Thursday, November 29, 2012

THE SHAMAN'S MATE Blog Tour and Giveaway

To celebrate the release of my new Fantasy/Paranormal book, my awesome friend over at Pimpin' Reads blog has helped me arrange an awesome book tour. 

There will be a chance to enter a giveaway on each blog along the tour route, so you can sign up at each location on the date in the list while checking out their offerings. Winners will get a free ebook copy or signed print copy of the book.

Each of these sites is hosted by at least one avid book reviewer and they will give you the scoop on great books. I saw some other giveaways too, so check them all out.

Dec 3:  Pimpin' Reads
Dec 5:  United By Books
Dec 10:  Page Flipperz Ya

Monday, November 12, 2012


This week I finally let go of a book I've been working on since 2010. It is mystical fantasy romance called THE SHAMAN'S MATE. I delved into life after death, missing Native American tribes, human abductions, dimensional travel, and whether or not we all live for a higher purpose than we realize.

No worries about the heavy subject content, I lightened it with lots of humor and sexy romance.

I have one more story in a similar vein which I'll probably put out next year. It is similar in theme. If you like this one, let me know and I'll make sure it happens. I always appreciate the feedback.

Oh, and Apple readers will be happy to hear that I am now putting all my books up at Apple directly. If my luck holds, you'll get the book now when everyone else does--lol. Let's all cross our fingers Apple continues to like me.

The ebook is currently available at the following places:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Apple (via iBooks/iTunes store)

Barnes and Noble


The book is also available in print from Amazon. It will be other locations in a a couple of weeks.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Excerpt from THE SHAMAN'S MATE

A book I've been working on for a couple of years is going to be ready to release next month (November 2012). Since I haven't talked about it much, I thought I could at least show you the cover and offer an excerpt.

I would call this one a paranormal or fantasy novel, rather than science fiction. The line is so blurry sometimes. It's hard to judge. If you want to comment and offer up your opinion for a category, I'd definitely like to hear what you think.

Just to preface this work, the names of the Chileaans are genuine Hopi names which I thought was appropriate for a book that delves into the mystery of Native America tribes that disappeared without a trace. It was very enjoyable to do the research for this book. Even though my Celtic heritage is evidenced in my physical appearance, I have some native heritage myself (Cherokee). When my daughter died, despite all my other spiritual leanings, it was my grandfather's native beliefs that offered me solace as well. So that is one thing I share with my hero, Jason Cloud, along with his attempts to understand what purpose death serves.


Grand Canyon park ranger and expert tracker Jason Cloud always considered himself a good person, just not a religious one. Now he wishes he was. After searching the canyon’s woods for months to find his wife’s killers and failing to do so, Jason is ready to bargain with any deity willing to help him. When a strange fellow park ranger walks up moments after his pleas for help and sets him on the right path, Jason sends his gratitude out into the universe. He never suspected the same man would return to abduct him and insist he make good on his promises. Jason is not morally opposed to helping the Chileaans, but it’s what they want him to do that’s the problem for him. With his wife barely dead, he is definitely not ready to have any sort of relationship with another woman, not even the beautiful Chileaan Shaman allegedly destined to be his mate.

Shaman Aiyanna has waited a long time for her chosen mate to be ready to join her.  When she rejected the idea of Jason initially, the Great Mother forced her over a span of six human years to stand in the portal between their dimensions and watch while Jason committed himself to a human realm mate. It had both surprised and hurt Aiyanna to see him happy with the woman, but it had also been illuminating about his character. When his human mate dies, Aiyanna finds herself also grieving for Jason’s pain and loss. Willing to do anything to relieve his current suffering, but forbidden to intervene, Aiyanna is grateful when her spirit brother, Kiell, offers to help. The last thing she ever expected was that the tribal council would send Kiell back to retrieve Jason before the Great Mother gave Aiyanna permission to contact him. Now Jason hates her for his destiny and there is little she can do but try to find a way to release him.

EXCERPT from Chapter 1

In the gateway room of the temple, Aiyana unrolled the meditation blanket in front of a table that held a bowl of water, a plant that never stopped blooming, and an assortment of crystals the previous shaman had given her during her training. Then dropping to her knees, she leaned back on her heels and lifted her hands out while she bowed her head.

“I am Aiyana, faithful shaman to her people. I serve Hehewuti who watches over us and the realms we serve. Will you hear the requests of your servant today, Great Mother?”

Though the room was closed, Aiyana felt the gentle warm breeze of Hehewuti’s energy wrap around her like a hug. As always, she felt greatly comforted by the presence of such a benevolent force.

I hear you, Aiyana. I also see the burden of your heart, and yet—I cannot grant you the solace you seek today.

“It is not comfort for me, Hehewuti. I ask for you to grant solace to the one chosen as my mate. Jason Cloud’s heart is burdened with grief and can find no peace at the moment. Let your compassion cross the dimensional realms to find him,” Aiyana pleaded.

Precious daughter, your future mate is fulfilling his journey according to his life’s plan. Why do you ask for me to change the will of the First Souls? This I cannot do. Be patient and let the future take the course it is meant to take for him.

“Must I watch Jason grieve and offer him no comfort or hope?” Aiyana asked. It wasn’t the first time she’d been told no by the Great Mother, but this time it was especially hard to hear.

The breeze picked up and wrapped tighter around her. Aiyana shivered in its embrace as her hair lifted from her breasts to whip over her shoulders. Though she felt the Great Mother’s love and compassion strongly, she also understood now that the answer was not going to change.

Have faith in the timing of the First Souls. Your mate will be with you soon. This is all I can tell you.

Aiyana fought back her frustration, and the tears that threatened. She bowed to the floor to hide her face until the emotions passed. There was no hiding the disappointment in her heart and spirit. She hoped Hehewuti would not be angry with her for being saddened by the news.

“Thank you for coming to me, Hehewuti. I serve the Great Mother who serves the First Souls. Praise to you, Hehewuti, for all your gifts,” Aiyana said.

You are welcome, Shaman Aiyana. Walk in peace today.
Then the breeze was suddenly gone.

Staying on the floor several minutes longer, Aiyana allowed the tears to come while she wept for what she could not change. When she finally raised her head, the tears had dried and her spirit had moved into true acceptance. Her ability to accept Hehewuti’s guidance was why she was the Chileaan shaman. By the time she walked out of the gateway room, Aiyana was already planning to go back to the portal.

She might not be able to help Jason directly, but she hoped his spirit would be aware of her presence watching over him, even if his mind refused to accept such spiritual possibilities. While she wasn’t as energetically stealthy in moving around within the human realm as the Annunaki tribe, Aiyana could still send her future mate all the comfort she could until it was time for him to join her.


Expert tracker Jason Cloud followed the murderer’s footprints through a thickly forested area of the Grand Canyon until they ended at a set of trees and a pile of rocks. Fortunately it hadn’t rained much in several weeks, so the prints he found were still clear. Unfortunately, it was like the footprints simply stopped and disappeared into dry dust beyond the one spot.

He’d been around the entire area many times only to circle back to this point over and over. The prints ended here. How that had happened, Jason wasn’t sure. Even now, staring at the only evidence so far, he couldn’t understand how the escaped men had managed to get away from all twenty-four people tracking them, including him.

Exhausted, Jason fell to his knees in the dirt, the frustration of his failure overwhelming.

Was there no justice at all in the world?

His life’s work as a National Park Ranger was to track down those who got lost in the canyon, so it was doubly hard to accept his lack of ability to find three murderous men that needed to be found. He’d been searching for weeks now with no results other than the one in front of his knees at the moment.

“Emily, I’m sorry that I’m failing you,” Jason said out loud, letting the painful reality escape him at last.

His head ached fiercely from too much walking and not enough sleep. His body was weak from not eating regularly. At the moment he didn’t feel like doing anything but sit in the dirt and cry, yet Jason forced himself to pull out his water bottle and take a few sips. It was a fact that he didn’t feel like he had much to live for these days, but he was not going to risk dying of heat stroke or dehydration if there was still any chance at all that he might find Emily’s killers.

Two months ago his wife had been shot and killed during a convenience store robbery. Her murderers had fled but not gone far. With so many looking for them, they couldn’t have crossed a state line without being recognized because their faces had been captured on the store’s security cameras. Police believed the men had to be hiding somewhere in the woods around the canyon.

With so many vacant cabins and camping areas this time of year that instinct told Jason the men were just hiding well—which meant they should be able to be found. And who better to find them than the man who was supposed to be the best canyon tracker in the history of the park? Apparently anyone else but him, Jason decided. He certainly wasn’t going to find them by kneeling in the dirt and swearing at fate. It was just that he didn’t know what else to do.

