Interview with Shawna Thomas JOURNEY OF AWAKENING

JourneyOfAwakeningFinalcoverDoesn’t her newest book have just a killer cover? I love it! So it’s my pleasure to have my friend Shawna Thomas on the blog today for a rapidfire interview!

What prompted you to start writing? This book or in general? LOL When I was a preteen, I read Gone With the Wind and couldn’t stand that it didn’t have an HEA. So I made one up. Later I played with some fan fiction, but it wasn’t until I had a dream about a woman named Ilythra that I sat down and wrote an entire story. Over seven years later that story is now a four-book series. The first of which is Journey of Awakening. It’s kinda special to me.

Which five people (real, fictional, historical) would you invite to dinner and why? Stephen King-Because although I can’t read his work and hope to ever sleep again, he’s one of my heroes.  Nora Roberts—don’t  you think she’d be hilarious and so inspirational? My husband-because I couldn’t imagine such an important dinner without him. Crystal Posey-because she’d kill me if I didn’t invite her to a dinner with Nora, and a new character that is haunting me. Her name is Catori.

 Which word or phrase do you most overuse in a manuscript? (VS sez: I confess to “that” being my worst word LOL) Oh my gosh! And no, that’s not it. I have so many but it’s not always the same. My editor once told me to go back and look how often my characters’ eyes sparkled, gleamed and shone. It was embarrassing. I got over that and it was tickle at the back of the neck… or tingle at the back of the neck. Everything was happening to that poor girls’ neck. Right now I think I’m working on clearing throats. Yeah, when nervous, emotional or to interrupt, my characters are clearing their throats.

Quickfire Questions:

Must watch  TV Show: Once Upon a Time! My husband and I watch this show together every Sunday. Of course there are other must-watch shows. Grey’s Anatomy, Chopped, almost any Food Network contest show.

Music  on repeat: Right now the sound track to book three of the Triune Stones, which is a lot of Red and Breaking Benjamin.

Favorite Movie: I don’t really have one but one I could watch over and over is Princess Bride.

Cats or Dogs? Two years ago I would have said cats hands down, but then we adopted Shadow, our gorgeous mutt, and our cat is evil incarnate….no really, she isn’t able to find her food if you move the bowl a foot away and she randomly bites people for no reason. But she’s really pretty…

Favorite Flower: Ah that’s like asking which is my favorite child. I love flowers! Right now I’m partial to violets, daffodils and crocus…because they’re blooming.

Tea or coffee:  Coffee!

Sweet or spicy: Sweet!

Morning person or evening person: Morning

Last meal on Earth would be: My grandpa’s baked steak made by my grandpa.

Favorite Perfume: I am partial to Pure Poison.

Book I Wish I’d Written:  Wow. So many come to mind but you know what? I don’t really wish I’d written someone else’s book. I want to take what made their books into a success and infuse that into mine. ; )

shawnaWhat are you working on next? Book Four of the Triune Series, then possible a short story involving a few side characters. I also have a summer project with a friend of mine. And then there is this new series that I am so excited about I am almost afraid to sit down and write it out… I think that might only make sense to another writer…

What one question do you want to ask your Readers today? If you could change anything about my books, Altered Destiny or Journey of Awakening, what would it be?

Where can your Readers find you online?


  Her Blog     Twitter: @AuthorSThomas    Facebook


Here’s the book blurb:

Book one of the Triune Stones

After her grandfather’s death, Sara inherits an ancient pendant and a near-impossible quest—master the mysterious pendant’s source of magic. Driven to do so, she must find the other two stones of power, long considered lost, while preventing an unknown enemy from finding her first.

Unprepared and alone, she travels to where the keepers of the stones, the Siobani, were last seen. Along the way she meets Tobar, leader of the nomadic Heleini tribe. As Sara wrestles with feelings for this intriguing man, she is also invigorated with her grandfather’s passion to find the ancient Siobani race.

After a rival tribe kidnaps Tobar’s son and heir, Sara must harness the stone’s healing magic to unite the tribes and save the boy. But as the dark power stalking her gains ground, will she continue on her quest to reach the Siobani or risk everything to save the warring tribes from eliminating each other?


The sky darkened further, and its smoky expanse leached into the water, blurring their surroundings until she couldn’t tell where the water began or ended.

The ropes holding their cargo creaked in protest as the skimmer rolled from side to side. Sara dumped bucket after bucket of water back into the ocean but the ocean threw twice as much back at her. The water level in the skimmer continued to rise. Water soaked her tunic and blouse and darkened the leather of her leggings, making her movements stiff and awkward. She redoubled her efforts until her arms ached, then froze in disbelief as a dark wall of water loomed over their craft and seemed to wait for a heartbeat before crashing down with a mighty roar.

Salty water stung her eyes. She tossed her head and blinked in an attempt to free herself from the temporary blindness. She felt her grandfather next to her, still holding the tiller, and blinked again at the dim shapes of Jith and Haboth a length away. The ocean’s roar had drowned all other sound.

The water churned around them, the waves growing taller with each passing heartbeat. She continued to bail, full buckets now, but it was a pitiful effort. Twice the wind blew the contents of her bucket back into her face and almost wrestled it from her grasp as though insulted by her offer. She wrapped the bucket’s rope around her wrist and frantically resumed bailing. She was trying to empty the ocean with a pail.

To her right, she saw the ocean spray up reaching into the heavens. She looked to Jith. Father and son bent over the oars, their arms straining against the waves. Jith’s mouth opened, he screamed something, but his words drowned in the roar of slamming water driven by a merciless wind.

