Friday, June 28, 2013

Science of the Week 6/28/13

Here are some of the most interesting science articles I read this week:

Blocking memories to treat booze addiction

3 planets in habitable zone of nearby star (sounds like a great setting for a SF story, doesn't it?)

Revealed: the mystery of Saturn's giant storms

Surprise species at risk from climate change

Plants do arithmetic to get through the night

Where'd it go? Sugar solution makes tissues see-through

Watched not just by the NSA: Your de-identified DNA information can actually be identified

Research reveals low exposure of excellent work by female scientists

Long-horned rhino from China reveals origin of the unicorn

Scientists see memories as they light the corners of the mind

Supercomputers simulate orbitial debris impacts on spacecraft

What is the fastest articulated motion a human can execute?

DNA found outside genes plays largely unknown, potentially vital roles 
(Note: this article also discusses a new type of RNA)

Researchers call for easing of interplanetary contamination rules

Researchers use video game tech to steer roaches on autopilot 
(so one day someone trapped in a collapsed building might actually be happy to see rescuing roaches)

As if that's not enough science for you, the July issue of Scientific American has articles on grieving animals, restoring vision to blind children, and searching for life on distant planets.

Finally, as I was finishing up this post, my husband showed me an article about Britain now allowing "three-parent" IVF babies. The mother's mitochondria would be replaced by a donor's so the child would look like the father and mother but avoid inheriting a mitochondrial disease. The change would affect the child's babies as well.

Have a good weekend, everyone, and see you on Monday!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Citizen Science

As you might gather from my interest in science fiction and my weekly posts on science news, I have a keen interest in science. However, even though I work in a lab, my duties have changed so that I no longer get to perform research on the job. That doesn't mean the end of science for me, though, and anyone else interested in science can now find ways to participate via citizen science. With citizen science, nonprofessionals help professional scientists collect and analyze data. This could be anything from observing and counting birds in the wild to transcribing data.

Here are some of the sites where you can sign up to do citizen science:

Citizen Science Center

Scientific American Citizen Science

Citizen Science Alliance


I recently joined Zooniverse to help transcribe data. Perhaps if my son is interested, we could try a more active project at some point.

I don't think I've read any science fiction that uses citizen science, but it would be interesting to write one. That said, I'd have to think of an approach that honors contributions from both scientists and nonscientists.

Does citizen science appeal to you? If so, what kinds of projects would you like to try? Have you read any science fiction stories that make use of citizen science? I'd love to hear about them if you have.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Guest Post on Cloning at Alex J. Cavanaugh

While I hate to double-post on a Blog Ring of Power day, I have a special announcement to make. Today I have the honor of having a guest post on Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog. Come join me as I discuss if a clone really is identical to the person he or she was cloned from. Thanks, Alex!

Blog Ring of Power: CP Bialois

Today on the Blog Ring of Power we have CP Bialois to talk about the writing process. You can find the rest of CP's interview at the following links:

Part One (About You)--Emily
Part Three (The Creative Process) 6/25/13--Dean
Part Four (About Your Current Work) 6/26/13--Terri
Part Five (Words of Wisdom) 6/27/13--Theresa

What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine? Do you use pen and paper or computer? Work at home or at the library/Starbucks, etc.

My process is pretty open in that I can sit down and write at any time of the day. I try to wake up early so I can do my networking and play a couple of games. I claim it’s to take away any excuse I have not to write, but it’s really me trying to wake up. I prefer pen and paper, but I do use the computer for short stories or novellas. Writing on paper forces me to organize my thoughts and the stories seem to flow better. There are times where working at home just isn’t possible (Thanks to our pets), so we go to the library, Starbucks, or Panera.  

How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life?

It’s not an easy job, but I try to get everything else done in one or two days so I can focus on my projects the rest of the time.

When do you write?

Usually in the early afternoon or evening. It mostly depends on when our pets decide to leave me alone for a while.

How much time per day do you spend on your writing?

That depends on the day. There are times where I’ll spend up to fourteen hours writing or editing and others where it’s only a handful of hours.

What has been the most surprising reaction to something you’ve written?

Having a couple of people break down in tears when one of my stories touched them.

What is the strongest criticism you’ve ever received as an author? The best compliment?

Being told something was or is badly written is about as bad as it can get for a writer. The best was having someone tell me they loved it and couldn’t put it down. It took a while for me to come down from that. Lol

Other than your family, what has been your greatest source of support?

