ARCHIVE: Pilgrims, Turkeys and More for Wednesday Whimsy


Veronica: From the 2014 Archives. Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving, or else a simply beautiful November day.

I’ve been saving some of my Victorian 1880’s trade cards for this week because they have the??????????????????????????????? right theme. I’ve written before about being descended from Priscilla Mullins and John Alden (along with literally about  1,000,000 other people!), so I was thrilled to find the ad cards from “Alden Fruit Vinegar Company” that featured some of the family. You’ll see those further down in the post.

I like this quote from Buzz Aldrin, and wholeheartedly support his general stance that we should be returning to space, not relinquishing the foothold we made there. I’m sure my adventuresome ancestors would approve!  “The pilgrims on the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock. To my knowledge, they didn’t wait around for a return trip to Europe. You settle some place with a purpose. If you don’t want to do that, stay home. You avoid an awful lot of risks by not venturing outward.”

“For a moment of night we have a glimpse of ourselves and of our world islanded in a stream of stars – pilgrims of mortality, voyaging between horizons across the eternal seas of space and time.” Harry Beston (American writer and naturalist)
Going back to the Pilgrims of the Mayflower and the famous poem by  Longfellow, here’s a description of Captain Miles Standish:
In the Old Colony days, in Plymouth the land of the Pilgrims,
To and fro in a room of his simple and primitive dwelling,
Clad in doublet and hose, and boots of Cordovan leather,
Strode, with a martial air, Miles Standish the Puritan Captain.
Buried in thought he seemed, with his hands behind him, and
Ever and anon to behold his glittering weapons of warfare,
Hanging in shining array along the walls of the chamber,–
He was apparently mourning for his first wife, Rose, and considering the fact that he
wished to remarry. and of course, my ancestress Priscilla Mullins, who he describes to John Alden thusly:
Patient, courageous, and strong, and said to myself, that if ever
There were angels on earth, as there are angels in heaven,
Two have I seen and known; and the angel whose name is Priscilla…


???????????????????????????????So off he sends his friend, poor John Alden, who of course is wildly in love with Priscilla himself, to make the case why she should marry him. Until she of course says, Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?” And we all know how that story turned out! But not for a LOT of stanzas – that’s quite a lonngggg poem. John and Priscilla had ten children (one of whom married a son of Captain Standish).


What Will He Choose? 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!)

Today I’ve gone back to Healer of the Nile,  because it has now been released! (More details and the buy links after the excerpt so I don’t break the rules here).

Tadenhut, elder son of a noble house and heir to the Hunting Cat estate, has been gravely injured in a battle against Pharaoh’s enemies and brought home to die. Mehyta, a woman from the estate’s village who has skills as a healer, has been ordered to assist the physicians in his care.

Having used her magic to assess his injuries, she finds herself dreaming of Tadenhut, who remains in a coma in the real world. Her dream and their conversation takes place on a battlefield, after the combat has ended.

Watching him, Mehyta repressed a sigh. Only in his own mind could Tadenhut still move so freely, with such purpose and energy. In the Afterlife, he’d be fully restored to perfection of mind and body, of course, if he chose to pursue death. She shifted on the rock, seeking a more comfortable perch. “The estate needs you, my lord,” she said, attempting to reopen the discussion.

            “My father lives, you say?”

            “Yes, praise the gods, but he won’t live forever, and your brother—”

            Grimacing, Tadenhut raised one hand. “No need to tell me about my half-brother. Spoiled by his mother, nursed on her poison, raised to believe everything I possess or will inherit should be his.”

Healer of the Nile is included in the just-released, best selling HERE BE MAGIC box set with seven novellas from other authors, only $.99!






New Release Healer of The Nile

022I’m excited to share an excerpt from my new novella Healer of the Nile, which has been included in the just-released box set HERE BE MAGIC.  Can Mehyta, a village healer, persuade the god of Fate to help her save Tadenhut, a soldier trapped between Life and Death? I’ve mixed magic and ancient Egypt with a bit of romance (of course!), to tell a new tale of life in 1550 BCE. 

