Have You Nothing To Say Weekend Writing Warriors

Warriors logo revisedHere’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…a fun way to sample new books and find new authors! (Also welcome to the Sunday Snippet visitors!)

The WIP is an epic portal fantasy, which is undergoing a final edit and will be released after Star Cruise: Outbreak in the April/May 2016 time frame.

Sandy and Mark have been transported to an unknown world. This snippet is from  quite a bit further in the novel, after tey’ve left the mysterious mountain oasis, in the company of some new friends… Sandy was bitten by a snake named Sherabti, went into the green light with a woman unknown to her and now is sitting in a room she’s never seen before, with four women who seem to think Sandy is someone else…the Lady of the Star Wind…A new player, Haatrin, has entered the chamber and scolded the Moon Sisters.

Thunder rumbled outside the room, and the sisters cringed away as the newcomer hobbled closer. Haatrin bowed her head but appeared less afraid or in awe than Amrell and her Moon Sisters, “Grandmother Nuet, this interruption is unfortunate but may also have potential. We may have a new Lady of the Star Wind.” She gestured toward Sandy as if presenting a rare treat.

Now the crone’s attention switched to Sandy, who instinctively bowed her head as she would have to her own grandmother, the Outlier Empress. No question, but this newly arrived being commanded respect, whoever she might be. The name had a familiar sound as well. Remembering the altar in the abandoned village, Sandy speculated whether she drifted in a venom-induced dream, constructed from bits and pieces of her recent experiences. But this crone facing her could never be mistaken for a fertility goddess.

The woman pointed her staff at Sandy, “Have you nothing to say?” 

Nuet is hardly your kindly gramma LOL. There’s still quite a bit left to happen in this scene, so a few more weeks on it. Then I’m thinking maybe I’ll give you a teaser from STAR CRUISE: OUTBREAK, which I haven’t shared here at all.

purple tarantula nebula

 

Wednesday Whimsy Sylphs

020I’m in a Springlike, flowery mood and when I went through my big box of Victorian trade (advertising) cards today, I found this series from The Liebig company, entitled “Les Sylphides.”  They were mythological spirits of the Air, first named and described by Paracelsus in the 16th century. A number of creative people have been inspired by the idea of  Sylphs and there are several different romantic ballets centered around this theme.

Until I researched the name for this post, I thought they were merely fairies but apparently Paracelsus himself visualized them “rougher, coarser, taller, and stronger than humans.”  You can see that the Liebig illustrator was more in tune with my theory of the ladies as nymphs or fairylike beings!

015(Liebig  by the way, was an 1800’s purveyor of extract of meat, and renowned for their beautifully illustrated sets of trading cards on just about any subject you can imagine. The company continued on into the 20th century in a variety of corporate incarnations.)

021

“She’s the only sylph I ever saw, who could stand upon one leg, and play the tambourine on her other knee, like a sylph.” Charles Dickens

022

Oft when the World imagine Women stray,
The Sylphs thro’ mystick Mazes guide their Way,
Thro’ all the giddy Circle they pursue,
And old Impertinence expel by new.

And:

To draw fresh Colours from the vernal Flow’rs,
To steal from Rainbows ere they drop in Show’rs
A brighter Wash; to curl their waving Hairs,
Assist their Blushes, and inspire their Airs;
Nay oft, in Dreams, Invention we bestow,
To change a Flounce, or add a Furbelo.

Both quotes from Alexander Pope’s poem The Rape of the Lock

024

She Comes To Judge Weekend Writing Warriors

Warriors logo revisedHere’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…a fun way to sample new books and find new authors! (Also welcome to the Sunday Snippet visitors!)

The WIP is an epic portal fantasy, which is undergoing a final edit and will be released after Star Cruise: Outbreak in the April/May 2016 time frame.

Sandy and Mark have been transported to an unknown world. This snippet is from  quite a bit further in the novel, after tey’ve left the mysterious mountain oasis, in the company of some new friends… Sandy was bitten by a snake named Sherabti, went into the green light with a woman unknown to her and now is sitting in a room she’s never seen before, with four women who seem to think Sandy is someone else…the Lady of the Star Wind…A new player, Haatrin, has entered the chamber and scolded the Moon Sisters.

