothing.

                “And now I’m here.” She took a closer look at her left arm and did a double take. A black bracelet she’d never seen before was solid against her skin just above the wrist, with no visible hinge or fastening. As she gawked at it, prying at the edges in an increasingly desperate attempt to make the band move, flickers of red and yellow pulsed inside the cool, hard surface. The bracelet and what it might mean scared her more than the loss of short term memory or even the unknown sun above her.

                The roar came again, closer, and was answered by another. Something hunting me maybe? 

                Distracted from the ominous mystery of the bracelet, she was briefly tempted to try climbing the tree, but the lightheadedness persisted. Also, the smooth trunk didn’t offer anything in the way of handholds. She pushed off, realizing she was barefoot, wearing her short, pink-and-black nightgown, molded to her body by the rain. Lingerie was her secret luxury after a day spent in technician’s coveralls, but certainly not suited to this experience. 

                Am I dreaming? She paused, gazing at the sky and pushing her damp hair off her face. The shower had tapered off and now the sun was shining but an ominous gray storm front was advancing. A bolt of lightning arced across the sky, and Jill broke into a zigzag run, forcing her body to respond to her terror. Standing anywhere close to a giant tree in a thunder storm was a recipe for disaster. 

              I’m in a nightmare, not a dream, but it’s all too real. In her headlong flight, she stepped on a rock or a sharp root and cried out, but she kept going as thunder boomed. She had to find either a stand of small trees surrounded by taller ones or a ravine. Of course, an actual shelter would be better than either of those make-do options but probably too much to hope for.

              Running full tilt, ignoring the pain from her foot, she suddenly slammed into an invisible barrier and bounced off, falling on her back. Cautiously she rose, extending her arms. The barrier was a tingling against her palms. She tried going right then left, but the wall ran for quite some distance in both directions. Being in an invisible cage was the most unsettling thing since she’d awakened, especially when coupled with the bracelet affixed to her arm.

               A boom of thunder directly overhead startled her into motion, and she ran in a new direction, terrified of being struck by lightning. The rain lashed her face and barely-covered body, like stinging nettles, adding impetus to her desperation to find cover.

               The ground gave way under her feet. She teetered on the edge of the sinkhole or pit, but her precarious state of vertigo betrayed her. Screaming, she half slid, half fell into the deep hole, debris raining down with her. 

BUY LINKS: Amazon      B&N  Google   Kobo     iBooks





Monday, December 25, 2017

Here Be News

Posted by: Veronica Scott
Merry Christmas from the Here Be Magic Authors, if you're celebrating today, and happy holiday season to everyone, everywhere! May your winter be magical...

Other News:
New!

BREATH OF CHRISTMAS

Sweet Contemporary Fantasy
by Linda Mooney
Word Count: 11.2K
$1.99 e 


After being gone for months, there's nothing like being home for Christmas. Although Brindle has no family there to welcome her back, and the little town has grown since she left, it's still home to her and exactly where she wants to be in these final days. 

With a little help from a generous stranger full of the Christmas spirit, the holiday is sure to be perfect for Brindle. Full of love and memories, both old and new.

She just prays she's able to enjoy it before she runs out of time and breath. 

Excerpt and buy links
********************
EMBRACE THE ROMANCE: PETS IN SPACE 2 is on sale for $.99 at Amazon!
USA Today Best Seller and Library Journal Award Winning Anthology of scifi romance tales with heroic pets by twelve top SFR Authors, including our Veronica Scott...

  Buy Link for sale price: Amazon


Friday, December 22, 2017

Writing A Book Is Like Decorating A Christmas Tree

Posted by: Maureen
By Maureen L. Bonatch 
Everyone has their own way of decorating a Christmas treeSome like white lights, while others prefer multi-colored. A few may coordinate specific decorations, while some choose ornaments with a special story or memory behind them. Still some hang whatever ornament catches their eye. 

We always put our Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving—during the last week of National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWri). Once we had our tree complete this year, I sat and watched it move on the rotating base and considered how decorating the tree was comparable to crafting a story.

