Monday, August 10, 2020

Exploring the Inherited Stars Worlds - Part I

Juggernaut which will be releasing as part of Pets in Space® 5 on October 6th, will be the earliest Inherited Stars series story to date, occurring approximately five calendars (years) before the anchor novel, Inherit the Stars. 

It involves a major discovery buried deep in an ancient lava tube on LaGuardia...as well as a startling anomaly that will forever alter the destiny of the known galaxy. 

If you missed my announcement last week, Pets in Space® 5 is now available for pre-order at most major vendors. It will only be available for a limited time, and will once again support our Hero-Dogs charity with 10% of all royalties from both pre-orders and the first month's sales going to the organization. We've donated $15,300 in the last 4 years, and hope to make this another banner year. 

Click here to see the vendors for pre-order.

Today I'm going to blog a bit about the history of the planet where Juggernaut is based (and attempt to do it without spoilers) to give readers a sense of the foundation for my upcoming story.

A Brief History of the Inherited Stars 

Centuries before Juggernaut opens, the first human colonists arrived via a spatial vortex, a cross-rip in time and space, to colonize an Earth-like planet. They named the planet Draxis somewhat in jest, as the word in their language meant "here there be dragons" the designation on old maps for uncharted and unknown areas. 

For this reason, the dragon became the symbol of the monarchy of Draxis, though as it turned out the connection to dragons wouldn't stop there. The population on Draxis grew over the centuries, and later certain groups began to expand outward to a variety of other habitable "goldilocks" planets in a scattering of solar systems. 

This expansion occurred after the arrival of those whom the Draxians called the Firelords, a large and growing population with conflicting beliefs that both provided the Draxians the ability to settle other planets, and also gave them the desire to do so to flee an evolving culture of which many didn't approve. This societal upheaval resulted in the name of the planet being changed from Draxis to LaGuardia. 

LaGuardia was based on the Spanish word for "watch tower" or "lookout" and the meaning behind the inhabitants--LaGuardians--essentially means "those who keep watch." It was also influenced by the family name Laguardia which descendants claim means "the guardian." Either turned out to be a very appropriate title for the planet that legend claimed orbited nearest to the spatial vortex that brought the colonists from Original Earth and centuries later also brought The Firelords.

More About Draxis 

When Draxis was first discovered during an exploratory mission from Earth, it was dubbed a dead planet. Without a single living organism discovered on the world, it had an otherwise perfect environment for human life in terms of air, water and climate, though it tended to have a hot, dry climate more akin to Earth's Middle East. In spite of the challenges, Draxis was soon colonized. 

Early scientists theorized that the planet may have once supported life, but that all living beings had been erased in some sort of catastrophic event--like a gamma ray burst or solar flare--except whatever had befallen the planet didn't harm the atmosphere or oceans--only eliminated all living things and any evidence of their existence. Due to these factors, some scientists believed Draxis was a primordial planet that had not yet developed life. Others argued that the planet was too far along its geological timeline with conditions too perfect not to have evolving life, at least the microbial level. However, no fossils were ever found on the planet according to historical records. 

Although Draxis had the climate to support life from Earth, what it didn't have was the ability to support food production in what was essentially sterile sand. The Draxian scientists and leaders addressed this by first establishing an artificial ecosystem and later transplanting it around their early cities in what they dubbed "fertile rings." These bands of established farmland were further enriched with organic materials generated by the population, and as the cities expanded, so did the fertile rings that surrounded them, slowly transforming more and more of the barren planet into viable farming and gardening land.

Once the colony cities and their jump-started ecosystem became self-sustaining, more select flora and fauna species were introduced from Earth, including marine species, though they tended to rapidly evolve to adapt to conditions on the alien world. Some of the mutations, especially those in an expansive forested area that later became known as The Black Stand, grew to enormous size and required special stewardship to protect both the evolving species and the human settlers in the area. 

