Weekend Writing Warriors Journey Down the Nile

better wewriwaI really struggled with what to offer today, since the Shifter story is off the table for now (but going well in rewrites). So here’s a taste of Ancient Egypt, paranormal style, from WARRIOR OF THE NILE, out from Carina Press on September 16th. (I’ve done some creative editing to make it fit the eight sentence requirement!) The story blurb is at the end of the post but briefly in this excerpt the warrior of the title, Khenet, is asked by his Pharaoh to take on quite a task.

“What we speak of must not go beyond these walls because the Great Ones are involved.”

 Suddenly needing a drink himself, Khenet reached for the beer. “I give you my oath. No one’s hearing a word from me.”

“Let me set out the terms of the mission – the goddess Nephthys wants a woman escorted south to the Viper Nome, to marry the provincial ruler, Smenkhotep. The journey is to be by boat and chariot. I’m to supply a single bodyguard, no other soldiers, no retainers. Nephthys decrees that the man must be from my personal guard, must be someone close to me.”

And Pharaoh has even more bad news to impart to Khenet in this conversation, trust me!

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

And the blurb for WARRIOR OF THE NILE (which is available for pre-order at Amazon:

Egypt, 1500 BCE

Lady Tiya is bound to the service of the goddess Nephthys, who plans to sacrifice Tiya’s body to protect Egypt from an ancient terror. She embarks to meet her grim fate alone but for the hardened warrior Khenet, who is fated to die at her side. Tiya’s dreams of love and family now seem impossible, and Khenet, who is the last of his line, knows his culture will die with him. Struggling with the high cost of Nephthys’s demands, both resolve to remain loyal.

Neither expects the passion that flowers when Tiya’s quiet courage and ethereal beauty meet Khenet’s firm strength and resolve. On a boat down the Nile, their two lonely souls find in each other a reason to live. But time is short and trust elusive.

Without the willing sacrifice of Tiya and Khenet, a great evil will return to Egypt. How could the gods demand their deaths when they’ve only just begun to live?

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Lily Langtry and Sarah Bernhardt As 1890s Cleopatras

Recently added these two 1890’s era photographs to my collection of Egyptiana  items. The photos depict famous actresses Lily Langtry and Sarah Bernhardt in their respective poses and costumes as Cleopatra. I was fascinated…I think these ladies are wearing a lot more layers of  clothing than the  actual Cleopatra probably had on in the hot weather in the land of the Pharaohs LOL.

???????????????????????????????Lily Langtry was talked into becoming an actress by Oscar Wilde and of course for a time she was the mistress of the Prince of Wales Albert Edward (later Edward VII). There seemed to be quite a few members of the nobility and the extremely wealthy gentlemen in her timeline. She was very involved in thoroughbred horse racing, owned a winery, may have been the inspiration for a character in Sherlock Holmes – in short, besides her acting, she led a most fascinating life!

Sarah Bernhardt (photo below, R) was known as “The Divine Sarah” and she too has princes and nobles in her timeline, as well as artists and inventors. She took up painting and sculpting herself in later years. She appeared in a motion picture in 1900 and went on to star in a few more movies during the early years of Hollywood. She lost her right leg as the result  of an injury suffered onstage but continued to perform for the rest of her life and for the most part refused to wear a??????????????????????????????? prosthetic limb. I’m sure she too was never boring!

Lily and Sarah were of course performing the Shakespeare play Antony and Cleopatra, not doing a big screen sword and sandal epic like Elizabeth Taylor in more modern time.

cleo exhibit statue lady in draperyAnd here are two statues from the Cleopatra Exhibit I attended last year, which were recovered from the sunken city of  Heracleion and are believed to be from Cleopatra’s time. The curators of the Exhibit suggested that the  second statue may have been Cleopatra herself, but what they based that upon, I have no idea.

cleo exhibit statue of her

Weekend Writing Warriors Farewell to the Shifters For Now

better wewriwa(Please scroll down to the next post below if you came for the the SFR Out of This World Blog Hop!)

Today is the final excerpt from my Shifter and Girl-With-A-Secret story but I’m happy to report I’m well underway on completing the first draft I had abandoned until all of you lovely Warriors encouraged me to pick it back up. I’ll keep you posted when the novel is done and published, I promise!