My friends and writing community. All of my friends are highly supportive and give me grief when I kill their favorite character or don’t have a sequel ready yet. The writing community in general helps a great deal as most want to see you succeed and will offer any help they can. It’s something I really appreciate and reciprocate at any opportunity.

How do you deal with rejection and/or negative reviews?

I take them in stride and dissect them. I figure they may have a point so I go through them one by one and see which ones I agree with and which ones I don’t. I even ask my wife and a couple other people here and there if they saw the same thing. If it’s an issue I can correct then I do the next time it crops up. If it’s a misunderstanding, they were being overly critical, or it was just their opinion I brush it off. You take the good with the bad.

Twitter: @CPBialois
Is your book in print, ebook or both? All are in both except for Stranger Passing.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Science of the Week, 6/21/13

Happy summer solstice, everyone!

Here are some of the most interesting science news articles I read this week:

Herbal extract boost fruit fly lifespan by nearly 25 percent (and does so by a novel mechanism)

Which qubit my dear? New method to distinguish between neighboring quantum bits

Aspirin may fight cancer by slowing DNA damage

People attribute minds to robots, corpses that are targets of harm (interesting considering that otherwise the robots and corpses might fall into the Uncanny Valley)

Printing artificial bone

Artificial sweetener a potential treatment for Parkinson's disease

Blocking overactive receptor in Alzheimer's recovers memory loss and more

A robot that runs like a cat

Researchers develop easy and effective therapy to restore sight

Promising test for spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis

Cheap, color, holographic video

Global food production won't meet 2050 needs

Future traffic challenges of flying cars (at last!)

Scientists find new tool to measure sugar consumption

Making memories: practical quantum computing moves closer to reality

Since I already have so many articles, I think I'll hold off on discussing the July issue of Scientific American. However, have you ever wanted to see an atom? Here's the world's smallest movie, featuring atoms:

Enjoy your weekend, and I'll see you Monday!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Back on the Blog Chain--So, You're an Artist

Amparo has a challenging question for us this round:

Confession: I can't draw to save my life. *sigh* If you had some seriously epic drawing skills (or if you already have them) which published book would you have loved to illustrate? Why does that book--and its characters/premise--strike you as something you'd love to work on as an artist? 

Like Amparo, my drawing skills are pretty poor. But if I could draw and illustrate books, I might choose to illustrate Brood of Bones by A. E. Marling. The heroine of the book is an narcoleptic enchantress named Hiresha. She wears twenty dresses--each one an award for an achievement--all at the same time. In this book, the first of a series, she investigates why all the women in her home city are pregnant, no matter how old they are. I'm drawn (no pun intended) to the image of Hiresha in all of her dresses. I think it would be a challenge to show her moving around in them, and it would be fun to create each dress in a different color in style. If you're looking for a fun fantasy read in an unusual setting, I recommend this book.

To see what books other writers-turned-artists would illustrate, start with Kate's post before mine and Christine's post tomorrow.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Blog Ring of Power: Rhys Jones/DC Farmer

Today on the Blog Ring of Power I have Rhys Jones/DC Farmer, one of the members of the Scene 13 group blog. We're currently discussing his writing life. For other parts of his interview, please check the links below:

Part One (About You)--Emily
Part Three (The Creative Process) 6/18/13--Dean
Part Four (About Your Current Work) 6/19/13--Terri
Part Five (Words of Wisdom) 6/20/13--Theresa


What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine? Do you use pen and paper or computer? Work at home or at the library/Starbucks, etc.

I work in a hospital every day, so my writing is done at home. I’m lucky enough to have a home office (a shed) where I can escape  and crawl inside my own head. A place where no one else is allowed or would want to go to--my head, not the shed.  I write first drafts as a vomited scribble with old fashioned pen and paper. The transfer onto the computer is often done by voice recogntiion software. Once there the actual fun begins.

How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life?  

My kids are all grown up and I have a very understanding wife.

When do you write?

Mainly in the mornings. I’m an early bird, generally up by 5.30 or six. This means I can do an hour or more before going to work.

How much time per day do you spend on your writing?

 As many as I can. two to three on normal (doctoring) days. eight to ten on weekends.

What is the strongest criticism you’ve ever received as an author?

 Stick to the day job.

Other than your family, what has been your greatest source of support?

My editors.

How do you deal with rejection and/or negative reviews?