An Outline, or An Idea

You start with the bare bones. It’s just a tree. Beautiful in it’s own right, but displaying the potential for so much more.  Perhaps it sits in your yard for months, or years, as you consider just how you want to mold it for the end result. Then you find the place of honor  in your home where the tree gets the best attention. (Environment)

Main Characters

The lights go on first. You decide if you want just one color (First Person POV) or more than one color. You know what catches your eye and enthralls you. There are people who will tell you they prefer one over the other, it’s your job to convince them why your color(s) is just as beautiful, if not more.

Secondary Characters

You add the ornaments. Each one serves a purpose to enhance the overall effect so it’s pleasing to the eye. A few have a really special story to tell about how they earned that place on your tree. All of the ornaments look fabulous together, yet none stand out more than another.

 Bring Your Story Together

The tinsel drapes over the tree and brings all the ornaments, and the lights together in harmony. Then the tree, and the varied decorations, make one beautiful whole.


I Hope Your Holiday Is Beautiful and Fills You With Awe


Just don't choose your Christmas tree from the woods of 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.





Author Bio: Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. Find Maureen on her websiteFacebookTwitter

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Seven Tips for Happy Reading

Posted by: Jenny Schwartz
It's that time of year - when everything and everyone goes crazy! It's my favourite time of year to stay away from the shopping mall - if possible. But sometimes, you just have to dive into the chaos. Fortunately, once you've swum back to shore and wrung out your hermit's cloak and retreated to you cave (what? not everyone's antisocial like me?), there are books to restore your soul.

So here are my seven tips for happy reading during this crazy time of year.

1. Disconnect the doorbell. I tend to turn my cellphone off, so I don't need to especially remember to switch that off, too. If someone knocks on the door, it's only a courier (truly, it's not your great-aunt who's travelled three hours to visit you) and you'll collect the parcel later.

2. Eat a Christmas treat. You know you don't ever manage to snaffle the best treats at parties, so indulge now. If you're sneaky, you won't even have to share with your family (good luck ignoring your pets, though).

3. Don't you dare read a book you feel you should read, either for your book club or because everyone at the office is pretending they've read it. Read something for pure (or impure!) enjoyment ;)

4. Lounge around in your pjs. No one will judge you - well, they might if they could see you, but you've disconnected the doorbell, remember?

5. Let your emotions flow. Is the scene sad? Bawl your eyes out. Is it funny? Snort and giggle. Is the scene infuriating? Throw the book -- uh, no. If it's an ebook, don't throw your ereader against the wall! Santa mightn't bring you a replacement, naughty girl.

6. Stop reading for a minute and think of the chores you should be doing. There, don't you feel extra-happy at avoiding them? Maybe if we wish hard enough, Santa will share his housecleaning elves with us?

7. Have a second book ready and when you've finished the first, simply re-stock your plate with treats and keep going!

Read on! and Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Dear Santa, Here's What I Want for Christmas

Posted by: Linda Mooney
Dear Santa,

Here's hoping you and the missus are doing well. It's that time of year again, so here's my Christmas wish list.

I want to have a whopping best seller. It doesn't have to make me millions in royalties. A few hundred thousands would be sufficient.

I also want one of my books optioned to become a movie. Any one of them would make a decent flick. I can give you a few suggestions if you'd like.

And I want a major publisher to contact me and ask me to submit to them. They can tempt me with a huge advance, and any genre is okay.  It would also be nice if they'd arrange for me to attend several book signings across the U.S. and overseas.

Finally, I'd like a constant stream of excellent, thought-provoking, and ingenious ideas for new books to write in the coming year, with no writer's blocks, delays, or frustrations. Be sure to include plenty of coffee.

However, if by some chance you're not able to bring any of that to me this year, then I would be happy with the following - readers who enjoy my works, good health to where I can continue to write, and the patience and ability to tell a good story. Again, don't forget the coffee.

That's it! Have a safe trip, and here's wishing you and your elves a very Merry Christmas!

Love,

Linda

P.S. Here's a picture of my newest ornament. It's a typewriter with the words "Once upon a time" Just perfect for an author, don't you think?

