Friday, June 29, 2007

Summer Heats Up

At a loss for a good blog topic, I thought I’d give you a little preview of my next release. Coming in July from Amber Quill Press, here’s the blurb and a short excerpt from U-4EA, part of the Space Truckin’ Amber Pax anthology collection:

Earth-Sec Agent Fletcher Gray doesn’t need or particularly want a sex slave, but he has no choice in the matter when he’s forced to decant trinium scout Talia Lory from a stasis pod full of U-4EA, the galaxy’s most powerful aphrodisiac.

Talia and twenty-four other human and alien females make up the cargo of the Mogarthan slave ship that Fletch and his incorporeal Metrian partner, Ganymede, have just hijacked from the wily captain Kreth-Regana. Since Mogarthan’s have four arms, it takes two humans to fly the ship. Gan, who exists out of phase with this dimension, can’t help, so Fletch has to liberate one of the females from the non-stop orgasm of her U-4EA high.

In between bouts of unbridled sex, Fletch begins to realize he enjoys Talia’s company on more than a physical level, but when her sex addiction wears off, will she still want him?


Fletch left the mess with Talia wandering behind him. He realized halfway to the bridge that she’d fallen behind to get a good view of his backside. He should have been flattered.

“Can we step on it? There’s not much time before you cycle through again and I’d like to get started.”

“Getting started sounds good to me.” She winked, then sobered a bit. Fletch could almost see the waves of chemically enhanced hormones surging through her body. She was on a down swing again. “You knew what was going to happen when you decanted me, didn’t you?”

“Ah…” Fletch leaned back, cast his eyes up and pleaded with the gods to grant him strength. He’d wondered how long it would take her to get around to this. “Yes. I knew. I didn’t have a choice. Gan can’t use the controls for obvious reasons. If I’d decanted you and left you…alone, you would have hurt yourself. It may not be the ideal solution, but sex is the only cure for a U-4EA high.”

“There’s no other antidote?”

“Sorry. Most people don’t really need one.”

“Well, don’t think you’re going to get lucky again, Mr. Gray. I’d prefer it if you left me alone from now on.”

“Actually, it’s Agent Gray, if we’re being formal, Miss Take-Your-Pants-Off-Right-Now. I have no problem leaving you alone. Just remember, you jumped all over me.”

She huffed at him and stormed ahead through Xector IVs narrow main corridor.

He followed. “Aren’t we past this? If it means anything, I didn’t enjoy it.”

She swung back in his direction and now she looked really mad. “You didn’t?”

“I mean, I did, on a purely…physical level. But I didn’t want to. The way U-4EA works is it ramps up all your mating hormones to a dangerous level. If all that…energy, for lack of a better word, has no outlet, things can get ugly. You know what would happen if we decanted all the other women at the same time?”

She shook her heard. “They’d literally screw me to death, then they’d start on you and since that would be kind of frustrating, they’d end up killing each other. The only safe thing to do is get to a planet where I can recruit a couple dozen men who can handle them until the overdose wears off.”

“So twenty-four men get free sex slaves for what, like a month?” Her dark eyes blazed. Fletch rubbed his jaw, remembering her last down cycle.

“Do you have a better suggestion?”

“How about a hospital station? There must be something that can be done.”

“No known antidote.”


“You were sedated in the pod. It prolongs the effect.”

She glared at him, clearly not certain she believed him. He wished he was lying, but honestly there was no alternative. She whirled away. “Show me what I have to do, then stay out of my way. No more free rides for you.”

Fletch glowered at her back. “No problem.”


To find out more about U-4EA stop by my author page at Amber Quill.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Power of H

As I sit here packing up goodies for my lucky June contest winner, who will be chosen on Wednesday, I’m reflecting on the letter H. I have a hobo handbag (which was a happen-stance surprise), a pack of highlighters, heart bath fizzies, hot pink heart post-its and Hubba Bubba (watermelon of course!). Hershey’s may also be thrown in, but I haven’t decided 100% because of the humidity filled heat wave here in NC.

All week, I’ve been thinking—what can I include that starts with H? Heart shaped items were my first hit. Then I thought of honeymoon, but that’s a little out of my price range for a monthly contest. ;0)

Then my mind shifted to book elements starting with the consonant. Heroes and heroines, as well as hunks and heartthrobs who were of course “hot”. Then to add conflict an author must include hurdles to overcome. And finally what everyone reads to get to—the HEA (Happily Ever After)!

And not far behind I thought how the letter corresponded to my career. Heart-stopping moments, like when I went in for my first pitch session (and wrote about in LOVEMAKER’s query letter). Or how about the first time I got a request for full and couldn’t stop smiling as I heralded the good news to my mom? And I’ll never forget the night my eyes were hazy from editing and I clicked on my Hotmail account’s inbox. There sat the first request to buy TAKE ME IN YOUR HEART! Finally my hundreds of hours spent writing had paid off!

Afterwards I was in for some hard work (some say Hell) with revisions, but I hung tough. I wasn’t about to give up on what I’d hungered to attain for so long. And when RWA proposed changing PAN standards I handled myself like a professional and stated my case humbly. (As they say, you’ll catch more flies with honey, than with vinegar…or harassment!)

Though now all I’ve harped about with happiness has led to heartache. My publisher announced it’s filing bankruptcy, so TIES OF VALOR won’t have its day of hoopla. And sadly, I can no longer call myself PAN—a handle I had cherished.

