Saturday, October 31, 2020

Ghost of the Nile - Something Different From the Backlist for Halloween

Happy Halloween! This week at the SFF Seven, we're talking about our choice of a backlist book!

In view of the holiday, I’m going to feature GHOST OF THE NILE (GODS OF EGYPT) because it’s a ghost story but it’s an unusual take on the subject…

Ghost of the Nile is one of the standalone stories in my “Gods of Egypt” paranormal series set in ancient Egypt. For quite a while I’d been fascinated with the idea of writing a story set on an estate in the 1550 BCE era. One of the interesting things about Egypt was that for literally hundreds of years the climate and the daily life stayed pretty much the same. Pharaohs came and went but the more ordinary folk had quite an unchanging routine, linked to the Nile’s floods. I felt my hero could return from the Afterlife and fit right into his old home, although as a guest, not a resident. I thought the challenges for him could be intriguing. 

One of my favorite series of novels is The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael by Ellis Peters. All the action is set in a small English town circa 1100 CE (Common Era). I love being able to revisit the town and the people over and over. I was hoping I could do that for my readers with stories set on one ancient Egyptian estate. Ironically, I didn’t write that series yet.  But the ideas inspired my setting for Ghost.

 The Egyptians of 3000 years ago believed that unless you were buried in the soil of Egypt and had all the proper rituals recited for you, as well as your name preserved, you couldn’t enter the Afterlife. So my hero Periseneb, who was murdered and didn’t receive the rites at the time of his death, has been condemned to roam the fringes of the Afterlife and wage endless battles against demons and giant snakes. 

I’m always fascinated with the goddess Ma’at, who represented truth, balance, justice…and who happened to be the goddess of second chances. I’m a Libra myself – scales, balance…. She was one of the Judges who weighed the heart of a dead person, to see if they deserved the Afterlife. So I decided she’d need a champion to accomplish some task in Egypt, and selects Periseneb, who she believes deserves a second chance at entry to paradise. A favorite old movie of mine is the 1963 version of “Jason and the Argonauts”. I love how the goddess Hera tells Jason she’ll help him three times along the way. I decided Ma’at would help Periseneb, and you’ll see in the book how he has to call for her assistance.

Author's personal photo

The next intriguing concept this novel allowed me to play with was the ancient Egyptian idea of the terrifying nature of ghosts, or akhs. Periseneb himself is uncomfortable with being an akh returned to Egypt, and worries a lot about inadvertently loosing the evil powers he now possesses on the innocents around him. 

Author's personal collection

And last but not least, there’s the terrifying goddess or demon Ammit the Destroyer, who was part lion, part hippo and part crocodile, and known as Devourer of the Dead. I’ve wanted to find a way to incorporate her into a novel in a meaningful way because she’s so intriguing. 

So there you have my influences which blended together with romance and adventure, to yield my latest novel! 

This was my favorite review, from the ladies at Dear Author: 

“There’s Egypt and gods and magic and strong men and stronger women and love even beyond death and into the Afterlife. The historic details add spice throughout the story and these definitely aren’t 21st C people in linen kilts.”

The story:

Betrayed, murdered, and buried without proper ceremony, Egyptian warrior Periseneb is doomed to roam the gray deserts of the dead as a ghost for all eternity.

But then the goddess of truth offers him a bargain: return to the world of the living as her champion for 30 days. If he completes his mission, he’ll be guaranteed entry into Paradise. Periseneb agrees to the bargain but, when he returns to the living world, two hundred years have passed and nothing is quite as he expected.

Neithamun is a woman fighting to hang onto her family’s estate against an unscrupulous nobleman who desires the land as well as the lady. All seems lost until a mysterious yet appealing ex-soldier, Periseneb, appears out of nowhere to help her fight off the noble’s repeated attacks.

Meanwhile, Periseneb’s thirty days are rushing by, and he’s powerless against the growing attraction between himself and Neithamun. But their love can never be. For his Fate is to return to the Afterlife, and Death cannot wed with Life…

Amazon      Apple Books    Barnes & Noble    Kobo      GooglePlay

Note: This post first appeared on my own author blog.

Author's personal collection

Friday, October 30, 2020

Chameleon Backlist

Back lists are supposed to be where old books go to make an author a steady trickle of income. But sometimes the back list rises from the grave and lives again. IT LIVES. Yeah. That's all the spooky I got. Sorry. 

Enemy Within was the first book published. That qualifies it as back list. So is the second book in the series, Enemy Games. And then the series was orphaned. I had all but given up getting to finish the series, but sometimes, years long procrastination has its benefits. My rights reverted.

I made plans to self-pub the whole kit and kaboodle. But then the lightning struck my monsters. The Wild Rose Press bought the entire series. They reissued Enemy Within and Enemy Games. They then released Enemy Storm. When I finish the current WIP, they'll get book four - which doesn't even have a working title yet because that's how titles and I roll.