I still face rejection now and again. (I’m sort of still looking for an agent).  But I know it’s purely professional. A business decision. Nothing personal ( who am I kidding, I have all their names in a little black book). One day— mwahahaha. Negative reviews I try not to read. Too energy sapping. Walk away, do not respond.

Twitter  @hipposync.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Indie Life: Stuck in Kobo Limbo

I self-published Twinned Universes in March of this year. Since I want to make my work available in as many formats as possible, I prepared a paper version as well as an eBook (and an audio version will be available very soon; I'm currently in the final review stage). I also distribute the eBook to all the major sellers, like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords for the other retailers. Unfortunately, Twinned Universes isn't available on Kobo, which is a shame, since this is the first book I've tried to directly publish through them instead of through Smashwords.

I'm not sure why Twinned Universes is stuck in the publishing process at Kobo. I didn't encounter any issues when I went through the various publishing steps on Kobo Writing Life in March. (I reviewed everything last night, and everything is checked off.) It's possible there may have been some conflict between Kobo and Smashwords. (I may have had Smashwords at one point set to distribute the book to Kobo at the same time as it was supposed to be published on Kobo's website. I think I even played with the settings a couple of times to see if it made a difference. However, currently I am opted out of using Smashwords to distribute to Kobo.)

I've been so busy with many other things that I haven't had the chance to seek support from Kobo until last month. Their response (sent on 5/22) was essentially to make sure Smashwords wasn't distributing the book to Kobo and then publish the book through Kobo. This didn't fix the problem, but they sent me an e-mail on 6/2 telling me since they hadn't heard back from me, they changed the status of my troubleshooting ticket to "pending solved." I wrote back to them telling them I'd gone through the procedure they'd suggested, but it didn't work. From what I can tell, there's no way for me to remove the book from their system. I therefore asked Kobo to delete my account so I could push the book through Smashwords. They then told me they could forward the book to their publishing team so they could take care of the problem; otherwise if I confirmed my e-mail address, they could delete my account.

I thought about it for a while, then decided to give them one more chance and asked them to publish my book. I sent my response on 6/4 but got no response. I had to double-check my account settings before realizing it could be due to me sending the e-mail from a different address than the one they had on file for me. Accordingly, I updated my e-mail address and contacted them again. I even told them I was going to blog about this problem on Wednesday and hoped we could report it resolved. This time I received an apology and a reassurance that the Kobo team was working on the problem and my book would be available soon. As of Tuesday evening, Twinned Universes is still stuck in Kobo Limbo.

I think if there's no change by next Monday, it'll be time to pull the account with Kobo. Honestly, even if Kobo does get my book published before then, I'll be very reluctant to publish directly through them in the future. I hate to do it, but it may be simplest to just use Kobo as a retailer, not a publisher. If the problem really is due to a conflict with Smashwords (remember, this is just a hypothesis; it's not proven yet), then the systems need a way to identify this issue for the authors and to check when the conflict has been removed. In the meantime, I apologize to any Kobo users who would like to read my book; I'll have to refer you to Smashwords to sideload the correct format.

Have any of you Indies had similar experiences with Kobo or other publishers? If so, were you able to have the problem resolved? What has your experience been with Kobo?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Blog Ring of Power--Heidi Vlach

Today as part of the Blog Ring of Power I have Heidi Vlach. This is Part 4, About Your Current Work. You can find the other parts here:

Part 1: Terri
Part 2: Theresa
Part 3: Emily

Part 5 will appear on Dean's blog tomorrow (6/11/13)

Tell us about your new book and when it is out? Where can people purchase it?

Render, the latest Story of Aligare, just came out May 7th. It's the story of Rue, a young woman of the insect-like aemet race. She's coming of age in an isolated mountain community, trying to find a practical use for her family trade, tinctoring (using dye to pH test the soil). Life is already meagre in her village — and then fellow aemets start turning up dead, attacked by wolves that don't seem to have any regard for the natural order. Keeping quiet so she doesn't alarm her superstitious fellow aemets, Rue promises herself that she'll solve this village's problems. But she'll need help from the two other peoplekind species. Especially Felixi, a game hunter of the dragon-like korvi race — and a fellow who knows more about the wolf attacks than he's willing to share. 

Is there anything new, unusual, or interesting about your book? How is it different from other books on the same subject?

