Friday, 1 November 2013

Book Bargains for November and Black Friday

Do you love a bargain? So do I! Here are my book bargains for November and Black Friday. Happy Shopping!

If you enjoy contemporary stories and romance, please consider my Romantic Thrillers. These are big novels, (over 300 pages)  in the tradition of Mary Stewart, with multiple viewpoints and sweeping stories. You can pick up them for the bargain price of $1.99  each (or £1.27)

"Voices in the Dark"

There has always been a mystery in Julia Rochfort's family. Who killed her grandfather Guy, a member of the Italian resistance movement in World War Two? When Julia travels to Florence to compete in a singing competition, she meets Roberto Padovano, already an established opera star, and they discover that they have a lot more in common than simple attraction.

From Amazon US
From Amazon UK

"Night of the Storm

When Melissa, a wildlife photographer, goes to the unspoilt Greek island of Asteri to investigate the death of her lover Andrew, she discovers a deadly wildlife smuggling conspiracy. Suddenly on the beautiful island romance mingles with fear. 
From Amazon US
From  Amazon UK




"The English Daughter"

Young widow Val Baker restores musical instruments, but fears her relationship with her Greek-Italian family on Corfu is broken beyond repair.

Returning to the island to work on a rare piano belonging to her Greek friend Alexia, she finds her dreams haunted by memories of Hilary; a young English girl raped and murdered ten years before. Val determines to uncover the truth about the case, and set to rest her own doubts about the involvement of her father, Yiannis, and half-brother, Markos, both policemen who were involved in the original investigation.

Joined by her friend Harry, Val begins to unravel the threads. When two strange tokens arrive, one for Alexia's daughter Chloe and one for Val, it becomes clear that Hilary's unknown killer is on Val's trail. Her search for the truth becomes a race for life.

From Amazon US
From Amazon UK



If you enjoy

Historical Romance

(and who doesn't)...

please consider some
of my other
Romance bargains:



"Mistress Angel." Only 99 Cents! 77p!

To save her son she must risk losing the love of her life.

“Mistress Angel” is a medieval historical romance novella of 28,000 words. It is a sweet to sensual romance story, set in a time when women had little power and fewer choices.

Once a child-bride, intended to stop a blood-feud between rich and ambitious families in fourteenth century London, Isabella is now a young widow, a medieval Cinderella, tormented and blamed. Seeking always to escape her grim destiny, she can just endure it but when her beloved son Matthew is torn away from her care, spirited somewhere into the country by her malicious in-laws, Isabella is desperate. To save her son she will do anything, risk anything. Even if it means she must lose the love of her life, the handsome, brave armorer Stephen Fletcher, who catches her when she falls from a golden cage and who calls her his Mistress Angel.

Mistress Angel is a KDP Select title at $0.99 and £0.77

Buy now at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.


"Flavia's Secret." $0.99 from Bookstrand.  A full length novel of 83,000 words for just 99 Cents!

How Far Dare You Trust Your Lover? Especially When He is Also Your Master? 

"Flavia's Secret" is a historical romance novel of 83,000 words. It's a sensual historical romance set in Roman Britain.

Spirited young scribe Flavia hopes for freedom. She and her fellow slaves in Aquae Sulis (modern Bath) have served the Lady Valeria for many years, but their mistress' death brings a threat to Flavia's dream: her new master Marcus Brucetus, a charismatic, widowed officer toughened in the forests of Germania. Flavia finds him overwhelmingly attractive but she is aware of the danger. To save her life and those of her 'family' she has forged a note from her mistress. If her deception is discovered, all the slaves may die.

For his part torn between attraction and respect, Marcus will not force himself on Flavia. Flavia by now knows of his grief over the deaths of his wife Drusilla and child. But how can she match up to the serene, flame-haired Drusilla?

As the wild mid-winter festival of Saturnalia approaches, many lives will be changed forever.


Also from Bookstrand, you can buy my historical romantic suspense "A Secret Treasure" for half-price.

[BookStrand Historical Romantic Suspense]


The Greek island of Rhodes: luxurious and hot, beloved haunt of the Sun God, steeped in the mysteries of the past. In the late 1930s during the gathering storm-clouds of war, it is a dangerous place to fall in love.

When pretty, passionate Eve Burnett meets the darkly intriguing Julio Falcone, she is torn. As a man, Julio is powerfully attractive. As a policeman, he is bound to be a Fascist. Her brother, David, who is missing, is connected to the Greek Partisans who wish to liberate Rhodes from their Italian overlords.

Now, as David appears at their parents' house soon after Julio makes Eve's acquaintance, Eve is compelled to hide her brother and a mysterious gold statuette. The Fascists are looking for him and this secret treasure. Soon, Eve realizes that she may be forced to choose between the man she loves and the ultimate safety of her family.

A BookStrand Mainstream Romance

Retro Release Special Discount: This title is offered at a 50% discount. Offer ends midnight CST, November 21st.

 Also my medieval historical romance "A Knight's Vow" for just $2.99

He promises undying love...

England, 1138. Set against the dangerous backdrop of the crusades, this sweeping romance captures the story of a beautiful, young woman and the dashing knight who will battle his fiercest enemies to win her undying love....

You can read more, including reviews and an excerpt, here



Happy Reading!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Guest Blog: Mickie Sherwood - 'Like Slow Sweet Molasses'

Blurb:
Teacher Angela Munso has lost control—of her spiraling life. She can control the fallout of recent news from whose loins she sprang as easily as she can her heart’s pitter-patter. To have feelings for a man who is everything she now wants to hate? That’s the last straw!
Lt. Brock "Chance" Alexander’s arrogance baits Angela. And—he knows it. It’s never so obvious to him as when she lobs that insulting phrase at the side of his head. She pushes all of his hot buttons. But, there’s one he dares her to touch—the one that pushes him out of her life.


