Category Archives: Science fiction

An Imperial Family in Space

Lady Felicia Sorensen, a brilliant microengineering student, finds herself pressured to date Emperor Victor Sinclair, for he has fallen madly in love with her! Despite being showered with extravagant gowns and attention, she longs for a fascinating life as a scientist, instead of the stressful and dangerous destiny of an Empress The social pressures of being the Emperor’s Betrothed, from gossip and manipulation to an assassination attempt, cause her to weigh her love for him against her personal goal, to do research in her own lab someday. Will Felicia choose her Imperial lover and tough out the extreme political and social pressures with the supreme ruler of the Empire, or will she choose her goals and help thousands, millions, possibly billions of people through her intellectual achievements?

Dignity is the first of Eva Caye’s thirteen-book series “To Be Sinclair”, a romance in a science fiction setting. Everything that happens in the plot revolves around the relationship between thirty-one year old Emperor Victor Sinclair and his paramour, Felicia Sorensen. When we meet Victor, he is despairing of ever finding the woman to help him secure his dynasty.

Felicia is something of a maverick. Although of high-born status, unlike her female peers, she has no interest in pursuing a suitable mate and becoming, effectively, the manager of a household. She wants to be a scientist, and do something to improve the lot of humanity.

Introduced to Felicia, Victor finds the young woman refreshingly different. Felicia, for her part, is well aware that a relationship with the Emperor may well mean the end of her ambition to be a scientist. The story evolves as Felicia learns more about Victor, while at the same time growing to a greater understanding of how she might fit into his life as Empress, without giving up her own goals.

The juxtapostion between the essentially solitary role of a scientist and the glaringly public life of the Emperor’s fiancee is taxing. Felicia constantly struggles with her ambitions and her feelings for Victor. Increasingly, her position in Victor’s life attracts envy, duplicity and hate, emotions Felicia must learn to deal with.

The characterisation is excellent. I liked Victor and Felicia, and wanted their relationship to work, despite the trials. It was nice to see that neither was perfect, tripping and falling and making mistakes. The subsidiary cast – quite a few – were sufficiently fleshed out, with plenty of jealousy, back-biting, and plotting, as well as support from friends and family. Both main characters develop and grow, and the ending is as satisfying as one expects from a romance.

I found the world building to be an interesting mixture of high tech, low tech and no tech, ranging from space travel via wormholes, to computer systems which seem to be no better than we have at present, through to hand-written letters on exquisite paper. But then, the feel of the society smacks of Georgian Britain, with high-born ladies vying for eligible men of rank. Indeed, the author’s writing style is more reminiscent of an earlier time. There’s a formality about it. For instance, Lady Brighton, who runs the hostel for young ladies where we first meet Felicia, is frequently referred to as ‘the good lady’, and the author tends to use the word ‘for’ instead of ‘because’ or ‘since’, a rather old fashioned construction. Although we’re in (mainly) Felicia’s head, often the narrator steps in to explain something, or to summarise a discussion, telling instead of showing. That said, there’s plenty of exquisite detail to bring the scene to life. I particularly liked the descriptions of Felicia’s gowns, which she wears to various court functions. She has no interest in fashion, so Victor commissions the dresses for her, sometimes to make a point to an audience, sometimes to make a point to her. The security arrangements surrounding an Emperor and his court are detailed and totally convincing. Privacy is hard to come by in that world.

There are a number of low-key sex scenes in the book, nothing much more than suggestion. However, the author has included a short story at the end, something she calls an Easter egg. It’s fun – but it’s hot. You have been warned.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It’s leisurely reading, not a full-on, action-packed space opera. But it’s a book I kept going back to, and something with sufficient depth to make me think I might well read it again. If you like series, then after you’ve finished this one, there are eight other books as Victor and Felicia’s family grows and matures.

