Monday, October 31, 2016

The Top Five Things That Scare Me

Since Monday happened to fall on Halloween this week, I'm the lucky blogger who gets to do a Halloween post.

Happy Halloween!

And BOO!

What Scares Me

This particular holiday revolves around scary things. Ghosts, goblins, monsters, vampires, witches, headless horsemen, jabberwockies, things that go bump in the night...and all things trendy and popular and not so scary, too, of course. But for this blog, I wanted to talk a little about the things that scare me. Trust me, it's not the usual suspects.

So here we go.

The Top Five Things That Scare Me.


Number Five
Sinkholes. Yes, sinkholes. Those big gaping holes that open up in the ground and swallow houses and cars and sometimes people. Think about it. Sinkholes are random and terrible and can't normally be anticipated. They're one of the sneak attacks nature can throw at us. If it's a tornado or a hurricane, you can evacuate or take shelter. Same with most storms. Flooding you can usually see coming, too. Earthquakes aren't common enough in my part of the country to be a concern, but for the millions of people (maybe billions) who live in an FEZ (Frequent Earthquake Zone...I made that up), they can be traumatizing. Of course, Earthquakes tend to be on known fault lines so you always have the option of not moving into a FEZ, or moving away. But sinkholes? They start out deep in the Earth and can rarely be predicted or anticipated, although we are getting a lot more sophisticated about knowing where they have a high risk of potentially forming like Florida and Louisiana, for starters. There's a monster sinkhole in Bayou Corne that recently started swallowing trees whole!




And they can pop up anywhere, even in Siberia. So I confess, I have a deep fear of huge, gaping holes opening in the ground beneath my feet and swallowing me. Call me paranoid.


Number Four
Killer bees. I live in the American Southwest. And one of my neighbors has a huge network of bee hives. Killer bees have migrated into the southern USA from South America over the last few decades and they were given that name for a reason. They form aggressive, angry swarms.



 'Nuff said. That alone could give me nightmares for a week.


Number Three
Rattlesnakes getting into my house. No, I haven't had that happen yet, but I did have one get into my garage last summer. I blogged about it as a guest with author Carysa Locke, here. It actually turned into some pretty nifty research for Pets in Space. I've encountered the random venomous snake or two on the ranch, and although that's unnerving it's not terrifying. But the thought of a pit viper invading my personal space and slithering around...now that's a horrific thought! And it does happen. Check it out.




Number Two
Sharks. Yes, I know. I live in the desert. Why should sharks scare me? Well, probably because I live in the desert, and movies like The Shallows, and Jaws, and Open Water always have sharks showing up that eat people who go in the water. I have no desire to swim in the ocean. Okay, I did swim in the ocean once, in about 20 feet of water off a catamaran in the Caribbean. But honestly, I was looking for sharks the entire time. What's fun about that?


Fortunately for me, Landsharks are only the stuff of comedy skits. Or are they?


...and the NUMBER ONE thing that scares me?
One of my manuscripts. No, I'm not being silly. I have a manuscript that I've had to let lie for several years now because the research absolutely terrified me. Why? Well, let's put it this way. My story is about the power of the mind, and has a few scenes where something really horrible and dark and menacing happens. While surfing the internet for information one day, I discovered there are documented cases of what I had created fictionally actually happening. Yikes! That's frightening. It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.

Now granted, the accounts may also be a work of fiction, but if they are even partially true...Well, it's just really hard to go there without becoming terrified out of my mind. It's one of the same reasons I don't watch television shows about the paranormal. I don't want to know about these things! My imagination is active enough all on its own, thank you very much.

Especially when I'm home alone, and it's dark, and I start hearing noises...

Okay, that did it. I'm going to end right here and go look at funny cat videos on Facebook now!