A greater variety of domestic animals were also later introduced, though they remained very rare and selectively bred. A few species also arrived on Draxis as accidental stowaways, which had both beneficial and disastrous consequences.

Check in next week to read about the worlds of the Alliance--the bad guys of the Inherited Stars universe.

Have a great week.


Friday, August 7, 2020

BLEAK SCIENCE BINGO

This week, more news from the world of science. And, given that this is 2020, the Official Year from Hell, get out your Apocalypse Bingo Cards, boys and girls, and prepare to play, because you won’t believe what the universe is throwing at us this time! 

 It’s not enough that we’ve had a worldwide pandemic, wildfires, floods, earthquakes, landslides, melting ice at both poles, an acceleration of species extinction, madmen in charge of governments around the world, wars, riots, locust invasions, Asian giant hornets and fill in the blank with whatever might be affecting your neck of the woods, now come the latest nightmares to disturb your sleep. Just shout Bingo! if you complete your row of unlikely crazy scenarios! 

Oh-so-appropriate meme courtesy Matt Jagger's Music FB Page

Don’t Plant The Seeds!—Folks in 27 states have received warnings from the U.S. Agricultural Service and the U.S. Postal Service about mysterious packages arriving in the mail containing unidentified seeds. The seeds, which appear to come from China, but which may or may not actually come from China, are unsolicited, and no one knows precisely what kind of plants will grow from them. Some people think the seeds are a plot to discredit the Chinese, some that they are simply a marketing tool to generate fake reviews on Amazon, though the senders (and the product) are obscure.  

The warnings, which have been splashed across traditional and social media are clear, though: DO NOT plant the seeds! Remember kudzu, “the vine that ate the South?” Over a hundred years ago, some bright bulb thought it would be a good idea to import it from Japan to stabilize eroded hillsides. Now we can’t get rid of it. The list of invasive plant species causing similar trouble in the U.S. because of someone’s lack of foresight is long and alarming. If you receive the seeds in the mail, contact your local post office and extension service, and mark off “alien seeds” on your Apocalypse Bingo card. 

Jumping Worms—As an organic gardener, I never would have thought an earthworm could have been the villain of the piece. In fact, I wasn’t aware there were parts of the country where earthworms weren’t native at all. But apparently New England, the upper Midwest and Canada, are devoid of native earthworms, due to the structure of the soil left behind by retreating glaciers after the last Ice Age. (Any earthworms to be found are likely imports of European species brought over in ship ballast, etc.) Forest floors don’t rely on earthworms to break down detritus, either. Other creatures—fungi, bacteria, millipedes and so on—do that job. 

Your common night crawler-type earthworm is no real threat to that kind of system. But according to an article in the New York Times, the invasive Asian jumping worm, which has been found in Oregon, the upper Midwest, parts of New England and the mid-Atlantic, and now even the southern Appalachians in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, can be devastating. It eats through masses of leaf litter and the top layer of soil much more quickly than other worms and leaves behind, not a fertile, well-aerated growing medium, but loose, crumbly, sterile soil that looks like coffee grounds and grows nothing. Yikes! They’re called “jumping worms” because of their exaggerated, thrashing movement when disturbed. They also have a distinctive whitish band around the top third of their bodies. If you find them in your yard or garden, call your extension agent right away. And, yes, you get another mark on your Apocalypse Bingo card! 

Finally, some almost good news—If you love horror movies in the apocalyptic or disaster vein, like I do, research shows you may be better equipped to deal with real-life disasters like the pandemic we’re currently enduring. A study from scientists at Aarhus University in Denmark (currently under peer review) monitored the enjoyment levels of people watching movies the scientists identified as “prepper” stories—tales of alien invasions, apocalypses and zombies—versus those of strictly “horror.” They then compared those enjoyment levels to the watchers’ reported positive experiences and “overall comfort level” during the pandemic. 