Non-human/anthropomorphic characters aren't rare in fantasy, but I haven't found any other authors who treat them quite the way I do. I try for a perspective similar to science fiction. We don't question why aliens are aliens. They just exist and they're different from us, and hey, maybe we can learn from that. I take the social attitudes of optimistic, utopian sci-fi, and I blend that with the rustic villages and elemental magics that are familiar to fantasy.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

I fiddled with the chronology a lot. Which meant that I kept having to rejigger the characters' reactions each time events came in a different order.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

I enjoyed writing scenes with Denelend, one of the ferrin people (intelligent weasels). Denelend started out as a throwaway character in one scene. He barely had a name and he only existed to demonstrate a particular use for magic. But I found more and more places to use the mild-mannered little guy, and he became a solid plot character, and he even got to take heroic action. Every time he worked his way into another scene, I was kind of rooting for him!

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?

I learned that publishing deadlines are awful and I should never give myself a deadline again! There was some panic in late April. I always say that editing a novel is like renovating a house: everything that seems like a quick two-day fix ends up being an extensive tear-out-and-rebuild.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in this book?

I think I'd just have more faith in it. All the rearranging and characterization-tweaking made me feel like this project was a hopeless mess. But I like how it all worked out, so on some level, I apparently knew what I was doing.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Render is about characters defining themselves, questioning their society, pushing their own abilities and surviving challenges. I'm not sure I want to push one overall message. I just hope that readers see something positive that they find personally meaningful.

Tell us about your book’s cover – where did the design come from and what was the design process like?

The artwork is by Melanie Herring (a.k.a. PurpleKecleon). She also drew up the cover for Remedy and Render, and the subject matter is stuff she likes to draw anyway, so she doesn't need a lot of direction from me. I describe the scene I want and its colour scheme, and she basically comes back to me with gorgeous art!
As for the designs I have in mind? It took some thought to come up with a cover for my first book, Remedy. Literal artwork of the characters wouldn't work for my Stories of Aligare — because marketing has us trained to associate "animal people" with cute little children's stories. So the Stories of Aligare have more symbolic covers. The new book Render has a magical gemstone — a piece of golden beryl charged with firecasting magic  — that looks like it's been dropped and forgotten in some isolated forest area. I wanted a sense of the strength and wonder we can find in unexpected places.

Heidi is a Canadian chef graduate who didn't care much for the high-stress kitchen life. Her knowledge of food and culture is now used for home cooking, being an overqualified waitress and fantasy world-building. Heidi currently shares an apartment with her (male) best friend, two cats and far too many video games.

Please let us know where your readers can stalk you:
Facebook page:
Goodreads author page:
What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)?
My books are available in ebook and print-on-demand paperback. All the buying options are listed on the Books section of my blog:

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Thief by Sarah-Jane Lehoux--Excerpt and eBook Giveaway!

Recently, Sarah-Jane Lehoux stopped by for a Blog Ring of Power interview. She's back with us today to share an excerpt from the first book in The Sevy Series, Thief:

Did they notice the change in him? He doubted it. For people always lamenting their fate to muck through life as the dregs of society, they never made much effort to improve their situation. And they never looked kindly on those who did. They probably couldn’t even begin to fathom why he would want to leave this type of existence. Here it was, another pointless night of fighting and drinking followed by the familiar malaise of a hangover then back to business robbing honest people of their hard earned coins. They sickened him. He sickened himself for ever being a part of it.
“Jarro! Here, have a glass,” someone cheered as they shoved a mug of ale into his hand.
Alcohol wouldn’t improve his mood. He had been in a funk for weeks now and a little drink wasn’t going to change that. Time was ticking by far too slowly. He just wished that… No, he couldn’t wish that. Turlan was worth the aggravation. Jarro went to him now, to his chair by the front door where he was snoozing.
“Hey, Turlan. How are you feeling tonight?”
“I’d be feeling a might bit better if you’d pass me that ale.”
“Do you think that’s wise?”
Turlan chortled. “At my age, nothing’s wise.”
Jarro conceded and handed him the mug. Absorbed in his drink, Turlan didn’t provide much in the way of conversation so Jarro had to settle for watching the others dance and play. A crowd had gathered around Bolozi, egging him on as he attempted to down an entire keg. He passed out half way through and flopped onto the middle of the table with a phlegm-filled snort. Jarro sneered and contemplated having a bit of sport with a razor and Bolozi’s fat head. Sevy’s influence, no doubt.
The thought of her coaxed a smile from him. She could probably think of dozens of wicked tricks they could play on Bolozi. Jarro looked around for her before spotting her with Revik. They were dancing. Well, in a manner of speaking. Revik was spinning her and she stumbled to stay upright, winded by laughter. Jarro frowned at the twinge of possessiveness that crept up his spine. He shook it off and turned back to Turlan.
“How about a game of cards?”
“Sure! I’d never pass up a chance to get yer money.”
Jarro moved over to the table and shoved Bolozi to the floor. He hit the ground with a thump and kept on snoring. Jarro could barely resist the urge to give him a good, swift kick. Turlan sat down and pulled out a deck of cards. A few men joined in, and a lively game was soon underway. For a while, it was almost like old times.
An hour later, Jarro was down eighteen silver pieces, having lost the last three hands in a row. “Guess it’s not my lucky night, eh Turlan?”
There was no answer. Turlan, though he was still clinging to his cards, had fallen asleep. Gently, Jarro picked him up and carried him to his room. It wasn’t the least bit difficult. Turlan weighed next to nothing. Jarro cringed at the crunching he felt in Turlan’s joints as he tucked him into bed. There was so little left of him now. “Goodnight, old friend,” he whispered.
On his way back to the game, he happened to glance over to a corner where Revik and Sevy sat, chatting with one another. The muscles in Jarro’s neck tensed. He rubbed them to relax again and resumed the game.
Minutes passed. He couldn’t resist looking over his shoulder to sneak a peek at them. Sevy was playing with Revik’s hair, making tiny braids in the long white strands while she whispered into his ear. Revik looked up and caught Jarro’s eye before saying something that made Sevy laugh.
“Hey, Jarro? You in or what?”
“Huh? Yeah, yeah, I’m in.”
He tried to focus on the game, but was completely distracted. What were they talking about? He turned to look at them again. Sevy leaned into Revik, her hand on his chest in a very intimate manner. Then Revik draped an arm around her and she rested her head against him. His lips brushed against her temple, which made her laugh again.
Jarro tossed his cards aside. Ignoring everyone he passed, he stormed out into the courtyard, pushing over some wooden crates as he went. His blood pounded. His chest puffed out with each breath.
He drew his sword. The practice dummy, innocently swaying back and forth in the breeze, became his unsuspecting opponent. He slashed it, splitting it open so that its straw entrails spilled over the ground, but Jarro found that wasn’t good enough so he set about hacking it to shreds. Once it was completely obliterated, he took a few swipes at the pole it had been attached to. It was immature, but it did make him feel better. The rage was gone. Now he was left with a subtle, seething resentment that sat like a rock in his gut. Kicking through the remains of his inanimate foe, he puzzled over his anger.
He looked suspiciously at the open door as though it was the source of his bad temper, and debated whether or not to go back in. The music and voices inside were creating quite the racket. Smoke drifted lazily out into the sky. Everyone else was having a good time, why shouldn’t he? It was his gang, his home. Why should he feel unwelcome there? It wasn’t right. He should march in there, take back the money he lost, throw Bolozi out on his drunken ass, and pry Sevy free from Revik’s clutches. And if anyone didn’t like it, well, they could suffer the same fate that the dummy had.
This wasn’t at all like him, he reflected as he circled the courtyard. It was just the result of everything that had been happening lately. He had to be content with the knowledge that things would improve with time. It was silly to get so worked up. Sevy would make fun of him if she had witnessed this juvenile temper tantrum.
The mental picture of her in Revik’s arms made his blood boil once more. Logically, he knew that it shouldn’t upset him. Why should he care what she did? It was her life and if she wanted to waste her time with the likes of Revik then so be it. No, that wasn’t fair of him. Revik was a good man, one of his closest friends.
He wondered what they were doing. Was Revik sweet talking her? Maybe by now they had gone upstairs for some privacy. Maybe he was using that elvish charm of his. Sevy always did have a weakness for bad boys. Jarro paced the length of the courtyard so furiously it made him light-headed. Is Revik kissing her now? Sevy wouldn’t fall for that, would she? Of course not, she’s a smart girl. She knows what men are like. Then again, she and Revik had been friends for a long time and they had a lot in common.
Jarro pulled at his hair, hoping the pain would purify him. It didn’t matter what they were doing. It was none of his business. If he just repeated that enough maybe he’d believe it.
He decided that he didn’t want to go back in. He kicked at the ground while he contemplated what to do instead. The attack on the dummy had dulled the edge of his sword. The blade needed sharpening. He stomped over to the whetstone that was in the corner, doused it with water, and worked the pedal with his foot until the wheel reached proper speed. Then he pressed his blade against it.
A soft light grabbed his attention. Though the arms of the courtyard tree partially blocked the window, he could tell that a candle had been lit up in Sevy’s room. What did that mean? Was she alone? Was Revik with her? His concentration distracted, Jarro’s finger slipped and rubbed against the whetstone. He pulled his hand away, but not before the skin had been scraped raw. “Dammit!”
