Thursday, March 23, 2017

Paranormal Romantics: Steaming Up the Windows, by Francesca Quarto

Paranormal Romantics: Steaming Up the Windows, by Francesca Quarto

Steaming Up the Windows, by Francesca Quarto

The windows were fogged over with the moisture of their heavy panting.  She could no longer see out into the darkness and felt a tingle of claustrophobia unless she shut her eyes.  
It was close in the car, already overstuffed with his backpack, sleeping bag, books and whatever else he deemed too important to leave in his apartment.  After dating him for a few months, she was getting used to his rather eccentric behavior. 

She accused him once of living in the tiny electric car.  He purchased it at the beginning of their freshman year at Community, when they met. He blew off her comment about the cost, saying it was his "duty to try to heal the "Great Madonna"; whatever that meant.

He was always making statements that sounded like they'd been lifted off an ad for donations to Green Peace.  She admired his dedication to an altruistic cause, but had lingering doubts about its sincerity.  Reflecting on all the money he paid for the tiny, non-environment harming vehicle, she couldn't help but factor in how that amount could have paid for her next two semesters and more.

She began to get a little drowsy with all the closeness of the car and the way he was nearly absorbing her with his body.  He'd pressed her back against her seat, scooting over the gear shift.  He wrapped his arms on either side of her head, supporting himself as he kissed her deeply.  She pushed him back so she could catch her breath. He smiled down at her, their faces only inches apart.  

Suddenly, he was hungrily devouring her slightly parted lips, his tongue probing her mouth. Without warning he thrust two fingers where his tongue had been, running them along her teeth and the soft tissue at the roof of her mouth.  It was nauseating to her and exciting beyond reason.

He withdrew his wet fingers and began sucking them like lollipops. She watched fascinated, still in shock from this new sexual experience.
She couldn't move if she wanted.  He had both of her arms in his strong hands and held them down to her side.  Her feeling of claustrophobia was replaced now by a new feeling; fear.
His smile never faltered as the long incisors peeked through his sensual lips. He could clearly read the alarm in the blue depths of her wide eyes.

He leaned back toward her now, his tongue running down the soft skin of her cheek and curving around the slim stem of her neck.

The last thing she heard him say would be the last thing she'd hear anyone say.
"Delicious and I'm so hungry!"

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Building a Sanctuary by Guest Beth Caudill

Building a Sanctuary

            Everyone dreams of a place they can feel safe and protected. A private nook where they can be themselves. Where wishes and dreams are built. A sanctuary.

Merriam Webster defines sanctuary as:

2.         a (1) :  a place of refuge and protection (2) :  a refuge for wildlife where predators are controlled and hunting is illegal
b :  the immunity from law attached to a sanctuary

            In Tethered, my first Zodiac Shifters novella, I created the town of Willows Haven. A sanctuary for all the magical creatures inhabiting on East Coast which is protected from humans and anyone with intent to harm.

            The town butts against the imaginary Gracelynne Shroud State Park with its large lake. Along the water’s edge, five willow trees along with their guardians provide the power for the protection spell that keeps away those with malicious intent from the town. 

            I adapted this from my own sanctuary. The neighborhood I live in is next to a city park. It’s a great place to walk, let the kids play or take in nature.  I wanted my paranormal characters in Willows Haven to have the same experience. Only on a larger scale, including a bubble of protection that I can’t wrap my kids in.

            Aside from the lake, another attraction of the town will be the Cherries and Berries Diner. I wanted something like the old 1950s diners, but a lot of the interior inspiration came from the Normal Diner which I found in an online search. Situated in one of the downtown buildings, everyone stops by the Cherries and Berries diner at some point for some great food, gossip and pie or cobbler.

            Nothing makes you feel safer than being surrounded by food and friends.


Evelyn Brooks lives with the freedom only her kind can know—in her human form as a photographer, and in the skies as a falcon. When a stalker drives her from her home, Evelyn discovers a beautiful, wild sanctuary in North Carolina. After a bolt of magic knocks her from the sky, leaving her helpless, she realizes too late that danger invaded her refuge.

