You Will Die 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’ve switched to excerpts from my upcoming release, Danger in the Stars. This story is a companion piece to Star Cruise: Stowaway, my story in the PETS IN SPACE anthology, and is a completely standalone novel about the sister of Stowaway‘s heroine. The book is currently in copy edits. Continuing on from last week, where the heroine, Miriell, had a strong reaction to an unknown man’s voice (not Jareck). UPDATE to Clarify: Jareck is a VERY Bad Guy assigned by the Combine to ‘control’ Miriell. She knows him well and rightly hates him. Conor is the new person they’ve just met, the one with the wonderful voice and the description here. I realize it’s confusing getting the story in snippets 😦 We’ll see what the editor says!

With painful effort, she straightened her spine and stepped away, brushing one hand down her plain gray tunic in a vain attempt to smooth out the wrinkles. “I can walk.”

“You don’t look like it.”

Their new companion was no one she’d ever met before, tall, broad shoulders, heavily muscled, with black hair and gray eyes that were almost silver. She was mesmerized by his eyes. Miriell wished she dared to engage her gifts, get a sense of this person, maybe figure out why he made her feel safe, when clearly she was anything but. Jareck stopped to pick up his kit bag, never releasing his hold on her.

“Conor’s right, we’ve got to be going. You’re ready to behave, right?”

Submissively she nodded, bottling up her anger and hatred. Someday I’ll get my chance and you will die.

dangerinthestarsfinalThe story:

Miriell, a powerful empathic priestess, has been kidnapped from her own primitive planet along with a number of her people, and sold to the evil Amarotu Combine, largest organized crime syndicate in the Sectors. When she and her handler are sent to use her power to commit an assassination, she must leave behind her own sister as hostage to ensure her compliance. Miriell cannot ask for aid without endangering herself and others.

Despite his best efforts, Combine enforcer Conor Stewart is entranced by Miriell, and helps her evade the worst of brutal treatment from the rest of the mob. But Conor must keep his distance, before the lovely empath learns that he has secrets of his own–secrets that could get them both killed.

The situation becomes dire when Conor and Miriell come to the attention of both the Combine overlords and the deadly Mawreg, aliens who threaten the Sectors. Can she save herself and the Mawreg’s next victims? And will Conor help her, or remain loyal to his evil bosses?

 

Do I Have To Carry You 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’ve switched to excerpts from my upcoming release, Danger in the Stars. This story is a companion piece to Star Cruise: Stowaway, my story in the PETS IN SPACE anthology, and is a completely standalone novel about the sister of Stowaway‘s heroine. Continuing on from last week, where the heroine, Miriell, had a strong reaction to an unknown man’s voice (not Jareck).

(Oh, and there’s some award news and a book on sale at the end!)

Intrigued by her own reaction, she forced herself to sit up, bracing herself against the cargo container that had been her prison. Blinking to focus, she turned her head, searching for the owner of the new voice.

Jareck grabbed her elbow in a bruising grip and yanked her to her feet. He must have removed the shackles while she was still unconscious. Giving her a shake, he said, “I swear, every time we travel for a job, you act as if your sweet time asleep in the cryo unit was torture.”

Maybe because for me it is. Swaying, balance still off, she couldn’t resist Jareck as he tugged her close to him, the smell of his cheap cologne another assault on her overloaded senses. Her stomach heaved and she had to make a conscious effort not to throw up all over him, slapping her free hand over her mouth.

“Do I have to carry you?” His voice was low and she knew it was a threat. 

dangerinthestarsfinalThe story:

Miriell, a powerful empathic priestess, has been kidnapped from her own primitive planet along with a number of her people, and sold to the evil Amarotu Combine, largest organized crime syndicate in the Sectors. When she and her handler are sent to use her power to commit an assassination, she must leave behind her own sister as hostage to ensure her compliance. Miriell cannot ask for aid without endangering herself and others.

Despite his best efforts, Combine enforcer Conor Stewart is entranced by Miriell, and helps her evade the worst of brutal treatment from the rest of the mob. But Conor must keep his distance, before the lovely empath learns that he has secrets of his own–secrets that could get them both killed.

The situation becomes dire when Conor and Miriell come to the attention of both the Combine overlords and the deadly Mawreg, aliens who threaten the Sectors. Can she save herself and the Mawreg’s next victims? And will Conor help her, or remain loyal to his evil bosses?

At the copy editor, coming in late March/early April.

In other news, my Lady of the Star Wind was selected as an EPIC eBook Award Finalist last week! WHEE! I’ve put the book on sale for $.99 in honor of the honor…

Lady of the Star WindFinal-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700The story:

Are they merely luckless lovers … or a legend come back to life?