Excerpt:
Angela enjoyed the refreshing taste of her favorite cherry flavored ICEE on the walk home from the corner store several blocks away. Secretly keeping tabs on Chance’s motorcycle, relief flooded her being when she peeked and it no longer took up space at the curb. The absence was enough incentive for her to treat herself and get out of the house for a walk to boot mainly in an effort not to dwell on the difficulty encountered when practicing her viola.
Her thong sandals gritted on the sandy concrete broadcasting her position to all within hearing distance. The empty street was hers alone. The sky shed its grayness as daylight waned; coloring the atmospheric canvas a sea-blue sprinkled with floating cotton, sun-kissed and striped a feathery red. Marveling at the beauty, she sipped her drink, taking her sweet time in climbing the stone steps to her yard.
“How are you this evening, Angela?” Mrs. Thatcher called. She and Chance sat comfortably in the swing, keeping a constant back and forth motion, satiated after their light supper.
Initially unaware of their presence, she was startled to learn of her mistake. She wasn’t alone after all. “Fine, thank you, Mrs. Thatcher,” she lied. “And you?”
“Muddling along for an old lady.” Chastising her relative, “Don’t be so impolite, Brock. Speak.”
“Miss Munso.” His mind drifted to the music he heard coming from her upstairs window, a hauntingly melodious tune she had difficulty completing—pausing at the same spot after each try. Not to be outdone, he assumed, she finished the song by singing the notes in melodic crystal clarity.
“Lt. Alexander.” Angela decided to make her exit calling over her shoulder as she advanced on the door. “See you later, Mrs.—” The remaining words dwindled to a gurgle and the cup fell in slow motion from her hand. A smoky cheroot scent assailed her olfactory senses in competition with her sense of hearing just as one foot crossed the threshold. Alarm painted her features as she spun to look dead at Chance, eyes silently screaming for help.
The fine hairs on his arms snapped to attention across the distance launching his ascent from the swing like a rocket booster, landing him beside her in a flash. “What is it?” He heard it, too, while she backed away. Someone moved inside her home. “Were you expecting company?”
All she managed was a negative headshake.
The exchange of places allowed him to feel the delicate bones in her soft hands. “Stay out here. I’ll come for you once I’ve cleared the house.” She looked panicked. “Understood?” 
She silently nodded her assent.
She watched him cautiously enter on cat’s feet, his expertise in such matters clearly exhibited. Now and again, she caught a hint of his movement as he materialized from one room to disappear into the next. How fickle could she be to put his life in jeopardy when she scorned him previously? Angela’s conscience whipped up on her. So much so that she tiptoed up the stairs behind him, against his express wishes.
The bottom floor proved empty sending him up to the next level, senses attuned and gun drawn. He whirled after hearing the slightest movement, leveling the weapon stiff armed and double-fisted. She gasped. Chance rapidly raised the barrel to the ceiling. He noted how in her flustered state she crashed backwards, bumping her head on the descent.
“Ow-w-w,” she groaned, vaguely aware of the swaying meadow grasses enveloping her before the light receded and he completely disappeared.
“Cra-ap!” That was as close to an expletive Chance could come to since turning over his new leaf. He knew the culprit had escaped through the door to the rear of the house for it was wide open. Yet, it was a precautionary measure to do a check of the upstairs, just in case. “Angela? Can you hear me?” Thumbing the safety and holstering his gun, Chance huddled over her on all fours.


How emboldened would you be to a man with a badge...and a gun?


My novels are available at:

Bio:
I'm a cruise-loving, people-watching, picture-snapping baby boomer with time on her hands. So, I write sweet and spicy relationship-based mainstream contemporary romantic love stories.




Read bonus chapters 1, 2, & 3 here.



Find me:
www.blurbsinbloom.com Open for submissions


Thanks, Lindsay, for allowing me to share with your visitors.

Mickie Sherwood
~~Sweet, spicy romance – a heartbeat away!~~

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Guest blog: Melanie Shawn's Crossroads Series



What Makes Being At A Crossroads In Life Such a Compelling Theme?

The writing team of sisters Melanie and Shawna discuss why they chose the theme of “Big Life Choices” for their Crossroads Series.

Robert Frost, in his immortal poem, describes one of the biggest conundrums in life.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood.”

There is something so gut-wrenching about facing a metaphorical fork in the road. You can only go one way, and the what the rest of your life will look like is based on that one monumental decision.

Of course, people face these crossroads in life every day. They decide whether to enter or leave relationships, they decide what job to take and what job to pass on, they decide whether to move across the country or not. They decide whether the time is right to start a family.
It's not the rarity of the experience that makes the facing a crossroads so compelling, it's the struggle. We all do it. We go back and forth mentally, we try to see down the divergent paths to envision what our lives would be like under each of the two sets of circumstances we are choosing between, even though we know that's folly! There's no way for us to predict the outcome.

The truth is, the only way to make a big “crossroads” kind of decision is to follow your heart. You have to ignore the clenching in your gut, the uncertainty, the little voice in your head that says you aren't good enough, and just...leap. You have to take a giant leap of faith.

Decisions. Choices. Crossroads.