Hands folded across her stomach, Haatrin maintained her calm, detached demeanor, in stark contrast to the excitability of the younger women. “All will be decided soon. Sherabti has gone to inform the Mother of these occurrences and She comes to this place to judge.”

The Moon Sisters grew pale, exchanging furtive glances, and the light in the room dimmed. 

“We never meant to disturb Her,” Amrell said, biting her lip.

“Yet you took action in a place dedicated to me from ancient times.” The voice was like the crack of a whip. An elderly woman, clad in flowing garments of black, stood on the threshold, leaning heavily on an ebony cane, her withered hand clenched on the flared snake’s head carved at the top. “You feckless children summon me to attend to matters I left behind long ago.”

There’s still quite a bit left to happen in this scene, so a few more weeks on it. Then I’m thinking maybe I’ll give you a teaser from STAR CRUISE: OUTBREAK, which I haven’t shared here at all.

chandra galaxy photo

 

Higher Stakes Than She Knew Weekend Writing Warriors

Warriors logo revisedHere’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…a fun way to sample new books and find new authors! (Also welcome to the Sunday Snippet visitors!)

I felt like I should have shared a more romantic snippet in honor of Valentine’s Day but I didn’t want to disappoint readers who are expecting the next lines from Lady of the Star Wind. The WIP is an epic portal fantasy, which is undergoing a final edit and will be released after Star Cruise: Outbreak in the April/May 2016 time frame.

Sandy and Mark have been transported to an unknown world. This snippet is from  quite a bit further in the novel, after tey’ve left the mysterious mountain oasis, in the company of some new friends… Sandy was bitten by a snake, went into the green light with a woman unknown to her and now is sitting in a room she’s never seen before, with four women who seem to think Sandy is someone else…the Lady of the Star Wind…A new player, Haatrin, has entered the chamber and scolded the Moon Sisters.

Pivoting on her heel, she looked Sandy up and down, “Peace to you, daughter of queens. While it’s certainly true you’re not the Lady of the Star Wind from eons ago, your arrival might be timely, might be part of a larger whole.” Over her shoulder, she addressed Amrell and the others, “You know the balance is in jeopardy. Those who dwell in darkness gather and plot. This woman could be a key herself, a useful component of our strategy.”

“I’m not a tool to be used by others,” Sandy said, drawing upon her imperial heritage to sound haughty and disapproving, “And neither is Mark.”

“Yet you plan to dwell on the world Lajollae sent you to,” Haatrin made her assessment calmly. “Already you’ve chosen a side, made alliances – there’s a cost to such decisions.”

Sandy bit her lip, regretting all over again having agreed so easily to Mark’s desire to leave the oasis, and throw their lot in with Rothan and Tia. The stakes had been higher than she’d realized at the time.

A lot of creative punctuation – sorry! But Happy Valentine’s day…

rose nebula

Sectors SF Romance: Star Cruise: Marooned

Beaming! So happy they enjoyed the book 🙂

Smart Girls love SciFi

Recommend by: Riley

On the surface, Star Cruise: Marooned is a story about survival. Due to a major snafu, the cruise ship Far Horizon end up at the wrong place at the wrong time. A shuttle from the ship went down to the planet Dantaralon for what was supposed to be a lovely afternoon on a beautiful tropical shore. But most of the shuttle crew and passengers get stranded just in time for the Shemdylann pirates to show up.

What follows is that story of survival. Meg Antilles is the hard-working crew member who takes charge when things go awry. Retired Special Forces soldier Red Thomsill brings his knowledge about surviving the unknown to the situation. As a team, Meg and Red will face the pirates, try to avoid the dangerous fauna and find a way to hold out against the violent Dantaralon storms. I liked the adventure of hiking…

View original post 285 more words

The First Harlequin Novel I Ever Read

Veronica sez: Pulled this post from the 2011 Archives: Australian rural romance has come a long way from this vintage romance I read many years ago! Today I’m interviewing some of the top rural romance authors over at USA Today Happily Ever After. That sent me off to find this old post about my first-ever Harlequin read. Hope you’ll check out the modern rural romances we talk about over at USAT/HEA!

