Deleted Scene Mara POV Wreck of the Nebula Dream Tuesday Teaser

Tuesday Teaser

I’ve never shared this excerpt from Wreck of the Nebula Dream before! This is a scene from the heroine Mara’s POV, before I decided to go ahead and make the entire novel from the hero’s POV because…reasons. Some minor plot elements mentioned  here also changed slightly in the final version of the book.

Wreck of the Nebula Dream is still on sale for $.99 for a few more days. Amazon    Barnes & Noble     All Romance eBooks     iTunes   Kobo

Here’s the deleted scene:

Wreck-of-the-Nebula-DreamFinalMedThree days on the luxury space liner Nebula Dream and all Mara Lyrae had seen so far was her own stateroom. Typical when I travel. All space ships and most planets are pretty much the same to me. Life is a series of meetings, business dinners and strange beds, slept in alone.

She stretched, staring around at the beautiful stateroom, now cluttered with her three personal AI’s, files, notes and the other detritus of work.  She was constantly working. Being the Sector Vice President for the giant Loxton Galactic Trading was a highly responsible job. LTG paid extremely well but she was always on duty for them.

“On to the next crisis,” she said out loud, getting out of her chair and walking to pour herself some tea. She wrapped the blue silk robe more closely and leaned on the dainty vanity, back to the mirror, surveying the messy room. “Might as well be in my damn office.” She pushed her thick hair off her face with one hand.

Mara turned around to look in the mirror. She had circles under her eyes. She was too thin. A person could only exist on nervous energy for so long. LTG paid her extremely well for what she did but lately Mara was starting to feel the rewards were not worth the life’s blood she poured into it. The name on the business was always going to be Loxton. A person could only go so far without being one or marrying one. Yes, the company wanted her to step  into the vice president slot. Yes, Brin Loxton had made it clear he had more than a professional interest in her. She wasn’t sure of her own emotions but he was pushing.

But do  I want to be Brin Loxton’s trophy wife? Is that all there is? I’ve accomplished  most of  my goals and it hasn’t turned out the way I expected.

“Passenger Lyrae, you have messages.” The Ship’s AI spoke softly. It had a pleasant male baritone voice, at least in her quarters.

“I always have messages.” I’m rebellious today. She took another sip of the lukewarm tea, preparing to go back to work. Not for her the festivities and glamour of the Nebula Dream’s maiden voyage. She might as well be on a freighter for all it mattered. The speed of the voyage was her only concern and the brand new Nebula Dream was being touted to smash the record for this particular run.

“You have 87 messages in the queue since the last update fifteen minutes ago.”

“Show me.” Mara set the tea cup on the table and squared her shoulders to dive into the endless work demanded of her.

The AI projected the messages in the cabin, scrolling through the holographic list at a fairly rapid clip.

One message caught her eye. “Wait, wait, go back. What was the last one?”

The subject and the name of the sender had been unexpected, as well as the shipboard point of origin.

“From Consolidated Star Guard Captain Nicholas Jameson, presently on board.” The Ship’s recitation of the tag was a bit odd, not as neutral as Mara was used to hearing. If I didn’t know better, I’d say the AI sounds enthusiastic. “Shall I play it?”

“Sure, go ahead.” Mara remembered the soldier from the shuttle. It was unusual to see a military man aboard a luxury liner. He had to be traveling under orders, not for his own pleasure. He couldn’t afford the Dream, not on a captain’s salary. “Play visual as well as audio.”

The holo message opened. The holo was high quality, no wavering, no distortion.

Oh yes, now I know why I remembered him. Mara scrunched her bare toes on the plush carpet and sat a bit straighter. The guy was impressive, standing well over six feet, hard body packed with muscles, an honest, good looking face, square jaw, sandy blond hair a bit longer than military regulation. “A regular recruiting poster,” she said. He’d stood out in the crowd at the spaceport. He gave the air of being ready for action at a second’s notice. Totally calm and self confident in any situation. A man you could lean on.

            Although since she preferred to rely on herself at all times, why she cared if he was reliable was a mystery.

His eyes were hazel green, his gaze direct and serious. There was a small dimple in his chin.

