Monday, January 30, 2012

Maybe…Strange Things are Possible by F.L. Bicknell

This world is full of unsolved mysteries, enigmas that tantalize us and force us to pause and wonder if something is possible. I love the weird, the paranormal and the bizarre. However, some people just can’t deal with anything extraordinary. I suppose it’s fear of the unknown that threatens them. Personally, I’d hate to live in a boring, nothing-special-is-possible world.

Reincarnation is one such “what if?” that I find fascinating. Growing up as a minister’s daughter, I never believed in such a notion. However, as I’ve grown older and have experienced various places, things, and happenings, I’ve changed my mind about whether or not it’s possible for a soul to be born again.

Recently I watched a program on the History Channel about the soul. Science is trying to determine if a soul is real and where it’s located. The program also delved into children who have perfect memories of past lives right down to some astonishing details.

I have two theories on reincarnation. One is that perhaps memories are inherited just like having blue eyes or red hair passed through the genes by a parent or grandparent. My other theory isn’t that we’re all reincarnated as much as it is that some are given a second chance to do what The higher power feels is necessary. Maybe a woman’s life was cut off unexpectedly and she’s given the chance to live as long as she should have before her sudden death. Perhaps a man is reincarnated because he was supposed to carry out something important in his life but there was an unforeseen obstacle that stopped him.

Could this also tie to the expression, ‘history repeats itself?’

It really makes me wonder, and if I think about these things too much it boggles my mind, lol.

Ruby Nutter, my heroine in Ruby, the White King and Marilyn Monroe tackles these issues. My mother’s maiden name is Nutter, and one of my ancestors in 1612, Alice Nutter, was hung for witchcraft. These things, as well as the legend of the Nephilim, serve as the premise of my novel. Mix it all up with a romance that transcends time, and you’ll be swept into an incredible “what if?” world. Be careful, you might have to return as someone else. {wink}




BOOK INFO:
Paranormal romance that takes off full throttle as demonic motorcycles and their beautiful riders chase Ruby to the rocky shores of Key West for a battle of epic proportions.
Are they angels, demons, or something else entirely? Ruby must send them back to a hell unlike anything the world has ever imagined. But will she allow herself to love the White King who has found her again over one thousand years later?
Reincarnated over the centuries. Stuck with a ditzy Marilyn Monroe lookalike. Falling for a rich albino guy. It’s just Ruby’s luck for Hell’s “real” angels to ride into this life and screw it all up.
Kindle: http://amzn.to/rpvrA8 and print! Click the amazon book graphic and read the first three chapters of “Ruby.”

F.L. Bicknell's work has appeared in a wide range of genres and publications such as: Would That It Were, Touch, GC, and Ohio Writer magazines as well as with publications in Canada and Turkey. Under her pseudonym, Molly Diamond, she was a regular contributor to Gent and Ruthie's Club and has had fiction published in Hustler's Busty Beauties, Penthouse Variations, and Twenty 1 Lashes. Ms. Bicknell is the author of several e-book and print titles, also writing as Azura Ice. She has served as co-editor and managing editor for three different publishing houses. She is represented by TriadaUS Literary Agency.




Sunday, January 29, 2012

An author's "voice"!

Happy Sunday! Today I’m going to chat about something that I’ve been wanting to blog about for a while now and that’s “voice”.

Before I was an author, I’d heard the term but didn’t really know what it meant. I suppose through the time I’ve been published—and it’s been drilled into my head of how important it is—I’ve taken a bigger notice to it.

Now I’m going to use two books as an example and I’m not going to name them because well…I just feel weird doing that. But it was two books that I’ve read recently. Both were outstanding stories, both well written and both had compelling plot lines.

But guess what? I only remember one of them.

So let’s talk about book #1 (the one I don’t remember). I know when I read book #1 that I really enjoyed it, but I could put it down and didn’t read late into the night. There wasn’t that itch to find out how the story resolved and it was more of a journey. I never had a moment where I stopped reading and thought “ugh, this is boring”. I actually really loved it. There was enough steam in the story that kept me happy, I really enjoyed the characters and I thought the plot was totally neat. But then why don’t I remember it?

Hmmm…good question!

Now onto book #2. This story grabbed me much the same as book #1. I loved everything about it and the characters were fantastic. But this was one of the stories that I cannot stop thinking about. I couldn’t stop reading and even when I put it down, all I wanted to do was go back and read more. I had a huge emotional connection to the characters and felt like I knew them…or at least, I wanted to. I read this book so fast because I was dying to know what happened, needed to spend more time with them, and this is definitely a re-read for me.

So what was the difference between book #1 and book #2? You got it—“voice”. It’s the authors way of telling a story. It wasn’t that anything in book #1 was bad. It was actually really good. But the author in book #2 had a voice that jumped off the page. I connected with her characters in a deeper way because of how she wrote them. It was in the way she set up her chapters and the situations she put her characters in. Her story was more “alive” for me because she had such a strong captivating voice.

It had nothing to do with the characters themselves because I loved book #1 characters just as much. And it wasn’t about the plot because I found them both intriguing. But it was the authors “voice” that grabbed hold and didn’t let me go. It sucked me right in and made me feel like I was somehow a part of the story. I got excited when the characters did, sad at moments, and I was totally cheering the heroine on. Even after weeks of reading it, this story comes into my mind and I’m DYING for the next book in the series.

Now the funny thing about “voice” is that everyone will like something different. While I like a certain way a story is told, others will pick something entirely different. But I think most will agree that there are authors out there that simply have a gift of making their stories an experience, not just words written on a page.

So yes, voice is very important! And usually when I find an author with a powerful way of storytelling I’m a fan for life!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Developing Villians

Ah, the bad boys and girls of romance and one of my favorite character types to develop.  Do they always run around and cackle Mahwawawawawawaw? Are we the readers allowed to like them?