He was startled by a low laugh. “You shouldn’t play with your sword while you’re drunk,” Revik said from the doorway.
“I’m not drunk,” he muttered, though he suddenly felt a curious jolt of relief.
“The great playboy Jarro leaving a party before he’s stewed? Why, that’s unheard of!”
“Not in much of a party mood, I guess.”
“And why is that?”
“I have to have a reason? Why are you out here anyway? I thought you were…”
“Thought I was what?” Revik moved closer, amusement dancing in his carmine eyes. “Otherwise engaged?”
“Your business, not mine.” Jarro ran his finger along the edge of his blade. It was nice and sharp now. He returned it to its sheath and looked around for something else to occupy his time. But there was nothing except for the bothersome dark elf who would not stop grinning.
“You humans. For having such a short life span, you sure do waste a lot of time. You never just say what’s on your mind, do you?”
“Well, why don’t you tell me what’s on my mind then, hmm? I didn’t realize you were clairvoyant.”
“It’s deadly obvious. You’re upset that Sevy was paying attention to someone other than you. But instead of acknowledging that, you’d rather sulk out here. And apparently,” he eyed the dummy, “break things.”
Jarro tried to laugh, but it came out sounding like an unnatural cough. “You think I care what she does? Why should I?”
“Because you’re in love with her.”
“What? You’re insane!”
“You mean you’re not? Really? That’s wonderful news because I was thinking of trying my luck with her. I just wanted to make sure it was all right with you first. It is all right with you, isn’t it?”
Jarro was helpless to do anything other than stutter random noises.
“Oh, so it’s not?” Revik asked once he had stopped chuckling. “Hmm. I can’t imagine why.”
“It wouldn’t work,” Jarro insisted. “It would be a bad idea. A very, very bad idea.”
“Think so? And why’s that?”
“You and Sevy, um, the thing is she…”
“I see. So you don’t want her, but I can’t have her either. Is that what you’re trying to say?”
“That’s not it at all. It’s just, I don’t know. It’s complicated.”
“Why don’t I believe you?”
“I don’t know. Maybe because you’re an ass?”
“Ouch! Well, aren’t we testy tonight? You know what would make you feel better?” Jarro didn’t bother to ask what, as he knew Revik was enjoying himself far too much to stop there. “A bottle of wine, some candlelight, and a certain brunette.”
“Don’t be a pig.”
“You know you want to. Don’t pretend you don’t. Look at you. You’re practically panting for it.”
“You know something? I used to think you were clever, but you are clearly just a babbling half-wit with too much time on his hands. Yes, I love Sevy. She’s my friend. But that’s all she is. So can you please just shut up?”
“Good gods, man! Quit lying to yourself. Do you have any idea how many bets I’ve lost over the years waiting for you two to finally get together? What’s taking you so long? She’s a great girl.”
“I know that.”
“Don’t meet girls like her too often.”
“I know!”
“And she’s got a nice little body too. Kind of small up top, but I sure wouldn’t mind having a go with her.”
“You watch your damned mouth!”
Revik laughed so hard he doubled over. Disgusted, Jarro moved to charge past him, but Revik caught his arm. “Hold on, I’m not finished. If you’re worried about me, don’t be. I wouldn’t do that to you even if I was interested in her. But how much longer do you expect Sevy to wait around for you? Sooner or later, she’s going to find a man who won’t take her for granted.”
“What do you mean?”
Revik brought his shoulders up to almost his ears with his exaggerated shrug. Still chuckling, he headed for the door.
“Wait a minute!” Jarro called after him. “Do you really think that?”
“Hard to say. I’m just a babbling half-wit, remember?”
Jarro stood gazing up at Sevy’s window. “Revik doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I don’t take her for granted, she knows that,” he mumbled under his breath. “She knows I’d do anything for her.”
“Because you’re in love with her,” Revik’s words floated back to him.
He felt like breaking things again. He was anxious and edgy and wasn’t sure what was causing it. He wanted to go inside, yell at Revik, set him straight.
Damn smug elf!
What did he know anyway? If Revik couldn’t understand that platonic relationships between men and women happened all the time, then it was his loss. After minutes more pacing and brooding, Jarro decided to talk with Sevy. They’d have a laugh about it and that way he’d know that Revik was simply spouting rubbish as usual. He walked inside and up the stairs, ignoring the obnoxious wink Revik gave him. There was no answer when he knocked on the door to Sevy’s room.
“Sevy?” He heard her giggle, so he cracked the door open and peeked in. “Sevy?” he repeated.
She was in her nightgown, crouching barefoot with her hands clasped in front of her.
“What are you doing?”
“Look what I got!” She held her hands up. A faint green light slipped through the cracks of her fingers, accompanied by a buzzing sound. “See?” she said, moving a thumb to reveal an angry pixie bouncing off her palms. “I caught it trying to steal my stuff.”
“It’s too small to steal your stuff,” he said, baffled.
“I’m going to keep it. What should I name it?”
“It’s a pixie, sweetheart. They don’t need names. Now you’d better let it go before it—”
“—bites you.”
“Stupid little… I’m gonna smush it!”
“No, you don’t.” He pried her fingers apart and let the poor sprite loose. It fluttered about as if in a daze before zipping through the open window, off to re-join its swarm and tell them about the evil giant it had battled. Sevy giggled again and swayed backwards. Jarro caught her elbow to steady her. “How much did you have to drink?”
“A lot!” Before he could say anything else, she threw her arms around him and nuzzled her face into his hair. “Aw, Jarro, you’re not angry, are you? You left the party. Where’d you go?”
The warmth of her breath against his neck made him flush, and it really didn’t help that there was only a thin slip of fabric between his hands and her skin. “I, uh, the noise was getting to me.”
“You wanna go back down? Let’s go fight with somebody.”
He laughed. “No, you should go to sleep. It’s late.”
She mumbled something incoherent as he helped her to bed. He pulled the blanket up for her and she gave him a bleary-eyed smile before falling asleep. For a moment, he watched her, fondly smoothing some hair from her face before he caught himself.
He was stunned as the truth revealed itself. Suddenly everything became very clear. The jealousy he had watching her with Revik, the lust that had given him so much guilt, the emptiness he had felt when she was away. The reason he always pictured her with him when he imagined what life would be like after Eloria. It all made perfect sense now.
He loved her. He had always loved her. Leaning down, he kissed her lips, happily thinking that they were just as sweet and soft as he had dreamed them to be, before blowing out the candle and leaving her room.
Now I’ve just got to find a way to show her.
 Sarah-Jane is offering an eBook of Thief to one lucky commenter on this blog. You can also purchase Thief and the rest of the Sevy series via the links below:
Click here to follow the rest of Sarah-Jane's blog tour for a chance to win other prizes.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Back on the Blog Chain--Summer Loving