Caitlyn has persuaded the shifters from the North to meet secretly with Kyle and her outside the city. Kyle was curiously reluctant to fall in with her plan but eventually does accompany her to the river. This excerpt is at the end of that meeting (and I really do have to stop here, not only because I’m actively working on the novel but because it all gets spoiler-y after this scene). Since this is my last excerpt from the book, I cheated a bit and provided ten sentences.  Kyle and Kellan argue over several things during the meeting and finally Kyle says:

         “Kellan, although I’m grateful to know the Pack hasn’t forgotten me, let us have no more fruitless discussion.”

His brother stared at him for a long minute, hands clenched at his sides as if to force the leopard’s claws to stay hidden. “Allow me to station a man here, out of sight in these woods, to assist you.”

Kyle paused, momentarily tempted by the offer, but then he shook his head. “Caitlyn needs protection inside the palace, where no shapeshifter but myself can walk.”

“We’ll be away to the North then – take care of yourself, little brother.”

The two men hugged, pounding each other on the back for a moment. After bowing to Caitlyn, Kellan shifted to leopard form, disappearing into the dappled forest shadows as he left the clearing.

Twirling a leaf in her hand, she rose from her perch on the riverbank and studied Kyle’s face as she walked to meet him.

Reaching to enfold her in his arms, he said, “Thank you for making me come to meet them today.”

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 love and appreciate your comments and feedback! Not sure what I’ll post from next week, Ancient Egyptian paranormal maybe. Go here  to find all the other Weekend Writing Warriors and read  an amazing variety of  terrific excerpts…

SFR Brigade Out Of This World Blog Hop COMPLETED

 

 

 

 

 

WINNERS: The SFR  Brigade Blog hop is over and the organizers of the Grand Prizes have notified the winners. For my Blog, I decided to award my announced $25 Prize ~ Amazon Gift Certificate PLUS an additional two $10.00 Amazon Gift Cards because I had so many lovely comments and wonderful visitors. The winners, selected by Random Number Generator, are:

$25.00 – Anna Hackett

$10.00 – Jean MP and Anna M

Thanks again for participating and for all the good thoughts about Science Fiction romance!

Welcome to the SFR Brigade Authors’ “Out of This World Blog Hop” with amazing prizes! See below for the rafflecopter link, list of prizes (including a wonderful Grand Prize), and links to the other participating authors. I’m personally giving away one $25 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly selected winner here on my blog – leave a comment to enter just my blog’s drawing. You must use the rafflecopter to enter the SFR Brigade prize drawing. The blog hop is open for international prize winners.

“The women in Wreck of the Nebula Dream are strong in spirit and character.” I hope you’ll forgive me for quoting from a 5 star Amazon review but this was perhaps one of the comments about my book that pleased me the most.  I’ve always enjoyed strong female characters in my science fiction, from Lessa of Pern to Ripley of Aliens. Even in the original 1951 version of “The Thing From Another World,” the character of Nikki may have been the scientists’ secretary but she had guts and grit and would have been in that final battle toe to toe with the alien if the 1950’s guys would have let her. She did participate in one of the early battles with the creature.

I like to think that if I were to find myself in one of those do or die situations, I’d say “Hand me a pulse rifle and get out of my way while I kick some alien butt.”

So when I sit down to write science fiction (or anything else for that matter), I definitely want my story to feature strong female characters.

Now the story in “Wreck” is told entirely from the main character’s POV and he’s a Special Forces guy of the future, suffering from some PTSD, drinking too much, a bit lost…until the spaceliner disaster strikes and he takes action. But Mara, the heroine, is not there to be rescued by him. She makes that clear early on when she refuses his order to get into one of the few lifeboats, but rather insists he come with her to rescue some trapped children…she’s going to accomplish the rescue with or without him. She’s an intergalactic business executive, who came up the hard way and hasn’t forgotten any of the knowledge she acquired. Mara constantly surprises Nick, the hero, with what she knows, how she acts under pressure and how fast she thinks on her feet. (He’s a good guy, honestly, he just assumes civilians won’t be as effective in a crisis as his former military comrades would have been. By the end of the book, he’s thoroughly convinced otherwise and grateful.)