According to their results, those who most enjoyed watching the prepper stories reported the most positive experiences and higher comfort levels during the pandemic, indicating that their familiarity with the possibilities presented onscreen may have better prepared them for the reality they faced with the pandemic. They felt “better able to cope” compared to those who avoided watching movies like CONTAGION altogether. People who liked straight horror movies proved to be “psychologically resilient,” but not necessarily well prepared to deal with the realities of the moment. 

In an interview about the study with The Guardian ,Coltan Scrivner, a psychologist who specializes in morbid curiosity at the University of Chicago,said, "If it's a good movie, it pulls you in and you take the perspective of the characters, so you are unintentionally rehearsing the scenarios. We think people are learning vicariously. It's like, with the exception of the toilet paper shortage, they pretty much knew what to buy." 

So, keep watching those disaster movies, folks. You might learn something that helps you win Apocalypse Bingo! 

Cheers, Donna 

*Information for this post provided by:

 “Do NOT Plant The Mystery Seeds: People Across The US Receive Unsolicited Seed Packs From China,” by James Felton, IFLScience Newsletter, July 29, 2020. 

 “As Summer Takes Hold, So Do the Jumping Worms,” by Margaret Roach, The New York Times, July 22, 2020. 

 “Fans Of Horror And Disaster Movies May Be Better At Coping With The Covid-19 Pandemic,” by Rachel Funnell, IFLScience Newsletter, July 3, 2020.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Pets in Space® 5 Cover Reveal and Pre-Order Announcement!

It's finally here! It's been a long, trying year for many of us, but the much anticipated Pets in Space® 5 collection of science fiction romance adventures is now available for pre-order!

Here's your first gander at our fantastic new cover!


Have you been missing your Pets in Space®?

I am thrilled to announce that the USA Today Bestselling and award-winning Pets in Space® anthology will be back for its 5th year…and I am one of the contributing authors!

Get ready to escape!! Pets in Space® 5 anthology will release on October 6th, 2020 and once again, 10% of pre-orders and the 1st month's royalties go to Hero-Dogs.org who raise, train & place support dogs with U.S. veterans and first responders.

I am thrilled to be teaming up with S.E. Smith, Michelle Diener, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Carol Van Natta, Regine Abel, Alexis Glynn Latner, JC Hay, Kyndra Hatch, Cassandra Chandler, and Leslie Chase. I can’t wait to read all the stories!

Reserve your copy here: https://petsinspaceantho.com   OR I have added all the vendor pre-order links at the bottom of this post.

Excited to learn more? We can't wait to tell you about it!

PETS IN SPACE® 5 ANTHOLOGY

It’s time for an escape! Pets in Space® 5 is back for the fifth amazing year! Escape to new worlds with twelve of today’s top Science Fiction Romance authors. They have written 12 original, never-before-released stories filled with action, adventure, suspense, humor, and romance that will take you out of this world. The giving doesn’t stop there. For the fifth year, Pets in Space® will be donating a portion of the first month proceeds to Hero-Dogs.org, a non-profit charity that supports our veterans and First Responders. If you are ready to forget the world around you and make a difference while you are having fun, grab your copy before it’s gone!

Yes, we will once again be donating 10% of our first month's royalties - including 10% of all pre-order royalties - to Hero Dogs. Here's more on the wonderful charity we support:

OUR CHARITY:  HERO-DOGS.ORG

Proud supporters of Hero-Dogs.org, Pets in Space® authors have donated over $15,300 in the past four years to help place specially trained dogs with veterans and first responders. 10% of all pre-orders and the first month’s royalties of Pets in Space® 5 will again go to Hero-Dogs.org. Open your hearts and grab your limited release copy of Pets in Space® 5 today so together we can continue to assist this worthy charity! https://www.hero-dogs.org/


We had to keep this collection a big secret until now, but here's your first look at these 12 original science fiction romance stories and the authors who wrote them!