&&&&&&&&
WHEN THE HEART WHISPERS
A Sweet, Heart-Warming, Feel Good Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 20.2K
$1.99 e / $6.99 p 



After losing her husband a couple years prior, Lily’s children decide it’s time for her to stop grieving and move on with her life. She’s always wanted to travel, and a few days later she finds herself in New York City. Touring the Big Apple alone on her own schedule is perfectly fine with Lily, but a guided tour from a local proves to be even better.

After repeated run-ins with the redheaded tourist from Tennessee, it seems fate is determined to bring Lily into George’s life. So he decides to take a chance for the first time in over twenty years.

Both have had heartache in their pasts. Both have loved and lost. Can they open up their hearts and risk the hurt again? Will they listen when the heart whispers?                


Monday, December 18, 2017

Here Be News

Posted by: Veronica Scott
New Releases:
WHEN THE HEART WHISPERS
Sweet Contemporary Romance
by Linda Mooney
Word Count: 20.2K
$1.99 e     

After losing her husband a couple years prior, Lily’s children decide it’s time for her to stop grieving and move on with her life. She’s always wanted to travel, and a few days later she finds herself in New York City. Touring the Big Apple alone on her own schedule is perfectly fine with Lily, but a guided tour from a local proves to be even better.

After repeated run-ins with the redheaded tourist from Tennessee, it seems fate is determined to bring Lily into George’s life. So he decides to take a chance for the first time in over twenty years.

Both have had heartache in their pasts. Both have loved and lost. Can they open up their hearts and risk the hurt again? Will they listen when the heart whispers?   

Excerpt and buy links     


Other News:

The Holiday Spirit by Dani Harper was included in the December Recommended Reading post by BookWorks. 

You can read it at https://www.bookworks.com/2017/12/december-holiday-reading-list/

This occurred within two days of the book receiving its BRAND NEW COVER and NEW BACK COVER BLURB (read it below), which hadn't even been announced yet!



From the Back Cover:

COUNSELING GHOSTS DOESN'T LEAVE ROOM FOR A LOVE LIFE...

Shopping for Christmas, author Kerri Tollbrook is more annoyed than startled when a ghost tells her a gift she's about to buy will end up in the nearest donation bin. He's right, and well... gorgeous with those haunted brown eyes and self-assured bearing. Unlike most men, he's not afraid of her unusual gift. And the connection she feels surprises her. But even she can't date a dead man.

INVISIBLE FOR A YEAR...

Firefighter Galen McAllister is stunned the petite redhead can see and hear him. It feels almost normal to talk to another human again, but if things were truly normal, he'd alread be asking her out. The woman is a triple threat – smart, funny, pretty, even if she's insisting he needs to "cross over". He can't, not after an ancient evil ripped him away from his body. And he refuses to leave as long as the creature is free to do the same to others.

A RITUAL TO PURGE EVIL...

There's no time to kiss under the mistletoe. The demon with a taste for human life force is coming back for a final feast. Helping ghosts is one thing, but Kerri is determined to banish the monster by any means necessary, even if Galen only wants enough "answers" to help him take the demon down himself.


She can't let Galen die for real. He can't bear to put Kerri in the creature's path. But if they don't work together on this, they aren't the only ones who will die just in time for Christmas.

...


The Holiday Spirit is available in ebook and paperback on Amazon.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Veronica Scott's scifi romance THE FATED STARS received a terrific review from the Whiskey With My Book Blog!










Bring It Back(list) Feature: see above item from Dani, as this was our Back(list) Feature of the week.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Bring It Back(list) - Rhea 41070, a Sci-Fi Romance by Linda Mooney

Posted by: Linda Mooney
RHEA 41070
Sci-Fi Romance 

by Linda Mooney
Word Count:  64.3K
$0.99 e / $9.99 p / $19.95 a  



Bock Gammon is a freedom runner. A man with a space ship for hire. He has heard of Replacements and knows they exist, but he has never personally come across one. In fact, he finds the whole idea repugnant--growing a living being specifically for the purpose of harvesting his body parts. So do the governments in many of the galaxies who have declared Replacements illegal.

Which is why he is stunned to discover his latest assignment is to bring a Replacement to one of the wealthiest men in the Chatta Dul system. If he hadn't so desperately needed the money, he wouldn't have accepted the job.