For Trick or Treats, leave a comment and tell me what scares you. [Insert scary sound effects here.]

~~~~~~~~~~   From Laurie  ~~~~~~~~~~

Friday, October 28, 2016

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY OF TODAY'S BLOG POST






THE GOOD: Fools Rush In, Book 3 of the Interstellar Rescue series, has launched successfully! Most of the blog tour/promo hoopla is done and life can return to normal.

THE BAD: That means I have to find a topic for this week’s blog other than my lovely new book.

THE UGLY: Always be careful what you wish for!

THE GOOD: With no trouble at all, the universe served up a perfect topic for me yesterday.

THE BAD: I didn’t have time to write about the topic on schedule yesterday because I was dealing with the actual event for four hours in the afternoon. Now I’m scrambling to meet my deadline.

THE UGLY: Said event involved a close encounter with a flatbed hauler on a narrow rural road, a slo-mo reverse off the road that left my Honda Pilot hanging with two wheels over a four-foot deep ditch, and a complicated rescue by not one, but two tow trucks.

Here’s what happened: I was driving home from town on the gravel road that leads to my house when I met the big delivery truck coming the other way. Now, Snowbird Road is too narrow for two vehicles to pass, so somebody had to back up to one of the few shoulders on the road. In most places a creek runs on either side of the road, blocking any attempt to pull off. In this case, I was about 100 yards from a driveway behind me. The truck, to be fair, would have had to negotiate a curve before he found a neighbor’s yard to pull off.

Well, we looked at each other for a minute. Then I backed up, headed for the distant driveway at about 10 mph. But I never made it. For reasons too complex to describe here, I got too close to the edge of the road and slipped off—first the left rear tire, then the left front tire in a ghastly slow-motion disaster that seemed (and was) unstoppable. The car came to rest on its frame, the left side dangling over the flowing creek, it’s terrified driver clinging to the steering wheel. I’m proud to say I did not scream.

THE GOOD: I was unhurt and the car (as it turned out) was stable.

THE BAD: OMG, I’m hanging over a freakin’ creek!

THE UGLY: The driver of the truck started to go around me and go on his merry way! I had to flag him down, as if he couldn’t see I had just driven off the flippin’ road! Seriously, little help here, guy? Finally, after much yelling and waving of arms on my part, he stopped and got out, squinting at the car and at me. “The company won’t let me pull you out with this truck,” he said. He didn’t bother to offer to help me get out of the vehicle. 

After some discussion, we settled on a plan to call various neighbors for help, including the house he’d just left, where the construction crew had a big truck with a wench. The two men who arrived with that truck were much more sympathetic (and helpful). They got me out of my dramatically tilting car, but sensibly said any attempt to pull the Pilot out might result in the car flipping over on its side into the creek. This was a job for professionals.

At last, everyone left me alone with my sadly marooned vehicle and my female neighbor down the road, who gave me a ride home. (I was less than a mile from my house.) I called my insurance company, with which I have roadside assistance.

THE GOOD: They sent a tow truck within a reasonable length of time.

THE BAD: In a literal game of “telephone,” the two people I talked to at the insurance agency misunderstood the situation and told the towing company this was a “light duty” towing job. What part of “two wheels hanging over a creek” did they not understand?

THE UGLY: One truck was clearly not enough for the job, since there is no way to stabilize the Pilot while it is being pulled up onto the road. Another truck was called for from a town about 15 minutes away. That driver took an hour to arrive.

But here is the best part. The guys from FastLane Towing and Recovery did a great job of extricating my vehicle from its precarious perch. In the end the Pilot didn’t suffer a scratch. And neither did I. The tow trucks left, I drove home and everything was as it had been. Amazing!

So, really, I’d have to say, it was all Good.

Cheers, Donna

*Oh, and if you were hoping for pictures, sorry! I use a dumb phone that takes horrible photos. It did, however, serve very nicely to call for help.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The stuff of legend



Here's a snippet from The Stuff of Legend to pique your interest. Lady Ednah is Olivia's wealthy grandmother. Jak is Admiral Jackson Prentiss, grandson of Lady Ednah's oldest friend. That's him on the left. Jak just checked himself out of hospital. He'd ended up there after an incident at a waterfall with Olivia. There's good reason to think Olivia bears some of the blame.


