Buy Rulebreaker Here!
I just received feedback from my lovely agent regarding a new manuscript I’m working on. Everything I’ve written or considered writing has had some sort of speculative fiction element to it. Whether characters are living on another planet or one’s a ghost or a shape shifter, I’ve always had a bit of “otherness” in my stories.
But not for this one.
This story is a historical piece based on a local murder from back in the day. I got caught up in the idea after one of the locals was giving us some information about a cemetery. Being a writer, I immediately started to wonder about the woman who was killed and why. Now, I have no idea what the facts might be, but my brain has managed to fill in its own version.
So I’m working on a proposal for an Alaska historical murder mystery. No space ships. No ghosts. No weird things living in the woods. Just…people who have human motivations and abilities. And few flush toilets.
It’s a bit disconcerting to be out of my normal mode, but exciting too. I’ve fallen in love with our local history and with the era I’m focused on. People who came up to Canada then here for the gold rushes of the late 19th century were tough, and the women were often tougher. My story is set a bit later, but there will be connections to that earlier time.
It’s going well so far, and I love my heroine, Charlotte. She’s a journalist for a women’s magazine who likes the bigger stories (like the Suffragette movement and the Volstead Act, for which she is for and against, respectively ; ). She’s in Alaska visiting her brother, the town doctor, and writing a series of articles about life on the wild frontier. She’s also trying to escape some things in her recent past. Throw in a dead prostitute who was hiding something and a handsome lawman, and we have a story.
Will my change in genre fly? I hope so.
When’s the last time you changed things up in your world? How’d it go?
Nix at Scorching Book Reviews is running two great events on LGBT writings in all genres of fiction. One in an Author Event, where each day a different author posts insights and commentary on LGBT fiction on the Scorching Book Reviews site. My post will be up April 7, but be sure to check out posts for the ENTIRE MONTH!
Another is a Blog Hop that runs from April 1-6, where you can go to a variety of blogs for LGBT reader recommendations and commentary. I have a feeling my TBB list is going to get VERY long by the end of the week.
Oh, and did I mention prizes? Yeah, there are all sorts of giveaways and prizes to be had. Mmmmmm…prizes!
If you’ve never considered reading a LGBT-centric book, now is your chance to see what’s out there. Don’t be afraid. We don’t bite ; )
I love researching new stories. I love gathering information that adds layers to the worlds I’m building and fleshes out the characters I’m creating. Ninety-plus percent of what a writer learns in the course of research probably doesn’t need to be in the story (Note: I read a suspense/thriller novel a few years ago where the author spent pages-PAGES!-explaining the DNA comparison technique used by the local PD. End result: Protagonist learns the dead person is related to the suspect. Technique used had NOTHING to add to the plot or result.) But we like having it in our heads as we write.
Now and again, research is a way to avoid actually writing the story. Yes, there IS such thing as too much. Or at least spending too much time on it. Background info and facts for the story is one thing. Procrastination is quite another. Yeah, I’m guilty of that too.
Recently, I had a different sort of research-related issue occur. A few month ago, I had woken up with what amounted to a back cover copy of a book as clear in my head as any storyline I’d imagined. It sounded great! Something fun! Something different! I was raring to go on it.
The story, a post-apocalyptic tale set in a location near my town, would require some background info on the site as well as some historical research. I wanted to learn what folks prior to the current level of tech did as far as food, industry etc. because my characters would be living in a somewhat “throw-back” society. With that in mind, I borrowed books from the library, bought local history books, scoured the Internet for info. I absolutely fell in love with Alaska and Canada in that time period.
I started writing the post-apoc story. I loved the characters. Loved the setting. A bit of the denouement was fuzzy at the moment, but it wouldn’t be the first time I wrote a book without having it completely sussed out in my head. With some fits and starts, I managed to get over forty pages hammered out.
Then…then I spoke to a local man. My husband, oldest daughter and I were wandering through an old cemetery site that almost no one in town knew existed. It’s located between two homes, and as we searched (only two standing headstones) one of the neighbors was outside cutting wood. We got to talking to Marv, and he told us some interesting bits about the cemetery (like how in the 70s some group decided to help clean up by picking up bits of wood strewn about. Unfortunately, a lot of that strewn wood turned out to be wooden placques that had names and dates) and local history. “Yeah,” he said, “There’s a baby buried here somewhere. Its mother was a prostitute found dead by the railroad tressle back in the day. She’s not buried here though.”
And this is where my WIP train went off the tracks. Suddenly, my research into pre-tech age society became fodder for a historical murder.
As a result, I did MORE research, and I’m looking forward to chatting with the museum curator about the local “sporting women” who plied their trade here. The post-apocalyptic story is on the back burner, but not forgotten. My husband suggested doing a three book related series involving the area and murder. If I can come up with a present or near-present day tale, I might just do that.
But it’s time to put all that amazing information to work and get words on the page. If you need me, I’ll be in early 20th century Alaska with the good time girls and US marshals. Twenty-three skidoo!