Mark Denaltieri, ex-Sector Special Forces, has been hired by the Outlier Empress to rescue her granddaughter, Princess Alessandra, from kidnappers. Since the Empress once had him tortured and banished, she’s the last person Mark wants to work for. But he takes the job. He’ll save Alessandra, his first love, and discover why she didn’t speak for him when he desperately needed her. Then he’ll be on his way, finally free of his past.

Alessandra would rather her rescuer was anyone but Mark–after all, he let her believe he was dead all this time. But when the couple are forced to flee her captors by Traveling via a strange crystal globe, they find themselves in a lovely Oasis on a desert planet, the old attraction sizzling between them again.

They soon discover they are far from alone. The Oasis holds the entrance to another world, one in which the inhabitants are convinced Sandy and Mark are the Lady of the Star Wind and her Warrior, come to free them from an evil Queen.

Mark and Sandy must work together to unearth an ancient mirror, and crown the true king of this land.  Can they fulfill the prophecy of the Lady and her Warrior … and this time, will their love survive the test?

Buy Links:  iBooks     Amazon    KOBO     Barnes & Noble

 

Danger in the Stars Cover Reveal

dangerinthestarsfinalI did the cover reveal this week for my upcoming scifi romance novel Danger in the Stars! My friend author Pauline B. Jones was kind enough to host it for me, and I included a short discussion of why I wrote this book  as well as the first ever excerpt from the book.

You can read the interview with details on Why I Wrote This Book and the excerpt on Pauline’s blog.

Here’s the book’s blurb:

Miriell, a powerful empathic priestess, has been kidnapped from her own primitive planet along with a number of her people, and sold to the evil Amarotu Combine, largest organized crime syndicate in the Sectors. When she and her handler are sent to use her power to commit an assassination, she must leave behind her own sister as hostage to ensure her compliance. Miriell cannot ask for aid without endangering herself and others. 

Despite his best efforts, Combine enforcer Conor Stewart is entranced by Miriell, and helps her evade the worst of brutal treatment from the rest of the mob. But Conor must keep his distance, before the lovely empath learns that he has secrets of his own–secrets that could get them both killed.

The situation becomes dire when Conor and Miriell come to the attention of both the Combine overlords and the deadly Mawreg, aliens who threaten the Sectors. Can she save herself and the Mawreg’s next victims? And will Conor help her, or remain loyal to his evil bosses?

You an sign up for my newsletter  or follow my Amazon Author Page to be alerted when the book releases, which will probably be in late March or early April. It’s at the copy editor now.

The book will be at all major ebook sellers of course and I’ll get the CreateSpace paperback available as soon as possible after the publication date.

 

The Drums Were Her Heartbeat 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!)

Apologies in advance but I’ll be slow getting to comment on other posts this week…helping out with my new grandbaby – YAY!!!

I’m continuing on with my latest release, Star Survivor for the last week. The book is on sale if you want to know how things turn out LOL!

Next week will be from something else…

(Blurb for Star Survivor below the excerpt.) Edited a bit from published version, mostly for punctuation. Twilka and Khevan are on the run, trying to evade other assassins, since the Red Lady has a kill order out on Twilka. The couple are in a bad area of town, waiting for their friend Nick to arrive. Khevan’s last line, last week, was  “I didn’t abandon you on Temple Home, at least not willingly.”

Tilting her head, Twilka raised both eyebrows, “Seemed like it to me. Did I ever see you again, did you send word, say goodbye?”

“I couldn’t,” Leaning his head against the wall, he closed his eyes, “What do you remember of our final evening?”

“Drums. There we were in the White Lady’s temple across the great square and your Red Lady had her people pounding the drums, for a ritual, you said. The sound echoed—it was eerie. The percussion symphony gave me a migraine, but you were restless, pacing, agitated. I went to bed and you left the room. And I never saw you again until the other night on the Nebula Zephyr.”

“The drums were her heartbeat.”

Star Survivor by Veronica ScottThe story:

The survivors of a terrible wreck meet again—but this time only one can survive.

They survived an iconic spaceship wreck together. She never expected to see him again … especially not armed to kill her.

Twilka Zabour is an interstellar celebrity. She built on her notoriety as a carefree Socialite who survived the terrible wreck of the Nebula Dream, and launched a successful design house. But now the man who gave meaning to her life, then left her, is back–this time for the worst of reasons. Will he kill her … or help her survive?

D’nvannae Brother Khevan survived the Nebula Dream in the company of a lovely, warm woman, only to be pulled away from her, back into his solitary life in the service of the Red Lady.  Now Twilka’s within his reach again–for all the wrong reasons. Khevan will do everything within his power to discover why Twilka has been targeted for assassination, and to save her.

But Khevan is not Twilka’s only pursuer. Will allies Nick and Mara Jameson arrive in time to aid the couple, or will Khevan and Twilka’s ingenuity be all that stands between them and death?

iBooks      Amazon    Kobo       Barnes & Noble

 

SFR Brigade Presents STAR CRUISE OUTBREAK

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.