So then. If the back list rises from the dead, is it still back list? If it isn't, there's always that UF series with the demon. Maybe that's a better Halloween horror-fest.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

When you don't have a pick a fave!


My frontlist is coming! Yeah, I know, publishing is one big sea of secrets that you can’t talk about…what a crock. But what that really means for this week’s blogpost is—I don’t have a backlist book to share…

Backlist [noun]: books available in print, but are not new releases

My goal, back when I was in the corporate world, was to have 10 backlist books before retiring from the lab to become a full-time author. Heh, chronic disease be damned, but it did give me the opportunity to jump right into stay-at-home writer!

*side note: I’d still suggest having some backlist books before diving into this full time…yikes!

But through it all I’m still reading! And so I’ve picked a backlist book from one of my favorite series to share with you today! I recently read THE FATE OF THE TALA and THE LOST PRINCESS RETURNS, so choosing the one that started it all seemed to fit.  

Queen of the Unknown is the tagline and it absolutely fits THE MARK OF THE TALA. Andi, the middle daughter of the High King, is a bit odd and never feels like she fits in. Until she meets a strange man while out riding…and he becomes a crow. He opens her eyes to a hidden kingdom, one that she has claim to, and to the destruction her own father is wrecking on their world’s magic. 

It’s full of shapeshifting, magic, political intrigue, romance, and a lesson of trust. It’s, IMO, the perfect backlist book because it opens up the world of the Tala and whew is it an entire world! And, if you’re a series devourer like me, you’ll be happy to know that Jeffe ties up all the plot lines and story arcs nicely in THE FATE OF THE TALA. 

Do you have a backlist book, or one that you love? Let me know so I can check it out!

book cover for THE MARK OF THE TALA, side profile of Ami as she stares at a black feather
The Mark of the Tala 

The Twelve Kingdoms #1

by Jeffe Kennedy

Queen Of The Unknown

The tales tell of three sisters, daughters of the high king. The eldest, a valiant warrior-woman, heir to the kingdom. The youngest, the sweet beauty with her Prince Charming. No one says much about the middle princess, Andromeda. Andi, the other one.

Andi doesn't mind being invisible. She enjoys the company of her horse more than court, and she has a way of blending into the shadows. Until the day she meets a strange man riding, who keeps company with wolves and ravens, who rules a land of shapeshifters and demons. A country she'd thought was no more than legend--until he claims her as its queen.

In a moment everything changes: Her father, the wise king, becomes a warlord, suspicious and strategic. Whispers call her dead mother a traitor and a witch. Andi doesn't know if her own instincts can be trusted, as visions appear to her and her body begins to rebel.

For Andi, the time to learn her true nature has come. . .

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Not an Oops: My Little Backlist

 Very quick funny story...

I started working in publishing about the same time my husband started programming games. (We were babies.) Early on in a biz, you’re learning so much every day, and often we’d come home and exchange knowledge, kind of like kindergarteners bring home their “look what I did!” finger paintings. Most times, hubs was excited about my excitement, but when I started talking about the RR Bowker out-of-print lists — fondly called the “OOP lists”—he’d get this very confused expression on his face. Finally, I asked what was up with that, and he countered with a question: What do old books have to do with object-oriented programming? (Also OOP, apparently.)

This week on SFF Seven, we’re talking about our old stuff: out-of-print books, early books, backlist books. And since I’m sort of new to this whole authoring thing, I don’t have a whole lot to talk about. In an age of ebooks and long-term contracts, none of my books are out of print. Publishers have lots of fun tricks to retain rights long after the first blush has faded from a release. 

In terms of backlist (that is, a book of mine that is not a new release), I guess the book I self-published last summer would count? It’s third in a series, but I challenge folks to read it as a stand-alone. I think/hope it holds up. The book is about a self-aware AI that, instead of deciding to nuke the world aka Skynet, really only wants to find a way to smooch her fella. Title is More Than Stardust, and it begins with a serious oops that has to do with neither publishing nor programming.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Burned Spy: The Book That Launched an Urban Fantasy Series

As I work through the edits of Book 6 in the Immortal Spy series, it's only fitting that I bring "from the boneyard" Book 1, the story that introduced us to a gatekeeper on a mission from Hel.

The Immortal Spy: Book 1

Gods. Always ready to screw you.

When Bix the Gatekeeper is summoned from exile a hundred and seventy years early by the goddess of the Norse Under World, the former Dark Ops agent knows there’s a catch. On the surface, the terms of the deal are simple. Someone attacked the pantheon’s ambassador to the Mid Worlds and left the ambassador in a coma. In exchange for early parole, Bix must identify the perpetrator and drag their soul to Hel.