Lady Ednah met Jak at the front door, urging the maid to take his drugs cache off him. The old lady was like the mother he'd hardly had, fussing over him. "Are you sure they said you could come? The hospital called me and said you'd checked yourself out and you shouldn't have. And why are you in uniform?"
"I'll be fine. And I'm in uniform because I had to have something to change into. It was easiest." He grinned. "It's also useful when you want to get your own way."
She giggled. "Understood. I'm Lady Rabukka when I want something."
He let her escort him into the living room for the obligatory cup of kaff, easing himself carefully down into a chair. His ankle ached. "Where's Olivia?"
"Down in the basement, going through Xavier's papers." She tutted. "I told her you were on your way. But she does get so involved in her work. A bomb could go off down there and she wouldn't notice. I'll fetch her."
He raised his hand. "Don't. I expect I'll see her at dinner."
"Huh. I'll make sure you do."
Jak was sitting on the veranda basking in the glory of the sunset when Olivia appeared. She looked tired, her face and clothes streaked with dust. The worn work pants and long sleeved shirt did nothing to detract from her beauty.
She dropped into the chair beside him. "Hello. How are you feeling?"
"Sore. But I'll live."
She brushed a strand of hair from her face. "I'm sorry. I was an idiot."
Jak put in the missing bits. "You mean at the waterfall? Yes, you were."
She glowered at him. "I'm trying to apologize. But if you hadn't been such an up yourself plonker —" 
Jak laughed out loud. "So it's all my fault. Apology accepted, lovely lady."



They have an interesting relationship. Maybe it'll settle down over time. We'll see.
 


When history professor Olivia Jhutta receives a distress call from her parents, she sets out into space with their business partner, her grandmother and injured Confederacy Admiral Jak Prentiss to find them. But she’s not the only one interested in the Jhutta’s whereabouts. The Helicronians believe Olivia’s parents have found an ancient weapon which they can use to wage war on the Confederacy.

Jak goes on the trip to fill in time while he’s on enforced leave, helping Olivia follow cryptic clues in what he considers an interplanetary wild goose chase in search of a fairy story. But as the journey progresses and legend begins to merge with unsettling fact, Olivia and Jak must resolve their differences and work together if they are to survive. The two are poles apart… but it’s said opposites attract. If they can manage to stay alive.

Buy the book:  Amazon  iBooks  Kobo B&N GooglePlay

Or buy from Payhip and get 20% off. Use coupon code G4U677DOVK

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Why Pets in Space is a Project Close to my Heart: Guest Blog by Carysa Locke

I'm beyond enthused to be one of nine authors contributing to Pets in Space, a wonderful collection of novellas and novelettes. After all, pets + space! What could be more fun than that? But along with the fun comes adventure, aliens, intrigue, excitement and compelling romantic mayhem. We're also very proud that part of the proceeds will be donated to Hero-dogs.org who provide trained service dogs and companion animals free of charge for our veterans. For the next several weeks, Pets in Space authors will be guest blogging to share insights into their stories, pets, experiences and favorite things.

I'm delighted to have author Carysa Locke guest blogging today to talk about why writing a story for Pets in Space was such an important project for her.
____________________

We are a household of two cats and two dogs. Of those four pets, three are rescues. Our second rescue was Maya, an Australian Shepherd/Husky mix that came to us through a friend’s no-kill shelter. Dogs get shipped to them from other states to avoid being euthanized. Our older dog was winding down to the end of her life, so we’d been halfway looking for a puppy to get, partly to help entertain our Bengal cat Julius, who didn’t understand why his companion of twelve years was no longer interested in playing. 
This puppy came to them from Fresno, California, an entire state away. She and her sister had been found wandering the streets. Our friend thought of us as soon as she arrived, with her quiet demeanor and sweet personality. We met her, and that was that. Maya came home with us. 
But that was just the beginning. It soon became clear that whatever her experiences had been, they had left an indelible mark on Maya. She wouldn’t go outside unless one of us stepped out with her. Afraid, we think, of being shut outside and never let back in. She had strange episodes where a noise or a touch would trigger her into what we called puppy flashbacks, where she would cry inconsolably and bury her head against one of us, while refusing to let us touch her. We’re fairly certain that someone, at some time, was physically abusive towards her. 
