Into the Dreaming Imaginative Fiction from Author, Reviewer, and Writing Coach Christine Amsden

Clare’s Song

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BLURB:

Clara was born with a veil, and the ability to see into the future. This much she knows. What she doesn’t know is what other gifts will be revealed when she turns eighteen in a few months. While her grandmother has been diligent in her efforts to prepare her for the inevitable changes to come, Clara can focus on precious little besides the devilishly handsome man she met at her coming out ball. Secure in the knowledge that she has a bright future ahead of her, the future Clara discovers is one that she could never have conjured in her wildest dreams.

EXCERPT:

Chapter One

Charleston, SC

August, 1861

By midnight at Hibernian Hall Clara had danced six dances. Joseph Gibbs had tripped on the hem of her skirt, bless his heart, and ended up on his knees as if seeking divine intervention for just one night of social grace. Leland Montague had simply atrocious breath; evidently he had an unseen rotting tooth, making her continuously look the other way for a breath of fresh air. Walter Wragg didn’t speak a word during the entire dance, blushing profusely when she so much as looked him directly in the eye. Albert Tradd held her entirely too close, causing her father to intervene and have a few choice words with the young dandy on the balcony. Ashby Calhoun, her last dance partner, had bragged incessantly of his family’s wealth, his travels abroad, and what a great catch he would be for any of Charleston’s Southern belles.

Her coming out ball certainly was not turning out as planned.

Clara shuddered at the mere thought of being trapped in a loveless marriage with the offerings thus far. Spinsterhood had never looked more tempting.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_ClarasSongKitty Margo was a former hairstylist, human resource assistant and phlebotomist before venturing into the ranks of the self employed with a commercial cleaning company. This allowed her the free time to pursue writing. She has seven books available now and is close to finishing her eighth.

She is a Twilight fanatic who frequently dreams of being bitten by Edward Cullen. Hey, he’s a vampire so the 30 year age difference doesn’t matter!

Visit her at www.kittymargo.com or on her Facebook page. Emails can be sent to kittymargo@hotmail.com.

Website www.kittymargo.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kitty-Margo/605060432867441?ref=bookmarks

Twitter @kittymargo

 

 

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Movie Review: Annie

If you’re going to remake a movie like Annie, you’ve got to do it big! So when I first saw previews for this movie, my instinct was doubt. Then, when I saw the scenes between Will Stacks (Jamie Fox) and Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis) I thought it could be good to see the story updated. Though set in the 1930′s, there are certainly timeless elements to the idea of a ruthless billionaire’s heart being thawed by an optimistic girl with no parents.

So the question is: Did they do it big?

Answer: Almost.

This movie came frustratingly close at times to being great, but ultimately I can see why reviews are only so-so. (I didn’t read them in advance. I stubbornly refused, wanting to make my own decision.) Among other things, Little Orphan Annie was in the foster care system rather than an orphanage, a nice modern update. Billionaire Will Stacks was a cell phone tycoon with a smart home that catered to his every whim. They even updated and deepened the relationship between these two characters. Annie was unable to read, a nice new tidbit that made her situation feel more real. Stacks had a bit of backstory as well. I particularly liked how they got together in the first place — not a random pick but a calculated move to win a mayoral race. Annie, street-smart as she was, knew what he was after right away and drove a hard bargain.

This story remained a musical in this version, a decision I was uncertain about throughout, although I did like hearing the familiar, well-loved songs from the original alongside a couple of new songs.

The big problem with this movie is that they didn’t own it. While Annie came across as genuine, most of the other characters felt like charicatures of themselves. This was never more true than with Mrs. Hannigan, played by Cammeron Diaz — a worse casting choice I have rarely seen. She overplayed the bitter, drunk to the point of absurdity and never for a moment made me believe it. I assume she got the role because she’s a big name, but she failed to portray any depth of character, which made her eventual redemption arc difficult to swallow.

Rose Byrne as Grace did an adequate job, but some of her lines were painful and I felt like she didn’t believe them when she delivered them. (Not that I could entirely blame her.) Ultimately, this character managed to portray even less personality than she did in the original. And Jamie Fox (William Stacks), though he did a good job with the direction he was given, was just a little too exaggerated … especially with the whole spitting food out thing.