We knew immediately when the concept occurred to us that it simply had to be the theme of our second series of novels. There is such a great arc, and there is so much rich emotional material for mining, in a situation where one or both of the characters have to dig deep, determine what is right for them, and then take a huge leap of faith.

Of course, since we're romance writers, we know that leap will pay off for them. They will take that scary jump only to land in their lover's arms and find out that they were launching themselves right into their own HEA all along.

But the “good stuff” is in how they manage to get to the point where they feel ready to jump!



Bio:

Melanie Shawn is the writing team of sister duo Melanie and Shawna. Originally from Northern California, they both migrated south and now call So Cal their home. 

Growing up, Melanie constantly had her head in a book and was always working on short stories, manuscripts, plays and poetry. After graduating magna cum laude from Pepperdine University, she went on to teach grades 2nd through 8th for five years. She now spends her days writing and taking care of her furry baby, a Lhasa Apso named Hercules. In her free time, her favorite activity is to curl up on the couch with that stubborn, funny mutt and binge-watch cable TV shows on DVD (preferably of at least eight seasons in length - a girl's gotta have her standards!). 


Shawna always loved romance in any form - movie, song or literary. If it was a love story with a happy ending, Shawna was all about it! She proudly acknowledges that she is a romanceaholic. Her days are jam-packed with writing, being a wife, mom aka referee of two teens, and indulging in her second passion (dance!) as a Zumba instructor. In the little free time she has, she joins Melanie in marathon-watching DVDs of their favorite TV programs.

They have joined forces to create a world where True Love and Happily Ever After always has a Sexy Twist!
 




Book Description:

Jason Sloan is known as Harper’s Crossing’s resident Romeo, and he’s never had to work too hard to live up to that nickname. With his easygoing charm, whiskey-colored brown eyes, and sinfully sexy half smile, women just seem to fall all over themselves when he’s around.

Well...most women, anyway. Katie Lawson’s the one woman who isn't putty in his hands, and she's the only one he’s ever wanted in his arms.

Katie Lawson left Harper's Crossing in the middle of the night ten years ago, immediately after her high school boyfriend Nick's funeral. She left behind all memories of Nick, and she left behind her life-long best friend, Jason Sloan.

Now she's on the fast track to junior partner at one of San Francisco's top law firms. She's made a life for herself that's all about maintaining order and sticking to the rules. Rule #1 is keeping herself WAY too busy to think about all that she ran away from. If she can do that, after all, she can keep everything under control.

But that rule is about to be broken. She’s headed back home to be the maid of honor in Nick’s little sister’s wedding. It's time to face the truth she's been avoiding all these years, the same one that sent her running ten years ago - that maybe she didn't lose her first love the summer after high school. Maybe her first love has been waiting for her all this time, at home in Harper's Crossing.
  

Excerpt:

Katie opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. She snapped it shut. She tried again. Same result. She imagined she looked like a trout on the banks of a river, flapping her mouth open and shut for no apparent reason.
The realization of how silly she must look gave her just the extra edge of courage she needed to jump off the cliff.
“Jason, I...I wanted to...I wanted to tell you that...” she steeled herself for what she knew her physical reaction would be as she forced herself to look up into those gorgeous brown eyes, which resembled nothing so much as pools of warm and melty milk chocolate...
The expression on Jason's face when she raised her eyes brought her up short. She narrowed her eyes.
“Why do you look so smug?” she asked suspiciously.
Rather than answering, he smirked and bent down, putting his mouth right next to her ear. His hot breath assailed her neck and she began to feel light-headed again.
Wait...was this....OH NO! Panic attack #2 might be on the horizon.
Not in front of Jason, PLEASE, not in front of Jason, Katie begged the Universe.  It seemed like the Universe must have more important things on its mind, however because - oh, lord. Now the shallow breathing was starting.
Jason's breath on her neck, however, was anything but shallow. It was deep. And heavy. And warm. And full of desire. And...oh, man, that lightheadedness was just getting worse and worse.
Jason had her pinned up against the trunk of her car. Her mind was screaming at her to push him away and RUN as fast and as far as she could. Hey, it had worked in the past. Her body, however, was sending her some very different signals.
“I'm not smug, Kit Kat,” Jason informed her, his deep voice rumbling in his chest.
“Wha...huh...?” Katie mumbled.
Jason laughed lightly, “I was just saying that I'm not smug. Just happy to know that I still get under your skin.”
Katie didn't respond. She didn't even really hear what he said, she'd stopped trying to pay attention to the words. Stupid words. They just got in the way of listening to his voice...that silky, deep voice.
Jason traced his thumb down the back of Katie's neck slowly, sensuously, and then continued across her shoulder and down her arm. When he reached her waist, he slipped his hand around her easily, spreading his fingers slowly and firmly, grasping her back with a familiarity that felt as dangerous as it did comforting.
His thumb began to gently massage the small of her back, sending sharp zings of electricity ping-ponging off of her nerve endings. She wanted to stop those little zings of pleasure in their tracks. She wanted to ignore, suppress, deny...anything!
She needed to push him away and get some distance is what she needed to do. Her knees began to buckle. Any time now, a little voice in the back of her head whispered. Any time you want to get a jump on creating that distance would be perfect.
That was, however, not what Katie did. No matter how hard her lizard brain screamed at her to push him away...step away...jump away...DANCE away, even...all Katie found herself doing was looking up into his chocolate brown eyes as she melted into his embrace.
Katie heard a low moan escape from Jason's throat and was suddenly hyper-aware of how close their lips were to each other. A shiver ran through her as she contemplated the nearness of those delicious, sexy lips.
Katie's breathing became more labored, but not in an out-of-control, panic-attacky kind of way. No, it was more of a body-coming-alive-for-the-first-time-in-years kind of way.
She vaguely wondered what was going to happen next, but couldn't make herself focus too much on the future. Not when the present was this flipping interesting!
Her brain might be telling her to get out of this situation, to think about the consequences – but her body was perfectly content to ride this little scene out and see where it went thankyouverymuch.
Why did it seem that she was utterly incapable of listening to her brain in any situation where Jason Sloan was involved?

