What makes a child a reader?

The kids are out of school. You're tearing your hair out, wondering how to steer them away from the video games and internet. They don't want to read a book. That's something you have to do in school, right?

I grew up in a non-book household. No. Books. Anywhere. Strange to think of it now. I was led to a lifelong love of reading by... a movie. Them. Radioactive giant ants! Scared the pants off me when I was little, but it opened my world to science fiction. (The movie also gave me a lifelong loathing of ants, by the way.)

When I started school, I discovered you could borrow books and take them home! Yay! I found stories every bit as good, and better, than that dratted movie.

Maybe your children could find a companion book for their favorite video game and discover a world beyond the screen?

What memories do you have of discovering the world of books?


And in other exciting news... Fire and Mist, book 3 of the Well of Souls series is out!


Derek Mackay, 16th century laird and Druid extraordinaire, is doubly cursed—with knowledge he isn’t supposed to have, and by a goddess whose wrath he didn’t mean to incur. The curse promises sure death to any betrothed of his, including the beautiful woman surrounded by Immortal magic who suddenly appears in his life and arouses in him a wellspring of bittersweet desire. The only way to save her is to stay away from her.

Erin Kelley is restless, craving the missing piece in an otherwise contented life. Romance. A man to take her breath away. A man to keep for life. A family to cherish with him. Swept back in time on a dare, she’s confronted by an angry Highland laird—an alpha male both irresistible and determined to keep her at arm’s length. His words push her away, but his emotions pull her in. Ordinary contentment will never again be enough—not when the world contains the extraordinary Laird Mackay.


Yes, it’s a romance, but it’s also about adapting to the curveballs life throws at us. Struggling to persevere against the odds. Becoming victorious in the end, despite the sorrows we’ve endured in getting there. Okay… and being able to shake our fists at the universe and yell, “You can’t break me,” because that’s a fun thing to do. I hope you enjoy the journey.

And if you haven’t read any of them yet, Immortal Desires, book 1 in the series, is on sale for .99 right now. Go grab your copy!

About the author:

Cerise Laudine loves sexy Highlanders, seductive alpha males from the Otherworld, and bold women who can bring them to their knees and rock their world. Time-travel, star-crossed, or interdimensional, her stories always have a happily ever after. Though the twisted path of laughter and tears is the real journey, isn’t it? Come walk the paths with her and share in the experience.
She also writes darker tales, using the twisted side of her brain, as River Fairchild.
Cerise’s Amazon page: http://amzn.to/2pR4awe


Down the rabbit hole to research historical fantasy

Lithograph by J. Childs depicts two of Philadelphia's notorious
Moyamensing gang killers of the mid-1800s
One of the strange and wonderful perks of writing historical fantasy is doing research. Right now, I am developing characters to populate my next witch novel, set in the mid-1800s in Philadelphia. I need con men and women, murderers, petty thieves and prostitutes. Can you tell I like the dark side? And so far, I’m finding excellent, twisty rabbit holes containing lots of skeevy mischief.

Take the typical misbehaviors for women at this time, where the punishment seems out of whack with the crime: a thief getting five years imprisonment for stealing a dress from a tailor, or a large plate of oysters from a tavern.

There were children in prison as well. One of the youngest girls in the records, 11-year-old Ann McQuillan, was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison for 'theft by housebreaking'.

Con men advertised in newspapers to sell “oxygenizing machines” that actually contained laughing gas to supposedly cure folks with lung disease! They hawked counterfeit currency to gullible businessmen, who received a package of green cut paper (thus, the “green goods swindle”). Big Bertha Heyman was so good at conning money from men, she could even pull it off in prison.
Big Bertha, an ingenious swindler of the 1800s
conned a man out of $900 (now about $20,000) while behind bars!

Even in the supposedly civil city of Philadelphia, Irish gangs like the Schuylkill Rangers, began by resisting anti-Catholic attackers, then evolved into organized delinquency.  They became river pirates, demanding a tax from barges heading to the city, and robbing the trade carried across the river at nearby Gray’s Ferry.