Begin the Archived Post:

003Subtitled “When I Fell in Love with the Idea of Australia”

I still remember the first Harlequin romance I ever read – The Outback Man by Amanda Doyle. It was 1966, which is such another era, I don’t even want to go there, but oh wow, did I fall hard for the whole romance genre. Ms. Doyle and Henrietta Reid were my two must buy HQN authors in those days, but I enjoyed many of the others as well.

 Recently I tracked down a copy of Outback Man and read it in one sitting. I have to say I hadn’t retained much of the plot all these years – an alpha male, a shy but gutsy heroine, a blond bad girl with perfect nails, on a sheep ranch in the Australian outback. That was about it for my specific memories, other than fondness for my first…romance novel.

 I quickly remembered how much I had enjoyed all the secondary characters as well – the jackaroos, the old nanny, the well meaning Other Man who of course didn’t stand a chance of winning the affections of our heroine Lou, not when up against alpha male Steve. I had been entranced by the descriptions of Australian countryside and life in the Outback. (My apologies to all my Australian friends but that’s still sort of the image of the entire country I have in my head, for which I have to thank or blame Ms. Doyle!) The dances and picnics and gatherings sounded like such fun. I’m not sure I really absorbed how much hard, hot work went on at the station in between those events. And something about a daunting, giant, complicated stove. Wasn’t there always a scary stove for the heroine to master in this kind of novel?

And wow, talk about your skills – not only was sweet shy Lou amazing at sewing her own dresses with no pattern, apparently by hand, from random scraps of gingham in the storeroom, she was a trained accountant as well. I liked that, made her a good heroine for the time, I think, when women’s roles were in transition. A woman could balance the station’s books in the morning, conquer the scary stove at lunch and whip up a new frock by dinner in the 1960’s!

I did have a literal double take moment on page 65 though, when Lou “…faced it with all the miserable honesty in her miserable heart…she was in love with the Outback Man…” There was next to no development of this burgeoning emotion in the pages preceding page 65. Or else I missed it. Or else Lou got to have one of those rare bolt of lightning moments as to who the love of her life was. I don’t think my excellent Carina editor Alison would let me spring that on my readers quite so out of the blue today. Times and writing styles change!  But then the story moved forward rapidly of course.

Lou hung in there, even as the scheming, perfectly coiffed villainess tried to put her in the wrong, tried to strand her in the middle of the night with the Other Man, tried to make Steve lose interest in her, tried to frame her for theft…all to no avail as we arrived at the HEA, fade out on Steve and Lou in pure, chaste bliss, planning an outback wedding. Wish we’d gotten to see the wedding dress she was going to stitch up in her spare time! Yup, I still enjoyed it in 2011, can you tell? A fundamentally good story keeps it charms, even when time has moved on. Thank you again, Amanda Doyle!

Now You Want To Kill Me? Weekend Writing Warriors

Warriors logo revisedIf you’re here for the “SFRB Presents,” that post will be found here.

Here’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…a fun way to sample new books and find new authors! (Also welcome to the Sunday Snippet visitors!)

Continuing with science fiction romance today. Here’s an excerpt from Lady of the Star Wind, an epic portal fantasy, which is undergoing a final edit and will be released after Star Cruise: Outbreak in the April/May 2016 time frame.

Sandy and Mark have been transported to an unknown world. This snippet is from  quite a bit further in the novel, after tey’ve left the mysterious mountain oasis, in the company of some new friends… Sandy was bitten by a snake, went into the green light with a woman unknown to her and now is sitting in a room she’s never seen before, with four women who seem to think Sandy is someone else…the Lady of the Star Wind…A new player, Haatrin, has entered the chamber and scolded the Moon Sisters.