There are several other female characters who play key roles in “Wreck,” including a three year old. I had fun writing them all. The novel is a very loose reimagining of the Titanic disaster and as I was developing the plot within that setting, I tried to imagine who Nick might encounter on a luxury cruise liner of the future.  I like to think Twilka, the Socialite, is maybe the most amusing character (although she frustrates Nick for most of the book) – she’s pretty clueless but even she has her moment to step up and be the crucial link to saving the day.

So what’s your favorite aspect of science fiction? Characters? Setting? Plot? Please leave a comment to enter my own drawing for one $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Don’t forget to enter the rafflecopter for the Grand Prize drawing and visit the other blogs and increase your chances of winning the Grand Prize and more!

SFR Brigade Blog Hop PRIZES:

1st Prize – $150 Amazon or B&N gift card (winner’s choice) and an
ebook bundle (currently Ghost in the Machine, Bayne, Recast Book
1:Wither, Recast Book 2:Clash, Alien Adoration, Switched, Reckless
Rescue, Wreck of the Nebula Dream, Keir, Terms & Conditions Apply, The
Key, Marya, The Iron Admiral, Sasha’s Calling, Trouble at the Hotel
Baba Ghanoush, Winter in Paradise, Once Upon a Time in Space, the
Telomere trilogy, Winter Fusion, Blue Nebula, Demential, Wytchfire,
Maven, Fires of Justice, Interface, Girl under Glass, and Breakout.
Bonus books – Ghost Planet, The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy and
Deception, and Games of Command.)

2nd Prize – $50 Amazon or B&N gift card (winner’s choice)

3rd Prizes – four $25 Amazon or B&N gift cards (given to separate
winners and their choice)

             

Remember, travel here to find the rest of the authors on this fun Blog hop!
Rafflecopter Link for the Main Blog Hop Prizes (you might need to scroll down a bit on the landing page)

(Leave a comment to enter the drawing for this blog’s prize):

Wreck-of-the-Nebula-DreamFinalMedAmazon Best Seller and SFR Galaxy Award Winner WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM is available from  Smashwords ,  Amazon for the kindle and Barnes & Noble for the Nook

Also available from Amazon a as trade paperback $5.39 here

Audiobook, narrated by Actor Michael Riffle – Available Now at Amazon and on iTunes

FREE Micro Short Story Today: There was a rocking chair…

Over at the Here Be Magic blog, we recently did a fun series of posts where the writing prompt was “There was a rocking chair in the middle of the forest…” Here was the resulting VERY short 1000 word story that came to my mind:

1416842_79576120Eolynd was fascinated by The Rocking Chair in the woods, from the age of five, which is when first she saw it. She and her brothers and sisters were berry picking with their mother and other village children.

“Look, someone’s left a new chair here in the clearing,” Eolynd said, tugging on her older sister Mairea’s hand. “I want to rock in it!”

“No, little one, you can’t sit in that chair.” Her older sister’s voice was hushed.

“Why not?”

“Twas left here by the Elf King himself.” Mairea glanced around uneasily. “it’s a trick, an enticement for the unwary.”

“Truly?” Eolynd retreated a step, chewing her lip and thinking this over.

Her sister made the sign of the evil eye. “See how there’s a ring of moss around it and nothing else grows within five feet?”

“If you sit in the chair, the elf king takes you to his hidden realm and you’re never seen again,” said one of the older boys from the village, grabbing Eolynd and swinging her high in the air. He was the red headed one who liked to keep company with Mairea.

“What happens to you there?” Eolynd wanted to know as he set her down.

“We need to be picking berries, not standing here gawking at the Elf King’s chair,” her mother said. “Just you listen to your elders and stay away from that thing.”

“But – “

“Enough, girl. There’s work to be done.”

1302077_90809285As she grew older, Eolynd  often went to the little clearing in the pines to admire the chair. It seemed rooted in the mossy earth, like a tree perhaps, although it was clearly meant to be a rocking chair. Had it been there so long the earth was swallowing it  up? The center of the chair’s back was a beautifully carved woodlands scene, with a proud stag filling most of the center. At a certain time of day a shaft of golden sunlight poured directly on the mysterious item, revealing intricate flowers and leaves carved into the arms and the rockers.  The Chair never aged, its wood always gleaming and shiny, no matter how much snow had fallen in the winter or how hard the summer sun baked the forest.