One of my characters is a “retired” prostitute, and I hit the mother lode yesterday, when I discovered there were Gentlemen’s Guides to Dens of Iniquity, a kind of wink-wink description of the “worst” establishments in the city. These guides were printed for most big cities. One of the funniest revelations was that a religious seminary on the west side of NYC was once an infamous brothel.
Built in 1819 for a seamstress, this brick house in what is now the New York University area, became a brothel in the mid–1800s—about the time the city’s wealthier citizens relocated uptown.

When I have enough interesting factoids the challenge will be to cull the best of my research and piece together the criminals and cons to form the core band of my players. Each will have their own backstories, flaws and quests.

Do you write historical fiction? If so, do you like doing research? What is the strangest tidbit you’ve unearthed so far along the way?


Book Review: GUARDIAN OF THE GRAIL #paranormal #specfiction

GUARDIAN OF THE GRAIL (Immortal Blood-Book One) 
by Elena Bryce

Before vampires, they were Guardians, drinking the sacred blood of the Holy Grail, and sworn to protect it through the ages. 

When Lachlan Thorn is entrusted with the task of relocating the Grail to a castle in the Scottish Highlands, he requires the help of a witch to conceal it on the perilous journey. Unfortunately for him, the only one available is Ivy, who is untrained and a descendant of the woman who broke his heart. 

For Ivy, helping to protect the Grail gives her a chance to do something good with her magic and learn more about it. But once the Grail is out in the open it draws the attention of both vampires and vampire hunters alike, and before long Ivy is facing an ancient and powerful foe that she has no chance of escaping. 

Forced to tap into the deeper magic, Ivy must travel through time, linking with her ancestors and experiencing witch trials to take on the power that is her heritage. She might also learn the startling truth about her connection to Lachlan. 

A Grail Quest, a deadly enemy, and a love that transcends time. 
Action packed Urban Fantasy. Grab your copy now! 

Cathrina's Review:

Over the years I've watched dozens of vampire movies. Some good,  some great, and some not so great. Even as far back as the old black and white versions with the famous Bela Lugosi. However, I've only read a handful of vampire books, including the Twilight Series and Christine Rains book, OF BLOOD AND SORROW. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the Christian twist that the author, Elena Bryce incorporated into her book. It was totally unique and refreshing to read. The pace is fast and action packed and a romance which helped to keep my interest. 

We have a young pretty witch, and a handsome man who looks like he's in his twenties, but in actuality he's ancient, and another immortal that's willing to kill everything in sight in order to acquire the holy grail.

The story goes all the way back to Joseph of Aramethea, a disciple of Jesus, and his quest to keep the holy grail safe from evil hands. Guardians drink blood from the grail which make them immortal. Their main purpose is to protect the grail. They become known as vampires, but not all vampires are good. The sections of the book where it explains the different kind of vamps was intriguing and like I said before~unique, which is why this story stands apart from the rest.


LavaRex, Frogzilla, Ice Bats, and Spacebergs! What fantastic disaster can you come up with? #ScienceFiction #giveaway

Sharknado, Atomic Twister, Mega Piranha, Sharktopus...

The latest in sci fi movies that mimic their 1950's drive-in counterparts are just as cheesy and fun. Sometimes the effects are better..

sometimes they're not.

They're some of my favorite movies to watch, especially in the summer. I think the link to the drive-in is why I like them best in summer.

Try your hand at some titles. Best 5 get a copy of Pew! Pew! You can enter as many times as you like. Contest ends 6/13/2017.

 Here are some creatures to inspire you.

Here are some disasters:


Nuclear Disaster

Alien Invasion

Volcanic Eruption

Rapid Glacier Melt

Big Bat Meltdown? Volcanic Frog? Mega Frog vs. Mutant Yeti? Have fun...

Pew! Pew! Sex, Guns, Spaceships... Oh My! 99c Countdown Deal!

Now a Best Seller!

Pew! Pew! Sex, Guns, Spaceships... Oh My! is on sale for 99c until June 10th. Snap it up! It contains my new story, "Spaceberg." Spaceberg involves a huge chunk of ice in space, moss balls with teeth, and dancing plastic flowers. What's better than plastic? Organic plastic!