PETS IN SPACE® 5 STORIES

 

The King's Quest

A Dragon Lords of Valdier Short Story

by S.E. Smith

A King’s Quest…

King Tamblin, ruler of the Kingdom of Glitter, prepares for battle after the aliens foretold by his sister, Tia, return to their world. He will stop at nothing to prevent the creatures from decimating the small moon again. Yet, there is little he or the Kingdom of the Sand People can do to stop the invasion. Their last hope for survival rests on his shoulders when Tia insists he journey on a quest to find the beautiful and mysterious Arosa, Queen of the Wood Fairies, and ask for her help.

Arosa, considered a Goddess on many worlds she visits, is stunned when a playful trick to entertain the Dragonlings of Valdier turns her life upside down. She never expects to feel the strange yet exhilarating emotions that Tamblin stirs inside her. Her kind were supposed to observe other species, not fall in love with them!

Attempting to keep her distance, Arosa assigns a small bat to guard Tamblin, just for her own peace of mind, but it isn’t long until the bat alerts her that Tamblin is in danger, and Arosa realizes that she will break all the rules to protect him.

Arosa can admit to herself that she loves Tamblin, but will the King return her feelings when he discovers that she is more than just the Queen of the Wood Fairies—that she has the power to not only save his world, but create entire galaxies?

 

DARK AMBITIONS

A Class 5 Novella

by Michelle Diener

It's been months since Rose McKenzie was taken far from Earth. She's trying to make a place for herself amongst the Grih, with help from her Grihan lover, Captain Dav Jallan, and the dangerous and loyal Sazo, a powerful artificial intelligence who's integrated with an infamous Class 5 battleship.

When Rose gets the chance to join an exploration team going down to collect information from a planet in Grihan airspace, she jumps at the opportunity to stretch her legs and breathe some real air.

But someone is already on the planet—the Krik—and they don't want anyone to know what they're up to. The Krik are the chaos agents of the United Council, often riding the edge of the law or over it. They ambush the exploration team and take them prisoner, but they don't realize they didn't get everyone. They didn't get Rose.

With Dav, and his spaceship the Barrist, lured away by a distress signal, Rose and Sazo, along with a furry friend Rose has made, are the exploration team's only hope at rescue. And Rose never leaves a friend behind.

 

STAR CRUISE: RETURN VOYAGE

The Sectors SF Romance Series

By Veronica Scott

Gianna Nadenoft is a reclusive survivor of one of the worst interstellar cruise ship disasters in the history of the Sectors. Now a renowned artist, she hasn’t left her home planet in decades, not since returning there after the wreck as a traumatized three-year-old. With her service animal at her side, she’s going to attempt to travel across the star systems to attend her brother’s wedding and reunite with her fellow survivors.

Trevor Hanson is a security officer aboard the cruise liner Nebula Zephyr with his own traumatic past as a former Special Forces soldier and prisoner of war. He’s assigned to provide personal protection to Gianna during her time aboard the ship but soon finds his interest turning from professional to romantic.

Onboard the Nebula Zephyr, powerful enemies are watching Gianna and making plans to seize this rare opportunity to gain access to her and the secrets they believe she’s still keeping about the wreck. Can Trevor overcome his personal demons and rise to the occasion to save Gianna from the danger waiting on his ship, or will she slip through his fingers and suffer a terrible fate deferred from her last disastrous voyage?

 

GENERAL’S HOLIDAY

Project Enterprise Series Story

By Pauline Baird Jones

A lady, a frog, and the General that wanted to be Picard…

General John Halliwell, Commander of the Project Enterprise Earth Expedition, has spent most of his time in the Garradian Galaxy being shot at and shooting back. When a mysterious and intriguing lady arrives on Kikk asking for some non-shooting help, he is intrigued enough to listen.

All Naxe has ever known is a life of hiding and providing. With the end of the war, freedom still feels further than ever. Determined to end the stalemate that threatens her people, she will break all the rules—even the one where she asks General Halliwell for help.