It doesn't take long for Bock to realize that Rhea 41070 isn't just one-of-a-kind, she's also unlike any woman he has ever met.  And the closer they get to the point of delivery, the more he knows he can't walk away and leave her behind to be dissected.  Somehow, he has to find a way to save her, despite the odds and hundreds of well-armed men awaiting their return.

Warning!  Contains idol worship, twisted old men, blackmail, apathy for human life, black market medicine, a shootout, a taste of the good life, and more gold than you can shake a stick at.       

From December 1st through the 31st, you can get the ebook for only 99 cents! Available at this price only on Amazon and this website. (Note: Click BUY EBOOK to get the Nook or PDF version.)    

Friday, December 15, 2017

What WEREWOLVES have to do with Christmas...

Posted by: Dani Harper, AUTHOR
Image: Bigstock.com
Of all the folklore surrounding this holiday season, the last one you'd expect involves werewolves. In fact, there are MANY old legends and beliefs connecting werewolves and Christmas!


A common belief in many countries on both sides of the Atlantic was that a person could become a werewolf if someone cursed them. And the person doing the hexing was often a priest or even a saint, punishing you for real or imagined sins!

Repeatedly failing to attend annual confession at Easter or Christmas was a trespass likely to result in a lupine curse...

In 14th century Normandy, the varouage was an excommunicated person who became a werewolf between Christmas and Candlemas or during Advent. During this time, the sinner was either redeemed – or doomed to belong to the devil and run as a wolf forever. (By the way, in Finland, if you were lucky enough to break the spell, you were still stuck with a wolf’s tail for the rest of your life!)

Curses abounded for anyone with the misfortune to be born on the wrong day. In Italy, it was bad luck to be born on the winter solstice, December 20-21, and a sure way to become a shapeshifter. In many other European countries, such as Poland, it was believed that children born on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day automatically became werewolves when they grew up. In Germany, a child was still in danger of becoming one if he or she was born during the 12 nights of Christmas, which run from December 25 until the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6.

Image: Bigstock.com
Whatever the country and the legend, it was generally agreed that the lupine curse was some sort of divine punishment for blasphemy, as the hapless baby was viewed as competing with the Christ child! Many kinds of rituals were vigorously performed for the first few days after Christmas to help the infant avoid his wolfish fate

In Romania, this legend went a step further. Children conceived on Christmas Eve were cursed to become werewolves because their parents were supposed to have abstained from sex at that time!

Winter solstice (which falls about December 21st), was traditionally celebrated as the first day of the 12 days of Yule. The veil between worlds was thin during that time, and people stayed indoors at night because supernatural creatures were out and about – and that included werewolves!

In 1555, Swedish archbiship Olaus Magnus wrote “The History of the Northern Peoples”, in which he said that at the festival of Christmas, there was a strange conversion of men into wolves. “There is a gathering of a huge multitude of wolves which have been changed from men, and which during that night rage with such fierceness … that the inhabitants suffer more hurt from them, than they ever do from natural wolves, for these human wolves break down doors … and descend into cellars where they drink out whole tuns (sic) of beer or mead.” 

Magnus goes on to describe a high stone wall where the werewolves would afterwards gather, and eventually compete to leap over it.”

Image: Public Domain
The concept of werewolves waiting at the wall was illustrated by Maurice Sand in his 1858 lithograph of Les Lupins (shown above).

Physician Casper Peucer recorded a similar legend of mass lycanthropy in 1560 in Livonia (now Estonia and Latvia). “At Christmas a boy lame of leg goes round the countryside summoning the Devil’s followers, which are many, to a general conclave… The human form vanishes, and the whole multitude become wolves… They fall upon herds of cattle and flocks of sheep.” The entire transformation, he wrote, lasts twelve days: “…at the expiration of which the wolf skin vanishes, and the human form reappears.”

Image: Bigstock.com
On the flip side, there were some beliefs in the notion that the sheer holiness of the Christmas season would suppress a werewolf’s transformation, enabling him to walk freely among men without fear of his animal nature getting the better of him. After this blessed period of dormancy however, werewolves in January were all the more active and aggressive.