Here’s an excerpt:

…. Mehyta shrank against the wall as servants carried an elaborate litter into the room, followed by the lord and lady of the estate, accompanied by a grand personage in a gold trimmed robe, who she realized was Pharaoh’s physician, as well as several high ranking soldiers. Peeking over Simut’s shoulder, she observed Tadenhut unmoving on the litter, eyes closed, face pale. His arms lay at his sides, palms down on the thin mattress.

As the servants transferred the limp patient to the bed, the royal physician said, “I’ve done everything possible within the canons of good medicine. Pharaoh felt Tadenhut should be at home, now that his fate is so clearly in the hands of the gods.”

“Pharaoh is kind,” Lord Wadjmose said, his jaw clenched. Lady Nebetta squeezed his hand and he gave her a grateful, tired smile.

As the litter and the litter bearers exited the room, two more servants carried in a large chest, decorated with inlaid faience and turquoise. Nebetta directed the men to set their burden in the bedchamber itself, against the wall.

“Where’s the local doctor?” said the man from Thebes.

Simut left Mehyta’s side and bowed. “An honor to assist you, noble sir. I am Simut, trained in Memphis, at the temple of Sekhmet.”

The royal physician pursed his lips, nodding at the impeccable academic pedigree. As Wadjmose and Nebetta moved to the bedside to stare at the unresponsive form of Tadenhut, the doctors drew aside to confer. Mehyta tried to be unobtrusive as she followed Simut. If she was required to assist him, she’d better hear the instructions.

“I’m to stay the night and leave in the morning,” the visiting doctor said. “Pharaoh doesn’t want me absent from his court for long. I’ve brought an ample supply of drugs, more than you’ll need by the looks of our patient, but the Great One insisted we be generous, in case you lack anything here. We have specialized medicines in Thebes, after all. “He opened the chest and removed a papyrus, handing the scroll to Simut. “Doses and spells for administering them.” He leaned closer to his colleague and lowered his voice. “It’s a miracle the man’s lingered this long, frankly, with his injuries. Pharaoh is fond of him, regards him as a friend and a shieldmate, and Tadenhut saved his life in the battle, sacrificing his own for all intents and purposes. There’ll be gold of valor in the trunks we carried here from Thebes, which will adorn the soldier’s tomb nicely. He takes a good record into the afterlife. Now let me show you the proportions of the night medication.”

As the two men fell to discussing the merits of one potion versus another, Mehyta let her attention wander. Simut would tell her what to do. Her healing skills and the herbal remedies she used were in no way related to the Egyptian practice of medicine, but learned at her late grandmother’s knee. She stared at Tadenhut, gaunt, pale, lying on the bed equally oblivious to his father’s grief and the learned doctors’ chat. Lady Nebetta lowered her head, dabbing at her skin carefully, so as to not mar the kohl and malachite perfectly outlining her large brown eyes. No actual tears fell. Her son was next in line to inherit the estate when the current heir died.

The Story:

When Pharaoh sends injured warrior Tadenhut home to die, his noble family asks Mehyta, the local healer, to ease his path to the Afterlife. Mehyta discovers he’s trapped between Life and Death, caught in the dreamspace. Touched by his fighting spirit and will to live, Mehyta vows to use all the powers Shai, god of fate, gave her. Together Tadenhut and the brave healer battle to overcome his injuries, as well as threats from devious family members. While struggling to rescue her patient, Mehyta comes to realize he matters more to her than any man ever has before. But even if his life can be saved, what do the omens say about a match between a highborn soldier and a simple healer?

Buy Links for the $.99 Box Set:   AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO | ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS

I have an article over at USA  Today Happily Ever After featuring Q&A with my fellow authors!



Sounds Like A Virus Weekend Writing Warriors

First of all, I have to say my prayers are with the people of Paris. Such a tragedy, so very sad….

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!)

Today I’m giving a snippet from the WIP Star Cruise: Outbreak. Dr. Emily Shane has agreed to to take a temporary position as ship’s doctor on the Nebula Zephyr luxury cruise liner. Upon arriving at the clinic, she found a young passenger waiting, along with her large retinue and strange green pet. Continuing on from last week, with Jake speaking to the doctor:

“Sometimes our guests bring their pets along with them, yes. As long as the ICC regulations about inoculations are observed, no worries.” He got down on one knee. “What seems to be the problem, your highness?”

            “She sneezes and won’t play or eat or anything.”