Though he’d gotten used to turning thoughts of her away in the last few weeks, Jason now thought of Emily’s smiling face the last morning he saw her. He had to put his head in his hand, fighting not to indulge the tears that threatened. For a man who rarely cried, he’d spent almost every night since her death doing so, at least the nights where he hadn’t been able to drown the grief with enough whiskey to pass out first.

If only his grandfather had been alive, then maybe he could have told Jason what he was missing, what he was doing wrong. That old man always found what he looked for and he’d taught Jason never to give up.

Grief had to be making him blind. That was the only answer.

Jason knelt there in the dirt, and for the first time in a long time felt his spirit sending out a plea for divine help. He wished he was a more spiritual man. Maybe then the gods would help him.

He would have prayed if he’d known how to pray, but he didn’t. His father had frowned on such things, and his mother had not challenged his father’s lack of spirituality. Emily had never pressed him to share her spiritual beliefs either, and he hadn’t volunteered to open himself up to her faith. What little spirituality Jason had ever known had been buried for good the day they put his grandfather’s dead body into the ground.

It was only because of that old man that Jason remained native enough to see the spirits of the land and those in the people he encountered. Perhaps that was why when his spirit sought guidance now in his darkest moments, it was his grandfather and his grandfather’s people that came to mind.

But if they were listening, Jason certainly couldn’t tell. Certainly, no divine help had been offered yet.

He climbed wearily to his feet, dusty and frustrated, with no idea what to do next.


From her astral existence within the dimensional veil separating their worlds, Aiyana had watched Jason Cloud as he bent to check the tracks that ended where he knelt. Jason was a protector in his human realm, but today he was not serving his people in his tasks. Today Jason was searching for the ones who had killed his Emily.

Though not materialized fully in the human realm or affected by the emotional vibrations of it, Aiyana could still sense the depth of Jason’s frustration and pain just from the way he held his body and the expressions on his face.

And as always, her heart hurt when his did. It was the way of her people with their chosen mates, but usually such emotional sharing did not occur without some physical bonding. Since her situation was not normal, Aiyana could only accept what was truth for her, despite the fact that her appointed mate was not even in the same realm yet, much less in her life.

Maybe in her spirit she still rebelled about some aspects of her ordained relationship to Jason Cloud, but she had accepted the uniqueness of her tie in the time she’d observed him. Jason had loved his mate in the human realm very much. She could respect Jason for having such sincere feelings, even if it had distressed her that his compassion was being given to someone other than her.

The Great Mother Hehewuti, with a wisdom Aiyana did not understand, had long ago declared Jason Cloud would be her mate. She had sadly passed this news along to her people despite the Chileaan people’s disdain for their descendants who were still living in the human realm. Few there had respect for their eternal spirits, which was a grievous truth to witness.

Even Jason had very little respect for his own spirit, though he was a direct descendent of native people as well. His lack of understanding only made her sadder for him. Not that any of his spiritual flaws lessened her compassion over his grieving. It was not her place to judge Jason’s life choices while he remained beyond her physical reach.

Nor could she question the Great Mother’s wisdom in sanctioning the compassionate bond she felt for Jason. Aiyana had learned that lesson quite painfully. Part punishment and part service, she had watched Jason for many of his human years, watched as he wooed and bonded with Emily, watched and tried not to wish too hard for the time he would be hers.

But her faith had been strong and remained strong now. In the time she had served as shaman to her people, Aiyana had seen the Great Mother’s will work out over and over in many people’s lives. The difficult thing now was not in wondering if Jason was going to be a proper mate for her eventually. That would happen. It was how in her limited existence in his realm she could assist him in finding comfort for the grief that was affecting his entire life.

He needed someone to come to his aide. She was compelled to offer solace, yet unable to do so. No that wasn’t the full truth, Aiyana thought, she wasn’t allowed to help him. She could have easily told Jason which direction the murderers of his mate had taken into the woods. This made watching him kneel in the dirt with his spirit calling out for help, a pain greater than any she had been asked to bear before. Only being a shaman for her people kept Aiyana from attempting to contact him directly. Though she might have found a way to penetrate the veil to enter his realm, she wasn’t willing to disobey the Great Mother again.

Yet at the same time she longed for Jason to find his mate’s murderers. Perhaps then his sad spirit could begin to heal, and whatever needed to come to pass before he joined her, could at last do so.

When her spirit brother Hania appeared at her side, Aiyana watched as he saw Jason and sneered. Hania’s disdain was not of Jason personally, but rather for Aiyana being bound by destiny to the man from the human realm. Hania did not share the Great Mother’s belief in Jason being her chosen one.

“Greetings Aiyana. Your distress has brought me to your side. Is it time to retrieve your mate?” Hania asked.

He did not really want to know the answer, but did feel it was his duty to ask. It was no secret that he still refused to believe that the Great Mother of the Chileaans would see their shaman, his spirit sister, mated to a disrespectful man from the human realm instead of one of their kind. After his work with those in the human realm, his opinion was that most living there remained the spiritual equivalent of emotional children.

The grieving human male he observed carried some native blood in his physical form that should have soothed him naturally. Hania did not hold anything against the man, even though the majority of Jason’s native ancestors had hunted and killed the original Chileaans. Only the ascended ones who answered the call of the Great Mother had completely escaped the fate of being massacred like animals. For those compassionate spirits who chose to remain behind in the human realm during the Great Mother’s retrieval, life had become even harder.

But life for their descendents was now even more limited. Jason’s family had all but set his roots aside. In fact, most spiritual descendents in the human realm spent their time trying to preserve what culture was left or to recover what had been lost.

As a Chileaan protector, Hania had intervened to help in the human realm for too many years to keep count. He had compassion for them, but still could not understand making a willing choice to stay in that realm more than he could understand his sister’s acceptance of her fate to be mated to one of them. He trusted the Great Mother most of the time, but the decision about the shaman’s mate had caused him many moments of serious reflection on her wisdom.

“Aiyana, did you hear my question? Is it time to collect Jason Cloud?” Hania asked again.

“No,” Aiyana answered, willing her voice not to be sad as her gaze remained on the grieving man she cared for. “It is not time yet, Hania. I am here only because Jason is in great pain. He hunts for the ones who killed his mate.”

Hania softened a little. “Jason Cloud loved the female called Emily sincerely, and for that I respect him. Does his loving grief for her cause your spirit great pain?” he asked.

Hania’s concern for Aiyana’s feelings outweighed his own sense of disgust over Jason’s future role in Aiyana’s life. While he did not approve of their alleged destiny together, he also did not like the idea that his sensitive spirit sister would feel the pain of longing for someone whose truest devotion still belonged to someone else. Having caused such pain in his own mate, and then later been on the receiving end of her rejection because of it, Hania knew full well how much suffering it could cause.

He carefully studied Aiyana’s concerned gaze resting on Jason Cloud as he waited again for her answer. Through their connection as spirit siblings, he could see her feelings and thoughts were for Jason, not for herself or her longing for him. Whatever pain she felt personally had been set aside. Aiyana was the most unselfish person he’d ever known, and the most truly worthy person in their tribe to be Chileaan Shaman.

Aiyana turned when she felt Hania’s concerned gaze directing all his compassion to her. She typically found it impossible to lie even to spare someone feelings, so she certainly could never bring herself to deceive Hania when he was so full of worry for her.

“Yes, I confess it hurts me sometimes, but not always. I accept the Great Mother’s punishment and her wisdom. I have learned much about Jason from observing his life in the human realm. Though he is not very spiritual, he is mostly a good man, Hania. There are many choices for a mate. She could have chosen worse for me,” Aiyana said logically.

Part of Hania was actually happy that Aiyana herself did not seem to really want the man from the human realm as her mate, and that no great desire for Jason Cloud was yet upon her. If it had been, she would not have been so calm. He remembered all the time he had spent rejecting Sihu, followed by the time when Sihu had rejected him. He could not think of a single moment in those years without still feeling the pain. He would not wish such a fate on anyone.

So Hania studied Aiyana as she continued to watch the man closely. Maybe Aiyana felt mating with Jason Cloud would be a duty. Hania understood duty well and had great respect for Aiyana’s choice to serve as their tribe’s shaman.

“If the Great Mother would only allow it, Cheveyo still considers that you would be a good choice,” Hania told her.

“I am aware of Cheveyo’s devotion to duty, brother,” she answered.

