Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Why Romance Novels?

Posted by: Danube Adele

The very first romance novel I ever read was Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts when I was in junior high. My mother was an avid reader of romance and handed the book over, likely to get me out of her hair so she could read her own romance novel, and from that first book, I was hooked. Never again was there a moment in my life that I didn’t have my nose buried in a romance novel, usually a Harlequin. Never again did I ever go to school, on a vacation or even to the doctor’s office without a romance novel, or several, in hand. As I think about the thousands of novels I’ve likely read to this point, I realize what an important role they have played in my life.

               One of the best parts of a romance novel is the predictable happily-ever-after ending that can be counted on when you open page one. I can’t underscore the importance of this convention of the genre enough. There’s always a sense of emotional safety when reading one of these novels, which allows you to emotionally invest in the main characters, know them, love them, relate to them, all the while knowing that no matter what problems they face, it will turn out all right in the end. You can leave them behind knowing they’ve been taken care of as you turn the first page of your next book. Real life has enough drama, angst, uncertainty and pain, without having to add to it in my choice of literature. Being able to read a great book that will leave me feeling happy and fulfilled is simply delightful.

Romance has always had a healthy medicinal quality. What genre is more soothing after a rough day at work? What genre is more comforting? Romance is a sure way to help me let go of stress and reach for peace and contentment. Reading about love, watching the interactions between a rough and tumble cowboy and a feisty city girl, or a quirky 19th century heroine trying to tame the wayward habits of a rogue, gives me a vicarious thrill, a way of becoming part of another world I’ve always wanted to live in that doesn’t allow me to enter with the problems of my real world. My mind and body can find a calm place, which is more healthful all around. I call it reading therapy.  

Most significant in my life, the romance genre has high standards when it comes to its heroes, their values, and how they’re expected to treat women. This was a wonderful way for a young girl to gain an education in what to require of a relationship with a man, and to have it reinforced year after year, book after book, starting from a crucial age. Respect. Tenderness. Friendship. Passion. Support. Courtship. Too often in today’s society, women allow themselves to be treated without care, without gentleness, as though they aren’t the most special person to their spouse or partner. I’m thankful that I was so influenced by the novels I’d read because, though it took some time to weed through the frogs, I was patient and refused to settle for someone who wouldn’t treat me as we both deserved to be treated. I met my prince, and we’ve been worshipping each other for fourteen years.

Thanks for stopping by today. Tell me your thoughts! What does romance mean to you? Do you remember your first book? Author? I’d love to hear from you.

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 Danube Adele wrote her first romance at the age of seven when she penned the story of her dogs falling in love and having puppies. She’s been dreaming up romantic tales ever since. A lifetime resident of southern California, she spends time playing at the beach, camping in Joshua Tree National Park, and hiking Mammoth Mountain. Always a lover of adventure, she and her husband took their sons on a cross country road trip to Florida and back in an old VW Westfalia, that had no A/C, in the month of July, and still, it continues to be the best trip they ever took. Extensive travel and trying new things has kept the creative spark alive. Danube lives in Claremont with her biggest fans, her loving husband, amazing and wonderful identical twin sons, and a teddy bear of a Rottweiler. Her debut novel, Quicksilver Dreams, Book 1 of the Dreamwalker series, was released January 6, 2014, and Dreams of a Dark Summer, Book 2 of the Dreamwalker series was released June 9, 2014. Currently, she’s anxiously awaiting the release of her third book of the series, Dreams of a Wild Heart which will be out December 15th..
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Coming soon!!!
Book #3, Dreamwalkers
Release Date: 12/15/14
Pre-order links:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone
Shona Husk: Saved by the Trickster

The fantasy romance featuring a fallen angel, Saved by the Trickster, is available in print and ebook (and also through Kindle Unlimited).

Zander has one month to prove he deserves to be let back into heaven. As a Celestial warrior he should’ve known better than to steal ambrosia. Now banished and forced to live as a mortal he has to prove that he still carries the Light in his heart and that he hasn’t succumbed to the Darkness. 

Lysanna is a Trickster, a demi-god charged with making people believe in Light and hope. She travels the world creating magic and wonder, taking human assistants to help on stage and warm her bed. Somehow they always betray her, and they always leave. 