In some parts of Poland, it was believed that werewolves only transformed into their animal form twice a year: on Midsummer Day and on Christmas. In Slovenia, the Twelve Days of Christmas were also known as Wolf Days. The original story was that the Wolf-Shepherd, or Master of Wolves, was active during that time and could do the most damage then. Later, the story shifted so that St. Blaise (Saint of the Wild Beast) became the Wolf-Shepherd. It was his job to summon the wild wolves, and then to banish them for a time, thus preserving the herds of livestock from predation.

One final, rather odd, holiday superstition also comes from Slovenian folklore. Farmers would make a special effort not to leave manure lying in the fields over the Christmas season by plowing it into the soil. Apparently one of the easiest ways a werewolf could make his transformation was by rolling in manure!

.......................................................................................................................

Book 1 of the Haunted Holiday Series by Dani Harper 
A Yuletide Paranormal Romance

Purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/HOLIDAY-SPIRIT-Haunted-Holiday-Book-ebook/dp/B013Z0F31M

5 stars ~ JUST LOVE MY BOOKS ~ “One of my top ten holiday romances ever.”
4.25 stars ~ NIGHT OWL REVIEWS “An excellent combination of sizzle and emotion.”
5 stars ~ REDZ WORLD REVIEWS "Action, adventure, and a whole lot of love inside.”

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Throwback Thursday: This Winter Heart

Posted by: PG Forte
It's occurred to me, recently, that it's really not all that surprising that I sometimes write about characters that are more-or-less indestructible. I'm starting to realize that my octogenarian mother, who's just returned home from the hospital after breaking her neck for the second time in three years, could probably give any of my semi-mechanical people a run for their money. 

I come from really tough stock. 

However, caring for my mother full-time while she's still largely bed-ridden has left me with too little time to come up with a new blog post, so I'm posting a throwback excerpt from This Winter Heart, the book that led to my inclusion in this wonderful group.

Here's a look at how my steampunk family might have celebrated Christmas in Santa Fe. I've also included a link at the bottom to a short story I wrote involving the same characters.  


