Shall We Dance? ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE for SFR Brigade Presents

THE SFRB Presents(The link is here to find this week’s excerpts from novels or WIP written by other Science Fiction SFR Galaxy AwardRomance Brigade group members. A fun way to sample new books!)

From my SFR Galaxy Award winning novel, loosely inspired by the Sepoy incident in 1857 but set on another planet in the far future….

In the last few weeks I gave you the opening of the book and then as Andi has returned from the wedding of the Planetary High Lord’s daughter to her host’s summer home, she found a squad of Sectors Special Forces soldiers waiting. The officer in charge claimed they’d come to rescue her and needed to leave at once. Unconvinced, she argued.  And as it turned out, they couldn’t leave right away. Andi goes on with her social duties, attending the reception in the evening, where Captain Deverane catches up to her and  asks her to dance. Andi is speaking as the excerpt opens:

“Not that I’m ungrateful for the dance, but I never expected to see you here.”

“I never expected you to leave the house and be here.” He sounded annoyed. “The situation is unsafe, you’re unprotected, vulnerable—”

“You don’t think the Tonkiln’s protection will be enough?” She was surprised.

            “No.” Breaking off the dance, he stared into her eyes, still holding her close. Annoyed couples bumped into them on both sides. Andi staggered, and the captain steadied her, but another somewhat inebriated couple jostled him. Shielding her from the impact, Deverane fended off the other dancers with his hip and elbow. “Look, we can’t stand here to discuss it. And we sure as hell can’t dance and have a debate. Agreed?”

            She nodded, but with a sigh. He was the best partner she’d ever danced with. It had been effortless to follow his lead, like flying. Why couldn’t this have lasted longer before reality broke in on us? “We don’t have to go back to the Tonkilns’ yet, do we? Is the APC repaired?”

            “No, my men are working on it. Let me get you something to drink, and we’ll step outside where we won’t draw so much attention.” Deverane led her by the hand through the throng of onlookers, back to the intimate groupings of small tables along the wall.

VS sez: This is about the last peaceful moment in the book so if you return next week, be prepared!

The Story:

Escape-from-Zulaire2HighResAndi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.

Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.

That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters attack the village and raze it to the ground. Deverane escapes with Andi, and on their hazardous journey through the wilderness, Andi finds herself fighting her uncomfortable attraction to the gallant and courageous captain. But Deverane’s not the type to settle down, and running for one’s life doesn’t leave much time to explore a romance.

Then Andi is captured by the rebel fighters, but Deverane has discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a terrifying alien race’s attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. If he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.

Available on AMAZON for kindle and as POD paperback   Nook  Kobo All Romance eBooks   and iTunes   Xin Xii

Having Sci-Fi Encounters at USA Today Happily Ever After

HEAI love exploring the worlds of science fiction and fantasy (SF&F) but especially those stories with a good helping of romance. I’m  super excited to announce  Joyce Lamb, Curator of the Happily Ever After (HEA) blog  at USA Today, invited me to write a twice-monthly column revolving around (drum roll!) => science fiction & fantasy romance books! Sci-Fi Encounters 🙂

Starting today, I’ll be giving a “signal boost” to SF&F romance in my new column and hoping Readers will weigh in too. I’ll try to provide a mix of news, author Q&A, reviews and reader views, with my opinions sneaking in on occasion. I’ll have fun talking about a mix of established authors, small press and self published.

Hunters claimMy first special guest  at HEA is S. E. Smith, a USA Today and International Best Selling author of science fiction romance. If you look at the Top 100 books on Amazon right now, her novel Hunter’s Claim is #1 for books and kindle in SFR and she has four more books in the Kindle Top 40 for that category as well. Tons of 4 and 5 Star reviews…S. E. was fun to interview! So hop on over and read her answers to my questions, find out why I named the column “Sci-Fi Encounters”, and check out a few fairly new titles in a variety of science fiction romance “flavors”. I even have a movie recommendation.