            “Sounds like a virus, what do you think, doc?” Jake gave her a look. “You’re going to have to treat the little fluff, veterinarian or not.”

            Emily unbent a bit. “All right, if you can bring the animal over here to the examining table.”

There’s no blurb as yet. This is a standalone sequel to Star Cruise: Marooned, and Meg and Red will appear as secondary characters. The Nebula Zephyr is a sister ship to the Nebula Dream, although there’s no crossover of characters between the two stories. At least not yet!Wreck-of-the-Nebula-DreamFinalHuge


Veronica Does Word Association!

wrdcloudNot exactly a magazine quiz, but close. I found this in the November 23rd issue of People magazine and immediately thought: I can do that!

Family: the most important people in the world to me! I’d do anything for them.

Music: It depends what mood I’m in. I just wrestled with a new iPod this week, in fact, which would play music when hooked up to my laptop, but not with the earbuds plugged in. Bummer.  Returnin the defective one, getting a new one. I have 671 songs that shuffle, when I go for my daily walk, or sometimes in the evening if I’m not quite ready to sleep but there’s no good TV, I’ll just sit and listen to music and ponder. The first song I ever remember hearing as a child was “The Riff Song” from Romberg’s operetta Desert Song. My Dad played one of the key supporting characters in a high school production and he’d sing the rousing Riff song whenever I asked. In fact that’s also the first song I ever memorized. The second I memorized was the theme for “The Swamp Fox.” (two verses only, the song is interminably long). I can still sing both of them – would you like me to…, never mind. But I love all kinds of music from Beach Boys to bagpipes to show tunes to Beyonce, especially tunes with drums and a heavy bass.

Vacation: I’m not big on vacations – huge homebody here! I used to love taking my daughters down to San Diego for a week every August. We’d stay at the Hilton in a big splurge, and enjoy the room service and the pool, hit the wonderful Zoo…When I was a kid in Upstate NY, we went up to Maine every summer, to visit relatives on Vinalhaven Island, and that was cool too. Most years at the day job, I’d take two weeks off at Christmas (or as many vacation days and JPL days off as I could string together) and unwind at home, and really enjoy the holidays. Being a fulltime author now, I still tend to think of the “two weeks at Christmas” as my special time.

Traffic: Hello, I live in Los Angeles, so enough said, right? The thing I hate most about traffic is when you’re bumper to bumper on the freeway, you don’t know why, it’s not rush hour, and no one is moving an inch. Nightmare! Oh, and the worst example of this EVER was on a boiling hot summer day and I was stuck next to a truck full of cows. Poor them too, of course. Maybe the scariest time was when I was stuck on a freeway years ago, in the middle of a brush fire that had unexpectedly jumped the road, cutting us all off, and there was a gasoline tanker in the next lane. Luckily a Highway Patrol officer was in our little group of cars and he managed to get us all backed up and diverted to an offramp and safely away. The saddest was one morning when I was driving into work a woman decided to commit suicide-by-freeway, deliberately running into traffic. I was about three cars back from the people that hit her, being unable to avoid her. So sad for everyone, including the woman and her family. (She left a suicide note.) If you drive the LA freeways long enough, you see everything. A million stories in LA, even if a lot of them are noir. I don’t miss the commute.

royal weLondon: Umm, never been there. The first thing that comes to mind is royal weddings, as in Charles and Di, William and Kate, and the novel The Royal We by Jessica Cocks and Heather Morgan, which was terrific. Being a huge reader of Regency romance, the next thing that comes to mind is The Season, waltzing Dukes and Almack’s. But I’m a few hundred years too late for the party.

Potatoes: Wait, what??? Oh, I see, in the magazine that was the celebrity’s answer to the word London. Well, as long as I’m on this tangent, sweet potato fries, thank you very much. Or else hash browns!

Television: I love “Killjoys,” the excellent SyFy series, which is due back for Season 2 sometime in 2016. Can’t wait for Season 2 of “Dark Matter” and “Twelve Monkeys,” both from SyFy. I’m also enjoying “Scorpion,” “Quantico” (so many plot twists) and “Dancing With The Stars.” I’m devoted to “The Big Bang Theory” but I do think they’ve gotten a bit mean-spirited and way too serious. I’m a huge “Walking Dead” fan…I watch “Amazing Race” and think how badly I’d do at most of their challenges…”Project Runway” (this wasn’t my favorite season though)….