The question is an easy one for me. Yes, not only are we allowed to like them, there should be something, we relate to--feel sympathic about. In the very least, we need to understand why they do what it is they do.

Why, you ask?

Motives. To understand why the villian does what he or she does, we need to understand what drives them. And the easiest way I know to do this, is to make the villian human. I'm not talking no paranormal or science fiction beings, I'm talking giving them human traits. Give them faults, give them challenges and stakes, the same thing you give your hero and heroine. Make not only the hero have hurtles, but give them to your opposition. Not all should be a cake walk--even for the bad guy.

So, I've included some examples of villians in my stories, that show you the human side of my bad boys and girls.

This first excerpt is from my WIP, One Shot. Notice that Smitty could be anyone one of our girlfriends. Perhaps you know or hang out with someone like her. In this excerpt you see a friendship, a relationship between the heroine and villian and it's not what you'd expect: 

“Catch.” Smitty tossed the bottle of shampoo to me. Somehow, I’d run out and forgotten to get more. We were the last two females to hit the showers. Smitty kept her mouth closed until we were alone.



“Thanks. I owe you until I can get to the exchange.” She nodded. It wasn’t an issue. I’d have done the same for her.


“If you actually went when you should have, instead of…”


I closed my eyes and stuck my face under the water, hoping to drown out what came next. Here it comes, the proverbial, I told you so.


“Smitt. It was one mistake. I won’t make it again.”


“I told you going to that bar was a bad idea. He’s an instructor, Audra. Do you have any idea how deep in shit you’ll sink if they find out? You haven’t learned a thing. I saw the way you were looking at him. He winked. For Christ sakes. If I saw it, you can bet someone else did.”


“I know, I know.” I scrubbed my hair, working my fingers through it. “I promise to be a good girl from now on. No more Staff Sgt. Yummy.”


“Why don’t I believe you?”


I turned to her. “I promise.” I crossed my heart. “I’ll do my best to resist temptation.”


“You’ve got your work cut out for you.” She grinned. “Did you see his ass in those shorts?”


I laughed. “Who didn’t?” I closed my eyes and could visualize digging my nails into it. God, the man flipped every switch in my body. I heated up just thinking about him.


“You better crank that dial to cold, girl. You’re turning red thinking about him.”


I snapped my head in her direction. “You checking me out in the shower, Smitt?”


She laughed. “Duh. Yeah. But it would still be like doing my sister, so don’t get any ideas.”


I threw my washcloth at her. “I’ll leave the chicks to you.”


“Chicks and pricks, Audra. I’ve told you a thousand times…”


“Yeah, I know. You’re bi.”


She gave me a salute and turned off the shower. As she walked by, she cranked mine to cold. I screamed, jumped back and snatched a towel, snapping it at her. She yelped and went for hers.


A loud pounding on the door ended our fun. “Hey, we’d like to get in there sometime today.” I eyed her and started to giggle. There had to be a line a mile long outside. What had they heard? What did they think was going on behind closed doors?


“What’s going on in there?” said a voice a little hoarse and a little strained. Yup, the power of the, male mind, thinking from between his legs. How’d I know? The boy’s brains had gone into overdrive and the longer we remained behind a locked door, the bigger the stories in their heads would grow.


“Nothing you boys could handle,” Smitty yelled back through the door. “Just a little female bonding.”


“That’s not going to help.” I shoved Smitty, giving her a dirty look. The last thing I needed was for the guys to fantasize about us soaping each other up in the showers. As if being one of six women in a male dominated unit, surrounded by alpha chest-thumpers, wasn’t bad enough.


“It’s okay. We used all the hot water. They’ll get over it quick.” She laughed and pulled her robe on while I did the same.


“You’re incorrigible, Smitt.”


“The one and only.” She opened the door and stared into half a dozen male faces. “They’re all yours boys. We’re done here.” She brushed past and started up the stairs. Mouths dropped open and eyes followed her. I shook my head and started after her.


“It’s not what you think,” I said. But their expressions said otherwise. No, they didn’t have to think. Their cocks had taken over.


Super.

In this excerpt, you'll meet Ian Saefa, my villian in Slipping the Past and discover the roots of his obsession with Jocelyn Miller:
 
Justinus eyed her from across the room. Handsome, powerful and wealthy, everything she should desire. He’d been a friend from childhood. They used to sneak out and ride together, play in the fields and they even learned about sex together. He’d been her first and at one time she thought herself in love with him. But lately he’d taken on a serious air, watching her with hunger, always questioning where she went and with whom.



“Where were you this night, Jocasta? I came by earlier.”


She shrugged and twisted a beaded bracelet on her wrist, a trinket Augustus purchased for her earlier. “Taking in the celebration.”


“Did you attend with someone?”


She glanced up and caught the look in his eyes. Fire. Lust. Her stomach fluttered. “Alone.”


“You shouldn’t go out unescorted. A beautiful woman could find herself in trouble. I might lose you to another lover.”


Jocasta laughed. “You tease me, Justinus. You’re not my lover.”


“I tease not. I’ve asked your father for permission to marry you. He has agreed that the arrangement would be quite satisfactory.”


“Marriage?” Jocasta’s heart thumped in her chest. She could do worse. She cared deeply for him, but regardless she could never love him, not like the Centurion with the amber eyes.


He rose from where he’d reclined and walked toward her. “I’ve loved you all my life.”


She tipped her head back and stared into his face. “You’re my closest friend and I love you as such, but not as intimately as you profess.”


“I hope it will become so much more.” He knelt before her, pulled a bundle wrapped in bright fabric from the folds of his military tunic and held out a jeweled collar. “I’ve had this brought this all the way from Egypt for you. I’ve heard Cleopatra wore something very similar. Here, take it, a small token of my affections.”