Get a sample of Spaceberg FREE! (first 5 chapters)



Group Post - Talking about sea creatures real and imaginary

The oceans are as mysterious as worlds beyond our own. It's a world as foreign to us as Jupiter, yet we don't need a spaceship to visit it. Much of it remains inaccessible, however. The deepest depths are difficult to reach and it's unknown what all lurks down there. Much of the oceans remain unexplored. Would you want to explore those areas or hang out among the reefs? If you were a sea creature, real or imaginary, what would you be?

M. Pax

I want to explore those deep, unknowns of the oceans. So I decided I'd like to be a vampire squid. They have characteristics of both the octopus and the squid, They live at very deep depths, have large eyes, are agile, and eat shrimp. I like shrimp. They're elusive and mysterious and live in a mysterious place. All of that suits me very well. Here's a video to learn more about the vampire squid.


River Fairchild

I want to be Poseidon, because, well... you know... a god with unlimited powers? Owning a trident to stab things with? Wearing spiky metal thingies on your armor? And it doesn't hurt to look hunky, either. 

Angela Brown

There are so many wonderful, terrifying, beautiful, and well...the list of descriptions can go on and on about the creatures under the sea. But...here is where things get a little different for me. The sea creature I wish to be doesn't stay beneath the water. It takes flight to get away from underwater predators and looks darned cool when it spreads its wings. So flying fish...I'm looking at you!


Christine Rains

I thought maybe I'd want to be one of the legendary monsters of the sea. Every sailor quakes in terror when they sail my waters. But really, I wouldn't want a bad reputation. Nor would I want any young hunters to come looking for me. I like my quiet and peaceful life. I want silent depths and sometimes come up to the surface for a lovely view. I keep to myself just like Nessy in Loch Ness. Am I real or a hoax? I'm content to let the mystery continue.


Misha Gerrick

Hmmmmmm.... I'd go for....

An orca. Badass, incredibly intelligent and loyal to their families, they're by far my favorite ocean creature, so if I had to turn into one, that's the one I'd want to be. 

Cherie Reich

I would want to be a manatee. They are just the cutest and kindest of sea creatures.


Catherine Stine

I'm obsessed with the ocean and its creatures. I'm also obsessed with witches. I wrote Witch of the Cards to explore how it would feel to be a sea witch (who also does amazing things with Tarot cards. LOL). It was a rollicking ride. Here's a quote from the book.

Meradeth Houston

There are so many awesome sea creatures that picking just one is difficult! That, and I love the sea so very much (I'm even named after a Welsh sea god, haha!). If I have to select one though, I think I'd have to go with dolphin. My mom tells this story about when I was a baby and she was holding me at the railing of a small sailboat, and a momma dolphin brought her baby up right next to us to say "hi!" Kinda silly, but kinda fun :)

Cathrina Constantine

River grabbed my first choice of underwater rulers. Hahaa... But I did happen upon this fantastical being. I love horses. And whats better than a gorgeous horse that can swim underwater...

Gwen Gardner
I'm a simple girl and like to keep things simple. Mermaids are easily the most classic and modern sea creature to withstand the test of time.

Who wouldn't want to be a Mermaid?


Cherie Reich's "The Folding Point" - An Excerpt from Spirits in the Water

Aimee gripped the gum filled strands and sliced through them. A hint of rosemary from her conditioner and watermelon from the gum tickled her nostrils. She dropped the clump of hair into the sink and continued chopping away. The thick tresses soon filled the basin. She felt lighter with each one off her head.

“Oh god.” The peanut butter jar slipped from Xavier’s fingers and clattered onto the bathroom tiles. It rolled over to the rug she stood on. “What are you doing?”

“What does it look like?” She straightened her shoulders and smoothed a hand through her short, jagged locks. Her reflection stared back. The girl in the mirror looked pale, her lips drawn into a determined line, yet her eyes—the intense ice blue—chilled her. She almost didn’t recognize herself. “I’m taking my life back.”

Her brother’s lips parted like a goldfish’s. Open and shut, open and shut. He eventually shook his head and retrieved the jar of peanut butter. “It’s your hair.”

She gave a firm nod. Her hair. Her life. She was in control.

As he left the bathroom, she continued to cut her hair until she was satisfied with the pixie style. She cleaned off the scissors, placed them back into the cabinet, and scooped up the dark remains where she discarded them in the wastebasket.