When he meets Lysanna, he knows what she is. What he doesn’t expect to discover are the pleasures of being human, and the lust he finds in the Trickster’s bed. He’ll have to choose between his duty to heaven and Lysanna.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PPC8A7I

Jeffe Kennedy

Exciting stuff! 

Shona Husk: pre-release party

To celebrate the release of the nest three ES Siren books join the ES Siren authors Shona Husk, Denise Rossetti and Mel Teshco and friends on Friday 21 November 5pm-9pm (New York time): https://www.facebook.com/events/1521648894740628/

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Holding up the Mirror: Wars and Why Fiction Matters

Posted by: Shawna Reppert

Sometimes people ask you why you write.  The answer, I’m sure, is different for each writer, probably different for any given writer on any given day.  Society as a whole sometimes asks why writing is important.  Why, given all the pain and wars and death and prejudice, all the children orphaned and all the men forever scarred in body and soul, why should we care about words on a page, on the triumphs and failures of people who don’t exist outside the realm of imagination?

Fiction matters because of all the wars and the hatred and the anger.  Fiction matters for the hope of honor and beauty and peace.   I write because of songs like Willie McBride and River and There Were Roses that have made me cry for all the pain in our world that we humans inflict on each other.  I truly believe that there are young men and women who read Harry Potter as boys and girls and are more likely to recognize the beginnings of fascism before it’s too late, just as I as a child read To Kill a Mockingbird and learned the importance of standing up for what you believe in, read The Lord of the Rings  and saw that true heroes do not cast aside their principles when they go to war.

One of the purposes of fiction is to, in the words of Shakespeare, “hold as 'twere the mirror up to nature: to show virtue her feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.”   I would argue that things in the mirror are seen more clearly.  Studies have shown that reading fiction increases compassion and empathy, and that we are more likely to have positive feelings toward people of other races, creeds, genders and orientations after having read books in which a member of that group is a POV character.

If even one person out there reads my novel The Stolen Luck and starts thinking about where they draw their own moral lines they will not cross, reads Ravensblood and learns to believe that it’s never too late to find a conscience, reads my upcoming novel Where Light Meets Shadow and begins to question their own prejudices and take a hard look at what is and isn’t worth killing for, than I feel like I’ve done something to make this world a better place for all of us. 

While I salute all of those who have risked life and limb in defense of their people and their principles, the best way to honor veterans is to find a way to avoid the next war.

Links to the songs I mentioned in this post.  Warning: If these songs don’t make you cry, you have no soul. 
Willie McBride (AKA the Green Fields of France)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kqba0IUdiBk

River by Susan Mckeown, performed by Hanz Araki and Kathryn Claire mislabeled here as Blackwater (Not the best resolution/sound, but I was at this concert and couldn’t resist linking here) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WRCHURp6IY

There Were Roses

Author website:  www.Shawna-Reppert.com

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Warrior Women - more than just Amazons...

Posted by: Sheryl Nantus

When you think of women warriors it's natural to think of the Amazons - women who were vicious fighters and who, according to myth, cut off their left breast in order to be more efficient archers.

(BTW I've done archery and there's no real problem having breasts. Unless they're quite large and I'm somewhat lacking in that department. Besides, Katniss seems to do pretty darned well with two, right?)


It's easy to forget that we have some more recent examples of strong women kicking butt and taking names - I'm talking about the Night Witches during World War Two.

The Night Witches were squadrons made up of Russian female pilots who held the line against the German invasion of their homeland - flying old biplanes to bomb and harass the German military at night. They would cut their engines and drift in silently to drop their bombs, earning themselves the title of "Night Witches".

Now just imagine that for a second. This is World War TWO. And these women are flying 1920's ancient biplanes over enemy lines and dropping bombs. Aside from the chance of instant death from being shot down by superior firepower there was always the horrific danger of surviving and being captured by German troops who didn't have much respect for enemy troops and especially for women who silently killed at night.

And as far as lack of respect went - the Russian military wasn't impressed with the idea to start with. If they had more resources at the time the Night Witches might not have even been given a chance but the war was new and the Russians suffering from a lack of everything. Putting women up in biplanes in near-suicide missions was supposed to be a stop-gap trick, something to hold the Germans at bay.