“We meant no harm, Exalted One Haatrin,” Tresa said, getting boldly to her feet, “We merely wanted to renew our acquaintance with our old friend.” She cast an angry glance at Sandy. “But this woman is an impostor. We should let her continue into death’s embrace, since loss of life is how her body is reacting to Sherabti’s kiss in the mortal world.”

“Now you want to kill me?” Fight-or-flight response fully engaged, Sandy chose to go on the offensive, leaping to her feet. “I didn’t ask to be bitten by a snake, and I certainly didn’t ask you to bring me wherever this is. Send me back, make me whole, and we’ll call it even.”

Haatrin raised her hands, and the sisters subsided. “You were foolish and hasty,” she said to them, her tone chiding, “Now you must bear the consequences.”

Continuing on with this scene next week…

supernova

 

No One To Help You SFRB Showcase

SFRB ShowcaseOnce a month the Science Fiction Romance Brigade authors showcase snippets from new work, WIPs, cover reveals or other fun things. The link is here for all  the participants.

I’m sharing an excerpt from my SFR Galaxy Award Winning novel Mission to Mahjundar.

MissionToM2-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700 (2)Princess Shalira is blind as the result of a botched assassination attempt on her when she was a child. Mike is the Sectors Special Forces operator she loves and this is an ambush by an unknown enemy on the two of them and their companions. (Book blurb below the excerpt.)

Shalira felt the reins suddenly go slack in Mike’s hands and her horse slowed, ambling to the left to nibble at something. “Michael?” Reaching one hand to where he ought to be, she found nothing.

In the next moment, a sharp pain arced through her arm and she recoiled, nearly slipping from the saddle, feeling as if she’d been bitten by an insect. A second sting as something lodged in her thigh. She yanked the projectile from her clinging skirts, which had blunted most of the impact. It felt like a heavy oblong wooden bead, feathered, with a sharp metal tip.

Throwing the dart to the ground, fear growing, she rose in her stirrups, listening intently, craning in all directions as she softly called his name. “Michael, what’s happening? Saium?”

As the mare continued to move lazily from one browsing spot to the next, she heard strange men shouting in some unfamiliar dialect, voices rough with anger or excitement, but no sound from her own companions.

Panic swept over her like a cascade of ice water. Clenching her fists, she pressed them to her mouth in horror as memories of the terrible incident in childhood flooded through her mind. Unable for a moment to distinguish between the awful memories and the present, she slipped from the saddle, intent on hiding herself. Keeping hold on the stirrup as she landed, to prevent the horse from wandering off as much as to steady herself, she shook her head, trying to dispel the flashback. I’m not a child any more, my brother’s been dead for fifteen years, Vreely’s dead, this isn’t happening.

 A warm, burning sensation spread through her body from the two places where she’d been “stung”. Dizzy, she clung to the reassuring bulk of her mare, fingers clenched on the edges of the saddle blanket. The horse swung its head for a moment to sniff at her before making a huffing sound and resuming its grazing.

I need to see, I need my eyes. She prayed desperately, but vision refused to come. I should get back on the horse, attempt to flee. But without someone to guide her, she wouldn’t get far.

The sounds of assault were dying down, and a moment later Shalira sensed four or five people surrounding her. She heard their soft footsteps on the grassy woodland floor as they approached, smelled their sweat and some kind of paint. The newcomers stopped a few feet away from her.

Shaking with terror, fighting the memories of her childhood, Shalira called for Michael again, to no avail.

“Your men can’t help you, pretty one,” said a guttural voice directly in front of her.

Shalira recognized the dialect, a common trade talk used in the marketplaces all over Mahjundar. “Who are you?”

“You’ll know us soon enough,” said the man, an unpleasant glee underlying his words. At the same moment, two others grabbed her arms. Weakened from whatever drug had been on the tip of the darts, she struggled against their hold, trying to twist and kick her way free. “I demand you release me!”

Someone grabbed at the Windhunter collar, jerking the chain in an attempt to yank the jewelry from her neck.

“Don’t touch her, you greedy fools!” yelled another warrior, much older from the timbre of the voice. “Can’t you see she’s blind? And wears the symbol of the Lady as well as the necklace you’re trying to steal? You’d better heed her demands, and release her.”

