Friday, May 11, 2012

Writing a Space Opera/Science Fiction Romance

One of the standard pieces of business that comes along with publishing your own work is the decision of how to classify it which affects how it appears in searches.  For an ebook, this is critical SEO for both the internet in general and for sales channels.

When I uploaded the first book in the FORCED TO SERVE Series, my brain was aching trying to figure out one or two categories that would work. Is it science fiction? Well, soft sci-fi probably. I am not a physicist or a biologist and I didn't write it to debate the possibility of life beyond our tiny planet. I am beyond the arrogance of thinking the Earth is the only one of its kind, but I get that my work might not be science based enough to be science fiction by some standards.

Is it paranormal? It has a demon. It has mysticism. It has Khalsa warriors who can speak ancient words of control which have vibrations that automatically manifest in those hearing them, such as turning the person's energy against them in a fight or causing a trance.

Someone early on who read THE DEMON OF SYNAR and THE DEMON MASTER'S WIFE said they considered this series primarily "fantasy". Okay. I don't mind that either. I'm definitely a "rose by any other name" sort of author.

Readers who chat with me seem for the most part to be very open-minded about categories. Like me, they don't care which label a book carries if they like the story. The only reason I have to care is because the label, title, keywords, metadata, and so on is how the book gets found, outside of word-of-mouth recommends, which is my favorite kind of growth.

So what did I do to categorize?  In addition "paranormal romance", I chose "space opera" as a category because I liked thinking of the series that way. I know some who write work classified as space opera find the term derogatory. I simply don't have that problem at this time. The FORCED TO SERVE Series really is a "friends in space" body of work. The primary setting for all the books is the spaceship they all work and travel on around the galaxy. No I haven't dug deep into the scientific impossibilities. Half the fun is assuming it's possible and then getting on with the plot. Each book sends a small sub-set of crew members to do a mission, and then they come back "home" to the ship.

I created this series in the tradition of what seemed to me to be "a soap opera set in space" as the definition says. It is a bit Star Trek, a bit Star Wars, and some Firefly. It is mostly about the relationships between the characters and their personal development. It's not a political or sociology platform for anything--or at least I don't see that in the books myself.

For those who have read my contemporary romances, and/or followed me on any social media at all, you are well aware that my only goal is to provide entertainment for a few short hours. I want to make readers laugh, sigh, and maybe wince a little, but in the end I want people smiling as they finish. There is a need for escapist science fiction stories that don't leave a reader feeling emotional beat-up like apocalyptic ones that make you cringe with their darkness. There's PLENTY of those on the bestseller list. And I read one myself now and again.

But that's not me as an author. That's not the creative space I want to write from when creating my stories. I want to write about healing, spirituality, space travel, mystical creatures, and humanity reaching beyond itself to evolve.  So that's what I am doing in the FORCED TO SERVE Series.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Genre Debate: Science Fiction vs Paranoramal vs Fantasy

Thanks much to Jesse Coffey for hosting me on her Edin Road Radio blog on April 19. We talked about my new paranormal/science fiction/space opera/Jesse thinks fantasy maybe series. How's that for genre confusion? However you want to categorize the new work I'm currently writing and releasing, I am having great fun writing the Forced To Serve series which is almost as fun as talking to Jesse about it.

Here's the link if you want to listen. Let me just plug Jesse's Edin Road Radio site by saying she interviews two authors a week every week, which is a lot of authors every year. Check out both her upcoming list and her archive. You might find some of your other favorites there.

Warning about mine: Southern accent and giggling likely to be heard. Jesse cracks me up and I end up saying and doing strange things around her. Hmmm...maybe I need to make her a character in one of my books. I think I will...muwhahahaha <practicising my evil laugh> . Vengeance will be mine. I obviously need to go back to the contemporaries for a while. Malachi (the demon in the series) is a bad influence.

Listen to internet radio with EdinRoad on Blog Talk Radio


This is an excerpt from THE DEMON MASTER'S WIFE (Book Two of the Forced to Serve Series). The second book picks up where Book One ended, only things are about to get a whole lot more interesting.

This book is already released and available for purchase. Click the FORCED TO SERVE Series link at the top of this site for pricing and sales links. Thanks for reading!


“So who won the fight?” Gwen asked, pushing open the door to the training room.

“It was not a true competition. What is more important is that Synar surprised me and I let him get by with it,” Ania said with a frown. “That’s what should matter to you from a warrior perspective.”