It’d be a sweet contract, if not for the details. The ambassador is Bix’s ex-girlfriend, the lead suspect is the key witness from Bix’s trial, and the organization leading the official investigation is the same intelligence guild that disavowed Bix when a covert op went pear-shaped. Undeterred, Bix returns to her old stomping grounds where clues in the smoldering woods of Centralia, Pennsylvania, lead to the waterfront of Washington, DC, and Worlds beyond.

Once valued for her skills creating passageways as small as a capillary or as large as a continent, Bix’s success now depends on the relationships she was forced to abandon. As she squares off against friends who betrayed her and enemies keen to destroy her, Bix follows a trail of secrets, torture, and treason that leads to the very superpowers who banished her. With her freedom on the line and revenge within reach, this highly-trained operative will take on Fates, dragons, angels, and gods to get exactly what she wants.

Hel hath no fury like a burned spy.

BUY IT NOW (the eBook is 50% off!):

Apple | Kobo | B&N
Overdrive (for Libraries)

Read the Reviews:

Monday, October 26, 2020

Crawling from the Graveyard

 This week we're talking about out of print books, a terrifying subject if ever there was one. 

My Out of Print book is actually, depending on which edition, a trilogy.

Once upon a time, I wrote a 340,000 word monster of a book. Multiple reviews referred to it as a DOORSTOPPER.

That would have been my fourth novel, SERENITY FALLS.

Long story short, I am a pantser. I do not outline very often and even when I do, I can very nearly promise you I'm not staying on track to use that outline for long.  It's just not the way my mind works, so things change, whether I want them to or not.  I never planned to write a book that big, but I did. It just sort of happened. 

When I'm writing my mind does its own thing. I might THINK I know where a book is going, but like as not, it'll change fast and often. The tale evolves. 

I had an idea for a curse that falls on a town, revenge from beyond the grave, and worse than that. But in order for that to work the way I wanted it to, there had to be a mystery or two, and there had to be a lot of history for the town. before it was done I had written a novel with over 180 named characters, that spanned over 300years of town history.  There were good guys, bad guys, murders, damned near every sin you can imagine covered in bloody history. And then there was the guy who had to deal with all of that, my monster hunter Jonathan Crowley. Hell, his history spans centuries, and I wanted a town that could compete for the readers' attention!

The next thing I know I've spent the better part of a year writing this novel. I normally spend around three months on the first draft and I spent four times that long here. It was so big an idea that when it went from trade paperback to mass market the publisher said it needed to be three books. That meant rewriting a lot of stuff, cutting some out and adding in even more. 

Thus was the SERENITY FALLS TRILOGY born: WRIT IN BLOOD, THE PACK, and THE DARK CARNIVAL. There's a lot of story, and probably fifteen or so perspectives.  

I'm happy to say the reviews were favorable. 

Quite possibly the best horror novel since Salem's Lot. -- Jim Brock, Baryon magazine

Moore is perhaps the most talented writer of this genre to date. ...On the surface SERENITY FALLS sounds like Stephen King's Salem's Lot, but there is much Moore to the novel than just the rewriting a classic. The story line is loaded with, and an intensifying terror that is difficult to classify as the audience wonders between the Curse and the newcomers as to who is the focus of this peril. Surprisingly for such a large ensemble the residents ensure the audience believes the small hamlet exists and bring life to the threat.

Harriet Klausner -- Midwest Book Review

Moore is something to watch. -- Bentley Little

I'll take it. :) 

I'm likely putting this back in print myself next year. 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

From the Bone Yard: a BDSM Beauty and the Beast!

This week at the SFF Seven, we're digging in the bone yard and resurrecting... a backlist book!

Yeah, okay - not all that creepy.

But I did pick one of my very first publications that has significant creepitude, in that it's a BDSM Beauty and the Beast. Yes, PETALS AND THORNS is my exploration of what *really* went on in that dark and lonely castle after sundown. What happens when Beauty opens those doors on the Beast's truly wild and beastly nature?

This story has gotten a lot of lovely reviews over the years. I originally published the book under a pseudonym, "Jennifer Paris," so there can be some confusion. Still I love this review:

The BDSM elements work beautifully for this, and I was swept into the story, the characters, and the darkness of the work. Ms. Paris has a gift for drawing a reader into the center of her world and keeping them there, using sensuality, innocence, and desire as her lure. The Beast, while dominant and controlling, is equally soft and tender. The virginal Amarantha is more than a mere bride gained as a means to an end. The writing is fantastic, and I loved the twist at the end in which the Beast reveals the cause of his affliction to our courageous heroine. It added so much to the story and left me wanting more when I reached the final page.