I could be hostile, I could be hateful, but that would get me nowhere. Nor would it heal the hurt. In the aftermath of Wednesday’s happenings and the fallout afterwards one thing keeps me going—HOPE. And it doesn’t just hum from me. My friends have heaped encouraging words, positive premonitions, and heartfelt advice on me. With their help, I’ve hit the ground running (or should I say writing/typing). Hopefully some day soon I will once again be holding my head high as I holler, “I sold!”

How about you? Got any H’s related to writing you’d like to add?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Publisher Closing

I'm sorry I didn't post on character values yesterday. To be honest, I just wasn't in the mood. Earlier this week, my publisher announced they were closing and I've been rather busy trying to get legal aspects of the situation taken care of (as much as I've been able to) and to take down any reference to Triskelion Enterprises LLC that I can on my various websites. I still have to work on my main site but that one is tricky so I've saved it to last.

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has offered words of support and commiseration and I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has purchased one of my books. But I also would like to warn everyone to stay away from the Triskelion Publishing site. If you purchase a book, the author will likely never see a penny of royalties. If you purchase one of the non-ebook items, you may never receive the item.

It's a sad situation for all concerned but I don't want any of you, who have supported the Triskelion Authors for so long, to be harmed by it.

As for me, I'll be back to my normal (whatever that it, LOL) self next time I post. And I'm continuing work on my WIP. This is just a small bump in the road for all of us who had contracts with Triskelion. We'll be back, all of us, before you know it.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Evolution of Character Values

When I think of character values the first thing that comes to mind is change. Since a major theme in most of my stories is redemption, the values of my characters change, by design, over the course of their story.

I’ve always been fascinated by character growth. To watch someone change over time, to mature emotionally, is an amazing thing. As a parent, I have the privilege of watching this happen with my children, and as a writer I can watch it happen to my characters.

One of my favorite examples of this type of character evolution isn’t even one of my own characters. She belongs to Joss Whedon and her name is Cordelia Chase. Anyone familiar with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel universe will remember Cordelia started out as the prettiest and wealthiest girl at Sunnydale High. She looked down her perfectly sculpted nose at everyone and occupied the coveted top spot in the cheerleader and social pyramid. She was the girl everyone wanted to be and the girl everyone loved to hate.

Flash forward a number of years and circumstances have left Cordelia destitute and trying to make a living as an actress in Los Angeles. By the time of her final appearance on Angel, she’s a heroine of epic proportions, a true champion. Her values undergo a 180 degree turn over the meandering course of her story.

Not every character needs to become their own polar opposite, but if at the end of a story, a character hasn’t changed, even a little bit, then something is missing. In my own work, I like to see how much my characters, especially my heroes, can change. In Wolfsbane: Aspect of the Wolf, for instance Daniel Garrison is a staunch crusader against the use of magick, until he discovers the only hope he has to cure his brother’s lycanthropy comes in the form of the witch he tried to run out of town. In Conjured in Flames, Lord Rodan develops sympathy and compassion for the woman he believes is an evil sorceress, and in Rogue Theta [available tomorrow from Ellora’s Cave] my heroine, Lilliana is the one who transforms from a calculating, professional assassin to a woman dedicated to helping the man she loves, even at the cost of her career and perhaps her life.

Character values are defined not only by who and what a character is, but by who and what they become.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Value of a Character

One thing that fascinates me about stories is the way characters learn and grow through the course of the story, or in the case of villains or tragic characters, they fail to do so. In my current WIP, I'm dealing with a heroine who is a rather unpleasant young woman--spoiled rotten, self-indulgent, and selfish. She's a capital B-Bitch.

The biggest challenge for me comes from portraying her early on, displaying all these traits, without losing the reader. I don't want her to be wholly unlikable, or worse--unrelatable. But I also don't want her making a complete 180 in personality, either. She's a bitch, and I kinda like her that way. But I know her. The rest of you don't, so I have to convince you to stick with her, and that's where her values come in. Values differ from behavior, and behavior doesn't always reflect values. My character doesn't think twice about dropping eighty thousand credits on a dress, or of pitching a temper tantrum by a pedestrian accident. She's rude, selfish, and has no self-control when it comes to designer recreational pharmaceuticals.

My princess may be a spoiled brat, and most readers are going to want to slap her upside the head, but she has one redeeming value that's apparent early on and remains consistent throughout the story - she loves her brother. And in spite of her Paris-Hilton behavior, that's something that people can identify with.

Characters, no matter what setting or situation, have values, and those values are keys to sympathy and commonality with the reader. Think about your favorite heroines. Chances are, if they really resonated with you, it's got something to do with one or more of their core values being something you can relate to. I'll give you a f'rinstance from a recent movie. In the movie "Happy Feet," (hey, I've got young kids. If it doesn't have a talking animal in it, chances are I won't see it for a few more years) the main character is a penguin who tap dances, when every other penguin around him sings. What resonated with me (besides the "cute anthropomorphic animal" bit) was the character of the oddball penguin's mother. She defended her son no matter what--defying her elders and her husband, and celebrating her chick's uniqueness. It's a relatively minor facet of the overall theme of the movie (but consistent with the "be yourself" moral), but it resonated with me because I'm a mom, and no matter how weird my kids turn out, I will support them, defend them, and celebrate them. I can relate to an anthropomorphic singing penguin because she and I share the same value of loving our children unconditionally.

Now if those writers can make me relate to a singing penguin, then I should have little problem getting readers to sympathize with a character who at least shares their species, eh?