She was heading toward her bedroom when a fluttering sound drew her attention toward her brother’s room. His window was cracked open, and a paper bird launched from the sill and flew toward her. Did her brother create the bird? As far as she knew, her dad had gathered up the last of the paper in the house and burned it after Mom’s arrest. She held out her palm.

The bird landed and fluffed its delicately folded feathers. Its beak opened, and it spat a crumbled ball of paper into her hand. Then it flew off and perched upon Xavier’s desk lamp.

What the holy folds was this about? She unfurled the ball of paper and smoothed out the wrinkles. Midnight at Cityside Park. The scrawl sent her brow furrowing.

“What are you doing in my room?” Xavier snatched her wrist as she closed her fingers around the piece of paper.

“I saw a paper bird flying around.” She jutted her chin toward the creature.

“Open your hand.” His gaze drew to her fist, and his fingers dug into her flesh. “Come on, Aimee. It’s for me.”

“What is it about?” She opened her hand, the paper in the center of her palm.

“Nothing important.” He snatched the note and released her. “Go to your room and do your homework.”

“I don’t have any,” she lied.

“Well, go read or something.” He shooed her off and stepped farther into his room. His hand rested upon the door. “Go on.”

She huffed and backed up.

He slammed the door and locked it.

What had him so rattled? She shook her head. Whatever it was, she would find out.

Spirits in the Water is forthcoming October 2017.


Caution - Romance Ahead!

I want to let you know about two new book releases by Cerise Laudine (River Fairchild's alter ego). The first is a tale of romance with an Otherworldly flavor, mythology, a gorgeous alpha male, and enough steam to fog up your mirrors. Seducer of Her Dreams.


Emily is beautiful, successful, and has a fantastic love life—only it isn’t with a real man. Embroiled in the hottest sexual relationship of her life with the ultimate man of her dreams—literally—she always wakes up alone. Resolved to start living in the real world again, she banishes dream lover Devan from her nights.

Devan is an immortal Seducer, created to fulfill sexual fantasies. He takes this rejection personally and visits Earth, determined to seduce Emily in person. With a full cycle of the moon allowed to get the job done, he figures there shouldn’t be a problem. The only catch… if he reveals his true nature, he’ll be banished to the void forever.

As Emily and Devan stumble toward each other, the clock is ticking, the moon won’t stand still, and the goddesses of Fate are about to intervene.

To buy it on Amazon or read it for free with KindleUnlimited,
click here. http://amzn.to/2oMaaWj

Next up is book 2 of the Well of Souls series, called Twisted Fates. It's a time-travel, Scottish Highlander series with an Otherworldly flavor and more alpha males, of course!


Zoey Tyler struggles to get through each day, convinced only a dark path awaits her. Disastrous choices ruined her life. Now all she has left is a black void ready to swallow her whole.

Gavin Mackay has given up trying to be the kind of man his father would have expected of him. When a force of great power rips him away from the year 1825, it drops him into the 21st century and into Zoey’s living room without any explanation. Drawn to the unusual woman, he’s sure she feels an attraction for him as well, though the stubborn lass won’t admit to it.

All too soon, the problems he left behind merge with her current troubles, creating a maelstrom of danger and putting both their lives at risk. Are their fates doomed to remain twisted in sorrow, or can they change destiny and find happiness with each other?

To buy it on Amazon or read it for free with KindleUnlimited,

And in celebration of the release, I've discounted book 1, Immortal Desires, for those who want to start at the beginning. It's only .99 or read for free with KindleUnlimited.


Dumped at the altar, Deanna Cameron seeks a fresh start in life. She gets more than she bargained for after accepting a new job, when an Immortal Guardian sends her five hundred years into the past. She can't return home and a magnificent highland warrior accuses her of being a spy.

Ian Mackay knows the beautiful woman who appears in his castle must be a spy. After all, she's a Cameron, a clan he despises. The powerful magic surrounding her obstructs his Druid senses, plus he finds he can't stay away from the temptress. But loving Deanna could come with a price too high to pay. Will she be the downfall of his clan—or its salvation?

