New Release Hostage to the Stars

Hostage ToTheStarsFinal-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700The story:

He rescued her from space pirates … but can he keep them both safe from the far greater evil stalking a deserted planet?

Space travel without Kidnap & Ransom insurance? Not a good idea. University instructor and researcher Sara Bridges can’t afford it, so when pirates board her cruise liner, she’s taken captive along with the mistress of a wealthy man, and brought to a deserted planet. When a military extraction team sent to rescue the mistress refuses to take Sara too, she’s left to the mercies of a retired Special Forces soldier, along as consultant.

Reluctantly reactivated and coerced into signing up for the rescue operation to the planet Farduccir where he once was deployed,  Sgt. Johnny Danver just wants to get the job done. But when the team leader leaves one captured woman behind, he breaks away to rescue her himself.

As Johnny and Sara traverse the barren landscape, heading for an abandoned base where they hope to call Sectors Command for help, they find villages destroyed by battle and stripped of all inhabitants. A lone survivor tells a horrific tale of the Sectors’ alien enemy, the Mawreg, returning after being pushed out …

Searching for evidence to give the military, Johnny is captured. He regains consciousness in a Mawreg cage–with Sara next to him. Death is preferable to what the aliens will do to them… And even if they do escape their captors, can they alert the military in time to prevent another invasion of the Sectors?

Standalone sequel to Mission To Mahjundar (mild spoilers for Mahjundar in this story.)

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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?

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SFR Audiobook Narrator Turns the Tables on Veronica Scott

MissionToM2AudioThe audiobook of Mission to Mahjundar is now available on Amazon, Audible.com and iTunes (sound sample below). Actor Michael Riffle and I’ve done a fun interview on the subject, over at USA Today Happily Ever After. This time, for the sake of variety, we’ve turned the tables and he interviewed me, asking questions about my science fiction world of the Sectors. We invite you to check out the interview!

Here’s the story for Mission to Mahjundar:

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?

One question we didn’t have room for in the USA Today column:

Michael: While narrating Mission to Mahjundar, I noticed several places where there were hints of deep political intrigue, but the story couldn’t have easily followed it. Without giving too much away, can you tell us more about what was going on behind the scenes with the explosion that led to Michael and Shalira meeting? I smelled a hint of a rebellion or insurrection.

Veronica: Originally there was a lot more in the book about the growing resistance to the empress and her plans. Her attempts to install a new religion were part of the political upheaval. Captain Rojar played a much bigger part in the attempt to overthrow her, and I was setting him up for a possible sequel throughout the book when I first wrote the story. I’d even considered a sequel with Mike and Shalira returning to Mahjundar!

SFR Brigade Summer Cafe Blog Hop Giveaway

SFRCafebannerfinal(1)

The giveaway on my blog is now CLOSED and S. A. Hoag, Nicole Luiken and Ed Hoornaert were my three randomly selected winners. Thanks for all the great comments and out of this world dining recommendations!

Welcome to my post for the Science Fiction Romance Brigade’s Summer Cafe. I’m giving away three prizes on my blog, to randomly selected commenters. The question to answer in the comment is where in the Universe (real or scifi) would you want to go for dinner and why? The pub in Hobbiton? The cantina on Tatooine? The rings of Saturn? The Twilight Zone? Your imagination is the only limit here!

My prizes on THIS blog only are three $10.00 Amazon gift cards. I’ll  randomly select my winners after midnight on June 7th, no substitutions, no cash equivalent.

Here are the prizes for the overall Summer Cafe Hop as listed on the “Menu Card” below, which can be entered at the Rafflecopter HERE. NOTE: All prizes are available internationally but are NOT exchangeable for any cash or other alternatives.
Spaceopera1Here are the links to go check out all the other SFR authors on the Bog hop. (NOTE: same list of participating authors at either site.):
 SFR Brigade  OR    SFR Station
MissionToM2-FJM_Mid_Res_1000x1500Here’s an excerpt from my most recent scifi romance, Mission to Mahjundar, where the hero and heroine discuss a ‘recipe’ for a potion to temporarily restore the heroine’s eye sight. The group is in her mother’s tomb, deep in a cave.