Character values

all righty great topic! LOL

Values - I guess, looking back on my characters - that they have several main values, but one that stands out to me the most is Loyalty. They are loyal to those who are important to them, but they're also loyal to themselves, and sometimes that can cause a conflict of interest.

Loyalty to me is so important. Over the years I've seen what loyalty can do, and what disloyalty can do. It can make and break friendships, but it can also make or break a person themselves.

Loyalty - dependable, loyal, faithful, consistent. So many meanings. Loyalty is what often pulls characters through - the trust in others, the trust in themselves, knowing that someone, somewhere, is fighting for them.

So loyalty is something I value highly, and this comes through in my characters...I hope

Conflict occurs when the loyalty versus situation becomes a grey area and no longer black or white. Do my characters stay loyal to someone they know is wrong in what they're doing, who is dangerous, who puts others at risk? How big is the risk? How much will it affect others, and will the affect be good or bad? And even better, will the person's own loyalty cause dangers to those they love. And when loyalty to different people causes a clashing of friendships, where does the character go, how does he or she choose which one to remain loyal to, and which friend not?

This is often a question in some of my books, and the story-line can take quite an interesting turn. But at the base of most relationships is a major emotion and value...loyalty.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Good, The Bad, and The Murky

I don't like straight good guys/gals, and I don't like straight bad guys/gals. I believe all characters have to have a little bit of both. The villian who is just bad for badness sake isn't very interesting to me. However, give me a villian who believes he's been wronged, or has very clear cut motivation other than pure world domination and you've given me a compelling character that I may not like, but I may be able to understand. And this mirror of good/bad in all characters can take on different degrees or actions depending on the story. I like getting into my villians' heads to see what started them on the path to villiany.

In The Host: Shadows, Benito Achilles is driven by love. It's a twisted, almost sadistic form of love, but it is love nonetheless. His complusion to make Tristain St. Blaise into an immortal like himself caused him to do things that are considered evil, but not to him. He saw it as being Tristain's savior.

In The Last Keeper, High Mage Master Grandoneir wanted to take over the Angloria Provinces, but only after the Council of Keepers to the Orb of Time blocked him from bringing his particular magic skills into the Provinces. He proposed balance. They gave him a war.

In my current WIP, Love Thy Neighbor, Lex believes that Cassidy broke her promise to him when she went into hiding and left him behind. He fails to realize that by physically abusing her when they were together, he had already broken his promise to love her.

With my heroes and heroines, I try to tread the same slim ledge, though they will always come down on the side of good. But I don't think the knight in shining armor, or the dude in the white hat needs to have every single thought and action be pure as the driven snow. I prefer to have my heroes and heroines with a few dark thoughts, or not so perfect. Perfect is boring, and boring loses readers. It also has a propensity to make me not want to write them anymore.

In Love Thy Neighbor, Rafe Santini is a detective with a womanizing reputation. He's also so over the moon for the heroine he can't help but put his big ol' foot in his mouth whenever she's near him.

In The Host: Shadows, Tristain St. Blaise is a hit man who only executes contracts on people who hurt the innocent. The dark half of his personality is put to good use against those who prey on people with the inability to protect themselves.

In A Conspiracy of Ravens, Sister Gloriana is sent to the enemy's camp among the Colstan army by her High Adept as little more than a spy. It must be understood that Gloriana's sister is the Queen of the country fighting the Colstans, and the Sisters of Prymaria, of whom Gloriana is a member, are a political neutral. And though she hates the Colstans for all they've done to the continent, she begins to see them as men, soliders and worthy of her loyalty and alliegence.

So, character values. Yeah, you have to have them. But it's the degree in which you use them that makes them compelling or one-dimensional. It's what brings them to life or makes them fall flat. Not everyone can be a martyr and not everyone is a sinner. Characters should reflect that dichtomy. And when they do, it makes for very good reading.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Character Values: "Others First"

When we decided to do Character Values as a theme, I thought what are character values? I know the difference between a good character and a bad character, but how are those qualities summed up? So I Googled the topic and found a list.

Honor/Justice/Liberty/ Responsibility
Dignity/Temperance/ Integrity/Fortitude

But how could I talk about just one of these when my characters express several? And if I had to choose just one, how would I do it? I decided to subconsciously ponder the problem during a jaunt to the theater. While I was watching Nancy Drew (which was fabulous) the same theme appeared over and over—others first. My fate was sealed.

In all of my novels, there does seem to be a common thread of helping others. Not necessarily because the characters are totally unselfish, but because they’re secure (for the most part) in who they are or atleast where they stand.


“Your brother was my only concern.” When Awyn opened his mouth to speak, she rushed on. “My father taught me a few things too. Family and friends come before all else. Even your own life.”

Of course death is an extreme measure, but Zara was raised to serve and protect as a military man’s daughter. Eventhough, Awyn is her enemy, she will not let an innocent die when she has the training and gumption to save him. Throughout the novel, Zara is shown doing good deeds for everyone she meets and in the end she is rewarded for her self-sacrifice.


“If you want to turn back, I will take you home. It’s your call.”

Her decision meant death, whether for herself or a score of others. How could she make someone else sacrifice their life for her stupidity? “I’m staying.”