To buy, click here. http://amzn.to/2qZjKq5  (this one was previously released under the author name Laura Eno)

About the Author:

Cerise Laudine loves sexy Highlanders, seductive alpha males from the Otherworld, and bold women who can bring them to their knees and rock their world. Time-travel, star-crossed, or interdimensional, my stories always have a happily ever after. Though the twisted path of laughter and tears is the real journey, isn’t it? Come walk the paths with me and share in the experience.

Cerise’s Amazon page: http://amzn.to/2pR4awe



I was curious to know how Mother's Day had originated, so I googled it. This piece is taken from Wiki:

The Establishment of Mother's Day in the United States:

The modern holiday of Mother's Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew's Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Her campaign to make "Mother's Day" a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Ann Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War,and created Mother's Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honor all mothers, because she believed that they were "the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world".
In 1908, the US Congress rejected a proposal to make Mother's Day an official holiday, joking that they would have to proclaim also a "Mother-in-law's Day". However, owing to the efforts of Anna Jarvis, by 1911 all US states observed the holiday, with some of them officially recognizing Mother's Day as a local holiday, the first being West Virginia, Jarvis' home state, in 1910. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother's Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.
Although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother's Day, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother's Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother's Day, and that the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother's Day, and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved. Jarvis argued that people should appreciate and honor their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude, instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards. Jarvis protested at a candy makers' convention in Philadelphia in 1923, and at a meeting of American War Mothers in 1925. By this time, carnations had become associated with Mother's Day, and the selling of carnations by the American War Mothers to raise money angered Jarvis, who was arrested for disturbing the peace.
In 1912 Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases "Second Sunday in May" and "Mother's Day", and created the Mother's Day International Association. She specifically noted that "Mother's" should "be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world." This is also the spelling used by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in his 1914 presidential proclamation, by the U.S. Congress in relevant bills, and by various U.S. presidents in their proclamations concerning Mother's Day.

I found this information to be interesting and thought Anna Jarvis was quite a radical activist for her time. I also tend to agree with Anna's disgust with the commercialism of Mother's Day. Although, I have to admit, a flower and/or candy is not truly disgustful in my eyes. As my kids were going up, I treasured and still treasure all of their homemade cards. 

I'd like to wish All Mother's, God Mother's, Mother's of doggies and kitties and any kind of animals, where any sort of mothering is involved, a Very Special Day! 


Book Review: Coyote Cal: Tales from the Weird West by Milo James Fowler #amreading

There’s Trouble on the Range

In these thrilling tales from yesteryear, Coyote Cal and his trusty sidekick Big Yap encounter a wizard able to change his shape at will, a scheming witch, a confused zombie, la chupacabra grande, bloodthirsty vampyres, and other sordid fiends. Our heroes will have to rely on their wits, skills, and loads of hot lead to ensure justice prevails.

This volume collects all 9 weird western stories in the Coyote Cal Adventure Series, including:

“Fool’s Gold”—Coyote Cal and Big Yap encounter their most challenging adversary yet: a Portuguese wizard able to change his shape at will. Our heroes will have to rely on their wits, skills, and loads of hot lead if they hope to foil this shape-shifter’s evil schemes before he ends them, once and for all.

“Coyote Cal’s Guide to the Weird, Wild West”—Coyote Cal must match wits with Donna "the Witch" Jamison, a master of the dark arts intent on planting him in the ground. Cal has stood toe to toe with his fair share of villains in the past—but this time, he's up against something altogether different in the form of a metal-mouthed gunslinger named Sleepy Rider and his dead brother, Easy.

“El Diablo de Paseo Grande”—Something’s attacking the livestock outside the little town of Paseo Grande, and our heroes are hot on the monster's trail. But Coyote Cal, Big Yap, and Donna “the Witch” Jamison may have bitten off more than they can chew this time, and only one of them will be able to save the day—or die trying.

“Harbinger of Arroyo Seco”—Like many heroes, Coyote Cal was once a boy... There's a storm brewing over the town of Arroyo Seco, and a sheriff with his uncanny eye on the future sees nothing but trouble for our hero-in-the-making. In love with an older woman and hunted by a gang of outlaws seeking retribution, young Calvin must walk a fine line between protecting the one he loves and becoming a ruthless killer.