Jocasta glanced down at the beaded bracelet she wore and back at the lapis and gold collar. “It’s lovely.”


He reached forward. “Lift your hair.”


Jocasta shook her head. “I can’t take that. I’ve fallen in love with another.”


Justinus’s glared and a tick pulsed in his jaw. His black eyes looked darker, full of rage. “Who?”


“Does it matter?”


“Who?”


“His name is Augustus. He’s a Centurion.”


“Augustus?” Justinus’s eyes fell, a frown creased his face. Pain burned across his countenance.


“Justinus?” There was more there than he was saying. “Do you know him?”


“He’s my brother. Anyone but him. I can’t kill him, but I can’t let you go either. I could never let you go.”


And last but not least, is an excerpt from my WIP Jericho Rising, the sequel to Last Flight of the Ark. Here you meet Kera, Col Caleb Titan's daughter, or the child he thinks is his daughter:
 
Kera wrinkled her nose. The planet was plagued with the stink of the hybrids and she’d have to live with it until they rid their world of the parasites. If not for the Terran government, she wouldn’t exist—she’d known before she’d hatched they’d been the last pod of children, missed by her father and his crew when they’d landed, and her mother, a hive queen, had intentionally left her behind to help restore the population to its former glory.



With all the colonists, they could grow an endless supply of fresh food and maintain their growing population without traveling to other worlds. The Terrans were unaware they’d become livestock. The hybrids tasted foul and would eventually have to be eradicated. No sense in fouling the food supply.


It didn’t take long for the government of Colonel Kaleb Titan’s world to take over and lock down the city, finding the hidden pod and activating the incubator. If not for their psychic abilities the government of Earth would be unable to use the technology of her people—so they’d elected to keep the hatchlings they’d discovered, which she communicated with daily by telepathy.


Even though her surrogate parents believed she belonged to them, and she looked exactly like Jessica, she didn’t. She’d consumed the umbilical cord of her adopted mother’s other son, and took on his genetics almost immediately. Her DNA was convincing evidence that she belonged to them when she’d been tested—any discrepancies were put off as part of the mutation.


As an infant, she’d been aware they’d switched her, wrapped her in the bloody rags of the hybrid child they’d replaced her with, to give her his scent—actually she’d compelled them to do it. She’d had a superior intelligence, trapped in an infant body—had been aware of all that went on around her and had a mind unlike anything they could possibly believe an infant could possess. Even though she’d been hours old she’d been able to manipulate the weaker minds to her biding, and knew that she simply needed to bide her time before her plan came together.


Since the pod-children shared many of the genetic traits of the hybrids, it made sense for the scientists to hide them among the hybrid population until they needed their special skills.


Her parents were blissfully unaware that Earth command had treated her for her allergies and once she hatched, they’d replaced their son with her, and many of her other hatchling brothers and sisters with other hybrid babies. She used Earth Command for everything she could, exchanging information on the hybrid colonies for favors, and had access to many things the hybrids could only dream about, including the hidden prison full of hybrids taken from their parents at birth—children they were unaware of—the lab rats of the Terran scientists.


Most of all, she’d discovered where her mother had hidden the weapons she’d need to take back their world.


Soon her brothers and sisters would be strong enough, and the only weapon the Terrans had possessed, had been foolishly destroyed by their own hands in their greed to control the alien technology of her world.

Have a great Saturday.

D L

Friday, January 27, 2012

Finding Inspiration in Song by Becca Dale

Welcome to Friday’s stop on the Decadent Publishing’s Speculative Fiction blog tour. Today, in honor of the LA based band behind the Run Devil Run anthology and my own story from that work called “Can’t Stop Me,” let’s talk a bit about the muse of music.

Inspiration can come from many places. My muse has directed me down some interesting paths simply by pointing out people on the street. With “Can’t Stop Me” the inspiration was preordained by my publisher, but it worked like flipping a switch. As soon as I read Run Devil Run’s lyrics for the song “Can’t Stop Me” my characters began to form and by the third reading, they were fairly solid in my head. Once I actually heard the music, the pace of the story settled in as well, and I realized that the characters had to race across the country to save themselves and the world.

I am not a big music lover but strangely lyrics often launch my thoughts. Some authors actually make playlists for each book and listen to the songs while they write. I am the type of person who gets sidetracked easily – look something shiny – so I can’t do that because the instrumental part is distracting to me until the parameters of the story are solid and in place. However, until recently, I did not realize how often song lyrics are an underlying source of ideas whether for pace, tone, or storyline. “Heart Desires” = an Andy Gibb tune, “I Just Want to be Your Everything.” “Erotic Healing” = Beauty from Pain” by Superchick. “Kya’s King” = Disney’s “Once Upon a Dream.” There are many others but these are the ones that jump out at me. The age and/or sophistication level of some of these songs say way too much about me, as well, but I am trying to block that part.

With “Can’t Stop Me” not only did the song set the pace, the lyrics spoke to me with such strength of character and passion that Luca and Kern could do no less. So I offer my thanks to the members of Run Devil Run and to every other musical artist who has enable the muse to inspire this basically tone deaf author with their words and beat. My thanks also to the talented authors of Paranormal Romantics for allowing me to drop by today. I lift a toast to you ladies as well.

If you had a chance to thank your inspiration who or what would you lift your glass to? Share with me for a chance to win a copy of the eBook “Can’t Stop Me” or any of my other Decadent Publishing titles, a personalized gift from me as well as an autograph from the man on the cover, the ever adorable Jackie Joyride from Run Devil Run. In addition you will be entered for a chance to win three months of free membership to Decadent Publishing’s book club. So many gifts for so little effort. Winners will be drawn Monday, January 30, 2012.





Blurb “Can’t Stop Me.