Captain Jameson’s voice matched the rest of the package – deep and appealing. “I didn’t get a chance to thank you for giving me your extra seat on the shuttle the other day so I could make the Dream’s departure, Miss Lyrae.”

Right, because I did my usual thing and went right back to work. Can’t waste a minute. Don’t want to give anyone a chance to intrude on me. Because I can fire fifty people without blinking an eye but I hate social situations. Besides it was my assistant’s seat and he wasn’t using it. So why not help a guy in a jam out? Mara sipped her tea, grimacing at how cold it was.

The captain’s image was continuing to talk. “I was hoping you’d give me a chance to pay you back. Meet me for drinks at the Casino tonight?”

Mara shook her head. Oh no, no time. Nice try, soldier. She opened her mouth to tell the Ship to send back a polite refusal but the AI spoke a fraction of a second faster.

“Captain Jameson has his hopes quite high about your acceptance of his offer. He said you have beautiful blue eyes. Such an unusual vivid blue, he said.”

She could not believe her ears. Was the Ship’s AI trying to get her to go out with the guy?

The AI kept talking. “He said you were gorgeous and you’d probably never agree to dinner but maybe he could get you to have a drink with him.”

“Ship, it’s highly improper of you to repeat another passenger’s private remarks to me.” She kept her voice pleasant. She’d already learned how young the AI on this Ship was. Surprisingly unsophisticated for a high class luxury vessel. Mara tried to avoid hurting another sentient being’s feelings whenever possible so she didn’t make her rebuke too harsh.

“I’m sorry, Passenger Lyrae. I did not mean to offend.” The AI sounded worried.

“I’m not offended.” I can’t believe I’m engaging in conversation with an AI. She glanced at the captain’s image, frozen in the center of the stateroom. He filled out his uniform for sure. She was only going to be on this ship for another week and then she’d never see him again. No entanglements. A girl deserved some fun after making hundreds of millions of credits for her employer, didn’t she?

           He definitely looked like fun.

“You now have one hundred thirty two messages in the queue. Shall I go back to the start of the scroll? Fifty four are marked urgent.”

Mara shut her eyes and shook her head. She rubbed her forehead for a minute. LGT’s stream of business issues never stopped. Assistants usually sorted through the message stream for her and did triage, handing her only the highest priority issues. It had been years since she had dealt with them all herself. “What time did the captain want to meet?”

“Seven o’clock, at the roulette wheel.”

She could manage, if she took a quick shower. “Ship, what do you have in the way of evening dresses?”

The Ship projected a miniature fashion show in every corner of her stateroom, little images whirling and twirling. “Captain Jameson plays chess with me.”

“Chess?” She tilted her head, glancing more closely at one or two of the dresses, flicking the others into invisibility with a gesture.

“It is an archaic game of strategy – “

“Yes, I know what chess is.” Mara was impatient. “You have to stop making these personal comments, Ship.”

“I like you. I like talking to you. I like the captain.”

“Do you talk to everyone on board like this?”

There was a brief silence. “No.” The voice was small.

Mara patted the bulkhead, as if the Ship was a pet or a child. “It’s all right. You can talk to me. And I’m sure if Captain Jameson plays chess with you, he doesn’t mind some chatter. But most people who travel on a ship like this don’t want to hear anything from you except for business.”

“I know. I’ve been reprimanded by the AI Officer twice. Which dress do you prefer?”

“The one on the left, in dark blue. Get rid of the sequins, except around the hem.”

“I will debit your account. Shall I tell the captain you will be there at seven PM?”

“Please.” Mara headed for the lavish bathroom. A major dress like the one she had selected was going to call for some elaborate hair and makeup. And her best perfume, the expensive one from Terra.

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 (and Khevan), 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?

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Picked Up By A Whirlwind Weekend Writing Warriors

(If you’re here for the Aprils Fools for Love Event & Giveaway, go here.)