Park ranger Lawke Morgan’s day goes from bad to worse when his ex-wife unexpectedly drops off their 13-year-old daughter in the beginning of a dangerous storm. His life takes a turn for the bizarre after he finds an injured Peregrine falcon that transforms into a lovely woman. 

When his daughter is kidnapped by an Aztec priest, one who should have been dead for centuries, Lawke learns that Evelyn holds the key to the priest’s demands. Together they must confront blood sacrifices, defy ancient gods and find a way to trust each other when a young girl’s life hangs in the balance. 

Can a woman used to soaring amongst the clouds embrace love with a man firmly rooted on the ground?


Willows Haven appeared to be a typical small town. There were residential streets intermixed with strip malls and a large shopping area near the highway. Even the downtown section had been revitalized with eateries, businesses, and professional offices. Like the local newspaper.
Several willow trees grew along the edge of a deep lake on the north side of town. They must have been the inspiration for the town name. Although that didn’t explain the businesses use of nature-themed titles. Someone must have an earthly sense of humor.
Lawke escorted Evelyn into the Cherries and Berries Diner. It occupied a large storefront on Main Street. They stood between the checkout counter and a large refrigerated pie case while waiting to be seated. A modest décor consisted of dark wood booths along the street-side windows and near the kitchen a beige countertop was lined with bright silver cushioned stools. The walls held paintings of different types of fruit trees.
“You can sit anywhere. I’ll be with you in a minute,” an older redheaded woman in a mint green uniform told them as she walked by carrying a tray filled with steak, eggs, and waffles.
He slid into the end booth where he could keep an eye on the door and anyone walking around the side, near the restrooms. Evelyn sat across from him and slid him a menu. They offered an eclectic selection of sandwiches, dinner platters, and breakfast entrees. Desserts, mostly pies and cobblers, covered the entire back page.
“What can I get you, sweetie?” the waitress asked, tapping a pen on her pad.
“I’ll try the strawberry French toast.”
Lawke shook his head at Evelyn’s sweet tooth. “I’ll have an omelet with mushrooms, onions, ham, and cheese with a side of fried potatoes.”
“Any coffee?”
Evelyn flipped through the menu. “I’d like a glass of apple juice.”
“I’ll just have sweet tea.”
The waitress nodded. “Be back with your drinks shortly.” She walked away.
Lawke glanced out the window at the empty street. Even for a Sunday, downtown appeared eerily deserted. Except for the bike parked in the lot next to the brick building across the street. Which happened to contain the offices for When the Tree Falls, the local newspaper.
“Why three days?”
He didn’t want to think about having to break the law, but he couldn’t pretend he didn’t understand her question, either. “It’s long enough to observe any patterns in the brothers’ lives while still being short enough that the priest shouldn’t kill Zoe.”
On the counter, a portable TV showed the projected path for the tropical depression. At least the storm was weakening, although they’d still have the potential for flooding.

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Although Beth grew up in West Virginia, she currently resides in North Carolina with her husband, two sons and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who makes an excellent lap warmer. Blending the analytical and creative sides of her brain, she delights in creating fantasy worlds for others. Catch her online most days except when NCIS and Once Upon a Time air.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Science Fiction in Your Head by Guest Saharra K. Sandhu

What’s it like to have science fiction rolling around in your head?

I have been asked over the years why I chose to write in the science fiction genre. The answer is simple, there is so much versatility and I am only limited by my imagination. Of course once I chose science fiction, the next question is subject matter. Science fiction has a broad range from fantasy to faery to paranormal and everything in between. My favorite is paranormal romance. Basically, people who have other powers but have to fit in with ‘humans’ in order to live. As a budding writer I was advised to write what I like and this is how I came up with my paranormal series.
Of course the next thing to decide was their powers and the conflict  (And still keep it original). When I looked at all of the material out there, I saw a lot of the same themes; vampires, witches, gods and demi gods most of them from the Greek pantheon. A little research and a LOT of reading later, I decided on using stories and folklore from different countries. Now this opened my universe wide open!
One more thing, I am scientist and I love Earth science. I decided to add in a pinch of science fact to the stories. For instance, did you know there is a place on Earth called the Eye of the Sahara? Google Earth the name and take a look. It really does look like someone carved a gigantic eye in the desert sands of the Sahara. I wove a story around this site and get a kick when people tell me I have a wild imagination. I nod, smile and tell them you have no idea!
There are so many natural phenomena in our world and I believe there is a story to tell for all of them. Anything is fair game and I troll around constantly for odd factoids about the world around us. When you have science fiction rolling around in your head, a simple cloud formation could turn into an alien invasion…or better yet a love story.