Of course, she should have known better. Trouble—and the shooting—starts the moment she brings the general and his team to the Scoyfol ships. It won’t matter that the enterprising General Halliwell is the first man to remind her she is a woman if they are dead! Is it possible to end the stalemate, survive the shooting, and still find a happily ever after?

 

JUGGERNAUT

The Inherited Stars Series

By Laurie A. Green (a Spacefreighters Lounge author!)

Lieutenant Commander Dekessa “Dek” Garr is second-in-command of a security force that protects a discovery buried deep inside an ancient lava tube. The implications of the find are staggering, and the stakes are high if their enemy—the Alliance—ever learns the truth about Site D. When her commander suddenly departs with zero warning and a mysterious visitor arrives, her job becomes a whole new level of complicated.

Sno Telon has an exercise to perform, and he isn’t about to let anyone stop him--including the dedicated acting commander known as Dek. But when his partner, CaSandra, a bioengineered dog-cat-weasel-mongoose, takes an immediate liking to the team leader, Sno realizes there’s much more to the woman than harsh words and hard scowls.

When Dek is attacked by an invisible foe who infiltrates the off-limits excavation, she immediately suspects Telon as the obvious culprit. But her interrogations of the man don’t go as planned and an unlikely bond forms between them as they reach a startling conclusion. Could the invisible perpetrator actually be an Alliance spy who’s about to blow open the secrets of Site D?

Can Dek trust Telon and his StarDog partner to help root out a possible Alliance operative, even if it means breaking every security protocol in the process? If her instincts about Telon are wrong, Site D could be lost forever…as well as her life.

 

GALACTIC SEARCH AND RESCUE

Central Galactic Concordance Series

By Carol Van Natta

Rescuers Taz and Rylando can’t let their forbidden attraction get in the way of saving lives. When a planetary disaster turns deadly, can they save an entire town... and each other?

Subcaptain Taz Correa, telekinetic talent and first-responder in the military’s underfunded and overworked Galactic Search and Rescue division, hides her unprofessional attraction for teammate Rylando and his unorthodox team of animal assistants. When catastrophe strikes a politically important town, Taz, Rylando, and his animals are the only rescuers left to respond.

Subcaptain Rylando Dalroinn loves his telepathic connection to his animals, but wants a heart connection with teammate Taz. Unfortunately, not only is it against the rules, but he doesn’t know how to tell her. And in GSAR, rescue missions always come first.

Kaz lives her worst nightmare when trapped underground with the animals in a hidden room set to blow sky high. Everything Rylando loves is in peril, and now he’s at the mercy of people who aren’t just victims.

If Taz, Rylando, and the animals can’t find their way to save each other fast and neutralize the threat, the whole town will become a disaster statistic.

 

REAPER

Xian Warriors Series

By Regine Abel

She survived against the odds...

Janelle’s life is defined by the small, underground research base she has always called home. Imprisoned for twenty years after the base was bombed, she and the few Creckel survivors are running out of time as the last of their resources are depleted. With no hope for rescue, she and her companions wait for the dreaded Reaper to finish what the bombs missed.

Reaper, a half-human, half-Kryptid, is part of the Vanguard—an elite peacekeeping force determined to help the survivors left behind by war. New intel leads him to a remote research base where he discovers Creckel survivors—and a lone human woman named Janelle.

Janelle’s life hasn’t prepared her for the breathtakingly stunning, genetically engineered warrior. His words, filled with impossible promises, make her believe there is a place for her somewhere in the vast universe—with him by her side. Is it possible that dreams can come true, or will guilt for another man’s deeds shatter her new hope?


PASTFINDERS

Starways Series

By Alexis Glynn Latner

With a little bit of luck….

Mercury Chancer came to the planet Tellus as a member of an archaeological team investigating ancient alien ruins. The archaeologists have to work fast because a terraforming flood will soon put the ruins under water, but Mercury isn’t worried. She has a psychic gift that changes the laws of probability, bringing her accidental luck which should help the team.