My Review:
Coyote Cal is a perfect blend of horror and humor. If you grew up watching reruns of The Lone Ranger and The Cisco Kid, Coyote Cal was written for you. Coyote Cal and his sidekick Big Yap battle one supernatural enemy after another, saving the hapless citizens from horrible fates at the hands of wizards, witches, werewolves, vampires, and other monsters. The series is laughably self-aware. Big Yap frequently reminds us and all the characters that Coyote Cal is the hero of these tales. Both Cal and Yap lament the passage of the Old West into the Weird West, but ride into the new landscape without fear. In true hero fashion, Cal accepts no monetary reward for his good deeds—a sore point with Yap—but does accept a kiss or two from grateful damsels. Coyote Cal is pulp fiction fun at its best.

And, if you want to add an extra kick to the Coyote Cal experience, try the audio version. The narration is spot on and replete with sound effects which give it the feel of an old radio show.


Frozen - a teaser from Spirits in the Water

I woke in a tomb. No, a cell. Or rather, what was more like a storage closet. A single light shone over my head and seemed to illuminate the throbbing pain engulfing my face.

Raising a hand, I gingerly inspected my nose. It was swollen, but I could breathe. Someone had tended to it and set it with a squirt of bio-gel. It was not something I expected from scavengers. But if they weren’t scavengers, who were they?

I sat slowly, fighting past the dizziness and smacking my dry mouth as I tried to wet it. How long had I been out? Hours? A day? Even more so, how long would it take for anyone to realize I had gone missing? The Planetary Marshals were scarce this far out in the solar system. They might not concern themselves with a missing necromancer. Not many folks would.

My helmet and a small bucket sat by my feet. Someone had fitted me into my space suit. Had we left the colony? Carrying me across Enceladus’ slippery surface to wherever they were hiding would be a lot of work. It meant they might have a hover vessel which would get them around on the surface much easier.

The door opened with a squeak, and my attacker stood in its place. His black hair was shorn short accentuating the shadows around his eyes. His face was like a storm that wouldn’t end, battered with age and angry.

You better be worth the trouble, Silaluk. If you don’t cooperate, I have no qualms about tossing you off the ship.”

Ship? I gripped the material of suit as I reached out with my other senses. Nothing. Emptiness. People might claim to have haunted ships, but it was their space-addled minds making them see things. Spirits didn’t exist in vacuums. They needed earth to cling to and water to move through.

I squeezed my eyes shut. Not scavengers. Pirates.

I see you understand your situation now.” The bastard sounded pleased with himself. “I’m Captain Schrader. Call me whatever you want, but do as I say, and you’ll live through this. In fact, you could earn enough to buy yourself a something bigger than a box to live in.”

What do you want from me?” My voice wasn’t quite my own. Schrader’s friend had done quite the number on my nose. Or maybe it was my resignation.

I need you to do two things for me.” Schrader held up one finger. “Find a map.” He flipped up a second digit. “And help me get the goods.”

Simple words, but I highly doubted it would be as easy as it sounded. If it were, he wouldn’t need me. “So why do you need me?”

Schrader’s smirk tightened his whole face. “Because only a dead man knows the whereabouts of the map.”


Disaster! What to do When it Strikes. Get Popcorn! #sciencefiction #fantasy

Disasters were always on the TV when I was young: Towering Inferno, Godzilla, The Poseidon Adventure, Jaws, the many TV airline crash movies. Maybe that's why I enjoy this type of story so much. Whether it's a budget-buster of high quality like Titanic, or a low budget hokey thing like Atomic Twister, I'm a fan.

It's not just the popcorn. It's man against nature, man against machine, man against bad guys, man against beasts/aliens/space. Oh my gosh! How can anyone survive against a mechanical shark? What if I was stranded in space? These movies bring up larger-than-life scenarios, and somehow our heroes survive. It's fantastic. Some of the stories are completely fantastic and out there. I love it!

I watch to have fun and be entertained. Maybe it's the grand-scale problem that appeals to me; a problem way bigger than myself. I mean, a tornado of sharks... yikes!

I've always wanted to write one and recently I was given the opportunity. Some folks stopped by my inbox in the fall and asked if I wanted to be part of Pew! Pew! – Sex, Guns, Spaceships… Oh My! The idea for "Spaceberg" popped into my head and I replied with an emphatic yes. Here was my chance to write something funny and disastrous, my favorite kind of story.It involves an iceberg in space, moss balls with teeth, organic plastic, and dancing plastic flowers. There are also a lot of references to TV shows and movies (some very obscure). It was a hoot to write.