Aiyana turned to face Hania, looking at the marks on his neck, proof of his ascension. Her spirit brother was mated to Sihu, who was next in line to become shaman if anything happened to her. Sadly though, Sihu’s body remained just as lightly marked as Hania’s, despite their frequent bonding. It was a source of consternation for both of them that they had not yet reached full ascension together. Sihu was the best of the Chileaan healers. She had dedicated every spare moment she had to studying how to encourage the process of ascending.

“Until the Great Mother’s punishment, I thought I would never know the need for a mate at all, Hania. But I must be honest and say that the Great Mother intends Cheveyo for another. He will not be pleased at first with the match, but will eventually see that it is best. It is not yet time to reveal it or I would have sanctified their union already. The council needs to set aside their goal of mating us. It is not meant to be.”

Hania sighed to hear Aiyana say the words with no passion in her voice and no regret at not wanting to be the mate of the strongest, bravest Chileaan protector in their tribe. Cheveyo had great affection for Aiyana. How could their union not be right?

“Do not worry about me, brother. I would be content to serve the Great Mother as I am without a mate. It is she who deems me not worthy enough in this state. I seek mating and ascension to please her will for me, not my own. I want Jason Cloud because she will bless our union with my ascension. I don’t understand why it has to be him, but I accept that I will see her wisdom in due time.”

Hania placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. “There are many things about the Great Mother’s will that I do not understand either, but one thing I do. Mating releases your personal power in ways you cannot begin to imagine yet sister. It is more than the spirit being lifted from the body during the pleasure. Mating with the right person frees your spirit from physical longing. It allows the spirit to focus on other things,” he said.

Aiyana looked back at Jason and shrugged. “Then I will mate with the male that the Great Mother has chosen for me. The person matters not to me so long as she allows me to continue to serve our people.”

“Be careful of that decision, Aiyana. As I learned quite painfully, there is only one true mate,” Hania reminded her. “If the male from the human realm does not willingly remain with you after bonding, you will either be alone for the rest of your physical life or spend it going from person to person seeking temporary release from the madness of your longing. The thought of you having nothing more than that is too awful to contemplate. You are Shaman Aiyana. No one is more worthy to have a proper mate.”

“You are a fine man, Hania,” she said, her heart full of his caring for her. “One day full ascension will bring you even greater wisdom. I pray the Great Mother continues to bless you with happiness in your mate. Sihu has definitely brought out the best in you.”

Aiyana chanted softly, blessing Hania in the old tongue, smiling and bowing her head in respect to the compassion between them.

Hania felt the ancient blessing slide over him, felt a peace almost as wonderful as a night spent in Sihu’s arms. As an unmated shaman, Aiyana’s power was amazing. He could only imagine how she might be once fully ascended.

They both turned as they heard Jason call out his mate’s name again, then great silent sobs were shaking his body. Even if they had not been able to empathically feel Jason’s immense pain, they would have recognized the agony in his body.

“He thinks he has failed her,” Aiyana whispered, her voice breaking along with her heart as she hurt with him.

Hania reached out a hand and squeezed her shoulder. There was nothing Aiyana could do to help the man from the human realm, but there was something he could do. He would hesitate no longer. “May the Great Mother see to your happiness as well, sister. Since I serve the Great Mother and her shaman, I will see to it that your chosen mate does not fail in his quest.”

“Hania—thank you. May you be blessed for it,” Aiyana whispered, tears flowing at Hania’s generosity for risking the intervention. The Chileaan protectors only did what a predictor declared.

When he disappeared from beside her, Aiyana turned her full attention back to Jason, waiting now to see if her future mate would open his spirit and accept Hania’s help.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Lately I've been stalking fantasy writers. Okay, stalking might be too strong a word. I am finding them via my new Twitter ID of @scifiwoman13 and looking at their work as we connect in the stream. When my science fiction romances started being called "fantasy" by readers, I realized that my old school idea of fantasy might be out of date, or at the very least limited.

Ryan Schneider is one of the coolest authors I have met. He writes adult and YA fantasy. I volunteered to feature one of his YA books (which I am currently reading) to introduce him to my blog followers and readers.



"HARRY POTTER meets IRON MAN" in this first installment of the epic adventure serial series THE GO-KIDS.

Thirteen-year-old Parker Perkins lives in Manhattan with his mom and dad. Today is Parker's 13th birthday. He has convinced his mom to let him skip school so that he can spend his birthday in the arcade, playing his favorite video game, the GO-BOY simulator. It's no match for the Battle-Suit flown by teen heart-throb Colby Max in Colby's action movies, but Parker spends as much time playing as he can, and he's had the top score for nearly three months. After school, Parker's dad is taking him to the movies, to see Colby Max's newest GO-BOY feature film. Parker wants to be ready, thus his plan to spend the day inside the sim, soaring the virtual skies, free as a bird. But Parker's birthday takes a sudden and horrendous turn for the worse, and his life will never be the same.

Though it is a story about kids, it is far more than just a kids' story. It is a story involving young protagonists dealing with universal themes of growing up, friendship, and loss of innocence, themes of children coming of age in an age of war. Ride along during the ongoing adventures of Parker, Sunny, Bubba, Igby, and Colby, characters readers will come to know and love.


Buy from Amazon

Blue sky.

High desert below. Dark green scrub, giant boulders, spiny cactus. Craggy, ancient mountains in the distance. Like pictures of New Mexico and Arizona.

Powerful robotic hands were attached to his muscular robotic arms. Black-booted feet emitted cones of blue plasma, holding him aloft. An impressive red safety harness held him securely inside a Go-Boy Battle-Suit. A real Go-Boy Battle-Suit. Better than the simulator at the arcade. Better even than the expensive Hollywood version piloted by Colby Max, and he was the most beloved thirteen-year-old in the country, perhaps the world.

There were others nearby, kids Parker’s age, somewhere in the sky with him.

One of them was in trouble.

Parker spun around, scanned the sky.

There she was, inside her Battle-Suit, on her back and falling headfirst, trapped in a flat spin. She spun like a leaf. A leaf made of lead.

Who was she? How did he know her?

It didn’t matter now. Questions later. If he could get to her before she impacted the hard ground, flattened in an unceremonious crunch of expensive metals and metallurgical polymers and whatever else Colby’s sidekick Igby used to build the fancy flying suits.

Parker rolled onto his back, accelerated hard. He dove from the sky in a tight loop, until he flew parallel to the earth. He accelerated harder, pushing his Battle-Suit faster and faster. Scrub and boulders and cactus rushed by in a blur.

Voices on the radio, shouting, arguing, far away, as if he were under water. He ignored them, focused on her. He could save her. He had to.

A giant cactus appeared in his flight path. Green spines and black spikes rushed toward him. He made a fist with his big robotic hand and punched the cactus as he flew into it. The cactus exploded. Shards of cactus meat and beads of cactus juice hung in the air as if in a photograph. The explosive impact rang his ears inside his helmet.

He flew on, faster and faster.

She neared the ground. Mountains loomed behind her. A few seconds more and it would be too late.

He would make it. He would catch her.

She wasn’t going to die.

Not today.

Parker stretched out his long robotic arms. Drops of cactus juice sparkled on the black palms of his robotic hands, blue sky and brown desert reflected a hundred times in miniature.

He focused on her. Twirling as she fell. Around and around she spun. His timing had to be perfect.

He reached out . . .

. . . waited, waited . . . .

A shrill scream blared over the radio.

The Battle-Suit and the girl screaming inside it disappeared behind a massive boulder.

The screaming abruptly stopped.

From behind the boulder rose a cloud of brown dust.

Chapter 1

Bye, Mom

“I’m so dead.” Parker’s mother glanced at the rear view mirror for the third time.

“Mom. Relax,” said Parker. “It’s one day of school. Besides, it’s my birthday. Remember?”

“Yes, of course I remember.” She relaxed into the driver’s seat and looked at him. She smiled. Her eyes flitted to the mirror again.


“Sorry.” Her eyes flitted back to him. “This is a tow-away zone.”

“They’re not going to tow the car with us sitting in it.”

“If your father finds out you spent the day playing video games, we can say you played hooky because it’s your birthday. But if I get a ticket for parking in a red zone outside the arcade, we won’t get off so lucky.”

“Fine. Go to school. Go teach.” He reached for the door handle.

“You sure you have enough money?”

“Yes. You gave me more than enough.” He smiled and opened the door.

“Don’t tell your father. You know how he is about earning things.” Her eyes drifted to the rear view mirror again. “Is that a cop?”