Boerdelim “Haze” Tel-Hazon works for the Office of Planetary Protection. An official visit to the dig site leads him to Mercury—and a strange, shapeshifting alien animal. Haze is shaken when a long-forgotten trauma from his past comes alive. With Mercury’s luck and the help from a sympathetic alien animal, he just might survive!

Just when Haze didn’t think things could get any worse, the archaeologists make a stupendous discovery—and greedy enemies take notice. When the archaeologists prove they are not the defenseless scientists they pretend to be, Haze has to wonder—will flood, foes, and the resurgent past defeat them, or will luck and love win the day?

 

MITTENS NOT INCLUDED

TriSystems: Smugglers Series

By JC Hay

Three little kittens have lost their way…

Layth Ali thought he was happy. On board the Sentinel of Gems, he is allowed to run the medical bay as he sees fit, and the crew appreciates his talents. Most importantly, the smugglers don’t ask him questions about his past, or pressure him to leave his self-imposed exile. But when a new passenger and her precious cargo get dumped into his lap, it’s all he can do to deflect her incessant questions and keep her at arm’s length.

Meja Aquarone knew she was courting trouble when she stole a litter of kittens from the lab where she worked, but she refused to allow their perceived flaw to become a death sentence. Now she’s on the run, hoping that the crew of the Sentinel can smuggle her someplace safe without her employers finding her. She wasn’t expecting to find someone on board who understood the tiny creatures, or who shielded his compassion behind a wall of spiky indifference, but ten minutes with the ship’s doctor leaves her curious to know more.

Forced to go to the one place Layth swore never to return, the walls are closing around them. With a corporate bounty on their heads, and three cats becoming increasingly difficult to hide, Layth and Meja have to decide – what are they willing to sacrifice to gain the safety they desire? And is that protection worth being alone?

 

FINDING MOGHA

Before The Fall Series

By Kyndra Hatch

Dani Myers is on the run and running out of time. Her discovery of a young Korthan Hellhound in a lab sends her on a desperate mission. The pup isn’t some obscure test animal; it is a sentient Mogha that can speak. The last thing she needs as she tries to save the creature is to have her ship shot out from under her.

K’vyn doesn’t hate all humans, just the ones that won’t cease terraforming Korthan worlds. Their disregard for life has driven his people to the brink of all-out war. When a human supply freighter shows up in Korthan territory near the beloved Mogha home world, he is duty bound to rid the galaxy of another human ship. A distress call as the ship crashes creates an unexpected soul-deep pull inside him.

Dani’s decision to smuggle the Mogha called C’hase back to his home world might not have been her smartest move, but she felt she had no choice when she overheard plans to terraform the animal’s home planet. Now, without help from the Korthan who shot her down, she’ll never be able to warn the Mogha inhabitants of impending doom.

She isn’t sure which surprises her more after she crashes on an unknown planet—the fact that she is still alive, or the mutual attraction between her and K’vyn, the Korthan who did the shooting. Is it possible a Korthan and a human can work together to save C’hase and the Mogha home world, or will they be caught between those that want to terraform and the Korthans determined to save the Mogha from extinction?

 

RATE OF RETURN

The Department of Homeworld Security

By Cassandra Chandler

Kimmy loves being co-owner of the only pet parlor in the county. She has always been serious when it comes to taking care of animals. Any kind of animal—except maybe the two dogs fighting in her yard in the middle of the night. The canines she is familiar with don’t have tentacles, glow, or change into one of the hottest guys she has ever seen.

Serac is intrigued by the courageous Earthling that ran to his aid, wielding only a primitive weapon called a ‘broom’. He and his adorable, six-legged pet aren’t mythical beings. They are aliens—and they aren't alone. He needs to stay focused, but focusing is impossible when Kimmy accidentally imprints with the Lyrian pet he is supposed to deliver. To complicate matters further, his zyln, the elemental spirit that lives within him, is just as enamored with her as he is, plus his ex-partner is determined to capture her for his own nefarious ends!