Astronaut Sarai Mathews knows the end is near when a giant wave rolls in and pulls her from the beach weeks before her space launch.  But something strange happens: she doesn’t die. Instead, she grows gills and breathes underwater.  While in the depths, she meets a man named Jon Luc. According to him, they’re both children of Yemalla, an ancient African queen of the sea. They are half human, half Earth spirit and she is a descendant from their missing children who were lost in slavery. Now, with Jon Luc’s help, she must solve the mystery of her heritage because someone is after her and they are determined to stop her from reaching orbit!

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Good reads

 About the Author:
Saharra K. Sandhu is a mad scientist during the day and a romance writer at night. Great combination! She has traveled throughout South America and the Caribbean collecting folklore and Afro-Caribbean stories. With her library full of material, she set out to weave tales based on these treasured finds. Thus, the half sea spirits, half human Gaiian (sounds like Hawaiian) people were born. Her debut novel Daughter Of The Missing is a finalist in the Harlem Book Fair Wheatley Book Awards and a winner of the Beverly Hills Book Awards for African American Literature. The sequel Fire In Ice (Due out February 2017) placed second in the Valley Of The Sun Hot Prospects Contest. She currently resides in the South West with her husband, two children and pet dog named Derby. To learn more, please visit her Web Site at

Twitter: @Saharra_k
Pinterest: @saharrasandhu
Instagram: SKSandhu

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Luck Be a Lady

One of my favorite things to incorporate into my paranormal romance novels are ancient myths and cultures and histories. I get so much enjoyment from researching them, learning about them, and figuring out how to make them a part of my stories.

This month, when we celebrate the luckiest day of the year--St. Patrick's Day--I thought it might be fun to take a look at mythologies involving lucky ladies--various godesses of good luck and fortune. Here are a few of my favorites that I've found while researching.

Anaisa Pye (Dominican)
A very popular loa within Dominican Vodou. She is considered the patron saint of love, money, and general happiness. She is often considered extremely flirtatious, generous, and playful by her devotees. She is also very jealous of the worship of other female loas, as she considers herself able to provide for anything a person could request.

Brigid (Celtic)
Brigid is the Celtic Triple Goddess known as keeper of the sacred fire. Her name means “exalted one” and she is sometimes referred to a “bride.” Goddess of poets, blacksmiths, brides and childbirth, she watched over the hearth, fire, fertility, creativity, healing. As a triple Goddess, she represents the three aspects of the divine feminine and three stages of a woman’s life —maiden, mother, and wise woman - all in one.

Felictas (Roman)
In ancient Roman culture, felicitas is a condition of divinely inspired productivity, blessedness, or happiness. The divine personification of Felicitas was cultivated as a goddess. Different from Fortuna, who was unpredictable and her effects could be negative, Felicitas always had a positive significance.

Kuan Yin (Chinese)
The Chinese Buddhist goddess of compassion, mercy and healing. She is the “Compassionate Saviouress” worshiped for centuries throughout China, Japan, Korea and South East Asia. She is the patron and protector of women, children, sailors and artisans and those who are imprisoned. Her name is translated as the being who hears the cries of the world. She is a Bodhisattva, which in Buddhism is a human being who has completed all Karma and reached enlightenment.

Laima (Baltic)
A Baltic goddess of fate. She was associated with childbirth, marriage, and death; she was also the patron of pregnant women. Laima and her functions are similar to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi.

Lakshmi (Hindu)
The Hindu Goddess of Good Fortune and Beauty. She is actively worshiped around the globe by millions of Hindus and is considered the personification of abundance, prosperity and wealth. It is said that three millennia ago, Lakshmi was born, fully grown, on a pink lotus that rose from the milky sea. Her ability to enhance good fortune is symbolized by the gold coins that you see pouring from her hands back into the ocean of life.