If there’s one thing that defines modern times and modern acting it’s a genuine delivery. This has been slow in coming. Exaggeration is a stage actor’s tool, necessary to relay a sense of emotion to a crowded theater that can’t see the fine details on his face. But as the cameras have zoomed in, honesty is becoming more and more the norm in dramatic films. Musicals still do tend to the absurd, perhaps in part because it is absurd to randomly jump into song and dance. And I think the makers of this movie knew that, because they actually pointed out the fact more than once (and not in a way I found satirically funny — it just called the flaw to attention).

All of which brings me back to my original assertion: If you’re going to redo a movie like Annie, you’ve got to do it big. You’ve got to mean it. You’ve got to own it. And I’m afraid the writers, directors, and actors did not do that in the 2014 version of the show.

It’s not bad. If you love the story, maybe just wait to rent it.

Book Review: Black Hole Bounty

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BLURB:

Destiny is written in the stars? Maybe, but when you’re in a black hole you make your own damn destiny.

It’s not every day you get abducted by an alien general, but then, Jerusa Whichab isn’t having an average day. Earth is fading from view and she’s got a decision to make – cooperate with her despotic, yet unnervingly attractive captor or receive an injection of goo. General Toyeb can’t be trusted, and his body-healing, mind-blowing Theta waves leave her panting for more. But what choice does she have if she’s to stay alive?

None, if enemy bounty hunter Berwyck dal Korth has his way. Intent on capturing Jerusa, he performs a binding ritual to ensure she cannot escape him – a ritual with unforeseen side effects for both of them. Forced into hostile proximity, Berwyck and Jerusa battle to subdue their rising attraction, but will they conquer their desire – or succumb?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review: 

Black Hole Bounty defied my expectations. I mean, in some ways it was what I expected – it is a romantic alien abduction story after all — but it managed to throw me for several loops and even at the end, I can’t honestly say for sure I know where the rest of the series is going. I just know I want to find out!

I was quickly drawn into this story because of its light, conversational, and easy narrative voice. It actually made me think a little of my own Cassie Scot series (in narrative style only :) ).

The story itself began with Jerusa being kidnapped by aliens … they need her. Well, they need her blood to cure a disease. Apparently, one of her ancestors wasn’t exactly human and so many generations later, neither is she.

I was concerned about the story a bit during the first half. I did not like General Toyeb, the man who kidnapped her and who I originally thought would be the main romantic interest. I also thought Jerusa was a bit too trusting. But as I said, the story defied my expectations. It took a major right turn halfway through and the second half just kept getting better and better, leaving me wanting more by the end!

Among other things, I like the creativity of the world building, the thought the author put into the alien biology, and the fact that though there is romantic interest here, the aliens are not human.

I believe this is a new author. And I think one to watch!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Sienna spent her adolescence staring at the dark skies over the Caribbean coast of Panama, dreaming up romantic adventures she now delights in writing down. She reads, writes and revels in romance, and she’s attracted to off-beat, sexy characters—in fiction and in real life! These days she lives a long way from the Caribbean, but when she drags her husband and children to Hermitage Castle to gaze at the stars, the vast beauty of space makes her feel at home. Who knows, maybe an alien will pop down and invite them on a ride?

You can find out more about Sienna and her books on her website: www.siennabronwyn.com.

Zoom down with a message on FB: https://www.facebook.com/sienna.bronwyn or

Tweet to her @Sienna_Bronwyn

Buy links:

http://www.amazon.com/Black-Hole-Bounty-Sienna-Bronwyn-ebook/dp/B00MU46IM8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408465287&sr=8-1&keywords=black+hole+bounty

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/black-hole-bounty-sienna-bronwyn/1120161444?ean=2940150734760

http://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/index.php?main_page=book_info&cPath=30&products_id=933&zenid=885456d5a9caf51600fa6e792b90cac9

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Holiday Parade: The Case of the Dispatched Detective

Today I’m featuring another great gift idea by author Stephanie Osborn, fellow Twilight Times author.