“Much of what Synar does these days surprises me. Before you got here, he was the most stoic male I had ever met. Now he’s as anxiety ridden as any other creature. When I reported to him last, he actually yelled at me. So quit stalling and tell me who won the fight,” Gwen demanded on a laugh, removing her shoes and tucking them under the bench. “Did you beat him as badly as you do me? And can I watch next time?”

“Your competitive nature screams ‘Earthling’ to everyone who gets to know you,” Ania chastised, even though she also paused to think about Gwen’s question as she slipped off her own shoes.

Truthfully, she hadn’t really thought of what happened as her losing to Synar or either of them winning. She didn’t even think of fighting Synar the way she thought of fighting other people. Probably because Liam Synar was the first opponent of any sort she’d conceded control of herself to in her entire life. But that was a totally private matter for her to contemplate, not one to discuss with Synar, much less Gwen.

“Winning is relative, but by your standards I would say I did. My body never hit the mat,” Ania said with a shrug.

Gwen snorted, examining the smaller female’s skinny frame and lack of roundness with a trained warrior’s eye.

“Synar is not all that tall for a male, but you’re at least five inches shorter than him. I know because I’m as tall as he is. Are you telling me Synar kissed you and your feet never left the mat?”

Remembering his fierce embrace and her legs wrapped tightly around him, Ania sighed. “I concede your point. Perhaps the fight ended in a draw.”

“Too bad for you both that it didn’t end in one of your beds,” Gwen teased, laughing at her own joke. “If it makes you feel any better, right now I’m running from Zade. He keeps asking to speak to me privately. My instinct is to keep away from him, so that’s what I’ve been doing. You want to help me out by telling me what’s going on?”

“Why should I tell you what I see intuitively when you are able to see for yourself? If you are concerned, use your own intuition,” Ania ordered.

Gwen ran a hand through her hair. “Not going to happen—I’m not sure I want to even know. Zade and I—Shades of Kellnor—we have a history, okay? Or at least we could have had one. I sort of threw myself at him when I first met him. I hadn’t felt that way about a male before and haven’t felt like that for another since. He refused me very politely which has worked out fine. Now I think he wants to break the news to me about the mating thing you mentioned. I’m just not up for all that awkward stuff,” Gwen protested.

Ania studied Gwen, blinking in disbelief. Dorian was finally chasing and Gwen was now running. They had traded places, but the end result remained their continued avoidance of involvement with each other.

“You really need to learn to use your intuition in better ways, Gwen. It rules you anyway. I suggest you concede to it as soon as possible,” Ania advised.

“Really? Well, what’s so great about knowing the future? Zade can just go do what he needs to do. Let him mate someone. He doesn’t owe me any explanations. I admit I felt a twinge when you first mentioned it, but no male is worth dwelling on forever, no matter how nice he looks,” Gwen announced.

Ania rose and took a deep breath, wrestling with the decision of telling Gwen or not telling Gwen about Dorian’s intentions towards her. When a creature rejected their intuition so adamantly, it had always seemed wrong to her to force them to epiphanies they did not seek on their own.

Besides, Ania thought, who was she to put herself in the middle of Dorian and his mate? Deciding to let it happen as it would, Ania only smiled and gestured at the mat.

“Let’s go. I’m feeling lucky today,” Gwen told her, looking down on the top of the smaller female’s head.

“Good for you. I’m feeling like you’re going to be on the mat in the first two minutes again,” Ania teased back. “Unless you’ve magically learned some patience since last time.”

“Very funny,” Gwen said, taking her stance.

An hour later her top was drenched in sweat while Ania was completely dry still. And it wasn’t because Pleiadian females didn’t sweat. Ania just didn’t sweat when fighting with her. From her hated position of being flat on the mat, Gwen sighed hard and promised herself she would change that in time.

Reaching down, Ania pulled her determined pupil to her feet. “You did better today,” she informed her, grinning when Gwen rolled her eyes.

“How many years did you say it took you to master your moves?” Gwen demanded.

“At least fifty Earth years,” Ania said.

“No wonder Earthlings don’t become Khalsas. None of them live long enough. My father says members of his family live on average around three hundred years. With my genetic heritage, I could die tomorrow or live a few centuries. I’ll keep training though if you’ll keep teaching me,” Gwen said.