003Shopping: I think it’s funny how over time I’ve shopped for different things. (At one point when my kids were young, someone told me my house looked like it was furnished by Fisher Price. Later it was Star Wars/Jurassic Park.) I think books are the eternal item I’ll always shop for, although now it’s ebooks rather than paper. I’m currently shopping for good swag items to take to two conferences next year as giveaways. I still buy the occasional pair of blingy earrings, although they have to be something super special nowadays, as I kinda have drawers full of fashion jewelry. I cruise eBay once in awhile for Victorian trade (advertising) cards for my Wednesday Whimsy posts.

And that’s it for this round! Happy Weekend, everyone :)


Veterans Day

mil logosAs I’ve said in past years, my family includes a number of veterans from various wars and actions, and I’m grateful to 018everyone who has served our Country, and their families. This handsome gentleman to the left is my late husband (although the photo is from long ago, after boot camp).

This year I thought I’d highlight just a few of the many nonprofit organizations that try to provide support and assistance to veterans. These are some of the most well known. Full disclosure: I haven’t personally vetted their finances etc etc. I’ve merely gathered up a few well known (and known-to-me) organizations and it’s up to you to decide whether to support any particular effort, or be inspired to look into others. Feel free to mention others you may know in the comments.

L-Z Grace:  founded by Lynnette Bukowski, the widow of a Navy SEAL, who I’ve come to know and admire though her blog postings and social media. “Rest, Renew, Heal, Reconnect.”  The organization’s purpose: “Landing Zone Grace (LZ-Grace) provides a place of respite for combat weary warriors and their families. The goal of this family farm is to provide a sanctuary of rest, renewal and hope to Special Operations Forces (from all branches of the military) transitioning from combat to life at home.”

Wounded Warrior Project:  Their copyrighted motto: “The greatest casualty is being forgotten.”  Their purpose (from the website):

  • To raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members.
  • To help injured service members aid and assist each other.
  • To provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.

Got Your 6:  (From their webpage):

Got Your 6 facilitates collaboration amongst the campaign’s many partners, because widespread social change is best achieved through collective impact.

Through entertainment industry partners, Got Your 6 works to normalize the depictions of veterans on film and television to dispel common myths about the veteran population. Through nonprofit and government partners, Got Your 6 ensures successful veteran reintegration and empowers veterans to lead here at home.

Gary Sinise Foundation: (from their webpage)

At the Gary Sinise Foundation, we serve our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.

We do this by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen, and build communities.

The Mission Continues: founded by SEAL Eric Greitens – from their website: The Mission Continues empowers veterans who are adjusting to life after the military to find purpose through civic action. We deploy veterans on new missions in their communities, so that their legacy will be one of leadership and service. The Mission Continues has helped thousands of post-9/11 veterans reintegrate successfully by focusing their talents and energy on tackling challenges in their communities.


I always have quotes on my Wednesday post:

When the peace treaty is signed, the war isn’t over for the veterans, or the family. It’s just starting. Karl Marlantes

Veterans report that service dogs help break their isolation. People will often avert their eyes when they see a wounded veteran. But when the veteran has a dog, the same people will come up and say, ‘Hi’ to pet the dog and then strike up a conversation. Al Franken

I have veterans in my family. But I didn’t know anything about DAV, Disabled American Veterans. Gary Sinise

My father had many, many veterans over to the house, and the older I got the more I appreciated their sacrifice. Steven Spielberg

It was a requirement by the veterans to list the 57,000 names. We’re reaching a time that we’ll acknowledge the individual in a war on a national level. Maya Lin

The Veteran’s History Project, a nationwide volunteer effort to collect oral histories from America’s war veterans, provides an avenue to do just that. Now in its fifth year, the Project has collected more than 40,000 individual stories. Spencer Bachus

The popular songs that were written in the 1920s and ’30s, ’40s and early ’50s were written by veterans – mostly men who’d had experience in life. How can you write a lyric if you haven’t really lived life? Rudy Vallee

I have a cousin who is a spiritual advisor for Native veterans in Canada, so I’m very familiar with the history of Natives in the military. And growing up as an American Indian myself, the story of Ira Hayes is one that is often told. Adam Beach

The notion that war forever separates veterans from the rest of mankind has been long embedded in our collective consciousness. Phil Klay


Guest Author Liza O’Connor SAVING CASEY

Saving Casey banner

Happy to have author Liza O’Connor as my guest today and she’s going to talk about a piece of her worldbulding for SAVING CASEY, which involves answering the question: How can Connecticut not have a Walmart?