This is not your father’s Sherlock Holmes…

The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival is a science fiction mystery in which brilliant hyperspatial physicist, Dr. Skye Chadwick, discovers there are alternate realities, often populated by those we consider only literary characters. Her pet research, Project: Tesseract, hidden deep under Schriever AFB, finds Continuum 114, where Sherlock Holmes was to have died along with Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. In a Knee-jerk reaction, Skye rescues Holmes, who inadvertently flies through the wormhole to our universe, while his enemy plunges to his death. Unable to go back without causing devastating continuum collapse, Holmes must stay in our world and adapt. Meanwhile, the Schriever AFB Dept of Security discovers a spy ring working to dig out the details of – and possibly sabotage – Project: Tesseract. Can Chadwick help Holmes come up to speed in modern investigative techniques in time to stop the spies? Will Holmes be able to thrive in our modern world? Is Chadwick now Holmes’ new “Watson” – or more? And what happens next?


“…This is a really bad time for me to leave console at the moment, hon.”

Caitlin shot her a hard, annoyed look.

“You can’t be considering it,” she said flatly. “All hell is breaking loose here. I don’t care if the President needed you five minutes ago! You have to stay here!”

“Chill, Cait,” Skye tossed an aside to her friend, phone held absently to the side of her face with her shoulder as she tried to read the scribbled note Timelines handed her, around annotating her clipboard. “I’ve got more to do than I can shake a stick at now. I’m…what?” she said, staring at the note. “Software! Check the focus subroutine! Make sure it’s initiating at the correct point in the program! The last thing we need now is a software glitch causing a delay in timing. If that’s happening, no wonder the induction element’s hosed! Hardware, make sure the circuit’s clear! Holmes, I’m sorry, I can’t make it right now. I don’t have time to catch my breath down here.”

* * *


Holmes listened closely, not only to Skye’s direct comments, but also to her asides and commands, and to what he could hear of the remarks made to her. He covered the mouthpiece with his hand and informed Jones and Smith.

“It appears matters are not going well in the Chamber.” He punched the speaker button on the phone so the other men could hear. Then he returned his attention to the sounds coming from the phone. “Skye, what is happening?”

* * *


Skye watched as her teammates fought with the recalcitrant apparatus. One of the Hardware console members, Chad Swann by name and a longstanding friend of Skye’s, moved into the center of the room to check the circuitry of the monoliths. Skye grabbed her clipboard, flipping to the malfunction shutdown checklist, where she scanned the list, trying to determine the seriousness of their
situation.

Vaguely she heard Holmes’ query, but didn’t have time to devote to it. Still, she managed to find two spare brain cells to rub together, and replied abstractedly, “We’re having a malfunction in the induction element system. We can’t keep it focused…”

“Skye, we need you to make a call! Shut down, or put it in a holding pattern and troubleshoot?” Caitlin interrupted. Skye juggled phone and clipboard, trying to assess the checklist for priority red malfunction modes.

“Holmes, I’ve gotta go,” she said into the phone. “I need to figure out how serious this is—”

“DR. CHADWICK! We’ve got a GRAVITON SPIKE!” Sequencing shouted.

* * *


Smith and Jones watched as Holmes’ expression grew more and more grave as he listened to the sounds on the other end of the line. They heard Skye’s attempt to break the conversation, and Holmes was about to answer in the affirmative when they overheard the exclamation from Sequencing.

Holmes paled as they heard Skye shout, “Chad!! Get out of there! NO! EMERGENCY SHUTDO—”

The line went dead.

Instantly the entire building shuddered hard enough to knock books off shelves and send Skye’s chalk tumbling from its rack on the blackboard, smashing into dusty white shards on the tile. The three men grabbed for heavy furniture to avoid being flung to the floor.

* * *


When the quake subsided, the three men sat staring at each other, shaken. Holmes felt almost lightheaded, his grey eyes wide.