No, Jacqui doesn’t have a death wish…she just hasn’t got a clue of what she’s gotten herself into. But as an orphan who’s learned to be responsible for everything she does—good or bad—she can’t let others pay for her error in judgment. Even after her eyes are opened to Winzles’ ways, she recognizes she is far stronger than the other stranded travelers who are sitting prey for the enemy. Without anyone to miss her, and a personality forged from fighting for everything, how can she not exchange herself for them?


“I don’t want the same thing to happen to you. Like I said you don’t deserve to risk your neck and your family shouldn’t be made to suffer.” She’d seen the pain once before and wouldn’t be made to face it again. Not when she could stop it.

Painful events are hard to forget, especially for Shanna, who believes she had a hand in her husband’s death. Hermit-like she cut herself off from the world until Ravin arrived. Now she’s replaying the past, because he must undergo a deadly quest to clear her name. This time around, she’s determined he won’t go alone…and possibly not at all if she has her way.


In that instant she realized what she had become. Or rather been turned into. She was a witch’s Familiar. She had given up her human body to become his plaything, his minion of evil. If he thought she would do it willingly, he’d better think again. She would never give into the darkness of his magic.

Like famous last words aren’t they? Gwynan does come around from this irrational first opinion when she sees Kendron aid a homeless man by using his magic. In that one fell swoop he casts aside her doubts and gives her reason to honor, even love, him to the point of no return. And every good deed she does in the meantime swipes one small eraser stroke across her black past.


A heartbeat from sinking into the fetal position on the hotel’s ritzy restroom floor, Afra grimaced at her reflection, torn between selfishness and doing the right thing.

The war lasted a split second. Helping lonely souls was her calling.

You know how you try to branch out and do something else with your life? Then every time, it’s like someone’s conspiring against you and no matter what you do, you wind up doing the one thing you’re good at. That’s the deal with Afra. Everywhere she sticks her nose into people’s business, love blooms. As a trained love consultant, it’s her lifelong career dream come true. All day, everyday, she helps people find a partner, mends broken relationships and keeps love alive in couples. How much more selfless can you get?

So today’s moral of the story is: Be nice to others. You never know where or what one good deed might get you.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Magick of Free Books

You know how, when you have kids, you rediscover all sorts of old childhood haunts from a completely new perspective. Amusement parks, regular parks, community pools, toy stores...all take on new meaning when you're seeing them again for the first time from your childrens' eyes.

Recently, we rediscovered the Library. Being the writer and voracious reader that I am, I'm no stranger. However, being the lazyass, acquisitive hoarder of knowledge that I am, I'm more prone to go and buy that reference book, that new release, or the one with the shiny cover that strikes my fancy. Because I want to keep the thing, dammit--mineminemine! Also, the University library once held my diploma hostage for unpaid library fines totaling under five bucks, so I'm well aware of the bite of the great and majestic beast.

But the Library always does a summer reading program for the kids. Read 20 books and get prizes for reading, kinda thing. And the kids eat it up.

Well, my five year old was naturally curious. He's no stranger to the bookstore, where Mom takes them to play with the trains in the kids section while I scribble in the notebook, and wanted to know why we couldn't keep the books we borrowed. Got me thinking, so I told him the story of why the Library is the Most Precious Gift to Mankind. I was stressing the importance of taking care of the books so that we could share them with other people, but I found myself remembering a childhood punctuated by enormous library fines because the one book I absolutely loved with all my heart and soul (D'Aulaire's book of Greek Myths) was one I couldn't bear to give back, and my parents weren't really book-buying souls. I remembered how I discovered Nancy Drew via the school library and devoured every one (the librarians swore I couldn't be reading them that fast. They did not know about the flashlight in my bed. Mu-HA!). I remembered all the things I wasn't supposed to know about, coming to light in the library.

I told my son about the Library--it's free books. You have to give them back, but nobody can take the words out of your head once you've read them. Anybody, no matter how much money they have or don't have, can go into the library and borrow a book on anything.

He's a little too young to understand the concept of L-Space yet...but he understands that he can pick out books on any subject that strikes his whim--last week was platypuses (platypii?), this week, it's penguins and ancient Egypt.

So when I said, "The Library is the most precious gift of a civilized society," by the Gods, I really meant it. And then I spent half an hour explaining that a civilized society is where people don't put their feet on the table.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Creating Believable Worlds

Creating Believable Worlds

I began my writing career as a straight SF/F author way back in the dawn of time. And as a part time teacher of fiction writing techniques, I offered classes in World Building from time to time. One of the first questions my students asked most often was: Where and how do you get such realistic worlds?

It all starts with a kernel of an idea but, and for SF/F this is a very important but, you have to take into account what life would be like under different situations whether it be a different planet or in space or a different time. So first you’ll need to decide Where and When your story takes place.

Let’s talk location first. Will the story be on Earth or a planet very similar to Earth? Or will it be based on a planet hostile to life as we know it? If it’s on a planet, will the story be set under water? Or perhaps in the clouds? Moving even higher, will it be on a space ship or a space station? In SF/F, a writer has a wide venue of locations limited only by imagination and the ability to create believable worlds.

A believable world has to have substance. Why is it like? What sort of atmosphere (if it isn’t Earth...or perhaps even if it is!) will it have? Climate conditions are important. Is the planet in an Ice Age? Is it a hot, dry, desert? A humid jungle? Or a pleasant (for us) temperate climate? Will there be seas and oceans? Mountain ranges? If it isn’t Earth, how is it different from Earth?

What kinds of raw materials will it have? Will it have vast forests? Valuable minerals? Ores?