Then she saw what they must have. Dark water turned into silver spray as it beat against the partly submerged projections ahead. Rocks. She jerked her head to Willam, her hand wrapping around the bucket’s rope. “Grandfather!” A sudden flash of lightning highlighted his face, taut, rigid, cast from stone. Jith yelled again, but Sara couldn’t hear the words. A low groan sounded from far away and the skimmer shuddered. Fragments of screamed words reached Sara’s ear, but one filled her heart with terror.


Buy Links for book:

Barnes and Noble


Carina Press

Interview with Michael Riffle Audio Book Narrator WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM


UPDATE February 28, 2013: Our randomly selected winner of the audio book was Divis – congratulations! Thank you to everyone for stopping by and commenting! VS

It’s my pleasure to have actor and audio book narrator Michael Riffle as my guest today. Michael and I recently collaborated on the audio book of my 2013 SFR Galaxy Award winning Science Fiction novel WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM. Listening as Michael portrayed Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson, hero of the book, and brought all the characters and events to life was an amazing experience for me as the author. So much fun – on the days he had a new chapter uploaded, believe me I dashed home from the day job to listen!

Now that the audio book has been released, I thought it would be fun to interview Michael on some of the creative aspects of the whole process (and let you get to know him a little better too!). We’re also giving away one download copy of the audio book to a randomly selected commenter.

Welcome to the blog! Would you share some of your background with us? When did you know you wanted to act? What kind of training do you have?
I first found a love for acting when I was in 8th grade at Lake Ridge Academy in North Ridgeville, OH.  I took an improvisation class with Matt Vanek, and that lead to doing the fall play and the spring musical every year until college.  I went to the University of Rochester in upstate New York where I majored in Computer Science and minored in Theater, but spent a good deal more time in the theater than in the computer lab.  I worked with a lot of talented directors and actors, and took voice and acting classes.  After graduating in 2007 I moved back to Ohio for a couple years to regroup and did some community theater shows and a webseries called The Road to Sundance: On a Shoestring Budget.  Wanting more of a challenge I headed to Boston where I got involved with one of the local casting agencies.  After some commercial success I moved out here to LA, and after a workshop with David Lawrence on voice-over I bought road to sundancemyself a studio mic and got myself setup with a recording space, and that brings us up to today.

What are some of your favorite roles? My favorite role was Killer Joe Cooper in the Tracy Letts play Killer Joe, because it was a really intricate and challenging role.

What drew you to voicing audio books? I went on a road trip down to Florida with my family while I was in college.  I spent the bulk of the trip keeping them entertained by reading aloud from the latest Harry Potter book.  I think that was my first real interest in the idea of voicing books.

Did you have a favorite scene in the book? A scene that was especially challenging?
I think the most challenging scene was (SPOILERS!) in chapter seven when [Character X] didn’t survive.  I have a really close relationship with my mother, and when the Character thought Nick was her son at the end I visualized my mother saying that and I actually had to stop recording for a few minutes because I got choked up.  The dangers of making the work too personal, I guess!
VS: I remember when you were doing the recording you’d tweeted that Chapter made you a bit sad. I’m touched that the scene had such an effect.

What’s involved with narrating an audio book? How many hours of recording go into each finished hour?
When I first started I had this mindset that it would take me about an hour to read every forty-five minutes worth of text, and another hour to edit, and boy was I wrong.  I’ve learned that I can only read for about two hours in a day before my voice starts to change in quality, and that between the initial recording, pickups, and editing, one hour of finished book ends up being six or seven hours of work.
VS: Wow! I couldn’t begin to tell you how many hours I put into writing the book but at least I never had to worry about my voice.  Can you explain for our readers what a “pickup” is in this case? I know you said at one point there were 22 pickups to do in Chapter 7…
Sure, a pickup is when I have to record a section of text again for whatever reason. Sometimes I read the words wrong, other times I dislike how I read it.

985481_49435382As an actor, how do you prepare to “read” the book?
My process is usually to start by reading the whole book and making sure I understand each main characters arc.  In my experience that’s the best way to know how to pace each scene.  Then I do some vocal warmups, pour myself something like seven beverages of varying temperature, and start reading.  I always try to let my mind relax when I’m reading aloud (like I do when I read for pleasure) because I find it easier to talk about what’s happening if I’m seeing it in my mind’s eye.

I really enjoyed the way you brought each of the characters to life – not only Nick the hero but also wide variety of people he was trying to save from the wrecked ship. What goes on in your mind as you create each unique voice?
I think the biggest influence on what I try to do with my voice comes from your description of the characters.  Not just how their voice is described, but how they hold themselves, what sort of personality do they have, how they are feeling during the whole process.  I try to equate each character to someone I know, or a character I’ve seen in a movie or television, something to ground it in reality.  I might be a little selfish by giving my own voice to Nick.  It’s hard to NOT want to be the modest, able-bodied hero who gets the girl.
VS: I had a number of auditions submitted for the book and I have to say I knew you were Nick from the first word you said! It was amazing to “hear” my character and I was in no doubt who I HAD to have narrate the book LOL.

1284217_33761472I came up with some unusual words and names, given that this is a science fiction novel. Was there anything or anyone you wished you could rename? (I promise it won’t hurt my feelings LOL)
Hahaha, I was so worried about mispronouncing things.  I said D’nvannae wrong so many times when I started this.  I think if I could change anything I’d change Mellure, and only because I had a terrible habit of adding a Y to it for no good reason.  My mouth always wanted to say Meh-lyoor.
VS: And even though we did some advance discussion about pronunciation, we never discussed the name of the alien pirate race, Shemdylann. You say it differently than I heard it in my head when I wrote the book but the first time I heard how you said it, I knew you had it right, not me!
MR: Haha, and I changed my mind about it halfway through the chapter and had to go back and rerecord a big section.