Laumė/Lauma (Latvian/Lithuanian)
A woodland fae, and guardian spirit of orphans in Eastern Baltic mythology. Originally a sky spirit, her compassion for human suffering brought her to earth to share our fate. It is said that Laumė was a beautiful goddess, who lived in clouds and had a diamond throne. Laumės liked to gather near rivers, lakes, swamps, in meadows, there dew fell in night in New Moon or Full Moon. They danced and enjoyed themselves, leaving circles (like Fairy Ring) in the grass.

Renenūtet / Wadjet (Egyptian)
A goddess of nourishment and the harvest in ancient Egyptian religion. The importance of the harvest caused people to make many offerings to Renenutet during harvest time. Renenutet was envisioned, particularly in art, as a cobra, or as a woman with the head of a cobra. Later, as a snake-goddess worshiped over the whole of Lower Egypt, Renenutet was increasingly associated with Wadjet, Lower Egypt's powerful protector and another snake goddess represented as a cobra. Eventually Renenutet was identified as an alternate form of Wadjet, whose gaze was said to slaughter enemies. Wadjet was the cobra shown on the crown of the pharaohs.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Dream Songs by C.J. Burright

Dreams have always fascinated me, the meaning behind them, how our brains decide what to dream about, how dreams can evoke emotions just as strongly as in real life. 

So it’s really no surprise that my Dreamcaster series revolves around characters who deal with dreams in a supernatural way. My heroes (and anti-heroes) invade dreams and require them to survive. My heroines dream up some spooky things, nightmare creatures they breathe to life while asleep. They need each other, like poison and an antidote, and not everyone is happy about it. Which makes their journey to romance all the more fun, right? J For my dreamcasters, the men of their dreams are the real deal with a side of scary. Want to know more? Get a taste of their world here.

I thought it might be fun in this post to combine two of my favorite fascinations: dreams and music.


These Dreams by Heart
This song felt like the Wilson sisters walked inside my head and pulled out pieces of my dreams. Seriously. Maybe there really are dream-invaders out there…

End of the Dream and Imaginary by Evanescence
Evanescence is one of my all-time favorite bands, and I’m wondering now if it’s because they reference dreams so much. *Shrugs* Doesn’t matter. I still love them.

Once Upon a Dream - Sleeping Beauty Waltz
I think Disney may have played a part in my fascination with dreams. What girl wouldn’t swoon upon meeting the guy she dreamed about? I’ve dreamed of Alex Skarsgard, but he still hasn’t shown up crooning I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream… Hey, a girl can still dream. And I just love the version of this song by Lana Del Rey from the movie Maleficent. It’s Disney darkened, and fits quite right for my Dreamcaster stories.

Sandman by Metallica
My favorite head-banging song, and completely appropriate since it references nightmares. And a little CJ fun-fact: one of my friends edited my black belt test video to this song, making me look like a total bada$$. Watching it pumps me up! Ka-pow!

A Dream Within a Dream by Alan Parsons Project
A combination of Edgar Alan Poe and one of my favorite ‘80s progressive, a little-on-the-weird-side rock band? Yes, please. Makes a Goth girl happy.

If you want to listen, feel free to access my playlist here, where there are a couple bonus songs not included in this post (but well worth listening to).

Do you have a favorite song about dreams? What songs did I miss?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Happily Saying Goodbye by Guest Amy Braun

Happily Saying Goodbye

It’s never an easy thing to do, especially with books. There’s always the wish for one more chapter, one more scene, one more minute with characters you love in a world that has brought you a free escape from reality. It’s even harder for an author. We don’t just create these characters. We live as them for a time, experience their world and their trials as intimately as they do. I’ve carried the Dark Sky series with me since I was a teenager, and now that Obsidian Sky is released and the series has closed, I feel a mixture of pride, relief, and a little sadness that it’s over.

Don’t get me wrong––I love the world I created for the Dark Sky series. Aon, its capital city, Westraven, and the hellish dimension known as Hellnore were the first places I created as an author. It’s been an experience that has helped me grow, and has created connections and friendships that have progressed my career. Crimson Sky received way better reception than I was expecting, even going so far as to earn the attention and advice from renowned fantasy author (and one of my biggest inspirations) Michael J. Sullivan.

