New Release Healer of The Nile

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

Here’s an excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Story:

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

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

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

FINAL3D_COVER_HBM_BoxedSet

 

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Interviewing Michelle Lovretta Creator of Killjoys

killjoys poster

Update from Veronica, 8/22/15: Well, now that I’ve seen the season ending episode (which I enjoyed but WOW, there’d BETTER be a Season 2 is all I can say!!!), a few of my favorite supporting characters won’t exactly be going forward with us. Or for some, everything has changed! No spoilers from me though!

I’m interviewing the creator and producer of the SyFy series “Killjoys” over at USA Today Happily Ever After, and that was a fangirl, geek moment for ME. Michelle Lovretta answers quite a few questions and provides much insight into the main characters of the program – the kickass heroine Dutch, and John and D’avin, the two brothers who form her team of bounty hunters. One loves her platonically and the other loves her unplatonically and the whole program is AMAZING. So please hop over and read the full interview!

Sadly we didn’t have room or time to discuss all the many fascinating supporting characters in the show, who add so much to the richness and complexity of the world building. Although Michelle does say:

Once I differentiated the four worlds of the Quad, I needed to create people who could breathe life into the various points of view of those trapped by (or benefitting from) the Quad’s political structure.  So, The Nine, Delle Seyah, Pawter, Hills, Pree and Alvis were born.  We used Warrants in season one as a way to give the audience an introductory tour of the quad, while crashing us repeatedly into these secondary characters and letting them grow.

So I’m going to share my own personal thoughts about my top 5 Killjoys supporting characters here. Trying to avoid spoilers!

pree pawterPree, played by Thom Allison: owner of the Royal, a bar on Westerley which is an informal hub for all the goings-on. I think of Pree as the self-appointed guardian of all who pass through his doors. Sure he’s got a business to run and I think he tries to stay neutral (but can’t help himself sometimes). He’s always dispensing advice, dropping hints, giving warnings…I think he knows a lot more than he’ll ever tell. I’d love to see his backstory explored. Heck, I’d like to interview the actor sometime and see what he thinks of Pree’s backstory! The man has impeccable taste and  savoir faire, and is perfectly capable of functioning as the bar bouncer too if he has to. I was delighted to see him in John’s hospital room in Episode 7 because one thing this series gets very right is that the characters have a life and connections outside the needs of the script for any one scene. It was great to have the feeling that Pree and John are genuine friends. I’d want Pree as my friend!

Pawter Simms, played by Sarah Potter. This backroom doctor is complex, people. She could be the focal point of her own series and she sure deserves a big tough guy who cares just for her, no longer forced to subsist on D’avin’s spare time and John’s kindness. When Pree analyzes her attraction to the broken bad boys (as only Pree could do – Dear Abby or Ask Prudence have nothing on Pree), it was delicious and she doesn’t disagree with him. Of course she has some issues (no one from Qresh ends up on Westerley exactly by choice). I’d like Pawter as a girlfriend to go shopping at the Leith bazaar with…

alvis monkAlvis the Monk, played by Morgan Kelly: I’ve grown to really like him and now I’m worried about this character, based on how he was being treated by the company goons in Episode 9. We got quite a few glimpses into his multifaceted motivations and machinations in episode 8. I think one of the keys to Alvis is when he tells John he can believe in more than one thing at a time. I believe that, and I believe pretty much anything he chooses to do has at least two purposes and maybe more. I’ve got a sneaking admiration going on for Alvis. I also like the way the actor makes Alvis’s gestures and utterances ring true as expressions of his faith.

Carleen, played by Danka Scepanovic: this girl is the epitome of cool and an even bigger STEM wizard than John, who is the carleenresident nerd/geek of Dutch’s Killjoys team. Her expertise in fringe biotech is  as astounding as her wardrobe (which I loved). I always have the feeling she knows a LOT more than she’s telling and I kinda ship her and John.

fancy_lee_killjoys-e1439652199455Fancy Lee, played by Sean Baek: To me this Killjoy has the vibe of Paladin from the classic TV show “Have Gun Will Travel.” Cool, does his own thing by his own moral code and standards. He really believes the warrant is all. He self identifies as the designated asshole for the entire Reclamation Agent band and points out how much they need him to exist. I was fascinated that he’s apparently quite the inventor. I want to know why he became a Killjoy. I’d love to see a drawdown between him and Khlyen.