What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
My mom said to me (on more occasions than she should probably have had to) “You only truly fail if you don’t try.”  It’s a lesson I have a hard time learning, but it’s damn good advice.

A few quickfire questions:

Can’t live without: Technology – I’m a nerd to the bone.
Listening to on repeat: Thousandfold by Eluveitie
Best vacation: Green Mountains of New Hampshire with my girlfriend Mary
Would love to work with: Nathan Fillion VS sez: Wouldn’t we all 🙂
Show I can’t miss: I’ve got Netflix, HuluPlus, and Crackle.  I binge watch whole seasons of anything.
Best dinner I ever ate: Went outside of my price range to Cube on La Brea.  Good lord. Delicious.

Nick drinks interstellar brandy and ice planet vodka (not in the same glass) – what’s your favorite drink?
I learned this one at the Irish Village in Brighton, Mass.
1 part Powers Irish Whiskey, 1 lemon wedge with cloves, 1 barspoon full of raw sugar, splash of Sandeman port
muddle in glass
add 4 parts boiling water
You have yourself a Hot Whiskey (or Hot Toddy) – Cures all ills, improves ailing throats, and is basically magical.

What kind of film projects or audio books will you be working on in the near future?
Lately I’ve been working on honing my improvisation skill at the UCB Theater in LA.  A film I starred in called “Fallen Prodigy” took home a prize at the Valjean film festival, so I’ll be helping to promote that. As for audiobooks, there’s nothing on my plate right now, but I’ve been giving my full attention to WRECK so I’ll be auditioning for more now that it’s winding down.

VS: And I know Michael just started working on another SF book, not mine sadly but I’m happy for him!

Where can the Readers find you online? My personal website is a work in progress, but people can find me on twitter @Rifflock, or on imdb at

Michael has agreed to do a followup post with me, if there are questions, so please feel free to leave us your questions or comments below – which we’d love – and we’ll post the answers. Leaving a question or comment will also enter you in the random drawing for one download copy of the audio book. I’ll choose the winner on February 27, 2013 and announce the name here and on Facebook and twitter.

Michael said: I’d love to do a followup if people are interested in knowing more.  I really enjoyed working on this project with you, and I’m sad it’s almost over, but hopefully we’ll work together again soon!

VS sez: I really enjoyed our collaboration on this audio book (I’ll be doing a sequel so I’m going to hope our schedules mesh to record that one at some point) and thanks for doing the interview today!

Buy Link for the book  for the kindle, in paperback or as an audio book download: Amazon


Weekend Writing Warriors – Science Fiction WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM

better wewriwa

VERY excited that the audio book version of WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM is now available so I’ll be doing my eight sentences from it today. The narrator, a terrific actor named Michael Riffle, caught the main character perfectly. And brings the rest of the cast to life really well too LOL. (Interviewing him on the blog tomorrow BTW.)

This snippet is from early in the book, as Nick rides the shuttle to the Nebula Dream. One distraught passenger wants OFF, endangering all of them in her attempt to open an escape hatch. Nick steps in to stop her since the husband doesn’t seem to know what to do. First Nick gently disarms her while she tries to stab him. This excerpt comes after that, as the pregnant woman collapses on the deck in tears.

He’d no idea what language her people spoke – he hadn’t heard enough of it to trigger any of his implanted linguistic reflexes. Cradling her, Nick tried a reassuring murmur in Basic. “It’s all right, madame, we’re in no danger – the shuttle flies normally. There’s no need for you to –“

“Fool!” She literally spat at him, twisting her upper body so she could see his face. “If we set foot on that cursed ship, we’ll all die!  My baby will die unborn with me – we must not go there.”

The story:

Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.

All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.

But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?

A note: WRECK was loosely inspired by the events of the Titanic sinking and there were a number of people who had premonitions of disaster prior to her sailing.


I love and appreciate your comments and feedback! Go here  to find all the other Weekend Writing Warriors and read  a variety of  terrific excerpts…

WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM, a 2013 SFR Galaxy Award winner,  is available for kindle, as an audio book or a paperback at Amazon.

Veronica Finds Another Magazine Quiz!

If you stop by my blog often, you know I love finding new magazine quizzes and answering them! (I’m sure the celebrity answers are more glamorous but hey, I have fun.)

shagThere’s a scene in the 1989 movie “Shag,” which always reminds me of this habit of mine – the four girls on a holiday in the 1960’s South are answering the quiz in a Cosmo-like magazine and the question is some long, complicated thing about how the captain of the football team finally asks you to the prom but then he breaks his leg so do you (a) sit home with him and let your pretty new dress go to waste (which Veronica sez if he’s the captain of the football team, he’ll have SOME fun ideas even with a broken leg)…(b) go to the prom with his best friend but don’t dance (and so do what??!!)…(c) go by yourself but don’t dance?  I forget what they pick – I think the ‘bad girl Melaina” gives them some totally other outrageous answer and off we go. There’s a whole recurring theme of answering ridiculous magazine quizzes during the movie, just part of the fun. I guess some things never change.

(And the shag being referred to is the dance BTW)

So, the new quiz I found:

What’s your guilty pleasure? The one I’ll tell you about is French vanilla creamy yogurt with a spoonful of nutella. (Don’t judge!)