“What happened?” Jones demanded. “Did that earthquake have anything to do with Project: Tesser—”

“Emergency shutdown,” Holmes snapped out, leaping to his feet. “Graviton spike.” He didn’t fully understand the significance of the graviton spike, but from his reading of Skye’s quantum mechanics text, which perforce contained a significant amount of particle physics, he knew what a graviton was, and strongly suspected it was connected to the quake. “I am going down to the Chamber,” he declared in a tone brooking no argument. “The two of you may come, or stay.”

* * *


“Is your authorization in?” Jones turned to Smith.

“Your duty officer entered it into the system when I arrived this morning,” Smith observed.

“Good. We’re coming, Holmes,” Jones declared.

But Holmes was already out the door and down the hall, headed for the elevators at a dead run.

Jones and Smith sprinted behind.

~~~

The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival is available in print and ebook (all formats), and the first four books of the series have been released in a collected ebook edition, The Case of the Displaced Detective Omnibus. Book 5, A Case of Spontaneous Combustion, is a 2014 new release. All of them are suitable for gift-giving!

Black Hole Bounty Excerpt + Giveaway

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BLURB:

Destiny is written in the stars? Maybe, but when you’re in a black hole you make your own damn destiny.

It’s not every day you get abducted by an alien general, but then, Jerusa Whichab isn’t having an average day. Earth is fading from view and she’s got a decision to make – cooperate with her despotic, yet unnervingly attractive captor or receive an injection of goo. General Toyeb can’t be trusted, and his body-healing, mind-blowing Theta waves leave her panting for more. But what choice does she have if she’s to stay alive?

None, if enemy bounty hunter Berwyck dal Korth has his way. Intent on capturing Jerusa, he performs a binding ritual to ensure she cannot escape him – a ritual with unforeseen side effects for both of them. Forced into hostile proximity, Berwyck and Jerusa battle to subdue their rising attraction, but will they conquer their desire – or succumb?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excerp:

Escaping me isn’t in your best interests.”

Something in Berwyck’s tone made me wary, but for once I had the upper hand and I was going to slap him with it. “Here’s the deal—you keep your blood bank safe until we get to the compound and I’ll help you beam out the Uneg you need. Comprende?”

It’s you who doesn’t understand.” He expelled a long breath. “As part of the healing ritual I performed I fed you my varr.”

Varr…Now, where had I heard that word before? I rubbed at the scar on my neck and recoiled. “The liquid you poured down my throat was your venom? The same stuff you injected under my skin so you could track me?”

This varr is different,” he said stiffly.

But just as gross.” My stomach roiled. How much had I swallowed in the past five days? Inside my body I had Berwyck’s vile, disgusting venom mixing with vile, disgusting meat. Did he collect it from a gland in his mouth similar to the rhendar’s before he gave it to me, or—oh, God, did he squeeze it out of his veins? Whatever the case, it was rising to the back of my throat. “I’m going to be sick.”

Your body won’t expel my varr,” Berwyck said, through my dry-heaves. “The ritual I performed forces you to accept it as nourishment, not venom. It won’t make you sick, but—” He waited until he had my full attention. “It exacts a price.”

Huh? “I don’t have money.”

Not money.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Sienna spent her adolescence staring at the dark skies over the Caribbean coast of Panama, dreaming up romantic adventures she now delights in writing down. She reads, writes and revels in romance, and she’s attracted to off-beat, sexy characters—in fiction and in real life! These days she lives a long way from the Caribbean, but when she drags her husband and children to Hermitage Castle to gaze at the stars, the vast beauty of space makes her feel at home. Who knows, maybe an alien will pop down and invite them on a ride?

You can find out more about Sienna and her books on her website: www.siennabronwyn.com.

Zoom down with a message on FB: https://www.facebook.com/sienna.bronwyn or

Tweet to her @Sienna_Bronwyn

Buy links:

http://www.amazon.com/Black-Hole-Bounty-Sienna-Bronwyn-ebook/dp/B00MU46IM8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408465287&sr=8-1&keywords=black+hole+bounty

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/black-hole-bounty-sienna-bronwyn/1120161444?ean=2940150734760

http://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/index.php?main_page=book_info&cPath=30&products_id=933&zenid=885456d5a9caf51600fa6e792b90cac9

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99 Cent Sale!

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PLUS …