If I asked you to name a famous ship wreck or ship sinking, you’d probably come up with the Titanic at some point in your short list, right? I mean, who wouldn’t, with all the books, movies and other discussion still surrounding the event, even 101 years later?
So true enough my SFR novel WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM is loosely based on Titanic, although set in the far future, on a space liner, but I also took inspiration from some other sinkings and wrecks in history. When I was deciding what to write for this guest blog at Cathy’s (and thank you for having me today), I researched famous shipwrecks in Alaska and found the “unsinkable” SS Islander, with water tight compartments, built for the luxury trade, which hit an iceberg (or a rock) on August 14, 1901 and sank in twenty minutes. Forty people died, possibly more since there were at least eleven stowaways. (VS sez that’s a lot of stowaways!). The ship is rumored to have gone down with great riches in the hold, just as Titanic took treasures of all kinds to the bottom of the Pacific, including a jeweled copy of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. My own doomed Nebula Dream has unspecified wonders in its cargo hold.
Lifeboats and who gets into them are another constant theme when researching wrecks and sinkings. The biggest lifeboat, meant to hold 50, was reported to have left the Islander with only eight people aboard. Titanic’s lifeboats are legendary for being lowered underfilled. I always wondered about that, why the crew was so concerned about not putting too many people into the boats, until I just this year read several accounts of earlier tragedies at sea where the lifeboats did split as they were lowered, which the crew of Titanic must have known. My Nebula Dream has lifeboat problems of her own…
Even getting to a lifeboat didn’t always mean a person survived. In the accounts of the White Star Line RMS Atlantic, which sank in 1873 with terrible loss of life, all the women and children died, even though many were put into lifeboats but the life boats capsized or were smashed against the rocks. Interestingly, one of the crew members of the Atlantic was discovered to have been a woman in disguise as “Bill,” a sailor who liked his grog and tobacco, and who had done three voyages on the ship. Now there has to be a novel there, right?!
We writers LOVE doing research and it often takes us down rabbitholes, like I just did just then with the sailor who was a woman, sorry! Then we have to force ourselves back to the original topic we were pursuing. How about the White Star Line’s Republic, known as “The Millionaires’ Ship” because so many rich Americans liked to travel back and forth to Europe aboard her? When she had her mid ocean catastrophe in 1909, the Marconi crew broadcast the “CQD” emergency call and another ship did arrive in time to take off nearly everyone aboard. This explains a lot about why the passengers on Titanic just three years later were so sure they had plenty of time, weren’t in all that much danger and had no need to go into the tiny lifeboats. Even the Board of Trade expected there would always be another ship conveniently nearby to take the passengers from a disabled or sinking cruise liner. Well, the Californian was near the Titanic all right (within ten miles) but never got word of the sinking. One of those very sad “what ifs”.
I made sure the circumstances of my spaceliner’s wreck placed her far away from where she was supposed to be and amped up the difficulty of anyone coming to their rescue in time…
And one final thing, in a very old, low budget movie about a fictional shipwreck (not Titanic) which my parents allowed me to see on TV (and be traumatized by but hey, that’s par for the course as a kid!), a poor woman is trapped under wreckage as the ship sinks. Her husband struggles to get her free in time. (It’s “The Last Voyage” with Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone, if you’re interested.) I made sure to put a scene into WRECK where something similar occurs and my hero Nick has to come to the rescue of trapped children, thus exorcising my personal lifelong demons from viewing that movie!
Here’s the book’s story:
Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.
All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.
But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?
You can find me at:
Thanks for having me as a guest today, Cathy!
Some have asked about the title of my new release Caught in Amber from Carina Press. To be honest, it was one of the easier titles to come up with, if not the easiest. Which is unusual for me. Getting the title to fit the story can be a struggle. But this one popped into my head practically from day one of sitting at the computer and typing “Chapter One.” It fit. It was meaningful. I loved it.
To be “caught in amber” means to be addicted to a very powerful drug in my fictional world. It’s insidious, prompting the user to everything and anything for the next hit. Sasha James, the heroine of the story, did a lot of things she’d rather forget to score a dose. Not pretty. But at the time, she couldn’t resist the lure of the drug. And after a stint in rehab, it requires the help of nanobots to keep the need at bay.
Whether it’s physical or psychological, addiction is like that. A user doesn’t *want* to be a slave to the drug, but the pull is too strong. They are stuck, unable to break free without help.
And this is where the science geek in me comes in : ) The moment the phrase “caught in amber” hit my brain I thought of actual amber, of course. Critters stuck in beautiful golden resin, perfectly preserved. I imagined these creatures, millions of years ago, going about their business. At first, perhaps, their tiny legs were able to pull out of a thin layer of sap as it flowed. But then, intent on whatever they were doing, didn’t realize they were stuck until it was too late. More sap flowed, engulfing them, and eventually the viscous substance hardened. Caught, forever, in amber.