Parker looked over his shoulder. “No. It’s a taxi.” He put one foot out.

“What time are you meeting me back here?”


“We have to hurry to meet your father or he’ll know we were up to something.”

“I know.”

“What time?”


“You’re sure you have enough money?”

She sat behind the wheel, more matronly than usual in her work clothes, a long skirt and button-down sweater, hair piled atop her head like it always was in the mornings, with two blond strands framing her eyes. “Yes, mom. Go teach.”

She smiled. An odd, different smile.

He didn’t know what it meant. “What?”

“Nothing.” She looked at him, the mirror forgotten. “You’re getting so handsome. You look more like your father every day.”

“Dad says I remind him of you.”

She smiled again. “Does the watch fit?”

He held up his wrist. “Perfectly.”

“Good. He spent a lot of time shopping for the one you wanted. Make sure you turn it off until after school. We can at least pretend we’re following the rules. You’ll get my gift at dinner. I love you. My hope.”

“Mom, please.”

“What? It’s not every day my little boy turns ten.”

“Go teach.”

“Fine. Go . . . kick . . . . What is it you’re kicking, exactly?”


“Right. Go kick some plasma. And, uh, ‘Take it to the max.’” She pointed her finger at the sky. “You’re sure you have enough money? Parker?”

He wasn’t listening. He studied the watch, remembering last night, minutes before his father had given it to him. He’d walked in on his parents, found them shouting at each other. He hadn’t slept because of it. Halfway out the car door, he paused. “Last night, what were you and dad arguing about?”

“Grown up stuff.”

“Are you getting a divorce?”

Ryan Schneider is the author of more than six novels and dozens of short stories, including the acclaimed science-fiction series THE GO-KIDS. Ryan enjoys writing stories he would enjoy reading, and as such he writes in many genres, including science fiction, fantasy, mainstream fiction, and even romance. A full-time writer, Ryan lives in Palm Springs, California with his wife Taliya, an award-winning singer/songwriter.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Snippet at 80%: THE HEALER'S KISS

Alas, this will be the last snippet, but the good news is that it means the book will be heading off to the editors soon. I have to say this one has been a surprise from page one. Pretty much nothing has worked out like I planned. When another surprise shows up, I have my "what the..." moment, and have to go back to other parts of the book. I'm freaking exhausted with a plot that just won't let me plan it out. On the other hand, there are some really unexpected things happening which is always cool.

Okay--enough talking. Here it is.


Excerpt from probably Chapter 20 (lol--no I don't know yet, filling in gaps still)

Setup: Chiang and Boca are on the mission. Things are not going as planned for them either. There's been a lot of that in this novel. In this scene, they have just barely survived their first "test".

Boca walked to where the guard’s blade had dropped, sweeping it from the floor to her hand with a flick of her toes. She held it up to the light, inspected it, and then slipped it into her skirt band. She walked chin up across the floor, the room silent with the exception of the second guard’s cries of pain, escalating demands for help, and scathing terms for her.

Never looking at Orem Sel, she slipped the blade from her skirt, lifting it to her palms, and offered it to Chiang with a bowed head.

Chiang stepped to Boca, took the blade, and then caught her up to him for a relieved kiss. When he let go, he stared at her hard. “Kneel and put your face on the floor. You just killed a servant of our host. I need to discuss this appalling situation.”

Boca glared at Chiang without the need to fake much, but did as he ordered, stretching her hands over her bowed head. When he was satisfied with her compliance, Chiang turned and offered the blade to Orem Sel.

“It will be a while before your guard will have need of his blade again. What would you like to do with it?”

Orem Sel waved at the blade with his hand. “Keep it for a souvenir of your visit.”

Chiang bowed his head respectfully. “You are a gracious host.”

“And you are an admirable male for having tamed such a dangerous female,” Orem Sel said. “Why don’t you retire for the evening? I’ll have food brought to you and your exciting mate.”

“If it suits you, I’d like to contact Conor to convey your gracious welcome and encourage him to come see for himself,” Chiang said, watching Orem Sel bow his head slightly, but not really.

He turned then and spoke loudly to Boca. “Up. You have rested enough. Be grateful our host is in a merciful mood.”

Boca pulled her body back upright, sparing Chiang one hateful glance before shifting her mental venom to the still seated male who smiled back knowingly.

“Boca,” Chiang said. “If you say anything rude, you will be punished.” He watched as she immediately dropped her eyes and hung her head.

Out of the corner of his eye, Chiang saw Orem Sel motion two guards forward even as he smiled. Hoping to convince them they didn’t need company for the evening, Chiang pulled a leather wrist restraint from the vest he wore. “Hold out your wrists, and this time I want both. No rebellion like the last time.”

He was grateful that Boca kept her head bowed as she meekly lifted both her hands.

Chiang fastened the restraints, knotting the cord slowly and checking to make sure it was secure. When he heard Orem Sel laughing at his precautions, Chiang spared a glance at the male and smiled before returning his gaze to his task.

“I said she was exciting. I didn’t say she was safe, especially after a fresh kill,” Chiang declared, elated when Orem Sel laughed harder.

“I find you and your fighting mate quite amusing Chiang. You would probably find me a more rewarding employer than your current one,” Orem Sel said.

Chiang snorted. “Do you think you’re the first trader to make me such an offer? I am both healer and mercenary. However, I cannot consider other offers until my debt to Conor Synar is paid. Now that he’s taken on a demon, there is no leaving his employ.”

“I imagine not,” Orem Sel said. “Well, look me up if he ever releases you.”

Chiang nodded, ending it on a bow of respect, his hand tugging on the wrist restraint as he dragged Boca along with him, hoping it was to safety.

“See that Chiang and his mate are installed in the elerin suite. I’m sure they will enjoy the accommodations there. When Conor Synar arrives, he can have the adjoining room,” Orem Sel said. “That way, we can keep a protective guard over all of them.”

The guards walked ahead and out of the main auditorium. They all walked for a considerable distance, down long corridors and many rooms. When they stopped, it was in front of a set of double doors. One of the guards pushed open the doors, and then both stepped aside to let Chiang lead Boca into the room. Once they were beyond the threshold, the guards closed the doors behind them.

Chiang dropped the leather tether and stepped to Boca, slowly undoing the leather restraints. Neither spoke for long moments as he deftly undid the straps. “So we are back among the males you escaped. I find their need to restrain their females pathetic and weak. Are they so lacking in bonding expertise? If you’re not talented enough to keep your female in your bed willingly, then raging fires of Helios, let the female go and find another.”

Boca snorted at Chiang’s declaration. He didn’t even sound like himself. “I just killed a male and severely wounded another. Are you not fearful that I could do the same to you if I chose? I could, you know. I may be your mate, but that would end with your death, Chiang of Greggor.”

When the restraints were gone, Chiang flung the device behind him to land on the luxuriously large sleeping platform that he’d barely avoiding looking at with envy.

“Settle down, my fierce little warrior. There is no more fight to be had today. I am grateful that you received so little damage to yourself. If they had hurt you, I would have been compelled my violent Greggor nature to avenge you. Then we would both likely be dead. Orem Sel trusts no one. But then who can blame him after what happened to Fener Sel.”

He pulled Boca into his embrace, careful not to touch the arm wound that was starting to seal over. Pulling the scanner discreetly from a vest pocket, he touched it and put it between their bodies. Boca leaned into him, so it could rest on the tops of her exposed breasts, the screen tilted up so they could both see it. She saw the corner of Chiang’s mouth twitch as he fought not to laugh.

“You are a strange male to embrace me when I am covered with evidence of death. Release me and let me wash away the filth before you indulge your dreaded needs,” Boca demanded, voice dripping sarcasm as she ground out the last word with all the disgust she could manage. She wanted to push out of his arms, but as usual they were banned like steel around her. She was discovering that Chiang never let go of anything he held until he was ready.

“Silence, mate. I must reassure myself you still live, so be still and let me. Then we will clean and treat your wound,” he said roughly. “Hug me back and stop fighting. Don’t displease me further.”

Giving in, Boca tightened her arms around him and relaxed in his arms. Looking down, she saw a small picture appear on the scanner screen. Three dots were highlighted. They were being watched, which also meant their conversation was probably being monitored as well.

“I have no wish to anger you further,” she said softly.

“I have no wish to start over with another female. So let us both rejoice at our good fortune that you still live,” Chiang said quietly, but with the force he knew was expected of males on Lotharius.