StarCruiseOutbreak-FJM_Mid_Res_1000x1500Since Star Cruise: Outbreak received two SFR Galaxy Awards this past week (which was very exciting), I thought it would be the best book to feature  with an excerpt!

The story:

She saved countless soldiers in the wars … but does she have the weapons to fight an outbreak?

Dr. Emily Shane, veteran of the Sector Wars, is known as “The Angel of Fantalar” for her bravery under fire as a medic. However, the doctor has her own war wounds–severe PTSD and guilt over those she failed to save.

Persuaded to fill a seemingly frivolous berth as ship’s doctor on the huge and luxurious interstellar cruise liner Nebula Zephyr, she finds the job brings unexpected perks–a luxe beach deck with water imported from Tahumaroa II, and Security Officer Jake Dilon, a fellow veteran who heats her up like a tropical sun.

However, Emily soon learns she and Jake didn’t leave all peril behind in the war. A mysterious ailment aboard the Zephyr begins to claim victim after victim … and they must race against time and space to find the cause and a cure! Trapped on a ship no spaceport will allow to dock, their efforts are complicated by a temperamental princess and a terrorist–one who won’t hesitate to take down any being in the way of his target.  If anyone’s left when the disease is through with them…

The excerpt:

The portal to the corridor burst open, and Mr. Enzell struggled into the sickbay lobby, half carrying his wife and surrounded by their white-faced children. Syl was sobbing in great gasps, and the boys’ faces were set in expressions of terror. The oldest had a blood-soaked wad of cloth pressed to his nose. Mrs. Enzell’s head lolled, and she looked as if she was crying tears of blood. Clint immediately moved to support the woman on the other side, calling for Emily as he did so.

“Seven hells, here we go.” Emily was right behind them as the men helped Mrs. Enzell to an exam room and onto the bed.

“Trynna started bleeding a few minutes ago, Doctor,” Mr. Enzell said as medical personnel hurried to get their new patient hooked up to monitors. “She said she was dizzy and then—then her eyes—she was—the tears were blood. And next thing I knew, my son’s nose was bleeding. What’s going on?”

Emily caught Relba’s attention. “Call Bevar in, stat. I’ve got this, Vicente. Take the boy into room two and get him in bed, please.” As her staff moved to carry out the orders, Emily busied herself setting up the intravenous flow of fluids for Mrs. Enzell and added a basic clotting factor. “This is apparently a complication of the intestinal virus, Mr. Enzell. Do you have any symptoms?”

He blinked. “I’m fine. Marc, my oldest, he’s not doing too well.”

“My nurse is taking care of him right now. And Syl? And the middle child?” Emily spared a glance for them.

He clutched the kids closer to him. “Fine so far. Scared for their mom and Marc. How can bleeding from the eyes be related to an upset stomach?” Mr. Enzell’s voice was rough.

“Sometimes an infection affects different areas of the body at different times.” She tried to keep her own tone soothing.

“So you’ve seen this before? You know what to do?” He stepped closer to the bed and took his wife’s hand. “How long before she’s better?”

“Being in sickbay should do the trick, dear.” Sick as she was, Mrs. Enzell made an effort to reassure him. “Don’t give the doctor a hard time. I’m sure I’ll be all better by tonight.” Her voice was a thready whisper.

“The fluids and coagulant should help,” Emily said. “You were wise to come in right away.”

Clint knocked on the portal. “Excuse me, Doctor, but I think you should come out here for a moment.”

“I’ll be right back.” Although she could tell the Enzells weren’t happy to see her leaving the room, she inferred from the security officer’s voice that a situation was brewing.

Three more patients sat sprawled in the waiting-room chairs, each projecting an impression of terror. A man and a woman clutching each other were obviously in the throes of major nosebleeds. The third person was more alert to his surroundings. Spotting Emily, he jumped from his chair and moved to intercept her. Yanking his shirt open in the center of the lobby, he said, “I woke up with these bruises on my chest, Doctor. What the seven hells is wrong with me?”

Buy Links:  Apple iBooks   Amazon     Kobo      Barnes & Noble   

If you go to the SFR Galaxy Awards site you can see the complete list of “standout books in science fiction romance” the judges selected for this year’s list. Lots of good reading and many wonderful authors included.

sfr-galay-award-2016

A Mere Scratch 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’m continuing on with my latest release, Star Survivor. (Blurb below the excerpt.) I’ve jumped way ahead, to a point where Twilka and Khevan are on the run, trying to evade other assassins, since the Red Lady has a kill order out on Twilka. The couple are in a bad area of town, waiting for their friend Nick to arrive. Khevan has been talking to another D’nvannae Brother  while Twilka watches suspiciously from close by. The two men get into a knife fight, which Twilka breaks up. “Where did you learn to throw so well?” was the last line, last week. (Edited a bit from published version):

“One of my half-brothers plays professional ball,” she said in between gasping breaths,“I was bored one summer and he was on injured reserve so he taught me. Can we stop for a moment?”