Ania bowed her head to Gwen respectfully, pleased when her new pupil returned the gesture to her naturally. There were some things in Gwen that were changing rapidly. Then there were others that would probably never change, Ania decided, smiling about several of them.

“Let me phrase my answer in your favorite terms. I have no problem kicking your ass every day, though fighting you so often makes me want to engage Dorian for a proper workout,” Ania bragged.

“Now that I look forward to seeing—you and Zade going at each other. I’d love to see him kick your ass,” Gwen mused, putting her shoes back on again.

Ania laughed. “Well, that would probably not take much in his case. He’s been practicing for centuries. I haven’t.”

Gwen snorted. “I’m trying to imagine a whole military group trained like you. Who did the Khalsas fight?”

“Demons—for one,” Ania said easily, standing and stretching.

Gwen sighed and shook her head. “Does that help you deal with your situation any?”

“Not really,” Ania admitted sadly. “But I do understand Malachi better because of it. I have been reading about demons. There were many things I did not know, that my training never covered. He is not the scary ‘unknown’ entity in me now. He is Malachi and I think of him that way. He is bowing to the will of the creators of all just like the rest of us.”

“You trying to make friends with him or something?” Gwen prodded as they headed back to their rooms.

“I guess something like that,” Ania said finally, stealing a full look at Gwen as they walked. “If I can find ways to deal with your volatile Earthling nature, dealing with a demon can’t be much more difficult.”

“That was an unprovoked insult,” Gwen said, reaching out a hand and shoving a laughing Ania lightly into the nearest wall. “Not so tough off the mat, are you?”

“I’m starting to like you, Gwen. I don’t want to hurt you,” Ania said truthfully, rubbing her arm as she veered off to head to her room. “Enjoy your day off.”

“Thanks. Maybe I’ll see you at the meal this evening,” Gwen said, breaking into a quick jog to cover the distance down the hall faster.

She was looking forward to a relaxing afternoon with Chiang. It was rare when they both got the same day off.

*** *** ***
Dorian paced the room as he dressed. So far he’d let Gwen get by with ignoring him. Now his patience had reached its limit. When he heard the knock on his door, his spirit leapt inside him, then quieted immediately as he realized it wasn’t her.

He opened the door to Synar who—shock of shocks—waited for an invitation before bursting in this time. Sighing in resignation, Dorian gestured his friend inside with a sweep of his hand.

“Are you heading somewhere?” Synar asked, looking at Dorian who was dressed in more clothes than usual when he had time off.

“To claim my mate, if I can catch her alone for two minutes,” Dorian complained. “Gwen has been ignoring me for several days.”

Synar smiled. “Maybe she’s finally using her intuition for a good purpose.”

“Very funny, but not helpful. Where did Ania sleep last night?” Dorian asked.

“Do not project your bad mood onto me. You’re very tense Dorian. I haven’t seen you this way in many years. Did you really think that when you were ready, Gwen would just go along with your mating plans without objection?” Synar asked.

Dorian knew Synar would think him completely arrogant if he answered yes, but actually he had figured that Gwen would at least be open to hearing his offer. She was in most ways a logical being. He knew he still affected her as a male, knew she felt desire for him. Claiming was only a matter of connecting all the dots that were already there. Sirens weren’t the only species to have figured out the energy settings of mating. They were just the only ones that truly respected the enormous power of such intimate connections.

“Gwen Jet is my mate. That’s just an energetic fact. If she is not yet consciously aware of it, I intend to inform her. I could release my mating vibrations and draw Gwen to me without appealing to her logic, but I do not want to force her to be my mate. It is preferable that she choose me,” Dorian said tightly. “I should never have turned her away in the first place. I made a mistake. Now all I can do is try to rectify it.”

“Do you think admitting your mistake is going to win Gwen?” Synar asked. “If so, I hope you have better luck than I did apologizing to Ania.”

“Something must have worked for you, Liam. I felt your bonding vibration with her. You know how sensitive I am to those things,” Dorian said. “I’m aware when anyone on this ship bonds with anyone else. It is a bloody curse when I’m trying to abstain.”

“Thank the creators I’m not a Siren then,” Synar said, grinning at Dorian’s pained expression. “My time with Ania was two minutes and one vibration long. She assures me she doesn’t need anything physical from me, but she’ll let me know if she does.”

“Ania lies to you and to herself. She’s just hurt still. You wounded the female part of her when you stayed away,” Dorian said, relenting to pat Synar’s shoulder in comfort. “Don’t lose faith. I have seen your relationship with her is meant to be, but to have it, you will have to compromise more than she will. Be prepared.”

