The Boss Is Getting Impatient 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 for not making the rounds last week to comment on other posts  but things got very hectic with the new grandbaby!!! I really appreciated the comments everyone left for me on the previous snippet.

I’ve switched to excerpts from my upcoming late March/early April release, Danger in the Stars. The preliminary blurb is below the excerpt, which is the first ten sentences of the novel. The manuscript is in final edits. 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 nausea was always the worst part of emerging from cryo sleep. Miriell fought her confused thoughts and the incipient headache, trying not to throw up. She curled into a ball on her side, hands fisted on her unhappy stomach and bit her lip to avoid moaning.

A rough hand on her shoulder, shaking her, “Come on, you know we don’t have time for this sick act of yours. Snap out of it, the client’s waiting so see what you can do.” Jarek’s voice changed, became more congenial, placating almost. Clearly he was no longer speaking to her, “These exotics don’t do well with cryo sleep, but she’ll be on her feet in a minute or two, I promise. Then we can be on our way.”

“Good, the boss is getting impatient, waiting in the limo – she doesn’t spend much time in cargo warehouses.”

The new voice was deep and although the tone was rough and the words clipped, Miriell felt as if a warm blanket had been placed over her shoulders.

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?

 

Star Cruise: Thanksgiving A Short Story

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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

NEW: Trapped On Talonque SciFi Romance

Trapped on Talonque Final-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700I’m so happy to announce my latest new release Trapped on Talonque (A Sectors SF Romance),  with gorgeous cover by Fiona Jayde!

Here’s the story:

Will 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?

Amazon   More Links Coming Soon!

Where Am I? Weekend Writing Warriors

Warriors logo revisedI hope your holiday season has been full of good times, family, peaceful moments and happiness! Best wishes for a very Happy New Year ahead!

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

Continuing with science fiction romance today. Here’s an excerpt from Lady of the Star Wind,  an epic portal fantasy, which is undergoing a final edit and will be released after Star Cruise: Outbreak sometime early next year.

Sandy and Mark have been transported to an unknown world after breaking the Globe of Amarkana (you may remember those excerpts earlier in the year?). They found themselves in an oasis-like area with no exit. This snippet is from  quite a bit further in the novel, after Mark and Sandy have left the mysterious mountain oasis (which wasn’t a zoo after all), in the company of some new friends… Sandy is bitten by a snake, went into the green light with a woman unknown to her and now is sitting in a room she’s never seen before:

Voices came from the hallway, and Sandy decided her best course of action was to seek out the other people. Before she could leave the chair’s deeply cushioned embrace, however, four women entered the room as if dancing, so light and graceful were their movements. Arguing amongst themselves in a language Sandy didn’t comprehend, the newcomers talked over each other.

“Excuse me,” Sandy said in Outlier, cutting through the chatter as she rose. “Where am I? Where’s Mark?”

The quartet swung to face her, and Sandy was struck by the likeness each had to the others, clearly sisters, although the eye and hair colors differed. The tallest stepped forward and answered her in the unknown tongue.

Sandy shook her head. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

I’ll keep going with this scene for a few more weeks and then we can go back to excerpts from Star Cruise: Outbreak, which is my current WIP.

WitchesBroomNebula

 

 

Teaser Tuesday All About Her Work

Tuesday TeaserThe members of the SciFi Romance Group are going to offer up Tuesday Teasers from our various novels…here’s the link for more:

Group link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/the.scifi.romance.group/
#sfrgtt

I’m going to give you a small excerpt from my first SFR, award-winning Wreck of the Nebula Dream (A Sectors SF Romance). Here’s the story:

Loosely inspired by the sinking of the Titanic, but set in the far future, on a spaceliner:

Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.

All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.

But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?

And the Teaser:

(Nick is studying his fellow passengers on the shuttle up to the Nebula Dream. This is very early in the novel.)

Wreck-of-the-Nebula-DreamFinalMedBothered by his own painful memories, Nick averted his gaze from the cozy family group, sampling the drink again, crunching an ice cube.