Still, there’s a piece of me that wishes I had more stories for Claire, Sawyer, Nash, Gemma, and the new characters I created to join them on their adventures. I’ve toyed with the idea of a prequel series, but the truth is that I don’t want to be an author who carries one series with her for most of her career. I have literally dozens of other stories I wish to write, and I want to grow and progress and learn and (hopefully soon) write full time.

The way to do that is to move on. I love the Dark Sky books. To date, this is my most favorite series to have written. I had the time of my life inventing these characters, putting them in dire situations with some of my favorite monsters, and watching them fight their way free in a world I’d envisioned for years. Sometimes I even go back and skim over scenes that I adored writing and recall why writing them kept me up until ungodly hours of the morning. There were definitely ups and downs to writing these books independently, and I had more than my fair share of stress, headaches, confusion, restless nights, and face-palm moments. And yet, the series took an unexpected turn, and ended up being better than I could have hoped. It proved that with hard work, trial and error, patience, and determination, any story can be told. Honestly, I didn’t think such a strange mash-up of vampires, pirates, and steampunk would be able to coherently combine and become what it has. I thought it was just a daydream brought on by the over-active imagination of a teenage girl who read too many of R. L. Stein’s Choose Your Own Adventure books and watched Pirates of the Caribbean until she could recite every line.

But now that I know it’s possible, I can only imagine what other possibilities are open to explore. So while I would love to stay with the Dark Sky series and its characters, there are other worlds to create, more adventures to bring to readers. I can only hope they’ll enjoy them as much as I have, and still do.

Obsidian Sky Excerpt

“I have seen your mind, Claire,” continued the Vesper. He hadn’t blinked once since the start of our conversation. “You know what it is like to be weak. To be desperate. Imagine that weakness and desperation, combined with pain. Every second of your existence consumed with an ache that burns like acid in your stomach. Constant hunger, giving up your own blood to feed your own.”
The Vesper’s grip tightened. The fabric of the tunic ripped, but my skin remained intact. For now. He bent closer. I choked on bile and the smell of blood and rot as he swarmed me.
“You have endured hardships, Claire. But you know little of true pain.”

Buy Links:

Obsidian Sky

Crimson Sky

Midnight Sky

Amber Sky (Prequel Novella)

Kindle | Kobo | Nook | iTunes | Goodreads | Smashwords 

Smoke Sky (Prequel Novella)

Kindle | Kobo | Nook | iTunes | Goodreads | Smashwords 

Author Bio

Amy is a Canadian urban fantasy and horror author. Her work revolves around monsters, magic, mythology, and mayhem. She started writing in her early teens, and never stopped. She loves building unique worlds filled with fun characters and intense action. She has short stories in various horror and urban fantasy anthologies and has been featured on various author blogs and publishing websites, and is an active member of the Writing GIAM and Weekend Writing Warrior communities. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, watching movies, taking photos, gaming, and struggling with chocoholism and ice cream addiction.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Enchanting Fairy Tale Horse - The Andalusion

Since last month I did a short piece on the Friesian, I must give equal time to another horse that stepped out of my dreams into reality.  The Andalusian has been called the Horse of Kings.

The Horse of Kings

Surrender to imagination.  Envision a fairy-tale horse prancing across the mountains and plains of ancient times, his unshod hooves lifted high in a dramatic trot.  This white stallion, his thick mane unfurled like a flag , canters boldly toward an angry bull and the cheers of the crowd rise into a blue-hot Spanish sky.

The Andalusian is an ancient pure breed that has been carefully preserved over the centuries.  In Northern Spain, cave paintings depict men leading Mesolitic horses with convex heads, solid muscular bodies, elegant necks and luxurious manes.  Circa 1,100 B.C., Homer refers to the Iberian horse in his Iliad.  Xenophon, the 'father' of modern equitation, praises the gifted Iberian horses and horseman who fought in the Peloponneisian Wars in 431 B.C.  Julius Caesar wrote of the noble steeds of Hispania in "Del Bollo Gallico."  The Iberian horse carried Hannibal across the Alps in his invasion of Italy (though the elephants got all the credit!).  History records Richard I and many of his knights mounted on "airy Spanish Destriers".