The guardsman withdrew a small leather pouch from his broad belt and placed it safely in her cupped hands. Unknotting the cords by touch took her a moment of fierce concentration, but then she with­drew an object swathed in rolls of velvety cloth. While Saium hovered, making small hand motions as if he wanted to take the bundle from her and open it himself, Shalira extracted a small glass vial. An emerald-green stopper flashed in the smoky torch­light. Even in the gloom of the “gazebo,” the liquid contents of this unique container shone and glowed golden.

“What do you have there?” Mike stepped to her side.

Shalira tilted her head in the direction of his voice. “My mother’s nurse was a wise woman, a healer, an initiate in the goddess Pavmiraia’s secrets. After my brother was killed and I was left blind, she worked tirelessly to gather the ingredients for this potion. Some she had to commission from across the Great Sea, which took several years to acquire. When she had the recipe complete, she secretly left the palace to brew this mix. Whether from the sorcery involved, or whether it was a coincidence, she was near death when she returned, dying within a sevenday.” Shalira shook the vial in her hand. “All for the liquid in this bottle.”

“What’s it supposed to do?” Mike had a sneaking suspicion what Shalira was going to say.

 “Restore my sight for the space of an hour. She bade me to keep it safe and use it only if my life depended on my eyes.”

“Then perhaps you should save it. Tell me and Saium what to do,” Mike suggested urgently, not liking the ominous appearance of the bottle, golden glow or not.

“Don’t fear for me.” Shalira regarded him so warmly he forgot what he’d planned to say next. “My life does depend on this. If I fail to get the clan insignia, Bandarlok won’t marry me. Then I’m doomed to return home and enter the Abbey of the Obedient Sisters, which is a virtual death sentence. The empress will have me killed.”

“Shalira—” He stopped, shaking his head. What am I planning to say? Am I going to offer to take her away from all this, go back to my home world with me? Mike swallowed hard, surprised into silence by a flood of unexpected emotion choking him.

Not waiting to hear more of his opinions, she unstoppered the little flask, sucked in a breath and held it, drinking the contents in one quick swallow.

Gagging, Shalira staggered backward, dropping the bottle, hands rising to her throat. The vial shattered on the stone floor, spraying shards and droplets of moisture everywhere. Mike rushed to her side, catching her one-handed as she swooned toward the cold floor. “Bring me the cloak to wrap her in. She’s convulsing.”

Avoiding the broken glass, Mike sat on the freezing stone floor, cradling the unconscious princess while she shook. “Damn it, we never should have let her drink that stuff. What if it’s poison?”

“Her nurse would never have poisoned Shalira,” the older man answered, his face calm, voice low. “Have faith, as Her Highness does, and wait, outworlder.”

Skidding on the stone floor, Johnny came running into the chamber, gun in hand. “We got major troubles.” He stopped short at the sight of the unconscious Shalira. “Lords of Space, now what?”

Holding the princess tight against the tremors racking her body, Mike frowned. “She drank something she believes will restore her vision and the side effects are pretty bad. What’s happening in the valley?”

“We’ve been double-crossed….”

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The story:

2015 SFR Galaxy Award Winner

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.

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?

April Fools For Love Event and Giveaway OVER

Fools for Love

The Giveaway is now OVER. My two randomly selected winners were Shirley A and Melanienu (need your e mail address please!). Best wishes to all for a Happy May and thanks for stopping by and commenting here.

Welcome to the April Fools For Love event! Here’s the link to the Main Page where you can enter to win the Event Prizes via Rafflecopter:  http://www.sfrstation.com/april-fools-for-love-event/  You’ll also find links to all the other participating authors on the main page.

I’m giving away two $25.00 Amazon gift cards from my blog, which I’ll award to two randomly selected commenters. The question is “What’s the most foolish thing you ever did for love?”