When did you last google yourself? Today, actually! I’m normally googling a lot of other things, mostly about Ancient Egypt.

What did you have for breakfast today? Old fashioned oatmeal with a sliced up banana and three little boxes of raisins. Hot tea with milk and three teaspoons of sugar in a reproduction Titanic tea cup.

M_Biehn_corporal_HicksWhat movie have you re-watched the most?  “Aliens”. Although last night I did watch the best cgi parts of “2012”, where LA basically slides into the Pacific Ocean, and my three favorite parts of “Wedding Date” and…oh, is this answer getting long? Watching “Argo” tonight after Project Runway.

What’s your favorite reality show? Well, I think I just gave away that it’s Project Runway. The reality show I watch in fascinated horror: “Hoarders.” (Followed by a LOT of housecleaning action.) LOVE “Say Yes To The Dress” marathons!

What’s your porn star name? (First pet + childhood street): Meadow Northcliffe.

What’s your go-to karaoke song? I’ve never done karaoke but the song that comes to mind first is Backstreet Boys  “I Want It That Way”. a323backstreet-boysPreferably with them singing backup, ok?

Well, that’s it for this quiz. Of course I left out a few questions, like five words to describe me without clothes (I’ll leave that to your imagination) and when I had my first hot romantic encounter and the last celebrity I texted because unfortunately for me I don’t know a whole bunch of celebrities TO text…now on twitter – that’s another story LOL! (The quiz doesn’t ask if they tweet back.)

And I would stay home with that hot, hunky football team captain! How about you?

Character Interview: Sasha from CAUGHT IN AMBER by Cathy Pegau

Caught_In _Amber_final - CopyWelcome to the blog today, Sasha James (and her author Cathy Pegau)! Before we get to the interview – which is so revealing, folks, even the Author sez she learned some new things about our Heroine LOL – here’s the book blurb:

Recently out of rehab, Sasha James is determined to keep her head down, complete her parole, and never touch amber again. The chip in her neck controls her cravings for the highly addictive drug, but also tracks her every move. Not that she goes anywhere other than work and the halfway house she calls home—a far cry from her luxurious former life as lover of the mining colony’s top drug dealer, Guy Christiansen.

Agent Nathan Sterling has no desire to see Sasha fall back into amber, but his sister has become Guy’s latest conquest and the unexpectedly attractive Sasha is the key to getting her back. So in exchange for an introduction, he offers Sasha the one thing she can’t refuse—her freedom. From the chip, her parole, and even the planet if she wants. Though he would be sorry to see her go…

Torn between her growing attraction to Nathan, fear of Guy and the allure of amber, Sasha accepts. But who will save her if Guy refuses to let her go a second time?

And now the questions:

What was your life like growing up? Better than I realized. As a kid and young teen, I thought my parents were too strict, the town we lived in too boring and my life headed nowhere. Being the oldest daughter of mercantile owners in a tiny mining town, I was expected to help at the store and eventually marry another business owner’s kid. So twentieth century! Instead, I ran away to the big city, Pandalus, with my friend Jess when I was sixteen. After a couple of years of nowhere jobs and frequent parties, we became friends with some people who knew Guy Christiansen. I lost track of Jess. I hope she’s okay.

Yeah, looking back, running away wasn’t such a good idea.

Before the action in the book, what were your plans/hopes for the future? Ha! Plans and hopes? Before the story started, I just wanted to get out from under the Corrections Department’s thumb and forget I’d ever met Guy Christiansen. Staying sober, finding a decent job and keeping my head down were all I cared about. I couldn’t see much beyond finishing parole. Whatever happened after that had to be better, right?

What changed that? Nathan Sterling. He asked me to do something for him that I never thought I’d have the guts to do. But he needed my help. How could I turn down a man trying to keep his kid sister from becoming what I became? Okay, the offer of getting that damn ID chip deactivated was a huge incentive too. I’m not a goody-goody who will put herself in danger for nothing.

How would you describe your personality? Guarded optimism. I think good things can happen, but I’ve learned that you have to be ready for the not so good things.

Do you have a motto or code you live by? When I was partying in Pandalus with Guy, it was “Live life to the fullest.” In rehab it became “One day at a time.” Now, I’m back to “Live life to the fullest,” but I have a better sense of what that means.

What one thing would you take to a desert island? When I was at the NCRC (Nevarro Correctional Rehabilitation Center) I read a lot, if there wasn’t some sort of “life skills” class or work program to attend. Reading let me forget where I was. It gave me a chance to escape reality for a little while. So I’d take my comm and as many book sticks as I could carry.

Where would you go on vacation? Nevarro is such a cold place, I’d really like to find a warmer planet. Pacifica has great beaches. 1412454_33689155Weaver is nice and hot, though maybe too hot. I’d go for the beach.

What is your most distinguishing characteristic? Physically, I don’t think I’m all that distiguishable from a thousand other redheads. Otherwise, my determination may be my most distinguishable characteristic.

What is your major skill or talent? *laughs* I went from tending the till at my parents’ store to partying to rehab to tending the till at a Revivalist market. I can make change for a one-hundred credit chit in my head. Does that count as a skill or talent? At the NCRC I took some cooking and business classes. I can make a mean beef stew without using the Compu-Chef.

What’s your favorite color? Favorite food? I can tell you my LEAST favorite color is amber *winks* I’m partial to blues and greens. Very soothing. Food-wise, I prefer things that can be made by hand, particularly mac and cheese. The Compu-Chef is convenient, but working in the fresh foods-only Revivalist market gave me an appreciation for preparing meals from scratch.