Synar snorted. “I advise you to have faith also, my friend. Gwen has shut you out of her spirit and now guards the keys to herself with a warrior’s mind set against an enemy. Don’t turn your back on your mate.”

“I can be a formidable enemy, so in that she is wise. I can also be a determined mate. The centuries are very long without a female to warm your bed, and I am done being alone. Gwen will be warming my sheets shortly,” Dorian said with confidence.

“Well, I guess I will believe it when I see it happen,” Synar said walking to the door.

“Did you just come by to offer your poor encouragement to me or did you have another purpose?” Dorian asked, letting his tone indicate his tiredness with the subject of Gwen rejecting him.

Synar laughed softly, but with little enjoyment. It was more fun to tease about Gwen and Dorian fighting than to have to inform Dorian about the real reason he’d sought him out.

“The documents from Ania’s inquiry were filed today. They announce she is Malachi’s host. It won’t be long before Conor starts trying to find us again,” Synar said.

Dorian shrugged. “It was always inevitable that your brother would come after you as well as the demon. You need to tell Ania about Conor so she can be aware.”

“Ania has enough to worry about,” Synar said, opening the door.

“You still underestimate her,” Dorian warned.

“How many more secrets do you think she can have, Dorian?” Synar said on a humorless laugh. “I just hope she’s not going to ask me for her death again. I’m running out of ways to say no.”

“There are many circumstances worse than death, Liam. Keep strong where Ania is concerned. She will always need you,” Dorian told his friend, whom he could see had already tuned him out.

“Let me know when you finally confront Gwen. I’ll send someone to mop up the spilled life force from the floor,” Synar joked.

When the door closed behind Synar, Dorian walked to the ship’s computer port on his wall and touched the screen.

“How may I assist you, Lieutenant Zade?” the computer asked.

“Report present location of Commander Jet,” Dorian demanded, as he had several times over the last few days.

“Commander Gwen Jet is in her quarters,” the computer reported.

Dorian removed his hand from the screen and walked determinedly to the door. This time he was not going to be put off.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


This is an excerpt from THE DEMON OF SYNAR (Book One of the Forced To Serve Series). This is a small novella I wrote to introduce the series.

This book is already released and available for purchase. Click the FORCED TO SERVE Series link at the top of this site for pricing and sales links. Thanks for reading!


Two years ago….

“I was nervous the first time I bound myself to a female as well,” Dorian said, watching his best friend and current captain pace the room. 

“Even though you and Ania still seem like a odd pairing to my logical mind, I have read you both often enough to know you are energetically committed to each other. What still shocks me is that Ania Looren passed up dignitaries, presidents, other ambassadors, and more warriors than I can count to tumble into your bed like a love stricken Earthling. I’m in awe of you turning out to be the one male in her entire life that she couldn’t refuse.”

“If you think I’m going to be indiscreet and brag about my bonding time with Ania, you are mistaken my friend,” Synar said, grinning at Dorian’s guilty look.

“Being a Siren, my vows are especially hard to endure Liam. Today the most celibate planet in the Alliance is tuned into your mating vibrations as am I. As your best friend, the least you can do is let me live vicariously through you once in a while,” Dorian teased. “I know you were her first breach.”

“Yes I was, but I’m still not telling you details. That won’t be happening. The first time is a private matter and a special sharing. Find your own female and start living again,” Synar ordered.

“I want peace, not another mate. It hasn’t even been a century yet since I lost the last one. I know not all creatures live as long as Sirens, but a century doesn’t feel all that long when you are grieving,” Dorian said, narrowing his eyes as his friend picked up speed. “Liam—you’re going to wear out your footwear if you keep that up.”

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me—can’t seem to stand still. I’m truly not nervous taking Ania as a formal mate, just impatient to get the public ceremony over,” Synar said. “My intuition is sending out massive warning signals, but I can’t tell if they are real or just a reaction to the events of this day. I don’t want to be an embarrassment to her in front of her family so I haven’t said anything. I have a couple crew members observing the ceremony and looking for problems. They haven’t found anything yet.”

“Why are we even doing this ceremony anyway? I distinctly remember Ania saying it wasn’t necessary for her sake. She said you to anxious to wait until after and that you had filed the legal mating forms before ever leaving the ship,” Dorian teased. “You and she belong to each other now in all the important ways. What will this ceremony accomplish?”