Diagonally across from Nick sat a woman in the sober business suit of a major cit execu­tive. No pain in looking at her, that’s for sure. The lines of her expensive, tailored clothing were softened by the muted shades of blue and cream in the finely woven fabric. Her gleaming golden-brown hair was pulled severely away from the perfect oval of her face, held in an old-fashioned chignon and pinned with tiny iridescent clips. I’d like a chance to take those clips out, let that hair down. Small, rebellious curls escaping from the discipline of the braided chignon and a pair of beautiful, intensely blue eyes under elegantly arching brows contrasted with the overall businesslike impression. Nick had received the full attention of her spectacular eyes only once, in the waiting room at the spaceport, as he stepped past her to stare at the shuttle. There’d been something electric, enig­matic in her glance. Those eyes definitely made a man want to know more. She could project the no-nonsense businesswoman façade extremely well, but those eyes drew a man in anyway. She wore the suit skirt short, accenting long, shapely legs.

Nick was a leg man.

Taking a bigger swallow of the brandy, Nick enjoyed the warmth spreading through his body. Kidding yourself, Jameson. Yeah, she stared at you when you practically fell over her feet, accepted your apology with a grace­ful nod, but there was certainly nothing more to it. Talk about intense! She’s all about her work, even here on the shuttle.

Ostentatiously multitasking on several screens of her miniAI, efficiently using the time, she was shutting out the rest of them, Nick realized. He envied her. Being between assign­ments was an uncomfortable thing. Man, I suck at doing downtime.

Amazon Barnes & Noble  All Romance eBooks iTunes  Google Play   Kobo

Audiobook, narrated by Actor Michael Riffle – Available Now at Amazon and iTunes

Meet My Character Meme

MissionToM2-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700I was tagged for this meme or hop by my very good Weekend Writing Warrior friend Charmaine J Gordon!

I thought, with a new science fiction romance coming out in August, I’d like to participate and without further ado, here are the seven questions with my answers.

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

The character I’m going to talk about is Princess Shalira, from the planet Mahjundar, so entirely fictional.

2) When and where is the story set?

The events in this novel occur in the far future, out in the greater galaxy, where a civilization known as the Sectors sprawls across the star systems. The citizens of this loosely organized stellar nation are humans, people of human descent and alien beings. So far all of my science fiction romances have taken place within this structure.

3) What should we know about him/her?

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life? 

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

Questions 3, 4 and 5 can be answered by the book’s blurb so here goes with the relevant information:

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.

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it? I’m kinda basic with my book titles so this is Mission to Mahjundar, which is the name of the planet where all the action takes place. There’s more to the blurb on the book’s page on my blog

7) When can we expect the book to be published?

The manuscript just emerged from copy edits and needs one more high level editing pass, plus formatting, so probably another 2-3 weeks, which is just a little bit behind my self-imposed schedule. But I want it to be perfect!

I put out a call to several of the loops I’m on for other authors to tag and this meme seemed to appeal to a lot of people so I’m tagging seven friends. They’ll put their Character posts up a week from today, on their own blogs so I hope you’ll visit them then!

Shawna Reppert     Shona Husk     Mimi Sebastian     A J Larrieu     Sonya B Clark     Sheryl Nantus

   Regan Summers     Jody Wallace      and  Sandy Wright

Archaeology in Intergalactic Space

AtStarsEnd-medI’m interviewing Anna Hackett over at USA Today/HEA for my SciFi Ecnounters column, about her HEAnovel At Star’s End. The heroine is a galactic archaeologist who happens to be searching for an Earthly relic – part of the “Mona Lisa.” The how and the why is all part of Anna’s plot and worldbuilding, which we discuss in the column, but I’m perpetually fascinated by the idea of what remnants of other civilizations we might stumble across once we finally get into the galaxy.