Every book in the Cassie Scot series will be discounted through the end of November!

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Read the First Chapters Here

Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective (Book 1)

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Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.

  • *Winner of the 2013 Global Ebook Award for Fantasy
  • *Finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Awards

Buy now in print, ebook, or audio…

Secrets and Lies (Cassie Scot #2)

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 Cassie Scot, still stinging from her parents’ betrayal, wants out of the magical world. But it isn’t letting her go. Her family is falling apart and despite everything, it looks like she may be the only one who can save them.

To complicate matters, Cassie owes Evan her life, making it difficult for her to deny him anything he really wants. And he wants her. Sparks fly when they team up to find two girls missing from summer camp, but long-buried secrets may ruin their hopes for happiness. Sequel to Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective.

  • Winner of the 2014 Global Ebook Award for Fantasy

Buy now in print, ebook, or audio…

Mind Games (Cassie Scot #3)

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Beware your heart and soul…

Evan broke Cassie’s heart two months ago, and she still doesn’t know why. She throws herself into family, friends and her new job at the sheriff’s department, but nothing helps. The only thing that finally allows her heal and move on is the love of a new man, mind mage Matthew Blair. Cassie finds him…irresistible.

Matthew may also be the only one who can help keep the non-magical residents of Eagle Rock from going crazy over the murder of a beloved pastor’s wife. It looks like a sorcerer is to blame, but while Cassie tries to figure out who, others take matters into their own hands. With tensions running so hot, a single spark might set Eagle Rock ablaze. Book 3 in the Cassie Scot series.

  • *Winner of the 2014 Global Ebook Award for Fantasy

Buy now (Print, Ebook, Audiobook)

 Stolen Dreams (Cassie Scot #4) 

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Edward Scot and Victor Blackwood have despised one another for nearly a quarter of a century, but now their simmering hatred is about to erupt.

When Cassie Scot returns home from her sojourn in Pennsylvania, she finds that her family has taken a hostage. Desperate to end the fighting before someone dies, Cassie seeks help from local seer Abigail Hastings, Evan Blackwood’s grandmother. But Abigail has seen her own death, and when it comes at the hand of Cassie’s father, Victor Blackwood kills Edward Scot.

But things may not be precisely as they appear.

Evan persuades Cassie to help him learn the truth, teaming them up once again in their darkest hour. New revelations about Evan and his family make it difficult for Cassie to cling to a shield of anger, but can Evan and Cassie stop a feud that has taken on a life of its own? Conclusion to the Cassie Scot series.

Buy Now in Ebook and Audiobook

Trade Paperback: November 15, 2014

Praise for the Series:

“When sorcerers call the shots, what’s a girl without powers to do? Get ready for a ripper of a murder mystery full of romance and intrigue, where magic potions bubble, passions spark and vampires are definitely not your friend Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective grabs you by the heart and won’t let go until the very last page. Well written, immersive and unputdownable. This is urban fantasy at its best. More please!” – Kim Falconer, bestselling author of The Spell of Rosette, Quantum Enchantment Series

“Amsden continues the story of the only mundane member of a supernaturally-gifted family in this middling sequel to Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective. Cassie, stubborn and proud, is bravely trying to live on her own after her family disowns her. Struggling to make ends meet, she accepts a case involving a pair of magical girls who disappeared from summer camp. With the aid of the handsome Evan Blackwood, to whom Cassie is attracted despite her family’s disapproval and her own better judgment, she follows the trail of the missing girls. What she finds is a dark side of the magical world, and the hidden depths of her family’s past force her to reconsider long-held assumptions. The growing complexity of Cassie’s world makes this an entertaining installment, focusing as much on the will-they, won’t-they romantic chemistry between Cassie and Evan as on the primary mystery. An inconclusive ending is clearly intended to feed into the next volume.” – Publisher’s Weekly 

About the Author

Author_2013Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for 
everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work. Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.

Social Media Links:



Holiday Parade: Fires of Nuala by Cat Kimbriel