In the heyday of European monarchies, the Andalusian's flair, style and formidable carriage made
him the mount of choice for the aristocracy.  Not only did the Spanish horse excel in battle but he was a fancy parade horse and an elegant fine harness animal.   This popularity earned the Iberian horse a grandiose title, "Horse of Kings" or "Royal Horse of Europe."   Indeed, there was a time when no crowned head would consider having a portrait painted on any horse other than an Andalusian.

The 17th-century Flemish painter, Peter Paul Rubens, chose the Spanish horse, with its robust body and flowing mane and tail, for his paintings.   The artist is noted for his voluptuous, full-bodied nudes, and the Andalusian horse epitomizes the term "Rubenesque."  The Spanish horse and Rubens' passionate style were the quintessence of the opulent Baroque era.  As a popular painter and a pro-Spanish diplomat, Rubens' work and his pro-Spanish politics accompanied him on his diplomatic missions.  Thus, via canvas, the Spanish horse was introduced to the high courts of Europe.

Rubens painted portraits of such famous personages as the governors of the Spanish Netherlands, King Charles I of England, King Philip IV of Spain, the Spanish Duke of Lerma, Kings Henri IV and Henri XIII of France, the Polish Princes Ladislas Sigismund and the Duke of Lerma.  In "Capture at Juliers", Rubens allegorically depicts Marie de Medici mounted on a Spanish horse.  Many of his works, including "St. George and the Dragon" (c. 1606-1610), feature the Spanish horse in powerful and fierce battle poses, which seemed to satisfy his taste for depicting violent action and lovely women.

Van Dyke, Rubens' most celebrated pupil, depicted Charles I on an Andalusian, and the Spanish painter Velazquez painted Philip III and Queen Isabel of Bourbon riding Andalusians.  But in the late 18th and 19th centuries, the trend to greater size and scope in horses began to adversely affect the Andalusian's popularity.

Then a tragic plague followed by a devastating famine nearly swept the breed into oblivion, but, fortunately, in a few mountainous areas of the country, the Carthusian monks carefully preserved the depleted blood stock and began the long journey to re-establishing the breed.  In order to conserve these rare horses for breeding, the Spanish government placed an embargo on their export and, for over 100 years, the Andalusian was virtually unseen by the rest of the world.   Only a scattered one or two Andalusians came to this country prior to the 1960's, and it was virtually impossible to see one outside art or film.

Throughout history, the Spanish horse has remained remarkably pure.  The Andalusian is very sturdy, with a long sloping shoulder which gives him a lofty and pleasant trot.  His wide chest, deep heart, strong, short back and well-rounded hind quarters give him the ability to sit down on his haunches and balance on his hind legs.  The crested neck with its curtain of silky mane and the thick, long tail add elegance and a story-book beauty.  Though most people imagine the Andalusian as the dancing white horse, the Spanish Registry recognizes blacks and bays as well.  The Andalusian ranges in size from 15 hands to 17 hands, with the average being 15.3-16.0. 

In an era when the mounted soldier trusted his life to his horse, the Andalusian's strength and natural gift for collection made him the premier warhorse of Europe. When mortal conflict waged hand-to-hand, the Andalusian was the soldier's best friend or worst nightmare, depending on which side of the battle you faced him.

Dressage, today's fastest growing sport, developed as a means to school the superior warhorse.   The
so-called airs-above-the-ground, capriole and courbette, were designed to strike terror in the enemy foot soldiers.  In capriole, the horse leaps into the air and kicks out with his hind feet.  In courbette, he rears and jumps forward on his hind feet. 

It is easy to see why a horse, so bold and quick, that he can dart near enough for a mounted bullfighter to place a rose between the horns of a maddened bull then whisk away before being gored, is a definite advantage in battle.

 I know this is rather long but this horse is one of my favorite subjects.  I hope you get to meet an Andalusian one day if you haven't already.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Fly Me To The Moon by Diane Burton

photo credit: NASA
 If you were around in 1969, you and your family were probably glued to the television set on July 20th. I was. Since that was in the days before recording shows on VCR tapes (which we hadn’t even heard of then), my dad aimed his Super 8 movie camera at the TV screen and recorded Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepping out of a spacecraft onto the moon’s surface.