Going forward I’m planning to devote columns to specific topics, like steampunk or cyborgs or post-apocalyptic settings for example, as well as more general discussions. If you want to send me suggestions for “Sci-Fi Encounters” please use the scifiencounters at gmail dot com address. Don’t forget to check out the lists of new releases that Joyce posts for you weekly on the HEA blog – my column can only hit a few highlights of all the many books that come out every month.

It’s a new opportunity for drawing Readers’ attention to the genre, in addition to the excellent coverage being done already by such blogs as The Galaxy Express, Smart Chicks Love Sci Fi, Contact – Infinite Futures, Science Fiction Romance Brigade, Space Freighters Lounge and others.

Still here? Well, let’s walk through that Stargate and be on our way over to HEA!

Stargate

I Saw the Motion Picture Costume Exhibit at FIDM

evanoraBeing huge movie and TV fans, every year my daughter and I make two excursions into the downtown wilds of Los Angeles, to the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) Museum. We go to see the Emmy-nominated costumes and the Academy Award-nominated costumes. The Museum puts on impressive exhibits with the actual costumes worn by some of everyone’s favorite actors and you can get <> that close. Really. You can’t touch and you can’t photograph and believe me, the very friendly security team makes sure you obey the restriction.

For a definitive set of photos of what we saw, plus more description, I’m going to refer you to the Tyanny of Style blog, because he got to attend the preview and has photos, including closeups and more technical detail. (He’s got a terrific blog to follow by the way if you’re interested in fashion, costume design, etc.)

My Top 10 Fangirl Impressions/Moments:

Idris1. Idris Elba must be every bit as physically imposing and commanding in person as he appears on screen, going by his Jaeger costume from “Pacific Rim.” Wowza. The photo of the costume alone doesn’t do him justice. A lot of times at these exhibits, you know you’re supposed to be in awe because you’re standing right next to the costume so-and-so wore and it is cool, but you don’t get a feeling of the actor…not the case with Mr. Elba. I was half convinced he was there! As a side note, I want the hairstyle that the actress playing Mako had, loved the blue tint at Hunnamthe fringes, and I think the stick fighting scene with Charlie Hunnam is one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen…oh, ok, where was I?

2. Standing right next to the outfit worn by Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan and Leonard Nimoy as Spock….seriously fanning myself again.

3. Rachel Weisz is TINY. I’ve always enjoyed her performances, since “The Mummy” and the exhibit has her dress as Evanora from “OZ the Great and Powerful”. It was all sparkly and blingy and petite. (See thumbnail at the top of this post.)

4. No Thor or Loki costumes 😦 but Odin’s was amazing….as was Sif’s.

5. The most intricate details on the Romeo and Juliet costumes were so gorgeous, too small to be seen on the screen but up close, the embroidery and the details – yummy. A lot of loving care went into the creation of those clothes.

6. Keanu Reeves is TALL. Yes.

7. I found myself feeling sad when I looked at the dress worn by Andrea Riseborough as Rebecca in “Oblivion”, because I felt so rebecca oblivionsorry for that character in the movie. It was interesting to me that just looking at the costume evoked the emotion.

8. The historically accurate costumes were amazing as always but I gravitate more to the science fiction and fantasy. When we do our last circuit through the exhibit we linger at our favorites, which are almost always from those movies.

9. Emma Thompson’s P. L. Travers suit from “Saving Mr. Banks” projected attitude like nobody’s business. I could visualize her standing there almost as clearly as Mr. Idris, just from the costume.

10. FIDM usually has a bonus exhibition and this year was no exception –  “Bliss – 19th Century Wedding Gowns.” Oh, I would say yes to these dresses! (Not that I could fit into them LOL.) The selection ranged from 1800 through about 1890 and included fans, shoes, gloves…even a handwritten proposal that was a beautifully written and as full of high flung prose as anything you’ll read in a romance novel. (I wish I’d taken notes…). Considering the oldest dress was over 200 years old, they were beautifully preserved and so gorgeous. One even had swansdown trim, which I don’t believe I’ve ever seen, only read about. If you go to The Worn Through blog’s post by Brenna Barks, and scroll all the way down, she has official photos of the amazing wedding dresses.