Boca bowed her head respectfully and then raised her gaze to his. She moved her arms down instinctively to shield his large hand as it slid the scanner across her breasts before palming it. The little shiver of excitement she got from Chiang’s fingers was revealing to both of them. 

“I want you more each time it becomes a possibility,” he said tightly. “I want to be at your mercy and yet pleasure you endlessly. I want you to pass out in my arms again. Perhaps a Lotharian would be a less demanding mate. If you like, I can sell you back to one of them. You may claim this as your reward for saving our lives.”

To prove his words the lie they were, he brought his palm up to cover the mark on her shoulder. Chiang bent down to Boca, kissing her temple and sliding lips down to growl low in her ear. He whispered ‘mine’ soft and hoped she heard. When she trembled in his arms, he growled again.

“I must have you soon,” Chiang declared honestly, raising his head.

“What if the room is being monitored? You can’t seriously expect us to bond while they watch, or listen,” Boca hissed in a quiet voice, hopefully covering the fact they already knew it was.

La dracu, lasati-le. Let them listen and watch,” Chiang said bitterly, lacing his fingers with hers in support of their predicament. “Perhaps the stupid Lotharians will learn why you do not kill me.”

“What does it matter who calls himself my mate? All males are alike in their pride,” Boca declared, squeezing his fingers to let him know she was playing her role too.

“Come. Be nice and I will consider not tying you up for the night cycle,” Chiang said tightly.

“After fighting and winning, don’t you agree that I deserve to be left free for at least one evening?” Boca demanded, trying to sound petulant about having to even ask the question.

“Yes, I suppose I must agree in this instance. And you may even take your pleasure first,” Chiang said, smiling at her rolling eyes.

As much as he hated knowing they were being watched, nothing was going to keep him out of her. They would use the covers for a shield if needed.

“Instead of first pleasure, I would just appreciate some new clothes, Chiang. The guards I fought ruined these,” Boca said, lifting her tattered clothing with her free hand."I am still angry enough to kill more of them."

Chiang forced  himself to laugh, even while he wondered how true her statement was. “You may have both pleasure and new clothes for allowing the second male to live. I am feeling generous because you obeyed me without argument this time. Let your bloodthirsty side be sated for a while,” Chiang suggested, not really having to put anything into faking that part, his tiny Sumerian mate was indeed fighting both anger and bloodlust. But she let him lead her into the small upright bathing compartment without further resistance.

“For the moment, I wish no one further harm,” Boca offered, but narrowed her gaze on him. “Yet it is early in the evening still, Chiang of Greggor. If you displease me, things might not go well for you. Perhaps you should restrain me tonight after all. I can promise nothing.”

“We’ll see if I can change your mind,” Chiang said back, smiling as he closed the door behind them. It was going to be a long night cycle. The one bright spot was knowing he would have the opportunity of pleasuring Boca throughout it.

He could only hope their lack of communication with the Liberator would bring help quickly. They were definitely not going to be able to have full freedom to look for the High Ambassador’s daughter without Conor Synar negotiating directly with Orem Sel.

How that would work out was anyone's guess

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What Would You Pay To Go Into Space?

Rarely do I share straight up news articles in my blog, but this one sent my head buzzing. I listen to Sarah Brightman, love her music in fact. This article says she's spending over $51 million to go into space sometime in 2014 or 2015.

I don't know. It's hard to wrap my head around the value of such an extravagant expenditure. $51 million? Is that money like pocket change to her or is the trip living out a dream before she dies? Maybe my practical side kicks in when I hear the cost. I think of all the other things a person could do down here on this planet with that kind of money to spend.

Maybe I should use my sense of humor for this one. I'm currently trying to justify a trip from Kentucky to California to do research for a book. I suppose it's all just subjective. Right?

Good luck, Sarah. Safe journey out among the stars. Be sure to write about it when you return. I don't think I'm going to accrue enough travel points in my lifetime.

Space Tourist Sarah Brightman

My favorite work by her is a CD called "Harem". Here's a song from it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Snippet at 60%: THE HEALER'S KISS

At just over 60,000 words, the "The Healer's Kiss" is accelerating to the point where every scene is bringing a surprise. Some of them are even about other members of the crew.

The new lieutenant, Seta Trax, is an energy empath and a tracker. She has gotten quite suspicious about Malachi. In the snippet scene that follows, she has sought him out to ask some questions that have been on her mind. Malachi finds her confusion amusing, but he tries to be polite and not laugh at everything she says.

His kindness is partly because he knows Lieutenant Seta Trax's future is linked to the destiny of the rest of the Liberator's crew. But he also needs to stay in her good graces for other reasons as well. Hope you enjoy the snippet.

Excerpt from Chapter 14

As they stepped in the hall, Seta looked up expecting to see derision, but was met with a surprisingly neutral gaze. “I don’t understand this empathetic response you evoke in me. It’s like we’re from the same family or something. And I am also curious as to why you seem to evoke quite a different reaction in my dual birth sibling. Rena and I tend to share our opinions of most males.”

Malachi made a face trying hard not to grin as the thought of their discussions. How he wished he had hidden in their room as mist and listened.

“So you and Rena talk about me?” he asked.

Seta snickered. “Do not sound so hopeful. It was only in passing. Rena mostly refuses. You disturb her equilibrium.”

Malachi laughed at Seta’s word choice. How disturbed could he possibly make Rena feel? She had the power to bind him to Conor's form and make him feel physical pain. He was the one that should be disturbed. Yet ironically, the control he feared most was the one where Rena's presence fueled his lustful thoughts and made him willing to risk his host body for a taste of her.

“That seems only fair, Lieutenant. Rena disturbs my equilibrium as well,” Malachi remarked, uncaring if it sounded as sarcastic as he felt.

“I find your interest in Rena most fascinating. Most males turn away from her intense spirit which can spread itself over a whole ship. If you or the other intuitives on the Liberator have noticed an energy shift, it may very well be Rena causing it,” Seta said with a shrug. “Captain Warro didn’t like her being on the Paladin. He said she carried a vengeful spirit, despite her spiritual work.”

Malachi laughed again. He couldn’t help it. “Well, the Liberator is full of spiritually awakened people. Some are just as intense as Rena. In fact, being in a state of energy flux is a fairly normal occurrence around here.”

“Do you consider yourself a spiritual being, Medic? Do you—for example—adhere to the myth of the ‘creators of all’? Rena is adamant that they are real beings, or once were. She describes them as universal forces. I continue to believe they are largely myth,” Seta said.

Malachi laughed harder, even though he knew his constant smiling and laughing might be misconstrued as getting a little too friendly. It was difficult to restrain himself when the female in her innocence was so amusing. He found himself actually regretting what Liam and Ania planned to do that would erase that blissfully ignorant, but very appealing child-like state from her.

“I’m afraid I have to admit to sharing Rena’s beliefs in the creators. You may tell her I said so if you wish. Perhaps it might change her attitude towards me a little,” Malachi said, unable to hold back his smile.

“So politely put, Medic. I can tell you are interested,” Seta stated firmly. “Rena may choose not to notice, but I prefer to deal with the truth.”

“Yes—I can see that about you, Lieutenant,” Malachi said, smiling genuinely at the younger woman.

Watching her spirit stretch out to test trusting those around it was in itself a kind of marvelous process. Test a person by asking for a truth, and then pull away before an unpleasant answer was shared. It was what all creatures did and promptly reminded him of his own efforts in trusting Ania. Caught in his own philosophical web, Malachi could only laugh at himself.

“Forgive my laughter, Lieutenant. Your youthful view of us all is very refreshing. You remind me of Commander Jet at times like this,” Malachi said easily.

“Your words hide things. You speak as calmly as Rena, but I sense great anger resides within you. I commend you for your control in maintaining a serene countenance though. When I have such anger within, I tend to erupt and destroy things around me. Rena says I was cursed with a bad temper after our father sold us,” Seta said, wondering again why her father’s actions had ceased to appall her. Instead, talking of her father’s actions always felt like she was repeating a story about a stranger.

“Yes. I can understand why being sold by your parent might prompt you to be upset,” Malachi said dryly, watching the female struggle with her confusion.

Strolling by the larger male’s side, Seta noted the medic’s energy did not feel like other males felt to her. There was something different, some missing aspect of normal masculinity, but also some additional constraint on what he exuded. He was, oddly enough, similar to Rena in that regard.