Exciting times.

Guess what? By the end of next year, we’re going back to the moon. SpaceX, the private spaceflight company, plans to send a crewed spacecraft around the moon in 2018 in time for the 50th anniversary of the first trip around the moon. NASA, too, plans to return to the moon but not until 2021.
photo credit: SpaceX
I don’t care who goes first. I’m just excited that we’re going back. You may ask why. We’ve been there, done that. Yes, we have. But we haven’t been that far into space since 1972. The flights have been to the space station. NASA has to contract out space launches.

Since this blog isn’t a scientific one, what’s the connection? I write science fiction romance, still considered part of paranormal romance. “Adventure and Romance in this world and beyond” is the subtitle of my blog. It’s what my writing is all about. Notice “adventure” comes first in that subtitle.

Space adventure. My first love.

When I write about adventures in far off planets or on spaceships, I use my imagination to build those worlds. Of course, I use movies and books for ideas. Pinterest, too. But soon those worlds won’t be fictional. Not in my lifetime and probably not in my children’s. Maybe my grandchildren will see us venture beyond our moon to other planets in our solar system. Maybe their grandchildren will get the chance to venture beyond that.

Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

In my science fiction novella, Mission to New Earth, pioneers fly to a Goldilocks planet to settle, explore, and populate.

Would you go on a one-way trip to explore a new planet? Would you do it to save humankind?

In 2172, Earth’s overpopulation and dwindling resources force the United Earth Space Agency to expedite exploration of new planets for a possible new home. When new crises ensue—a giant tsunami and the threat of nuclear winter—the timeline changes. Eight years of training crammed into four.

Sara Grenard and her team prepare for launch, but are they ready for the one-way trip? Will the Goldilocks planet prove just right for Earth’s inhabitants? Before time runs out.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Guest Toni V. Sweeney Returns

To our readers, due to a scheduling glitch last month Toni Sweeney's post was partially hidden, so we invited her to return. Welcome back, Toni. 

SINBAD’S TRIUMPH:  You can’t keep a Good Smuggler Down

I never really intended to write a series when I started The Story of a Peace-Loving Man.  It just happened. 

I was just going to tell a love story set in the future, a single-shot, stand-alone novel—of a sexy, strutting half-breed smuggler who hated Terrans and the Earthwoman who made him forget that.  There would be strife, of course, because she was married and he was trying his best to keep from falling in love with her.  There would be adventure as they tracked her fugitive husband across the galaxy through various dens of iniquity, but it would be definitely end Happily Ever After.  As usual with things having to do with Sinbad sh’en Singh, it didn’t turn out that way.

Studying it now, I realize what I really wrote is just one gigantic soap opera set in the future on a planet far, far away…and the introduction to this sudsy space saga might go something like this;

Welcome once again, dear reader, to the Adventures of Sinbad…the stories which ask the question:  can a halfbreed human-hating smuggler find happiness with a very human adopted Navajo in spite of threats from the United Terran Federation and many of his nefarious criminal cohorts? 

Therein lies the question, to misquote ol’ Will Shakespeare, who wrote some mighty epics but whose comedies were slightly soap opera-ish if one wants to look at them close enough.  So why don’t we give the Adventures a once-over and see if they really do qualify to sell soap to the intergalactic masses?

The story of Sinbad and Andi is a lesson in the course of True Love running as rocky as it can. The Story of a Peace-Loving Man is more or less a prequel, telling why the things happened making Sinbad sh’en Singh a smuggler. Then, at the end of Sinbad’s Last Voyage, in between searching for Andi’s husband, fighting off old enemies, and having a child with Andi, Sinbad learns he’s dying of a disease contracted while he was a prisoner in the Toxic Zone, the Federation’s deadliest prison.

Well, I couldn’t just leave it there.  Could I?