Today, in preparation for holiday gift-giving, we’re going to hear a bit from Cat Kimbriel‘s book, Fires of Nuala! Enjoy!



On the planet Nuala, the scam that beguiling free-trader Silver has come to join has just been blown to the skies, along with the throne lines of three separate sovereign nations.

The last male heir of one throne line, Sheel Atare, is unprepared to rule, but he’s quick to seize allies wherever he can—like the beautiful and dangerous Silver.

Now Silver has to choose: stick to the scam, or get sucked into the struggle to save Nuala—and Sheel Atare’s life.





* * * * * * * * *


Mailan had reached the terrace when she heard the crash. Instinct took over; dropping her assorted bundles, she drew her cat knife and threw herself through the open doorway.

A jumbled scene littered the floor. Seeking Sheel first, Mailan found him on his knees, a cat knife gripped tightly in one hand. He had the tip of the blade pressed into the throat of a guaard. A guaard? Glancing around quickly, she saw Jude crouched, both knives held in throwing position, her gaze on—

“Crow?” Mailan’s surprise sounded shrill. Vision widened, taking in the entire room. Pressed against the inner door, the off-world woman waited, the color of her face rivaling alabaster. Crow was almost as pale—and confused. He clearly had no idea—

“Seri?” Mailan ventured, wondering if she should speak, and if so, what were the proper words. Sweet Mendülay . . .

“Did you send him here?” Almost conversational, Sheel’s tone.

“No. I sent him to the palace to speak to your sisters.”

“Did you tell him where we were?”

“No.”

“Then what” —Jude, rising now, her exasperation evident— “were you doing creeping around in the bushes?” Her voice easily rose an octave from start to finish, even as she gestured for Mailan to close the terrace doors.

Afraid Jude would lunge at the young man, Mailan quickly said: “Crow . . . how did you ever guess? . . .”

“Common sense. I checked a few other places on my way. Where you spent the night was not important—the current location was the major thing. And unless you went to the Ragäree’s retreat—”

The knife pressed closer, and Crow stopped his careful recitation. “I doubt anyone else would guess. I have met you after duty before, Mailan. I knew where to look.”

“Why were you creeping around the windows?” Again, that gentle speech pattern, which always meant Sheel was fighting anger.

Crow actually rolled his eyes. “Because I did not want anyone to see me sneaking around the temple grounds, of course. I did not intend for the entire guaard and local enforcers to find the place. Mailan wanted it kept quiet.”

“Then why did you come?” There was no way for Mailan to warn Crow that his life depended on the answer to her question. Why Sheel was acting this way was unimportant. To those who knew him, he was on the edge of violence.

“Because . . . whatever you were doing, you needed help. You were—are—a mess, and one alert guaard on an heir is not enough.” The youth was completely relaxed as he directed the last to Mailan; he had even dropped his knife, drawn instinctively when he was jumped, if his story was true. If? Could she doubt him? Why had she not confided in him? In more lucid moments she would have known he would read her worry.

“Seri . . . what do you need?” Mailan started, still afraid to move.

“The oath will do.”

All three guaard stared at him a moment. Mailan was lost. . . . What oath? Did he . . .

Glancing over at Jude’s defensive posture, Sheel drew his steel away from Crow’s throat and reversed the blade, holding it point down between them. Crow did not risk looking away; his gaze still meeting Sheel’s, the young guaard reached to wrap his right hand around the offered hand and hilt.

“On this I swear,” Crow began, the whisper slowly gathering volume, “by life and honor, by blood and trust, that with this oath I will serve the son and daughter of Atare, obeying all words and following all leads, shielding their line and prizing their secrets as Mendülay guards mine own, for so long as they hold to their charge.”

Mailan’s knees felt weak. That oath—the sharing of oaths, the duty accepted by each at the feet of their Atare, the moment they were chosen to become guaard.

Sheel responded by folding his left hand over Crow’s. “On this I swear, by life and honor, that I will take you as a guaard to serve Atare within the bounds of your oath, holding your trust as I hold to my charge—head, hand, and heart of the heirs, now and forever.”

The group remained frozen in their tableau for several moments. Finally Mailan moved, reversing her grip on her cat knife. Noticing her action, Sheel sat back on his heels and shook his head.

“No, Mailan. I only ask for that oath once. And you . . . ‘spoke’ . . . for Jude.” Grinning suddenly at Crow, he released his grip and added: “You did not have time to speak for him.” Standing and turning his back to Crow, Sheel stretched, loosening massively constricted muscle. Glancing at the off-worlder, he said in Caesarean: “It is all right. No one is going to die.”