“Ania is a high-level Peace Alliance ambassador. You don’t just throw one of those over your shoulder and run off to your quarters with her like she was an ordinary female,” Synar answered. “This ceremony is for her family. They’ve waited a long time for their only child to take a mate. My mother declined to come which was just as well. She hasn’t spoken to me since my father died. I think my mother has more trouble believing Conor killed him than I do.”

Dorian could hear the pain in Liam’s voice without even looking at his energy. “Is your brother still exiled?” he asked quietly.

“Yes,” Synar said flatly. “And it will stay that way for at least the next century of his life. Mother will just have to deal with it and be glad that at least Conor isn’t dead.”

“Have you told Ania about your family and your inheritance?” Dorian asked.

“No,” Synar answered, adjusting the cuffs on his uniform jacket. “I asked Malachi to block her from knowing for now. Once Jonas is gone, the demon is going into the amulet until I can figure out the proper person to rule him.”

Skipping over the advice he wanted to offer Liam about the dangers of keeping such a large secret from the person closest to his spirit, Dorian instead focused on the main issue he saw as a problem. “How can you be so sure that you are not the proper person, Liam?”

Synar looked and held Dorian’s gaze until he was sure his friend saw the truth in him. “No one in my family is worthy to rule the demon any longer—certainly not Conor or me.”

“I can tell you sincerely believe that, but I think you are more suitable than you realize,” Dorian said quietly.

He glanced at the time keeper on the wall of the room they were in and saw it was time for them to go.

“Enough of this morbid conversation,” Dorian said briskly. “This is a day to celebrate. There will plenty of time for you to mourn your errors later when you realize how much what you are about to do is going to complicate your life.”

Synar snorted, refusing to laugh at Dorian’s teasing. “Your words offer me no comfort. Tell me why we are friends again?”

“Because I haven’t had children and having a much younger friend is the closest I intend to get for a while,” Dorian said. “I like your blind spots about your life and find them mostly entertaining. Plus I know you have no idea who you are mating today. You see only a very small part of the female who waits for you at the altar. It’s going to be interesting to witness your shocked reaction when you find out the rest.”

“Enlighten me then,” Synar demanded on a laugh. “That’s what friends are supposed to do about each other’s females.”

“I consider that Ania’s task, not mine,” Dorian said with a knowing smile. “I have told both of you that I refuse to get involved in your contract. You’re not the only one not revealing everything. It is amazing to watch two of the most intuitive beings I’ve ever met completely ignore their intuition about each other.”

“Maybe we know all we need to know about each other,” Synar said firmly, smiling as he looked across the room at the female standing near the altar who turned and smiled at him.

He was attracted to Ania’s beauty, but also to something indefinable in her spirit that he sensed. All the challenges of their mating faded when he acknowledged that pull to be near her. He’d never felt it with any other female.

With Dorian following, Synar walked to stand at Ania’s side, feeling the respectful silence of the congregation descend around the two of them like a cloak.

Defying convention on her planet, Synar held out a hand to her, smiling as Ania placed hers in his without even glancing at anyone else. On a planet where touching was considered something to do behind closed doors, her easy acceptance of his touch was more significant to him than any ceremony could be.

Synar glanced at Dorian standing taller than anyone else in the assembly and his first mate, Jonas, standing by Dorian’s side. He nodded his head to both of them that he was ready.

Then Synar formally inclined his head to the assembly, to the officiate, and—finally to the female facing him and smiling as she held his gaze.

“Ania Looren, before this congregation of friends and family I openly declare my sincere desire to be your mate for the rest of my life. All that I am and will ever be, I give into your power this day. Do you accept my offer and pledge?” Synar asked.

“Aye, Liam Synar. I accept your offer and pledge. All that I am and ever will be, I give into your power this day as well. Let us be declared as mates,” Ania said, pleased that her voice was as confident and sure as Liam’s.

“Let it be declared that this couple is mated,” the officiate said loudly.

“Joined by the will of the creators,” the congregation said, the sound of their common support rolling up the walls of the room and filling every fraction of space with its energy.

Then the celebratory music began, the vibration of it swelling.

Synar watched Jonas fall to the floor with stunned disbelief, a large hole blasted through him and his life force leaving rapidly.

“Malachi, come forth and stop those that seek to do harm,” Synar called urgently, watching the mist hover over Jonas as Dorian and two other crew members scrambled to find those responsible.