Take it away, Liza!

Liza: It’s a foundational requirement of civilization.

Actually, there are 32 Walmarts in Connecticut.

However, they aren’t any Walmarts in the Eastern Gold Coast communities of Darien, Greenwich or New Canaan. But then those towns aren’t your normal typical seaside communities. They are uber rich seaside homes with quick access to NYC.

Welcome to Darien

Today, I’d like to share some interesting facts about Darien, Connecticut.

First off, you are almost certainly mispronouncing the name of the town. By not pronouncing their town correctly, they can identify a poser at once. Darien is pronounced like “Dairy Ann” emphasis on Ann.

Darien has a population of about 20,000 with about 6,600 homes in its 13,000 square miles. The household median income is about $188,000. And while that is high, (7th in the nation) it clearly indicates that more than millionaires live here, because a $22 million house should come with a billionaire or a mega millionaire. (Oddly, there are only two billionaires.) And the lesser $4 to $10 million houses should come with a multi to mega-millionaire. However, it is possible that our current tax codes allow them not to recognize most of their income so their ‘federal tax’ income is much less than their real income.

When I checked out the houses for sale, I discovered most of them were in what one might call the middleclass (2,000-3,000 sq. ft) & lower middle class (900-1500 sq ft) living except for the price. To buy your middleclass normal sized home, you’ll need $1-2 million. And to buy a lower middle class small home, you’ll need $500K to a $900K.

Clearly, real poor people can’t afford to buy a house and live there, and honestly the towns around aren’t much cheaper. Thus, explaining why Darien has only 2% citizens living below poverty line. (You’re considered in poverty if you only make $11,670 as a single person. BTW, CT has 25% of its population below poverty, so 2% is incredibly low).  Honestly, I’m surprised they have any who are that poor. I must presume they are the young or old and must depend on the socialite charity efforts to survive. The town has a great deal of philanthropic efforts.

And how did these smaller houses come to be? After the Civil War, the mega-rich began building summer homes in Greenwich, Darien and New Canaan. Naturally, they required servants, so a ‘poor section’ of homes formed around the railroad tracks in the early 1900 to serve the great mansions on the Gold Coast. And this explains the existence of tiny homes and moderate homes. It also suggests how a poor person could still afford to live in Darien, if the house had been passed down each generation and they receive relief on their property taxes. Darien also has senior care homes.

96% of residents are white with a sprinkle of Asians, Black, Indian and Pacific Islanders. While Darien High School is ranked #1 in Connecticut, many of the uber rich appear to still send their children to private schools outside of Darien.

Darien has over 20 boutique shops (that won’t let my character Cass buy anything), 9 country clubs, 11 parks or bench areas, and 5 harbors.

I considered driving up there to walk through the town with Cass’s eyes, but the one time I was in Darien, I got horribly lost in the hills. I finally found a normal home and a guy who told me how to get back to the turnpike before I ran out of gas. I honestly felt like I had entered the Twilight Zone of mansions.

Speaking of horror films, both versions (1975 & 2004) of “The Stepford Wives” movie were filmed in Darien. Which indicates they might have a sense of humor. Otherwise, why would they allow them to film in their town?

Saving Casey 400 x 640Saving Casey

Book 1 of the Requires Rescue Series – Contemporary Suspense

The Story:

When 80 year old Cass Goldman learns she has inoperable cancer, she decides to end her life, peacefully on her terms. So imagine her horror when she wakes to find herself in a hospital with strange rich people staring at her. It’s not until the doctor arrives to examine her that she realizes she’s no longer old. She’s in the body of a seventeen year old teen named Casey.

Unfortunately, her new body comes with some serious baggage. First of all, the kid has burned every bridge imaginable. Secondly, those ‘people’ in her room are her outrageously rich parents and while the Dad seems friendly, the mother wants nothing to do with her. The moment they take her home to a horrifically huge mansion, which she dubs Tara, she’s abandoned to the care of the butler.