To celebrate the release of Caught in Amber, I thought along with a copy of the book I’d offer up a couple of super pieces of amber. Well, pre-amber or copal, anyway. From talking to my friend Allen Marquette, from whom I acquired the pieces, the hardened resin goes through a few stages before it becomes actual amber. But what I have for you is still SUPER COOL! There are quite a few critters caught in this beautiful heart-shaped piece, more than shown here. Allen polished the one piece, left the other in a more natural state and took the pictures you see here.
So how do you get these amazing bits of million-year-old copal and a copy of CiA? Leave a comment, with your email addy, telling me the best geeky thing about yourself. No geekiness is too big or too small. I WILL ship internationally, if laws allow. And if there are restrictions on the ebook file we’ll figure something out : ) The comments will remain open through February 3 and I’ll announce the winner on Monday, Feb. 4. Thanks for stopping by!
In-person appearances for writers come in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavors. Public readings are probably the most common. Most writers associate them with bookstores, but they can be set just about anywhere that’s willing to host: bookstores, coffee shops, conferences, street corners, you name it. Writers can also do readings on radio shows, television, podcasts, panels, workshops and probably things I haven’t even thought of yet.
And I’ve thought of quite a few. My average year includes two or three bookstore readings, twenty or so panels at different conventions and two or three podcasts. I’ve also done workshops, radio interviews and a bit of television. This, incidentally, is enough to make me well practiced, but not an expert in any and all reading venues. I am continuously learning about new opportunities, new venues and new approaches from other writers.
Why do a live event? Because you want to build an audience and promote your work. You also do it because it’s fun to share your writing and watch other people’s reactions to it, especially when those reactions are positive. Plus, public readings and panels are a rite of passage for a lot of authors, and participating in them can make you feel like a “real writer.”
Creating opportunities to do readings, panels and other appearances can be as easy as asking at the right time. Bookstores need to sell books, conventions need entertainment to draw a crowd and podcasts often need guests. Consider what you have to offer and how best to present it. Then go out and see how other writers do it: attend readings, listen to podcasts, and take classes and workshops. Learn about what works and what doesn’t and keep track of opportunities that you can pursue.
Does your fiction fit into any of the following genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror, paranormal or science fiction romance? If so, contact your local science fiction convention and volunteer to be on programming. If you have a few stories or a book published, the con committee may be overjoyed to give you a reading slot. You can also volunteer to be on panels, which are a great way to meet other professionals, as well as readers who may be interested in your work. It’s also good practice for solo appearances.
Don’t know of any podcasts or radio shows in your area? Join a writer’s organization or an email list where writers promote their work to readers. You can use the lists to recruit other writers for group readings, find out when podcasts are looking for new guests and learn about other opportunities that can help you get a foot in the door. See an open call for writers to do readings, get interviewed or be on a panel? Volunteer or ask, politely and professionally, if you can be considered for any upcoming slots.
Have a book coming out? Start planning as early as possible. Contact multiple reading venues since some things may fall through. Plan to have a few review copies on hand to send out to stores or radio hosts. You want to schedule most events around the time that your book comes out, just before and then for several months afterward. You can still promote after that, of course, but that tends to be the window of time that’s most effective for promoting a new book.
What do bookstores, podcasts, televisions shows and so forth want to see from you? You need to make your work relevant to their audience. Do they cater to a specific genre? Are they all about local writers? Do they focus on writers from a specific background? Are you first time novelist? Have you won an award for your writing? Any of these things can make you more appealing as a guest. Check their guidelines and see what other writers they’ve been hosting to figure out how to present yourself.
Apart from volunteering or asking, what else do you need? A short biography with the highlights of your writing career is essential. You will also need an author photo; it’s worthwhile to invest in one that you like and can reuse, but make sure it comes in multiple formats that you can resize, and that you have the rights to use it for your own publicity. You may need a book or story excerpt as well. The bigger the venue, the more professional your presentation needs to be. Ask what they need from you, including any specific formats or file types.
Ensure that your audience has something worth seeing by practicing and reading your piece aloud. Practice until it is familiar and you are comfortable with the points in the story where you can pause and look up at your audience. Time yourself, knowing that you’ll read faster if you’re nervous. The average audience is paying a lot of attention for the first ten to fifteen minutes if you’re reasonably dynamic, then less attention for every few minutes after that. I generally read for fifteen to twenty minutes, then break for questions, or read a different excerpt from my book or a different story. It helps my audience get reengaged and recharged. I almost never read for more than forty minutes total, and I always try to leave them wanting more, so I time it to end on a high note.
What if you’re a new writer without publishing credits? There are still options available to you: open mikes at bookstores and coffeeshops are one example. Talk to other new writers you know and offer to do a group reading at a venue that hosts readings or performances. Use the Internet to organize a group, such as a Meetup, and use that as a way to promote your group reading. In a writing group? You may have a group you want to read with already available to you.
Once a venue agrees to host you, be sure to promote your event. Use social media (Twitter, Facebook, your blog, Tumbler, etc.), add it to the Goodreads calendar and post on any email lists that you belong to (as long as the email list rules permit it). Tell your friends and acquaintances. Make up a flyer and put it up at the library or coffeeshops. Get the reading into local event calendars. The better attended your event is, the more likely the venue is invite you back and to host more events like the one you’re doing.
