Thursday, September 21, 2017

An excerpt from Preachin' to the Choir

Preachin' to the Choir

Jonathan could do nothing to stop his wife’s losing battle with cancer. With twenty years into the ministry, he can't believe the Lord would leave him with both an empty nest and empty spot on the other side of the bed.

Kat, music teacher and mother of grown twins, feels settled in small town Texas. Life may be dull, but it's predictable, unlike her life with her late husband. Kat concludes a happy, committed relationship with a male is impossible, so she makes peace with herself and with God. If nuns can live celibate, why can't she?

One Sunday, Jonathan spies a golden beam of light descending upon Kat while she is directing the choir. Why hasn’t he noticed how beautiful she was before? From here on out, Jonathan knows he’ll be preachin’ to the choir, but will Kat—and his congregation and their children—let him?

Also available in print at Amazon

An excerpt from Preachin' to the Choir... 

Kat pounced on the stack of sheet music he had brought to the lesson. "Um, would you like me to play the version you brought?"
"Please do."
She sorted out the copy from the others and opened it across the music stand. "Sorry, but we need to switch places. I need to sit where you're sitting to play properly."
Jonathan stood and side-stepped over to the left to give her access to his stool.
Kat flashed him a grin in gratitude and sat down without looking. Immediately she found herself deposited on her rear end.
"Ouch!" she cried, rubbing her bruised tailbone. "I missed."
"You seem to be doing quite a bit of falling on your backside lately." Jonathan chuckled. Placing his large hands under her arms, he lifted her to her feet in one easy motion. "There you go. You all right?"
"I... I'm fine," she managed, taking a step back. The warmth of where his palms contacted her bare flesh lingered, sending tingles of awareness down her arms. "I just need to adjust the height a little."
Kat bent to twirl the stool to raise the seat. To her horror, it stuck.
Jonathan grimaced. "Did I break it? I apologize if I did."
She straightened slowly and shook her head. "Don't worry. It isn't broken. It probably needs to be greased a bit. Why don't we try relocating the bench?"
Jonathan removed the stool. Kat grabbed the bench and started dragging it into position. Without a word, both seated themselves side by side, thighs touching.
Kat shuddered at the delicious sensation of Jonathan's near presence. This isn't the appropriate time or place for playing footsies, but wouldn't it be nice?
Swallowing hard, Kat focused her attention on the music. Just as she was about to turn to the first page over there came a small moan of wood, then snap! The wounded bench decided it couldn't handle their combined weight any longer as a back leg collapsed. The seat tilted left, throwing her against Jonathan's hard body as they tumbled to the floor.

Preachin' to the Choir is now available from Desert Breeze Publishing.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Book 3 is now here--can you help us decide which cover is best?

 Our latest in the BloodDark Series...

Book 3 in the "Olivia's Trilogy"  

Olivia's Decision  and also available at Amazon.
Olivia's chance to prove herself as a spy hasn't gone well. She knows the handsome vampire Moreau is up to something. With the assistance of Kate and Mahvet, Olivia solves the mystery of the rogue Portal and Clan Alpha's illegal artwork sales, then escapes with the help of Valori, whose growing telekinetic powers prove frightening.

Hernando is hurt by Olivia's lie, but there's too much at stake to remain mad for long. Even Olivia learns to trust the Pure Bloods. They travel with the ruling council by airship to the Alphans' defensive weapon constructed with materials bought from billionaire Roland Grundfest. She senses the true invaders are Earthmen who've stolen BloodDark's technology for their own purposes. Olivia is torn between Earth and the world and peoples she's come to love. Will a climactic encounter in the desert decide Olivia's--and BloodDark's--fate once and for all?

Read an excerpt at The World of BloodDark web site. 

Books 1 and 2, Olivia's Escape and Olivia's Return, are  available in e-book and print from Desert Breeze Publishing, Amazon and other fine online book sellers. Read more about them at The World of BloodDark.


We're trying to decide which cover to use on promotional materials for this trilogy (as other stories set on BloodDark are forthcoming). Which one of the three covers "speaks" to you the most? Why do you think it works best? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you.

Friday, August 04, 2017

New Beginnings: A New Book and a New Doctor

 New Beginnings: A New Book

It's here at last--the release of my first novel in my series, Loving Who, a sci-fi romantic-comedy full of Who fans and fun, is now available from Devine Destinies Books. Also available at Amazon in print and e-formats, and from other online retailers. You can read an excerpt below before I give my take on the "New Doctor."

Loving Who
by Cynthianna
Screwball comedy meets the world of Doctor Who fandom. Cici Connors' life will never be the same and it all changes when she takes a mysterious man into her life—and her bed. John Smith makes the perfect Doctor for their club's fan film, but is he really good boyfriend material? His fondness for popcorn and whipped cream are the least of his eccentricities, as Cici discovers not everyone sees the same man she sees.

When will John confess he's not from this planet? Will Cici regret having an affair and becoming mixed-up in an extra-terrestrial kidnapping plot? After all, how many alien assassins tracking her does one fangirl need?