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

We’re onto a new story of mine, a WIP that still needs a lot of work. Mark, an ex-Special Forces soldier in the Sectors, has been hired by the Outlier Empress to rescue a kidnap victim who’s been taken to the border planet Freemarket, where anything goes and the authorities are usually hands off. Kind of like Las Vegas…he’s broken into the house of  Barent Kliin, the kidnapper, persuaded Alessandra to go with him and fled in a stolen car, pursued by the bad guys and the planetary police. They collided with a cargo hauler…Mark knocked the driver out and assisted Alessandra from their wrecked vehicle, after which the couple flee into the crowded marketplace but are now trapped…until a strange little being showed up, offering to help…having no choice, Mark and Sandy flee with the creature and fall into a tent. The owner of the tent is an extremely mysterious being, who prevented him from shooting at their pursuers. She’s offering them the opportunity to Travel…not in a groundcar or a  or a spaceship…two weeks ago she showed them the Globes of Amarkana. Now Mark has picked one and shattered it.

Heat and a rush of spice scented air swirled around them. Mark felt as if he’d been picked up by a whirlwind. He was afraid to open his eyes, as the air filled with grit or sand, scraping across every inch of exposed flesh. Tightening his arms around Sandy, he buried his face in her soft, fragrant hair. From the sensations, he’d have said they were flying through the air, yet a solid footing remained under his boots.

Now that it was too late, worries flooded Mark’s mind. Had Lajolae been trying to save them, or had she sent them into the path of some worse fate?

 Too late for regrets.

Next week I’ll give you the end of the journey, or a snippet thereof, and then we’ll switch off to something else in two weeks.

pink hubble image

I Swoon For Epic Fantasy Romance

Arwen-and-Aragorn-arwen-29100754-1007-535Some days I’m in the mood to immerse myself in another world where the story telling unfolds slowly, with complex worldbuilding, wizardry, adventure, spread over multiple volumes….no, not Lord of the Rings, although that’s a good series, but something with ROMANCE. Where I don’t have to scour the appendices for hints of what might have happened between the hero and heroine. (Aragorn and Arwen anyone? Eowyn and Faramir?) Over at USA Today Happily Ever After I’m interviewing  eight epic fantasy romance authors about what appeals to them about the genre, and why they write their stories (plus recommendations from their own To Be Read lists). I had so much fun collecting the interview responses but due to space limitations, I couldn’t really talk about any of their books specifically.

Hoping to do some more in depth individual interviews at a later date – today’s USAT/HEA post was just a taste!

Radiance

Top of my favorites list currently is Radiance by Grace Draven. I’ve reread this a couple of times now. (I was kinda fangirly when I contacted her for the USAT/HEA interview, I must admit!) I’m totally in love with Brishen, the Kai Prince, and Ildiko, his human bride, and their world. So many lovely details, just beginning with the fact that each race finds the other unattractive at first glance, besides which the Kai are night dwellers and Ildiko is a creature of daylight. (The prince is very dreamy,  no worries.) There’s only one volume so far, but the sequel is promised and there was a Happily For Now ending. The way these two, who marry at the beginning of the book for reasons of state, fall in love over time and shared experiences is wonderful…

The Twelve Kingdoms series by Jeffe Kennedy. So far two volumes have been released in this wonderful epic tale of three sisters and their varying Fates, entwined with the overall arc of various kingdoms, liberally entwined with magic and mystery. Mark of the Tala and Tears of the Rose are the first two books, with Talon of the Hawk to come on May 26th. (I’ve read the ARC of this one.) In all fairness, I must share that Jeffe and I are good friends, and there’s actuallyTears of the Rose a minor character in the second book named for me, which was a total thrill when I got to that part of the novel. But aside from the wonderful Lady Veronica LOL, the books have intricate plotting and threads which untangle slowly and in a very satisfying manner for each sister.

Anna Kashina’s Majat Code series had complexity to spare but I especially loved the way the love story played out in The Guild of Assassins…highly satisfying after all the challenges her characters faced along the way. Her Princess of Dhagabad, which I’m reading now, is another unusual epic, with excellent twists and turns on the legends of Djinns.