Buy Links:

Monday, 1 July 2013

Guest blog: Pat McDermott - 'The Rosewood Whistle'

Surrounded by Ireland’s music and myths, a widowed American writer meets a tour guide leery of love…

On her own at the end of a long and difficult marriage, Gemma Pentrandolfo still hears the critical voice of her husband taunting her from his grave. To foster her independence, she schedules a summer vacation in County Mayo intending to write her first book, and she’s counting on Ireland for inspiration. An idea presents itself when she tours Achill Island with a silver-tongued tour guide whose good looks prompt her to write more than her high-minded novel: she transcribes her years of longing in a steamy fantasy no one is meant to see.

Years have passed since an accident claimed the self-absorbed wife who scorned Ben Connigan and his music. Since then, the former tin whistle ace has avoided marriage, though he never lacked for female companionship before he traded his high-tech career for the slow-paced life of a hometown tour guide. Ben has accepted the end of his run of discreet affairs, until he takes Gemma touring. Her passion for Ireland impresses him. Her love of Irish music soon compels him to dust off his whistles. Knowing she’ll leave at the end of the summer, he sees no harm in keeping her company—until he dares to dream of spending the rest of his life with her.

But he knows it can’t be, not while the ghosts of their partners still haunt them. Not unless the music and myths of Ireland can help them find their way…


Excerpt:

(Ben is driving Gemma to Achill Island for a tour. He’s allayed her concerns that this might be a date by saying that between her forty-eight years and his fifty-two, they have a hundred years of living between them, experiences they might share now and then. In this scene, they’ve stopped at the beach in Mulranny so Gemma can photograph Clew Bay.)

He stayed near the car while she shot her pictures, scampering over rocks and grass still damp from the recent shower. But for an older couple rambling along the tidemark, she had the beach to herself.

Cottony fair weather clouds tumbled in from the sea. Knowing how fast they could blacken, he monitored their approach as he breathed in the salt air and watched little waves wash over the sand. He never grew tired of viewing the islands that peppered Clew Bay.

He doubted he’d ever grow tired of watching Gemma either. The thought surprised him. Hadn’t he put her down as a summer fling?

She returned to the car, the wind whipping her hair over her reddened cheeks. He thought he’d never seen such a beautiful smile. And wasn’t she the thoughtful girl, giving him an excuse to visit some of his favorite scenery?

“This really is gorgeous,” she said. “So salty and clean. I love how the clouds roll like smoke from a wildfire, and I could listen to those waves forever.”
“They say it takes three days for a wave to reach Ireland from Nova Scotia. Look.” He pointed to the sky, where a shimmering rainbow arced over the bay.

She raised her camera, but the rainbow had already faded. “I’m adding that to my list.”

“What list?”

“My list of why I like it here. The music. Bright summer nights. Good tea. Fish and chips. Castles. And most definitely, rainbows.” She smiled slyly at him. “I’m sure I’ll have more to add by the end of the summer.”

Was she inviting him to add an item or two to her list? Considering the possibilities, he opened the passenger door for her. She paused to wipe the soles of her shoes on the grass.

A thoughtful girl indeed. As he reclaimed the driver’s seat, he started his own list about Gemma Keenan. “Nothing for the ‘Why I hate it here’ side of the list?”

She wriggled out of her jacket and combed her fingers through her hair. “Not yet. Even the weather’s been great.”

He tossed their jackets over the seat. His hand grazed her arm.

Her gaze locked on his. “A hundred years, Ben. That’s a long time.”

After a prudent but powerful pause, he bent his head and kissed her. No hands, no arms, no more than two pairs of lips brushing once.

Then twice.

The third time, she kissed him back before breathlessly turning her head away. The color the wind had put in her cheeks had deepened.

Ben didn’t trust himself to speak. He felt spring-loaded, a little drunk, a lot in one hell of a heat. How had a few superficial kisses set his heart beating double time?


Author Bio:

Boston, Massachusetts native Pat McDermott writes romantic action/adventure stories set in an Ireland that might have been. Glancing Through the Glimmer and its sequel, Autumn Glimmer, are young adult paranormal adventures featuring Ireland’s mischievous fairies. Both books are “prequels” to her popular Band of Roses Trilogy: A Band of Roses, Fiery Roses, and Salty Roses. The Rosewood Whistle is her first contemporary romance.


Pat is a member of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project, Romance Writers of America, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. Her favorite non-writing activities include cooking, hiking, reading, and traveling, especially to Ireland. She lives and writes in New Hampshire, USA.


Pat McDermott

Romantic Adventure Set in Ireland

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Guest blog: Antje Hergt - 'Darinel: Dragon Hunter'

Prince Darinel is traveling–for what feels like forever. Expelled from his father’s kingdom, he just wants to find a new home. When a shadow lures him to a wealthy kingdom, he stays to discover more about the darkness, but the citizens are tight-lipped.