And now an excerpt from Loving Who.  In this scene, our heroine Cici is transmatted from Earth to an alien world for the first time:

I don’t know when I began screaming, but my ears throbbed from my shrieks upon our arrival on a dark, featureless plain. I clapped my mouth shut and stared at John Smith, the man, alien, sentient being, who had made the unthinkable possible, the undoable doable, and in the process, had taken me to where I’d always wanted to go.

“Look up,” he said calmly.

I did. A million stars stabbed my eyes from a sea of the blackest velvet. A billion times better than staring through my souped up telescope. A trillion times better than pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope on the internet.

I was actually here.

“Like what you see?” He chuckled at my dumbfounded response. “Fancy the Bygons placing their teleportation deck where they keep their observatory.”

He strolled toward what appeared to be a console and flipped a couple of switches. Low-level lightning came on about the walls and a hum of machinery filled the emptiness of the circular chamber. I continued to gaze up through the huge skylight window.

“Cici? You okay?”

I pointed upward. “Stars,” I said at last. “Lots of them.”

“Eloquently put.” He came to my side and looked up. “You may or may not recognize any of the constellations but try not to worry. I’ll sort it out.”

“So many stars.” I had to close my mouth to keep from drooling.

“Uh, yes.” He frowned. “It appears I’ve made bit of a miscalculation. We’re not in Earth’s orbit. We’re not on a ship, either.”

I gasped. My knees turned to jelly. The piercing lights above began to swirl about me. I could feel my breakfast rising as a wave of nausea swept over me. John caught me by the elbow and lowered me to sit cross-legged on the deck.

“Where…are we?” I asked.

“A planet somewhere to the south and west of St. Louis by several million light years I estimate.” He stood and shrugged. “Not too far off the beaten path.”

“Not too far off?” My brain switched back on, and things began to sort themselves out internally. “We’re several million light years away from Earth, and you considered that close?”

“It’s all relative. Ask my friend Albert. It’s what he said. Anyway, we can go back the way we came, so we might as well avail ourselves of a tour of this curious facility.”

He offered me a hand, and I shakily regained my feet. “Where is everyone? I thought we’d run into the ghostly geeks with the shades.”

“So did I. Maybe it’s their tea time or something. Come along. Let’s explore.”

Loving Who now available from Devine Destinies Books and other fine online book sellers. (Now available at Amazon.)
You can read more about the other books in the series coming soon on my Loving Who series page by clicking here. If you can, please leave a review of my books on Amazon, Goodread, Facebook or elsewhere and let me know when you do so I can thank you. 

Loving Who was first written in the David Tennant era, so no, it doesn't mention the latest Doctor. It's about fans of both the classic series and the new. What do I think about the recent announcement of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor? Well... I've not said much about the announcement online since I've been busy lately, and I've seen some fans attacking other fans over either liking or not liking the Beeb's decision.  Some even attacked Fifth Doctor Peter Davison for simply voicing his opinion. 

That's simply not right. It's a TV show, folks. In the grand scheme of things, it's entertainment--not life or death. Peter and all Whovians deserve the right to express their thoughts in a respectful manner. So with that in mind, here's what I say about this latest bit of Who news.

 A New Beginning: A New Doctor

As an author myself, I'm not always sure it's a good thing to mess with another artist's creative vision. Verity Lambert and Sydney Newman (the original producers/show creators) created  Doctor Who to be "family friendly" and "educational," but it has wandered far afield from this early concept. They made the Doctor a crusty, older British-sounding male, and cast William Hartnell in the role. If that's how they saw the character of the Doctor, who are we to argue with them? It would be like saying, "Huckleberry Finn is now a middle-aged, Chinese female instead of a young American boy." What would Mark Twain think of what you did to his character of Huck Finn? (Does a radically different Huck make sense in the context of the entire novel?) Since Verity and Sydney are no longer with us, we'll never know what they think about how others have interpreted their vision, but don't we owe it to their legacy to take care of their artistic creation?

I wonder why the BBC doesn't start a new, completely unique show with a "Time Lady" (such as Romana or the Rani) instead. Then the new show creators could do whatever they like with the Time Lady character without the worries of upsetting fans of the old show or going against series canon. I hear rumors of actress Georgia Moffat returning as the "Doctor's Daughter" in her own television show, so it is possible to start fresh with a spin-off if you're feeling trapped by the older show's scope.

Since the Doctor has regenerated thirteen times now--and has always been "male" in appearance and British in his speech patterns--why would he/she/it become "female" now? What good reason can one give for this radical change in the character? Why isn't the Doctor African or Asian instead? Why can't the Doctor speak with an American or Australian accent? Why does the Doctor have to speak English at all? Why not make the Doctor Brazilian or Mexican? The fans south of the border would love it! It just doesn't make much sense within the internal logic of the Doctor's  character to change his basic make-up since it has worked so well for the show for almost 54 years.  Such a radical change comes across as a ratings' ploy more than an artistic choice. Is the show in such trouble that it needs to pull a "stunt" to gain new viewers? What's the real motive behind this "gimmick"?