“How will we be spending Christmas this year?” Arthur asked, half turning in his seat to look up at Dario.
The boy’s voice pulled Dario back to the present. He was surprised to find that, while his thoughts had wandered, he’d somehow allowed his horse to slow to a walk. He frowned absently, annoyed at his own inattention. “What was that?”
“Christmas,” the boy repeated, his tone unexpectedly stern. “You said that’s why we were coming here, because it would make Christmas more enjoyable.”
“So I did.” Dario felt a small stab of guilt. His motives for wanting Ophelia and her son out of the hotel had been purely personal. But, all the same, who wouldn’t prefer to be here, rather than in a hotel?
“But how will it be enjoyable? What do you intend to do to make it so? Everyone says you don’t do anything anymore—that you never celebrate Christmas—that you rarely even leave the house. That doesn’t sound very enjoyable to me.”
Everyone? “Who have you been talking to?” Dario asked, equally affronted by the idea of the child asking questions about him as he was by his accusations. True, he hadn’t had a reason to celebrate much of anything in the past few years and the stares and whispered comments his presence always seemed to elicit made going out in public something of a nightmare, but his behavior wasn’t unalterable either. He could still celebrate Christmas if he wanted to.
Arthur shrugged. “Just the maids. And the grooms. And Mrs. Harrison, of course. She said it was because you were so unhappy. And Mama said I was to stop asking so many questions and not to trouble you about it either, but I’m not troubling you. Am I?”
“Not at all,” Dario answered, lying smoothly. He gazed curiously at the boy. “How are you used to celebrating Christmas?”
“We’d always have a tall tree set up in the parlor, all lit with candles,” Arthur said promptly. “With presents underneath. Oh, and there’d be cookies, of course, and sweets, and sometimes in the evening, carolers would come to the door, singing.”
Dario nodded. “And what kind of presents do you like to get?”
“I dunno. Games, I guess, and toys, maybe some books. Last year I got a pair of ice-skates.” His face fell. “But there’s no pond to skate on here, is there?”
“Not really.”
“And there’d always be one special toy that Grandpapa would have made for me,” the boy said wistfully. “But he’s gone now. I don’t suppose I’ll be getting any more like those.”
“No. Probably not.” Dario could only imagine the wondrous toys an inventor of Charles’ caliber might have made for his grandson: marvelous electrical games and puzzles, miniature steam-powered vehicles that were working replicas of their real-life counterparts, clockwork dolls that could walk and talk and...no, he would not think of it.
“Here, it’s your turn.” Seeking distraction, Dario took hold of Arthur’s hands. He lifted them from the pommel and placed them on the reins, keeping his own hands loosely clasped atop them. “Guide her where you want her to go.” He smiled at the small tremor that ran through the boy, the way he sat up a little bit straighter in the saddle, the way his hands firmed on the reins. “Yes. Just like that. Very good.”
A pleasant silence settled between them, broken only by Arthur’s murmured encouragements to Leveche.
“You know, my father used to take me riding like this when I was your age. This is how he taught me.” And now I’m teaching my own son in the exact same fashion. The thought came to him unbidden and once again set his heart to racing. He wanted so desperately to believe it was true. Why should it not be so, even if he couldn’t prove it? What could it hurt to at least entertain the possibility? And what possible goal could Ophelia have for seeking to deceive him in this fashion?
“Did you always live here?” Arthur asked.
“What, here in this house? No. But, if you mean in Santa Fe, then yes. Always.”
“It must be nice to live in the same place your whole life.” Arthur’s voice held a wistful note once again.
“Oh, I think both paths have their own advantages.” Dario gave the boy’s hands a slight squeeze. “Think of it this way, you will get to experience so much more, and at a much younger age, than I ever did. And, if something here is not to your liking, perhaps in the next place you go, it will be.”
“I don’t want there to be a next place,” Arthur muttered beneath his breath. Dario pretended not to hear.
“What did you used to do here at Christmas?” Arthur asked after a moment’s silence. “When you were my age, I mean.”
“It was very much like what you described—a tree, presents, special foods. And then on Christmas Eve we’d go into town to view the posada and see the plaza, all lit up with faralitos. But there were quite a few more of us in my family, so it was very noisy at times and we always had to share. And we lived too far from town for anyone to come caroling, there was no pond for skating and I had no grandpapa to make me wonderful toys.”
“But you had horses, didn’t you? I should think they’d make up for a lot of the other things.”
“Yes. We always had horses.” Dario smiled, for he, too, had been crazy about horses from a very young age. “And each season the whole family would ride out to the river for Balloon Glow, which is something else I imagine you don’t see much of back in Pennsylvania.”
Arthur craned his neck again to frown up at him. “Balloon Glow? I’ve never heard of it. What is it?”
“It’s a local festival involving lighter-than-air craft—mostly balloons. Even back in those days, you know, almost all of the most wealthy families had at least one. On a specific date, we’d gather out on one of the mesas along the river. People would come from miles around. For some, the trip was so long it would take them several days to get there and back. On the day of the event, vendors would set up camp, offering coffee and hot apple cider as well as fry-bread and other snacks. Shortly after dusk, all the other lights would be extinguished and the balloons fired up. They’d glow from within like giant lanterns and we’d walk around among them, admiring all the many designs, listening to the carolers sing...” Dario’s voice trailed off as the memories overtook him. He almost missed Arthur’s next question.
“Do they not do that anymore?”
Dario looked at him in surprise. “Why, no. Why would you think that? It’s still held every year. It takes place this coming weekend, I believe.” It had been years since he’d gone, years since he’d even thought about it.
“Might we go?”
Dario smiled at the tension in Arthur’s voice; surely that combination of hesitancy and eagerness could not be manufactured? Noticing the boy had let the reins go slack he took them back and urged Leveche toward the stables. “I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t. Especially seeing as you haven’t been to one before.” In such a vast crowd one little boy was unlikely to attract too much attention and, with any luck, even Dario might be able to go about his business undetected by the gossips. It was a holiday. Why should he not chance it?