Prophecy proclaims a child of three worlds will lead the strong one to victory. Threatened by the church since birth and imprisoned by Lucifer’s elite force for over five years, Kernan Malanous represents demons, angels, and mankind, but who will be the strong one—God, Lucifer, or someone intent on overthrowing them both?

Born the blind daughter of the greatest mediums in history, Luca Alexander sees more than anyone suspects. Screams of the damned slash at her sanity as demonic visitors hide a stranger in her home. To quiet the horror echoing from the underworld, she seeks the prisoner’s soothing thoughts, offering him peace while finding her own.

When the devil’s top gun comes to reclaim his prize, Luca risks her life to liberate the pure soul in her attic, but Kern won’t leave his beautiful innocent at the mercy of the merciless. Desperate, the young couple flees with hell on their heels. Unrestricted for the first time in their lives, Luca and Kern discover rare joy in one another, but all good has its counterpart. Torn between personal peril and world-wide destruction, will the young lovers run from fate or take a stand to fight and live as free beings?




Becca Dale - Naughty Enough
http://beccadale.blogspot.com/

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What's in a Title?

Lately, for some unknown reason, titles have been difficult in making themselves known. It can be frustrating to whittle all your hard work down into a few words that are reflective of a story. Title trouble is nothing new for me. But it seems to be especially hard lately. Maybe it's that drive to have the perfect title. The one that can tell the reader a lot about the story in such a short span of time - sometimes only one word.

So tell me, what kind of titles do you like? Ones descriptive of the story as a whole, or ones that focus in on one key event in the story? Maybe even titles that have nothing to do with the story, but more the theme?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Something New Plus Something Pretty!

I got my finalized cover art for Eversworn yesterday. That's always fun.

Let me see if I can get it attached...


There we go.

So, the hunk in the center is Dillon. The lady to your right is Isabeau. 

This is their story:

Steal the salt. Bind the grimoire. Escape the male.

When an exchange of stolen goods in the Feriana marketplace turns sour, Isabeau stumbles from the encounter bruised and laden with new orders to complete an even larger heist. With her child’s life at stake, there’s no room for error—or allies.

Armed with a lethal book of spells, she strikes a dangerous bargain with Roland Bernhard. Steal a shipment of salt from the Feriana colony, and she’ll have her freedom—and her daughter. It’s all she’s ever wanted. At least it was…until she runs into Dillon Preston.

Dillon is out of commission after a mine explosion, and itching for a distraction. He gets it when the female who saved his leg arrives at the colony with nothing but flimsy excuses and even flimsier attire. She’s after something, but is it him—or the salt?

Trapped in a desperate bid to gain true freedom, Isabeau is willing to sacrifice her life for her daughter’s, but Dillon has other plans. He wants a package deal, and he’s not willing to lose either female, even if it means the future king of Sere’s head will roll.

Warning: This title contains a heroine desperate to save her daughter and a hero determined to make them a family. It also includes wings, horns and other assorted appendages.


I also have review ARCs ready to go to some lucky reviewers. Yay!

In other news, I'm writing the second Araneae Nation novel, A Feast of Souls. (Vaughn and Mana's book.) Their story gave me a character I really wanted to expand on, but couldn't cram his story within their book. He also doesn't fit the series mold. So...for the first time in years, I will be attempting to write a novella. My editor signed off on the idea, so I'm looking forward to trying something new. It should be fun, and I'd like to see if I've grown enough to pull off a shorter piece.

How about y'all? Do you have a preference for writing short or long?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

When Life Reminds Me...

I just got back home today from a wedding we went to in Jeckyll Island, Georgia. (Congratulations Lillian and Patrick, we are thrilled for you!)

On the day of the wedding, my husband and I leisurely strolled around Jeckyll Island hand-in-hand looking around. He had been to the island a lot as a child when they visited family but had not been back in two decades. I had never been there.
Let me tell you--it is beautiful.

But that is not the purpose of my story. In my most recently published book, Love Beyond Loyalty, two of the characters spend some time discussing Spanish Moss. Its actually a pivotal scene that travels between Love Beyond Loyalty and Love Beyond Sanity, the second book in the Outsider series. I wrote the scenes from my memory of the Moss that used to hang on the trees outside my bedroom window when I lived in New Orleans.

In New Jersey, I do not see such sights. I see other wonderful things but Spanish Moss on the trees, I do not.

As we were walking I looked up and there it was. I snapped a picture as my mind whirled. Even when I'm on vacation, life reminds me of how much I love this job I get to do telling stories. I had to share the picture with all of you.

Hope you're all well.

RR

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Taste of What's to Come

2012 will be a very exciting year for me! Sometimes we work so hard for our dream that once we attain it's hard to sit back and enjoy the ride. Like every writer, I've had my times of struggle where the words were lacking or the story flat. But today, I'm not focusing on the bad. I want to think about the good and take a moment just absorb what the next year will be like.

Omegas in Love  Releasing March 19
Book Four of The Vanguards


Small Excerpt:  
Leaping after Katrina, Tyler was intercepted midair. He hit the pavement with a bone-crunching impact. Air rushed out of his lungs while stars whirled around his head, yet he still managed to roll from the attack. He might not train like Eric, his alpha, or Robert, his beta, but Katrina had forced him to learn the basics of keeping his hide intact.

He jumped to his feet and faced his opponent. The dark, cold eyes of the unknown Asian male stared back from the face of the beast who’d attacked him. His companions had shifted, too.

Impending death confronted Tyler. Three shifters against one were terrible odds, especially for a shifter who worked as a real estate agent.




The Sigma Releasing August 2012
Book Five of The Vanguards

No cover yet.

Small snippet:  Not that Sam blamed Sugar, his only human friend, for breaking his heart years ago. Who could compete with a Nosferatu vampire warrior? Not him.