“My instincts cannot come to a consensus about your nature, but I do not need my intuition to know you are much more than what you seem,” Seta stated firmly.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ghost Philosophy? Check out Jesse V. Coffey

Fellow author Jesse V Coffey and I met in 2011 when she read my free contemporary romance book. In her own writing, I've discovered Jesse is very eclectic in matters of genre and form. However, I didn't know until this year that she is a huge science fiction, horror, paranormal, and fantasy fan, as well as writer of it. Her latest book release is a ghost story that I'm happy to feature here as the first of hopefully many guest author posts.

You can find out more about Jesse at her website:
She also hosts the Edin Road Radio blog.

Book Description

Nothing like being the "new kid on the slab," as Rip Porter quickly finds out when a robbery goes wrong. Thanks to four shots from a policeman's gun, he wakes up in the The Final Glory Cemetery, home to an assortment of ghosts, ghouls, and poltergeists. No sooner is Rip interred than he finds his final resting place isn't as restful as the brochures would lead him to believe, thanks to his rather different neighbors.

Meet Nattie Birnbaum, Rip's erstwhile Guardian; Gracie, the Welcome Committee of one; Chester, the checkers champ and resident in charge of the comings and goings of the residents. It's a cozy neighborhood and Rip is going to find out how he can fit in. Welcome, Rip Porter, to the first day of the rest of your death.

Excerpt from SALT OF THE EARTH
Buy From Amazon

"Uh huh," Rip answered, pretending to understand what the hell this coot was talking about. "Well, it's been a real trip, old boy, but I'm outa here."

"Hmm. Well, no, I don't think so."

It was enough to stop Rip in his tracks. "What do you mean?"

"Well, that's what I do," the codger answered, more smoke puffed as he spoke. "See, being your guardian angel, it's my job to explain the rules before you get welcomed, meet the folks."

"Explain . . . rules?"

"Rules, son. We have to have a few rules, an image to maintain. You're in one of the best haunted cemeteries in New England."

For a brief moment, Rip felt as if his eyes were going to bug out of his head. It was really funny, in a way – he'd always heard the expression, but couldn't quite picture it. He didn't have to anymore. He could feel it.

"Haunted . . . ceme— ceme—"

"Cemetery." The old fart had the nerve to grin at him, the cigar still billowing the smoke clouds. "The Final Glory Cemetery, to be precise."

There it was. No denying it any longer. The reason he had no wounds, the white room. If he'd still been breathing, he'd have heaved a huge sigh of annoyance. As it was, he only uttered the epithet.


"No, just a certain amount of compost for the flowers," the old fart answered with another blinking grin. "You know, I don't like to brag, but we have the best gardens of any bone yard in the whole state."

Rip shook his head. "You gotta be kiddin' me. Please say you're kiddin' me."

"About the gardens? I never kid about gardens. Or flowers. I love flowers. Beautiful things, lovely smells."

Rip rolled his eyes. "Look, I ain't dead. Okay? It ain't happenin'."

"Oh, you're dead all right," the old man answered cheerfully. "Hell of an end, too. Blam-blam-blam-blam in the chest. Four slugs, a bit messy. Lovely funeral. Nice family you got."

"Shit," Rip answered.

"And this lovely girl sang that Ave Maria. Shubert, not the Gounod. Not a big fan of the Gounod. Now Shubert, he knew how to make an Ave Maria."

"Oh, God."

"Loved that movie. That nice young John Denver person. And God, what a character!"

Rip could only nod. For a dead man, he was working up a hell of a nauseous state—

"It's not nauseous, son. You're dead. You don't get nauseous."

Rip tossed a dirty look to the coot. "Stop diggin' in my head, old fart!"

The old man waggled his cigar and took a few more puffs, a mischievous look on his face. "Now. You're in a very respectable non-denominational cemetery, son. Means none of that solid dickering over whose God is the best or any of that silliness. We all believe as we believe and we're dead together in peace. Which means, you should forgive me saying so, but we want you should have rules to die by."

Rip looked into the brown, mirthful eyes. "Wait, wait! Who the hell are you?"

"Rule number one, that's your home. When you're not out in the neighborhood, you're in your home. Simple. That's where you stay dead. We try to give a little of the comforts of home, but you'll be able to decorate however you want."

"Wait, how do I—?"

"Rule number two, remember that we are a haunted cemetery. You'll be expected to spook the odd make out artist and gravestone rubber. The tourists expect that and we don't like to disappoint the little darlings. Remember, they are our bread and butter. So to speak."


"Rule number three, you're expected to do a little community service while you're here. You'll want to move on eventually, but for now, this is where you lay your bones and you need to give a little back to the community." The self-styled guardian angel tipped a wink, adding, "We'll discuss how you can do that after you've settled in, met your neighbors."

Rip stared openly, managing a weak nod.

"Rule number four, your counselor will be by to set up your therapy." The aged face turned grave. "Seriously, son – and I cannot stress this enough – for you to move on to your final reward, you need to go to counseling." He gave a friendly wink. "You'll thank me later."

Rip nodded again. "What . . . when . . . how . . . who . . . ?"

Suddenly, there came the sounds of voices from every direction. Rip watched as diaphanous bodies rose up from the stones and crypts, each one talking or laughing. He heard voices calling out names of friends, who answered with cheery hellos. There came an "Oh, Trudy," from one corner, and a "quick, Marvin, guess what I heard," from another.

"Holy Mother of God," Rip muttered, staring wildly around him.

His eyes came back to rest on the old man, who seemed to be waiting patiently. When he had Rip's full attention, he took the cigar out of his mouth. With a grin, he doffed the fishing hat from his head and gave a deep bow. When he stood again, he walked over and put an arm around Rip's shoulders. With hat in hand, he gestured to the crowd beginning to walk their way.

"Son, my name is Nattie Birnbaum. I am your guardian angel and this is our neighborhood. Welcome home, Robert Isaac Porter. It's a beautiful day, isn't it?"

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Snippets at 30%: THE HEALER'S KISS

So I'm 42,000 words into THE HEALER'S KISS and having a blast with what is happening in the story right now. Boca is being trained for the mission, but is having some issues. For starters, Dorian is trying to get to let go of her anger and fear so she can meditate.

“Ensign Ador--your spiritual issues will not be resolved by hiding out in my meditation room paralyzed by your own inaction. You should be asking yourself why the Creators would compel the non-committing Greggor male so strongly to mate with you when it is well known Chiang does want such an alliance. He persists in his unnatural celibacy because he fears you will reject him if he seeks relief from other females. Now I am not saying his lack of ease is your responsibility—” 

Dorian stopped, laughed, and reconsidered. 

“Well, actually I am saying it’s your responsibility. You can ease each other without a full mating. Sirens are the not the only ones who can do this. Sumerians are just as capable, but you must learn to think more clearly about your situation in order to see the divine truths in it.”

“I cannot do as you suggest. Chiang will not stop at partial bonding. I have sensed it,” Boca choked out. “I cannot--will not take the risk of permanently binding myself to another controlling male. You might as well put my controller back in another Lotharian owner as for me to even partially mate with Chiang.”

“That is your fear talking. The Greggor cannot not control you if you don’t let him,” Dorian said easily. “No male can.”

Boca pulled herself up until she was stiff as a board. “I am trying to hear you as a spiritual teacher. It is very hard. What exactly are you suggesting I do?”

“Make a bonding agreement and insist he keep it,” Dorian advised. “Then end his celibacy and yours. Give yourselves some peace in this one matter at least. But I warn you that if you are true mates, vibrational sharing will only soothe a short while. You will both need and crave the full physical connection. It will become an even bigger distraction than you feel now.”

“What if I cannot bring myself to make an agreement with him?” Boca asked.

“Then I believe you will fail on this mission. Ensign Karr is not experienced enough to handle himself among arrogant Lotharian males who view females as objects to own. In his training, Chiang wore a Xendrin collar for a long time. He understands how it is to be both slave and master,” Dorian said sincerely.

“But how can I trust him?” Boca exclaimed, too irritated to still her tongue or her thoughts. “Males say whatever is needed to get what they want. No male in my experience has treated me differently.”

“If you cannot face the Greggor’s affectionate ownership of you bravely, you will never succeed in facing the Lotharians more sinister one again. Do you not see? Fear of Chiang is an emotional mirror of your captivity—and I suspect of your previous mating as well,” Dorian said finally, speaking the truth he hoped she was ready to admit. “I don’t think Lotharius was the first time you were treated as a sexual slave. What say you to that charge, Ensign?”

And Gwen, who knows full well the kind of mission returning to Lotharius is likely going to be, isn't happy with Boca getting beat up by the ensigns all the time.

“Bring them back. I can handle another hour of fighting,” Boca said.