Apparently the newcomer had authority to back up his commands. The two men imprisoning her released their grip, and she staggered against her horse, then slowly fell, knees giving way from terror and the drugs.

The story:

An attempted assassination left Princess Shalira blind as a child and, now that she’s of marriageable age, her prospects are not good because of her disability. She’s resigned herself to an arranged marriage rather than face life under the thumb of her cold stepmother. But then she meets Mike Varone, a Sectors Special Forces officer sent to Mahjundar by the intergalactic government to retrieve a ship lost in her planet’s mountains. After Mike saves Shalira from another assassination attempt, she arranges for him to escort her across the planet to her future husband. She’s already falling hard for the deadly offworlder and knows she should deny herself the temptation he represents, but taking Mike along to protect her is the only way she’ll live long enough to escape her ruthless stepmother.

Mike, for his part, resists his growing attraction to the princess; he has a mission on this planet and rescuing the vulnerable but brave princess isn’t it. No matter how much he wishes it could be.

But what should have been an easy trek through Mahjundar’s peaceful lands swiftly turns into an ambush with danger around every turn. Shalira’s marriage begins to seem less like an arranged union and more like yet another planned assassination. The more they work together to survive, the harder it becomes to stop themselves from falling in love. Caught in a race against time, can they escape the hostile forces hunting them and make it off the planet?

Amazon     Barnes & Noble   iTunes     All Romance eBooks     KOBO     Google Play

Ballet 422 Dance As A Creative Process

Ballet 3422 posterOne of the reasons I love my Netflix subscription is that I find documentaries to watch that I never would have seen otherwise. “Ballet 422” is my most recent journey. Here’s the description from the Internet Database of Movies: From first rehearsal to world premiere, Ballet 422 takes us backstage at New York City Ballet as emerging choreographer Justin Peck crafts a new work. The dance is entitled “Paz de la Jolla,” based on “Sinfonietta La Jolla” by Bohuslav Martinu, and will be the 422nd new ballet created for the company.

I had four reasons for wanting to watch this:

I enjoy ballet, as an uninformed observer of beautiful dancing.

I love behind the scenes stories.

DancerOfTheNile_1600x2400I wrote a novel entitled Dancer of the Nile and while I was researching it several years ago, I tried to get into the headspace of a dancer. I’m going to write the sequel this year and I thought the movie might help me ‘get it right.’ Granted, my character Nima isn’t dancing anything remotely similar to ballet in 1850 BCE ancient Egypt, but I have a feeling at its soul dancing is a timeless activity, and a dancer from any era and genre could understand another dancer.

I could no more create a dance than I could write a song and I was fascinated by the idea of watching a ballet come into existence. The creative process required fascinated me. People are always asking me how I go about writing my novels and here I was, wondering the same thing about a dance.

I’m not a dancer. I’d love to be but I have the form of dyslexia where I don’t know left from right. I also can’t remember sequences of steps. Hence my utter failure to achieve glory on the high school drill team! I also can’t read music – that discovery in 6th grade was the first time I’d totally failed at anything scholastic. Musical notes might as well be hieroglyphics to me, although I could probably learn the latter long before I’d ever understand music. The three things I learned to play on the piano I had to learn in terms of which keys to press next. I LOVE music. I’m always singing or humming my favorite songs. But the creative process of music isn’t a gift I was given.

005So as the documentary begins, dancer Justin Peck, then 25 and a member of the corps de ballet at the NYC Ballet, has been chosen to create a dance for three principal dancers. This will be his third new dance. He’s already chosen the music when we meet him so there he stands, alone in the practice room in front of the mirrors, pondering, moving only a little bit, trying out bits and pieces of what he’s envisioning. He sketches moves and positions in a notebook.  In a wonderful interview with CBS, he states, “I try and create choreography that’s in conversation with the music that the audience is hearing.” He further remarks, “…a lot of times I’ll start to think about choreography in relation to a certain piece of music and I’ll immediately start to see a certain dancer in my mind.”