I must mention Heather Massey of The Galaxy Express blog, who inspired me to write the USAT/HEA post, with her feeling this was a timely topic in the Romance world, and whose research and inputs were invaluable in getting a feel for the background of the subgenre, as well as developing a list of potential interviewees. (Heather wrote her own epic fantasy romance Lord of Snow & Ice, which is on my TBR list.) One of the resources she found was the Eye on Romance: Eye on Fantasy website, which lists many titles under their “Fantasy: Mystical – Fantasy Kingdom” tab. (That seemed to me to be the most applicable category they had, as far as what I’m terming epic fantasy romance.) Lots of good reading there!

Do you have favorite epic fantasy romances to share?

Hop on over to the USA Today/HEA blog to read more about these authors, plus five more, and their recommendations!

Wednesday Whimsy Victorian Cards of Boys at Play

???????????????????????????????My brother’s birthday was fairly recently so when I looked through my box of Victorian trade (advertising) cards for this week, I decided to share the ones with boys and their games and toys.

???????????????????????????????I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. Sir Isaac Newton

I love nerdy, cute, quirky boys who don’t take themselves too seriously.  Ariana Grande

Older people sit down and ask, ‘What is it?’ but the boy asks, ‘What can I do with it?’. Steve Jobs

When I was a boy, I always saw myself as a hero in comic books and in movies. I grew up believing this dream.  Elvis Presley

Many are they who have a taste and love for drawing, but no talent; and this will be discernible in boys who are not diligent and never finish their drawings with shading.  Leonardo da Vinci

???????????????????????????????I purely attribute my ‘hamming it up’ quality to growing up with three older brothers and just being like a tomboy my whole life. Literally, my mother had to be like, ‘Honey, there’s a certain point where you have to start wearing a shirt.’ You know, I would run around with the boys and play tag football and climb trees. Actress Eliza Dushku

The moment a little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing.  Eric Berne

I thought that the chief thing to be done in order to equal boys was to ???????????????????????????????be learned and courageous. So I decided to study Greek and learn to manage a horse.  Elizabeth Cady Stanton

As a boy, because I was born and raised in Ohio, about 60 miles north of Dayton, the legends of the Wrights have been in my memories as long as I can remember.  Neil Armstrong

Vig used to call me ‘Elf boy’, and I’d call him ‘filthy human’. As an Elf, I never got a scratch on me, never got dirty. And Vig would come out with blood and sweat all over him. And he’d say to me, ‘Oh, go manicure your nails.’  Orlando Bloom

???????????????????????????????‘The Polar Express’ began with the idea of a train standing alone in the woods. I asked myself, ‘What if a boy gets on that train? Where does he go?’  Chris Van Allsburg

Most people read poetry listening for echoes because the echoes are familiar to them. They wade through it the way a boy wades through water, feeling with his toes for the bottom: The echoes are the bottom. Wallace Stevens

When I am grown to man’s estate I shall be very proud and great. And tell the other girls and boys Not to meddle with my toys. Robert Louis Stevenson

A man is never completely alone in this world. At the worst, he has the company of a boy, a youth, and by and by a grown man – the one he used to be. Cesare Pavese

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Tuesday Teaser Interview with a D’nvannae Brother

Tuesday Teaser

Wreck-of-the-Nebula-DreamFinalMedFor today’s Tuesday Teaser, I thought I’d do a character interview from WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM. Readers seemed pretty intrigued with one of my secondary characters, Khevan, a member of the D’nvannae Brotherhood, an order of assassin/bodyguards, serving a mysterious alien deity The Red Lady.  (I get asked about a sequel featuring him all the time, and I do have the plot in mind, so it’ll be written at some point.)

Here’s a description from the book of the first time Nick encounters Khevan, on the shuttle ride up to the Nebula Dream:

Sipping his drink, Nick assessed the only other man on the shuttle who was as deadly as Nick himself could be when the occasion demanded –  a D’nvannae Brother, dressed all in close fitting, soft black leather, as they usually were when traveling outside their world. The swirling red tattoo all D’nvannae wore proudly inscribed on the right side of the face, as a sign of fealty to their Deity, was particularly well defined on this man. He must be senior in the hierarchy, given the number of details in the tattoo. Gotta earn those the hard way in the Lady’s service. Halfway paying attention to a broadcast of an inter Sector sports semifinal, the Brother was unbraiding his long, jet black hair, signifying his contract had been successfully completed and he was now at liberty to accept another.