Their king welcomes the foreign Prince hoping that he will solve his two problems: the dragon and his strong-willed daughter. Coming from a warrior kingdom, Darinel despises violence, but charmed by Princess Tuskja’s dare, he sets out to confront the beast. Instead of finding a fierce dragon, he finds a friend. The dragon’s malicious humor and his love of fairy tales entangle Darinel in a summer of adventures, while danger stirs in the East, the Dark Prince. Being refused by the Princess and humiliated by the dragon, this proud prince seeks revenge.

In compliance with the king’s decree, Darinel is torn between his friendship with the dragon and his love for Princess Tuskja, whom he can only marry if he kills his friend. Before he can make a decision, the kingdom is under attack. Now it is up to the dragon to either help his friend or respect his wish to not interfere.


Excerpt:

“A very human viewpoint,” the voice agreed. “But it brings so much trouble.”
“Exactly. I just didn’t fit in my father’s plans and... Well, I kind of got kicked out.”
“Really?”
“After I told my father, I was leaving,” Darinel explained, his hands moving to support his words. “I wanted to spare him the embarrassment so I packed my things and told everybody I was going on an adventure.”
“And that’s why you are here now?” the voice inquired, amused.
“Nah!” the prince said with a smirk. “I just wanted to leave with a believable explanation, so my father wouldn’t lose face for having a firstborn who doesn’t want to fight...and to make room for my little brother.”
“Lose his face? Like it would fall off?” the voice asked, confused.
The prince laughed. “Man, what rock have you been living under?”
“Why? What’s so wrong with living under a rock?” The voice sounded hurt.
The prince bit his lip to stop the laughter building up in his chest, but failed miserably. Laughing, he replied, “It’s just an expression. Haven’t you heard it before?”
“Not that I recall,” the voice said, sulking. “And I pride myself on knowing quite a few phrases.”
The prince sat up straight.
“I’m sorry. It is a common phrase where I’m from and it stands for ‘to be embarrassed by someone’s actions.’ But it also means to lose respect and honour.”
“Oh, I see. So, by admitting that you hate fighting, you would be a disappointment to your father and he would be embarrassed by you. Am I correct?” inquired the voice, eager.
The prince winced. “Yeah, you could put it like that.”
“Ha! I learned something new today!” the voice said, excited.
The prince smiled. “Glad to be of help.”
“So, what’s that got to do with your little brother?” the voice asked.
“Well, I’m the first born and so would inherit my father’s kingdom. My little brother would have been the one to leave and find his own place.” Darinel intertwined his long fingers. “But he belongs there and is madly in love with the daughter of one of the knights.” He smiled at remembering his brother’s astonished face.
“With me still being unmarried, they weren’t allowed to wed either. You know, stupid rules royalty have to live by,” he added, flinging his hands in the air. “So I decided to go. This way he can marry and stay in my father’s kingdom.”
“Quite a noble sacrifice.” The voice sounded impressed.
“Oh no...” The prince smiled, embarrassed. “It’s not a big deal.”
“Of course it is!” the voice boomed, and a few rocks splashed into the creek. “You gave up everything for your brother.”
The prince shook his head. “Isn’t that what any big brother would do?”
“I don’t know.”
The voice remained silent for a moment and Darinel watched the stream as it rushed by.
“So why are you here then?”
A grin flashed over the prince’s face. “Princess Tuskja dared me.”
“Did she now?” The voice sounded amused. “Knowing her, I can picture that.”
“You are acquainted with the princess?” He looked up, surprised.
“Well, just from her roaming around,” the voice admitted. “She has quite an inquisitive mind. She explored my mountains for a while.”
The prince nodded. “Yeah, sounds like her.”
“But then her father found out and locked her up in the castle.”
 Darinel shaded his eyes, but still couldn’t make out where the voice was coming from.
“I heard rumours about that. Anyway, all I wanted to do is settle here.”
“So what happened?” the voice asked.
“I went to the king to ask his permission to stay,” the prince said, “which he granted. But then he threw in this assignment of killing the dragon and getting his daughter in reward.”
“Really?”
“Yep, that’s the deal,” the prince said. “I thanked the king and pointed out I was only interested in settling down, not marrying. That’s when the princess dared me.”
“Ouch!”
“Yeah.” He sighed. “I could not let that pass, could I? She ridiculed me in front of the whole court. So I packed my horse and came up here.”
“That’s tough,” the voice replied sympathetically.
“Yes, it is. But anyway, it’s way too hot to fight today. And I’d rather make friends than enemies. So, won’t you come out now and sit with me?” the prince offered a second time.
Silence fell over the little valley, where the creek bubbled quietly. He feared the voice had left when a loud rustle like sails in the breeze filled the air. The sun disappeared as the wind picked up. Little dust roses curled skyward and showered him with debris. He leaned into the rock as the dragon landed in front of him. With great care, the beast folded its wings, curling his tail around him. Darinel’s eyes widened with admiration. Tall as three horses stacked on top of each other and wide as a house, the dragon towered over him. His dark green scales reflected the sunlight so intensely he had to shade his eyes. Impressive claws scraped the ground as the dragon tilted his head and golden eyes studied him with keen interest.
He smiled as he observed the dragon in return. For a moment, neither of them spoke and Darinel had the feeling the beast was as curious about him as he was about it. Slowly, it lowered his triangle-shaped head to take a good sniff at him, revealing its horned eye ridges. Darinel held his breath, but strangely he didn’t feel scared, more intrigued. The dragon didn’t look mean. Its golden eyes radiated warmth and longing more than fierceness and malice. It was intelligent with a wicked sense of humour. He liked that.
“You knew it was me all along?” the dragon asked, eyeing him suspiciously.
The prince tilted his head, so he could see the dragon better and smiled. “Who else would be out here with a dangerous dragon lurking around in the mountains?”