~~~

Katharine Eliska Kimbriel reinvents herself every decade or so.  The one constant she has reached for in life is telling stories.  “I’m interested in how people respond to choice.  What is the metaphor for power, for choice? In SF it tends to be technology (good, bad and balanced) while in Fantasy the metaphor is magic – who has it, who wants or does not want it, what is done with it, and who/what the person or culture is after the dust has settled. A second metaphor, both grace note and foundation, is the need for and art of healing.  Forthcoming stories will talk about new things that I’ve learned, and still hope to learn … with grace notes about betrayal, forgiveness, healing and second chances.”  A Campbell Award nominee.

Get Cat Kimbriel‘s Fires of Nuada at AmazonBarnes-NobleKoboApple iTunes, and Book View Cafe! It makes a great gift!

Happy Holidays!

Holiday Parade: Dragon Fire by Dina von Lowenkraft

Today, in preparation for holiday gift-giving, fellow author Dina von Lowenkraft will tell you all about her book, Dragon Fire!

 

Some choices are hard to live with.

But some choices will kill you.

When seventeen-year-old Anna first meets Rakan in her hometown north of the Arctic Circle, she is attracted to the pulsing energy that surrounds him. Unaware that he is a shapeshifting dragon, Anna is drawn into a murderous cycle of revenge that pits Rakan and his clan against her best friend June.

Torn between his forbidden relationship with Anna, that could cost them both their lives, and restoring his family’s honor by killing June, Rakan must decide what is right. And what is worth living – or dying – for.




The Story Behind Dragon Fire



The funny thing about Dragon Fire is that it didn’t start out as a book on its own. It started out as a subplot in another manuscript. After writing Call, the first book in a planned four book series, and thinking it was market-ready, I began to query it. And no one was interested. All I got, if I got anything at all, were form rejections. I gathered my courage, read several craft books, and re-wrote it before querying it again. But my second batch of queries had no better results than the first.


Frustrated and a bit stumped as to how to improve my manuscript, I once again stocked up on craft books. A few months later, after reading Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel and analyzing several YA books with his ideas in mind, I began to understand where tension was lacking in Call.


Unfortunately, I still didn’t know how to fix it — especially since it would mean cutting about 40-60 thousand words. And yet I wasn’t ready to leave the world I had created and loved. So I decided to pull out a subplot fromCall’s sequel and write that. That subplot, about a young shapeshifting dragon named Rakan and the human he falls in love with named Anna, became Dragon Fire.


While writing Dragon Fire I signed up for Jordan Rosenfeld’s class, ‘Building Tension’. Taking this class was essential to my growth as a writer and it made Dragon Fire a better manuscript. I would take scenes from my work-in-progress and apply the lesson to it, improving it a first time. Then I’d get feedback and I’d re-write it again, improving it even more. All of this before rewriting one final time to produce the ‘first’ draft.