OK that’s five but I must mention Bellus Haardy, the warrant broker for Dutch and her little team. I’m convinced Bellus has a backstory that would knock our socks off, and I think in her own rough way she’s a mother figure to Dutch. When she Bellus_Haardychallenged D’avin to a fight, who had any doubt that she could actually beat him? Anyone? Bellus is TOUGH, with a teeny soft spot for Dutch and maybe a microdot of affection for John. D’avin’s on his own here. Norah McClellan, the actress who gives us Bellus puts just the right edge on every scene.

So, whose your favorite supporting character in Killjoys and why?

I HOPE the series gets renewed for Season Two – are you listening, SyFy????

The Trailer:

Interviewing Laurie A Green and Donna S Frelick SciFi Romance

Hubble-CosmicOver at USA Today Happily Ever After, I’m doing a joint interview of two debut authors in the world of science fiction romance –  Donna S. Frelick, Unchained Memory (The Interstellar Rescue Series Book 1), and Laurie A. Green, Inherit the Stars (Inherited Stars Series). These two are already well known in the SFR universe, as they blog together at The Spacefreighters Lounge, along with other authors.

We had a few questions left over when the USAT/HEA interview was done, so here’s a bit more from Laurie and Donna, after the short bios:

Donna S. Frelick was an RWA® Golden Heart® Double Finalist in 2012 in the Paranormal category for the first two novels in her SFR Interstellar Rescue series. She currently lives in Virginia with her husband and two talkative cats.  Find her at http://donnasfrelick.com; blogging at http://spacefreighters.blogspot.com; and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/DonnaSFrelickAuthor.

Laurie A. Green is a three-time RWA® Golden Heart® finalist and science fiction romance enthusiast who founded the SFR Brigade community of writers. Her extended family includes her husband, David, four dogs, three cats and several horses, all who reside on a ranch in beautiful New Mexico. When she’s not writing, networking, or searching out the perfect cup of Starbucks, she’s usually busy exercising her left brain as a military budget director. Visit her website here: http://www.laurieagreen.com

Veronica: What’s next for you, writingwise? 

Laurie: Later this year, the next novel in The Inherited Stars Series, The Outer Planets, is slated to release, as well as a print version of Inherit the Stars. I’m excited about my next because it’s a Near Future Romance set on a planetary research vessel in the 2040s and the romance is between two members of a Combined Joint Task Force crew—a civilian vid-reporter with a life-altering secret, and an Army Captain who serves as aide de camp to the vessel’s commanding officer. I describe it as a “Military Romance with cooler tech” but it also has a dark mystery/conspiracy that threatens the MCs and the mission. After that, I’ll be releasing four more novels in this series in the next 24 months, as well as several shorter works.

Donna: Book Two in the Interstellar Rescue series, Trouble in Mind, launches in Fall, 2015. In this science fiction suspense romance an FBI agent must forge a bond with a half-alien tracker to find a boy who is the key to an interstellar power play. Book Three of the series, Fools Rush In, will be a little bit of a departure. It’s Sam and Rayna’s story (two characters who figure in the other stories), set before the time of the previous books in space opera noir style. That’s due out in Spring, 2016.

Veronica: What’s on your To Be Read list? 

Donna: Oh, Lord, the list is too long! I’m in the middle of reading Rachel Bach’s series starting with Fortune’s Pawn, because I HATE cliffhangers and I have to know what happens next and Devi is just a great character. I have a stack of books by my Firebird Golden Heart® sisters across all subgenres that I can’t wait to get to—just keeping up with that bunch is enough to keep a whole library in books. I have some erotica from Barbara Elsborg that I’m keeping for an (ahem) special occasion. And I just couldn’t resist picking up In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (Devil in the White City) when I was in the bookstore yesterday. Can you tell I have eclectic tastes? 😉

Laurie: Where to start in my Leaning Tower of TBR? I’m really looking forward to reading all the other offerings in the Sing a Song of the Stars SFR book bundle, Kate Corcino’s Ignition Point, a prequel anthology to her phenomenal Spark Rising, and another re-read of Sharon Lynn Fisher’s fabulous Echo 8. Then I’m itching to get to some other great romances by Kimberly Kincaid, Barbara Elsborg, Tamra Baumann and Heather Ashby, to name just a few.