Who on backwater Glideon might have needed such a high-priced, exotic bodyguard? Or been the target of such a relentless assassin? The D’nvannae could be hired for either purpose, conflicting offers resolved by the whim of the goddess.

As if sensing Nick’s gaze, the Brother turned, eyeing him for a long minute, eyebrows drawn together in a frown. He had a strong face, thin lips, high, chiseled cheekbones, and intense black eyes which betrayed nothing of the thoughts going on behind them. Sensing no challenge, nothing on Nick’s part but bored curiosity, the other man nodded, the fine muscles of his face relaxing.

Raising his glass in salute, Nick tossed off the drink as the Brother dismissed him, in favor of watching a replay.

So now let’s interview Khevan!  What was your life like growing up?

Khevan: When I was very young, perhaps 3 or 4, my father brought me to the Brotherhood on our home world. I am told he was poor and hoped that by dedicating my life to the service of the Red Lady, he could ensure a better future for me. It is a fairly common occurrence. I’ve known no other life than the Brotherhood until now. It is a life of discipline, sacrifice and rewards.

From boyhood I have studied, trained and practiced to be very very good at what I do. Martial arts, assassination techniques, culture, history – one must be well rounded to reach the highest levels of the Brotherhood. (Khevan smiles and lowers his voice.) And then there are the…other arts that the Lady decrees her high ranking servants must learn, to please her in human form. Those skills come in handy on certain assignments as well.

Before the action in the book, what were your plans/hopes for the future?

Khevan: I was on the path to reach the highest levels of my Brotherhood, completing many dangerous missions of assassination or guarding others against death. The Lady decrees who we contract with and whether we are preserving life or taking it. Some say it is at her whim. I chose to believe she had a plan that was beyond our human comprehension. (Shifting uncomfortably in the chair, Khevan frowns.) I needed to believe that to carry out my assignments at times. I was an Intimate Initiate of the Order, which means I have been privileged to serve the Lady of the Flames herself. Those private rituals are not to be spoken of outside the Brotherhood.

What changed your path?

Khevan: It became necessary on the Nebula Dream to in essence defy my Lady in order to save lives. There were consequences, to myself and to another…

VERONICA sez:   I think we’ll leave it there. (NOTE: The interview is from my Archives.)  The ebook of Wreck of the Nebula Dream is currently on sale for $.99

Amazon    Barnes & Noble     All Romance eBooks     iTunes   Kobo

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 (and Khevan), 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?

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The Globe Shatters Weekend Writing Warriors

(If you’re here for the Aprils Fools for Love Event & Giveaway, go here.)

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

We’re onto a new story of mine, a WIP that still needs a lot of work. Mark, an ex-Special Forces soldier in the Sectors, has been hired by the Outlier Empress to rescue a kidnap victim who’s been taken to the border planet Freemarket, where anything goes and the authorities are usually hands off. Kind of like Las Vegas…he’s broken into the house of  Barent Kliin, the kidnapper, persuaded Alessandra to go with him and fled in a stolen car, pursued by the bad guys and the planetary police. They collided with a cargo hauler…Mark knocked the driver out and assisted Alessandra from their wrecked vehicle, after which the couple flee into the crowded marketplace but are now trapped…until a strange little being showed up, offering to help…having no choice, Mark and Sandy flee with the creature and fall into a tent. The owner of the tent is an extremely mysterious being, who prevented him from shooting at their pursuers. She’s offering them the opportunity to Travel…not in a groundcar or a  or a spaceship…two weeks ago she showed them the Globes of Amarkana. Now Mark has picked one.

Mark knelt, the gesture feeling somehow appropriate at this moment. He let the Globe roll from his fingertips onto the carpet. Rising, he positioned his heavy boot on top of the orb, and glanced at Lajollae. Features difficult to discern in the blinding aura now surrounding her, she nodded. Mark drew Sandy into his arms. Closing her eyes, leaning against him, she locked her hands behind his back, over his spine.  Angry shouting grew closer, Kliin calling the princess’s name.  Mark raised his foot and brought it down in one violent motion, shattering the Globe.