Once Dragon Fire was complete, I queried it and got several requests for fulls. In the end, I had the good fortune of being able to choose between three publishers, and I chose Twilight Times Books. And now, finally, I’m ready to go back to Call and re-write it!

~~~


Born in the US, Dina has lived on 4 continents, worked as a graphic artist for television and as a consultant in the fashion industry. Somewhere between New York and Paris she picked up an MBA and a black belt – and still thinks the two are connected. Dina is currently the Regional Advisor for SCBWI Belgium, where she lives with her husband, two children, three horses and a cat.


Dina loves to create intricate worlds filled with conflict and passion. She builds her own myths while exploring issues of belonging, racism and the search for truth… after all, how can you find true love if you don’t know who you are and what you believe in? Dina’s key to developing characters is to figure out what they would be willing to die for. And then pushing them to that limit.


Dina is now repped by the fabulous Kaylee Davis of Dee Mura Literary Agency.

A Chocolate Snob’s Favorite Winter Drink

Hot Chocolate Taste Test

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The leaves have almost left the trees, cold fronts are on their way, and the news is predicting snow in the next couple of weeks. That can mean only one thing — It’s time to stock up on HOT CHOCOLATE!

As a chocolate snob, I disagree that Swiss Miss or Nestle should even be called hot chocolate. More like chocolate flavored water. And don’t even get me started on the “light” varieties. (See “Mindful Eating: 5-Star Desserts“)

Land O Lakes has been my go-to chocolate for many years now. It is readily available at most grocery stores (which is one of my biggest challenges as a chocolate snob). It is rich, creamy, and delicious. A little  piece of heaven on a cold winter’s night that satisfies even my most urgent chocolate craving.

But last weekend, while perusing chocolate at the new Hy-Vee on 151st street, we ran across Stephen’s hot chocolate. The price was similar, and it had a guarantee: “The best hot chocolate you’ve ever tried or your money back!”

Blind taste test time!

My entire family participated — my discerning husband and my enthusiastic children, a six-year-old girl and a nearly nine-year-old boy. We put stickers on the bottom of 4 identical mugs so we wouldn’t know which mug was which until after the test. Then we made the cocoa, mixed them up, and started tasting.

The first thing I should note, out of a sense of honesty, is that the blind taste test didn’t work as well as it should have because even me (I’m severely visually impaired) could tell that Stephen’s was a darker chocolate than Land O Lakes. But I went forward, trying to be as honest as possible.

I began with my tried-and-true Land O Lakes, which tasted just as delicious as I remembered. One counter-clockwise shift later, I had a mug of Stephen’s in my hand. And … I LOVED it!

Since Land O Lakes is the richest hot chocolate I’ve ever had (I did grow up on Swiss Miss and Nestle), it was hard for me to imagine a richer hot chocolate. But Stephen’s is. The margin isn’t staggering or anything, but Stephen’s topped Land O Lakes on richness.

Land O Lakes is slightly sweeter than Stephen’s, and even now I am not entirely certain which one I like better. I think Stephen’s by a hair. These are both EXCELLENT hot chocolate options that I highly recommend for the upcoming winter. For my part, I plan to buy whichever is on a better sale.

My son, almost 9, seemed to think Stephen’s was quite a bit better. After our initial taste-testing we checked which was which; he grabbed both Stephen’s mugs and refused to give them up! My 6-year-old daughter didn’t have a preference, she just wanted marshmallows already. :)

In conclusion, I am pleased to report that there are excellent hot chocolates in the world. Buy them because I can’t support the industry all by myself!

TV Series: The 100

Listen up post-apocalyptic scifi fans, because this may be a great new show for you! I just finished watching the entire first season in one go (available on Netflix Instant Viewing) and after a rocky start, I am a fan.

The premise is this: Almost a hundred years ago there was a nuclear war. A few humans in orbiting space stations survived by coming together to create an arc. There they plan to stay until the radiation levels on Earth are safe once again — in another one hundred years. But something has gone wrong. Life support won’t keep them all alive much longer, and they’ve got to figure out what to do. So they send 100 juvenile delinquents to the ground to see if they live or die.

I have to admit, I was very iffy after watching the first episode. I had to turn off a lot of credibility censors to enjoy it. And the next few episodes were only marginally better as I got to know the characters.

But something kept me watching, and I’m glad I did, because at the end of season 1 I felt like it was a strong show overall. A lot of elements are gradually introduced that keep tension levels high and keep you guessing — internal conflict, external conflict, people who survived on the ground (they thought everyone had died), and the people in the space station struggling for their own survival. Put together, it made for a captivating show. Season 2 has begun on the CW on Wednesdays. I definitely plan to watch!

The characters are all kinds of shades of gray, which is nice. These are people who have made bad decisions — sometimes because they had to and sometimes when they should have known better. Still, there are a lot of 3D players in here. And I have a feeling that season 2 has more surprises in store.

If you like scifi, especially dystopian, then check this out. Give it a few episodes; you won’t regret it!