And the books by these two authors that we’re discussing over at USAT/HEA are:

Inherit the StarsInherit the Stars (courtesy of Array Press), which is actually Laurie’s second published book by about a month:  To escape the merciless Ithian Alliance, Sair, a fugitive slave, makes a desperate deal with Drea Mennelsohn, captain of the prototype ship, Specter. But putting his life in the hands of a woman as mysterious as she is beguiling could turn out to be the biggest mistake of his life, especially when the price on his head begins to escalate.

Drea seems to want far more from the fugitive than just payment for his passage on her ship. Though neither can deny the sizzling chemistry and growing bond between them, Sair must soon make an agonizing decision that could result in the loss of the remarkable woman he has fallen in love with—and their chance to inherit the stars.

Amazon

unchained memoryThe story for Donna’s Unchained Memory (courtesy of the author):  Three hours ripped away her past. His love promised her the future. From the night she wakes up in her pickup on the side of the road, three hours gone and everything of value lost to her, Asia Burdette is caught in a clash of invisible forces. She has only one ally in her struggle to understand why–Ethan Roberts, a man she shouldn’t love, a psychiatrist who risks everything to help her.

With black ops kidnappers dogging their trail, the lovers race to navigate a maze of mind control, alien abduction and interstellar slavery. If they keep following the signs, they’ll find a battle that’s been raging since the first silver saucer was spotted in the skies above Earth

Amazon

From ECHO 8: One of Sharon Lynn Fisher’s Favorite Scenes

echo 8I’m interviewing Sharon Lynn Fisher over at USA Today Happily Ever After, about her latest science fiction romance novel Echo 8.

Here’s the story (courtesy of Tor Books): Three lives. Two worlds. One chance to save them all.

As a parapsychologist working for Seattle Psi, Tess has devoted her life to studying psychic phenomena. But when doppelgangers begin appearing from a parallel world that’s been struck by an asteroid, nothing in her training will help her survive what’s to come.

After dislocating to Seattle Psi from the other Earth, Jake is confined by a special task force for study. But when he drains life energy from Tess, almost killing her, it causes a ripple effect across two worlds – and creates a bond neither of them expected.

Ross is an FBI agent ordered to protect Tess while she studies Jake. His assignment is not random – he and Tess have a history, and a connection the Bureau hopes to use to its own advantage. By the time Ross realizes his mission could be compromised, it’s already too late – he’ll have to choose between his love for Tess and his duty to protect the people of his own Earth.

Veronica: One of my favorite questions to ask in the USAT/HEA interviews is whether the author has a favorite quote or short scene from the book they’d like to share. The excerpt below was Sharon’s first choice, although we ultimately had to go with a  different,  shorter one for the column. But I thougt it’d be a shame not to share her first choice over here on my blog:

Sharon: As the author, my favorites are mostly super intense, and might not play well out of context. But I like this early scene because it helps to establish the dynamic among the three main characters.

“He’s been asking for you,” called Agent Perez when she saw Ross coming.

Ross moved to Jake’s door, glancing through the square window. He jumped back when Jake appeared behind the glass, inches away.

Ross punched the intercom button and reached for his sidearm. “Back off.”

“I want to know what’s going on,” demanded the fade. His eyes flitted nervously from Ross to Perez. “Where’s Tess?”

The last thing Ross wanted was to hear her name in the fade’s mouth. “Not your concern. You keep quiet in there and maybe no one shoots you.”

Jake’s features contorted in anguish. “Did I kill her? Please—I don’t understand—”

The fade’s head swiveled, like he’d heard something behind him. His body practically hummed with nervous energy, reminding Ross of his meth­addict brother. Except there was nothing sunken or hollow about Jake—not anymore. The bastard was bright­eyed and fully charged.

Jake’s gaze anchored on Ross again. “Am I some kind of—vampire? I felt like I was sucking the life out of her.”

“You were.”

“Is she dead?”

Ross took in Jake’s distress and allowed a pinprick of compassion. “She’s not dead. Not yet.”

Jake squeezed his eyes shut. “God . . . why didn’t you just shoot me? Why don’t you shoot me now?”

Ross studied the fade—dark­blond curls, narrow forehead, brown eyes, short beard curling over chin and jaw. He was about Ross’s height but thinner, and closer to Tess’s age.

“You want me to shoot you,” Ross replied, dubious.

“Why did you let her get so close? You’re a Fed, right? You have to be, dressed like that. Were you supposed to be protecting her or what?”

Jesus. Ross felt like he’d been punched. He slipped his weapon back in the holster and turned to go.

“Hey!” called Jake. The intercom was still on.