Hearing Synar call out, Ania instinctively turned to the crowd and saw a weapon flash. Without stopping to think, she stepped in front of her new mate and felt a searing fire in her back.

“Liam,” Ania said, his name hoarse as she tried to talk over the pain.

“No,” Synar called out, clutching her falling form in his arms. “Malachi—kill them all but one, just those with weapons in this assembly.”

It will be done as you command, Malachi sent.

Synar sank to the floor clutching Ania’s weakening body to him. “What have you done? Why did you step in front of me? That blast was not meant for you.”

“Take care for your life,” Ania said. “I believe I am returning to the creators. Do not mourn me long, Liam. I have long planned for this day.”

“No—this will not be, must not be,” Synar denied, looking around the room that was mostly vacant now except for the variety of dead and dying bodies lying scattered across the floor.

When the mist appeared above him, hovering and waiting, Synar looked up in numbed surprise.

The attackers are all dead except the one being restrained by your Lieutenant Zade, though even that one is starting to wish he were dead. Let Zade finish him for you Liam. You and I have a bigger problem to attend to because Jonas is no more, Malachi sent.

Synar looked at the male cowering by Dorian and at the carnage on the floor.

Are any of the Pleiadians who tried to stop them still alive, he asked?

One or two linger, but not for long, Malachi reported.

Go into the largest one for now, but do nothing else until I command you, Synar said. Do not reanimate him.

As you wish, Malachi said heading for the best body he saw, glad that Liam was letting him choose his host this time. Jonas had been Synar’s choice and not his, though Malachi admitted to himself that he had grown quite fond of the easy going male host. Being in Jonas had been like taking a holiday because the Greggor male loved nothing better than bonding with females and making music.

Before Jonas, Liam’s father, Bogdan, had put him into an uneducated, giant stump of a male who was forever stumbling over things and getting so drunk he was unable to perform even the most menial tasks. Malachi didn’t even want to think about that host body and what it had done.

Synar lay Ania’s mostly unconscious form down on the floor and stood to walk over to the cowering male. His uniform was covered in Ania’s life force. The killer glared defiantly at him, but Synar also saw fear in his eyes. If there hadn’t been any, Synar would have made sure to put some there.

“Did my brother Conor Synar send you to kill me?” Synar demanded. “I warn you your death means nothing to me now, so you might as well try to redeem yourself before the creators receive you.”

“Yes—Conor sent us. He wants you and the demon. He said to capture you alive, but kill everyone else that got in our way. The stun was meant only to wound, not to kill you,” he said.

“If my mate dies, you will die. If she lives, you will live to take a message back to my brother that killing Malachi’s host bodies won’t gain him anything. Your inept group left plenty more bodies for him to inhabit,” Synar looked at Dorian. “Will you take this coward away and send medical help to look after Ania? Tell them it is safe to come in now.”

“Indeed,” Dorian said, grabbing the male by his arm and dragging him out of the room.

Synar went back to Ania. “Ania, can you hear me?”

“I feel the cold of dying, Liam. I don’t know why I did not intuitively see this coming. I guess all I could think about today was you,” Ania said, trying to reassure him with a smile, but her eyes closed and the blackness she drifted in claimed her once more.

“Malachi, come out and do no harm,” Synar called, his voice heavy, the pressure inside him to scream at fate barely restrained. He couldn’t let Ania die when he had the power to stop it from happening. He just couldn’t.

“Damn me if you must—I don’t care,” Synar said, sending the words to the creators of all.

He looked then at the demon mist floating in front of him. “Malachi, Demon of Synar—enter this female’s body and lend her your life. She is your new host.”

“You can’t mean to put me in a female Liam,” Malachi raspy voice vibrations protested, speaking the gender with disdain.

“You will go into the host body I have chosen and do all I ask. You will repair her body and take no more from her than what is necessary for your survival. She is never to know you inhabit her. She is to remain just as she is,” Synar said, making himself put intent behind the words. “As I command, you will obey.”

“This is a mistake,” Malachi chastised. “I am to be put into warriors, used to fell armies, used to vanquish legions of evil. Why do you dishonor the sacred contract? There is no redemption for me in this peaceful female.”

“It’s either go into Ania or into the amulet, demon. If Ania dies, I will lock you away and drop the amulet into the volcanoes on Terris so that you will never be found again by any creature,” Synar said sincerely. “You can truly spend eternity in a fiery pit like many spiritual beings fear doing. Your spirit will not die, but you will never live in a host again either.”