“All right.” He skidded to a halt in between two buildings as she bent over, struggling to inhale enough air to renew the run. “He was trying to delay me, keep me there until the Temple forces arrived.”

“Yeah, the people I was standing with said the Brothers would be coming soon. Concussing him with a hard object to the head was the only thing I could think of to help you.” As she straightened, breathing more easily, she did a double take, reaching out one hand to his abdomen, where red blood was dripping through a tear in his shirt, “Lords of Space, you’re injured – how bad is it?”

“He got in a lucky slash,” Khevan said, face set in tense lines, “A mere scratch.”

“Let me see.”

Star Survivor by Veronica ScottThe story:

The survivors of a terrible wreck meet again—but this time only one can survive.

They survived an iconic spaceship wreck together. She never expected to see him again … especially not armed to kill her.

Twilka Zabour is an interstellar celebrity. She built on her notoriety as a carefree Socialite who survived the terrible wreck of the Nebula Dream, and launched a successful design house. But now the man who gave meaning to her life, then left her, is back–this time for the worst of reasons. Will he kill her … or help her survive?

D’nvannae Brother Khevan survived the Nebula Dream in the company of a lovely, warm woman, only to be pulled away from her, back into his solitary life in the service of the Red Lady.  Now Twilka’s within his reach again–for all the wrong reasons. Khevan will do everything within his power to discover why Twilka has been targeted for assassination, and to save her.

But Khevan is not Twilka’s only pursuer. Will allies Nick and Mara Jameson arrive in time to aid the couple, or will Khevan and Twilka’s ingenuity be all that stands between them and death?

iBooks      Amazon    Kobo       Barnes & Noble

 

Star Cruise: Thanksgiving A Short Story

016

One of my favorite representations of the Pilgrims, on a vintage plate

Veronica: I started thinking about when and where Thanksgiving might be celebrated in the far future of my interstellar civilization, the Sectors, and this little story came to mind. I hope you’ll enjoy!

Chef Stephanie leaned back in her desk chair on board the Nebula Zephyr and stretched. Finally a quiet afternoon, now that the last gourmet tour group had departed the ship. Of course there were still thousands of passengers who needed to be fed, but her next group of foodies wouldn’t arrive for a week. Plenty of time to test a few new recipes and plan intricate tasting menus. Today maybe she could finally spare a second to get to the bottom of the inventory mystery – why were they carrying pounds of flour and sugar beyond what was required?

And who had ordered solidified vegetable shortening of all things? “Who cooks with that antiquated substance?” She looked at the records on her AI but the name of the requisitioner was missing. She raised her eyebrows at the cost of the small quantity of the rare ingredient.

“I have a healthy budget but not generous to this extent,” she said, doing a doubletake.

The com pinged. “Yes?”

The caller was Owen Embersson, the ship’s cargo master and from the look of his stern face in the vid, he was pretty upset about something.

“You and I need to talk,” he said, his voice deep and raspy. “Now.”

“Of course—“

“I’m afraid you’ll have to come to Cargo Deck A. Better bring someone to help you.”

“With what? What is that noise in the background?” She wondered if it was static on the com link, an oddly garbled noise like the call of an animal. “Is it your cat? Is she ok?”

“Moby’s fine. Your cargo may not be if you don’t get here in the next few minutes.” He signed off as the sound grew louder.

I didn’t order any special cargo. Annoyed but intrigued, she went in search of Richard, her Sous Chef de Cuisine. He denied all knowledge of any special deliveries but readily accompanied her through the ship to the cargo bay on deck seven.

As she stepped from the gravlift, her ears were assaulted by the loud animal noise, coming from multiple throats. There were feathers on the deck and a strange smell. Richard yanked her backward by the elbow as a large avian creature with a truly astounding fantail of brown and gray feathers ran by, squawking loudly, chased by both Moby and Midorri, the ship’s pets. Two of Owen’s crew were apparently trying to herd the creature into an empty crate, while the rest of the day shift stood by and laughed.

“Took you long enough,” Owen said. Fists on his hips, jaw clenched, he stared at the chaos on his deck caused by the still-fleeing bird. “You know you’re not allowed to bring livestock on board this ship without advance warning and proper documentation. What the seven hells were you thinking?  My guys opened the crate and these things burst out. We’ve managed to chase down three of them but this last one is wily.”

Stephanie stifled a laugh, positive that showing her amusement at the unfolding situation would send the cargo master into a tirade. “I sympathize but I certainly didn’t order them.”

“You certainly did.” He handed her an AI, with the bill of lading displayed. Her name was in the authorizing party and the deliver to boxes.

Tilting the AI to show her sous chef, who raised his eyebrows, she shook her head. “Something is very wrong here.”