Speaking of which, it pays to be polite. Thank the venue owner and staff and thank the event organizers. Even if the event doesn’t go well, find something nice to say about it. You’re a fiction writer, it shouldn’t be impossible. If you need to vent, do it offline and out of earshot of anyone who might be offended. It may have been a bad night and the next time might be amazing; you never know.
Let me finish by saying that doing live events is not obligatory and if you really hate the idea of reading or talking to an audience, there are certainly other ways to get the word out about your work. Don’t make yourself do something that makes you unhappy, since you will share that emotion with your audience, thereby making everyone unhappy. Do what you’re comfortable doing and pace yourself. Good luck and happy readings!
Catherine Lundoff is an award-winning author and editor from Minneapolis, MN. She is a board member for Broad Universe, an organization that promotes women writers of sf/f/h and the veteran of numerous live appearances.
Hi, all! I wanted to share a short piece set after Rulebreaker featuring Zia and Liv. It’s a holiday story originally posted on Jessica Subject’s blog last year. Bit of a warning, there is some girl lovin’, so if you’re underage or just not into it, don’t read.
Otherwise, I hope you like the piece. Happy New Year!
Zia drew in a long, slow breath, letting the warm salt and floral tinged air of Pacifica fill her lungs, and released it with a contented sigh. The cooling pad beneath her provided the perfect barrier between the hot, lavender sand while countering the heat of the sun’s rays baking her from above. Optimum comfort was promised and delivered. Somewhere in the distance, she heard shouts and laughter of others, but no one close enough to bother her mid day repose.
She’d never allowed herself time to relax like this back on Nevarro. It was always work work work, stress stress stress. But since coming to the resort planet two months ago, she’d slowly let go of the natural drive that had seen her become VP of Research and Development for one of the top mining companies on Nevarro before she’d reached her thirty-fifth standard year.
Correction: Former Vice President.
Being on Pacifica was the result of her forced departure from Exeter Mining, but she was so very lucky to be here. And even luckier to be here with the woman she loved. Those last few months on Nevarro had been strenuous, and had nearly killed both her and Liv. They were safe now, taking a short holiday while they figured out where to go next.
Eyes closed, her breathing and heart rate synchronized with the lulling sound of the surf against the soft sand. Zia forced herself not to dwell on the worries of what they’d do to make their living after the visit to Pacifica was over. They’d figure it out soon enough. Right now, she just wanted to soak in the sun while she waited for Liv to join her.
“Happy Founder’s Day.”
Reluctant to rouse from her doze, but responding to the familiar voice, Zia opened one eye just wide enough to see Liv standing over her. Liv’s short dark hair flittered in the sea breeze, haloing her head. Like Zia, she wore a snug one piece outfit. The strapless garment showed off Liv’s lithe body, and Zia smiled in appreciation. “We’re not on Nevarro anymore, hon. They don’t celebrate Founder’s Day here.”
Every day was a celebration on the resort planet. How could it not be in a world marketed specifically for its just-hot-enough beaches, placid oceans, and low, rolling hills?
“I know.” Liv held out a red and silver box slightly larger than her fist. “Here.”
Zia rose to lean on her elbows. She’d assumed that leaving Nevarro meant they wouldn’t celebrate. Apparently she’d been wrong. “Sweetness, I didn’t think we’d be observing the day. I didn’t get you anything—”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” She shook the box. “Just open it.”
Zia sat up and crossed her legs as she gave Liv a reproachful look. They often exchanged gifts—flowers or small tokens—without the expectation of reciprocation, but Founder’s Day was a major holiday on Nevarro, with parades and parties scheduled across the planet. Not that she’d participated in many. Work had always come first, and the few times she had someone to share the festivities with, she’d felt a certain amount of resentment if she had projects pending.
But things were different now. She was different now. And it was all because of Liv.
Smiling, Zia took the box and gave it an experimental shake. Neither heavy nor rattling, whatever it was thumped against the sides. Slowly, she ran her finger under the edge of the paper.
Liv bounced on the balls of her feet, sinking deeper into the sand. “You’re doing that on purpose.”
“What?” Zia asked, widening her eyes in mock innocence. Liv was not the most patient person; in some things, anyway. She finished loosening the paper and set it on the pad. Lifting the top off the box, she stared down at the circle of white fur inside. “Is it alive?”
“No, silly.” Liv huffed dramatically and reached in. With a flick of her wrists, she held a furry disc in each hand connected by a springy, flat band wrapped in the same material.
“Put them on.”
The grin on her face made her look like a kid, and Zia couldn’t help but smile back despite her confusion. “It’s over 34 degrees. Not exactly ear muff weather.”
A sly glint lit Liv’s brown eyes. “Put them on and come with me.”