Over 30,000 words, "Spaceberg" is close to a full-length novel. Pew! Pew! – Sex, Guns, Spaceships… Oh My! releases June 1, 2017 and is up for preorder on Amazon.


Here are a few other goodies for you:

A mega science fiction giveaway ENTER

Every entry gets a copy of At the Helm, which includes my story "Patchworker 2.0" Signed copies of the first 3 Backworlds are part of the Grand Prize. My boxed set is in the prizes for other winners.

Via my newsletter every month, I giveaway either a Backworlds tumbler or a Rifters journal. Just ENTER my dimension to be part of these drawings.

Do you have a favorite disaster story/movie? I enjoy sharks and dinos most, but am a succor for any of them really. I can't resist.


Thinking Ahead to Summer - writing & bookish plans?

I teach college lit and creative writing part time in the fall and spring so I always look forward to summer in order to get lots of writing done. Also, I attend a weeklong writing retreat in Cape Cod then. We write all day (after an hour gabbing over coffee). Often I start a novel at the retreat.
One of my Cape retreat "writing stations"
I'm already mulling over what I should concentrate on. This spring I finally completed a draft of a romantic suspense novel and Maizy of Bellagio, a story for the forthcoming UR Spirits in the Air anthology. So it's not as if I slack off between the days of teaching. LOL.

I am trying to decide between starting a new witch book, which would be a companion novel to Witch of the Cards, or another one in the new suspense series. Which should I pick? How do you decide when you have more than one book in mind?  Do you choose the one you think will sell the best? Or the one you have plotted out most? Or the one that is closest to your heart? Help!

For my summer reading, I'll be delving into the Blue Fairy Book, Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass to name a few, because in the spring of 2018 I will be teaching a brand new college lit course simply called Fantasy. Woo hoo!

On another note, I finally redesigned my website, which has an entire shiny new page devoted to the UR Elements anthologies. Check out my main page, and then click into Anthologies Page to see what you think about the front page and the Elements page!

What are your summer writing and reading plans?


UR Group Post - Loving games!

Board games, video games, card games, role-playing games.
From the well-known classics to the modern and underrated.
We all love games.

* * * * *

Christine Rains

This awesome board game is about strategy and luck. Build up your roads, settlements, and cities to win. The board changes every time you play and the mechanics of it are simple. I play this every day on the computer instead of solitaire, and if I'm lucky, I can find people willing to play the board game with me. I tend to roll well! It's not unusual to hear someone call out: "I have wood for sheep!"

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River Fairchild

Little Green Men

Let me just say, I'm very glad I don't live in Las Vegas. I'd be panhandling on the street in order to collect enough money to play this silly video game. It's not the gambling aspect that draws me, it's the game itself. Okay, this is a secret, right? I hear somebody out there laughing. Don't. The cows laughed... right before the aliens took them. Beware!

Simon Kewin

Zelda: Breath of the Wild

This is a tough question. I played Dungeons and Dragons a lot - probably too much - when I was younger, and I also love a good fantasy-based computer game. I have lots of fond memories of losing myself in games like Tir Na Nog and Lords of Midnight. Ah, happy days. But I'm going to cop out slightly and go for the game I'm currently playing because, well, it's my favourite right now. Zelda: Breath of the Wild is awesome and huge and beautiful.

Catherine Stine

Little Bird with Candyland Cards, oil on canvas by Catherine Stine
I'd have to say Candyland, though I do love Clue because I love sleuthing and I usually win. LOL. And I like Candyland not to play, but because I adore the images. In my days as a painter, I painted the Candyland board and the cards many, many times! I can't tell you exactly why I love these images so much. Perhaps it has to do with the peculiar magic of childhood. Anyway, here is an oil painting of mine called Little Bird with Candyland Cards, along with a photo below of the old style Candyland board.
The old style Candyland board

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Meradeth Houston

So maybe I shouldn't admit this, but if I had to pick my favorite game lately, Cards Against Humanity would win. Mainly because it's my favorite one to play when I have friends over. Though it does get a little old after a while, the expansion packs are fun, and it's pretty much guaranteed to bring a laugh or two :) Albeit, a bit of off-color laughter at things that aren't terribly appropriate, but that's okay from time to time!