Owen moved faster than she’d ever seen him do before and grabbed the huge bird as it circled around the deck again. Caging the creature in his arms, he strode toward the livestock crate while his crew applauded. “Tell me about it,” he said over his shoulder.

There was a ping in her ear and Stephanie heard Maeve, the ship’s AI, using the channel  only for senior officers.

“I can explain the situation to you and the Cargo Master,” she said in her usual cool tones.

Stephanie glanced at Owen, who’d handed his captive off to two crew members, and saw he was obviously receiving the same message.

“Not here,” Maeve went on. “In the kitchen. You’re needed there.”

“I have too much to do to take time off for a tour of the moon damned kitchen.” Owen’s voice was a roar as he brushed feathers from his uniform. “Do I look like a health inspector to you? Did someone assign me extra duties and forget to tell me?”

“This is essential or I wouldn’t make the request,” Maeve said, unfazed.

Stephanie held her breath, afraid to utter a sound.

Owen tilted his head and shut his eyes for a moment. “Essential.”

“Yes, Cargo Master.”

He called to his second in command. “You’re in charge. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Stephanie and Richard made their way to the kitchen, with the brooding bulk of the unhappy cargo master right behind. There was a small cluster of crew members waiting at the entrance to the food preparation area. They turned as Stephanie approached and she saw most were carrying odd parcels or items.

Owen sped up and cut around her, stepping to the side of his mate, Tyrelle, the  ship’s special hydroponics officer. She was juggling several orange vegetables that looked large enough to be sentient. “What are you doing here?” he asked, taking the two most unwieldy items from her and bending to kiss her cheek.

“I brought the chef her pumpkins,” Tyrelle said. “I’ve been nurturing them especially, so they’d be ripe on this date.”

Has everyone on this ship gone mad today? Stephanie put a hand to her head. “I don’t even know what those are, much less did I request you to grow them.”

Tyrelle frowned. “But yes, you did. You put through a special written order and the packet of seeds – such odd flat seeds – were delivered to me a month ago. It required much energy from me and special nutrients to bring the vines and the flowers and then the pumpkins themselves to maturity so rapidly. I believe they must normally use a hundred or more of your standard days to become ready for consumption.”

“Either I’m losing my mind or someone is playing a practical joke,” Stephanie said, running her fingers through her hair and then rubbing her left temple, where a headache was growing. “Do the rest of you have odd food for me as well?”

There was a chorus of agreement. Meg Thomsill raised her voice. “Actually I have the rare spices you requested. My father had to jump through some serious hoops to get the one called cinnamon. He’ll be billing the ship for the effort and cost, no way around it.”

“No more hoops than I had to go through to persuade the elders on my planet to part with three pints of cranberries. Those are sacred on our world,” said Quint, the shuttle pilot. “They came with the First Ship settlers, when the colony was founded centuries ago. They don’t grow much of anywhere else. It’s a good thing I like you so much, chef. But I’ll be calling in a large favor for this.”

“If you would all please move into the small conference room,” Maeve said, projecting her voice through the AI ganglions located in every corner of the cruise ship. “I can explain.”

“What in the seven hells is going on here?” Chief security officer Jake Dilon arrived on the scene, Dr. Emily Shane right behind him.

“Don’t tell me – you brought me some delicacy too.” Stephanie sighed.

He raised the package clutched in his left hand. “Dried Azrigone venison strips, the finest quality the Varone family supplies, usually to generational billionaires, not cruise ship galleys. Mike Varone and I go way back, were in hell week during Special Forces advanced training together so I was able to sweet talk him into sending me some for quarter price, plus shipping. Even with the discount, the credits mounted up.”

“Conference room!” Maeve’s voice was sharp.

Stephanie took her place at the head of the table since the meeting was occurring in her domain.  Richard took the seat to her right and the other crew members settled themselves, setting their bottles, packages and boxes on the highly polished Zulairian mahogany table.

Stephanie  knocked on the wood. “Can we have quiet, please? First of all, I did not order any of these rare and expensive foodstuffs.” She raised her hand for silence as there was immediate protest.

The AI ganglion emitted a sharp whistle. “Chef Stephanie is right. I used her name to request everything you’ve brought.”

There was a moment of silence. “Why would you do that?” Stephanie asked.

“I wish to recreate the holiday of Thanksgiving as a surprise for Captain Fleming.”

A little ripple of shrugs and puzzled looks around the table.

“I think I’ve heard of it,” Meg said. “In the ancient history books.  Some kind of celebration on old Terra?”

“Why would the captain care about that?” asked Owen.

“Captain Fleming is from an Original Colony,” the AI said. “The colonists brought many traditions and celebrations with them from the terrestrial home world, which are still celebrated even now, millennia later. I have prepared the menu and supplied recipes for the required dishes. They’ve been downloaded to your AI, Chef.”