Years passed. Mairea married her red headed suitor and started a family which soon grew to five children. Eolynd’s other siblings became adults, those who didn’t die in the Great Sickness, which also carried off Mairea and both of Eolynd’s parents.

The world became a darker place, with rumors of a war raging between the lord Eolynd’s clan owed alliegance to and invaders from beyond the seas. Most of the men in the village went off to serve as soldiers in the war, leaving the women to keep life going as best they could. Only a few elderly men and younger boys remained and that wasn’t enough the day a marauding band of the enemy fell upon the village, slaughtering everyone they encountered.

Taking Mairea’s youngest girl in her arms, Eolynd fled the carnage and the violence, running headlong into the woods with no clear idea of where she was going. Behind her she heard the screams of the dying mixed with the harsh war cries of the enemy.

And then she heard the baying of the hounds that ran in a fearsome pack with the invaders and her blood ran cold. They’re hunting down the survivors. They’re hunting me!

 Now she fled like a terrified doe, the toddler clinging to her silently, but the sound of the dogs came closer and closer. Without clear thought Eolynd ran to the clearing and slid to a halt beside the Chair, silent and beautiful as always.

“I can’t run any more,” she said to the child in between panting breaths.

“They’re coming, Auntie.” The tiny girl hid her face in Eolynd’s skirts. “I’m scared.”

She stroked her hand through the child’s tangled black hair with one hand and leaned on the Chair for support with the other. The wood was satin soft under her hand, cool and faintly scented. The elf king takes you away. That’s what the legend said. “How much worse can it be, to live as a servant of some kind in elfdom?” she said out loud.

Picking up her niece, she sat took a deep breath and sat in the chair, pulse racing.

For a moment nothing happened. The shouts of her pursuers grew louder.

Eolynd scooted back more firmly, holding the girl.  “Please, please, elf king, if you exist, take us away.”

Thunder rolled overhead in the clear blue sky. The chair rocked under her. Startled, Eolynd made an attempt to rise but her tired legs wouldn’t obey  the command.

“You know the consequences of sitting in my chair,” said a deep voice from the edge of the clearing.

With a half shriek, Eolynd turned to see a black haired warrior astride a magnificent stag, with two wolves sitting on either side. The man was handsome, with a thin golden crown on his brow and rich green and purple raiment. An uncut emerald glinted dully in the massive ring on his finger.

“Yes, yes, I do. Please, the enemy soldiers are coming. They’ll kill us as they’ve done to my entire village. Can you – will you, save us?”

The stag paced forward and the man smiled. “And your name, maiden?”

“Eolynd. This is my niece Roschae.” She patted the child on the shoulder.

“Devonn, king of Elfdom, at your service.”   He dismounted, landing beside the Chair. Bowing he, said, “I’ve waited a thousand years for the woman brave enough to sit in my Chair and become my Queen, as the legends foretold.”

As thunder rumbled through the skies, Devonn handed her up into the saddle, placing the child in front of her and led the stag from the clearing, the two wolves trotting behind.  The trees seemed to close in behind them, creating an impenetrable barrier. Already forgetting the specifics of her ordeal, Eolynd hugged Roschae and looked eagerly ahead, to their shining destination, off in the distance.

And when the bloodthirsty enemy soldiers burst into the clearing, they saw only an old tree stump, gnarled and bent, hollowed out with age.

???????????????????????I hope you enjoyed my little story! someday I may take it and write a longer version…in the meantime, please hop over to Here Be Magic to read the very different, free short stories our other authors came up with, using that same prompt! You can go to this post or the second day of short stories.

Weekend Writing Warriors I’ve Seen The Leopard

better wewriwa

First of all, a very Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads in the world!

I’m only going to be able to share a few more excerpts with you from the Shifter and Girl-with-a-Secret story because pretty soon it all gets spoiler-y AND I decided to make this my next project to finish. So, today I’ll give you a bit more from Caitlyn’s conversation with the Shifters from the North who came to demand Kyle’s release. One more excerpt next week and then we’ll retire it until the novel is done! I’ve really appreciated all the encouragement from everyone to go ahead with the book…

(Kellan is the leader of the party of shifters and Kyle’s brother.)