And next week Mark and Sandy will Travel.

Hubble-Cosmic

Seven Fictional Women Who Influenced Me

little womenI saw an interesting post by Katy Perry in Glamour magazine about ten women who changed her life, which started me thinking that I should write a similar post for the blog. Only when I started making the list, I kept thinking about the women in various books who had an influence on me instead! Me as a person, not just me as a writer…So, here’s that post…in no particular order.

1. Jo in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – our next door neighbor in upstate New York gave me her copy to read when I was maybe seven or eight. This book was the first time I had the concept that you could make money by being a writer. (And I wrote my first ‘book’ at age seven although no one will ever pay me any money for that one LOL.) Other things I gleaned from this were the idea you don’t always get what you want, or at least not easily, but you should never give up. And the guy who seems like The One may not be (Laurie). And when you do find The One, he may not make sense to anyone but you. (Professor Bhaer didn’t appeal to me as a seven year old but he has grown on me.) And scarlet fever can kill you, which terrified me when I actually got scarlet fever, but of course we have antibiotics nowadays.

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Mara_Daughter_of_the_Nile2. Mara in Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw – I’ve spoken of this book many times. It was the moment I realized you could write your own stories set in the mysterious ancient world. I admired Mara’s spirit, her smarts and her bravery, and I thoroughly approved of the dashing Count Seftu.

3. Trixie Belden by various – oh my, let me count the ways I loved this girl. I wanted to BETrixie this girl. I coveted her friends and her family and Jim (had a big book crush on Jim), and all her adventures. She lived in Upstate NY like I did, which was another bond. I learned from her that adventure is all around you, and to pay attention to details and clues that others might miss.I started reading these books when I was younger than the characters, so they seemed SO grown-up to me…

4. Lessa of Pern, Dragonriders by Anne McCaffrey – smart, tenacious, brave, able to speak to any dragon, rider of Ramoth, the Queen dragon, fiercely self sufficient….running a Weyr, fighting Thread….oh, and then there’s F’lar…

ripley hicks5. Ripley of the Alien movie series – she’s probably my ultimate science fiction movie heroine, although I think she needs more romance (I totally ship Ripley and Hicks). But talk about being in charge, never giving up and  smart…fierce maternal instincts…

6. Sarah Connor of the Terminator series – a close second to Ripley…her world changes in an instant and she rolls right with it, becomes a fighter and a fierce mother…

7. Gillian of Year of the Unicorn by Andre Norton – she saw a chance to help someone else and to perchance better her own life circumstances and she went for it, then never gave up through all the obstacles until the HEA with Herrel. I still reread this one periodically and sigh. I always want there to be more. (Plus Andre Norton’s books were such a huge influence on me that she HAS to be included in this list.)

Thinking it over, I believe the common theme here is that these women never gave up, they took chances, they thought out of the box (whatever box they were in, from Pern to ancient Egypt) and they found romance. (OK, I’ll grant you that Ripley’s Happy For Now moment is a stretch but work with me here.) They were loyal friends and comrades to those around them…some of them were excellent mothers or mother figures…

Do you have fictional women who influenced you along the way?

And since Katy Perry started this, here’s my favorite music video from her:

Ships and Quotes for Wednesday

???????????????????????????????Today is the 103rd anniversary of the sinking of Titanic, which isn’t Jack-and-Rose-jack-and-rose-27588072-1500-2285whimsical at ALL, of course, but I decided to take ships as my theme for this Wednesday. Here’s one from a series of decorative plates I  own, illustrating different famous areas of the ship. I thought the grand staircase was perhaps the most well known to share, since it’s seen in every movie about Titanic.

This Victorian trade, or advertising card, startled me when I first saw it, although of course the ship isn’t  Titanic. Seems like it’s sailing a bit ???????????????????????????????close to that iceberg for my taste.

I never knew what all the different types of sailing ships were until I saw this delightful insurance company card, helpfully illustrating each variety.