9.

Guest Author Sharon Cullen Talks Pleasing the Pirate

Cullen Book CoverIs that not a gorgeous cover??? (VS sighs…)

I’m very pleased to welcome Sharon Cullen as my guest today!  Her most recent book is Pleasing the Pirate. Personally, I love pirate stories so let the interview begin:

What prompted you to start writing? Oh, gosh. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I wrote my first book when I was nine. It was about a girl and her horse and it was written in a spiral bound flip top notebook. I drew the cover art myself and stapled it on the front of the notebook. In sixth grade my teacher made us all write a book. It was hardback with illustrations we drew and everything. That was the first romance I wrote. It was about a poor family who sold their mountain land to an amusement park and all six girls (yes, six!) married very cute, rich men. LOL. So I guess you could say I’ve always been writing. My degree is in journalism but writing dry news stories wasn’t as interesting as writing about love

Which five people (real, fictional, historical) would you invite to dinner and why? Five people. This is going to be hard. Barbara Bush most definitely. The woman is the definition of class and grace. Kid Rock because he’s my favorite entertainer and he’s a very interesting fellow. Jamie Fraser from Outlander because who wouldn’t want to eat dinner with a hunky Highlander? Dr. Who. Either #10 or #11. Alien doctors? That would be an interesting dinner conversation. Captain Jack Sparrow. Because he’s a pirate and I love pirates and he’s funny. And cute.

 Which word or phrase do you most overuse in a manuscript? (VS sez: I confess to “that” being my worst word LOL) That, could, just. But I think my most overused phrase is, “he (or she) sighed” my poor characters are always sighing. I confess that I have to take most of the sighs out. (VS: OMG, I do the same thing! Actually I had a boss who said I sighed too much!)

Quickfire Questions:

Must watch  TV Show: Just one?. Once Upon a Time. Walking Dead, Raising Hope, Pawn Stars

Music  on repeat: Anything by Kid Rock. I’ve seen him five times in concert and it never gets old

Favorite Movie: The Help. The Count of Monte Christo, Breakfast Club

Cats or Dogs? Dogs! I have two.

Favorite Flower: Tulip

Tea or coffee: Neither. But if forced, tea

Sweet or spicy: Sweet.

Morning person or evening person: Evening, definitely. Don’t talk to me before noon. (VS makes note never to talk to Sharon before noon in any time zone!)

Last meal on Earth would be: Pizza! Or a Chipotle burrito

Favorite Perfume: Prada Candy

Book I Wish I’d Written: Sunshine by Catherine Anderson

What are you working on next? I am switching up genres and moving from Georgian romance to Victorian romance. My next book is about a man who suffered a head injury during the Crimean War. He and his wife have to learn to live with his injuries while trying to keep their marriage together.

What one question do you want to ask your Readers today? Do you judge a book by its cover? How important is the cover in your decision in purchasing a book.

sharon cullen 021Sharon Cullen is the author of the historical romance, The Notorious Lady Anne, Loving the Earl and Pleasing the Pirate. She’s also published in romantic suspense, paranormal romance and contemporary romance.

Her other job descriptions include chauffer, laundress, cook and mediator to her three very busy kids, her husband and two dogs. She lives in southwest Ohio with her brood although her dream is to someday retire to St. Maarten and live on the beach.

If you’d like to find out more about Sharon and her books, you can visit her website. She’s addicted to social networking so you can find her on Facebook and Twitter. Friend her! Like her! Follow her! She’d love to hang out with you and talk about her passion—books.

Where can your Readers find you online?

Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Random House

The book blurb (Pleasing the Pirate is out February 25th):

From Sharon Cullen, author of the eBook sensation Loving the Earl, comes the tale of a ruthless pirate and the Scottish lass who fills him with desire for something greater than plunder.
 