What kind of ecology? Think about the plants, the animals, the possible intelligent life. Animals, even intelligent ones, are part of nature’s food chain. Where does everything fall? How does it fit in with the physical reality you’ve chosen?

If there is intelligent life, consider how the physical planet around them has made them what they are. How do they interact with their world? How do they live on the planet? How are they physically different from us?

Don’t think that just because you’ve answered these questions and created a new world straight from your imagination, that you’re done. You’ll need to research a few (or a lot) of these questions in order to create the physicality of this new world. You’ll need to make sure that the plants and animals you’ve created can logically live there and that will take time.

All right. I can hear you already. No, it isn’t necessary to put all these details into your story. Your book will be about the characters but you, the author, will need to know precisely how these people fit in the world you’ve created. Once you know this, you can confidently write about these people on this world filling in the details as needed. You’ll create a colorful, vibrant world that will make your reader either glad they don’t live there...or sorry that it doesn’t truly exist.

That is, after all, what a writer does.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Now Entering The Twilight Zone

On Friday, June 15th I’ll be celebrating the release of my latest novella, La Mirage.
Part of Samhain Publishing’s Midsummer Night’s Steam anthology series, La Mirage is a spicy contemporary romance with a paranormal twist, sort of in the tradition of the Twilight Zone. {Cue the eerie music here and do your best impression of Rod Serling.}

Picture a couple...lost on a lonely highway...

Is their passion real, or only a mirage?

On a lonely stretch of I-95 in the middle of the Nevada desert, journalist Savanna Blaine and photographer Ben Lantano find themselves stranded by engine trouble on their way back from an assignment. Their quest for a gas station leads them to La Mirage, a beautiful resort nestled in a secluded canyon where they are the only guests.

Invited to spend the night in lush accommodations, passion flares between Savanna and Ben who have suppressed their hidden desires long enough. A single touch ignites an unforgettable night in each other’s arms, but the next day, they’re left to wonder, is their newfound intimacy real or nothing more than a trick of the summer heat?

Here’s a short excerpt:

“How come it doesn’t look any closer?” Savanna stopped dead center in the middle of the highway in the blank space between one painted white dash and the next and put her balled fists on her hips.

Three strides ahead of her, Ben stopped walking. He turned around, arms wide, his expression sarcastic. “Because it’s a big rock. It’s a trick of perspective.”

“Trick of perspective, my ass. We’ve been walking for…” She glanced at her watch. “Fifteen minutes? How can it only be fifteen minutes?”

“We’ve been walking more than fifteen minutes.” Ben checked his own watch, blinked some sweat out of his eyes, and checked again. “I’ve got twelve-fifteen.”

“Me, too.”

“My watch stopped.”

“Mine, too.” Savanna twirled around and took a long look down the very empty highway behind them. Delilah was just a dark spot at the side of the road, shimmering in the waves of heat rising off the blacktop. When she turned back, Ben was next to her. He lifted her wrist and checked his own watch against hers.

“The second hands on both watches stopped in the same spot,” he said.

“That’s impossible.”

“Twelve-fifteen and twenty seconds, exactly.”

“That’s when my phone went dead.” A cold tingle swept up Savanna’s spine and raced back down. She might have been grateful for the sudden internal chill, but the weight of Ben’s hand on her shoulder ratcheted the mercury back up to sweltering barely a second later.

“It’s nothing. Just a coincidence.”

“Right.” She gave him a skeptical look. “I’m a journalist. There are no coincidences.”

“Come on, let’s keep walking.” He tugged her towards him and reluctantly she forced her tired feet to move. In the distance, the sun glinted off something and the sound of a revving motor reached them on the dead air.

“Is that a car?” Ben shielded his eyes and squinted at the bright glimmer racing toward them.

Savanna did a victory hop. “It’s Roadside! Three hours, what a crock.” She applauded as the silhouette of a small car grew larger on the shimmering horizon. After a second, her grin faded when the approaching vehicle picked up speed, its engine rumbling low enough that she could feel it in her belly. It hurtled right toward them, bearing down fast and straddling the median line on which they stood.

“What the hell?” Savanna only had time to register that the low-slung silver Camaro had all-around privacy glass and mag wheels. It had to be doing ninety.

The next thing she knew, she lay beneath Ben on the blistering macadam. He’d pushed her out of the way barely a second before the speed demon sailed over the spot on which they’d been standing.

The revved-up engine roared into the distance while the two lay panting in each other’s arms.

“Are you all right?” Ben’s concerned face obscured the scorching sun for a moment and the worry in his eyes made Savanna’s stomach somersault a little. They lay pelvis to pelvis, one of his legs interposed between hers. One of his hands rested just above her left breast and his other cupped the back of her head. If the backs of her legs hadn’t been on fire from contact with the sizzling road surface, she’d have gladly stayed in this position forever.

“I think I’m okay. You?” She wondered if he could feel her heart ramming itself against her rib cage. She could certainly feel his, not to mention the pressure of a very solid ridge in the area of his button fly.

“I’m good. Did you happen to get the license number?” He grinned as he rolled off her.

“I don’t think there was one.” Savanna hid her frown as he pulled her to her feet.

“Maybe we should walk along the side of the road, rather than down the middle.”

“Do you think that would have made a difference to that maniac? He was out for blood.”

“And he got some, too.” Ben showed her his elbow, rubbed raw and oozing where it had connected with the blacktop.

“Ooh.” She sucked in a sympathetic breath. “I’m sorry.”