While Cass is determined to turn this train wreck of a life around, doing so is far harder than she expected. In fact, without help, she’ll end up dead just like the last occupant of this body. Thankfully, her dad has his hunky head of security become her body guard. Between her eighty years of life lessons and hunky Troy’s help, she just might live long enough not to be jail bait.


A moment later, a knock sounded on the door. “Come in,” Cass yelled.

A curly-haired young man, wearing a black suit, entered and smiled at her.

Damn if her body didn’t warm by twenty degrees. “And you are…?”

“Jason. The car awaits you for your outing.” He lowered his lids in a sultry ‘come hither’ look.

She dropped her book as arms and legs tangled in the simple act of getting off the couch.

For Godsakes, calm down! It’s just a driver under the age of fifty, not Justin Beaver…Beamer, or whatever the hell his name is!

Her nerve endings didn’t listen. The mere sight of a young man sent them pinging.

She had a great desire to whack herself on the head, but resisted, fearing it might frighten away the driver.

Finally getting vertical, she stared about the room as she tried to get her brain to rein in her sexual overdrive. What did she need to successfully go shopping? Money.

“Do you have the credit card?”

He smiled and nodded.

“Then I guess we’re ready to go.”

He frowned.


“You might want to fix your hair.”

She hurried to a mirror to see what her hair could possibly be up to. Seriously, how much trouble could two-inch stubs get into?

Wow! The back half stood straight up as if frozen in a giant tsunami.

Three minutes under a sopping wet brush and the black stubble finally settled down. She turned to the young man. “Ready.”

His eyes rounded in horror, as he gave her a slight shake of his head.

“What now?”

He focused on her sweats.

“It’s all I have.”

“I don’t think they’ll let you in the store to buy anything.”

“Then we’ll go to Walmart. They not only let people wearing sweats enter their store, some old person will even smile and greet the poorly dressed slob.”

“We don’t have one of those.”

She was about to counter that she was a shoe in for the role of town slob, but then realized he meant something even worse.

How can a town not have a Walmart? It’s a foundational requirement of American Civilization. “Let’s just go. I’m sure we can find someplace willing to let me in.” 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR (written BY the author – I’d never call a friend who was visiting a ‘nut’ LOL):

Liza O’Connor is a nut.

Not a real nut, but she is prone to being a smart ass at times, and not surprisingly her heroines say odd and inappropriate things in her book, as well. So even in a suspense novel you can expect to laugh along the way. That’s because Liza loves to see humor in the crazy world around her.

Saving Casey was actually the first book Liza published. Having recently reclaimed her rights to the book, she is happily re-publishing it as her 18th book. And because her books sell better when in a series, she using Saving Casey to kick off a new series called Requires Rescue. It will be different from her other series where the same characters show up in each book. This series will be about strong women who are trying to go it alone, only when help is offered, they have the good sense to accept the helping hand, because in all of our lives, there will come a time you need someone else to help you. Being strong doesn’t make us invincible. Book 1 is Casey/Cass’ story. Book 2 will be about an entirely different young woman who desperately needs help before she’s murdered on the streets of NYC. Book 3, well the plot is super unique, and more books will follow.

You’ll be able to read the series in any order you want, but in each case, you’ll have a strong young woman, a guy stepping up to help when no one else does, and danger galore with humor stuffed in anywhere I can.

I hope you’ll come along with me so you can laugh, love, and get revenge. 


Liza’s Blog and Website   Facebook   Twitter

Make Her Better Weekend Writing Warriors

(If you’re here for the SFRB Showcase, it can be found at this link.)

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!)

Today I’m giving a snippet from the WIP Star Cruise: Outbreak. Dr. Emily Shane has agreed to to take a temporary position as ship’s doctor on the Nebula Zephyr luxury cruise liner. Upon arriving at the clinic, she finds a passenger waiting, along with her large retinue. Jake is the ship’s Security Chief (and he’s no red shirt!).

“I’m Dr. Shane, what are her symptoms?”

            “The Hereditary Princess Falyn is quite well, thank you,” answered the oldest woman, frowning as the little girl sneezed with perfect timing.

            “Then why – “

            “It’s my pet, doctor, she’s sick.” Holding out a small ball of variegated green fur, the child left her chair and scooted around the bodyguard. “You must make her all better for me.”