Giveaway runs from April 1 through April 30th, so I’ll pick my two winners for MY blog on May 1st and announce the names.

MissionToM2-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700Here’s an excerpt from my most recent science fiction romance, Mission to Mahjundar, where Major Mike Varone, the hero, is about to do something pretty foolish for love. Johnny is his cousin and the other Sectors Special Forces operator assigned to the main mission. (Mild spoilers for Mission to Mahjundar here!):

“Back in the city, Shalira told me the necklace had been her mother’s, and she’d never take it off till the day she died.” Mike stared at the bauble coiled in his hand. “Now today, she tells me she’ll have no further need of it.” Shoving the jewelry in his pocket, Mike shook his head as he sealed the flap. “They had her wrapped in a shawl, but when she was taking off the necklace, I saw her arms covered in bruises. Her hands were chapped and cut.” He took a deep breath. “That’s not the worst of it. She was wearing the Windhunter collar, but when she first walked into the tent I noticed deep red marks on her neck. I think the bastard tried to strangle her.”

“You think Bandarlok is abusing her?”

“I think he’s planning to kill her, or at least that’s what she thinks.”

Rubbing one hand along his jawline, Johnny tipped his head. “We never did get a straight answer about what happened to Saium. He vanished off the face of the planet, which seems ominous, given how you say the chief is treating Shalira.”

“Did you see any signs of her clan in the camp?  Any banners, anyone with a bird tattoo like Saium’s?”

Dismounting to check his restless horse’s rear hoof, Johnny shook his head. “No, and I didn’t see any signs of preparation for a big wedding feast, either.”

“I’m sure the wooden staff with the carved Windhunter bird totem we took from the tomb was burning in the fire pit last night,” Mike said.

Johnny whistled as he dug a small pebble from the horse’s hoof. “Not a good omen. What do you have in mind to do?”

“Go back in tonight, do some recon, extract the princess. Bandarlok is a dead man if he gets in my way.” Mike eyed his cousin, waiting for Johnny to make some protest. “I’m taking her out of there and I’ll kill anyone in the camp who interferes, including the chief. She’s coming with me.”

The sergeant merely rubbed his jaw and nodded slowly. “All the way to the Djeelaba Mountains? With Bandarlok and his highland warriors chasing us to add to the fun?” Johnny chuckled, tossing the pebble he’d removed from the horse’s shoe as far away as he could. “Well, that’ll reduce the boredom of the search and recovery job. And then what? Are we taking her into the Sectors?”

Mike nodded. “Home to Azrigone as my wife, if she’ll have me. I won’t be the first guy to return married to a local girl.” He frowned. “You know the regs, I’m allowed to bring home a wife.”

Johnny nodded. “Oh, I’m in. You know Command isn’t going to like it, us complicating our mission with personal business. Bandarlok won’t give her up without a fight.”

“I don’t care, this is my last job for them, we’re basically doing Command a favor to take this mission on. They can court martial me if they want. Keep the veterans’ acres.”

“We have to accomplish our own mission objective,” Johnny reminded him. “Only way to have what we want is to bring them what they want. Command made the parameters clear enough when they reassigned us to active duty.” He spat.

Mike was undeterred. “We won’t fail, my word on it.”

“Just one thing, cousin. I hate to bring it up, but what if the lady insists on staying with Bandarlok, like she did back at the tombs? What if you’re wrong and this necklace she gave you doesn’t mean anything? If she still won’t turn aside from doing what she sees as her duty to her father?” Johnny ran his reins through his gloved hands. “What’s our play then?”

For a long minute Mike was silent. “Fair question. If I’m wrong, if she says no, then I ride away without a backward glance.”