He shrugged and shook it off. “I’ve had worse. Are you sure you’re all right?”

She managed a shaky smile. “Well, my butt hurts, but I’ll live.”

When Ben took her hand and laced his fingers through hers, Savanna caught her breath. The protective gesture made her heart race just a little faster, as if that were possible. Nevertheless, she reminded herself, it was only a gesture. Ben was a gentleman, after all. It was one of the things she liked about him, most of the time. Even when he managed to infuriate her, he always treated her with respect and professional courtesy. Savanna knew she was safe with him, and for once, that thought brought her absolutely no comfort.

Be sure to stop by Samhain Publishing on Friday to check out La Mirage and don’t forget any questions or comments posted to me about La Mirage or any of my books will enter you in Bernadette’s Backlist Bonanza Book of the Week Contest. For details visit the Contest page of my website. There will be a winner every month all summer long!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Looking for Love at the Library

Dare I remind you that my mother isn’t a reader? Therefore, her favorite place for an outing wasn’t the local library (or bookstore). (We have 4 libraries within a 30 minute radius and another about an hour away.) But she never really put up a fight when my sister and I asked to go.

I remember getting my first card that was made out of paper and had a metal tab that the librarian would run through a machine like those old-timey credit card receipt do-hickies. Of course, now I have my modern-day library card hanging from my key fob. Man how times have change, including the way the Dewey Decimal cards sit over in the corner collecting dust while the new generation clicks away at the Search kiosk on a keyboard to peruse the digital database. I wonder, does anyone remember microfiche? Ah, well I remember plenty of trips to my college library to hunt down an obscure text that I needed for what seemed at the time to be an equally obscure term-paper topic.

The granddaddy of public libraries here in my little Southern town has also undergone a facelift. (Pictured above is the old facade.) About two years ago, it was renovated and took over the furniture store that had stood next door for a quarter of a century. And ever since then the library doesn’t seem as homey. Sure a couple of the same landmarks are still there. The scary looking man’s painting that I used to try to avoid glancing at as a child. Not to mention the canvas portraying the richly dressed woman who I often stopped to visit, wondering—what is she thinking? And of course the basement is full of books, that I love to raid during the annual book sale to benefit the library’s programs.

I think I loved the library since my first trip so much was because I saw it as an adventure. Sure I was most likely there to do research for a school paper or book report (woohoo, my kind of homework!) but in the meantime I learned. Some of it I only recorded for the small amount of time I needed to jot down my paper (or now a days type up), but some of those snippets still stick in my gray matter like a favorite memory.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the day I was wandering through the non-fiction section and saw a man sitting in one of the old straight-back chairs that didn’t have enough padding to make anyone comfortable for an extended time of reading. But this guy was hiding from the staff…because he was homeless. Many of the men and women who graced the granddaddy library’s doors were, and often sought out the site as a refuge from the weather (until the police were called). But what I remember being so odd was that he had a stack of “honor” paperback romances stacked knee high. As I stood there, peeking around the end of a row, I actually saw him reading them! A man…homeless at that…reading romance.

What a time to treasure indeed, because it seemed to throw all my vices of society, the rules of library association, and even gender biases out the window. Quite simply, I still wonder if that man was looking for love in any way, shape or form…and found it between the pages of that book.

Have you seen any strange or endearing moments take place at your local library?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

A Bonding Experience

I can't remember ever NOT going to the library. As a teenager just mentioning that I wanted to go to the library was the only thing guaranteed to get my father to drive me anywhere. He was a man firmly esconced in his favourite chair in front of the TV, a pile of books beside him which he would read during the commercial breaks. Usually I could walk to the local library after school, but if I wanted to go to the library two suburbs down - which had the bigger selection of books - I had to be driven. The anticipation of the wonders I might find there had me squirming all the way to the library. I was never happier knowing I would be coming home with an armload of new books and that I'd get to discuss them with my father. This was our bonding experience.

The library holds such a central place in my life that getting a library card is the first thing I do whenever I move to a new suburb/town/city. Recently I was clearing out some suff and came across 5 library cards from various London suburbs I'd lived in. And while I can bear to throw most things away, I can't bear to throw my old library cards out. I do judge a place by it's libary, and looking at these cards reminds me of the places I have lived - some of which I have conveniently forgotten.

I can't forget the libraries themselves, though. My first local library, which I discovered when I was eight, still features in my dreams every now and then. The dreams are embued with an aura of excitement: What new book by a favourite author will miraculously appear on the shelf? What new worlds will I be drawn into? What new author will I discover?

But the libary experience excitement isn't there any more because it has become so incorporated into my weekly routine. Saturday always includes a visit to the library to pick out the book du jour to read at the local cafe over lunch and a cup of cappuccino. If I'm really lucky, I can finish the book and hand it back before it closes at 5pm, thus saving me a fortune in late book fines. Libary books have been known to languish in my home for months, sneakily hiding in my TBR pile, disguising themselves as bought books.

I still miss the bonding experience at the library with my dad. He lives in a country where libraries hold only reference books and encylopedias, so they're aimed at students and are by no means lending libraries. So before I visit my parents, Dad sends me his list of books and I order them from Amazon, or pick up anything SF he might like in the local bookshop, or just take the books I've finished reading. In a way, I've now become his personal lending library, so we've managed to continue that bonding experience over books. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Any one else use the library to bond with loved ones?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

In Tribute to Libraries

Ever since I was a little kid, libraries have held a deep fascination, a mystique if you will, with all their books. My elementary school didn’t have an onsite library as schools do nowadays. But we had Bookmobiles.