She has a very hard time trusting humans, even those she has met and liked several times. Each time is a new opportunity to win her trust, and each time it is like starting over again. When our older dog passed away, we decided the best thing we could do for Maya would be to get a second puppy. She has improved by leaps and bounds since we did, learning to trust more quickly, and really coming into her own as a loving, happy dog. Her flashbacks are becoming fewer and more infrequent. 
It astounds me sometimes, to think about the things Maya endured before she came to us. We may never know her full story. But what we do know is that she has a happy, safe environment with us, where her biggest worries are trying to stop her herding instincts from chasing the cats on a daily basis. 
It’s hard for me to imagine that there are people out there who will abuse animals who are defenseless and unable to protect themselves, but that is exactly why projects like this one are so important. Anything that can be done to raise awareness for rescue animals, or to aid organizations that train animals to be companions for humans in need, is a great thing to be a part of. I’m proud to be involved with Pets in Space, and so excited to share my story, Escape Run, with everyone. 
Here is a small teaser, introducing my character’s pet, Ember:
Ember looked up at Teegan with a glint in her blue eyes. Her fur rippled in the wind. She was almost entirely a silver color that disappeared against the brightness of snow, but tufts of red circled her eyes like a mask, and tipped the end of her tail and each paw, as though they’d been dipped in the color. It is high summer. It does not snow in high summer, Teegan. There was a distinct tone of disapproval to the kith’s mental voice. As if she couldn’t abide the sky spitting snow in the wrong season.
Thanks so much for hosting me today.
_____________________________
Carysa Locke is the author of Pirate Nemesis and Pirate Bound. You can find her here:
Twitter  @carysalocke


ESCAPE RUN


Teegan’s job as a hunter is to track down the Talented, those driven insane by their gifts. She and Ember, her psychically gifted fox, have tracked dozens of people for Cole, the man who works to rehabilitate and recover these troubled souls. When one of Cole’s most dangerous patients escapes, Teegan and Ember are on a hunt that could prove fatal if she doesn’t keep her focus on her mission. Unfortunately, Cole is proving one distraction that might make this her last hunt if she can’t do that.
Can Teegan keep her heart and mind in the game long enough to save an entire planet’s population, or will her distraction lead to heartache – and possibly death for everyone?
_______________________________ 
Pets in Space Anthology
Release Date: October 11 2016
ISBN: 978-1-942583-40-0

Join the adventure as nine pet loving sci-fi romance authors take you out of this world and pull you into their action-packed stories filled with suspense, laughter, and romance. The alien pets have an agenda that will capture the hearts of those they touch. Follow along as they work side by side to help stop a genetically-engineered creature from destroying the Earth to finding a lost dragon; life is never the same after their pets decide to get involved. Can the animals win the day or will the stars shine just a little less brightly?

New York Times, USA TODAY, Award Winning, and Best selling authors have eight original, never-released stories and one expanded story giving readers nine amazing adventures that will capture your imagination and help a worthy charity. Come join us as we take you on nine amazing adventures that will change the way you look at your pet!

10% of the first month’s profits go to Hero-Dogs.org. Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence.
____________________________________
 
AMAZON        B&N NOOK       iTUNES
 
KOBO   |  |||GOOGLEPLAY |     ALL ROMANCE eBOOKS


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Big @iBooks SFR Event & #BristolCon: Final Countdown! #scifi #romance #sale

Today sees the start of a very special SFR event at iBooks: 19 discounted novels from award winning authors across the broad spectrum of SciFi romance (including my time travel romance Keir). The lovely people at Apple have provided a direct link to the feature page HERE (unfortunately you can only access and purchase the books if you have an iPhone or iPad). The sale runs for two weeks - a great time to stock up on reads ready for Christmas (or if you'd rather lose yourself in a book than sit through yet more presidential campaign). ;)


Status Update

It's just four days until BristolCon! O.M.G.

This was my final practice set up before the con, so I know exactly what I need/want to take and how to lay it all out. I'm kind of relieved I don't have any other titles in print right now because I'm struggling for space with just half a table to myself! A good problem to have?