It did more than that. It terrified the German army and created a legend that stands to this day. Comic books and movies have been made about these brave women who risked death and worse than death to defend their homeland.

There's a wonderful article about the Night Witches at Mental Floss where you can learn more about this ground-breaking group of warrior women.

As for warrior women - when I created Sam Keller, the tough captain of the Bonnie Belle, I looked back to all the tough women who have fought over the years.

From Amazons to Night Witches, from today's bad-ass Marines to my beloved Royal Canadian Mounted Police there are plenty of women who have spilled their blood protecting their homes. Many wore uniforms but many never did, keeping their homes and families safe under dire circumstances while their men went off to war.

In my book they're all Wonder Women.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Romantic Appeal of the Warrior Hero

Posted by: Eleri Stone
What I like best about the Warrior-type character in Romance is their selflessness, their willingness to put their life on the line in order to help other people. They’re also usually highly trained and competent people, exactly the kind of partner you want to have by your side in a dangerous situation. And since those dangerous situations crop up so often in paranormal and fantasy romance, the warrior hero or heroine is a frequent fixture.

In contemporary romance, the warrior role is usually filled by a soldier, but in paranormal romance it’s often less formal than that. Warriors can be enforcers, knights in shining armor, angels, or demigods. Or they can be characters like warlocks whose fighting ability is primarily craft and mental, not raw physical strength.

But the most important quality of the warrior character is selflessness, and that’s also what makes him so appealing as a romantic partner.

In my newest book, Dragonslayer, my hero is a warrior. Christian rides with the wild hunt twice a month to keep the jötnar who destroyed his home world from invading earth too. He’s been raised to serve and he accepts that burden willingly, but it complicates his life. I found that the biggest strength of the warrior hero—his selflessness—also caused the biggest conflict for the hero and heroine.

Christian had a big responsibility to his clan, and he regularly risked his life to protect them. He wasn’t conflicted about that at all, but as the heroine, Jacey began to fall in love with him, she had a problem with him risking his life so readily. And as she stepped up to try to help, and also watch his back, it made Christian unhappy because then she was placing herself at risk when all he wanted to do was protect her.  Of course, that kind of selflessness caused all sorts of sparks in the bedroom. And they do get their happily-ever-after. But it’s hard won. Good thing they’re both fighters.

My favorite conflict with the warrior hero is when he tries to protect a heroine who either doesn’t need protecting or balances his brawn with her wits. Do you have any favorite warrior stories?


Eleri Stone is a RITA-nominated author of fantasy and paranormal romance. Born and raised in New Jersey, she now lives in Iowa with her husband and their three children. All of her stories have some element of speculative fiction, and they all end with a happily-ever-after.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Warrior Week : Einherjar, Viking Warriors of the Apocalypse

Posted by: Jax Garren
As the daughter of a military helicopter pilot (*waves* Hi Dad!) I've always been fascinated by soldiers, both modern, historical, and mythological. My favorite soldier story comes from Norse mythology, the apocalyptic warriors known as the Einherjar. (in-HAYR-yar). In honor of Warrior Week, I wanted to share a little bit about them with you.

Most people know about these guys, they just don't know they have a name--or a purpose. One of the most recognized stories from Norse mythology is that soldiers who die in battle go to Valhalla, the home of Odin. (Valhalla literally translates to "hall of the slain.") I've heard it called Viking Heaven before. I suppose if your idea of heaven is a grand hall where you fight all day then insta-heal at night to go party with roast pork, mead, valkyries, and the best entertainer the world has ever seen (Bragi, the poet/entertainer of the gods) then...well, yeah, I imagine that is Viking heaven.

Not all soldiers who die in battle go to Valhalla. At he behest of Freyja, a gorgeous goddess of magic and leader of the valkyries (literally "choosers of the slain"), valkyries fly half of the slain to her home at Folkvangr ("field of the people"). Less is known, from the spotty texts left to us from medieval Scandinavia, what those soldiers do there. This is completely hypothetical on my part, but I wonder if there's some sort of gender divided afterlife. Recent archaeological finds have shown that Viking warriors were less likely to be all male than we'd originally thought. Apparently researchers used to assume burial with sword = man; burial with brooch = woman. But then somebody got around to analyzing bones and realized...wait a minute; quite a few of these are chicks with swords.