With her clan’s crops burned and their property confiscated, Mairi McFadden is desperate to free her brother from imprisonment so that he can take his rightful place as chief. Her only hope is the fierce English pirate Phin Lockwood, but the buccaneer laughs at her meager funds. His roving eyes, however, tell Mairi there’s something else he’ll take in exchange for her brother’s rescue. Though she burns with hatred for the English, she’ll do anything to save her clan.

The crown has made it clear that Phin has two choices: bring in a certain Scottish traitor or hang. And he’s not about to let a tiny, whiskey-eyed woman get in his way, even if she is pointing a gun at him. When Phin learns that Mairi’s brother is the very man he seeks, he’s more than willing to use the lass as bait. But as the moment of capture draws near, Phin is surprised by his feelings for the courageous beauty who has him considering risking his life—for someone besides himself.

Includes a special message from the editor, as well as excerpts from other Loveswept titles.

Buy Links for book:  Amazon    Barnes & Noble

Thanks for being my guest today, Sharon! Best wishes with the new book (and keep us posted on when you’re going to issue that series about the six girls, the mountaintop, the amusement park and the rich men LOL 🙂 )

Does He Appreciate Her? Priestess of the Nile Weekend Writing Warriors

better wewriwaA fun way to sample new books and find new writers! Here’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…

So we’ve closed the door on DANCER OF THE NILE (although now you guys have me thinking about sequels…)

VS_PriestessOfTheNileMy new book is still a few weeks away from being Released, so I thought I’d fill the gap with excerpts from PRIESTESS OF THE NILE, which was my first published work, because the new book is a sequel to PRIESTESS. You can read the beginning of Chapter One of PRIESTESS here on my website so for the excerpt I’ll go a bit further into the story. Merys, who has been tending an abandoned temple of the Crocodile God Sobek, doesn’t realize she’s talking to him (in his human form). Sobek is somewhat amused by her fierce loyalty:

“I’m sure your efforts are appreciated.” He tried to keep the smile off his face, biting his cheek.

The girl frowned at him and shook one finger saying,  “The god protects us even now.” Her tone was cold, her eyes narrowed. “We have had only one ox and two cows seized by crocodiles in the past year, and no small children.” She furrowed her brow as some memory surfaced. “Well, one man was taken, but he was suspected of being a thief so no one mourned him. And the flooding of the Nile has been generous in bringing us fertile fields.”

The Story

VS_PriestessOfTheNileDrawn to his abandoned temple on the banks of the Nile by an enchanting song, Sobek the Crocodile god is even more captivated by the sight of the singer herself. Appearing to her as a man, he learns she is Merys, a descendant of his last priestess. Though filled with lust, Sobek believes Merys deserves to be more than just his mistress. But the rules that govern the Egyptian pantheon forbid anything beyond a physical joining of a Great One and a human.

Merys is attracted to the handsome stranger, who arouses passions in her that no man ever has. But with no dowry and no hope of ever leaving her village, she dares not dream of the future—or love.

Sobek takes every opportunity to visit Merys, taxing his resolve to leave her pure. And when he saves her life, their mutual desire must be sated. But can a love between a human and an immortal survive the ultimate test of the gods?

Available: Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Carina Press   All Romance

Surely We’re Safe Here? ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE SFR Brigade Presents

THE SFRB Presents(The link is here to find this week’s excerpts from novels or WIP written by other Science Fiction Romance Brigade group members. A fun way to sample new books!)

From my SFR Galaxy Award winning novel, loosely inspired by the Sepoy incident in 1857 but set SFR Galaxy Awardon another planet in the far future….

In the last two weeks I gave you the opening of the book and then as Andi has returned from the wedding of the Planetary High Lord’s daughter to her host’s summer home, she found a squad of Sectors Special Forces soldiers waiting. The officer in charge claimed they’d come to rescue her and needed to leave at once. Unconvinced, she argued. Their conversation continued and Andi is finally convinced. She’s speaking as the excerpt begins. (Some editing from the published version has occurred, to fit the word limit):

            “I’ll go back to the capital with you in the morning.”