Still, Jodie Whittaker is a good actress, and it's worth a look to see how she handles the part.  I wish her and the new showrunners the best of luck. Fingers crossed they give her decent scripts to act and not the poor quality scripts Peter Capaldi was sometimes stuck with. It's the poor scriptwriting of the newer Who series that's disappointed me at times--never the actors, settings or SFX, etc., which are generally first rate. Having studied screenplay writing and film critique, I hate to see opportunities wasted to create brilliant science fiction on screen. The talent is out there writing-wise, BBC. Please use it!

Loving Who now available from Devine Destinies Books and other fine online book sellers!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Book Review: The Diaries of John Quincy Adams

The Diaries of John Quincy Adams 1779-1848The Diaries of John Quincy Adams 1779-1848 by John Quincy Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is perhaps no other statesman in the annals of American history quite like John Quincy Adams. The oldest son of Revolutionary War patriots, President John Adams and Abigail Adams, John Quincy was destined for a life of public service, and he accepted this obligation, although sometimes at great hardship to himself and those he loved. His personal sacrifice and the sheer brilliance of his intellect are abundantly clear in his diaries, which he kept off and on from twelve years of age up until the day before his death.

From his early travels in Europe with his father, as ambassador of our nascent country, Adams became familiar with the world, politics, diplomacy, culture and languages. After years abroad he returned home and studied the law at Harvard, then became an ambassador to the Netherlands and appointed federal Senator from Massachusetts. He served as ambassador to France, Prussia (Berlin) and the Russian court before becoming Secretary of State under President James Monroe. His writings became the body of what became known as the "Monroe Doctrine," the concept that the Americas were destined to be ruled by its inhabitants and not Europeans. In the highly contested presidential election of 1824, Adams was chosen by the Electoral College over front-runner Andrew Jackson. After his one term in office, Adams retired briefly and then was elected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he energetically advocated for the abolishment of slavery.

This Library of America hardcover two volume edition is a beautiful presentation of the words and thoughts of John Quincy Adams. As a young man Adams wisely observed, "…Men can never possess a great degree of Power without abusing it." One can feel his passion for his country and understand his fears about its future. We could all learn from his insights.

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Book Review: A Friend of Mr. Lincoln

A Friend of Mr. LincolnA Friend of Mr. Lincoln by Stephen Harrigan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Imagine becoming a close personal associate of a world famous, almost god-like, historical personality. This is the intriguing premise of Stephen Harrigan's A Friend of Mr. Lincoln.

A fictional character, Micajah "Cage" Weatherby, makes the acquaintance of a young and ambitious Illinois assemblyman, Abraham Lincoln. Cage, Lincoln and a group of other Springfield young men share a passion for poetry and discussing the important topics of the day--the Alamo, then the Annexation of Texas; the need for infrastructure improvement such as canals and railroads in the state and how to pay for them, and sometimes even the evils of slavery. Cage, as a published poet with abolitionist leanings, doesn't understand his friend's skirting the issue. He sees Lincoln as two-faced, trying too hard to please everyone so he doesn't risk losing his office or pulling the Whig party down. Cage feels Lincoln needs to take a stand on slavery, and he finds himself both surprised and disappointed when Lincoln helps free a captured run-away slave woman in court, yet he also goes on to represent a Kentuckian who insists his Black servants remain slaves and return with him after he manages his land in the free state of Illinois.

Perhaps what causes the most heated conflict between the two men is their respective love lives. Lincoln's heart seems inconsistent to Cage. After losing the love of his life early on, Ann Rutherford, Lincoln doesn't seem able to settle with any of the ladies of Springfield society who want to attach themselves to the up-and-coming lawyer/politician. One in particular, Mary Todd, seems determined to win Lincoln over. Cage and Lincoln's other friends see Mary as a danger to the sanity of their manic-depressive comrade when Lincoln finds himself deeply unhappy after becoming "engaged to be engaged" to the ambitious woman. After rousing Lincoln from a near death depression over the misunderstanding, Cage makes an enemy of Miss Todd (and become off limits to Lincoln, once married to Mary). Cage's own love life falls apart when his secret lover, Ellie, moves her dress shop to Chicago after an anonymous letter in the newspaper exposes their affair. Cage and Lincoln drift apart, but the mutual admiration for the talent and humanity in each other doesn't, even as the years pass and the onset of Civil War brings both men to the same conclusion, slavery must end.

A Friend of Mr. Lincoln evokes a strong sense of being a part of history, of breathing the same air of great men during their formative years. Harrigan does an excellent job of building believable and well-rounded characters, both real and fictional. The settings and details bring the 1830s through1840s in Springfield, Illinois alive, giving modern readers insights into the customs, culture and politics of the time and place. It is a novel sure to please both history and Lincoln biography lovers alike.

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