Back to einherjar. The ones taken to Valhalla are not just there to party but to train for a very serious purpose. According to Norse mythology, the world began with the collision of fire and ice and will end when a winter like no other (fimbulvinter) leads to an attack from fire giants. Loki, the great trickster god, will break free from his prison and sail on a ship made of dead men's fingernails to a great field of battle. Yggdrasil, the world tree, shudders, Jormungandr, the world serpent, begins to writhe bringing great tidal waves, and Heimdall blows his horn (much like Gabriel) signalling the end of the world. This is Ragnarok, and it ends with the destruction of the world and the death of the gods. It's been foretold. The gods will lose. And yet Odin and Freyja gather the einherjar for the very specific purpose of fighting on this day.

Can they change fate and stop Ragnarok? Probably not. Unlike Greek myths, in Norse mythology people don't tend to create their own bad fates by trying to stop it--gathering the einherjar won't inadvertently cause Ragnarok like Oedipus' family's attempted infanticide caused of the murder and incest they were trying to prevent. In Norse myth, the things that are going to happen will happen, and there's not much that can be done one way or the other. But that doesn't prevent Odin, Freyja, Thor, and the others from trying. For a mythology full of grim stories, it's oddly hopeful. Or maybe just stubborn.

To me, the einherjar represent the will to fight for what's right, even when you know you'll lose. They train for the impossible, they never give up, and when the day comes, they'll go to battle even knowing the outcome. In the meantime, knowing that horn could blow any moment, they'll party like rock stars because enjoying today is the only guarantee we have.

I think that's a good lesson for any of us.

For your enjoyment, here's the hilarious saga of Bjorn, an aging Viking who just wants a worthy death so he can join the einherjar in Valhall. Sadly for Bjorn, this proves harder than one might think.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Science Fiction Soldiers

Posted by: Veronica Scott
Before I start talking about the soldiers in my science fiction novels, let me take a moment to express my admiration and appreciation for Veterans of all wars, and the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform, and their families.

My Dad was in the Army in the South Pacific in World War II. His younger brothers were in the Army and Coast Guard in later years. My late husband was a Marine. I have two nephews who are Air Force fighter pilots. Nothing but respect and appreciation for the military in our household!

In my science fiction romances the heroes are usually Sectors Special Forces operators (the far future version of SEALs, you see) and they almost always have a sergeant working alongside. The sergeant is also a medic and all around badass. I have great respect for sergeants.

In Wreck of the Nebula Dream, my hero Nick Jameson is on his way to be court martialled for the loss of his entire team, on a mission gone really bad. When the civilian ship he's on has its catastrophe, his allies are a D'nvannae Brother (a deadly assassin/bodyguard serving an alien goddess) and one determined businesswoman who isn't waiting around to be rescued. Help her or get out of her way, you know? His team expands as they fight to survive and get off the ship. I deliberately wrote Wreck of the Nebula Dream in classic disaster movie style. (This book isn't referred to as "Titanic in space" for nothing!)

In Escape From Zulaire, Captain Tom Deverane and his sergeant get pulled off their regular mission She doesn’t feel she’s in any danger…until war breaks out and they’re on the wrong side of the enemy lines, cut off and trapped.  They have to reach the capital hundreds of miles away through occupied territory, with vital information that could change the course of the civil war. AND Tom is keeping a dangerous personal secret.
to extract a businesswoman from a dangerous situation.

In Mission to Mahjundar, Mike Varone and his cousin, Sgt. Johnny  Danver, are just trying to complete one final mission before taking early retirement. The job was supposed to be a pretty straight forward search and recovery, of the remains of the crew from a ship lost in the impenetrable mountains of the planet. Before Mike realizes what’s happened, he’s saved the life of the blind Princess Shalira during a terrorist incident, she’s gotten the Emperor to assign him to escort her to an arranged marriage and of course they fall in love along the way…

So, a lot of action and adventure, rooted in the reality of similar missions here on Earth, in various wars, but with the twists and turns only science fiction can provide.

My favorite science fiction military man is Corporal Hicks from the movie “Aliens”. Soft spoken, deadly with a pulse rifle, kind to children, sexy (if only there’d been more time for Ripley and Hicks to get to know each other!)….

Here’s the book trailer for Escape From Zulaire:

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