            “In the—” He glared at her, eyebrows drawing together in an impressive frown, forehead wrinkles deepening even more. “Have you been listening, Miss Markriss? This planet is in a precarious state. We can’t wait for your convenience. We need to leave tonight. The sooner the better.”

           “I don’t think we can leave tonight, Captain, no matter what you want.”

            The door handle moved under her hand. Startled, she released it, falling back a pace or two. When the door opened, Iraku stood there, condescending as ever, face contorted in a sneer, lips pursed in disapproval. Hands on their curved belt knives, two of the armed household guards stood a few steps away. Startled by their hostile expressions, Andi retreated a step.

             Addressing her but staring at Deverane, Iraku asked, “Is there a problem, miss? Lady Tonkiln wishes to speak with you regarding the presentation at tonight’s ceremony.”

            Andi shook her head. “No problem, I’ll be right there.” She turned to Deverane, holding out one hand, palm up. “Better ask your sergeant what’s wrong with the APC’s engine.”

            “What are you talking about?” Deverane strode to her side.

            “He told me there was an engine problem. The corporal said it was going to take all night to fix. Listen, assuming your men can’t repair the APC tonight, I’ll go to the reception, do my duty for Loxton, and leave with you in the morning. No problem.”

            What Deverane would have said next, Andi didn’t wait to hear. After all, the Tonkilns had a small army of Naranti servants and household guards. Every Obati household in the summer colony did. The well-trained security force ought to be enough protection from any hotheaded Shenti warriors bent on making mischief.

 Rolling her shoulders as she walked down the hall, she took a deep, calming breath. We can’t leave now anyway, so I might as well stick with protocol. Nothing’s likely to happen tonight, not here in the middle of the Obati stronghold.

Escape-from-Zulaire2HighResAndi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.

Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.

That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters attack the village and raze it to the ground. Deverane escapes with Andi, and on their hazardous journey through the wilderness, Andi finds herself fighting her uncomfortable attraction to the gallant and courageous captain. But Deverane’s not the type to settle down, and running for one’s life doesn’t leave much time to explore a romance.

Then Andi is captured by the rebel fighters, but Deverane has discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a terrifying alien race’s attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. If he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.

Available on AMAZON for kindle and as POD paperback   Nook  Kobo All Romance eBooks   and iTunes      Smashwords  Xin Xii

So I Watched Austenland

austenlandI enjoy Jane Austen as much as the next woman and the 1995 version of “Pride and Prejudice” with Colin Firth is of course THE ultimate take on that novel, so I was mildly curious to see this 2013 movie, starring Keri Russell, when it came out on dvd last week. (I only make it to the actual theaters for the big spectacles these days, like “Pacific Rim”. Or Disney movies with my grandson.)

Here’s the plot synopsis from the Internet Movie DataBase: “Obsessed with Pride and Prejudice (1995), a woman travels to a Jane Austen theme park in search for her perfect gentleman.”

The movie is based on  Austenland: A Novel by Shannon Hale, published in 2007. I’ve now put that on my kindle TBR list as I was mildly intrigued enough to want to read the source material.

If I was going to travel to the Regency time frame in any manner, I’d go for the dashing world of Almack’s and waltzing Dukes, myself…but I wouldn’t want to stay there too long. I’m pretty much used to the modern conveniences.

But back to the movie…I felt as if it was confused about itself and therefore was left confused. Was it a comedy? Was it trying to be a serious romance? Was it a spoof? Was it an hommage? Because at various moments, it went in all those directions. I also felt as if not all of the actors were in on the sekrit joke, whatever that might be. As if they missed some pages of the script concerning plot developments.

Frankly, I kept thinking about the movie Westworld, and we all know how that immersion experience turned out!