“Kyle has endured much during his captivity here and weakens day by day now. The cat is certainly near to collapse,” Caitlyn said, gazing at Kellan. “The Witch Queen doesn’t let him run as a leopard, not ever.”

The men swore bitter oaths. Caitlyn felt power swell in the room, fueled by their anger, and her own magic flared in response.

“You speak as if you’d seen the leopard but if he can’t shift, how is that possible?” Kellan asked.

“We have a connection, meeting in the dreamspace sometimes,” Caitlyn said. “I saw the leopard there.” From the way the men exchanged surprised, surreptitious glances, she could tell the information carried unknown significance for her audience.

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

William Faulkner Wrote Land of the Pharaohs?

Land_of_pharaohs posterYes, Nobel Prize winning author Faulkner did write this clunky 1955 movie about the building of the “First Wonder of the World”, the Great Pyramid of Egypt, although two other scriptwriters also get partial credit. Directed by Howard Hawks, filmed in Egypt, starring Joan Collins (she of later “Dynasty” fame) in her first big role at age 22, surely this blockbuster must have been a huge success?

Um no. I had a dim memory of having seen it on late night TV once so I recently ordered a dvd of it from Amazon. (You know me and my fascination with all things Ancient Egyptian.) Even with a tagline like “Her treachery stained every stone of the pyramid” this is a slow moving film. There is a certain amount of interest in thinking about the Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops as the Greeks named him) who decided some 5000 years ago that he needed such a large pyramid to be buried in and  directed his nation to build it. But the process took fifteen years or so and as the movie says, the people began happily, singing, and by about year seven, they were sick of the whole thing. That would be us too, watching this process unfold verrrrrrrrry slowly. With some melodrama thrown in.

Anachronisms abound, even though they filmed so much in Egypt, including at the actual quarry where rock was cut for the Pyramid. nelliferThis Pharaoh dearly loves to ride around on camels, surrounded by soldiers on camels – except camels weren’t domesticated in Egypt until several thousand years later. The movie makers used South American green parrots and American alligators in various scenes. The songs (nearly said the “incessant songs”) on the sound track are actually total gibbberish that the composer said “sounded Egyptian to him”.  Ms. Collins wears some fetching, 1950’s-sexy outfits as she schemes and seduces but I was pretty much riveted by her orange lipstick. I remembered my mother talking about Tangee orange lipstick from the 1950’s! And NO eye makeup. If there’s one thing everyone knows about Ancient Egypt, it was how they loved their eye makeup.

I did crave some of the jewelry. The first queen had good taste.

In one really laughable scene (that I think our local TV station must have cut) Pharaoh wrestles a bull to the ground to show his…something – stamina? virility? oh the symbolism…to the applauding Ms. Collins (“Nellifer”, an Ancient Egyptian name if I ever heard one LOL), never mind he had to be assisted by 6 or 8 hunky guys and it was really the Minoans of Crete 2000 years later who specialized in bull wrestling/jumping.

Sort of amusing, at one point Pharaoh is rejecting the plans his Egyptian architects have worked up for the tomb, one of which is a rendering of the actual tomb inside the real pyramid.

9787 extrasWarner Brothers claimed with pride that they hired 9787 extras for one scene – which leads me to wonder why not just blow the budget and hire a few more? Then you could boast you had 10,001 extras! But then, who’s counting?

The Nile was lovely. There were a few mildly good scenes between Pharaoh and his first queen (she never saw that cobra coming after Nellifer taught the young prince a pretty song on his flute)..

The movie cost about $2.9 million (then) and grossed maybe $1.5 million in the US. Director Hawks took four years off after the dismal flop, returning with “Rio Bravo.”

I’d like to show you the original 1955 trailer, which is on youtube, or even the climactic scene where Nellifer gets what’s coming to her in horrifying fashion (although as part of a burial ceremony anachronistic even for Egypt of 5000 years ago) but even those clips are too long and rather boring!