Blurb: Santa Fe, The Republic of New Texacali, 1870

Eight years ago, Ophelia Leonides's husband cast her off when he discovered she was not the woman he thought she was. Now destitute after the death of her father, Ophelia is forced to turn to Dario for help raising the child she never told him about.
Dario is furious that Ophelia has returned, and refuses to believe Arthur is his son—after all, he thought his wife was barren. But to avoid gossip, he agrees to let them spend the holidays at his villa. While he cannot resist the desire he still feels for Ophelia, Dario despises himself for being hopelessly in love with a woman who can never love him back.
But Dario is wrong: Ophelia's emotions are all too human, and she was brokenhearted when he rejected her. Unsure if she can trust the man she desperately loves, she fears for her life, her freedom and her son if anyone else learns of her true nature...
https://www.amazon.com/This-Winter-Heart-Steampunk-Christmas-ebook/dp/B005Z1C29G



            

FREE READ: This Winter Night

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

AYDARR New #SciFi Romance Release with Excerpt

Posted by: Veronica Scott
I've started a new scifi romance series, the Sectors New Allies Series, and the first book is out - AYDARR (A Badari Warriors SciFi Romance Novel). The heroes here are genetically engineered warriors, developed by alien scientists to fight against the humans in the Sectors (which is my interstellar civilization). I've always LOVED books which featured such heroes, like Lora Leigh's Breeds and Laurann Dohner's New Species, so it was fun to take a try at writing my own variation on the trope.

I was also a bit influenced by the general atmosphere of the movie "Predators," where the characters have been kidnapped by aliens and dropped onto an unknown world to fight for their lives.

Here's the plot of my book:
Jill Garrison, a maintenance tech at the Sectors Amarcae 7 colony, goes to sleep one night as usual only to wake up in her nightgown stranded in the middle of a forest on an unknown world. There’s no time to think as she’s stalked by carnivorous predators and rescued by genetically engineered warriors calling themselves the Badari. Turns out they and she, along with her whole colony, are now prisoners of the Khagrish, a ruthless race of alien scientists. Working for enemies of the Sectors, the Khagrish have created the Badari to be super soldiers.

Aydarr, the Badari alpha, isn’t sure he can trust Jill but his attraction to her is undeniable. He impulsively claims her as his mate to prevent her death at the hands of the Khagrish.

Can he continue to protect her from the experiments already underway?  Will his claiming her put his pack in jeopardy from their alien masters?

As Jill searches for a way to rescue her fellow humans and get them all to safety, she finds herself falling for Aydarr, despite the secrets he’s keeping. She has a few of her own.


The situation becomes dire when Aydarr and his pack are sent offplanet on a mission, leaving Jill unprotected, prey for the senior scientist. Can she escape the experiments he has in mind for her? Will she be able to thwart the Khagrish plans and liberate humans and Badari alike? How will she and Aydarr reunite?

And an excerpt, from the very beginning of the novel:
      Why am I lying face down on the wet grass in the rain?

      Jill rolled over, putting a hand to her forehead in an attempt to quell a ferocious headache. Opening her eyes gingerly, she blinked at the vividly colored pink, purple and blue leaves on the tree above her, which certainly had never grown on Amarcae 7. She’d been all around her home colony on various repair jobs, and nothing there had riotous leaves in these colors, much less with spikes at the tips. As she watched, one of the leaves snapped into a tight roll to capture a slow moving insect.
“Thank the Lords of Space I’m too big a bite.” Wary, nauseous, she sat up, swaying a bit, and examined her unfamiliar surroundings. She was in the midst of an old growth forest, with other forms of vegetation besides the carnivorous trees but nothing recognizable.

A loud roar in the distance gave her the shivers, and she forced herself to stand, staggering a few feet to lean on a less colorful tree’s broad trunk to stay upright. Despite the rain, her mouth was dry, and she had a hard time swallowing. “What the seven hells?”

Her mind was curiously blank, no memory of how she’d gotten to this place, or what had happened in the last few hours. She guessed it might be late afternoon here, from the glimpse she got of the white sun above the horizon, before the clouds drifted in front of the orb again. She refused to contemplate the fact that the star providing heat and light to her colony was yellow. If the sun here was white hot, the reality of where she stood, lost in the galaxy, was terrifying.