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M. Pax

We always had game night when I was a kid, and my family loved game. Everybody was so competitive. There was no 'letting the kids win' ever. I have fond memories of sitting around tables, talking, and laughing, teasing each other. My grandmother was the best hearts player. No one ever beat her, but we kept trying. I had my first taste of beer while playing cards with the grandparents. I see all the faces of people I miss: Grampa, Gramma, my brother-in-law, and my brother. The games I played with them will always be my favorites.

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Cherie Reich

I couldn't begin to tell you how many hours I've played Age of Mythology. You can play either as Egyptians, the Norse, or the Greeks. If you have the Titan Expansion pack, then you can also play as the Atlanteans. They now have one for Chinese gods too! They have two amazing campaigns, and the storylines are fantastic. The graphics are beautiful. The music is awesome, and there is something strangely satisfying about wiping out the other civilization. My favorite cheat of the game is Wuv Woo, which summons a flying purple hippo that kills enemies with hearts.


Book Review/ Horizon Alpha: Predators of Eden. #SpeculativeFiction worth #amreading

Horizon Alpha: Predators of Eden
by D. W. Vogel

I was recently in a group promotion where this was one of the books. I had to buy it because of the dinosaur on the cover.

Here's the blurb:
Two hundred years ago, the great Ark Horizon Alpha escaped a doomed Earth and went searching for a new home. The passengers landed on Teu Ceti e expecting paradise, but instead they discovered a planet stuck in its own version of the cretaceous period. The humans’ one defense against the dinosaurs ravaging the planet is an electric fence, built from the remains of the shuttles that brought them there. 
But Eden base has only days of power left. 
With most of the adult men dead, rookie soldier Caleb Wilde and his unit of teenage boys leave the electric fences of Eden in search of a reactor core lost deep in the jungle. 
The last remnant of the human race waits behind the electric fence for their return. The dinosaurs wait, too--for the electricity to die and the feast to begin.

Honestly, the prologue had me worried. It wasn't bad, just basically feeding me information about what happened before the story starts.

The story itself is fantastic. It's like Jurassic Park in space. It was suspenseful and fast-paced. It combined my love of dinosaurs, exploration, and discovery. The creatures go beyond dinosaurs as we know them, because, after all, they are aliens.

The author added in mystery along with the dino feast. I felt as if I experienced the planet alongside the main character: the fear, the wonder, the horror, the relief. It was a terrific ride.

Great job, D. W. Vogel. I want more!


You Can't Go Home Again

I'm so excited about our upcoming Spirits in the Water anthology! It will be released in October, but I wanted to share a snippet of my story with you today. It's called, You Can't Go Home Again.

How many of us have wished to go back and change something from our past? I imagine all of us. It's human nature to want a do-over. Be careful what you wish for, though...

You Can't Go Home Again

an excerpt by River Fairchild

“Don’t look so glum, dear.” Clara leaned in closer, invading Alex’s space, and gave her a wink. “You have your whole future to look forward to. Wait till you’re my age for that sort of nonsense.”
She settled back into her own seat, soft gray curls bouncing with the gentle sway of the train as it negotiated a bend in the tracks. “Always look ahead, child. As my mother used to say, you can’t go back home again.”
“What?” The phrase struck Alex as odd, even sinister. “What does that mean?”
Clara put her knitting needles down in her lap and stared out at nothing with a dreamy smile on her face. “Mum had a saying for everything. It means you can’t go back and change the past. She used to say that nothing good ever came of worrying about what was already done and gone so you should only look forward and not repeat your mistakes.”
Changing the past…
Alex closed her eyes, ignoring the beauty of the countryside as her throat constricted. She’d give anything to undo the mistake she’d made five years ago—the mistake that allowed her younger sister to die. To stay with her that day at the lake—like she was supposed to—instead of getting into an argument and stalking off. If Alex had stayed, maybe she could have talked Liz out of sledding across the frozen lake on an overloaded sled.


Happy Spring!

In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hoursMark Twain

I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around at all the flowers, and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen. Anne Lamott