If you had to pick another career, what would it be? Since I never really had a career to begin with, I should probably pick one. Owning my own shop, maybe. *laughs and shakes head* The very thing I ran away from.

What’s on your bucket list? Reconciliation with my family. They pretty much disowned me when I hooked up with Guy. But I miss them. Nathan has reminded me how important family is, but they have to want to reconcile. I don’t know if that’ll ever happen.

Zombieland-amber-heard-19920117-1280-544Which actor or actress would you want to play you in the movie? According to Cathy, I look a lot like Amber Heard. She’s prettier than I think I am.

Who are your closest friends? Jules, another parolee and a dancer at a club I like to go to. They serve killer empanadas. She and I roomed together at the halfway house. We had a lot in common and talking to her is like being with Jess again.

Who do you love? Nathan. And myself more than I used to. That sort of sounds conceited, doesn’t it? It’s not that I think I’m wonderful and perfect. Far from it. But Nathan has taught me that I’m worth loving, which is the best gift anyone can give another.

What are your future plans? I’ll be taking classes while staying with Nathan. Maybe we’ll get married? Maybe more? I don’t know. Right now, I’m happy and loved and love him back. I can see us together forever, but I need to make up for lost time. I want to become the me I always thought I could be.

Question for you, Dear Readers: what kind of heroines do you most enjoy in your science fiction?

If the interview has intrigued you, here are the Buy Links!

Carina Amazon Barnes & Noble Audible

Weekend Writing Warriors – Lady of Dreams New Short Story

better wewriwaSo this past week I had a new short story published in an anthology…it’s only 1500 words so I can’t excerpt too much for you but here are eight sentences (and I did another quick excerpt on Valentine’s Day here). My heroine works in a museum and has a crush on an extremely handsome Egyptian warrior, the only problem being he’s a 4000 year old statue:

“Good night, warrior,” she murmured. It was time to go home to her lonely apartment and her microwave dinner. Nursing her elderly, widowed mother through her final illness had drained her savings and cost her a place in the Egyptology PhD track but at least she still had the museum job.

As she entered the foyer of the Egyptian Treasures wing, a shiny dime winked at her from the floor.  Chuckling at the sheer whimsy of the idea, Sara snagged the coin and made a wish–Someday I want to know more about that statue– before pitching the money into the fund-raising Fountain of Isis.           

 Crack! Sara flinched as a rapid series of bangs echoed through the marble pillars, accompanied by screams. Gunshots?

I love and appreciate your comments and feedback every Sunday! Please go here  to find all the other Weekend Writing Warriors and read  a variety of excerpts…

five minute love stories

Here’s the pretty cover for our Los Angeles Romance Authors (LARA) anthology, FIVE MINUTE LOVE STORIES,  just out this week, with 21 other short stories besides “My Lady of Dreams.”

Happy Valentine’s Day with an Excerpt from Lady of Dreams

???????????????????????????????Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone! I’m excited to say I have a new very short story “Lady of Dreams” coming out today in an anthology from Los Angeles Romance Authors (LARA). ( Five Minute Love Stories – So far only available at Smashwords but coming soon in other places.)  The story idea started for me with a photo of a handsome ancient Egyptian warrior carved in stone…and then I thought about the statue being in a museum 4000 years later and…well, here’s a quick excerpt (each story in the anthology is only 1500 words, so I can’t excerpt much!):

What is he thinking? Sara wondered, as she always did when gazing upon the ancient statue of the Egyptian warrior. Tall and strong, the man stood poised for action, shield angled to ward off enemies, sword raised to deliver a killing blow while he glared a challenge at Pharaoh’s enemies. She stepped closer, eying the small crescent shaped scar on his left cheek, tracing her fingertips over the curving lines of his arms, wishing the grainy stone beneath her fingers was warm flesh. But the statue wasn’t even complete; although sheared off, the granite base appeared to have been originally part of a larger piece. Who stood next to this man in life? Another warrior? A god? His beloved?

I’ll never know.

            Statue of Unknown, circa 1500 BCE, stated the museum’s placard. Presumed to be one of a pair.

Duh. Sara grinned. Someone this handsome would definitely have a lady on his arm.

So is she ever going to meet this man of mystery? I always go for the HEA but arranging this one took some doing…..

The Ancient Egyptians didn’t have Valentine’s Day of course, but they were quite romantic and many fragments of poems, spells and love songs remain to us. Here’s a bit from one of my favorites, a plea to the gods:

“For if you will not cause her to love me

I must surely abandon the day,

Consumed to dust in the fire of my burning.”

If you need a longer Ancient Egyptian paranormal romance fix you can read my novella Priestess of the Nile, set in the 1550 BCE time frame, which Carina Press issued as an e book in 2012. (Available here.)  My next Ancient Egyptian paranormal romance Warrior of the Nile is due out in September, also from Carina. Busily editing the manuscript as we speak!

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Another Favorite SF Flick NEON CITY with Michael Ironside

neon cityTagline: “Take a deep breath – it may be your last. Welcome to the Year 2053”

This is an older post apocalyptic science fiction movie (1991), a genre I’ve always loved. I think as a writer it appeals to me to take all the building blocks of our current world, jumble them around with some catastrophe and then see what the new possibilities are. Unfortunately, the post apocalypse usually leaves things pretty grim. The weather and the solar radiation seem to be the problem here, stirred into a lethal soup by some science experiment gone awry. (I may do SPOILERS – sorry!)