“Can you do that?” Johnny’s eyebrows were raised to his hairline. “You seem pretty invested, old son. And if she’s being abused—”

“I’ll have to. But first she has to convince me. We’re past the point where her loyalty to her father carries much weight with me. If the old bastard sent her to be abused and killed by this barbarian chief, there’s no reason for her—or me—to go along with the plan. I screwed up the first time by not telling her straight out what she means to me. I should have told her I love her. I won’t repeat the mistake. Now mount up.”

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.

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?

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2015 SFR Galaxy Award Winner

Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence Finalist

Only One Among Many SFR Brigade Showcase

SFRB ShowcaseOn the first weekend of every month, the SFR Brigade Showcase is a chance for the authors to showcase excerpts from their latest releases, snippets from a work-in-progress, a new cover for their book or just have fun. Here’s the link for the Showcase hub, so you can find all the offerings!

SFR Galaxy AwardI’m happy to say that my most recent science fiction romance Mission to Mahjundar just received an SFR Galaxy Award, so I’m going to give you a short excerpt from the novel. Princess Shalira, who is blind, is summoned in the middle of the night to the bedside of her estranged father, the planetary emperor, Kajastahn. The emperor speaks first:

“Heard you were caught in a terrorist explosion this morning.”

“I was on the edge of the blast, yes. I took no harm, other than a superficial wound in the arm. The military officer from the Sectors rescued me.” Touching the fresh bandage on her upper arm, Shalira felt her cheeks grow warm as she remembered how commanding and strong Major Varone had been, how gallant. I wish I knew what he looked like. She pushed the stray desire to the back of her mind. Important to concentrate in this rare audience with her father.

“Not the first sign of unrest and rebellion. Maralika thinks she and her son will rule after I die, but she may have miscalculated how much the people will swallow. New taxes, new gods, she’s imposing too much change, moving too fast. Make no mistake, though, she’ll hold power for some span of time after I’m gone, which is why I wanted you well away from here.”

Shalira was startled again. “I thought my marriage was arranged to ensure peace along the western border? To seal a treaty.”

“Come closer.” Kajastahn patted the edge of his bed and Shalira obediently moved toward the sound, sitting once she had bumped into the mattress. A heavy, beringed hand closed around hers. Stroking her hand with his thumb, the emperor said, “I’ve not been much of a father, not since your mother died and your brother was killed. Too painful to behold you.” Unspoken was, Why them? Why not you?

Pain clenched around her heart to hear him admit what she’d always suspected. Shalira fought not to cry. Time for self-indulgence later. “What’s changed now?”

“I don’t have much time left. Trying to settle old debts, fix some problems I allowed to fester. Now look, Bandarlok is reputed to be a strong man, holds what’s his. I think he’ll keep you safe, even if you aren’t to be his chief wife. Give him an heir with royal blood and your position will be secure, even after I’m dead. Maralika can’t touch you there.”

Icy shock poured through her, and Shalira’s heart skipped a beat. “I don’t understand. Are you telling me he’s already married?”

“Customary among the hill people, just as it is here in the city. By the Ten Gods, girl, surely you didn’t think a powerful man like him was going to take a blind woman past her prime as his chief wife? Not even with the dowry I sent.” Kajastahn’s laugh was like acid on top of his harsh words.

Shalira fought not to faint, drawing in deep breaths and digging the fingernails of her free hand into her palm. Never once had it entered her mind she’d be one among many wives. He makes it sound as if Bandarlok had to be paid to take me off his hands. She wanted desperately to be anywhere but in this room, listening to Kajastahn’s revelations. She’d been so proud to have the marriage arranged for her, to be serving a critical diplomatic purpose for her father. How little she’d understood. Forcing herself to remain seated, Shalira waited for the next blow to fall.

MissionToM2-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700The 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.

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

 

The Princess Must Guess Tuesday Teaser

Tuesday TeaserThe members of the SciFi Romance Group offer up short excerpts from our various novels…click on the group link for more teasers!

SFR Galaxy AwardI’m switching gears this week to give you the first glimpse of the heroine Princess Shalira from MISSION TO MAHJUNDAR, which was just awarded an SFR Galaxy Award this past week! I was certainly honored and excited…

Although she’d never lived in the temperate mountain forests, Princess Shalira imagined she’d prefer them to the hot lowlands. Whenever she visited the tiny temple of her patron goddess Pavmiraia on the outskirts of the city, as she was doing today, she pretended the heat and intrigues of the capital and the court had been left behind. This chapel and her vivid daydreams provided special refuges for most of her life.

            The floor was cool beneath her bare feet as she strolled twenty paces from the door to the altar, passing the snoring priestess, sprawled on a bench no doubt, mouth probably wide open. Not many come here anymore, not many at all. Will anyone worship the goddess when I’ve gone? Tears pricked Shalira’s eyes as she felt for the padded knee rest, bowed her head, and knelt in front of the altar.

            “Do you know this is to be my last visit?” she whispered to the goddess she could no longer see. “Do you care? Will my pleas still reach your ears when I’ve completed my appointed journey?” Shalira fingered the amulet around her neck, the familiar whorls of the much-worn pattern under her fingers soothing her anxieties.  For the thousandth time she reminded herself this impending trip wasn’t her choice so much as the least of evils. She took a deep breath. “Maybe my life will improve, away from the empress and her schemes.”

            Settling more comfortably on the knee rest, she tried to visualize the chapel – graceful murals of forest and mountains on the walls, a small fountain in the courtyard outside, the larger than-life-size statue of the goddess herself, perpetually gazing to the east, a half smile on her face. Though Shalira’d not beheld these sights in well over fifteen years, she felt sure she was remembering them accurately.

            A cool breeze smelling of moss and tiny flowers blew her long hair away from her face, and instinctively she lifted her chin to enjoy the stray breath of air.

            Footsteps came down the aisle behind her, an unfamiliar, light tread. The newcomer halted a few feet behind the princess, who was already pivoting, unwilling to have her back to a stranger. For all the good it’ll do me if the intruder harbors evil intentions. She curled her hands into fists.

“No need to fear me, Your Highness. I offer a parting prophecy for your journey.” The woman’s voice was sweet and low, disarming. “You’ll travel farther than you dream, experience many things both good and bad, and even unexpected, but the blessings of Pavmiraia will wrap around you. Never doubt, but follow your heart in all your choices.”

“Thank you, priestess.” Unclenching her fingers, Shalira tried to calm herself with a deep breath. “Are you recently assigned to this chapel? I didn’t know there were any new celebrants.”

Gentle laughter like the chiming of bells. The woman touched Shalira’s cheek with the tips of her fingers. Annoyed, the princess straightened her spine, disliking anyone touching her, much less someone she didn’t know. “Indeed not,” said the bold newcomer. “I’ve been here since before your time. I came to bid you farewell, for I also take my leave of this place.”

“Who are you? I don’t recognize your voice.” She tried to keep impatience out of her tone. People who made her guess their identity were another frustrating aspect of her existence on the fringes of the court.

MissionToM2-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700The 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.

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?

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For more about the SFR Galaxy Awards, visit http://sfrgalaxyawards.blogspot.com/

 

 

Channel the Power MISSION TO MAHJUNDAR Weekend Writing Warriors

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

Doing excerpts from Mission to Mahjundar, which has been Released and is now available…MissionToM2-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700Princess Shalira has maneuvered her father the emperor into insisting the hero, Major Mike Varone of the Sectors Special Forces, and his companion, must accompany her on a journey. Mike’s not exactly pleased.

I’m jumping ahead a week or so, after the trip has begun. This snippet occurs after Shalira’s retrieved the key she must have to open her mother’s tomb, by conducting a ritual in an abandoned temple. Of course Mike ended up helping her.

(A little creative editing and a LOT of creative punctuation have occurred today.)

Do you know,” she said, “if I’d been born a thousand years ago, I would have been a high priestess? Even a hundred years ago, the gods were still respected, worshipped – I could have found my home in a temple, made my place happily, because I’m one who can channel the energy of the gods. Blind or not, I would have been cherished.” She bit her lip and winced, as if perhaps she’d not meant to reveal so much emotion.

“Is channeling energy what we did in there?” It was as good a description as any of what he’d felt during the ceremony.

 She nodded, a wistful expression on her face, “Yes – I’ve never tasted anything but crumbs of the power before…until today, with you at my side. But now the people venerate other gods or no gods at all, and there’s no need for priestesses with my gift.”

Not sure how much more I’ll share from this book. It gets to be hard to avoid spoilers and I know some of you have read the book, or are reading it (and thank you SO much!).  I’m currently writing my next ancient Egyptian but I might give you some excerpts from a couple of my unpublished SFR’s for a change of pace. We’ll see what I’m in the mood for!

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. 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

As always, I love your comments and feedback. Even though this book is now published, the input helps for the future!

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Why Does Mike Care? Mission to Mahjundar Weekend Writing Warriors

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

Doing excerpts from Mission to Mahjundar, which has been Released and is now available…MissionToM2-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700Princess Shalira has maneuvered her father the emperor into insisting the hero, Major Mike Varone of the Sectors Special Forces, and his companion, must accompany her on a journey. Mike’s not exactly pleased. Continuing on from last week’s excerpt. (A little creative editing and a LOT of creative punctuation have occurred today.) There’s quite a bit of discussion in this scene about why the Princess wants him to join her caravan, and of the events surrounding her loss of sight. I’m skipping some. We’re in Mike’s POV and he’s just asked if the chieftain she’s to marry is aware she’s unable to see. (Saium is her one faithful guardsman, a longtime servant of her late mother’s):

Shalira seemed troubled, wrinkling her brow and lowering her sightless eyes as she started worrying the fringe on the closest pillow, but all she said was, “A large dowry has been paid – he’ll keep me safe, and I’ll be happy living freely in the open forests, away from this hot, hateful city.”

Mike pondered the ramifications of what she’d shared earlier, added to the quick overview Saium had given him in the hall, asking, “So you’ve never actually met this guy?”

Bristling as if she heard unwarranted criticism in his tone, she said, “No, why does it matter? Arranged marriages are the custom for the high-born on Mahjundar – it’s how things are done.” She tilted her head, sculpted eyebrows drawn together in a frown.

If it’s fine with her, it’s hardly my place to question the arrangement – why do I care, anyway? What is it with me and this woman? I just met her yesterday – she’s none of my concern.

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. 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

As always, I love your comments and feedback. Even though this book is now published, the input helps for the future!

h06_64884mai

Princess of Shadows MISSION TO MAHJUNDAR Weekend Writing Warriors

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

Doing excerpts from Mission to Mahjundar, which has been Released and is now available…Princess Shalira has maneuvered her father the emperor into insisting the hero, Major Mike Varone of the Sectors Special Forces, and his companion, must accompany her on a journey. Mike’s not exactly pleased. Continuing on from last week’s excerpt. (Creative editing and punctuation have occurred.) There’s quite a bit of discussion in this scene as the Princess works to persuade Mike to agree and I’ve skipped some. This is part of her explanation about the importance of her journey. I almost titled this book “Princess of Shadows” at one point.

“…I have to get away from here, before the emperor dies.” She laughed, the sound MissionToM2-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700bitter. “Playing the Princess of Shadows won’t protect me after his death.”

“Princess of Shadows?” Nothing about that in our briefing. He remembered the empress had also used the term with derision when referring to Shalira.

“It’s an old folktale about a girl of royal blood who hid from her enemies in the shadows of the palace walls, disguised as a beggar, until her true love rescued her.” Gesturing to her eyes, Shalira said, “It’s meant as an insult to me, since I can’t see, not even shadows, and I’ve lived the past fifteen years on the fringes of the court, out of the ‘sun’.”

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. 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

As always, I love your comments and feedback. Even though this book is now published, the input helps for the future!

crab-nebula-hubble-nasa