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???????????????????????????????Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.  Zora Neale Hurston

Put two ships in the open sea, without wind or tide, and, at last, they will come together. Throw two planets into space, and they will fall one on the other. Place two enemies in the midst of a crowd, and they will inevitably meet; it is a fatality, a question of time; that is all.  Jules Verne

The horns came riding in like the rainbow masts of silver ships.  Peter S. Beagle

???????????????????????????????My experience of ships is that on them one makes an interesting discovery about the world. One finds one can do without it completely.  Malcolm Bradbury

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Was Nebula Dream Jinxed? Tuesday Teaser

Tuesday Teaser

TitanicToday is the 103rd anniversary of Titanic striking an ice berg (she sank at 2:20 AM on the 15th). Over at USA Today/Happily Ever After today, I’m talking about Titanic and how the events of that ill fated cruise influenced my science fiction novel  Wreck of the Nebula Dream.

For the Tuesday Teaser, I thought I’d give you the deleted Prolog to Wreck of the Nebula Dream from my Archived posts:

The heroine tells the hero at one point that there were rumors the ship had been jinxed by an accident during construction (much as rumors of similar things haunted Titanic). 

Originally I’d written a short prolog for the novel, showing the reason the ship was jinxed, but eventually deleted the scene. Here it is:

Wreck-of-the-Nebula-Dream2Audible“Come on, Frazet, you’re gonna cost the whole team its bonus, man.”

The foreman stood over him, mercilessly berating his decision. “You don’t finish installing that damn upper engine interlock adapter this morning, they can’t keep schedule for installing the engine itself either. Then the whole thing goes to hell, we maybe get fired – you’re critical path, man, don’t you get it?”

Methodically, Frazet continued fastening the closures on his zero grav construction safety suit. He didn’t look up. “Can’t install no damn adapter if I ain’t got one that works, Jonzile, now can I?”

Throwing his hands up in the air, the foreman glanced around at the rest of the crew for support. Mostly they avoided his eye. Lowering his voice and leaning closer, Jonzile asked, “How much out of tolerance is the adapter? I know the backup was a piece of shitty scrap but what about the main unit?”

Frazet considered.  “It barely passed acceptance testing.”

“But it did pass?” The foreman was eager.

“Once. Out of three times I checked it,” Frazet said, reaching for his helmet.

Jonzile put out a hand, holding the helmet down on the locker shelf. “But it did pass, you’ll admit that?” His tone changed, became friendlier again. “Don’t you want the bonus? Don’t you need those extra credits, like the rest of us? Heard your wife was gonna have another baby. That makes four kids, right? On your wages, her not working, that’s a tight orbit.”

Frazet sighed. Jonzile’s right, things are tight. And just yesterday the company doc said there might be complications with this baby. The bonus would sure come in handy. And after all, as Jonzile kept saying, the part was within tolerance. Just over the line into the green. But that was all the manual called for, so why am I holding up the entire crew on this job? Sure, I can sign it off in good conscience.

Decision made, Frazet yanked his battered helmet away from the foreman and stood up. “Quit your complaining, would ya? We’ll make schedule today.”

Patting his shoulder, Jonzile nodded. “Good man.”

*************************

The immense spaceyards of Baktanir & Fox hummed with activity. Construction was ongoing for several military jobs as well as the Nebula Dream, designed to be the biggest, most advanced spaceliner ever. Dik Frazet was just one of thousands of sentients on the payroll that month, a skilled worker at all the trades involved in engine installation; experienced, careful, good safety record. Right after the midshift break, he finished the last connection holding the adapter  device in place, where the new Yeatter hyperdrive engines developed especially for the Dream would fit.

Dik stowed his tools, moving gracefully and economically in the absence of gravity. Powering up his suit’s maneuvering nozzles, he transmitted the sign off for completion of the install, preparing to cross the yard back to the lockers. He needed some fresh supplies before switching to the next job on the new battleship across the yard.