Malachi hovered, flexed, and finally acquiesced. His sacred connections to the Synar family exceeded his power to deny his current master. Cursing the creators of all once more, he resigned himself to a dreary existence in a female for a while. Malachi pulled his mist form together more tightly.

“I hear and will do all that you command,” he vowed, disappearing quickly into the body of the female while Synar turned his head away until it was done.

Moments later, Ania’s eyes fluttered open and Synar let out a ragged breath of relief that he hadn’t been too late to save what was left of her spirit. “Ania—are you still with me? Help is on the way.
“What happened?” she asked.

“We were attacked by an enemy. The weapon was fortunately not set to kill instantly,” Synar said. “You are severely wounded, but I believe you will survive.”

“Is everyone safe now?” Ania asked.

“Yes—but I fear this is not the end of it. I must leave you and go seek those that did this to make sure they will not do so again,” Synar said sadly. “You will be safe with your family. I will come back for you when I am done.”

“We just mated, Liam. Take me with you. I’ll heal on the ship,” Ania demanded.

“I can’t put a high-level Peace Alliance ambassador at so much risk,” Synar said, stroking her cheek, wanting nothing more than to do just as she demanded. “Heal while I am gone. Let your family care for you. Serve your planet until I return.”

Synar bent to brush her lips with his. “I know you don’t like kissing, but I need to reassure myself that you live.”

“I must be getting used to it,” Ania said, struggling to return the pressure of his mouth. “I didn’t mind that kiss at all.”

“Help is coming shortly. Let them repair your body. You will be weak for a while, but soon this will be nothing more than a bad memory,” Synar said.

When she didn’t answer, Synar realized that she had fallen into the healing sleep of the demon. Malachi was already working on her.

But Synar had other things to do to make Malachi’s efforts count.

Dorian came back shortly and found Synar and Ania still on the floor. “Help is on its way. They were afraid to come back inside. How is she?”

Ignoring Dorian’s concerned question, Synar raised his gaze to his friend’s face.

“We are taking the bodies of Jonas and the Pleiadian male Malachi went into earlier with us. Put both on the shuttle and take them to the ship before you come back for me. I will explain later. I will register the body we are stealing as host to my demon now. Then we are going to release the killer we captured and send him back to warn Conor that I’m going to be actively searching for him. If we check, I bet we discover Conor is no longer confined to the planet he was exiled to,” Synar said stiffly.

“Is the Pleiadian male joining our crew once the demon reanimates him?” Dorian said, the words distasteful, but the truth often was.

“No—the Pleiadian male will not be reanimated,” Synar said quietly. “The body is a ruse to fool Conor. I have given Malachi a more noble assignment.”

Dorian looked at Ania’s body then, seeing the energy signature but not wanting to believe it. “She was dying, Liam. Ania was prepared for that. Why did you stop her death? Do you know how much she would disapprove of what you have done?

“Ania might have been ready for her death, but I wasn’t,” Synar said tightly. “It is done and I will not be changing it. I chose to tell you only because I need your help.”

Dorian saw Ania’s lashes flutter open at the same moment he heard help finally running in to their aid.

“Dorian—I forget sometimes how tall you are. It’s like looking at a mountain to see you from my position on the floor. This sure hasn’t happened in a very long time,” Ania teased.

Despite his beliefs and his sense of foreboding about what Liam had done, Dorian smiled at his teacher and friend with great relief. She remained herself so far. He hoped that would always be true.

“I have never forgotten a single moment of my training at your hands,” Dorian said, smiling down at her.

Ania laughed, but it hurt to do so. Then she felt her eyes closing again. With a tired sigh, she entered the blackness again.

Several healers rushed to her and Synar slipped out of their way. He stood and looked up at Dorian. “Well?”

“I will help you,” Dorian said at last, thinking that he didn’t want Ania to die either. It didn’t feel destined in that moment. “May the creators forgive us both.”

“Pray all you want for forgiveness, but I don’t need any,” Synar said firmly. “I have no regrets.”

“Let’s hope that remains true,” Dorian said. “You go with Ania and see to her. I will take care of the rest.”

Synar nodded and followed the medical transport bed out of the building.