Fans of fairy tales, erotic romance, and BDSM will love Petals and Thorns. This is one of the best novellas I’ve read so far this year, and I can’t wait to read more from Ms. Paris in the future. Definitely place this title on your coveted TBR list.

Interested in some twisty fairytale kink? Blurb and buy links below!

In exchange for her father’s life, Amarantha agrees to marry the dreadful Beast and be his wife for seven days. Though the Beast cannot take Amarantha’s virginity unless she begs him to, he can and does take her in every other way. From the moment they are alone together, the Beast relentlessly strips Amarantha of all her resistance.

If Amarantha can resist her cloaked and terrifying husband, she gains his entire fortune and will be allowed to return to her family and a normal life. But the Beast seduces her at every turn, exposing, binding, tormenting, and pleasuring Amarantha until she no longer knows her own deepest desires. Increasingly desperate to break the curse that chains his humanity, the Beast drives Amarantha past every boundary. But her desire for a normal life may jeopardize the love that will save them both.


Friday, October 23, 2020

To NaNo or not to NaNo

 No one:

Me: . . . So. . .

Absolutely no one:

Me: A dearth of cat pictures? No worry! I so got you.

Last week, I was outside in the early evening. This little cat darted out across the street right in front of me. I grabbed a can of cat food and the cat trap. She was hiding in bushes. To be certain she was still there, I popped the top on the can and set it down. As I stepped back, a tiny little cat crept out of the shrubs and began to eat. Back in I went. The cat darted into the bushes. I set up the trap with the can of cat food inside as the bait. I backed off across the street. My heart pounded too hard and too fast. I'd barely gotten my breath and started to get my head together when the trap went off. 

Meet Peseshet. (Pe as in put, se as in set, shet as in Shetland) She's a sweet little thing with a lot of

attitude. She's looking for her forever person in South Central Florida. Preferably, someone who won't throw her out like she doesn't matter the way her former people did.

Ah, November. Election day can't get here soon enough. Thanksgiving is too damned soon. I am not prepared. Above all, NANOWRIMO. 

To Nano or not to nano. That is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the procrastination and avoidance of  -- wait. Didn't I do this last year? Pretty sure I pulled this. K. 

Y'know, here's the long and short of it. Nanowrimo is a really great way to kick start yourself into writing as fast as you possibly can. There's power in Nanowrimo because you know you are taking part in something larger than yourself. The goal isn't to write well - it's to write fast. Writing well comes later. Nano is an amazing opportunity to give yourself the gift of suspending judgement simply because for thirty days, you and thousands and thousands of your peers are doing one thing - writing to 50k. It's thirty days were you can justify taking a little time to write while the rest of the family (generally) respects the effort because it's only for thirty days. 

The downside? If you're someone who responds poorly to pressure, this will just block you. You have to know yourself, your process, and what drives you. If this sounds like you, stay far away. The other possibility is that you're someone who has far too strong a competitive streak, this could be a little toxic.

Understand. Nanowrimo isn't about 'winning' even though the whole process does have a finish line. You either make 50k+ words or you don't. But no matter where you land in word count over the month, you still win. You're farther ahead than when you undertook the exercise if it turns out to be right for you.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Standby for NaNoWriMo

The screen of an IV pump displaying a white box with big blue letters: STANDBY

 November draweth nigh. And in the book world that means one  thing…NaNoWriMo!!!

National Novel Writing Month. Now that sounds like the perfect time to write a book? Yeah?

If you’ve been thinking about starting, or have started but stalled out, you might want to jump on this writing train. You can sign up officially and connect with thousands of other people in the same boat, you can track your progress, and you can earn badges and stuff. 

Actually, I’ve never Nano’d. But I have Rory Gilmore’d it and done a pro/con list. 


  • if you sign up you have a tracker that will get you to 50,000 words by the end of Nov
  • you can earn badges, we don’t need no stinkin’ badges doesn’t apply here
  • you can connect with writers in the same spot you’re in
  • connections mean cheerleaders to keep you going!


  • it takes time to write and also update your nano/connect
  • previous projects have to take a backseat

Sure it’s clear the pros outweigh my cons, but it’s the previous projects part that always gets in the way. I’ve never been at a good place to drop what’s in the works and start a new project. And this year’s no different…I’m still in the editing cave and won’t come out 'til Thanksgiving. 

If you decide to NaNo I wish you many many words! Me, I’m headed back into the dark. If I’m not out in 30 days—send a pie in after me!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

To NaNo or Not To NaNoWriMo

It’s October, and you know what that means. Pink ribbons, ghosts, candy corn, sugar skulls, autumn leaves, pumpkin spice everything... and a bunch of writers fervently getting projects prepped before November 1st. This last might seem odd, but now that I’ve mentioned it, you’ll see it everywhere. It might be accompanied by secret-handshake-like references to NaNoWriMo, or sometimes just NaNo. I promise this is not a reference to a weird supernatural writing cult. It’s National Novel Writing Month, and if you’re a writer or thinking about being a writer, it’s worth peeking at.