I've been doing final prep and packing for the past week, and it's pretty much consumed my attention. We are having a very minor car issue (not again!) but only with her starting on the now cold mornings. As long as she starts, we're good. I absolutely refuse to be thwarted by a machine again - our mechanic is stumped by her starting issue but otherwise sees no reason for her to break down on us. Let's hope those aren't famous last words...

Between BristolCon prep, the iBook event, arguing with ParcelForce over their inability to take my customs charge payment and deliver my package, and my cosplay, no writing or editing is getting done. I'm hoping to go back to Keir book three in November, but I'm not making any promises right now. >_<

Chook Update
My girls are all nicely fluffed up for winter but very reluctant to emerge of a morning now it's chilly and the days are shortening. Last week they had a little wander in the garden on one of the warmer days when I could tolerate sitting out there.

See you after BristolCon!


Monday, October 24, 2016

When the Turtles Took Over: Guest Post by Veronica Scott

I'm beyond enthused to be one of nine authors contributing to Pets in Space, a wonderful collection of novellas and novelettes. After all, pets + space! What could be more fun than that? But along with the fun comes adventure, aliens, intrigue, excitement and compelling romantic mayhem. We're also very proud that part of the proceeds will be donated to Hero-dogs.org who provide trained service dogs and companion animals free of charge for our veterans. For the next several weeks, Pets in Space authors will be guest blogging to share insights into their stories, pets, experiences and favorite things.

Today, I'm very pleased to have Veronica Scott, author of Star Cruise: Stowaway in Pets in Space, here as our guest blogger.
_________________________________
 
Have you ever taken on a pet without understanding what you were in for? Because it was adorable and cute maybe? Or because your children were just begging to adopt it and you figured what the heck? 

That was me and red-eared slider turtles.

Years and years ago, a small tropical fish store opened up near where we were living then and my daughters wanted to stop in and see the pretty fish every time we went shopping. (I’ll tell you the sad story of us and aquariums another day.) Then one day the proprietor had acquired a few baby red-eared slider turtles. The kids were fascinated and begged to adopt one each. Since I used to have those little green turtles when I was a child (who knew about salmonella in those days?), I said fine and off we went. Of course we had to have a large aquarium so they could swim and that was an expense, plus a small motor to circulate and clean the water...

Fast forward a year. The turtles were each the size of a salad plate and rejoiced in names primarily drawn from characters on the "Xena Warrior Princess". (I have no idea how to tell the sex of a turtle so hopefully they liked their names regardless of accuracy.)

We now had six of these turtles in a massive aquarium, with THREE motors running constantly...they’d come down with pneumonia at one point over the winter, and I spent an insane amount of money on the only veterinarian in our area who treated turtles, not to mention medicine. Have you ever tried to give a turtle medicine three times a day? Remember they can duck back into their shell and refuse to swallow. Plus they hiss very convincingly and kick with those clawed feet. But I’m kind hearted and I can’t bear to see an animal suffer so of course we had to try to save these guys. They had to be taken outside daily to get their dose of sun (although I seem to recall buying special lights). We had to completely empty the aquarium and clean it thoroughly once a week, which was a massive operation, including scrubbing the rocks that the turtles liked to sit on. Every week I was afraid we’d either break the glass aquarium or come down with some exotic disease despite the gloves we all wore.

I was keeping that small pet shop in business, buying filters for the pumps, and food – the turtles preferred live worms, live goldfish, insects, hamburger, bits of hot dogs...the problem being that they are messy eaters so the water got nasty fast. Turtles are kind of unclean which doesn’t matter in a nice lake or pond – circle of life and all that – but in an aquarium, not so good. It really wasn’t the lovely centerpiece I might have once naively envisioned for my living room.

Yes, I see you shaking your head and pondering why I was doing all this but I think sometimes when you’re in the midst of a situation, you can’t see how out of hand it’s gotten. And the turtles were interesting to watch. One of my best memories ever is when we set up the Christmas tree and turned on the lights and all six of them swam to the edge of the aquarium and were mesmerized. That was cool to see.