 



Untitled Releasing in late 2012
Confessions of a Succubus book one

No Cover yet

Small teaser:  To survive, I needed to feed from energy created in my body during an orgasm. So, I couldn’t even stay alive on bad sex.

 





Koishi Releasing March 2013
Gatekeepers book 3

No Excerpt yet



That's it for now. My moment of taking it all in is over. I have a sci-fi bunny to finish and a dragon awaiting my attention.

Rest?
HA! I laugh in the face of exhaustion.





Saturday, January 21, 2012

My First Science Fiction Romance

So, I was going through unfinished projects and I came across this gem, created during a phase of my "I want to be published" writing journey. While reading it, I realized how important it still is to keep a story moving forward. Here I employ the use of hooks and hangers, something I considered then, and still consider to be very important.

So without further wait, I'll show you a little bit, and please excuse any typos or grammer. It's not polished. :) Where I leave off, is not the end of the chapter. Oh no, I inflict poor Marcus with much more before this chapter ends.

Here's an excerpt from Blame it on Mars:

I should have opted for the lethal injection.


Any worse vibration and his teeth would rattle out of his skull. Marcus strangled the levers beside his seat, knuckles white, hanging on only for an anchor to sanity.

The system’s lights began to die one at a time.

Power cells—failing.


Pressure—failing.


The flipping hydraulics—failing.

All winked out except a little orange light that glowed and pulsed like a strobe, letting him know he could still breathe. Laughter bubbled from his lips. Oxygen? Who needed a damned light to know they were still breathing?

An outline of a seated man flashed across the navigational screen, alerting him to assume the crash position, most likely the product of the same scientist. The genius did bother to think of the extras, like auxiliary power for controlling the ship. But they’d saved enough to tell him to kiss his ass goodbye. Clever.

In the canopy’s frame, a planet grew larger. Big and blue, a Goliath. “Safe bet you’re not Mars.” Wormholes, it appeared, were really tunnels through space. What were you thinking, Marcus?


He let go of the lever and tapped the control panel, then banged on it. Dead, except for the familiar red sign of the seated-man, who took the opportunity to flash at him. Again. He slammed his fist down harder. The image hummed, popped and disappeared. In its place a calm computer generated voice warned him, “crash imminent.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

“Crash imminent in 5.2 minutes.”

He flipped a couple of switches, for the sake of doing something. “How about you tell me where I am?”

“Crash imminent in 4.93 minutes.”

“Super.” It shouldn’t matter, but it did. Something about dying alone on an unknown planet disturbed him more than the dying part.

“Crash imminent…” Marcus pounded on the console and the voice died.

“Yeah, okay. Crash is fucking imminent. I’d rather not think about that.”

Yeah, he’d been sent into space to expire, but this was different. Nobody would know he was here. An unmarked, unvisited, grave. The red warning of the seated man came back to life, reminding him of how much his life truly sucked. Marcus ground down on his teeth. “Where’s a good sledgehammer when you need one?”

“Crash…”

Marcus yanked his hands off the levers and banged on the control panel like a mountain gorilla. The cover cracked and all the lights died. “Shut the hell up. Can’t you see I’m trying to think?”

He glanced out the canopy again. Space was no longer visible, only the blues, greens and browns of the world below. “Situation assessment, Captain,” Marcus called out to the empty cockpit.

He dropped his voice a couple of octaves. “Well, we’re a coming in a little steep, she’s hot, and you’ve got no power.” Marcus searched around for something, anything that would tell him he could get out of this. Nothing. He burst into laughter.

“Assessment—you’re screwed. Good news, it can’t get any worse.” He wiped a tear from his eye, flipped a lever and snorted. Could it?

“Please fasten your seatbelts, folks, we could experience a bit of turbulence upon entry.” Oh yeah, a bit. The Martian Destiny’s nose was already a slight shade off molten red. Her tiles glowed incandescent and in minutes, she’d vaporize. “It’s a pleasant 6oo degrees out there. No cloud cover and lot’s of sunshine. It looks like it’s going to be a real scorcher. Don’t forget your sunscreen, folks.”

Marcus laughed again. The Destiny bumped, pitching him sideways. Her armrest caught him across the ribs and sharp pains raced up his sides. “Seat belts. Not a bad idea.” His hands flew to the safety harness, snapping it shut. The ship shuddered and he grabbed the levers, resuming his death grip.

The shuttle lurched and entered the planet’s atmosphere, her speed accelerated at the same pace as his heart. “I’m going to die.”

Not that it hadn’t been the plan. A few days ago he’d been scheduled to be executed, and just when he’d been ready to accept his fate, life dealt him a Trojan horse. At first the mission to Mars looked like a good thing. The package, the presentation, he couldn’t say no. What is it they say about Geeks bearing gifts?

“You will be the first man to walk on the surface.” At least that’s what they told him to get him to agree, that, and threatening to kill him by strapping him down and pumping poison into his veins. Option one or option two? It hadn’t been too hard to decide which was better. Whoo hoo, a glorious exit. Of course he couldn’t say no. And what’s behind door number two, Vanna!


Bad choice. Painful death. Sure, he hadn’t escaped execution and his life had been extended, but for what?

A barbeque.

The heat radiated off the glass like a blast furnace. The exposed skin of his hands began to blister and sting. Taking a breath, he pressed his feet against the floor of the cabin. They slipped across the surface, leaving melted rubber streaked across the decking. Now why did he think it could get any worse? “I wasn’t supposed to die like this.” Marcus closed his eyes and waited for the fireworks.

They never came. The Destiny went from fast, to not so fast, in the time it took him to scream. He flew forward against the restraints, knocking the wind from his lungs in a loud whoosh. Thank God he’d buckled up, or he would have kissed the windshield.