Impatient to get back upstairs, Ross hesitated before turning. A part of him could empathize. What a position to suddenly find yourself in.

“What she told me,” said Jake, “—the alternate universe thing—is it true?”

“Probably. It’s a theory.”

“Based on what? I mean, how can you know something like that?”

“We can’t, not for sure. But they’ve questioned enough of you to piece it together.”

Jake chuckled darkly. “I thought she was nuts. Or I’d wound up in some purgatory for suicides.”

Ross lifted an eyebrow. “You killed yourself?”

Jake’s lips set, and he glared at Ross. “I’m finished talking to you. If she lives, I’ll talk to her. Shoot me if you want to. I don’t [expletive!] care.”

Sharon FisherVeronica: I found it to be an exciting, unusual story and I hope you’ll hop over to the actual interview on USAT/HEA. Here’s a photo of Sharon inside the now-scrapped ferry  Kalakala, which plays a part in the novel.

Amazon     Barnes & Noble

The Lady or the Tiger Or Choose Both! Interactive Fiction

002As a kid I was thoroughly exasperated when we read the short story “The Lady or the Tiger” in  English lit class. You may remember the story, written by Frank Stockton in 1882 (hence my 1880s illustration!), wherein the warrior in the arena has to choose one of two doors…a Happily Ever After ending awaits if he picks the girl and he gets eaten if he picks the tiger. (I’d be listening for growls myself.) As a future romance novelist, I wanted the HEA ending, I wanted it NOW and I wanted to know what happened next.

Well flash forward to today and interactive romance fiction of this sort is alive and well and becoming very popular. In my special post for USA Today’s Happily Ever After blog, I talk about everything from individual books to a website devoted exclusively to interactive romances. SilkWords was started by a couple,  Keri and Boyd Multerer. She has a background in science and he’s the founder of XBox Live and a past Director of Development for Xbox One. With three young children, she didn’t have as much time to read as she wanted and he brought a gaming mindset to solving his wife’s problem. They also brought in Sharon L. Fisher, a noted science fiction romance novelist with RWA RITA and multiple Golden Heart Finalist credentials, to handle acquisition and editing.

The way I came to understand it after interviewing Sharon, is that in the gaming world, the player is constantly making choices, which sends them along different story paths. In the SilkWords romance world, the reader gets to enjoy the story up to a key decision point and then “picks their path” – does the heroine run off with the sweet but poor curate or does she accept the proposal from the dashing duke, for example – and the reader’s choice will dictate what happens next in the story. I joined SilkWords (membership is free) to research the column I was writing and once I got used to the idea, I enjoyed the experience. I tried a variety of the stories on the site, from sweet to very hot.

Interestingly enough, SilkWords doesn’t always provide an HEA or even a HFN ending. Sharon talks about that in more detail in our interview. And I got the viewpoint from a SilkWords author, Jax Garren. You can read more from my interviews with Sharon and Jax at USAT.

I also read a very hot novella from Christine D’Abo Choose Your Shot: An Interactive Erotic Adventure (Carina Press), which had me fanning myself and going back to explore the paths I didn’t pick the first time through! I also interviewed Christine on what the challenges were for the author writing this type of novel.  She had to do quite the decision tree in her plotting and work hard to ensure that whatever choice the Reader made would move the story smoothly into another level. More from the interview with her in the USAT post.

Girl WalksBut I have to say I had THE most fun reading the ebook version of  A Girl Walks Into A Wedding: Your Fantasy, Your Rules (William Morrow Paperbacks) by  Helena S. Paige. (I learned on the book’s Amazon page that the author name is a pseudonym for three lively ladies with quite varied backgrounds.) Here’s the blurb:

Your best friend is getting married, and she’s asked you to be her bridesmaid. So many decisions: for starters, do you ask the gorgeous but mysterious man you met online to come as your date? Or do you go solo, giving yourself ample opportunity to kick up your heels and scope out the talent?

Once the wedding weekend gets underway in a romantic country setting, all kinds of adventures on offer. Will you ditch your date? Duet with the hot DJ? Dodge the disreputable best man? Or perhaps the rugged pilot you meet in the bar will open up unexpected erotic opportunities – and who knew the maid of (dis)honor had such a sultry streak?

All this while steering your way through the bachelorette party, the bride’s wedding jitters, the Dress From Hell, and more. Perhaps the most tempting option is to flee the entire affair with a tall, dark stranger … or maybe an old friend surprises you with a sizzling encounter.