Very simply, NaNoWriMo is a one-month writing sprint tracked online at their site, You log in word count every day of November, with a goal of logging 50,000 words by the end of the month. Those words don’t need to be good. The book doesn’t even need to be done. You just need the 50k words to “win” NaNo.

If that seems daunting, consider the second part of NaNo: the support. There’s a huge community of writers participating in NaNo every year, and they are super welcoming. They have message boards and Discords, and in the days before Covid, real-life in-person writing meetups. The people involved are generous with their expertise and imagination: you got a plot problem, you can definitely find a group willing to brainstorm. Note, I haven’t run across anybody willing to read pages, but that’s just because everyone is hyper focused on writing. Sometimes folks exchange manuscripts after November.

I’ve done that, or at least I’ve read other writers’ excellent NaNo books, many of which have gone on to lure agents, get published, and win awards. And when I say many, I mean many: I’ve been NaNoing every year since 2004.

But here’s my dirty little secret: I have never, in all those years, “won” NaNoWriMo. I’ve started books that I finished later, and I have written 50k words in a month, just never one book in that particular month, as tracked by the NaNoWriMo site. Never.

So maybe this year is my year. Who knows? But if you decide to join the cult, er, take the plunge and you want a buddy, I’m Viv

Happy wording, worders!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

New #UF Out Now: THE EXPOSED SPY by K.A. Krantz

 Well hellllllooooo, Dear Readers! The latest in my Immortal Spy Urban Fantasy series is out now at all leading online retailers! Bix and the Berserkers are back, and things have gone from fraught to fugly in THE EXPOSED SPY.

The Immortal Spy: Book 5

What does a traitor look like to you?

The desperately needed Mid World defense system is nearing launch, but a quality control test reveals a fatal flaw in the build. When the Consortium tries to silence the whistleblowers, it’s up to Bix and her team to identify the problem and devise a patch before more mortals die.

It’s not going to be easy. Nothing and no one is what they seem. Enemies are wearing the bodies of allies. Allies are under government attack. Angels have gone rogue. Gods are missing. Native magic is corrupted. With a World on the edge of collapse, Bix must defy powers that could destroy the entire collective…or herself.

No illusion can withstand the truths of the exposed spy.

iBooks | B&N | Kobo
Overdrive (for libraries)

Haven't started the series yet? No worries! Book 1: THE BURNED SPY eBook is half-off for a limited time! Get to know the gatekeeper on a mission from Hel.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Is NaNoWriMo for You?

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is:  To NaNoRiMo or not.

For those who don't know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, where participants attempt to write 50,000 words in one month. I have mixed feelings about NaNoWriMo, mostly because I think it encourages writers to essentially binge-write, often exhausting themselves creatively in order to get that 50K.

Anyone who's followed me any length of time - by reading my blog posts or listening to my podcast - knows that I'm a strong proponent of finding a sustainable pace for writing. I've tracked my own productivity for years - almost a decade now - and I've talked to countless authors about their process. The binge method feels good in the moment, but also results in crashes. Overall, I've found that the creation binges don't compensate for the resulting crashes. This lowers overall productivity.

Conversely, discovering a sustainable production pace - a daily wordcount that a writer can produce over the long term without crashing - increases overall productivity in an amazing way. 

So, is NaNoWriMo for you? I think it can be super useful for building that daily writing habit and discovering what your sustainable wordcount is. But I think going through NaNoWriMo should be focused on that: discovering what you can do in the long term. Writing 50K in November and then crashing for months afterword won't lead to a sustainable writing practice.

Now, if you don't care about developing a sustainable writing practice and just want to see if you can write 50K in 30 days, then go for it.

But if you DO want to be a career author, then consider setting up a schedule for NaNoWriMo where you slowly increase your wordcount over the course of the month, like this:

1 100

2 200

3 300

4 400

5 500

6 750

7 1000

8 1250

9 1500

10 1750

11 2000

12 2000

13 2000

14 2000

15 2000

16 2100

17 2100

18 2100

19 2100

20 2100

21 2100

22 2200

23 2200

24 2200

25 2200

26 2200

27 2200

28 2200

29 2200

30 2200

By the end of November 30, you’d have 50,150 words. By slowly increasing the wordcount and not exhausting yourself at the beginning, you'll build up your ability to write sustainably, much like training in a new exercise. Best of all, by the time you’ve got yourself in the habit of doing 2,200 words a day, it will feel very easy and natural. Because you’d be in shape for it.