Halfway to his goal, Dik couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that he’d overlooked something, forgotten something, back in the half finished engine nacelle on the civilian liner. He finally  swung around and returned to the site of his previous task. Taking out his field test kit, he ran a few checks on the troublesome adapter. It failed the first time, passed the second, was borderline on the third. Swearing to himself, Frazet made the decision to yank it out.

Critical path be damned, I’m not going to sign off on the install of an intermittently malfunctioning part and just hope for the best. Hell, my family might travel on this ship someday.

“Shoulda done this in the first place,” he muttered, working to undo the adapter from its fasteners. “Damn supplier must be on the take, substandard parts half the time, don’t work right–“

He knew he’d better report this decision to Jonzile first. The foreman was going to go interstellar when he heard the news. Frazet was worrying over the loss of the bonus, maybe even the job, if the team couldn’t make up the schedule.

He never even saw the massive engine swinging in above him, moving into its tightly fitted place in the nacelle, right on schedule.

****************************************************************

The Company arranged a very nice funeral. Mr. Baruc Baktanir the 12th attended and personally gave Frazet’s wife a generous amount of credits to make sure she could return to her home world, far across the Sectors. Jonzile and the rest of his crew received their bonus, tripled, before being reassigned to other shipyards.

The accident was treated by the Sector’s media as routine, mundane, a common enough event in the perilous world of spacecraft construction. Basically a nonevent in a week when there were enemy incursions in the neighboring Sector and a major vid fic star was caught in bed with highly outlawed feelgoods and an underage co-star.

The Company was satisfied that SMT, the Customer, never heard about the incident. The strong impression was carefully cultivated that poor Frazet had been crushed by drifting debris in the middle of the spaceyard, nowhere near the hull of the Nebula Dream. Foreman Jonzile had been only too happy to sign off on that safety report, exonerating him completely in the loss of life on his crew.

But the rumors spread anyway, in the bars where the spaceworkers gathered after long shifts.

It was said the Nebula Dream was cursed….

So there you have it….Nick isn’t wrong about his uneasy feeling early in the voyage that something or someone may be haunting the Nebula Dream. Of course, I’m not saying that’s the only reason for all the things that go wrong, leading up to the disaster! If you want to read the novel and decide for yourself, the ebook is on sale for only $.99 at Amazon    Barnes & Noble    All Romance eBooks    iTunes  Kobo 

The book blurb:

A reimagining of the Titanic disaster set in the far future among the stars…

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?

Did He Choose Wisely? Weekend Writing Warriors

(If you’re here for the Aprils Fools for Love Event & Giveaway, go here.)

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

We’re onto a new story of mine, a WIP that still needs a lot of work. Mark, an ex-Special Forces soldier in the Sectors, has been hired by the Outlier Empress to rescue a kidnap victim who’s been taken to the border planet Freemarket, where anything goes and the authorities are usually hands off. Kind of like Las Vegas…he’s broken into the house of  Barent Kliin, the kidnapper, persuaded Alessandra to go with him and fled in a stolen car, pursued by the bad guys and the planetary police. They collided with a cargo hauler…Mark knocked the driver out and assisted Alessandra from their wrecked vehicle, after which the couple flee into the crowded marketplace but are now trapped…until a strange little being showed up, offering to help…having no choice, Mark and Sandy flee with the creature and fall into a tent. The owner of the tent is an extremely mysterious being, who prevented him from shooting at their pursuers. She’s offering them the opportunity to Travel…not in a groundcar or a spaceship…last week she showed them the Globes of Amarkana. Now Mark has to pick one.

Mark kept going back to one particular globe, high on the tree, dangling precariously on its crystal branch. Nothing differentiated this bubble from all the rest but it drew him nonetheless.

When he stretched to touch the globe, it fell into his hand. 

“You’ve chosen, now breathe the air of the destination you’ve selected,” Lajollae said in a harsh whisper, “Make haste, for your time is over – I’m leaving this place for my next station.”

Mark stared at the surprisingly heavy globe in his hand, not sure what she wanted him to do. Breathe the air? Was that what was encapsulated in the shimmering glass – air from somewhere else? How was air going to win them freedom from Kliin’s pursuit?

(Note from me: we’ll see what happens, next week!)

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