Author Bio:

Born and raised in Germany, Antje Hergt came to explore the Canadian Rockies in Canmore, Alberta in 2003. Taking part in the Writing-with-Style Program at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 2007 encouraged her to follow her passion: writing for children. Darinel Dragonhunter is her first novel, which was inspired by her deep love for classic children literature and fairy tales. Her thrill for science fiction/fantasy movies and television shows had an outlet in various genre short stories. She is a member of the Alberta Writer’s Guild and graduated from the Justus-Liebig-University in Giessen with a degree in Modern Languages.
Currently, Antje still lives in Canmore with her snoring cat, Sally, and gets inspired by the magic of the Rocky Mountains. If she is not in Canmore, you can find her in Germany.


Buy from:

AMAZON UK
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00DI8FDT4

AMAZON CA
https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00DI8FDT4

MUSE PUBLISHING
https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=639&category_id=143&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1&vmcchk=1&Itemid=1  


Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Guest post - 'Dreamer' Jane Susann MacCarter

When homely college student Stella Denton and nerdy professor Harry Vale find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time during a convenience store hold-up, the result turns deadly. A ricocheted bullet enters Stella’s brain, causing her to sink into a coma.

But Stella is actually more ‘alive’ than doctors realize. Though outwardly unresponsive, she’s actually ‘awakening’ in Jarmo, an Eden-like paradise that actually existed 9000 years ago in pre-Mesopotamia.

In this alternate world, the New Stella is beautiful and desirable, while the hunky chief of the tribe turns out to be a notched-up version of her Anthro professor, Harry Vale. Stella flourishes in Jarmo, where Harry teaches her the finer points of romance and passion.

But is Jarmo and all its delights truly an alternative reality? Or is it just a dream, and Stella the Dreamer? Is her beloved Jarmo (as well as New Harry) nonexistent, just a figment of her severely injured brain?

When Stella emerges suddenly from the coma, she must make an irrevocable choice between two lives… one of which may not really exist—and the choosing of which might lead to her obliteration.

A ‘New Adult’ contemporary romance, DREAMER explores the nature of Reality and Love, showing us that neither are absolutes. And that Reality is what you make it—as is Love.


Buy in paperback or Kindle versions.


Excerpt:

Wedding two of a double wedding is about to commence:

      From a different stone bowl this time, Betta anoints both groom and bride with three blue stripes on each cheek.  She then paints the tied wrist band with blue pigment, too.  “You are now husband and wife,” Betta announces solemnly, but she can’t help smiling.  Everyone else is whooping and cheering at the young bride and groom (who must have less than 28 years between them, I decide) as they wave goodbye to the guests and close the door behind them.
      Harry squeezes my hand, looks at me a little anxiously, and takes a deep breath.  “Ready?”
Oh shit, SHIT; we’re next.  Suddenly it’s showtime, and I’m really nervous.  No backing out now.  My breath starts coming in short gulps and gasps.  I feel like I’m on stage before thousands of people, blinded among the footlights, glazed with panic.
The crowd quiets suddenly.  They know that the opening act has successfully concluded, and the Main Attraction is about to start.
I’m shaking visibly when Grandmama, Betta, and the three other wise women—ones I don’t yet know by name—bind my right wrist to Harry’s left one with a slender, leather cord.  It’s tied with plenty of slack, but I can see it’s not meant to come apart. 
As Betta dips the fingers of one hand into a pot of red pigment, she intones, “May the Great Mother bring blood to your marriage bed, symbolizing the fertile soil in which the Chieftain’s seed will be planted.”  She dabs the center of our Jarmo symbols with red paint, directly above and below the cross bar of the H.
Despite my trembling, I find myself wishing fiercely for a mirror… for any reflective surface at all, which in prehistoric Jarmo just isn’t to be had.  How I would love to just see myself with face paint.  Just once!   To marvel at the color and flickering lights, the wildness of it all.
The singing, cheering, rhythmic clapping, and constant joking is now higher-pitched, stronger, and louder even than it was for Maidie and Timon.   Everyone is pretty wasted from beer, wine, and barbecue.  Many are unsteady on their feet, but still experiencing a fever pitch of vicarious sexual pleasure.  Even the little children dance about, shoving one another and giggling, enjoying the antics of their elders.
Harry opens the door to our own house—now as dear and familiar to me as if I’d lived there always.   With the arm that is tied loosely to mine, Harry clasps my hand and leads me inside.  As he closes the door, the singing and cheering grow louder still.
Oh shit… dear God…  Harry already knows I’ve not had a husband before.  But does he know that I’m still a virgin?  Does he hope that I’m still a virgin?  I’d better say something.  Quick… 
My hands and feet are clammy and freezing on this warm spring night.  I’m not sure if my legs will hold me up for much longer.   The singing, laughing, and chanting outside the door grows louder.  It’s starting to give me the willies.  Won’t they—please, please—just get too tired, or drunk, and go away? 
In desperation I rattle on: “Harry, you know…” 
I slow my words and try for a semblance of calm.    “You… may know… that I’ve never done anything like this before.  I mean, of course I… know how this whole thing works.  It’s just that I don’t know how to… please you…because I haven’t…”
“Of course you’ll please me,” Harry says softly.  “You please me right now.”  I know he’s trying to set me at ease.  “I wouldn’t be doing any of this right now if you didn’t… please me.”
He takes my two hands in his and looks into my eyes.  We’re in deep shadows.  The fire pit’s flame is low.  “You please me just by… being.  You don’t have to do anything at all.”    He squeezes my hands, then releases one to add a couple chunks of wood to the fire.  The fire flares up cheerfully; its shadow dance against the wall somehow reassures me.  But still I can’t stop trembling.
Harry looks at me uncertainly, assessing the situation.  “Come here,”  he finally whispers, gathering me close with his right arm; being tied to my right wrist temporarily hampers his left arm.  We allow the tied arms to hang down and clasp our hands.
He just holds me, rocking from side to side just the tiniest bit.  And holds me and holds me, stroking my hair, whispering,  “Shh…” for the longest time.
“Come,” he says, gently leading me toward our bed.  I can see the firelight’s erratic yet comforting gleam.  Outside, the music and laughter continue, fueled by alcohol and the lateness of the hour.
 “It’s all right,” he tells me, and slowly I start to believe him.  “Just remember, it’s all right… it’s all right.  You can do no wrong here… there’s nothing you have to do at all… just relax… and trust me.  Once I start knowing you intimately, I’ll take care of the rest.”
I do feel I can trust him, but all that singing is making me nuts.  Like a tea kettle coming to full boil.  Soon I’ll start whistling, or shrieking, or something—ready to blow my top…
He pulls me down gently so that we’re kneeling, then lying, on the bed.
The music, cheering, and chanting grows higher and louder—it makes me want to scream… Harry notices, but he just holds me closer to him with his right arm.
“The singing… I can’t bear it anymore…”   I’m close to panic.
“Shh…. Hush now….  All you have to do is look into my eyes… and keep looking until the sound grows dim.”  
I comply with his request.  And his magic starts to work.  His eyes are so beautiful:  such a light, clear blue, ringed by smudgy shadows.  Up close, I see how shockingly good-looking he is, how comfortable he seems in his own body, how at peace with his world and his place within it.  He keeps looking into my eyes, as if to mesmerize me.
It’s working.  I exhale.  Slowly but deeply.
“No matter what happens, just keep looking into my eyes.  I won’t do anything that you don’t want me to do.  Just… float upon the music… and dream.”
Then slowly, ever so slowly, his free hand starts caressing me.  First my neck and shoulders.  Then ever-so-gradually down to my backside, slowly massaging each cheek (the closer cheek more intensively than the other, again because of the tied wrists).
Float upon the music…  It’s true, it works… The music outside seems more muted and faraway, no longer annoying, no longer distinct.  I keep floating.
Harry’s caressing hand is now around my waist, moving up to my breasts, still covered by the homespun shift.  It’s true what they say about one’s wedding day… I’m thinking that I do have Something Old: my old brain, which remembers both worlds equally… Something New: a new life in a new world… Something Borrowed: this lovely, vintage wedding dress with the snail shells… now I only need something blue.
“Do you realize now how beautiful you are?”  Harry speaks suddenly, softly, in my ear.  I emit a tiny whimper, my last vestige of apprehension.
“Star Girl, it’s all right.”  Harry softly insists.   “Now and forevermore.  You do trust me, yes?”
I nod, wordlessly.  He plants a very gentle kiss then draws back, still looking into my eyes.
“Then keep looking at me, until…    well, until you can’t anymore.  And by that time, everything will be all right.  Do you believe me?” 
I nod.  “Do you trust me?”   Again, I nod yes.
I look at him in trust and keep on looking…  looking… floating on the music and blocking out the raucous noise outside our door. 
Harry’s blue eyes hold mine in a place where there is no time.

Then I feel his hand moving between us, gently pulling up my shift, and then he’s touching me between my legs. 

Five random facts about the author:

Although constitutionally wimpy when measured against folks more Cool and Adventuresome than I, nevertheless I’ve managed to come through some hairy times pretty much unscathed. Like that time in Idaho when the mountain lion jumped on me. Or when 750,000 Mexican free-tailed bats ejected droplets of pee on me as they surged from the mouth of the cave my husband and I were exploring. Then there was that instance, snorkeling with my husband and friends in an underground 'cenote' in the Yucatan, when the single overhead light went out (shudder). And how could I forget that time in New Mexico with the furious bull moose (I haven’t yet and never will…) Thank goodness for my marvelous husband, daughter, and son (and now grandkids, too) who keep me grounded, safe, and sane (mostly)… and who urge me to incorporate these wild detours into my writing. Making the switch from writing nonfiction to romantic fiction is proving to be a whirlwind ride for me… still in progress, still brimming with new possibility!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Guest blog: John Rosenman - 'Kingdom of the Jax'

Accompanied by Yaneta, his beautiful alien bride, Turtan travels across the stars to Cross Imperial Station.  The Jax, Overseers of the universe, have given him an amazing navigational device which can enable the Cross to quickly defeat their seemingly invincible enemy, the Cen, and end their five-thousand-year-old war.   

But will the Emperor welcome him to the station or order the execution of both him and his wife?  Turtan is, after all, endlessly resourceful and may learn the emperors’ terrible secret and act of betrayal concealed these past five hundred years.  Even if spared, Yaneta is still a member of the enemy and may be killed instantly. 

To succeed in his mission, Turtan faces an almost impossible task, one requiring not only luck but the full range of all the skills he has acquired in four thousand years as an elite agent. 


It is his greatest challenge ever.

Buy from MuseItUp, Amazon.com or Amazon UK .

Excerpt:

“Kit, what’s the quickest way out?” he asked.                                          

She pointed to the right. “This way,” she said as they left the tunnel. She turned to the settlers behind them. “Stay alert,” she called. “Watch the children.”   

