Friday, November 30, 2012

Guest Post - Ted Mendlessohn

I write primarily fantasy. Even then there are times, especially in my urban fantasy, where I need to refer to some technological marvel that doesn't yet exist. There's an inherent tension between flash and comprehensibility when technobable creeps in. And to round out the cyber-shopping week, I've asked my friend and fellow Musa writer, Ted Mendelssohn to talk a bit about writing technology into stories.

Take it away Ted.
Ted Mendelssohn

There's an inertial surge in the soliton matrix!
Stabilize the meson beam with a lithium resonator!
Reverse the polarity!
Reverse the polarity!

Like we haven't heard that before. Am  I right?

Welcome to the world of technobabble - made-up jargon, fake terminology intended to give the impression that something terribly high-tech and science-y is going on.

Technobabble is a long-established tradition in science fiction, but it drives me crazy. Even ordinary readers will be irritated by too much of the stuff, and for good reason: It is literally meaningless. (The writers of ST:TNG (* Nancy Note - that's Star Trek: The Next Generation for all of you who aren't Trekkies) would actually write "TECH" as a placeholder in dialogue for which they hadn't yet made up new technobabble. (The tech lifts right out, you see.) As a reader, I have a limited amount of time on earth. The time I spend reading shouldn't be wasted on even a couple of meaningless sentences. When that happens, I know the author isn't doing his job – and he is wasting a tiny bit of my life.

Why do writers use technobabble in the first place? For the same reason, I suppose, that some fantasy writers use archaic, pseudo-historic language for their characters: They think it sounds cool. "Cool" means scientific for the purveyors of space opera; it means "ancient" for the fantasists. To me, it means "sloppy." It indicates a fundamental lack of respect for science and technology…which just might be the wrong attitude for a writer of science fiction.

If you don't get why technobabble is offensive, no worries. Some people like it. Head on to the next post and ignore me. I am now – at Nancy's request – going to talk about how to get rid of the stuff, and you wouldn't want to waste your time with this.

So. How to reduce the amount of technobabble in your story...Well, let's be honest. You have to decide to make the stuff up and put it in. It's not as if it just sprouts in your prose like mushrooms. It isn't something you catch with a spellcheck. To write technobabble, you have to actually create it, and know, while you're writing it down, that you yourself don't have a clear idea of what it means.

So it's not about making sure you don't unintentionally technobabble. It's about writing a story in which technobabble is unnecessary. You do that by understanding your tech from the beginning, and by making sure that your characters' conflict is never technical, even if the obstacles are.

"But, but, but-" you stammer. "I'm writing about immortality and FTL travel. That doesn't even exist yet. It may never exist! How can I understand tech that hasn't been invented yet?"
(* Nancy Note again - FTL is Faster Than Light)

 Meet technobabble's arch-enemy, the Theory of Operation. A ToO is a mental model of how a device or technology is supposed to work - and that device doesn't have to exist in the real world. For instance, it's impossible to go faster than the speed of light in a vacuum, but let's say that we really, really want our characters to take weekend trips to Procyon. Enter the FTL drive.

 There have been dozens of FTL drives dreamed up in the fertile brains of SF writers, the majority of them variations on the themes of hyperspace, wormholes, and warp space. Never mind that they're all (probably) impossible, and that they all (definitely) require a level of technology far beyond our own. What makes them fictional technology instead of straight-up technobabble was that they have at least a limited ToO – which means that they have clearly defined advantages and problems.

The classic example is the Alderson drive, named after Dan Alderson, the JPL scientist who helped writer Jerry Pournelle work out the science and use it as a fictional device. The Alderson drive is a fundamental "wormhole" drive: Ships vanish at one point of "equipotential thermonuclear flux" and reappear at another. The two points are connected by a hyper-dimensional "tramline." The limitation is that you have to look hard for those "Alderson points," and not all star systems have points that will take you where you want to go. That has implications for interstellar travel, trade, politics and warfare. It helps shape the CoDominium, Pournelle's fictional universe. It makes the story solid.

If you don't want to play with a ToO, your other choice is the Star Wars option. In the original Star Wars, there is no ToO for the hyperdrive. In fact, at some points it even seems like the hyperdrive is no more important for FTL travel than the nitrogen afterburner on a race car. But there is actually remarkably little technobabble in that original movie, because the characters' problems and triumphs are ultimately non-technological. Luke will save Leia whether he's using a light-saber, or a sword. Everybody has hyperspace, so it's not an advantage for any one character over another; it's just part of the background. It works.

Now consider a science fiction series that's infamous for technobabble – so infamous, in fact, that it has its own technobabble variant. In Star Trek – the later versions – they neither follow a theory of operation, nor do they keep technology in the background. It is always in the foreground, front and center; but the producers don't work out a consistent vision for it. Miraculous new substances are routinely discovered, only to vanish after one episode; incredible space obstacles menace the ship, but never seem to pose a threat to space navigation at large; and the space-time continuum malfunctions so regularly, in so many different technobbably ways, that it seems like only a matter of time before Roman legionaries are running the Federation and all the Klingons are pink dwarves. A hazy, inconsistent technology is the both the source and the resolution of a multitude of plot points. The result: Treknobabble.

Now, clearly there were a lot of people who loved Treknobabble. It could be viable strategy, if that's really the way you want to play it. But the choice is with you. Always.


Thanks Ted.

Ted's young adult book, The Wrong Sword, is now available. Even though this is YA it's a great read for adults. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

What happens when Excalibur resurfaces and her bearer is a cheat and a thief? Henry and his crew are cons. Their latest endeavor? Forge the greatest swords in history. But Henry cons the wrong knight and ends up on a quest to find the real Excalibur. If he fails, Prince Geoff will put Henry's two best friends to death.

When he actually finds the sword, he learns that SHE has a mind of her own. And she has some definite ideas about being welded by a thief. Henry agrees to find a suitable bearer for Excalibur. His quest takes them across France. Throw in a a princess pretending to be a bar maid, a royal wedding, and, well, you're starting to get the gist.
Like I said, I really enjoyed the story.


Gray sky, white ground, black trees. Sound muffled by snow, until all you heard was your own breathing, and all you felt was the cold, sharp in your ears and your nose, dull in your boots and leggings.

Or, if you were tied to a mule on your back, wearing nothing but your shirt and hose, cold everywhere and pain in everything. Henry tried to clear his throat and keep moving, even if that amounted to no more than shivering inside his manacles.

They had long ago left England behind. Now they traveled through a dismal waste, thick forests broken by ruins that were ancient before the Romans, standing stones that gave no shelter, roads that vanished under bridges leading nowhere. It was all pretty eldritch. Henry knew it from Alfie’s tales - the borth Annwn, the Door to the Land of Shadow. A stone cairn appeared through the snow, wiped clean by the wind. Brissac turned in his saddle. “There it is. How are you, thief? Comfortable?”

Henry tried to control his chattering teeth, without much success. “C-couldn’t be better. How’s the body odor? Taken a bath yet?”

The Swiss mercenaries laughed. Brissac wheeled on Henry, his sword drawn-

“Ah-ah-ah! You k-kill me, wh-what will Geoffrey say?”

Brissac turned away, but Hauptmann, captain of the Swiss, rode up to Henry and examined him.
“Ritter…he could die. Let us cover him.”

“The tower is near enough. Cover him then.”

To be fair, Brissac hadn’t shackled Henry until AFTER he’d tried to escape. But they had just landed in Southampton; Brissac was still seasick; Henry could speak the local dialect, while the Swiss were practically mute; and by then, Geoffrey would have released Alfie and the others he was holding as hostages.

Really, it had been too good an opportunity to ignore.

But as Henry had leaned over the inn’s stable roof and gently lowered himself to the ground, crossbow bolts had hissed out of the darkness, aimed so well they had pinned his clothes to the wall behind him without even drawing blood. He had been trussed up like a chicken in his own breeches-

“There it is.”

Henry craned his neck to see. Wow. It was a genuine, honest-to-goodness Dark Tower.

Black and ancient, it rose above the pines like a castle guarding a border. Beyond it the land opened out in a wide valley, shrouded in fog, indistinct except for the top of the Glastonbury Tor, a terraced hill poking out of the sea of mist. The road zigzagged up the slope and then cut through a dark wood, vanishing into shadow long before it reached the tower.

“The Chapel Perilous,” Brissac leaned down and spoke in Henry’s ear. “The key to Excalibur’s resting place. Twelve good knights have entered, never to return. My lord Geoffrey thinks you may solve the riddle where they did not.” Brissac squinted up at the high black walls. “I think he is an optimist.”

Buy Link:


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Guest Post - Lizzie Leaf and Dead Hot

 Lizzie T. Leaf Brings the Dead to Life with DEAD Hot, a new book in her best selling DEAD series.

Will family secrets let her find love with a guy that cats around?


Sharla Gomez’s dream encounter with the man she’s lusted over for months turned into rain-soaked nightmare. Her hopes of love and passion have gone to the dogs. Being a shifter is hell, especially when you’re a Pug/Chihuahua mix, or as some call the breed, a Chug. Even dogs don’t want to be told they’re so ugly they’re cute.

Dorsey Smith wants to get to know the exotic number-cruncher in charge of the strip club’s books. Just his luck she disappeared before he could ask her out for coffee. Instead of taking home the woman he lusts for, he takes home the small, drenched dog shivering in the rain. When he discovers the animal missing the next morning and he senses magic in the air. Has his safe haven been discovered and will his secrets be revealed?

Can two people with deep secrets discover the truth about each other and still find love. Or will the secrets and the evil lurking drive them apart?


Damn, he’s hot!

Sharla Gomez clamped her lips tighter to stop the drool pooling in her mouth from running down her chin as Dorsey Smith lowered the case of beer off his shoulder. The sweat drenched tee-shirt clung across his back and the muscles under it rippled. She clinched her thighs together. In her dreams of the hunk nothing obscured the bare skin of this chocolaty delight and she could lick every inch.

"Oh Dorsey, I need a refill." One of the model type chicks clustered around the other end of the bar waved her glass and blew a wet kiss from her injected lips.

Dumb bitch thinks she looks sexy, but that puffed up mouth makes her look more like she kissed an offended beehive. Sharla swallowed hard to force back the bile. Hell yes I’m jealous! What wouldn’t I give to be one of the beauties that muscular bartender rushes to accommodate.

Instead, she had been blessed by the gods with her Mexican grandmother’s love of enchiladas, which also led to inheriting Grandma Gomez’s ass. From her German grandmother, Sharla got her large boobs that helped balance her ass. Those genetics also passed along her big blue eyes, but thanks to Oma Chen being an open-minded kind of gal who married a Chinese, they slanted. Yep, her life had been one big joyful event of teasing when she was a kid.

The combination of mixed genetics led to dreams of finding a male who appreciated unique, if not downright weird.

Weird is exactly where I fall when I start trying to explain I’m a shifter.  Any normal guy will run like hell.

The only guys she’d come across outside her community who would appreciate the shifting detail were the really kinky ones. And kinky didn’t appeal to her.

But the guys back home didn’t appreciate her either. Most seem to think the teasing that had followed her through her school years needed to continue. That was the top reason she decided to try a big city once she had her accounting certification in hand.

She rested her chin in her palm and watched Dorsey’s interaction with the women. The sigh that escaped held all the longing she tried not to show.

"Girl, if the lust on your face could be bottled I’d make us both wealthy." Dovey slid onto the barstool beside Sharla, her gaze glued to the other end of the bar. "He is a yummy delight. If he were a chocolate milkshake, I could slurp him up in nothing fast."

"For being the club’s owner, you’re a dirty old woman. Comments like that can get you slapped with sexual harassment if the wrong person overhears."

Buy Links: MUSA Publishing Amazon Kindle Barnes & Noble All Romance eBooks

Nancy again.

I haven't read this particular installment of the Dead series, but the first book in the series, Dead Awake, is really wonderful. Lizzie's characters are strong and well defined. You get pulled into the story from the outset. So, please check out Lizzie's Dead series.

Learn more about Lizzie T. Leaf on her website and blog. Connect with Lizzie on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Kill Your Darlings

I have a long post at Fictorians today about what to do with your novel in the aftermath of NaNoWriMo so I'm going to try to keep this post short. Yea, I know. My chances aren't high. Still, I'm going to make the attempt.

There's something I said at Fictorians that I wanted to spend a bit more time with here. For the full story, check out the Fictorians post here. The short version is I've seen stories where the writer's unwillingness to trim out the fat i.e. his "darlings" (those bits that while the writer loves them don't advance plot or character) have poisoned the entire story and made it unpalatable. I've seen this tendency to keep "darlings" in stories I've rejected at Flash Fiction Online as well.

Stephen King coined the phrase "kill your darlings" in On Writing. For this we all owe him a debt. But, killing our darlings isn't easy. The first step in the process is identifying a "darling."

So, how do you know when something is a "darling" to be killed rather than a bit that needs reworking?

For me, there are three ways I know a section, or an entire story, is a "darling."

1. The section doesn't advance plot or character, or is misplaced.

These are the "darlings" you hope to discovery on your first editing pass. Sometimes they are hard to pick out though.  You may have a scene characters walking around a bazaar to set the place. If that's all the characters are doing though, the scene may really be a darling. The scene could be saved by showing character - what the point of view character notices - or somehow advances the plot by giving the reader a hint he might not realize at the time. I find my "darlings" tend to be more like "in jokes", funny to those who know, but incomprehensible to the rest of your readers.

In the play I mentioned in my Fictorian's post, I remember a "darling" where the main character's (a writer) characters were trying to figure out what an item was. The payoff for the scene was a bad pun. From a technical stand point, the scene is a good example of how point of view affects a story. From a storytelling point, the scene was a disaster as the joke didn't advance the arc in the play. It needed to be deleted even though more than 20 years later, I can still remember it.

Clever turns of phrases also fall into this slot. The image might be vivid, but if it's in the wrong spot, it's a "darling" that needs to be killed. As an example the phrase "threw it away from her like last week's rotten fish" is evocative but it doesn't belong in a love scene where the main character rips off her boyfriend's shirt and hurls it across the room.

2.  The section doesn't fit into any plot box.

I've written about the Hollywood formula, but in essence, the "formula" states that to bring the viewer a satisfying story, that story must hit certain "beats" and turning points. Some of these points are the "bad guys close in" and "all is lost" moments. If I can't name the beat the scene is serving, it is probably a "darling."

3. My readers' feedback is "hu?" or many people note a problem with the section.

Beta readers are invaluable. Sometimes the best feedback a reader can give you is "hu?" A "hu" means either your writing wasn't clear or the reader doesn't understand why the scene is in the story. The second is a "darling" that must be killed.

If a number of your readers are calling your attention to a particular section, you have a problem there. While the reader might not be able to articulate the problem, those sections need to be scrutinize. If the problem is that the section is a "darling" you may need to kill it. 

I had several of these "darlings" in Kalypso's Song, published in Shots at Remdemption. This story started as an experiment. I wanted to see if I could keep the feel of a Homerian story in a contemporary romance. I read about thirty different translations of the Odyssey, many of which were in the public domain to get the feel of the style. Yet, as I got feedback, the sections where I most closely imitated the Homerian-era voice were the ones were I received complains of being too "purple." Despite the fact that those bits were the ones I was the most proud of, I cut them because the were hurting my story.

"Killing your darlings" isn't easy. But it's necessary. I hope my guidelines for ferreting out "darlings" help make your writing strong.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving.

For most of us in the United States today is a day we pause to reflect on the good things in our lives. And, to be truthful, eat far too much turkey and fixin's.

So, what am I thankful for?

I'm watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade with my sons. Although, my husband growled something about being in the next room where he could hear the parade was close enough for him, thank you very much. Hurricane Sandy did not hit Virginia with force it was originally expected to. My families, birth, surrogate and by affinity, are still intact although members in each group still struggle with serious health issues.

I've had a fabulous year with my writing, including being published in an anthology, having two short story collections and a novella published by my fabulous publisher, Musa Publishing. Because I've had a fabulous year, I was able to meet lots more people in the industry. I joined Flash Fiction Online as a staff member and will attend this year's Superstars Writing Seminar as staff. I am thankful for all of you who read my blog and who have bought my books.

Sure, there are things I can complain about. There always will be. But today's not a day for complaints. It's a day to rejoice in what we have, and realize that there are always others who struggle through with less.

So, thank you. I am deeply moved and honored that you take the time out of your day to spend a little of it with me.

I hope you and your family have a joyous Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 19, 2012

NaNoWriMo - Status update

I have a love/hate relationship with NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don't know, NaNoWriMo is National Write a Novel Month. Every November, writers, professional and amateur, sign to write 50,000 words or more in the month. So, technically, it's not a full novel. Heck, for epic fantasy, it's a half novel. The point isn't as much as completing a novel in a month as it is to get motivated and write. A lot.

I love the idea and the competition, even though it's just myself I'm competing against. I hate the idea that writers should dedicate themselves to this lofty goal for only one month a year. Evan Braun did a great post on being a professional writer all year-round on the Fictorian's site under the title: The Year-Round Professional so I won't replow that ground.

In it's own way, NaNo teaches us how to be a professional writer. To get to 50,000 words, you have to spend some real BIS (Butt in the Seat) time. Sometimes hitting 50,000 words is easy. Other times, not so much. This is my third year participating in NaNo. The last two times, I hit or surpassed the 50,000 mark. After rewriting, I probably only wrote 30,000 usable words each time. But that's nothing to sneer over.

This year I wanted to take a different approach. I knew I was going to lose five or six writing days because I was attending the World Fantasy Convention. Rather than a modest 1,666 words a day, I need to average closer to 2,000 to catch-up. Every day I missed after, and I've missed some, meant my needed daily word count average is closer to 2,500. Knowing that this year was going to be a challenge, I cheated.

Before you scowl. I haven't really cheated. I picked a story that was almost finished. I need about 30,000 words to reach "happily every after." If I hit that point, I'll consider myself a winner. Even if NaNo doesn't. If I finish New Bohemia: Just One Night, I have another novel that I can work on for the other 20,000. So, I'm not that upset that I'm at 16,000 words. I'm halfway to my real goal.

Okay, back to my point. While I can bust 50,000 words in a month, I've done it before from when I was even further behind, my super secret goal is to write 30,000 words I can keep. The writing is slower for my attempt, which is why I'm hovering closer to 20,000 words than the 36,000 I "should" have. So, no tricks for me. No describing a meal in excruciating detail, a suggested tip for making up word count. Honest words. Good clean words. Well, not "clean" since this is erotic romance, but you get the point. So, how am I doing?
“I don’t want to think. If I think, I won’t be able to do this. Please make me warm. Stop me from thinking,” May said.  
"Oh fuck, May.”
When Pete rolled his eyes, she sank her teeth into his neck.“That’s sort of the point." 
But I'm being a little dishonest with you too. I'm a competitive SOB. You don't get to be a good trial lawyer without being competitive. I hate to lose. I'm pushing for 50,000 words across two stories.

There's a point I made that I want to circle back to. I said I "should" have 36,000 words written by now. Why did I put should in quotes? Because "should" means nothing. Writing means everything. NaNo is just one more reason for me to sit down at my desk (or in bed), break out the computer and write.

If you're participating in NaNo, I wish you fast fingers and a prolific muse. You can write 50,000 words in 30 days. See you at that finish line.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Guest Post - Sloane Taylor and Masquerade

Today I turn my blog over to Sloan Taylor and her new release from Musa Publishing, Masquerade.

Take it away, Sloane.  .

Chicagoan Clancy Marshall has planned her dream vacation in Venice down to the last detail. From gondola rides to masked balls, and anything else that just happens along, she is determined to experience all pleasures. But those careful plans fly out the door when she literally falls into the arms of a masked stranger.

Vittore Ricci comes from an old Venetian family that claims two doges in their lineage. A straight-laced Count and owner of a prestigious hotel, he never does anything without serious consideration. Until a sexy American tourist offers an opportunity no man can refuse.


Green eyes sparkling behind delicate shades of purple feathers held him hostage. Vittore thought he had recognized her the moment she walked onto the pier. When she spoke, he knew his search had finally ended. Determination and desire had persevered.  The gods had delivered her into his hands and he wanted to learn more about this mystery woman with her gay laugh and quick wit, even if it was only for one night.

Clancy opened her door, then switched on the entry light. At the bedroom, she glanced over her shoulder, the long plumes brushing her creamy bare shoulder. “Make yourself comfortable. I’ll be just a moment.”

He wandered around the room, straightening the pillows on the sofa, adjusting a wing backed chair and, finally, the magazines scattered across the pecan desktop. It was there he found a handwritten note caught between the pages. A little guilt crept in for snooping, but he shoved it aside, eager to discover more about this sensual woman who intrigued him.

Note to Self — Loving Venice
1.    Ride in a gondola
2.    Climb the Campanile in St. Mark’s Square
3.    Attend a masked ball
4.    Dance under the stars in St. Mark’s Square
5.    Tour a professional kitchen
6.    Buy one special piece of Murano glass
7.    Fall in love—at least for the night
8.   Hear a Vivaldi Concert
9.    Attend an opera at the Fenice

Vittore reread the paper, paying close attention to number seven. He looked out at the waning moon and sent a prayer of thanks to Raphael the Archangel, the patron saint of happy meetings, for his good fortune.

On a whoosh of material, he slid the list back under a book.

“Vittore, I have a suggestion, a little game to add to the Carnaval mystique. Sort of an adult Twenty Questions. Are you willing to play?”

“You spark my interest.” He liked games, particularly in the bedroom. A myriad of erotic foreplay flitted through his mind. Before they said farewell, his princessa would experience pleasures she had never imagined. “What are the rules?”

Sloane's a sensual woman who believes humor and sex are healthy aspects of our everyday lives and carries that philosophy into her books. She writes sexually explicit romances that takes you right into the bedroom. Being a true romantic, all her stories have a happy ever after.

Her books are set in Europe where the men are all male and the North American women they encounter are both feminine and strong. They also bring more than lust to their men’s lives.

Taylor was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. As a young adult she lived in the Pullman neighborhood created by that old curmudgeon George Pullman. Studly, her mate for life, and Sloane now live in a small home in Indiana and enjoy the change from hectic city life.

She is an avid cook. Check out “It’s Wednesday. So What’s Cooking?” with complete menus posted once a week on her blog  The recipes are user friendly menus, meaning easy. Feel free to email her at to be included on the Cooking Pals list. These are people who receive an advance email of the new menu.

I hope you enjoyed Masquerade. I know I did. After all, what's not to love about a strong heroine, an Italian Count and a magic weekend in Venice? Please check out Masquerade.


Monday, November 12, 2012

A Veteran's Day Thank You

In the United States today, we pause to remember the men and women who have served to protect this country. Because they were willing to put their lives on the line for us. we are able to vote for our leaders without fear of death or injury as we did a few days ago.

Take time on Veteran's Day to thank a member of our armed services. If you're in the Washington, DC area visit the Tomb of the Unknown in Arlington Cemetery. Remember that those soldiers stood guard over the Tomb during Hurricane Sandy. The dedication and courage of our troops is awe inspiring.

All I can say is


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Guest Post - Zane's Art

Today, I'm hosting another Musa writer, Sara Daniel and her new release Finally Ever After: Zane's Art.  Take it away, Sara . . ..

Finally Ever After: Zane’s Art

Early this year when Musa posted a submissions call for a series called Finally Ever After, I jumped at the opportunity. The stories were to be short, happily ever romances about lovers who have loved each other and lost.  Now, they have a second chance to create the happy ending they didn’t get the first time.

 I love characters with a past history, especially in a short word count. They have instant attraction and long-standing unresolved conflict—the perfect elements for a fast-paced, emotion-packed read.  Zane’s Art had all these things coupled with a strong present conflict.  The story flowed out of me so fast I knew it was meant to be!

 Zane’s Art

High school art teacher Julianne Truman's last chance to save her beloved art department from budget cuts is to sell the old sketches that her former boyfriend—and now famous artist—Zane DeMonde drew for her. But is she prepared to let go of his artwork and the last traces of him in her life?

Desperate to save his artistic reputation from the exposure of his early works, Zane returns to the home town he wanted to forget. He accuses Julianne of profiting from his success and demands she take his art off the market and cancel the auction.

Their high school attraction flares back to life, forcing Julianne to choose between the students who count on her and the man she never stopped loving.

 A high school art teacher must choose between her students and the artist she never stopped loving.


Cancel the auction.”

Julianne Truman’s head snapped around at the hard male voice. The stapler fell from her hand and cracked open on the floor, as she caught sight of the extraordinary face that went with the voice. Her knees shook as she climbed down the ladder. She hadn’t faced Zane DeMonde in nearly fifteen years. At one time she’d believed he’d be part of every single day of her future.

“Zane, I didn’t expect you to come.” She stepped toward him. His black hair was a little shorter than the last time she’d seen him, but at shoulder length it was still far longer than most men’s. Gone were the black hoodie and ripped jeans of his youth. Now he wore chinos and a sharply pressed blue button-down shirt, open at the neck.

The dark storms in his cobalt blue eyes were exactly the same as the day he’d walked away from her. “Cancel the auction. The sketches and painting are not for sale.”

She swallowed. “I own them. If I choose to sell them, that’s my business.” And it was breaking her heart to part with the only piece of him that she’d been able to hang onto all these years.

“When they have my name on them and you’re getting rich off me, it’s my business.”

Getting rich was so far from the truth Julianne would have laughed if her chest weren’t so tight. “It’s an honor to have you back in town.” At least her students would think so. Her brother would likely burst an artery. And she—well, she couldn’t even begin to process the mix of emotions she was feeling. “Do you have a minute to talk? I can explain what’s going on.”

“I know what’s going on.”

She hoped he couldn’t hear how hard her heart was hammering or sense how desperately she longed to wrap her arms around him and pick up where they left off fifteen years ago, as if he’d never left her. “Then you know that the arts are at the bottom of the school district’s priority list. To have supplies for the classroom, to restore the school mural, to give my students a chance to explore different mediums, the art program needs an alternate source of funding.”

“You’re the Dentonville High art teacher?”

She couldn’t help feeling defensive at his derisive tone. “Yes, and I love my job.”

“Do you? Or have you never moved beyond your high school life?”

Nancy here again.

Can't wait to see the sparks fly? I know I couldn't. I have to say, I really enjoyed the story.  Julianne's dedication to her students prompts her to make a decision she didn't want to, letting go the art that's the only thing she has left from her high school love. Both Julianne and Zane are really likable and Sara does a great job with making the reader understand why the relationship ended the first time. I recommend this lovely novella. To find out how it ends, please check out Zane's Art.  It can be found at:


Musa Publishing.  - Kindle,  IPad, Nook, Android, mobi and .pdf formats

Amazon - Kindle Format
Amazon UK - Kindle Format

Barnes and Noble - Nook Format

To learn more about Sara Daniel and her work, please visit her website and blog. Stay connected on either or both of her Facebook pages


Monday, November 5, 2012

World Fantasy Convention 2012 Mini-Roundup

I've spent the better part of a week in Toronto, Canada at the World Fantasy Convention. For all of you who may not know, WFC is a convention for fantasy and science fiction writers, artists, agents, editors and other professionals. The four day conference has seminars/panels on craft issues like, for this year, the ever changing face of Urban Fantasy, and whether fantasy novels need maps and why.  There's a dealer's room where you can purchase hard to find and rare books, and an art show. The price of admission includes a swag bag full of free books. There's also lots of time for networking and a closing banquet.

Sadly, this year's conference has come to a close. The dead dog parties are over, and the airport is dealing with hundreds of carry-on swag bags full of books. It's going to take several days to process everything that happened over the week, but it was another great experience.

Among other things, I met Max Gladstone a debut writer from Tor. That's Max on the right with Marco Palmieri (center), and L.E. Modesitt (left). I'm reading Max's novel Three Parts Dead now. The prologue has a great first line, the magic system is new and interesting and, even though I'm only a few chapters in, I can tell how strong the writing is. 

As always. WFC was a great opportunity to reconnect with friends, and meet new ones. Once I catch up on sleep, I'll post more on this year's WFC. Right now though I need to pack and catch a plane back to Virginia.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Winner - Howlween Blog Hop

Hey folks.

Sorry for the delay in posting the winner. Hurricane Sandy made the beginning of the week interesting and World Fantasy consumed the rest of it.

So after a much belated drum roll... the winner is:


Congratulations on winning Apollo Rising and Shots At Redemption, Misha. I'll be sending you an e-mail to find out which format you want them sent in.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and World Fantasy Con

Fortunately, most of Virginia was spared the worst of Hurricane Sandy. We lost power for about 8 hours and had some wind damage, but I am not complaining. My heart goes out to all of those who have lost so much with the storm.

Sandy did alter my plans for the World Fantasy Convention. Instead of heading up on Tuesday with my boys, we were grounded. No flights available. I managed to fly in to Toronto, Canada on Halloween.

While I am sad not to be with my family. I'm excited about WFC, which starts today, November 1, 2012. I attended my first WFC last year. It's not an exaggeration to say it changed my life.