You can find Dignity at:  Amazon   Smashwords

Horses and space ships – woohoo

Copenhage, Denmark – November 05, 2017: Group of horse riders at the annual Hubrertus fox hunt event

When we talk about Science Fiction – at least when I do – I immediately think of space ships. Having established (for me) that given, SF seems to be a comfortable home for just about anything else. Romance, shape-shifters like werewolves, vampires, weird creepy things. As long as whatever it is can be explained scientifically (even if the science is beyond our current comprehension) it’s okay in SF. Vampires and shape-shifters could be aliens, weird creepy things could be alien weird creepy things – as long as it’s not magic or fantasy.

I guess one of the last things I expected to find in a space ships book was a strong story arc about a woman riding in fox hunts, much as depicted in the phtot at the head of this post. But I have, and I thoroughly enjoyed Elizabeth Moon’s Hunting Party.

For Heris Serrano, nothing gave her life as much meaning as serving the ruling Familias Regnant in the Regular Space Service. But after defying a vindictive superior officer in order to save the lives of her men—she’s cast off from the crew and finds herself struggling to retain her sense of purpose.

Now, she finds herself in the civilian world and at the helm of the ‘Sweet Delight’—an opulent interstellar space yacht owned by the wealthy, powerful and irascible matriarch Lady Cecilia de Marktos. After a disciplined life in the Service, Heris doesn’t anticipate having many problems captaining a flying pleasure palace.

But she didn’t count on her crew comprising some of the most incompetent degenerates she’s ever had the displeasure of commanding. Or that her predecessor had been using the ‘Sweet Delight’ for criminal enterprises…or that their final destination will bring Heris face-to-face with the man who ended her career.

This isn’t an action-packed story with danger at every turn – although the danger does happen further down the track. There’s no space battle. It’s very much character driven, with lots of extra interest as we wonder why Heris resigned from the Regular Space Service. She’s a member of a powerful military family, often referred to as the Serrano Admiralty and whatever she did has finished her career. She certainly hadn’t seen herself ending up captaining a rich old lady’s yacht.

Cecelia Marktos, having sacked her previous captain for making her late, isn’t one to accept Heris’s rules and regs approach to captaincy lying down. It’s fascinating to watch Heris and Cecelia move from mutual disdain through to respect and even friendship. Having lost a wager, Heris agrees to learn how to ride a horse using Lady Cecelia’s simulator and later ride in a hunt with her. In return, Cecelia learns about her ship, how it works, and how her previous captain and crew had taken advantage of her hands-off approach.

There’s lots of technical detail as Heris checks out the ship’s hydroponics and environmental systems, which have been allowed to deteriorate to a dangerous condition. Her investigations lead to animosity with some of the crew. Her insistence on holding emergency drills which involve Lady Cecelia and her four spoiled rich kid passengers creates animosity with the twenty-something lads and lasses – though not with Cecelia, who has been lumbered with them against her will. Ronnie, in particular, decides to pit himself against Cecelia’s ‘little captain’. There’s also lots of technical detail as Heris learns to ride, first on Cecelia’s very realistic simulator, then on real horses at Lord Thornbuckle’s property. The hunt is very much copied from traditional hunts held at aristocratic properties on Old Earth, which gives a hint at the politics of the Familias Regnant world,s dominated by well-bred, wealthy families.

Not being keen on hunting, Ronnie, George, Bubbles and Raffa sneak off in one of Lord Thornbuckle’s flitters for a jaunt to the islands where they used to camp as children. Things don’t go as planned and the four young people are forced to grow up – fast.

What makes this a compelling read is the characters and the unanswered questions. Why did Heris resign? The explanation comes out in dribs and drabs, in realistic discussions as the two senior women get to know each other. We learn more about Cecelia, too, an unmarried aristocrat who decided to make her own way against her family’s wishes. She’s the crazy, eccentric aunt who used to be a champion horsewoman and is now facing old age.

The four spoiled rich kids go on a journey, too. At first it’s easy to despise them. What is there to say about a young man whose favourite expression appears to be, “it’s not fair”? How can anyone take a girl with the name ‘Bubbles’ seriously? How can they survive when there’s no one to help them?