“I don’t want to die,” she says, throwing herself to the floor…well, I don’t want to watch this movie again!

nellifer orange lips

Weekend Writing Warriors Talk to the Shifters

better wewriwaContinuing on with my unedited Shifter and Girl-With-A-Secret WIP, Caitlyn draws the visiting band of shifters from the North into an empty room, as they mustn’t be seen talking together. She demands once again to know if they’ve come about Kyle. The leader of the shifters is answering her:

“Yes, we’ve come to this place for the third time in as many years, with the same bitter result.”

“What did the Witch Queen tell you?” Caitlyn said.

The man threw his heavy riding gloves onto the table. “She knew the time of  indenture was only to be five years, she agreed to that, yet  now the date is long past she won’t release him, claiming no term was ever set. We can’t prove it and she only laughs. She won’t even let us see him.”

“Kyle told me the agreement would end only upon his death,” Caitlyn whispered.

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

Five Fictional Places I Want to Visit

593459_74262418…and the fine print I want on the ticket!

Rivendell: My top choice – I’ve been fascinated ever since my first glimpse of it in “Fellowship of the Ring” and I’ll probably never have enough time there, not even if Peter Jackson films a travelogue just about Rivendell. I want to roam the halls myself. I’m entranced by the way the rooms are indoors and outdoors all mixed up. I want to browse the library, raid Arwen’s closet,  ride the horses and flirt with Elrond. I have a crush on him! I think part of what draws me to Rivendell is that it seems to be locked in perpetual Fall and Elvesof-Rivendell-rivendell-9548330-960-404that’s my favorite time of the year. There’s a bit of haunting sadness there too, with the Elves leaving Middle Earth. I wasn’t drawn to Lothlorien nearly as much (although I did think the very military Haldir was pretty interesting). But the heights there bothered me and I have a feeling I’d be one of those people who never got to ascend into the treetop dwelling place of Galadriel anyway.  And although I have a passion for Eomer, the wind swept plains of Rohan don’t appeal to me AS much as Rivendell. I also think one of THE most romantic scenes ever  was between Arwen-and-Aragorn-arwen-29100754-1007-535Aragorn and Arwen on that bridge in the moonlight. Perhaps I could have a few moments there with Elrond….

Pern: I’ve talked about my love for Anne McCaffrey’s planet Pern before, so I won’t dwell on it today. But I’d want to visit Ruatha and Benden Weyr and spend time being conveyed  by a bronze dragon and his rider…maybe have a serenade from Masterharper Robinton before I moved on to…

Disney’s California Adventure Soarin over California: We do that ride three times at least whenever we go to Disneyland because I love it so much. I truly believe that’s the closest I’ll ever come to know what it’s like to fly on my own and I want MOAR. I want it to last for hours, to spend a lot more time in the Sequoias segment, to have it ALL to myself…if I ever win the Powerball, I’m building my own version of this ride and if you’re very nice to me, I’ll invite you to share. But for now, I’ll get a transfer to…

San Francisco as written by Nalini Singh in Psy Wars: Having just finished “Heart of Obsidian” this week (finished? devoured LOL!), it’s all fresh in my mind. I’d love to visit the  DarkRiver changelings and discover I was the Mate of a Sentinel. I could definitely handle that…enough said…

ripley hicksLV-426: Yup, location of the Aliens. But Hicks has to have an identical twin to watch my six, I get my own pulse rifle and a guarantee that I’ll be one of the ones off the planet safely with no face hugger. I don’t know, today I’m kinda resonating with Ripley, that it’s good to go face one’s fears and then blow the everloving acidy stuffing out of them! Something about the day job today perhaps LOL…I’d leave the Alien Queen to Ripley though…

So that’s five. It is hard to choose – on another day I might have gone to Endor, to be at the Ewok party after the Jedi have Returned and before Lucas writes prequels. Or maybe Georgette Heyer’s Regency, to dance the waltz with Justin, Duke of Avon, or Alverstoke, or even the Honorable Freddy Standen…or  camping with Shannon Stacey’s Kowalskis (not sure I’m athletic enough for them) …I get to visit my own worlds of Ancient Egypt and the far future Sectors whenever I write, so no need to use up one of my five tickets to go there.

Where would you go?