And if 2,200 words/day isn't sustainable for you, drop it back. Find out what IS sustainable. Writing is individual and what's key is finding your own process and owning it. NaNoWriMo is just one tool to discover that. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Shopping in My SF Stories for One Item to Bring Home

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is the item from your books you most want to own and why.

Hmmm, let me think. The first item which came to mind was the blaster – I’ve always wanted a blaster. There’s a lot of fun technology in my Sectors scifi romance series but the more I thought about it, the more I decided…no. These items don’t exist outside of their own ecosystem, as it were. I wouldn’t be able to recharge the blaster (although I do seem to have given it a pretty limitless capacity. I don’t remember anyone reloading during a battle in any of my books.) The high tech medical tech needs support systems as well. And besides, importing an item into our current time doesn’t always work out well. Lots of classic science fiction tells that tale! “The Little Black Bag” by Cyril Kornbluth comes to mind…

I can just see the Twilight Zone-esque unintended consequences of me importing some Sectors tech into present day Southern California.

Now I would enjoy having Midorri the alien pet…but she’d be hard to explain. Jake the Cat would probably object to sharing his house, cat tree and litter box with an alien interloper. Not to mention his cat treats! Moby the Nebula Zephyr’s ship cat likes Midorri and they get along very well but Jake isn’t as collegial. He won’t share my lap for sure.

Moving on to my ancient Egyptian novels, I’d love to have some of the jewelry. I’ve craved a pair of those elaborate, intricate earrings since the first time I saw the King Tut exhibit way back in the 1970’s. BUT, where would I wear them? I’m known for wearing elaborate and fanciful jewelry, especially earrings, anytime, anywhere but actual ancient Egyptian trinkets of the kind I’d like would be over the top at the grocery store, even for me.

And in my Magic of Claddare series, I haven’t really created much in the way of ensorcelled or powerful objects, although there was one pendant but it belongs to a goddess and I’d rather not risk upsetting her and bringing her into our realm on the trail of her necklace.

(Hmm, I do seem to be mostly about the jewelry, the pets and the weapons, don’t I?)

The last thing I considered was MARL, the ancient alien Artificial Intelligence from my Badari Warriors scifi series. He’s pretty self-sufficient, has infinite capabilities and between us we could probably figure out all kinds of nifty stuff to work on. He can be condescending and cantankerous as well and he accepts only one Authority at a time. I don’t think he’d react well to my removing him from Jill Garrison’s vicinity since she rescued him from (MILD SPOILER) ten thousand years of waiting on standby after his actual owner died.

I guess I’ll leave the goodies in the worlds I’ve created and allow my characters (and my readers) to enjoy them!

The scene where Jill discovers MARL, from the first book in the award winning series, Aydarr:

Her light made the mineral deposits in the walls and the stalagmites and stalactites twinkle with variegated colors as she swept it across the huge room in front of her. She stumbled and checked herself again as the beam crossed a figure lying huddled next to a large stalagmite.

“Hello?” Jill was ready to duck for cover but the person didn’t move and, as she played the light over him or her again, she realized she was gazing at a corpse.

Slowly, she walked to the spot where the other had spent their last moments. The figure was humanoid, dressed in some kind of flight suit, wearing a helmet obscuring her view of the face. One leg was bent in an awkward position that made her wince in sympathy. The body could have been there for millennia, preserved by the minerals and atmosphere in the cave. The entire form was encased in a layer of sparkly limestone, or whatever the predominant mineral dripping down the cavern’s walls might be.

With a pang of regret, Jill knew she was never going to see the face of the ancient. “I wonder what happened to him,” she said, rising and glancing around the cave. The sound of her own voice was reassuring. “I didn’t see any wreckage from a crashed ship outside.”

“Are you the rescue mission?”

Startled into a scream, Jill leaped sideways, into the shelter of a stalagmite, and aimed her weapon in the direction of the voice. “Who’s there?”

“You’re not the rescue mission.” The tone was oddly singsong, as if tasting the sounds, playing with the sentence structure. “Give me more language samples. I can only infer so much.”

Jill peered around the edge of the stone formation. There was an ovoid metallic unit which she’d ignored initially, sitting a few feet away from the corpse. Now the device displayed blinking blue and violet lights. “Who are you? What do you want?” she asked.

The lights moved faster, adding colors. “This would be easier if I could have direct access to your brain waves.”

“Uh-uh, not happening.”

“Your kind is unknown to me, although similar to many beings encountered on missions in the past. Where does your species originate?”

“I think I should be the one asking the questions,” Jill said. “I have the pulse rifle. What are you?”

“I’ll take input however you choose to provide it, even in the form of questions. I am MARL.”

“Which tells me nothing.”

“I can’t translate the acronym. I don’t believe your language has the capabilities for all the capabilities I encompass. You appear to be a member of a primitive race.”