The story comes to a satisfying conclusion and the promise of a second book about Heris and Cecelia. Following the vaguely horsey tone, it’s called Sporting Chance’.

I’m off for a re-read.

 

Tigers

The Goddess Durga on her tiger mount

There used to be tigers on Bali. On Java, too. They’re gone now, extinct. The Sumatran tiger hangs on by the tips of its claws in the vanishing pockets of forest on Sumatra but they are critically endangered, with the numbers in the wild down to just a few hundred individuals. There are too many people on this planet, shouldering out any life that competes. All over the world wild places have become smaller and smaller as humanity takes over.

Apart from the ever-dwindling habitat, tigers and other iconic animals are the target of poachers, slaughtering animals for their body parts which are highly prized in Chinese medicine. It is astonishing to me that in the 21st century there are still people that believe a potion of ground-up tiger penis will give a man virility. I’m sure Viagra is cheaper – and it’s known to work.

The time will come when the animals we all saw in our nursery books – elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, koalas – will only be able to survive in parks and zoos. Maybe there’s still a little bit of time. The Indian Government has spent millions to help to preserve Bengal tigers. Villages have been closed and the people moved to provide space for the big carnivores to roam naturally with their prey animals. But all of this is only going to work if people care, if a living tiger is worth more than a dead one. I was delighted to learn that tiger numbers in India have actually risen for the first time in decades. People go the safari parks to see tigers in the wild there. Education works.

That’s why, with some misgivings, I went to Bali Safari to see the tiger show.

I’ve seen tigers before. Many years ago, armed with my very first, brand new, totally unused Canon EOS camera, I went to Singapore zoo. We arrived early, and the tigers were having their morning swim. Wow. Just wow. Three of them, interacting and playing in the pool. It was wonderful and I’ve never forgotten it. Often the big cats lie around, maybe flick a tail, because that’s what they do. To see them move, running, (from a safe distance) is an absolute joy.

The tiger show lasts for half an hour. Hundreds of people turned up to watch, most of them Asian, many of them children. Like the elephant show, the aim is to educate. First we were shown the importance of the tiger in Balinese culture (which is based on Indian culture). In Hinduism the tiger is the steed of Durga, the warrior aspect of the Moon Goddess who battles demons with the weapons carried in her many arms. Durga and her mount were paraded out into the arena and a couple of human ‘tigers’ danced. Then performers showed the impact of man’s encroachment on tiger territory and the effects of poaching. The poaching was stopped by the Goddess, which I thought was a great touch.

The tigers themselves (three young beasts) were only out there for maybe ten minutes in total, in two short bursts. They came out with their keepers but were free to run around the waterfall and the grass. One immediately lay down in the stream. Another curled around a keeper’s legs, asking for his bottle. The third trotted along the path by the waterfall, encouraged with treats.

It was simply wonderful to see them move, that long, loping, effortless run. I was almost brought to tears. One of them climbed a pole wrapped in thick rope for a treat dangled above. I don’t think people realise how high a tiger can climb, or jump.

Bali Safari also has white tigers. They were not in the show (I’m pleased to say) but people can watch them being fed in another very short ‘show’ (about 10 minutes).

White tigers are not albinos. They can occur naturally in the wild if there is a mating between two cats which both carry this recessive gene. The coat is very pale, almost white, with the usual black stipes and they have ice-blue eyes. Their striking appearance makes them showy and popular – but scratch the surface and you’ll find a few disturbing characteristics. All white tigers are cross-eyed, even if they don’t appear to be. They also suffer from other genetic defects, such as club feet and problems with internal organs, so they don’t tend to last in the wild. All the white tigers in captivity stem from a litter brought to the US by a hunter who shot their mother. In the pet trade in the US white tigers were popular so breeders crossed fathers with daughters or granddaughters, brothers with sisters, to be sure of getting at least one or two white cubs from the pairing. The rest would be the usual orange – and they were often excess to requirements. The result of all this is that white tigers are horribly inbred. Nobody should be breeding them at all. Please read this article from Big Cat Rescue in Florida for more detailed information about white tigers.

Unfortunately, while Bali Safari had a poster explaining the double recessive gene and how a white tiger can result from mating, it did not mention the other effects. I most sincerely hope the park is not breeding from these cats.

Nonetheless, I took a few nice pictures of the cats in their spacious enclosure.

I love tigers. As it happens, I was born in the Chinese year of the tiger. Chinese couples try to avoid having a girl in a tiger year. We grow up feisty and nasty. So it’s said.

You might have noticed a certain level of passion in this post. Without being an expert, I know a bit about the plight of the world’s tigers. I have written two books about them. They’re fantasy, starring a were-tiger (like a werewolf, a creature that can look like a human or an animal). The first, Black Tiger, is about the impact of poachers and the Chinese medicine trade on the tigers in India, with the fantasy and a touch of romance woven in.

The second, White Tiger, is about tigers in the USA where it is still legal in too many places for people to own great cats as pets. In fact, while the number of tigers in America is not precisely known, it is in excess of 6,000 – many, many more than the number of wild tigers in India – indeed, the world.

I wrote the books to try to educate people in an accessible way – read them for the fantasy and the romance and come away with a bit more knowledge about tigers in the modern world.  I suppose it’s my small attempt to make a difference. It’s not quite as good as letting people see the real thing, but it’s the best I can do.

picture of black tiger coverBlack Tiger

He haunts the jungle – and her dreams

When Dr. Sally Carter travels to India to regroup from a broken heart the last thing she wants is to fall in love. But Raja Asoka (Ash) Bhosle is entirely too attractive to ignore, even though she knows it can only end in tears. Hers.

Ash guards his forest and the precious creatures within it, protecting the rare tigers from mindless slaughter, and a secret that lives in legend. From the moment he sets eyes on the Australian doctor, he wants her, even over the objections of his mother and the unsuitability of her cultural heritage.

While Ash fights tiger poachers, Sally struggles against cultural prejudice. Can the Legend of the Black Tiger be the bond that brings them closer together, or will it be an impossible belief that rips them apart. The closer Sally comes to understanding what the legend means, the more frequent the nightmares become. Is she losing her sanity, or is there more to Sally than she herself knows? The answers lie buried in her past.

Buy the book from Amazon  Kobo iBooks B&N

  White Tiger

New York is no place for a tiger – not for weretiger Sally Carter or for the white tiger she finds in a Harlem basement, guarding an enormous stash of heroin. Sally’s daring rescue of the tiger attracts journalist Dave Gardner, who sniffs a story and a lead to a drug baron he’s been trying to nail for years.

While Sally is determined that the white tiger will find a home in a sanctuary, Gardner follows a tenuous trail from the tiger back to the drug cache – and a whole lot of trouble. Soon Sally and her weretiger husband find themselves mixed up in a drug baron’s plot for revenge where even their amazing weretiger talents may not be enough to save Gardner – or themselves.

Buy the book from Amazon  Kobo iBooks B&N

 

 

 

The magic refuses to die

It’s 26th May in Australia, but still the 25th in the USA. It’s a momentous anniversary, the first actual release of that juggernaut, Star Wars. That was the film’s name back then. No ‘episode 4’. No ‘A New Hope’. That would all come later, when George Lucas realised he had a really, truly block-buster on his hands. People queued around the block to see it at the thirty-two movie theaters prepared to take a risk with this science fiction movie produced and directed by a little-known newcomer. There you go. You never can tell.

It’s interesting how closely the date matches the release of the new Star Wars spin-off, Solo: A Star Wars Story. Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo, made his mark in that first movie all those years ago. Forty-one, to be exact. It never ceases to amaze me at the series’ longevity. I can understand the movie catching the imagination of 1977. It was fun, had a smart-mouthed heroine prepared to take charge (still too much of a rarity) and it had lots of TECH. It was understandable tech.  Space-capable fighters  flying in space as they would in atmosphere. Moving from planet to planet in the same time as it would take to drive across town. Blasters that looked a lot like your average pistol. All the planets seemed to have pretty much the same gravity and all of them had atmosphere humans – and most aliens – could breath. Lots and lots of aliens, most of them humanoid. And wow, gosh space ships! And star destoyers like great big aircraft carriers in space! And fighters and the Millenium Falcon, with dirt on them and scratches and things.  As if somebody had actually used them! And fights and explosions and this AMAZING baddy!!!

The science was lousy, but who cared? I certainly didn’t.

I suppose movies, like most things, are a product of their times. The Vietnam War had ended (with the US having to admit defeat) but the Cold War was still on. The Berlin War stood proud. Kids did atomic bomb drills (in US schools, anyway). Star Wars was an escape, another world to enjoy when this one didn’t offer much. It’s ancient history that the first movie led to a second, and a third, then a flood of Star Wars books of variable quality. The magic refused to die. So George made his prequels, with Darth Vader as a cute eight-year-old and his future wife as the Queen of Naboo. I never could see what Padme saw in the petulant, teenage Anakin. A lot of other people couldn’t either. The prequels were universally panned.

And still the magic refused to die.

A new generation of kids grew up to hate Darth Vader (or love him if you were a bit weird, like me) and love Han, Leia, and Luke. Disney bought the franchise, causing deep concern amongst fandom. But it was a smart move from the studio, which has been repaid in spades for its apparently large investment. Star Wars toys and merchandise had never vanished from the shelves. Now they returned with a vengeance, along with the long-awaited movies, the animated Star Wars: Rebels in the vanguard. It’s no secret that I thought The Force Awakens was derivative crap. But at least Star Wars was back. Rogue One was very good. The Last Jedi I think drew a thick line in marker pen under the old guard. Let’s hope Star Wars 9 really will be A New Hope. (Haha). We have some new characters to watch – Finn and Po and Rey. We’ll see.

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56323217

I have hopes for Solo. It’s a return to the roots. The new young actor Alden Ehrenreich, who plays the role of Han Solo, has big shoes to fill. Think Han and you see Harrison Ford, who owned the role in the earlier films. However, from what I’ve seen it’ll be a fun romp taking place before the events in A New Hope (the original one). There’ll be no Force, no Leia – but there’ll be Lando Calrissian (played by Billy-Dee Williams in The Empire Strikes Back). Sure, it’ll be predictable, it won’t offer anything deep and meaningful that’ll leave you cogitating for days.

You know what? In these dark and dangerous times, that’s fine by me.

 

I have published a new book

I usually talk about my writing pastime (I hesitate to call it a career) on Spacefreighter’s Lounge, a blog I co-author with four other writers. But writing is part of who I am, so bear with me while I tell you about my just-released latest book.

It’s space opera (of course). Three women from different backgrounds share adventures in space. These books are a spin-off from my Morgan Selwood novels, set in the same Universe. You’ll find all of those books listed here. The women in this society are restricted in several respects. There’s a rigid, paternalistic class structure, which means they often can’t choose their own partners, and they often don’t have much choice when it comes to jobs, either. The three ladies who make up Morgan’s Misfits  don’t fit the social mores.

While the books are action/adventure (with a little bit of romance), they’re also about the women interacting within their society, and with each other. I’m sure you’ll notice some parallels in 21st Century Earth.

The first book, Kuralon Rescue, tells the story of how the ladies save a couple of men sentenced to work to death on a prison planet called Kuralon. It’s how the ladies get together and how they acquired their name.

Kuralon Rescue

Abstract background with magic light. Vector illustration

Follow your dreams. You never know where they might take you.

Jirra’s on the run, Siena’s rescuing her lover, Toreni wants Master Chef status and Chet wants her reputation back. Four women, four goals, and one very small ship. Add a fleet request to free a rebel, the promise of little to no help and a caste-defined society simmering with discontent on the edge of explosion.

Now, on their own, they’re staging an escape from a backwater prison planet and navigating the murky terrain of dreams forbidden by the rigid caste system underpinning their culture. Success demands more than team work. They’ll have to jettison their own prejudices and forge relationships free of the rules and caste lines.
There’s more than just lives at stake. There’s dreams and a possible tomorrow more fragile than gossamer.

Buy the book at  iBooks Amazon Kobo  B&N

In the new book, Rescuing Romila, the ladies become involved in more dangerous adventures.

Rescuing Romila

The Misfits are off on another planet-hopping adventure.

When Jirra and Toreni rescue Romila from a raid on her antiques business the Misfits start off on a mission to uncover a drug-smuggling operation. A new, very potent drug is on the market, hidden in statues of ice warriors carved on a remote world.

But all’s not well within the team. Toreni and Chet have fallen out, Toreni has received an offer that might be too good to refuse, and Jirra has doubts about her future.  When the drug-smuggling operation morphs into something even more dangerous, the Misfits must resolve their differences. If they don’t act together, and quickly, many lives will be at risk. Including their own.

Action and adventure, with a little bit of romance.

Buy the book at  iBooks Amazon Kobo  B&N

There you have it.

I realise that space opera is not everybody’s thing, but you might mention the books to your kids, or neighbours or whatever.

The Stuff of Legend – opposites attract

The Stuff of Legend‘s plot revolves around an open cluster and the legends and tales that have been told about that formation. As an analogy, consider the Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters. Just about every society on Earth seems to have had a legend around it – many very similar tales about maidens escaping from a suitor, whether they are Greek, Roman, or Australian aboriginal.

My two protagonists have very different views on ancient tales. History professor Olivia Jhutta thinks there’s often a core of truth; Admiral Jackson Prentiss is only interested in facts. This snippet illustrates their differences. Olivia and Jak are walking through the woods.

“How much do you know about the Ghria?” Olivia asked.

Jak shrugged. “Space demons that lie in wait for the unwary. They swallow ships whole. And that’s about it. Oh, and I’ve seen the pictures.”

Fanciful illustrations of non-existent creatures with huge mouths and slavering jaws. “That’s very likely fabrication.”

He chuckled. “You think?”

“We don’t know for certain, do we? What we do know is the Gh’ria legend dates back thousands of years. Although it pops up across Confederacy space, it has its roots here, in the Helicronian planets.”

Jak brushed an errant leaf off his shoulder. “I didn’t know that.”

“It’s because in its original form, the Gh’ria are linked to the Maidens. That thing about space demons is later, much later. The earliest stories are about maidens protecting a dragon’s hoard. ‘Cloaked in stardust, draped in shadow the maidens guard the dragon’s hoard’. From a poem written by Elivior San Brindel two thousand years ago.”

Smiling, Jak shook his head. “That’s better than space demons, is it?”

“It’s interesting. The story goes that if you get past the dancers protecting the place, you still have to avoid being swallowed up by a dragon.”

He laughed. “Oh please. A dragon? We have swirling gowns making up the dancers’ clothes, and now we have a dragon as well? That’s a first. Can you show me?”

Show him? Olivia riffled through the images she kept on her implant, including a few for the Maidens which she’d collected recently. “Can I transfer an image to your implant?”

“Please do.”

She waited for the invitation to access his private inbox, then transferred the one with the three women superimposed over the stars. “This shows the dancers.”

“Sure. Where’s the dragon?”

His tone bristled with scorn. But then, she should have realized he’d react like that. Bracing herself, she said, “The dragon is invisible. It’s beyond the ability of humans to see it.”

Jak shook his head slowly. “Professor, I deal with facts, not made-up stories. These legends are just idiotic notions made up by ignorant people trying to understand something beyond their knowledge. I can see it now. Some kid asks the teacher what that thing up there is, so teacher tries to explain, using things he understands. But there are no star women up there. Just an open cluster with a nebula behind it. If you look at the Maidens from Rigmont or Sallazar, the stars don’t look the same. As for an invisible dragon… give me strength.”

********************************************************************

The Stuff of Legend

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.

You’ll find The Stuff of Legend here.  Amazon  B&N iBooks  Kobo

SFR Brigade holiday showcase

sfrbholidayshowcaseUPDATE: The prize has been won and claimed. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Hi there folks. Welcome to my world. Yes, there’s a giveaway.

Christmas is coming. I’m mentioning that in case you hadn’t noticed. 🙂 Here in Australia it is, of course, high summer. No snow, no egg nog in front of a roaring fire. Unless it’s a beach barbecue, and then it’s cold beer or fizzy wine, not egg nog. But even so we share the time with friends and family, whatever our religious or cultural belief might be.

In our hot climate many of us have weaned ourselves off the traditional turkey, ham, roast veg, plum pudding etc food orgy we inherited from our English forebears.  Although there is a new tradition of Christmas in July where those who like that sort of food can indulge themselves in mid-Winter. My husband and I will be having a peaceful day, eating a selection of delicious seafood. To finish, I might even whip up this rather tasty dessert – but in smaller proportions, and without the toffee.

For your reading pleasure I’ve selected a piece of the current work in progress, The Stuff of Legend. It should be published in late February – early March.

Here’s the blurb

When history professor Olivia Jhutta receives a distress call from her parents, in trouble somewhere in space, she returns to her home planet to find out what happened to them. Together with her grandmother and injured Confederacy Admiral Jak Prentiss, she sets out 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, and their agents secretly follow Olivia’s every move. If they lay their hands on the weapon it will mean certain death for Olivia – and interplanetary war.

And here’s an excerpt

The shower was a blessing. Olivia washed the grime and dust out of her hair, and turned through the dry cycle. She still felt guilty about Jak. He’d been hurt because of her, and his wounds were painful. She’d seen him bounce up and down the stairs like a mountain goat. Now, he had to take the elevator, and he limped. She’d been such a fool, letting him dictate her mood like that.

She stepped out of the shower stall. Even when she’d tried to apologize she’d fluffed her lines. She’d been surprised to see him wearing the black fleet uniform with the stars on the shoulder boards. Maybe that was it. He’d said once before that the uniform made ordinary people nervous. She could see why. The dress uniform, all sparkling white with gold insignia and a high collar, was probably designed to intimidate, but even in everyday black Jak oozed authority.

What to wear to dinner? Grandma had hung some dresses in the closet for her and after spending the last couple of days in dust and grime, Olivia felt like looking pretty. The red one with the cleavage should suit. If nothing else, it would give His Admiralness something to look at. She twirled in front of the mirror. Grandma had bought the dress on New Haven and it had nanotech so it would fit whoever wore it. You couldn’t buy anything like that on Belledura. Olivia had modified the style slightly to show a little more skin. She looked good and more important, she felt good.

She opened the door to her bedroom and nearly walked into Jak. He stopped and stared at her, his lips curving into a hungry smile. “Delightful. Absolutely delightful.”

Her face heated. He didn’t look so bad himself. He’d changed out of the uniform and into black evening dress with a white shirt and bow tie, old fashioned but elegant. He’d left his walking stick behind.

“No stick?”

“I’m trying to wean myself off it.” He gestured. “Shall we go?”

Giveaway

To be in the draw for one ebook copy of any of my books, please tell me what you’ll be doing for Christmas.  I’ll contact the winner, using the email address you are asked to enter when you leave a comment (unless otherwise advised) on 20th December.

Have a very wonderful solstice celebration, whichever version works for you. And please, don’t forget to visit all the other blogs for more chances to win stuff.

Participants:

1. Lea Kirk 16. Kyndra Hatch
2. Greta van der Rol 17. Melisse Aires
3. Pippa Jay 18. Shari Elder
4. Carol Van Natta 19. Ed Hoornaert
5. Liza O’Connor 20. C.E. Kilgore
6. Jolie Mason 21. Diane Burton
7. Aurora Springer 22. Athena Grayson
8. S. A. Hoag 23. Misa Buckley
9. Veronica Scott 24. Kaye Manro
10. Jess Anastasi 25. E.M Reders
11. AR DeClerck 26. Pauline Baird Jones
12. Carmen Webster Buxton 27. Dena Garson
13. Christina Westcott 28. Imogene Nix
14. Michelle Howard 29. Tess Rider
15. Siren Allen 30. Michelle Diener

A sneak peek at Ella and the Admiral – coming soon

235Here’s a few paragraphs from the current WIP, Ella and the Admiral.

Ella returned to the restaurant’s  reception desk in time to meet the last large group, five men and three women. While his companions chatted, one man approached her. He wore a high-collared jacket, the current fashion for male formal attire, not a uniform, but Ella would have bet a month’s pay this man was military. The way he stood, the air of authority, she supposed.

“Ibbotson,” he said. “Table for eight.”

“Of course, sir. Welcome to the Imperial.” She glanced over her shoulder to where the two attendants waited. “If you’ll come this way.” She hovered while he gathered his party, then led the way to the table. As usual, there was some discussion about where everyone would sit.

“The top end, Admiral,” Ibbotson said, gesturing at a chair.

The man he addressed laughed and shook his head. “It’s your birthday. You can do the honors for a change.”

Ella’s heart thudded. She knew that voice. She knew that man. Maybe not as well as she would have liked. Goran Chandler. She fought the heat coursing up her body. It was all in the past, ancient history. He didn’t even recognize her as the attendant helped him to his seat. Two of the women sat on either side of him, another opposite him. Ibbotson took the end seat, as directed, while the other men claimed the remaining chairs.

Mechanically, Ella introduced their two attendants, the new girl, Sara, and Timon, an older man with years of experience. One last smile. “Enjoy your evening. If there’s anything you need, please don’t hesitate to ask your attendants, or me.”

She walked away, her mind racing. Goran Chandler. Ten years ago he’d been a senior commander, and captain of the frigate Antelope. She had been Lieutenant Bulich then, and he’d kicked her off his ship.

New Release coming soon…

supernovae and extrasolar planetMy latest Dryden Universe story is nearly there, folks.

When fate throws Brent Walker and Tian Axmar together, it’s strictly a business arrangement. She’s an Imperial agent with a problem to solve, he’s a space jockey with an empty bank balance and a tramp freighter for hire.

Eye-of-the-Mother-ebookSomebody’s murdering Yrmaks and Humans, and leaving a mysterious calling card. Somebody wants interspecies war. Tian hires Brent to help her investigate, delving into Yrmak customs and beliefs to understand what’s going on. It’s an increasingly dangerous game, with more than just lives at stake. Before it’s over Brent and Tian will be faced with choices which will change both of them forever.

 

 

 

 

Fun with Photos

One of my Facebook friends, who writes under the name of Kira Morgana, posted a fun photo on her timeline – a cat sitting on one of her books. “Wow”, I thought. (As you do). “I wonder how she did that?”

Photofunia, that’s how.

What can I say? It’s a damp Saturday morning and my eyes lit up. I’m like a kiddy in a sweet shop, all agog. Look at what you can do!

"Morgan's Choice" in the news

“Morgan’s Choice” in the news

The Iron Admiral - Conspiracy and Deception

“The Iron Admiral” – Conspiracy and Deception

 

'Starheart" at the museum

“Starheart” at the museum

 

The Demon's Eye poster

“The Demon’s Eye” up on a wall

You’re welcome 🙂