Over time, he and an assistant choreographer start working with one ballerina, who tries out steps and combinations for him, adding her suggestions and feedback as to what feels right. As days go by, we then get multiple dancers in the practice001 room, as Justin progresses in the development of his dance. I was interested in what a collaborative process it was, although he didn’t hesitate to say no if a suggestion didn’t flow with his vision. He corrected people (nicely but firmly) on the tiniest movements if required. He adapted to what people could do and couldn’t do, in terms of artistry and flow of his specific dance. From the CBS interview:  “I’ve always thought of the process of creating ballets as being this kind of team effort.”

As a novelist, I wondered if people were enjoying this collaboration? I would think dancers would love to be the first to perform a new piece, created with them as the template. But was Justin’s move into choreography something others would be jealous of? There are so few places in the highest, rarefied circles of classical ballet, as I understand things. How did he feel about making this transition to creating dance? He still dances himself – we get to see bits and pieces of him performing  – but we also caught a glimpse of the dancer’s mortality as he received treatments for some issue. I wondered if he felt the chance to create ballets was bittersweet? He is apparently a soloist dancer as well, according to information I found online.

004We saw the costume designers at work, from first concepts to finished outfits. (Pilling? They actually worried about pilling?) We saw the intricacies of the stage lighting design for the specific dance. All I can say there is WOW. High tech.  We saw rehearsals. My mind boggled at the idea of creating steps for all these people to perform simultaneously, keeping the dancers in constant, beautiful, different motions, and telling the story besides. May I say WOW one more time???!

There was a very evocative moment when Mr. Peck rode the subway home late at night, dressed like any other young guy going home from college maybe, yet he can do these amazing things as a dancer and a choreographer.

I wished the documentary had included more narration or subtitles at least. Several times obviously Important Personages either watched the dance in rehearsal or gave Mr. Peck advice, or both, yet not being a ballet cognoscenti I had no idea who they were.

A word about the dancers themselves. They…are…amazing. There was one moment where a ballerina goes en pointe and I just wanted to gasp at the incredible grace and perfection, and transformation of an ordinary human into some magical being. And this was in rehearsal gear, no makeup, no enhancements, just her. And her hardwon perfection. To me it was worth watching the whole documentary just to see that one thrilling moment.

I found it very interesting that one of the Important Personages clued Mr. Peck into the fact that the orchestra hadn’t been all that crazy about his choice of music. This happened006 late in the game, toward the end of rehearsals. It was suggested he go speak to the orchestra, let them know how much he appreciated them. This appeared at the time to be a totally alien concept to Mr. Peck but he gamely did so. I was fascinated by this whole interaction. Without the music, there is no ballet. Without the orchestra, there is no performance on the big stage. (The dancers had a wonderful pianist playing for them at rehearsals.) So my novelist’s brain was transfixed by this glimpse into the relationship between the dancers and the musicians. It was also interesting that the conductor seemed surprised and a bit reluctant to agree to Mr. Peck’s request, but did. I could write a whole other post about how fascinating it was to watch the conductor working with the orchestra.

I’m used to actors telling each other to break a leg before a performance, which obviously wouldn’t be too comfortable for dancers to say. Instead, they were constantly saying merde to each other. I found various theories online as to why this word but the one I liked most (and saw most often) was that in 1800’s Paris, if a performance was really great, the members of high society would flock to see it and their carriage horses would pile up a lot of merde out there in the street while waiting.

But back to the documentary, we do get to see Mr. Peck watching his new dance performed to a very warm reaction from the audience. He then hastens backstage to get ready for his own performance later in the evening, in a different ballet.

Here’s an excellent description of the new ballet itself: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/02/arts/dance/new-york-city-ballet-at-david-h-koch-theater.html

We never get to see the entire performance in the documentary, sadly. I have no idea how long the piece takes to perform.

I definitely got my wish for some insight into dancers themselves, and the creative process for bringing the world a beautiful new dance.

(I’m illustrating this post with some of my Victorian trade (advertising cards) from the 1800’s.) The trailer for the movie is below…

007