I’ve always been drawn to the stories of the old, mysteriously unknowable civilizations on our own world, hence my writing a paranormal series set in ancient Egypt! But when I first started reading Andre Norton’s science fiction novels many years ago, one of the most intriguing aspects of her world building to me was the Forerunners. As I understood it, the Forerunners were actually many alien civilizations and/or possibly one large, unified galaxy-wide association of these worlds. They and their accomplishments were lost in time thousands (millions?) of years before Ms. Norton’s characters ventured on the scene. She was excellent at giving the reader only tantalizing hints and tastes of the Forerunners and I always wanted more.

Her 1955 novel Galactic Derelict was especially fascinating because over the course of this novel an galacticderelict_acef310alien spaceship is located on Earth, having crashed and wrecked maybe hundreds of thousands of years ago. (SPOILERS, although the book dates to the 1950’s LOL.) But conveniently, in this series, humans have time travel (acquired perhaps from another wrecked alien vessel? I can’t remember) so they go back and find the ship when it’s freshly crashed, still in one piece with all its technology and marvels functioning. As the ship is being brought forward to our time, the engines are activated and the ship takes off in the now, trying to complete its long overdue voyage home.

The ship makes stops at various places in the galaxy and each time the unwilling human passengers have to hope ancient mechanisms for refueling are still working, they do some exploring…and then the ship reaches its home and turns itself off. So then the humans have to figure out a way to retrace the journey yet again. In the meantime, home base for the ship seems to have been a central place of Forerunner civilization and we get glimpses of buildings and artifacts and Forerunner descendants…

I was thoroughly and totally hooked, let me tell you!

When I started writing my Sectors science fiction series set in the far future, one world building element I included was a galactic civilization that had come and gone, leaving traces and tantalizing clues, and perhaps even a few working installations. I decided to call them the Ancient Observers  or AO for short (although that’s subject to change). I haven’t been able to talk about it much in any of the books I’ve written to date. One of the AO devices was going to play a part in Escape From Zulaire but my editors and I concluded that adding in any significant discussion of this ancient civilization was just too much for the pacing of the novel. So the device is still in the book but without much reference to who built it. (Hint: think REALLY giant emerald. You’ll know it when you see it!)

I have some other plots in mind for future novels where my Ancient Observers may come up again as hopefully intriguing tidbits, might get more “time on the page”…we’ll see.

So, do you have any novels to recommend that feature archaeology out there, among the stars? Or vanished ancient races on other worlds that our descendants are trying to understand through shards and wall paintings? I’d love to read some more stories along these lines!

WitchesBroomNebula

Weekend Writing Warriors Escape From Zulaire

better wewriwaWe’ve shifted away from Ancient Egypt for a few weeks to my newly released, best selling science fiction romance novel (story blurb below the picture).  Captain Tom Deverane is speaking  to Andi, the heroine, as the excerpt starts. Although a little creative editing has occurred today,  I’m adhering strictly to the WeWriWa eight sentence rule:

          “Someone commits a crime, someone else takes revenge and the innocents get caught in the middle, because of who they are, who they were with, who they know. Sometimes being in the wrong spot at the wrong time gets a person killed,” Deverane said, his tone gentle. 

            A vision of the atrocity committed on her friend battered Andi. What would I do if I got caught in a similar situation? I didn’t even bring my personal blaster. “I’ll go back to the capital with you in the morning.”

          He glared at her, eyebrows drawing together in an impressive frown, forehead wrinkles deepening even more as he said, “Have you been listening, Miss Markriss? We need to leave tonight, the sooner the better.”       

I  love and appreciate your comments and feedback every week! Go here  to find all the other Weekend Writing Warriors and read  an amazing variety of  terrific excerpts…

hubble rosette nebula

And the story blurb:

Andi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.

Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.

That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters attack the village and raze it to the ground. Deverane escapes with Andi, and on their hazardous journey through the wilderness, Andi finds herself fighting her uncomfortable attraction to the gallant and courageous captain. But Deverane’s not the type to settle down, and running for one’s life doesn’t leave much time to explore a romance.

Then Andi is captured by the rebel fighters, but Deverane has discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a terrifying alien race’s attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. If he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.

ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE is available now  on AMAZON for kindle and as POD paperback   Nook  Kobo All Romance eBooks   and iTunes      Smashwords