The culprit, a sludge that looked like a clear jelly, melted and streamed along the windows like strands of mucus. The nose sliced through the freaky goo, causing it to boil and bubble. He’d no idea what, but didn’t care. It slowed his descent and that was good enough.

It didn’t stop her. No, that would imply he had a little kismet on his side. It did give him the chance to bring the nose up and get control. Too steep and entry and he’d disintegrate, not enough angle and The Destiny would be torn apart by cross winds. Marcus hit a lever and manually cranked the flaps, slowing her more, praying to anyone that might hear him, that the action wouldn’t rip the ship apart.

It only took seconds to exit the gelatin. By then, he had a better angle on the approach and the situation didn’t look as grim.

As the ground drew closer, he observed a jungle below. Vegetation meant breathable air, well, most of the time it did and it usually meant water. Chances were pretty good the planet below could sustain life. Now, he needed to make it to the surface to find out.

“Come on baby, keep it together.” The Destiny vibrated in response to his pleas. Holding onto the levers took all his strength and determination. Every bone in his body buzzed from the jarring and his arms ached, feeling like they could dislocate at any moment. With all that, he managed to hold on, fueling the hopes of survival he’d tried to abandon on Earth.

The ship began to brush the treetops and Marcus steadied himself. Branches squealed against the skin of the vessel, filling the interior with their shrieks, setting his nerves to tingling.

The first impact sheared off the wings, removing what little control he’d retained. Now more missile than ship, the disabled vessel smashed through the jungle canopy.

The second impact really hurt. The bottom of the ship peeled away like a lid on a can of sardines. The contents dropped out, including him, all in a micro-moment, even though it seemed like it reeled along in slow motion.

The bottom of the ship caught after smashing through a couple of smaller trees and remained behind, to hang suspended in the treetops. The rest of the Destiny and her fuselage continued on and exploded moments later into a brilliant ball of fire. The heat of the explosion washed over him, followed by the smell of burning hair.

Marcus stared at the smoking, charred trees, corpses of the blast, thankful his ride stopped short. He sucked in a breath and started to giggle, unable to believe his luck. What were the chances a man could drop from space and live?

Impossible. It appeared there was a god here, whoever he was and he’d given him a second chance.

Courage fueled, he reached down with trembling hands and unbuckled the harness. The Destiny groaned. “Time to get off this ride, Marcus,” he whispered, not daring to go a decibel higher.

He glanced over at the trunk of blue-leafed tree, a small distance away. “Maybe she’ll hold. Not that far, a few steps, tops. You can do it Marc.” He pushed himself up on shaky legs.

Crack.
Or maybe not. A sound that would haunt him for the rest of his life, not a horrific shriek, scream, or even boom, broke any allusions of living he’d gathered. The Destiny, or what was left of her, dropped like a broken elevator. Straight down.

Marcus didn’t remember the third and final impact. When he came back to consciousness, he found every last inch of his body zinging with pain and didn’t need to remember. His body did it for hm.

He’d been thrown free of the wreck. The seat sat about twenty feet away in the twisted ball of debris. He took a deep breath, then gasped. Pain—like he’d been hit and run by a tank.

Marcus flexed and unflexed his hands then turned his head to the side and stared at the toe of his boot. He blinked, unable to look away. Leg and foot still attached, not a bad thing. However, the angle in which it pointed, about one hundred and eighty degrees from where it should be, now that didn’t look so good. He sure as fuck wasn’t a gymnast, so flexibility could be ruled out quick.

Okay, one issue. Marcus cringed and tried to move his other leg. Success, all the way to his toes. Though he felt pain, it didn’t appear as bad as he first believed. Perhaps he could find a way to patch up and survive. One broken leg was better than two.

“Okay what else is wrong with you?” He squeezed his eyes shut, gathered his courage, opened them and continued to survey the damage. Another mistake. He wished it away, but no amount of wishing would remove the image in front of him.

A large chunk of metal, a souvenir from the impact, stuck up from his body. It impaled him through the right side, under the ribs, aka the love handle, better yet, it pinned him to the ground. Long and narrow, it started off wide at the top, getting skinnier as it entered his body and was pointy like a stake—one great big, nasty metal splinter.

The heat from entry annealed the metal and sealed his flesh around it, keeping him from hemorrhaging. Again, not a bad thing. At least he wouldn’t bleed out. But, the resulting dull surface only seemed to accentuate its size, sucking away any enthusiasm he’d had about being alive. Is it really that big?

He dropped his head back; unable to look further, then lifted it up again to stare at the fragment. Still there, still sticking up, and still pointy. He groaned. And yes, it was big.

Maybe it would’ve been better to vaporize on entry.

“Well, isn’t this fun.” His eyes burned and his nose stung. The oxygen on the planet seemed concentrated. At least one thing went well. With his injuries, he probably needed it.

Now that he knew he wouldn’t be walking away, other not so pleasant thoughts wormed their way through his head. Who and what lived here? For all he knew the planet could be inhabited by some nasty species. Meat eaters. Hoo-rah. Sign me up.

He reached down and grabbed the chunk of metal, pretty sure that it only pierced the flesh on his side, or he’d be dead. He shouldn’t pull it out, not the best choice, but he’d run out of options. He needed to get into cover, splint his leg, and reassess the situation. Adapt, improvise and overcome. The last bit would be the hardest part. There wouldn’t be an ambulance, or doctor waiting to see him. Survival would be up to him. Slowly he counted backwards from three and yanked.

Then again, he’d never been Army and that was their thing. Overcome? Who the hell came up with that anyway? “God!” Sharp pains shot to every nerve ending. Darkness rolled over him and he went with it.

#####

Marcus woke to the sound of rustling leaves, not far from where he lay. He turned his head and reached down to touch the wound on his side. It wept blood, but not gushing. The scrap of metal must have missed the arteries and organs, as he’d guessed. Another impossibility. Someone either wanted him to suffer, or they didn’t want him dead. Yet.