With a vaguely “Stagecoach” style plot, the movie takes an ill assorted small band of people through enemy held territory, trying to reach the safety of the big city. The star of the movie is Michael Ironside, an actor that I’ve always enjoyed. He mostly plays villains and does it VERY well, but in this one he gets to be the hero with an angsty past, the deadly gunslinger with a not-so-hidden soft heart…he has a hot tub scene with Vanity (ok, so it’s a badly explained post apocalyptic hot tub but neoncity9still…) and an artistically staged love scene…and a Happily Ever After For Now ending, going off to the Yukon in a jeep. (It’s HFN only because at one point someone drops the information on us that the stories of the Yukon having become Paradise on Earth may be a wee bit exaggerated. Still, I have every confidence he can make it work.)

I think part of Mr. Ironside’s appeal for me is the sense that not only can he handle everything anyone throws at him, he’s thinking deep and snarky thoughts…and I’m a sucker for his growly voice.

There are things in the plot that raise my eyebrows. Take the spoiled rich girl (well played by Juliet Landau) who just came back from Switzerland. I mean, really? Switzerland??? How did she get there (since it’s clear no planes are flying). How does she not know how dangerous the road trip to Neon City is going to be? Didn’t she just traverse most of devastated America to reach the outpost of Jericho? I guess she’s the stand-in for *us*, so when people explain things to her, WE get it. She’s read ALL but one of of Agatha Christie’s books by the way, which while I LOVE a woman who reads, how in post-apocalyptic America, with no internet, eBay or Amazon, did she get her hands on 80 detective novels? Did her rich daddy have gangs of riders out scouring the destroyed libraries and bookstores for them? (Yup, writers tend to focus on those nit picky plot holes. Makes it hard to properly enjoy the bigger picture sometimes LOL). What will she read next? Nero Wolfe maybe?

I did love that the mysterious villain, as much as there is one, who caused the apocalypse, is a former NASA guy who had only the best of intentions as he turned the pollution and the sunshine deadly (don’t try to follow the science, ok?)…who plays the piano AND who neon_city04 whips up a nifty laser gun for Michael out of odds and ends hanging around in the dilapidated transport bus as they’re on the run…cause yeah, NASA guys can totally do that with your flashlight and duct tape. (Unless your batteries are dead, then you’re out of luck and the bad guys have their way with you.) I bet the current NASA Mohawk Guy could do that (said with total respect).

vanityI liked Vanity’s portrayal of the misunderstood (and really innocent-of-the-crime-for-which-she-was-convicted) tough girl heroine..she went toe to toe with Michael Ironside and you believed the attraction there…if maybe not the wig…

I must add that the late Lyle Alzado delivers an emotional, effective turn as the transport driver…

The movie is fast paced….

So there you have it, another in my once-in-awhile-review of my favorite old movies! Is there an old movie you’ve been dying to see again but can’t find? Or a favorite you return to, over and over?

Weekend Writing Warriors – More from SciFi WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM

better wewriwa

This week I’m going to post 8 sentences from WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM, my science fiction adventure with romantic elements, which received a 2013 SFR Galaxy Award. In honor of Valentine’s day I thought I’d post a little moment between Nick and Mara, as they’re searching the ship’s hold for some essential gear. There’s not a whole lot of time in this novel for the two of them to (ahem) actively further their romance, given that the ship may explode at any moment, the alien enemy is on the way and pirates are hovering….but romance CANNOT be denied LOL! Nick is speaking as the excerpt begins:

His courage had never failed him in combat, but he was reluctant to risk rejection from her. “You may change your mind, once we get to Sector Hub, and the adrenalin of this crisis wears off. Maybe we should forget it for now, see how the idea of dinner strikes you after we’re rescued and we return to our proper orbits in society.”

Mara wasn’t having any of his self doubt. She placed one hand on the carton he was about to toss aside, stopping him. Gently, she caressed his cheek with her other hand. “Nicholas Jameson, don’t be an idiot. I know what I’m doing – I wanted to have dinner with you long before this misbegotten ship took its detour and plowed into an asteroid field, or whatever the disaster was.”

The story:

Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.

All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.

But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?


I love and appreciate your comments and feedback! Go here  to find all the other Weekend Writing Warriors and read  a variety of excerpts…

Jessica Scott Interview and Giveaway: “Anything For You”

????????NOTE: UPDATE 2/11/13: We did select our winner of the free book and the short story last week – BECKEY! Thanks everyone for commenting!

I’m very pleased to have Jessica Scott here today as my guest! I read her books Because of You, Until There Was You and To Iraq and Back as soon as they each became available and I had the pleasure of sharing a table with her last year at the RWA book signing (I guess the organizers figured J Scott and V Scott should be at the same table – go figure LOL).  Now she has a terrific story out, Anything For You: A Coming Home Short Story. Be sure to comment or leave an answer for Jessica’s question (at the end of the interview) – she’s giving away one digital copy off ANYTHING FOR YOU as well as Shane & Jen’s first story BECAUSE OF YOU to one lucky commenter!

 Welcome to the blog, Jessica! (And let me just add that we’re not related to my knowledge although Scott IS an excellent last name!)

Tell us a little about yourself: I’m an active duty army officer, wife, mom and writer. I have too many animals and not enough time. Coffee runs through my veins.

What’s your writing process? Where do you write? Ahahahaha! I wish I could define my process but it lacks definition. It starts with an idea and then I see if I can write a synopsis for it. Once the synopsis is written, then I still have to figure out if I actually care enough about the story to write it. If I can find my way into it, it’s got a decent chance.