With the summer solstice coming later this month, Katrina wants to hear about our characters' summer romances:

Have you ever written a summer fling? Or are all your fictional relationships the deep, forever kind? If you did write one, how would it begin (the meet cute)? Where would it be set? Give us a few paragraphs sample. 
I prefer writing about long-term relationships over summer flings; however, there is one character of mine who is the exception to this rule. Her name is Jenna, and appropriately enough, she's the Sola Sum in my Season Lords (which I may rename Season Avatars) fantasy series. Jenna serves the God of Summer and has plant magic.  She is the most sensual of the Season Lords/Season Avatars. The first time I wrote about her, she was a farmer's daughter who'd grown up near the small town of Bull Rock and had had an affair with a youth named Ridley, the son of a local nobleman. The affair ended when Jenna became pregnant and Ridley refused to marry her because she wasn't of his class. (Technically, as a Season Lord or Season Avatar, Jenna is eligible to be ennobled in her own right and would actually outrank Ridley, but that hadn't happened at that point in the story. Ridley's rejection of her was based on snobbery for her low birth and Jenna's lack of social graces.) I've changed Jenna's background for Scattered Seasons, which will be the first book in the Season Lords/Season Avatars series, but since this affair is the closest thing I have to a summer fling, we'll use it for this blog post.

"Meeting cute" sounds too contemporary for a fantasy world loosely based on Victorian England. Ridley and Jenna would have been aware of each other as they were growing up, but Ridley would have noticed Jenna more as she matured. Jenna is tall and shapely, with red hair, green eyes, and an alluring smile. Ridley came back from a winter in Challen's capital city of Vistichia to his family's estate in Bull Rock to find Jenna working with her family in the field. Her plant magic would have brought her to his attention, and then her attractive appearance and flirtatious ways would have done the rest. Ridley couldn't bring her back to his family's house without creating gossip fodder for the servants, so they'd go for walks in the evening and find hidden places in the fields and valleys for their trysts.