With billions of sentients throughout the galaxy depending on him, Serac’s mission has to come first. If he walks away from Kimmy, he knows he'll leave his heart behind. But will he be leaving her in the hands of his ex-partner? 


GLITCH

Crashland Colony Romance Series

by Leslie Chase

Famous last words....

I made a promise to myself never to forget what the alien Prytheen stole from me. When one of them tells me that we're fated mates, it doesn’t change anything. Nothing could make me change my mind! Not the fact he gets along with Glitch, my holographic cat. Not the fact that he has a killer body and a smoldering gaze that leaves me short of breath. I won’t let my guard down.

Karnac is an alien pirate. Unfortunately, he is also the second part of the technical staff at the Crashland Colony broadcast station. I patch the human stuff, he takes care of the Prytheen tech. My promise to keep everything professional between us goes south when Glitch spots disaster heading straight for the colony.

It is amazing how a life or death situation can change your perspective. Maybe having a crude, arrogant, domineering Prytheen pirate of my own wouldn’t be such a bad idea?

 __________________________________

I hope you're as excited as we are that these stories will soon be released into the universe! But as with all Pets in Space® volumes, it will only be available for a limited time and then it's gone forever. Be sure to secure your copy by pre-ordering now!

Pets in Space® 5 is available for pre-order by clicking the link to the vendor of your choice:

AMAZON

AMAZON UK

AMAZON CA

AMAZON AU

KOBO

APPLE BOOKS

NOOK

GOOGLEPLAY


Enjoy the adventures!


Monday, August 3, 2020

Back...With a New Cover Reveal!!!

I'm back from my week plus hiatus, but....ohmigosh!...the world sure likes to changes things up on us when we're not paying attention!

For one, the interface for this blog was completely revamped in my absence, and I'm struggling to find the new "ropes." Though the basic formatting and layout is there, it all looks so different and reconfigured--at least behind the scenes. And some of the features I use frequently are now under a drop down arrow for "other options." Ack! Learning curve! 

My other big change is that my spouse retired from his 2nd career on Friday, so we're in for a major adjustment in our lifestyle over the next few weeks...but yet, it's not as major as it could have been since the Covid scare has exiled him to working  mainly from home for the past 4+ months. 

Though his retirement party had to be postponed to a future date, he still got quite a send-off from his leadership and coworkers, including cards, gifts, a special CD that contained video messages from many present and past associates that was incredibly moving and one heck of a tearjerker. (*sniff!*)

And on the writing front...hoboy! I've got some monumental news coming later this week (I may grab a weekend day to break it here on Spacefreighters so you don't have to wait until Monday, cuz yeah....it's a biggie! :)

But I also have a special announcement for today. SpyDog is heading for the "jump deck" to be published and now has a shiny new cover. My cover artist, Danielle Fine, hit a home run with this one. I broke it to my small launch crew first, but you get to be the first readers in the big, wide universe to see it. 

Science Fiction Romance fans....meet SpyDog.



The cover features Network Agent Rigel Blackline, warrior class female Rathskian anomaly Sona (Rathskians generally only have one name--like Sair), and super StarDog/SpyDog, Maura. (A SpyDog is a special upgrade of the better known StarDogs bio-constructs.) 

The story is part of my Inherited Stars series and dovetails with the anchor novel Inherit the Stars, happening simultaneous with the events in that story, and the opening scene actually intersects with the novel, though from a very different perspective. (I often compare SpyDog to Inherit the Stars in the same way that Star Wars: A New Hope is related to Rogue One, in that both stories intersect and expand on the events in the original release, with some well-known characters making "guest appearances.") 

Here's the blurb.

When his transport is destroyed before his eyes, agent Rigel Blackline and his bio-engineered StarDog partner wind up marooned on a planet buzzing with enemy patrols. Worse, they carry time-sensitive intel that must be delivered to their contacts on a distant space station—data that could defeat their ruthless enemies.