If you’re not familiar with the term, a Bookmobile was a large, van or bus-like vehicle that was filled with shelves and shelves of books. It went to each neighborhood on certain days of the week and I greeted its arrival the way some kids look forward to the ice cream truck.

Books were always my choice of treat (though I’ve been known to snarf down a chocolate ice cream custard too – I’m no saint after all!) I remember the first books I got from the Bookmobile...Jack London's Call of the Wild and Jack O'Brien's Silver Chief which reigns as my all time favorite wolf-dog story. Then The Black Stallion cantered into my reading and I so wanted a sleek, black, spirited and loyal horse of my own.

When I entered middle school, I counted myself as hugely lucky to find that it boasted a library (two classrooms combined but, hey, it was a library!) I still remember the slightly musty smell of all those books, the sacred hush (enforced by a stern librarian) and the hefty weight as I took new ones each week to read for pleasure and, incidentally, for school work.

When my daughter was three, our local library began a weekly pre-school type program where the librarian (no longer a frighteningly stern figure) would sit down with the toddlers and read them a story while the children got to act out the parts with hand puppets (and they were allowed to take the puppets home each week). I think that early start got her on the road to a love affair with the written word and libraries too. I’m sure it helped her read at a very precocious level throughout her school years (for example, in 6th grade, her reading scores were at college level).

Today’s libraries are often referred to as media centers in our school district. They do much more than just offer books for pleasure or study but, in spite of the advancement, when I think ‘Library’, I still conjure up an image of that old Bookmobile, the simple two-class-room sized school library and the dry, musty smell of paper. I still hear that holy silence broken only by the occasional page turning or of a book being slid back into its proper place on the shelf.

And I count myself lucky to have read all the wonderful tales that filled my early years with dreams and a deep love of the written word.


Monday, June 04, 2007

new release - Heart of A Peacekeeper

Hi all! Book 12 in the Heart & Soul sci-fi/futuristic romance series, Heart of a Peacekeeper, has just been released in ebook and trade paperback from Wings ePress! Below is the blurb and an excerpt. Enjoy! Oh yeah - one other thing - it got a Five Ribbon Award from Romance Junkies!!!


Something is coming…

Bad-tempered, bad-mouthed, tough-as-nails Head Peacekeeper, Desdemona, keeps a tight grip on her settlement on the outskirts of the Outlaw Sector.

A rising body count, attacks, escalating outlaw activity, and clashes with the dangerously handsome Daamen trader, Simon, can only culminate in two things - one hotly intimate, the other so very deadly…


The discs swung out into the street, and she tried to force her disc down even as the outlaw tried to force his higher. His disc clicked down atop the edge of hers, pulling her off balance.

There was only one way to fix this. Spinning dizzily down the street, the height from the ground fluctuating wildly, Des kicked free of her disc and slammed both her feet onto his disc.

The outlaw punched out at her, and she grabbed his arm with one hand while releasing his other wrist and grabbing hold of the verandah post once again. The disc sheared around and she let go of both the outlaw and the post.

The outlaw on his disc went straight through the window, but as there was no crash of glass, he obviously hadn’t done any more damage. The crunch of glass beneath her boots as she landed in a crouch on the verandah alerted her to the fact that this glass had been broken already, which meant she was in front of the tavern. Backing against the wall, she scanned the lit street for any signs of more attackers, her gaze flicking up from the dead bodies to study the night sky.

Silence fell upon the street; the only sound that of the excited whispers behind her from the tavern.

In the night sky, a glow appeared, the lights atop it flashing yellow. The pursuit craft was approaching, three more behind it, and the outlaw ship suddenly spun and took off, heading out into space.

Three of the pursuit crafts soared off after it while the fourth pursuit craft headed for the settlement.

“Raf?” Des asked softly.








“About bloody time you got here with the craft.”

He chuckled.

“Huxley?” Des queried.

“I’m here.” His breathing was labored.


“I’m hit, but I’m okay.”

“Raf,” Des said immediately. “Scout him out.”

“Yes, Boss.”

“Anyone else hurt?” She straightened slowly, her gaze sweeping the street.

Behind her the lights flared on in the tavern, accompanied by the excited voices of the observers.

“A burn, nothing more,” Yucel replied.

“Looks like the coast is clear.” She moved slowly out into the street.

Nothing moved around them, except for a few cautious faces peering out of windows.

The peacekeepers gathered around her, lasers in hand.

“Collect the bodies,” she instructed them. “Yucel, go and see to the one inside the tavern.”

“Brack won’t be happy with you.” Yucel grinned as he indicated the broken window and the angry face of the tavern owner who was scowling out at them.

“Brack can go pull himself.” She rolled her head from side to side, and holstered the laser that Marcel handed to her. “Thanks.”

“Oy!” Brack bellowed. “What about my window, Demon? That’s the second one broken this week!”

Her gaze still on the bodies of the dead outlaws, Des shrugged. “What do you want me to do about it?”

“Someone has to pay!”

“And it isn’t going to be me.”

“Damn it, Demon!”

“Shut the hell up, you moaning windbag.” Scowling, she swung around to face him. “Unless you want to come out here and discuss it with me?”

Brack took one look at the threat on her face and wisely shut his mouth. Except for his mumbling, which he did while he turned and shoved his way back through the watching crowd, who were now spilling out onto the verandah.