Ridley and Jenna's love affair had ended by the time the story started, so all I have for a sample is a bit of the aftermath:

Her heart twisted as she looked at him, and his pleasant expression faded as she stared. All through the winter, she’d sat at her window with her melon-like belly and dreamed of him missing her in Vistichia. Now she knew why he hadn’t even bothered to write her. He’d been with other women, and she was just his summer lightskirt. Maybe she wasn’t even the one he loved best.
“Get out,” she said, her voice surprisingly hoarse.
 “What?” he asked.   
“You heard me, get out.”
“Don’t you even want to hear what I’ve planned for our son?”
“He’s not your son, he’s mine! You’ll never have him.”
He backed away, arms outstretched. “What did I do?”

“You can’t figure that out, you’re more stupid than a carrot growin’ upside down. You and your father always take and never give. Go find some other pretty face to lift her skirts for you for nothin’, I won’t do it again.”

Ridley's character didn't make it into the most recent draft of Scattered Seasons, but I'd always planned to say "good riddance" to him anyway. Unfortunately for Jenna, her luck with men hasn't improved.

For happier summer flings, check out Kate's post from yesterday and visit Christine's blog tomorrow. Please let me know if you prefer "Season Lords" or "Season Avatars" for the series title. Thanks!

Monday, June 03, 2013

BRoP Interview--Aaron Dennis

Today I have Aaron Dennis with me as part of the Blog Ring of Power. Specifically, he's here to talk about his current work. You can find the other parts of his interview below:

Part 1--Terri
Part 2--Theresa
Part 3--Emily
Part 5--Dean (to appear tomorrow, 6/4/13)

Tell us about your new book—what is it about—and when it is out? Where can people purchase it?

My newest release, Lokians: Book3 For War and Glory is the most action packed novel ever. Schneriously, there’s so much action I was getting headaches while reviewing its contents. The great thing is that it is a natural stopping point for the Lokian series, not that the series is over. It is not, but this novel brings many things to a head. It’s available on my site, just click Lokians 3 on the home page and it will take you to Eternal Press, or you can purchase it on Amazon. Hopefully print copies are out by now.

Is there anything new, unusual, or interesting about your book? How is it different from other books on the same subject?

The Lokians series is hard sci fi. I explain the tech, the biological intricacies of the aliens, etc, but mostly its unique in that it reads like a movie. Think Starship Troopers meets Bad Boyz2 meets M.I.B. It really has something for everyone, and people who are not sci fi fans will be after they get into the series. There are also some Lokians short stories on They, too, are available through my website.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

The hardest part of writing LB3 was keeping the flow of action. Naturally, there are times when the crew is out traveling in space, but I had to create a sense of impending doom, since things are not progressing well, planetside. To portray a deteriorating situation on Earth, I wrote a small one or two paragraph intro into the non action laden chapters. It was tough work, but it paid off.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

My favorite chapters involve the Jersey Gold. He’s a character, and it’s a ship…you’ll see. Anyway, I had a chance to put my protagonist, O’Hara, in a different environment than what he’s accosted to, and it just felt really good. It was like being able to aggravate my own character. Loads of fun.

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?

I add some knowledge regarding dark matter, and dark energy. Unfortunately, there still isn’t much concrete evidence regarding either therum, but it seems evident that both must exist. Luckily, since not much is known about either, I got to play with the concepts as much as I liked.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in this book?

Not a thing. It may be the best thing I’ve written to date.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Aliens will come to Earth. No…well…..maybe they will.

I’m Aaron Dennis, creator of the Lokians science fiction series. I’ll let you guess how old I am. I’ve only been writing since early 2011, and published since August 2012, but I came out like a bat from hell. Not out like out, but like out of nowhere…At any rate, everything you need to know about me is available on my website  Like Lokians on facebook or baby leopards will loose their spots. * * Disclaimer, Aaron is literally nuts *
Please let us know where your readers can stalk you:
Facebook page:
Goodreads author page: I don’t know but it’s there somewhere….just look for Lokians
Twitter: @authaarondennis
Amazon: again…just type in Lokians
Smashwords: this is available on my site. 
What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)?
I think Epub and PDF, but I convert it to Mobi and whatever else
One final note I want to add…I was drinking when I answered these questions shhhhh

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