            “I’m not a veterinarian,” Emily protested. She turned to Jake. “You allow animals on board?”

There’s no blurb as yet. This is a standalone sequel to Star Cruise: Marooned, and Meg and Red will appear as secondary characters. The Nebula Zephyr is a sister ship to the Nebula Dream, although there’s no crossover of characters between the two stories. At least not yet!



Not Going to Panic SFR Brigade Showcase

SFRB Showcase

Once 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.

MaroonedFinal-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700This month I’m sharing another excerpt from my best selling novel Star Cruise: Marooned. This month’s follows directly from what I shared last month:

“I swear, you know as much as I do.” She leaned closer and lowered her voice. “Drewson was boning Pirankai in the private cabin when I got to the shuttle, coms off, so if there were any bulletins, he missed them.”

“Idiot.” Red retreated a step or two, eyeing the door. “Well, nothing for it.”

“Are you going to break it down?”

Eyebrows raised, he gave her a glance. “Thanks for the compliment but it’d take a battle robo to get through this storm portal by brute force.”

“What then?”

He stepped to the keypad, flipping open the cover, and entered a series of numbers and symbols so rapidly she had no idea what the sequence might be.

“You’ve been here before?” Meg asked.

He shook his head. “Special Forces, Team Twelve. We each have a special access code enabling our entry into any door, ship, vault, or facility in the Sectors.”

The storm door jerked away from the threshold and then began to roll into the roof recess. The window shutters on all four sides of the building followed suit a moment later. Meg knew her mouth was hanging open. Biting her lip, she tried to make sense of this new information. “You’re on active military duty, but working as crew on a charter ship? Are you undercover or something?”

“Retired. Wasn’t sure my code would work, but we have a saying in the Teams—no one is ever completely released from service.” He grimaced. “Not until we die or the Mawreg have been erased from the Sectors. I should live so long.” He pushed the inner door open. “Let’s see what we have here. Stay behind me.”

The lights didn’t respond to voice command or their physical presence. “I guess the rangers powered down before departing. Shutters must be on auxiliary. I’ll have to check the situation out later,” he said, pausing on the threshold. “At least the windows let in enough ambient light for now.”

“How long do you think we’re going to be here?” Meg was disturbed by his mention of later.

“Depends on what the problem in orbit is.” He stopped, giving her a hard look. “Anything like this ever happen before?”

“No. Drewson is an idiot, but he’d never abandon us. And Captain Jonsle certainly won’t maroon us.”

“He may not have a choice. I don’t want to alarm you, but we could be in a bad situation here. I hope not, but just between the two of us, I’m not feeling too positive. Whatever spooked the TDJ captain into recalling his people had to be damn serious. I don’t want to alarm our passengers because panicked people are hard to handle. Drewson’s takeoff seems like the act of a panicked person.” He studied her face, the expression on his serious. “You’re not going to panic, are you?”

“Of course not.” She straightened her spine, irritated he would even ask.

He squeezed her shoulder. “Good. I didn’t think so. Stay here, let me check the rest of the place, and then we’ll bring Sharmali in.”

Moving so quietly she couldn’t hear his footsteps, Red left her. Meg sank onto the nearest chair, resting her head in her hands. If she and the people she was responsible for were in survival mode, even for a short time until someone sent help for them, she had to reprioritize her thoughts. By the time Red returned to the small lobby, she was on her feet, pacing, and making lists on her personal AI.

“Nothing left behind but the furniture as far as I can see,” Red reported brusquely. There’s a big conference room or maybe it’s a dining room, and a small kitchen, couple of offices.”

“Right. We’ll bring Sharmali in here, lay her on the couch. If you can’t get the power going, we can build a fire for tonight. The temperatures plummet after dark and the wind rises. There’s a fireplace in the conference room too, right?”

He nodded. “Plenty of wood stacked out back. We can do the rustic thing. Maybe the guests will enjoy the novelty of camping out tonight.”

“Hope so, as that’s their only choice. I think we leave the guests in blissful ignorance for now, until the Primary asks about missing the deadline for retrieval. It’ll dawn on them soon enough we’re marooned, if we truly are.” Meg checked his reaction. “Seem okay to you?”