Gwen shook her head. “No, you can’t. I admire your perseverance. It shows you’re a natural survivor. This isn’t about your physical strength giving out, even though I know damn well you’re ready to collapse. Stop trying to fool me because it isn’t happening. This is not about acting like a warrior, but rather about truly being one.”

“What must I do then?” Boca demanded. “Give me a task to improve myself. I intend to go to Lotharius. I am capable.”

“What would happen if Chiang walked in here right now and yelled at you?” Gwen demanded.

Boca’s gaze went immediately to the door. When she moved it back to Gwen, the female was shaking her head.

“That reaction is exactly what I mean. There are all kinds of fear,” Gwen told her. “And we both know just how bad it hurts is to be strapped to the wiring table while they poke wires through you and listen to your screams of pain.”

Boca nodded and looked away.

“Yeah, the wires hurt, but they weren’t half as bad as not being able to stop them from removing Zade’s energy from me. It was the mental and emotional violation that caused the most damage. All I have left from the wiring torture is a scar on my thigh, but I hold a clear memory of myself weeping over Zade,” Gwen said.

“But they did not break you. You were cursing the doctor when we rescued you,” Boca declared.

“I guess that depends on your definition of broken. They broke me mentally because I wasn’t strong enough to deal. I wept over Zade full of regret because I was still in damn denial over our mating when they captured me,” Gwen explained. “The Lotharians will destroy you because you have nothing inside you strong enough to survive that process. If you have to endure the process of having Chiang’s energy removed from you, you’d go right back to being the victim you were when first captured.”

“With all due respect, I must disagree with your assessment,” Boca said, hoping her voice didn’t sound as unsure to Gwen as it did to her. “I survived the removal of Rogan’s energy. I would survive losing Chiang’s, especially since I never wanted to share his in the first place. It would be easier this time, not harder.”

“I think that’s a bunch of Klageldon dung. I also think Chiang is the reason you can’t fight. You better show me something different tomorrow,” Gwen informed her. “If you don’t, I’m damn well asking Synar to send Ambassador Onin instead, no matter how much I detest her.”

“But Commander. . .” Boca began, only to stop when Gwen held up her hand.

“Our discussion is over, Ensign,” Gwen said firmly. “Fix your energy before you return to my mat. Dismissed. Now get out of here while I work off some steam of my own.”

Okay. I hoped you enjoyed this brief glimpse into the first half of the book. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go help Boca get a good night's sleep. She's going to need some serious help. Tomorrow, the crew is getting tattoos. Oh, and the new lieutenant has arrived. Yeah, that sure didn't turn out like I thought it would.

Maybe I will post a couple more snippets later. Let me know if you're interested.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Excerpt from THE HEALER'S KISS

The following excerpt is from Chapter 1 of THE HEALER'S KISS which is going to be Chiang and Boca's story.

Some of you might have already read this in the back of Dorian and Gwen's story, THE SIREN'S CALL. If you haven't, this is the latest version in the raw sans editing. Enjoy the preview.


Chapter 1

Chiang walked into the Liberator’s main conference room, saw Boca sitting beside Ania, and immediately went to sit in the vacant seat beside her. Glancing around the room, he didn’t see the captain. Perhaps he could get to the bottom of his greater concerns before the meeting began.

“Where were you last night? And how did you manage to stay one step ahead of where the computer said you were?” he demanded, leaning sideways to whisper his question. “I tried to find you to apologize.”

“No apology is needed. Nor have I requested one,” Boca said, staring straight ahead across the table.

“That does not change the fact that I behaved poorly. I interrupted your training with the ensigns, perhaps embarrassed you. Boca, will you at least look at me while I’m groveling?” Chiang ordered, his voice rising on the final complaint.

The room went silent in surprise at Chiang’s raised voice, everyone’s gaze turning to them. Boca lifted her chin, trying not to be mortified by all the attention.

“Your emotional state is not my concern,” she declared, hissing the words. “Now be at peace and let me do the same.”

Chiang drew in a frustrated breath and swore in his native Greggor tongue as he turned sideways in his seat to face her more fully. Just as he was about to demand a full explanation about her avoidance of him, the door opened to let in both Captain Synar and Malachi.

The demon came immediately to the empty seat on the other side of him and had the audacity to return his frustrated glare with a only a respectful nod. Chiang hated that the demon so thoroughly enjoyed his conflict with the stubborn Sumerian female.

“Our discussion is not over,” Chiang warned in a whisper, before facing forward to listen to Synar. He saw Boca glance at him briefly and swallow hard.

“Good. No one had conflicts today I see, not that I would have allowed any to prevent this meeting,” Synar said, his tone full of sarcasm, but he didn’t care. “This discussion is long overdue, and implementing my requests will take some time. So here’s what I’ve been waiting over a week now to inform you. No one—and I mean no one—is leaving the Liberator on any mission again until new tracking measures have been put into place.”

“Captain? I detect some very strong emotion in that order. Are you angry with our performance?” Gwen asked.

“Angry? No, not angry. Just finally exercising my right to change some things and run the Liberator as I see fit.” Synar pressed the com button firmly, looking at the group as he spoke. “Audio recording requested for this assembly. Grant general access to data. Record and distribute to all participants in the room at this time. Use visual scanning to determine full list.”

“Recording on. Visual scan commencing,” the computer responded.

Synar stood so he could walk around the table.

“After having three high ranking crew members and a guest on the Liberator captured, and some right off my own ship, I’ve decided changes are required. Up to now, I haven’t been much more than just the person who sets our course and arranges missions,” he said. “You are hereby put on notice that going forward I plan to be the person who makes the rules.”

“Again I ask, with all due respect Captain Synar, what the hell has got your shorts so twisted concerning us?” Gwen demanded.

“Despite your irreverent tone, that is a good question, Commander. For starters, I’m tired of my crew getting abducted,” Synar said. “We lost a crew member on Lotharius during the last mission there, which will not happen again if I can prevent it. In fact, we’ve spent more time recovering our own crew than abducted officials for several missions now.”

He turned his full attention to Ania. “Peace Keeper Looren, I let you talk me into going with Commander Jet on the Terris Rein mission without Malachi, convincing myself your Khalsa training would protect you, which it might have had you not been rendered and kept unconscious. My instincts were screaming at the time that it was a mistake, but did I honor my intuition? No I did not. I think we both know why—as does every other person in this room.”

“Do not blame yourself. I did not foresee my abduction either,” Ania said, trying not sound defensive. She still did not fully understand how she had been caught so totally off-guard.

“My point exactly—neither of us did. Dorian was unavailable. Gwen’s intuition was still not fully developed. From now on, Malachi will always accompany you, either in your body or as mist. Is that clear, Peace Keeper Looren? This is your captain speaking, not your mate,” Synar said for clarification, pointing to the com. “This order is being entered into the official record.”

“Aye—your commands are clear,” Ania conceded, mostly ignoring Liam’s attempt to use his authority. Both of them knew she was not an official crew member.

Technically, as Malachi’s host, Ania wasn’t a independent entity at all. Even her own planet had declared her dead. But she could see her ‘captain’ was as determined as her mate to have his way with her.

“Keep in mind that my capture was because they wanted the demon, not me,” Ania stated flatly. “Malachi’s presence may or may not have made a difference in that particular case.”

“This decision is not open for further debate. Malachi will accompany you on all future missions,” Synar repeated slowly and carefully.

Ania lifted a hand in surrender when she saw fighting would gain nothing.

Synar nodded at her gesture. “Good. Now for the next issue.” He paced down the table and away from the female who was always distracting to him.

“Having crew members abducted is bad enough, but not being able to locate a captured crew member is unacceptable. Boca Ador served as a senior medic at a facility that placed Sumerian agents in covert places. She and I have consulted about some alternatives that would make crew members traceable with a handheld device at planet ground level even when ID scanners on ships cannot find you. I’ll let her explain how it works.”

When all gazes swung to Boca expectantly, she swallowed against the tightness in her throat and lifted her chin. “There is an ink made from the Andrius plant that puts off a distinct and traceable biological signature that a handheld scanner can easily find. Sumerian agents often draw a design in this ink on their bodies, which looks like a normal adornment. When ID chips are scrambled or even removed, the ink allows the agents to be found anyway.”

Gwen laughed. “So what are you suggesting, Boca? We’re all supposed to get tattoos using this ink?”

“Tattoos?” Boca repeated, looking at Chiang in confusion.