YOU make the decisions—fulfillment guaranteed. It’s your fantasy. Your rules. The choice is yours . . .

I had a BLAST. I went through the book numerous times, making different selections at the key points, surprising even myself LOL. I won’t tell you who I ended up with after trying all the paths, but I was happy, and not just from the champagne.

So to sum it all up, I did enjoy my dip into “pick your path” interactive romance but for the most part I’ll probably stick with writing my conventional “one path to the HEA” science fiction romances and ancient Egyptian paranormal romances.

Have you ever tried interactive romance fiction?

 

Talking About Favorite Andre Norton Novels

???????????????????????????????I’m talking about Andre Norton over at USA Today Happily Ever After blog today, in my SciFi Encounters column. There’s a “new” anthology out, containing quite a few short stories of hers I’d never read, so that was a rare pleasure. I’ve mentioned the tremendous influence her books had on me before, because they did…I still have two shelves full of falling-apart vintage Andre Norton ACE paperbacks. No matter if I switch my entire library onto my kindle, I’ll always keep these books. They started out as my Dad’s and became mine…

I thought I’d talk about a few of my top Norton favorites, in no particular order, and stick mostly to the science fiction, rather than the fantasy or the romances (which were never my favorites, because I think I wanted her to give me more of the Witch World magic vibe in those and as I recall they were pretty much Gothic romances. I didn’t think they were her strongest books.)

I always mention Catseye, because it was the first SF book I ever read, so I’ll skip it here. The Beast Master was one of my all time favorites (along with the sequel Lord of the Thunder).  I totally fell in love with the hero, Hosteen Storm, and I loved his telepathic animals. Looking back now, we’d probably say he had PTSD, after Terra was destroyed in an intergalactic war, but he was coping on his new home planet. And there were some really cool touches of the Forerunner presence in the Sealed Caves of Arzor. I just pretty much loved everything about this book.

Sargasso of Space and the crew of the ship “Solar Queen” – I enjoyed all three of their adventures….I’m not AS fond of this set of stories ???????????????????????????????nowadays as I was when I was a kid. I think Star Trek and Firefly and Farscape have taken over that niche in my heart that’s reserved for a ship and her crew cruising the star lanes, but in their day, the Solar Queen was it for me.

???????????????????????????????The Last Planet – Hard to say if Sgt. Kartr of this book is more my favorite than Hosteen Storm. I think it’s a tie. Besides, this book featured Zacathans, always a plus for me! (Yes, this cover is dorky IMHO.) I loved that the plot was based on the old legend about the Roman Legion ordered to march to the end of the world, who died in the attempt. Ms. Norton’s view on the way the galactic civilization was falling apart and how even the most loyal Patrol members had to adjust or die was fascinating.  It was 192 pages of great stuff and yet far too short for me. I always wanted the sequel to this story but alas, there never was one…she did leave hope that humans and their allies would rise to journey to the stars again someday. I’ve never forgotten how Kartr’s first view of the green of this “last planet” felt like coming home to him.

Ordeal in Otherwhere was the first science fiction book I’d ever read where a woman was the heroine and main character. I enjoyed how Chris kept her head and worked with what she found on the planet Warlock, dealing with the Wyverns. She was a problem solver and didn’t need anyone to rescue her, thank you very much. There was also a hint of romance with Shann Lantee, the hero of ???????????????????????????????the first book in this storyline. Plus, more telepathic animals!

???????????????????????????????Eye of the Monster was one of the inspirations for my own Escape From Zulaire, in that the main character  in Eye suddenly finds himself plunged into deadly peril one morning, with very little warning. All the beings he’d (more or less) trusted have turned against him AND the people who might have helped are dead or left the area without him. Not only that, he becomes responsible for saving two children and is assisted by an indomitable Salariki female. It’s a quick read but always left me asking myself what I would do, if I was ever plunged into such dire straits.

I have to mention two more books of hers that were extremely influential to me and among my all time favorites (although not SF): Shadow Hawk, which along with Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s Mara, Daughter of the Nile, left me determined to write my own stories set in ancient Egypt, which of course now I do…and Year of the Unicorn, which is my favorite of all the Witch World stories. I try to capture some of the feeling of mystery and myth and magic that so permeated the Witch World, when writing my own books. This isn’t my first copy of Year of the Unicorn – I’ve no idea what happened to the original. I think I just liked this cover better!