Stifling a chuckle, Jill gave the blinking lights a sideways glance. “Insulting me isn’t a great way to make friends.”

Green lights added themselves to the blue and violet. After a short pause, MARL said, “No insult was intended, merely a statement of fact.”

“What happened here?” She waved one hand at the calcified corpse. “How long ago did he or she die?”

“Based on my calculations, about 10,000 of this planet’s years have passed since I received my last instructions.” MARL made a humming noise, and the lights blinked furiously, a few red pinpoints among the other hues. “We were trying to get home because my pilot had vital information he hoped might lead to the defeat of the enemy, but they pursued us and damaged the ship.”

“I didn’t see any signs of a ship out there.” Jill gestured toward the mouth of the cave.

“It crashed into the lake when he tried to land.”

“Injured as he was, are you trying to tell me he swam to safety then dragged himself and you up here?” Jill was fascinated by the story but skeptical.

“I am self-mobile and can manifest other, additional forms.” MARL’s hum rose to an ear splitting volume but nothing else happened. After a moment of silence, it said, “Well, if I were at full power, I could. I’ve been in hibernation mode, doing the minimum required, until you arrived. I am in the process of powering up.”

Jill thought the alien AI, if that was indeed what MARL might be, sounded rather grumpy and a bit embarrassed. She decided to think of MARL as a male entity, since the voice was masculine in timber. Maybe MARL sounded like its pilot had in his lifetime. “Are those your manifestations, as you call it, outside the cave? Because one was crushed by a rockslide and the other was half buried in dirt and debris.”

“Yes. The unit you see here is a portable emergency subset of myself, automatically ejected when the ship crashed. Two of my separate selves assisted the pilot in exiting the submerged wreck and brought him here, with me.” MARL levitated off the cave floor briefly before drifting back. “I sent a distress call then I executed the final order from my pilot. Since then, I’ve waited, set to standby status.”

Sounds like a report. Deciding she wasn’t in jeopardy from the ancient AI, Jill walked out from behind the rocks. “What was his final order?”

“To shield this valley from the enemy. Allow no overflights, no scans. I directed all my remaining power to the effort, until or unless contradicted by someone in authority. Are you in authority now?”

Shaking her head, Jill asked, “Why would you accept my orders? I’m obviously not connected to the people who created you.”

“I’m not meant to operate independently, but to support the organic beings in charge of the mission. As no rescue of my pilot was ever attempted, nor any message received, I can only surmise the civilization to which he belonged, and their enemies as well, have passed from the galactic stage. Although primitive, you appear to have the sentience required to make use of my capabilities to at least a limited extent. I was built to serve,” MARL said in a quiet voice. “Ten thousand years is a long time to have no real purpose.”

The blurb: 

Jill Garrison, a maintenance tech at the Sectors Amarcae 7 colony, goes to sleep one night as usual only to wake up in her nightgown stranded in the middle of a forest on an unknown world. There’s no time to think as she’s stalked by carnivorous predators and rescued by genetically engineered warriors calling themselves the Badari. Turns out they and she, along with her whole colony, are now prisoners of the Khagrish, a ruthless race of alien scientists. Working for enemies of the Sectors, the Khagrish have created the Badari to be super soldiers.

Aydarr, the Badari alpha, isn’t sure he can trust Jill but his attraction to her is undeniable. He impulsively claims her as his mate to prevent her death at the hands of the Khagrish.

Can he continue to protect her from the experiments already underway? Will his claiming her put his pack in jeopardy from their alien masters?

As Jill searches for a way to rescue her fellow humans and get them all to safety, she finds herself falling for Aydarr, despite the secrets he’s keeping. She has a few of her own.

The situation becomes dire when Aydarr and his pack are sent offplanet on a mission, leaving Jill unprotected, prey for the senior scientist. Can she escape the experiments he has in mind for her? Will she be able to thwart the Khagrish plans and liberate humans and Badari alike? How will she and Aydarr reunite?

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Friday, October 16, 2020

Wishful Thinking


What I wish I had from my books - easy. Edie's Iskant - her ship. It's completely tricked out. I might hope for better food stores than she has, but that's about it. Of course, I'd just go zipping around space and get myself lost. It's a one and a half person ship, meaning it's designed for one but can support more in a pinch. I wouldn't be interested in the pinch part. This pandemic-enforced-togetherness thing has me all about the isolation and not-another-person-alive-within-miles vibe of Edie's boat. 

A close second would be the medical that exists in this series. Medicine isn't generally painful in my world. It might not be able to cure everything, but it's pretty darned good. I'm saying this after having my first nerve block for migraines done, and let me just say yeowch. Those injections in the face got my attention in the worst way, so I could do with some painless medicine at this point. 

 What would you want from any of the books you've read?