No casualties so far. Turtan held his laser ready, wondering if he’d need it. So far the Radiants had been fifty times more efficient than when he’d fought Assan. They shot out, killed the enemy, and returned to him. An endless, inexhaustible supply of ammunition.

Caves and tunnels, crannies and dead ends, and hidden nooks built to ambush—deadly confusion was what this place was made of. It was an intricate warren of mind-warping turns and corridors which seemed to go somewhere and often didn’t. He sensed the flights of stairs he’d entered this puzzle place by were above and to his left, but despite the indispensable compass he carried in his head, he wasn’t sure he could find them readily. Maybe he couldn’t find them at all.

          They climbed toward the surface, sometimes gradually, sometimes mounting steep grades. As they moved from room to cave and slipped down tunnels between them, Turtan acquired increased respect for the pioneers who’d anticipated the Cen’s arrival and spent nearly three quarters of a century digging this maze in preparation. It must have been hard. It must have been a tedious, hellish, soul-draining challenge. He hated to think of the number of times their determination must have flagged, and they’d wanted to lie down and quit. Yet against all odds, they’d persevered, and their prolonged survival since had been made possible in the crucible of this grand and courageous project.

          Had there been a master architect or designer? Someone who sat down in advance and drew a blueprint of this labyrinth? Somehow, he hardly thought so. At any rate, such a visionary could hardly have anticipated the divinely beautiful cave waiting at the bottom in payment for their efforts.

          There were no beautiful caves here though. Kit led them to a dark cramped hole where they had to walk hunched over and to a slightly larger one smelling like an armpit. Something in the dim air made his eyes sting. They passed through it into a narrow tunnel and turned left onto a slight incline.

          Several Cen soldiers leaped out from hiding and opened fire. As settlers fell around him, Turtan returned their fire with his laser. His real attack, though, was through his eyes, where the Radiants zeroed in and launched forth with deadly effect. Half a dozen Cen stiffened abruptly and did a dance of agonized delight, fighting to control their weapons as they aimed them away from their enemy and toward each other. Rapturous screams rent the air as they died one by one.

          When the enemy lay still, Turtan glanced around. They’d lost as many men as the Cen. Sky and the kids, thank God, were still alive.
          “You love her more than me, don’t you?” Kit asked.

          You picked a swell time to bring this subject up, he thought. Look, you’re a sweet girl, but I just met you. Besides, I love Yani. I will always love Yani. He decided not to answer.

          “It’s all right,” she said. Ignoring the dead bodies, she raised her eyes toward the world above. “It’s her I have to worry about.”            

          As it turned out, they all had a much bigger concern. Turtan heard an explosive rustle of movement in caves far below and behind him.

Kit cupped her mouth with both hands. “Bats!” she hissed to nearby settlers.

The communal code word was passed down the line. Tense faces swung to each other. Turtan saw Albert hold Sky closer.

A moment later, he heard bat wings beat the air and furiously take flight, accompanied by high-pitched squeaks. Hundreds, thousands of bats, probably flying around and around before escaping through an air vent into the sky. Seconds later, the earth began to rumble deep in its bowels as if straining to give birth. It continued for a minute then died out. No reprieve, though! Soon the walls of the mine creaked and shivered, vibrating underfoot. Turtan glanced at Kit whose lips formed their common fear.
         
Earthquake! Cave-in!
         
Now the whole mine shook and trembled. Rock dust sifted down, glinting in the air and scratching his eyes. He had a vision of boulders crashing down on their heads, crushing them to pieces, of God’s Jewel Box collapsing in a Satanic shambles.
         
A rock half as large as his head bounced off the side of his boot. He bit back the pain, hearing other fragments fall. One settler gasped as a rock struck his chest. He was lucky. A few meters away, a black shard larger than a man crashed to the floor.   
          
Turtan waited for the quaking to subside. It didn’t. Several settlers lost their footing and fell. Like the born mine dwellers they were, not a single settler looked afraid. 
 
          A stone spear split from the wall to his left and shot directly at his eyes. He ducked, barely saving his sight.

“Let’s get away from here!” he shouted. With Kit’s help, he led the settlers back to an open tunnel, hoping it would be safer.

“Has this ever happened before?” he asked Kit, aware Cen soldiers might be nearby.

 “Six months after I was born. Nine of us were killed, including my grandpa. Some enemy, too.” She panted. “God’s Jewel Box wasn’t even touched. It was a miracle.”

What a pity. Maybe this time, the quake will smack everybody, human and Cen alike, and end this stupid subterranean war. He imagined himself lying dead with Kit in his arms, his quest ended forever.


Bio:
John, a retired English professor, has published 300 stories in Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road, Weird Tales, Whitley Strieber's Aliens, Galaxy, The Age of Wonders, etc. He’s also published twenty books, including SF novels such as Beyond Those Distant Stars and Speaker of the Shakk (Mundania Press), and Alien Dreams and A Senseless Act of Beauty (Crossroad Press).  

MuseItUp Publishing released three SF novels: Dark Wizard; Dax Rigby, War Correspondent; Inspector of the Cross.  Kingdom of the Jax, a sequel to Inspector of the Cross, has just been published in May 2013.  MuseItUp has also published The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes (winner of Preditors and Editors Annual Readers Poll), More Stately Mansions, and the dark erotic thrillers Steam Heat and Wet Dreams.  

Two of John’s major themes are the endless mind-stretching wonders of the universe and the limitless possibilities of transformation—sexual, cosmic, and otherwise.