What was she up to? Zia set the furry head gear over her ears, muffling the sound of the ocean waves. Liv extended a hand to help her up. When Zia was on her feet, she kissed Liv’s cheek. “They’re great, but—”
Liv covered Zia’s mouth with her own, eliciting a moan of desire from Zia as heat flashed from her breasts to her groin. God, she loved kissing this woman. Before Zia could deepen the kiss, Liv broke away and started toward the cottage they shared, tugging Zia along by the hand. “Come on.”
Feeling a little silly mincing across the scorching sand while wearing ear muffs, Zia wondered what Liv had in store. The breeze off the ocean tossed her long hair over her shoulders, but the ear muffs kept it out of her face. Another change since being with Liv; she used to wear her hair up and controlled.
The sweet scent of the false hibiscus blooming beside the cottage drifted on the air as they walked to the rear door. Like the other dwellings further along the beach, the white-washed exterior reflected the sun’s heat while the blue roof tiles collected and converted its energy for use.
Liv stopped on the slate porch of the rear entrance and let go of Zia’s hand. Instead of opening the door, she reached behind the carved stone bench beside it. She turned around, a long, puffy coat the color of putty in each hand.
Zia took a coat from her, one eyebrow cocked in a silent question.
“Humor me,” Liv said. She shrugged into the other coat, closed it up to her throat, and withdrew her own ear muffs from the deep pocket. “And hurry up before I melt in this thing.”
Zia donned the garment as Liv reached behind the bench again. The coat came down to Zia’s shins. It was already getting too hot, and she was grateful for the cool stone beneath her feet.
“These too.” Liv handed Zia a pair of fur-lined boots.
She brushed the sand off her feet and did as she was told. The boots felt awkward and alien after weeks of running barefoot on the sand or with the thinnest of sandals when propriety demanded shoes.
Liv put on her own pair, a grin still splitting her face. “All right. Now, close your eyes.”
Zia complied. She had an idea what Liv had done, considering the cold weather gear she currently wore on a beach planet, but didn’t want to spoil it. Part of a gift was the giver’s anticipation. Goodness knows she was just as delighted to give Liv some trinket as Liv was to receive it. She felt Liv’s fingers entwine with her own and gently squeezed them. Liv squeezed back.
The door clicked open. A burst of icy air hit Zia’s face and she instinctively sucked in a breath. Beneath the coat, her body gave a reactionary shiver, even though it was well protected. Her sudden inhalation brought with it a distinct metallic hint to the air. Just like Nevarro’s. How had Liv dropped the temp in the short time Zia had been out of the house? How had she managed the very taste of the air? The enviro controls must be pushed to their limits.
“Don’t open your eyes,” Liv admonished.
She ushered Zia in and the door closed behind them. In her mind’s eye, Zia saw the layout of their little cottage by the sea. They’d entered the enclosed porch with a long, low couch she and Liv often used during their evening meal so they could watch the peach and purple sunsets. From the outside, the one-way windows appeared to be solid walls, giving them complete privacy while enjoying the view. And each other.
Through the arched doorway and to the left was the kitchen where Liv sometimes cooked their meals, but more often than not they had the Compu-Chef whip up something.
Liv led her to the right, into the small living room. After a day in the luscious heat of Pacifica, Zia’s cheeks felt frozen even though it was probably only ten degrees C. A trace of some tantalizing scent came to her. Cinnamon? Hard to say with her nose as cold as it was.
“Over this way.” They approached the place where a low table sat between two chairs and a short couch. Instinctively, Zia swerved away from what would be the corner of the table.
“Now sit,” Liv said, taking her shoulders and easing her down to the couch.
Trusting her lover, though still not quite sure what to expect, she sat on the edge of the seat. Liv moved away and busied herself in front of Zia. Though she listened hard, she couldn’t determine what Liv was doing. A few taps, a muted beep. The urge to peek nearly overwhelmed her, but she didn’t want to ruin Liv’s surprise. Whatever she had planned was important to her, and that meant it was important to Zia. After a moment, Zia felt a wave of warmth cut through the cold.
“Open your eyes.”
Zia opened them and gasped in delight, the cold all but forgotten. The entire living room was lit with strings of tiny white lights. The table had been moved aside, and on the bare floor in front of her was a roaring fire encircled by smooth stones. The hologram looked and felt so real, Zia’s nose warmed. Liv stood near the table. On the honey-colored surface waited a platter of pastries, a basket of huskberries, and a colorful coffee pot with two matching mugs.
“I couldn’t find a Founder’s Day flag here,” Liv said, her breath coming out in a silvery puff, “and getting one shipped over was more credits than I could justify.”
“It’s amazing.” Zia’s voice caught around the lump in her throat as a surge of love squeezed her chest. “I can’t believe you did all of this.”
Liv shrugged, but the smile on her beautiful face told Zia she was pleased with Zia’s reaction. “I programmed the Chef with a recipe I found for the pastries. They’re pretty close. And the cocoa is good. Had to fight to override the temp setting. Seems the Chef couldn’t quite understand why I wanted such a hot drink here.”