He could smell the fuel and smoke from his ship mixed with the coppery tang of his blood. Yet? God, what was he thinking? He needed to face it. He was going to die, here on an alien planet, far from all he knew, and really, all things considered, did he want to live? He could be the only humanoid on this planet, or worse.

How much longer would it take? He blew out a gust of air and tried to push the throbbing in his limbs to the back of his mind. He didn’t feel close to death, only miserable. “Damn it, Marcus. You’re already giving up. Knock it off. You’re not going to die.”

The leaves rattled again. Something moved under them, coming closer. Marcus narrowed his eyes and willed it to go away. It moved again.

He studied the shifting debris, trying to analyze the threat. It didn’t look like something big enough to eat him. Still, he didn’t like it creeping towards him, nor the thought he could become breakfast. Reaching down, he grabbed the chunk of metal that he’d dropped and did his best to throw it at the moving leaves. He didn’t want to know what—he wanted it to go away.

The fragment landed next to it. The movement stopped. Maybe I scared it away?

It moved again.

Or maybe not.

“Get.” He huffed out the word as best as he could, every breath agonizing. More crackling. Slowly something began to emerge from under the decaying matter. Little bits of blue peeked up at him, while it made its way to the surface, until it finally emergied in one bright jolt of electric blue.

“Ah shit.” Of all the creatures it could be, of all the things his mind could spin from the depths of his imagination, from brain-sucking squid creatures to bug-eyed aliens, he faced the one thing that terrified him more than anything could. “Jesus, fucking—Christ. Why?”

Jungle-survival-training-flashback resurfaced, and Marcus wanted to crawl out of his skin. He could have handled a bugged eyed alien, a snake, even the freaking brain-sucking squid, but not a tarantula and not this one.

Bigger than his hand and covered with wiry hairs, it challenged every fractured bit of bravado left in him. Worse yet, he could see his reflection in its eyes. It arched up like a cat and hissed. Bonus! It’s got personality. Shit. Get me out of here. His heart thumped against his ribs, bouncing into his throat and treating his tonsils like a heavy bag. As he stared at it, he wondered if it was poisonous. Of course it is. Nothing had gone right so far, why should that change?

He grabbed a handful of soil and leaves and heaved it at the spider. It didn’t work. It only seemed to antagonize it. The damned thing rushed forward like a linebacker. He grabbed more leaves and soil, but before he could toss the handfuls, the spider leapt on his leg and sunk its pinchers in.

A sharp stinging radiated from the bite, enough to let him know it successfully injected poison. He screamed and backhanded it, sending the spider to land about ten feet from his head. It stayed there, out of reach, watching, rubbing its mandibles together as if it sharpened the cutlery and it looked to be staring. Hard to tell with all the eyes.

“Get out of here.” It responded by clicking its pinchers together, a sound that nearly pushed him to faint. He grabbed another handful of soil and debris, but his aimed sucked. It landed no where near the blue arachanid. This is bad. Numbness spread up his leg and euphoria hit. Marcus’s brain grew foggy.

The numbing, much like Novocain, rolled up his leg from the bite, giving him respite from the pain. But… He blinked and the spider split into two. Crap. “Stop that.”

“Click, click, click,” it chattered back.

“You’re the fucking spider-whisperer now, Marcus?” He spluttered and started to giggle. His body lifted from the ground, or felt like it did, and a pleasant warmth spread through him. A rumble of laughter rolled from his chest, before he could stop it. Noise right now could attract attention. What if there were more? Whoo hoo. He did his best to push aside the feeling of giddiness and control his laughter, sure that he wouldn’t like the impending consequences.

His eyes began to get heavy. Marcus lifted his hand to his face, and slapped his cheek. It didn’t work. The high wormed its way into his brain, and his eyes slid shut. No. Marcus snapped them back open. “That’s what you want, isn’t it?” He stared at the spider and it made its clicking sound. “Yeah, well fuck you,” he slurred back. “That’s right. Go find dinner somewhere else.”

He needed to sing or something, anything to stay awake, but all that came to mind was little boy blue. You’re losing it, Marcus? Mother Goose? Come on anything but that. You could be dying; make your last moments memorable. Anything but nursery rhymes. What’s wrong with you? You’re a man, think of something manly.

“The buffet is closed. Mary, Mary,” he mumbled, forgetting the rest. Was she Ms. October? “Stay awake, Marcus.” He swatted at his face again and missed. “Shit.”

He glanced at the spider and doubled his efforts. The world around him began to spin. He wanted to close his eyes, but couldn’t. There would be consequences.

Consequences, that sat out of arm’s reach.

Waiting.

“Zack be a thimble, not a prick. Jack jump over a…” He giggled again. “How does your garden grow?” That wasn’t how it went. Was it? “Ah shut. You’re in troub—le. No—sleep, can’t sleep.” The spider began to blur and he renewed his efforts. “Little Bo Peep,” he screamed and passed out.

Marcus had a great nap. Even so, he knew he needed to wake up. It didn’t matter that he was busted up, or too stoned on venom to care. He fought the haze, knowing he needed to pull himself back. How long had he been asleep? Minutes? Hours? It didn’t matter. He’d blacked out with an eight-legged, alien nightmare watching.

Before he opened his eyes, he wished it gone. Once open, he noticed it no longer sat there and then decided that scenario was worse. He began to scan the area. It wasn’t near him. He froze. “Please tell me you are not on me.”

Reluctantly, he began to examine his body.

It wasn’t until he lifted his head and stared at the shrapnel wound, that he noticed the odd bulge. Marcus bit down on his lip and poked it. It moved.

"Eeeeeeeech." He didn’t think he was even capable of a sound like that, but there it was. He’d shrieked like a little girl. It wiggled again, causing the flesh on his side to undulate. He screamed again.