His calm face betrayed nothing. “Yes, Ma’am. But eventually they’re going to get upset. Especially the Primary, Mr. Finchon. He has a short fuse.”

“He’s not in charge anymore, I am.” Meg dropped her AI into a handy pocket. “This is a survival situation and I’m the senior crew member.”

She half expected him to protest, but his eyebrows lifted in mock surprise and he agreed with enthusiasm. “Yes, you are. And I’m here to back you to the hilt.”

The story:

Meg Antille works long hours on the charter cruise ship Far Horizon so she can send credits home to her family. Working hard to earn a promotion to a better post (and better pay), Meg has no time for romance.

Former Special Forces soldier Red Thomsill only took the berth on the Far Horizon in hopes of getting to know Meg better, but so far she’s kept him at a polite distance. A scheduled stopover on the idyllic beach of a nature preserve planet may be his last chance to impress the girl.

But when one of the passengers is attacked by a wild animal it becomes clear that conditions on the lushly forested Dantaralon aren’t as advertised – the ranger station is deserted, the defensive perimeter is down…and then the Far Horizon’s shuttle abruptly leaves without any of them.

Marooned on the dangerous outback world, romance is the least of their concerns, and yet Meg and Red cannot help being drawn to each other once they see how well they work together. But can they survive long enough to see their romance through? Or will the wild alien planet defeat them, ending their romance and their lives before anything can really begin?

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A Little Chaos: Romance and Gardening in French Sun King’s Court

A little chaos2“A LIttle Chaos” is a wildly underrated movie gem from 2014 that I just discovered this week, and wanted to share. Set in the 1600’s France as the Sun King Louis XIV was building Versailles, the movie stars Kate Winslet as Sabine, a self-supporting, determined and talented gardener/landscape designer. This fictional character is wonderful, standing up to the men in her profession and making a place for herself on the team creating the heavenly gardens the king desires. Alan Rickman directed the movie, stars as the King and co-wrote the script. I found the entire thing delightful.

While understated and restrained, the movie depicts the period beautifully. Ms. Winslet’s character perseveres despite all obstacles and becomes a fixture at the edge of the sumptuous Court (oh the costumes! the manners! the wigs!), not afraid to speak her mind. Through a slightly convenient misunderstanding, she and the King develop a rapport, although she takes some risks in the things she says to him, beautifully couched in gardening terms.

Sabine is a widow, and there’s a hint of a ghost story going on regarding her daughter, who seems to have died at the same time as her husband. (The questions surrounding her daughter’s death, and how Sabine was widowed do get answered – no spoilers from me.) The slowly developing romance is with Andre Le Notre (played by Matthias Schoenaerts), the king’s landscape architect. who actually did exist. In real life he was an older man at the time Versailles was built but I’ve got no objections to improving on reality a bit for romance’s sake. His work is regarded as the epitome of the French formal garden style, while Sabine is portrayed as more of a natural, gifted gardener who follows her instincts. So of course these two come together! She understands him. He understands her. They work together on the big project…

There is a generally Happily Ever After ending to the movie, in terms of how life was lived at the French Court and what was acceptable. I’m quite the demanding romance fan and I was satisfied. The movie deals satisfactorily with Andre’s unpleasant wife, revealing how she broke his heart first, long before he ever meets Sabine.

The project Sabine is working hard so on was an open air ballroom, which actually does exist at Versailles, in the midst of the lavish gardens.

Another pleasure of this film was seeing  actress Jennifer Ehle as Madame de Montespan, who was Louis’s about-to-be-displaced mistress. Ms. Ehle of course was Elizabeth Bennet to Colin Firth’s Darcy in “Pride and Prejudice.”

A Little Chaos1There’s a scene toward the end of the movie where Sabine is going to be formally presented at Court, upon the King’s request, and she spends the moments before the ceremony with a crowd of elegant, noble ladies, under the watchful eye of de Montespan. At first the viewer thinks Sabine is going to be out of her depth and probably made fun of (not that she’ll care because she is tough), but then this extraordinarily mismatched group of women finds common ground in their losses and for a moment they’re all just widows and grieving mothers together.

I highly recommend this movie if you’re in the mood for a somewhat restrained love story set against the decadent backdrop of the Sun King’s Court. I rewatched parts of it and then actually went and did research, not related to any book I’m ever going to write myself.