Zia laughed. Leave it to Liv to argue with a kitchen appliance.
Liv’s grin faded a little as she continued. “What happened on Nevarro probably isn’t stuff either one of us wants to remember.” She knelt in front of Zia and grasped her hands. Cool skin warmed quickly when their palms came together. “But it’s where we met, and I never want to forget that. By leaving like we did, we never had the chance to share one of my favorite holidays.”
She released Zia’s hands and rose to pour cocoa—the Nevarro Founding Father’s preferred beverage and a tradition of the holiday—into each of the mugs. Passing one to Zia, Liv sat beside her. The mug radiated enough heat to warm her hands while the delectable scent of chocolate made her mouth water.
She sipped the rich beverage and smiled. Careful of the hot drinks, Zia kissed Liv’s cheek. “I will never forget this. Thank you.”
Liv took the mug from her and set both back on the table. “There’s one more thing.”
She rose, taking Zia’s hand again, and led her toward the bedroom.
Zia’s smile broadened. This was definitely going to be one of her better Founder’s Days.
Liv glanced at her as she pushed the door open and moved aside. Zia stepped into the room and her mouth dropped open. Flames flickered from dozens of white candles that filled every flat surface except the white fur-covered bed. The scent of wax and cinnamon tinged the icy air.
“How?” Was all Zia could manage.
“I’ve be getting things together for the past two weeks,” she said. “It’s not easy keeping surprises hidden from you.” Liv took Zia’s hand and led her to the bed. She ran her fingers under the closure of the coat and pushed the garment off Zia’s shoulders. The chill air on her chest made her shiver. “I took advantage of your time down at the beach. Now I’m going to take advantage of you.”
Eyeing the promise of the fur on the bed, Zia’s nipples tightened from the cold and from the anticipation of what was to come. She covered Liv’s mouth with her own as she opened Liv’s coat and ran her hands up her lover’s arms to her shoulders and neck. She threaded her fingers through Liv’s hair and deepened the kiss. Liv’s arms came around Zia’s waist, one hand at the small of her back, pulling their bodies together, and the other working the closure of her beach frock.
“Hurry,” Zia said as she lowered her hands to Liv’s clothing and did the same. “I’m freezing.”
They peeled each other out of their clothes and kicked off the fur-lined boots. Despite the cold, Zia stopped for a moment to stare at Liv. The Pacifica sun had darkened her skin to a golden brown that glowed in the candlelight. Cold and arousal made her nipples pebble, and Zia couldn’t stop herself from reaching out to caress Liv’s breast.
Liv sucked in a breath and moved closer, her hands skimming along Zia’s sides and up to her chest as their mouths came together. Tongues twined and heat blossomed throughout Zia’s body. Liv’s scent filled her, increasing Zia’s need to have her.
One hand at Zia’s breast and the other at her waist, Liv eased her around and guided her backward toward the bed. Zia’s legs hit the side. As she lowered herself, still kissing Liv, she reached out and flipped back the fur blanket. They broke the kiss only long enough to get into bed, but kept one hand on each other as they moved, neither willing to lose contact with soft, hot skin even for a moment. Zia realized they both still wore their ear muffs, but didn’t care.
Liv covered Zia’s body with her own, her weight and they way they fit together giving Zia a sense of contentment she’d relished for the last two months. Breast to breast, stomach to stomach, thighs pressing between legs, she couldn’t think of any other place she’d rather be than in the chilled room with the woman she loved.
Liv pulled the fur around the two of them, creating a cocoon of warmth. Only their heads were exposed, and Zia delighted in the contrast of the nip in the air while her body heated beneath Liv’s as they kissed. After several breathless moments, Liv lifted herself away, her gaze wandering over Zia’s face from brow to eyes to lips.
Zia cocked her head. “What? What are you thinking?”
Their gazes met and Liv smiled. Zia’s insides melted. “I’m thinking,” Liv said, “how I’m very grateful Carmine Nevarro discovered keracite on that cold rock, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. I love you.”
Zia ran her fingers through Liv’s hair and drew her back down for a kiss. “Love you too. Happy Founder’s Day.”
The writing life! Being wined and dined by publishers and agents. International book tours and humungous royalty checks. Stellar reviews and loyal fans.
Yeah. Right. Read on…
A Day in the Life of Diane Dooley
0600: I wake to golden sunlight streaming through the window. It’s going to be another perfect day! Wearing my favorite pink twin-set, my grandmother’s pearls and a scant misting of Chanel #5, I drift downstairs to my book-lines study, where the butler brings me herbal tea and buttered toast points. I start writing my latest romance novel, the words falling to the manuscript like raindrops to roses…
0630: Wake from the lovely dream to find a dog’s butt in my face and my husband’s snoring in my ears. Grope around in the dark until I find yesterday’s clothes, then rub deodorant on my smelly bits. Spend the next hours corralling children, dogs and husband, finally collapsing in exhausted heap until coffee ready.