Ah, poor Marcus. But this is merely the beginning of his troubles. His scream attracts attention, and soon Marcus will learn he's not alone.
 
Thanks for visiting today. Have a great weekend,
 
D L

Friday, January 20, 2012

It's Friday

A few times I've posted pics of wonderful places I'd love to live and unusual homes I'd love to live in. Have you stopped by in the past and wondered, "Why is this author writing about strange homes?" My only defense is I'm a dreamer with a wild and wicked imagination. You knew that already if you've read any of my stories.  :) I get up everyday with new strange and weird ideas of what I'd like to write, where I'd like to write it, paths I want to walk when I stretch my mind...things like that. Probably a good thing I don't have lots of money because I'd own a 'different' home in every place I want to be. Of course, each would be outfitted to accomodate my menagerie of furfriends--that's a must.

This week I found my dream home. For real this time!! It has everything I want in a home. The perfect place for me and mine. Check this abode in Bisbee Arizona out (Photots: Bisbee Reality)

It's in the desert which is warm most of the time. The plant life is exactly my style, and it's hidden away from almost everything. Hell, if you didn't know it was there, you'd never find it. Oh, did I say it was warm. *laughing* And the inside never drops below 66 degrees or goes above 72 degrees. Something to do with 'rock temperature'.

Building this must have given the mining engineer as much satisfaction as it did the owners. It's beautiful, serene, and looks so natural in it's setting.

Thirty-seven acres of amazing countryside! Do you know how many rescues I could have out there? They'd all have to be savvy to living in the wild, but they'd work that out somehow.

The pool is a short hike from the cave and fed by a natural creek. Awesome! You can find out more here: http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/inside-a-15-million-cave-house.html

Have you ever thought about your dream home? What it would look like, where it would be? Guess it does really come down to location, location, location.

Have a great weekend. If you're in the cold, northern climes--stay warm!

Growl and roar--it's okay to let the beast out.-J. Hali Steele

Thursday, January 19, 2012

An Anniversary

Yesterday marked the two year anniversary of my first published novel, Flash of Dark, a hot, hot paranormal romance, release. So, I've been a published author for two years. O_o It's a bit astonishing really when I look back to take a tally of things I've accomplished in that time. Things well beyond anything I thought capable.

My how times flies.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA Strike

Think about the limitations of censorship today.

January 18th is going to be amazing. Sites are striking in all different ways, but they are united by this: do the biggest thing you possibly can, and drive contacts to Congress. Put this on your site or automate it by putting this JS into your header, which will start the blackout at 8AM EST and end at 8PM EST.

For more information go here.



Monday, January 16, 2012

It's Cold Out There

It's 2 degrees today.


Sure it looks pretty but it sucks to be out in it.


Where even your winter gear does nothing for you chattering teeth.



Why can't I be here?



Doing this or...



this.


And watching them.




Maybe next winter.





Sunday, January 15, 2012

Please welcome Caridad Pineiro!

You just know you’re doing it right when it feels…

First of all, thank you so much for having me here today, Stacey! I so appreciate you sharing your blog home with me so I can chat about a very new experience in my writing life.

Over the years I’ve toyed with the idea of writing an erotic romance, but somehow just never got around to it. I always hesitated, wondering how I would manage to go beyond the edge that I had already done in my romantic suspense and paranormal novels and get “erotic”. After all, my books were pretty sexy.

So I dawdled on challenging myself in that genre, too busy with writing other stories, although I always tried to push the envelope, especially since my tag line is “Live to Love on the Edge.”

But just a few months ago, I finally didn’t have a choice about writing my first erotic romance. I had sold a number of Nocturne Bites, but the line was changing to Nocturne Cravings and with that, I suddenly found myself having to write not only one erotic romance novella, but three!

Whoa, what to do? Research was in order, but more importantly, I had to develop a sense of what was working in terms of conflict, plot and sensuality.

With the stories also being paranormal novellas, there was a lot to fit in a smaller number of pages, but I pushed on like I always do. Developing the characters and their inner conflicts. Deciding what situations I would place them in which would force them to face those inner conflicts. Making sure I had a believable attraction between the hero and heroine and pushing that attraction a lot faster and farther than I would in one of my regular novels.

The first novella, AMAZON AWAKENING, explores what happens when a New York City lawyer is forced to confront not only her family history, but also a sacred space in the Amazon and a very sexy and enticing “Guardian” who will tempt her almost beyond reason.

In the second novella, NOCTURNAL WHISPERS, a British Lord must decide between recovering a mummy and freeing himself of a curse, or falling in love with the museum curator who holds the key to his freedom.

In between the plot and conflicts in those stories is a lot of very sexy foreplay, edgy love-making , adult toys and language I wouldn’t normally use, but there was one thing I discovered as I wrote these erotic tales.

The story and characters let me know when what I was doing was right. In fact, it was so much fun and so exciting, that my fingers flew over the keys and before I knew it, I had finished writing the novellas.

I guess I must have done something right because my editors immediately asked me to do another three!!

What I discovered was that the fear that had kept me from trying to write in this genre (and fear it was although I told myself it was a lack of time, etc.) disappeared as I realized that there was not a great deal of difference from writing a non-erotic story, especially since the bottom line was that I was writing a romance. There still had to be that initial attraction, the development of a relationship and as always, the promise of happily-ever-after.

And of course, in between all that lots of really really hot love scenes. LOL!

Thank you again for having me with you, Stacey. Thank you all for dropping by. I’d love to hear from you about what you think about not only erotic romances, but novellas. Do you find them too short? What are your favorite kinds of erotic stories?

Also, I love to hear from you guys and you can find me at www.caridad.com, www.therebornvampirenovels.com and also on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/caridad.author) and on Twitter @CaridadPineiro.

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