She pulled out her personal AI and her sous chef peered over her shoulder as she read.   “Turkey, stuffing, rolls, corn, pemmican, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie. The list goes on.” Her voice trailed off and she flicked to the recipes. “How old were the documents you scanned? These instructions and ingredients are obscure, to say the least.”

Richard pointed. “Look, you need shortening for the pie crust. I guess now we know why we have a brick of it in stores.”

turkey“Are those things in my cargo hold turkeys?” Owen asked, brow furrowed.

“Live turkeys?” Meg choked back a laugh. “Those’ll be hard to cook.”

“They are the closest living relatives to the terrestrial turkey, yes. I was unclear on the instructions for cooking but the record I chose began with instructions for handling the live turkeys of a certain size.” Maeve sounded stubborn.

“What’s pemmican?” asked someone.

Jake pushed his sealed packet to the center of the table. “It’s a form of venison.”

“I went to the oldest original source recipes I could find, in order to ensure the thoroughness and rigor of my research was complete,” Maeve said.

“It would be an exciting culinary challenge,” Stephanie said to Richard. “Recreating an ancient meal.”

“I can bless these turkeys for you and give them an honorable and painless death,” Tyrelle offered.

Jake raised a hand and the conversation stopped. “Captain Fleming is one of the most private men I ever met and the least likely to appreciate a surprise of any kind, let alone one relating to his home planet and costing the Nebula Zephyr thousands of credits. Why are we doing this, Maeve?”

Before the AI could answer, Stephanie spoke up. “We could make a trideo of the preparation process, put together a documentary special, if I could have some help from the social media staff person. Depending on whether we had leftovers, we could offer it as a special, one time only event on the next leg of the cruise. We are renowned for our cuisine.” Thanks to my efforts. “Recoup at least some of the costs, charge it to the business. The Purser would approve.”

“I could help with the trideo arrangements,” Meg said.

“I maintain my own account as a registered sentient,” Maeve reminded them. “I intend to pay my fair share.”

Jake was undeterred in his quest to get to the bottom of the situation. “But again, and with all due respect, why are we doing this in the first place?”

“Captain Fleming is a human being.”

“Well, yes that’s a given.” Jake sounded impatient. “And?”

“This crew is his family, in a sense, and the holiday is about family, as I understand the history.” Maeve fell silent. “I will explain further to Jake and Tyrelle alone.”

“All right.” Jake rose, taking charge. “The rest of you are dismissed. Please take your contributions to the kitchen stores, wherever Chef Stephanie wants them. The Purser will be in touch regarding reimbursement where necessary.”

“They’ll be invited to the dinner with the Captain,” Maeve said.

“Only if it isn’t going to be a career limiting event.” Jake’s voice was flat. “I’m not convinced yet.”

Stephanie stayed put. “I think since my name was used under false pretenses, I’m entitled to hear the explanation. And if I’m to cook a special meal for the captain, I need to know why. Cooking isn’t just a ‘follow the numbers, throw the ingredients in a pot’ process. Food is emotion, comes from the heart, at least when I’m preparing a special meal.”

“Stay then. I’m convinced.” Jake sat down and toyed with the personal AI, studying the recipes. The portal slid shut behind all the departing crew members and Tyrelle moved to sit next to Stephanie and him. “We’re waiting.”

“I will not breach the captain’s confidence nor tell his business,” Maeve said. “I am concerned about him, however. He recently received the news that his only remaining family member, a younger half-brother, was killed on active duty in Sector 112. The body was not recovered. There was no memorial service other than the ceremonial reading of the name at Special Forces Command. This has hit Captain Fleming very hard. You are aware, I believe, Tyrelle?”

Stephanie glanced at the officer, her curiosity aroused.

Tyrelle exchanged glances with Jake. “Based on the – based on certain indicators, yes, I have been aware. I believe the captain is stronger than you estimate, Maeve, but I’m supportive of this dinner idea. We can remind him he is cared for and in a family of sorts. The Zephyr has certainly become that for me as well, so I understand.”

Stephanie knew there were secrets about the Zephyr, things she wasn’t privy to. Truth be told, she really didn’t want to be. The kitchen was her empire and she was happy there. Obviously Jake and Tyrelle shared some of the darker knowledge.

“All right, then we’ll do it.” Jake flashed her a smile. “Assuming you’re willing to try cooking in accordance with those ancient recipes Maeve unearthed?”

“Yes, of course. Are we inviting anyone else to the dinner? How many am I cooking for?”

“I’ll give you a list,” Maeve said. “After Jake approves the names.”

He looked relieved at the AI’s compromise. “And we’ll tell no one else about the captain’s brother, not even the other dinner guests, nor will we indicate we know, right?”

“I keep no secrets from Owen,” Tyrelle said. “But he will keep this one to the death. He and I owe the captain everything.”