0830: Open manuscript, read last few paragraphs. Realize I have written the Great American Romance Novel. What should I wear to the awards ceremony? Write the most wonderful words of all: The End. Send manuscript to agent, knowing that it was too perfect to edit.
0930: Wake from the lovely dream to find a different dog butt in my face. Inhale coffee. Open manuscript, read last few paragraphs. Sob with frustration, then spend an hour on Facebook and Twitter, pretending to be a real writer. Drink half a bottle of inspiration, then write a three chapter sex scene in which the heroine unfortunately dies of erotic asphyxiation. Delete it, reminding myself that I am a romance writer and a very nice person. Remind self again. Drink more inspiration.
12Noon: Pass out on couch with my butt in the dogs’ faces.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, another writer is stirring…
A Day in the Life of Cathy Pegau
0600: Husband’s alarm goes off, kicking me out of a dream about hot pool boys and honey. OMG! I’m paralyzed! No, just the cat across my legs. Eject the furry boulder, Dog immediately jumps up on bed, huffs and falls asleep. Dog’s got the right idea.
0615: Alarm goes off. Slap snooze. Slap drooly dog face away from mine.
0633: Double ditto (what’s with 9 minute snoozing? I never understood that.) Roll out of bed to make sure kids are up (they are). Bless husband for making coffee. Squint out into darkness. *Shiver* Global warming my ass…..
0800: Kids and husband out to school and work. Time to hit the manuscript. Open email, Twitter and Facebook…just to check.
1200: Manuscript not open and I’m still in my pajamas, but I now know what all my imaginary writer friends had for lunch, did at work and will be doing this evening. Also, a personal best on Spider Solitaire. Go me! OK, let’s get serious.
1230: Open manuscript. Read last few pages. Hmmm…..This needs some work. Oh! Time for lunch!
Diane Dooley’s Day Continues…
1230: Put final touches on the Oscar acceptance speech for Best Original Screenplay, then go out with actual, real-life, flesh-and-blood people called “friends.” Find jeans and a swimsuit that fit perfectly and make me look fabulous.
1245: Wake up with dog’s tongue in my ear. Roll off the couch; find some spaghetti in my cleavage. Eat it and call it lunch.
1300: Open manuscript, then spend two and a half hours looking for inspiration on YouTube. Also complete all chores while loudly singing the entire ‘Bat Out of Hell” album.
1630: Kids arrive home from school. Spend next several hours cooking, cleaning and doing 4th and 6th grade English, Math, History and Science homework, along with art projects that include building dioramas of books I’ve never read. Use physical force to get boys in shower, then to bed.
2130: Look for inspiration in fridge, but it’s all gone except for a lone bottle of Angostura bitters. Fix drink with it. Open manuscript and start to type. The Angostura is working!
2200: Husband arrives home, seeking food, shelter and good company. Ignore him. Continue to write romance novel in which everyone is damaged and dies at the end. Fingers working hard to keep up with words flowing from brain. I love writing!
0200: Take phonecall from Daniel Day-Lewis, who wants to have one of my books adapted for screenplay so he can play one of my characters. He was born to play the role, apparently. He would also very much like to meet me. Am eventually persuaded.
0400: Awake with my face on the keyboard, which is covered in a vile-smelling, sticky substance which could not possible be my own drool. Final line in manuscript is: h4O[[NKLN,K [P9-O=-O9M=ORTZST=O-U. Save document, then drag my carcass to bed, considering it a day of successful writing. Kick dogs out of my sleeping spot. Collapse. Sleep without dreams.
Cathy Pegau’s Day Continues…
1330: Wake from carb-induced coma nap. Why is MTV’s Hip Hop Countdown blaring from the television? Button pants and sit at table. This manuscript will ROCK as soon as I can get past chapter three. Is the hero/heroine “cute meet” too cute? I think punching a guy in the junk spilling coffee on a guy makes a lasting impression. Leave it in. Plow on, making notes to flesh out scenes later.
1445: There! Made it to the end of chapter three! Wait. What the…? I’d already written chapter three? Really? Son of a…. *sigh*
1545: Furious activity as kids arrive home from school, dogs jump about, cats streak out from under thunderous paws of death. Call the dogs in. Tell kids to shut BOTH doors. Wonder what that damn piteous wailing is. Fetch indoor cat from outside. Ask kids how their day was. Half listen while I consider a plot point that can make or break this story. Wait. What was that about meeting with the principal tomorrow???
1730: Look up from sixth version of opening paragraph of chapter four to see kids staring at me, hollow-eyed. Dinner? Didn’t I feed them yesterday? Husband is settled in his favorite chair (when did he get here????) shaking his head. I suggest pizza.
1900: Favorite show about to come on. But it’s a rerun, so I can miss it and get back to writing. Oh, but it’s a REALLY good episode! Sit on couch with manuscript open. I’ll work during commercial breaks. Get one and a half sentences down.
2000: Ditto with second favorite show in line-up. Rewrite sentence. Twice. Add two more. Yay! Progress!