Our heroine Anna suffers from arrested emotional development and an obsession with all things Austen. I can’t imagine any modern suitor spending more than one minute in her chintz-and-ruffles-and-Darcy bedroom. As far as I could tell, she spends all her savings to go to Austenland hoping to cure herself of the whole Austen/Darcy thing and move on with life. I applauded this plan – the moving on with her life part anyway. But then once she gets to her dream destination, she goes back and forth between wanting the experience to be real, disgusted it’s all  fake, trying to out-act the paid actors, wanting to fall in love with them…and the fact that she bought a lowly “Copper Package,” which entitles her to the most ugly dress I’ve ever seen and a room in the servants’ quarters, doesn’t help. She’s known as Jane Erstwhile in Austenland by the way. All the guests who paid for more expensive packages get to be Lady This and That.

I wanted to shake her in the scenes where she seems to either (a) think she’s really in an Austen novel or (b) wants to be so badly, she sporadically tries to be an Austen character. I believe I may have uttered the dreaded “TSTL” phrase at least once. (Too Stupid To Live.) Austenland just never came across to me as a slick enough theme park to let you forget you’d paid good money to be there and wear a corset. Oh, and were talking to actors who weren’t going to really fall in love with you, any more than they fell in love with the pretend-damsels who paid their money and lived in Austenland the week before. You have fun at Disneyland but you don’t expect to go home with Indiana Jones. You know you’re a tourist.

What did I like?

I loved Jane Seymour, I always love Jane Seymour and have since the original Battlestar Galactica. She was terrific as the owner of Austenland. (The  1982 version of “The Scarlet Pimpernel” that she’s  in with  Anthony Andrews is my favorite take on that novel…)

The house, manicured grounds and sets used for filming were gorgeous, British eye candy of the finest sort.

My favorite scene was when the guests and actors-being-paid-to-be-Austen-like-heroes put on an ‘amateur theatrical’, because you read that trope so often in romance novels set in the time period at big house parties. This was so bad on purpose, it was great. 

The scenes in the area where the actors hung out by a pool after work were sort of amusing but could have been funnier, I thought. On the fence about those. Good idea but not executed smoothly….I wanted to feel sorry for these guys, reduced to working at Austenland in between BBC costume dramas and/or soap operas but…the movie didn’t want to quite let you feel these were real 2012 guys, you know? It was like even in their off time they were 3/4 Austen and  1/4 modern guys and it did…not…work. Not for me.

Another plot point that didn’t work for me: The rich, crude, clueless American woman who befriends Anna/Jane belonged in a different movie. I liked her but she was so out there, she ruined any illusion of this movie’s plot making any sense.

There was one big plot twist that I didn’t see coming at ALL and won’t ruin for you here but somehow the way the movie arrived at the necessary Happily Ever After ending following the twist was sort of….meh. I didn’t find myself caring a whole lot and I was still confused by who was acting when at what point wherever whilst at Austenland.

It won’t be on my Favorites shelf, although I’m going to watch it again one more time now that I know the twist and see if that helps me with some of the scenes I found to be so meh. If this was a book, I’d give it 2.5 to 3 stars. I mildly enjoyed watching it once, I didn’t see the plot twist coming (always kind of fun to be surprised) and it did deliver an HEA.

jane seymour

What’s Following Us? DANCER OF THE NILE Weekend Writing Warriors

better wewriwa

A fun way to sample new books and find new writers! Here’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants.

???????????????????????????????This is my final excerpt from this paranormal romance set in Ancient Egypt. Nima the dancer and Kamin, one of Pharaoh’s warriors, have been traveling with the caravan for a few days as they seek to escape the pursuing enemy and get vital information to Pharaoh to stop an invasion. Nima was exposed to various temptations involving her future as a dancer and Kamin realized how much she means to him. But he’s got secrets he can’t share…they’ve quarreled, made up and then some (it’s in the book)… the caravan has now stopped, which is totally unheard of and signals danger.