So what finally brought this insanity to an end? My best friend and I took our children to the local natural history museum, which also had a few live animals on display, including mature red-eared slider turtles. They were the size of serving platters. I will never forget how horrified I was to see what was in my future – six gigantic reptiles in my living room, probably each in their own aquarium by then, with filters the size of nuclear power generators and a refrigerator just for their food!

Fortunately I had a friend who had a friend who wanted to adopt them. He had a ranch in a very rural area and I asked NO questions. He came one day in his truck, loaded up the aquarium, the pumps and the turtles and we were done. My electric bill went down $60/month!

Very important moral of the story: don’t adopt any animal without knowing more about it first, what kind of care it requires, and if it’s an exotic, what the requirements may be if it outgrows the habitat you can safely provide. Of course it’s easier to research these things nowadays and I never again said yes to adopting any pet without thinking long and hard. No impulse buys.

It’s strictly cats for me now! Nice, normal housecats whose care I totally understand and can handle.

So when I was writing my story for this anthology, I gave my hero a cat and an alien, furry pet, but no turtles.

The blurb for Pets In Space:

Even an alien needs a pet...

Join the adventure as nine pet loving sci-fi romance authors take you out of this world and pull you into their action-packed stories filled with suspense, laughter, and romance. The alien pets have an agenda that will capture the hearts of those they touch. Follow along as they work side by side to help stop a genetically-engineered creature from destroying the Earth to finding a lost dragon; life is never the same after their pets decide to get involved.

Can the animals win the day or will the stars shine just a little less brightly?

New York Times, USA TODAY, Award Winning, and Best selling authors have eight original, never-released stories and one expanded story giving readers nine amazing adventures that will capture your imagination and help a worthy charity. Come join us as we take you on nine amazing adventures that will change the way you look at your pet!

10% of the first month’s profits go to Hero-Dogs.org. Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence.

 And the blurb for Star Cruise: Stowaway:

Cargo Master Owen Embersson is shocked when the Nebula Zephyr’s ship’s cat and her alien sidekick, Midorri, alert him to the presence of a stowaway. He has no idea of the dangerous complications to come – nor does he anticipate falling hard for the woman whose life he now holds in his hands. Life aboard the Nebula Zephyr has just become more interesting – and deadly.

A quick excerpt from the story – Owen, the cargo master, is going to see the stowaway in the sickbay.

As he walked through the public corridor, not enjoying the close encounter with the throng of passengers he usually avoided, he passed the florist shop and hesitated. You take flowers when someone’s sick, right? Squaring his shoulders, he stepped inside the small shop and picked the most colorful bouquet the clerk had to offer, dismayed at the limited selection available. He vaguely remembered a discussion at senior staff not too long ago, and the Purser saying the ornamental hydroponics trade should be bringing in a lot more credits but was languishing. No wonder. Critically, he surveyed the flowers he’d bought, some of which were missing a few petals and already browning at the edges. He’d have an opinion if the topic came up again.

Holding the flowers clutched like a wrench at his side, he entered the sickbay, ignoring nurse Relba’s widening eyes as she focused on what he carried. “I’m here to see the lady, the one brought in last night,” he said, feeling like an idiot, not knowing her name.

“Sorry, sir, the patient’s not allowed to have visitors—

Author Bio:

Best Selling Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance author and "SciFi Encounters" columnist for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.

Three time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances! She recently was honored to read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s "City On the Edge of Forever."

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About Spacefreighters Lounge

Hosted by 5 Science Fiction Romance authors with 8 RWA Golden Heart finals and a RITA final between them. We aim to entertain with spirited commentary on the past, present, and future of SFR, hot topics, and our take on Science Fiction and SFR books, television, movies and culture.