Chiang calmly stood and pulled off his doctor’s tunic, turning his back to show Boca the markings on his shoulder. “A tattoo is just the Earthling word for this kind of body adornment. Mine is my Greggor family’s marking.”

Boca’s gaze fixed itself initially to the intricate design of the mark on Chiang’s shoulder, but she couldn’t prevent it from following the smooth skin down over the rest of his impressive back. When Chiang turned back to face her, his gaze holding hers to see if she understood, Boca had to swallow nervously again. She wrenched her gaze from his body when he tugged his shirt back on.

But the damage was already done.

Rampant unchecked desire to be with Chiang the Greggor was not unfamiliar to her now, but it was still unwanted. Her knees trembled and she pressed them tightly together to stop them. If he would have reached for her, she’d have crawled into his lap even with everyone watching. Her programming had already started to encode him on her energy. She was already tuning herself to him, involuntarily maybe, but it was happening nonetheless.

Boca had to clear her throat to speak again. Ironically, the gazes of others in the room no longer unnerved her. All could she think of was running her hands over the Greggor’s back and listening to him moan. Her husky voice betrayed her arousal when she finally spoke.

“The design need not be as large as Chiang’s family mark or cover so much area of the body,” Boca said, holding up her hand to Gwen and circling her palm. “This much is all that is needed. We will concentrate the ink in small designs for maximum effect and to be the least noticed as an adornment.”

Gwen turned and smiled at the incredibly handsome male at her side. “Looks like we’re getting tattoos, Zade. Can we get matching ones? I vote for kickass dragons.”

“Fictional Earth creatures do not appeal to me. Pick something alluring. Or perhaps symbolic of your beliefs,” Dorian ordered softly.

Gwen laughed at her mate’s order, promptly deciding she would talk her mate into the dragon tattoos later, when they were alone and she could have her wicked way with him until he agreed.

“So, Synar, I assume you want us all to get these marks?” Gwen asked, working hard not to smile.

“No one is leaving the Liberator again for a mission without a ‘tattoo’ in this ink,” Synar agreed, using Gwen’s word for the mark. “Not even Malachi.”

Malachi shrugged and smiled at the others in the room who looked at him in surprise. “For clarification, what our captain means is that my host body has to have a way to be found as well. I quite agree with him.”

“I thought you were invincible,” Chiang challenged.

“Energetically, that is a profound truth. Certainly not much can block me, or stop me, but there are metals like Ceruse that seem impervious to my energy. I would explain, but the physics are boring, and likely beyond the ability of most in this room to comprehend. You will just have to take my word for it Doctor, that to protect my hosts I would as gladly allow the mark applied to this body as well as to Ania Looren’s,” Malachi said, trying hard to sound patient, no matter how much Chiang’s derision was an irritation.

“Everyone that leaves the ship will be marked. This is non-negotiable. Pick a design and submit it to Medical by tomorrow. The ink arrives Friday on the supply ship,” Synar ordered.

“Any other decrees you want to drop on us today?” Gwen asked, grinning at her superior, mostly because he was acting more like one than usual.

“I have two more pieces of general information to share. The first is that a new Lieutenant will be joining us soon. Her expertise is in tracking which I deliberately sought. More about that after she signs her contract to serve on the Liberator. She was unavailable for general com interview, so you'll meet her when I do. The lieutenant is currently on the crew of the Paladin.”

Synar paused and looked between Chiang and Boca.

“The second and more important issue concerns our upcoming return mission to Lotharius,” he said softly. “Ensign Ador has asked that Ensign Karr be considered to accompany her on the mission as her owner mate. I am taking her request under advisement, along with all others that have been made.”

There was a moment when Chiang’s angry gaze fell on her that Boca felt a panic attack rising. She met Ania’s gaze across the table and watched her bow her head, showing respect for her decision in the matter.

“That’s all for now,” Synar said, hoping to defuse the situation before his new doctor ended up making a professional fool of himself. He looked at Dorian for support, but his counselor only shook his head. “The mission will commence near the end of next week. Our team will go in as soon as we get word the second ship is almost at the rendezvous point.”

As everyone stood to leave, Chiang turned to Boca. “It was decided. I am to accompany you as your mate. Why have you asked for this change?”

Boca lifted her chin. “I talked with the captain about the growing complications of our—situation—especially considering your intense reaction to my training. Ensign Karr shows no remorse in his interactions with me.”

“That young male is not going with you,” Chiang whispered, towering over her as they both stood. “I meant what I said, Boca. No one is going to control you. But if you must have a temporary torturer, then by the Creators, it’s going to be me.”

“I believe that is a professional decision for the Captain to decide,” Boca stated, hiding her trembling hands in the pockets of her Medical smock. Defiance was still very hard for her, but especially with this male. Her desire for him weakened her. “Now I must meet Lieutenant Zade for meditation practice. Excuse me, Doctor.”

“You can run for now, but this discussion is not over,” Chiang told her firmly as she turned to leave.

“Of course not,” Boca replied as confidently as she could. “Captain Synar hasn’t made his decision yet. Now I really must go.”

Chiang’s hands fisted at his side as he watched Boca flee, on the heels of Gwen and Zade. The masculine laugh near his ear had his hot gaze swinging to the male who owned it.

“Watching you and the lovely ensign fight your mating is nearly as entertaining as seducing her would have been,” Malachi commented. “She’s a determined female. And I do believe she is quite angry with you.”

“Didn’t she tell you about Sumerian females, demon?” Chiang asked, his tone flat and hard. “They can’t be seduced.”

“Boca lies to protect herself,” Malachi said with a grin, slapping Chiang hard on the arm and earning a searing glare. “But then, you already know that for a fact, don’t you? You both carry images of each other which are quite stimulating to the rest of the intuitives on this ship.”

Chiang took two cleansing breaths wondering what would happen if he punched the smirking demon just once, really hard. It probably wouldn’t hurt the foul mist he was, and then he’d also have to hear all the whining about the damage to the host body. Or worse—he might have to fix it.

“As much as I find your anger appeases my irritation that the lovely Boca is not meant for me, I have to ask you to set aside your possessive mate inclinations for the moment, Doctor. I wish to discuss the possibility of serving on your Medical team. Liam—I mean, Captain Synar—has given me permission to ask. To start my service, I could easily apply the tracking marks, even the dragons our adorable Earthling commander is secretly hoping to talk Lieutenant Zade into getting,” Malachi said, bowing his head to the Greggor male still fuming. “I didn’t mean to look at the images in Gwen’s head either, but she was so excited, I couldn’t resist.”

“Sounds great. Having you in Medical will ensure I always know what the Helios you’re doing. I expect you to commit to no mind reading as a condition, and I assure you that I will come up with many creative tortures to incapacitate that beloved host body of yours if you don’t behave yourself under my command,” Chiang said.

“Kinky—and very appealing since it’s been a while for me since I was properly punished as I am sure you are well trained in how to do. But I prefer females, so I must decline your offer of bodily torture,” Malachi said. “I assume behaving myself also includes stopping all attempts to seduce the delectable Sumerian you consider yours already.”

“You start work for me tomorrow,” Chiang said roughly, ignoring the comment about Boca being his, choosing to glare his agreement instead. “Your stasis unit is arriving on the Paladin which will meet us at the rendezvous point. If Captain Synar agrees, you can fly over with Zade to retrieve the unit, as well as our new Lieutenant. On your return, you can spend the required time setting it up. I’ll connect it to the Medical analysis system afterwards. We’ll do the testing as soon as it is functional.”

“As you wish, Doctor,” Malachi said, bowing his head again. “Thank you for agreeing to my request. You will find me an obedient medic.”

Not bothering to offer respect, Chiang turned abruptly and left, heading out of the conference room door to the nearest com port not in hearing distance. He wanted to know where Boca kept hiding and would enlist the entire Medical staff to help find her if needed, including the cursed demon who would no doubt enjoy the task.

The angry Greggor slamming the conference room door made Malachi laugh again. He turned to see Liam and Ania standing, arms crossed, both glaring at him. He couldn’t fight the additional laughter welling up inside at their matching irritation over his argument with Chiang.

Humor was such an odd sensation in a corporeal body, Malachi decided. Normally, he only experienced such things at the mercy of his host’s senses. He was still getting used to feeling his own amusement again after so many years of not doing so. And Conor’s body wasn’t used to feeling mirth, so he was double challenged.

“What are you two angry about now? Chiang the Greggor said yes to my offer,” he protested. “I will serve him well. I gave you both my word and swore by the Creators.”

Malachi couldn’t help laughing more when both his keepers rolled their eyes.