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Bookish Gotta-Have-It Items!

 Science fiction is full of powerful tech and weapons and fantasy brims with fantastical magic. But I can’t tell you which item from my books I most want to own and why, because you’ve got to wait just a bit longer to be able to read them.

Lucky for you, I read a lot and I’ve got gobs of things I dream about collecting—if only they were here in the real world! So if you need some ideas…

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Made-up Gizmos for Communication and Cats

 Look at these two adorable floofs:

Don't you just want to snuggle them and give them treats all day? Ahhhh, cats. More on them later.

This week on SFF Seven, we're talking about things we invented or made up in our books that we'd really like to have in real life. Can I just say, I make up a lot of stuff? Like, a lot. Most of it is based on seeds of current science extrapolated to possible future usage, and yes, my worlds tend to be a teensy bit dystopian so that doesn't always work out well, but generally speaking, I'd like to be able to play with most of my made-up gizmos. 

For instance, weather control. I grew up in Houston, Texas, on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, and whoo-boy is that a fun place to ponder weather control, specifically hurricane harnessing mechanisms. In my Wanted and Wired series, large-scale climate control experiments go awry, and the resultant calamity is, um, less than jolly happenstance, but some of the other technology mentioned might be really helpful. Lookin' at you, ocean turbines that can turn hurricanes into clean energy.

I also made up off-the-shelf hats and implants that allow brain-to-brain messaging and even transmission of sensory data, enabling someone else to feel what you feel. Wild speculation, yes, but also not completely without actual scientific basis. Those would be cool to have. 

But my favorite gizmo--also communication-related--is a series of alterations performed on the fictional cat Yoink, who was based on those two felines above, General Leia and OreoKitty. (Blame them for the delight in belly rubs, which I am told is not a universal cat like.) Tech in the books enables Yoink to communicate with her people as well as with a whole world full of animals that have implanted tracking devices, making her sort of a commander of a loose army of wild and generally pissed off critters. 

That tech would presumably enable me to communicate with the animals in my life. And I'd like to ask those guys some questions for sure. Like, hey Leia, what'd you think of the book?

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

New #SFR Release: THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY by Vivien Jackson & Rebecca Royce

Three cheers for our Wednesday blogger, Vivien Jackson, and her newest Sci-Fi Reverse-Harem Romance release with co-writer Rebecca Royce!


(Stranded Hearts Book 1)

The day her starship crashed, Bianca's life began.

En route to life saving surgery, Bianca’s ship plummeted from the stars to a primitive planet far beyond the reaches of the Union and all she’s ever known. Surviving was just the first miracle. Being found by a race of what her education says are savages--but who her damaged heart and sharp mind embraces as loving, passionate, and kind--challenges everything she’s ever believed about herself.

Nox, Torrin, Mattis, Astor

The one who finds her. The one who claims her. The one who wants her. The one who needs her. Leaders among their people, they couldn’t be more alike or more different. But they are in agreement on one thing: she’s going to be theirs and they will fight to keep her.

On the day she fell from the sky, their world changed forever.

Buy It Now: Amazon  |   B&N  

Sunday, October 11, 2020

How I Gave Myself a Fire Lizard

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is the item from your books you most want to own and why.

In mulling this topic, I've come to an interesting realization: I rarely have interesting "items" in my books. With a couple of outliers, I don't really include objects of power or other magical artifacts in my stories. There's the Star of Annfwn in The Twelve Kingdoms and Uncharted Realms books, but it's not something I'd necessarily want to have. There are a couple of objects of power in my Forgotten Empires trilogy - most notably the orchid ring - but I wouldn't want that, even if it could be mine.

Mostly, the interesting stuff in my books that I'd like to have comes in the form of personal powers. And I'm noticing now how often the ability to control weather - like being able to make it rain! - crops up in my characters. So, sure, I'd love to have Lia's connection to the land and weather in the Forgotten Empires, or Salena's storm-making magic in THE LONG NIGHT OF THE CRYSTALLINE MOON in the UNDER A WINTER SKY anthology and the other upcoming Heirs of Magic books. I think it would be totally cool to be a shapeshifter as in Twelve Kingdoms and Uncharted Realms.

But those aren't items. 

The closest I can come is a familiar, which is a living being, not an item, but can be "owned," more or less. So I'm picking Chuffta from my Sorcerous Moons series. That's him, on Princess Oria's shoulder on the cover of book one, LONEN'S WAR. Chuffta is a telepathic, tiny white dragon. More or less. It's complicated. He's also Oria's best friend and staunch companion - even though he suffers from an unfortunate fascination with fire that occasionally gets him into trouble.
And yes, Chuffta is totally wish-fulfillment because I always wanted one of Anne McCaffrey's fire lizards for my very own!