Season's Greetings!

This year has been a very busy one, and today I'm super excited that the second episode of the Saoirse Saga, Awakening Defiance, is live! Yeah! Lots of smiley faces and jumping up and down alternating with release day jitters. I'm exuberantly happy at sending my latest story out into the world, but there's always a moment of sadness at leaving the characters and world I've created... but if that's my only worry, I'm counting my blessings.

Here's the description:

       Kia wants more than survival. She wants vengeance and her freedom.

       Kia has joined Lord Rial’s elite guard and is collecting secrets. Secrets that can get her killed. The pretense of being Rial's consort offers some protection, but neither of them trusts the other. When the chance for retribution on her father's betrayers comes, she takes it. But there is a price to pay.
       Her feelings toward Rial change, and Kia is shocked when she discovers the emperor’s schemes include experiments on his son. If her ambition to destroy the emperor is to succeed, she must rescue Rial. But are her desperate last minute plans enough to save him?

The book is 0.99c and here are the links:

If you haven’t yet started the Saoirse Saga, I’ve also released Books 1 & 2 in a two-for-one deal at $1.49.

Here are the links if you enjoy compelling action-adventure tales with a tenacious heroine who doesn't know the meaning of defeat.  


I'll soon be back in my warm cosy writing cave as Book 3 of Adept Solutions with JB and his maverick team is half planned, and ideas for Book 3 of the Saoirse Saga are popping into my head at the oddest moments. So, it's all go and it's all good.

In the meantime, stay well, keep reading and best wishes!

I did it again!

The day your book is published is an exhilarating and nervous one. You sigh with satisfaction because you've somehow managed, after a lot of sweat and tears, to achieve something you could only dream of ten years ago. Then, with your fifth (or is it your sixth?) coffee in hand, you check the websites, make sure your promo links work, and check the websites again, knowing you'll be doing this all day.

Okay enough with the introspection, here's the first chapter of Stars & Ashes, Book One in the Saoirse Saga. If you like it, here's the link:  The book is $0.99, and I'd love it if you enjoyed the first chapter enough to pop over and follow Kia's thrilling journey!

Chapter One: Invasion

The class of eight and nine-year-old girls and boys, their faces rosy with effort and eyes shiny with pleasure, straightened their thin brown tunics, wiped a hand or two across a sweaty forehead, stood tall, and bowed to the teacher.
Kia returned the bow. They were eager to please, and it took nothing but a kind word of encouragement for them to blossom. “Thank you, disciples,” Kia intoned the solemn, formal dismissal, then couldn’t hide her smile. “Okay, you’re dismissed, off you go. Don’t forget your homework.” Her eyes twinkled with satisfaction.
The ordered formation broke and became a fluid mass of grinning children surging for the practice hall door.
Little Diago threw her a wave and a wink as he went, making her laugh. The lad showed a lot of promise, and Kia thought he had a bright future if he practiced, which she could tell he didn’t always do. A swift glance around the hall—neatly stacked mats, the floor swept—and satisfied everything was as it should be, she tossed her waist-length pale-blonde plait over her shoulder and headed out pleased with the afternoon’s class.
The srilao hall was in the older section of Sestris amid the narrow, cobbled twisting streets near the port, and the temple was close by. Late afternoon and the city dozed, dreaming slow dreams in the warm lull between noontime and evening, though the streets were never completely silent.
She had time to stop and make an offering to Cossanta, the golden four-armed patron Goddess of srilao devotees before buying the sweetfruit and berries for the tart her mother wanted to make that evening.
Training for the Southern Continental Championships last month was the hardest thing she’d ever done and winning had been beyond her expectations. The Goddess deserved as many offerings as Kia could manage. Returning to Sestris, standing in the packed town square under the blazing midday sun, and hearing the roaring cheers as the Head Elector—her proud father—placed the golden medallion around her neck, had been dizzying. Yet the class of under ten-year-olds was the most rewarding assignment she’d been given in her training to become a srilao teacher.
Srilao was both a martial art and a dance form, and practitioners were fighters, gymnasts, and dancers who could earn their living performing and teaching in any of the three branches: champions were those who proved they possessed superior skills in all the forms.
She’d put the key in the lock and was studying the round metal symbol on the door, her gaze tracing the three whorls emanating from the center, about to turn the key when the siren screamed, sending every startled seabird in the vicinity flapping into the air. Later she would remember that moment; how the city crouched, waiting, how time elongated, the feel of the cool gray metal in her hand, the grain of the pale ashwood door, the warm breeze stirring the hairs on the back of her neck. When birds fly, something this way comes. Beware, the old saying went. Her other hand clutched the medallion underneath her tunic. She would remember because nothing was ever the same afterward.
At first, the ear-piercing shriek confused her. Then the world stopped. This rhythm of wailing blasts meant one thing—invasion. The thought ignited a chain reaction, and she twisted the key, hearing the lock click, stilling as a fleet of low flying craft skimmed the rooftops, and a wave of heated air buffeted her. A single thought. Home. She needed to get home. Her mother was strong and capable, but the twins would be scared.
The synchronized regulated thud of boots was loud in the thrumming silence after the siren, and she froze at the sight of the menacing line of black uniformed soldiers. They marched, six abreast with weapons raised, along the narrow street toward her, herding a bewildered frightened crowd in front of them.
“Citizens of Sestris, this is the Nadil-Kuradi Empire taking control,” an emotionless voice boomed. “Please leave your houses, head for the main gate, and wait outside the city walls. Those disobeying this order will be shot.” The soldiers marched closer.
She was too late. Dark visors hid their faces, but she’d no doubt one, or more, had their phaserifles trained on her. Kia thrust the key in her pocket. How polite and typical of the Xaruntian conquerors to say please as they ordered you to surrender or die, she thought, fighting the blind panic threatening to overwhelm her. She recited the pre-fight invocation under her breath, pulling on every bit of training she’d learned since childhood to stay calm. Bit by bit the black wave receded, and she continued putting one foot in front of the other.
The srilao practice hall was near an intersection, and as she passed the shops and houses, doors opened and more people joined the shuffling fearful throng, accompanied by the loud, monotonously repeated command to comply. As they neared the main gate out of the city, the streets were packed. The normal city smells of street flits, food stalls, sea or sand—depending on the wind; the mix of innumerable odors given off by a city full of people was replaced by the acid scent of fear. Everyone had seen the holovid or heard about the Urkat massacre where every house, village, and city on the planet had been obliterated on the orders of the Emperor Teyrn because its inhabitants had defied the might of the empire. The message was clear, and no Sestrian was foolish or brave enough to try that stunt.
Kia shot a look behind her. She saw a second, and then the third row of armed soldiers. She heard doors being smashed as the invaders went house to house, checking for anyone hoping to avoid detection. The soft pff of a weapon firing, followed by the cutting off of a child’s sobbing followed her along the street. Had they captured her father? Dear Goddess, please let him have escaped. Kia kept moving, her fists clenched and her jaw aching from gritting her teeth too hard.
She thought of little Diago, worry shivering through her. She had to trust all the children had made it home. Why hadn’t they been warned? The entire population had known one day the emperor’s spaceships would appear in the pale lavender sky like a plague of dusky aljarads out of the desert. The insects appeared every few years and stripped the city’s trees and gardens. However, unlike the insects, these aggressors wouldn’t fly out over the ocean and disappear. The vast amount of accessible rich mineral deposits had guaranteed that, even with Emankora’s position at the far end of a galaxy arm, the world was too rich a plum not to be plucked. Accordingly, some of those in positions of power, including her father, had made plans for this eventuality, always with the hope they would never be needed.
Kia staggered as the realization hit her. A traitor in their midst must have uncovered the Elector's schemes and sold them out to their enemies. Her father had refused to disclose his plans to her, saying he’d bring her in after she started the Electoral training program the following year. Yet the invader's sudden appearance demonstrated their sleepers must have already been in position. She stumbled and would have fallen, but the woman next to her reached out and steadied her.
“Be strong. This is no more than the beginning.” The woman was lean and worn down with hard work, and her lined sun-browned face gave nothing away. “Life will get a lot worse before it gets better.” Her harsh expression softened for a moment before she strode ahead.
As the multitude reached the large tree-line square adjacent to the Main gates, they came to a standstill, the sheer mass of people making it impossible to move any farther.
Kia could see the elaborately decorated pink sandstone arch, but the enormous crowd filling the square milled in confusion with mothers clutching children’s hands, soothing their cries, huddling beside their husbands, and both old and young afraid of what was coming next. Most of these people had been among those who celebrated her triumph, as her success was their success. These were the citizens who had voted for Madaxa Xefe over the previous twenty years, first as councilor then as Head Elector, but today their gazes slid elsewhere, and they trembled, scared for themselves and their families.
Judging by the number and positioning of the troops, Kia estimated they’d first encircled the town and moved inward, sweeping everyone before them: another sign that no matter what defensive measures the resistance had organized, the empire’s agents had eliminated them. Her father and his cohorts had seriously underestimated the enemy’s ability to neutralize their strategy. Or they’d overestimated their people’s loyalty. If she had to choose, she’d favor the former. The sun had moved low toward the horizon by the time Kia, trapped in the midst of the thirsty hungry crowd, stumbled forward, at last able to see what was causing the blockage.
 A three-row-deep line of soldiers, with their weapons trained on those passing before them, stood on both sides of the short road leading to the gates, where two men, who looked more like officers than regular infantry, questioned everyone and tapped answers into their comunits.
If they’re here, they’ll target my family, her father had said, and here’s what you’ll do.
When her turn came, the black-visored man stared at her. “Name?”
She studied her red leather sandals. “Kia O’Afon.” O’Afon was her mother’s family name, and afon meant river. Her mother came from the remote south where the land was green and forested, unlike the central desert that stretched out and covered half the southern continent behind Sestris. The mineral rich desert, mined by the Sestrians for centuries, provided a living, trade, and was the reason for the port’s existence.
“Twenty-three.” At least Jared wasn’t here. Her older brother had gone north on a trading expedition with Keyon, his best friend. Brown eyed, serious Keyon, who last time they’d talked had told her if she didn’t say yes to his offer of partnership soon, he would always love her but would look elsewhere.
The questioner leaned in, snapped his fingers in her face. “I asked you your status?”
She flinched. “Single.” Focus, she told herself. This wasn’t the time to daydream about what ifs.
“I’m from the south, and I'm here for work.”
“Guess that explains your coloring.”
Kia took after her mother and with her pale blonde hair and irises so dark the pupil was barely discernible, her looks marked her out. Native Sestrians had darker hair, green or blue eyes, and paler skin. He held a scanner to her eyes and checked his comunit again.
Kia held her breath.
“That way. Go left.” He pointed through the gates.
Altering the civic records to give her a new identity had held up under inspection. She breathed out.
Outside the walls, another avenue of black-visored figures waited.
Kia subtly altered her posture, slumping her shoulders and scuffing her feet instead of striding. One-on-one in unarmed combat, she stood a chance. Her average height and slender build were deceptive because she was well-trained with lightning fast reflexes and hadn’t yet met an opponent whose body she couldn't read. As she walked, she sensed the hidden eyes assessing her. Tales of the Nadil-Kuradi Empire’s cruelty toward its new vassals were endless. Crush and crush again, until there was nothing left but blind obedience to the emperor.
Far too quickly she reached the end of the intimidating gauntlet, and a phaserifle directed her left. On the flat expanse of dun-colored sands beyond the town, she caught a brief glance of the fleet of spacecraft that had brought their vanquishers. Teaching in the hall, she hadn’t heard their arrival over the excited cries of the children practicing. Some looked bigger, most likely troop carriers, and nearby were a dozen or more fighter craft. As if Sestris possessed the capability to fight anything military, let alone an interstellar space fleet of any size. She hitched a breath at the thought of the same scenario happening all over Emankora.
Kia joined a large group of young men and women sitting on the ground guarded by yet more soldiers. They were separating people into groups. Where were her mother and sisters? She scanned the area, but it was several minutes before she spotted the women and younger children.
Kia looked up to find the barrel of a phaserifle about a handspan from her face. She swallowed.
“Look down and don’t talk. See him.” The soldier pointed his weapon over to the right.
Kia’s gaze alighted on the body of a young man who lay unmoving as blood pooled beneath his head.
“He did what you’re doing. Looking for his kinfolk. Don’t. From here on, you are nobody. You have no family or friends. You belong to the emperor body and soul.”
Kia looked down. Body, maybe, soul, never.
The sky darkened, the temperature dropped, Osupa rose in isolated splendor, and still they sat on the cooling earth as the invaders catalogued the townspeople. The youth’s lifeless body was eventually dragged away, and while they were all were aware of what was happening, they were powerless.
Kia passed the night in a frozen stupor listening to the faint intermittent wails of children or the barking of a command. If you needed to relieve yourself, a soldier escorted you past the outer line and trained his phaserifle on you as you did your business. Animals, Kia thought, raising a hand when her bladder was about to burst. Animals. That’s all we are to them.
Rumor had it the empire used neural implants to boost the speed of their reactions, physical strength, and endurance. The soldiers’ behavior, impervious and vigilant throughout the night, appeared to confirm the story.
As the predawn sky turned gray, then pink, she heard hammering in the distance. Sweet Goddess, what was happening?
With shouts of ‘Stand,’ and swift use of phaserifle butts to ensure compliance, the guards harried the cold, stiff prisoners to their feet. They soon found out what the noises meant. A raised platform had been thrown up, high enough that even those at the rear could witness whatever was about to take place.
Kia’s heart drummed faster, and she glanced at those standing near her, meeting the frustrated gaze of a tall young man. She blinked in acknowledgement, and he returned the signal, but any further communication stopped as a sleek dark airship flew low over the gathering.
“The Emperor Teyrn’s Heir,” one soldier hissed, “Lord Rialoir himself!” The guards nearby stood straighter as their eyes tracked the small fighter, but movement on the makeshift stage drew their attention away from the new arrival.
Kia watched, blinking hard, not wanting to believe what she was seeing as four men and four women were marched onto the platform.
A groan of collective sorrow rose from the townsfolk.
Kia’s heart stopped. Her legs trembled, and she locked her knees as she recognized the figure in the center. Her father. She couldn’t look away. He would want her to witness. To witness and remember.
“These people are all traitors. Their families have been executed.”
Kia gasped, the breath leaving her lungs in a rush as sobbing broke out in several places. She’d have fallen if a hand hadn’t gripped her upper arm, holding her upright. All she could see was her mother’s face: one minute chiding, cross with her rebellious daughter, the next, smiling and proud of that same daughter’s achievements—and always loving. But Lilia and Alsling, her curly-headed lively young sisters, always up to mischief, and the sweetheart twins of her parents’ later years, would have been with her mother. This wasn’t possible; it couldn’t be happening. They should have had enough warning to flee before the invaders arrived. What had gone wrong? No, no, no, her mind reiterated, refusing to accept reality.
“Hey!” A soldier thrust the butt of his weapon into the young man's chest, shoving him away from her. He staggered backward and quickly raised his arms high in the air.
The guard turned toward her, and her muscles shivered with the effort of controlling herself.
“These men will be executed.” The speaker announced.
Kia’s attention jerked back to the dais. Her father was too distant to be sure, but she would swear his gaze roved the silent tense citizens, and rested on her, before passing over his people.
A soldier walked out and stood at the edge of the platform facing the city’s Elected with his back to the captive Sestrians. He raised his phaserifle and eight soft pffs sighed through the air.
Kia burned the image of her father slumping to the platform with a small circular mark in the middle of his forehead into her mind, and her heart broke at the knowledge that his bright intelligence and the warmhearted gaze he turned on the world and its antics were gone forever.


Click the link to buy this enthralling story today: 

Veiled Planet Revealed

After an intense week of editing, tweaking, and formatting, I uploaded Veiled Planet to Amazon yesterday. Pressing that 'Publish Now' button is always a thrilling, yet nerve-wracking moment.

I want to let you know that the book is $.99 for its first week of release (until the 30th June), after which the price will be $2.99) or free if you're with Kindle Select. 

Here's the first chapter of the book, and I hope you enjoy the start of Kara's journey.

Veiled Planet© 

Chapter One: An Encounter

Kara squinted, peering through the tall, thin jezebel trees. Their bare pallid trunks crowned with wide red leaves provided shade from the midday sun, but not from the heat, and she periodically wiped the sweat off her forehead before it dripped into her eyes. She could see where the upward trail led, but there wasn’t a single olive green cadet uniform in sight.
“Hey, wait for me!” Kara winced at the saw-edged whine in her voice, but they should have waited. The core element in this test was cooperative functioning as a team, and leaving someone behind broke the first rule of colony survival—you didn’t abandon anyone. If she didn’t catch up, she’d drop back to bottom ranking in her class. Not the result she wanted after she’d spent the last year clawing her way up two paltry places. Where in the universe were they?
Kara blew out a breath of frustration, ran her sweaty hands through her short hair, and put her sulk on hold. Lifting one foot at a time and putting it down while scrutinizing the ground for signs of spring-beetle occupancy took every bit of her attention. The small pyramidal mounds were thankfully absent. A bite from the insect, while not life threatening, could swell to horrible proportions. Her study of the insects last semester had given her far too much insight into the varying sizes and discomforts of post-bite swellings.
Two corco birds flew high above the canopy, cackling to each other as their heavy wings beat the air with a soft thump thump. They were herbivores, although there were still many unknown species of plant and animal on the planet awaiting detection and classification.
Kara halted for a second to observe their ungainly flight. Next year she would begin studies in her chosen subjects—botany and biology. She ignored the flush of guilt at the thought of the tiny gold speckled plants which had caught her eye. She was fully aware this wasn’t a field trip, but the urge to pop a couple into one of the specimen bags she always carried had been overwhelming. That was probably when she’d dropped behind, but one way or another, she would finish this course. If it had to be without the support of the rest of the class, so be it.
Since she’d become a student at the academy two cycles ago, she’d had plenty of experience of being the outsider. Joining the class late, because she’d remained with her father after her mother died, made her different from the rest. Friendships, cliques, and lines of allegiance were already long cemented by the time she arrived. Her shyness had been interpreted as unsociability, and her absorption in her studies seen as boring. Then there was her lack of interest in team games. She had what was called a delicate build which translated into a lack of enthusiasm for the more physical aspects of cadet training. Kara didn’t consider herself weak, she just wasn’t the least bit interested in throwing her classmates onto the practice mats and giving loud shouts every time she did so. The local flora and fauna were far more fascinating, and at least they couldn’t make nasty remarks about her within her hearing.
Her pack contained a map of the route, water, an emergency medical kit, and enough basic rations to ensure survival. Naturally, there was no comunit because calling for help defeated the point of the exercise. The original treaty with the Maruts, the planet’s indigenous hominids, prevented a true survival experience because they were forbidden to go beyond their settlement area, but now, alone—even though she was within a two-day's walk of the colony—this so-called practice was worryingly more authentic than she’d anticipated.
Fifty cycles ago, the Triumvirate gained permission from the Maruts for a colony on the planet, and the settlers’ situation was still far from permanent. Dangers from the flora and fauna, a variable climate, and the planet’s position at one end of a galaxy spiral placed it in the category of a limited outer world. But for Kara, it was home.
She mentally ran through the list of worst possible dangers as she continued up the trail. The small red-humped salamanders were dangerous when they were in heat and defending their territory, but thankfully this wasn’t the season. Kallin bears hadn’t been spotted anywhere near this location for the last ten cycles, and this area wasn’t on the seasonal migratory route of the Maruts. However, these were merely a few dangers on a long list. She shunted these thoughts aside, lumping them together with her irritation and resentment.
Kara ignored the mid-day heat as the hot Hamarkhian sun beat down on the forest, and wiped away the sweat trickling into her eyes with the back of her hand. She listened for indications that her companions were up ahead. Nothing. Her heart started to pound and she sucked in small puffs of warm air as she heard her father’s instructions in her mind. If you’re out there alone, be alert and don’t think about anything else except for what’s around you. Focus on the next step that’ll get you back to safety. Survival is a matter of breaking down the major objective of staying alive into smaller, achievable tasks.She closed her eyes for a minute breathing slow and deep  till her pulse slowed and her flight impulse subsided.
If she didn't complete the exercise but retraced her steps to the starting point by going back down the hill, the entire unit would fail the exercise, drop their group rating, and have to repeat it after the term ended. This would give the other cadets more reason to resent her than they already did. If she finished the course, they wouldn’t achieve top ranking, but at least the assignment would be complete. Memorizing the route had been part of the preparation, and all she had to do was continue up the mountain to the summit, turn left and follow the trail till she arrived back at the spot where they’d camped last night. Easy.
Ignoring the burning ache in her calves, she pushed herself and walked faster, clinging to the small hope that maybe a couple of cadets had been instructed to wait for her at the top of the hill. Yet a knot of anxiety remained, no matter how frequently she told herself everything was going to be fine. After another spell of steep climbing, the thinning trees warned her she was approaching the edge of the forest. She’d catch up with them soon. The trouble with fear is it doesn’t stay boxed away.
Abruptly the forest ended, and a stretch of bare red rock led up to the summit. Here and there, the hardy brownish native moss had secured a grip, giving the landscape a burned mottled appearance and the slight breeze lifted small curls of dust. But there was no sign of any cadets.
Thank the stars this wasn't the storm season, although on Hamarkhis no season was without irregularities as weather patterns were notoriously unstable and hard to predict. If a storm had unexpectedly blown in from the desert, the group leader, Nina, would have received notification as she had a comunit for emergencies—which was no help to Kara.
She would have loved to collect more specimens but was far too aware of the price she was paying for her last stop. She listened and checked ahead before leaving the shelter of the trees. The low drone of the forest’s inhabitants rose and fell behind her.
Where in the universe had they gone? Sixteen trainee cadets on a routine survival exercise couldn’t disappear. Practical jokes were the warp and weft of dorm life but this wasn’t funny. Anything might happen. Kara’s anger skyrocketed, and she stormed ahead with her eyes fixed on her goal as outrage fueled the last half klick to the summit. Well, no one was going to be laughing when she reported this to Commander Trench.
As she mounted the final slope, she forgot her predicament and gasped in pleasure at the view. Row after row of red jagged peaks, crowned with snow, marched to the horizon. These mountains were the start of the Founders Range and covered the northern third of the continent.
Pre-settlement surveillance had discovered the Maruts pastured their herds of satyrs in valleys peppered throughout this range. An anthropologist among the first colonists had nicknamed the herbivores satyrs, a creature out of an ancient fable, as a joke, and the name had stuck. However, the Maruts didn’t keep satyr herds for their meat, but for their coats which molted seasonally; they used the thick satyr wool and satyr hides for clothing, housing, carpets, tents. They milked the satyrs as well, which produced at least half a dozen food products. The satyrs were the basis for their way of life, and without them the Maruts could face extinction.
Kara searched the slope below. No sign of her team-mates. How had she dropped this far behind? She hadn’t been that slow, had she? She started walking, but half-way to the summit, her stomach started making loud noises, and she figured she ought to eat. Basic survival training began early. The necessity of staying hydrated and fed was drummed into children living in a world of hidden hazards.
She didn’t bother about the spring-beetles―the forest was their habitat―but sat on a handy outcrop of rock and stuffed the bland emergency rations into her mouth, glugging the tepid liquid from her water bulb. The concentrated bars of essential vitamins and minerals were light to carry and quick to digest, and she brushed the final crumbs off her hands ready to face the downward trail. She would have to get moving if she wanted to reach camp before darkness fell.
Then she heard it.
A low growling, some distance away, behind and below her. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up as she recognized the sound. It was one every colonist was familiar with, but only through educational holovids. She turned, and froze as a huge red and green kallin bear emerged from the forest. Kara stared, stunned, then pinched her arm hard. No, she wasn’t hallucinating.
The beast raised its giant snout and sniffed the air. Catching her scent, the animal paced toward her, paw by gigantic razor tipped paw.
Kara’s training kicked in, and she pressed the adrenaline patch on the underside of her arm, releasing its one dose. As the hormone mixture flooded her bloodstream, enhancing her responses and donating an artificial mental clarity, she recognized she had no way of escape, and was unlikely to survive this encounter. A rapid stream of thoughts flashed through her mind. If only those in charge of such matters had anticipated needing more than one adrenaline boost. If only the others had waited, together their prospects would have been better, and what a story that would have been to tell her father. Rage at her classmates’ carelessness swept through her, and she cursed them a second time.
Tracking the giant predator’s progress, Kara removed the stunner from her belt with careful slow movements.
The animal began to charge, gaining momentum as it grew closer.
Logic and reason informed her there was no way she could outrun the beast, even if she’d been in the forest, as its formidable sense of smell would allow it to track her scent as easily as following a lit pathway. She remembered the kallin bear’s swiftness and natural weaponry made it one of the dominant mammals on this planet. She very nearly smiled; her last moments and all she could summon up were facts from a biology lesson.
She raised the pistol, it had a range of approximately a quarter of a klick, but she was a lousy shot. Martial arts, self-defense, in fact, any of the physical skills that helped the colonists survive fell into the category of no ability and even less interest. But while Kara intellectually understood the longer she delayed the more she increased her chances of hitting the creature, her hands shook as she observed the slavering mouth and sharp canines as the bear increased its speed.
The bear’s fast rolling gait made it hard to get a fix on a vulnerable spot, but she zeroed in on the left eye. She aimed, fired, and hit the animal in the shoulder. Damn. She fired another shot. The stunner had ten more shots before it needed recharging, but the rabid predator closing in on her clearly had a quick lunch on its mind. Her next shot hit the upper chest and made not a whit of difference to its approach. She fired again, and the stun charge struck close to her first shot. The animal’s pelt shivered, but it came on relentlessly. An irrational urge to flee seized her, but the bear would outpace her in minutes, if not seconds. No, she’d stand and face her death. She fired repeatedly. With each hit the creature keened, an eerie high-pitched moan, began to slow but didn’t stop.
She kept count in her head. Three shots left. Nothing worse than thinking you have ammunition you haven’t, their instructor had joked at every session as he hammered the necessity of this procedure over and over into their brains.
The bear finally slowed and part of her mind continued analyzing the animal even as the gap between them narrowed. She noted the unkempt fur, emaciated hide, and the prominence of its ribcage. The beast must be far from its home territory, making it more dangerous as its need for her warm-blooded flesh was greater.
At this distance, she couldn’t miss, and, as the bear closed, she could see its red pupils and smell its rank fetid breath. She pumped out the last shots, clinically observing the bear’s pelt shimmer and quiver, as each shot hit home, yet she still managed to miss its vital organs. After the last shot, and impelled by an undeniable primal compulsion, she turned and fled—her last chance as the adrenaline boost would only last for another few minutes.
After inhaling the delicate flavor of a prospective meal, the bear, galvanized by the sight of its prey escaping, intensified its pursuit.
Kara scrambled and slithered down the escarpment, trying to avoid the small boulders and stones littering the surface. She hit a patch of shale and lost her balance. Sharp stones scraped the skin off her arm as she slid. Stumbling to her feet, she threw a backward glance at her pursuer and noticed the bear had slowed. The stun shots had finally had some effect, and she’d gained a tiny lead. She sucked in a deep breath and took off running.
Then it happened. Her foot landed on a small rock, and as her ankle turned, she lost her balance and toppled sideways. A fierce stabbing pain shot up her leg as her full weight bore down on the twisted ankle.
The bear stalked toward her, its massive claw-tipped paws moving softly on the slope. She tried to get up but arrows of agony shot up her leg. She hadn’t panicked, and had given her best, but she was going to die. If her father could have seen her, he would be proud of her. Shortly she would join her mother.
The last of the adrenaline drained out of her body and she shut her eyes as the backlash of fatigue hit. Shaking and terrified, she curled into a fetal position, and squeezed her eyes tight as she attempted to block out the awful sight and sound of her approaching death. She lay paralyzed, expecting to feel the kallin bear’s teeth and claws rip and shred her skin and muscles at any second as it prepared to feed. Please let it be quick, she begged.


If you enjoy stories full of drama, action, intrigue with a romantic twist, and a strong heroine, then click the link and enter Kara’s world today.

Thank you so much, because writers need readers!

Stay well, keep reading, and best wishes,

Another step on the journey...

When I’m asked why I write, the answer is pretty straightforward—there’s a story (an idea or a scene or a character or a combination of all three) in my head that's occupying my internal landscape, and the only way to maintain some semblance of sanity is to write it down. Once I start writing, I fall in love with the process of transforming whatever is living in my imagination into something visible. This has the advantage of clarifying and creating sense out of what is often a nebulous concept.

The beauty of this misty amorphous idea is its openness—the potential is cosmic—especially when writing science-fiction/fantasy/urban fantasy. The downside is while I’m having a brilliant time in my own sweet world, I can’t share it in this form. The upside of writing and publishing a book is that the conversion from abstract to concrete is complete.

Of course, there is always the possibility that no one else on the planet has any interest in what goes on inside my head, but the desire to share, to give back, and, hopefully, for others to enjoy my stories is a powerful one.

Veiled Planet started life in 2014, written in a blast of furious activity as a NaNoWriMo project. This is an annual internet-based creative writing challenge  that takes place during the month of November where the goal is to write 1,667 words a day, and emerge at the end with a 50,000 word first draft of a novel. This is a serious task if you’re working, have kids, or any kind of social life, but gives aspiring writers the chance to flex and build their creative muscles. The sense of achievement I got from participating and achieving my target inspired me to keep writing.

I put the rough draft aside and kept it as something to work on while I rested whatever novel I was writing at the time. Okay, it has taken several years more than anticipated to expand and edit that draft. However, Veiled Planet is due back from my editor at the end of this week, and that means the pre-publish butterflies are starting to flutter as I’m aiming to publish mid-June. This is the first book in the Hidden World Trilogy, though I’ve made a promise to myself that Book Two will not take another three years to write and publish.

I’ve always read science fiction since my older brother started buying paperbacks way back when, but apart from a flash fiction story, this is my first sci-fi novel. The book also falls into the YA (young adult) category as the heroine, Kara, is eighteen, and the story tells of her journey from an introverted student to a strong young woman who faces tremendous odds in a fight to choose her destiny. (Yes, that’s me cheering ‘Go, Kara!’ from the sidelines.)

I’m thrilled, apprehensive, and can’t wait to release Veiled Planet.
Best wishes

Promotions Galore!

One of the most important and interesting things I've discovered about indie authors is that they are a genuinely generous bunch. Sharing promotions, newsletter swaps, giveaways, everyone helps each other to tell enthusiastic readers about our books.

If you're like me, and like to have one or more books waiting to be read, then this 
May We Fill Your Kindle Giveaway is available for the entire month of May. So, why not check out these fabulous titles because you never know where you'll find your next favorite author? 

What better way to spend these long summer evenings than curled up with a good book!

Best wishes,

Happy Days!

Hi everyone,

I hope, whether you celebrate Easter or not, you're having a great long weekend. As for me, well, I've just had a week of intense, full-on striving to meet a deadline. The mixture of emotions after pressing the 'Publish Now' button
for Sorcerous Deeds, the second novella in the Adept Solutions Series, includes exhilaration, satisfaction, and, if I'm being honest,  a degree of relief.

JB’s private detective agency is successful, even if he can’t say the same for his love life, but when two elven princes turn up and demand he fulfil a blood bond by finding a missing princess, he has no choice but to take the case.

Heading up an alliance with others provoked by a vindictive sorcerer’s murderous deeds, JB tracks the princess to the blighted Wraithlands. The allies face exploding portals and monstrous shapeshifters, but can they rescue the kidnapped princess in time to prevent her death releasing havoc on an unsuspecting world?"

A big thank you to my editor, Sarah Watts, who offers invaluable feedback as well as reminding me I don’t need to cram everything into one sentence. To everyone else who helped with feedback on the story, the description, and the cover, you're the best!

If you read and enjoyed Hekate’s Chalice, Book One in the series, want to follow the latest  adventures and shenanigans of the gang at Adept Solutions, enjoy gripping mysteries interwoven with generous doses of magic and humor, then click the link below to enter this imaginatively creative world today!

PS If you're with the Amazon Prime program, you can download the book for free.

My next writing project is finishing up a book I started in 2014. I’ve been working on this science fiction/young adult novel intermittently ever since, mostly when I finished a stage (first draft, second draft etc.,) in whatever novel I was writing.

It has taken time, and it's an interesting exercise to see how my writing has changed, but at last, I’m on the final tweaking stage before sending the manuscript off to my editor. I’m hoping, fingers and toes crossed, the book will be ready for publishing by the end of May. My blog is called ‘writingmynovelnoworkingtitleyet’, and as far as this story goes, this is very true. It’s probably time to give my subconscious some strict instructions in this matter.

So, while I have a very serious debate with myself about whether or not to get that large tub of Baskin and Robbins to reward myself for achieving another step toward my dream of being a writer, I hope you have a brilliant week.

Stay well, keep reading, and best wishes,

No April Fool

When a friend asked me if I was interested in taking part in a cross-promotion on April Fool’s Day, I hesitated as all sorts of ridiculous ideas ran through my head. As someone who remembers many a bruise from the ‘pinch, punch, first day of the month’ tradition, I thought, April Fool’s Day? Really? Readers will think this is a practical joke and won’t take it seriously. They’ll wonder what kind of hoax is this? No way would anyone waste their time checking out books advertised on a day famous for trickery. Surely no reputable author would take part in such a prank on the public? Would they?
I hesitated until I saw the title of the promotion—A Fool for Love—and that made me think again because one thing is for sure, love can make fools of us all. In my early teens I used to read my mother’s Woman’s Weekly magazine for the romance stories. I loved those, especially the serials that ran over several weeks. Today, even though I write mostly genre fiction with fast-paced action and mystery, there is always a love story at the heart of my novels.
Relationships are at the center of all fiction books, irrespective of genre, and so April Fool's Day or not, A Fool for Love offers over thirty chances to find a new favorite character and immerse yourself in their heartaches and joys. This promotion gives you the opportunity to discover romance in Contemporary, Chicklit, Fantasy, Historical, Suspense, New Adult, Paranormal and Sci-fi genres.
As I said previously—and I’m positive you’ll hear me say it again—if you want something new, you have to try something different. And believe me, I promise there is no trickery involved in this 99c promotion.
Go ahead and click the A Fool for Love link and enjoy a wonderful romance:

Stay well, keep reading, and best wishes,

The Path of Least Resistance

Scrolling through screen after screen looking for the next book can be time consuming. When we do make a decision it’s easy to be seduced by an enticing cover, a tantalizing book description, and rave 5 star reviews—only to find that our expectations aren’t met, and we experience that slow, or sometimes quick, descent into disappointment. Often we persevere past the point when we know we should stop reading but keep going in the hope that the original promise will be fulfilled. Sometimes, we do give up. We close the book, turn off our ereaders, and with a frustrated sigh start the hunt again.

I have always read and loved stories—whether as books, audiobooks or film—and to be writing my own novels is a dream come true. I received a prize for a poem I wrote when I was 10 years old, so I blame my teachers, the education system, and whoever decided I had won the competition for planting the idea that I could write in my head.

But having an idea, then planning, drafting (several times!), and editing before publication is only one half of the equation. The other half is finding readers because writers want to share their stories. As a writer, I can tell you when somebody enjoys one of the books I have written, it’s the most rewarding feeling. So finding readers is a serious quest for me.
Here’s what readers have written about Healer’s Magic, Book 1 in the Kala Trilogy.

"Great descriptions and depths of the primary people, a good back story, marvelous romance, and consistent supporting characters." Sierraflowr
"Deep emotion, complex story, a very good read!" TDBRLVR
"Loved it so much bought the next two in the trilogy straight away. Looking forward to starting them tonight." Mrs. L. Dagdeviron

I am grateful and honored by readers like those who posted the above reviews because this is what I strive for. Consequently I have made Healer's Magic, Book One in the Kala Trilogy FREE!

When considering offers like this you may think is this really for me? And studies show this is the most common response because doing nothing—the path of least resistance—is the easiest path

However, this is the path you have already been traveling, and the trouble with staying on that path is you’re most likely to get the same outcome you always get.

On the other hand, if you want to experience something new, something different, sometimes you have to make a new choice…

A powerful healer. A treacherous enemy. A deadly conflict.
Tatya's world slides into chaos when a demon consumed with the desire to control her power attacks those she loves. She refuses the local master vampire’s offer of aid, as he's just turned her best friend into one of the undead. She needs allies, but who can she trust in the battle to destroy this dangerous enemy? 

Click the link, download the book today, and enjoy a thrilling roller coaster read:

And whatever book you're reading, I sincerely hope you enjoy it.
Stay well, keep reading, and best wishes,


February Festival!


By now memories of Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations are fading, and where I live in the northern hemisphere, January is gloomy and dark. Thankfully by mid-February the days are getting longer, and waking up to a sky filled with gold and peach fringed clouds, and coming home in daylight instead of a gloom filled twilight always cheers me up. (Am I jealous of those of you who live in the southern hemisphere and are now enjoying summer sunshine? You bet!)

Yet February isn’t lacking in festivals to cheer us up. The most well-known in the English speaking countries are Pancake Day, (my favorite is lemon juice and maple syrup… yum!) Mardi Gras, (on my bucket list in New Orleans) and of course, Valentine’s Day.

However, I'd like to tell you about another festival taking place—and this one is for readers. From  today, February 13th, through to Sunday 19th, there's a fantastic opportunity to download a brilliant selection of free books from the 
Science Fiction and Fantasy Promotion, where a number of authors have joined together to share their work.

I know taste in books is personal, just like food, clothes, and everything else in life about which we make decisions, but you don’t have to be a fan of the genre to enjoy these books. For those of you who don't read either science fiction, fantasy, or any of the many sub-genres, I would ask you to, at least, look through the wide range of books on offer in this freebie promotion, and encourage you to give these authors a chance. A good story is about people and relationships, irrespective of the setting, and you might find yourself pleasantly surprised. Give it a go!

Click the link, choose your book, and enjoy!

Curling up with a good book in a cozy chair is one of life's pleasure, so be sure and let your friends know.

Stay well, keep reading, and best wishes.

Climbing a mountain...

When I took a sabbatical to test out what writing full-time would be like, the image in my mind was one where I sat sedately at my desk tapping out my stories filled with inspiration from my muse. The truth of the situation is that while the writing part has absolutely more than fulfilled my expectations, I had no idea how addictive the process would become or of the challenges I would face. Finding readers has also been a surprising learning curve, and I have acquired a lot of skills I had no idea I would need!
But life is for learning, I’m enjoying the journey, and this week has been a real highlight for me. I published the final book in my urban fantasy, Demon’s Nemesis, and the three books in my first box set, The Kala Trilogy Box Set. I feel like a mountain climber who has reached the top of a mountain. The view is fantastic, and I’m real proud of this achievementone I had only dreamed of a few years ago.
I’d very much like to share my excitement about this success with you, so starting today, and just for the month of February, if you sign up for my newsletter, you can download The Kala Trilogy Box Set for free!
Here's a description of the book:
A healer, a demon, a vampire: an eternal triangle with a difference.
When a powerful demon sets his sights on gaining control of Tatya's power, a series of tragic events ensues. Tatya finds love and friends in unlikely places, but ultimately she must face the demon and fight for her life. 

If you enjoy urban fantasy fused with mysticism, thrilling action, and determined heroines who never give up, then you’ll find this box set a real treat.
Click the link the link and start the journey:

You'll find me popping up on these sites from time to time, so please drop by.

Thank you for visiting my blog, and please do leave a comment.
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

Title & Cover Reveal (plus a sneak peek!)

 I Know It Was You Wow! I’m thrilled to reveal the title and cover of my new book. The publication date, October 10th, is fast approaching, ...