This snippet follows directly after last week’s excerpt, as Kamin and Nima flee the caravan. Artistic punctuation warning (and a run-on sentence or two)!:

 They hiked, soon increasing their speed to an easy run, Kamin holding his pace to hers.

               Every couple of minutes, he checked the empty landscape behind them, walking backward for eight or nine paces, scanning the horizon.

                After the fifth time he performed this ritual, Nima challenged him, “What’s wrong?”

                Frowning, he said, “I can’t shake the feeling something is following us. Even if we haven’t heard howling for a few minutes now.”

                Eyes wide, she glanced at the horizon behind them, saying as she did so, “Why would anything follow us, except for the Hyksos?”

               He rolled his shoulders and said, “I don’t know – the common predators out here on the open desert should be afraid to tangle with humans, at least in broad daylight.”

              Cutting across his words was a definite howl, from more than one animal’s throat. 

I have to say I’m now thinking about a sequel for these two! I don’t know what I’ll share next week, maybe the new book, Magic of the Nile, which will be out in March, or perhaps a science fiction romance I’m working on…

The story for DANCER OF THE NILE:

Egypt, 1500 BCE

DancerOfTheNile_1600x2400Nima’s beauty and skill as a dancer leads an infatuated enemy to kidnap her after destroying an Egyptian border town. However, she’s not the only hostage in the enemy camp: Kamin, an Egyptian soldier on a secret mission for Pharaoh, has been taken as well. Working together to escape, the two of them embark on a desperate quest across the desert to carry word of the enemy’s invasion plans to Pharaoh’s people.

As they flee for their lives, these two strangers thrown together by misfortune have to trust in each other to survive.  Nima suspects Kamin is more than the simple soldier he seems, but she finds it hard to resist the effect he has on her heart.  Kamin has a duty to his Pharaoh to see his mission completed, but this clever and courageous dancer is claiming more of his loyalty and love by the moment. Kamin starts to worry, if it comes to a choice between saving Egypt or saving Nima’s life…what will he do?

Aided by the Egyptian god Horus and the Snake Goddess Renenutet, beset by the enemy’s black magic, can Nima and Kamin evade the enemy and reach the safety of the Nile in time to foil the planned attack?

Can there ever be a happy future together for the humble dancer and the brave Egyptian soldier who is so much more than he seems?

DANCER OF THE NILE, an Amazon Best Seller, is AVAILABLE on Amazon   Barnes & Noble   All Romance eBooks iTunes   Smashwords   Google Play

Just A Pawn ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE SFRB Presents

THE SFRB Presents

Sorry I didn’t have any Valentine-themed excerpts to give, from my science fiction romance! I didn’t want to jump ahead to the pages where the romance begins to develop and then backtrack.

(The link is here to find this week’s excerpts from novels or WIP written by other Science Fiction Romance Brigade group members. A fun way to sample new books!)

Last week I gave you the opening of the book. This excerpt is a bit later, as Andi has returned from the wedding of the Planetary High Lord’s daughter to her host’s summer home, only to find a squad of Sectors Special Forces soldiers waiting. The officer in charge claims they’ve come to rescue her and need to leave at once. Unconvinced, she argues with Captain Tom Deverane and is speaking as the snippet starts:

“You’re insinuating my hosts have deceived me and deliberately put me in harm’s way? I find that insulting.”

            Eyes closed, he pinched the bridge of his nose. “You’re a pawn to them.” Now he reopened his eyes and flung his arms out, hands wide open. “You mean nothing to them. If you’re going to refuse my offer of evacuation, then you’d better be ready to take care of yourself because I guarantee you the Obati won’t.”

“Give me some specifics to back up your claims, captain,” Andi said. “So far I only have your word there’s a problem. No insult intended.”

          He nodded. “All right,” he said, his voice crisp. “Fair enough. One of your own Loxton agents was murdered in the southern region, along with all his Shenti guides and workers. The cargo wasn’t even stolen, just left to rot in the haulers. I’m told that was the incident which spooked your boss to close the office and leave the planet.”