Ignoring the Prime Directive

As as huge Star Trek fan growing up, the idea of the Federation of Planets issuing a "prime directive" fascinated me. For those of you who are not sci-fi geeks, and who don't really want to read Wikipedia's long and detailed description, the prime directive is a philosophy for space explorer conduct that states that advanced beings from advanced societies are not supposed to interfere in the lives of less advanced beings on their home planets. The purpose was to ensure that the less advanced beings retained the freedom to learn their own painful life lessons about the consequences of continuous bad actions towards each other, such as slavery, war, and killing each other for material gain. Now the definition of "advanced beings" wasn't just that they had developed the technological capacity to destroy others and themselves, but rather that in their enlightened state they would willfully choose not to do so if faced with the choice.

During those Star Trek watching years I spent hours and hours in front of the television, and while I watched the crew of the Enterprise wrestle with their consciences and the prime directive, the US was still in the Cold War with Russia. Growing up, I was always hearing about red phones to be used for ordering global annihilation and red buttons to be pushed to launch nuclear weapons. Such threats permeated the news and seeped their way into fictional stories as well. So as a ten year old, where do you think on the scale of advanced, enlightened beings I concluded my own civilization on Earth was a whole? Let's just say, I was secretly hoping that if there was a Starship Enterprise watching over Earth that some gutsy, irreverent Captain would have ignored the prime directive to help my planet if we started down a destructive path that would result in our complete demise.

I know I felt like that then because I still feel that way.

My editor is a Firefly fan and got me started watching the series. In fact, watching the 2 hour "Serenity" pilot episode was one of the first things I did on my Kindle Fire. My fiancee and I have watched Star Wars probably a gazillion times. Also, the recent Star Trek redo movie that showed the back story of the crew was very well done and I paid movie theater prices to see it on the big screen. The thing about stories like this that draws you in--and all well-done science fiction does--is that they make you think about what would happen if the terrible circumstances came true.

It makes sense to me that I had no problem at all creating my own spaceship and crew when I started the FORCED TO SERVE series. Then after I created them, I fell in love with every flawed character who tries to overcome and do the right thing and/or tries to become the enlightened, advanced beings they appear to be.

I have grandchildren who will one day tell people they were born during the Iraq War. Fast forward their lives. How many more are in their future? I don't know and don't want to contemplate. But I want them to be able to say that their crazy, sci-fi geek grandmother wrote paranormal/space opera stories and played with the idea of what it meant to be an advanced thinking human. They will say that she hated war and didn't understand it. They will say that she never stopped believing that becoming more technologically and spiritually advanced would one day negate the urge that sets one Earth human being against another in deadly conflict.

I chose to have many different planetary beings in my story and only one Earth human--so far. My "Earthling", the emotional first mate on the ship, is Commander Gwen Jet. She is both the hero's and heroine's sidekick in Books One and Two, and the heroine herself in Book Three which will be out this summer. Gwen has in her character some of the best and worst of what I see in those humans whose warrior natures rule them. But my other-planet characters are no less flawed in their own ways. No matter how Mr. Spock-wise or Buddha-spiritual I make those other planetary beings for the sake of trying to show what "advanced" looks and acts like, they all still wrestle with their own personal prime directives. Just like we all do.

With at least half a century behind me, perhaps I've seen as much human progression as I'm going to see in my lifetime, but in this paranormal/sci-fi series I am shooting for hopeful Roddenberry or playful Lucas-esque happy endings. And because love stories are what I most love to write, it's been fun to let my other-world characters be partially redeemed with otherworldly romances.

I tell myself that writing the fight scenes and rescue missions are just a perk of stretching slightly beyond my norm. You don't really need to know how much fun I'm having taking even this short walk on the dark side of characters.

Here's a TED talk I found from a fellow sci-fi creative whose childhood curiosity led him to what he did later in life. He's only four years old than me. I'm guessing we watched the same shows on TV as children. While I'm certainly not in his production league, maybe I'm touching the hem of his robe just a little. Maybe.

Truthfully, it was just very interesting to hear the back story about the origin of this very famous sci-fi geek's creative urges. Listening to his story inspires the sci-fi geek in me to keep writing. It also makes me appreciative of taking my turn to write about space travel and alien worlds.

Welcome to My Paranormal Blog

I decided to create a dedicated place where I could start talking about some of the things I'm learning while writing what I call my "paranormal" series. This books are great fun, but very different from my contemporaries. It will take me a few days to get this one up and going, but if you've found me and are interested--thanks!