She remembered eating dinner in her small modular house on the edge of the colony, falling asleep watching an adventure trideo she’d seen a hundred times then…nothing.

                “And now I’m here.” She took a closer look at her left arm and did a double take. A black bracelet she’d never seen before was solid against her skin just above the wrist, with no visible hinge or fastening. As she gawked at it, prying at the edges in an increasingly desperate attempt to make the band move, flickers of red and yellow pulsed inside the cool, hard surface. The bracelet and what it might mean scared her more than the loss of short term memory or even the unknown sun above her.
                The roar came again, closer, and was answered by another. Something hunting me maybe? 

                Distracted from the ominous mystery of the bracelet, she was briefly tempted to try climbing the tree, but the lightheadedness persisted. Also, the smooth trunk didn’t offer anything in the way of handholds. She pushed off, realizing she was barefoot, wearing her short, pink-and-black nightgown, molded to her body by the rain. Lingerie was her secret luxury after a day spent in technician’s coveralls, but certainly not suited to this experience.

                Am I dreaming? She paused, gazing at the sky and pushing her damp hair off her face. The shower had tapered off and now the sun was shining but an ominous gray storm front was advancing. A bolt of lightning arced across the sky, and Jill broke into a zigzag run, forcing her body to respond to her terror. Standing anywhere close to a giant tree in a thunder storm was a recipe for disaster.
I’m in a nightmare, not a dream, but it’s all too real. In her headlong flight, she stepped on a rock or a sharp root and cried out, but she kept going as thunder boomed. She had to find either a stand of small trees surrounded by taller ones or a ravine. Of course, an actual shelter would be better than either of those make-do options but probably too much to hope for.

                Running full tilt, ignoring the pain from her foot, she suddenly slammed into an invisible barrier and bounced off, falling on her back. Cautiously she rose, extending her arms. The barrier was a tingling against her palms. She tried going right then left, but the wall ran for quite some distance in both directions. Being in an invisible cage was the most unsettling thing since she’d awakened, especially when coupled with the bracelet affixed to her arm.

               A boom of thunder directly overhead startled her into motion, and she ran in a new direction, terrified of being struck by lightning. The rain lashed her face and barely-covered body, like stinging nettles, adding impetus to her desperation to find cover.

                The ground gave way under her feet. She teetered on the edge of the sinkhole or pit, but her precarious state of vertigo betrayed her. Screaming, she half slid, half fell into the deep hole, debris raining down with her.

                Scrabbling at roots embedded in the wall as she fell, the flimsy vegetation snapping off in her hands, Jill managed to partially break her fall. Landing in a substantial mud puddle, she rose to her feet, staring upward, realizing there was no easy way to climb from the pit. At least the rain was tapering off.

                A rumbling sound like an engine behind her made her pivot, to find two huge, faceted glowing eyes staring at her from a tunnel opening into the hole. A giant body lurked in the gloom. The creature blinked and emitted the sound again. Jill retreated one step at a time to the opposite wall of the pit and snatched a loose rock from the small debris pile at her feet. Whitened bones were mixed in with the rocks on the pit floor next to the rainwater puddle. She shuddered and gripped her rock hard enough to make her hand sting.

              The creature watched her and moved forward a bit from the tunnel, the front segment of its body sinking onto the ground, while the rest remained in the tunnel. The segmented body expanded like a child’s toy as the predator closed the space between them. Opening an outsize mouth, revealing a yellow, forked tongue, the animal hissed and reared as if preparing to charge at her.

                Jill shouted defiance in a combination of rage and fear, and threw the rock hard, striking one glowing eye in the center, shattering the facets. She dodged as the predator made a high pitched sound like an exploding generator and lunged toward where she’d been. As she scrambled in the slick muddy water at the bottom of the trap, she searched for another rock, finding only small ones. She gathered a handful of them as better than nothing and spun around as the half-blind animal tried to locate her.

                With a hoarse yell, a man jumped into the pit from above and landed between her and the predator. He didn’t seem to have a weapon but, as the lightning flashed, briefly illuminating the scene in stark white light, Jill gaped. Were those talons?

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