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

 

Did you ever happen to read Andre Norton? Do you have a favorite novel written by her?

The Mysterious and Alluring Selkies

golden cityOver at USA Today Happily Ever After, I’m interviewing J. Kathleen Cheney today about her Golden City fantasy series, set in an HEAalternate world and featuring a dark murder mystery mixed up with magic. (Isn’t her cover gorgeous?) She selected 1902 Portugal as the site  for her stories, for  reasons she discusses in the HEA  column.  Her world of  sirens and selkies living amongst the non-magical folks is fascinating. Hop on over to read more about JKC and her novels.

The first time I encountered the legends of selkies was in the movie “Roan Inish,” which I happened to catch on TV one afternoon. I’m sorry to say but the whole concept of these immortal beings of the sea who were roan inishseals but could become human if they shed their coats wasn’t too clear to me even after watching the movie. Then in 2008 I read Virginia Kantra’s Sea Witch , first book in her  Children of the Sea series, and oh boy, I got the picture! I also loved the series because a lot of the action was set on an island off the coast of Maine and I have relatives who live on such an island, so I could really relate.

And of course there’s a selkie in the Anne McCaffrey Petaybee Series which I’m tempted to go reread right now, except for the fact I’m trying to finish writing my own next novel LOL.

I’m sure other people write about selkies – a search of Amazon turns up about 90 results without even refining the terms further – but for me, the fascination of JKC’s Portuguese setting and the addition of sirens and some other very interesting paranormal types make The Golden City series memorable.

Selkies or similar creatures appear in myth from Ireland to Iceland, which surprised me a bit, as after watching “Roan Inish” I thought they were all Irish! There are many many legends surrounding these beings and most times any romance between a human and a selkie in human form doesn’t seem too turn out too happily. Lots of rules…many “gotchas”…I like the one about a woman having to cry exactly seven tears into the ocean if she wants to have a handsome selkie man pay her a visit. On the other hand, I never liked the idea that a human man could keep a selkie woman for his wife by locking her sealskin away, which struck me as cruel and contrary to true love….the “dark Faerie Celtic vocal band” Pandora Celtica sum the entire situation up very well in this song “Sister Selkie”:

Tough As Nails SFR Heroines

Heaven's queenOver at USA Today Happily Ever After  I’m interviewing author Rachel Bach for my SciFi HEAEncounters column. Her Paradox Series is one of the best trilogies of science fiction, complete with romance and a kickASS heroine, that I’ve read in a long time. Hop on over and peruse the interview!

One thing Rachel and I discovered we share is an admiration for the character of Ellen Ripley in the movies Alien  and Aliens. Devi the heroine in the Paradox Series has been raised to be a warrior since childhood, versus Ripley who did need to be shown how to use aliens_powerloader
the pulse rifle but then rock-and-rolls with it for the rest of the movie.  I think the two women
would get along fine if they ever sat down for a chat. Ripley had to make do with the futuristic Caterpillar power loader to fight the alien queen and Devi has a much more sophisticated suit to wear into her battles.

There’s another key female character in Paradox, named Maat, which Rachel explained is keying off the goddess Ma’at of Ancient Egypt. In my paranormal novel series Gods of Egypt I feature Ma’at fairly often. She was responsible for keeping the Universe and the world in harmony, preventing chaos. She embodied all the good qualities of truth, law, justice, law and morality. Some Egyptian traditions hold that she was present at the judging of a person’s heart after death, with her red feather of Truth on the golden scales, deciding if the deceased’s ka or soul was worthy to proceed into the Afterlife. You’ll have to read the interview to see how Rachel took the Ma’at concept and applied it to her character Maat.

I think both Ripley and Devi would pass goddess Ma’at’s test, with their strong sense of responsibility and their attempts to do what they believe is the right thing. Ripley and Devi don’t let anything deter them from what they believe is their duty.

FifthElement_264PyxurzAnother strong female heroine would be Leeloo from the movie “Fifth Element,” although she has no suit of armor and is the perfect being, as we get told over and over BUT she’s also a woman with a mission and nothing – not even Bruce Willis at his scruffy best – can sidetrack her from saving the universe. (Although she does need a bit of a pep talk but I always think she’s testing Bruce’s Korben Dallas character at the end there. Oh, sort of like Ma’at weighed the heart? I can find parallels in anything LOL!)