            “One of the Loxton crew? Who?” As Deputy Agent she knew and worked with all of the Loxton crews. Mentally reviewing who might have been in transit, seeing the faces of men and women who were her friends as well as coworkers, Andi felt a wave of nausea. 

          “Someone named Kane. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you all this.”

            Andi nodded, her mind racing. She swallowed the bile in her throat and said, “When did this happen?”

            “Two weeks ago.”

            “And no one thought I needed to know? No one saw fit to tell me?” Her voice rose as she got angrier.

The Story:

Escape-from-Zulaire2HighResAndi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.

Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.

That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters attack the village and raze it to the ground. Deverane escapes with Andi, and on their hazardous journey through the wilderness, Andi finds herself fighting her uncomfortable attraction to the gallant and courageous captain. But Deverane’s not the type to settle down, and running for one’s life doesn’t leave much time to explore a romance.

Then Andi is captured by the rebel fighters, but Deverane has discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a terrifying alien race’s attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. If he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.

SFR Galaxy Award

ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE is a 2014 SFR Galaxy Award Winner…

Available on AMAZON for kindle and as POD paperback   Nook  Kobo All Romance eBooks   and iTunes      Smashwords  Xin Xii

Ancient Egyptian Love Poems

Here’s one from the Archives, that I originally wrote for a guest post on Romancing the Book in 2012. The occasion was the Release of my first story set in Ancient Egypt, PRIESTESS OF THE NILE. I’m going to be publishing the sequel, MAGIC OF THE NILE, in March:

???????????????????????????????The heart of Priestess of the Nile is the love story between Sobek the Crocodile God and Merys, the priestess of one of his temples. Set in Ancient Egypt around 1500BC, the romance plays out against a paranormal background, as Sobek is a shifter who can be fully human (and very hot if I may say so!), half human/half crocodile or fully crocodile (along the scale of a dinosaur or dragon). The Ancient Egyptians were a romantic people and wrote many poems about love and romance.  With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, I thought that made a good topic….

“Poetry is perhaps the greatest forgotten treasure of ancient Egypt,” said Richard Parkinson, an expert on ancient Egyptian poetry at London’s British Museum, home to the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts outside of Cairo. (Interview for National Geographic News 4/20/2004).

Love poems have been found in many excavations of Egyptian ruins, from the tombs of the rich to the ruins of humble workers’ villages. It is believed that originally the poems were passed down through memorization, much as the minstrels of the Middle Ages would preserve their tales of chivalry and the love between knights and fair ladies. Eventually the poems were committed to papyrus or even scribbled in hieratic on shards of pottery and therefore preserved for us to enjoy. Students may have copied out parts of poems when practicing to become scribes.

Sobek didn’t happen to recite any poetry to Merys in the course of the novel (although I’m sure he probably made up for that lapse later LOL) but here’s one fragment of a poem dating to the time where my story occurs:

The Flower Song (Excerpt)
To hear your voice is pomegranate wine to me:
I draw life from hearing it.
Could I see you with every glance,
It would be better for me
Than to eat or to drink.

(Translated by M.V. Fox)

Here’s another fragment which I enjoy, taken from a much longer poem:

She looks like the rising morning star

At the start of a happy year.

Shining bright, fair of skin,

Lovely the look of her eyes,

Sweet the speech of her lips,

She has not a word too much.

VS_PriestessOfTheNile There was no specific celebration or day devoted to love and lovers that we know about, but the goddess Hathor was the Egyptian deity personifying love, beauty, music, motherhood and joy. We can imagine her festivals probably served as an excuse for many a pair of young lovers to enjoy each other’s company. I didn’t include Hathor in Priestess of the Nile but she’s definitely involved in a key scene in  MAGIC OF THE NILE.

Sobek and Merys managed to fall in love and find joy together without needing intervention from Hathor! My best wishes to you for a Happy Valentine’s Day.