I write anywhere. I’ve got a five year old MacBook that goes with me everywhere and I if don’t have that, I’ve got my notebook or phone to jot down notes.

What’s your greatest extravagance? Expensive makeup. I’m a sucker for lipgloss. Drop me off in Sephora and I’m a happy girl. VS sez: Ohhh, Sephora, how I love them LOL.

Which word or phrase do you most overuse? You mean other than the f bomb? Um, probably starting my sentences with And. I think it’s my events against all my English teachers who told me not to do it as a kid. I usually have to do a find and replace to get rid of them.

What’s your most treasured possession? My family.

How do you celebrate when you finish a novel? I don’t celebrate the end any more because I know it’s just the Beginning of the work. Revising is probably my favorite part of the writing process.

Do you have a personal motto? What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. Going through adversity is proof that you can make it.

Quickfire Questions:

Music  on repeat: Digital Summer & Signs of Betrayal

Cats or Dogs? Hamsters (VS: OMG it was so hilarious last year on twitter, following the adventures of  Fluffy the Hamster! I was so sorry when she went on to  the big Hamster Habitat in the Sky…)

Tea or coffee: coffee

Sweet or spicy: sweet

Morning person or evening person: morning if I could ever beat my kids out of bed

Last meal on Earth would be: ice cream & pizza

What are you working on next? Laura & Trent’s book is out on submission and Reza’s book is in the final stages. After that, well see what happens!

 What one question do you want to ask your Readers today? Do you like realism in your romance? Because I find if I’m rolling my eyes too much, I’ve been pulled out of the story.

From the author of Because of You comes an all new Coming Home short story.

Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison has spent a year recovering from his combat injuries. A year spent in the arms of the woman of his dreams.  But loving Jen comes with a price: every time he touches her, he faces the uncertain fear that loving her might mean losing her forever.

Jen is a breast cancer survivor and with Shane, she’s found a man who loves her despite her scars. But her scars may be too much for their love to survive.

As their love grows, so does the risk to Jen’s life. And Shane must make the toughest decision any man can make to save the woman he loves.

You can buy  ANYTHING FOR YOU at the following ebookstores:



Barnes & Noble

Here’s the official excerpt – It’s a  tiny bit steamier than my usual blog so be forewarned if under 18!

JS-AnythingforYou-300wFort Hood, late 2008

“Jen is going to kill you. You know that, right?” Vic Carponti took a long pull off his
ever-present Dr Pepper. “I think she has first dibs on your balls. You don’t have exclusive use
over them any more.”

Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison glanced over at Carponti and fought the urge to use
the physical therapy ropes to strangle the younger sergeant. No matter how much time they’d
spent together training Army privates at Benning or blowing shit up downrange, Carponti still
managed to push all the right buttons. “You’re not helping, you know.” Shane was already
having a hard enough time trying to find the nerve to talk to his fiancée about his desire for a

“Jen wants kids.”

“I know that,” Shane growled. He leaned down to stretch, barely suppressing a groan as the muscles in his thighs protested the daily pain his physical therapist insisted on. He’d have thought that six months after being blown up in Iraq, physical therapy would stop being a morning torture session. Guess not.

“Why are you so adamant about this?” Carponti held up his hand at Shane’s fierce look. “I’m an expert in amputations, not women and babies, okay?”

“She had breast cancer. A really aggressive version. If she gets pregnant and the cancer comes back, the choice comes down to her life or the baby’s life…and I don’t want to have to make that choice with her. I don’t want her to have to make that choice. Granted, it might all be fine. She might never get sick again, or the hormones from pregnancy might not do anything to her.” Shane walked over to the free weights. His legs protested each step, so his next words came out slowly, one with each step. “I can’t risk it. No matter how much I might want a kid with her, I’m not going to risk her life for some selfish need to feel my baby growing inside her.”

“I realize that,” Carponti said, “but why on earth are you looking at this without talking to her first?”

“I’m going to talk to her.” Shane sighed hard. “I just haven’t yet.” He didn’t want to admit he was afraid. Not to Carponti. He’d never hear the end of it.

“Did you ever think you’re overreacting?” Carponti asked, following him.

“No,” Shane snapped. “Because I’m not.”

“You just said there’s no rule that if a woman gets pregnant after cancer, she’s going to die.”

“Yeah, well, I’ve also talked to the brigade surgeon. There’s a higher risk of the cancer coming back for younger women like Jen who had aggressive cancers. There’s a higher risk that if she does get pregnant and the cancer comes back, it could come back even more aggressive.” Shane looked at Carponti seriously. “I want kids with her. I just don’t want to kill her.”

“So you’re going to get unmanned and tell her later?”

“This isn’t funny.”

“Vasectomies are always funny. Especially watching a big guy like you squirm over the fact.”
“It is my balls we’re talking about,” Shane snapped, grabbing the fifty-pound dumbbells. It was one of those times he’d rather not have Carponti chirping in his ear.

“If a vasectomy is such a big deal, then why do it?” Carponti placed the bottle in his prosthetic hand. “There’s other ways of preventing pregnancy, you know.”

“We’ve talked about all of those. She had a bad reaction to an IUD. Anything hormone based is out. And condoms scare the shit out of me.”

“Did we have a bad experience with a condom?”

Shane groaned, wishing he hadn’t said anything. “When I was seventeen, I had a condom break on me. The girl and I spent the rest of the month terrified she was pregnant.” He glanced at Carponti. “So while I appreciate that you think me getting my balls clipped is amusing, this isn’t all that funny.”