2100: Laptop battery dying. Plug it in. Crack knuckles. Get to it!
0030: Dog snoring at my feet. Everyone’s been in bed for a couple of hours, but things are moving along. Just need to get the gist of this scene down….
0245: Husband taps me on the shoulder, startling me and nearly knocking me off the chair. “You’re working in the morning. Come to bed.” Look at screen. No new words. Save what I have, shut down computer, and hope to squeeze in a little writing between classes tomorrow.
So there you have it, folks. Think twice before you take up the writing life!
* * * * *
Diane Dooley writes romance, science fiction and horror; short stories, novellas and novels . You can catch up with her on her blog, Facebook or Twitter. She also blogs regularly at Contact: Infinite Futures and is a contributor to The Galaxy Express.
Sorry for the delay in announcing, folks. Crazy week here at Casa Pegau. Crazier than normal.
The winner of Jill Sorenson’s latest is Veronica Scott! Congrats, Veronica!
Thanks for dropping by, everyone! Come back soon : )
THE SCI-FI HERO, IN ALL HIS GLORY!
First, thanks to Cathy Pegau for hosting us, the authors of A GALACTIC HOLIDAY, Carina’s Press’s sci-fi holiday anthology. Happy Holidays, Cathy!
There’s just something crack-o-licious about certain sci-fi heroes. Think about it—what is it that’s so appealing about Mal Reynolds? He was rough around the edges, educated by life rather than a stuffy academy, and a former member of a rebellion that wound up losing in an epic way? And then there’s the seemingly opposite side of the coin represented by James Tiberius Kirk. Sophisticated, Academy-raised, a respected member of Star Fleet—a winner in every sense of the word. These two heroes shouldn’t have anything in common.
But they do.
In their heart of hearts, both Mal and Kirk were mavericks. They both understand the parameters of their worlds/galaxies/’verse, and their place in it. They know the rules. A lot of the time, they even follow them…until they don’t.
What makes these two so universally loved is that they always tried to do what was right. Not what’s legally acceptable. Not what they’re ordered to do. Not what was expected of them. What these two much-adored characters shared is an moral compass that always pointed true, and they didn’t care about what rules they had to break in order to make things right. How can you not love someone like that?
In A GALACTIC HOLIDAY, the three heroes also come from very different backgrounds, but each one falls into the category of hero. To find out more, read on!
Anna: Born and raised on Rendar (a high-tech planet with no families), Savan Bardan has always fought for what he wanted. First as a space marine, he led his men into terrible battles and now as the top trade negotiator in the galaxy. He’s the tough, silent type who keeps his past nightmares buried and likes to always win. But deep down he questions everything: his planet’s hunger for more energy, the tactics his colleagues are willing to use to close a deal and his own goals. I think he knows something is missing from his life.
Enter Brinn Fjord. The negotiator for the ice world of Perma. A woman who blames him for the death of her father. Brinn is dedicated to her family, her people’s prosperity and protecting her world’s environment. She is just the woman to show Savan what he’s missing! And I tossed them together during the winter holiday of Yule…let’s just say it is a real education for Savan.
Sasha: Leo is a man’s man. He’s a man of action, but he’s smart enough to think things through first. His colony lost protection from Patrols and the Raiders ‘recruited’ him before Black Lung wiped out the rest of the colony. After raiding for a while, the Patrols caught up with his ship. He spent the next few years working for the Patrols, feeding the info. Once he’d earned their trust, he got his own ship and crew. He still helps out the Patrols from time to time, but he’s an entrepreneur – taking whatever jobs pay most so he can help people/colonies/ships in trouble… partly because he knows what it’s like to be deserted and partly because he likes to do the right thing. He’s a loyal captain and protective of his crew and his ship. But he’s a loner, maintaining enough distance to keep control of his wily crew. Meeting Riley, the heroine, makes him question the whole ‘loner’ thing – but Riley isn’t necessarily sold on the idea of a long-term ‘thing’ either so he has his work cut out for him.
Stacy: Right from the beginning, Detective Edison Wicke popped out of my head as a full-fledged smartass! He’s a sexy charmer, though, so I can forgive that quick-trigger mouth of his. Just think of Edison as that guy we ladies secretly want to meet—the guy who has a sizzling quip for just about everything that comes his way, and the sleek charisma to keep you laughing.
But come to find out, Edison’s wicked sense of humor hides a turbulent childhood where December 25th was just another day to struggle through. Because of the harshness of his background, he has a strong sense of justice (in fact, his name was almost Edison Just instead of Edison Wicke, due to his unwavering sense of what is right). He’s hardcore when it comes to protecting those who can’t protect themselves, and his loyalty to Reina is so great he changed his entire life in order to be near her. And in the face of adversity, he stands by her side when no one else will.
If that isn’t a true hero, I don’t know what is.
You tell us—what traits do you like to see in your heroes?
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A GALACTIC HOLIDAY – Carina Press | Amazon | B&N | All Romance
Anna Hackett – Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Stacy Gail – Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Sasha Summers – Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads