Guest Post – Sam Cheever on Good Versus Evil

USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever joins me on the blog today. Her work includes over 50 published novels of romantic suspense and fantasy/paranormal under several noms de plume, celebrating the joy of love in all its forms. Take it away, Sam!


Good Versus Evil — Why This Type of Story Speaks to us

The good versus evil fight has fascinated mankind from our earliest days and has infused some of the best fictional books ever written. Book series such as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Hunger Games, have transformed and kept the discussion alive through great stories that we can relate to and embrace.

So why are we so fascinated with the concept? I think it’s because reading a story where fictional characters manage to outsmart and overcome evil gives us power. It infuses us with the belief that it is possible to rise up against something terrible and not only survive but even thrive. It provides us with a sense of hope in a world that sometimes sucks the feelings of hope right out of us.

When the good vs. evil story includes critters from our oldest history—such as biblical creatures like devils, demons, and angels—the battle is even more fun, because we consider these creatures to have the ultimate power for good or evil, which makes their flight across the pages of our fiction even more fascinating.

I write a lot of stories founded on the concept of good versus evil. Like many people, I’m fascinated with the notion of evil. Is there true evil in the world? Or is evil really just a series of layers, ranging from charcoal gray to a lighter gray? I personally believe evil does exist. Which is why I enjoy creating stories where good tromps evil…at least for a while! #:0)

Guest_Sam Cheever_Bedeviled&Beguiled_300x450In my Bedeviled & Beyond series, I created a warrior race that walks the line between good and evil and, though my heroine, Astra Q Phelps, works mainly with the angelic realm to defeat evil, she also has a foot in the world of devils, specifically the rulers of the dark world, the Royal Devils. This dichotomy makes Astra’s story interesting and creates a built-in tension that brings the stories to life for the reader. Since I began the series, which has grown to include 6 books and some short stories, I’ve written a lot of books about different paranormal creatures with the concept of good versus evil. But what about contemporary romance? Can the same concept be applied to people in real situations, set in a real world setting? I believe it can. In fact, it might even be easier to understand when put into the context of real world experience.

In my soon to be released romantic suspense, Slow Burner, the hero and heroine find themselves haunted by true evil, in the form of a nemesis who uses fire to kill and gain revenge. In a deadly game of cat and mouse, Hilda Bennet and Duncan Yves will struggle to stay alive even as they fight to hold onto the love they forged over a decade earlier…a love the monster who calls himself The Artist hasn’t yet managed to destroy. Though he’s certainly tried.

Guest_Sam Cheever_slowburner_300x450The book is part of a 7-Author box set about sexy firefighters, which will release on September 29th. Here’s a little taste of this sexy, exciting romantic suspense:

A love that burns slowly burns longest, creating the greatest heat.

Though they haven’t seen each other for fifteen years, Duncan Yves has never forgotten Hilda Bennet, or the feelings of love and protection she engendered in him when they were kids. So when she becomes the target of a madman who kills with fire and calls his deadly work Art, it seems perfectly natural for Duncan to try to protect her. Unfortunately, he soon learns that protecting Hilda just might bring the past crashing back down on both of them.

Hilda was just a girl when she last saw Duncan, and her childish dreams of living with him behind a picket fence were squashed when he went away. But when they finally find each other again, the past that separated them all those years earlier still seems determined to keep them apart.

Can they nurture the embers of a love that was forged in childhood into the full-fledged inferno it seems destined to be? Or will the destruction of yesterday’s fire finally smother that blossoming flame, and leave their love in ashes?

~~*~~

He’d watched as Yves crouched in the yard, running the fingers of one hand over the frozen ground. A moment later the other man had straightened, his gaze sliding around the yard. Pressing more deeply into the shadows at the back of the yard, the watcher felt his pulse spiking as irrational anger surged.

Yves was like a Chihuahua on the back of his leg. Teeth buried deep, shaking hard. He was always a few steps behind, challenging him to climb to even greater heights of artistry, making him long for the notoriety his art deserved. Forcing air into his lungs, he made himself exhale softly. And felt better.

Yves might suspect that the recent spate of fires were arson, but he hadn’t been able to prove it yet. And the cocky young investigator wouldn’t prove it. Because he’d met his match this time. And, after the watcher climbed deep inside Yves brain and played with his confidence for a while, he’d make him pay for being a son of a bitch.

He’d pay in the only way that made sense.

That day was coming. Soon. But before he could feel the joy of Duncan Yves’s destruction, the Artist had work to do.

And a fine body of work it would be.

~~*~~

Shiver…evil has many faces. But once recognized, evil doesn’t stand a chance against the force of love. Well…at least in my world. That’s why I like writing good versus evil. Because I love being the one to smack evil upside the head…and let the light of goodness scorch it from existence. I hope you’ll join me in that battle!

Guest_Sam Cheever_AnthologyINTO THE FLAMES: Firefighter Multi-Author Boxed Set Anthology
Release Date: Tuesday, September 29, 2015
ISBN: 9781626228832 (Seaside Publications)
Seven smoldering stories. One great price. Only .99!

Firefighters. The word ignites bold images of heroes in dust covered helmets and ash stained turnouts who defy the odds and press on in the presence of danger.

Men and Women of Valor. A dedicated brotherhood of first responders whose honor, strength, and courage overcome obstacles to save lives.

Into The Flames. Seven NYT, USA Today, bestselling and award-winning authors offer romantic suspense, contemporary, historical, and paranormal tales of tough, iconic heroes who risk it all for their communities—but at the end of the day, seek the tender embrace of the one they love.

JOIN US ON THE ADVENTURE…

Rescue Me by N.J. Walters
When firefighter Frank Ellis rescues an old flame from a burning building, sparks ignite. He’ll do anything to protect her, even if it means she discovers he’s a mythical phoenix.

Flashpoint by Desiree Holt
…When everything explodes

Where There’s Smoke by Cindy Spencer Pape
Firefighting in the 1920’s is dangerous business, but so is falling in love.

FireBrew by Liz Crowe
Fate throws them together. But the horrific memory of a fiery disaster could tear them apart.

Hook Me Up by Adele Downs
Firemen don’t free cats from trees anymore—until a pretty schoolteacher gets trapped on a limb with her kitten and the county’s hottest firefighter comes to their rescue.

Slow Burner by Sam Cheever
A love that burns slowly burns longest, creating the greatest heat.

Uncontrolled Burn: A RISEN Team Novel by Nina Pierce
A woman forced to live a life she didn’t choose. A vampire bound by honor to protect humans. A deadly game of revenge that threatens both their lives …

Amazon | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble | Kobo | ARe | iBookstore

Guest Post: Veronica Scott on Her Love for Disaster Movies

This week, award-winning author Veronica Scott shares a snippet from her latest book and talks about how disaster movies inform her writing. Take it away, Veronica!


STAR CRUISE: MAROONED by Veronica Scott
or
Why I Love Disaster Movies

I love disaster movies, the bigger the better. Although small works for me too. I’m always fascinated by the idea of ordinary people suddenly being thrust into some catastrophe that they then must fight their way out of. If there’s romance involved, so much the better. Unlike the movie “Speed,” where the Sandra Bullock character says romances formed under such intense circumstances never last, I choose to believe they DO.

There are definitely tropes to disaster movies. First you meet the characters rather briefly because unless you see them pre-disaster, how are you going to care about this subset of people in the midst of flaming chaos and danger on all sides? There should be some foreshadowing and foreboding that perhaps the characters don’t pick up on but we, the readers (or viewers in the case of a movie) go “Uh oh.”

There’s a hero and a heroine – and in my books they’re both strong individuals who work together to save themselves and the others. Think Ripley and Hicks in “Aliens,” which is one of my all-time favorite movies. Although it did need more romance…but I digress! There should be some people who need saving, and who do their best to do the right things….and at least one, maybe two people with their own agenda, or who do the completely wrong thing at the wrong moment. And a LOT of heavy obstacles stacked against survival.

I’ve written two science fiction romance novels that I feel are pretty classic disaster movie format – Wreck of the Nebula Dream, set on a large luxury liner that meets a Titanic-like fate. This story was in fact loosely based on the Titanic tragedy but set in space, in the far future. I’ve had reviewers tell me I spent a bit too long on the intro phase (which is their experience of course – obviously I liked it) – someone quantified it for me, saying the first 19% of the book was set up and then hold onto your hats because it’s nonstop thereafter inagoodway. For my second such story, Star Cruise: Marooned, just released in June, I decided to tell a story about the crew and passengers of a much smaller luxury charter ship, who venture onto the surface of a nature preserve planet for a scheduled beach party.

At first things go pretty well and by the book, although surprisingly the ranger station is deserted and there aren’t very many other tourists, which is decidedly odd. But the crew members’ main worries at this point are keeping the customers happy so the tip at cruise end will be generous, and not running out of food or ‘feelgoods’. Then the other ship’s party enjoying the beach receives an urgent call back from their captain and leaves so hastily they abandon all their equipment…concerned, my heroine, Cruise Staffer Meg Antille, tries calling her ship to check on things but the conversation is mysteriously interrupted from the other end….then a passenger is bitten by a venomous creature that ought not to be there on the friendly beach….and events spiral from there.

I like upping the stakes a few times before the adventure concludes. Think about “Speed” (spoilers I guess although it’s an old movie) – the psycho who put the bomb on the bus can also watch them from a hidden camera. In “Aliens”, the creatures cause the crash of the dropship, marooning Ripley and her few companions on the planet. In the remake of “Poseidon Adventure”, the big air bubble bursts and the ship starts sinking faster…In the first “Jurassic Park,” it’s the huge storm that throws everyone’s plans and lives into jeopardy…

So in Star Cruise: Marooned, after the shuttle suddenly takes off, abandoning Meg and her party on the planet, there are some definite raising of the stakes moments. I won’t do spoilers, but I’ve had a number of people tell me they ended up reading the book late onto the night, to find out what happens. That’s music to a story teller’s ears!

Here’s a short little excerpt for you:

Guest Veronica MaroonedFinalOn the beach, there was chaos. An eel, easily two feet in diameter and eight feet long, lay convulsing on the sand, Red’s hunting knife buried to the hilt in one eye. The crewman had the medkit open beside him and was struggling to staunch the blood flow from Sharmali’s lower leg, while she lay on a red-stained towel and moaned. Callina was standing beside them, trying to help. The other men and women milled on the beach nearby, drinking and talking in too loud voices. As Meg headed for the injured passenger, the Primary intercepted her.

“Miss Antille, I demand to know how something like this could happen.” Purple in the face, he waved a hand at Sharmali. “I paid top dollar, if not an exorbitant price, for a safe, enjoyable cruise for myself and my guests, and now the poor girl’s had her foot eaten!” He was so upset he was spitting.

“On behalf of the Line, I certainly apologize, sir. We do everything we can to ensure the safety of our guests under all circumstances, but if she swam beyond the sonic barrier—”

“She was standing in three inches of water right next to me,” Finchon said. “That monster could have just as easily gotten my foot.”

“The barrier’s off,” Red informed her, not glancing up from his task. “Can you argue with him later? I need your help.”

Meg ran to his side, the Primary matching her step for step, yelling at her about lawsuits and refunds. She tried to stem the tide of his vitriol so she could concentrate. “Sir, please, let us assist Sharmali, and then I’ll be happy to discuss the legalities.”

Trever, the retired pro athlete, came forward and took his host by the arm, shoving a drink into his hand and drawing him aside. Meg took a deep breath of relief and knelt beside Red. “What do you want me to do?”

“Apply pressure to the wound for a minute while I see what antivenom we’ve got.”

Gulping against her nausea, Meg set her hand on the makeshift bandages and pressed hard. “You said the barrier was off?”

“Must be. There was more than one of these things right in the shallows at the beach. We were lucky no one else got attacked. I got her out of the water as fast as I could so the blood wouldn’t attract other predators.” He sat on his heels, frowning, holding an inject. “This is only a generic. Will it work on eel venom?”

“It’s all we’ve got on the shuttle. It’ll have to hold her until we get to the ship’s sick bay.”

As he gave Sharmali the inject, Meg eyed the wound with deep misgiving. The woman’s leg was definitely swelling and there were ugly purple streaks advancing toward her knee. “This is my fault,” she said.

“How do you figure?” Red applied a light tourniquet.

“I should have known if the ranger station was closed, the barriers might be shut off, but I didn’t check.”

“Well, keep your voice down, the Primary is pissed off enough right now. Don’t add fuel to his fire.”

Want to read more? You can find Star Quest: Marooned at:
Amazon     iBooks     Kobo     Barnes & Noble


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

Three time winner of the Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances!

Veronica’s Blog   Veronica Scott on Twitter  Veronica Scott on Facebook

 

Where Has She Been?

Ummm. It’s been two months since my last post, hasn’t it? [sheepish look]

The short answer: I’ve been rather snowed under with Life, Tolari Space, and Everything.

The rather longer answer sits on my hard drive (and backed up in the cloud) at 93,292 words. The Fall is in its final form (I hope) and my alpha reader has it. Depending on the feedback I get, I may need to write another scene, and I may need to move things around a bit in the first third of the novel (boy, do I ever not want to do that), but it’s basically done. It only needs polishing, and then I will submit it for editing.

This makes the third time I have rewritten the entire book. The first two rewrites were my own fault, but this third rewrite — is also my own fault, for doing the second rewrite after signing with Sky Warrior and before revising Daughters of Suralia. I will never, not ever, rewrite a book if I have any clue that the previous one in the series isn’t entirely settled. Ever. Again.

The Fall is Laura’s story, in the main. She returns to Parania and the Paran to live happily ever after, or so she thinks. The universe has other plans, and Laura has to fight to find her place, both in her new home and in the Paran’s heart. You’ll get to see interstellar trade relations, Tolari inter-provincial politics, and what can happen when a Tolari ruler loses sight of who he is.

And that’s all I’m going to tell you about that. For now.

It’s time to get cracking on Farryn’s War.

You’ve met Farryn. You just don’t know it yet.

The Daughters of Suralia Re-release

Christie-Meierz_TTS-bk2_Daughters-of-Suralia_6x9
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JQUBW7A/

Some readers might be wondering why the new edition of Daughters of Suralia does not update their old one. The answer lies in the way books are assigned their ISBN/ASIN — one factor this number depends on is the publisher. Different publisher, different number. Different number, different book, as far as booksellers are concerned. No free update. There’s literally nothing that I, as the author, can do.

So why buy it again? Well, and this is the most important question.When I signed with Sky Warrior Books, they bought my backlist. They then had the right, and they exercised it, to ask me to revise my backlist books up to their standards. Truthfully, I was happy to do so. The Marann didn’t require a lot of revision, but Daughters of Suralia — that was another story. My editor commented that the book didn’t have a plot arc, which was true. It didn’t. After tossing a number of ideas at me, I realized what it needed to come up with one. Then began the work of stitching it in.

At times, it was like deja vu all over again — during the same period of time last year (January to March), I was working on the same issues with the same book the first time around. The changes were small, at first, but as I went through the story, the entire last quarter of the book changed and expanded. I closed some plot holes and picked up some loose ends. The novel grew from 74,000 words to 95,000. The lingering question of what Central Command will do next — that will be answered in future novels. Just so you know. <grin>

Meanwhile, do buy the 2nd edition of Daughters of Suralia. It’s a much stronger story now, and I am very happy with it. I hope you will be, too.

Thoughts on a Rainy Saturday

So, here’s the thing: the Tolari split off from us around the time we invented the wheel. They were taken, genetically engineered, plopped onto a planet something on the order of 150 trillion miles away from Earth, and left to develop as they would. Before the rise of any of Earth’s great civilizations.

Understandably, they lack any of our cultural referents.

The aliens that kidnapped and altered them also tinkered with their family structure. Just between you, me, and that rosebush over there, for all their brilliance, they couldn’t wrap their heads (and I use that term loosely) around the idea of a two-parent family. So they did away with it. Tolari children only need the one parent. I’ll be exploring parental bonding a bit more in book 4 — there are hormonal components to it. That bond gives them all the stability they need.

Trying to understand this within a human conceptual frame doesn’t work. If a Tolari, man or woman, is bonded to a child, they will have a strong parental response to said child. Love, caring, protection, emotional support, all that. If they are not bonded to that child, they will still have a normal adult’s concern, of course. They’ll act like an aunt or an uncle or a grandparent to that child if they spend a lot of time around them.

Enter the Sural. At the end of Daughters, he’s in the unusual-for-a-Tolari position of having three daughters bonded to him: Kyza, Thela, and Rose. Two little girls and an infant. If anyone tries to tell you he doesn’t love any one of them as much as the others, don’t believe them. He’s a bonded father to each, and you’d have a better chance of surviving if you got between a mother bear and her cubs. Can you honestly see him coaxing the grieving Thela to eat, or cradling the newborn Rose in his arms, and still think he loves them less than Kyza?

Seriously.

2013 Prism Finalist!

2013-Finalist-Badge

Late last night, I got an email from the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Special Interest Chapter of RWA that started out like this:

Hello Christie,

Congratulations! I’m pleased to inform you that your entry, The Marann is a finalist in the Futuristic Category of FF&P’s Prism Contest for Published Authors!

OH. MY. GOD.

Daughters of Suralia is LIVE!

Christie-Meierz_TTS-bk2_Daughters-of-Suralia_6x9

Three women, two planets, and a whale.
For Marianne Woolsey, linguist and tutor, being empathically
bonded to the leader of the Tolari turns out to be a bed of roses – complete
with thorns. Especially thorns.
With diplomatic relations severed and humans kicked out of
Tolari space, the Earth Fleet ship Alexander
is gone … for now … but Earth Central Command hasn’t given up trying to get
Marianne back. As she struggles with surprises, nightmares, and a bond-partner
who can’t be tamed, she just wants to figure out where she fits in a society
that isn’t quite human.
Laura Howard, the Admiral’s widow, only desires to be left
in peace to gather the fragments of a shattered heart, but Central Command has
plans for her, too.
Meanwhile, the Sural’s apothecary is a serene and gifted
healer who knows what – and who – she wants. Circumstances have conspired to
deny her the man she’s always loved, but in the pursuit of his heart, she has
an unexpected ally – in the depths of Tolar’s oceans.
Daughters of Suralia is
a sweet scifi romance.

Why Sci-Fi Romance? — a guest post by Anna Zaires

closeliaisons

Anna Zaires is the author of The Krinar Chronicles, the first volume of which is nominated for the Indie Romance Convention’s Reader’s Choice Award for Best Indie Fantasy & Futuristic Romance. Recently, she graciously agreed to appear on my blog.

First of all, I’d like to thank Christie for letting me come on
her blog and blab about all kinds of random stuff. As you guys know, she’s
really quite awesome!
Next, I’d like to do the actual blabbing.
You see, my readers sometimes ask why I chose to write sci-fi
romance instead of going the more accepted paranormal route. After all, they
know that some of my favorite authors include Lara Adrian and Karen Marie
Moning – whose books are the embodiment of the PNR genre.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, the simple truth of the matter is
that I love sci-fi romance just a tiny bit more. And, since you guys are
reading this on Christie’s blog, I assume you don’t hate it either :).
I read my first science fiction romance when I was eight years
old. **Okay, I think I just heard someone gasp. Please, relax, there were no
sex scenes there!**
It was actually Edgar Rice Burroughs’s A Princess of Mars. Despite the lack of sex scenes, it was a
wonderful book that captured my imagination and made me fall in love for the first
time – in love with the love story of John Carter and Dejah Thoris. (And, no,
the recent John Carter movie didn’t do their
romance justice at all. Why are books always so much better than movies?)
Anyways, I digress.
In my mind, paranormal and sci-fi romance have always been
somewhat interchangeable. After all, is there a big difference between a
handsome vampire and a gorgeous alien? To me, they were both a lot of fun to
read about. As a teenager, I stalked my local library and spent hours at a nearby
Barnes & Noble in search of books that would satisfy my craving for
exciting romance (as defined by my teenage self to be anything with a fantasy
element). Unfortunately, in the pre-Twilight days, paranormal OR
science fiction romance was quite difficult to find. There were maybe a handful
of authors who specialized in the genre (Dara Joy and Amanda Ashley come to
mind), but they were nowhere near prolific enough to satisfy this voracious
reader.
Thankfully, Twilight burst on the scene,
causing the paranormal romance category to multiply so fast it was as though
vampires were breeding with werewolves (oh, wait, that was actually happening). In any case, now you can find PNR with
every possible variation of shapeshifter, dragon, sparkling and non-sparkling
vampire, and fairy. Sci-fi romance, however, remains very much a niche – though
growing quite nicely with the proliferation of indie authors such as Christie
and myself.
So why do I like sci-fi romance more? In a nutshell, it offers a
more believable setting that still lets you get lost in a world that’s quite
different from our own – a world where you can have the equivalent of miracles
and characters/situations that would be unacceptable in regular contemporary
romance.
In my mind, it is unlikely – but feasible – that a superior
alien race planted the seeds of life on Earth and helped guide human evolution
(shameless plug for the Krinar Chronicles 🙂 ). It is less plausible that
fairies exist. And, for some reason, the “less plausible” part seems to disallow
my brain to make that leap – the leap that says something like this *could*
happen to me. 
So, to cut a long blog post short, I love sci-fi romance because
it’s removed from the everyday world and thus works as an escapist fantasy, but
it’s just plausible enough to make the fantasy seem real.
If you’d like to find out more about aliens who created the
human race (and don’t mind explicit sex scenes!), you can check out my website
at http://www.annazaires.com.