“Maybe not, but watching you freak out about it certainly is.”

“You’re so good for morale.”

“You can bitch all you want, but I still don’t see why there aren’t other options.”

Why? Shane ground his teeth and counted as he curled the weights. He’d read the literature about Jen’s specific cancer. Everything he read created a little more fear that he could lose her. Shane did not do well with fear. If the only thing he could control in the equation was his sperm, he was doing that. Sometimes, at night, when the nightmares came, it was no longer his soldiers who’d died
in the war haunting his sleep. Sometimes, it was Jen, bleeding out in his arms. He didn’t tell her that. Every time he tried, the emotion got jammed up halfway between his throat and his mouth. Jen wasn’t a random number in a study. She was his heart and soul, and while she was determined to live a normal life and not let the cancer define her, every time they made love, he was aware of the risk.
The worst part about it all? He wanted kids with her, too. But the risk was too great.

“Hello? Candyass who’s stressing about getting his balls chopped off? Why is a vasectomy the only option for you not to get her pregnant?”

Shane finished his set. “Because it’s the smart thing to do. Condoms break. Birth control fails.” Carponti was probably about to accuse him of writing country songs again. “This is the only one-hundred-percent sure option.”

“You could always be in a celibate marriage with her,” Carponti said dryly.

“Yeah, and then she bangs the FedEx guy when I’m in the field.”

Carponti snorted and coughed. “That’s just wrong.”

Shane dropped the weights, the muscles in his left arm screaming. He was nearly back to his previous strength in his upper body, but sometimes his bones liked to remind him that no, he was never going to be as good as he’d been before. It frustrated him that there were more aches and pains now. More stiffness just getting out of bed in the morning. But he was determined to heal, so he could get back to leading soldiers. Because that’s what he did.

Beside him, Carponti finished not choking on his drink. “You’re serious about this. You’re really going to let a doctor near your nutsack with a scalpel?”

“Will you just drop it? I shouldn’t have said anything to you, damn it.”

“What? I just want to be sure you’re making the best, most informed decision.” Carponti grinned. “You’re going to let me see the cut, right?”

Shane just shot him a baleful glare and Carponti held up both hands, the soda in one.

Funny, Shane was used to the prosthetic now. It no longer caught his eye like it once had. Carponti was just…Carponti. The missing hand didn’t really matter.

“Hey, so have you heard what’s going on back at battalion?” Carponti asked.

Shane picked up his water bottle and flipped open the cap. “I haven’t been in to see Sarn’t Major in a while. I’ve got a meeting with him later today. Why?”

“There’s a ton of bad shit going on. Iaconelli got in a bunch of trouble up in Colorado on a mission.”

“That’s nothing new. Ike’s always in trouble.” Shane and Sergeant First Class Reza Iaconelli had never really gotten along, which was a shame, because Ike was a damn fine infantryman.

“Yeah, well, apparently there’s a whole bunch of crap going on down there. Maybe that’s why Sarn’t Major wants to see you. See how much longer before you’re back at work?”

“Maybe.” Sarn’t Major would no doubt fill him in when he saw him later. Shane wanted to get back to work. Badly. But if Ike was screwing up again, Shane damn sure didn’t want to get back just to clean up after him.

Carponti grinned. “So, back to the more pressing matters, are you going to gift wrap your nuts and put a little bow on them and say, ‘Here baby, for Valentine’s Day, I’ve sacrificed my manhood’?”

Shane shook his head and tried not to laugh. “There’s something the matter with you. You know that, right?”

“Sure. My traumatic brain injury is acting up again.” Carponti turned toward the door as it opened. “Speaking of nuts, here’s my wife. I need to get mine out of her purse.”

Shane turned to see Nicole Carponti walking onto the physical therapy floor, looking polished and perfect. No one ever looked at her and thought she was a cop. It made her a perfect investigator. It also made everyone wonder what the hell she was doing with a scruffy, red-headed sergeant like Vic Carponti, but hey, she’d stuck with him after he’d gotten blown up. And worse, through his incessant bad tricks with his prosthetic. Shane watched as Carponti kissed his wife on the cheek, then slung his good arm around her shoulders as they walked out. Shane was reasonably certain Carponti tried to pinch Nicole’s ass with his prosthetic. Life was never dull around Carponti, that was for damn sure.

Shane finished his therapy in blessed silence and headed to the locker room to change back into his duty uniform. He took a deep breath, running his hand over his jaw. Last week, Jen had slipped her body over his, her slick heat caressing his bare erection, and Shane had almost died from the pleasure of skin on skin. No barriers. He didn’t know which one of them wanted it more—the desire painting her features had been beautiful. And she’d gotten bolder since then, driving him toward a little death each time he touched her. No matter how much he was tempted to make love to her without a goddamned condom, he would not risk her life for a few moments of pleasure.

He loved Jen. More than life itself. The vasectomy was a very real discussion he was going to have with her very soon

 More About Jess

Jessica Scott is a career army officer, mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She is a terrible cook and even worse housekeeper, but she’s a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon and someone liked some of the stuff she wrote. Somehow, her children are pretty well adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house.

Oprah has called her. True story.

Her debut novel BECAUSE OF YOU launched Loveswept, the first Random House digital imprint.

She’s written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View Regarding War, and IAVA. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of OIF/New Dawn and is currently a company commander stationed at Fort Hood.

Most recently, she’s been featured as one of Esquire Magazine’s Americans of the Year for 2012.

Connect with Jessica at