And that’s when Des saw him. The man was standing amongst the crowd in front of the broken window, his laser in one hand. He raised it slowly, his eyes on Yucel as the peacekeeper pushed his way through the crowd into the tavern.

Calmly Des strode forward. The crowd, suspecting nothing, watched curiously. Sensing the threat, the man swung his head around to look at her, and his eyes narrowed. In a fast move, he swung the laser towards her instead.

Those nearest yelled and tried to shift back.

Des didn’t wait. In several fast bounds she was up and on the verandah, the laser flare burning the flap of her coat as she launched herself at the outlaw.

She caught him around the chest, slamming into him with enough force to send them both through the broken window and into the tavern itself.

Patrons cursed excitedly and surged backwards while Des and the outlaw rolled onto the floor and through the broken glass.

The outlaw brought the laser down towards her face, intending to knock her out, but she caught his wrist. They rolled over and over, both of them cursing and swearing, punching out at each other.

Des felt a cut open up near her temple, the sprinkle of blood as she rolled over onto him, trying to pin him down. But he rolled just as quickly, landing her a blow to her jaw. She retaliated by punching him full in the mouth, and he spat blood at her as he rolled atop her.

Slamming into a table, they sent it crashing down, and Des saw her chance. Reaching out, she grabbed a fallen bottle and smashed it against the side of the outlaw’s head.

The bottle hit with a dull thunk, and the outlaw momentarily lost focus. But he wasn’t unconscious yet, so she hit him again as they rolled, this time smashing the glass. He slumped over her and she rolled over him, flopping him onto the floor, before finally rolling to a stop herself against something hard and ungiving. A pair of solid, braced legs in rough, loose pants and black boots.

She found herself gazing a long way up into a pair of concerned, pale blue-green eyes in a roguishly handsome face surrounded by long, shaggy fair hair.

“You all right, lass?” The giant Daamen trader started to bend down, his hand reaching to assist her, those startling eyes seeming to pierce her.

Ignoring him, she pushed to her feet and looked around. No one moved; everyone was watching her. Yucel had a laser in his hand, while Marcel had stopped in the doorway, his searching gaze scanning the crowd.

From her height, Des had a clear view over the crowd, and she saw no further threat, but that didn’t mean there weren’t more outlaws in hiding, awaiting their chance to pounce. She jerked her head at Marcel and Yucel, and they nodded, one going back outside, the other heading up the staircase.

Silence reigned, but Des ignored the crowd now as she squatted beside the unconscious outlaw. Wiping away the trickle of blood that nearly ran into her eye from the cut on her temple, she riffled through his pockets, turning him over with ease to check his back pockets. Finding nothing, she relieved him of his laser and dagger, and straightening, she slid both weapons into the back of her belt beneath the coat.

Coming back down the stairs, Yucel shook his head at her inquiring look.

“No one,” Marcel announced as he entered from outside.

“That’s it, then.” She gave the unconscious outlaw a kick in the rump. “Get this prick to the cells, and the bodies to the morgue. No one is to touch them until a full body scan has been done.”

Aiken hurried through the door, his gaze falling on the unconscious outlaw.

“Use the craft hold.” Des touched the receiver in her ear. “Raf?”

“Yeah?” His voice sounded.

“How’s Huxley?”

“Fine. A bit of bandaging needed, that’s all.”

“Aiken’s here. Get Huxley into the pursuit craft and then come and help load these carcasses into the hold.”

“Coming, Boss.”

Now she allowed her attention to wander over the crowd. Some of them had disappeared, which was nothing unusual. Running a settlement on the outskirts of the Outlaw Sector meant that two-bit outlaws were always present, and they were the first to disappear when the law came on the scene.

Those left weren’t a whole lot better, but none were on the wanted list. Yet.

Her gaze drifted over them. Tavern whores, workers, business owners, and... just great, Daamen traders from the Lawful Sector.

A group of them were watching her with varying degrees of concern and amusement, their giant heights of seven foot and more dwarfing the other men. With brawny, heavily-muscled builds, shown to perfection with their coarse linen pants and open, sleeveless vests, nothing of their bulging muscles was hidden from view.

Their dangerous good looks had the tavern whores deserting their usual clients to hang onto the giants, shivering deliciously at the knowledge that they had a chance of bedding some of the giants and experiencing first hand their lovemaking prowess.

After all, Des’s lips twisted slightly, they’re well known for wenching, brawling and fighting, not to mention their trading. Goody goody for the merchants and whores.

The fair-haired trader near the front met her gaze squarely, his pale eyes steady, while one big hand shoved his shaggy mane back over broad shoulders. His movement revealed the small, silver hoop in his left earlobe that caught the light. It also made the muscles in his arm bulge and flex impressively.

Just what she didn’t need. Des scowled at him. Brawlers. She had enough problems on her hands without having Daamens brawling in her settlement. But right now she had the outlaws to deal with. She’d have to come back and check out these traders later.

“Marcel, when you’ve finished collecting these carcasses, I want you and Yucel to try and find out what anyone knows.” Her gaze ran scathingly across the expectant faces of the patrons. “Of course, everyone will cooperate.”

With a snort, she swung on her heel, strode out into the street, grabbed one of the dead outlaws by the back of his blood-drenched shirt, and dragged him easily up to the pursuit craft. The back of it was open, and she grabbed the back of the outlaw’s pants and heaved him up into the back of the hold with a small grunt.


more information can be obtained from my website or