“And I’m guessing Emily already knows, as ship’s doctor, but of course she couldn’t tell me. I won’t need to discuss it with her. No problem.” Jake waved a hand. “Are we done here?”

“When does the dinner need to be held?” Stephanie asked.

“Tomorrow.”

“Why am I not surprised? At least we’re in between gourmet groups so I have my special kitchen crew available for the task.”

Next day…

“The captain is on his way,” Maeve said. “I told him there’s a tense situation in this room.”

Stephanie nodded in the direction of the AI ganglion and surveyed the table with a critical eye. She thought her staff had outdone themselves, figuring out how to make the ancient recipes work with modern techniques and substituting current ingredients where there was no availability of what the formula called for. The platters and bowls of food all smelled mouthwatering, and the pies waiting on the side table were beautifully formed, the crusts just browned to the perfect point.

The portal slid open to allow the captain to step inside and Stephanie led the small crowd in a cheer of “Surprise!”

Fleming paused in midstep, frowning, his gaze going immediately to Jake and Owen as the senior officers present. Stephanie and Tyrelle walked forward to intercept him.

“We’ve taken the liberty of preparing what we believe to be a fairly good reproduction of the ancient Thanksgiving feast served on your home planet. At least according to Maeve,” Stephanie said.  “As we understand it, this day is for gathering with friends and family and remembering the things we’re thankful for. We wanted to honor you.” When preparing her little speech, she’s decided the less said the better. Keep it simple.

She thought for a moment Fleming might retreat, his normal deep reserve threatened by this open display of caring from people on the crew who’d known him the longest, like Chief Takkei and Jake, and others who were newer to his command, like Tyrelle and herself.

Tyrelle extended one graceful hand. “Come, won’t you take your place at the head of the table, sir?”

He gave her a half bow and tucked her hand into his bent elbow. “I would be honored. Please, sit down everyone.”

Eyeing the dishes as he walked with Tyrelle, he said, “Is that turkey? And cranberry sauce?”

“A version of it, sir,” Stephanie answered. “Quint did his best to get real cranberries for us and Maeve found genetic descendants of Terran turkeys. Everyone  pitched in on obtaining the necessary ingredients.”

He helped Tyrelle into her seat next to Owen and waited for Stephanie to sit on the other side before he took his own place. All eyes turned to him as he cleared his throat for a moment. No one had ever seen him at a loss for words. “I haven’t seen a meal like this since I was a boy. I don’t think anyone has.  My family had a ritual, we’d go around the table and share what we were thankful for. I’ll start – I’m very grateful for this good ship and for the crew – and Maeve – who fly her with me. A man couldn’t ask for better comrades.” He nodded at Stephanie and she voiced her thanks for her staff.

So it went around the table and when Tyrelle had spoken her piece, thanking the crew of the Zephyr for saving her life and giving her a home, and it was Fleming’s turn again, he picked up the carving fork and knife and said, “Thank you to everyone who had a hand in putting this special meal together for us to share this evening. Now, the question is – white meat or dark?”

Copyright 2016 by Veronica Scott

WitchesBroomNebula

Cover Reveal Star Survivor Sequel to Wreck of the Nebula Dream

star-survivorsfinalUPDATE: Now that the 24 hour exclusivity window is finished, I’ve added the complete cover to this post too!

USA Today Happily Ever After is doing the exclusive cover reveal today for my latest scifi romance novel Star Survivor, which is the long awaited sequel to Wreck of the Nebula Dream! There’s also an exclusive excerpt to go with the cover reveal.

I’m not doing preorders – sorry! – as they can be so nerve wracking – but I expect the book to go live next week at all major ebook retailers and will send out a newsletter and announce it here and well, everywhere LOL.

A tease of the cover and the blurb below:

The survivors of a terrible wreck meet again—but this time only one can survive.

The long-awaited sequel to The Wreck of the Nebula Dream

They survived an iconic spaceship wreck together. She never expected to see him again … especially not armed to kill her.

Twilka Zabour is an interstellar celebrity. She built on her notoriety as a carefree Socialite who survived the terrible wreck of the Nebula Dream, and launched a successful design house. But now the man who gave meaning to her life, then left her, is back–this time for the worst of reasons. Will he kill her … or help her survive?

D’nvannae Brother Khevan survived the Nebula Dream in the company of a lovely, warm woman, only to be pulled away from her, back into his solitary life in the service of the Red Lady.  Now Twilka’s within his reach again–for all the wrong reasons. Khevan will do everything within his power to discover why Twilka has been targeted for assassination, and to save her.

But Khevan is not Twilka’s only pursuer. Will allies Nick and Mara Jameson arrive in time to aid the couple, or will Khevan and Twilka’s ingenuity be all that stands between them and death?

Available now – Buy Links:

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She Spoke Basic 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’m switching to Trapped on Talonque, which came out in August, but I never shared excerpts here (I don’t think). Briefly, part of the book is a scifi take on the Sleeping Beauty tale. The story synopsis is after the excerpt.