I had to get Sin and Andi married, and save my hero to fight another day.  So, along came Sinbad’s Wife, in which, among other things, Sin struggles to convince Andi to make an honest man of him, he discovers he has a 15-year-old son, then promptly collapses into a coma brought on by his terminal disease.  Piling it on even thicker (after all this is a space opera), there is only one doctor who can save Sin and he blackmails Andi into becoming his mistress before he’ll perform the surgery. After much soul-searching, she agrees, and the surgery goes without hitch. Andi is subsequently kidnapped by her former husband, a power-mad Serapian general named Tran, who makes her into a sex slave.  She’s rescued by Sinbad who kills Tran in a duel-to-the-death, but not before Andi has given birth to Tran’s second son.  Sin, a sucker for infants and his wife’s tears, accepts the baby, they go into a clinch…roll credits…

Whew! Are you still with me?  Is this getting pretty sudsy and soapy so far?  Did you see the kitchen sink peeping out from behind that last paragraph? Could I stop after that?  Nosiree

 So, let’s continue:

Sinbad’s Pride:  You can’t keep a good smuggler down!  He tried the Straight-and-Narrow but it just didn’t work,

Sin’s been pardoned by the Federation, he’s a law-abiding citizen (much to his dismay) and he’s back on his home planet, being re-instated as his grandfather’s heir and about to inherit one-third of the planet Felida.  Having now reached the age of thirty-one and considered a mature adult (though Andi sometimes denies that), Sin is bored and looking for some trouble to get into.  He finds it in the Peace Treaty Felida signed after being defeated by the United Terran Federation.  In it there’s a loophole which no one, not even the Federation realizes is there, a clause preventing prosecution of any Pride member for any future crime against the Federation. 


When someone who hates the Fed as much as Sin does finds a document like that, you know something big is going down. With the aid of the other Pride Chiefs, Sin decides to turn Felida into the biggest smuggling planet in the galaxy…and thumb his nose at the Fed at the same time.  Of course, there are immediate complications, such as the fact that the Pride Chiefs want a personal affiliation with the operation, and send their nubile daughters to Sin as concubines.  Sin tries to explain to Andi they mean nothing.  It’s all politics.  Andi doesn’t see it that way.  There’s trouble brewing in the bedroom tonight.  And for many nights to come.  If Sin doesn’t watch it, he’s going to be sleeping on the sofa until he’s an octogenerian.

And now we come to Sinbad’s Triumph

At first it may not seem like much of a victory.  In a dogfight with Tsan Hsi who’s been attacking his ships since the Brotherhood returned the trade routes to Sin, Sinbad’s ship the Dream Mariner is shot down and our hero doesn’t walk away from the crash.  Now an invalid, he’s bedridden and for the first time in his life has to rely on others for assistance.

The triumphant part?  How Sin accepts, then overcomes his disability.

 No matter what happens, however, one thing is certain:  Sinbad loves Andi and he’ll do anything to keep that love.  It’s also a story about family, and how a man who has lost everything must now try to keep together the one he’s suddenly blessed with in the face of crises which would usually blast that family apart.  How Sin works it out is an erotic, sometimes funny, sometimes tragic adventure, and one I think readers will enjoy it. 

Kudos for Sinbad’s Triumph:

“You’ll take every rewarding step with Sin as he triumphs over his tragedy, and you respect the way Andi deals with his physical challenges, never giving him any reason to feel he is less of a man than he was before his crash…this plot will have you glued to the pages…you'll be anxious to read book six...I highly recommend this entire series.”—Two Lips Review

“…is just as gripping and exhilarating as its predecessor…”—Amazon Review

“…the dramatic sh’en Singh family dynamics…in this book makes for a truly wonderful read” –Merrylee review

About the Author:

This year, Toni V. Sweeney celebrated her 74th birthday and penned her 74th novel.

Toni has lived 30 years in the South, a score in the Middle West, and a decade on the Pacific Coast and now she’s trying for her second 30 on the Great Plains.

Since the publication of her first novel in 1989, Toni divides her time between writing SF/Fantasy under her own name and romances under her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone. Her novels have garnered awards from The National Writers Association, Preditors & Editors, The Maryland Writers Association, and The Paranormal Romance Guild. In March, 2013, she became publicity manager for Class Act Books. She is also on the review staff of the New York Journal of Books and the Paranormal Romance Guild.  Recently she was named a professional reader by

Sinbad’s Triumph will be released March 15, 2017 by Class Act Books and will be available on the publisher’s website, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and  Draft2Digital,

More about Toni at:

Amazon Author’s Page:
Twitter: @ToniVSweeney

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