Rigel’s only hope is to reach another Network ship before they’re captured, but things get complicated when they cross paths with Sona, a savvy warrior-class Rathskian female. She claims to be a friendly, but he suspects the vixen is a dangerous counter-spy sent to intercept him and his StarDog. His intuitive sidekick’s immediate bond with Sona is even more baffling.

Rigel decides “capturing” Sona as an enemy asset and delivering her to his superiors may be his best option, but Sona has secrets that threaten more than just Rigel’s self-control. Her knowledge of Network dealings are on a level even he isn’t privy to. Is she truly an ally, or is he playing directly into the hands of a dangerous double-agent…in more ways than one?

The story includes several returning characters from previous stories -- including a relative or two that may come as a surprise! And the ship pictured on the cover might also be familiar to readers, though readers will "meet" the vessel in an earlier time in this story than when they were first introduced to her.

SpyDog was first released as part of Pets in Space 4, though this story will have a few enhancements and expanded scenes. 

SpyDog was very well received in the Pets in Space 5 volume, a collection that was a USA TODAY Bestseller and hit #1 on Amazon, Nook and Kobo!

Have a great week! I'll be back this weekend with more news!




Friday, July 31, 2020

COVID RULE #1: AVOID THE SITUATION

As the coronavirus pandemic worsens in the U.S., with infections topping four million and deaths galloping past 150,000, I continue to search for ways to rally my fellow Americans around the flag of simple prophylactic actions. Yes, Beavis and Butthead, I said “prophylactic,” as in preventative, protective, and precautionary.

The simplest of these, of course, is wearing a mask in public. If we know anything about the coronavirus at all, we know it is spread through coughing, sneezing, breathing, talking, laughing, singing and otherwise ejecting microdroplets of exhaled air through the mouth and nose. This can happen even when you don’t show symptoms of the disease—before you get sick, or even if you never actually become ill. This disease is an insidious silent invader that infects a significant (as yet unknown) proportion of its victims with mild or no symptoms, allowing it to spread quickly in a community that doesn’t take action. Only by insisting that everyone cover his or her mouth and nose can the spread of the disease be prevented.

Who says a mask has to be dorky?

But suppose you don’t particularly care about all that. Maybe you’re young and healthy and you're not afraid of no freaking virus! You’ve got important things to do. This coronavirus thing is a hoax anyway, the TV says so. A mask is hot and uncomfortable. It makes you look dorky. Besides, a mask can’t really keep you from getting the virus. You read that on Facebook.

When I hear arguments like this, I’m reminded of my days studying self-defense in the karate dojo. My sensei (teacher) used to say the First Rule of Self-Defense is Avoid the Situation. That is, it’s better to avoid a fight altogether than to be forced test your karate skills against an opponent who may have better skills than yours. So, don’t go out to your car in a deserted, unlit parking lot by yourself. Don’t leave the bar at 2:00 in the morning in an inebriated state. Don’t take the shortcut through the dark alley in a bad part of town. If someone challenges you to a fight outside the west entrance to the school at 3:00, go out the east entrance and go home.

Going without a mask in this time of plague is like taking a walk through a dark alley at midnight in a bad part of town. You don’t know who you might meet in that alley. He might be much bigger than you and have much better fighting skills. (Sensei used to say there is always someone out there with better fighting skills no matter how good you are.) Coronavirus strikes me as that kind of opponent. You might not meet him in that alley. You might be able to beat him. But chances are at least as good that you will lose—and lose badly.

Why take that chance? Wear a mask when you go to the grocery store or the hardware store or anywhere else you need to go. Get several in colors and designs you like so you don’t feel dorky. Keep one or two in your car so you don’t forget. Cover your mouth and nose. Be nice to the people who are tasked with enforcing mask rules—their lives are hell right now. Encourage your friends and family members to wear masks, too.

And while you’re at it, keep your distance and wash your hands. Those are rules we should have learned in kindergarten. No harm in being reminded of them now.

Cheers and stay well, Donna


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