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.