“She must have been lying there for centuries, maybe thousands of years, judging from the multiple layers of building remnants we passed through on our downward trek. You expect us to believe she spoke to you? And apologized in Basic?” Haranda’s voice conveyed his skepticism. “Captain, whatever equipment was running in the room obviously affected you—”

“I know what I heard.” Nate decided to ignore the edge of insubordination in the cadet pilot’s voice in the interest of discussing the phenomenon, “The private communication was the same female voice speaking out loud in the room, so what I heard in my head had to be her.”

“Maybe close to a language you were hypnotrained for on a past mission?” Thom asked. “I admit this local stuff don’t activate any of my stored files.”

Nate shook his head, “Basic, she spoke Basic to me – how could an alien woman entombed here all this time know Basic?”

Trapped on TalonqueWill an alien sleeping beauty awaken to save him, or destroy everyone around her?

When a Sectors Special Forces soldier and his team crash land on an alien planet, they’re taken captive and given a challenge–win at the violent ball game of sapiche and live. Lose, and they die, sending a mysterious, alien beauty to an even uglier fate. To survive, these soldiers must win the game and find a way to free the dangerous prisoner from her locked chamber.

Nate Reilly and his team are in deep trouble. Prisoners on a backward alien planet, they’re brought before an alien ‘goddess’, sleeping in her high tech seclusion. Nate is astonished when she awakes and establishes a psychic link with him. But her news is not good–he and his men must win a brutal challenge set by their captors, or they will die. She’ll give her aid, but in the end their courage and strength must win the contest.

Bithia sleeps in her chamber, as she has for thousands of years, since her own people unaccountably left her there. Viewed as a goddess by her captors, she must hide her ancient secrets to survive. But only the bravest of men may free her. Can she use her psychic powers to keep Nate and his men alive long enough to help her escape, or will her only hope of freedom die with them?

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The Alien Pet Gets Into Mischief Weekend Writing Warriors

Warriors logo revisedIf you’re here for the SFRB Presents, that post is here. (It’s longer version of this same scene…)

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!)

I’m very excited about my new story Star Cruise: Stowaway, which is releasing in the PETS IN SPACE anthology on October 11th. Continuing on with the story from last week, Moby the cat won’t let him leave the cargo deck and nearly trips him. A little creative punctuation:

moby_and_midorri_pets_in-space_artwork_nyssa_juneau

Moby and Midorri by Artist Nyssa Juneau

Swearing, he caught himself with a hand to the bulkhead, “What in the seven hells is wrong with you tonight? Giving me a concussion won’t get you fed.”

            Moby yowled at him and ran toward the stacked cargo again.

            Figuring she wanted to show him a recent kill, which he’d then have to dispose of, he followed.

            Moby moved faster now that she’d gotten him with the program.

He followed her around the corner of the pallet the ship had taken on earlier in the day and found Midorri, the Zephyr’s other pet, crouched beside a free trader container. “What mischief have the two of you gotten into now?” he asked Moby. Midorri came aboard the Zephyr originally as the pampered pet of a princess, but after the whole outbreak incident, Sector authorities refused to let the lady disembark on Sector Hub with the undocumented animal, so the ship had kept the odd green fluffball. 

            Midorri sneezed, as she was often wont to do, allergic to humans perhaps, and flicked her plush prehensile tail before lowering her head and extending her long green tongue to lap at something on the deck.

            “Freaking flares, do not tell me we’ve got leaking cargo.”

Here’s the blurb for the anthology, followed by the blurb for my story:

The blurb for Pets In Space:

Even an alien needs a pet…

PETS_In_Space_cover_artJoin the adventure as nine pet loving sci-fi romance authors take you out of this world and pull you into their action-packed stories filled with suspense, laughter, and romance. The alien pets have an agenda that will capture the hearts of those they touch. Follow along as they work side by side to help stop a genetically-engineered creature from destroying the Earth to finding a lost dragon; life is never the same after their pets decide to get involved. Can the animals win the day or will the stars shine just a little less brightly?

New York Times, USA TODAY, Award Winning, and Best selling authors have eight original, never-released stories and one expanded story giving readers eight amazing new adventures  and one expanded story that will capture your imagination and help a worthy charity. Come join us as we take you on nine amazing adventures that will change the way you look at your pet!

10% of the first month’s profits go to Hero-Dogs.org. Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence.

And the blurb for Star Cruise: Stowaway:

Cargo Master Owen Embersson is shocked when the Nebula Zephyr’s ship’s cat and her alien sidekick, Midorri, alert him to the presence of a stowaway. He has no idea of the dangerous complications to come – nor does he anticipate falling hard for the woman whose life he now holds in his hands. Life aboard the Nebula Zephyr has just become more interesting – and deadly.

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