I happen to like the 2010 Science fiction movie “Predators”. I love the character of Isabelle, a tough as nails sniper, played by Alice Braga. She’s not backing down from any challenge and she’s deadly-with-a-heart. “Fear is Reborn” is the movie’s tagline, but not in this character!

Leona the LA police detective, as portrayed by Maria Conchita Alonso in the 1990 “Predator 2” , is another absolute woman warrior in the Predator franchise…

Not all these ladies got to have full blown romance in their stories (although Devi sure does in Rachel’s novel!)

So who’s your favorite gutsy SF&F heroine?

 

 

 

 

 

Steampunk Anyone?

TimelessOver at the USA Today Happily Ever After blog I’m interviewing two wonderful steampunk authors – Gail Carriger of The Parasol Protectorate series and Cindy Spencer Pape of The Gaslight Chronicles.

In fact, Cindy was the person who first got me interested in steampunk, when we met as Carina Press authors ???????????????????????????????several years ago. She has a wonderful dog in her books, named George and she was kind enough to send me the magnet featuring him, which has stayed on my refrigerator for several years now (even though I’m a cat person LOL).

I thoroughly enjoyed the Gail Carriger series as well and especially the trip to Egypt in the last book, Timeless.

I LOVE the look of steampunk – the jewelry especially. I’m going to have an opportunity to attend a steampunk-themed costume dinner at the Romance Writers of America national conference in July and I’m giving my imagination free rein as far as the outfit and the accessories.

20000 leagues altI’m sure there are many great sources for finding cool steampunk items to admire first men in the moonbut one I regularly follow on Facebook and Twitter is Steampunk Tendencies. There are vehicles, cosplay, art…think Jules Verne or H. G. Wells, as if the realities they wrote about had become the actual world, using steam power, instead of going down the path of technology we did follow. The 1964 movie “First Men In The Moon” is a good example of how Mr. Wells thought the future might be. Disney’s 1954 version of  Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” was another movie that attempted to bring the look and feel of that alternate technology to life, although I think mostly people remember Kirk Douglas fighting off the giant octopus more than anything else!

kirk and octopus

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Romance Favorite Lines and Guilty Pleasures

HEAOver at the USA Today/HEA blog I’m featuring two interviews on my SciFi Encounters column – (1) Linnea Sinclair and (2) the husband-and-wife duo that make up “Ilona Andrews” . I always like to know what an author regards as their guilty pleasure (if they own up to one). Mine would probably be nutella, straight from the jar. Not that I’ve ever actually eaten it that way (ahem) of course.  Linnea shared that Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream was hers and when I went over to see the website, I could totally understand! Talk about the lusciousness of desserts! Wow. Probably don’t go over there unless you have lots of calories to spare or just don’t care! I wanted it all…

I’ll let you read my column to find out what “Ilona” regards as their guilty pleasure….

Both authors share lines from upcoming books, which is always fun.

Wreck-of-the-Nebula-DreamFinalMedI don’t tend to collect favorite lines so it’s a good thing I don’t ask myself that question. I do kinda like this from my Wreck of the Nebula Dream, which comes after the hero (who’s a Sectors Special Forces officer) awakens in the middle of the night to find the engines on the brand new luxury spaceliner have been shut off:

           “Ship, I want to know what’s going on.” Nick strode to the direct interface console in the bulkhead, keying in a quick in­quiry.

            “There is nothing to be concerned about, Passenger Jameson. We apologize for disturbing your sleep. Please resume your slumbers now, with no further care.” The AI’s voice was smooth, glib as always. “Do you require a sleep inject, Passenger Jameson?”

            “No, I do not.” Nick allowed his considerable annoyance to creep into his tone. “Why are the engines off?”

            “Merely some required maintenance, sir.”

            “Yeah, right. And I’m a Bengaz silk trader.” Nick glared at the interface. “No one does engine maintenance in the middle of the shipping lanes.”

            Silence from the AI.

But then the next night the ship has suffered  another catastrophe that will ultimately destroy her and  the captain is trying to reassure the passengers. My hero isn’t buying.

“Again, I must apologize to you, my passengers,” the image was saying. “We have experienced a small malfunction –”

“Not from where I’m standing, pal,” Nick said grimly. “Small is not the word for it.” 

I guess you can probably see why this novel gets referred to as “Titanic in space”…..

Michael Biehn 004Now if we were talking favorite SF movie lines, I’m always waiting for either Kyle Reese or a Terminator-2-judgement-dayTerminator to show up and say to me, “Come with me if you want to live!” I’d go!